Recipes

Recipes

Lots more recipes coming. For our CSA members we usually have a few recipes each week to suit that particular produce.

I encourage you to modify ALL recipes according to your own palate!

Fall Kale:  Saute kale with garlic, pine nuts, and rosemary in olive oil just until bright green.  If overcooked kale will turn a dark color (don’t worry, its still tasty).  Add onion or sliced sunchoke if desired.

Squash Casserole:  Roast winter squash until tender but firm (about 40min @ 400F).  Remove squash flesh from rind and cut into large chunks. Combine squash flesh with cream, butter, and desired cheese (blue/ricotta,  cheddar, other favs).  Add desired herbs to taste; onion, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic.

Tabouleh Salad — great recipe for parsley and mint

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 2/3 cups boiling water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber – peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Combine bulgur and boiling water in a large bowl. Cover, and set aside to soak for 1 hour.

Add oil, lemon juice, onions, parsley, mint, tomatoes, and cucumber; toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Dill Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds red wax type potatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 stalks celery finely chopped
  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 3 red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed chopped fresh dill
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon grainy or regular dijon mustard

Directions

Put the potatoes in a big pot with enough water to cover by 1-inch. Season with salt and bring the water to a boil. Cook just until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.

drain the potatoes and return them to the uncovered pot off the heat. Let them sit until almost room temperature. (Cooling them in the warm pot will get rid of any excess water in the potatoes, and that’s good.)

Meanwhile, cut the white parts off the ends of the celery stalks. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise, then across into 1/4-inch slices. Stir the celery, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the remaining ingredients together in a serving bowl large enough to hold all the potatoes.

When they’re cool, cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces, add them to the bowl as you go. Stir gently until all the potatoes are coated with dressing. You can make the salad up to a couple of hours in advance. Keep covered at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate or the potatoes will lose their rich, smooth texture

 Rose Hip Sauce:  Remove seeds and fiber from center of rose hip.  If desired save rose seeds to plant (they need cold treatment to sprout, so sow them in fall).  Next, combine rose hip flesh with just enough honey to allow for blending in baby food grinder, small food processor, or similar device.  Use puree as glaze, as tea additive or base, on toast, etc.

 Black Bean and Rice Coquettes with Mango Salsa

2 can Eden organic black beans

2 Tbs Olive Oil

1 Onion, diced

3 carrots, diced

2 Tbs garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped

½ yellow pepper, diced

4 mushrooms, chopped

2 Tbs tamari

1 t. dried thyme

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbs. sesame seeds

2 cups cooked short grain brown rice

¾ t. salt

1 t oregano

½ t. chopped Rosemary

¼ t. fresh ground pepper

½ t cumin

¼ cup breadcrumbs, or GF Bread crumbs

Salsa

3 mangos, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 small red onion, finely diced

2 limes, juiced

3 Tbs. fresh Cilantro, chopped

1 Tbs. honey

¼ t. salt

Procedure

For Salsa– dice up mangos, peppers and red onion, and put in bowl. Toss with lime juice, cilantro, honey and salt. Cover and put in fridge to marinate, while cooking croquettes.

For Croquettes– Sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add carrots and garlic. Add celery, peppers and mushrooms, and continue cooking until soft.

Remove from heat and put into a large mixing bowl.

Puree black beans in food processor and add to mixing bowl.

Add remaining ingredients (except breadcrumbs) and combine well. Form into patties.

Place breadcrumbs into shallow dish. Press each side of patty into breadcrumbs.

Place on greased cookie sheet. Mist top of croquette with olive oil spray. Bake at 375’ for 15 minutes, turn over and bake another 10 minutes.

Patties can be made ahead of time and kept in freezer.

Serve with Mango Salsa on side

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

Serves 8-10 people

6 tbsp olive oil
2 large onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch fresh ginger, minced (or 1 tsp ground)
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
salt
2 Tbs. harissa paste (1/2 c. olive oil, ½ t. cayenne, 1 TB cumin, 2 TB tomato paste, ¼ c. lime. ½ t salt)
3 cans diced tomatoes
2 lemon, juice and zest
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 parsnips, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 broccoli, cut into florets
1 pk mushrooms, quartered
1 bunch kale, chopped
½ celeriac, cut into bite size cubes
4 baby blue potatoes, cubed
1 zucchini, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 yellow squash, cut into 2-inch pieces
20 dried apricots, diced
1 cup chickpeas/garbanzo beans, pre boiled
½ cup currants
½ cup pine nuts

If you have a large enough clay pot or Tagine, that is great! If not, you can cook it in a wok or frying pan in rounds, and transfer it to a large roasting pan, covered with tin foil, and roast it in the oven. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until it softens. Then add the carrots, parsnips, celeriac, sweet potatoes, garlic, ginger and other spices. Cook until the root vegetables start to soften. Add 1 Tbs of the harissa, 1 can tomatoes, lemon juice and fresh cilantro. Bring the mixture to a boil and transfer to a roasting pan. Add more oil to the sauté pan, and add the pumpkin and potatoes. When they start to get soft, add the remaining vegetables, harissa sauce, tomatoes, chick peas, currants and apricots. Again, bring the mixture to a boil, and then add to the other vegetables in the roasting pan. Mix all of the vegetables together. Add the pine nuts. Tent the roasting pan with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring carefully once or twice, and then re-tenting it. Serve with quinoa pilaf or couscous, and fresh mint.

Alpaca

Grazers at every scale are an important ecological link.   At the cameloid scale, we have alpaca.  The alpaca serve not only as a valuable source of fertilizer (litter area trained), but also valuable fiber.  Although we grow flax and other fiber plants for rope and other general purposes we lacked a fiber of high enough quality to make clothing.  While we don’t intend on making all of our clothes we would love to make our own yarns and croqueted or knitted items.

The alpaca will be moving in this spring and are a generous gift from another farmer.

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Our Chickens

Chickens are versatile animals that make a great addition to farm systems.  Breed variety, flock number, and other considerations allow you to tailor your chickens to your particular system and requirements.  Chickens are effective at removing weed seeds, weeds, and pests from soils.   Besides their mechanical applications, chickens provide protein, fertilizer, and even feathers.

Chickens should not be “cooped” up, but instead allowed to move around the landscape addressing problem areas.  Light weight mobile chicken coops are effective for this purpose and often called “tractors” because of the effectiveness of chicken scratching.  Growing chickens all the food they require can be difficult since they have significant quality/quantity protein demands.  Quinoa, amaranth, flax, and polyculture hays can be grown to provide most or all of your chicken’s feed.

 

Young chickens

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All grown up

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Blueby and Roostie

Roostie

Roostie

Roostles

Roostles

Rainbow of fresh eggs

Rainbow of fresh eggs

Nutrients

All life requires nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to manufacture cellular components and regulate metabolism.   Plants are the base of food chains not only because they produces energy from photosynthesis (organic carbon), but also because they transform inorganic nutrients such as nitrogen into labile organic forms.

Inorganic fertilizers are problematic for several reasons.  First, inorganic fertilizers imbalance and destabilize the ecosystem by enriching it with an unusual level of nutrients that move through the system unnaturally due to their inorganic chemical form.  Second, inorganic fertilizer production consumes fossil fuels and represents a contributing factor to consumption and climate change.  Third, the use of inorganic nutrients leads to the respiration of soil carbon and other organic soil nutrients.  As a result soils lose their water and nutrient holding capacities necessitating greater future soil amendments.  Finally, applied inorganic nutrients frequently leave the system they were applied and create pollution in another.

Regarding Nitrogen

Nitrogen is the primary nutrient of concern for most farmers in Illinois  To meet their demands most farmers use anhydrous ammonia or urea.   These forms of nitrogen are produced from fossil fuels and quite mobile and thus leach quickly out of the system into runoff or groundwater.  The problem of nitrogen and nutrient leaching is compounded by the practices of annual crop cultivation; a lack of soil carbon and tillage, which remove any natural buffers the system might have to pollution (e.g. inorganic fertilizers). Nitrogen is thus a common environmental pollutant especially in areas that cultivate large areas of annuals such as the Illinois.

To deal with the problem of nitrogen at PrairieGreens we utilize a perennial polyculture of legumes and forage grass.  All species sequester carbon which serves to increase nitrogen retention.  The plant’s roots also absorb any labile nutrients in the system and minimize runoff and groundwater pollution.  Legume species in our polycultures feed carbohydrates from photosynthesis to symbiotic bacteria living in their roots.  In exchange for the energy and a place to live,  the bacteria give some of the nitrogen they produce enzymatically to their plant host.  As legumes decompose their organic matter serves as a nitrogen source for the system.  We harvest or cut our crops on occasion to encourage growth, but return to the system what is harvested as green manure.

Managing nitrogen in this manner demands we dedicate a sizable portion of our farm to perennial polycultures rather than crops; however, this land is not unproductive.   In addition to producing nitrogen these polycultures produce flowers that serve as forage for bees and serve as habitat for predatory insects.  In a pinch these polycultures can be harvested as a nutritious hay loaded with minerals and just the right amount of protein (this will vary with species composition, but ours is designed for this purpose).  Our polycultures are also loaded with medicinal and culinary herbs, cut flowers, fiber plants, etc.; all of these can be harvested during periods of nitrogen production.  Finally, perennial polycultures discourage or disrupt pest and disease outbreaks and are a great overall cover crop.

Regarding Phosphorus 

While there are ample amounts of phosphorus present in our soils they are slowly released.  Levels in the soil are generally ample for the growth of most crops since very little is removed from the system.  When we need to concentrate the phosphorus found in plant matter we use often use the same methods of composting and green manure as is used for nitrogen. When we need an even greater nutrient boost we can apply our composted alpaca manure.

Regarding Potassium

We are lucky to have soils rich in potassium and don’t need to modify levels.  However, if we do need to provide potassium in the future we would use ashes from invasives we clear and burn.

 

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Native Plants

Habitat destruction has claimed a majority of Illinois’ forest and prairie.  Fortunately, many species have survived in remnants of once great ecosystems.  While its difficult to establish a populations of native plants with significant genetic diversity and numbers that allow them to flourish on their own, the rewards are worth the effort.  Native plants are important to include not only because they must be preserved as species but also because they strengthen the ecosystem’s resilience.  Native plants are often adapted to niche soils, low nutrient levels, drought, moisture fluctuations, and intense heat.  Native plant’s have evolved to live in our soils and climates making many easy to cultivate.  Natives have evolved alongside many the pests and disease found in Illinois making them resistant.  They have also evolved alongside beneficial organisms that make their homes among natives.  Natives include annuals and perennials with a variety of ecosystem and economic functions.  Natives can be nitrogen fixers, flowers, medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, starch crops, fiber, etc.  The most important application of natives, however, is building a resilient and diverse system.

We are always looking for new natives to add to our system.

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Polyculture

Most people who utilize organic management practices are already familiar with the concept of companion planting. Companion planting utilizes concepts such as niche partitioning, the division of resources through time or space (e.g spring and fall plants, or tall and short and/or vining plants), and vector disruption (breaking disease and pest cycles) to increase horticultural quality. Polyculture combines the principles of companion planting with those of ecology and applies them to more complex systems consisting of both perennial and annual plants. Mature polycultures might consist of hundreds of species coexisting together filling different niches in the system. Niche partitioning within the system results in greater efficiency and higher levels of productivity.

Perennial polycultures are one of the keystone building blocks in a permaculture operation; they build soils and produce food prolifically while resisting stochastic events.  The biological diversity found in polycultures also means they will produce crops throughout the year, rather than at just a single point in the season. Last but certainly not least, perennial polycultures provide desperately needed quality habitat.

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Carbon

Most farmers who take the time to consider carbon sequestration do so in consideration of global climate change.   Their primary concerns are reducing energy consumption, use of transportation fuels, etc.  These are important considerations but they represent only part of the equation.  Carbon emissions from annual crop cultivation releases enormous quantities of carbon to the atmosphere and creates a biological wasteland that degrades soils and pollutes water ways.

Consider carbon sequestration with perennial polycultures can remedy not only carbon, biodiversity, and pollution issues, but provide additional benefits as well.  When soil carbon is increased nutrients and water are retained in the system far larger and are used by plants more efficiently.  When biodiversity is restored so are a number of ecosystem services (beneficial insects, pollination, vector interference, etc.) and secondary products (flowers, honey, forage).  The economic benefits of carbon sequestration are numerous, they are simply incompatible with conventional agriculture. It should be emphasized that a perennial monoculture (even if a legume) would provide only a fraction of these benefits and like all monocultures would eventually succumb to disease and pests.

At PrairieGreens we strive to reduce our total carbon footprint.  We consider not only our personal consumption but the impacts of our land management practices.

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Our Bees

PrairieGreens Permaculture is pleased to have a live-on-site habitat quality inspection team of over 100,000 individuals.  Our bees will testify to the health of our land and abstinence from pesticides.  We are always planting new species to provide more food throughout the year for our pollinating friends.  If you are interested in bees, let us know, we occasionally will have swarms available.  Our bees are hardy, hygienic, and disease resistant.

I’ve found that the health of a bee colony and its level of aggression are directly related.  Sick colonies with fewer resources to protect (honey, brood, pollen), aren’t aggressive.  However, a healthy colony full of babies and preciously gathered food is not the obsequious mass often portrayed, it is ready to defend is spoils.  I wouldn’t have it any other way and a few stings are a small price to pay for these wonderful creatures

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Permaculture

Our philosophy of permaculture is based upon the observation and imitation of natural systems.   We attempt to emulate the productivity and resilience of natural systems brought about by high levels of genetic and species diversity.  We attempt to generate and cycle nutrients and energy in our systems in a manner that mimics natural ecosystems.

Only well engineered perennial polyculture systems (and healthy natural systems) offer the benefits of carbon sequestration, natural nitrogen fixation, pollution prevention, and high levels of biodiversity; while resisting disease, pests, drought, heat, and other stochastic events. They are challenging and complex systems to foster, but the rewards are endless.

The design of our permaculture system draws from an endless list of disciplines including soil science, ecology, social science, plant physiology, art, hydrology, horticulture/agriculture, etc.  Nature is undisciplined (scientifically) and so is our approach to land management and permaculture.

Vole Patrol

AKA the Shrew Crew, our puppies roam the farm in search of rodents and other varmints whose numbers might be building up.  The dogs are great protectors of our chickens, the alpaca, and our fruits and vegetables.  The dogs presence deters coyotes, possums, raccoon, deer, and other critters that meander out of the forest from time to time.

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eggy in crocus