Happy Earth Day!

DSC_2048

Happy Earth Day, friends! To celebrate in a delicious and educational way, I thought I’d make some compost cupcakes. Ok, ok, don’t leave just yet-these are made with chocolate and coffee to look like compost, not actually made with it. But, PSA: You should compost. Did you know that most of the waste in landfills is compostable food scraps? Most of what we throw away can be put back to direct use in our environment. Think how much cleaner our earth would be if we all composted! By the way, you can bring your compost to the microfarm, just be sure to look over what can and cannot be included. Here is a super nifty diagram to help get you started.

Composting___12-20-12

Moving on to the cupcakes now… I tend to post healthy recipes using what we have at the farm, but every once in a while you gotta break the rules. The base is a rich chocolate cake and its topped with coffee buttercream frosting, crushed Oreos, and a herb “sprout”. Both the base and the icing are from Baking Book from Cook’s Illustrated. This is no store bought mix, and you may not go back to buying them after trying these cupcakes. It’s more fun, anyway, making them from scratch.

DSC_2062

Ingredients

Makes 12 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 hot, brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Coffee Buttercream Frosting:

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into quarters
  • 3 Tbs instant espresso powder

Decoration:

  • ~10 finely crushed Oreos, just the cookie part
  • Mint or oregano stems

How to

For the cupcakes:

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, making sure the rack is in the center. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Place chocolate and and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot coffee over the mixture and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Whisk gently and place in the refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes.

3. Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

4. Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into a cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until just firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes, rotating the muffin tin at the half way point.

6. Allow to cool in the muffin tin on a wire rack for ten minutes. Then take the cupcakes out of the tin and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.

For the frosting:

1. Combine the eggs, sugar, and salt in bowl of a stand mixer and set the bowl over a saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water (but not touching the water). Whisking gently but constantly, heat the mixture until thin and foamy, registering about 160 degrees.

2. Fit a stand mixer on medium-high speed until light, airy, and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter one piece at a time (After adding half the butter, buttercream may look curdled; it will smooth with additional butter).

3. Dissolve the espresso powder in 3 Tbs warm water. Add to the buttercream mixture after all the butter has been added and increase speed to high. Whip until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until softened, about 2 hours, then whip until smooth.

To assemble:

1. Dollop a couple of tablespoons of icing in the center of the cupcake. For a more rustic look, don’t spread on the entire surface of the cupcake.

2. Dip the iced part in a bowl filled with the crushed Oreos to coat.

3. Make a little plant out of a mint stem and stick in the center of the cupcake. Voilà!

Pro-tip: Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to pour the batter in the muffin tins. It should come just below the edge of the cup. This is the perfect amount per cup for this recipe-the cupcakes rose but did not overflow.

Pro-tip: Check on your cupcakes one or two minutes before the minimum time needed to bake. This ensures they won’t get burned.

Pro-tip: This icing is dang good, but admittedly, a lot of work. Any icing recipe will do.

Pro-tip: To be even more earth friendly don’t use cupcake liners! But be sure to butter the heck out of your cupcake tin. Using a non-stick spray is usually not enough when it comes to baking.

DSC_2065

As a side-note, I think the movie Interstellar is a terrific motivator for living sustainably and creating environmental change (the good kind). If you haven’t seen it, go watch it now! It’s only, like, my favorite movie. Here are some additional resources on how to be environmentally friendly and its benefits :)

Weekly [Non]Update/Fruit Salsa

Because there has been so much rain recently, there is not much to update you on at the farm. One thing I can tell you is we have a ton of great produce growing out there! Things are growing at an exponential pace. Check out our Facebook page to see some of what’s being harvested. But because I have so little to offer you update-wise, I thought I’d give you a yummy recipe in recompense.

DSC_2044

Looking for something unique to take to your next Game of Thrones potluck? This is a fun and fruity take on classic chips and salsa from Spend with Pennies’ blog. It’s a mixture of strawberries, apples, kiwis, and raspberries and pairs perfectly with cinnamon sugar pita chips. Just make sure you buy multiple bags of these because I singlehandedly ate the whole bag while working on this post. Oops :)

DSC_2028

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 lb strawberries*
  • 1/2 lb raspberries
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs preserves (I used black raspberry)

*Get at the farm!

How To

1. Peel and finely chop the apples, then cover with a few teaspoons of lemon juice.

2. Peel and finely chop the kiwis and strawberries, then mix with the apples.

3. Add the raspberries, brown sugar, and preserves and mix. Be sure to break up the raspberries with the spoon as your stir.

4. Allow to sit for ~15 minutes before serving.

Pro-tip: Coating apples with lemon juice prevents them from browning as quickly.

Pro-tip: You don’t have to use preserves-I used jam. Honey would be another good substitute.

Spring Herb Popovers

DSC_2012

What do Spring, traditional English culture, and Simon & Garfunkel all have in common? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, stop anything and everything you are doing to listen to this magical song that will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Anyways, in celebration of these three wonderful things I decided to make popovers flavored with these four fresh spring herbs. Using all four herbs at once would be an overload of flavors, so I paired the sage with rosemary and the parsley with thyme, splitting the batter in half to make two flavors.

If you’ve never had a popover, it’s a hollow and airy roll made from an egg-based batter. The popover tray (and you must use a popover tray, not a cupcake tin) is filled only less than half full with the batter, but they puff up and pop over the edges of the tin. They can be savory or sweet, usually eaten with butter or jam. When eaten fresh out of the oven they are out of this world.

DSC_2018

The recipe here is adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! by Ina Garten, the queen of simple, yummy food.

Ingredients

Makes 12 popovers

  • 1 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups milk at room temperature
  • 3/4 Tbs fresh sage, finely chopped*
  • 3/4 Tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped*
  • 3/4 Tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3/4 Tbs fresh thyme, finely chopped

*Get this at the farm!

How To

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F and thoroughly grease the popover tin with butter.

2. Once the oven is heated, place the (empty) tins in the oven until ready to fill.

3. Whisk the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin.

4. Pour half the batter in a separate bowl. Mix the sage and rosemary into one bowl and the parsley and thyme in the other.

5. Take the hot tray out of the oven and fill with the batter, less than halfway in each tin.

6. Bake for 30 minutes and DO NOT PEEK. Enjoy immediately after serving.

  • Pro-tip: Use a popover tin. Some recipes say a cupcake tin can be used, but just no. In my experience the batter overflows into a nasty mess. Popover trays are taller and provide the right height for the batter to rise.
  • Pro-tip: A rule bakers tend to stick by is to use whole milk. I’ve made these with various types, including non-dairy milks, and whole milk gives the popovers the ultimate light, puffy texture you want. If you only have 2% on hand, that will work too, but whole is best.
  • Pro-tip: Use fresh herbs! This makes all the difference in any dish. Plus, the flavors are much stronger in fresh herbs compared to dried, so you won’t have to use as much.
  • Pro-tip: If you must use dried herbs, increase each by 1/2 Tbs.
  • Pro-tip: Do NOT peek. This is essential and can be applied to any baking you do. The temperature change from opening the oven door, no matter how brief, throws everything off and causes whatever it is you’re baking to fall.

Light Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

DSC_1993

I feel as though I have only recently started living. Growing up, my family was always a “waffle family,” so I never gave French toast a second thought. But when I took my first bite of French toast at Olivia’s on South Lamar not long ago, I fell in love. I have been fantasizing about that dish ever since, and wanted to try making something similar myself. This recipe, found on Savory Nothings’s blog, is a healthier alternative to traditional French toast. This is a particularly great option because strawberry season is coming up, and the use of seasonal produce makes all the difference in cooking. If you’ve been on our Facebook page this week, you may have seen the first of our strawberries have popped up! Soon you will be able to use the microfarm’s strawberries for a nice weekend brunch.

DSC_2000

Ingredients:

(Makes 4 servings)

  • 4 Tbs. low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk (dairy, nut, or soy)
  • 4 Tbs. bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ~15 strawberries, halved*
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil

*Available to the microfarm soon

How To:

First combine the cream cheese and honey in a small bowl and set aside. Next, whisk the egg and milk in a small bowl. Then combine the bread crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon on a plate. Heat 1 tsp of the oil on a large skillet on med-high heat. Meanwhile, spread the cream cheese mixture onto one slice of bread and cover with strawberries. Spread more of the cream cheese mixture on another slice of bread and lay on top. Next, coat the bread with the egg mixture using a pastry brush, or carefully dipping it in the bowl if you do not have one. Then cover both sides with the bread crumb mixture and lay in the skillet. Allow to fry until slightly crunchy, checking frequently that it’s not burning. Set aside, slice diagonally, and continue with the other servings. Serve with powdered sugar or additional cinnamon if desired.

  • Pro-tip: If you are not concerned with the “light” aspect of it, may I suggest using brioche in place of whole wheat bread.
  • Pro-tip: I actually used double the amount of cream cheese and honey it called for. It makes it more creamy.
  • Pro-tip: I also used like four times the amount of cinnamon, but that’s just because I love cinnamon.
  • Pro-tip: Again if you would prefer a fuller flavor, use butter to pan fry the toast instead of oil.

Plant Biography: Broccoli

Basic Info

DSC_1106

Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea, italica variety

Taste: Bitter-ish

Varieties: Calabrese (most common), Sprouting, and Purple Cauliflower

Relatives: Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli raab

Fun Fact: How broccoli tastes differs from person to person, depending on more than just their gene for bitterness taste receptors (TASR38). Most of the population falls into a moderate category, having one copy of the gene that results in perceiving a strong bitter taste and one copy of the gene that results in hardly detecting bitterness. But there is variation in taste perception even in this group. In a mechanism that is not yet known, some people produce more mRNA that produce more bitter taste receptors than others. Sorry for the long spiel, but I live for this stuff.

Health Benefits: Its high levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium work together to regulate blood pressure; its vitamin C takes out free radicals; promotes bone health; its beta-carotene boosts the immune system; contains glucoraphanin, which repairs skin damage from the sun and breaks down into the cancer-fighting compound sulphoraphane; contains indol-3-carabine, which prevent multiple types of cancers; fights muscular degeneration, cataracts, and thickening of arteries with carotenoid lutein.

Nutritional Information

Serving Size (1 cup) % Daily Value
Calories                            31 2%
Total Fat                           0.3 g 1%
Cholesterol                      0 mg 0%
Sodium                            30 mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates       6.0 g 2%
Dietary Fiber                     2.4 g 9%
Sugars                                 1.5 g
Protein                                2.6 g 5%
Vitamin A                          567 IU 11%
Vitamin C                          81.2 mg 135%
Vitamin E                          0.7 mg 4%
Vitamin K                         92.5 mcg 116%
Riboflavin                         0.1 mg 6%
Vitamin B6                        0.2 mg 8%
Folate                               57.3 mcg 14%
Calcium                            42.8 mg 4%
Iron                                    0.7 mg 4%
Magnesium                     19.1 mg 5%
Phosphorus                     60.1 mg 6%
Potassium                        288 mg 8%
Manganese                      0.2 mg 10%

The take home message is broccoli is super good for you and you should eat it. I challenge you to eat it with at least one meal this week! I prefer it it cooked, but you can eat it raw with some hummus for a less bitter flavor. Here’s some recipe ideas to get you started.

Weekly Farm Update

DSC_1202

I hope you all had a good week back from spring break! Though, let’s be honest, it was hard getting back into work mode. A lot has gone on at the micro farm since the last update. For one, love is officially in the air. While working the farm stand, I get to do  quite a bit of people watching. One thing I noticed is the passers by are a bit cheerier than usual, and I’m loving it. People were picking flowers from the side of the road on their way home from work, and bikers (who very much fit into the cool, Austin stereotype) all smiled and waved. This one guinea even let me get like a foot away from him, meaning we’re tight now. It’s those small interactions that are the cherry on top of working at the farm.

DSC_0031

These bees were def feeling the love

I think the plants sensed all this love, too, and have seemed to all grow three times bigger almost overnight. It took double the time to harvest everything this week! Along with the usual crops we harvest, we also had baby spinach, a mixture of baby lettuces, and a good amount of dinosaur kale this week.

DSC_0048

Ooh, baby

DSC_1215

Have you ever seen baby spinach as luscious as this?

We’ve also created new beds for tomatoes and are working on a patch for pumpkins and watermelon. YAY. There’s been a lot of planting going on, too. I’ll post a list of everything growing at the farm soon, but for now here’s what’s been planted recently:

  • Cherry and roma tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Armenian cucumbers
  • Summer squash
  • A variety of peppers
  • Watermelon

DSC_1218

Stephanie and lovely volunteers hard at work

DSC_1217

American Gothic

DSC_1220

As always, we would love to see your shining faces this Thursday, either to volunteer or buy some produce. Cheers.