Tag Archives: recipes

Too Much Pipinola?(Chayote)

I learned to love chayote, an edible gourd that is known as pipinola here in Hawaii. You may recall that I learned to ferment with it, cook with it, and even how to breed it for the characteristics that chefs find desirable.  Here is a look at the start of one of my 10 minute meals.  When I was getting ready to travel, pipinola were ripening, so I took the time to shred the fruits in a food processor, pack into 1qt freezer bags, then squeeze out the air from the bag.  The result were a nice stack of pipinola blocks.  Today, as you see in the image, I took one of those frozen blocks, dropped it into my slow cooker, and added tomato, onion, chili pepper, taco seasoning, pumpkin and more to the mix.  I will leave it to cook all afternoon, and when I return from the farm, dinner will be waiting.  This same technique would work for chili.  The pipinola takes on the flavor of the taco spices, and acts as a great filler.  It is a great way to add vegetables to your cooking, while also making use of the fruits at your doorstep. I have plans on topping the lot with refried beans and cheese before stuffing the mix into tortillas.

I just returned home to find my neighbor telling me that he can smell my cooking down the street!  It is a homemade smell that we all want to come home to.  I just finished it by thickening it with a can of refried black beans, and some of yesterday’s rice…and I realized that this would make a great dip too!  I will be happy to eat this in many different ways in the days ahead.  Taco salad?  Maybe my kraut tacos…with scrambled eggs in a breakfast burrito.  See the bottom photo to see the transformation it made while I was at the farm trellising more pipinola vines.  Now it is time to top with cheese and test it out.

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Farm Fermentations: squash, beet and seaweed

I began fermenting back in July as a means of finding even more uses for the vegetables that I grow.  In the past six months, I have continued to explore ways that fermentation can be good for me, my farm, other farmers, and the entire community.  It continues to be a journey of discovering new things with each new ferment.

This past week I decided to continue to work with other farmers and their abundance.  It turns out that my quarts of fermented produce have become a wonderful item to barter with. Squash is the core of all I do, so squash is also the core foundation of my fermentation.  I have experimented with two varieties of winter squash, one variety of summer squash from my fellow farmer Lark, and pipinola.  Pipinola is what I consider a cousin of squash.  We have a unique name for it here in Hawaii, but it is more commonly known as chayote.

I have previously sung the wonders of pipinola on my webpage, but I would like to add that it is a good source of vitamin C.  Raw chayote it crunchy, and crisp, which are two great things for fermentation.  It is also quite neutral in flavor and color, making it my fill in for cabbage.  It also releases water quite easily when salt is added.

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I began my pipinola growing with green skinned heavily wrinkled fruits.  I found a variation that I liked which was a smoother, softer skinned fruit.  I selected these traits and gradually replanted the fruits that displayed this smooth skin.  Like any variation there are upsides and downsides.  The smoother, softer skin, makes the skin easily used in the kitchen instead of the tougher skinned ones.  The downside, is that they are much more susceptible to damage through bruising and nicks.  Pipinola/chayote is grown by replanting the fruits, and the one large seed within will germinate with a dynamic vine.

One you have your fermentation base vegetables, it is great to explore how new combinations can change it all up.  So this week, I investigated how other farm goods can be brought into the mix.  I have always loved root vegetables which are not easy to grow where I am farming.  Beets have come into season again here in Hawaii, so it was time to revisit the Bonk family and get my hands on some beets. Marlene was happy to take a quart of pumpkin/carrot/pipinola kraut, while I was excited to fill my bag with beets.

With each new vegetable, I create a series of ferments that are linked by that one new flavor.  If we were talking fashion design, my ferments would be a collection, so I will refer to them as such.  In the beet collection, I decided to marry the sweet with the heat of ghost peppers in another, as featured above, I threw it all in.

Each of us will like different combinations of vegetables, and as is the case with fermentation, you may like some fermented vegetables, that you do not like unfermented.  Fermentation transforms, melds, marries flavors into a complex profile.  So with the new addition of beets, we can look at how they shape the ferment in terms of nutrition, flavor, and color.    There is also the need to consider what is the limit of how much beet we can handle?  When is it enough? Experiment so to know the limitations of your ferments.  I love seaweed, known here as limu, but there is a point where enough is enough.  To much limu can make the ferment very salty, and very intense in minerals. It can pack a punch and “kinda levels” those not used to it.  I feel like beet could go the same route, in being an overpowering vegetable, where you need to understand how to use it as an accent, in a combination of flavors, and as a main flavor. As is the story of fermentation, time will tell. Longer fermentation time may make it mellow…or not.

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Above, locally sourced Ogo seaweed is busy making my ferments both intense and complex.

Repurposing found objects is also a great way to begin in fermenting.  I chose to repurpose a 4 qt crock pot crock and found a lid that would work with it.  Most of my ferments are done in one quart jars, but I decided to try a larger quantity of the “kitchen sink” ferment.  Quart jars were used for smaller volume experiments.

I’ll be keeping you posted on how the new farm ferment collection turns out, but until then, think in terms of abundance in your garden, your cellar, your farmers market, and region.  Abundance is a luxury as long as you do not allow it to overwhelm you.  Too much of a good thing can be stressful, and putting up a bushel of vegetables on your own, is quite a task.  I can honestly tell you that it does get easier to work your way through a volume of produce.  I think starting with what would roughly fit in a grocery bag is a good place to start.  So give it a try…and good luck!

Farm Girl Can Eat-avocado egg sandwich

We have all been there, we step away from a group at a gathering, then return just in time to hear how they describe you to others.  Sometimes this can be a concern, or illuminating, and often both.  That is the case with how often, in my absence, I am described as a “large eater”  a “ferocious eater,” and even compared to a boa constrictor in my ability to consume pounds of food in one sitting, then simply slink away to digest.  Just as frequently, I am asked the simple question, “how? or better yet, “why?”  I think it is a one-two combination of genetics and activity level.  I do not do well at a desk, though I am there right now.  I am only content to be here at a desk because I have just eaten my farm girl seasonal favorite…avocado and fried egg sandwich on toast.  It is simple enough to make, and it should serve two, though, I eat the whole thing.  Each of these items except for the bread and mayo were gathered on site thanks to the hens, the trees and the garden. So here goes big eaters, I know who you are.  Be proud, and eat well.

1/2 of a large avocado

two fried eggs

1 chilli pepper chopped

the juice of 1/2 of a fresh lime squeezed all over

mayo, salt and pepper to taste

2 slices of toasted bread

Vegan Mango “Squashie”

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Nothing says summer in Hawaii like mangos. So here is a simple and lovely little drink to make in your blender.

first, steam chunks of squash, peel them, and drop them into a freezer bag. Freeze overnight or longer.

Then, at the hottest time of the day, peel and remove all pulp from one medium sized mango. Scoop right over the blender so that the juice drops right in. Take 4 or so frozen squash cubes, and enough almond milk to fill your blender 1/2 way to the top. Use the ice crush mode to pulse the frozen cubes. Add more almond milk or frozen squash to taste. Pour into 2 glasses (or make one giant one) and top with a dusting of ground ginger. No sugar is needed as the mango is sweet enough as is! Aloha!