Becky Perkins

This is it, the last weekly blog post as your farmer. My head and heart are swirling with emotion, which will likely continue to unfold for months and years to come.

The 2018 Crew. Kneeling: Ryna, Sophon, Jonnah, Standing: Sid, Jesse, Barb, Eric, Abby, David , Ning, Yun.

We didn’t do this on our own! We had the idea and initiative, but it takes a whole community! Thank You to our CSA community for the support you have provided for 24 years. A very special Thank You to those of you who have been with us for all or most of these 24 years. You had the confidence in us and in the concept. You hung in there with us as we figured it out, made mistakes, went through growing pains and in turn we used your feedback to direct change and make improvements.

Thank You to our worker shares! Hundreds of you have given your time to join us in the fields and packing shed as we tackled every hot, cold, dirty, sweaty, repetitive task. You gave it your all, you were valuable crew to the farm and we got to know each other. This farm’s labor force was built on the Worker Share program.

Thank You to our site hosts! You have very generously opened your homes and have been an integral part of this movement. You have shown patience and humor and persevered as you made phone calls, helped families and went out of your way to make sure everyone got what they needed. Particular thanks to Joe Schmitt, in addition to being a site host for 24 years, he was instrumental in helping launch the farm with his wealth of growing knowledge.

Thank You to the Cambodian crew who has been with us for 15 years! You have been the consistent work force on this farm. We value your dedication to our farm and our family. You made us feel part of the Cambodian community in Dane County.

But most of all, THANK YOU TO OUR CHILDREN. How could we ever have imagined when we started this farm, when you were in grade school and middle school, that you, along with us, would become the backbone of this CSA? We had the crazy idea to move you from your comfortable east side neighborhood to a farm! We worked day and night and weekends and felt as if we had precious little time to spend with you. But in return, you embraced what we were doing and decided to do it with us! Jesse, thank you for your proficiency with equipment and field techniques as you worked with your dad and most recently amazing crew leadership as you worked along with your mom. Thanks for carrying on the seed potato business. Eric, thank you for your attention to detail and packing shed processes which have allowed deliveries to go out smoothly week after week. Becky, thank you for the delicious and nutritious lunches you prepared for the crews and your time spent in the packing shed. Jonnah, thank you for taking over the office duties, communicating so well with members and taking our farm into the age of computers. Thanks to each of you for spending hours brainstorming and discussing ideas and concepts to move this farm forward. I know it has not always been easy working day after day with family, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

With heartfelt joy and gratitude,

Barb and David

This week your bag of tomatoes is huge, over 4 pounds! This pasta sauce is a great way to use most of the bag. Plus it’s super easy and delicious. It tastes great with meatballs or you could add cooked ground beef to create a meat sauce.

Becky Perkins Red Sauce

Fresh Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 ½ – 2 hours
Yield: about 1 quart

3 ½- 4 ½ pounds tomatoes, any variety
1 onion
3 teaspoons Italian spice blend
(you choose the combo: oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, rosemary)
½ teaspoon both salt and black pepper
optional: 2 tablespoons red wine
optional: 3-4 cloves garlic, minced

Remove the tomato cores and cut tomatoes in half. Over your sink or a bowl gently squeeze the tomato halves. This will remove most of the seeds and some the juice, don’t worry if some seeds remain. Slice halves into quarters and place in food processor. Blend tomatoes until a smooth paste is created (or slightly chunky if you prefer). Transfer tomatoes to a medium-sized pot. Peel and quarter the onion, place in food processor and pulse until diced (this will only take seconds). Add onion to tomatoes and place over low heat. Add spices, salt and pepper plus red wine and garlic if using. Allow to simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. This will thicken the sauce. The sauce will have a bit more water than your typical store bough sauce (and a wonderful fresh taste you won’t find in a sauce from the grocery store). Enjoy immediately over pasta or freeze for later use.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

Vermont Valley Becky Perkins

Swiss chard, Summer Squash and Brown Rice Casserole with Ground Beef and Cheddar

I got the idea for this recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. My recipe is similar to Katzen’s Spinach Rice Casserole recipe but includes ground beef and some different vegetables. I used The Moosewood Cookbook a lot when I cooked primarily vegetarian meals. I now like to include sustainably raised meat in most of my main dishes for the nutritional value and protein content. With that being said, if you are vegetarian this recipe would certainly taste good without the ground beef!

Prep time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8

2 cups brown rice plus 3 cups water
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion
1 summer squash
1 bunch Swiss chard
oil for sautéing
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups grated (packed) cheddar, about 6 oz.
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika

Prepare brown rice. Place rice and water in a medium sized pot and cover. Heat on high until just boiling, then turn flame to low until all the water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 40 minutes total. Prepare ground beef in a medium skillet as you would for tacos (minus the spices).

Meanwhile, chop onion, summer squash and chard stems into small, uniform pieces. Sauté in 1 T. oil over medium heat until squash is slightly tender. Roughly chop chard. If dirty, submerge in cold water to clean. Add Swiss chard to sautéing vegetables and stir. Cover until chard is wilted, about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl combine rice, cooked ground beef, sautéed vegetables, eggs, cheddar, nutmeg, cayenne and salt. Mix well until evenly combined. Fill a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle paprika on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot.
Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

Vermont Valley Tomato Cucumber Salad

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Fresh Dill

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Servings: 4-6

2 cucumbers
1 large or 2 medium/small tomatoes
3 oz. feta, cut into small chunks
1 tablespoon fresh dill
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper (or more to taste)

Cut tomato into bite-sized pieces. Place in a small bowl and add ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir and set aside for later. Peel cucumbers, cut off the ends and slice in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds by scraping out with a spoon. Cut lengthwise again, creating quarters. Dice quarters into ½-inch, bite sized pieces. Place cucumbers into a medium-sized bowl. Using a slotted spoon or your fingers, transfer tomatoes to the medium sized bowl, leaving the excess juice behind.

Chop fresh dill and add to bowl along with feta, olive oil, lemon juice and pepper. Stir until well combined. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later use.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

Vermont Valley Sweet n' Crunchy Broccoli Salad

Sweet ‘n Crunchy Broccoli Salad

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes

2 heads broccoli
½ cup mayonnaise (try making homemade mayo)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper
1/3 cup raisins
¼ cup sunflower seeds or sliced almonds

Rinse broccoli and chop into small, bite-sized pieces. Combine mayonnaise, lemon, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Using a spatula, add dressing to the broccoli. Stir until the broccoli is evenly coated. Add the raisins and sunflower seeds or sliced almonds and stir once more. Serve right away or refrigerator for later use.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

Quinoa is a seed, which can be prepared like a whole grain such as rice. Quinoa comes in many colors. With this recipe you can use whichever you like. Quinoa has a high protein content and provides all 9 essential amino acids.

Vermont Valley Summer Quinoa SaladServings: 6
Prep Time: 25 minutes

1 cup quinoa plus 1 cup water
1 small zucchini or ½ large zucchini
3 pearl onions or 1 full-sized onion
1 medium-sized tomato or 2 small tomatoes
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
juice from 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

Prepare quinoa. To prepare, rinse quinoa using a fine strainer. Place quinoa plus 1 cup water in a small pot and cover. Cook over medium heat until the water begins to simmer, then turn heat to low and continue to cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes total. When quinoa is done cooking, transfer to a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and fluff.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables. Cut onions into thin, bite sized pieces. Cut the ends off the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. If using a large zucchini, quarter. Slice the zucchini halves or quarters into 1/8-inch wide pieces. Place a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Then add the zucchini and onion plus ¼ teaspoon salt and sauté for approximately 10 minutes until zucchini is slightly soft.

Cut tomato into bite-sized pieces. Add to the quinoa: cooked zucchini and onions plus the tomato, chunks of feta and the fresh lemon juice. Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Stir until all ingredients are well combined. Serve at room temperature.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

Fennel and Pearl OnionsCaramelized Fennel with Pearl Onions

Are you stumped with what to do with your fennel? Or perhaps intimidated by the strong favor? This recipe is so tasty and creates a nice subtle favor. Enjoy it as a side dish or on top of a burger.


2 tablespoons butter
2 bulbs fennel
2 pearl onions
¼ teaspoon salt

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat and allow the butter to melt. Prepare the fennel by cutting off the root end and stalk, and then cut the fennel in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 1/8-inch pieces, creating crescent moon like shapes. Add to melted butter and stir, coating pieces. Allow fennel to sauté, stirring occasionally. Prepare pearl onions by cutting into quarters and then chopping into small pieces. After fennel has been sautéing for approximately 10 minutes, add onions and salt. Continue to sauté for an additional 10 minutes until fennel is soft and caramelized. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at

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