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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
2nd Harvest Week, Winter 2006/2007
Dec. 6, 2006
in this issue
-- Greetings from Farmer Tom
-- Pictures from around the farm
-- What's in the box this week
-- Notes from Debbie's Kitchen

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

William Blake

Greetings from Farmer Tom
Chewy the dog Blessed with sunny weather we are able to finish the fall season with all our chores of cleaning up the farm, mulching the strawberries, and squeezing in some early plantings of raspberries and late plantings of yellow and red onions. Everyone has been working very hard (well, except for maybe Chewy, our farm dog, pictured at right!) Many of our workers are ready for a break, preparing for their long journey home to Guanajuato to spend holidays with family and friends. I know it's time to slow down and reflect when the first 2007 seed catalogs start arriving in the mail; it's like an early Christmas present! Seed catalogs are right there on the top of my list when it comes to favorite winter reading material. I take them with me wherever I go, and pull them out during a quiet moment to indulge myself. I'll let my imagination run wild as I browse through pages of pictures and discriptions of hundreds of varieties of crops, flowers, fruits and herbs. The farm fields turn into an imaginary canvas as I compose next season's crop picture, and best of all I can for a brief moment enjoy the beauty of flavors, colors, and smells from a cozy comfortable place, letting my mind do the farming without worry or stress. I feel connected with the many farmers and gardeners who live a similar seasonal cycle, and I am excited about increasing the diversity of vegetable varieties we grow. Amy, this year's intern, has inspired me to explore the possibility of saving our own seed; it seems that seeds saved from plants grown in one place, and which continue to be planted in the same place, do better both in growth, nutrient uptake and resistance to pests and diseases.

The colors on the farm right now are astounding, as the foliage is finally turning and I am conscious of paying more attention to nature's rhythms. We all long to slow down and discover how to best harmonize with nature's rhythms, yet instead, often, we spend too much time worrying how to be the most efficient with our time, which in the end is only short term. It's time to set aside a small space in our busy lives and forget what is most efficient. I will take the seed I always carry in my pocket and ponder for a moment the spiritual and biological wealth I hold in my hand. Try it and enjoy the journey!

Pictures from around the farm
approach to farm
If you have never been to the farm before, this is the approach. Up this road and around the corner is our barn.

Juanio on tractor
And this is Juanio on the tractor, tilling between the golden raspberry rows. Amy and Reynaldo are in the background, pulling up root stock, to be separated, trimmed and used in future plantings. Tom says they're in the cooler now, and will be planted in January.

What's in the box this week

1 head white cauliflower
1 bunch red beets
1 bunch golden beets
1 bunch carrots
1 green cabbage (maybe - have to see what comes out of the field!)
4 delicata squash
1 bunch red Russian kale
2 bunches chard
1 bunch collard greens
8 apples
2 avocados
1 small bunch fresh culinary sage

Tom now says the fennel probably won't be sized up until our January shares, but we should see potatoes next week. And hopefully those leeks will come in with the potatoes... yum!

Notes from Debbie's Kitchen

(remember, you can always go to my recipe database for LOTS of ideas. All recipes are listed in order by 'key ingredient')

Yay, I made a little headway since last week and figured out how to include recipes here now! FYI I was also able to put last week's newsletter on our website, so if you want to go back to it for any reason, it is now available through the "Newsletters" link on our website. Okay, now for some recipes! And by the way, wherever you see anything in italics or [italics within square brackets], that's me putting my two cents in! - Debbie

Gorgonzola crostini with Kale
modified from a 2005 SJ Merc clipping (credited originally to the cookbook "Small Bites" by Jennifer Joyce)
makes 16 crostini

16 thin slices of sourdough bread
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bunch kale, washed, leaves stripped from stems
1/2 tsp. crushed dried red chilies
1 tbsp. raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese
Parmesan shavings, to garnish [optional]

Place bread slices on a baking sheet, brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 6 minutes, until browned on edges but still chewy in the center. Rub bread slices with one of the cloves of garlic [I'd cut the clove in half to expose the juice] and set aside.

Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil, reduce heat, add kale and simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into ice water to preserve color and stop the cooking. [If just making it for myself or family, I'd skip this step, but if you want it to be 'prettier' it will be a brighter green this way.] Drain again and squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands. Chop and set aside.

Finely slice garlic cloves. Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed chilies, and brown lightly. Add cooked kale and toss to combine flavors. Stir in raisins, pine nuts, and vinegar. Toss again to heat through.

Spread Gorgonzola thickly over crostini. Spoon on kale mixture, garnish with optional Parmesan shavings and serve.

Note: Crostini can be made 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container. If refrigerated, the greens can be cooked earlier on the same day you serve them, but don't toss them with the remaining ingredients until 1 hour before serving, to retain the green color.

How to Roast Cauliflower
from Cook's Illustrated magazine, article by Charles Kelsey

My husband Ken and I were at friends the other night for dinner, and our host prepared this marvelous roasted cauliflower! He showed me this article from Cook's Illustrated, and I love this guy's take on cauliflower. I agree, my favorite way to prepare it is to roast it. - Debbie

"I don't understand why most cooks boil cauliflower. When things go wrong (and they often do), the cauliflower is smelly (from overcooking) and mushy. Even when you avoid overcooking, boiled cauliflower is bland. No wonder delicately flavored cauliflower often gets drowned under a heavy blanket of cheese sauce.

"When I want to add flavor to vegetables I often turn to my oven. Roasting is a great technique for coaxing big flavor from vegetables; the dry heat caramelizes the natural sugars in everything from potatoes to onions. I had never roasted cauliflower, but it seemed worth a try.

"I found three basic techniques in my research: roasting the cauliflower straight up, blanching it in water then roasting it, and steaming it then roasting it. Each method separated a cauliflower head into florets before roasting on a baking sheet in a very hot oven (around 475 degrees). Each simple preparation coated the cauliflower florets with oil, salt, and pepper at some point in the procedure.

"When all three versions were sampled side by side, the blanch-roasting technique was the loser of the bunch. The florets were soggy and had little color (read: flavor). The straight-up roasted cauliflower was well liked for its caramelized exterior, however it cooked unevenly and had some dried-out, gritty florets. Finally, the steam-roasted cauliflower emerged with creamy, evenly cooked florets but so-so browning and flavor.

"My goal was to combine the last two methods and produce nicely caramelized cauliflower with a creamy texture. While testing the straight-up roasting technique, I noticed that the cauliflower was shedding its moisture in the first minutes of roasting. I was pretty sure that covering the baking sheeet would trap this moisture and add just enough steam to cook the cauliflower properly.

"After some tinkering, I discovered that 10 minutes was the perfedt amount of time to leave the foil on. The steam kept the florets moist enough to withstand the next 20 minutes of roasting and prevented them from turning dry and gritty.

"Served with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil or a quickly prepared sauce, roasted cauliflower is a revelation – sweet, creamy, and packed with flavor. "

[and now, the recipe!]

Roasted Cauliflower
serves 4 to 6

"This dish stands well on its own, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil ... some tasters liked spiced versions made with either curry powder or chili powder. Simply stir 2 tsps. of either spice into the oil before seasoning the cauliflower in step 1." [My friend just sprinkled curry powder over the oiled, ready-to-roast cauliflower and that worked just fine.]

1 medium head cauliflower
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Trim outer leaves of cauliflower and cut stem flush with bottom. Cut head into 8 equal wedges so that the core and florets remain intact. [This was the particularly novel and useful pointer of this recipe, as opposed to cutting the head up into florets!] Place wedges cut side down on foil- or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. oil [rub to coat evenly] and sprinkle with salt and pepper [and curry powder or chili powder]. Gently flip wedges and oil/season other sides.

2. Cover baking sheet tightly with foil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast until bottoms of cauliflower pieces are golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, and, using spatula, carefully flip wedges. Return sheet to oven and continue to roast until cauliflower is golden all over, 8 to 12 minutes longer. Drizzle with sauce of your choice [see recipe below for one, and remember to leave off the curry/chili powder if you plan on topping with a sauce!] and serve immediately.

I liked the following sauce, which accompanied the roasted cauliflower recipe. I know we don't have the ingredients for it this week, but next time we have cilantro and cauliflower in the same box, you'll remember to come back here and look for this! - Debbie

Curry-Yogurt Sauce with Cilantro
makes enough for 1 recipe roasted cauliflower

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large shallot, minced (about 4 tbsp.)
2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/3 C water
1/4 C plain yogurt
1 tsp. juice from a fresh lime
2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in curry powder and pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in water, yogurt, lime juice, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle sauce over roasted cauliflower.

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