Greetings from Farmer Tom
morning I felt like I was in Provence, in an ocean of endless yellow
sunflower fields. I got up early, and as the warm morning sun peeked
over the Mt. Madonna hills the whole upper side of the farm was awash
in brilliant yellow. The mustards are in their peak bloom period right
now, and it was warm enough to just lie down in them. I didn't stay down
too long though, as the damp cold soil reminded me that spring is still
a month away. The plum trees will be the first to bloom; they’re going through their bud break stage
right now. They always surprise me with their early bloom. We just
finished pruning the pear trees, which are a month away from turning
white. The strawberries are blooming too, and the Camarosa variety
(planted early in October) already have green fruit on them. Don't
get your hopes up though – there will be no strawberries ready
for picking until late March early April depending on mother nature's
temperament, sooooo winter share members don't dream of spring just
This week I will be visiting my father to celebrate his 85th
birthday. When I had him on the phone the other day, he wanted
to know how the trees he helped plant 10 years ago are doing.
Most of them have matured nicely; only a small section of
the orchard, an area that seems to collect more moisture
causing root-rot in the peach trees there, needed replanting.
My dad was very happy when I told him his grandchild (my
niece Bernadette), who is interning on the farm this season,
just helped plant 70 pear trees. Pear trees and their rootstock
are very hardy and do well in heavier and wetter soils. We
planted 30 Comice pears, a delicious French pear, and Blake's
Pride – a very fire blight
resistant variety. Pears, different from apples, like to take their
time before developing fruiting wood (that's when the tree grows buds
that will flower instead of just growing leaves and branches). Typically,
depending on the rootstock, a pear tree will not start growing fruit
until they are 3-5 years old, as compared to apple trees which sometimes
will have fruit the first year after being planted. The Fuji apples
in this week’s share are from our neighbor, Bob Silva. Bob is
a young 3rd generation apple farmer dedicated to continue growing apples
here in the Pajaro Valley.
Apples used to be the main agricultural
crop in this valley, however with stiff competition from Washington
State and high land prices it is becoming more challenging. Much of
the land is being sold or rented to higher bidding strawberry and raspberry
growers, but Bob chose to stick to apples, diversifying his cropping
scheme by selling his products locally. – Tom
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Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Now Tom gave me the veggie list before he left town Saturday, so the only item
that’s a maybe is the green garlic... but I’m keeping my fingers
crossed! - Debbie
Green garlic is wonderful. They look exactly like young leeks at this stage of
growth, so the only way to know they’re garlic (short of my telling you)
is to scratch n’ sniff – there’s no mistaking them by smell.
Green garlic can be used anywhere you might use regular garlic, only since
it is milder at this stage... you can use more of it! You could also try it
in recipes that call for leeks, for a different flavor twist. Potato-Green
Garlic Soup? Sounds good to me! Just go look up your favorite Potato-Leek soup
and make the switcheroo. Sauté green garlic it with just about anything
else on the veggie list... green cabbage, purple cabbage, chard, kale, butternut
squash (okay maybe not the lettuce). But hey, I bet if you minced it up really
fine it’d be good in a vinaigrette!
Here are some of the things I’ve been cooking
up with farm greens and goodies... first, my favorite:
Debbie’s winter “BLT”
Niman Ranch uncured bacon (or equivalent good stuff)
some sundried tomatoes
homemade or good organic mayo
a little fresh lemon (optional)
a little olive oil (optional)
good bread (whatever’s your favorite!)
salt and pepper
First, prepare your ingredients: Cook bacon until brown and crisp, then drain
per usual. Strip kale leaves from stems, composting stems; cook leaves in boiling
well-salted water for 2-3 minutes, drain, squeeze out excess water, and chop.
Soak a few dried tomatoes in boiling water a few minutes to soften (if you have
oil-cured tomatoes you can skip this step), then drain and mince. Stir minced
tomatoes into some mayonnaise. Lightly toast your bread.
Now assemble your sandwich: spread sundried tomato mayo generously on one slice
of bread, mustard on the other. Spread chopped kale thickly over tomato mayo
side of bread, drizzling optionally with a little good olive oil and sprinkling
with a few drops of fresh lemon juice (I love olive oil and lemon on kale!).
Add a little S&P [that’s salt and pepper], then lay on bacon slices
(or, I like to break them into pieces and spread ‘em around so that when
I bite into the sandwich a whole slice doesn’t come sliding out!). Top
with mustarded slice of toast, cut in half if you like, and serve with a cut
up apple and a glass of water and you’ve got a great lunch!
Cabbage cabbage cabbage
This is along the lines of ‘if life serves you up a lemon, make lemonade!’ (or
however that quote goes). We’ve been getting cabbage pretty much every
share, but that’s not a bad thing – cabbage is versatile and nutritious.
Do like I do... make stuff up!
• Making cheese crisps for lunch? Sauté up some sliced cabbage in
a little oil and sprinkle with oregano, cumin and salt, and optionally some of
your favorite hot sauce. Serve it on the side, or peel your cheese crisps apart
and stuff some in before eating!
• My Mexican neighbors put finely shredded green cabbage in their tacos
instead of shredded lettuce. I’ve never seen them use lettuce in tacos.
• I also like to stir-fry cabbage with a little soy sauce. Or hoisin sauce.
Or fish sauce. Or oyster sauce. Serve it up with some steamed rice.
• It’s also great kind of hot stir-fried so it browns a little, with
just salt and pepper. Or if you want to get fancy (woo-hoo!), sauté a
little onion or green garlic first, then add the cabbage and do this.
• Let’s see, what did I do last week? I was thinking about Indian
flavorings. Scatter a bunch of black mustard seeds into hot oil in a skillet,
wait until they start popping, then add shredded cabbage and sauté until
wilted to your liking. Toss in some toasted pistachio nuts (had ‘em in
my freezer; other sweet nuts would do fine, like, say, cashews), shake on a little
S&P, and serve over ‘Tandoori rice’ [My husband gets credit for
this invention: he simply puts a spoonful of Sukhi’s tandoori marinade
into the rice cooker while the rice is cooking and voila! Spicy, colorful red
rice.] Make a tasty yogurt topping by mixing a little crushed garlic, minced
fresh mint leaves, and a little cumin into some plain yogurt. Pour some of that
on top of your cabbage and rice. If I had some chutney I’d serve a little
of that on the side.
Vegetarian* Thai-style curried squash and cabbage (and a plug for eating local)
Again, cook with what you have. That’s my mantra. I keep interesting things
around to embellish with. This time, it was a can of coconut milk that inspired
me. The recipes on the can (or in a lot of cookbooks!) always include things
like sliced red bell peppers. Well you and I know better; red bell peppers are
just not ripe around here in February. Neither is fresh basil. Here’s what
*I use fish sauce, which for some vegetarians is fine, others not. Up to you.
Oil, garlic, salt and pepper for roasting
A can of garbanzo beans
A little Thai red chili paste (emphasis on the little... this stuff is HOT)
Juice from a fresh lime (or lemon, if you don’t have lime)
Peel, halve, seed and slice butternut squash into roughly finger-sized pieces.
Crush a couple cloves of garlic (or mince up a stalk of green garlic) into some
olive oil and toss squash with this. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet of some
sort, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast at 425 degrees 20 minutes, shake
or stir then roast another 10 or so, until they are soft and starting to brown.
Remove from oven and have standing by.
Slice up and start sautéeing maybe half an onion and a bunch of mushrooms
in some olive oil. Once they get going, add some chopped or shredded red cabbage
and continue to sauté. After a few more minutes, drain, rinse and add
the garbanzo beans.
Dissolve 1/4 or at most 1/2 tsp. (use more at your own caution!) of the Thai
chili paste in a little of the coconut milk. Add this to pan along with the rest
of the coconut milk, the lime juice, and five or six shakes of fish sauce (mine
comes in a shaker top bottle; it’s plenty salty, so use it to taste. Don't
overdo it; you can always add more later!).
Add your cooked squash at this point and bring to a simmer.
Roughly chop up a bunch of fresh cilantro and stir that in; simmer until cilantro
is just wilted but still bright green.
Serve over steamed rice.
Yes, these can be eaten. Cut them from the root, then separate out and discard
any of the older leaves that look yellowish or spotty. The green ones are just
fine. Wash ‘em to remove any grit, then chop and cook with as you would
other winter greens.
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