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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
2nd Harvest Week, Season 12
April 9th - 15th, 2007

(click here for a pdf of the paper version of this newsletter)

In this issue
--Greetings from Farmer Tom
--Calendar Change!! (for Outstanding in the Field Dinner)
--Crop Notes
--"Friends of Live Earth Farm" yahoo group starting (repeat)
--Know others that would like to receive this e-newsletter?
--Pictures around the farm
--What's in the box this week
--Notes from Debbie's Kitchen

"It's all here... the seasons will show you how nothing is ever really gone but keeps turning out and over again and again and again. We set the seeds, speak to the sky, nurture the plants, drink the rain, give back to the soil, curse the cold, dance to the sun, sing with the wind, weep at the passing, dream with the moon."

~ from a poem by Sherrie Mickel

Greetings from Farmer Tom

Last week I had to run an errand at the local supermarket. When I walked through the produce department I noticed that the aisles were stacked with green beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini... even eggplant. I felt somewhat out of place surrounded by a bounty of summer crops in early April; in our own fields we are only just now planting these same crops, and I don't expect to harvest any of them until at least late May or early June.

It is easy to lose track of the seasonal ebb and flow of the foods we eat with a trip to the supermarket, where everything seems to be in constant abundance regardless of what's in season locally. One of the fundamental benefits of being a CSA member is cooking and eating in rhythm with the seasons. It is almost like eating from your own garden; the selection of vegetables will change gradually as the season progresses, and so will the quantity. You will also discover that crops can be eaten at different stages of maturity (you would never know this if you only got your food from the store). For example, the garlic and the onions you’re getting now are young, with fresh green stalks and still immature bulbs; they are milder in flavor than mature, dry-stored garlic and onions, and also convenient to cook with. Your carrots right now, on the other hand, are fully mature, having been planted in November of last year and grown slowly throughout the winter. This slow winter growing gives them a very distinguished sweet earth rich flavor. Yet later in the season we will cycle into new plantings of carrots, so you’ll get to experience them at all stages, from young and tender to mature and full flavored.

Although none of us have to hunt, gather or grow our own food in order to survive, respecting the seasonal lifecycles still brings us more into balance with nature. The fewer middlemen between us and the earth, the more we can see and appreciate our relationship to her. So here you have it: the only middlemen between the soil and your kitchen sink are us, your farmers! Now that we have electronic newsletters with the ability to include photos you can get a better "picture" of the many hands and minds who operate this farm (see photos below). – Tom

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Calendar Change!

The scheduled date for the kickoff dinner in the "Outstanding in the Field" series, which will be happening here at Live Earth Farm, is Saturday June 9th, not the 2nd, as was listed last week. Stay tuned for more information about this fabulous event in an upcoming newsletter! If you'd like to see what past dinners were like, go to the OITF website at http://www.outstandinginthefield.com.

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Crop Notes

This week we hope everyone enjoys their strawberries! The onions are still young and can be used like spring onions. The broccoli in your shares is from Lakeside Organic Gardens. It is young, tender and beautiful (rather than fat mature stalks) and so will be bagged. The rutabagas this week have all been topped and should be loose in your box. We cleaned the field, so this will be the last of them for the season. Next week we hope to introduce you to the first tender fava beans of the season! Also next week we should have some young and beautiful Mei Quing Choi (similar to bok choi).

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"Friends of Live Earth Farm" yahoo group starting

(This is a repeat from last week, in case there was anyone who missed it! – Debbie)

Have you ever wished you had a place to connect with other Live Earth Farm CSA members? Someplace to arrange carpools to farm events (or just to pick up your share!), swap shares or share items, talk recipes, share photos or just plain exchange insights, ideas and experiences about your farm? Well now’s your chance! CSA member Marina Peregrino is launching a new Yahoo Group just for friends and members of Live Earth Farm. This list will be completely member driven, not run by anyone at the farm. Although Debbie or Tom may choose to look on or occasionally contribute, they are not on duty here. If you have any business with the farm, contact the farm directly. Want to join this Yahoo group? In any browser window, go to groups.yahoo.com then under “Find a Yahoo! Group” enter LEFCSAfriend (or type in the whole link and go there directly: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LEFCSAfriend). Once there, click on “Join This Group” and follow the instructions. Membership to this group is “restricted” which means that only people who sign up can participate. Marina will be the group moderator. Any CSA member or friend of Live Earth Farm is welcome to join!

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Know others that would like to receive this e-newsletter?

With this new email format for sending newsletters, we can easily add anyone to our list to receive them! Just email me at the farm with the person's first and last name and email address (or have them email me directly at farmers@cruzio.com). I'll add them to the list, and they'll start receiving newsletters the following week! - Debbie

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Pictures around the farm

First, some shots of our workers...
Here is Juan on our big Kubota, just starting to form the beds in one field in preparation for our peppers and eggplant. It takes 3 days to get the field to this stage: first, Juan has to disk under the cover crop, then compost is added, followed by a deep tillage, then a shallow tillage, then a final pass to level the field. Here is the level field before the beds are formed. Still more must be done before planting: the beds need to be watered, then we wait for the weeds to flush out then, till the beds to remove them. Then and only then do we plant the young peppers and eggplants which we started from seed in the greenhouse.

Alejandro, Lupe, and Johnni harvesting the last of the rutabagas.

Bernadette milking one of the goats.

Our "worker bees" (literally!)

A little bit of crop ID-ing! Clockwise from upper left: red Russian kale, dinosaur kale (also called Lacinato kale), young onions (tubular green leaves, onioney smell), and green garlic (flat v-shaped leaves, garlickey smell). Note that green garlic is indistinguishable visually from leeks at this stage. You have to use your nose!

Lastly, the latest in cute baby goats! Tom says there were two more babies born just on Friday; above is Sara Lyon and Charles Limbaugh's daughter Willow holding one of the newbies. Thanks for sending the pictures Sara!

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What's in the box this week

Items with a “+” in Family Shares are more in quantity than in Small. Numbers in parentheses are for known quantities. Please be aware that occasionally there are last minute substitutions and changes not reflected in this newsletter, but Farmer Tom will always do his best to see you get a good value in your share!

(No content differences this week - only quantity differences. Make sure you take your produce from the correct sized box: white boxes = Family Shares, brown boxes = Small Shares!)

Family Share:
Red beets (lg. bunch 5-6)
Broccoli (Lakeside) +
Red cabbage
Carrots +
Green garlic (2)
Kale (dinosaur or red Russian)
Lettuce (2)
Green onions
Rutabagas (topped, loose)
Strawberries (2 bskts.)

Small Share:
Red beets (lg. bunch 5-6)
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Red cabbage
Green garlic (1)
Kale (dinosaur or red Russian)
Lettuce (1)
Green onions
Rutabagas (topped, loose)
Strawberries (1 bskt.)

Extra Fruit Option:
(doesn’t start ‘til May)

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Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Received a couple recipes from friends and members which I’ll share with you here. Also, a few more miscellaneous tips (people seemed to like this).  – Debbie

More on Beets (beet greens)
This week’s beets are from a new planting. Tom says the variety is “Red Ace” – nice, round beets with lovely dark green tops. It’s the tops I want to talk to you about this week. Many people don’t realize that beet greens are edible (and wonderful!). What’s important to know is that you need to separate the beet greens from the roots when storing them. If you leave the tops attached, what happens is they continue to draw nutrients and moisture from the root, eventually causing it to become soft and rubbery (this holds true for all root veggies, including carrots). So when you get your beets home, cut the leaves off the roots. Store the roots in a bag in the fridge. Drop the leaves into a sink full of water and swish ‘em around to get off any dirt, then pinch or cut the leaves from the stems (stems are perfectly edible too – so keep or remove them to your liking), spin them in a salad spinner, then lay out on paper towels (or thin cotton dish towels or floursack towels), roll up with the towel and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. Be sure to gently squeeze out as much air as you can, as the greens will keep longer. The toweling wicks the water away from the greens (wet greens rot quicker), yet still maintain a bit of humidity, which keeps them fresher. The greens can be used the same way you would use chard.

Beet and Rutabaga storage
Both beets and rutabagas should keep well for up to several weeks stored in a plastic bag in your fridge. Don’t panic if you can’t use ‘em up this week!

Freezing greens
A couple people asked me about this. Yes greens can be frozen for later use. This applies to beet greens, chard, kale, spin-ach, and collard greens. In all cases but the spinach, I’d recommend freezing the greens only, not the stems. The veggies need to be rather uniform to blanch evenly (If you’re hard core and want to freeze the stems too, just do them separately and blanch them a little longer). So: blanch leaves in boiling salted water for 2 min-utes, then immediately cool (immerse in ice water or run under cold tap water until completely cooled). Drain away as much water as you can (a gentle squeeze works), chop, then freeze in an airtight container leaving maybe ¼ to ½” head-room. When you go to cook with them later, allow them to partially thaw, so you can break them apart before cooking (oth-erwise the veggies on the outside will overcook before the innermost ones are done). Use thawed greens in soups, stews, stir-fries, or just cook through and topped with a little vinegar or lemon juice, and maybe some olive oil and a little salt.

Beetroot with Lemon Dressing
modified from Irish Food & Cooking by Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell (given to me by my friend Terri Small)

1 lb. evenly sized raw beets (without tops)
Grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 C olive oil [Terri said the recipe called for 2/3 C but she said that sounded like too much!]
Sea salt and ground pepper
Chopped fresh chives to garnish (optional)

Cook beets in a large pan of salted boiling water for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and allow to cool. Peel (skins slip off easily) and slice into wedges into a bowl. Add the lemon rind and juice, and the oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix gently in the dressing and serve, adding a sprinkling of chopped chives if you like.

Baked Salmon in green garlic purée
created by member Lisa Bautista!

Lisa says, “I took a (smaller) stalk of green garlic and cut it into 1" pieces, half a preserved lemon* (I didn't rinse it off because I wanted the salt) and about 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper. I blended it all with enough olive oil to make a paste. I placed a salmon fillet on a piece of foil, slathered it with the green garlic goo, wrapped it up and baked until done. Yummy!

*If share members don't have preserved lemons, they could use the juice and pulp from a lemon with about 1/2 tsp. of salt as a substitution.”

Cilantro Pesto
compiled by Debbie from conversation with Randy Robinson of Vino Locale in Palo Alto

lots of fresh cilantro
Italian parsley, or alternatively some kale
grated fresh parmesan, crumbled queso fresco, or any other similar cheese
good olive oil
garlic (just a little bit)
lime juice
maybe a bit of balsamic vinegar (see discussion)
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, or some crushed red pepper flakes
[and in the summer, when we have red peppers, Randy says it's great to blend in some roasted red peppers as well! We don't have peppers now though, so it is fine to leave this out]

This is a good way to use up lots of that wonderful fresh cilantro we've been getting. Randy says that since cilantro is very pungent, it is nice to mellow it out a bit. Most cilantro pesto recipes do this by adding Italian parsley. Randy will use the parsley, but says he's also used some kale to equally good effect and people at his restaurant loved it. He says the ratio of cilantro to parsley or kale should be roughly 3 to 1. The balsamic vinegar, Randy says, adds a bit of richness, but is not absolutely necessary. You can make the recipe more "Southwest" by using the queso fresco, lime juice and crushed red pepper, or more Mediterranean with the parmesan and black pepper (he likes the lime juice in both versions though; "lime juice just goes great with cilantro" he says).

It's easy to make using a food processor. Start with your greens and pulse until moderately well chopped. Add cheese (quantity not so critical - use more or less, to your taste), garlic [if you're going to use some of the farm's green garlic, add it in the beginning with the greens so it gets chopped up too], and everything else but the olive oil and process until fairly fine. Then with processor running, add olive oil slowly through the feed tube until you achieve the desired consistency.

Randy likes to serve his cilantro pesto on crostini, but it would also be good on pasta, or stirred into rice as a side dish, or with grilled fish, chicken or meat. Use it wherever you might use standard basil pesto. How about inside a wrap-style sandwich with cream cheese and other goodies? How about in a tuna salad instead of mayo?

Bonnie's (Red) Cabbage Cucamonga
from "More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden" by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff
serves 6 to 8
[with my comments added in square brackets - Debbie]

"A meatless casserole that is delicious the first day and also makes great leftovers. Good potluck dish too!"

5 to 6 large potatoes, boiled and made into mashed potatoes; use butter, milk, salt and pepper to your taste [and consider substituting rutabaga for some or the potato!]
1 tbsp. each olive oil and butter
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped [or a stalk of green garlic, chopped - remember, the green garlic is much milder than regular clove garlic]
1 small head red cabbage
freshly ground pepper
2 C shredded medium Cheddar cheese
2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 tbsp. sweet paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, heat oil and butter, add garlic and sauté just until fragrant [the green garlic will take a little longer]. Add shredded cabbage and sauté until just wilted, not soft. Stir in lots of freshly ground pepper.

Spread mashed potatoes in a lightly greased 9 x 12-inch baking dish. Cover with sautéed cabbage and Cheddar cheese, then sprinkle over feta and top with paprika. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until hot and cheese has melted.

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Calendar of Events
(see calendar on website for more info)

<> Sat. Jun 9 “Outstanding in the Field” Dinner

<> Sat. Jun 23 Summer Solstice Celebration

<> July 10-14 Teen Adventure Camp

<> Aug 24-26 Children’s Mini-Camp

<> Sat. Oct 20 Fall Harvest Celebration

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Contact Information
email the farm: farmers@cruzio.com
email Debbie with newsletter input or recipes: deb@writerguy.com
phone: 831.763.2448
web: http://www.liveearthfarm.net