Greetings from Farmer Tom
Last week when Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it felt like a fresh breath of fresh air blowing through a room where over the last 7 years many people and organizations have been experiencing stifling conditions in their attempt to fight environmental and social injustices. Climate Change may be recognized as the most imminent of all environmental threats, but more importantly I believe that this Nobel Peace Prize raises our awareness of interconnectedness, giving a stronger voice to millions of ordinary people who confront despair, powerlessness, and incredible odds to heal the wounds of "Spaceship Earth" and it's inhabitants. It is a call for all of us to repair and protect the web we call Life. As CSA members of Live Earth Farm we may represent only a small, loosely linked community of "eaters" who, as ordinary citizens, use the most humble of tools and daily rituals -- our forks, plates and the choice of food -- to support sustainability. In some ways we can gather strength and courage simply by seeing ourselves as part of an interconnected web of people and organizations, a lot like the internet; better yet, like our own immune system -- we are linked to a dynamic grid of knowledge and relationships much larger than ourselves. Our choices of what we eat and our persistent daily decisions, both individually and collectively, can give us the optimism symbolic in the Nobel Peace Prize.
The example of our individual voices informing the larger network of individuals within a community about a threat to our health and environment is being demonstrated right now, right here in our communities in both Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. This is concerning the government's approach to controlling the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM).
LBAM, a little known moth native to Australia, has over the years spread to other part of the world including Hawaii and New Zealand, and recently has been detected in California, with the highest concentration found in Santa Cruz and Monterey county. Much controversy exists about the damage and possible economic impact this moth might have on other crops and plants outside their native place of origin. What seems certain is that the approach the government has in mind is similar to a mis-informed military intervention, without any concern or respect for the impact on the larger community of life. To impose an eradication campaign by means of aerial pesticide spraying (whatever the compound) is not only archaic, but completely ignores the biological principles and scientific understanding of insects. No different than a multinational corporation, the government, here, is leveraging its arrogant power to impose a shortsighted, ill-informed, misleading strategy, supported by a small minority of interest groups. Right now the government is imposing an 'emergency exemption' to circumvent data indicating the detrimental impact of aerial spraying of pheromones on our children and environment at large; this needs to be opposed. If you are interested in getting more informed about this issue, here are a few links:
Notes from the field
With signs of early winter rains we have been very busy preparing our fields for next year's strawberry, garlic, onion, and fava beans, as they need the most lead time. Over the next few weeks we will be planting almost 2 acres of strawberries, 1 acre of garlic and onions, and 2 acres of favas. Pictured below is Juanillo busy plowing the field in preparation for shaping the soil into high beds; bed height is important to enhancing drainage during the wet months ahead.
You will notice that the tomatoes in your share this week are not as dark red as the ones you have been getting; this is because tomatoes are very vulnerable to rot on the vine when they have been rained on. Tomatoes will ripen off the vine, so leave them sitting on your kitchen counter; they should still have a nice flavor, even though not as intensely sweet as the dry-farmed ones we have been enjoying.
Expect to get peppers for another couple of weeks; I think this has been a wonderful pepper season for us. Green beans we should have maybe another 3 weeks... I don't think we'll have them for Thanksgiving this year. Instead, though, I can promise a bounty of brussel sprouts (which are developing nicely), winter squash, and more leafy greens.
Fall Harvest Celebration this Saturday, rain or shine!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~It seems we'll get some rain Friday, but the forcast says it'll taper off by Saturday afternoon. Bring your raingear just in case... the children will love playing in the rain, and we can always celebrate in the barn. If we are lucky, the sun will shine in the afternoon which always makes for dramatic and beautiful lighting and exquisitely fresh, crisp air; who knows, we might enjoy the blessing of a rainbow as well! Take a chance and come on out to the farm. There are plenty of pumpkins, lots of apples to press into juice, and the oven will feed us with warm loaves of bread. Remember to bring a dish to share in the potluck, and maybe something warm to drink! See you all on Saturday.
Repeat PS from Debbie: as always, we encourage you to bring your own plates and utensils, cloth napkins... even cups for cider, in order to minimize the unrecyclable waste of paper plates and such going into the landfill. Thanks!
PS - you might want to bring a tarp to put below your blanket; if the sun shines, the ground may still be damp. Woo-hoo, this may be an adventure! The Banana Slug String Band will still be here, and they'll make it a wonderful day no matter what.
What's in the box this week
Content differences between Family and Small
Shares are in red; items with a "+" in
Family Shares are more in quantity than in Small; anticipated quantities, if
any, are in parentheses. Occasionally the content will differ from
this list (i.e. we will make a substitution), but we do
our best to give you an accurate projection.
Chiogga beets (Lakeside)
Green beans +
Lettuce (bibb [heirloom lettuce], romaine or red butter) +
Mei qing choi
Apples and pears
NOTE: no strawberries with Family Share
Lettuce (bibb [heirloom lettuce], romaine or red butter) +
Apples and pears
NOTE: no strawberries with Small Share
Extra Fruit Option: Apples, pears, avocados and strawberries
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Click here to go to my extensive
recipe database, spanning 10 years of CSA recipes and alphabetized
by key ingredient. Includes photos of most farm veggies; helpful for
ID-ing things in your box!
Time for another 'what I'd do with this week's box' this time, from me! - Debbie
It's a pretty straightforward box this week... no surprises (at least not as of this writing!!) ;-) Although Tom did hint that we may have our first brussel sprouts next week! I bet this will be a new experience for everyone, to have them nice and fresh; I expect y'all will be pleasantly surprised with this underappreciated veggie... we'll see! Meanwhile, back to what we have this week.
I saw a woman at my pick-up site last week swap out her bag of sweet peppers ("don't know what to do with them all," she said. They were beautiful too... red, yellow and green...), and it was all I could do to not jump on them (I didn't have anything I wanted to trade). The peppers are so easy! They can be used in so many things.
I'll slice or dice some up and add them to my scrambled eggs for breakfast... topped with a little goat chevre. You can expand on this by adding a little onion or scallion, and/or by putting some soy sauce into the eggs before beating them for some extra yummy salty flavor. Even better, cook them in a little butter which you've let go beyond melted and starting to brown, so you get that wonderful, fragrant, brown-butter-scrambled-eggs with your peppers, cheese and onion!
I've taken lately to sautéing slices of pepper (and optional onion) in olive oil with some sliced mushrooms, then adding lightly steamed green beans, and sautéing them all together, sprinkling with a little salt. That's good just as is, but you can also add some herbs (y'know, some of that basil you dried back when we had lots of it in our shares each week, or some fresh or dried thyme, or herbes de Provence). I've also optionally splashed in a little balsamic vinegar at the end, then cooked it for a minute or so more, and the balsamic makes a kind of quick caramelized glaze to the veggies. Oh, and a variation on this mixture is to cut up some carrot into more-or-less green-bean-sized slices and pre-steam them too (a little longer for the carrots; do the carrots 3 minutes then add the beans and steam together another 3 minutes), and add them to the mixture. The color combo can't be beat when you have the 'green' beans, the orange carrots, and then red and/or yellow peppers. Beeeyouteeful!
And if it hadn't occurred to you (probably to most of you it has) - simply add slices of colorful sweet peppers to your tossed salads! Throw some sliced radishes in there while you're thinking about it.
Peppers are also great with braised or stewed meats and poultry. Think things like Coq au Vin, or Chicken Caccitore; go ahead and add peppers to stews and braises... I give you permission!
Here's an old recipe for Chicken Caccitore I've had around since I was a kid (not quite sure I want to admit how long ago that was!) that I still make occasionally. It's very unpretentious and quite tasty:
cut up chicken
green pepper [diced or cut in strips; any color of pepper is fine]
garlic [one or more cloves, crushed or minced]
tomatoes [canned tomatoes, or cut up farm tomatoes]
salt and pepper
Brown chicken pieces in hot oil; add onion, peppers and garlic and sauté. Add rest of ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until chicken is tender (about 40 minutes). Serve on or with rice.
As you can see there were no quantities... so let's see, if you were doing a whole chicken, cut up, I'd say one medium onion, two to four corno di toro peppers [just giving you a quantity idea; a little more or less, or different kind of pepper is fine], the equivalent of a can of diced tomatoes in their juice, about ¼ C of wine, one bayleaf, a tsp. of allspice, half-tsp. thyme, qtr-tsp. cayenne (or to taste).
My old standby for Chard is the Chard and Feta Pasta, and you can make it without the pasta if you just want a cheesy green veggie side dish! Just sauté up chopped chard stems with some onion, chop the greens roughly and add them once the onion is translucent and cook/stir-fry a few minutes until the greens are wilted. Crumble in feta cheese and grate in a bunch of black pepper, stir until cheese is melted... and eat!
Broccolini? I think it's hot salad time again; the weather's cooling down, so I do this ALL the time [yes, you've probably heard me preach on this one before] - steam it until it is just al dente (3 minutes or so; less if the stems are small) then drizzle with good olive oil, squeeze on fresh lemon juice, and sprinkle with sea salt. If you don't have lemons, try different kinds of vinegar. This 'hot salad' recipe is good for broccoli and broccolini, chard, spinach... actually, the collard greens wouldn't be bad this way too! My 'All New Joy of Cooking' says, "collards are superb seasoned with just vinegar and hot pepper sauce, but they also have affinities with garlic, onions, chili peppers, lemon, and other piquant flavors."
I like to put the mei qing choi into simple soups; a good tasty broth is all you need! Just add the choi at the end and heat a minute or so more. You can elaborate on this by adding some finely sliced green onion if you have it, or go even further and add some cilantro, a splash of lemon or lime juice, a little hot sauce, a little fish sauce... mmmm.
Oh, and the beets: I've kept this note since the beginning of August, when member Dave Davis wrote to me to say, "I really can't get enough of them! I keep reading to peel them before or after cooking them. My son and I -- and my folks and some of the neighbors when they join us for dinner -- enjoy them with the skins: I first trim off the tip and the very top and then scrub them vigorously with a nylon braided pot scrubber or one of those sponges with a 'scratchy' side. Spread out some aluminum foil and generously coat them in olive oil. I try to leave the beets as wet as possible before oiling them so there is a small amount of water in with them. I grind pepper over them and then sprinkle on some coarse salt. I double wrap them in foil and place them on the BBQ away from direct heat along with whatever is cooking. Depending on the size and thickness of the beets, it takes about an hour to an hour and a half to cook them to firm tenderness. The skins taste delicious and we never have leftovers. I clean and trim them in the same manner when throwing some into the slow cooker for roasts and such." [And if you don't happen to have a BBQ fired up, use Dave's technique only just stick them in a medium oven, about 350 degrees.]
Someone asked Tom last week what kinds of apples we were getting, and I can't always keep 'em straight myself, so I thought I'd pass along what he said: "The yellow/red ones are an early Fuji variety, crisp and sweet. The big green ones are Mutsus, and early on we had Galas -- the red, sort of striped ones."
Speaking of apples, here's another fine recipe sent to me by frequent contributor Farrell Podgorsek, who says, "this recipe is very slightly modified from one in the Mercury News awhile back. It is Beth Hensperger's recipe that I modified to use our apples. The dough is almost like a slightly sweet pizza dough and could be topped with any fruit (I made it the first time with the concord grapes. The flavor was fabulous, but the seeds were a bit annoying). Our pears, poached first, would be nice too. It makes a nice dessert or breakfast pastry."
Fresh Apple Pizza
Dough - made in the bread machine:
1/3 C milk - I use almond milk
1/3 C water
1 lg. egg
3 tbsp. olive oil
5 tbsp. margarine or butter, room temp.
2 tsp. vanilla
3 C flour - you could use 1/3 white wheat and 2/3 unbleached white
2 tbsp. sugar, raw is great
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
Place ingredients in machine and program for dough. Dough will be sticky and just hold its shape. Otherwise, make in a food processor or mixer. Dough should rise to double in volume. While dough is rising prepare filling.
Apples - I used about 5 medium apples, peeled and cored and cut into thin slices. I mixed the apples in a bowl with 1/2 cup raw sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Heat 1 tbsp. margarine or butter in a medium skillet on the stove and transfer the apples to the skillet. Stir to coat. Cover and cook over gentle heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the apples are semisoft but not broken down. Remove the apples with a slotted spoon. Cook the remaining juices for a few minutes to thicken. It will get syrupy. Add 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger.
When dough is ready roll out to a 14-inch circle or large rectangle. Brush pan with olive oil and transfer dough. Arrange apple slices in a pretty pattern on top of dough. Top with reduced liquid. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup raw sugar. Bake for 30 minutes or until dark golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Calendar of Events
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Fall Harvest Celebration
Saturday October 20th, 3pm until dark