" The dynamic principle of fantasy is play, which
belongs to the child, and as such it appears to be inconsistent with
the principle of serious work. But without this playing with fantasy
no creative work has ever yet come to birth. "
Greetings from Farmer Tom
As both farmer and father, the seasonal celebrations, like Saturday's Harvest Fest, bring the best of both worlds together. With CSA members and friends pouring in, the farm quickly transformed from a calm and quiet place into a lively community celebration. At first I tried to attend to the dynamic flow of the many activities going on, but my fatherly instinct pulled me towards the children who roam freely, interacting and playing with the rich and diverse elements that make up the very fabric of life on the farm. I wish I could just multiply into ten Farmer Toms, one standing by the bread oven shaping loaves, another jumping around the hay bales, another searching for the last hard-to-find strawberry while simultaneously hunting for frogs hiding among the strawberry plants. I’d love to hang around the apple press too, and watch while everyone tests their strength on the hand crank, or sees how fast they can fill a basket to be pressed into cider. It wasn't until we walked around the farm together, accompanied by spontaneous and inspiring songs played by Larry, Doug and Steve from the Banana Slug String Band, that both father and farmer felt united. The fields turned into a playground; we sang and danced, and sifted rich moist soil through our hands in a field preparing to become next year's strawberry patch. We roamed the outgoing strawberry patch, which has generously provided us with strawberries all season long, and we planted fava beans as the sun set, bathing us all with brilliant and warm evening colors. The food was abundant enough to fill everyone's plate, thanks to all who prepared and brought so many wonderful dishes to share. And thanks to Ken and Antonia, warm loaves of bread almost magically appeared from Toastie, our wood-fired oven... enough so that most of us enjoyed a few delicious slices. A treasured moment for me was lighting the bonfire with all the kids: each eagerly waited, plumes of pampas grass held at the ready, for their turn to ignite it and stick it into the pile of stacked wood waiting to catch fire.
It is always very satisfying for us all here at the farm to celebrate as a community and experience both joy and a deeper connection with the land that feeds us. As we celebrate, we express our thanks and manifest in our own unique and spontaneous ways our relationship to nature. It is in that moment that we experience our blessing in the ever evolving path of creation, and discover the little miracles -- in a freshly baked loaf of bread, in a handful of soil, a sweet freshly picked strawberry, or the colors of a pumpkin. Thanks to everyone who attended, and who helped make this such a wonderful celebration!
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Correction/clarification to last week's newsletter
Last week when I talked about the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM), I included a photo of a moth and caterpillar to accompany the story without providing a caption for the images: the photos were actually of an ordinary (and common) California Oak Moth (I didn't have any pictures of the LBAM).
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Spicy Tomato-Apple-Pear "Pan" Cake
Farrell says, "This cake uses tomato juice and chopped or grated fruit to give it a very moist texture and unique flavor. It is very popular. Use whatever spices you like. I used Chinese five spice powder in place of the cloves and nutmeg, for example. This cake is easiest served from the pan. Grease and line cake pan with parchment if you want to remove cake. It is a comfortable, easy cake. I used farm tomatoes, apples and pears; it can be mixed right in the pan it is baked in, or in a bowl. No one will identify the tomato juice, but it gives the cake a great color, nice flavor and very moist texture. To prepare the tomatoes, peel, seed (strain the seeds to save the clear liquid) and puree in a blender or food processor. Mix puree with liquid and enough water to measure one cup of tomato juice consistency. I used grated apples and pears - both worked well."
1 ½ C flour – use all whole wheat or ½ unbleached & ½ whole
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pan if desired. Combine
ingredients in a bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, oil and grated fruit. Do
stir yet. Pour juice over the ingredients and stir gently just until
combined. Do not overmix. Pour into pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, or
toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs but not
wet batter. Cool on rack.
Farrell's Arugula Pesto
Farell says, "This would be great served on crackers, on pasta or pizza or on top of cooked fish for a nice dinner. The recipe is modified from the 'Hell's Backbone Grill cookbook'. The spinach tempers the sharpness of the arugula. Feel free to use only arugula if you prefer."
1/2 lb. arugula/spinach (I used one bag of each)
Blend everything in the food processor. If serving on pasta, add greater quantity of oil to thin it out. Freeze in ice cubes trays or flat in a plastic zipper bag until ready to use.
Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from All About Braising
The blogger 'Orangette' says, “these sprouts would be delicious alongside most any meat that typically graces the holiday table: beef, turkey, ham, lamb, you name it. And with a crusty hunk of bread and some cold leftover chicken, they also make for a warming Sunday lunch. We gave it a trial run just for fun, and I actually had to remove the serving dish from the table to keep us from eating the whole thing.”
1 ¼ lb. Brussels sprouts
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
1 C heavy cream
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
First, prep the Brussels sprouts. Trim the stem end of each sprout and pull off any ragged or nasty outer leaves. [Tom says the sprouts are small/young right now, so this may not be necessary.] Cut the sprouts in half from stem end to tip, and then cut each half in half again. Ultimately, you want little wedges.
In a large (12-inch) skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are nicely browned in spots, about 5 minutes or so. I like mine to get some good color here, so that they have a sweetly caramelized flavor.
Pour in the cream, stir to mix, and then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low or medium low: you want to keep the pan at a slow simmer. Braise until the sprouts are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 30-35 minutes. The cream will have reduced some and will have taken on a creamy tan color.
Remove the lid, and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. Let the pan simmer, uncovered, for a minute or two to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the sprouts. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings, depending on what else is on the plate
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
1½ lbs. fresh Brussel sprouts
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed or minced
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried sage
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the bottom of each brussel sprout off (about 1/4" or less) and then slice in half lengthwise. Toss all ingredients and place in a single layer on a baking dish. Roast for 25 minutes or until brussel sprouts are slightly browned and tender throughout. Serve hot or cold.
[Other roasting flavoring options: thyme and garlic; roast w/potatoes and carrots]
Lastly, here's an idea from member Mary Murphy, who came up with a sandwich variation of Randy Robinson's (of Vino Locale) Arugula Salad which ran in the Week 27 newsletter:
Arugula, Goat Cheese and Roasted Walnut Sandwich
Mary says, "Here’s what I did after seeing Randy’s arugula salad recipe in the newsletter a few weeks ago: I mixed the toasted walnuts and some dried sweetened cranberries into (maybe 1/2 cup?) goat cheese from Summer Meadows Farm (along with a little salt, and a little olive oil if the cheese is too crumbly to hold together – if so, then I put a little less olive oil in the dressing). Then I toss good handful (small salad’s worth) of arugula with a little of Randy’s dressing, pile the dressed greens on two pieces of bread (something with nuts and seeds, prefer.) and top one piece with the goat cheese. Put the two halves together and yum! This only leaves out the pear, which was a delicious accompaniment."
(Here’s his dressing recipe for reference)
Balsamic Vinaigrette ingredients
1 tbsp. cranberry mustard (couldn’t find it a my Trader Joe’s, but my local grocer had several diff. brands)
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 C extra virgin olive oil
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