LEF logo (small)
Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
1st Harvest Week, Winter Season 2008/2009
Weds. Dec 3, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
A Moment of Bliss to Jumpstart a New Cycle
End of Season Pictures
USDA skulduggery
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
"The world begins at the kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live."

-Joy Harjo from "In Praise of Fertile Land"

What's in the box this week

During the winter season there are no 'Family' or 'Small' sized shares - everybody gets the same size box! As usual though, content can sometimes differ from this list (typically we will make a substitution), but we do our best to give you an accurate projection.

[go to recipe database]

Winter Share
Apples (about 10)
Pears (3 to 4... will be packed outside the box. See checklist at your pickup site.)
Apricot jam from our apricots! (prepared by Feel Good Foods commercial kitchen)
Beets, red
Cabbage, red
Cauliflower, Romanesco
Collard greens
Kale, Lacinato
Kale, red Russian

Bread Option
For those of you signed up for our bread option, this week's loaf will be Rye with caraway and fennel!

A Moment of Bliss to Jumpstart a New Cycle

It is rare when the farm is quiet without the buzz of human activity all around. Thanksgiving Day felt like a blanket of tranquility spread across the farm. I spent
most of the day relaxing in the kitchen, preparing food without distractions from the "outside world".   The gentle and steady rain on Wednesday,  was just the right amount to water in the last covercrop sowings, as well as the strawberries, onions, and garlic planted the day before. As I walked out into the fields to pick greens for Thanksgiving dinner, the sun was shining, everything felt refreshed, and I was overcome by an enormous sense of gratitude. It's almost embarrassing to describe, but my arms went spontaneously up in the air and I yelled as loud as I could: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.... and I laid down in the warm grass completely happy that another season has come to completion!

These feelings of bliss don't last long, but sufficient to renew and invigorate the beginning of another cycle. As we start our wintershares be aware that the weather is calling the shots which means greater uncertainty what will end up in your share. As I mentioned at the beginning of last year's winter CSA,  Pacific storms, flooding, freezing temperatures, equipment breakdowns, all sorts of things can contribute towards extremely difficult harvest and field conditions, which in turn can translate into more variability and uncertainty in terms of quantity and diversity of the crops in your shares. We have planned ahead though; most of our winter crops were purposefully planted on a staggered schedule, so as to mature at different times. Crops such as carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, and kohlrabi were planted back in August and September, and are ready for harvest now or over the next couple of weeks. Later October plantings will take much longer - almost twice the normal time - to mature [shorter days, less daylight, colder temperatures all contribute to slower growing], so we don't expect their harvest until the first few months of the New Year. We have done our best to plan for an adequate harvest over the course of our winter CSA, supplemented by a generous amount of fruit and tomato preserves, as a reminder of the warmer and bountiful months of the year.

For some, the hardy winter vegetables maybe more challenging to integrate in their menus, especially as we become overwhelmed by a flurry of activities during the holiday season.  A box of winter vegetables may feel more like a burden obliging us to slow down, testing our commitment to nourish ourselves with what the season has to offer. I am glad to see how many members have signed up to take on the challenge and grateful for their commitment.

End of Season Pictures

End of Season Farm Celebration-Congratulations to the Live Earth Farm Crew for a successful 2008 Season.

Next Year's Strawberry Crop with Apple trees in the background

Frogs are back to serenade the winter nights.

USDA skulduggery
Although this pertains to organic dairy, it affects all of us, as it is another example of the USDA bending to industrial-scale ag pressure at the expense of family scale and organic farmers. I learned just last week via email action alert that on October 23rd the USDA, in response to pressure from the organic community, has finally published a draft rule regarding factory farming of 'organic' dairy cows... only it turns out rather than simply introducing minor language to clarify the need for actually grazing cattle on pasture, the USDA completely rewrote the complicated organic livestock standards without input from the organic community OR the National Organic Standards Board. And although the draft rule is intended to clamp down on factory farm scofflaws, it would also probably put the majority of family-scale livestock farmers out of business! To add insult to injury, the USDA has given the organic community - farmers, consumers, retailers and processors - just 60 days for review and public comment... 60 days which, (surprise, surprise!) conveniently fall over the busy Fall harvest/Thanksgiving/Christmas season, in hopes that it will be largely missed by people like you and me. I don't know about you, but I call that plain sneaky and underhanded.

Anyway, the Cornucopia Institute (from whom I get my action alerts) and other organizations are requesting that as many of us as possible contact USDA Secretary Ed Schafer simply to ask him to extend the public comment period by (at least) 30 days, to give us all more time to digest this rule and to comment. Please click here to learn more and then if you can, send off a quick email to Ed Schafer (his email address and the proposal's docket number, which you want to reference in the email, are in this article).


Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Click here to go to recipe database.

Hello everybody and welcome to winter! We've got a nice 'Christmas-ey' box this week, filled with lots of rich dark red and vibrant green goodies. The temperatures are finally more like winter (as opposed to that 80-degree weather we had two weeks ago!), and so I dug around in my clippings file for some nice warming winter dishes to make with this week's produce. - Debbie

Lentils with Sausage and Swiss Chard
Bon Appetit, May 2000
2 main-course servings

2 sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed, crumbled
½ C chopped carrot
½ C chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/3 C dried lentils
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 ½ C (or more) water
1 large bunch Swiss Chard, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped

Sauté sausage in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add carrot, onion and garlic and sauté until veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in lentils, bay leaf, fennel seeds and rosemary. Add 2 ½ C water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until lentils are almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Place Swiss chard atop lentils; cover and cook until lentils are tender and chard is wilted and tender, adding more water if mixture is dry, about 7 minutes. Stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf.

Cabbage rolls
from an undated SJ Mercury News clipping.

This is a very old-fashioned very basic and simple recipe for a real winter comfort food. Rolls are better the next day and can be frozen. They suggest serving the rolls over wide egg noodles. Note that although the recipe calls for 2 heads of cabbage, you can easily halve it (or wait until we get another head of cabbage, probably next week!). Also it doesn't matter if you use red or green cabbage.

2 heads cabbage
2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, grated
1 C cold, cooked rice
1 tsp. salt

½ C dark brown sugar
½ C raisins
Juice of one lemon
1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes, with juice [recipe says 'Italian-style tomatoes' which generally have seasoning like basil and such, so if you use plain tomatoes, feel free to include a little Italian-type seasonings of your choice]

Cut core from cabbage heads** and boil in a large deep pot of water for about 5 minutes [this loosens the leaves so they can be removed from the head]. Mix together beef, onion, rice and salt. Pull off cabbage leaves, and place [a scoop of; maybe ¼ C or so?] in individual leaves, folding like an envelope. [I remember making these in Home-Ec in Jr. High School!! ;-) Takes me back.] Place rolls on a layer of chopped cabbage in a large pot. Spread chopped cabbage on top.

**Since further on in the process it talks about chopped cabbage as well, I'd suggest boiling the heads to remove the big outer leaves, and then when they start getting small, stop peeling leaves and use the inner part of the head for the chopped part!

Mix brown sugar, raisins, lemon juice and tomatoes and pour over everything. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours. Baste with juices every hour, being careful not to stir.

Here's a recipe that uses lots of red stuff!

Crimson Coleslaw
Bon Appetit (undated clipping)
serves 8

5 tbsp. olive oil, divided
5 tbsp. cherry balsamic or regular balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 C (packed) coarsely grated peeled raw fresh beets (about 2 medium)
1 C paper-thin slices red onion
8 C very thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1 ¼ lbs) [one head of cabbage]

Whisk 4 tbsp. oil, vinegar, and horseradish in large bowl to blend. Add beets and onion; toss to blend.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cabbage and toss until wilted and just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir into beet mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 10 minutes before serving, stirring occasionally.

Cannellini and Kale Ragout
Bon Appetit, March 2004
serves 4

[it's kind of a cross between a soup and a stew]

6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 1 ½-inch-thick slices Italian bread, crusts removed, each slice quartered
1 tsp. plus 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ tsp. dried crushed red pepper
5 C (packed) thinly sliced kale (about 1 large bunch)
1 14½-oz can vegetable broth [or equivalent homemade!]
1 14½-oz can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion in juice [or home-canned equivalent; if you don't have the peppers in there, don't sweat it!]
1 15-oz. can cannellini (white kidney beans), drained

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add bread and 1 tsp. thyme; cook until bread is golden on both sides, turning with tongs, about 2 minutes total. transfer croutons to bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add remaining 4 tbsp. oil, garlic and crushed pepper to same pot; sauté over medium heat 30 seconds. Add kale and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, beans, and remaining 1 tbsp. thyme. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle ragout into shallow bowls. Top with croutons and serve.

I like this next recipe because it is just ALL about the kale!

Black Kale on Toast
from a restaurant in Florence, Italy (Bon Appetit magazine, undated clipping)
serves 6

12 ¾-inch-thick slices ciabatta-style bread
½ C olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, halved
1 lb. black kale [if you don't know, black kale = Lacinato kale], thick ribs cut away and coarsely chopped**

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Brush both sides of bread slices with some olive oil. Arrange bread on rimmed baking sheet. Toast until golden, about 6 minutes. Rub 1 side of toasts with cut side of garlic.

Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water** until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Divide kale among toasts. Drizzle kale with additional olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

**I find it much easier to simply strip the kale from the stems, boil, drain well, and then chop. It's much quicker and less messy! Also, I think 10 minutes is too long. 3 to 5 minutes should be plenty! It's possible that in Italy the kale is harvested more mature and is tougher; that would be the only reason to cook it longer.

Lastly, another apple recipe! Another undated clipping from my files; San Jose Merc this time.

Apple lavender muffins
makes 12 muffins

"The resinous floral flavor of lavender is lightened by sweet apples in these muffins. Fresh or dry lavender flowers can be used interchangeably since their flavor and volume are nearly the same. Look for dried lavender in the bulk herb section of your grocer or natural foods store."

1 ½ C all-purpose flour
½ C sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ C milk
1 tbsp. lavender flowers
½ C butter, melted and cooled
1 lg. egg, beaten
1 C peeled and diced apple, divided use

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease muffin tins (or line with muffin cups).

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, lavender, butter and egg. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir by hand just until batter is evenly moistened. Fold in ½ C of the apples.

Fill prepared muffin tins about three-quarters full. Gently tap filled tins to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle remaining diced apples over muffins. Bake until skewer inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan about 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448