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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
6th Harvest Week, Winter Season 2008/2009
Weds. February 11th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
What's Up on the Farm
Bread Classes!!
Bulletin from the "Regular Season" Signup front
What to do with the jars - UPDATE
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
2009 Calendar

" The water cycle and the life cycle are one."
-Jacques Cousteau
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, Fuji
Apricot jam (from LEF apricots; canned by Heidi at Feel Food Foods)
Beets, red
Beets, golden
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage, green
Celery (Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Collard greens
Kale, red Russian
Onions (from Pinnacle Farms)

Bread Option
This week's loaf will be rye with caraway and fennel

What's Up on the Farm
Farmer Tom is away this week, but emailed in with a status report and a few pictures:

The only silver-lining of a dry winter is that farms like ours which have heavier soils, those with a higher clay content, get an earlier planting start.  Just before this last and much needed storm system moved in, we completed our raspberry planting, sowed our first beets, arugula, mustard greens, carrots and radishes, and prepared enough beds to transplant our first wave of spring seedlings growing in the greenhouse.

Packing the SharesWe are finished pruning our plums and pears, the first ones to bloom, and we are still busy pruning the apples, of which about a quarter still need to be completed. The strawberry fields have been weeded, a tedious job which requires removing all the weeds emerging through the same hole in the plastic mulch that the strawberries were planted into. Strawberry plants don't do well competing for nutrients since their root systems are not as vigorous as the endemic and more invasive weeds.

On rainy days we do our equipment and building maintenance, as well as bigger repair and construction projects.  Discs and spades need to be replaced on our tillage equipment, toolbars need to be welded together or repaired, sprayers need to be overhauled, whether it's changing hoses, replacing worn out bearings, or making sure there are no leaks. The biggest winter project has been the construction of our new packing and cooling facility in the remodeled barn. It seems we are still on track to have everything ready by start of the season.

Live Earth Farm's restored barn on the new propertyThe winter crops such as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are slowing down. We still have a lot of sweet and tasty Fuji apples, which will hold us over until the first strawberries are ripe. With two more winter shares ahead of us we are already gearing up for spring and the beginning of another growing cycle. I am glad it's raining now and I hope we get enough to replenish our thirsty landscape.

Bread Classes!!
'Hot out of the oven' from Erin at Companion Bakers in Santa Cruz (Erin and her compadres are the folks who bake the bread for our CSA shares. She is a very knowledgeable baker, so if you want to learn from a pro, consider her offerings!):
"Companion Bakers is offering our popular 'Sourdough Basics for the Home Baker' class coming up in April! We will also be offering a class on 'The History of Sourdough.' Both classes include tastings, hands-on instruction and demonstration. These classes fill up fast! Please email Erin and Companions at companionbakers@gmail.com for information about classes, dates and rates and we will add you to our list!"
Erin says she will email me by the time our next newsletter comes out with exact dates so I can put them into the calendar, but if you're interested, I'd suggest just getting onto her mailing list! - Debbie

Bulletin from the "Regular Season" Signup front
Debbie here again. By now all members should have received their 'balance due' emails from me (if you think you did not, please let me know). I have been recording and confirming your payments as fast as I can, however there is just one of me doing this, and 700 of you (!) so please be patient if you do not hear from me right away. I will get to everybody! If it has been more than two weeks since you sent in your payment and you have still not heard from me, feel free to call or email and see what's up. Every year there are invariably 1 or 2 payments that get lost in the snail mail machinery, but fortunately this is rare.

To the people who are still on our waiting list: I know told many of you I'd hoped to get back to you around the end of January, but obviously that didn't happen. As you can see I am now busy processing members' payments, but I have not forgotten you! Although we are technically 'full' for the season, we have had some drop-outs and rearrangements in our program which opened up additional spaces, and these will be filled from the waiting list. If you are curious, currently there are 148 of you on the list, from November to the present (people who were on the list earlier than November have already been offered the opportunity to sign up). Just remember: pretty much the only way to get a share in our CSA program these days is by being on our waiting list first, so if you really want a share from us eventually, then hang in there. Your chance will come. It just may not be for the start of this season... ;-)

What to do with the jars - UPDATE
Member Terri Lankford had a great idea for dealing with your jam jars! If you'll remember in our last newsletter, we asked that you not return them to your pickup site, but instead just give them to someone you know who cans. But not everyone happens to know people who do their own canning! One member said she'd love to receive people's extra jars, but we could think of no way to get them to her that didn't involve a bunch of work on somebody's part. Enter Terri and her suggestion: why not simply have a spot at our Summer Celebration (or better still, at our Apricot U-picks!), a table, say, where everyone can bring their unwanted jars, and anyone who wants to re-use them for canning may take them? Sounds to me like 'problem solved.'

<> ALL winter CSA deliveries are on WEDNESDAYS, so if you're used to picking up on Thursdays, you have to make the mental switch!

<> Pick-up schedule is NOT every week. Here's a repeat of the dates all winter share members got in an email (these dates are also on our website):

12/3/08 (already passed)
12/10/08 (already passed)
12/17/08 (already passed)
<3 week break over holidays>
1/14/09 (already passed)
<no share 1/21>
1/28/09 (already passed)
<no share 2/4>
2/11/09 <---this week!
<no share 2/18>
<no share 3/4>
3/11/09 = last winter share!

<2 week break>

Weds/Thurs April 1st/2nd = 1st delivery week of the regular season!

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

I've been waiting for the return of collard greens in our winter boxes to run this first recipe. It's something I wrote up several weeks ago, and I've been saving it ever since! - Debbie

Dolmas using collards instead of grape leaves
Well I followed through on my intuition and made 'stuffed cabbage' using collard leaves (see Week 2 newsletter), and it was declared a success by the friends to whom I served it for dinner! So naturally, as I was eating them I noticed how very much like dolmas they looked... so that in turn inspired me to come up with this week's collards recipe! I think this is a win-win recipe too: everyone loves dolmas, and it's a great new way to use your collards, and I don't know about you but I rarely make dolmas because it's the grape leaves that tend to be hard to come by... so now I'll have no excuse not to make them! And I tell you, people will be hard pressed to notice they're made with collards instead of grape leaves (the only possible difference being that collard-dolmas will be bigger/longer than grape-leaf-dolmas, and the leaves will be a darker green).

1 bunch of collard greens (about 16 leaves)
½ C olive oil, divided
2 C cooked rice
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ C fresh mint, chopped (or 2 tbsp. dried)
zest from one lemon, minced (use the Meyers we got last week!)
juice of one lemon (ditto!)
Salt to taste
½ C pine nuts, finely chopped
(optional filling additions: ground lamb or beef [sauté with onions; reduce volume of rice proportionally]; diced red sweet pepper; cayenne; dill; parsley; another recipe flavored it's filling with cinnamon, allspice and currants!)
(also optional: using chicken or veggie broth instead of water in cooking step)

Prepare collards:
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil; stick the collards in stem-ends up and boil until just softened, barely a minute. Grab them by their stem 'handles' and at the sink, pull them out and rinse under cold water a moment or so to stop cooking. Shake well to remove excess water. Lay leaves one at a time on a cutting board and carefully cut out stem from leaf (only partway up into leaf; don't bisect the leaf, you want it whole).

Prepare filling:
Heat ¼ C of the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and mix in the rice, mint, lemon zest, salt to taste, and pine nuts (and any additional ingredients or different combination of spices - just don't leave out the mint and lemon zest). Mix thoroughly, making sure the rice is well coated with oil.

Assembling the dolmas:
Spread a collard leaf out, stem side up and (former) stem end towards you. The collard leaves will be different sizes, so use your judgment as to how much filling to put in each, but I'd recommend sort of spooning it on in more-or-less a log shape roughly an inch in diameter, perpendicular to the stem. Fold the stem end over the filling, bringing the sides of the leaf towards the center and then roll tightly, forming a cylinder. Repeat until all the filling and leaves are used.

Cooking the dolmas (stovetop):
Place the dolmas close together and seam side down in a large skillet, snugly (so they don't unroll) and in a single layer. Drizzle the lemon juice and remaining ¼ C olive oil over the dolmas and add boiling water (or broth) to cover. Cover the pan tightly and simmer for 1 hour. Let dolmas cool in the liquid, then transfer them to a serving platter. Serve at room temperature.

Cooking the dolmas (oven):
Prepare as described above except in a glass baking dish (or enameled cast iron) and cover tightly with a lid or foil*, then bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) about 45 minutes to an hour.

*you don't want the foil to touch the dolmas; the acid in the lemon juice can pit the aluminum (the same will happen with a tomato sauce) and you don't want to ingest the aluminum. It won't poison you, but you just want to avoid this is all.

Russian Cabbage Borscht
from Mosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen
serves 5

1 C thinly sliced, peeled beets
1 ½ C thinly sliced, peeled potato
4 C water or stock
1 ½ C chopped onion
2 tbsp. butter
1 scant tsp.caraway seeds
2 tsp. salt
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large [or more small] carrot, sliced
3 C chopped cabbage
1 tbsp. raisins, optional
Black pepper
¼ tsp. dried dill weed, or 1 tsp. minced fresh
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. honey
1 C tomato puree

Sour cream
Dill weed
Chopped tomato [since we don't have fresh tomatoes, how about chopping up some of your Happy Girl Kitchens tomatoes from prior winter boxes? Or plump up and dice some sundried tomatoes?]

Place beets, potatoes and water in a saucepan and cook until everything is tender. SAVE THE WATER.

Begin cooking the onions in the butter in a large kettle. Add caraway seeds and salt. Cook until onion is translucent, then add celery, carrots and cabbage. Add water from beets and potatoes and cook, covered, until all the vegetables are tender. Add potatoes, beets and all remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer slowly for at least 30 minutes. Taste to correct seasonings. Serve with toppings listed.

I like the sound of this next recipe, but pancetta is a luxury and so I've never had it around. It's essentially just fancy Italian bacon; I always try to keep bacon in my freezer though - wrapped in 2-to-4 strip batches, so I don't have to thaw a whole pound whenever I need a little bacon to flavor something - so I am hereby decreeing that this recipe would be fine with ordinary bacon! Of course, if you DO have or get pancetta, by all means, use that!! ;-)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar and Pancetta [or bacon]
modified from another Bon Appetit clipping
serves 4 to 5

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed an halved
3 oz. pancetta, chopped [or 3 strips of meaty bacon... or even ham]
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tbsp. chopped fresh thyme [or about 1/2 tsp. dried]

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Oil or grease a rimmed baking sheet. In a bowl, toss brussels, pancetta or bacon, and garlic with the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread mixture out in a single layer on prepared sheet. Roast until brussels are tender and brown, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle with thyme, stir to coat, then return to oven for another 5 minutes or so. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Golden Beet Carpaccio
Bon Appetit April 2007, modification suggestions by Debbie
serves 6

I know we're not going to have arugula for awhile, but I couldn't help running this recipe anyway, as it sounds so yummy! Plus if I run it now, it'll be in the recipe database for when you want to go find it later You could easily substitute spicy mustard greens for the arugula ('course we don't have them right now either). But I bet you could also have fun substituting something like barely-al-dente-brussels-sprouts-leaves! They would provide the contrasting color, and the nuttiness should go well with the sweet beets and savory/sour onion and capers ~ I think I'd squeeze a little lemon over it all too, but that's just me!

4 medium (2 ½-inch diameter) golden beets, trimmed, scrubbed
3 tbsp. olive oil
½ C very thinly sliced red onoin
¼ C good olive oil
2 tbsp. drained capers
2 tbsp. minced fresh chives
6 C (loosely packed) arugula leaves [or mustard greens, or sprouts leaves*]

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss beets with oil in a roasting pan, sprinkle with salt, cover with foil and roast until tender, about 50 minutes. Let beets stand covered at room temperature 20 minutes. Peel beets, place in a bowl, cover and chill at least 1 hr.

Toss onion, oil, capers, and chives in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thinly slice beets, and arrange in concentric circles on each of 6 plates [or one big platter!]. Mound arugula [or other green options] atop center of beets on each and then spoon onion-caper mixture over. Sprinkle with salt and grated fresh pepper [and maybe drizzle with a little lemon juice!]. [I think you could also not bother to mix the onions-capers-oil, but rather scatter the sliced onion and capers over the greens and beets, then drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.]

*how I'd do the sprouts leaves: remove and discard any outer, discolored leaves and cut bottom off sprouts. Carefully peel leaves off into a bowl, cutting down base as you go (as needed) to make the leaves pry off easier. Once you've got your bowlful of leaves, put them in a steamer over boiling water for barely a minute - check and see if they've brightened up. That's all you want; you don't want to cook them, really, just soften them the tiniest bit. I wouldn't bother to add anything else to them, because they're going to get 'dressed' with the olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon, capers, and onions!

Rutabaga 'Fries'
Garlic Rutabaga 'Fries'
Beet and Rutabaga 'Fries'
etc. etc.
from Debbie's Kitchen

This one's easy!! As you can see by the title, it's flexible too. Think oven-baked 'fries' just like you would do with potatoes, only cut up your rutabagas and/or beets and do the same thing. You can cut them into sticks or wedges. If the skins are fairly smooth (not all gnarly and hairy), you can scrub them and leave the peels on, again, like you would with a potato. At a minimum, toss them with olive oil and salt... after that you can get creative: add freshly ground black pepper, and/or chopped garlic, and/or finely minced rosemary or thyme. All you're going to do is bake them in a fairly hot oven (around 400 degrees) on a baking sheet, shaking pan or tossing occasionally with a spatula, until they are soft on the inside and browned on the outside. Try setting the timer for 20 minutes (stirring once during that time), and if they don't look done, put 'em in for another 10 and check again. It's not an exact science!

Serve as is, or maybe with some finely minced parsley scattered on top... or even with catsup or hot sauce!

Lastly, we gotta have another apple recipe of course! This is what I would call a 'slow food' recipe, because it involves a yeasted dough which takes time... but it sounds yummy and the presentation is beautiful! I laughed out loud when I read the last paragraph as I was typing it ~ you will too ;-)

Apple cinnamon ring
from a January 2004 SJ Mercury News clipping
Serves 8

For dough:
1 C water
3 tbsp. honey
1 packet active dry yeast
3 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus additional for mixing bowl
1 ¼ tsp. salt
2 ¼ C white bread flour or all-purpose flour

For filling:
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced
¼ C raisins
1/3 C walnut or pecan pieces
1 egg

Combine dough ingredients, one at a time, in a large bowl, stirring together in order presented, finally adding flour one cup at a time, keeping ½ C set aside until the mix is ready to knead. Mix with spoon or your hands until it begins to form a lump. Then lightly dust tabletop with some of remaining flour, turn mound out of bowl, and let rest 10 minutes. Dust hands with a little extra flour and begin kneading: Gently push dough away from you so that it flattens out, give it a quarter-turn, and fold it in half towards you. Repeat as many as 100 times, dusting hands and table with flour to prevent dough from sticking. Add just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to tabletop. When the kneading is done, dough will be soft and tender, like the lobe of your ear.

Pour a little oil into a clean mixing bowl and roll kneaded dough inside bowl to coat with oil. Cover bowl with dishcloth or plastic wrap, and let it double in size in a corner of kitchen where there are no drafts. After about an hour, punch it down in bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On well-floured tabletop, roll dough into rectangle about 6 by 12 inches. Once it is rolled out, be sure there is enough flour under dough so that it moves freely on tabletop.

Mix cinnamon and brown sugar and spread evenly on flattened dough. Spread apple slices and raisins over dough - leaving a half inch of space along top and bottom of 12-inch-long edge. Sprinkle nuts on dough, reserving 8 nut pieces.

Roll dough along 12-inch edge into a log, jelly-roll style. Bring ends of log together to form circle, pinch dough to join ends.

Slide or carefully lift circle onto cookie sheet or pizza pan, and let rest for half an hour.  Make eight 2-inch diagonal slits along the top, only deep enough to cut through top layer of dough. Place a nut piece in each slit. Beat egg and brush it on dough.

Bake 45-60 minutes, until it turns rustic brown. Serve immediately to others to prevent eating it all yourself. Keeps well and makes a delicious breakfast bread or simple dessert.

Tom and Constance have finally had a moment to look ahead and set dates for the year's events. They have also made some changes. Here is the current schedule, and we will update the calendar here in the newsletter regularly. Meanwhile, mark your calendar for the following:

NEW!! Farm Workshops/Lectures
this is an idea that is still forming...
Possible subjects to include Permaculture, Fermented Foods, Farming with the Wild... stay tuned!

NEW!! Community Farm Days
Every 4th Saturday of the month from May through October, 9am - 4pm
Participants are welcome to arrive Friday evening and camp out overnight to Saturday. Please leave your dogs at home, thanks! The intent of Community Farm Days is to increase the opportunity for members and their families to experience and enjoy a slice of "life on the farm" at different times of the year - kind of like our old Mini Camp, but for members of all ages! Each month will have a different activity focus, and will be announced in advance here in the newsletter.

Apricot U-Pick Days
two Sundays: July 5th and July 12th
Bring your own bags.

"Start of Summer" Celebration
Saturday June 27th
(Same as our old 'Solstice' Celebration, just not on the Solstice weekend!)

*** Children's Mini-Camp has been discontinued, and is being replaced with the above-mentioned Community Farm Days. ***

Fall Harvest Celebration
Saturday October 24th

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448