What's up in the fields
Spring weather has been dry, which is a mixed blessing; we can always use more
water, but the fact that it didn't rain when our fruit trees were in bloom also
meant pollination and fruit set has been very good. The soil dried out in time
for us to prepare the fields for planting potatoes, and to transplant all the
seedlings waiting in the greenhouse. Since January we have been sowing a long
list of crops which do well in the early part of the season: Broccoli, Bok Choi,
Lettuce, Fennel, Chinese cabbage, Summer squash, Radicchio, Kale, Chard, Collards
greens, and Parsley. The next wave of plantings will be the more popular summer
crops, such as tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, basil, and peppers. They are on
time to be set outside by mid-April, when all possibility of a late season frost
is over. An early sowing of green beans is also in the ground, together with
some of the baby greens, radishes, carrots and beets. In spring there is always
a dip in crop diversity, as winter crops are depleted and early spring plantings
have not yet matured. It’s a time to be patient, as we anticipate the cycle
of our seasonal bounty to begin. During this ‘dip’ time we will network
with other organic farmers here in the Pajaro Valley to supplement the weekly
content of your shares until our spring plantings mature and are ready for harvest.
This week, some of the crops such as the white beets and rutabagas are still
plentiful from winter. The fava beans, pictured at right, are young and tender
right now and can be cooked whole – pod and all (see Debbie’s recipes).
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Raw goat milk, yogurt, kefir, chevre or ricotta
Members of our CSA have a rare and unique opportunity to get fresh raw goat milk,
cultured products (yogurt and kefir) and handmade artisan cheeses directly from
a very small farm where every goat is lovingly cared for and all are milked by
hand! The farm is Summer Meadows Farm, and the owner, Lynn Selness, is ready
to start customers with delivery of her products, as many of her does have kidded
and the milk is flowing! I have gotten Lynn’s products for a couple years
now myself, and it is delicious and wonderful. It’s like nothing you will
ever see in a store – no pasteurization, no additives... And because these
goats are so pampered and contented, their milk is sweet and delicious, not ‘goaty’ or ‘gamey’ like
some commercial products. It’s just about as close as you can get to owning
and milking your own goat! Actually, it’s closer to that than you think,
as you purchase ‘ownership’ in a goat and she milks your goat for
you (it’s a legal thing).
Anyway, the goat share is very different than the egg and bread ‘options’ you
get through our CSA. You do not buy the goat share from us, but directly from
Lynn. We simply have a symbiotic relationship – our members are interested
in knowing about sources for fair, honest and local food, and Lynn needs a way
to get her product delivered to her customers. So I provide you with the information,
but you make all your signup arrangements for this with her, and she simply piggy-backs
the delivery of her milk products along with our CSA delivery.
One very important thing to note if you sign up for her goat share program: we
do not track which of our members are also her customers. This means that if
you should change pickup locations, for example, you will need to ALSO alert
Lynn to the change, so she knows to route your milk to the new location as well.
Okay, if you’re still reading and are eager to know how to start up a goat
milk share, click
here to download a document Lynn has prepared that explains
everything, including instructions on how to sign up!
(at right: top: Lynn's daughter, Meadow, with two little
friends; does on pasture - nice scenery!; and a mama nursing her babies)
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Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Hey, hooray! The season’s finally started!! Welcome back everyone – I
know many of you have been champing at the bit to start getting their veggies,
so now that it’s finally happening, it’s time for me to give you
some ideas for what to do with them! – Debbie
Let’s start with some explanations for the new folks; no wait, before I
forget – if you’re new to our CSA, be sure to check out the recipe
database on our website. It is an alphabetical listing, by ‘key ingredient’ [i.e.
by veggie] of hundreds of recipes that I’ve put into this newsletter over
the years. What’s also helpful is that there are lots of pictures too,
so if you find something unfamiliar in your box, you can go there and, armed
with the ‘what’s in the box’ list, above, usually figure out
what you have! Okay, back to recipes:
Those stalks in your share that look like leeks... those are actually immature
or ‘green’ garlic. Green garlic is absolutely marvelous, and virtually
the entire stalk can be used, even up into the partially green leaves. Green
garlic is also milder than mature garlic, so you can use lots more of it, proportionally,
than you would regular garlic. Just slice and/or chop it up and use it wherever
you would use any allium (onions, garlic, chives, shallots, leeks are all in
the allium family). Remember to check for dirt first though: like leeks, dirt
typically gets in where the leaf meets the stalk, and so you have to peel back
the leaves a little and look, and wash away dirt as necessary. I
like to keep the parts of the green garlic I don’t cook with in a ziploc
bag in the freezer, along with other veggie trimmings and bones, and make soup
stock with it once I get enough of an accumulation.
How to tell them from the young onions, which are also in the box?? The onions
green stalks are round and hollow; green garlic has flat, v-shaped leaves that
stick out left-right-left-right up the stalk. Another sure way to check is to
use your nose: do a scratch-n-snif. The garlic will smell very much like garlic...
you can’t miss it! ;-)
Young Fava Beans
This is another item you’ll never see in a store. They always wait
to harvest favas until the pods are huge and the beans inside are mature, so
you are in for a treat. When favas are young like you’re getting them this
week, they look like giant green beans, and can basically be cooked just like
them, i.e. pod and all. As long as the pod is still young and tender like this,
I just chop them into segments and steam them, or sauté them with... what
else, some green garlic, of course!
Sautéed young favas and green garlic
Quantities are not an issue here, as you can’t ruin this with ‘too
much’ or ‘too little’ of something really. Just take as many
fava pods as you think you are going to eat, trim the ends and cut them into
bite size (inch-ish) segments. On the diagonal if you want to be fancy ;-) Steam
them for just a few minutes; two, maybe three at most.
Meanwhile, chop up one or more stalks of green garlic (don’t be shy!) and
throw it into a heated skillet with some olive oil and sauté it while
your beans are steaming. When the beans are done, add them to the skillet and
stir/toss/coat with the olive oil and garlic. Season with salt, to taste.
Now you can stop right here and you’ll be fine, but if you want you can
elaborate... cut up and then plump some sundried tomatoes in a little hot water
and add them, along with the water, to your sauté. Stir and cook until
the water has mostly evaporated. You could also add some olives, kalamata or
similar; just be sure to pit them first (or warn your diners that you’ve
left the pits in). You could add them whole, or sliced, or minced... whatever
Another elaboration; try mincing up some anchovies and adding them to
the sautéeing garlic. You won’t need to add salt in the end, in
this case. Squeeze some lemon juice over all at the end. If you don’t like
anchovies, try some diced up bacon or ham. If you’re vegan or vegetarian,
try throwing in some chopped walnuts.
See how easy it is??
White beet and rosemary ‘fries’
My friend and fellow CSA member Alie sent me this idea, which she’d
made up. Said it was simple and tasty! Sounds good to me!
Peel and slice beets into finger-sized pieces
Chop up 1 large shallot [or a stalk of green garlic!]
Mince up the leaves from some fresh rosemary (careful, rosemary is strong; maybe
about a teaspoonful for 3 to 4 medium beets; if you’re not sure, instead
of mincing up the rosemary, pluck a sprig or two and leave whole, include them
in the roasting process, then remove them before serving)
Toss all together with olive oil, salt, pepper and just a little sugar (maybe
a tsp. at most).
Roast in a 375 – 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender
and starting to brown in spots.
Alie says this went really well with lamb!
Another under-appreciated veggie (mostly because people never get them really
fresh), these babies are sweet and delicious. An easy way to prepare them is
to simply peel* and cube them, then steam or boil them in salted water until
tender... maybe 10 minutes; depends on how big you make your cubes. Check them
with the tip of a sharp knife; when done, they should pierce easily.
When done, toss them with butter and salt, or mash them, if you like.
Variations: peel* and cut some of your carrots into segments and steam/boil them
along with the rutabaga. Sauté up some green garlic and add it to the
mash. Chop up some fresh parsley and add it to the mash. Throw a bay leaf into
the cooking water for flavoring (remove before mashing!).
*throw the peels into that bag in your freezer with the green garlic tops! They
are a great soup stock item.
This is a great tip I learned from Amy Kaplan, a former intern at Live Earth
Farm and a real lemon-lover. When you cut a lemon in half and only use one half,
what to do with the other half? How to keep it? I used to wrap it in plastic
or stick it in a ziploc bag... but none of this is necessary! Simply leave the
unused half out on your counter, or on a shelf in your refrigerator (where you
can see it of course, so you don’t forget it’s there)... no wrapping!
The cut side of the lemon will skin over and create its own ‘wrapper.’ You
can keep them this way for several days. Just squeeze and juice normally when
you go to use it.
Red Russian Kale with lemon and parmesan – Debbie’s
Existing members can disregard this one; they’ve heard this song and
dance before – but since we have 150 new people, I have to repeat it, because
it’s such a good recipe and I just love it ;-) The kale comes out silky
and tender, like spinach. You’ll see this recipe alternately called ‘hot
salad’ because I came up with the idea one winter when I was jonesin' for
a green salad but didn’t want to eat anything cold!
This can be made with other leafy greens (chard, collard greens, etc.), but my
favorite is with the Red Russian kale.
Start a pot of water to boiling on the stove. Salt the water well; think ‘seawater.’ This
brings out the flavor of the kale.
Take your bunch of kale. Check leaves for dirt and wash as needed. Strip leaves
from stems by holding the base of the stem in one hand and grasping the leaves
in the other and – zip! they come off easily. Yes, the stems are totally
edible, but they tend to be tough, so I just remove them.
When the water’s boiling, turn the heat down to medium and drop the leaves
in. Poke ‘em down with a wooden spoon occasionally as they like to float
on top. See how beautiful a bright green color they turn as soon as they hit
Boil the kale* for barely 3 minutes, then drain well; squeeze out excess water
with the back of your wooden spoon against the side of the pan or strainer.
Place this ‘lump’ of cooked kale on a cutting board and chop it up.
Divide kale among plates (you can eat it either separately, like a salad, or
as a side dish to a regular meal). Drizzle with good olive oil; the warm kale
makes the olive oil really fragrant and wonderful! Then squeeze a generous amount
of lemon juice over it all.
You can stop right there, and it will be totally delicious, but for that added
something, grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top! Eat and enjoy!!
*a note about boiling kale: some folks prefer to steam it, feeling that nutrients
are lost when the kale is boiled. I’m sure some are, and so want to explain
the boil-vs-steam thing: you can totally make this recipe by steaming your kale
instead of boiling it. The only difference will be in the texture; the boiled
kale will be more tender and succulent. If you steam it, be sure to add salt,
either when steaming, or at the end. It makes a difference. If you’re on
the fence over boiling vs. steaming, try it both ways! See what you think. We’ll
get kale a few more times this year, so you’ll have the opportunity. I
go back and forth myself, so it just depends on your mood (or the texture preferences
of your spouse/children!) ;-)
Lastly, here’s a ‘normal’ recipe
(not just my ramblings). While the weather is still kind of cool, this will be
from an undated Bon Appetit clipping
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, sliced [yes! use one of the fresh onions from your box! If they’re
small, use two!!]
1 head cabbage [it says green cabbage but this will be good with red too], quartered,
cored, and thinly sliced
½ C apple cider
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until
beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage; sauté until slightly
wilted, tossing frequently, about 6 minutes. Stir in apple cider. Reduce heat
to medium; cover and cook until cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally, about
6 minutes. Uncover; simmer until almost all the liquid in pot evaporates, about
3 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
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