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Live Earth Farm Newsletter
11th Harvest Week, Season 13
June 16th - 22nd, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Farm dynamic: A Glimpse
Don't miss this Saturday's Solstice Celebration
A Note from Debbie
Recipe Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
You-Pick Apricots - July 5th
"Nature is loved by what is best in us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
What's in the box this week

Family Share: Mei Qing Choi, Lettuce, Arugula, Radicchio, French Breakfast Radishes, Summer Squash, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Carrots, Broccoli, Strawberries.

Small Share: Mei Qing Choi, Lettuce, Arugula, Radicchio, French Breakfast Radishes, Summer Squash, Kale, Onions, Carrots, Strawberries.

Extra Fruit Share: Strawberries, Blackberries.

No Bounty Share: None this week, strawberries are slowing down, will start again in 2 weeks when the apricots and more bushberries become ripe.
Farm Dynamic: A Glimpse
Six o' clock Monday morning, I enjoy a quiet moment alone in the fields to finalize the  harvest schedule, assess each of the crops and prioritize the many tasks as we begin another busy week. The lush green rows of tender Arugula are ready for this week's harvest. I notice the flea-beetles have been particularly voracious, all the leaves have their signature "holiness" chewed into them. The tiny holes are only cosmetic and don't compromise the wonderful peppery taste. I nibble on some butter lettuce to neutralize the zesty arugula taste in my mouth and head over to the carrot patch. I try to pull out a carrot, but as it so often happens in our heavy soils, only end up with leaves in my hands. I make a note to irrigate before tomorrow's harvest.  This way the soil will be soft, making the harvest a bit easier and preventing too many carrots from being left stuck in the ground.  I love the feeling of pulling a carrot out of the soil, it's like a treasure hunt, and best of all, biting into a sweet, crunchy carrot is instantly satisfying.  Across from the carrot patch on the other side of the pond are the radishes, a quick look confirms that they have sized up enough to be included in this week's shares.  The spinach however is too small, and I am a bit worried the weeds will have all but choked them out by next week. I check on the maturity of our first stand of green beans, one more deep watering and within a week we should be able to start harvesting.  It may almost coincide with the first harvest of red potatoes. The morning is perfect for planting our last crop of tomatoes (mostly dry-farmed and paste tomatoes), which, if all goes well, will mature by the end of September and with enough heat last until November. Cucumber and lettuce seedlings are also ready to be planted. The beds are ready, I instinctively stick my hand into the moist and freshly prepared soil. I let it run through my fingers, noticing how much crumblier and richer the soil has gotten since we've started leasing this ground three years ago. We've been paying a lot of attention to crop rotations and investing in annual applications of compost and mineral amendments, mostly gypsum and rockdus.
I am thinking if we can finish planting the tomatoes before 10 o'clock we should have enough time to still get the cucumbers and lettuce in the ground. After lunch it's time to split into groups, some will harvest for Tuesday's farmer's market and CSA and others will stake and trellis tomatoes. The farm is like a wonderful dynamic playground of innumerable visible and invisible interactions, like a living organism it has it's own character and my place in this relationship is  to maintain an optimal state of well-being for soils, crops, animals, and the people who tend to them.

As members of this farm you are directly involved in this dynamic relationship. The meaning of Community in Agriculture is centered around one of mutual commitment, a commitment between us the growers and you the eaters (for lack of a better word) to share the risk and benefits inherent in growing food. Such a commitment is rooted in the pleasures one discovers from eating and sharing food grown by local hands from local lands.
The Summer Solstice celebration is a moment we celebrate and acknowledge this joint commitment, a commitment that respects the simple mystery of seed and soil, the foundation of endless possibilities, and revive the bond that ties farmers and their community into a more harmonious relationship with the Earth and with each other.

Don't miss the Live Earth Farm Summer Solstice Celebration:
Again I want to remind all our members, friends and families to come and join us this weekend, June 21, for the farm's biggest yearly event: The Live Earth Farm Summer Solstice Celebration. If you haven't been to the farm, this is a good time to do it, meet fellow CSA members and enjoy a fun filled celebration. Come early, we have a lot of interesting hands-on activities for everyone, especially the kids. This is a good opportunity to just enjoy the farm for a day, if you are eager to help, let us know or just show up before 12. The schedule of events is as follows:

Start  of Celebration: 12 Noon

Baking with Erin Justin: Learn how to prepare sourdough to make Breads, Pizzas,and  Pastries and bake some goodies in our woodfired cob-oven "Toastie"  12:30 -5:00

Permaculture and Herbal workshop with Brian Barth: Make your own salves from herbs growing in the Garden Sanctuary. Learn about basic applications of permaculture design and sustainable building techniques  1:00-5:00

Milking and Cheesemaking workshop with Bernadette Lehmann: "Bernie" is in charge of our small herd of goats, learn more about goat husbandry, milking and basic cheese making techniques. 2:00-4:30

U-Pick Strawberries and Blackberries: Most of the afternoon.

Garlic braiding under the Plum trees: self-harvested and self-taught with instructions provided.

Farm tours with Farmer Tom: 2:00 and 4:00 PM. One walking tour and one tractor/wagon riding tour. See Live Earth Farms expansion to the new land next door, we'll visit the apple and apricot orchards. Learn about sustainable farming practices, the history of the farm, the future of farming and maybe snack on the first ripe apricots. "Airy" Larry from the Banana Slugs may join us to inspire and entertain while exploring the spontaneity of place.

Self-guided walking tours encouraged all afternoon.

Children activities: Scavenger Hunt, Strawbbale fort, farm animals, strawberry chocolate dipping, face painting, and more... IMPORTANT: Please bring your own bags, i.e. tote bags, to take part in the scavenger hunt.

LEF Discovery Program with Jessica Ridgeway: Visit our education booth and become more familiar with our ongoing educational programs as well as future efforts currently being developed. 

Music with Kuzanga Marimba:  Starts at 5:30 until 6:00 to bring us all together for dinner and continues from 6:30-9:00PM

Solstice Bonfire around 7:30

gain the nitty grittiies as posted in last week's newsletter:
How do I get there? Directions are on our website www.liveearthfarm.net
***save gas and the environment and carpool if you can! Try the Friends of LEF Yahoo Group for finding carpool buddies if you don't know other members in your area***
When should I get there? Activities will happen between 12 and 5pm, Kuzanga begins playing around 5:30, then we break for our traditional potluck around 6pm. After the potluck, Kuzanga continues to play, and then we light the bonfire at dusk.
Do I need to make a reservation, or let you know I'm coming? No.
What is the cost? There is no cost; all we ask is that you bring food to share in our potluck.
What else should I bring? We encourage you to bring your own picnic plates and utensils in order to minimize unrecyclable garbage. We will have a w
ashing station, where you can rinse them when you are through eating. Also, bring a blanket to picnic on, and it gets cool in the evening so don't forget sweaters and jackets.
Can I bring someone who is not a member of the CSA? Yes, certainly! All friends of the farm are welcome! Just remember to bring food to share in the potluck!!

A Note from Debbie
Hi everyone; sorry I was out of commission last week... I'm mostly better now, but have a lot on my plate these days, and so in order to free up my time to better deal with membership management and other pressing needs, I will not be editing, assembling and sending the newsletter every week like I used to. I'm teaching Tom how to use our newsletter emailing program, Constant Contact, (he did a pretty good job last week, don't you think?), and we are also discussing having others at the farm learn the ropes, so that we can all take turns sending it out. I still intend to prepare it on a rotational basis though. I envision a protocol wherein the subject line (or 'from') of each week's newsletter/email identifies who is preparing it that week. And I will try to send recipe ideas to the preparer (if it's not my week), so that you won't go too many weeks between new ideas!

Please do continue to email me with your own recipe inspirations; I do keep them on file, and use them in newsletters when I have a 'veggie match'.

Oh, one more thing: when others are doing the newsletter, it may not get sent out Monday night like when I'm preparing it. It should be sent out sometime on Tuesday though, so you have it before Wednesday's delivery. But since I work on the farm Tues/Weds, the reference copy of the newsletter probably won't get formatted and uploaded to the website until later in the week (Thursdays probably).

Recipe Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
[Though I'm not doing the whole newsletter this week, I took a little time to put together some recipes for you! - Debbie]

Ooh, I'm very excited to see radicchio back on the list! And I'm so sorry to have missed talking to you about dill last week; I hope you all enjoyed playing with it. I made Farrell's Cauliflower Puree with lots of butter and salt, and blended in a bunch of finely minced dill... and it was delicious!! I also put dill in my scrambled eggs, and blended it into a mayo-lemon-garlic sauce for grilled fish; ooh it was so good!

Debbie's Pan Browned Radicchio

But back to radicchio - my favorite way to prepare this is to pan brown it: take the head of radicchio, quarter it, leaving the stem intact to hold the quarters together. [pictures at left added 6/25: since the head I used was more oblong, I just halved it instead of quartering it, but the principle is the same.] With one hand, kind of fan each quarter out a bit, so that when you sprinkle it with salt, the salt gets down in-between the leaves as well as on the outside. The best skillet to use is cast iron, but if you don't have one, use what you have. Heat oil in the skillet over medium heat, then lay the quarters in their sides, stems to the middle (fanned out pinwheel style). Using a spatula, press down on them, to encourage them to flatten out. Reduce heat to medium-low or so, cover and cook for a maybe 5 minutes, going in every so often to press down on them again with the spatula. They will start to turn brown (this is good). You don't want them to burn, but you do want them to get well browned and fully wilted. When they seem to be softening up well and flattening easier, carefully flip them over so they can brown on the other side, maybe another 5 minutes or so. Continue pressing down on them periodically. When they are done (they should be brown through-and-through and nice and soft), drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over them, down in-between the leaves, and cook another minute or so.

You can serve them just like this and they are delicious, but if you want to go one step further, slice up some mozarella cheese and lay it on top of the radicchio, cover and heat until melted, then serve. Or if you have the wherewithal (and an oven-proof skillet), slip the pan under a broiler, or into a very hot oven, so that the cheese not only melts, but browns a little bit, like the top of a pizza!

Member Eri Baker, a new member this year, wrote me saying, "This is my first year with the farm, and it's been a great pleasure for my family to enjoy your veggies and strawberries every week! Since I'm Japanese, I tend to cook the veggies in non-Western ways, and I thought I could share some of my recipes with you." I thought this was a wonderful idea, so here's what she sent in. Although we're not getting mizuna or spinach this week, we are getting other veggies to which these recipes would totally apply:

Leafy Greens (Chard, spinach, mizuna, etc.), Japanese-style
from Eri Baker

In Japan, we often blanch leafy greens such as spinach and mizuna.  After blanching, we rinse the leaves with cold water as quickly as possible in order retain as many nutrients as possible.  Then we squeeze all the water out by wringing the blanched leaves, cut them into bite-size pieces and dress it with 'ponzu' (see below), a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and a little seasoning.  If you don't have ponzu, you can use any dressing you like.  The key is to use as little as possible because we don't want to overpower the flavor of chard or whatever leafy veggie we are eating.  We always top it off with tons of sesame seeds, either whole or ground.
My almost-2-year-old daughter LOVES the stems of Chard.  Again, I blanch them and leave them a little crunchy.  I put a little dressing and lots of sesame seeds and this is her favorite snack these days!
Green Garlic and Baby Onions, Japanese-style
from Eri Baker
I make a noodle dish with these veggies.  Just cut it up and stir fry them with some sliced pork (or beef or chicken) and shredded carrots for a nice color.  The key is Chinese stock.  It usually comes in powder or paste and this stock is used for so many Chinese dishes you experience at Chinese restaurants from stir-fry to fried rice.  You can buy it at Asian grocery stores.  I add a little bit of stock for a flavor and finish it with salt and pepper to taste.  As the Chinese stock already has some salt in it, I usually don't add salt at all.  
You can buy Japanese or Chinese noodles at Asian grocery stores, but you can easily substitute it with regular spaghetti.  It's still very nice.  If you don't use Chinese stock, you could drizzle a little soy sauce and sesame oil with salt and pepper.  It should turn out pretty tasty as well.
Mizuna, Japanese-style
by Eri Baker

As you may or may not know, 'mizuna' is a Japanese word and it means "water vegetable".  Just like all the other leafy veggies, we blanch it, probably for 30 seconds, and squeeze the water out.  The most traditional way of dressing mizuna is a little bit of soy sauce and mustard.  The dressing should always be very light. The spiciness of mustard goes very well with mizuna (and I just learned that the English word for mizuna is "potherb mustard" -- no wonder they go so well with a mustardy dressing!).

Japanese dressings for greens
by Eri Baker  

For those who don't care for vinegary "ponzu", I recommend another traditional way of dressing, "goma-ae", meaning "dressed with sesame seeds".  Traditionally, we grind lots of seeds in a mortar and add soy sauce, rice wine, Japanese stock (dashi) and sugar.  However, I found a convenient alternative, which is a combination of soy sauce, rice wine and sweet peanut butter! Rice wine adds a little mildness and it also increases the amount of the dressing. If you keep peanut butter in a refrigerator, you need to microwave it so that it's smooth to mix. Lots of sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil will add a perfect final touch and this dressing is really good for spinach.:-)

Member Bruce Horn writes in with his favorite way to cook summer squash:

Grilled Summer Squash
courtesy of member Bruce Horn

My favorite way to cook zucchini and crookneck squash is on the grill. This is similar to instructions you have already under "Summer Squash Ideas" but with a few details added.

Slice squash lengthwise in half-inch thick strips as long and wide as possible.
Brush with olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Grill 4-6 minutes depending on heat of grill, turning once or twice.
Squash is done when it bends when you pick it up.

This method also works great for red onions, bell peppers, peaches and pears!

And Traci Townsend sent me this recipe her mom used to make, including a story to go with. What I particularly like is Traci's fearlessness with veggie substitution!

Classic Beef (or chicken)-Veggie Stir-Fry
courtesy of member Traci Townsend
(original recipe is 'Beef and Green Peppers', but read on...)

"So I had some beef (grass-fed, of course) and my mound o' veggies from LEF, and I remembered an old recipe my mom used to make.  When we lived in Okinawa (I was seven), Mom took a Chinese cooking class from a lovely lady named Deanna Lu, and our favorite meal - and the only one she kept cooking, for over 25 more years (until she died) - was Beef and Green Peppers.  (My brother used to request it every time he came home from his overseas deployments as his first meal at home.)  Now, I've had the recipe for the marinade for a LONG time and have used it with chicken, too, and have pretty much kept the veggies the same - green peppers, onions, and water chestnuts. (Okay, I'd occasionally throw in some broccoli...)

"This evening, though, I thought, well, why not?  So I offer the following, with regards to Deanna Lu and my mom, also Deanna - Deanna DiNallo."

1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. pale dry sherry (or any dry white wine will do)
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 shakes black pepper
1 tsp. ginger root (or tsp. ground ginger)
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt to taste

1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/3 C water

lb. beef - top round steak - or chicken (I find boneless breast works best)
Peanut oil
1 can of sliced water chestnuts
Cut up 3-4 peppers and 1 large onion (Okay, so this is where I digressed.  I cut up a mess o' chard, 1 bulbs of green garlic, and one LEF onion, plus I chopped up the Napa cabbage. I suspect one can use any combo of veggies that are even remotely reminiscent of Asia. :-))

Combine all of the marinade ingredients.  Cut the meat (whatever you're using) into bite-size pieces, and place it and the marinade in a small bowl and cover it (Tupperware works great for this part).  Marinate at least a half hour. (I like to do this in the morning and have it ready for dinnertime. The flavors are amazing.)

Heat some peanut oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok.  When the oil is hot, add meat and marinade and stir-fry until the meat is no longer pink. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside, leaving drippings in pan. Add a bit more oil to the pan, then add the veggies in the order in which it will take them to cook evenly.  Tonight, I started with the green garlic and onion, then added the cabbage, and the chard went in last.  Stir-fry until they're all done.  (If you need to add a bit of water to help the veggies steam, by all means do so.)

While the veggies are cooking, combine the glaze ingredients and set aside.

When the veggies are done to your liking, add the meat back to the pan to heat it back up. Pour the glaze into the pan and stir until the glaze glazes - about a minute or two.

Serve over rice or Asian noodles.

This serves two or three people, depending on how hungry they are. The marinade and glaze recipes easily double.

YUM!  :-)

Since we've been inundated in strawberries lately, several folks have sent me ideas for what to do with them! I hereby pass them along:

Open-faced strawberry sandwich
courtesy of member Heather Murdoch, who says "like everyone else I'm knee deep in strawberries right now. Here's one of my favorite ways to use them."

This recipe comes from Giada De Laurentis on food network. It's quick and easy and amazingly delicious. The only complication is that it is best made with a kitchen (or other) torch, but you can use a broiler as well. Start with a slice of a good, rustic bread - like a pugliese, something a bit chewy - about 1/2 inch thick. Toast the bread, on a grill if possible, then spread with butter. Top with a layer of sliced strawberries and sprinkle with sugar. You want the sugar to form a fairly solid but thin layer over the berries. Then fire up the torch and caramelize the sugar, like on a creme brulee. Eat. The heat from the torch releases some of the juice from the berries without cooking them and the combination of fresh berries, butter, bread and caramelized sugar is just pure goodness. If you DO have a portable torch, this is a great simple dessert for a cookout or picnic!

Strawberry Pineapple Freezer Jam
courtesy of member Holly Trapp

2 C prepared strawberries (about 1 qt. fully ripe strawberries)
1/2 C canned crushed pineapple with syrup
2 tbsp. lemon juice
5 C (2 1/4 lb.) sugar
3/4 C water
1 box (1 3/4 oz.) Fruit Pectin
Thoroughly crush, one layer at a time, about 1-quart of berries. Measure 2 cups into a large bowl or pan. Add pineapple with syrup and lemon juice. Thoroughly mix sugar and fruit and set aside. Mix water and fruit pectin in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir into fruit mixture.

Continue stirring about 3 minutes (a few sugar crystals will remain). Ladle quickly into jars. Cover at once with tight lids. Let stand at room temperature until set (may take up to 24 hours) then store in freezer.

If the jam will be used within 2 or 3 weeks it can be stored in refrigerator. Makes about 7 medium-size jars or glasses.

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing
courtesy of member Julie Nano, from the May/June 2008 World Ark magazine for Heifer International

1 C fresh strawberries, trimmed
1 tbsp. honey (optional)
1/2 C balsamic vinegar (preferably white)
1 C olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Place strawberries and honey into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and very juicy. Transfer to a bowl and add vinegar. Let stand 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, and discard solids. Whisk strawberry-vinegar mixture with salt and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking well. Delicious over a spinach salad with fresh strawberries, goat cheese and roasted pecans.

Apricots: Come and Pick-your-own -July 5th
We'll have a bumper crop of Apricots. The Royal Blenheims are the best tasting Apricots of any I know and we have over 300 trees which, come July, will be begging to be picked. This is your chance to stock up and make your favorite jams, chutneys, icecreams, compots, or drying them, you name it, apricots will lend themselves to inspire your culinary imagination. Right now I am planning to open the farm on Saturday the 5th of July from 10-5. Bring your own containers, price will be 2.00/lb.
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