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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
13th Harvest Week, Season 13
June 30th - July 6th, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Fires, Eagles and Weeds
In the field this week
Welcome New Members!
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
Calendar of Events
"When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."  - Aldo Leopold  A Sand County Almanac

What's in the box this week

Content differences between Family and Small Shares are in red; items with a "+" in Family Shares are more in quantity than in Small; anticipated quantities, if any, are in parentheses, as are the source of any produce if not from Live Earth Farm (LEF). Occasionally content will 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]

Family Share
Broccoli or broccolini
Cucumbers +
Lettuce +
Mei qing choi
Potatoes +
Purslane +
Summer squash +
Strawberries (always see
next to your name on checklist at pickup site for how much fruit to take)
Apricots (ditto)

Small Share
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Mei qing choi
Summer squash
Strawberries (always see next to your name on checklist at pickup site for how much fruit to take)
Apricots (ditto)

Extra Fruit
(always see checklist at your pickup site for final quantities)
Wednesday: Apricots, strawberries and blackberries
Thursday: Apricots, strawberries and raspberries

Fruit Bounty
Bounty is back on!!
Apricots and strawberries  (see checklist by your name for quantities to take)

Fires, Eagles, and Weeds
llamaWhat Fires, Eagles, and Weeds have in common is that all three are wild and all three have an attraction to the farm. Although the farm is under no immediate threat from fires this week, the Basin Fire along the Big Sur Coastline about 11/2 hours south is raging uncontained. The air in the entire region is suffused with an unnerving yellow cast and a fine dust of ashes covers most outdoor surfaces. Our friend Pamela who lives above Molera State Park near Big Sur decided to pack up and get herself and her animals out of harms way. The fire is only one mountain ridge away from hers and she said she could see flames flaring hundreds of feet into the air at times.  Her 5 llamas and 2 goats arrived at the farm yesterday where they share space with our goat herd.
Living in California's rural and wilder environs means we choose to expose ourselves to the forces of nature which are occasionally destructive and often awe inspiring. Last week was one of these unexpected and awe inspiring moments when a young Golden Eagle in search for an easy lunch got trapped in our chicken-coop. It explained the mysterious loss of chickens we were scratching our heads about. It was thanks to Reynaldo, who with his calm courage, was able to catch the stunned young raptor and allowed us to get a close view before he released it again. I was so taken by this fortuitous and rare encounter that the loss of a few domesticated chickens almost felt justifiable. Our fields are for the most part surrounded by  native habitat of plants and animals, the boundaries between domesticated and wilderness are easily blurred and most of the time that means that the farm is a source of food for a diverse community of living creatures, a community I like to believe we humans can coexist with. 

There are times when something believed wild and intrusive actually turns out to be tasty and nutritious.  In our domesticated fields there is a "wild vegetable"  commonly known as purslane which thrives when summer comes around. Popular in many dishes around the world Purslane is often shunned as a weed. One only has to remember that many of our common vegetables used to be weeds or came from wilder ancestors which were simply improved with breeding to make them more palatable. Purslane has little succulent, pillow-like leaves and it's tender sprig-ends can be added to salads for an interesting crunchy texture, or the more more mature parts of the plants are great in stir-fries. In Mexico and among our workers, purslane is eaten in omelets, as a side dish, or in soups and stews. We all know that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps lower cholesterol levels and reduce heart problems. Purslane has more omega-3 fatty acids than any other vegetable, and six times the vitamin E content of spinach. So, enjoy this "wild treat" and don't be shy to experiment!

A few years ago I reflected on this same subject and it still rings true today. Our natural world is one of constant contrast, and we seem to be in a period where the experience of these contrasts is becoming more extreme. On the farm, every season is different. There isn't a season when we aren't going around saying, "Isn't this unusual weather we're having." There is always something unusual about the weather and we work with the elements and have to take our chances with them. Whether they're kind or not, they're doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing. The unpredictability of farming in wilder environments adds excitement to every season, keeping us from settling into complacency. It's an act of faith when we plant a seed and expect that in a few short months it will produce an abundant harvest. Plants and animals have to withstand whatever nature dishes out, and as farmers we experience the elements together with them. I like that!

- Tom

In the field this week
Oh fruit bounty you make my tummy hurt. Yesterday I ate more apricots than my stomach could handle, we have a bumper crop and they are irresistable. Enjoy, since they are only with us for the next three weeks. Remember we have a U-Pick Apricot day on July 5th!

On a more depressing note, the harvest from our first three plantings of green beans will be slim due to a combination of early cold spells, bugs, rabbits, squirrls, and deer. I am sure we'll be in the "drivers seat " by mid to end of July. We hope the apricots will make up for it instead. Carrots again next week, beautiful spinach and..... more apricots!!!
Welcome New Members!
This week we are welcoming 37 new members to Live Earth Farm's CSA program, to bring us to a total membership of 700! Yep, it's as hard for me to believe [this is Debbie] as it is for you... but Farmer Tom is making it happen so that more of you can be on the receiving end of his wonderful organic produce. So welcome, new members, to our extended CSA family! You are coming aboard just as the farm is subtly shifting from spring to summer crops, and the fruit is becoming more than just strawberries. We hope you enjoy the bounty that the earth we till and care for provides!
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
For you newcomers this week: I always provide a batch of recipes here to help the creative juices flow when it comes to using what's in your box, but I also collect and organize them in what is now a pretty massive recipe database (recipes going back 10 years from the weekly newsletter!), so if you want more ideas, check it out! (Click here to go to recipe database.) Oh, and one more thing: if I ever add my two cents within someone else's recipe, I enclose it in [square brackets] so you know it's me talking.

Okay... this is exciting - unless Tom changes something at the last minute (remember to always check next to your name on the checklist), EVERYBODY should be getting apricots this week!! (Oh, and while we're on the subject of apricots: don't forget this coming Saturday July 5th is the Apricot U-pick here on the farm! See calendar below for more info.) And the other summer 'fun' veggie this week is purslane! To the uninitiated it is just a weed, but here on the farm we know better. This nutritious succulent is tasty and easy to work with. Here's what I wrote last year when we had purslane:

What to know about cooking with purslane
Packing the SharesFirst off, I'd like to encourage everyone to just taste it first, especially if you've never tried it. Pinch off a tender sprig from the end of one of the stems and pop it in your mouth; chew it. To me it is just a little lemony (sometimes more than others) and nutty and crunchy. Ever eat sourgrass when you were a kid? Purslane has a hint of that flavor.

When you go to use it, like anything else, you'll want to go through it and remove any old or yellowed leaves, and cut off any root ends; rinse off any dirt, of course. But other than that, you can use both the leaves and stems. It doesn't keep real long; try to use it sooner rather than later.

So, first thing to know is, you don't have to cook it. You can indeed just eat it raw. I like to pinch off the tender ends (and/or cut the stems, leaves attached, into bite-sized pieces) and use them fresh in salads; just toss 'em in with whatever green salad you're making! Or make *it* the salad green: chop it up, add a bunch of halved cherry tomatoes [last year we had purslane Week 20 in the season, so we had cherry tomatoes], maybe some sliced radishes, then make a simple lemon vinaigrette, toss together and serve! (It doesn't have to be lemon vinaigrette, you could use just about any salad dressing you like.)

The second thing to know is, it cooks quickly. It's a succulent, and so contains a lot of water; it can get mooshy if overcooked. If you're doing a sautÚ, add it near the end, for the last minute or two. If you're making something baked, like a hot dish, don't think it matters; mooshy is good! Just chop it up and add it with everything else. It'd be good in something baked that had cheese and tomatoes, and maybe a garlicky bread crumb topping!

Don't forget, it's nutritious to boot, so enjoy every bite!

Grilled Apricots
This is a fun thing to do with apricots. You can either eat them as an appetizer, say, with a little brie, with your main meal (they'd go great with chicken or lamb or pork), or you could put them into a salad with some feta or chevre and maybe some toasted nuts, or eat them as dessert, as is, or with a little ice cream, or fresh cream, or whipped cream..! Just depends on your mood, that's all.

This week's apricots should be good for grilling as they're not too soft to handle yet. Simply cut them in half, remove the pit, and thread onto skewers. I like to run two parallel bamboo skewers through the halves; this makes it easier to turn them on the grill (if you just use one skewer, gravity works against you, because as they cook they loosen and don't want to turn, preferring to flop instead). Anyway, thread 4 or 5 halves on each pair of skewers, kinda like shish-kabob. alternate them one up, one down, if you like, to help with the balancing act.

Meanwhile in a small bowl, melt a little butter (optional additions to the butter would be a dab of honey, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. And if you're planning on having them not-as-dessert, consider adding a dab of Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt to the butter mixture.) Baste the apricots lightly with this mixture. Cook on a hot grill (or grill pan, or in a broiler), just a minute or two on each side, until grill marks appear. Serve warm or room temperature.

***late addition: Just talked to Randy Robinson of Vino Locale in Palo Alto, and he says he loooovvvvveeees grilled apricots, so we chatted a bit and I got this additional suggestion: put just a bit of a nice sharp cheese, like cheddar, in the divot where the pit was and allow it to melt. Yum!!! Sounds good to me!! [Just remember if you plan on doing this to thread all your apricots facing the same way, not one-up-one-down like I suggested above.]***

Debbie's Potato Salad with Mei Qing Choi, Radishes and Dill
I made this one up last week, with the first of our yummy new potatoes. It came out so well, I just had to write it down to share with you! I'll try to give you an idea of proportions; understand that these are approximate! ;-)

4 medium-sized potatoes (red or yellow, doesn't matter)
4 stems of mei qing choi, with leaves
2 - 4 radishes
2-3 tbsp. finely minced fresh dill fronds
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed and/or finely minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
3 tbsp. olive oil

Put washed whole potatoes, with skins, in a pot; cover with cold water, add some salt, bring to a boil, then turn down heat to medium and cover/boil 15 - 18 minutes or so, until they pierce easily with a sharp knife.

While potatoes are boiling, wash any dirt away from choi leaves, and chop into small dice (like you would celery for tuna salad, say). Chop up the darker green leaves too. Dice the radishes up small (1/8th inch-ish or less), and mince your dill.

Combine vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar, oil and dill and whisk together.

Drain potatoes when done (save the water for soup-stock making, along with that bag of veggie trimmings in your freezer I told you about earlier), and when cool enough to handle (but still warm!), slice as carefully as you can (to keep the skins intact; do the best you can - sometimes it works better than others but don't worry about it, it still tastes good!), and then dice the slices. Toss warm* diced potatoes into a bowl with choi and radishes; re-whisk the dressing and pour over the warm potatoes and veggies. Stir well to mix, then refrigerate until completely cooled.

*the dressing seems to be absorbed better when the potatoes are warm.

Member Diana Foss gave me this super-simple recipe just today:

Diana's Easy-Easy Strawberry Ice Cream
Diana says simply fill a blender with hulled fresh farm strawberries, add a cup of sugar and a cup of half-and-half then puree until smooth. Pour mixture into a 1 qt. ice-cream maker and let 'er rip!

[Hm... I wonder... I bet you could do this with blackberries too...!]

Member Jen Dadek sent me yet another summer squash recipe, knowing all too well that we can never have too many (recipes for squash, that is)!

Jen Dadek's Summer Squash Cassarole
As many summer squashes as you need to get out of your fridge and/or garden
Chopped onion
Fresh bread crumbs (gluten free in our house)
Grated cheese (we usually use a mix of cheddar and parmesan)
Half and half
Salt, pepper, thyme, basil (whatever you have around)

I usually quarter the squash and chop into bite sized pieces. Chop up a couple of onions (less if you don't like them, but we do, so a lot go into ours), enough bread crumbs to soak up the liquid the squash give off (I usually use 3-4 slices of gluten free bread to get enough breadcrumbs for a 9x13 pan. It would probably only take 1-2 for normal bread), and some cheese to help make it tasty (save some to sprinkle on top). I then pour a mix of eggs (about 3 eggs for that 9x13), half and half, salt, pepper, and herbs (dried or fresh...whatever is on hand) [How about that fresh dill??]. And then mix it all together. The texture is similar to meatloaf, just enough egg to hold things together, but not too many to make it eggy. Cover with foil, bake at 350 degrees until the center is cooked (this depends on the size of the pan. A 9x13 should take about an hour. The huge stoneware pan I brought to the Summer Solstice Celebration pot-luck took 2 hours). Remove foil, then bake another 10-15 minutes to make it pretty.

And these next two from member Gwen Toevs:

Strawberry and apricot salad
In a big salad bowl, slice some strawberries and apricots. Add some minced shallots or crushed garlic. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste. Add olive oil and a light vinegar such as golden balsamic or champagne vinegar. Mix and let sit for half an hour.

Throw in a bunch of greens - lettuce, arugula, whatever we've got. Shave some parmesan and add some sliced almonds. Toss and eat.

Mozarella with fruit instead of tomatoes
The other day I was bemoaning the fact that I didn't have fresh tomatoes, but I had fresh mozzarella and basil. So I sliced up some nectarines [we don't have nectarines, but I bet you could use the apricots!] and the mozzarella, then I made a dressing of fresh herbs- dill, basil, mint - a little garlic, olive oil, champagne vinegar. I put all of this on top of lettuce and it rocked!

And one more contributed recipe, this last one from Carol Giltwood, not a member, but the sister of one, and she said she was the lucky recipient of one of their shares while they were on vacation, and as a sort of thanks, wanted to share her new favorite recipe for summer with us. (I know we don't have radishes this week, but maybe you may still have some in your fridge from last week like I do?)

Cucumber-Radish salad with jalapeno buttermilk dressing
Spring onions [scallions]
3 oz. buttermilk
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. jalapeno mustard
two pinches of kosher salt
one pinch of freshly ground pepper

Alternatively peel the skins of the cucumbers to form pattern. Slice about 1/8 - ╝" thick, then cut slices in half. Rough chop the spring onions. Slice radishes. Place all ingredients into a bowl. Sprinkle with slat and pepper.

In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together. Pour over veggies and toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Great summer salad!

For details on events listed below, please Click here to go to the calendar page on our website.

Santa Cruz Permaculture Design course - one weekend/month for 6 months, Feb-July

Herbalism Classes at Live Earth Farm:
<>Herbal First Aid - March 15-16
<>Medicine Making - May 10-11
<> Cooking with Herbs - July 19-20

Apricot U-pick - Saturday July 5th, 10am - 5pm. $2/lb. Bring your own bags!

Children's Mini-Camp
- July 11th - 13th (**sold out**)

Fall Equinox Cob Building Workshop and Campout - Sept. 20 and 21

Fine Farm Feast - postponed to 2009

Fall Harvest Celebration - later in October (date TBA)
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Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448
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