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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
14th Harvest Week, Season 13
July 7th - 13th, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Meeting Royalty on the Farm
Musings on the advantages of CSA membership
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
Calendar of Events
  "From you I receive, to you I give, together we share, and so we live." - Herbalist Song quoted from "The Apple Grower" by Michael Phillips.

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
Basil (LEF or Mariquita Farm)
Celery (Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Peppers (sweet)
Potatoes +
French breakfast radishes
Summer squash +
Strawberries (see checklist at your pickup site for how much to take)
Apricots (see checklist at your pickup site for how much to take)

[NOTE FROM DEBBIE: I will try to modify the checklists so people will know what portion of the fruit is associated with which share parts, since several of you have requested this!]

Small Share
Avocados (Marsalisi Farm)
Basil (LEF or Mariquita Farm)
Celery (Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Summer squash
Strawberries (see checklist at your pickup site for how much to take)
Apricots (see checklist at your pickup site for how much to take)

Extra Fruit
(see checklist at your pickup site for how much to take)
Apricots, strawberries and blackberries

Fruit Bounty
the "Bounty" continues...!
Apricots, strawberries and plums! (see checklist at your pickup site for how much to take)

Meeting Royalty on the Farm
Who would have thought one could mingle with royalty out on the farm? Well, last Saturday more than 100 people showed up to meet the Royal Blenheims up close. Parading in rows in their velvety orange  and silky dark green dresses, the Royal Blenheims were irresistibly inviting and seductively aromatic and sweet. Oh, the dream of a "peasant" farmer you might think, but how else could one describe this exquisitely flavorful family of Apricots? The Royal Blenheim, considered by many the best tasting Apricot in California, traces it's heritage back to the Luxenbourgh Gardens in Paris and England's Blenheim Palace. In the 1880's this "noble" and delicate fruit was first planted in the gardens of the Spanish missions and expanded as trade with Europe came to a halt during the War years. The Blenheims were popular both for their high sugar content and superior sun drying qualities. In the 1920's Blenheims blanketed Santa Clara and Alameda counties and the Sacramento Valley.

It was during those years, the 1920's, that Joe Morris immigrated from the Azores (his last name there was spelled Morraes) to Watsonville where he bought a 62 acre parcel of rolling hills on Green Valley Road which bordered alongside the parcel of land which unbeknown at the time, would one day be farmed by us and become Live Earth Farm. Like most farmers at the time, Joe Morris planted an orchard of Royal Blenheims and continued farming until his passing in the 1990's. Although the three sons didn't follow their father's footsteps, pursuing non-farm related careers, they continued to manage the apricots until last year when they decided to sell the ranch. It has always been a dream of ours to be able to farm on one contiguously connected piece of land and move away from our current reality, where we are farming 4 different parcels at different locations bound by the uncertainty of  renewable, short-term leases. This was a golden opportunity to make this dream a reality. Although other parties were making offers, the Morrises were more inclined to sell their ranch to us, given the proximity and our interest to continue the stewardship of their land, and so they accepted our offer to buy.apricots in handbasket

With this exciting and sudden change in reality, we quickly had to adjust our operation to include the management of two fairly large orchards, Apricots and Apples. Given the favorable weather conditions this year, we ended up with a bountiful crop of Blenheims from which sprung the idea of holding our first ever U-pick event. Approximately 1,600 lbs of apricots got picked last Saturday, something I am sure the Blenheims can be proud of.

I have to admit I am not used to suddenly having hundreds of helping hands show up on the farm, but given how harmoniously everything went, it's something I can see getting used to and repeating as the need arises. The entire distribution component was eliminated and you, as members, normally removed from the general production cycle, suddenly became directly connected to it. I set aside an entire block of apricot trees for Saturday and intentionally didn't pick any fruit to ensure that a large percentage of perfectly ripe fruit would be ready for picking. Not knowing how many people would show up I was a bit nervous seeing the trees hanging full with so many ripe, still unpicked fruit. But all my worries disappeared when the next day, before we even had time to set up, a family of eager pickers was already exploring the orchard. The weather was beautiful and the turnout excellent. My gratitude goes out to all of you YOU-PICKERS; you helped lessen the harvest load and I was happy to meet so many both new and already seasoned CSA members. I am already planning another event around what I believe will be a bountiful apple harvest in the Fall. Stay tuned!

- Tom
Musings on the advantages of CSA membership
Member Ignacio Martin-Bragado wrote us with this last week...

"Yesterday my wife and I were discussing the advantages of having a lot of vegetables from the farm, and some of these advantages were not that intuitive (while others were). Here is our list:
1. We do not need to (usually drive) to the grocery any more.
2. We do not need to decide which veggies to buy.
3. We eat more varieties of vegetables than before.
4. The vegetables we eat are tastier and more fresh.
5. We like the "surprise" of not knowing what we will get in the box.
6. We eat much more vegetables, just because they kind of pile up in the fridge if we do not :-)
7. We do much more cooking and 'family live'.
8. Because we cook more, we go out for lunch or dinner less.
9. Because we go out less for dinner, now it is a really special event when we have dinner out, and we enjoy it more than before. (Before we were kind of getting used to it)"

Anybody have anything to add to the list? Maybe we should update our website to include something like this! - Debbie

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

Beautiful ripe cots!Yay more apricots! Anyone who came to the U-pick last Saturday can attest to how fabulous they are... absolutely at their prime. I had to include the picture my husband took, at left, because the fruit is just so beautiful! ;-)

Anyway, with luck we may get them one more week... keep your fingers crossed!
- Debbie

Member Celesta Birnbaum sent me this absolutely wonderful apricot clafouti recipe. I made it over the weekend because we had friends over, and it was SO delicious! My friends' teenage son went back for thirds... finished it off, actually!

Clafouti with Apricots

from Anna Thomas' "The New Vegetarian Epicure"

A clafouti is a pudding-like dessert, made by pouring a pancake batter [I'd say it's more like a Yorkshire pudding or popover batter... very eggy] over fruit and baking it in a hot oven. It's quick and easy, and best eaten hot or warm, dusted with powdered sugar.

2 lbs. ripe apricots
2 tbsp. butter, melted; more for the baking dish
3/4 C + 2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 C flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 3/4 C warmed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
grated zest of 1 lemon

garnishes: powdered sugar, cream

Wash and dry the apricots, then cut them in half and remove their stones.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Butter a large, shallow baking dish [Celesta uses a 14-inch round gratin; I used a 13x9x2 glass baking dish], sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of sugar [I just put the sugar into the buttered dish then tipped it around to coat the butter evenly], and arrange the apricots in one layer, close together, cut side down. Put them in the oven for 10 minutes; they should just begin to release their juice.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat the eggs with the remaining sugar until fluffy, then beat in the flour mixture, the warmed milk, melted butter, vanilla, and lemon zest to make a smooth batter.

Take the apricots out of the oven and pour the batter over them evenly. Push them down with a spatula if they float up, gently pressing out any trapped air. Put the dish back into the center of the oven and reduce the heat to 400 degrees.

Bake the clafouti for about 35 minutes, but check it after 15. This clafouti has a little baking powder in the batter, so don't be surprised to see it rising in high, billowy shapes. If the edges are browning quickly, lay a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the top for the remaining time.

The calfouti will sink gradually when you take it out of the oven. Serve it warm, sprinkled generously with sifted powdered sugar. A little cream poured around it on the plate also goes very well. [I didn't have the cream, and it was delicious just with the sprinkling of powdered sugar. It'd be good plain too!]

Note from Debbie: I expect you could make this identical recipe and substitute plums for apricots. So keep this recipe in mind for when we start getting plums!

Apricot Halves with Walnuts
from member George Baer, who says, "I grew up amidst apricot and prune orchards in the Santa Clara Valley in the later 1930s and 1940s, and have the strongest memories of these intense fruits fresh from the trees."

George says the following is his family's favorite way to eat prunes [he cut cots and prune-plums for drying as a young man], but I see also how this could be modified for our fresh apricots! He says to simply substitute half a walnut-meat for the pit in a moist dried prune and roll lightly in powdered sugar... why not tuck a walnut-meat into half a fresh apricot and sprinkle with powdered sugar?

Sauteed Apricots
this would be delicious in a shortcake setting, with ice cream, over pancakes or waffles, or as a topping for pork or chicken (I love meat and fruit) -

butter, 1 - 2 tbsp (depends on how much fruit; don't skimp!)

Wash and halve apricots, then cut halves into slices.

For dessert or breakfast variation, you could optionally sprinkle fruit with some fresh lemon juice (or orange juice!) and a little sugar.

Melt butter in a skillet (a heavy cast-iron would be great) over medium-high heat. Choose a pan that will be big enough to hold all your fruit in a single layer.

Add fruit to pan and cook a few minutes, turning them if possible (they may get all soft, but this is okay!) to saute on the other side. Shake the pan gently to keep them loose in the butter, so they don't stick. when done to your liking, remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Freezing Fresh Apricots (or Plums)
If you want to freeze your 'cots for consumption later in the season (or in the winter, when you'll be really happy you did!), it is dead easy. Start by making some acidulated water - that's just water with lemon juice in it: fill a big bowl half full with water and squeeze in the juice of a lemon. It's to prevent the cut apricots from browning. Wash apricots as needed, cut in half, remove pit and drop fruit into acidulated water. When you've cut up all the fruit you want to freeze, spread a sheet of waxed paper onto a rimmed cookie sheet or baking pan. Remove 'cots from water, shaking off excess as much as possible, and spread cut side up on waxed paper, in a single layer. They can touch a little bit, but don't crowd them or they will stick together. Put your pan of prepared fruit into the freezer and freeze solid (overnight is good). Then simply remove fruit to a ziploc bag, squeeze out the excess air, and return this to the freezer. You now have frozen apricots that can be decanted in any quantity! Good for smoothies, desserts, baked goods, or just thawed/warmed and eaten out of a bowl as is, or with a little cream. This is also a good way to 'hold' the fruit until you're ready to make jam, in case you don't want to heat your kitchen right now!

Debbie's Potato Salad with Mei Qing Choi, Purslane and Dill (or celery, cucumbers and basil!)
This is a variation on the salad I made last week, and I'm including it just to show you how easy it is to play with and modify recipes to suit the ingredients you have (I know we're not getting the choi, purslane or dill this week, but again, if you're like me, sometimes your veggies last more than one week. We ARE getting celery, cucumbers and basil though, so see below how you could change the recipe to use these instead). I highlighted the differences in purple.

4 medium-sized potatoes (red or yellow, doesn't matter)
4 stems of mei qing choi, with leaves (we're getting celery this week, you could substitute celery!)
Several stems of purslane (we're getting cucumbers this week, you could substitute finely diced cucumber!)
2-3 tbsp. finely minced fresh dill fronds (we're getting fresh basil... you could mince up fresh basil instead of the dill!)
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed and/or finely minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
3 tbsp. olive oil
finely diced red onion (optional)
kalamata olives
feta cheese

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. Pinch off purslane leaf clusters and/or chop coarsely, until you have a small pile - maybe a cupful or more, and mince your dill (or basil).

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, purslane, optional red onion and olives. Crumble in some feta cheese. 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.

I'm so happy that people always find new and interesting ways to use the same ingredients - here is the latest squash recipe sent in by member Stephanie Culligan...

Stephanie's Secret Squash Creamy Pasta Sauce
Stephanie says, "I came up with a recipe that I like, which not only helps to use up some of the squash we get during the summer, but also my squash-hating teenager even ate it and raved about it (she didn't know it was made from squash)."

Puree 2 zucchini [or any other summer squash] and half an onion to a slightly runny paste-like consistency.

Sautee the other half of the onion, finely diced, with 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic in 2 tbsp. of butter until garlic is brown and onions are translucent.  If you like, add a handful of coarsely chopped basil.

Add a couple of handfuls of small fresh mushrooms, whole - you can also add some coarsely chopped peppers, squash, kale, etc. [all of which we have this week!]. Stir in the zucchini-onion puree and let it come to a simmer.

Sprinkle in red pepper (to taste-depending on how hot you like it).

Add 2 cups of whole milk, stir to mix and let come back to a simmer.

In a small cup, pour 1/4 cup of milk and add 2-3 tbsp. of cornstarch.  Mix well.  Gradually stir this into the simmering sauce by pouring from the cup while straining out any lumps with a fork.

After sauce thickens, add your favorite cooked pasta and toss. Sprinkle the top with chopped tomatoes and parmesan cheese. [Since we don't have tomatoes in the shares yet, I'd plump up some sundried tomatoes hot water then mince them, or mince up oil-cured sundried tomatoes if you can get them.]

And lastly, this little gem from member Farrell Podgorsek, a regular contributor to the recipe section!

Farrell's Spinach Tip
Use it along with [or instead of?] lettuce in sandwiches.  I especially like it with a few basil leaves in a TBSBLT - turkey bacon, spinach, basil, lettuce and tomato. [Again, we're not getting fresh tomatoes yet - they're worth waiting for though, you'll see! - so what I'd do is finely mince up reconstituted sundried tomatoes (or oil cured ones), and blend them into some mayonnaise then spread this into your sandwich instead!]

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 - Saturday Oct. 11th (more details as it gets closer!)
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farm phone: (831) 763.2448
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