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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
16th Harvest Week, Season 13
July 21st - 27th, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Families on the Farm
Striking a balance
Website Update from Debbie
Further musings on the advantages of CSA
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
Calendar of Events
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.
- Wendell Berry
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
Arugula +
Basil +
Broccoli + (from Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Peppers (sweet) +
Potatoes +
Summer squash +
Strawberries (see checklist for quantities)*

Small Share
Broccoli (from Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Summer squash
Strawberries (see checklist for quantities)*

Extra Fruit
(always see checklist at your pickup site for final quantities)*
Weds: Strawberries, blackberries and apricots
Thurs: Strawberries, blackberries and plums

Fruit Bounty
(always see checklist at your pickup site for final quantities)*

*The upper right-hand corner of checklist now lists how much of each fruit item comes with each share part!

Families on the Farm
by Jessica Ridgeway, Education Programs Coordinator
(photos courtesy of George Bruder)

sunflowerOn a beautiful Friday evening twelve Live Earth Farm CSA member families filtered on to the farm, potluck dishes and tents in hand.  A farm crew made up of Tom, Constance and Elisa Broz along with our farm intern, Gillian and I eagerly awaited their arrival.  Preparing for the Mini Camp was very different from planning for the Solstice celebration or for the You-Pick Apricot day.  There were only twelve families coming, about 60 people.  We only needed two signs directing traffic to the farm and we were able to greet each family as they arrived.

Their excitement upon arrival was palpable.  Most families made their first priority finding flat ground to camp on.  Such a camping luxury became more elusive as the evening wore on.  As the fire circle filled up, families moved into the plums, and apricots and one family even found a spot with a great view, on the top of the property near the solar array.  We were all lucky to have foggy mornings so that shade was not so much of a necessity as it would have been in the Central Valley.  Upon settling in, we gathered around the potluck table welcoming parents and children to the farm and giving thanks for the food we were about to enjoy.  As with all Live Earth Farm potlucks, seasonal, fresh, homemade delights abounded.  After dinner and several apricot laden desserts, we capped off our first evening with a night walk, exploring the farm with our ears and fingers more so than our eyes.  Picking strawberries in the dark proved to be quite a challenge.  Frustrated pickers were seen illuminating the rows now and then with a rogue flashlight, but the light eater was close at hand to extinguish the artificial accoutrement.  Sleep came easily to all with dreams of the day ahead dancing through our heads.

Mini-camp family picking apricotsOn Saturday morning I woke to the excited squeals of children collecting fruit, goat milk, and eggs for breakfast.  We ate well, then headed off into the fields to find the day's prizes.  The tractor pulled us up the hill to harvest cucumbers, squash and basil, which would find its way into our burritos, and onto our pizzas.  Next we moved past the apricots and into the tomatoes and garlic.  The group hunted for the season's first tomatoes while others learned to braid garlic.  Both ingredients enhanced the evening's pizza.  After such a successful hunt, it was time to dig up Russian banana potatoes.  The tractor guided us the long way around the new property down into the valley.  The potatoes were plentiful and so creamy simply roasted with olive oil and salt.  After digging potatoes the day's hard work was done.  chopping veggies for pizza!We returned back the barn where chopping, mashing and puréeing ensued.  We sautéed squash, chopped all kids of fresh vegetables, made rice, heated beans and tortillas and gorged ourselves on the day's harvest before firing up toasty, our cob oven and, beginning the marinara sauce and pizza dough for dinner.  In between everybody cooled off in the pool.  Dinner was a smash hit topped off with fresh Royal Blenheim Apricots roasted, their pits replaced with chocolate.  WOW!  After such a great day we were all in for a good nights sleep, except for that mockingbird's all night serenade.

The kids were up early again on Sunday morning to harvest for breakfast then we all headed off on the tractor again to harvest apricots.  riding the tractorWhat an amazing weekend.  It was so nice to spend the weekend caring for ourselves and the land directly.  I don't remember seeing a cell phone all weekend (except for one new iphone used only for photos).  There were no television or internet distractions.  We passed all of our time harvesting, preparing and cleaning up after five wonderful food events.  In between we listened to the night sounds, conquered the hay bales and made new friends.  Thank you Live Earth Farm and our CSA family participants!

Striking a balance
I am off to spend a short vacation with my wife and kids, and I am grateful that the farm is in skilled and caring hands during this period. Summers are always busy on the farm however the land with it's bountiful offspring is not the only family I need to balance my time with. David and Elisa also like to see more of their daddy especially during their summer vacation. Now that the Apricot harvest is behind us and the tomatoes, pears and apples still need to ripen for a few more weeks, I will jump off this "Live Earth Farm Speedboat" for a few days and re-join the seasonal race next week again. The wonderful pictures George Bruder took during Minicamp will say more about some magical moments on the farm than any words I will ever be able to string together. May the land never stop dreaming and revealing itself so we can always hope for a life of peace and fullfillment.

- Tom

Anna and sunflowersLittle Jack and his harvest basket

ripe luscious prune plums

making pizza!

the pizza itself!!
Website Update from Debbie
As some of you may have experienced, our website was down for a week! This was a very trying situation, but all is now well!! For reasons I won't go into, we do not own the name "liveearthfarm.com" and since the name server you must go through to get to liveearthfarm.com was down, no one could access our website. Because we did not know how long this situation would exist, and needed desperately to have a working website, we did the only thing we could think of: we bought "liveearthfarm.net" and I put all the website files there. I also set up a redirect so if you enter "liveearthfarm.com" into a browser by mistake you should automatically be switched to "liveeartharm.net" - but that will only work when the name server is working again, so best to check any old saved links you may have on your computer and re-save them as '.net'.

Broken links: I also updated ALL the files so that there should be no broken links when navigating around within our website. However, if you do a google search for something about Live Earth Farm you may end up with a URL that still has .com in it, and this will not work. But the fix is easy!! Just change ".com" to ".net" in the URL string and it will work just fine.

So please everybody, spread the word in your conversations, blogs, and emails, or wherever you talk about the farm (update any links you may already have out there, if you think of it), and let people know we're now "liveearthfarm.net" not ".com". Hopefully over time, the old broken links out there on the web will fade away into history... ;-)
Further musings on the advantages of CSA membership
Two weeks ago member Ignacio Martin-Bragado gave us a list of what he saw as the advantages of being a member of a CSA farm. Since then, a few others have written in to add to the list! [Click here if you want to see the original list.]

From Kristin Leekley:
1) I'd just like to add that I have been able to try vegetables that were new to me (purslane and mei qing choi, for example).  It's been educational and enjoyable to taste new foods.

From Maja Schleicher-Joos:
1) I can cook anything now and I just tell the children it all was grown at Live Earth Farm and they gobble it up without dissecting of the food!

From Laurel Pavesi:
1) I am learning how to cook from Debbie - (her infectious enthusiasm, wonderful writing skills, and fab recipe database)

2) We now grow an herb garden to flavor all the veggies we receive from our membership. (another idea from Debbie)

3) We meet interesting people at our CSA pick-up site - a real benefit! One taught me how to make no-knead bread! 

4) We get fresh eggs and have access to buy other farm fresh items such as goat's milk or bread.

5) We have many opportunities to learn about the 'slow food' movement and be inspired by Farmer Tom's love for the land.

From Alie Victorine:
1) It becomes second nature to substitute what you have for what you don't have.  Used to be I'd run to the store for the "right" ingredient - now I start exploring what I have on hand and by golly it usually works.
2) It also becomes second nature to throw an extra veggie ingredient into a loved recipe. (Example: chopped spinach is a wonderful addition to crab cakes... who knew?)
3) Recipe hunting becomes more focused.  You start saving anything that uses something that has been in the box.
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Click here to go to recipe database.

Leftovers are our friends
It's time to banish once and for all the negative association people make with the concept of 'leftovers'. Leftovers are something to be encouraged, to plan for even! Actually what I'm doing here is lecturing myself, because I'm not so good at it right now (cooking with the intention of having leftovers, that is), but I want to get better at it. It's a harder routine to break into than I thought! Especially after so many years of figuring out exactly how much food to prepare so that it will all be consumed in one sitting. I got too good at this, so now I'm trying to train myself in the opposite direction, and thought I'd bring you guys along for the ride.

The biggest misconception is: leftovers = waste. WRONG!! Leftovers are our friends. They are a time-saver (further note to self!), and can even be an inspiration (hm, I have this, this and this in my fridge, plus these new veggies from this week's box... now what could I make with them?). They can make it more likely that you will make certain dishes that you otherwise might not have because of all the up front prep time (cooking and then cooling meats and veggies, for example).

I'm going to give you a very basic example, and then hope to hear back from you about the kinds of 'planned leftovers' you work into your cooking routine, and what you do with them. I will gladly share your ideas with everyone in future newsletters, as I think we will ALL benefit from these bits of wisdom!

Here's my example. Potatoes, steak, kale: the first night you boil potatoes and serve them hot with butter, salt and dill, to accompany a nice grilled grassfed beefsteak and steamed kale with lemon and olive oil (see hot salad recipe). Boil extra potatoes (**see Making Stock, below), grill a steak you know will be more than you can consume, and cook extra kale. Refrigerate the leftovers. Re: the kale - ideally save off the extra cooked kale before you dress it with lemon and olive oil, but if after serving dinner you have left-over 'dressed' kale, just scrape it into the dish with the 'undressed' kale. No biggie. (Oh, and it doesn't have to be kale; works with chard and collard greens too, for example.)

Next day: cooked potatoes can be sliced and pan browned in olive oil much more quickly than if you start with raw potatoes. And they are not nearly as prone to sticking to the pan. Throw in a little minced garlic, salt and pepper, and serve these potatoes with any meal (I love 'em at breakfast myself!).

Speaking of breakfast, I'm a BIG fan of including veggies. (This is also a way to help 'use up the box' - as I know some of you struggle with using up everything each week. Start thinking about incorporating veggies into breakfast, not just lunch and dinner!) So at breakfast, slice or chop up some onion and start to sauté it in some olive oil in a skillet. Whisk up some eggs (one, two three eggs... doesn't matter). I love adding a little soy sauce or fish sauce to my eggs for a flavorful salt dimension, but you don't have to. Once the onions are softening, add some or all of your cooked, chopped kale and stir/cook until hot, then pour in the eggs and scramble, adding salt and pepper to taste (if I'm using soy or fish sauce, I don't add more salt). Serve as is, or along with some of the browned potatoes! Sometimes I like to crumble a little of Lynn's goat chevre on top of the scramble and let it melt a minute or so. If you don't get Lynn's goat share, just look in your fridge and see what cheese in there looks interesting and put some on top if you like!

 Now, you could just as easily do the above for lunch instead of breakfast. Make the potatoes and scrambled eggs and kale, then heat up some tortillas and stuff 'em with what you just made. Pull out a bottle of your favorite hot sauce. Maybe make some strawberry agua fresca to drink with it.

Don't forget that leftover cold steak! This can be thinly sliced and used in sandwiches, or you can make a Thai-style beef salad with it, or even eat it cold and sliced for dinner the next night (I don't bother to reheat it, as I don't want to overcook it), with some horseradish, and a different side of veggies and maybe some rice. Start the cycle again: make extra rice, and then save it to make fried rice yet the next night, with more veggies and maybe diced up little bits of the last of the left-over steak!

Making Stock
OH, and one more thing along the lines of planning for leftovers: think soup stock!! Instead of tossing the bones from the steak or chops you ate or the chicken you roasted, keep them in a ziploc bag in your freezer. Same with veggies: when you're preparing them, save the trimmings* (ends of celery, carrots, onions, summer squash, parsley, rutabaga [winter veggie], chard etc.) in the same bag. When you get a full bag, put it all in a pot and cover with water, add splash of vinegar (to help extract the minerals from the bones), a little salt, maybe a few peppercorns, some herbs if you like: bay leaf, thyme, that sort of thing. Mushrooms are a good addition if you have them. Simmer it up for a couple hours, strain well. This nutritious stock can be used to make soups, enliven sauces (much better than canned!) or to cook rice and grains. **You can also save the water you boiled potatoes in and add this to the cooked stock.

Next week I'll give you the "Soup & Bread" cookbook's wonderful description of 'Found Vegetable Stock.' This week I've just given you the first nudge to start thinking along these lines. We'll let that settle in for a bit and resume this conversation next week!

*I've been told not to put cruciferous veggies (cabbages, broccoli, etc.) into your stock bag. Here's an excerpt from a cookbook called 'Soup & Bread' by Crescent Dragonwagon (I'm not making that name up!): "In making found stock from vegetable scraps, avoid using scraps from cruciferous vegetables, that is, from members of the cabbage family. These include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower; all add a strong and objectionable flavor and odor if long-simmered."

Anyway, I hope I have inspired you to at least try to start thinking 'leftovers'. Do email me with your own ideas! Meanwhile, how about at least a few recipes??

Alie Victorine, inspired by the apricot clafouti recipe of a few weeks back, sent me this strawberry version from Sunset magazine:

Strawberry Clafouti
from Sunset Magazine

1/2 tbsp. butter
8 oz strawberries hulled and halved
2 tsp. cornstarch
3 eggs
1 C milk
2/3 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
powdered sugar for garnish
Here are Alie's abbreviated instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 qt. baking dish. Toss berries with cornstarch then put cut side down in dish. Mix everything else (except powdered sugar) quickly (says 15 seconds in a blender). Pour batter over berries. Bake 'til puffed and golden brown and set in the center (abut 50 minutes - but my toaster oven did it in 40). Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Here is a truly unusual recipe (another dessert) sent me by new member Katie Hogan, for using fresh basil. At first blush it sounds truly odd, however Katie insists it was 'unbelievably good!' It's totally simple, so easy enough to try...

Basil Ice Cream
courtesy of Michael Chiarello
[This recipe could be easily halved]

8 C loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. of powdered vitamin C [I asked Katie what the C was for; she didn't know, but said she left it out when she made it. If you have vitamin C in capsule form, you could probably extract some that way if you wanted to add it though]
[update 7/24: several folks wrote me to say it's used to preserve the green color of the basil!]
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
1 C shaved bittersweet chocolate

Blanch the basil leaves in boiling salted water for 5 seconds, then place in an ice bath. Drain and wring the basil dry in a dish towel. Chop coarsely.

In a food processor, puree the basil with salt, vitamin C and just enough softened ice cream to make a puree (about 3 tablespoons). You should have about 1 cup of basil puree. Add the remaining ice cream and process to blend with basil mixture. Working quickly so as not to have the ice cream melt on you, transfer the puree to a bowl, add chocolate shavings and mix thoroughly, then re-pack it all in a freezer container and put back into the freezer. Freeze for at least 1 hour before serving.

Here's a recipe from an old, undated Mercury News clipping:

Persian spinach and yogurt salad
from "Olive Trees and Honey" by Gil Marks
serves 6 - 8
[You could easily halve the quantities in this recipe. Cooking times will be a little less is all.]

3 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped or thinly sliced
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground turmeric
About 1 tsp. cayenne or a few drops hot sauce
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 lbs. fresh spinach, stemmed, washed and chopped
2 C plain yogurt
About 1 tsp. table salt or 2 tsp. kosher salt
About ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add cumin, turmeric, cayenne and cinnamon and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add spinach and sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

In medium bowl, combine yogurt, salt, pepper and, if using, hot sauce. Stir into spinach. The mixture should be rather thick. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 1 day to let flavors meld. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Another 'half clipping'...

Sautéed Squash and Radishes with Herbs
This is a modification of the original recipe, of which I only have part (when I was clipping, I forgot to tape two halves together... so I'm missing quite a bit, but I think I can fake it okay!)

The original recipe was 'Sauteed baby squash and radishes with marjoram' but #1 I think it's too fussy to do the baby squash thing - plus we don't get them in our box, and #2 it'd taste just as good with other herbs than marjoram!

So: cut summer squash lengthwise and then crosswise into half-moons; slice up several radishes; we're getting basil this week, so let's make the herb basil! Take a handful of leaves, stack them, and finely slice them (or just chop 'em up if you like).

Sauté squash and radishes in butter and olive oil until just starting to get tender; toss in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté a bit longer until basil wilts and flavors mingle a bit. That's it!

One last clipping recipe:

Sautéed Peppers with Golden Raisins and Arugula
This is modified from it's Nov 04 Bon Appetit original - which called for red, yellow and orange bell peppers. Our peppers will be turning red and yellow over the next several weeks, so consider revisiting it then!

olive oil
cut up sweet peppers
golden raisins
fennel seeds
balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and sauté until slightly softened, stirring occasionally. Add raisins and fennel seeds [say, a handful of raisins and a generous tsp. of fennel seeds if you're making quantities for 3 or 4 people]. Continue to cook until peppers are soft. Stir in vinegar [about 1 tbsp. for same quantity of eaters]. Season with salt and pepper. Add arugula to peppers and stir until it begins to wilt, about a minute. Serve optionally garnished with additional arugula.

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

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
[see above text box for emailing the farm]