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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
20th Harvest Week, Season 13
August 18th - 24th, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Dreaming of a Community Food Landscape
What's up in the Fields?
Another Happy Customer!
Debbie's Taking a Break
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
Calendar of Events
"Every generation needs a new revolution." -Thomas Jefferson
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 +
Fingerling potatoes +
Garlic +
Green beans +
Italian parsley
Lacinato Kale
Sweet peppers +
Tomatoes +
Caneberries (see checklist at your pickup site for final quantities)*

Small Share
Broccoli or broccolini
Fingerling potatoes
Green beans
Sweet peppers
Summer squash or cucumbers
(no fruit with the Small Share this week; fruit is going through a lull period)

Extra Fruit
Strawberries, caneberries, and apples (see checklist at your pickup site for final quantities)*

Fruit Bounty
~~ No fruit "bounty" this week. It'll resume in a few weeks. Fruit is going through a bit of a lull right now. ~~

* The upper right-hand corner of checklist clarifies how much of each fruit item is associated with each part of your share combination, AND, under your name is listed your particular share combination.

Dreaming of a Community Food Landscape
The title of the book "Tending the Wild" by M. Kat Anderson caught my attention during a visit to the Bookshop, an almost ritual stop when I have time to go to Santa Cruz. The book  describes in great detail the productive and sustainable land management techniques California's native people practiced.  What for many years was dismissed as "primitive" subsistance hunting and gathering practices turned out to be well adapted and managed horticultural techniques, the same used in early and modern agriculture. Pruning to increase fruit production in shrubs and trees, saving and sowing seeds, and many tribes used fire to enhance both yield and quality of important food plants such as grasses, leafy greens, acorns, "Indian potatoes", brambles and berries.

California Indians were considered the most omnivorous group of tribes on the continent and the California cuisine of their times consisted of hundreds of elaborate recipes drawing from a rich diversity of plant foods. Trying to reintroduce the ancient California cuisine may seem far fetched, especially dishes including salamander larvae and acorn mush would show little resemblance to the kind of cuisine we're used to in California today. 

More inspiring to me are the shared principles between native food systems and the emerging local food movement.  Most native Californians had a direct relationship with every morsel that filled his or her belly. Since each person was aware of their dependance on nature, they not only knew where their food came from, but also knew what was required to gather, process and store, and how the plant or animal had to be treated or tended to ensure a healthy and continuos supply. Today we have probably reached the other extreme where most of the population now buys their food in the supermarket, much of it processed showing little evidence of it's source. The knowledge required to procure food in today's society is no more complicated than knowing the location  of a food store and being able to count change. With the emerging organic and local food movement well on it's way there is hope that our fast food mentality is starting to crumble and we are again making the conscious link between nutrition of our bodies to the health of the land.

We are at a crossroads where our decisions will determine what kind of landscape our children will inherit and what kind of food they will be able to procure from that landscape.  As CSA members we are pioneering a new vision of our future food landscape. Our concerns are different than of our California ancestors, our necessity is marked by environmental, economic and social realities, but once again food is becoming the catalyst whereby we recognize how much we are marked by similar fates. I probably still prefer potatoes over native lily bulbs or acorn mush, or spinach and chard over minor lettuce and pigweed, carrots and beets over soaproot or rootstocks of cattails. We can find inspiration in the respect and intimate connection native people have for their natural environment, and learn how to tend the land instead of exploiting it.

My dream is that one day monoculture fields which now blanket the countryside will be restored to a tapestry of diverse food sytems with areas of grasslands, covercrops, hedgerows and wooded field margins which transect rowcrops and orchard operations, and where organic farming methods are the norm. These food landscapes will produce enough food to meet the demands of our urban centers. Everyone will be growing food in their gardens and locally produced food will once again be the foundation of a preventive healthcare strategy.  Of coarse, imagining is the easy part. Getting there may require moving mountains. - Tom

 What's up in the Fields?

Last week we started our Warren Pear harvest and we are half-way through, with almost 20,000 pounds of beautiful mid-large size pears chilling in the cooler. That's where they'll be the next two weeks before we take them out to soften. The apple harvest is just around the corner, our early varieties Gala and Summerfelt are starting to come off the trees so expect lots of apples and pears in the weeks ahead. This is a big transition in the fruit harvest; the strawberries are slowing down right now and will have one more small peak in a couple of weeks. Both raspberries and blackberries are all in their final weeks of production, hence the sudden drop in fruit for "Bounty" shares and regular shares. Things will pick up again in a couple of weeks with pears, apples and strawberries to last us until the end of the season though.

The picture of the Armenian cucumber (commonly known as 'snake cucumber') is for those members that will receive them in their shares this week, since this is the first time this season we will have them. Everyone will be getting them eventually. They are crunchy, sweet and don't have to be peeled. Tomatoes are finally starting to pick up in production and so are the green beans. Enjoy!
Another Happy Customer!
Last week CSA member L Peter Deutsh wrote us, saying, "Your produce has *totally* spoiled me.  One week there was a mixup and we had to buy produce at Safeway, and the difference was astounding.  Even their organic produce isn't nearly up to yours.  In the last couple of weeks, the apples and the large plums have been especially   wonderful, but everything across the board reminds me of what good seasonal produce tasted like when I was a kid in Boston in the 1950s."

Debbie's Taking a Break...
Okay, it's not going to be a long one, but I will be gone from the middle of next week until the middle of the following week, so that means I'll be here to set up next week's reports and newsletter, etc., but Tom and company will be managing on their own the first week of September! So I want to ask everyone to hold off, as much as possible, with any emails or phone calls to the office during that time (essentially 8/27 through 9/4). Obviously if there is an issue about your share, DO contact the farm so that someone can take care of it, but if it is a subject that can wait, please hold off until the second week of September if you can - thanks!!!
- Debbie

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

Boy, we've got quite the diversity of items across the shares this week - how exciting! Everyone's getting Tom's wonderful fingerling potatoes, beets are back after a long hiatus, and tomatillos: way cool! I've been trying to get Tom to grow these for the CSA shares for a few years; I think persistent persuasion from myself and Juan finally had an effect. Now if we can just convince him to try growing sweet potatoes! He says it's too cool here, but I saw varieties in our seed catalogs supposedly adapted for our needs... ;-) Anyway, back to what we're actually getting, instead of what I'd like to get down the road!

Let's start with a continuation on last week's opening theme: cooked radishes. Here's exactly the kind of thing I like to see - members taking an idea and running with it, making their own version, and then of course writing back to me with their results, so I can share them with all of you! - Debbie

Jen Sorenson's Sautéed Radishes with brown rice and Chevre
We tried [last week's] sautéed radishes today and were not disappointed. My husband and I had never thought to sauté either the radishes or the greens so we went 'whole hog' so to speak and left little for our compost bin. Here is what we did with the radishes and the greens we received in the box today:

1 bunch of radishes thinly sliced and then halved
Radish greens rinsed and chopped
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 C brown rice (pre-cooked)
1/4 C Chevre (goat cheese)
Salt to taste

Melt butter and sauté garlic, basil and radish greens until greens are wilted. Add radishes and cook until tender (about 3-5 minutes). Add salt to taste. Add brown rice and stir for 1-2 minutes to reheat and coat rice. Add chevre and serve immediately (for those who don't like chevre I'm sure feta would work as well).

[I made Jen's recipe just tonight -- only I left out the brown rice. I sautéed the garlic and radishes in butter first, then added the greens/chopped basil and cooked until wilted; added salt and chevre, turned off heat, stirred 'til chev melted. It was beautiful, especially since I used purple basil: pink, white, green, purple... lovely! I just served it as a veggie side alongside some left-over braised lamb shank on steamed rice.]

Salt roasted Fingerling potatoes, with...
This one's easy! Wash and then blot dry (or let air dry) a bunch of fingerling potatoes, cutting out any odd spots but leaving skin intact. Coat potatoes lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt, then spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or so (if the potatoes are room temperature; if they've been refrigerated, they may take longer). Check for doneness by inserting the tip of a sharp knife. They should pierce easily when done.

You can eat them just like that, but my husband, Ken, slit his open lengthwise and tucked in some chevre - yum! That was tasty. That got me to thinking... you could slit them open and offer them up like tapas by putting in any number of different things: the traditionals like just plain butter, of course, or butter and snipped chives, or sour cream and chives... but what about some pesto? Or some other kind of cheese? Or a little caponata? Or olive paste?

Tomatillos Info
Some people mistake tomatillos for a type of green tomato, but they're not a tomato at all. They're actually a relative of the cape gooseberry (or ground cherry), a cherry-sized yellow fruit, which like the tomatillo is also covered with a papery husk. Tom has actually grown ground cherries before, some of you may remember. Anyway, tomatillos have a very distinct, wonderful citrusy flavor. You're probably most familiar with them in salsa verde.

You don't eat the husk; that is peeled off, and the surface of the tomatillo inside has a bizarre, sticky quality to it which you want to wash off before using (although I imagine that's just a response to the sticky sensation; I'm sure it is totally harmless). They're easy to cook with too, because (other than the papery husk), they don't need to be peeled or seeded! Don't husk them until you're ready to use them. The husks act like little paper bags that protect and keep the fruit. And don't store them in a sealed container either; put them in a bowl on the counter, say, or in the refrigerator. They'll keep well for several weeks to a month. [In a blurb in Bon Appetit, they say, "tomatillos can be refrigerated, with husks, for up to a month in a paper bag. To store longer, remove the husks and place the fruit in the fridge in a resealable plastic bag. They'll stay good for up to three months." (Wow! I had no idea...)]

Grilled/Roasted Salsa Verde/Tomatillo Salsa
Why the mish-mash title? Because I have three different recipe clippings with slight variations on a very similar theme (one recipe grills the tomatillos, another roasts them under a broiler, another just oven roasts them), so I thought I'd share parts of all of them with you. I really want to show you how much variation there can be in the preparation of essentially the same recipe! FYI you can also make tomatillo salsa from raw tomatillos [click here for an old recipe in the database on this], but I like this new idea of roasting or grilling them first!

So first, some quotes from the clippings:
"Made with roasted tomatillos, this sauce adds a refreshing citrusy taste to whatever it tops. It's delicious on cold salmon, grilled tuna or roast pork [or just as a dip for tortilla chips, of course, or with other Mexican food...]. Add diced mango and have an irresistible sauce for grilled poultry and seafood [hm, that sounds really interesting!]."

"Mix [roasted tomatillo salsa] with sour cream for a vegetable dip, or add to chicken soup and garnish with strips of fried tortillas."

"Add [roasted tomatillo salsa] to mayonnaise to make delectable toppings or to use in tuna or chicken salads [hm, another yum!]."

"Grilling the tomatillos [as opposed to just using them raw] gives the salsa a nice smoky flavor... [okay, that's kind of a 'duh']."

Another good pointer: "use a jalapeño chile for regular heat, but for a spicier version, use a serrano."

They all three contain tomatillos and cilantro and chiles (either serrano or jalapeño), and some add onion (raw or grilled/roasted) but one version leaves it out; and one adds lime juice (it's already pretty citrusy, so I imagine this would just amp up the citrusy-ness!).

The basic process is this: remove husks from tomatillos, wash/pat dry. Grill, broil or roast as follows -
"Grill until slightly softened and charred in spots, about 15 minutes..."
"Roast in 350 degree oven [this recipe tossed the tomatillos, whole, and onion wedges, and chilies, halved and seeded, with oil and salt first] until tomatillos and onion are very soft, about 1 hour..."
"Adjust oven rack 4 to 5 inches below broiler element; preheat broiler, place tomatillos and chile on rimmed baking sheet and broil until blackened in spots and blistered, about 5 minutes; turn over and roast on other side, to 4 minutes, or until blistered..."

Once the ingredients (tomatillos, chilies, and/or onion) have been grilled/roasted, they go into the blender or food processor, with any accumulated juices (and the lime juice, if using), along with cilantro and sometimes some additional water and are puréed. (If you roast your chile whole, I would at least remove the stem before puréeing, but the seeds can be used or removed, to your heat preference.) The raw onion version adds finely diced raw onion at this step (so you can either grill the onion in the before step, or wait and add it raw later). Then salt is added to taste.

The salsa can be served room temperature or refrigerated and used cold. That's it!

Lastly, to give you some idea of proportions, refer to this, and then adjust accordingly. I'm sure it is extremely flexible though, so if you have more or less of one ingredient than another, it'll still probably taste just fine:
1 lb. tomatillos (six large)
½ large onion (if doing the raw version, I'd use less?)
1 - 2 chilies (jalapeño or serrano), seeded if you want less heat
1 C (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
¼ C water (if using)
Salt (for seasoning-to-taste, at the end)

Herb-Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Feta
from yet another [sorry!] undated Bon Appetit clipping, modified to suit box ingredients
serves 4 to 6

"For a great vegetarian entrée, serve the vegetables on a bed of couscous."

1 large eggplant [or more if small], cut into [approx.] 1" cubes
4 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. Sherry wine vinegar
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
½ C crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss eggplant and tomatoes with oil and vinegar, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and 2 tbsp. of the oregano. Roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with feta and remaining oregano and serve.

Hot and sour broccoli
from an undated SJ Mercury News clipping, credited to "Lisa Scott-Ponce" - but I don't know if that was the journalist who wrote the column or the cook who wrote the recipe!
serves 4

2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. vinegar (red or white wine)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
½ C water, divided use
1 lb. broccoli [or broccolini] florets
2 tbsp. oil
¼ C cashews [don't have cashews? try some other nuts.]
1-2 green onions, chopped

Mix soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes and ¼ C water in a small bowl and set aside. Stir-fry broccoli in hot oil in large skillet over medium high heat about 1 minute. Add ¼ C water and stir about 2 minutes. Remove broccoli and pour sauce mixture into hot pan. Stir constantly until it boils and thickens. Return broccoli to pan and coat with sauce. Serve with cashews and green onions on top.

Grated Sautéed Beets
from The Victory Garden Cookbook
serves 4

"This recipe is simplicity in itself: grate peeled or small, unpeeled raw beets and you're all set to cook. The beets retain a slight crunch and all of their basic flavof."

4 medium beets
4 tbsp. butter
Fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh dill or parsely

Wash, peel, and coarsely grate beets. In a covered frying pan, melt butter, add beets, and stir to coat with butter, then sprinkle with lemon juice to taste. Cover and cook over medium to low heat for approximately 10 minutes, checking occasionally to see that the beets don't burn. (You could add a few spoonfuls of stock or water to prevent sticking.) Cook just until tender, then season with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice if needed. Sprinkle with dill or parsley.
* You can also cook beets before grating, or use left-over cooked beets.
* Grate other vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots, and parsnips, cook separately, and arrange in mounds on a vegetable platter.

Swiss Chard [or beet greens] frittata with dried currants and two cheeses
...another clipping, from 1999, not sure which magazine
Serves 4

Note from Debbie: FYI beet greens can be substituted for chard in pretty much any recipe, that's why I included it in the title, above

1 large bunch chard, stems trimmed
8 large eggs
¼ C dried currants
¼ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 oz.)
¼ C grated Gruyere cheese (ditto)
3 tbsp. pine nuts
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Steam chard [or beet greens] until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and chop coarsely.

Beat eggs in large bowl to blend. Mix in chard, currants, both cheeses, pine nuts, salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat [I'd use a seasoned cast-iron skillet]. Add egg mixture and cook without stirring until bottom is golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are set, about 10 minutes. Cut frittata into 4 wedges and serve.

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
this event must be registered for; deadline for signup is Sept. 8 (or until full)
see calendar page on our website for details; email Jessica to sign up

Fine Farm Feast - postponed to 2009

Fall Harvest Celebration - Saturday Oct. 11th (more details as it gets closer!)

Fall "Five Fridays" Mataganza Garden Internship - Oct 24 and 31, Nov 7, 14, 21
Cost: $50; email Brian Barth for more info, or call him at (831) 566-3336

Banana Slug String Band Benefit Concert for our very own up-and-coming nonprofit, the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program - Saturday Nov. 22, 11am and 1pm at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz
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farm phone: (831) 763.2448
[see above text box for emailing the farm]