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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
21st Harvest Week, Season 13
August 25th - 31st, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Transitions and New Horizons
What's up in the Fields?
Slow Food Nation '08 this weekend in San Francisco!
Debbie's Taking a Break (reminder)
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
Calendar of Events
(no quote this week; Tom forgot to add it) ;-)
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
Apples (will be inside your box)
Cucumbers (Armenian, or "snake")
Fingerling potatoes +
Green beans +
Lacinato kale
Lettuce +
Mustard greens +
Peppers +
Summer squash +
Tomatoes (lots!)

Small Share
Apples (will be inside your box)
Cucumbers (Armenian, or "snake")
Fingerling potatoes
Green beans
Mustard greens
Summer squash

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

Fruit Bounty

**no "bounty" this week** but it's coming back soon! ALSO, bounty members, check your email for an option to extend your "bounty" by an additional 5 weeks!

Transitions and New Horizons

Coastal summer days are clothed in fog and August has been just one of those typical summer months. The difference from one foggy morning to the next  is how long it takes for the sun to burn through the moist marine layer that rolls in and out everyday.  Judging from the unusually heavy mildew infestation on our spinach and squashes the prevailing cool moist conditions caused by the relatively short periods of daily sunshine have favored the excessive growth of this foliar fungus. When we finally woke up to a sunny morning last week, and again this morning, I noticed the light had a crisp, clean, almost brilliant quality, characteristic  during both Spring and Fall equinoxes. Although technically, Fall is still a month away, I felt this faint stirring of relief, that the seasonal cycle is in transition, shifting from growth to contraction. As farmers we learn to accept change as a naturally occurring event. We observe the weather patterns shift, we know fall is near when the first red leaves appear on the plum trees, the apples start blushing and the trees are straining from the weight of the fruit. Even the sunflowers are bending their magnificent large bright heads accepting that summer isn't going to last forever.

Seasons don't fit into neat little boxes. One couldn't tell by looking at the harvest this week that we are facing any kind of transition, the abundance of tomatoes, peppers, green beans, summer squash, cucumbers are all bursting with summer energy.  It is easy to ignore the first subtle signs of change when we can bite into a cucumber and slice into delicious dry-farmed tomatoes. I almost want to agree with my friends visiting from out of town who believe that California doesn't have any seasons.

Similar to the seasonal changes in nature we constantly face transitions individually as well as within the larger commumnity we live in. For example for us, within the sustainable farming community, it is an exciting moment to witness how people's choices about food is starting to challenge the current and dominant industrial food system. With rising energy and food costs, a changing climate, declining water supplies, a growing population and widespread problems of both hunger and obesity the choice for change to  build a healthier and more sustainable food system is gaining momentum. This weekend, Live Earth Farm, together with many other farmers and producers is invited to participate in the Slow Food Nation Event in San Francisco, which may turn out to be the largest celebration of food in the country. Just as the seasons teach us about transitions, I believe this event is another indicator that change is happening.  During the event, Roots of Change, a network of farmers, eaters, health advocates, chefs, business owners, policy makers, and everyday citizens who have formed an alliance to create a sustainable food system in California by 2030, is going to present a Declaration of 12 principles which frame a healthier food and agriculture policy for our nations future. The principles reflect what Community Supported Agriculture Farms and the entire sustainable agriculture community have actively been striving for.The declaration in itself acknowledges the movements accomplishments but even more importantly spells out the future milestones that need to be met. This is a preview of the principles. Hope you can make it to the Event.

A Healthy Food and Agriculture Policy:

1.   Forms the foundation of secure and prosperous societies, healthy communities, and healthy people.
2.   Provides access to affordable, nutritious food to everyone.

3.   Prevents the exploitation of farmers, workers, and natural resources; the domination of genomes and markets; and the cruel treatment of animals, by any nation, corporation or individual.
4.   Upholds the dignity, safety, and quality of life for all who work to feed us. 

5.   Commits resources to teach children the skills and knowledge essential to
food production, preparation, nutrition, and enjoyment.

6.   Protects the finite resources of productive soils, fresh water, and biological

7.  Strives to remove fossil fuel from every link in the food chain and replace it
with renewable resources and energy.
8.  Originates from a biological rather than an industrial framework.

9.  Fosters diversity in all its relevant forms: diversity of domestic and wild
 species; diversity of foods, flavors and traditions; diversity of ownership. 
10.  Requires a national dialog concerning technologies used in production, and
 allows regions to adopt their own respective guidelines on such matters.
11.  Enforces transparency so that citizens know how their food is produced,
 where it comes from, and what it contains.
12.  Promotes economic structures and supports programs to nurture the
 development of just and sustainable regional farm and food networks.

 What's up in the Fields?
The delayed timing isn't all that bad, now that everyone is back from vacation the box content is reflecting the farm's summer bounty. Bon Appetit!
This week we harvested 20 bins of Galas and Summerfelt apples which are earlier apple varieties. Crisp, juicy, and a fine balance between sweet and tart flavors.
The Chioggia beets are a specialty beet with their pink skin and the beautiful concentric rings inside, sweeter and more peppery than their red cousin.
Next week carrots again and more, more, more, more.....tomatoes.  Happy Labor Day Weekend!
Slow Food Nation '08 this weekend in San Francisco!
That's right, it's happening this coming (Labor Day) weekend, and it's promising to be a very exciting event. Don't know what we're talking about? Read about it here if you missed the story in the newsletter two weeks ago.
Debbie's Taking a Break (reminder)
Don't forget: by the time you receive this newsletter, I will be away from the farm office until next Friday. Tom and company will be managing on their own while I'm gone, 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). Again, if there is an issue about your share, DO contact us so that someone can take care of it, however if the subject 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.

Armenian "snake" cucumberEveryone's getting the Armenian "snake" cucumbers this week (Tom says we have lots), and they are delicious and beautiful too! Their skin is a lovely variegated dark-and-light green, and it's also nice and tender so don't have to peel them. Be forewarned that the cucumbers can get so big, the workers may have to literally snap some of them in half in order to fit them into your boxes (at right is just a medium-sized one, and I could barely hold the camera back far enough to get the whole thing in the picture!). But no worries; if you get a 'snapped' one, the exposed end should just skin over, and can just be trimmed off.

We're getting lots of tomatoes too; Tom says they're starting to come on strong, so if you have any favorite tomato recipes, be sure to send 'em my way so I can share them with everyone over the coming weeks as we should be having tomatoes for awhile.  - Debbie

Home fermented pickles
I can't tell you how long I've wanted to try this (to ferment my own pickles), so I finally did about a month ago and was quite happy with how they came out! Since it was successful, I wanted to share the process with you all.

For those who don't know (trust me, I've only been learning about fermenting vegetables relatively recently myself), lacto-fermented veggies are delicious and nutritious, and easy to make. What many people don't realize is that the 'sour' in fermented veggies comes from the fermentation process itself - not by adding vinegar. You simply submerge veggies in brine (saltwater) for a couple days to weeks or even months (depending on what you're making) and the 'sour-ification' happens naturally! It's very cool.

In a nutshell, lactobacilli (a type of bacteria important for fermenting) are pretty much everywhere - as are many other microorganisms... fortunately lactobacilli are salt-tolerant, and so by submerging veggies in brine, the lactobacilli do their thing while the veggies are protected from other less-desirous bacteria. Isn't that amazing? So simple.

Just like the one-cabbage, one-quart-jar sauerkraut fermentation process I documented back in January, I decided to make a batch of cucumber pickles that didn't require fancy equipment or vast quantities of ingredients, so that I could turn around and show you how to do it.

What you need:
· Fresh cucumbers, unpeeled
· a clean quart jar (mayonnaise, canning)
· a clean smaller jar (that will fit within the mouth of the quart jar)
· water - filtered or distilled (you don't want chlorine in there as chlorine kills microorganisms, which in this case, we want!)
· salt - either Kosher, pickling, or unrefined sea salt. Don't use regular table salt. Check the label: you don't want salt with iodine and 'anti-caking' agents put there to make it 'free flowing.' Iodine is also antimicrobial, so you want to avoid it for the same reasons you avoid chlorine in the water.
· garlic
· peppercorns
· fresh dill (optional, but a fabulous add if you have it) - you could also use a spoonful of dill seed if you don't have fresh dill
· grape leaves (also optional; I didn't have any the first time I made these, but they're supposed to help keep the pickles crunchy)

Time: With the proportions I give you, you should have pickles within a week or so. Fermentation is a process that happens over time, there is no exact 'done' time - ferment for shorter periods of time and the results will be more salty; longer fermentation produces more sour. Use your senses of taste and smell.

Brine: My fermentation guru (Sandor Ellix Katz, author of "Wild Fermentation" - a book I highly recommend) says his recipe (the one I used for reference) was for sour, fairly salty pickles, but encouraged experimenting with brine strength. He says the rule of thumb to consider in salting your ferments: more salt to slow microorganism action in summer, less salt in winter when microbial action slows.

So I ended up doing basically 1 tbsp. salt to 1 1/2 C filtered water (I kind of sized down from Sandor's recipe of 6 tbsp. for 1 gallon water). Dissolve the salt thoroughly in the water. I made my brine in a separate jar, and kept it handy for topping off my setup if the liquid level dropped from evaporation.

The process: I took a quart jar, put several slightly smashed cloves of garlic in the bottom, scattered in some peppercorns, stuck in a sprig of dill (and would have put in a grape leaf had I had one), then packed in cucumber spears cut to a length that would leave approximately an inch of head space to be covered by brine. Then I just poured in brine to cover, and weighted them down with another smaller jar filled with water, to keep them submerged. Then I just left it out at room temperature for a week, and the magic happened!

cucumbers fermenting to picklesBe sure to stand your jar in a bowl or something, as the first few days are pretty active and the ferment causes overflow to occur. But then it slows down, and I did indeed end up adding a little brine each day, just to the small gap between the weighting jar and the neck of the mason jar.

When they turned color (they'll go from bright green to a more olive green), and smelled sour-pickley, I cleaned off any minor mold-looking stuff, took out the weighting jar, closed up the quart jar and stuck it in the fridge. They were delicious cold! :-)

I observed that the brine went cloudy at some point in the process, and don't know if this was because I smashed the garlic (rather than leaving them whole), or if it just always happens that way... but don't be dismayed by this. The pickles are fine.

OH. One last thing: Once I'd eaten all the pickles, I re-used the pickle juice to ferment an additional batch by just sticking in more cucumber spears and topping off with more brine to cover, weighting with the jar, etc. The flavor was a little less strong than the first batch, but still wonderful.


Okay, on to other vegetables!!

Member Anne Sandman wrote me recently, saying, "First, I wanted to thank you for including the tequila-braised kale recipe in a recent newsletter. I've made it twice now, and it's my new favorite way to eat kale! Especially because I've been trying to get more plant-based protein in my diet. Perfect.

"I'd also like to submit a recipe that I've been enjoying. It's modified from an August 2005 Bon Appetit recipe. The original recipe calls for red wine vinegar and hickory-smoked almonds, but I use lemon juice and sliced raw (or toasted) almonds because I always have those things on hand. [Atta girl Anne! Use what you've got!] I would never have thought to wilt fresh greens in hot rice, but I love it."
Basmati rice, dried currant, and almond salad with wilted greens
modified from a Bon Appetit recipe, August 2005
serves 8
[you could easily halve this recipe; watch cooking times, as they may be shorter with smaller quantities]

6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 C basmati rice
4 C chicken broth (you could also use your found veggie stock!)
4 C loosely packed fresh greens, such as arugula or spinach [you could also use chard or mustard greens here, I'm sure]
1/4 C fresh lemon juice (original recipe used red wine vinegar)
3/4 C sliced almonds (original recipe used whole, hickory-smoked almonds)

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and stir 3 minutes. Add broth and currants; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

Place arugula in large bowl. Top with hot rice; toss to wilt arugula. Cool.

Whisk remaining 4 tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. chili powder, and lemon juice in small bowl; pour over rice and greens, add almonds, and toss. Can be made 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Member Traci Townsend sent this recipe she made up just the other day, so it's using all sorts of summer-box-veggies:

Traci Townsend's Roasted Veggie Spread
I took the eggplant, summer squash, and sweet peppers and added onions that I had left over from another meal.  I cut them all into pieces and roasted them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then cooled them and refrigerated them for a few days.

I took them out today and used an immersion blender and coarsely pureed (if that's a term) the veggies.  Here you can add garlic, salt, pepper sauce, olives - whatever might tickle your fancy.  I then toasted some of the amazing rosemary-cardamom bread [Traci gets the bread share; that was last week's loaf from Companion Bakers] and spread the toast with fresh goat cheese and this totally yummy goo for lunch.  OUT OF THIS WORLD.

Old-fashioned Sweet Tomato Preserves
Traci gets the NY Times, and often sends me recipes from there. Since this recipe has pictures and a thorough step-by-step process online, I'm just going to give you all the link rather than copy and paste it all here. Click here to check it out!

Here's a really cool-sounding recipe from a book called, "The Gardener's Cookbook" by Kathleen DeVanna Fish. The book has recipes from chefs all over the country:

Eggplant Dumplings
by Enrico Glaudo, chef, Primi, Los Angeles, CA
serves 4

1 large eggplant [or 2 or three smaller ones from the farm]
1 C olive oil
2 eggs
¼ C Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/3 C flour
Dash of oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel eggplant, then cut into cubes. Sauté eggplant in olive oil for approximately 15 minutes over low heat [a cup of olive oil sounds like a lot, but I know eggplant can absorb it like nobody's business!], but don't let the eggplant turn brown. Drain eggplant on paper towels and cool [if you want to avoid using paper towels, you might try cutting open a clean paper grocery bag and using this; that's what my mom used to cool cookies on - the paper absorbs the grease].

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, Parmesan cheese, flour, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooled eggplant and place mixture into a pastry bag [I don't have a pastry bag... I'd probably use a ziploc bag and cut off a corner, OR, see below].

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Squeeze the eggplant mixture out of the bag and cut into ¾" pieces and drop into boiling water for 2 minutes each [OR maybe just use two teaspoons: one to scoop the dough out of the bowl, the other to scrape blob of dough off the first spoon into the water]. The dumplings will rise to the top of the water when they are cooked.

Remove and serve with your favorite tomato or basil sauce.

Beet and Green Apple Salad
from "More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden" by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff
serves 6 to 8 [but you could scale it down proportionally]

5 to 6 medium to large beets (about 1 ½ lbs)
½ small red onion, chopped
2 tart green apples, cut in halves, cored, and thinly sliced (unpeeled) [just use any of the farm apples here, of course!][I'd also wait to slice up the apples until I was ready to assemble the salad, else they'd go brown while they're waiting!]

1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. horseradish
1 ½ tbsp. red wine vinegar
¼ tsp. celery seed
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

1/3 C chopped scallions
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Wash beets, but do not peel. Cook in water to cover until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Cool, peel, and cut in half, then slice halves into thin slices. Place beets in a salad bowl, with onion and apple slices. Combine dressing ingredients and toss with salad. Garnish with scallions and dill, 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
Quick Links...

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448
[see above text box for emailing the farm]