LEF logo (small)
Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
23rd Harvest Week, Season 13
September 8th - 14th, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Existential Reflections-First Signs of Seasonal Exhaustion
What's Up in the Field!
Bring Back the First Farm, or "This Lawn is Your Lawn"
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
Calendar of Events

"As gardeners we come in contact with the universe.  The water, the air, the earth does not belong to us.  Even our energy supply, the sun, comes from outer space.
When we take up gardening, we not only bring a healthy source of food into our life.  In addition, we become mindful of all the gifts around us.  We see what the earth and the world give to us.  This brings gratitude into our hearts.  We want to give back and ensure that the world is a safe place for others and for future generations. " Thich Nhat Hanh

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)
Beets (red and golden)
Green beans +
Kale or Chard
Lettuce +
Sweet peppers +
Poblano peppers +
Summer squash
Tomatillos +
Tomatoes +

Small Share
Apples (will be inside your box)
Green beans
Sweet peppers
Poblano peppers

Extra Fruit
(always see checklist at your pickup site for final quantities)
Apples, Concord grapes, and pears

Fruit Bounty
(always see checklist at your pickup site for final quantities)
Apples, pears and cherry tomatoes

Existential Reflections - First Signs of Seasonal Exhaustion 

As last week's back-to-school heatwave was straining our bodies, equipment and plants, the extra energy output required to harvest, pack, cool and deliver the CSA shares made us all long for the cooler, shorter days ahead. Twenty-two weeks into the season reminds me of my days as a long distance runner. There is a point in a marathon known as "hitting the wall" when the body is running low on glucose and has to start breaking down other energy reserves such as fats and proteins. This change in the body's metabolic energy process is difficult and makes one want to stop.  It's also a sign that the exertion is unsustainable, and if not corrected will result in injury.
As with all biological systems, farming is also a subtle balancing act. We need to maintain, or better yet, increase fertility in our soils, grow and harvest sufficient produce to supply the demand of our community, and aim to use as little external energy as possible. It means we need to monitor our limits, understand the carrying capacity of our own bodies, the soil, plants and animals.  For me farming sustainably is a work in progress, where the ultimate litmus test is to maintain an energy balance that cannot be borrowed against.  With a culture pushing us to continuously expand and defy natural limits with new technologies at an  increasingly faster pace, we ignore the importance of returning what ecological capital we have spent.
I remember taking a Plant Physiology class in college and being completely fascinated by how nature's miracle chefs capture the energy transmitted by the sun, add water, minerals and CO2 in order feed the rest of us earthlings a bountiful meal topped with a fresh digestive breeze of oxygen. It doesn't take a philosopher to enlighten me about my existential link to the sun and the photosynthetic intelligence of plants, turning light into life. How else could I enjoy the fruits of my work. I wouldn't be offended if someone would call me a sun-worshipper, especially if that someone catches me biting into a juicy soft Warren pear or  a piece of freshly baked bread thickly spread with homemade goat-cheese and apricot jam. If there is a bible we should be reading, it is Nature itself, to discover the many miraculous ways by which we can live together without bankrupting the only home we share.

What's up in the Fields
The Poblano Peppers (Shiny Green) are always a treat for all the field workers and their families. This mildly spicy pepper is used for the popular Chile Relleno. I am excited to try one with my first Queso Fresco I made last night. The tomatillos should be more abundant this time to make a fresh Salsa Verde and if all goes well all hot pepper lovers in our CSA should start seeing some hot Jalapenos next week.
In a couple of weeks we'll be feautring some Fall Onions from Pinnacle Farms in Hollister, we typically only have them until mid July. More Garlic should show up once it's all cleaned. Green Beans will continue to be abundant, and my crystalball is showing a nice SugarSnapPeas harvest by the end of the season. All our Warren Pears are now safley cold stored, it was the largest harvest yet with over 30,000lbs. Wow!!! On a more problematic note, our winter squash is suffering from a mildew infestation and I expect a small harvest this year, it's all about timing, this year we planted about three weeks too late.  Gain some, loose some...learn some!!!!

Bring Back The First Farm, or "This Lawn is Your Lawn"
A great article in Saturday's San Jose Mercury News talked about a movement started by a fellow named Roger Doiron to encourage our next 'eater-in-chief' to plant an organic vegetable garden on the front lawn of the White House. The idea is to revive the Victory Garden, to have our next President lead by example. He also makes a good point, in that that lawn is actually ours; the First Family lives in a home that belongs to us, is paid for by us, and we should have some say in how it is used. The goal is to have the front lawn of the White House transformed into a garden which would 'supply fresh produce to the first family and local food cupboards; set an example of self-sufficiency, healthy eating and sustainability for the whole country; and make a statement about what we grow in front of our homes'. Don't miss this brilliant little video; it's less than 5 minutes long, so not a big chunk out of your day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOXtNdQxGw8 and then to sign the petition, go to http://www.eattheview.org/petition.
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Click here to go to recipe database.

I just realized that I haven't yet done my annual eggplant rant! If you've been a member in prior years you know what's coming... eggplant, eggplant, eggplant - I love eggplant!! Its creamy texture when cooked, and unique flavor are just so marvelous, and it works in so many different ethnic dishes, from Italian, to Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Middle-Eastern - you name it. I just love it (have I said that already?). Yum! Here is my favorite way to prepare it:

Debbie's Favorite Marinated Grilled Eggplant with Mozarella
I learned how to make this when I was a kid, from my best friend's mom - she used bottled Italian dressing and baked 'em in the oven and I've just evolved the concept to suit my own tastes (only because I'm not a fan of bottled dressing), but really, it is quite flexible and easy.

In a shallow dish, make a marinade/dressing/vinaigrette from fresh squeezed lemon juice, red wine vinegar, a crushed clove of garlic, salt and pepper, a little oregano, and plenty of olive oil - eggplants love olive oil. (That's just my version of the marinade; you could certainly experiment with variations on this and I'm sure it would still turn out tasty.)

Slice globe eggplants crosswise into roughly 3/4" thick slabs; re-whisk the vinaigrette to blend, then dip the slices (both sides) in it. Or alternatively, you can baste the slices with the dressing. Either way is fine.

Grill or bake the slices until soft (when I do this on my gas grill it only takes about 3-4 minutes per side), then top each with a slice of mozarella and let it melt for a minute or so.

If you make these in the oven, try doing the cheese step under a broiler, so that the cheese gets a little browned... mmmmm.

Anyway, that's all there is to it! This is delicious just by itself, but it's also really good served with pasta and your favorite tomato sauce, or with grilled peppers and summer squash... or a combination of all!

I'm glad to see we're getting tomatillos again; that one time a few weeks back was not enough for me. And this time, we're getting some nice poblano peppers too; I sense a Mexican-food-themed meal here! Make your tomatillo salsa, prepare the simple chili rellenos (below), then embellish the meal with refried beans and warm tortillas, maybe some roasted chicken (if you're a meat eater), maybe open a few cervesas... or make agua fresca from the strawberries in your freezer! (If you're like me, you have lots from earlier this year when we were getting several baskets per week!)

I like this particular recipe because it requires no batter-dipping or deep-frying:

Baked Chiles Rellenos with Cheese
from the 'All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking'
serves 6 [but could be easily scaled down to the number of poblano peppers you have]

"In San Antonio, they wrap a chile relleno in a large warm flour tortilla for a Tex-Mex sandwich."

Grill or broil, turning occasionally, over a burner or 4 inches below a preheated broiler until blistered and blackened on all sides and slightly softened, 5 to 10 minutes:
6 medium poblano peppers
Peel the charred skin from the peppers and rinse them briefly [I'd say only if you need to to get off bits of charred skin; otherwise don't bother]. Make a long slit in the side of each pepper and carefully remove the seeds and veins. Pat dry and place on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together:
    8 oz. Mexican Chihuahua, Monterey Jack, brick, or mild Cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
    2 large scallions, minced

Form into 6 ovals, then stuff the ovals into the center of the peppers and gently reshape them. Bake for 15 minutes to thoroughly heat through [and melt the cheese!]. Serve hot with salsa and chopped fresh cilantro.

Beets - if you're getting the Family Share, Tom's going to have the workers bunch red and golden beets together, so you can have a nice variety. I think he has lots of goldens planted, so the Small Shares should get them in the future too. Anyway, the golden beets are not to be missed! They are delicious, sweeter and milder than red beets. And it's fun to make dishes with both in them. Don't forget to cut off, wash, and save the beet greens! Anyway, here's an update to a recipe I ran back in 2006, the first year (I think) that we had golden beets:

Side-by-side Red and Golden Beet Salad
from Debbie's kitchen

beets (golden and red)
salad greens of some sort (lettuce, arugula, spinach...?)
dressings (see below)
nuts, optional (pine nuts or walnuts would be good)
feta cheese, optional
scallions, optional

dressing for golden beets: champagne or rice or white-wine vinegar, dijon mustard, oil (I like to use walnut oil or flaxseed oil), salt. You could also add or use lemon juice and a little honey, and I've also added minced up fresh mint to both dressings to great success!

dressing for red beets: balsamic or some other fruity dark vinegar, dijon mustard, oil (same options), maybe a dab of honey (totally optional) and salt (don't forget the mint if you have it!)

**feel free to experiment with the dressings; if you have a favorite honey-mustard dressing or whatever, try using it if you like. Whatever you do, have fun with it!**

Remove beet tops and save for another use (or steam/wilt and use as the 'greens' for this salad!). Cook beets your favorite way - you can either roast or bake them, or boil them, or cook them in a pressure cooker. (This salad is really easy if you have left-over cooked beets.) When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut off any remaining stems/tails, then dice them, keeping the two colors separate. Dress each color with its corresponding dressing (it's okay to dress 'em warm or cold).

Let the dressed beets sit while you toast your nuts, slice scallions and prepare the salad greens. To serve, on each plate place a bed of greens, then spoon on some of each of the dressed beets, side-by-side. You can serve it just like that, or top with the optional toasted nuts, scallions and crumbled feta cheese.

Here's a recipe from my 'clipping' collection, from a book called "Recipes from the Great Chefs of Santa Cruz County."

Green Bean Paté with Basil
recipe is credited to 'Shepherd's Garden Seeds'
makes 2 cups

"This dish tastes sinfully rich, but is not in the least, so enjoy!"

½ lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs
3 tbsp.  finely chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. [grated fresh] lemon rind
Seasoned salt [or plain ol' salt] and pepper
Melba toasts or crackers
nasturtium flowers for garnish [optional, but a great idea!]

Cook beans until tender by boiling or steaming them.

In a skillet, heat oil; add onion and sauté until softened. Cool.

In a food processor or with a food chopper, process or grind green beans, onions, eggs, basil and lemon rind until roughly puréed. Remove to a bowl; mix in just enough mayonnaise to hold mixture together.

Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Chill.

Garnish with nasturtium blossoms. Serve with Melba toast or crackers. [Or how about on a nice baguette, as a sandwich filling, maybe with some sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and some kind of cheese?]

Lastly this, from a more recent clipping:

Beef and Carrot Stew with Dark Beer
from Bon Appetit, April 2008, modified slightly
serves 6

"The sweetness of the carrots is a nice contrast to the slightly bitter beer."

2 tbsp. peanut oil
1 3-lb. boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 ½-inch chunks [or if you get Morris Grassfed Beef, you'll have packages of already cut up stew beef]
2 C chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, smashed
4 tsp. chopped fresh sage and/or rosemary
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 12-oz. bottle dark beer (such as stout)
1 14-oz. can beef broth [or if you have it, use your own homemade stock!]
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into segments [the original recipe called for 'baby carrots with some green tops attached, peeled]

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add to pot and sauté until browned, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl. Add onions, garlic, and herbs to pot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and flour; stir 1 minute. Add beer; stir until thick and smooth, scraping up browned bits, about 2 minutes. Add broth, then beef with any juices; bring to simmer. Cover partially, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 45 minutes. Add carrots; simmer partially covered until beef and carrots are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes [I guess that's 45 minutes more...!]. Season with salt and pepper.

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

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. For more information, call 888-327-5847.
Quick Links...

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