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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
27th Harvest Week, Season 13
October 6th - 12th, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Right Timing - Learning from mistakes
Crystalballing the next 6 weeks
Fall Harvest Celebration This Saturday!
How cute can you get?
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
Calendar of Events

"...life is one continuous mistake, full of learning and growth especially when you
 cultivate a sense of humor and balance, refusing to hide from your mishaps".  -Wendy Johnson (from her book Gardening at the Dragon's Gate)

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)
Mixed bag of red and golden beets
Broccoli (Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Cooking greens: dino kale
Onions (Pinnacle Farms) +
Sweet peppers +
Summer squash
Bag of red slicing tomatoes +
Small Share
Apples (will be inside your box)
Mixed bag of red and golden beets
Broccoli (Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Cooking greens: dino kale
Onions (Pinnacle Farms)
Sweet peppers
Summer squash
Bag of red slicing tomatoes
Extra Fruit
Apples, pears, and either concord grapes (Vimala's Farm) or strawberries

Fruit Bounty "Extension"**
Apples, pears, and concord grapes (Vimala's Farm)

** This fruit is only for those who opted to extend their bounty share by 5 weeks. The regular bounty share has ended.

This week's loaf: Flax and Sesame Seed sourdough

Right Timing - Learning from mistakes
When it comes to expressing passion, humor, and wisdom about farming and nature there are only a few people who inspire and captivate as deeply as Wendy Johnson does in her recently published book, "Gardening at the Dragon' s Gate". Wendy who has inspired me on my path to becoming an organic farmer, has farmed for over 30 years at the Green Gulch Zen Center just off HWY 1, east of Muir Beach.   Her recently published book, has turned into a useful bedside companion. When particular challenges on the farm keep me awake, her perspective and most importantly her humor about farming, generally calm my worries enough, to help me fall asleep.  Last Sunday I had one of those moments when I laid awake, thinking of my failed pumpkin crop and our upcoming Harvest Celebration. It's a hard pill to swallow,  trying to host a Harvest Celebration in October without much of a Pumpkin Crop. No matter how long one has danced, planted, and lived by the seasons,  the timing of growing so many crops can be a challenge and every year a few of them will undoubtedly slip through the cracks. This year it was the Pumpkins.

I could see Elisa and David's disappointment last Sunday when all we could find were a few small cinderella pumpkins starting to turn orange. Most of the larger Jack-O-Lanterns were still green, lying camouflaged among the leafy green vines .
It's so easy to get caught up in the Spring and early Summer rush that planting Pumpkins often doesn't happen until after the Summer Solstice celebration. To make matters worse, this year, I decided to plant the pumpkins in a new field, which I should have anticipated, always takes longer to get to know and prepare. By the end of May, the lush purple vetch grown as a winter covercrop blanketing the field, was mowed and plowed into the soil.  Based on the soil analysis we incorporated a generous amount of compost blended with gypsum, lime, and rock dust and finally a new irrigation system was set up. By the time we were ready to go, it was the end of June .

Unless you are very careful, pumpkin seedlings don't like to be transplanted, it is best to sow the seeds directly into the moist soil. This year however, knowing I had to make up for lost time, I took my chances and decided to start the seedlings in the green house. By June 30th the field was ready and the seedlings were also ready for planting. The little seedlings got a warm start just as an unseasonably hot weather pattern passed through. Most of them didn't suffer too much of a transplant shock, and quickly started growing.  It wasn't meant to last, the tender little seedlings soon ran into difficulties.  Aphids found the young succulent leaves quite tasty during the July heatwaves, and powdery mildew moved in during the foggy months of August. Although we generally drip irrigate all of our squash plants, I followed the advice of a fellow farmer, soaking the plants with overhead sprinklers, which, he said, saved his crop one year. For the most part it worked, the plants recovered, but the water created another problem, some of the weeds which have been laying dormant in the field, all decided to sprout, especially one very noxious and spiny thistle. Now I need to decide whether to plow the thistles and pumpkins under, to reduce the weed-seedbank or do I wait for another 3 weeks, harvest the pumpkins first, and allow the weeds to go to seed.  Lesson learned, once again, it's all about timing. Had I planted earlier I could have watered and weeded before directly sowing the seeds into the moist ground and probably avoiding aphid and mildew damage along the way, since the plant would have been stronger and healthier. In the meantime I'll remember Wendy's words:"Life is one continuous mistake to learn from". Hope to see you Saturday!

Crystal balling what's going to be in your shares the next 6 weeks.

Rain in early October, a bit of a surprise but a welcome relief. With tomatoes and peppers still abundant I am hopeful that the return of dry weather will ensure a generous supply throughout October.  I expect a gradual shift from summer crops to fall and winter crops. Right now, two tomato fields are overlapping so I encourage everyone to can the last of the sunshineflavors, a great way to extend the the bounty from one season to the other. For all Hot Pepper lovers we'll have Anaheim and Serrano Peppers starting next week (please don't confuse with sweet peppers, we'll make sure they are bagged separatly). For a brief moment, 2-3 weeks, we should have enough strawberries for the fruit shares, and of course enough apples and pears to last until the end. Sometime by mid-November the subtropical Pineapple Guavas should be ripe enough to also make their traditional end-of-year appearance in the fruit shares.
  A beautiful block of Chinese Cabbage is maturing, and you can expect them for at least 2 weeks. Again soon, we'll have Collard Greens, Spinach, Radishes, and Arugula.  Bunching Onions, Brussel Sprouts, Red and Green Cabbage, and Cauliflower are all maturing nicely and should also make their appearance as we head deeper into Fall. The rest looks fuzzy, it must be the rain appearing on the horizon as we approach the holidays...
Fall Harvest Celebration This Saturday!
This Saturday October 11, from 11am to 5pm, come join us for our End of Season - Open Farm Day / Harvest Celebration

Instead of our more traditional Harvest Celebration with a potluck and bonfire, we decided to organize a more flexible and activity-oriented 'Open Farm Day'-style event for our fall event this year. Historically this was the event to come to and, among other things, get your farm pumpkin. As you read above, however, the selection and quantity of pumpkins is very limited this year, so we will not have our usual pumpkin u-pick fields. On the other hand, our Fuji Apples are abundant and sweet... so we'll have tractor rides and an apple u-pick!

Drop by at your leisure, any time between 11am and 5pm (see schedule below), and join for some of the fun and hands-on activities we have planned. Again, no potluck this year, however you are welcome to bring your own picnic and enjoy some fresh pressed apple cider. If the weather is nice, there are many lovely spots to spread your blanket, and be prepared to sing and dance to the Banana Slug String Band's inspiring and joyous Earthsongs!  (Sorry, the Banana Slugs will not be playing since they had a prior engagement)

Start Time : 11am

Tractor Rides to and from the U-pick Fuji Apple Orchard every hour from 11am to 4pm. Bring your own bags, baskets, and containers. A small donation of 50 cents per lb. is requested.

Milking the Goats with Arminda: 1pm & 3pm. This is your chance to discover if you want to change careers to become a dairy farmer!

Apple Cider Pressing: We'll have literally a ton of apples to press into cider; bring your own containers. This will be ongoing all day - we'll need your strong arms!

Bread Baking: "Toastie", our old cob oven, is still cranking; come watch and taste freshly baked bread in the making - it's the best!!!  2 to 4pm

Help us continue our work on our New Cob Oven: This your chance to experience what it means to get your hands and feet dirty, to experience one of the oldest building techniques in the world. Ongoing, 11am to 5pm

Music by the Banana Slug String Band: from 3:30 to 5:00pm, by the Fire Circle.(sorry cancelled, looking for other musical entertainment)

Other activities: Self-guided tours around the farm, face painting, strawbale fort, and there will be a small pick-up-your-Pumpkin from the Patch... as long as supplies last!

Celebration Ends: 5pm
How cute can you get?

Katie Cueva says, "What's that, mom?  You want me to share these yummy veggies with you? No, I don't think so...you'd better get you own box!"
veggie bag bonus?
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Click here to go to recipe database.

A couple people wrote me with more info and ideas for concord grapes, so while we (well, the fruit shares) are still getting them, I want to include it. But first, I'd like to talk about peppers.  - Debbie

Freezing Peppers
We've been getting a generous amount of peppers each week (at least in the Family shares), and so I wanted to put this idea into peoples' heads, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed by peppers. The thing is, they're plentiful now, but summer is waning and the peppers will too. So I suggest you consider freezing extra peppers each week, so that you'll have them around to use in winter recipes (they're great in dishes with winter squash, for example).

This is my freezing technique for a lot of things, but that's because it works so well! All you need to do is remove the core/seeds/stem etc. and slice up the fresh peppers, then spread them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with something: waxed paper, parchment, plastic wrap... heck, even cut open paper grocery bags laid flat (that's what my mom used to cool cookies on when I was a kid). Put the sheet with peppers into your freezer and freeze solid (overnight is good). Then remove the frozen peppers to a ziploc bag, squeeze the excess air out, close tight, and store back in the freezer. They'll keep this way a long time.

They're especially nice to have around when you want to add color to a dish, y'know, the way recipes are always calling for adding red bell pepper? You'll be so chuffed to be able to go to your freezer and pull out and use locally grown peppers, instead of those beauties in the stores... flown in from Holland!

OH, and one more thing: if you want to go the extra step and roast some of them before you freeze them, then you'll have a lovely roasted pepper supply to tap into as well! Just lay the prepared roasted pepper halves out and freeze as described above (though I wouldn't use an absorbent surface in this instance, so stick to plastic wrap or parchment).

Presumably you still want to use some of your peppers fresh too; member Michele Bigham sent me her latest brainstorm for using them:

Raw Peppers Pasta Sauce
by Michele Bigham

"I'm not sure if you've already featured a recipe like this one for the sweet peppers but here's what I did with them earlier this week.  I made the simplest pasta sauce: I just seeded about 5 of them (raw) and threw them in a blender.  I added a clove of garlic, a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, 1/4 cup parmesan, a splash of half and half, and blended [it all] with some olive oil until it was all creamy.  Then I just threw it over some whole wheat pasta and veggies that I sautéed up.  I topped mine with those little pearl-sized fresh mozzarella balls, but it would be fine without those too.  yum!"

Member Jen Sorenson sent me this very different (and yummy!) recipe for chard. We're not getting chard this week, but no matter -- Jen says, "This recipe can be adapted to use any of the greens from the farm, and the mangoes could be substituted with butternut squash in the winter. I started out with the basic recipe on the side of the Trader Joe's Israeli Couscous and made some wild changes..."

Mango and Greens Maftoul (Israeli Couscous)
Serves 4-6 as a side or 2-4 as a main dish

2 tbsp. butter
8 oz. package of Trader Joe's Israeli Couscous
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ C shallots, finely chopped
2 ¼ C chicken broth (divided use)
1 bunch chard (or other cooking greens)
2 mangos, diced [Trader Joe's also sells bags of frozen mango chunks]

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots and chard and sauté until shallots are golden and chard is wilted. Pour ½ cup of the chicken broth into pan and stir. Cook until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; add diced mango, stir and reserve.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add couscous, cinnamon and bay leaf*, and stir often until couscous browns slightly. Add remainder of chicken broth [1 3/4 C] and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender. Stir in chard mixture and serve or refrigerate and serve cold later.

*Remove before serving

Meanwhile, member Gwen Toevs wrote me, saying, "Since I have a 4 year old, I have seen [the movie] 'Ratatouille' a million times, and it always makes me hungry. So I did a search for Ratatouille's Ratatouille, and I found a great recipe." I'll provide you with the link she gave me, as the writer/blogger did an excellent job of describing the process and providing pictures. And by the way, if you haven't seen the movie yet, go find it at the library or rent it somewhere... it's absolutely delightful, especially if you love to cook and eat! So back to the recipe: Gwen prepared this dish, and had a bunch of additional comments, which I'll include here, below the link.

Ratatouille's Ratatouille

<> It's in the oven now. I did have tons of thinly sliced veggies at the end, and I was out of sauce, so I [made a new dish by] cut[ing] up one of those huge heirloom tomatoes into thin slices. I poured a bunch of olive oil in the bottom of a pie pan, sprinkled in salt and pepper, then I layered the eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, and tomato. Once I was done I made a mixture of olive oil, chopped basil, pressed garlic, salt and pepper and poured it over. That's baking now, too. I'm guessing it will taste good because it sure smells great!

<> I'm thinking of tossing some pine nuts on the top when it is almost done, then serving it on top of those huge toasted couscous. [Hm, today seems to be the day for Israeli Couscous!]

<> Took [my version] out of oven and topped with a little fresh grated parmesan. It doesn't get better than this! This is delicious. The version with tomato sauce [the original, I believe she's referring to] kinda boiled in the tomato sauce, so I could have used less, and I should have boiled it down more. But still it's insanely good too!

Member Desirree Madison-Biggs sent me this lovely impromptu recipe last month:

Sautéed Mixed Beets and Green Onion
"Debbie, I couldn't agree more about how delicious the beets are - particularly the golden ones.  And I previously hated beets until I started getting them from you and Farmer Tom.  Last night I chopped up 2 golden and 1 red beets into small sections, threw them in a frying pan with olive oil, added a chopped green onion (from the box) and 3 chopped cloves of garlic, sautéeing them until they were tender (about 20 minutes).  They were so unbelievably delicious, I ate the entire pan myself!"

And this one I made up just tonight:

Roasted Mixed Beets and Apples with Rosemary
The idea is something of a conflation of the 'Roasted Mixed Veggies' and 'Broiled Apples and Pears with Rosemary' recipes of the recent past. The flavors all sounded like they'd go together, I just wanted to test it out before writing it up. Good news: it worked! Here's what I did:

I tried to use beets and apples that were roughly the same size as one another; used an equal number of red beets, golden beets, and apples. (I also threw in some pears, but that is totally optional.)

Scrub the beets, top and tail them, and only peel them if the skin is really rough or pocked, otherwise leave it on. Quarter the beets, then halve the quarters lengthwise, so you have wedges. Quarter and core the apples, then cut them likewise into wedges. Throw beets and apples into a bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil; toss to coat.

Spread prepared beets/apples out in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt, then break rosemary sprigs into segments and tuck them in and around the beets/apples.

Roast the mixture in a hot (450 degrees) oven for half an hour; check for doneness. If they're crowded in the pan, they'll take longer. If they're spread out, they'll probably be done. Remember: the roasting time is very forgiving. I did the half-hour roast, then turned off the heat and left them in the oven for at least another half hour while I did other things.

Remove the rosemary sprigs before serving; if a few bits stay behind, this is okay. The rosemary will likely be brittle and dry; you can always crush a few of the toasted rosemary leaves between your fingers and scatter over everything to punch up the rosemary-ness a skosh, but you definitely want to remove the majority of it.

This would go wonderfully with pork chops or roast chicken... alas I had neither, but oh well! It was delicious anyway!

As I said, people came to my rescue with grape jelly and other recipe ideas for the concord grapes. First up, Stephanie Lathrop sent a link to a comprehensive, step-by-step jelly-making website.

Grape Jelly
Stephanie said she'd been making jelly with the grapes, but that, "I don't have all the 'correct' equipment, so I smash the grapes in a food processor, then heat them and strain them.  Works well.  Detailed instructions on this website, for total beginners like me."  Here's the link:


Then there's this smart idea from Diane Ammon:

Making Juice for Jelly Later
Diane's freezing the juice in batches so as to save up enough to make a batch of jelly: "I used my Ball Blue book as a guide to make grape juice," she says. "I combined 2 weeks of grapes together (stemmed), put them in a pot and crushed them with a potato masher - worked well. Added about 1/4 cup water and simmered for 10 minutes, then strained through cheese cloth - let drip for more than an hour, then squeezed it.  I got 2 cups of juice and I froze it, and will add more to it this week, hoping to make jelly!"

...and lastly, this recipe from Lisa Bautista, which just makes my mouth water!

Grape Jam All Grown Up
Lisa writes, "Here is my absolute favorite recipe for jam.  I call it Grape Jam All Grown Up.  Technically it's a conserve.  It's written on a (now) very stained napkin so I don't have the source of the recipe.  Oh well, here goes!"
Wash 4 lbs. concord grapes; separate skins from pulp; reserve skins.  Cook pulp until soft and then strain it to remove the seeds.  Squeeze 1 1/2 cups orange juice (you could use bottled or frozen reconstituted but you need orange peel anyway) and 1/2 cup lemon juice.  Reserve peels from 2 oranges and 1 lemon.  Scrape excess pith (the white stuff) from the orange and lemon peels.  Slice peel very thin.  Cover peels with water and cook uncovered until tender.  Drain remaining liquid from peel.  Add grape skins, 4 cups sugar, fruit juices and peels to the strained pulp.  Boil until mixture is thick and sheets from a spoon (about 35-40 minutes).  Pour into hot scalded jars, Seal at once.  Enjoy!
Okay, Lisa here again.  The fruit peel part is kind of fussy and time consuming but boy is this good jam (true confession; I loooooove  marmalade... the toothsomeness of the peel, the sweet jam contrasting with the bitter edge of the peel... I could go on).  I've never tried it but you could probably do this recipe just fine leaving the whole orange-juice-and-peel part out.  If you did, the recipe may require some lemon juice.  Yup.  Here's a link to a Concord Grape Jam recipe from Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/CONCORD-GRAPE-JAM-232813

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

Fall Harvest Celebration - Saturday Oct. 11th (see above for details!)

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
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