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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
32nd Harvest Week, Season 13
November 10th - 16th, 2008
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Food to Pause
Field Notes
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
Calendar of Events
It's time to pause...
- Farmer Tom
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
Cabbage, Napa
Celery root (from Lakeside)
Eggplant (the last ones!)
Kale, red Russian
Lettuce +
Mushrooms, shitake (from Far West Fungi)
Sweet peppers
Spinach +
Tomatoes, red +
Tomatoes, green! (will be combined in bag with red tomatoes)

Small Share
Arugula/Mustard greens mix
Kale, red Russian
Mushrooms, shitake (from Far West Fungi)
Sweet peppers
Tomatoes, red

Extra Fruit
Apples and pears (loose not bagged; see Tom's blurb about resource conservation)

Fruit Bounty
**Bounty all done for the season**

This week's Bread
Caraway anise rye! Yummm!!!
Food to Pause
Slow Food is more than just a trendy way to eat. For me it differs from other sustainability movements in that it's focus is to slow down time. In today's world we are constantly asked to be multitasking, we are continuously connected to the internet,  a digital network which feeds us information we never seem to be able to keep up with, and as a result, making us feel like we never have enough time. Fast food is complementary to this technology driven lifestyle.

Slow food on the other hand, I like to believe, is the kind of food we grow for you. It's food that grows with the seasons, not too far from the community it nourishes. It grows in balance with it's natural environment, grown by people who are compensated fairly, and who are proud of their work. We grow a large diversity of crops; some varieties such as our apples, pears and apricots are hard to find, and many of our vegetables are heirlooms.  It is food that takes time to prepare and educates our sense of taste, it is food that helps us to slow down and pause.  Machines don't pause, nature on the other hand is balanced with periods of inactivity and activity.

The seasonal pause here on the farm is typically the winter-season. We may not come to a complete standstill, as some of our hibernating farmer friends to the north, but nonetheless we slow down enough to resign ourselves to the fact that one has to stop trying to do everything that one believes is possible to do. We are approaching the end of another CSA season and the slower season ahead is an opportunity to pause and reflect upon both accomplishments and opportunities to create a more balanced and resilient operation. Your responses to last month's survey will give us lots to think about.  I decided to list the summarized results and share my first assessment of them, and identify the first steps we'll take to meet mutually (yours and the farms) important goals.

Your participation was impressive, thank you so much for taking the time.  67% of the entire CSA membership, that's 427 of you, representing all 32 pick-up locations  responded to the survey. Of which 65% have been members for 2 seasons or longer

Below is a summary of your responses to the six inquiries pertaining to the change  we propose to pack and distribute the CSA shares.

1. 95% felt it was important or very important to reduce waste resulting from packing and distributing the CSA shares.

2. 87% felt it was important or very important that changes to the current distribution system also free up more of our time growing and tending to the crops in the field.

3. 86% felt it was important or very important that prices for the shares stayed affordable.

4. 80%  favored to have more flexibility built into the CSA with regard to quantity and type of produce.

5. 65% expressed concern about compromising quantity and quality of the produce if we changed the current system, i.e. more handling, spoilage, and  increased pilferage (intended or unintended). Many of the written comments were more specific giving more "weight" and detailed feedback on this issue

6.  50% thought it was important or very important that a change in the current distribution system also promote more community interaction. 50% didn't think it had much importance.

We received 211 written comments, ideas and concerns which we are still in the process of tabulating, however based on a preliminary assessment we can take a few steps right away.

1. Given the complexity of this issue I plan to form a committee of members who, through the survey have generously offered to help. I am confident that with the 14 members (possibly more) who agreed to participate, in addition to willing site hosts and farm staff we have the skills to develop a sensitive and strategic approach to achieve the goals of eliminating waste, increase productivity, ensure diversity and quality in the produce you receive, and keep prices affordable to all, without compromising the economic, environmental and social realities of the farm.
2. We will continue packing most if not all your produce into boxes as we have been, however we will only bag items which couldn't be placed  loose in the box, such as  green beans or spinach for example. We will continue using the liner bags until we come up with an alternative. Over the course of the winter season we will phase in reusable  and/or compostable bags.
3. We will evaluate every pick-up site to ensure they are safe and provide adequate storage conditions to minimize spoilage. We will evaluate how best to reduce incidences where members, especially those picking up late, are not left short of their allotment of weekly produce.  The current honor system has worked well and we want to keep it that way in order to avoid having to monitor every site.
4. In most CSAs I know the best way for members to have some flexibility to deal with the quantity and type of produce in their shares is by creating a trade and exchange table. Some drop-off sites already have such a system that works, let's make sure we have it at every pick-up location.

Thanks again for your input it's wonderful to feel you care as much about the farm and food you receive as we care about growing it for you.

Field Notes
Right now it's all about getting ready for the winter rains (seems like we are still in for another heat wave), mulching, covercropping, ditching, and grading, all so that the water doesn't damage and wash away precious topsoil. Since we are growing a few things on hillsides, it is imperative they get covercropped, the tomatoes this week come from a field that we can no longer hold on to but need to prepare before the next rains, therefore lots of green and un-ripe tomatoes. Next week we'll load you up with wintersquash and apples, you probably already have enough, however they can be stored and used in so many ways that I don't feel guilty if you still use them around Christmas-time.
We are preparing beds for a January raspberry planting, all our beds for the strawberries are ready, and half of next year's onion and garlic crop is planted. Favabeans are also in the ground, all in all, we are ready for the rains. Carrots and Beets will be beautiful for the first week of the wintershares, so are the Cabbages and Brusselsprouts. Next, is the pruning cycle, but no rush we have all winter, anyone interested to learn how to prune apple, pear and plum tress let us know...
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Click here to go to recipe database.

Okay now I'm really excited - for the first time ever, Tom is going to be putting mushrooms in our shares!! Far West Fungi is a farm right down here in Moss Landing that grows organic specialty mushrooms, and they contacted us last week because they had a flush of fungi growth thanks to the recent rains. Yippee for us!! Also, we're clearing out a couple tomato fields, so I talked Tom into harvesting green tomatoes for us, as they would otherwise be plowed under. I've always wanted to cook with them, as there are many things other than frying you can do with green tomatoes. So I'm going to focus on mushroom info and green tomato info this week. There are tons of recipes in the database for everything else, so I'm hoping you don't mind. I'm also going to include some apple info, as I understand I'm not the only one with apples accumulating in the fridge! [They keep well when refrigerated though, so don't worry too much.]

Meanwhile, it's hard to believe, but next week is the last week of the season... I've been so busy setting up the winter share and taking signups for next season that it just kinda snuck up on me! Yikes!!   - Debbie

Using your Shitake Mushrooms
Fresh shitake mushrooms are best cooked; they're not so exciting raw. They will pair nicely with any number of the leafy greens in our shares: spinach, kale, chard... They would also be a great addition to homemade soups!

According to Far West Fungi's website:

Storage: "Refrigerate as soon as possible. Loose mushrooms are best stored in a paper bag in your refrigerator (a paper bag reduces moisture buildup). Do not store with pungent foods because mushrooms may absorb odors. Do not wash before storing. Shitakes have a shelf-life of 14 days."

Cleaning: "Carefully wipe mushrooms with either a damp cloth or soft brush to remove any visible particles of dirt. Rinse quickly and pat dry. Never soak [fresh] mushrooms [to clean them]."

Preparation: "Trim off dry or tough stem ends before using."

How would I use them? Hmm... I think I'd slice 'em up and sauté them in butter and olive oil with garlic until nicely browned, sprinkle with salt, then throw in a bunch of fresh spinach leaves and sauté until leaves are just wilted and serve. If I was going to use kale instead of spinach, I'd pre-cook the kale my usual way first [strip off stems, boil in well salted water 3 - 4 minutes, drain, squeeze out water, chop], then throw it into the pan with the sautéed mushrooms and cook only another minute or so, to combine flavors. A variation would be to leave out the butter and salt, then season with a little soy sauce at the end.

Other ways I'd use them? Oh gosh, they could be stir-fried with so many of the other box items: broccoli, cabbage, radishes, eggplant... you can use onion or garlic (or both!)... you could add them to mixed roasted veggies, and they would be divine in a beef-vegetable soup!

Green Tomatoes
I found lots of interesting things to do with green tomatoes; the most exciting to my mind, though, would be making mincemeat! Thanksgiving is coming; wouldn't it be just so cool to make a pie from mincemeat you made yourself? I'll give you some other green tomato recipe ideas, but let's start with that. Oh, and FYI green tomatoes should keep for weeks, especially in a cool place. Just check on them periodically; one bad tomato can spoil the barrel, as they say!

Here are some of the more interesting tidbits I found online about cooking with green tomatoes:

"Sweet Green Tomatoes: You'll be amazed at the chameleon-like quality of green tomatoes in desserts. With a little creative seasoning, green tomato pie tastes just like apple pie, and green tomato cake is just a moist and delicious spice cake with a secret. [I did find a green tomato chocolate orange cake online!] Green tomatoes have also been known to show up in jars of homemade preserves. When you add some sugar the flavor of green tomatoes becomes quite neutral and when mixed with other fruit, they become a wonderful way to stretch out that batch of jam or mincemeat."

"Green Tomato Miscellany: At the beginning of tomato season in Italy, green and barely-pink tomatoes start showing up in salads. Chop up a few greenies and toss them into your usual dinner salad tonight! The firm texture of these tomatoes makes them great for grilling, too. Perk up your grilled meats by sizzling up some tart green tomato slices right alongside them. They also make a mighty tasty side dish when you bake them until they're soft, seasoned with a little butter, chopped herbs and salt. Also try them in salsas, soups, and vegetable sautés. Once you taste green tomatoes for the first time, you're sure to dream up lots of fun new uses for them!"

Green Tomato and Apple Mincemeat
There are many different recipes for mincemeat, both with and without any actual 'meat'. According to Wikipedia, the etymology of 'mincemeat' is in one sense obvious ("mince" meaning very finely chopped), but what I found interesting was that "meat" was historically a term for food in general, not only animal flesh. Anyway, I was specifically interested in green tomato mincemeat recipes, and found several variations of course, so this will just be my version as compiled from what I found, and adjusted to quantities of green tomatoes we're getting!

1 ½ lbs green tomatoes, cored and chopped [you can use green, as well as halfway-green-but-tingeing-towards-red too]
1 ½ lbs tart apples, cored, seeded (but not peeled) and chopped [basically equal quantities tomatoes/apples]
1 orange, seeded and finely chopped (including rind) [I like this better than adding candied citron, etc.!]
1/2 C cider vinegar
juice of 1 large lemon
2 C firmly packed brown sugar
¼ C molasses
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
½ C grated suet [or freeze a stick of butter, grate it, and dust with a little flour before adding]
½ lb. ground meat (beef, venison, or other game) [optional]
2 C dried fruit [all raisins, or a combo of regular and golden raisins or currants. Maybe some cranberries? Hmmm...]
½ to 1 C brandy or rum, approximately (or to taste)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, cover tomatoes with cold water; bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Drain.

Reduce heat to low. Add all ingredients but rum/brandy and simmer  slowly, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes (or more), stirring as needed, until tender and thickened. Remove from heat, stir in rum or brandy.

Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use [note: one recipe said to omit the cloves if you plan on freezing it? Not sure why, but wanted to point it out.]

If you want to can this, put hot mincemeat mixture immediately into hot sterile pint jars leaving ½-inch headspace; pour a little additional brandy or rum over top of mincemeat, just to cover. Seal jars and process in a boiling water bath [I have a steam canner] 20 minutes. One pint of mincemeat will make one 9-inch pie.

To make Mincemeat Pie:
Pastry for a 9-inch, two-crust pie
1 pint mincemeat
Brandy to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pastry and lay bottom crust into pie plate. Spoon in mincemeat, add additional brandy to your taste, cover with top crust, flute edges, cut slits so steam can escape. Cover edges of crust with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning.

Bake 40 - 50 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned and filling bubbles. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before cutting and serving. Serve warm or room temperature.

I found there are recipes out there for pie that are all green tomatoes, and some that are part green tomatoes, part apples. Seems like you could pretty much take your favorite apple pie recipe, substitute some portion of the apples with diced green tomatoes and then up the sugar, and you'd have green tomato-apple pie! But here's a recipe specifically for the combo:

Green Tomato and Apple Pie
[from a website urbanhomefreerange.com; edited somewhat by yours-truly ;-)] There is even a small video of how the writer makes her pie:

1 recipe for two-crust pie pastry [click here for Debbie's crust recipe]
7-8 assorted pie-appropriate apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 C green tomatoes, cored and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup sugar [the author prefers raw; I'd use organic cane]
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, ideally fresh-grated
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
milk for brushing crust

In a large mixing bowl combine apples and tomatoes. Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter* and gently toss, coating the apples and tomatoes thoroughly. Arrange apple/tomato mixture in bottom pie shell, making sure that some butter pats remain on top of mixture. [*I like to wait to add butter 'til the end, dotting it across the top of the fruit.]

Cover with top crust. Crimp or flute edges of top dough with bottom crust, or with pie pan edges. Cut slits into top dough for steam ventilation. Brush top crust dough gently with milk.  Bake in 450 degrees preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes more, or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.  Cool slightly before serving.  Serve with creme fraiche or whipped cream spiked with a dash of bourbon.

Here's one for all-green-tomato pie:

Green Tomato Pie
6 medium green tomatoes (about 1 3/4 lbs.)
1 C sugar
3 tbsp. flour
1 ¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 ½ tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
Pastry for a 2 crust pie

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Remove from water, core and peel. Cut prepared tomatoes into ¼ inch slices.

In a large saucepan, combine sliced tomatoes with ¼ C water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove tomatoes from liquid with a slotted spoon, reserving boiling liquid. Combine flour, 1 C sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and lemon zest. Add flour mixture to liquid. Cook, stirring constantly just until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. Gently stir in prepared green tomato slices. Cool slightly 10-15 minutes, and spoon into the unbaked piecrust. Top with top pastry crust, crimp and seal edges. Cut venting slits in tops crust and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

This is pretty nearly a no-brainer; since we have such flavorful apples from the farm, we can ignore the old instructions for 'adding lemon juice to tasteless apples' (an instruction in my old '70s version of Joy of Cooking!). Basically, peel, core and quarter (or otherwise chunk up) a bunch of apples; put them in a saucepan with some water and simmer over low heat until tender. The more apples, the longer it'll take. I find that if you get the water simmering, you can cover the pan and leave it for awhile and they will soften, exuding additional juice in the process. Check periodically; you don't want to forget and have them burn (like I did once making pearsauce!). Taste for sweetness; they'll probably require no additional sweetener, however you can add sugar if you like. Then create the texture you want: Chunky? Smash them with the back of a wooden spoon. Medium? Mash them with a potato masher (this is what I do). Smooth? Run them through a food mill or food processor.

Note that you can also do essentially the same thing with pears, or any combination of pears and apples.

You can refrigerate or freeze your applesauce for later use, but you can also can it. To can:

1) have hot sterilized pint jars standing by (I wash mine in hot soapy water, rinse well, then stand them in a baking pan, pour boiling water over them all, filling the jars partway as well as adding an inch or two to the pan itself. I then stick this pan of jars in a 250 degree oven until I'm ready to fill them);

2) have lids and rings standing by (put lids in a pan of hot water; rings don't need to be heated);

3) it's really helpful to have a jar lifter and canning funnel; they're inexpensive tools you can get at any hardware store, but the lifter is specially shaped for grasping hot jars, and the funnel helps you fill jars quickly and efficiently without slopping;

4) fill jars with boiling-hot applesauce (if you removed your applesauce from the pan to puree or process, return to the pan and bring to a boil just before canning) to within ½ inch from top. To prevent darkening of applesauce at top of jar, add a tsp. of lemon juice just at the last moment before sealing. Wipe rim of jar with a clean wet cloth, set lid on top, and screw on ring, but only gently! You don't need to harf it down tight.

5) I like to use my steam canner, as it uses WAY less water, and sterilizes just as readily as the hot water bath method, which requires submerging the jars in boiling water that covers tops of jars by 2 inches! Either way, process (i.e. boil or steam) for 10 minutes (sez Joy of Cooking) to 20 minutes (sez my steam canner guide).

6) remove jars and let sit to cool. You can check the tightness of the rings at this point, and if they're loose, tighten them down a bit more. As they cool, the lids should audibly 'pop' down (there's a little button in them); this means they've sealed properly. It is now safe to remove the rings and store your applesauce unrefrigerated. Do refrigerate it after opening, of course!

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

Last Share of the season - Weds/Thurs Nov 19/20

First Winter share - Weds Dec 3rd

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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