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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
5th Harvest Week, Season 13
May 5th - 11th, 2008

In this issue
--Greetings from Farmer Tom
--What's Up in the Field
--Live Earth Farm Kids
--Mataganza Garden Sanctuary Open House and Fundraiser
--Pictures around the farm
--What's in the box this week
--Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
--Calendar of Events
--Contact Information

" The course of true love never did run smooth."

~ William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Greetings from Farmer Tom

If Gambling had a close cousin I'd call her Farming. So far this season, the riskiest of card games dealt by Mother Nature was April.  I am glad it's May; we seem to be settling into a more predictable weather pattern and the odds of a damaging frost have substantially diminished.  All of the row covers, which had been protecting over 4 acres of frost sensitive plants, are now off. They’ve been rolled off to one side of the field where they'll be left a while longer, in case the odds turn against us again.  The frost slowed us down a bit, but we're still on schedule with the first wave of warm season crops which were planted out before the beginning of May... in time for fairies and elves to sprinkle their magic around the farm.

”Now he's really lost it!” you must be thinking.  I am not hallucinating though; last week, the Montessori's Wavecrest students gave an impressive performance of  Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream”. Fairy King and Queen, with their entourage of helpers, made us laugh at the fate of mortal love affairs. The farm's fire circle became a wonderful stage, where the magic of the play took on an added dimension.  As you peek into your boxes this week, see if you can’t detect a little magic twinkle in your vegetables.

[photos courtesy of Lynne Owen Photography/NichePhoto Design]

It's funny how magic sometimes works its way into some of our kitchens and onto our dinner plates. Last week, a CSA member by the name of Jen wrote us about a wonderful experience: how despite her loathing of licorice she tried eating fennel anyway, and much to her surprise discovered a tasty and pleasurable food. Here is what she wrote:

“You guys sent me something I didn't want to even try. You see, I HATE, LOATHE, and DESPISE licorice. I don't like the flavor, I won't drink Ouzo, or any other anise flavored drinks. I pass black jelly beans on to my Mom or my Gram. Good and Plenty? You can keep 'em. BLEH!

“Then you sent fresh fennel. So then I finally had to put my money where my mouth is. Part of the idea behind getting your CSA box was to expose my family to new veggies and fruits and help us eat better.  So I pulled out "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon, and looked up what she had for fennel. She had a very simple sliced fennel salad with a lemon pepper dressing, finished off with fresh parm. I had a bunch of radishes left as well, so I sliced them up on the mandoline too (I used the .75mm blade setting. Wafer thin!). Put some on everyone's plate. Then I sat down to eat my dinner. A tentative bite. Hey, this isn't half bad. Bigger bite. I can still taste the licorice, but the lemon and pepper flavors are covering it up a bit. Then I remembered the parm! I sprinkled some of that on. Ooo! This is good stuff! I ate my entire serving and went back for seconds. Discovered that letting the salad marinate a bit mellows out the licorice flavor. And it went over fairly well with the family too. One of my 2 year old twins asked for seconds as well. I don't think it will become a favorite vegetable, but at least we won't be dismayed to find some in our box again. I now know how to make something tasty with it.

“I just had to share this experience with you. Thanks for exposing us to new things.”

We love to hear members’ stories, and encourage everyone to tell us about their weekly food adventures. Some of you have been with us for several seasons, experienced good crops, bad crops, the ups and the downs, the pretty and the ugly, and of course numerous farm stories season after season.  But many of you are just starting to receive our shares for the first time, and we hope it's a culinary adventure you enjoy. So let us know what's cooking and how the Farm's early season shares are fitting into your life.

– Tom

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What's Up in the Field
To give an update on the development of different crops I'll let the pictures do the talking this week (see Pictures Around the Farm, below).

The English peas in your shares this week are from Lakeside Organic Garden. You may see some little spots on the outer pods, but this is just frost damage; totally cosmetic... the peas inside are super sweet and wonderful! Sad to think they were turned down by grocers because they were 'imperfect', but then again, lucky for us, huh?

On a more scary note, one of our well pumps stopped working on Saturday; as I write this newsletter I can only hope that Monday will be a luckier day to fix whatever the problem is. It's always a bit nerve-wracking when crops – especially our main strawberry patch – are without water.

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Live Earth Farm Kids

If you ever catch your kids in a great moment with Live Earth Farm veggies or fruit, do send us pictures! Here is member Jennifer Chen's 2-year old having a blast with fava beans...

Jennifer Chen's son shelling fava beans

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Mataganza Garden Sanctuary Open House and Fundraiser

From resident permaculturalist, Brian Barth:

You are invited to the Mataganza Garden Sanctuary Open House and Fundraiser, Sunday June 8th, 3-8 pm.
We Will:
-Enjoy Being in the Garden Together
-Learn About the Plants in the Garden
-Make Herbal Products, such as Tinctures, Essential Oils, Salves, Beauty Products, Teas, Baked Goods and More to Help Support the Garden
-Take Home some of these Products to Help Support the Garden
-Enjoy a Potluck Dinner Together
If you would like to attend Please RSVP at edenfruits2002@yahoo.com 
We will send out another e-mail closer to the event describing what you can bring as a contribution to our product-making fundraiser party.

For More Information Please Contact Brian Barth at (831) 566-3336
or email him at edenfruits2002@yahoo.com
 If you would like more information on upcoming workshops and events or about our internship program, please visit the 'Education, Events, Programs' and '2008 Calendar of Events' sections of Live Eath Farm's website.

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Pictures around the farm
This week, a tour of the fields:

eggplant starts, frost damaged vs protected
Above are two eggplant seedlings; the one at left was exposed to the frost two weeks ago; at right, the healthy version, i.e. one kept safe under the protective row cover 'blanket'.

pepper plant seedlings
Here are fields of our pepper plant seedlings. Note the row cover 'blankets' rolled up and on standby.

mei qing choi
A field of mei qing choi. The fine holes in the leaves are from flea beetles, which are out in force right now. Fortunately they are only a cosmetic concern; the choi is unaffected flavor-wise. There are no beetles on them when harvested, just the tiny holes they leave behind [and isn't there a study out now, documenting how plants which have to fend off pests themselves are naturally higher in nutrients/antioxidants than those protected artificially by pesticides?].

broccoli and strawberry fields with sweet alyssumSpeaking of pest control, notice the sweet alyssum in between the rows of broccoli (left) and, combined with alfalfa, every 10th row in the strawberry fields. The alyssum and alfalfa both provide habitat for beneficial insects (wasps that keep aphids in check), and draw away pests like lygus bugs (they cause strawberry damage) which like the alfalfa more than strawberries.

napa cabbage closeup
Some napa cabbage. . . note the heads just starting to form.

apricots, blackberries, raspberries and plums
And last but not least, the fruit –
a preview of what's to come! Counterclockwise from top left: apricots, blackberries, raspberries, and prune plums.

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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.

Family Share:
Arugula (bagged)
Red beets (bunched, with greens) [next week!]
Cauliflower (Lakeside)
Fava Beans +
Fennel, small heads, bunched
Green garlic, bunched
Kale or Chard
Lettuce +
English peas!
Strawberries (see list in binder for final quantities)

Small Share:
Red beets (bunched, with greens) [next week!]
Cauliflower (Lakeside)
Fava Beans
Fennel, small heads, bunched
Green garlic, bunched
Mei Qing Choi (bunched)
English peas!
Strawberries (see list in binder for final quantities)

Extra Fruit Option:
probably3 baskets of strawberries, but go by what’s on the list next to your name in the binder!

Bread Option:
for those of you who signed up for this option, it starts this week!
(for those of you who haven't signed up yet for this option but want to, email Debbie! We can still set you up!)

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

New for everybody this week are cauliflower and English peas (! a surprise, you’ll see, when you read below), and also arugula (although that’s only in the Family share). - Debbie

Cauliflower...you can eat it raw or cooked. When I was a kid, my mom would serve raw florettes with cocktail sauce (catsup, lemon juice, horseradish) for dipping, and I always liked it just fine. And I’ve had it steamed, and in Indian curries and liked it that way too, but I have to say my favorite way to eat it is roasted! I had never eaten it roasted until about 8 years ago, and that was a watershed moment! My still current favorite roasted cauliflower dish is North African Roasted Cauliflower (<--recipe on website), but I found the following in my clipping collection, and since we’re getting fennel again, this sounded like a good one to try too:

Roasted Cauliflower with Onions and Fennel
from an undated Bon Appetit clipping [with minor edits!]
4 to 6 servings

1 medium head of cauliflower (about 1 ¼ lbs), cored, cut into 1-inch florets
Olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled, halved lengthwise, then cut into wedges [leave some of the core attached to hold the wedges together]
2 fresh fennel bulbs [ours are small, you may want to use 3 or 4], halved lengthwise and also cut into wedges [same deal about the core as with the onions]
8 small, unpeeled garlic cloves, unpeeled [or take a stalk or two of green garlic and cut the green neck into segments]
15 fresh marjoram sprigs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss cauliflower with some olive oil in a large bowl until lightly coated. Heat a heavy large skillet [cast iron is great for this if you have it!] over medium-high heat; add cauliflower and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

Add some more oil to the skillet and brown wedges on one side, about 3 minutes; transfer carefully to baking sheet with cauliflower. Arrange wedges browned side up.

Add bit more oil to pan, and do the same with the fennel, and then put with the onion and cauliflower.

Scatter garlic* and marjoram over vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in center of oven until vegetables are caramelized, about 25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

*If you’re using chunks of green garlic, you might pan brown them on one cut side like you did with the onions and fennel.

Arugula is great – I love arugula!! I prefer it raw over cooked, but that’s just my own bias; you can definitely cook it (if I did, I’d cook it minimally, just wilt it, really, maybe dress it with some olive oil and use it as a bed under some chicken or fish). Try arugula the same way I suggested you try the red mustards – the same way I recommend tasting a lot of things really – that is, just taste it raw and unadorned. It has a lovely, peppery bite. Tear it up and mix it into your salad with the lettuces; toast some walnuts, throw ‘em in. Thinly slice some of those scallions, add them. Slice up some strawberries, add ‘em. Now add some cheese... feta would be good, or chevre. Now toss everything with a fruity dressing (<--click here and scroll down to "Debbie's Salad Dressings") and voila!

Meanwhile, here’s a recipe that Member Amoreena Lucero sent me last week, saying the recipe just ‘popped into her head one day!’ We’re getting all the parts this week, so... perfect timing! It sounds very similar to the fennel recipe “Jan” talks about in Tom’s opening blurb, so I think that bolsters the idea that this is a tasty combo!

Fennel, Radish and Spring Onion Salad
by Amoreena Lucero

As strange as this combination may sound, the sweetness of the fennel and the zing of the radish balance each other.  The addition of lemon juice enhances the flavors of the vegetables.  The quantities of this recipe depend entirely on how many you are cooking for, and what portion size you desire.  Basically, you are looking for an equal ratio of each ingredient.  The quantities below are 2-3 “large” side servings.  I use my mandolin for very thin slices, making this a quick salad to put together.

1 med bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
3-4 large radishes
1 medium spring onion

2-4 T lemon juice
1 T white wine vinegar
4 T extra virgin olive oil (to taste, as needed)
salt & fresh ground pepper

Mix the lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl, adding the olive oil in a slow stream while stirring quickly to emulsify.  Adjust acid and oil as needed.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then set dressing aside.

Mix the salad ingredients in a large bowl, then toss with the dressing.  Taste, and add additional salt & pepper if needed.   Serve!

Just to give you some idea of how quickly things can change and how we/I need to be able to adapt accordingly... here I was mid-way through preparing beet recipes for you (we were going to have beets in this week’s shares) when Tom called with a ‘this just in’ sort of bulletin: “Debbie! We have this great opportunity to get some beautiful, sweet English peas from Billy [that’s Billy Peixote, from Lakeside]. I was thinking of putting them in this week’s shares instead of the beets, since the beets can keep in the ground, but the peas will not be around next week... What do you think? Oh, and by the way, have you already written beet recipes?” ;-)

So here is something I wrote back in 2004 about English peas; it still holds water, so I’ll run it again! And I’ll save the beet recipe I was preparing for next week!

What Debbie'd do with fresh peas
To be honest, unless we get peas for more than just a few weeks, I will probably never make it beyond simply shelling and eating them raw. There is nothing that compares to eating fresh, tender, raw green peas. They are so sweet and delicious! And if you have children, shelling peas is a great way for getting many hands involved. If we get enough of them over the weeks to sate my eat-‘em-raw urge, then I’d use them in recipes where they are cooked minimally. They can be tossed into pasta-and-cheese type dishes near the end of cooking. Put ‘em raw into tuna salad, or other cold pasta or rice salad-type dishes. That’s probably what I’ll do with my peas. Below is a won-derful sounding fresh pea soup recipe from Deborah Madison (famous vegetarian chef and cookbook author, if you haven’t heard of her), that utilizes the pods in making the broth. I like the sound of that!

Elixir of Fresh Peas
serves 4 to 6 as a first course

Chef Deborah Madison says, "This pale green froth of a soup is the essence of fresh peas. Peas can travel in every flavor direction imaginable, but this soup needs nothing, although a few drops of truffle oil are intriguing. Plan to make it just before you serve it, unless you want to serve it chilled. The light, fragrant stock is made while you shuck the peas, and cooking time for the soup is about 4 minutes."

1 bunch scallions or 2 small leeks, incl. 2" of the greens, thinly sliced
5 lg. parsley stems, with leaves
Salt and white pepper*
1 1/2 lbs. fresh English pod peas
1 tsp. unsalted butter
1/2 C thinly sliced fresh onions [we got those this week!] or young leeks
1/2 tsp. sugar
Truffle oil, a few drops per bowl [I deduce, based on her quote above, that this would be optional!]

Bring 1 qt. water to a boil. As it's heating, add the scallions, parsley, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add about 3 C of pea pods as you shell them. Once the water comes to a boil, lower the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain. [i.e. strain out and toss the veggies; keep the stock!]

Melt butter in a soup pot and add sliced onion. Cook over medium heat about a minute, then add 1/2 C of the stock so that the onions stew without browning. After 4 to 5 minutes, add the peas, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the sugar. Pour in 2 1/2 C of the stock, bring to a boil, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Transfer soup to a blender. Drape a towel over the lid, and give a few short pulses to make sure it won't splatter [remember my past lectures about hot stuff in blenders and heed her warning!]. Then puree at high speed for 1 minute. Pour into small soup bowls and serve immediately, adding a few drops of truffle oil to each bowl [optionally].

*I noticed (when making this recipe for dinner tonight 7/5/04) that everywhere I found this recipe online, the preparation instructions neglected to tell you to add the white pepper anywhere! So anyway, I just added a dash along with the peas in the last cooking step before pureeing. Just a bit goes a long way!

And the Small Shares are getting bok ch--, er, mei qing choi again (Tom always just calls it bok choi), so here’s another recipe for that which sounded good:

Ginger garlic baby bok choy
from an undated SJ Mercury news clipping, recipe ‘adapted from Martin Yan’s “Martin Yan’s China”’
serves 4

1 lb baby bok choy [remember, mei qing choi is totally interchangeable!]
1 ¼ tsp salt, divided use
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar or dry sherry
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp minced garlic [double that minced green garlic]
1 tbsp minced ginger
3 small dried red chilies

Bring medium saucepan of water to boil. Fill large bowl with cold water. Trim ends of bok choy, separating and rinsing the leaves.

Add 1 tsp salt and bok choy to water in saucepan. Blanch bok choy for 1 minute, or until bright green [I’d say less than a minute!! 30 seconds at most]. Use slotted spoon to transfer choy to cold water. Let them cool briefly, then drain and set aside.

In small bowl, whisk together rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce and remaining salt. Set sauce aside.

In large skillet, heat oil over high, swirling pan to coat sides. Add garlic, ginger and chilies and sauté until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add bok choy and sauce and sauté until the liquid has reduced by half, about 1 to 2 minutes.

And lastly, if you’re looking for more ideas of ways to use Fava Beans, here’s some info from two years ago, sent me by another CSA member:

Barbie Aknin's Ideas for using Fava Beans
Barbie says, “Hi Debbie, I have to share a few ideas with you for my favorite veggie... fava beans. My kids eat them like peanuts, blanched and cold. My father-in-law is from France and this is what he does: Blanch the fava beans until just tender. Rinse in cold water and drain well. Drizzle abundantly with olive oil; sprinkle with course sea salt, a little minced garlic and "Herbs de Provence." If you don't have them, I like fresh minced thyme and grated lemon rind. These will last in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. He serves them with a good white wine and toothpicks before dinner. I throw them in pasta or smash them and spread on toasted baguette.”

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2008 Calendar of Events
For details on events listed below, please Click here to go to the calendar page on our website.

Santa Cruz Permaculture Design course - one weekend/month for 6 months, Feb-July

Spring "Six Thursdays" Mataganza Garden Internship
- every Thursday from May 1st through June 5th, 10am - 5pm, in the Mataganza Garden Sanctuary at Live Earth Farm.

Herbalism Classes at Live Earth Farm:
<>Herbal First Aid
- March 15-16
<>Medicine Making - May 10-11
<> Cooking with Herbs - July 19-20

Summer Solstice Celebration - Saturday June 21st

Children's Mini-Camp - July 11th - 13th (Friday evening thorugh Sunday noon)

Fall Equinox Cob Building Workshop and Campout - Sept. 20 and 21

Fine Farm Feast - Oct 4th

Fall Harvest Celebration - later in October (date TBA)

Contact Information
email Debbie at the farm (for any farm or CSA share-related business): farmers@cruzio.com
email Debbie at home (with newsletter input or recipes): deb@writerguy.com
farm phone: 831.763.2448
website: http://www.liveearthfarm.net