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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
3rd Harvest Week, Winter Season 4
Thursday December 17th, 2009
in this issue
Winter Members reminder
What's in the box this week
What's in the preserves (ingredients)
Where the wildlands and croplands meet
Sunrise on the farm
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen (recipes)
2009 Calendar

" If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost, that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. "

- Henry David Thoreau

Winter Members reminder
After your pick-up this Thursday the 17th, there will be a three week break. Your next CSA share will be delivered on Thursday January 14th, 2010. Look for the next newsletter Tuesday the 12th, as a reminder.
 -- Happy Holidays everyone!!

What's in the box this week
Occasionally content will differ from this list (typically we make a substitution), but we do our best to give you an accurate projection. For any produce not from Live Earth Farm (LEF) we will list the name of the farm in parentheses after the item.

Please always go by what's in 'the binder' at your pickup site. Things can change between the time this newsletter goes out and when the shares are packed. Thanks!

Winter Share
Apples, Fuji and Newtown Pippin
Red and golden beets (bagged not bunched, so, no green tops)
Brussels sprouts
Carrots (topped and bagged)
Lacinato kale
Red Russian kale
Red leaf lettuce
Meyer lemons
Pineapple guavas (in bag together with lemons)
Rutabaga greens (bunched)
Strawberry jam <--- INSIDE  your box. (from LEF strawberries; prepared by Happy Girl Kitchen)
Winter squash (butternut or sweet dumpling)

Preserves Option <---OUTSIDE the box. See next to your name on checklist!
(all items made with LEF produce and prepared by Happy Girl Kitchen)
1 jar ketchup
1 jar pickled dry-farmed tomatoes
1 jar honeyed pears

Bread Option
This week's bread will be three-seed Whole Wheat

What's in the preserves (ingredients)
Jordan Champagne of Happy Girl Kitchen wanted members to have an ingredient list for the preserves (people with allergy and dietary issues want to know, and others simply like to know). ;-) So we will be adding this 'list' to the newsletter each week!

(Inside the box this week)
Strawberry Jam:  LEF strawberries, evaporated cane juice, lemon juice.  All ingredients are certified organic.  It has been fun to preserve Live Earth Farm's beautiful berries into this classic jam.  This jam is lower in sugar than most and so the flavor of the strawberries is allowed to express itself.

(In the Preserve Option this week)
Country Ketchup:  LEF dry-farmed tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, honey, evaporated cane juice, spices and sea salt.  All ingredients are organic.  This thick ketchup is pretty much pure dry farmed tomatoes and is a real treat on all sorts of winter meals with kale, chard and potatoes.  Also makes a start to a fabulous dressing.

Honeyed Pears:  LEF pears, filtered water and honey.  All ingredients are organic.  It is so wonderful to have Live Earths pears as a deep winter treat. We love to warm them for an addition to our breakfast or eat them out of the jar as a delicious quick snack.  

Pickled Dry-Farmed Tomatoes:  LEF dry-farmed tomatoes, filtered water, apple cider vinegar, LEF garlic, LEF basil, salt and spices.  All ingredients are organic.  These are the jewels of summer preserved for you for the winter.  You can strain the tomatoes and use them on bruschetta, in soups and stews.  Use the liquid to start a great dressing or marinade.

Here is the info for some of last week's preserves as well:

Cumin Green Beans:  LEF green beans, filtered water, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, cumin, black peppercorns and chili.  All ingredients are organic.  These are great for an appetizer for your festive parties or as a crunchy addition to your potato salads.  Also a great stir for your bloody mary drink (see spicy tomato juice).  Enjoy a tribute to my favorite spice, cumin!

Spicy Tomato Juice:  LEF heirloom tomatoes, LEF cilantro, LEF onion, LEF garlic, lemon juice, LEF Padron peppers and sea salt.  All ingredients are organic.  This has won one of the "best 50 foods in the world" by The Guardian Newspaper out of London.  It is really a fabulous beverage that is ready to celebrate.  Makes a great bloody mary with or without the bang.  Also great for soups and stews; you can use about 1 part juice to 3 parts water.

Where the wildlands and croplands meet
What inspires me to farm the same land season after season is being able to learn from the wild and natural surroundings of the crops we grow. With nature as the model, I recognize how much there is to learn, and how clumsy we operate at times as we aim to pattern and organize our practices according to ecological principles.

Allowing wild nature to play a bigger role on the farm and reclaim some of the space around us is one of the ways we hope to decrease our ecological footprint. We have been very fortunate to receive the assistance of Sam Earnshaw (from CAFF - Community Alliance with Family Farmers), his wife Joann Baumgartner (Wild Farm Alliance) and a team of committed helpers in increasing the area of native vegetation in the farm's landscape. This year we planted over 2000 feet of hedgerows, a quarter-acre of native grasses, and approximately a half-acre of willow, with the intention of attracting beneficial insects, creating habitat for wildlife, reducing erosion, improving water quality along drainage ditches, and simply increasing the natural beauty of the farm's environment.
New hedgerow; native grasses plantings; hawk
The Farm is a community resource where we invite nature to inspire us, to help us to recognize that we're all working towards the same values. To meet the environmental challenges of our time, we have to recognize our shared vision, our similar goals, and where we are not working at odds. In order to rethink, reinvent, and rebuild the world around us so as to blend into and be in tune with our natural surroundings, we shouldn't feel polarized and afraid of truthful conversations and resolving conflicts. It is my hope and commitment that the Farm is a place where we continue to nurture and celebrate such a vision.

Happy New Year and a Peaceful and Nourishing Holiday Season to all.

- Tom

Sunrise on the farm
Here's what you would have seen on the farm if you got up at dawn, like Tom does. He captured this beautiful light on the winter fields outside his house. Spectacular.

Winter sunrise on the farm - fields and orchards bathed in rich orange morning light

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

Last box of goodies before we all break for the holidays... hard to believe the new year is nearly upon us! I hope everyone stays healthy, fortified by our beautiful and nutritious produce. Do find time to mark the winter solstice -- next Monday, Dec. 21st, will be the shortest day and longest night of the year; after that, the days begin lengthening again. It's something I always look forward to. Take care everyone!  - Debbie

I want to start by talking about winter kale. Many people don't know this, but kale grown in cold temperatures is markedly sweeter than its summer counterpart. Because of the recent cold snap, the Red Russian kale is really sweet right now; tear off a piece of the purpley-green leaf and chew it raw, and see if you don't notice the sweetness. I always have to eat some of my Red Russian kale raw in the wintertime... it is just so good!

That fresh rosemary is great for tucking in amongst roasted and baked veggies and meats, but if you're not going to get through it anytime soon, consider drying it. Very easy to dry: simply hang bunch somewhere in your kitchen with good air circulation and wait until it dries out. Then removes the leaves from the stems and store in a jar. They'll last at least a year.

I also want to talk about the pineapple guavas, since we're getting a bag of them this week. For those who don't know, they're the egg-sized green orbs in the bag with your meyer lemons. The most important thing to know is that you've got to let them ripen fully before you eat them. Underripe, they're a bit astringent. The best way to tell when they're ripe is by their smell. They will release a truly heady, sweet aroma when ripe. So leave them in a bowl on your counter or kitchen table and wait until you can smell them. Then enjoy! As a double-check, they should give slightly under finger pressure, too. You eat them, peel and all. Tom's method is the best I've found: he simply rolls them in his fingers to soften a tiny bit, pinches into their side with a thumbnail then cracks them in half like an egg... then eats them! I've also been enjoying them combined with apple in a green smoothie. You could put them in just about any fruit smoothie, actually. Here're two more ideas:

Pineapple Guava "Banana Bread"
Use your favorite banana bread recipe, only substitute mashed ripe pineapple guavas for the banana (or mix the two!).

Pineapple Guava (Feijoa) and Ginger Muffins
modified from original recipe found on bigoven.com

1 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C sugar [organic cane, raw, something good]
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C butter [half a stick]
1 C milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 beaten egg
1 C chopped ripe pineapple guavas (feijoas)
crystallized ginger (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tins [butter them, line them with muffin wraps; whatever's your preference].

Combine dry ingredients [flours, sugar, baking powder and soda, ginger, salt]. Cut butter into small pieces and rub into flour mixture until it resembles fine bread crumbs.

Combine wet ingredients [milk, vanilla, egg], add to dry ingredients and mix in feijoas until just combined. Divide batter between muffin cups, top with optional bit of crystallized ginger, then bake for 15 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Okay... here's just one more, from Penryn Orchard Specialties, but only for the grown-ups! A little something for New Year's Eve, perhaps?

Odessa Cocktail
serves 2

The author writes, "I came up with a new drink I am calling 'the Odessa', after the Black Sea resort, because Russians are crazy about this aromatic fruit, which Georgians used to ship to Moscow in the days of the Soviet Union."

Scoop the inside of four fresh feijoa (pineapple guavas) into a blender [LEF's are on the small side, so you might use more than four]. Add 2 tbsp. simple syrup, the juice of half a lime, and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve to remove grit. Shake with a cup of crushed ice, and 4 oz. vodka. Serve in chilled martini glasses.

Speaking of New Year's Eve treats, don't forget to try the crispy kale! Make it as an appetizer or snack to eat along with your Odessa cocktail... ;-)

Lastly, something in the beet category. Here's a recipe I made up about six years ago, when I had beets and left-over canned tomatoes in my fridge. Quantities are not exact, so feel free to 'fudge' them:

Beet and Carrot Curry
3 tbsp. oil
1 large beet (or a few small; mixed colors okay), peeled [or scrubbed well] and grated
2 large carrots, washed and grated
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
about 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp. dry)
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tbsp. ground coriander
[you can substitute 1 tbsp. curry powder for the cumin, garam masala and coriander]
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. salt
Approx. 1 C tomato puree
handful of raisins
toasted nuts for garnish (optional)
frozen peas (optional)

This is great over steamed rice, so start your rice cooker then begin making the curry!

Sizzle garlic and ginger in hot oil for scant minute; add dry spices and fry maybe 20 seconds, then add beets and carrots. Stir to distribute beets with oil-spice-garlic mixture. Add cayenne and salt, tomato sauce and raisins, stir well, bring to a boil then reduce to low, cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, add a splash of water if it gets too dry.

Stir in frozen peas, if using, for the last few minutes of cooking, just to heat them. Note: peas quicly turn beet-colored, so if you want their color to stand out (it's prettier), cook them separately and stir in just when serving. Alternately, stir the peas into your rice, like a pilaf, before serving with the curry.

Toast some nuts (pepitas, pistachios, pine nuts, or sliced almonds would be good) and scatter on top when serving.

We don't have any farm events scheduled during our Winter season, and have not yet set up our calendar for 2010, however, we DO expect to continue our Community Farm Days, Seasonal Celebrations (Summer Solstice and Fall Harvest), Canning Workshops with Happy Girl Kitchen Co, and more next year; and of course there are also the educational programs via our new nonprofit, the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program (LEFDP). See below for the popular "Wee Ones" program, for example, which is monthly.

And do visit our calendar page on our website for photos and videos of past events if you would like to get the flavor of what it is like visiting the farm!

NEW in 2009!! Live Earth Farm Discovery Program for WEE ONES
3rd Tuesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon
(free for children 0 - 3 yrs; $10 - $15 per adult)
LEF Discovery Program logoMothers, fathers, grandparents, caretakers of any kind... bring the babe in your arms to experience the diversity of our beautiful organic farm here in Watsonville. We will use our five senses to get to know the natural world around us. The farm is home to over 50 different fruits and vegetables, chicks, chickens, goats, piglets, and the many wild members of the Pajaro watershed.

For more information, contact Jessica at the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program (831) 728-2032 or email her at lefeducation@baymoon.com.

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448