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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
5th Harvest Week, Winter Season 4
Thursday January 28th, 2010
in this issue
What's in the box this week
What's in the preserves (ingredients)
We're all in it together - a powerful nourishing movement!
Winter Schedule - rest of season
Tight lids on your jars of preserves?
Kim Chee and Sauerkraut - live culture
Happy Girl Kitchen's 2010 workshop schedule at LEF
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen (recipes!)
2010 Calendar

" Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. "
- Margaret Meade

" Not every family needs an accountant, not every family needs a lawyer, but every family needs a farmer. Do you know yours? "
- Kathleen Merrigan, USDA Deputy Director, from her new 'Know your Farmer, Know your Food' campaign

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 (inside the box)
Fuji apples
Asian green mix (baby mei qing choi and tatsoi)
Red and golden beets (bagged)
Brussels sprouts
Carrots (topped and bagged)
Collard greens
Lacinato kale
Red Russian kale
Meyer lemons

Baby shitake mushrooms (Far West Fungi)

Parsnips (Lakeside Organic Gardens)
Radicchio (one small)
Turnips (in bag together with parsnips)
1 jar of apple cider (from LEF apples; prepared by Happy Girl Kitchen. see below)

Preserves Option <---OUTSIDE the box. See next to your name on checklist!
(all items made with LEF produce and prepared by Happy Girl Kitchen. see below.)
1 jar apricot jam
1 jar crushed heirloom tomatoes
1 jar tomato juice

Bread Option
This week's bread will be caraway rye

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). ;-)

(Inside the box this week)
Apple Cider: Apples. Ingredients are organic. The apple harvest is one of our favorite times of year at Happy Girl. We loved pressing Live Earth's apples in a hand-cranked press in order to get this fresh, sweet juice. Taste the harvest with each sip. This cider gives your bitter greens a sweet kick when used as a braising liquid. 

(In the Preserve Option this week)
Apricot Jam: Blenheim apricots, evaporated cane juice, lemon juice. All ingredients are organic. The Royal Blenheim apricot, golden as the summer sun, is perfect for jam. We preserve this heirloom variety with an elegantly low amount of sugar so the flavor of these antique apricots shines through. Go ahead, spread some sunshine.

Crushed Heirlooms: Heirloom tomatoes, sea salt. Ingredients are organic. We have neatly tucked these Live Earth Farm jewels into jars for you in order to preserve their vine-ripened freshness. These colorful organic heirloom tomato chunks with a pinch of sea salt are ready to make any dish scrumptious. Wonderful for soups and sauces, these tomatoes will make your meal something to remember. 

Tomato Juice: Heirloom tomatoes, sea salt. Ingredients are organic. Simple and honest, Live Earth Farm's tomatoes don't need much else. Drink as a cool, refreshing beverage of use while cooking to take your grains and beans to new heights. Juicy!

We're all in it together - a powerful nourishing movement!
One event that continues to inspire me is the Ecological Farming Conference held every year at Asilomar in Monterey. This gathering, which celebrated it's 30th anniversary last week, has been instrumental in building today's organic farming movement. It was 15 years ago when I first attended, and I remember I was so inspired that on my way home after the conference my passion to farm was ignited. At the time - really only a few years ago - organic farming was still considered a fringe, "back to the land", hippie movement. Today it is recognized not only as the fastest growing sector in agriculture, but by many people it is seen as an essential key to healing our current unsustainable relationship with nature.

It all literally started with a small "tribe" of visionary, hardworking, courageous, spiritual, fun, vibrant people who kick-started the organic farming movement. It is a movement intent on reversing the damage that has come from believing that agriculture can be reduced to a mechanized, lifeless, number-crunching corporate industry. Margaret Mead's words of wisdom ring true when she once said:  

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Today we have an organic garden in the White House, and an organic farming champion, Kathleen Merrigan, as Deputy Director of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Reforms and funding to improve access to fresh, locally grown food are starting to be implemented. One of these reforms is a measure called  "Know Your Farmer Know Your Food" - an initiative not only designed to support local farmers but also to strengthen rural communities, promote healthy eating and protect natural resources. When Kathleen Merrigan addressed the crowd at last week's Ecological Farming Conference it felt as if a national conversation among all stakeholders - from consumers, farmers, ranchers, schools, community organizations and businesses - was taking place to address issues surrounding local food solutions and helping develop local and regional food systems. It was a wonderful moment to realize how much we all are, truly, making a difference.

raindrops on the pondWhile inside snug, dry rooms at the conference our minds were being saturated with interesting information, outside, the farm was being saturated with plenty of Pacific moisture. According to the weatherman we are now 25% over the average seasonal rainfall for our area, a welcome replenishment for our thirsty landscape. The one crop we hoped to harvest this week but which got water damaged was the cauliflower. The rather delicate and compact florets of the cauliflower heads developed brown and yellow spots from the uninterrupted rain. So instead we will have a nice mix of baby Tatsoi and Pak Choi. The baby Shitake mushrooms from Far West Fungi will also add a savory variation to all the hardy greens.

Last week, three of our recently-adopted family of ewes gave birth to a total of five lambs. We are expecting the remaining four to birth in the next few days. I'll let pictures do the talking. Weather permitting I will propose a few Community Farm Days, so everyone can have a chance to visit. The baby lambs are so cute!!

- Tom
Sheep on the farm!

Winter Schedule - rest of season
Remember, the winter CSA pick-up is now every other week. So don't forget -- mark your calendars!

Week 5: January 28th
<no share February 4th>
Week 6: February 11th
<no share February 18th>
Week 7: February 25th
<no share March 4th>
Week 8: March 11th -- last winter share!

Regular 2010 season begins March 31st/April 1st (Weds/Thurs)

Tight lids on your jars of preserves?
From Todd Champagne of Happy Girl Kitchen

Yes, some of our lids are on really tight! Here are a few techniques:

1) Hold the jar upside down in one hand and smack the bottom of the jar several times with the other palm - HARD! You should hear a quick pop, which loosens the lid and makes opening much easier. This is my personal technique.

2) If complete frustration sets in and you desperately want to eat the contents in the jar, puncture the lid with a sharp implement, the same way you would prepare a jar lid for ventilation for keeping bugs in a jar. One puncture is sufficient to release the vacuum seal and make twisting the lid off easier.

The story is, we switched to these new one-piece lids this season, but tightened them same as we did the old 2-piece lids. The new lids do not require as much torque, and so we inadvertently over-tightened them. The sealing compound on the interior rim of the lids softens during the hot water pasteurizing baths and forms an airtight, vacuum seal as the jar cools. The rubber compound gives friction as the jar lid is loosened, until the vacuum is released and an audible 'pop' heard.

Next season we will not overtighten the lids as we did this past year!

Hope this helps,

Kim Chee and Sauerkraut - live culture
A quick note to let everyone who gets the Preserves Option know that the Kim Chee (which you all got last delivery) and Sauerkraut (coming next week) are live culture fermented products. They have not been pasteurized, and so you will want to store them in your refrigerator, not on the shelf like the other preserves. Because they are not pasteurized, the 'button' in the lid will not be down like a heat-sealed jar, but this is okay. So when you get them home, keep them in the fridge. The day they spend outdoors at your pickup site is not a concern - they will be fine; we just don't want you to take them home and stick them on a shelf like the jam or tomatoes! In your fridge, they will continue to ferment slowly. Enjoy!

Happy Girl Kitchen's 2010 workshop schedule at LEF
Come join Jordan Champagne again for a new round of food preservation workshops at the farm!

Jordan says, "Live Earth Farm really puts the community back in Community Supported Agriculture, as they have many wonderful programs on the farm for their members. They have a barn that has been converted into a kitchen and dining space which is perfect for our workshops. This will be a great experience, to learn how to preserve the bounty of the harvest on the land where it is grown."

Here is the schedule:

February 21 (Sunday) - Cheese and kefir
March 6 (Saturday) - Fermentation
June 6 (Sunday) - Cherries and spring berries
July 10 (Saturday) - Apricots, strawberries and blackberries
September 12 (Sunday) - Heirloom tomatoes
October 2 (Saturday) - Pickles

Contact Jordan if you have any questions

Follow HGC on twitter: @happygirl_co

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

Amongst the tried and true staples of our winter boxes - the Brussels sprouts, the cabbage, carrots, beets, and cooking greens, etc. - we have two new goodies: a beautiful mix of tender baby Asian greens (mei qing choi and tatsoi), and something we don't get often: parsnips! This is another much-maligned veggie, like Brussels sprouts, which does not deserve a lowly reputation. I hope by now you've all learned that preconceived ideas of not liking certain veggies can be blown out of the water when you taste the real thing, in season, freshly harvested. So enjoy your new bounty this week! I don't know about you, but by the end of the second week during winter, the pickings in my fridge are pretty slim and I am looking forward to being re-supplied! - Debbie
About Parsnips
In appearance, parsnips look like big white carrots. They are mildly sweet, and when cooked have a mouth-feel like sweet potato. Like a carrot, though, they can be eaten raw or cooked. I've never tried just eating a whole one raw, like a carrot Bugs Bunny-style (that's not to say it isn't good this way... I just haven't tried it!) - but I could definitely see grating them into salads, or making a mixed-grated-raw salad with parsnips, carrots and beets, and maybe some diced apple! (In reading up about them, I see that when they're really big, i.e. 2" in diameter, they have a woody core that you have to cut out. Fortunately I've confirmed with Tom that the ones we'll be getting are much smaller, more like carrot sized, and so should not have this issue.) Parsnips can be cooked many ways... simmered in soups until meltingly soft; roasted; steamed; pan browned; let's see what recipe ideas I have in my files! A note about prep: all the recipes I see talk about peeling them first. I'm skeptical, and suspect that this is, like with beets and carrots and potatoes, not a requirement. I will go the 'sturdy veggie scrub brush' route myself and leave the peel on!
Roasted Carrots, Parsnips and Meyer Lemons
modified from an undated Bon Appetit clipping
serves 6

4 to 5 carrots, peeled or scrubbed, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
4 to 5 parsnips, peeled or scrubbed, cut diagonally into 1/8-inch slices
20 garlic cloves, peeled <--- try substituting 1/8-inch slices of leek?
1 Meyer lemon, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices (seeds removed)
olive oil
coarse kosher salt or sea salt
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
I learned from reading in Jesse Cool's cookbook "Your Organic Kitchen" that parsnips have a fair amount of sugar in them, and so when roasted, the residue make cleaning a chore - so she suggests lining your pan with parchment paper (I wouldn't recommend foil, because of the lemon). Sounds like a good suggestion! - Debbie
Prepare two baking sheets - either coat lightly with oil, or lay down a sheet of parchment in each (I'd do the latter). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine carrots, parsnips, garlic [or leek slices] and lemon slices in a bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle liberally with salt (about 1 1/2 tsp.) and toss again.
Spread prepared veggies evenly over the two pans, in a single layer. Roast 20 minutes, stir, reverse position of baking sheets (i.e. put upper one on lower rack and visa-versa) and continue roasting until veggies are tender and browned around the edges, about another 20 minutes.
Transfer veggies to a serving platter, drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Season with pepper and additional salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Parsnip and Apple Soup
Bon Appetit, March 2003
Serves 6

3 tbsp. butter
3 large leeks, white and pale green parts finely chopped, dark green parts reserved
5 large parsnips (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled [or scrubbed!] and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium Fuji apples [what's in our box!], peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 C (or more) water
1 1/2 C whole milk
Large pinch of sugar
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks, parsnips, and apples. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add 4 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
Working in batches, puree vegetable mixture with milk in blender until smooth, thinning soup with more water if desired. Return soup to pot. Season soup with sugar, salt, and pepper.
Cut up enough reserved green parts of leeks into matchstick-size strips to measure 1 cup. Cook in medium saucepan of boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
Bring soup to a simmer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with leek strips and serve.
I love the sound of this next one... it is a bit more involved, and we're not getting dill or anything... but you could substitute dried dill in a pinch! It is just interesting in that, instead of your typical pureed soup, this features a clear broth with little parsnip and beet nuggets in it!
Parsnip and Beet Soup with Dill Cream
from "Your Organic Kitchen" by Jesse Cool
Serves 6

Jesse says, "The flavors and appearance of this passionately purple soup are balanced beautifully by the tart creaminess of the sour cream. In my restaurant we serve this soup on Valentine's Day accompanied by heart-shaped biscuits."
6 C vegetable or chicken broth
1 lb. parsnips, cut into small cubes
6 beets, trimmed and scrubbed [sure, use some red and some yellow!]
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
3 whole cloves
3 whole peppercorns
3 tbsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 C sour cream
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill [or 2 tsp. dried]
Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the parsnips. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the parsnips to a bowl.
Add the beets, shallot, cloves, and peppercorns to the simmering broth. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the beets are tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beets to the cutting board, reserving the liquid. When the beets are cool, slip off the skins. Cut into small cubes.
Strain the broth through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large bowl. Return the broth to the pot. Add the parsnips, beets, and sugar. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, green onion, and dill.
Ladle soup into 6 bowls and top each with a dollop of the sour cream mixture.
Okay, on to some recipes for other box goodies!
Savory Cilantro and Meyer Lemon "tea"
This is something I was inspired to try because I'd recently been making a simple mint tea (just fresh mint steeped in boiling water - very fragrant and wonderful!). So I thought, hm, I wonder if this could be done with cilantro, which becomes quite aromatic when added to soups and other hot dishes? The answer, I now know, is yes!
So just take a small handful of cilantro sprigs - stems and leaves... you could even use the root, as long as it is very clean from dirt - and put it in a mug, along with a small slice of Meyer lemon (with peel), then fill with boiling water. Let steep 5 minutes or so, then sip away!
Shitake Spring Rolls with Strawberry Dipping Sauce
Okay, I'm making this one up for you guys, based on info from a few different recipes and what we have in the box!
What you're going to do is prepare various filling ingredients, then have them handy to wrap up in the rice wrappers (I'll explain steps below). Pretty simple really.
Spring roll wrappers or rice paper wrappers (found at Asian markets; will keep indefinitely)
Filling ingredients
Some Tatsoi/mei qing choi mix - wash, coarsely chop, steam until just starting to wilt then remove from heat, run under a little cold water to stop cooking, squeeze out water, and set aside.
Some shitake mushrooms - Tom says these are baby, so you can use them whole, stems and all. Saute them briefly in a little olive oil to soften, then set aside.
Some grated carrot
Some grated parsnip
A little very thinly sliced radicchio leaf, for color and spice
Several cilantro sprigs
Strawberry dipping sauce
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp.sesame oil
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. strawberry preserves [from Happy Girl Kitchen!]
1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Serve at room temperature.
The rice paper wraps are a bit tricky to work with, but you'll get the hang of it. The trick is to work quickly, while the wrap is still supple but not yet limp (they can tear easily), so make these one at a time.
Fill a pie plate or bowl with warm water. Immerse one sheet of rice paper for a few seconds, then remove to a kitchen towel on a work surface and let rest about 30 seconds until it's more pliable.
Arrange some of each of the prepared filling ingredients down the middle of the wrapper in a small log-shape, leaving plenty of margin on all sides.
Then wrap the ingredients burrito-style, folding one edge over the ingredients (try to tuck the filling a bit to keep it snug), folding in the two ends, then rolling the rest of the way, forming a cylindrical shape.
Transfer roll to a plate, seam side-down, and continue making more, until you run out of filling ingredients!
Cut rolls in half on the diagonal and serve with strawberry dipping sauce.
Note: I don't recommend refrigerating these. The rice paper wraps tend to get tough. Try to make them when you plan on eating them fresh. They can stay at room temp for a while; the filling is only veggies!

We 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; 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. 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!

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 LEFDP office: (831) 728-2032 or email her at lefeducation@baymoon.com.

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763-2448