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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
20th Harvest Week, Season 14
August 10th - 16th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Tom's blurb
Smilin' Radishes!
Last week's community wheat harvest; a photo essay
Loaves & Fishes: Where your donated shares go
Michael Pollan's at it again
So is Joel Salatin...
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen

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 is the source of any produce 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
Arugula or baby bok choi
Beets, topped
Collard greens
Armenian cucumbers

Green beans
Lettuce +
Sweet peppers
Summer Squash
Tomatoes!!!! (will be bagged with the peppers)

Small Share
Arugula or baby bok choi
Red cabbage
Armenian cucumbers
Eggplant (zebra and/or black)
Green beans
Sweet peppers
Summer squash
...sorry, no strawberries this week! :-(

Extra Fruit Option
Strawberries, raspberries, and cherry tomatoes

remember, always go by quantities on checklist; things can change!

Fruit "Bounty" Option
(no 'bounty' this week)

This week's bread will be whole wheat with flax seed

[Tom's blurb] Yeah - a Writing Break!
It couldn't have come at a better moment that Molly and Debbie wrote such wonderful articles and reflections; I am busy getting the pear harvest under way,  with little time to scratch my cranium for inspiration.

But, before I forget, I want to mention to all who are interested in attending the end of the month Community Farm Day (August 29th), I would like to cancel the sleep over option from Friday to Saturday since I will just be coming back from a short family vacation. More on what's going to happen on that Day in next week's newsletter. :-)
- Tom

Smilin' Radishes!
Member Julia Rodriguez sent this delightful photo last week saying, "Just wanted to let you know that not just your customers are happy.  See attached photo for what we found in our salad. :)  Thanks for your delicious boxes, and for making us all smile tonight."
Smiling radishes... really!
Last week's community wheat harvest; a photo essay
Members Begoña Cirera and Diana Foss and our intern Molly answered Tom's call to send in pictures from our most recent Community Farm Day ~ the wheat harvest. Below is a taste of what the day was like!

Community Farm Day August 2009

Spiderweb in the morning dew; flowers
This last image is of a "Corn Dolly". Member Diana Foss made this from some of the wheat harvested from the farm. What's a Corn Dolly? If it's made from wheat, why isn't it called a 'Wheat Dolly'? Read about them (and see other photos) in this article. You can also read about how Diana made hers by clicking here.

Diana's Corn Dolly
Loaves & Fishes: Where your donated shares go
By Molly Culver

Fresh strawberry smoothies... roasted beets with olive oil and butter... sautéed bok choi and eggs... fresh spinach salads... homemade bean burritos with chopped radish... sounds like menu items at Chez Panisse, no? Actually, these are some of the fresh foods prepared daily at Loaves & Fishes food pantry and kitchen in downtown Watsonville, made possible in part by your donated CSA shares. If you have ever asked us to donate your CSA share (because you were going to be out of town or on vacation), Debbie redirects it to Loaves & Fishes where, as you an see, it is put to good use, either as a part of prepared meals, or as donations to families who lack access to nutritious food.

Loaves & Fishes began as a side project of a handful of members of St. Patrick's church in October 1989. It became an independent non-profit organization in 1998, and moved to its current location at #150 Second Street in 2002.  Loaves & Fishes must buy the majority of their bulk foodstuffs from the Food Bank, at a 20 percent discount. While Loaves & Fishes has an annual budget of $200,000, it receives only two small grants amounting to $8,000 (one from the city of Watsonville, one from FEMA). All other funds are raised through small in-kind donations by local Watsonville citizens and businesses. "We are very much a community run organization, funded by the community we work in," says Executive Director Patricia Morales, a warm and beautiful Latina woman. "I live in this community, I work here and I love it. And I know that we are providing a vital resource to people who really need it. It's really a labor of love." There are only three people who are officially employed at Loaves & Fishes.  The rest of the work is done by the 35-40 volunteers, on a weekly basis. "We marvel at the fact that if our volunteers didn't show up, we wouldn't be able to do it," Patricia says.

"We've always made some arrangement to find a deserving home for members' donated shares," says Debbie, our CSA coordinator, "but once we connected with Loaves & Fishes a couple years ago, and worked out the routine - people let me know they want to donate, I redirect it to the Farm, and volunteers shuttle the donations over to Loaves & Fishes - it has worked just great. Members are happy because their food goes where it is really needed, Loaves & Fishes (and their recipients) are happy because they get wonderful fresh healthy organic food." This year so far, Live Earth Farm members have donated over 130 shares, plus untold numbers of fruit shares, eggs and bread. Patricia says that Loaves & Fishes has been able to provide a bag of fresh produce to about 1574 different families since March 2009, thanks in part to the generosity of our CSA members!  

Longtime CSA member Ellen Kureshi and I [Molly] now alternate weeks driving the donated shares to Loaves & Fishes. This is definitely one of the highlights of my week. On Friday mornings, when I bring in the donations (after feeding the goats and chickens of course!) I push open the front door at Loaves & Fishes, always delighted to suddenly be amidst a bustling, merry scene: Maria and Cecile in the background, chopping fresh zucchini with speed and agility; Vicki, warmly greeting pantry clients who have arrived to pick up free groceries to take home (on a recent Friday this included canned vegetables, dry beans, rice, freshly washed salad mix, LEF cauliflower, and other staples like peanut butter and tomato sauce); Bob, Raymond, and Jose Luis, unpacking deliveries of donated vegetables from Lakeside Organics and berries from Driscoll's. They jump to come and help me unpack the truck. They are always in a good mood, and I can see why: Loaves & Fishes makes fresh food a priority, and when they see the 10-15 boxes of LEF fresh vegetables, their faces light up.

I spoke with Maria, who cooks the daily meal at Loaves & Fishes, which is served Monday through Friday at Noon. The enticing foods listed at the top of this article are just some of the foods she prepares with LEF vegetables and fruits. She explained that after LEF shares are dropped off, she examines the boxes and decides what she will cook for the daily meal. "The donated vegetables never go to waste - what doesn't end up in the meal is sent home with clients," says Patricia. I have loved the experience of dropping off our beautiful shares, as well as fresh eggs, fruit, and bread, because I know it will go straight to the clients that day - either as part of a delicious prepared meal, or as take-home groceries.

The Kitchen at Loaves & Fishes serves between 100 and 125 people daily, from mid-October through March (the winter is the busiest season). During the summer, they serve between 65 and 80 people a day. The cooks try to prepare enough food for everyone to have seconds. The pantry, which is also open Monday through Friday, is open from 9am - 11:30am.  

"We really try to encourage our clients to use lots of fresh vegetables at home - especially the ones they aren't so familiar with," says Patricia, as we walk by two heaping crates of onions. "We use a lot of vegetables here," she says, chuckling. "We use them all."

Loaves and Fishes receives donations from Live Earth Farm CSA members
Michael Pollan's at it again
"Once it has been destroyed, can a culture of everyday cooking be rebuilt?" ~ Michael PollanI won't reveal my source, but one of our very committed CSA members is just fabulous at finding and sending me these great articles from the New York Times. This time Michael Pollan ponders why it is we spend so little time actually making food in our own kitchens, yet so much time watching cooking programs on TV; he then goes on to explain why cooking matters. If you like Michael Pollan's writing as much as I do, click here to read it. If you don't have the time now, save it for later. It is a wonderful read. - Debbie
So is Joel Salatin...
Joel Salatin, Polyface FarmAnother hero of mine, another great read. This is an interview with Joel Salatin on the future of food and farming, which came across my radar in the latest Roots of Change newsletter [Roots of Change is an organization dedicated to the development of sustainable food systems]. Joel is one brilliant farmer, speaker, and writer, and if you haven't heard of him yet, well, read this interview and you'll get a good taste. He was the featured grass farmer in Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma", and is also in the recent film "Food Inc." ~ He is nothing short of evangelical about sustainable farming. We could use more like him in the world. Click here to read this most excellent interview entitled, "Joel Salatin, America's Most Influential Farmer, talks Big Organic and the Future of Food." - Debbie

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

How did you do with the Padron peppers last week? I finally fried up three as a test. After frying and sprinkling with salt, I cautiously cut a tiny piece off the tip of each, and touched them to my tongue to assess heat level before eating. The smallest one was tasty with only a bit of heat - ate the whole thing (well, not the seeds, but all the flesh!), the next was hotter; ate it in tiny bites mixed with other things. But the third was screaming hot when I just barely touched the cut piece to my tongue... yowza! I saved it in the fridge, wondering what to do with it; maybe I'll roast some of the sweet peppers and blend it with them and some seasonings to make a hot sauce! Tom says he's going to give us more in the share... just not this week.
Great news: the eggplants and tomatoes have arrived! Hooray!! They'll be in alternating shares this week (tomatoes in one, eggplant in the other), but once the tomatoes get going, we'll all be getting them in quantity, so hang in there! With this recent heat, we should be there soon.
Now I could just launch into eggplant and tomato recipes, but what I really want to talk more about is cooking... especially after reading Michael Pollan's article, above. He pegged it: what I've been trying to do with 'Debbie's Kitchen' all these years is simply help people reestablish 'everyday cooking' in their lives. That's been my goal all along, it just took Pollan to put it into the right words! Especially in this day and age of food-borne illnesses from anonymous food sources: I find no satisfaction in eating out anymore; I prefer my own cooking, 'cause I know where my food came from! So until I find restaurants that can reliably name the farms that grew their ingredients, I'd rather cook at home thank you. Anyway, I'm digressing a bit, but it's all related, in that enabling an ethic of 'everyday cooking' in our lives, elevating it to the level it deserves, will go a long way towards getting us through until that magical time in the future where all farmers, food establishments and eaters work together to restore ethical, sustainable agriculture. - Debbie

Recipes are a tool
Recipes are great. They're fun, instructive, and a wonderful way to begin learning the ropes of cooking. Two weeks ago I talked about 'playing with your recipes'; this week I want to show you another trick: looking for trends and patterns, and then extrapolating them. This is the sort of thing that (for me) generates those 'aha' moments. Let me show you what I mean (this is just one example).
Go to the recipe database, to 'green beans'. Consider these recipes:
Green Beans with Pecans, Lemon & Parsley
Lemon Sage Green Beans
Lemon Green Beans with Cashews
Green beans with Mustard and Thyme
Lemon-Garlic Green Beans
Green Beans with Toasted Hazelnuts
What do they have in common? What's the trend? Nuts and or herbs and or lemon (juice, zest). If you look at the individual recipes, they're very simple, yet each brings it's own variation of flavor. One is not necessarily better than the other, they're just different. But I see more... what this really tells me is: I could probably make my own combination of green beans, nuts and/or herbs and maybe lemon, and it'll probably be good! So let's try it: gonna make this one up right here, right now:
Green Beans with Walnuts (multiple ways)
 - and lemon zest
 - and parsley
 - and lemon zest and parsley
 - and lemon and cilantro
 - and... what do you have?
Wash and trim as many green beans as you want to eat.
Figure a small handful of walnuts per serving.
Zest a lemon and mince up the zest.
Chop up the fresh herbs.
Steam the green beans a few minutes; brown the nuts in butter in a skillet, throw in the zest for a minute, add the lightly-steamed beans and stir-fry toss a little; add the herbs, sprinkle with salt to taste and stir-fry toss a little more, until everything looks and smells good. If you like, squeeze some of the lemon juice over all at the end. That's it! If you don't have one of the ingredients, leave it out (except the green beans, of course!) ;-) If you think of something else you'd like to add or do differently... go for it! See how easy?
Oh, and one last twist: I made the Beans with Pecans Lemon and Parsley last night, only I embellished it by cutting up a potato into sticks of a similar diameter to the green beans, steaming the potato with the beans, then adding both to the pan with the butter, nuts, etc. And I almost forgot the parsley - started eating, actually (it was fine!), then remembered, and added it. Good both ways.
Okay, that's enough o' that for today! Now for some recipes that you can enjoy all on their own, or compare with others in the database (or your own cookbooks or whatever you find on the internet) and modify to work with what you have in your kitchen!
This is a recipe I dug out of my old 3x5 card file (which I've had since I was a teenager). I was reminded of it last week, when talking to a member about 'could you cook cucumbers?' Yes, as a matter of fact, you can. It's so funny to gaze upon my own childish handwriting... and to see how dated the recipe is. Of course I immediately see how I'd modernize it now. I'll give you the original, with my 'mods' in brackets [].
Cucumber Steak
source: I'm pretty sure this was a recipe I made in 'Home-Ec' class in Jr. High (that's "Home Economics", for those of you born more recently; it was a popular class in the '70s, anyway!).
serves 6

1 lb. round or rump steak, cut into quarter-inch thick strips [any similar beef cut will do; use your Morris Grassfed if you have it!]
1/4 C salad oil [I'd use olive oil now]
1 tbsp. finely chopped spring onion [substitute regular onion if you don't have scallions, but scallions would be better]
2 1/4 tsp. salt [I love this exact measurement! More-or-less two is fine.]
1/2 tsp. pepper [again, more or less... to taste]
1 tbsp. shortening [I'd use butter or olive oil or even bacon fat]
3 C sliced cucumbers
1/4 C beef stock
2 tsp. cornstarch
Marinate steak strips in the salad oil, onion, salt and black pepper for 1 hr. Melt shortening in a 9 or 10" skillet. Add beef and onion. Cook until browned. Add cucumbers and stock mixed with cornstarch. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Serve with rice.
Oh, you know what I'd readily add to the above recipe?? Sliced radishes. Add them with the cucumber step. It'd be great! Trust me on this. People are always asking me for other ways to use radishes, so this is a perfect example.
Last week member Jennifer Gonzales emailed me with these great ideas. Thanks Jennifer... you're making me hungry!
Fun with peppers
from Jennifer Gonzales
Every week, my family has enjoyed the delicious variety of produce. This week, we had had fun with the peppers. Last night's dinner had one of the white onions, thinly sliced and sauteed with all of the dark green mild peppers, with 1/2 lb. of lean beef chorizo, and one of the round squash, thinly sliced. I cooked it all cooked together and served in whole wheat tortillas.  It was amazingly delicious.
This morning, I took all of the very hot green peppers from the box [the Padrons] -- seeds and membrane removed -- chopped them into small pieces, then added them with whole corn kernels to whole wheat corn bread muffins. Delicious muffins. Thank you again for growing such a wonderful variety of healthy produce.
Okay, so here's something with eggplant!
Eggplant Rice Pilaf with Lamb Brochette
from an old SJ Mercury News clipping, recipe by Pierre Franey. His original focus was on the lamb, of course; I'm focused on the eggplant, so I reversed the order of their importance. ;-)
Serves 4

Eggplant Rice Pilaf
1 small eggplant, about half a pound
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1 C rice [original recipe called for 'converted rice'; I'd just use something like Basmati]
1 1/2 C chicken broth
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. Tabasco
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or parsley  [Note: if you ever see "fresh coriander" in an older recipe - that's cilantro! This recipe called for it.]
Trim off the end of the eggplant. Do not peel it. Cut it into half-inch cubes.
Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the eggplant, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until wilted. Add the rice and stir [to coat with the oil]. Add the chicken broth, cumin, turmeric, Tabasco and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, stirring. Cover and simmer 17 minutes or until rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed.
Remove the bay leaf. Add the butter and parsley [or cilantro] and fluff rice with a fork. Serve hot.
Lamb Brochette, Middle-Eastern Style
I wasn't originally going to include this part, 'cause it didn't really have any farm veggies (other than onion and garlic), but it just sounded so good as something to have with the eggplant pilaf!
1 1/2 lbs. lean lamb, cut into cubes (approximately 24 cubes)
1/3 C grated onion
1 C plain whole-milk yogurt
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. loosely packed stem saffron
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint or 1 tsp. dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the broiler to high or heat an outdoor grill.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cover and let stand until ready to cook. This can be left overnight in the refrigerator.
Arrange the pieces of meat on 4 skewers. If wooden skewers are used, it is best if they are soaked in water for an hour before using them. Cover the tips of the skewers with foil to prevent burning. Reserve the marinade for basting.
If broiling, arrange the brochette on a rack under the broiler about 2 to 3 inches from the source of heat. Broil to desired degree of doneness with the door partly open. Baste with the reserved marinade and turn the skewers as the meat cooks.
If grilling, cook the meat over a hot fire to the desired degree of doneness. Baste with the marinade, turning the skewers as the meat cooks. Serve piping hot and brush with the remaining marinade.
This is from yet another old clipping... but the source is completely missing. You can tell I was noodling around in my old 3x5 recipe card file today!
Zucchini Cornmeal Crust/Tomato-Herb-Topped Pizza
Serves 6 generously
1 3/4 lbs. zucchini or crookneck squash [or any summer squash!] (comes to around 2 cups, blended)
2 1/4 C cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. honey
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin seed
1 tsp. ground coriander seed
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped small
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 1/2 C grated jack or jalapeno jack cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut squash in large chunks and steam until tender. Blend in blender until smooth.
Combine cornmeal with salt and baking powder. Mix honey, eggs, and olive oil with the blended squash. Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring just until smooth. Turn into a greased 12 1/2-inch by 18-inch baking pan or a large pizza pan (spread mixture to about 3/4-inch depth), and bake 12 to 15 minutes - just until cornbread starts to pull in from the sides of the pan.
While cornbread is baking, saute onion in olive oil along with chili powder, oregano, cumin and coriander. Spread onion mixture across top of cornbread, then scatter tomatoes atop that. Sprinkle with basil, then scatter cheese all over it and return to oven for 10 minutes.

Here is the current schedule, and we will update the calendar here in the newsletter regularly. You can also get more information from the calendar on our website.

Farm Workshops/Lectures
this is an idea that is still forming...
Possible subjects to include Permaculture, Fermented Foods, Farming with the Wild... stay tuned!

Community Farm Days
Every month from May through October, 9am - 4pm, on these Saturdays:
  May 30th
   June 20th Farm - coinciding with our Solstice Celebration
   August 1st
   August 29th
   September 26th
   October 24th - coinciding with our Harvest Celebration
Participants are welcome to arrive Friday evening and camp out overnight to Saturday (except on the Friday before our Solstice and Harvest celebrations; we're too busy setting up). Please leave your dogs at home too, thanks! The intent of Community Farm Days is to increase the opportunity for members and their families to experience and enjoy a slice of "life on the farm" at different times of the year - kind of like our old Mini Camp, but for members of all ages! Each month will have a different activity focus, and will be announced in advance here in the newsletter. RSVP to Tom with the number of people attending and whether you'll be arriving Friday night or Saturday is requested. Call 831.760.0436 or email him at thomas@baymoon.com

NEW!! Live Earth Farm Discovery Program for WEE ONES
3rd Tuesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon
(free for children 0 - 3 yrs; $5 - $10 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.

Organic Farm Dinner Fundraiser for the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program
Saturday September 12th ~ don't miss it!!
Farm tour, feast, and silent auction!
Seasonal Cooking for Health Workshop in the afternoon!
click here to download flyer and learn more

Fall Harvest Celebration
Saturday October 24th
[and click here for a YouTube video of our Fall celebration!]

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448