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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
5th Harvest Week, Season 14
April 27th - May 3rd, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Not your typical "Week in the Life" on the Farm (we hope!)
Healthy Cooking Class fun; if you missed it, we'll have another!
Gluten Free Bread and Cultured/Fermented Foods
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

"Hold onto your hats; you never know what's coming!"

~ 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 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
Fuji apples +
Broccoli + (Lakeside)
Carrots (new planting, Nelsons)

Fava beans +
Green garlic
Lettuce + (Lakeside)
Red radishes
Artichokes (Swanton Berry Farm)
Strawberries - 3-4 baskets! (see checklist for final quantity)

Small Share
Fuji apples
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Carrots (new planting, Nelsons)
Fava beans
Lettuce (Lakeside)
Young onions
Red radishes
Strawberries - 2-3 baskets! (see checklist for final quantity)

Extra Fruit Option
starts next week!

Fruit Bounty Option
starts soon... we'll let you know when!

This week's bread will be sesame whole wheat

Not your typical "Week in the Life" on the Farm (we hope!)
For four consecutive days last week the thermometer in the shade outside my office peaked between 88 and 91 degrees fahrenheit. It is unusual to experience such extreme swings from freezing (the week before) to sizzling hot within such a short time span. It doesn't matter whether you are an animal, plant or machine; such extremes are taxing on everyone and everything. The entire team did a fantastic job, getting up before 6 am to harvest and water crops before it was unbearable to be outside. Of course the strawberries were one of the crops I most worried about, anticipating a huge number of sunburned fruit as is usually the case when a heat wave like this hits.

But on Thursday when conditions returned to normal I was surprised to find the damage wasn't as severe as expected. The difference this season over previous ones was that we mulched the furrows with straw to minimize weeding and soil erosion. What we didn't anticipate was that the straw came with seeds which grew and covered the furrows with a lush stand of green oats. It was a lucky coincidence that I hadn't mowed them down yet, as they ended up protecting the ripe berries from being sunburned. As a result we'll have a bumper harvest this week, so I'm hoping this puts a smile on every face when you go to pick up your share!

Strawberry rows shaded by rye grass

This year's first baby goatThis week we were also rewarded with the birth of the first two baby goats, signaling the beginning of what I expect to be the-most-goats-born-on-the-farm yet. Ten "mama goats" are confirmed pregnant, and if all of them have 2 babies (which is common), I might change my name from "Farmer Tom" to "Tom the Goat Herder."

Wednesday our shipment of over 50,000 tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings arrived. The timing was perfect, as the fields were prepped and ready to receive. Had we taken the delivery and planted just a week earlier however, we would have surely lost most of them to April 15th's frost. Talk about luck! Maybe I should change my name from "Farmer Tom" to "Tom the Lucky Gambler."

Friday morning we split into groups: one harvested for the weekend farmer's markets and another continued transplanting, while the irrigation crew was busy laying new pipelines in freshly dug trenches to supply the fields where the peppers will be growing this season. all the field hands help plant the interns' fieldAs Friday afternoon rolled around the entire crew descended on the field which this year's interns had been preparing over the last couple of weeks. Molly, Taylor and Josh needed help transplanting the crops they have been growing in the greenhouse, and what would have taken them all day got done in a couple of hours. By the end of the day on Friday it felt like a small milestone had been reached in the long seasonal growing cycle still ahead.

Saturday morning Taylor and I went to participate in Mount Madonna School's 3rd Annual Environmental Festival where we displayed a farmstand with locally grown crops. Just as things seemed to settle down for the weekend we were thrown for a loop: one of our 3-inch irrigation lines had cracked, and when our irrigation guys were in the process of repairing it, the truck's front right tire blew causing it to roll over and down a steep embankment. Our irrigation truck, after it rolled. Miraculously, no injuries!!It was scary; miraculously only Clemente was in the truck at the time, and even more miraculously he somehow managed to protect himself as the vehicle rolled and was not injured (see photo). We are very thankful.

That's the news for this week. Stay tuned for another edition next week! - Tom
Healthy Cooking Class fun; if you missed it, we'll have another!
On Saturday April 18th, CSA member and nutrition consultant Karen Haralson and her co-instructor Rebecca Mastoris, a natural chef/nutrition consultant from Bauman College (a holistic nutrition school in Santa Cruz), donated their time to hold a fun and educational cooking class here on the farm to benefit our new non-profit education program, the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program. It was a roaring success, so we asked one of the participants, Laurel Pavesi (an eager and enthusiastic CSA member in her own right), to write about it. Since we're planning to have another of these cooking classes in the fall, we want you to know how it went. Take it away Laurel!

"Saturday was delightful - the weather warm, the farm alive with activity. Inside the barn, tables were set, the kitchen prepped, and the sideboard laid out with colorful, fresh produce. Friendly faces greeted us as we arrived and offered us slices of melon and fresh herbal tea.

The spread of farm veggies waiting to be incorporated into the class's cooking

"Constance Broz, Farmer Tom's wife, opened the class with an overview of the farm's new non-profit educational program for school children, the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program. Nancy Birang, a certified nutrition consultant (also from Bauman College), was brought in to describe the nutritional information of what was being prepared while Karen and Rebecca cooked and taught the class. Nancy took the opportunity to also talk to us about an after school program through Bauman College called "Kids for Health" in which they teach children about nutrition and cooking. By now we all feeling really good about our donated class fees going to support the farm's new non-profit." [Note: the class was a fundraiser for the Discovery Program, not for "Kids for Health", although it is the desire of the class instructors to create a connection between the two groups. - Debbie]

"After our arrival and introduction to the day ahead, Farmer Tom took us on a tour of the farm, and with boyish delight introduced us to the many ways he nurtures the plants and soil that feed his CSA members. Soon thereafter we got down to cooking.

"We split up into groups and made several dishes: fresh kale salad (who says you have to cook the tender young leaves?), quinoa and hijiki salad, a stunning fresh egg frittata with greens and goat cheese; there was also an arugula salad with beautiful farm strawberries and Summer Meadows Farm's goat cheese, yummy muffins, and one decadent delight: a risotto with asparagus and the farm's fava beans. It was a great opportunity to learn how to cook with goodies in our current CSA share boxes. We were all free to wander from table to table, chef to chef, dish to dish. We sampled, observed, asked questions, and prepped and cooked with gusto.  No question was too silly. Everyone pitched in and we all had a great time.

"While we cooked under the scrupulous attentions of Karen and Rebecca, Nancy circulated and discussed the nutritional aspects of what we were preparing. She pointed out the nutritional benefit of things like the minerals found in spices! And here I thought spices were just something you used to add flavor! Who knew?? We also made "mineral broth" (which was used in the risotto), and it was similar to Debbie's veggie broth, incorporating the fresh scraps from our CSA share. Nancy said the secret is to add things like sweet potato and cabbage to enrich the flavor - and flavorful it was!
"Finally, after pausing for a moment of gratitude, we all sat down dug into our beautifully prepared and served meal.  As we ate, Constance and our instructors brainstormed further ways to expand their outreach. Whatever they come up with, I encourage everyone to join in. This "Healthy Eating Class" was in every way satisfying for mind, body, spirit and soul."

- Laurel

Gluten Free Bread and Cultured/Fermented Foods
One of our long-time members, Azalyne SkyeOlson, in dealing with serious health issues in her young children including gluten and dairy intolerances, grabbed the bull by the horns and researched how to cook and eat differently to restore their health. Over the years spent developing meals her family could eat, she found others expressing an interest in what she was doing, so she now offers her own hand-crafted gluten-free bread share to interested parties. Since we know there are others out there with similar dietary issues, we chose to share this information with our membership. Also, her cultured veggies are from Live Earth Farm's veggies wherever possible, goat milk from Summer Meadows Farm is used to make kefir (one of the bread ingredients), and her gluten-free breads are a nice alternative to the farm's bread share if you happen to be gluten intolerant and miss eating bread! Here is Azalyne's story:

"Our family joined Live Earth Farm way back in the spring of 2001 when our first child, Julian, was an infant, and like many new CSA members we didn't know how to use every bit of our share without sending some to the compost each week! That same year we deduced that Julian was intolerant to gluten and, later, cow dairy. Thus began our journey into becoming hyper-conscious nutritional foodies, as I relearned how to feed my family.

"While we loved the food in our CSA share, we found we were less than pleased with the commercially available gluten-free products we needed to replace the breads, cakes, and so on in our diet. So I began modifying various recipes to make them gluten- and dairy-free. Over time I had many successes, yet I still felt my breads left much to be desired; I really missed that cultured sourdough flavor. So after years of experimentation, then the birth of our twin boys (who turned out to have other gut-health challenges) and plenty of other life changes, I began incorporating cultured foods into my family's diet as well. I was deeply inspired by the books 'Body Ecology Diet', 'Nourishing Traditions', and 'Wild Fermentation', and after many years of self education, my children began to get well.

"Among the plethora of healing modalities we tried, cultured foods and enzyme therapy are what I believe helped my children to re-establish a healthy gut ecology and get well. Once we re-introduced grains (we had been grain-free on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for 18 months), I started several gluten-free sourdough cultures. With these cultures, I was finally able to create gluten-free breads and baked goods that were deeply satisfying, unlike the store-bought versions which were either tasteless/texture challenged or chock full of sugar/fillers.

"As I began making my cultured breads and baked goods, cultured veggies, and healthy desserts for my family (I'd bring them to the Farm Celebration pot-lucks to share too), people began asking me to make extra which they could purchase... and so I was inspired to create my Culture of Change Food Share Program. It seemed like a great way to give back and offer the gifts of my learning to the community."
- Azalyne

Above are some pictures of her creations! For anyone who is interested, Azalyne delivers once a month to both Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties. Her monthly shares include a variety of choices such as:
Artisan cultured gluten-free savory sourdough and sweet breads;
Cultured gluten-free bagels, scones, samosas;
And even ready-made pizza dough!
She also makes an ever-changing variety of lacto-fermented and traditionally cultured veggies, based on what is seasonally available.
Her real specialty is healthy flower-essence-infused desserts, offering organic, raw, vegan, gluten-and-dairy-free pies and cakes.

If you would like more info about Azalyne's program please email her at askye@mac.com and she will add you to her monthly email list, as well as answer any questions you may have. [Please note that this is Azalyne's own program, not an option of our CSA.- Debbie]

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

To tie in with the story on the Healthy Cooking Class (above), I asked Karen Haralson if she would send me her mineral broth recipe, so I could share it with you all. Although a portion of the ingredients are not in our farm shares (we don't grow sweet potato, for example), many are, and this is a nice recipe to have around on general principle. Thanks for sharing it Karen! The rest of this week's recipes are either from my clippings file or a little online research. Oh, and by the way, for anyone new to my recipe section, I use square brackets [like this] when I interject my own thoughts or comments into other peoples' recipes. ;-) - Debbie
Mineral Broth
adapted by Karen Haralson from the Bauman College Cookbook [Debbie's two cents in square brackets]

Wash and cut into 1 inch chunks:
1 C sweet potatoes
1 medium potato
1 C carrots
2 C celery
1 C mixed seasonal vegetables, such a butternut squash, zucchini, leek, cabbage, etc. [we have leeks, and some of us still have cabbage...]

Slice into strips:
1 C collard greens [or maybe kale or chard?]
1 C onions

Coarsely chop:
2 cloves garlic [or a stalk of green garlic]
1/8 C fresh parsley

Place ingredients in large pot with a lid.  Cover with filtered water, just to the level of the vegetables and add:

6 slices fresh ginger root
C or more seaweed (dulse, nori, wakame, hijiki, kombu)
Additional seasonal greens (kale, chard, spinach, or mustard)

Bring water to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cover.  The broth is best when simmered for 3-5 hours.

The Fava Beans are Maturing...
(excerpted from last year's newsletter) I've already talked to you about using your young fava pods, but of course over time the pods will get bigger, as will the beans inside, so you'll want some sort of gauge for when to eat them pods and all, and when to switch to shucking the pods and only eating the beans inside. A rule of thumb (finger?) is that, when they are still roughly the diameter of your finger and bright, vibrant green, definitely eat them pods and all. As they get bigger, if the pods are still bright and the beans within fairly small still, you can kind of go either way. Once the pods and inner beans get big, the pods are tough. It's best at this point to shuck them and only use the beans. Some weeks you'll get bags with a mix of big and small pods inside; just sort them and use them accordingly.
Now there's another optional step when working with the beans inside: removing the pale green skin. This is easily done, although it can be somewhat labor intensive. Simply drop the beans into boiling water for a minute or so, then lift them out with a slotted spoon (or drain them); the skin will have loosened. Now just pinch the skin on one end of the bean, and give it a squeeze on the other. The bean will squirt out through the pinched opening (have a bowl handy to receive!).

There's no requirement to peel the inner bean though (unless your making a mash or spread with them); taste them both ways and see. If you don't mind the skins, just leave 'em on!

My favorite thing to do with the beans right after they're peeled and still warm, is to simply salt them and eat them like edamame, but there are also several ways to cook with them at this point (see recipe database). They will be in our boxes for a few weeks yet so I'll have more recipes accordingly.

We're getting tatsoi and mizuna again this week, so here are some interesting recipes I found on the web:

Tatsoi and mushrooms with Indian spices
from 'The Kitchen Garden Cookbook'
Serves 3-4

2 big bunches tatsoi, bok choy or other mustardy/cabbagey greens, chopped, stalks even more finely chopped so they cook evenly
~ 10 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp. peanut oil [or other veggie oil good for sauteing]
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. cumin seeds (ground cumin would be acceptable, but the seeds really pop nicely in your mouth)
5 cloves garlic, minced [2 or 3 stalks of green garlic]
1 onion, sliced thinly

Heat oil in wok or large frying pan. Add garlic and stir, one minute [longer if using chopped green garlic; saute with the onions, if using]. Add onions and spices and cook, stirring, another 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms and tatsoi and stir well to wilt, then cover and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Serve over rice. Try to fish out the bay leaves before serving as they are rather stiff and pointy. Leftovers are fantastic the next day.

Wok Sauteed Mizuna with Minced Chicken
from the Whole Foods Market Cookbook
serves 4 - 6

The mizuna leaves are added last and barely cooked. If substituting kale, add it a bit earlier in the recipe, with the carrot and onion, so it will be tender. Any way you decide to prepare this dish, serve it with basmati rice or short grain brown rice.

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped [or... you guessed it! use green garlic!!]
1 pound very finely chopped chicken meat
2 tsps canola or peanut oil
1/3 C finely chopped carrot
1/3 C finely chopped onion
1/4 C finely chopped water chestnuts
1/2 tsp. chile paste with garlic
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 lb. mizuna, trimmed
1/4 C finely chopped green onions [you can use the lower stalk of the fresh farm onions just like green onions]

In a medium bowl, mix egg white with 1/2 teaspoon of the tamari, garlic and chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat 1 tsp. of oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring constantly, 4 to 6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and appears opaque. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in same wok; add carrots, onions and water chestnuts and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add remaining 1 tsp. tamari, chile paste, lime juice and mizuna and cook, stirring often, until slightly wilted. Return chicken to wok and toss well. Garnish with green onions and serve.

Here's one that would be great with some of TLC Ranch's pastured pork (and of course the farm's leeks!):

Pork Chops with Leeks in Mustard Sauce
from an undated Bon Appetit clipping (modified slightly)
serves 4

4 1- to 2-inch-thick bone-in pork rib chops
2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
Olive oil (optional)
4 C thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts only; about 3 large)
3 garlic cloves, minced [1 or 2 stalks of green garlic, white and light green parts, just like the leeks, finely chopped]
C brandy
1 C chicken stock
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 C sour cream or creme fraiche [or the thickened yogurt you have left after making whey for beet kvass!]

Pat chops dry with paper towels. Combine salt, thyme, rosemary, and pepper and sprinkle on all sides of chops. Let stand at room temperature 1 to 2 hours, or wrap and refrigerate up to a day.

Heat a heavy large skillet [I prefer cast iron] over medium heat. Add bacon and saute until crisp and lightly browned. Transfer bacon out of pan and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and add chops to skillet. Sear until brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove chops from pan and set aside.

Pour off all but 3 tbsps. of drippings from skillet (or add olive oil to make 3 tbsp). Add leeks and saute until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute [if using green garlic, add it same time as the leeks and cook them together]. Add brandy, then broth and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Return bacon to skillet; add sage and stir to blend.

Nestle chops down into the leeks in skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer 3 minutes. Turn chops over. Cover; simmer until thermometer inserted into thickest part of chop registers 140 to 145 degrees F, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chops to platter. Tent loosely with foil to keep warm.

Spoon off any fat from cooking liquid in skillet [or not, if the meat is from pasture-raised pork]. Boil until all liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Whisk in mustard, then creme fraiche (do not boil). Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over chops.

12 ways with broccoli
from an undated SJ Mercury News clipping

Dress steamed stalks with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Stir-fry florets and thinly sliced stalks with ginger, scallions and a little toasted sesame oil.

Puree cooked stems in a food processor with butter and kosher salt.

Bake steamed florets under a blanket of cheese sauce until bubbly.

Microwave, covered, with a tablespoon of water for each cup of florets, til tender, then drizzle with vinaigrette.

Saute steamed florets and stalks with onion, red bell pepper, raisins, pine nuts and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Boil florets with orcchiette for the last few minutes of the pasta's  cooking time; drain and toss with tomato sauce and parmesan.

Sauce steamed florets with a mixture of yogurt, parsley, a pinch of dry mustard and minced garlic and fresh chile to taste.

Stir finely chopped, cooked broccoli into the custard base for a quiche or souffle.

Whirl thoroughly cooked florets and stalks in food processor with vegetable stock and a little olive oil, then toss with fettuccine and toasted pine nuts.

Slowly cook florets and sliced stems, covered, for 15-20 minutes with a small amount of water and garlic that has been sauteed in olive oil.

Simmer a bunch of broccoli and a peeled and quartered potato in a quart of chicken broth, until soft; puree in a blender and reheat with milk or cream to taste.

Double-dutch mac and cheese with chard
from another undated Bon Appetit clipping
serves 5 - 6

3 tbsp. butter
C chopped onion
1 garlic clove [yeah, you know the routine now...]
2 tbsp. flour
1 C milk
1 C (packed) coarsely grated gouda cheese
C finely grated gouda cheese
1 C (packed) coarsely grated Edam cheese, divided
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
dash ground nutmeg
1 large bunch chard, stems and center ribs removed
6 oz. elbow macaroni
C fresh breadcrumbs from sourdough bread
tsp. cumin seeds (optional)

Melt half the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion; saute until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Stir in garlic [again, if using green garlic, saute it together with the onion], then flour; stir constantly 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture begins to boil, a couple more minutes. Add the cup of coarsely grated Gouda and half the Edam. Stir until cheeses melt, 1-2 minutes. Stir in cayenne and nutmeg. Season sauce with salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 or 9-inch square glass baking dish. Cook chard in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 1 minute. Remove chard with a slotted spoon or tongs and set aside to cool; reserving cooking water. Squeeze water from chard and chop finely.

Return water in pot to boil. Add macaroni; cook until tender but still form to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Stir macaroni int owarm cheese sauce. Place half of macaroni in dish; smooth top. Top with remaining Edam cheese, then chard. Top with remaining macaroni mixture; spread evenly.

Melt rest of butter. Place breadcrumbs in a bowl, drizzle butter over; toss. [Why not just add the breadcrumbs to the butter in the pan and toss it there? One less dirty dish?] Add the finely grated gouda, sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over mac and cheese. Sprinkle cumin seeds over, if desired.

Bake mac and cheese until breadcrumbs are golden and edges are bubbling, 30 - 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Lastly, since we're all getting plenty of strawberries this week (though rumor has it they're seriously diminished through snacking on the way home), here's a strawberry recipe. A little on the fancy side, but even if you don't make it, it's still fun sometimes just to read!

Fresh Strawberry Gelato
from La Divina Gelateria in New Orleans

C sugar (preferably organic)
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 C whole milk
C heavy whipping cream [avoid 'ultra-pasteurized'; it's bad stuff!]
2 C sliced hulled strawberries
2 tbsp. pomegranate juice

Stir sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and cream.  Whisk over medium heat until gelato base thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Pour into bowl. Cool over ice, stirring occasionally.

Puree strawberries in processor. Strain into gelato base. Mix in pomegranate juice. Chill 3 hours. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to container. Cover; freeze until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

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.

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

NEW!! Community Farm Days
Every 4th Saturday of the month from May through October, 9am - 4pm
Participants are welcome to arrive Friday evening and camp out overnight to Saturday. Please leave your dogs at home, 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.

Apricot U-Pick Days

two Sundays: July 5th and July 12th
Bring your own bags.

Summer Solstice Celebration
Saturday June 20th <---note new date!
[click here for a short YouTube video of our 2007 celebration]

*** Children's Mini-Camp has been discontinued, and is being replaced with the above-mentioned Community Farm Days. ***

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

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448
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Live Earth Farm | mail: PO Box 3490, Freedom, CA 95019-3490 | location: 172 Litchfield Lane | Watsonville | CA | 95076