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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
6th Harvest Week, Season 14
May 4th - 10th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Banking on Diversity
Please be mindful when picking up your share (or having someone pick up for you)!
Gluten Free Bread and Cultured/Fermented Foods redux
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar
Community Farm Day

"Spring may enchant with the promise of flowers and new growth, but no matter how beautiful the apple blossom, it will still take five months of nurturing care before we can enjoy a nourishing bite."

~ 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 +
Cauliflower (Lakeside)

Fava beans +
Green garlic
Lettuce (Lakeside)
Baby kale/collards stir-fry mix +
Onions + (Pinnacle Farms)
Artichokes (Swanton Berry Farm)
Strawberries - 2 baskets (see checklist for final quantity)

Small Share
Fuji apples
Broccoli (Lakeside)
Fava beans
Green garlic
Lettuce (Lakeside)
Baby kale/collards stir-fry mix +
Onions + (Pinnacle Farms)
Oyster mushrooms (Ortiz Mushroom Farm)
Strawberries - 2 baskets (see checklist for final quantity)

Extra Fruit Option
3 - 4 baskets of strawberries (see checklist for final quantity)

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

This week's bread will be plain rye

Banking on Diversity

The month of May is typically the leanest of the season with a lot of the crops planted, but only few mature enough to be harvested.  Spring may enchant with the promise of flowers and new growth, but no matter how beautiful the apple blossom, it will still take five months of nurturing care before we can enjoy a nourishing bite. Our best strategy to offset seasonal scarcities has always been to diversify our operation. Over the course of the season we not only grow over 40 different kinds of crops but more importantly we try to grow a number of different varieties, often selected based on how well adapted they are to the diverse microclimates, soil types and unique geographic conditions of the farm. Just last week we planted  six different varieties of eggplants, eight varieties of peppers and seven different varieties of tomatoes.  Given the uncertainties in the weather, especially the  unexpected frost right after the heat wave,  I decided to plant all the nightshades, (eggplants, peppers and tomatoes) on sloping and higher laying fields, rather than in the valley where cold air tends to settle and get trapped.  Juan and his family, who live at the base of a hill on a flat alluvial field, had to scrape ice off their windshields last week, whereas we got spared living on a slope just a few 100 feet higher up.

One of the most important variables we get to work with are the many different types of soils. It may seem obvious but it amazes me how  soils change based on the varying topography of the fields.  Sometimes within a few feet a soil will change from being light and sandy to sticky and clayey. Although most of our soils are clay loams and therefore take longer to dry out, we have a few fields that are sandier and allow us to plant and harvest earlier. Last week's Tatsoi, Mizuna and Radishes where grown on sandier ground. I remember it was the only place on the farm dry enough during a brief dry spell in early March to sow these crops. When it comes to dry-farming tomatoes however, we prefer the heavier clay soils, since they hold water moisture later into the season. The Early Girl tomato variety in particular, has shown to draw on that moisture without needing any additional watering, as a result, we are rewarded with fruit of exceptional flavor.

Last week I speculated that mulching our strawberries with straw might have averted severe heat damage of the fruit, but equally important is the fact that we grow three varieties instead of only one (Albion, Camarosa and Seascape), all growing at different locations under slightly different conditions.

Lastly, it is also important to recognize that over the years we have constantly made changes to our tools and equipment as we improve and try out new growing practices. This allows us not only to become more efficient but also adapt to constantly changing conditions supporting the complexity of a more diverse and hopefully more resilient farming operation.

Some late breaking news, as I am writing this letter, Ivy has given birth to three baby goats. Expect more updates and pictures over the next few weeks as the other mothers  follow suit.

Please be mindful when picking up your share (or having someone pick up for you)!
As invariably happens each week, I get a phone call or email from someone stating, "there were no strawberries [or eggs or bread] left when I got there" or "I'm supposed to get a Family Share, but there were only Small Share boxes left." Until you are the last one to pick up and experience a shortage for yourself, it's easy to brush this off... but please don't.

It is one thing to remember the rules yourself, but when you send an emissary in your place, you need to remember to tell them all the rules too, so that everyone gets what they're supposed to and no one is shorted. If you're in a hurry, just tell them, "Find the binder. Read the 'Pick-up Protocol' - it's the first page in the front of every binder (green paper, in a sleeve). If you follow those instructions, you'll be fine."

The three most important rules are:

<> ALWAYS look for your name on the checklist first! If it's not there, don't take anything because nothing has been packed for you. Call us and we'll figure out why.

<> Verify what size share you get (it's right next to your name) then take your share from the correct size box. Not sure which boxes are what size? ...read the green page/pickup protocol. It's all spelled out.

<> Take only what is listed next to your name - it is all spelled out: share size, number of cartons of eggs or loaves of bread, and quantity and type of any fruit that is not packed inside your box.

[If you take a moment to examine the checklist, you'll see it is very informative: under your name is your 'share combination', and in the upper right-hand corner of each page is a breakdown how much fruit comes with each share part. Our database does the math for you, so if, say, you get 2 baskets of berries as part of your share, and 4 as part of your fruit option, then it will say '6 baskets of berries' next to your name.]

Oh, just one last request:

If something is amiss with your share, please CALL or EMAIL me at the farm; don't just write a note in the checklist. The checklist sits at the pickup site until the next delivery, so I can't rectify errors if I don't know about them. Phone number for the farm is on the checklist.

THANKS everyone!! But of course the people who will thank you most are the folks who pick up last, when everything that is theirs is still there for them when they arrive. :-)

- Debbie

Gluten Free Bread and Cultured/Fermented Foods redux
Last week when I ran Azalyne's story I accidentally left out her beautiful photos! If you missed her story and want to read it now, click here.

Pictures of some of the goodies Azalyne makes for her Culture of Change Food Share Program:

Azalyne's gluten-free cakes and bread

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

This week a little more on fava beans, and then the usual pile o' recipes from my clippings stash! As always, my two cents, when within the recipes themselves, is in square brackets [like this]. :-) - Debbie

Another way to ID whether to cook whole fava pods or shell them and only use the beans
It can still be difficult, sometimes, to judge whether the pods are still good for chopping and eating, or if they should be shelled and only the beans inside used. It's not always a thing that can be determined by pod size alone. If the pods are still bright green (i.e. not getting warty), and if they still have a kind of squishy-give to them when squeezed, they're still good to eat pods and all. There's no rule that says you have to eat the pods, of course; some people just don't like the pods. It's up to you. But once the beans' shapes inside the pod are clearly big and visible and the pod is firmer, it's usually time to shell them. The skin of the beans inside should be light green, and the beans themselves, when cooked and skinned, a bright vibrant green. When the skins start to go pale yellow-white and the beans inside similarly, they're past their prime.

Alice Waters' fava puree is already in the recipe database, but I found this to be an interesting variation. I noticed that the recipe actually called for green garlic (!) although I suspect they may mean simply fresh garlic as opposed to dried or powder, as they call it a 'head' of garlic, and our green garlic, as you know, is more like a leek stalk!

A different fava bean puree (Middle Eastern)
from "Five Seasons", by Delphino Cornali
serves 2

recipe lead-in: "Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice made of ground dried thyme and sumac seeds. Egyptians mix za'atar with olive oil and spread it on bread [yum!]. In this recipe, the pique of the za'atar sets off the buttery flavor of the fresh fava beans. Find za'atar in a Middle Eastern grocery [y'know, that one just down the street from you!]."

1 C fresh fava beans
¼ head green garlic [I think they mean regular garlic; I'd chop up one small stalk, or half a big one]
½ tsp. cumin seeds
1 tbsp. olive oil
sea salt
½ tsp. za'atar [well, if you can't find this, hm, what'd be an acceptable substitute? Dried thyme alone would probably be okay... or you could add a little lemon or lime juice for the sour? I might try mixing some lime zest and thyme into a paste in a mortar and pestle... If anyone knows about za'atar or sumac seeds, I'd love to hear!]

Remove beans from their pods and place into a pot of salted water. Simmer for 10 minutes with the garlic and cumin seeds. Drain the beans, soak in cold water for 5 minutes (this sets the beans inside the seed coat) and drain again. Remove the seed coats, then mash with a fork. Stir in the olive oil and enough water to give the puree a soupy consistency. Season with salt and pepper and beat well. Heat just before serving with a little more olive oil and a sprinkling of za'atar. To serve in the Egyptian tradition, serve with bread and a hard-boiled brown egg.

Wilted Mizuna with Walnuts
modified from a book called "Side Dishes, Soups and Salads"

1 bunch fresh mizuna, washed and coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, sliced [any onion will do; red is nice for color]
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced [a stalk or two of green garlic, thinly sliced and chopped fine]
1 tbsp. rice vinegar [a generous splash will do]
¼ C walnuts chopped [I'd toast them first]

[The original recipe called for adding in sauteed green beans and red cabbage, but we have neither of those right now, and I think it'd be tasty simply with the mizuna, alliums, vinegar and walnuts! I reduced the quantity of vinegar accordingly.]

Heat oil in a pan and saute onion and garlic a few minutes, until translucent and fragrant. Add the mizuna and saute another minute or two, just until wilted but still bright. Stir in vinegar, remove from heat, toss with walnuts and serve.

I'd use the kale/collards stir-fry mix for either of the next two recipes, and you could throw in the chard too, if you wanted!

Pasta with Greens
adapted from 'The Best Vegetarian Recipes' by Martha Rose Shulman
Serves 4 to 6

2 lbs. greens, such as chard, broccoli rabe, beet greens, kale, escarole, dandelion greens, collard greens, alone or in combination [don't worry about the '2 lbs' part too much; just use whatcha got]
½ C cottage cheese
2 tbsp. milk
¼ C grated pecorino cheese (1 oz.)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced [1 big stalk?]
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 lb. spaghetti [or your fave, maybe it's linguini?]

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Wash greens thoroughly, and add to boiling water. Cook until tender, 2 to 5 minutes. Drain well* (squeeze out excess water) and chop. [If you want to keep the green brighter, have a bowl of cold water standing by and put the cooked greens in here after draining but before chopping to cool quickly. Then squeeze out the water good and chop.] Set aside.

[*Drain the water into another pot and save it; and you can use this pre-heated water to cook your pasta! Save water, save energy. Heck, scoop the greens out of the boiling water and use one less pot!]

Blend cottage cheese and milk in a blender until smooth and creamy.

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until garlic begins to color, about 30 seconds [with green garlic it'll take a few minutes]. Add greens, stirring about 1 minute. Stir in ½ C cooking liquid reserved from greens [ha! good thing we kept it!]. Add salt to taste and remove from heat but keep warm.

Cook pasta in boiling water until done [follow package instructions]. Drain well, then transfer to pan with greens. Add creamy cheese mixture and pecorino; toss and serve. [with more cheese!]

Now the interesting thing about this next recipe is that it is very similar... just uses different cheeses, a little ginger and lemon, and... raisins! It's still a base of greens, cheese and pasta, just with a different twist. Starting to see how I think?

Pasta with Greens, Goat Cheese and Raisins
from an undated Bon Appetit clipping
serves 4 to 6

1/3 C golden raisins
1/3 C fresh lemon juice [one small lemon, or half a large one]

4 tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ C finely chopped red onion [again, it's nice for color, but use whatever onion you have]
3 garlic cloves, minced [another big stalk]
1 bunch each chard and beet greens, leaves only, washed and coarsely chopped [use your stir-fry mix and/or the chard]
2 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 ½ tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 lb. orchiette (little ear-shaped pasta) [or penne or pennette or something]
5 oz. soft fresh goat cheese

Combine raisins and lemon juice in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a heavy large pot over medium-low heat.  Add onion and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute [if using green garlic, cook together with the onions; it takes longer to cook than minced garlic from a clove]. Add greens and raisin mixture, cover and cook until greens wilt, about 5 minutes. Mix in ginger and lemon peel. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large post of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain and return to pot. Toss pasta with remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Add greens and goat cheese. Toss to combine. Season to taste [again] with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.

Ah, cauliflower... my favorite way to prepare cauliflower, hands down, is to roast it. If you haven't done this before TRY IT FIRST. There are several roasted cauliflower recipes in the recipe database, but my favorite is the North African Roasted Cauliflower. But I am also always interested in new and different flavor combinations, ways to cook stuff, so this next recipe caught my eye (it's how it ended up in my clippings file!).

Cauliflower Soup with Curried Apple
another undated Bon Appetit clipping, credited to a restaurant in San Francisco called "Campton Place"
serves 4 to 6

6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) butter, divided
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 5 C)
1 C coarsely chopped onion
1 C coarsely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1 bay leaf
½ C dry white wine
4 C vegetable broth
1 C whipping cream [avoid 'ultra-pasteurized' at all costs!]

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ (scant) tsp. cayenne pepper

1 large unpeeled Fuji apple [or two small ones]
½ tsp. curry powder, plus more for garnish

Melt 4 tbsp. butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add cauliflower, onion, leek, and bay leaf; saute until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add wine; simmer until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add broth and cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until cauliflower is tender, stirring often, about 20 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and, working in batches, puree soup in a blender. Return soup to pot. Mix in lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut apple into matchstick-sized strips. Melt remaining 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apple and curry powder; saute until apple is tender, about 2 minutes.

Bring soup to a simmer; ladle into bowls. Spoon warm apple mixture over and sprinkle with additional curry powder.

Lastly, since we're still getting apples...

Baked Apples, Seven Ways
adapted from another undated BA clipping

Before adding any filling, cut off the top third of each apple. [I think I'd take off a little less, but there you go.] Using a small melon baller, scoop out the stem and core, leaving the bottom intact. After you've chosen one of the fillings here, place apples in a baking dish containing about half an inch of liquid - sweet or dry wine (boiled for 3 minutes before using [if you want to boil off the alcohol, I'm guessing; seems silly as you're going to bake it for an hour!]), fruit juice, apple cider or water. The apples should bake for an hour at 350 degrees; to test for doneness, squeeze the sides of one apple; it should yield gently.

Filling options:

<> Finely process fresh cranberries, dried cherries, sugar and grated orange peel.
<> Ground walnuts with a little cardamom and honey. Fill apples, dot with butter and bake.

<> Combine crushed amaretti cookies, boiled Marsala and softened butter to make a paste.

<> Mix ground gingersnap cookies and chutney. Sprinkle filled apples with more cookie crumbs and bake. Serve warm with a sauce of melted vanilla ice cream. [Or just dollop ice cream on top; it'll melt by itself!]

<> Fill cavities with apple butter and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. After baking, reduce juices until syrupy [and presumably pour back over apples!]

<> Fill with chopped raisins, brown sugar and boiled Sherry [what's with this boiling business?]. Dot with butter, dust with freshly ground nutmeg and bake.

<> Fill apples with marzipan, mounding a little on top, and bake. [Mmmmmm.]

[I think that after perusing this list, you can come up with additional filling ideas of your own...!]

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!]

Community Farm Day

Everyone is invited to participate in our first  Community Farm Day of the Season scheduled to be on May 23th, the 4th weekend in May.  Community Farm days will be held once a month for the remainder of the season and  is your opportunity to get a glimpse of what life on the farm is like.  You are welcome to pitch a tent and stay overnight from Friday May 22nd to Saturday the 23rd. Please bring appropriate clothing to spend the day outside. Also, we expect everyone to bring their own food supplies (you can expect to supplement with farm produce), utensils, and personal care products. The day will start at 9 o'clock in the morning on Saturday and go until 5 o'clock in the afternoon.  Depending on your interest we have the following tentative schedule of activities you can choose to participate in.
Field:  Planting native grasses, 5 different types, along two sloping fields to act as filterstrips to prevent erosion. We'll sow this year's wintersquash and if time permits build a trellis for our Kiwis.  

Cooking:  Bake bread in our newly built cob oven. Milk the goats and learn how to make cheese.

Building:  Continue working on the exterior of the coboven and bench area.

Education Garden: we need all the help we can get!!!

On Friday night for those staying on the farm I am organizing a slideshow, and you are welcome to bring music and any other form of entertainment you might like to share around a small campfire.

Important: Please RSVP (831)-763-2448 or email at farmers@cruzio.com

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448