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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
8th Harvest Week, Season 14
May 18th - 24th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Patience, Timing, and the Elixir of Life
Turning the Corner
Who was Weston A. Price?
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

"Of all the natural resources, water has become the most precious...In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to the most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference." 

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

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
Avocados (Marsalisi Farm)
Fava beans - last week!
Fennel (Lakeside)
Green garlic
Lettuce, mixed kinds
Fresh onions
Mei qing choi
Summer squash

Small Share
Avocados (Marsalisi Farm)
Collard greens
Fava beans - last week!
Fennel (Lakeside)
Lettuce, mixed kinds
Fresh onions
Mei qing choi

Extra Fruit Option
4 baskets of strawberries

Fruit "Bounty" Option
starts this week, with 4 baskets of strawberries!

This week's bread will whole wheat with flax seed

Patience, Timing, and the Elixir of Life

Every 3-4 weeks it is my turn, on weekends, to take care of the animals and greenhouse chores. I had my hands full keeping plants watered and attending to the needs of our rapidly growing herd of kids, as you can probably guess, I am referring to the goat kids. Cinnamon, one of our youngest does, gave birth to her first two kids last week bringing the total number to twelve.  Our Goats who are very social, each expressing varying degrees of stubbornness, suspicion, and curiosity will, depending on their mood, make it more or less challenging to get the basic feeding and milking chores accomplished.  So, on Saturday, when the thermometer started climbing into the upper 80's and the juggling of chores between animals, plants, and people started accelerating, goats being who they are, sensing my impatience, sent their ringleader (Moonshadow) to give me a reminding butt in the back, to slow down. 
Heat waves are an exercise in anticipation and timing. Saturday afternoon, when the heat kept us all in the shade I had to make a decision whether or not to work on Sunday morning to pick a field of perfectly ripe strawberries to prevent heat damage or wait until Monday morning hoping the weather would cool down.  I didn't take any chances.  At 6 o'clock in the morning on Sunday most of us were up picking berries. At 10 o'clock when we finished picking, it was already getting very hot and we all felt relieved when the bumper harvest of over 300 flats of shiny red ripe strawberries was safely stacked inside our 37 degree walk-in cooler.

Heat reminds us how critical water is and although we trust that it is available when we want it, we can't take it for granted. The fertility and abundance of our crops is directly linked to the availability of water. Here at the farm, as in most farms in the Pajaro Valley, the water is pumped from wells, some as deep as 600 feet. The rate of water flow from our most productive well is as high as 300 gallons per minute, which allows us to irrigate 3 to 4 acres at a time. But here at our home ranch, where the flow rate is only 25 gallons per minute, we first have to store the water in holding tanks and than pump it through a network of pipes and hoses to the plants in the field. Cool weather crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and most leafy greens like to be irrigated with above ground moveable aluminum pipe sprinklers, while other crops such as strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and eggplants we drip irrigate. Sometimes we don't irrigate at all, which is the case with our dry-farmed tomatoes, and this year, given the late rains most of our potatoes are being dry-farmed as well.  It may seem surprising to some, but over 80% of water used in California is used in Agriculture. It always seems like a staggering amount when I do the numbers. To give you an idea,  last year alone, we used approximately 35 acre-feet of water. Imagine a football field (an acre is a little less than a football field) covered by 35 feet of water. If one acre-foot is 326,000 gallons, we used over 11 million gallons of water. The amount of water we use in our homes, large though it may appear to be, is only a fraction of water used to produce our food and fiber. It is estimated that in the United States, an average of 1,000 gallons of water are needed to produce each pound of food we consume.
Water is integral to support and maintain life, it links us to all the oceans of the world, moderates the climate, creates growth and shapes the living substance of all of Earth creatures, us included.  - Tom

PS - when you get the newsletter on Tuesdays like this, it is because I couldn't get my part and pictures to Debbie in time for her to prepare and send it by Monday night, so I must complete and send it myself (she's busy managing the CSA on Tuesdays). Thanks for being patient with this busy farmer!
Turning the corner
It is easy to lose track of the seasonal ebb and flow of the foods we eat with a trip to the supermarket, where everything seems to be in constant abundance. More patience is asked of us as we cook with the seasonal harvest and we try to anticipate what local crops will gradually appear and dissapear from our menu.  As spring slowly gives way to summer we can anticipate our favorite more heat-loving crops to make their appearance. This week's Zephyr summer squash (for now only in the in the Family share) and the avocados grown by Steve Marsilisi just down the road from us, are the first indicator crops that we have turned the corner and more heat loving crops are coming your way soon.

The potatoes and green beans are blooming, which means in 3-4 weeks we should see these first delicacies. Cucumbers are still small but shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks before you slice them into your salad. 3 Week old Tomato transplants are growing vigerously, next week we will have sugar snap peas and crystal balling into the summer months ahead, we are excited to harvest crops we haven't grown for some time now, such as water melons and sweet corn.
Who was Weston A. Price?
I know we have several CSA members who are also followers of Weston A. Price, and have myself been learning more about him and the foundation which, based upon his extensive research, promotes the health benefits of consuming good animal fats* along with your fruits and veggies, etc. Anyway, if you have read anything by Sally Fallon [Nourishing Traditions Cookbook] or Jessica Prentice [Full Moon Feast], you may have an inkling of what I'm talking about. For too many years various powers-that-be in this country have vilified saturated animal fat and cholesterol, when in fact they are two vital nutrients for human health (I'm really generalizing here, but this is, in essence, at the heart of the matter). Fortunately this trend is starting to change.

I have wanted to share information about this subject with our members for awhile now, and so the leader of the San Jose/South Bay chapter of WAPF [Weston A. Price Foundation] has graciously taken the time to write about Dr. Price, and her personal experiences, for our newsletter. Click here to read more. - Debbie

*ideally all from pasture-raised animals, and even more ideally, if you can get it, raw milk dairy.

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

This week I'm going to start with a "what's up in the box" (an embellishment on simply 'what's in the box') ~ Tom usually talks about "what's up in the field", but since we always have a discussion about what's going into the boxes each week, I thought I'd flesh out the list a little, based on our conversation. Then I'll get to some recipes! - Debbie

"What's Up in this week's box"
Strawberries: looks like they're in full production right now, so the "Fruit Bounty" option is kicking in starting this week!
Garlic: the heads are starting to mature... we'll still call it 'green garlic' but over the next few weeks you will see a steady progression of the bulb at the base of the stalks as they morph from being simple blobs to blobs with distinct garlic cloves in them! You can still chop up and cook with the bulb and the stalk as long as it is still green and fresh, but sometime soon the skin around the cloves will differentiate and get tougher, and you'll find you want to peel it open and use just the cloves. At some point shortly after that, we will have a break from green garlic (wah!) as Tom will harvest them all and lay them out in the sun to dry and cure. Then we'll see the 'dry' bulbs reappear in our shares sometime later in the season. The alliums (garlic, onions, leeks, etc.) are a staple item, so Tom always tries to have some in the box each week, or at least most weeks.
Favas: this will be the last week for favas until next spring (another wah!), so fava-lovers, enjoy the last hurrah!!
Summer squash: wow! Already? Yes ~ the first of our little zephyr squashes (light yellow with a pale-green tip) are ripening, so Tom's putting them in the Family shares. A saute combining summer squash, onion and fava beans would be nice...
Kale is back again, after a break, and will be either Red Russian or Lacinato (Dino kale). Tom says it is a new planting and so the leaves will be young/smallish yet.
Avocados: if you've been a member before, these are the same wonderful avocados we've gotten from Steve Marsalisi in past years. Remember: they'll be green and hard right now, and so you'll need to let them ripen and soften before you can eat them. Don't stick 'em in your fridge, but rather out on the counter, where you can check on them periodically. You can accelerate the ripening process by enclosing them in a brown paper bag on your counter (or shelf or hanging basket). Just remember to peek in on them daily!
Fennel: "big, beautiful bulbs" from Lakeside Organic, says Tom. I love fennel, so recipes for this will follow!

Note re: ingredients ~ remember two weeks ago when I talked about 'A different fava bean puree' which used a Middle Eastern spice called za'atar made from sumac? A few alert members emailed me with sources, as well as spoke highly of the unique flavor of sumac... something that can't really be duplicated by substituting other spices.

Member Eleni O'Neill, who spent some time in the Middle East, says she's a huge sumac fan, and that, "it is sold at most places that sell spices (like health food stores), but not typically grocery stores. It is good to keep around, because you can sprinkle it on any meat that tastes plain or on top of hummus!" [or, of course, the fava bean puree!]

Member Rebecca Robb said "Penzey's Spices in Menlo Park sells Za'atar." [and hopefully the straight sumac too, if you want to make the spice combo yourself].

Both Rebecca Robb and Diane Reese pointed out that various recipes for making Za'atar (or sometimes spelled "zahtar") are on several of the usual recipe websites, so you can search and make your own, the only unusual ingredient you'll need being the sumac.

One last fava recipe, before they're gone for the season... love the carrot-infused cream!

Fava Bean Soup with Carrot Cream
Bon Appetit, April 2002, with slight modifications
Serves 6

for the soup
1 ½ lbs fava bean pods (to yield ¾ C beans)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil [or ghee or butter]
1 onion, chopped
1 8-oz Yukon Gold [or similar] potato, peeled, cut into half-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
2 14-oz. cans vegetable broth [3½ to 4 C of your own stock, mineral broth or chicken, would be much better!]
1 ½ C water
¼ C dry white wine
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/3 C whipping cream [don't get ultra-pasteurized]

for the carrot cream
2 carrots, peeled, grated (about 1 ¼ C)
2/3 C whipping cream [ditto]
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt

For soup: Cook favas in large pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes. Drain, cool, peel [pinch end of bean, squirt inner bean out of skin] and collect in a small bowl, to yield aobut ¾ C peeled beans.

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans, potato, carrot, and broth or stock, the 1 ½ C water and the wine. Cover and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Stir in parsley. Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Return to pot. Stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper.

For carrot cream: Puree all ingredients in blender. Transfer to bowl. Chill at least 15 minutes, up to 3 hours. Strain carrot cream into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Using electric mixer, beat carrot cream until soft peaks form. Bring soup to a simmer. Ladle into bowls. Top with dollop of carrot cream.

Another Kale Processing Tip
Now that kale is reappearing in our shares, member Lisa Bautista sent me this comment, "I was looking for something new and exciting to do with kale last fall and thumbed through old copies of Fine Cooking magazines.  The author had several recipes but here is what she does to have kale on the ready AND reduce cooking time.  I especially like the less cooking time (in this heat) plus the color of the kale doesn't have to go all the way to greyish green.  So she strips the stem, stacks the leaves and cuts them into slices and spins the extra moisture away.  Then the kale strips are packed into a freezer bag and put in the freezer.  You can reach into the bag and pull out just the amount of kale you need whenever.  The freezing softens those cells so you need much less cooking time.  Et voila!  Kale whenever you want.  We eat much more kale now." [And I imagine this would work for other greens, like collards, too. - Debbie]

Now for some fennel recipes...

Sliced fennel salad with lemon Parmesan dressing
from a Dec 2004 SJ Mercury News clipping
Serves 4

4 fennel bulbs (about 2 lbs); do not discard fronds [and if you don't have 4 bulbs, which we won't likely have, just scale the recipe down accordingly]
for dressing:
2 garlic cloves, minced [more, if you're using green garlic. Chop very fine!]
¼ C fresh lemon juice
¼ C chopped fennel fronds
2 tbsp. finely sliced fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ C olive oil
2 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan cheese
for garnish:
A 1-oz. wedge of Parmesan cheese

Trim stalks and fronds from fennel; remove enough fronds to make ¼ C chopped. Cut bulbs lengthwise into quarters and trim away core at the base. Thinly slice fennel. Chop reserved fronds.

To make dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, fennel fronds and chives and season with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, slowly add olive oil until incorporated. Add grated cheese. Taste for seasoning.

Add fennel to dressing and stir to coat. Arrange on a platter or serving plates. Using swivel vegetable peeler, shave large shards of Parmesan over top of salads. Serve immediately.

Note: salad may be prepared up to 2 hrs. ahead, covered and refrigerated.  Shave Parmesan at the last minute.

Mediterranean fennel arugula salad with prosciutto and pomegranate
undated Bon Appetit clipping; photo from Bon Appetit (beautiful!)
4 to 6 servings
photo of fennel arugula prosciutto pomegranate salad

2 C very thinly sliced fennel bulb
3 tbsp. good olive oil, divided
¼ tsp. coarse kosher salt
6 C arugula
1 C thinly sliced green onions [you can use the stalk of the fresh green onions; right at the top of the bulb is best]
¼ C thinly sliced mint leaves
1 ½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut or torn into strips
½ C pomegranate seeds

Toss fennel and 1 tbsp. olive oil in medium bowl. Sprinkle with a the kosher salt. Combine arugula, green onions, mint, vinegar, and the other 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Divide greens among plates. Top with fennel, then drape with prosciutto. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over.

Here's a recipe that would be great with the new zephyr squash we're getting this week (it can be substituted for the zucchini). I wouldn't worry too much about exact measurements with this recipe; just use the quantities as a guide:

Baby Zucchini Carpaccio with Pecorino and Mint
Bon Appetit, undated
Serves 6

1 ½ lbs. baby zucchini [use the zephyrs!], both ends trimmed, very thinly sliced crosswise
¼ C fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
¼ C good olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 oz. shaved Pecorino Romano cheese (about ½ C), divided

Toss zucchini and mint in medium bowl. Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Add dressing and half of shaved cheese to zucchini; toss to coat. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes and up to 1 ½ hrs. Divide among 6 plates; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Those last three recipes were kind of similar (lemon-and-olive-oil based dressings, two with mint)... I find it interesting to see how 'alike' different recipes can be. Anyway, I'll finish off this week's recipes with something that's not a salad, even though it uses our beautiful spinach:

Spinach with yellow split peas and saffron-coconut sauce
from The Real Dirt on Farmer John Cookbook
Serves 4

"The heady aroma of saffron gives intoxicating flavor to this Indian dish. For this recipe, split peas and spinach are combined with a mixture of pungent and spicy ingredients and cooked in creamy coconut milk. For a sensational complete meal, serve this with rice that has been cooked in a mixture of orange juice and water. Don't be afraid to use the fresh jalapenos in this recipe; even a very moderate amount will mix with the saffron and the rich coconut milk to produce a wonderfully complex flavor. Mango chutney is a delicious condiment for this dish."

1 lg. onion, chopped (about 2 C)
2/3 C yellow split peas, rinsed well and picked over to remove any pebbles
4 to 8 thin slices of fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded (4 for a milder version, more for a hotter version)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 1 tsp.) [remember: use more if substituting green garlic]
1 C coconut milk
1 tsp. salt
1 C coarsely chopped spinach (about ¼ to ½ lb)
4 C hot cooked basmati rice

1. Combine the onion, split peas, jalapeno, garlic, and saffron in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the peas; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

2. After 45 minutes of simmering, the peas will start to break apart and mush up as you stir them. Add the coconut milk and salt; stir. Add the spinach on top, but do NOT stir. Cover the pot and cook the spinach with the split peas for 10 more minutes. Uncover the pot and stir the spinach to combine with the peas. If it looks too soupy, continue to simmer, uncovered, until it reaches a thicker consistency. Serve warm over rice.

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!

UPDATED!! 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. 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. RSVP of number of people attending and whether you'll be arriving Friday night or Saturday is requested. Call 831.763.2448 or email farmers@cruzio.com

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