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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
2nd Harvest Week, Winter Season 5
December 6th - December 12th, 2010
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Impressions from a Field Walk
Winter CSA Delivery Schedule
Pick-up Site Etiquette Refresher
Web Store a big hit!
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen [Recipes!]
2010 Calendar

" Everything that grows holds perfection but a little moment."
 - William Shakespeare

What's in the box this week
Content differences between Family and Small shares are in red; items with a "+" in one size share are more in quantity than in the other. For any items not from our farm, we will identify the source in parentheses. Occasionally content will differ from this list (typically we make a substitution), but we do our best to give you an accurate projection.

Winter Family Share
Apples (Gala/Fuji)
Green cabbage
Romanesco cauliflower
Collard greens
Red Russian kale
Lettuce +
Mystery item (farmer's choice!)
Red onions (Pinnacle Farm) +
Parsnips (Lakeside)
Sweet potatoes (Mariquita Farm) +
Winter squash (Butternut and Kabocha)
Jar of spicy tomato juice (Happy Girl Kitchen/LEF tomatoes) - the jar will be packed inside your box! Support the bag when you take it out of the box.

Small Share
Apples (Gala/Fuji)
Green cabbage
Collard greens
Red Russian kale
Mystery item (farmer's choice!)
Red onions (Pinnacle Farm)
Parsnips (Lakeside)
Sweet potatoes (Mariquita Farm)
Winter squash (Butternut)
Jar of spicy tomato juice (Happy Girl Kitchen/LEF tomatoes)
- the jar will be packed inside your box! Support the bag when you take it out of the box.

Preserves Option
1 jar dilly beans
1 jar apricot jam

Bread Option
This week's bread will be sesame whole wheat

Impressions from a Field Walk
Apricot trees in their fall colorsOn Sunday morning, in anticipation of a forecasted storm, I went on my usual walk with shovel in hand, accompanied by Cella our young Maremma. Before any storm anticipated to bring more than an inch of rain, I like to check on all the drainage ditches to make sure water moves where it's supposed to in order to avoid erosion and unnecessary soil loss. No matter how many times I walk a path or field, I am always filled with a sense of anticipation as conditions are never the same from one moment to the next. The colors of the apricot orchard are more intense as a result of the recent frosty nights, and make a nice contrast against the darker greens and browns of the surrounding landscape.  After this storm the trees most likely will have dropped their fall dresses to stand bare and dormant through the winter months to come. With winter storms on the way, understanding the surface hydrology of the farm is important in order to implement practices and landscape features that improve water conservation and water quality. Farm road drainage improvements, native grass plantings that act as surface water filters, establishing hedgerows with native plants along field edges, early cover-cropping in more erosion prone fields, and fallowing steep slopes by planting perennial pastures are some important steps we are taking to reduce the impact of surface water runoff. I like to understand and decipher the patterns of water movement on the landscape; it guides how we farm and ultimately helps us build a more resilient farm organism.

Walking past the Romanesco cauliflower field I checked whether it was ready to harvest for this week's shares. The cold days during the Thanksgiving holidays delayed their growth, but with the more recent warmer weather they are now sized up enough to put into some of the shares. Few vegetable crops are as stunningly beautiful. Take a closer look before you start cooking the head of the plant; it has a pattern that is known as a fractal. It's visually striking: each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds. It demands photographing as much as cooking, and I can pretty much guarantee that it is the only vegetable you'll ever eat that is a fractal. I wonder why a plant would come up with such a pattern. I'm sure there is a whole elaborate and interesting explanation behind these natural patterns, but for now I am content just to admire their beauty and enjoy their unique flavor.
 - Tom

Progressive close-ups of Romanesco cauliflower showing the fractal pattern

Winter CSA Delivery Schedule
I'm going to keep this in the newsletter so folks have it for reference ;-)

Week 1 - December 2nd
Week 2 - December 9th
Week 3 - December 16th
<3 week break over Christmas/New Year's - happy holidays everyone!>
Week 4 - January 13th 2011
Week 5 - January 20th
Week 6 - January 27th
Week 7 - February 3rd
Week 8 - February 10th
Week 9 - February 17th
Week 10 - February 24th - last winter CSA!

<no deliveries the entire month of March>

The 2011 Regular Season then begins Weds/Thurs April 6th/7th

Pick-up Site Etiquette Refresher
I hope everyone was happy with their first week's delivery! We had a few snafus but nothing we couldn't ultimately set straight. We did, however, have a few situations which made me think it was high time for a refresher on proper pick-up site etiquette. A complete listing of our pick-up protocol can be found on our website, but these four are the biggest. Number 1 is new - I will have to add it to our protocol. I thought it was obvious, but apparently to someone it was not...

1. Do not rummage through the share boxes - this is a BIG no-no. At one site, a member arrived to find several boxes standing open and their contents had clearly been pawed through. This is very disrespectful of your fellow members. You should only open and take from your share box.

2. Do not take preserves or bread or eggs or anything else unless it is specifically listed beside your name in the checklist. Do NOT go by what you remember from the newsletter. The preserves you see listed as part of your Family or Small share in the newsletter are generally packed inside your box. If we don't pack it inside the box, we will list it next to your name on the list. Always always go by the list.

3. The big white boxes are the Family Shares; the brown boxes are the Small Shares. Be sure to take your share from the correct size box. We've tried signs in the past, but they are hard to keep in place because each pick-up site is different. They get rained on, or blow away.

4. If your name is on the checklist but there are no more shares in your size, DO still take a share, even if it is not the correct size. Do not leave empty-handed. This is the hardest one for most people new to the CSA. Sometimes someone else messes up and takes a wrong size share by accident. It happens, we all make mistakes. This particular mistake is often compounded by the fact that not everyone remembers to check off their name when they pick up. So say you are last to pick up, and normally get a Small share, but there is only a Family share left -- you might think that you shouldn't take that Family share because there's another name on the list that hasn't been checked. It is understandable that you don't want to take something that belongs to someone else, but in this particular case, we always deliver the correct number of boxes, which means one was delivered for you if your name is on the list. So you are only shorting yourself if you don't take that share. ;-) If you end up with a Small and normally get a Family, DO let me know, so we can offer you something the following week to make up for the shortfall.

Our pick-up sites are on the honor system, so in order for everyone to get their rightful shares, options, and web store items, it is extremely important that we all are mindful of the shared nature of these pick-up sites. Bottom line is: courtesy and respect. Courtesy to your fellow CSA members, respect for the property of the hosts.


Web Store a big hit!
We had an exciting first week of the 'expanded' webstore... we sold out of several items the first day and Taylor is busy organizing all the orders for delivery this Thursday. Those of you who ordered, keep an eye out for an email from her with instructions.

Meanwhile, if you went to the webstore and were disappointed because things were already sold out, take heart -- we're going to have more of just about everything for you in the next week! There will be more of all of Companion Bakers goodies -- the granola, the crackers, the cereal -- more of Amy's heirloom beans (and possibly beans from another local young farmer as well), more jam, more apples (we're going to have pippins!), the AgroEco Coffee, and of course the gift certificates. If I left anything out, Taylor will tell you about it when she sends out her Friday email.

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

Everybody is going to love Happy Girl Kitchen's spicy tomato juice! You'll all be getting a jar inside your box this week. Mmmm, I can taste it already just thinking about it! So yummy to get summer tomato goodies in winter. And sweet potatoes... yay! I periodically ask Tom to grow them for the shares, but he says they need hotter weather than our coastal climate zone provides. But Mariquita Farm has land out in Hollister, east of Gilroy, so they have the right temperatures, and I am thrilled that Tom was able to wangle some sweet potatoes for our boxes. And then there's the beautiful Romanesco cauliflower in the Family shares, and the weird but wonderful kohlrabi in the Small shares. If you see a veggie that looks like it is from another planet -- a bulbous thing with stalks growing out from the sides and big floppy leaves on top (I call it 'the sputnik veggie') -- that would be the kohlrabi! Oh, and the "Mystery Item"... it could be anything, but a little bird told me it might be a mix of mustard greens. Don't hold me to it though!

Okay, time for some recipes!


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

First off, member Robin Horn sent me some great variations on my standby cooked kale with lemon and olive oil:

Kale (or other greens) with balsamic and hot oil
This is good not only for kale, but also collard greens and kohlrabi greens and chard. The base step is still boiling or simmering the greens in salted water, draining and squeezing out the water, then chopping. But instead of topping with lemon and olive oil and salt, she'll top it with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a touch of hot oil, plus salt and pepper. I tried this, and didn't have hot oil, but I had some left-over hot chili sauce and used that and it was delish!

Collards (or other greens) with Asian flavors
Boil them in salted water, drain well -- squeeze out extra water -- chop, and top with rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. A little Asian flair, yum!

We're all getting green cabbage again, so last week's San Jose Mercury News had a well-timed recipe from Mark Bittman.

Lamb- and Rice- Stuffed Cabbage with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Mark says, "Rolling cabbage leaves with lamb and rice is a lovely idea; the meat and rice steam, protected by the leaves, so the result is tender yet dense." Rather than copy and paste the recipe into the newsletter I thought it would be easier and better to just click here to go to the article and recipe, so you can read his accompanying story as well. This is a nice variation on the more typical brown sugar-catsup-sauce type cabbage rolls. And note that although his recipe calls for using savoy cabbage, don't be put off - you can most definitely substitute plain ol' green cabbage leaves! The only difference would be in how to prepare the leaves:

The way you do it with a regular head of cabbage is you drop the whole head into a big pot of boiling water, and then using tongs, pull off one leaf at a time, as they soften and loosen. Try it, it's easy... you'll see!

Here's a very simple but nourishing winter soup made with kohlrabi:

Creamy Kohlrabi Soup
Serves 4

2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and chopped [save the green tops!]
2 1/2 C vegetable stock
2 1/2 C milk
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper

1. Melt butter in a large pan with a lid. Add onions and cook gently until soft, about 10 minutes. Add kohlrabi and cook 2 minutes.

2. Add vegetable stock, milk and bay leaf to pan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 25 minutes or until kohlrabi is tender. Let cool a few minutes and remove bay leaf.

3. Using an immersion blender or conventional blender or food processor, puree soup until smooth. You may want to strain the soup through a fine sieve if the kohlrabi is especially fibrous. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in heated bowls with hearty bread of choice.

Note: Kohlrabi greens are edible - don't chuck them! Wash as needed, then strip the leaves off the tough center stem and cook like you would kale or collards.

Here's a new parsnip recipe:

Pan-Fried Parsnips with Sour Cream and Onions
modified slightly from a Bon Appetit clipping
serves 2

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 large parsnips (8 or 9 oz) [or use more smaller ones ;-)], sliced on the diagonal into 1/8th inch thick ovals
2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tsp thinly sliced green onion tops [we don't have green onions this week, but you could shave some thin slices of red onion and cut those into segments - they'd be pretty with the parsley!]
Sour cream

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange half the parsnip slices in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until bottoms are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn parsnips over; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and slightly crisp, another 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate, mound in center. Repeat with remaining olive oil and parsnip slices. Top with parsley, onions, and sour cream.

And a new cauliflower recipe:

Penne and Cauliflower with Mustard Bread Crumbs
from another Bon Appetit clipping (some modifications here too)
serves 4

8 oz. penne rigate
5 C small cauliflower florets
2 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 C fresh bread crumbs [see instructions for this, below]
3/4 C (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional (for serving)
1/2 C heavy whipping cream [avoid the ultra-pasteurized stuff! Yuck!]
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel

[To make bread crumbs, tear fresh bread -- BA says country-style, and to remove the crusts, but I say use any fresh bread, and heck, leave the crust on -- into even-ish chunks and grind in a food processor "until they resemble very coarse sand" sez Bon Appetit... I like them a little chunkier, but that's just my preference.]

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is tender and pasta is tender but firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 more minutes. Drain pasta and cauliflower, reserving 1/2 C of the cooking liquid. Return pasta and cauliflower to pot.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in Dijon mustard. Add bread crumbs. Cook until breadcrumbs are golden and crisp, stirring to break up clumps, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Add grated Parmesan, cream, lemon peel and the reserved cooking liquid to pasta and cauliflower mixture in the pot. Toss over medium heat until sauce simmers and coats pasta, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to a wide shallow bowl. Sprinkle with the mustardy bread crumbs. Serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese alongside.

This last one's kinda long, but it sounds delicious!!

Pumpkin and Sage Lasagna
by Diane Morgan, from "The New Thanksgiving Table" (from an old un-dated Mercury News clipping), modified slightly
Serves 8 - 10, and can be assembled a day ahead

1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme2 sprigs fresh parsley
3 C whole milk
Kosher or sea salt
1 lb. or 19 sheets dried lasagna noodles
3/4 C canola oil
1/2 C fresh sage leaves
2 lbs. winter squash [butternut or kabocha or kuri or whatever you have], peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp cayenne
Fresh ground pepper
1 lb. ricotta
1/2 C minced parsley
3 tbsp. butter
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 C grated fresh Parmesan

1. Place bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and parsley in a small square of cheese cloth and tie into a pouch. Over medium-low heat, heat the milk and bag of spices until hot. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let steep.

2. Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Stir in 1 tbsp. salt, then add lasagna noodles and cook al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

3. In a heavy saute pan, heat the oil until it is hot, but not smoking (about 365 degrees). Line a baking sheet with a double-thickness of paper towels [I hate this part - anybody have any bright ideas on how to drain oily things without burning through so many paper towels?]. Working quickly, fry a third of the sage leaves for about 5 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the paper towels. Repeat with remaining sage. Set the pan aside, reserving oil. Generously salt the sage leaves.

4. Heat 3 tbsp. of the sage-flavored oil over medium high heat. Without crowding, add slices of pumpkin and saute until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat, adding more oil as needed. Sprinkle with cayenne and black pepper to taste.

5. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta and minced parsley.

6. Make a white sauce by melting butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute, stirring constantly, until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the flour to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour is blended and cooked through, about a minute longer. Remove the spice bag from the milk. Slowly whisk the infused milk into the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, whisking, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of salt and the nutmeg. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Lay 3 strips of lasagna noodles lengthwise across the bottom of the pan. Spread half the white sauce evenly over the pasta, then top with 3 more strips. Add half the pumpkin slices. Crumble the fried sage leaves and sprinkle half over the pumpkin. Place 3 more strips of pasta on top, Spread the ricotta over this layer, then add 3 more pasta strips. Place the remaining pumpkin slices on top; sprinkle with remaining sage. Add 3 more strips of pasta, then spread the remaining white sauce evenly over the top. For the final layer, add 4 strips of pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until bubbly hot and nicely browned, about 1 hour. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.

Visit our website's calendar page for more details, including photos and videos of past events. This is a great way to get the flavor of what it is like visiting the farm!

Live Earth Farm Discovery Program for WEE ONES
3rd Tuesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon [year-round]
(free for children 0 - 3 yrs; $10 - $15 per adult)
LEF Discovery Program logoMothers, fathers, grandparents, caretakers of any kind... bring the babe in your arms to experience the diversity of our beautiful organic farm here in Watsonville. We will use our five senses to get to know the natural world around us. The farm is home to over 50 different fruits and vegetables, chicks, chickens, goats, piglets, and the many wild members of the Pajaro watershed.

For more information, contact Jessica at the LEFDP office: (831) 728-2032 or email her at lefeducation@baymoon.com.

Happy Girl Kitchen Workshops at LEF
(all workshops are from 10am to 3pm and include an organic lunch, as well as take-home items from what is made that day!)

No more workshops this year, but visit their website for the most current info!

Community Farm Days and Events

All done for 2011. We'll update you as soon as we have a new schedule for 2011!

Medicinal Herb Walks/classes on the farm
Hidden in amongst the veges, lurking below the fruit trees, at home in the oak woodlands, and planted in the hedgerows, Live Earth Farm is chock-full of medicinal plants.  With literally hundreds of plants useful for treating common maladies and maintaining vital health, Live Earth Farm is an incredible place to go for an herbal adventure. Consider joining herbalist Darren Huckle L.Ac for a monthly series of fun, informative, herb walks and classes in spring 2011 where you will learn how to identify, taste and safely and effectively use medicinal plants common in Northern California.

For more info, contact Darren Huckle at rootsofwellness@gmail.com or 831.334.5177

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763-2448
education programs/school field trips: (831) 728-2032