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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
19th Harvest Week, Season 17
August 6th - 12th, 2012
in this issue
What's in the box(es) this week
Reflections on Seasonality and Favorite Crops
How to cook Padron Peppers
Community Social at Companion Bakeshop
Not too early to mention upcoming Tomato U-Pick
Rebecca's Recipes
2012 Calendar

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help."
- Mary Sarton, as quoted in "Gardening by Heart," by Joyce Mc Greevy

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What's in the box(es) this week

Occasionally content will differ from this list (typically we make a substitution), but we do our best to give you an accurate projection.


Quantities of certain items will be more in the larger shares. Delicate items which are part of your share, like strawberries, are packed outside your box. Quantity to take will be spelled out next to your name on the checklist at your pick-up site. 


For any items not from our farm, we will identify the source in parentheses.


***Click here for a picture of how to tell share sizes apart at your pick-up site***


Family (Large) Share
Green cabbage
Green beans
Padron peppers
Summer squash
Dry-farmed tomatoes

Regular (Medium) Share
Green beans
Padron peppers
Summer squash
Dry-farmed tomatoes

Budget (Small) Share
Green beans
Padron peppers
Dry-farmed tomatoes

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

Extra Fruit Option
Strawberries, and blackberries or raspberries  


Reflections on Seasonality and Favorite Crops
This year's field of dry-farmed tomatoes Eating with the seasons teaches us patience. Tomatoes may be available whenever I might want at the store, but few things give me greater pleasure than waiting for that special moment in the season when I can harvest and bite into a sun-warmed, vine-ripened, dry-farmed tomato. Although "dry-farming" sounds ordinary, it is actually the culmination of a complex "dance" between farmer and nature. Dry-farming tomatoes is a technique perfected a couple of decades ago by Molino Creek, a farming cooperative situated in the coastal hills above Davenport. We are fortunate to enjoy a similar microclimate. Dry-farming techniques involve proper spacing, soil moisture control, timely cultivation practices, soil rotation and a number of different fertility practices. Under optimum conditions the plants, although stressed from a lack of water, will stay healthy enough to yield, in my opinion, one of the best tasting red tomatoes out there.
"Early Girl" is the variety of choice for dry-farming; it is one of the very few tomato varieties (possibly the only one) that can be dry-farmed. Bred in France in the 1970's they became an instant hit when they arrived in the United States and today still rank as one of the most popular tomato varieties, especially among gardeners. Tomatoes are not of European origin, quite the contrary; their ancestry can be traced to the impenetrable jungles of Central and South America. The Mayans called it "xtomatl" hence the name tomato. When the Spanish brought the first tomato to Europe it was given the name "pomodoro" (golden apple) and cursed to be poisonous, like some of its relatives in the nightshade family. It was given the botanical name lycopersicum, which means "wolf peach." The Church condemned eating tomatoes as a scandalous and sinful indulgence and banned it. On the other hand, the French admired its sensuous appearance and were enticed by it, believing that the red fruit had aphrodisiac powers, and so called it "pomme d'amour" or love apple. Not until the 1800s did the tomato finally gain broad culinary acceptance in Europe. Today, we probably couldn't imagine anything more scandalous than not having tomatoes as part of our diet.

The crop of tomatoes we are now harvesting was sown in a greenhouse in mid-January and transplanted in the field in March. It takes us over 6 months from planting the seed to finally harvesting the first tomatoes. To extend our harvest into the fall, we add two additional tomato plantings staggered 3 and 6 weeks apart. This is true for many of the 50 or so crops we grow every year; many are planted in succession. Timing, plus adjusting to the variables for each successive crop, is what makes our way of farming uniquely challenging. Successional plantings need to fit natural variables such as soil moisture, temperature, and day length, and synchronize with the timing, field rotations and unique growing habits of each crop variety. Although we are only just starting to harvest our summer bounty of crops, we are already well underway in sowing and planting of fall and winter crops: our winter squash was field sown in June, and will take 100-120 days to mature, so they should be ready sometime in early October; fall and winter leeks were sown in the greenhouse in May and transplanted into the field end of July; other fall crops ready to be planted include the beautiful Romanesco cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and Cabbage. And course popular winter root crops such as parsnips, rutabaga and celeriac (celery root) are being sown now so they have enough time to size up before short cold days stop their growth.
In addition to being patient and flexible regarding "what's in the box," CSA members are often asked to be open to trying new types of vegetables. A couple of years ago, for example, we experimented with a new pepper variety - the Padron pepper,Padrons close-up and were rewarded with a tasty discovery. Now they have become a staple in our annual production, and will be in the shares with regularity. When my family had this season's first roasted Padron Peppers a couple of weeks ago, the kitchen filled with that familiar, tantalizing aroma and everyone came to the table with a smile in anticipation of this yummy treat. Even Elisa munched on them, as if the threat of biting into a hot one was of no concern.

No one has written a more poetic and humorous story about these Padrons than our neighbor-farmer Andy Griffin, of Mariquita Farm. If you love these peppers as much as I do then you owe it to yourself to read his story, "Pardon my Padrons." Andy is always one-up on his fellow organic growers when it comes to experimenting with and selecting unusual and great tasting vegetable varieties. So thanks to Andy, and subsequent requests by CSA members and farmer's market customers, we started growing "Chiles de Padron." The Padrons are said to have been brought to Spain from Mexico by Franciscan monks in the 16th century, where they were then adapted to the soils and climate of Galicia near the town of Padron, after which the Peppers are named. The town of Padron is located near the Atlantic coast, where today they are grown extensively in a climate probably very similar to ours. The people of Padron best describe the character of these peppers in their native Galician as "Os pementos de Padron, uns pican e outros non." (Padron peppers, some are hot and some are not.) Indeed, eating Padron peppers is likened to playing Russian Roulette -- you never know which one you bite into will be burning hot. Debbie offered to include her description of how they are best prepared. So enjoy, but don't forget to have something close by to cool your palate should you encounter a hot one!

- Tom 

How to cook Padron Peppers
Hi everybody, Debbie here! Yes, I'm still around, though probably not as much as Tom would like. ;-) It's okay though, because Taylor, Jason and everybody else at the farm is doing a great job of taking care of you guys (the farm's members, customers and fans) so I'm probably not even missed anymore. [And that's okay too.] You'll feel my presence mostly in the newsletter, either quietly behind the scenes organizing and editing content, or outright - like now, when I contribute something.

Cooking Padron peppers - I have got this dialed in now, and they are so so so delicious prepared this simple way that I never prepare or use them any other way. There are never left-overs.

The best pan for preparing them is a dry cast-iron skillet or comal. I know that from the outset this may deter some of you, so after I've described how I make them I'll offer some alternatives for those of you don't have this kind of cookware.

It is quite simple, really. As usual, it is all about the quality of the ingredients -- of which there are only three: 1) the Padron peppers themselves, 2) a really good quality, flavorful olive oil (I love using Apollo olive oil, but there are lots of good ones out there, and Taylor would probably say I was remiss if I didn't remind you that you can get a good local Valencia Creek olive oil through the web store), and 3) a good, coarse sea salt. Come to think of it, you can also get the wonderful local Monterey Bay Sea Salt through the web store too! Its coarse, faintly moist, crumbly texture is perfect for this. That's what I use.

If you've refrigerated your Padrons, try to remember to bring them to room temperature before cooking; not a deal-breaker, but I think they brown a little more evenly (and quicker) if they're not chilled.

Pick the peppers over and remove any odd bits of schmutz or dirt, if any. (Sometimes there's a brown, papery bit around the base of the stem - vestiges of the old blossom, perhaps?) Leave peppers whole, stems intact. The stems are handy handles to hold them by when eating, so don't cut them off!

Heat your comal or griddle or cast iron skillet dry -- i.e. no oil. The oil in this preparation is for seasoning with afterwards, NOT for cooking. Have a pair of tongs handy, and maybe an oven mitt or similar, because you're going to have some serious heat radiating off your pan. Heat it good and hot (not cherry-red hot; we're not doing "blackened" anything, but if a spritz of water on its surface should dance a quick jig and vanish almost as quickly, then it's ready).

Spread the Padrons in a single layer on the hot skillet (if you have a lot of peppers to prepare, do them in batches; they need to all be in contact with the hot metal). Oft-times the peppers will dance and jiggle just like the water did; fun to watch. After about a minute, start to turn them with your tongs, and keep cooking and turning them every minute or so, until they are mostly browned and blistered (some black spots are fine), and going limp. Remove them to a bowl as you determine they are done (some will cook faster than others).

Once they're all done and in the bowl, drizzle with your good olive oil and toss lightly to coat. You will notice that the heat radiating off the peppers volatilizes the olive oil in the most fabulous way, creating this heady aroma of roasted padron [once you are familiar with the smell, you won't forget it] and olives... it is really something! Now just sprinkle the sea salt over all and call everyone to the table (if they're not already in the kitchen with you, lured there by the smell) and eat them! As Tom says, have something cool standing by in the event you get a hot one, but mostly they are just really, really tasty and not hot at all. I hold them by the stem and bite off and eat everything else, especially if they're small. If they're bigger, I'll take a tentative nibble first, as they're more likely to be hot, but I have found more often than not that size does not matter; sometimes little ones will be hot, and sometimes big ones will not.

Here are some pictures, and below, as promised, alternative cooking methods.

Roasting Padron peppers on a cast iron comal/griddle

I think you will probably have decent success if you use a regular skillet; in this instance I would put a little oil in the pan (not your good stuff!), and go as hot as you can without warping the pan (heat oil until almost smoking, then toss in the peppers). The oil will help give them that surface contact and transfer the heat. Stir/toss often though, and then when done treat them the same as above: transfer to a bowl, drizzle with the good olive oil, sprinkle with the salt.

Do you have a griddle? A griddle would probably work too. Or an electric skillet.

Lastly, although I have not tried it, it seems logical that you could roast them in the oven just like you do other peppers; try a fairly hot oven -- say, 475 degrees C -- and spread them in a single layer in an ovenproof baking dish. Give 'em ten minutes and check in on them. Are they starting to blister? If not, leave them in until they do. You probably want to pull the dish out and turn them once, or at least shake the dish to get them to roll about. Once they are blistered, proceed as above with the olive oil and salt.

Oh yes -- and of course if you should happen to have a wood-fired oven, you can roast them in there!
Roasting Padron peppers in a wood-fired oven

Community Social at Companion Bakeshop
Live Earth Farm and Companion Bakeshop invite you to join us in Santa Cruz for an evening of friendship and generosity, and to enjoy the bounties of oven-fresh bread and farm-fresh produce! We've had a mutually beneficial relationship with Companion for years, offering their fabulous bread to members through our CSA, so we are extremely excited to be celebrating together via this community social and farmer/baker meet and greet. Portions of the proceeds will benefit the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program.

Companion Bakeshop Social

What to expect for the evening? Sample delicious pies, breads and other dishes made with fresh produce from the farm. Mingle with Erin Lampel (the baker), and Tom Broz (the farmer) throughout the evening. Tickets are available for purchase directly at the Bakeshop, online through their website, companionbakeshop.com (site will be updated by Monday night), via fullcirclefundraiser.eventbrite.com, or through the Live Earth Farm Web Store.

Where: at Companion Bakeshop, on the West end of Santa Cruz 2341 Mission Street, Santa Cruz
When: Sunday August 19th
Time: 6:30 - 9pm.
Cost: Tickets are $15/adult or $6/child


An aside from Debbie: I was just mentioning to Taylor that every time I get my weekly loaf (through the CSA), every time I eat a slice -- I never cease to marvel at how truly wonderful Companion's bread is, and how really lucky I am to be able to have access to such an amazing product. Really good bread - especially fresh wood-fired-oven baked, organic, sourdough (Companion is all three) - is a rare and special thing, and Erin makes really good bread. I tell you, if you are a CSA member and a bread person, and do not get a bread option yet, you are missing out. Fortunately I believe you can still add it to your share if you want. You will never look back. 

LEFDP Fundraiser Mark your calendars and get your tickets to the Discovery Program's 4th Annual Fundraising Dinner, "Dig!" - you won't want to miss it!

Take a unique guided tasting "tour" of the fields while noshing on specially made goodies from their bounty and sipping wine from local wineries; following that, there will be an elegant 'en plen air' sit-down, four-course dinner, complete with more wine pairings... and there's sure to be something sumptuous for dessert! And no need to leave the kids at home either: there will be a children's program with pizza-making and games, so you can still relax and enjoy the evening, no babysitter necessary!

When: Saturday September 22nd, 4 - 8pm
Where: at the farm (click for directions)
How Much: $150 per adult; children's program $25 
Why: your donation will directly help support farm visits, transportation costs and garden supplies for the 1500 students who will visit the farm in 2012.
How do I get tickets? You can by them directly from our website by clicking here, or call LEFDP or email Jessica (see below).

for more information:

Not too early to mention upcoming Tomato U-Pick
Few words, mostly pictures - mark your calendar for Saturday August 25th - the long awaited Tomato U-Pick! Will provide more detail in the next newsletter (two weeks from now/the week of the u-pick), but wanted to give everyone a heads-up. If it is anything like last year, Tom will probably have more than one u-pick, so don't despair if you can't make it on the 25th.

Scene from last year's Tomato U-PIck  
Rebecca's Recipes
Click here to go to Debbie's recipe database. Rebecca's recipes will be included in the database as well. [What happened to "Notes from Debbie's Kitchen?"]  


[email Rebecca]

[Rebecca Mastoris is a chef/teacher at Bauman College, and a partner in Vibrant Foods Catering along with Karen Haralson. Both Karen and Rebecca teach cooking classes at the farm and in town locally - see our 2012 Calendar, below.]
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Serves 6
Braising is a great technique for infusing greens and vegetables with flavor. Braising cabbage brings out its natural sweetness. Apple cider vinegar adds brightness to the dish and aids in digestion.

3 lbs. cabbage
2  tablespoons butter
1  onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, to taste
1/2 cup mint, chiffonade (cut into ribbons)

1. Cut the cabbage into quarters and cut out the core. Chop into 1 inch pieces.
2. Heat a large wide pan over medium heat. Add the butter, onion, carrot, and cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes, or until onions are translucent.
3. Add stock and vinegar. Bring to a boil then turn heat down to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook until almost all the liquid is cooked, about 45 minutes. Season again if necessary.
4. Remove to a platter and garnish with mint.

Serves 6

1 pound cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed oregano leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon oil of choice
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1.Combine the cabbage, carrot, onion, and herbs in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt  and seet aside.
2. Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add mustard, honey, vinegar, and paprika and stir to combine. Stir in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Taste to adjust.
3. Pour warm dressing over vegetables and mix well.

Serves 4-6

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup teaspoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup pecans
1 1/2 pounds green beans
3 ounces blue cheese

1. in a large bowl whisk together mustard, vinegar, shallot, and 1 tablespoon oil to make the dressing.
2. In a small heavy skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over high heat until hot but not smoking and saute pecans with salt to taste, stirring frequently, until a shade darker, about 1 minute. Transfer nuts to paper towels to drain and cool. Coarsely chop nuts.
3. Have ready a bowl of ice water. In a large saucepan of boiling, salted water blanch the green beans until just tender, about 3 minutes, and drain to a colander. Transfer beans to ice water, stirring until just cool. Drain beans well and add to dressing. Crumble blue cheese over beans and gently toss with half of nuts and  salt and pepper to taste. Serve beans at room temperature topped with the remaining nuts.

Serves 4-6

2 pounds spinach, rinsed well
2 teaspoons golden raisins
freshly ground nutmeg to taste (remember nutmeg is strong, so start out with a small amount - you can always add more)
sea salt and pepper to taste
4-5 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)

1. Cook spinach in a large pan with just the water that clings to the leaves for about 6-8 minutes until just tender then finely chop.
2. Mix in raisins, nutmeg and seasoning, then pile on to a serving platter, and pour the cream over the top. Serve at once.

Serves 8
This stewed green bean dish is slow cooked to allow all the flavors to gently marry. If you prefer your green beans crisp-tender, reduce the simmering time by half. Serve  as a main dish by adding toasted, chopped almonds and a bulghur pilaf.

1/8 cup olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved
1/4 teaspoon allspice, ground
1/4-1/2 teaspoon pepper
sea salt to taste
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, optional
1/4 cup chopped almonds for garnish, optional

1. Saute the onions and garlic in a skillet with the olive oil until onions are golden.
2. Mix in tomatoes and green beans, add the spices and continue to saute for 5 minutes more.
3. Stir in the water and optional sugar, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes until the beans are very tender. Remember if you like tender-crisp beans reduce the cooking time. If you want a thicker sauce, reduce the amount of water. Check for desired consistency while beans are cooking.
4. Garnish with chopped almonds.

Serves 4-6
This recipe comes from the people at Terra Firma Farms - I changed it up a bit by adding spinach and arugula for a nice twist. You can omit the anchovies to make it vegetarian.

1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
sea salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound potatoes
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 anchovy filets, mashed
6-8 nicoise or other good olives, pitted and chopped
red wine vinegar to taste
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1/2 bunch spinach, washed and dried
1/2 bunch arugula, washed and dried

1. Place tomatoes in a bowl and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. When tomatoes have released their juices, after about 10 minutes, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the potatoes until just tender enough to stick a sharp knife into them easily, about 10 minutes.
3. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl of cold water, reserving the cooking liquid. When the potatoes are cool, cut the into half-rounds.
4. Refill the bowl with ice water. Place the green beans in the reserved  cooking liquid from the potatoes and cook until they turn bright green, 3-4 minutes. Transfer beans to the cold water bath. When cool, drain and pat dry and cut into 2-3 pieces.
5. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into skillet. Add the garlic and anchovies, and cook until the garlic is soft, but not brown, about 1 minute.
6. Place the potatoes and green beans in a large bowl; add the garlic-anchovy mixture, and toss to coat. Add the tomatoes with their juices and olives. Add salt and red wine vinegar to taste.
7. Just before serving, mix the arugula and spinach in a large bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar - just enough to lightly coat. Place the greens on a platter and top with the the salad mixture.Garnish with the eggs.

Serves 4
I found this recipe in an old cookbook entitled "Menus A Trois, 1987" so I thought I would share another strawberry soup recipe.

1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup Bordeaux
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 quart strawberries, hulled, washed, and pureed (save 2 whole berries)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons sour cream

1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan, and boil them uncovered over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add strawberry puree, and boil for ann additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Skim off any foam.
3. Cool and chill soup in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or until it is completely chilled.
4. Prior to serving, whip the cream, and combine it with the sour cream.
5. Fold the cream mixture into the chilled strawberry soup.
6. Garnish each serving with half a strawberry.

Calendar2012 2012 CALENDAR
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!

LEF Discovery Program 4th Annual Fundraiser - "Dig!"
Sept 22nd, 4 - 8pm - click here for more info and to buy tickets

LEF Discovery Program "Wee Ones"
3rd Tuesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon [Apr-Nov, weather permitting]
($10 - $15 per family)
Mothers, fathers, grandparents, caretakers of any kind... bring the babe in your arms [0-3yrs] 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, and the many wild members of the Pajaro watershed. RSVP requested.

LEFDP office: (831) 728-2032 or email lefeducation@baymoon.com.

New! LEF Discovery Program "Small Farmers" 
2nd Wednesday of every month, 10:30am - Noon [Apr-Nov, weather permitting]
($10 - $15 per family)
Similar to our Wee Ones program, above, only designed for 3-6 year olds. 

LEF Discovery Program "Art at the Farm" Summer Camp!
Enroll your child in an art and adventure-filled week-long day camp at Live Earth Farm. Designed for kids age 6-12 yrs. Is your child 13 or older yet interested in getting involved? They may be a candidate for becoming a Leader in Training! Click here for all camp details on our website. (note that if Firefox is your browser, this link behaves oddly and you may need to scroll up on the page to locate the 'Art on the Farm' details.)
Session 1: June 18-22
Session 2: July 16-20

Community Farm Days and Events

We've set aside the dates (so you should too!), and will fill you in on what we're going to do as their time draws nearer. Stay tuned!

Apr 28 - cancelled
May 26 - Strawberries!
July 28 - From Seed to Loaf
Aug 25 - Totally Tomatoes
Sep 29 - TBA    



As anyone who's attended them in the past will tell you, our farm celebrations are not to be missed! Chock full of activities, farm tours, music, always a pot-luck and bonfire... bring the entire family and enjoy!

<> June 16 - Summer Solstice Celebration (click here for a youtube video of 2009's!)
<> October 20 - Fall Harvest Celebration

Happy Girl Kitchen Workshops at LEF

All workshops include an organic lunch, as well as take-home items from what is made that day -- these workshops are not to be missed!

Apr 15 - Cheesemaking
May 20 - Whole Foods workshop with Stephanie Stein
Jun 9 [Sat] - Cherries & Apricots
Jun 10 [Sun] - Cherries & Apricots    

Jul 28 [Sat] - Pickles!
Jul 29 [Sun] - Pickles!
Aug 11 [Sat] - Tomatoes!
Aug 12 [Sun] - Tomatoes!    


"Cooking-from-your-box" classes in Los Gatos

Join chefs and CSA members Rebecca Mastoris and Karen Haralson on the last Sunday of each month at Williams-Sonoma in Los Gatos for this fun and informative session on making great food from what comes in your Live Earth Farm CSA box. For info about the latest class, see "Upcoming Events" on Karen and Rebecca's Vibrant Food Catering website.


Contact Information
Farm/CSA Office phone: (831) 763-2448
LEF Discovery Program Office phone: (831) 728-2032
(This newsletter is edited and organized by Debbie Palmer, former LEF CSA coordinator.)