This Weeks Box 4/23/2015

permaculture class

josh presents 2

It was a privilege for us at the ranch to host one weekend of the permaculture design course by Josh Robinson from the San Diego Sustainable living Institute. Josh is a dynamic and extremely knowledgeable teacher of practical ways to make simple, daily changes that promote a more harmonious balance between humans and the earth.
Find out more about the Sustainable living institute here

The list

brown onions
more of those amazing gold nugget tangerines
passion fruit
big bag of lettuce
a few sprigs of mint
2 broccoli heads
green onions
small haas avocado

Spicy Linguini With Swiss Chard and Mint Pesto

Passion Fruit And Lime Vinaigrette This one is easy. Just whisk it up and keep it in a bottle in the fridge for a few weeks!

  • ½ cup key lime juice (about 12 small fresh key limes or use bottled key lime juice)
  • 1 cup passion fruit nectar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup clover honey
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • ¼ tsp black pepper or to taste

Celery Salad With Feta And Mint

Avocado And Tangerine Salad With Jalapeno Vinaigrette

Pan Cooked Celery With Tomato And Parsley






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This Weeks Box 4/11/2015

The List

baby carrots
russet potatoes
bag of mixed salad greenslimes
bunch of lavender sage and mint
persian cucumbers
small head of cabbage

Looking back, this weeks box seems to be lacking the crowd pleasers that our last few boxes had. After the honey, the avocados, the snap peas and tomatoes, I am looking at this weeks box and I am feeling just a little bit bored.  But hey, that’s what CSA is about sometimes right? I got a call from our neighbor across the street. He says the golden nugget tangerines are ready for us to pick. In order to remember these gems, you need to have been a member for over two years because Toby’s trees did not produce last year. So it has been a while since we had these. I really think these are the best little orange fruit candies I ever had. Also, I am spying about a case worth of avocados in the lower orchard. And I am feeling like my week will not be complete if I do not get up there and get those little guys. So if all goes well, we should have some amazing avocados and gold nugget tangerines in our box next week.

So, I want to talk about tomatoes. Before I do. I want to re post this image from two summers ago.

tomato truck-2

This is the image I am holding in my mind and heart for this summer. As many of you know, It was a rough year for tomatoes. We were completely unprepared for the deer invasion that ensued last year. Within a matter of days, we lost the majority of our planting of tomatoes. I remember sharing about Rachel, Tocayo and I actually camping out at night in the gardens until the fences could be raised. Unfortunately, the later plantings did not bring us the bounty that most of us were used too. This year, we are taking better precautions. And it is likely that we may actually end up with more tomatoes than our small group of workers and volunteers can keep up with. I so look forward to those kind of challenges.

I hope I am not coming off too negative with my post this week. I know that I usually prefer to share the part of farming and community that fills my heart and soul. But I feel like it is unfair to you guys to not share some of the real things that go on inside me too. Especially those of you who have stuck with us through thick and thin, year in and year out. It is obvious that my weekly writing is not the only reason why you have stuck with the CSA for so long. So I guess I do not need to be so worried about it then. I recently started doing some roof construction again. Not because I do not want to farm anymore. But because I want to keep farming. It is crazy. I spend 8-10 hours on a roof in east county and all I can think about is hurrying back home so that I can farm until sunset. It is definitely forcing me to manage my time better. And with the extra money, I feel like we can take care of some of the infrastructure issues that have been going unattended. So, things are definitely happening and changing. And I think that in the end, it is better for the farm.

Someone wrote that a farmer has two good years. His first year. And next year. This quote is painfully funny to me. Because I know it is true. And I do not care. I plant to farm next year and the year after that. And the year after that. I swear that this summer is going to be the best tomato season anyone has ever seen. I believe it. I can see it. And it makes me want to get up in the morning at 5 am. And no one can take that belief away from me. Have you ever laughed and cried at the same time? Well it is not that bad actually. It beets being boring!

A farmer that I really look up to wrote something about what I am talking about. Here it is…

Why I Farm

The following essay by Farmer John is reprinted from the Farm News: Week 11, September 10, 1994

I’ve written plenty in the last few weeks about the obstacles in farming – the decay of buildings, the unreliability of help, the capriciousness of weather, the uncertainty of bugs and blights, the financial horrors. So, do you wonder why I farm, why anyone would farm? It’s kind of hard to say…

Our neighbor showed up this week and said, “I got the arthritis bad, but why wouldn’t I after 30 years of beating up this body – broken bones all over. Broke my ribs twelve times working with those cows, broke both ankles, dislocated my shoulder, had to milk with one arm in the air. Whatcha’ gonna do? Cows gotta be milked. Couldn’t get any help. We offered sometimes up to ten dollars an hour, and we couldn’t get kids to show up more than two days. You gotta get the cows milked. It just got so I did it myself – didn’t care what was busted.”

Our neighbor didn’t say exactly why he farmed; it’s just not farmerly to talk about such things out here. But I noticed in his speaking that there was something he liked very much about farming, or he wouldn’t be doing it.

Another farm family nearby is legendary for getting their crops in first. They move fast, all ages, in a spritz of tobacco juice and beer. Even the 80 year old grandpa, his hip smashed by a bull, races to the barn at 5 in the morning. Several of them are missing toes and fingers from machinery accidents. The last finger the family lost didn’t even stop the haying.

It’s hard to explain just what causes a person to stay in such a life. For me, as I miraculously type with all ten digits, I think about when I suddenly went from a fleet of cars and trucks and an arsenal of machinery down to nothing in the early eighties.

My boots were worn out, and I didn’t have the money for another pair. My mother bought me boots. I will forever remember the exquisite sensation of walking what was left of this farm, secure in my shiny rubber boots, feeling somehow that those boots had restored me to the land. The land has a feel underfoot that melts me to it.

And then there’s the smell – our machine shed has a smell of eternity, a musty ancient fragrance from before my birth and into the hereafter. There’s the rhythm – the barn door opens and closes; the swallows return; the brome grass swishes.

On NPR, Susan Stanberg interviewed a Mayan girl in the Yucatan Peninsula (through a translator). She wanted to know why the girl weaved all day long. The girl didn’t answer to Susan’s satisfaction, so Susan persisted.

“Is it because you can sell your weavings for money?”


“Do you weave because your ancestors weaved and it’s a way to stay connected to your people?”


“Do you weave because you love the rhythm and the patterns of weaving?”


“Why do you weave, then?”

“I just weave.”

I don’t stay on this farm because brome grass swishes; that’s a fringe benefit. The closest I can describe my bond to farming is a shudder I get, an irrepressible vibration when it’s time to work the fields. I can be eating, sleeping, or having a great conversation, and when the time is right to plow or plant my body registers some mysterious sensation, an irresistible beckoning. My legs take me to the work, put me on the tractor; I am all surrender. And the joy of pushing dirt around, the ecstasy of spraying potentized silica, the thrill of organizing little dots of green into straight lines on bare soil – these invoke in me a subtle delirium.

For two years I toured rural Illinois with a play I wrote about a farm family losing its land. Audiences wept and laughed. Once an old man caught up to me backstage. He said, “Let me tell you how to farm. There’s only one way. You farm ’til you’re down to your last nickel. And then you keep farming until the nickel’s gone.”

Like a drug, the land can lure a person into destitution. It can overshadow ones love for others. The land can embolden, exhaust, ennoble. It can nurture, destroy, sustain.

I don’t know why I farm.

I just farm.

One more thing. We have a date for the spring CSA member work party. It is going to be Saturday May 23rd. From 9 to 11:30 and a potluck afterward. If you have never been to the ranch, this will be the time to come. Nothing beats the majestic beauty of Blue Sky Ranch in spring. We will post more details about the work part next weekk. Mark your calender!

Cabbage Carrot Potato Soup

In case you did not know, arugula is not just for salad. 20 Arugula Recipes

There are a lot of “herbed” lemonade recipes out there. An easy one is two lemons squeezed into a quart container. Bruise the heck out of one sprig of mint, sage and lavender. Put the bruised herb in the container and then squeeze in a little agave syrup. Fill the rest of the container with water. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours.



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Potatoes seeds move into their new home. Putting in some purples, reds and fingerlings.

Hey everyone. If you have not gotten a tour yet, now is the time to do it. I cannot put it into language this morning. I will just say that I never knew there could be so much life in one place. It is a real blessing to get to wake up to this ever day. I am not sure what I did to deserve this. But I will take it. We are all happy to share it with you any way we can. Just let us know.

Here is the list
big bunch of sweet baby carrots
passion fruit
small bag of arugula
bag of sugar snap peas
head of green cabbage
red potatoes
baby beets
bag of lettuce mix
pink lemons
persian cucumbers
small container of local avocado honey

We are looking at Saturday May 13 or 20th to have our spring volunteer and member work party here at the ranch. We will narrow it down next week. And give you all the details. It is going to be great. These quarterly events are one of my favorite things to be a part of. If you want to really experience the life and fertility of the ranch, the spring work party is the thing to do. Yah spring!

So I am strolling through the produce section (yes farmers shop too). And I just about fell over. 2 bucks for a passion fruit?! And they were tiny. Smaller than a kiwi. That is nothing though. Compared to the bunch of basil for 6.99. Seriously.

Cole Slaw

  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 2 large or 3 small sweet carrots peeled
  • 3/4 cup nuts soaked
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon pink lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons avocado honey
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
  • Squeeze in half an orange citrus

I love it. It is a website called “Eat Your Beets . Com” Check out their recipe for Citrus and Honey Roasted Beets

Carrot Hummus Recipe

I got an idea. make some carrot hummus. dip your snap peas in it! Is that even legal?

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This Weeks Box 3/13/2015

Here is the list!
sweet young carrots
green onions
snap peas
persian cucumber
salad mix
fuerte avocado

csa box
Here is this weeks box. Minus the lemons and  tangelos
snap peasWall “O” snap peas. Yeah! they taste awesome.
A look inside Fuerte.


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This weeks box 3/7/2015

Here is the list

Two broccoli heads
2 Fuerte avocados
A few turnips
One or two beets
Purple cabbage
Baby bok choy
Navel oranges
Young chard or kale
Lettuce and spinach mix
Green onions

About half of us got chard. And the other half got kale this week. I want to mention that this is not just any chard and kale. Both of these items were “first harvest”. See, kale and chard are come again plants. We do not pull the whole thing up when we harvest. We just pick a few of the outer leaves off each plant in a row, until we have enough for a bunch. In cool weather, chard or kale can last months being picked on a weekly basis. What is special about the first harvest is that the particular plant is brand new and is the tenderest and mildest in flavor that it is ever going to be. Think of it like chard or kale veal! Take a moment to be present to what these greens have to offer this week. It is always nice to reconnect on a slightly deeper level. This would be a good time to do that

Beet chips are easy. And totally worth the effort. My favorite recipe uses pretty much the same recipe as this one, except I prefer coconut oil if I have it. And fried in an iron skillet. The recipe above works nicely though.

Easy Baked Rosemary Beet Chips! Fast, healthy and SO simple. #vegan #glutenfree
Grilled Baby Bok Choy

What is the difference between a Fuerte and a Haas avocado? Not much as far as flavor and creaminess goes. Fuerte used to be the avocado industry standard for decades. Until the Haas was finally adopted as the number one for it’s thick skin, which made it a better candidate for long distance shipping.

Did you know San Diego County, which produces 60 percent of all California Avocados, is the acknowledged avocado capital of the nation? Ever driven by Avocado blvd in El Cajon? How about Fuerte Dr? I recently discovered that Calavo dr in La Mesa was named that because the headquarters for the California Avocado Comission was right on that street. Sorry to be a nerd. But I love this history stuff.

Tasty Turnip Fries


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This Weeks Box 2/21/2015

2:21:15:csa box
Good Morning!

bunch of arugula
passion fruit
multi color beets with nice greens
rainbow chard
pink lemonade lemons
haas avocado
handful of late season tomatoes
rainbow carrots
big Yukon potato
green onions
brown onion
big bag of spinach
bag of cut lettuce

We are pretty stoked to offer a handful of tomatoes in each box this week. These have been maturing on some of last years vines that we never got around to pulling. They are very out of season, so I will be the first to say that thee texture and flavor are not all A-plus quality that we are used to in tomatoes. But they are local, they are organic. And they are better than anything in the store. I hope you find something special to use them in!

Kale Potato and Onion Fritata
Potato Kale and Onion Soup

Recipe for vegan spinach dip
Vegan Spinach Dip
Spinach and Arugula Salad with Orange

Lentils with Roasted Beets and Carrots recipe




















 Lentils With Roasted Beets and Carrots

CSA Delivery Co Pilot
This CSA Delivery Co-Pilot Never Complains. Even When We start at 5 AM.

Vic and Toc




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This Weeks Box 1/31/2015

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It was a beautiful day for the CSA volunteer work party two weeks ago. Welcome to all who were new to this quarterly event. Alec, Brooke, Rachel, Ethan, Donna, Photine and Kevin!  Thank You Nate. For helping facilitate the learning component of the day.  And for sharing your broccoli babies with everyone. Thanks Allyson, Kurt and Stacy for all your extra help. And to Ingrid  for sharing with us your amazing story as founder of this land where we farm, that is Blue Sky Ranch.

The next volunteer/ member work party is a couple months away. Hope to see you there!


The list

small bag of spinach
green onions
bag of romaine inner leaves
small head of lettuce
2 fuerte avocados
naval oranges
meyers lemons
bunch of cilantro
bag of tender young broccoli shoots.

I have mixed feelings about this box . It is a light box. It does not weigh much. Things like onions, potatoes and beets really add weight to a box. We did not have any of those things this week. Aside from the fact that I almost hit my chin with the first box I picked up after packing them, I particularly love some of the foods we are eating this week.

I think this young broccoli is out of this world. You really cannot mess this stuff up unless you overcook it.

These carrots do not get any better. In the last 10 months, I think these are the best carrots we have had. Not too small, not to old. Just perfect.

And the Fuertes. You really cannot get Fuerte avocados at the store anymore. Take a leaf out of the bag of spinach and pop it in your mouth. Notice how it starts out nutty, then gets sweeter as you chew. Truly, this particular variety of spinach has one of the most complex and delicious flavors in any green leaf I have ever tasted. It is called Bloomsdale. And it is an heirloom. It makes 3 times less leaves than commercial varieties. And it makes store bought spinach taste like wet paper. Ohh! and these oranges. Forget about it! Just sniff one. Forget about it!

Photo: Djamel Dine Zitout

Roasted Carrot and Orange Avocado Salad with Cilantro

Pasta with Spinach and Walnut Pesto

Charred Broccoli and Avocado


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