This Weeks Box 5/27/2012

bobcat at eucs
The name wildcat canyon is all finally starting to make sense now babybob
The youngster closebabybob
And a close up.

Okay! Now, back to food.
Here is what we are eating this week.
multi colored carrots
summer squash
bag of lettuce
spring onions
red and purple potatoes. “right from the ground”
large cantaloup
oranges
cucumber
meyers lemons
a few limes.
haas avocados

From time to time, I like to make an announcement about how we box our food for you. We call it field washed. We give the veggies a rinse right after pulling them out of the ground. This knocks off the field heat and cools them down. It cleans them off mostly. And it helps keep them from wilting while they are in the CSA box. Any further processing and cleaning would take significant man hours. And most of our customers have always agreed that they would prefer that we spend our time farming. Thanks for understanding!

Potato salad “hold the mayo”

peach salsaAvocado peach salsa

5 Tips for getting more out of your CSA Box by Kate Mcdonough. Author of “The City Cook” The first time I purchased a CSA membership I smugly congratulated myself for a case of culinary doing good while doing well. I could feel good about supporting a local farmer because by pre-paying for my fruits and vegetables the farmer got income early. And I’d do well because every week I’d get really wonderful ingredients. While both of these were true, once the season started I got humbled. I hadn’t anticipated the challenge of planning meals around what the farmer harvested instead of what I wanted to cook. Or how to work with a share’s uneven quantities (Parsley? Again? And what am I supposed to do with only these two small beets?). And having to spend more of my grocery budget filling in the ingredient gaps for essentials like onions or garlic. And then there was the boredom: weeks of zucchini and yellow squash when what I really wanted was red peppers and tomatoes. CSA newbies can get discouraged by expecting the same food we’d buy at the farmer’s market but delivered in a different way, only to find that it’s more like having to cook from what we grow in our back yards. Certainly for the urban home cook who has never grown a potted tomato plant, this is a radical concept. But we shouldn’t give up nor feel enslaved to a box of vegetables. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to enjoy cooking from a CSA share: 1. Most of us usually plan a menu, sketch a shopping list, and then buy our groceries. That’s because we cook from the recipe, not from its ingredients. With CSA cooking we need to start from the opposite direction, planning your meals after you pick up your share. At first this can seem limiting and even annoying. But all it really means is cooking with what’s in season, and it’s a good habit to have even without a CSA share. 2. View a week’s fruits and vegetables in both major and minor recipe roles. For example, one of the most common CSA complaints is that shares include lots of lettuce; more than you can eat before it rots. That’s easy to happen if we only use lettuce in a salad. But if you add it to pea and lettuce soup, or make lettuce wraps, or add it to stir fries, you can quickly use up that lettuce. Likewise that other CSA bounty: zucchini. Use it with pasta or in risotto, in gratins and lasagna, shredded into fritters, in a sweet tea bread, or in soup. One of my favorite uses for the uniquely tender and sweet zucchini that comes in my CSA is raw in a simple salad with curls of Parmesan and a squeeze of lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil, served in a way that Italians call zucchini carpaccio. 3. If you get something in small amounts, treat it as a kind of garnish. For example, those two small beets can be cooked and cut into matchsticks and tossed with a salad. Or store them carefully because next week you may get more, as often a crop will arrive gradually and the first time you get a little of something may be a prediction of more to come. Be supple. 4. Freezing and canning can be a solution but unless you have a huge freezer or lots of storage space for all those glass jars, think about which ingredients make sense to preserve. Plus if you’re going through all the effort of pickling and canning, you may need to buy more of an ingredient than your share will provide as I found to be the case with both strawberries and sour cherries. Also you can freeze foods both raw or after they’re cooked. For example, that overload of zucchini can be shredded and frozen, but it may be a better idea to make zucchini and rice soup or loaves of zucchini bread and freeze those instead. Being used to buying my produce in more “normal” amounts, I wasn’t prepared for my share’s uneven quantities, from tiny to huge. But it’s the harvest that determines how much you get. So your week’s share may include beautiful basil, but not enough to make a full portion of pesto. That means you need another use for those two stems of fragrant green leaves, such as adding them to Caprese salad with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Or else make your pesto by supplementing your CSA basil with more bought from the farmer’s market. Be ready for your share to increase as the summer goes on. At the start of most CSAs, the first deliveries can seem skimpy. But by the end of the harvest, things will be coming at you in full force and you’ll go from one shopping bag to three. This may be the best time to do your freezing and canning. 5. A final choice: give it away and share. Make jars of red pepper jelly, bake a spicy pumpkin bread, or share some cold borscht made with golden beets and a sprig of CSA dill. Or simply hand over your eggplant overflow; its amazing flavor just may inspire a future CSA member.

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This Weeks Box 6/6/2016

The list

carrots
2 heads of lettuce
large leek
cilantro
large haas avocado
bag of salad mix
persian cucumbers
limes
chard
mixed squash
oranges
lemons
small fennel head

fennel

To me, leeks and fennel exist in a small aristocratic class of the vegetable world. Like royalty, it takes considerable time and attention to raise them properly. When done right though, They are unmistakeably complex in their flavor and aroma. They have an inherent ability to round out and deepen the flavors of other aromatic vegetables if not overused. Yet they can be flexible and quite versatile and can partner with a variety of different foods.

First, I will share my favorite way to get these regal delights into my own belly. And then I will put up some links to recipes I have either already done. Or want to do.

Roasting is my favorite way for both of these vegetables. When I roast leeks or fennel, I always look to see if I have some onions and cabbage that I can wedge and roast along with them. I recently had both fennel and leeks with turnips, onion and cabbage wedges altogether. I used a few tablespoons of coconut oil and a spoonful of butter in the roasting pan. Drizzled a little honey and balsamic vinegar over the top. Sprinkled some fresh basil, peppercorns and parmesan. Lastly, stuffed some medjool dates evenly throughout the pan.
Cover tightly with foil. And bake for 2 1/2 hours at 275 degrees. Come back. Peel the foil off. Sprinkle a little more parmesan and roast on the top rack in order to caramelize the tops of the veggies and make the cheese crispy. I find that hese roasted veggies go well with a rice pilaf. Rissoto or couscous.

The reason I like this soup recipe for fennel and leeks is because it calls for a pur’ee and to use the fronds as garnish. And since the fennel bulbs are pretty small, this recipe allows you to use the stems in the soup as well as the small bulb since they get saute’d and blended anyway.

Here is a recipe from a woman who used chard, fennel and leek from her CSA to make risotto.

And lastly…leek fennel and swiss chard tart from “The Four Seasons”

squash blossoms

Squash blossoms are on their way. And so are those little micro squash. We have 5 variety of squash about to come on the scene. As the squash plants move into production. We pick them almost daily. Because we prefer to harvest them super small with the blossom still in tact and attached. The smaller squash are more tender and nutty tasting. Plus, we try to put enough that you can make a handfull of stuffed squash blossoms on the side. So, starting next week, you will see more and smaller squash with their flowers on.

potatoes111

Well. Here is our last and final shot of the potato foliage. No more space between the rows. Just a sea of green with 4 different color blossoms.  I say this is our last shot of the foliage, because soon the leaves will start to die back in order to give the last of the plants nutrients to the tubers underground.

The potatoes underground are mature enough that we will do a small harvest next week so that everyone can experience the flavor and texture of new potatoes right from the garden.

speckled trout

A couple stars of the box this week. Speckled Trout lettuce. Go ahead and splurge on the expensive salad dressing this week. Or make something special with the ingredients of the box this week. Cuz lettuce is abundant in the boxes lately.

avocado cilantro lime dressing

Lastly…All hail to the brave and intrepid volunteers and members who refused to take notice of the rainy weather and showed up to our quarterly work party. Here is some images that some of you regular work party goers might appreciate.

wpdt

Anyone remember this work party?

wp1

Or this one?

cale44

Well. Great job guys. Cuz check out the results of your work!

wp99

And here we are closing the circle. Harvesting the flowers of our labor. So cool!

cb

Just a random crazy beautiful day at the ranch

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This Weeks Box May 23 2015

cap

Here is the list

baby carrots
celery
pink lemons
white rose potatoes
green onions
head of lettuce
1 zucchini
mandarins
2 avocados
large cucumber
brown onion
fresh oregano
1 small jicama

There is no rain scheduled  for The Spring CSA Member and Volunteer Work Party tomorrow morning!!  Looks like we will be doing some potato planting. And potato hilling. We will meet up at 9am under the pine tree next to the produce shack where everyone picks up. There will be a couple hours of moderate work for us. This will give us all an opportunity to learn, socialize and get our hands into the earth where this amazingly vibrant food is created. We will wrap up under the pine tree again. And then we will have light potluck snacks and beverages before moving on with our weekend. Please RSVP
Here are some directions to the meeting spot on the ranch.

TocPib
Mr Pib and Tocayo take a dirt nap after a bout of fierce playing

Jicama..the next superfood?

This slightly sweet and crunchy root vegetable may lack the marketing budgets of acai and coconut juice, but it acts as a prebiotic to promote “friendly” bacteria in the gut. Plus it is said to boost collagen and fight wrinkles.

Rich in vitamin C and minerals, jicama, also known as Mexican yam or water chestnut, can be cooked, mashed, or baked, or served raw in slaws, salads, and stir-fries, after you peel its thick skin.

While predictions are swirling that jicama will soon take an honorary place alongside carrots and kale, at this point you’re still likely only to find the vegetable at farmers’ markets, in a CSA or Mexican grocery store.

Jicama, like Jerusalem artichokes, is a source of inulin, a prebiotic that can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Munching on jicama might also boost the look of your skin, thanks to its vitamin C content (one cup of raw jicama slices provides more than 24 mg of vitamin C). Eating vitamin C-rich foods can increase collagen production, which can help improve skin texture, speed wound healing, and give you a healthy glow.


Spicy Jicama Fries

Cucumber Mango Avocado Bruschetta

So, here is my suggested adjustment for the above recipe. Just sub the mango for peach. An add jicama.

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This Weeks Box 5/8/2015

csa box may
Nice looking boxes this morning. We harvested everything yesterday and into the evening. It was still raining when we were done, so we just left all the vegetables out on the packing tables. I swear, they looked better and more alive this morning than yesterday, right after picking them. Something magical truly happens when rain kisses vegetables all night. I left a large bunch of cut calendula flowers on its side on the table outside. By this morning, each little flower head had turned 180 degrees to face the rising sun. This was a poignant reminder for me about how lucky we are to be eating food that is still alive. Keep that in mind as you sprinkle some calendula flowers on your salad or in your kale today. We are part of something special here. And each one of your participation is making it happen. And the best part is that the plants themselves are in kahoots with our intention to be more healthy and sustainable. Just ask the calendula. She’ll tell you.

The List

large cucumber
zucchini
carrots
edible calendula flowers
a few small early peaches
salad mix and a few small heads of lettuce too
a few tasty radishes Give these a try. Even if you are not a radish fan
bag “o” kale
beets with greens
naval oranges
small avocados
fresh oregano and rosemary
a few green onions
red and white potatoes
mandarins
limes

bw
Just another reminder that life can show up anywhere at anytime. Even an old pair of shoes in a shed can take on a whole new significance.

What Can I Expect To See In My Box In The Near Future?

Thanks for asking this question Paula. It has been a while since we gave an update. Well, the very next new thing will be fennel. Probably next week. Apricots and Mulberries are about three weeks away. Heirloom tomatoes are growing nicely, but we have never kicked off tomato season until after the fourth of July, so those are still a couple months away. patty pan, gold zucchini and crookneck squash are about three to 4 weeks out. Lemon cucumbers and Armenian cucumbers are about a month out. Pepper plants are just going in the ground. They will start producing after a month. We have a lot of sweet frying varieties that I am excited to try this year. Then there are the melons. Lot’s of them. Cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew and more. The melons, the Butternut, Hubbard and Spaghetti squash are all just coming up in the seed trays. So, they are at least a couple months off.

pomegranate may
Here is one that will not be ready til October. But you gotta love how the flower of a pomegranate turns right into the fruit it is becoming.

potatoes
This image was kind of grainy. But I just had to show you guys the progress on our specialty potato patch from just a little over a month ago. For those of you who have never seen potatoes grow, those are the leaves. And the potatoes are growing in the mounds below.

IMG_0498
Here is that same patch on planting day..march 28th. Cannot wait to fry up some of those purples and fingerlings!!

We also went big on echinacea this year. We are trying a few different medicinals that we are hoping to provide for our local herbalists on a consistent basis, For now, nettles, elderflower, calendula and echinacea are the top contenders. If you are interested in hearing more about our medicinal herbs and products. Send us an email. We would be happy to talk to you about it.

Caldo Verde (“green soup”) is a classic Portuguese dish that combines kale with potatoes and sausage. This recippe is modified from Savoring Spain & Portugal cookbook.
Caldo Verde / Green Soup

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups of chopped kale
2 links of chicken chorizo sausage
4 cups chicken stock
2 Tbs. fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the chopped onions in olive oil until they’re soft. Add minced garlic and potato pieces; cook for a couple minutes and then add the chicken stock. Let this cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes can be broken with a fork. In a separate pan, cook the sausage. When the potato mixture is cooked, add the sausage bits and heat through. Add the chopped kale and turn off the heat. Season to taste and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy it with a good crusty bread!

Cucumber Carot Relish

Beet Carrot Cucumber Juice and Salad Combo

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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 http://sdsustainable.org/about-us/who-we-are/

The list

carrots
brown onions
more of those amazing gold nugget tangerines
lemons
celery
limes
passion fruit
big bag of lettuce
arugula
a few sprigs of mint
2 broccoli heads
green onions
chard
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
chard
tangelo
bunch of lavender sage and mint
persian cucumbers
arugula
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?”

“No.”

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

“Huh?”

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

“No.”

“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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IMG_0498
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
chard
small bag of arugula
bag of sugar snap peas
head of green cabbage
red potatoes
baby beets
bag of lettuce mix
mandarins
tangelos
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!

passion
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?
http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/easy-family-recipes/carrot-hummus-recipe

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