This Weeks CSA 9-23-2016

The balanced and illustrious, effortlessly coordinated and heartbreakingly harmonious sky of the new fall. All it takes is a sleep and a morrow for her brush to not only remove any evidence of summer, but completely erase him from memory. As if there never even was.

Here is what we are eating this weekend

Lots of tomatoes
Cucumber
Summer Squash
Bouqet of three herbs…Dill, Basil and Chocolate mint.
Large bunch of Chard
Pomegranate
Bag of mixed salad greens
Bag of jalapenos
Bell Peppers
Red grapefruit
Lime
Valencia orange
Honey crisp apple
Handful of eggs

They eat what we eat. And we eat what they eat. We have only had these birds since March 6th. And I am just beginning to understand the circle of life dance we are participating in here. They eat what we eat. Literally. They eat everything you see coming in the boxes plus more. Oversized zucchini or cucumbers? Give it to the girls. Leafy greens with holes or bugs? Give it to the girls. Cracked tomatoes. Definitely, the girls. I never knew chickens liked tomatoes so much. Aside from their regular grains, these girls eat more tomatoes than anything. And here is the curious thing, I feel like I can see the yolks getting redder! Is that crazy? I don’t know. But I eat em. And I like what I am getting.

We have been going through a diet change process on the farm. Cutting out carbohydrates from the diet has created some new habits and ways of looking at our food. Vegetables are more important than ever. And so are quality proteins. It is good to start from scratch with a new mind and a bit of curiosity. The fall shift can really help facilitate the taking in of new spirit to be braided into our daily habits.

I want to share a few efficient and practical things we have been doing with our CSA food. Then, I want to describe the most decadent thing we did all season. And it only involved a cauliflower, three eggs and an oven. We will introduce you to one of the best all natural beverage recipes on the planet. Lastly, I will share a few random recipes I stole off the internet for us.

Blended soups. I cannot say how many times I blended almost an entire CSA bag into 2 gallons of soup. One time, I did everything but a bag of lettuce and a pomegranate. The pomegranate did end up sprinkled on top of the creamy soup though!

Just by looking at the picture of this weekends share, I can easily imagine cubing up the yellow squash and the apple and steaming them. While the squash and apple are steaming, saute a few bell peppers with some garlic and a couple jalapenos “if you like spicy”.  Put the steamed apple, squash and the steam water in a pot together with the sauteed veggies 4 quartered tomatoes, half of the raw chard and kale greens “chopped”. Put some basil and dill leaves in there too. Add some of your favorite type of broth and get it to a boil. Bring it down and let it lightly boil for 10-15 minutes. Turn it down to warm and stick an immersion blender in there and blend away until you get desired consistency. If you want it more creamy, add a can of coconut milk. Or just add heavy creme. it is up to you. If you have some leftover cooked cauliflower or potato from last weeks share, throw those in there and blend them up too. Both potato and cauliflower make great soup thickeners without changing the flavor of the soup.

Why do we put so many greens in the CSA share? Because the architect of this world we live in, saw fit to endow leafy greens with the ability to pull nutrients from the earth, chelate and prepare those nutrients in a way that only a plant can do. The plants continue to this in a way that guys in lab coats have not come close to in their labs with their expensive pills. It is really simple. EAT YOUR GREENS! No matter what, no matter how. EAT THEM! We will repeat this message in about three months.

Here is a good chard pesto recipe. We like to add basil to this one.

If you have not eaten last weeks melon, pull that sucker out. Because you are not going to want to miss this cooling beverage. I am sure you can find a more precise recipe online, but here is what we do. You can take it from there. chop the flesh only of a melon. Any melon. It does not matter. Watermelon gives the most water though. Add the chunks of melon to the blender. If you have 4 cups of fruit, add 4 cups of water to the blender and so on. Blend until the melon is completely mush. Pour the contents of the blender through the strainer. What you have now is super delicious and nutritious melon water. It is probably sweet enough. But you can add a few drops of stevia or honey. A dash if lime is nice if you like. Mottle the chocolate mint leaves and put them in a teabag and place it at the bottom of a pitcher with the melon water. Stick it in the fridge. Warning…This beverage is frighteningly invigorating. People have been known to drink too much. I have received reports of individuals accidentally pulling car doors off the hinges. Be careful.

Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette

Loosen your belt and drop all judgements. Check out this recipe if you are into pure pleasure. This recipe came about when we were looking for new ways to cook all these eggs we have been getting. It turns out that there is a really simple way to make amazing hollandaise sauce. It requires a stick blender though. If you do not have one, you are going to have to whip it. Turns out that hand whipping is pretty easy too.

Separate three yolks and keep them in a small dish. Put 2/3 of a stick of butter in a sauce pan and start warming it. Put a pinch of salt, squeeze of lime and a few drops of vinegar in the bottom of a wide mouth mason jar. Dropp the egg yolks in the jar. Insert the stick blender and start to blend as you slowly add the liquid butter. It is fast and easy.

Next, we need the perfect “slave” to the hollandaise. Enter Cauliflower……

Our “slave to Hollandaise” candidate has been presteamed and then brushed lightly with butter. Then it gets a light drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Stick it on the broil rack and get it good and caramelized. Above is our candidate right before taking the hollandaise bath. Things got a little frenzied and blurry after this point. We forgot to take a picture of the gooey sauce allover the crispy, chewy cauliflower head. Okay, truth is, we really did not care about much of anything but pleasure at this point.

 

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Produce Haul for August 5th CSA

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This Weeks Box 9/3/2017


Enjoying a less rare and very local eclipse.

Lettuce is coming back! It has been such a mild summer this year, that we have been able to seed and grow a few rows of lettuce during a part of the season when this is usually not possible. We should see lettuce in the boxes in a few weeks.

We are already seeding fall crops in hopes that we do not get many more heat waves in the next month and a half. It would be nice to move straight into fall foods without experiencing a gap in production…. In farming, we always attempt to do the footwork for the best possible scenario. Every effort we put forth does not always work out. But at least we were prepared for the best outcome to manifest.


Meet Seagull and Pigpen. These girls are rescue birds. We took them in a couple months ago, when their owner could not stop the rooster from pecking them incessantly. They are recovering very well in their own private two bedroom apartment. Seagull is missing almost half her feathers. Pigpen, she lost a few less feathers than her sister. We have been using the calendula salve on their sun exposed areas with good results. We hope that they can fully feather out again after molting season. In two months, their egg quality has improved greatly. They now have shells as hard and yolks as yellow as the other girls. They are laying everyday. If you get a medium to large, light blue egg from us, it came from Seagull or Pigpen.


Can you guess why her name is Pigpen?………Disgustingly cute!

Here is what is in the bag this week.

Sugar Kiss Melon
Bel Peppers
Carrots Bunch
Peach
Large Tomatoes
Cherry Tomatoes
Bunch of Chard or Kale Greens
Cucumbers
Multi Color Beets
Basil
Handful of multi color Chicken Eggs
Jalapeños
Summer Squash

Baked ratatouille

I usually wait as long as possible to bring out the Rattatouli Recipe  until later in the summer season. Why, you ask? because it is so damn simple. And after a long season of being creative, it is nice to pull out a recipe that uses half the bag and is extremely versatile

Grilled Peaches with Basil and Black Pepper

 

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This Weeks CSA 8-19-2017


A lone bee ponders the fractal geometry of of the sunflower.


Hillside garden stretches its arms.


Rachel approves of the 78 degree weather this last week. Not much beats wearing a sweater in mid August.


Joe flies the coop and takes a dirt bath


Tocayo jumps the kitchen garden fence and takes a carrot nap.


The girls get their first taste of Amaranth

Here is what “WE” will be tasting this week!

#1 Limes

#2 Super Sweet Oranges


#3 Carrots are back this week

#4 Tomatoes


#5 Handful of Eggs


#6 Cucumbers

#7 Bell peppers, jalapenos and cayenne peppers

#8 Oranges

#9 Summer Squash

#10 Kale or chard greens

#11 Bag of cherry tomatoes

#12 Large Potato

#13 Bag of Calendula seeds

Raitha is an Indian yogurt dish “condiment” that always has cucumber, some kind of fresh herbs and some spices. Lately, we eat it with almost everything here at the farm. We have evolved this dish our taste over the last few months. With all of the seasons bounty of vegetables and herbs, modifying and diversifying has been easy to do. Summer is a nice time for raitha because it is so wonderfully cooling. I was glad to find a comprehensive article on the basics as well as an intro to some different versions of this wonderful yogurt dish that loves to have anything to do with vegetables, rice, meat or bread.

One of our basic recipes uses plain 6 cups yogurt.

1 medium cucumber.

1 lime

1 small carrot

Few pinches of salt

1 Calendula flower

15 to 20 Mustard or coriander seeds

Cayenne pepper fresh chopped fine

Small turnip grated

Fresh dill, basil, chervil or even mint!

Grate 1/2 of the cucumber and sweat it in a bowl by adding a pinch or two of salt to the grated cucumber and then stirring it a few times over a few minutes.
Squeeze the slightly salty juice out of the cucumber into the 6 cups yogurt. Chop the other 1/2 of cucumber “or just grate” and add to the yogurt as well.
Crush some coriander or mustard seeds into the developing raitha.

Add the chopped cayenne pepper

Squeeze in 1/2 a lime

Pull off the Calendula petals and drop them in the raitha. “I love the splash of golden sunshine that calendula gives to rice, soups, salads, dips, pickled dishes and more.

Chop your fresh herb finely and then stir everything in. If everything goes to plan, you will be talking about how and when you are going to make your next raitha before you are even done with your first batch!!

Enjoy!

Wondering what to do with those giant cucumbers that come in the bag once in a while?? Check this cucumber water recipe out.


Pickle………… EVERYTHING! Left…Chard stems-Middle…Jalapeno, Cayenne-Right…Cukes.

 

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Here is what we were eating in late April

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broccoflower

vietnamese spinach

breakfast radish

tangelo

lime

thai basil

bosc pear

green beans

bag of mixed salad greens

yellow straightneck squash

bag of young chard or young kale

Good morning. early spring is one of the best times to eat your greens raw. As the season continues and the weather warms up, chard, kale. spinach etc can get a little “gamey”. The kale and the chard are brand new. Here are a few raw salad ideas if you feel like getting a little fancy. If not, a shot of oil and a squeeze of lime should do you wonderfully.

http://sweetcarolinescooking.com/2013/01/29/addicted-kale-quinoa-salad-w-dried-cranberries-walnuts-feta/

https://www.alexandracooks.com/2014/08/07/swiss-chard-salad-with-lemon-parmesan-breadcrumbs/

http://pinchofyum.com/5-minute-vegan-kale-pesto

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We make a version of this soup with thai basil and acorn substituted for butternut. Trust me. It works. Blend that yellow squash in their too if you want more volume. http://www.nerdswithknives.com/thai-coconut-curry-butternut-squash-soup/

Vetnamese spinach or “Malobar” spinach seems like a cross between spinach and one of the asian “choy” varieties. We did not grow this. We picked this up from a neighbor who grows it organically. It has been in the cooler for two days. So, it is a few days older than all your other greens. Please take this in consideration.

One of our favorites is a simple stir fry with coconut oil, garlic ginger and oyster sauce. Maybe a pinch of crushed peppers. And then dumped on top of some sticky rice…Yum.

Just treat it like regular spinach though. You will not be disappointed if you do. You could even blend it into your squash curry soup.

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From The Ground Up…..Again!!


Good morning from the farm. Here is the vitality kit we put together for you this week.

Iraqi Chard

These chard  leaves are different than the chard we are usually eating. They are at least a rare phenotype, if not a completely different species from Swiss chard. They look different. They taste different. And they have never been bitter. I put these plants in as starters. The starter supplier that I got them from cannot remember even having them. They were clearly labeled “Iraqi Chard” though. Sadly, He did not know how to get them again. For the last month, I have been looking for an opportunity to manifest a handful of seeds for this plant. I finally tracked down some bunches of leaves on the shelf of one of the Iraqi markets between main street and mount Helix Area of El Cajon. I will not mention the names of the owners or the store. A lot of you know who they are though. I “intentionally” bumped into the owner of the store and struck up a conversation. I made sure he understood my passion and appreciation for this unique variety of chard. I noted the super thin stems, the arrowhead shaped leaves. But mostly I related my love for the unique soft flavor of this wonderful chard. He opened up to me. Among many things, he explained that this was a preferred leaf for rolling Dolma. But then he kind of blew my mind. He told me something I never would have expected. His family grows these leaves for the store. They get the seeds for the planting of the leaves every year, in the mail from a family member in Mosul, Iraq. Theirs is not an organic store. As a matter of fact, nothing they sell appears to be organic. But here is what makes their little secret even more interesting to me. The leaves are 100 percent organic. They are not labeled organic intentionally. Apparently, everyone in the community who shops their store is fully aware that the chard is grown down the street. They all know it is organic too. During the time we talked, two young mothers and an old hunched over woman perused and basketed a bunch or two of chard. I asked him how he felt about running a local organic chard speak easy. This got him to laughing. I figured that now was the time to do the dirty deed. How about them seeds? I asked with a serious face. His face got even more serious. This made me wonder if I just screwed everything up. “Now, I think I have to get my wife”, he said. He told me to go to the front of the store. Hmmn, stand by the door? Could be a good thing. Could be a bad thing. His wife appeared immediately. She got flour on me when she shook my hand. After grilling me about my ability to germinate seeds and care for plants, she looked at her husband and rattled of a few fast sentences in Arabic. He looked at me with a satisfying smile so big, you would think I just won the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. You come back in 5 days. The seeds will be in an envelope at the front, waiting for you. Be very careful with them. Very careful. I will my friend…..I will.

Chop a little onion, chard and tomato. Get the saute pan hot with oil and throw it all in. I like to use high temp and get some of the leaves brown and crispy before turning off the heat and putting the lid on. I like the caramel like taste that crisping some of the leaves makes. I threw that in a bowl with an egg from the neighbors chicken, a carrot from the garden and a grapefruit.

Find a quiet breakfast nook…preferably outside.

The smell is likely to attract visitors.

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Spiny Chayote

We skinned the spiny chayote and grilled it along with some fish and veggies before making a grilled siete mares soup last night. The green stuff in the bottom left corner of the pan is the flesh of the spiny chayote. It is a little more firm and starchy than the smooth chayote. It went very well in the soup after being grilled and chopped up.

Navel Oranges
Avocado
Fresh Chick Peas
Salad Mix
Cilantro
Potatoes
Blood Ornages
Yellow Pear
Head Of Cabbage
One Lone Zucchini

Fresh Chick Peas Are The New Edamame

The new farm house and gardens are really starting to shape up. It is hard to believe we have only been here 5 weeks. There are a few hundred feet of seeds already coming up in the new rows.  30 tomatoes are already in the ground.  There area a bunch of squash, cucumbers, peppers and other summer seeds popping up in the seed trays. I am really looking forward to a post I want to share about the water situation here. It is looking like we have an extraordinarily productive well here.  I also want to talk about the benefits of growing on a piece of land that has not been cultivated for a long time. Other than an insane amount of rocks in the soil and some areas of hard pan clay, we have been blessed some wonderfully fertile, uncultivated soil. For now, just know that we are having a blast out here getting everything up and running.

The kitchen garden is up and running.

This will be the main production garden. Behind me is another, slightly smaller area. But, we are saving it for more tomatoes, corn and squash and melons only. This plot is 2,350 square feet. There are 7 rows 3 feet 6″ wide and 70 feet long. Each row has 3 irrigation tubes at over a foot apart from each other. That is 1,470 lineal feet of veggies, fully loaded.


Some brave young tomatoes.

Lastly….Chick Pics!!


We took the girls out of the brooder over a week ago. They have made it through a few cool nights without the light at all. So, they are pretty much settling in and getting use to their coop before we open up the door to their run. Tocayo already killed one of the Black sex links. So, we are down from 17 to 16 birds. Letting them loose in the run is somewhat, going to be dependent on when we get his program squared away so that the animals can live peacefully but separate on the property. It will work out. Most of it has to do with me and Rachel acting like adults, being aware of our actions… closing gates and doors behind us and other grown up stuff like that. Losing a chick sucks though. Especially when it is due to a member of your own tribe.


This is the one we call “spilled paint”. She is an Auracana. Kind of spastic. But super sweet.


Rachel named this one “Nuit”.  She is the sister of the girl that we lost.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone for the kind responses to the post I sent out in the email last week. It is a big deal. Very big. Thank you

Peace.

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Thank You Nature!

kyler Darcy

Tree forts. Capture the flag. Riding bikes. Hide and go seek. Cutting through a new swath of wild land to get home before the sun goes down. Find a creek. Spend a whole summer hunting crawdads. Marvel at the dragonflies, the polywogs, moss, fish, mud, cattails and those really mean geese. Ponder the question of,”why does this root beer can float if it is made of metal?” Try to build a raft. Have your raft fail. Think about it for  day or two while skipping rocks and counting clouds. Build a better raft. Have that one fail too. Go to the library. Do some research. Try harder. And finally build a raft that floats. Then build a raft that floats you and a friend. Make a rabbit trap. You know the one I am talking about. The one with the carrot dangling under a box. Hide behind a rock for from lunchtime to dark.  Just like the Wily Coyote did on that cartoon. Sitting motionless for hours. Holding the string with a continuity of excitement and anticipation that only a child can so effortlessly maintain. Get completely skunked. As a result, come to the realization at the ripe age of 10, that cartoons are bullshit. And that they should be best left alone as much as possible.

sis image Go out out for a whole day with nothing but some curiosity and a boatload of energy to spend. Throwing rocks. Kicking cans. Exploring. Gathering various fruit from the trees that hang over the fences. Have a feast on top of the water tower. Have a fruit fight with the leftovers. Drink water from strangers water hoses. (It was ok). Yeah. It was all ok. Thank you trees. Thank you long dirt roads. Thank you big rocks. Thank you lizards. And even you, big black Labrador. I sincerely thank you. You used to chase me from your driveway and all the way down to Foss Lane. Thanks for teaching me to be aware of my surroundings. Thank you  for teaching me about real dangers. Thanks for teaching me how to anticipate those dangers and navigate them successfully. Thank you mom and dad for trusting that the world worked well enough for a 10 year old to go out and have a genuine worthwhile experience without an I phone or even a watch for that matter. Yet, he would still return himself home before dark and on his own volition. Most of all, thank you nature. For being there to help wash away  frustrations of the sometimes difficult and complicated world of humans. Always still. I have found that upon years of observation, as well as much close inspection, it is eminently clear that you do nothing uselessly. I’ve never seen you tire. You never ask for anything. You are pure service. Forever giving. The ultimate teacher for those of us lucky enough who have been educated instead of schooled.

lake-isabella

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