This Week’s Box 04/19/2014

We had a new customer sign up today. A little later, she emailed us back and asked are you organic? I was stumped. I mean, yeah, we’re organic. But that word does not say nearly enough about what we really are. I needed to give her a better answer than “yes. So I did my best. I hope I was not to forward. I am afraid that I might have been. Please new customer, the farmer is a little overly passionate. He is harmless. I promise

Dear “New Customer”

My name is Taj. I am the farmer here at the ranch. Welcome to our CSA.  We are really glad to have you. And thank you for asking if we are organic. We put a lot of effort and intention into every step of our farming process. I do know that there is a huge variance in quality within the vague umbrella of “organic”. On one end of the spectrum, there are some super large farms out there who follow the bare minimum to receive an organic label in order to serve that market. There are also small farms like ours, who with the help of a hand full of volunteers, put a lot of love, effort and intention into every aspect of raising up our veggies. We do it this way because we eat this food. We love our fruit, avocado trees, herbs and veggies. One thing that makes our veggies really special to us is the fact that we save seed as often as we can. Seed saving is a complex topic, but essentially, seed saving allows the vegetables to become acclimated to our farms unique conditions. Over time, and after a few seasons, plants become more adjusted to our local weather, pests, soil and other environmental influences. It is a real comfort to know that our veggies are evolving and growing along with us. Getting better and better every year.  We use some methods that are considered inefficient by large organic farms. As much as possible, we apply what is called compost tea. This is an extra amendment for the plants that is above and beyond the worm castings, compost and minerals that we add to the soil at planting intervals. Compost tea is like ice cream for plants. It is basically a tea of garden compost that is steeped, strained and aerated for high oxygen content. There are too many benefits from compost tea to list. Since I have been growing food, I have found that happy healthy plants do not attract pests. If a particular crop manifests pests for some reason, we have done something wrong and we need to pay attention to what is happening. Because the last thing we would want to do is put chemicals on already sick plants and then give them to friends, family and CSA members.  I am guessing that you did not expect such a detailed answer. In reality though, There is a whole lot more. It just does not seem fair to answer that question with a simple “yes”. At this point, I am quite certain that this email  might be of some value to some of our CSA members. I would like to post it in our weekly newsletter. So thanks for the inspiration. I promise to remove your name!  Now that I have assured you that we are 100 percent organic, I would like to invite you and your family for a tour of the farm. After years of running this little CSA, I have found that the people who have stayed with this program for years are the people who have come out and walked the land. There is a value of connection in doing this that I cannot quantify or describe. A closing of the circle if you will. I hope that in the momentum and excitement of starting your new CSA that you can schedule a weekday or Saturday afternoon to come out and see where your food is grown. You won’t find another place like this anywhere. We will get your sign up and pick up info out to you shortly. Don’t hesitate to connect with us if you have a question or concern. We look forward to growing your food for you. Again, welcome to you and your family. 

If for some reason, any of you have never received an invitation to tour the farm, Please take some time to consider it. It is worth it. Schedule a tour

Also, everyone is welcome at our quarterly volunteer work projects on May 17th from 9:30 to 12:30 Acquaint yourself with our land, the farmers and the volunteers. Most importantly, have fun and do some farm work. After projects we will retire at the picnic tables under the pine tree and have some healthy food and drink. Kids are definitely welcome. Hope you all can make it! Please wear close-toed shoes (no sandals!), and bring a hat.  Our well water is some the best tasting water right out of the tap. But you should bring some sort of drinking container.

The list

cara cara oranges
bunching onions
salad/spinach mix
red bell peppers
persian cucumbers
full head of green cabbage “this stuff is sweeeeet”
mexican squash
multi color beets

Cabbage and Leek Gratin

Serves 6
You just can’t beat the delicious flavour of cabbage baked in a lovely cream sauce with a buttery crumb baked on top.  It’s a way of helping even the most ardent cabbage hater to change their minds!  I could eat a whole plate of this and nothing else!

1 medium cabbage
3 medium leeks
3 TBS butter
3 TBS flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
a dash of hot pepper sauce
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup of fresh bread crumbs
2 TBS butter, melted

Remove any old and tatty looking leaves from the outside of your head of cabbage.  Cut it into quarters and remove the core.  Shread coarsley.

Trim the leeks, cut in half and wash them thoroughly.  Shred them coarsely as well.  Mix them into the cabbage.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil.  Add the vegetables.  Bring back to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook them for about 5 to 6 minutes, just until barely tender.  Drain in a colander.  Make sure you get as much water out as you can.  You don’t want any to dilute the delicious cream sauce.

Preheat the oven to 180*C/375*F.

Make your cream sauce by melting the 3 TBS of butter in a saucepan.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring over medium heat, for about one minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and nicely thickened.  Season to taste with some salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.  Add a splash of hot pepper sauce to taste.

Put the cabbage mixture into a buttered shallow dish.  Pour the cream sauce over top and allow it to soak in for a few minutes, while you make the crumbs for on top.

Melt the 2 TBS of butter and then stir in the bread crumbs, mixing all together well.  Sprinkle the buttered crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely bubbling and the crumbs are lightly browned on top.

Note – I sometimes add a cup of grated gruyere cheese, plus 1 heaping TBS of grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce to give it a rich and cheesy flavour.  You may also add some grated cheese on top if you wish.

Cabbage add leeks love fennel too! Just sayin.

Potato Green Cabbage and Leek Soup

Braised Fennel and Leeks

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