April 14, 2020

 

What’s in this Week’s Veggie Box? Oranges, Rosemary, Carrots, Radishes, Kale, Lettuce, and Asparagus

 

This Week on The Farm 

It has been three months today that Jeff and I took ownership of our family’s property in Santa Rosa. I just re-read the newsletter from January 14 when Claire and I went over for the first time as new owners to an old place. For those that are new to our CSA, I told the story of my family’s land that my great-grandfather purchased in 1870, and now Jeff and I are care takers of what we call the W. Wood Ranch or Loma Robles. In reading my grandmothers daily dairies, and my mom’s historical family photo and memorabilia album I learned that the Fan Palm tree and the Buckeye tree were planted by my Great-Grandmother, Anna Wood. They are still there today, housing owls in the palm tree, and ever growing wisteria vines in the Buckeye. Jeff and I have been going to Santa Rosa once a week for two days at a time to do what we do, work. We have projects to do, repairs on the small cottage, fixing rain damage in the ceiling, replacing the wood flooring that had water stain, getting ready for a renter who moved in April 1. I couldn’t help myself and went directly into the garden. I think in many ways I am very much like my grandmother, with a connection and fondness for plants, gardening and landscaping. There is an old foundation of plants still left in the garden, but looking at my mom’s photos from the past, I am realizing how much is missing. Every time I go I get déjà vu, remembering beds of flowers in places that no longer have flower beds. Or wondering where have all the lilacs gone that were the mama plants of my lilacs here in Hungry Hollow? I declared that I would go slow and wait a year to see what is what and where plants are, but oh boy I just could not hold back, and every time I go I take plants from my nursery and am planting every spot that is empty as fast as I can. But mostly as I go, I am pruning and giving the garden a rejuvenating bucket of compost as I plant and removing old dead wood that has been to long untended. It is an old garden, the soil is full of roots from every which way and all intertwined making it hard to turn the soil, or to add new plants or to separate plants that are so tight from many years of growth. Needless to say I go to bed and dream of what I’m going to plant in the shady boarder or what I can bring from home for the sunny spots, sometimes I can’t sleep at all so energized with the possibilities.

               So this new endeavor has given Jeff and I a place to go, to jump ship here at the farm and take a break from everybody and all of our responsibilities. While there we work the entire time, maybe we sleep in a bit, or take more breaks, but it has proven to be a peaceful, quiet place that rejuvenates us both, we get to do what we love to do. Jeff is, I think in heaven taking care of this old house, repairing and shoring up the post and beams that are holding the house up, bringing it back to a solid foundation again. In his dreams at night, he dreams about how he is going to renovate rooms, take this wall out, add a bathroom there, and then in the morning takes me on a walk of the house and tells me of all the possibilities. It is so hard for me to be enthusiastic and supportive, how can I think of changing a place that is so strong as it is in my memory bank? He wanted to move the laundry hamper to a new location, I looked at him and said that wicker hamper has been there for as long as I can remember, I’m sorry it can’t move. Mostly we work well together as we have done all of our career, sharing ideas, making dreams together; turning the old garden lath house into a potting shed for me, cleaning out the pile of wood that you can’t burn in Sonoma County from the old wood shed and making a place where Jeff can store his lumber for his future projects.

               In returning back to the farm, we seem to be able to jump back into the routine, but I have to say for myself with different eyes. We are coming from a piece of land and a house that has not been a working farm for the last 45-50 years but has been taken care of, weeded and polished for close to 150 years to this place that has been a farm for just the past 35 years. The comparison is very, well, very different. This place has lots of weeds everywhere, this house has lots of unfinished projects, but mostly it is a working farm where so much doesn’t get completed…we are in the juvenile stage of a farm so to speak, lots of maturing yet to happen. And the time that Jeff and I spend away makes us that more motivated to get the work done here.

               What I had intended to write about before re-reading the newsletter from January 14, 2020 was what happened this last Saturday afternoon in getting ready for our Easter Sunday. Even though we had to cancel our usual family gathering, and it was going to be just ourselves, we decided to do what we do every year, and that is hide baskets for each other in the garden. It is just a fun way to walk the garden and look closely at it while looking for our individual baskets. These last weeks of not being able to work the Saturday markets, I stay home and garden. So I started cleaning up the garden as if getting ready for any other Easter Sunday, and I found myself pruning and tending each area, just like I was doing in Santa Rosa. Really taking into consideration each plant or each area and how it needs to be rejuvenated; meaning that I took out plants that had died or ones that had jumped the boarders and were starting to narrow the pathways. Claire was helping too, picking up piles that had been sitting for months waiting for the compost, and she mowed the lawn and pathways. A mow job makes the place look civilized once again. Zach and the kids came by and were hanging around, we were talking about the Oak trees (one that was planted at his birth) and how it is hanging out over the rose arbor. Ali came home from the market and joining into the conversation about the oak tree, and before we turned around Zach had the long pole chainsaw out and said, “ok which branches need to go”? Ali did not hesitate, she didn’t want to lose the golden opportunity, so she started directing him, and I grabbed the grand kids as branches started falling. He finished the rose arbor area, and I said ok how about the next oak tree, I have wanted to put a swing up for the grandkids but the branch needed a bit of cleaning. Done! Then as he was passing to put the saw away he said “well this tree has some dead branches,” done again. Jeff joined in on the activities and started removing seedling fig, bay, olive and pomegranate trees that the birds had propagated all around the garden. At one point the place was a mess, with branches everywhere, but then Zach drove the four wheeler around to the piles and he and Ali started loading it up and hauling it out-that took way longer than the saw job did. At 8:30pm we headed in for a fast tortilla dinner and everyone dispersed. As we hunted for our baskets in the morning, I felt like the garden trees stood taller, areas were opened up and oh my, it felt so, so good, really tended. It felt really different, not so much like an overgrown jungle, but more of a tended garden, on the way to a more civilized maturity.  I realized that there are not many times that the entire family is out helping me in the garden, and I would say that was one of the best Easter family gathering that will certainly be one to remember.

               And it doesn’t stop there, in the afternoon on Sunday we all headed over to the Back Ten property where Zach and Nicole are starting to build their home and helped sand and stain boards for the interior walls. The next generation starting to build their life on the land. From mature, to juvenile to a beginning of a dream. ~Have a great week, Annie Main

 

Spring Salads

I have been making the most delicious salads lately-start with the lettuce from your box, then add finely sliced red cabbage, any roots like radishes, carrots or turnips, crumble some feta cheese, slice up an avocado if you have it, a peeled and chopped grapefruit, top with seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin and then dress with the honey mustard dressing. Really it is about cleaning out the veggie drawer and putting it into a salad; you can add chopped kale, spinach, or lightly steamed asparagus chopped on top. Enjoy!

 

Honey Mustard Dressing

Once you start making your own dressing, you’ll never go back. It’s a breeze to make homemade vinaigrette with whatever you have handy. We generally use 2 to 3 parts oil to 1 part acid (vinegar or citrus), and the possibilities with different oils, vinegars, and seasonings is endless! This homemade honey mustard dressing is our simplest yet. And, all you have to dirty is 1 tablespoon! Keep reading for the recipe and why to make salad dressing at home.

2 tablespoons honey (local, if possible)

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon or stone ground mustard

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, white wine vinegar, and mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until fully combined and an emulsion forms. The dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; make sure to bring to room temperature and shake well before serving. Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons

 

Rosemary Flat Bread

This is a quick to make and very delicious yeasted bread that goes well with soups or stews.

1 tablespoon yeast

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons dried rosemary or 5 fresh sprigs

7 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon coarse salt for the top

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of warm water and let stand 5 minutes. Add honey, salt, rosemary and 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1/1 of the flour to make a sponge, then add slowly 1 cup at a time the rest of the flour by kneading. I like to put it into my small cast iron Dutch oven, make finger holes in the dough, add the rest of the oil on top and then sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake 20 minutes

 

Braised Spring Vegetables

Believe it or not, the unconventional route of cooking spring vegetables low and slow makes a vibrant, fresh-tasting dish. We add early season radishes, asparagus, and peas to our braising liquid in stages to ensure that each cooks at its own rate and maintains a crisp texture. Shallot, red pepper, garlic, and bay leaf provide a savory base to the braising liquid, citrus offers a sharp kick, and a finishing sprinkle of tarragon imparts freshness. Serve these vegetables immediately for the clearest flavor.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 shallot, sliced into thin rings

2 garlic cloves, sliced thin

3 fresh thyme sprigs

Pinch red pepper flakes

10 radishes, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

1 1/4 cups water

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths

2 cups frozen peas

4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

You can use 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme in place of the fresh sprigs.

Heat oil, shallot, garlic, thyme sprigs, and pepper flakes in Dutch oven over medium heat until shallot is just softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in radishes, water, lemon zest, orange zest, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until radishes can be easily pierced with tip of paring knife, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in asparagus and continue to cook, covered, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in peas and let sit, covered, until peas are heated through, about 5 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir in tarragon and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to shallow platter and serve. By America's Test Kitchen, Serves 4

           

Kale Cakes with Sour Cream and Toasted Walnuts

1 bunch Kale (Karinata, Dino, Red Russian; Chard or any other green also work well)
3 ounces Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic (peeled and sliced)
3 eggs
3.5 ounce Walnuts (optional)
1 tablespoons Spice Mix (1 t Paprika, 1/4 t Cayenne, 1/4 t Cinnamon, 1/4 t Ginger Powder, 1/4 t Cardamom Powder, 1 t Curry Powder, 2 T Sugar, 1/4 t Black Pepper, 1/2 t Salt – Or any mix premixed spice blend you like) or your favorite hot sauce

4 ounces Mexican Crema (or Sour Cream)
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large Bowl, place walnuts, 1 ounces oil, and spice mix (reserve a little spice mix for garnish). Toss and place in roasting pan, roast in over for 12-18 minutes. Check every few minutes to make sure the nuts are not turning dark brown. When the nuts turn light brown pull from oven and remove from the roasting pan into a clean bowl. Wash and cut greens into strips the size of your finger. Place in a large bowl and combine with eggs. Mix. Add salt and pepper. Heat a pan or wok over med heat. Once hot, add oil and sauté 1/2 clove garlic for 1/2 minute. Mix up egg and greens then add 1/6th of mixture and let it sit in the center of the pan until the Kale has begun to wilt and the egg has coagulated (it’s important not to move it around, give it time to let the egg cook and hold everything together).  Flip and cook till tender. Remove from pan and place on a towel to drain excess oil. Tip: use your hands to grab a handful of the mixture and make sure to get a good dose of eggs in each cake by wiping along the bottom on your way to the fry pan. Plate with one Kale Cake in center of plate, topped with a dollop of Mexican Crema, some spiced nuts, and a little spice mix around the plate.