August 31st, 2021
What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Mini Watermelon, Cherry Tomatoes, Eggplant, Basil, tomatoes, Squash, & Potatoes
Bread this week: Rosemary Foccacia OR Whole Wheat, your choice of one
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This week on the Farm
Change is coming. The days are shorter, the temperature highs are lower and shorter, the tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are catching their breath before that last gasp, and finally, finally, the peppers on the plants are getting to their large size without losing it to heat stress. Even though it is only the last day of August the weather is giving us a taste of what is to come. We’ve been at it long enough to know that this might be just a tease, but so what…. “Any port in a storm!” But about two weeks ago, the middle of August, our focus began to shift slightly, away from the madness of picking all day every day to picking all day every day and starting the planting sequence for fall planting. Easier said than done. Summer just doesn’t want to let go these days and the middle of August not a good time to ask summer to take it easy. Sometimes you really don’t want to get what you might ask for. Summer has stayed, rock solid, just being summer until the last couple of days. But in order to have seven or eight items for the box in late October, those fall and winter crops have to be planted starting August 15, high temperatures or not.
Now that is normally a tall order for us for two reasons. First, being a small farm, everyone is intimately involved in running the produce through the farm and into the coolers on a daily basis. There may be a lonely little voice that says “Hey it’s July 15” or “August 1” to us all, but man is it hard to hear. Secondly, when the soil temperature runs to over 100 degrees for a while each day, germination of fall and winter seeds is mostly a prayer. But this year two things happened, and that has made a difference. First is Alison started nagging (yes Ali, nagging) me to get to it. First shot across the bow was, “Hey Pop, remember what you told me about the 15th of July? Oh yeah, right…ground prep for fall. She kept it up until all of us, Annie and I, Claire and Zach were all aware that time was slipping away. What a great moment when I stood on the edge of a germinating field and knew that we were only 10 days late. Hey, around here that is as good as it gets, a major victory! But the second part of the story is that we actually got germination with temperatures spiking at over 100 degrees, and for that you and I can thank Annie. Some time ago she got tired of watching her shallow planted tiny flower seeds fail to germinate because the water was so uneven. Frustrated beyond human endurance, she brought out modern technology in the form of black plastic drip tape. We use a lot of drip tape just had never made the intuitive leap to using it at planting time. But she carefully laid the tape right in the row that she had just seeded, and we turned it on every evening after the heat of the day. Voila! Germination! After a while, maybe just one year maybe longer, she let me think that I had a good idea to maybe try germinating our midsummer vegetable seed using drip tape. And it seems to work just as well on August 25th vegetables as it does on tiny lower seeds. Now if we keep the rabbits, squirrels, deer and turkeys away from those tender little sprouts…..
Meantime, we are slowly but surely moving away from summer, seeing the end of it, the harvesting of the winter squash and pumpkins, and moving into full concentration on the planting of the 3-4 acres that will provide for all of us through the winter. For the really difficult thing about fall is that a farmer has to plant about every two weeks at the most in order to insure a relatively continuous winter crop. Two weeks from now, September 15 is an entirely different creature than today, which is so different from two weeks ago. The speed with which the days shorten insure that no matter the temperature, soil conditions and climate will lengthen the time between crops seeded two weeks apart will mature at least a month apart. Learning this has been an art in itself for us. And at this point I have to stop and say to all the gardeners that already know all this stuff that I just learned, (and I know you are out there!) Why didn’t you tell me?! Forty years is a long time to struggle, and Annie gets bragging rights to boot.
What I really wanted to tell you about today was our long term plans as we enter the period when we can begin to think again, but I only got as far as this year’s long term plans, like what to plant? But I will say our long term plans are exciting, having to do with directed deer, gates for our fields, and a gentle move into the possibility of small scale dryland farming. Because I found out something this week. It came to me clearly following some testimony we did around the water crisis. We are invested in agriculture on this place. We have begun a transition to a second generation that has a future on a maturing farm, caretaking that farm. We have created an easement that insures that farmers, and only farmers, will always have access to this farming place. It crept up on me because all these years Annie and I have talked about what we are doing, and have done it for so long and so intensely that I never really had time to figure out what was happening to us. We got invested. And that has made all the difference. Have a great week ~ Jeff
Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Garlic Pesto
Source: minimalist baker
1 1/2 pounds baby gold/yellow potatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 healthy pinch each sea salt & black pepper
2 heaping cups loosely packed fresh basil
2 cloves garlic chopped
3 Tbsp raw pine nuts or walnuts
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 healthy pinch each sea salt & black pepper
Add rinsed potatoes to a large pot and cover with water until just submerged. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce to medium-high heat to achieve a low boil. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until tender and a knife easily slides in and out. In the meantime, prepare pesto by adding basil, garlic, nuts, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast to a food processor and blending to combine. Stream in 2-3 Tbsp olive oil (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) a little at time until a thick paste is formed. If trying to reduce fat, thin the sauce with water instead of additional oil. I like adding a little water to mine to make it more of a pourable sauce, but this is optional. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lemon juice for acidity, nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor, salt and pepper for overall flavor, or garlic for zing/bite. Transfer to a small serving dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (232 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the potatoes are soft and tender, place on the baking sheet and smash down with the bottom of a saucepan. For any larger potatoes, cut in half and then smash so they are still "bite size." Drizzle the potatoes with 1 1/2 Tbsp oil and season with a healthy pinch each salt and pepper (amounts as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Roast for 20-25 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. To serve, spoon the pesto over the potatoes (you will have leftovers). Garnish with chopped basil or parsley and additional pine nuts. Best when fresh.
Vodka Watermelon Cocktail
1/4 cup chilled watermelon juice
1/4 cup vodka
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice about 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
mint, lime wedges & watermelon wedges for garnish
Add watermelon juice, vodka, lime juice, and your choice of sweetener syrup to a rocks or cocktail glass then stir to combine. Fill glass to the top with ice then serve with fresh mint and garnish with a lime wedge or watermelon wedge. Alternatively, you could add the ingredients into a shaker; fill it halfway up with ice, then shake to chill. If you like your drink fizzy, feel free to top it off with about 2 ounces of club soda or even Sprite.
Peppers Roasted with Garlic, Basil and Tomatoes
Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
1 green bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 red bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup chopped fresh basil
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon herb vinegar, or to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with olive oil flavored cooking spray. Place the bell pepper halves open side up in the prepared baking dish. In a medium bowl, toss together the cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic. Fill each pepper half with a handful of this mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove the aluminum foil, and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with herb vinegar. These are equally good served hot or cold.
Potato and Bell Pepper Breakfast Hash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 pounds white potatoes, peels and diced into 1 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions. Sauté the onions until just cooked through – about 5 minutes. Next, add the potatoes, salt, and ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Continue to sauté for 10 minutes, stirring often. Now, add the red and green bell peppers. Stir to combine. Continue to sauté for 10 more minutes, again, stirring often. Lastly, add the garlic powder, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine. Continue to cook until potatoes are fork tender. Once down, lower heat to warm and let sit. Continue with preparing the rest of your breakfast eggs, toast, etc. Otherwise, plate immediately.
3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
½ teaspoon dried basil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side. In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown