June 14th, 2022
What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Beets, Collards, Zucchini, Cabbage, Red Onion, Fruit medley (peaches, nectarines and plums) and Apricots
Bread this week: Sourdough baguette OR Barbari your choice of one
This week on the farm
This has been quite a week on the farm. The end of an incredible apricot harvest looms in front of us as only a few stacks of boxes in the cooler are left of a harvest that was the largest in several years. And judging by the additional fruits that you are receiving in this week’s box, it looks to be a good fruit year. In the midst of a drought and times of uncertainty, nature still manages to give of the very best she has available, the products of a few billion years of trial and error, of learning how to provide a luxurious sustenance for all her community. We who partake of this on a daily basis on the farm are certainly lucky to be in the midst of such a moment, may we always remember it.
But, at the same time the farm is not a particularly safe place, and the consequences of not paying attention, of refusing to think that the rules that govern life on the planet don’t apply today, or here, or perhaps just a moment’s inattention or forgetfulness or egotistical lack of caring, can suddenly be an event that brings on real-life danger and consequences. Here in the moment of transition from apricots to groundwork for the coming crops, to thinking about the million things that had to happen, I forgot to stop for a moment to pay attention to what I knew, and to the potential consequences of my actions. I started a fire. In the middle of a hot day, on a machine known for starting fires, in the middle of a field that could burn, right behind Zach and Nicole’s house, I drove the tractor and mower, sure that the precautions I had taken were enough. They weren’t nearly enough. Somewhere I picked up a piece of chicken wire wrapped around the rotating drum of my mower. I got most of it out and thought that would be good enough. Particularly bad thought. In retrospect, I can see that the pieces of chicken wire wrapped around the rotating mower shaft either got molten hot and dropped off or created sparks as they went around. In the turn behind Zach and Nicole’s house, I left a trail of hot spots. Within 5 minutes, I had a trail of about 20 little smokes bursting into flame.
As I write this, seeing myself running around without a shovel, without water, no backup people, I don’t want to make it seem like just a story. This was a series of events that caught me in an act of unforgiving stupidity. It is not like I have never done stupid things, or that these things aren’t done somewhere every day, but this was very bad. One spot, then another, got away from me. Suddenly, my son, daughter-in –law, and grandkids nearly finished new home was in immediate danger, along with outbuildings and a neighbor’s wheat field. I ran to the house, dropping all other thoughts but to protect the house.
And here my potential disaster of lasting grief became something less. An equivalent set of events to those that set the fire now began the work of averting the disaster. As of about a week ago, the house had water, along with a single outside faucet at the back door. Last week, Zach had brought all the hose at the house to help us water in transplants at the farm. He had brought it back to his house afterward, on time and in time…..four lengths of garden hose coiled neatly by the faucet. Someone, somewhere called 911. Neighbors saw the smoke and brought a water truck, then another neighbor, another truck. Within 10 minutes the Esparto Volunteer Fire Dept was there, followed by the Madison and Capay Valley Volunteers. Cal Fire arrived with a bulldozer from their station in Brooks. Alison saw the smoke, left her tractor and came over to help. She moved my tractor that was about to be swallowed by flames and came to spell her exhausted father at the garden hose. Then, while Ali and I put out blazes in a semicircle around the house, everybody else went to work, saved a 70 acre wheat field where the fire was running free and put out the perimeter fires burning on our property. An hour later, there were just smolders.
I was walking around the fire zone a few hours later. I thought about the massive infrastructure necessary 24 hours a day dedicated to reducing the physical impact of fire. I thought about how grateful I was for all the little things that saved the house, and the volunteers and professionals that made it their business to put out a fire. They enabled me to walk around the untouched house, shaken by my mistakes but not devastated by what nearly occurred. I realized that the physical effects of the fire will pass soon, but that the effects on us will last a lot longer. The stress effects of those moments will linger in many of us for a long time. The responsibility for the effects of such an event lies not just in the physical, and thankfully passing changes, but also in the emotional effects on people for some time to come.
Again thankfully, those effects were less than they might have been, but are enough to require that I do my utmost to prevent the return of those awful moments for so many people. Have a great week, and be safe~ Jeff
Lillet and Apricot Cocktail
6 fresh apricots, halved and pitted,
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
10 oz Lillet Blanc
2 oz vodka
6-8 oz lemon seltzer
Syrup: To make syrup using fresh apricots, place apricots in a heatproof medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over apricots; let steep 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving apricot halves for garnish. (Makes about 2 cups.)
To make syrup using dried apricots, in a medium saucepan, combine apricots, sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes. Turn off heat; cool to room temperature. Strain as directed.
Cocktail: To make cocktail, using a channel zester or peeler, cut twists from lemon. Juice lemon; strain out seeds. Fill 2 rocks glasses with crushed ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine 6 ice cubes, Lillet, ¼ cup apricot syrup, vodka and 1 oz lemon juice. Shake vigorously, strain into prepared glasses; top off with seltzer. Garnish each with a lemon twist and a reserved apricot half.
Peach, Plum & Apricot Cobbler
For the filling:
4 lb. assorted ripe plums, peaches, apricots, and nectarines, rinsed and pitted (prick the skins of peaches and nectarines first)
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
½ m tsp. grated orange zest
For the topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup ground, toasted almonds
½ cup sugar
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ m tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ m tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. toasted sliced almonds
Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.
To make the filling: Cut peaches and nectarines into 1/2-inch wedges. Cut plums into 3/4-inch wedges and apricots into quarters. In a medium bowl, toss the fruit with the brown sugar, flour, and orange zest until well blended. Pile the fruit into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. To make the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat the egg into the buttermilk and add this to the flour mixture, along with the butter and vanilla extract. Gently stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Drop by spoonfuls onto the fruit filling, leaving about a 1-inch border of fruit. Sprinkle the toasted almond slices over the topping. Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is browned (a pick will come out clean), 50 to 55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Double chocolate Zucchini & beets Fudgy brownie
½ cup Butter, room temperature
7 oz Dark chocolate bars, chopped
2 Teaspoons Instant espresso
1 tablespoon Hot water
1 cup Swerve Sweetener (other granulated sweetener is fine)
3 large Eggs
⅔ cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons Dark cocoa powder
Pinch of Salt
1 cup Zucchini, grated and squeezed to remove excess water
⅓ cup Beetroot, cooked and grated
½ cup walnuts (optional)
½ Cup semi-sweet chocolate chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Generously spray foil with cooking spray. Set aside. Add the instant espresso in hot water, and set aside.
Place the chocolate into a heat resistant bowl with butter over an inch of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. As the chocolate begins to melt, start to stir in a circular motion until completely melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Transfer the melted chocolate into the bowl of an electric mixer. Gently add the sugar and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix thoroughly for about 4 minutes until airy, add the espresso mixture and beat for another minute. Remove from stand. In a different bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Fold in the dry ingredients with the chocolate batter until well incorporated. Fold in the zucchini, beets, walnut, and chopped chocolate. Spread the batter in the baking pan and place in the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out slightly sticky approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 2 hours or overnight. Remove from pan and cut into squares.
Sautéed Sausages and Cabbage with Apricot-Mango Chutney
1 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 medium serrano chile, seeded and thinly sliced
4 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
4 tsp. minced garlic
3 apricots, peeled, pitted, cut into ½ -inch pieces (1-1/3 cups)
1 mango, peeled, cut into ½ -inch pieces (about 1-1/2 cups)
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cooked chicken sausages
3/4 tsp. fennel seed
3/4 tsp. coriander seed
1/2 tsp. cumin seed
1 small yellow onion, very thinly sliced
1 small head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (8 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the vinegar, sugar, chile, ginger, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the apricots and mango. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft and the mixture is thickened, about 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice each in half on the diagonal. Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, coriander, and cumin seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cabbage, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1 Tbs. water and reduce the heat to medium. Return the sausages to the skillet, burying them in the cabbage mixture. Cover the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until the cabbage is just barely tender and the sausages are hot. Season to taste with salt. Serve the chutney with the sausages and cabbage.
Spicy Stir-Fried Collard Greens With Cabbage
2 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut oil, rice bran oil or canola oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon ground toasted Sichuan pepper or red pepper flakes
2 cups shredded red or green cabbage
1 pound collard greens, stemmed and roughly chopped
salt to taste
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the rice wine or sherry, the broth or water and the soy sauce. Have all the ingredients within arm’s reach from your pan. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch steel skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan, then add the garlic, ginger and pepper and stir-fry for no more than 10 seconds. Swirl in the remaining oil and add the cabbage and collard greens. Turn the heat to high and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until the greens begin to wilt. Add the salt, toss together and add the soy sauce mixture. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, until the collard greens and cabbage are crisp-tender. Remove from the heat and serve