December 10, 2019

What’s in this Week’s

VEGGIE BOX: Lettuce, Leeks, Chard, Carrots, Parsley, Spinach, and Spaghetti Squash

What’s in your FRUIT BAG? Meyer Lemons, Walnuts, Ruby Red Grapefruit and Satsuma Mandarins

 

SPECIAL HOLIDAY GIFTS

ARE COMING TO YOUR DROP

THIS WEEK

 

This week on the Farm

Today is about gratitude.  The truth of the matter is that I haven’t been in the fields too much lately, and Rogelio has been doing all the picking and caring for the crops.  Not the best situation, nor what I signed up for, but the realities of the modern system of endless legal, bureaucratic and financial complications means that any effort to change position requires time, lots of it.  Having just turned 69, matters of the future of Good Humus Produce and my and Annie’s future are taking some time here momentarily.  But the thing that astounds me, and for which I am as grateful as I can be, is that the processes of the farm and the day-to-day life that exists on the farm for us to observe, just has shown the capability to sail along, evolving, coping with all the changes that are forced on it, residing securely in each season and year and decade.  It is comforting, empowering, and so rewarding to realize that this piece of ground has accepted all of the collective efforts of we workers and has utilized them to create something that as awareness dawns, brings us feelings of comfort and gratitude.

               By my answers to the question: “How are things going on the farm?” you wouldn’t know anything ever happens here.  When I look at our life on the farm in answer to that question, all I see is a long arc of low key activity, proceeding at its own pace, making minor adjustments to massive changes in the human and ecological world, quietly becoming more complex and interwoven as it inspects and uses each new resource as it becomes available.   There is really nothing new here that hasn’t happened in so many places.  For millions of years and in a steady progression of events, we farmers have used the tools available to us to separate little patches of earth to be used to aid the human experience.  Whether it has been digging sticks and ingrained memories or internal combustion engines and digital information resources, we have made use of the nearly magical processes that create life on earth to enhance our own expansion.  However, the processes are so ingrained into the world around us that they are almost perceived subliminally rather than consciously.  It takes in me personally an act of will and of intention to wake up and recognize a small piece of the truth of what is going on here.  And this is from a guy who has been working and learning here for more than 40 years!  And so the answer to the sudden question of “How are things on the farm?”, if it catches me immersed in the daily work, is likely to be “Things don’t change much on the farm, we just put one foot in front of the other.  One season follows another, and the farm keeps taking care of us.”  This, friends, indicates a pretty high level of insensitivity, in the course of my human events, to the forces shaping beauty, sustenance, health, hope, and coping both on the farm and in the world around it.

Through the years, gratitude has proven to me to penetrate that unawareness, to open up to reflection on what more closely approximates “What is going on at the farm?”  There is something about gratitude that allows me to see the human and ecological supporting processes of the farm more clearly than when I am looking at them as things to be used to make my living.  You will hear me express, not often enough, my gratitude for the community that with knowledge and intention supports the farm.  But the beauty of the day yesterday, the slanting , warming, golden rays of winter sunlight;  the shadowed, softly rolling Capay Hills out our front door;  the carpet of multicolored leaves painting the ground, woke me up again to the gratitude I gift back in exchange for the chance to do what I have been asked to do.  In response to that awakening,

I acknowledge with gratitude the extreme effort of the earth that allows me to respond to every question, answering invariably “Some things don’t change.  The farm continues to support us through every season and year.”  I remember it doesn’t have to be that way, but it has been.

I acknowledge with gratitude the beauty my senses perceive around me, through whatever indecipherable combination of biological and mystical forces it comes about.

I acknowledge with gratitude the lesson of the tree stumps; that the death of one complex association of cells is life to so many others.

I acknowledge with gratitude the lesson of the squash patch; that a mindless task repeated often enough can bring mindfulness and inspiration if it becomes mindless enough.

I acknowledge with gratitude that whatever I do is possible because of networks of connecting threads that run throughout the many layers of civilization and the world.

I acknowledge with gratitude the words I attribute to Mahatma Gandhi:  “Nothing you do can be important, but it is very important that you do it.”

Thanks for all that you do, Jeff

 

 

Apples and Spinach Salad

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ cup thinly vertically sliced red onion

8 cups baby spinach (8 ounces)

1 large sweet-tart cored thinly slice apple

¼ cups crumbled blue cheese

Combine first 6 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk

Combine onion, spinach, and apple in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing, toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield 6 servings

 

Chard Soup with Sorrel or Lemon

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion or 2 medium leeks, white parts only chopped

3 red potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 bunch chard, stems removed about 10 cups leaves

2 cups sorrel leaves stems removed or juice of 1 large lemon

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup crème Fraĭche or sour cream

½ cup cooked rice or small toasted croutons

Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to color, about 8 minutes. Add ½ cup water and scrape the bottom of the pot to release the juices that have accumulated. Add the greens and 1 ½ teaspoon salt. As soon as they wilt down, after 5 minute or so, add 6 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered for 12-15 minutes. Puree the soup, and then return to the pot. Taste for salt and season with pepper, if you don’t use sorrel add the lemon juice. Mix the crème Fraĭche with some of the soup to smooth it out, then swirl it into the soup. Serve with rice or croutons in each bowl.

Chard Soup with Cilantro

Substitute a small bunch of cilantro chopped for the sorrel and add 1 teaspoon paprika to the onion and potatoes. The haunting flavor is hard to place at first but is a must try for cilantro lovers

 

Spaghetti Squash, Chicken, Mushrooms & Spinach

Up your intake of veggies with this prize-winning spaghetti squash dish. "This recipe is a variation of a go-to pasta recipe I make often. I wondered how it would work using spaghetti squash for a pasta stand-in," said Claudia Krempp of Plainfield, IL. As grand prize winner of the Cooking Light Market Basket Challenge, her wondering is over.

1 (3.5-pound) spaghetti squash

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

2 slices center-cut bacon, chopped

1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1.5 cups chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Poblano pepper

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup julienne sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil

1 1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

6 ounces fresh spinach, chopped

1/2 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Preheat broiler. Cut poblano in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 5 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel and chop. Reduce oven temperature to 400 °. Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Place squash halves cut side down in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Add water to measure 1/2-inch deep. Bake at 400 ° for 45 minutes. Turn squash over; bake an additional 15 minutes or until tender; cool. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove strands to measure 6 cups. Keep warm. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon to pan; cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Cool and crumble. Increase heat to medium-high; sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken to drippings in pan and cook 4 minutes; remove from pan. Heat remaining 11/2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan and cook 3 minutes or until soft, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, reserved bacon, Poblano, garlic and Italian seasoning to pan; cook 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and cook 4 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add wine to pan and cook 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and cook 1 minute stirring constantly. Add reserved chicken, chicken broth, tomatoes, and spinach to pan. Cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly; stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Place about 1 cup squash on each of 6 plates; top each serving with about 1 cup chicken mixture and 2 teaspoons remaining cheese. From Cooking Light  Yield: 6 Servings

 

Soft Polenta with Leeks

3 tablespoons butter

3 large leeks thinly sliced

2 ¼ cups water (or more)

2 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 cup polenta

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, stir to coat. Cover and cook until leeks soften, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes. Add 2 ¼ cups water, broth and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Gradually whisk in polenta (if polenta is unavailable, substitute 1 cup regular yellow cornmeal, and cook leek-cornmeal mixture for about 15 minutes rather than 35 minutes). Reduce heat to low and cook until mixture is thick and creamy, stirring often and thinning with more water if necessary about 35 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Discard bay leaf and stir in remaining butter and Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve or divide among plates.

 

Carrot Cake Blondie Bars

My favorite cake in the world is carrot cake! It’s stuffed will of texture with the carrots, pineapple, nuts and that cinnamon flavor with the cream cheese frosting is heavenly!  But what I don’t love about carrot cake is decorating it.  These Carrot Cake Blondie Bars are the perfect solution! They’re so moist and this recipe makes the perfect amount or you can double is for a large casserole dish.

1 cup butter melted

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg room temperature

1 egg yolk room temperature

1 1/4 cup grated carrots

1 1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup nuts optional

FROSTING:

1/2 cup butter room temperature

8 oz. cream cheese

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x9 inch pan. Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs, beat again. Stir in grated carrots. In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, ginger and salt and mix. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and stir just until combined. Stir in nuts and then dump into prepared pan and spread flat. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the center is firm! FROSTING: Combine all ingredients; add only as much powdered sugar as needed to reach your desired consistency. If it becomes too thick, add 1 Tbsp. of milk! Frosting cooled Blondie bars and top with extra nuts!