December 17, 2019

What’s in this Week’s

VEGGIE BOX: Broccoli, Kale or Chard, Carrots, Tatsai, Parsley, Spinach, and Butternut Squash

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

 

This week on the Farm

You know, it has been 43 years of farming and it has been 26 years of writing newsletters to our CSA friends.  I pulled out some of the “ last newsletters of the year” from the late 1990”s and the early 2000’s to get an idea of what we wrote each year, looking for a little inspiration as this year surely comes to an end just like all those others.  It kind of turns out that the last thoughts of the year, each year, are focused on the little things, no resounding successes or abysmal failures.   Just the slow building of a family, a farm, a community and a life.  Very similar to the slow turning of the seasons and the gradual building of the farms capabilities to provide fertile and nurturing habitat for so many while providing sustenance for a small group of farmworkers and their families and shelter and a life for us.

The year’s end seemed to universally inspire a great breathing out of a sigh of relief at the end of the year and the chance to have two weeks of time to stop, after a fashion.  Always a qualified stop, but always looked forward to with an excitement of which anticipation was the chief element.  The young couple that was Annie and I, excited to be embarking on a life together creating and working in a brand new resurrection of a gentler form of agriculture, afraid to call ourselves family farmers without a family and without the real years of experience to call ourselves even farmers, but willing to roll the dice with our lives on the chance that we could make something good happen……well that was the text behind some of those early years.  By the time we started writing to all of you we had actually begun the process of becoming family farmers.  By 1993, in our 17th year of making a living through the working of the land, with three children growing up on the farm, we could write letters from the farm with the full sense of being family farmers.  But it took about that long for us to feel deserving of the name.

Along the way, about the year 2000, we began to see that we were not going to finish our farm, that there would always be more to do, that always, always a mature, stable, integrated farm system would elude us in our lifetime and that our job was to do the part that we were allotted and then pass it on to the next farmer.  So, about then, we agreed to ourselves to not expect ourselves to be finished farmers, to not expect our farm to be a finished farm, to be content with our given task, to remember that a mature farm takes generations of stability and generations of support in the community, and that we have been blessed to be part of that long process.  With this longer term perspective we embarked on 10 year project to build a farmhouse capable of nurturing a stable farm family, and before finishing that, began the 10 year process of protecting this land from the predatory marketing of working small family farms as investments and showplaces, which culminated in a beautiful ceremony in the meadow at the farm attended by a small representation of the thousands of people who participated in the successful completion of that effort.   Reading through the newsletters of those years, and reliving in a small way the events, the births and deaths, the ongoing festivals and celebrations, the great rains and winds and droughts that kept our attention locally directed to caretaking of this piece of the earth, I could feel again each deepening of awareness that what is going on around us is exactly enough, that the slow passage of a lifetime of farming is good enough.

So this year as in all others on the farm, as we make that last delivery of the year, think that while we are breathing a great sigh of relief, while we are anticipating the joy of a few weeks on our own out here on the farm, and while we are doing the planning that will guide our efforts through the coming year, we are also thinking of all the years past, of the things that we have learned and of how we may pass the treasures learned here on the farm to the next generation and beyond.  As I sat last night with a good friend, we agreed that we are both very, very lucky to have been part of all this, and to have done it together with so many good people.   Thanks, Jeff

 

Sausage and Swiss Chard Strata

A strata is great for breakfast or brunch because it can be made ahead. Instead of bulk sausage, you can use Italian sausage links and remove the meat from the casing.

1 pound bulk sweet or spicy Italian sausage

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 bunch Swiss chard (1 pound), stems diced medium, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces and rinsed

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 day-old baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 1/2 cups whole milk

7 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (3 ounces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to a small bowl, leaving behind as much fat as possible. Add shallots and chard stems to skillet and cook over medium until shallots are translucent, 3 minutes. Add a little water to pan and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet with spoon. Add chard leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread half the sausage in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and top with half the chard mixture. Top with bread, overlapping slices slightly. Top with remaining sausage and chard mixture. In a large bowl, whisk together milk and eggs, season with salt and pepper, and pour evenly over top. Firmly press on strata to submerge bread in egg mixture. Cover dish tightly with foil and let sit 10 minutes (or refrigerate up to overnight). Bake strata 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until cheese melts and egg mixture is mostly absorbed and set in center, 6 to 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Source Everyday Food, April 2011

 

Spicy Stir Fried Tatsoi

Spicy stir fried tatsoi is an easy, delicious way to make the most of this dark green member of the nutritious cruciferous family. Some studies show that cruciferous vegetables may be protective of some cancers so it’s in our interest to eat and enjoy them. Tatsoi is a really beautiful looking vegetable. It looks like a green crown when first picked. Cooked this way, it makes for a tasty side. Try it with some lemon soy baked tofu, grilled tempeh or just with some basic brown rice. Either way, it’s a great dish.

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoons finely diced fresh ginger

1 small clove garlic sliced

1 Serrano pepper seeds removed and finely diced

1 medium shallot thinly sliced.

4 to 6 small carrots julienned

½ lemon, juice & zest, juice divided.

1 small head of tatsoi, leaves and stems

2 tablespoons shredded basil leaves

Sea salt Water as needed. *per serving

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium high flame. Add the cumin, and let sizzle for 30 seconds or until the cumin darkens. Add the ginger, garlic and Serrano chili. Cook stirring until garlic starts to color. Add shallots cook stirring 2-3 minutes or until shallots start to color. 2. Add the carrots. Sprinkle with salt. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add lemon zest and ½ the lemon juice. When it evaporates add 2 tbsp water. Cook stirring over high heat until the water has almost gone and the carrots have softened, about 5 minutes. 3. Add the tatsoi. Mix into the veggies. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, and then add another tablespoon of water. Servings:4

 

Carrot and Mayocoba Soup

As always, some of the best dishes come from trying to use up leftovers. I’ve been on a carrot kick. I like them. I want to love them, but they tend to go bad before I can finish them. I was determined not to let that happen this time!

¼ pound pancetta, cubed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus about a spoonful to garnish

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

2 bunches of carrots (approx 1.5 to 2 pounds), peeled and chopped

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Mayocoba beans (plus 1 cup of bean broth)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot, cook the pancetta in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until cooked through and chewy, about 7–10 minutes. Keep stirring so that the pieces don’t burn. Remove the pancetta and reserve, leaving the oil in the hot pan. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and carrots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, taking care to scrape any caramelized bits off the bottom of the pot, and stir to incorporate them into the liquid. Continue cooking for 10 minutes. Add the beans and the broth to the carrot mixture. Stir well and then puree them with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender, taking care not to overfill the blender jar with hot liquid. You can also puree without the beans and add them later if you want more texture to your soup. Cook the blended soup for another 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Check for seasoning, noting that the pancetta can be salty and possibly your cooked beans as well. Serve sprinkled with the reserved pancetta, chopped parsley and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. Serves 2–4

 

Wheat Berries with Roasted Parsnips, Butternut Squash & Dried Cranberries

Healthy whole grains star in this colorful recipe, which pares wheat berries — whole wheat kernels — and roasted root vegetables. Enjoy as a side dish for roasted meats or as a light meal on its own.

1 cup wheat berries, rinsed

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small butternut squash, halved, seeded, peeled and cut into 12-inch pieces

1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

5 cloves garlic, unpeeled

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed

2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 green onions, dark and light green parts, chopped

 In a pot, combine 3 1/2 cups (28 fl. oz./875 ml.) water, the wheat berries and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450ºF (220ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the parsnips, squash, red onion and garlic on the prepared sheet. Drizzle with the 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) oil and the vinegar and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast, stirring once, until the vegetables are caramelized and fork-tender, about 25 minutes. Peel the roasted garlic, break into small pieces and return to the sheet. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl with the wheat berries and stir to combine. Add the parsley, cranberries and green onions and mix well. Drizzle with additional oil if the mixture needs more moisture. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 4-6.

 

Cold Lemon Soufflé

Aside from fresh sliced juicy peaches; this is the best desert I know.  It’s a showstopper for company because so few people have ever had it.  It has incredible tang and zest. It is so easy so don’t let the word soufflé scare you into not making it. 

5 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large lemons

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

2 cups whipping cream (heavy cream, do not use from a can)

1/8 tsp. Cream of tartar

2 cups raspberries (can use 1 pkg. frozen if fresh is hard to find)

Beat egg yolks and sugar together.  Grate the rinds of all 3 lemons (the small grate on a regular cheese grater) and squeeze juice, measuring out 2/3 of it.  Add the rind to the egg yolk mixture, and then gradually add the 2/3c lemon juice, beating all the while.

Soften the gelatin in 1/2-cup water and heat until it is liquid.  Allow it to cool slightly (but watch it…it solidifies fast…and wash that pan (or soak) right away or it will be though to clean later). Whip the cream lightly and stir it into lemon mixture, then stir in gelatin and continue stirring until mixture begins to thicken (this will be obvious).  Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar (helps them to be firm) until they are stiff; fold into lemon mixture (with rubber spatula). Spoon into soufflé dish, chill 3 hours.  Serve with raspberries over the top. Serve 10 to 12~This is adapted from Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas.