January 8, 2019

 

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Turnips, Butternut Squash, Radishes, Cilantro, Bok Choy, Salad Mix and Grapefruit

What’s in this Week’s FRUIT BOX: Mandarins, Oranges, Meyer Lemons and Grapefruit

 

 

This Week on the Farm

It is a little bit creaky getting back in the saddle again around here.  Those two weeks off, so precious a rejuvenation after we came gasping to the finish line in December!  Luckily, we were made for that kind of a life and besides, we always can remember that anyway, we signed up for all this.  So the start may require a little more effort, the reactions may slow a little, but with adjustments, here we are at the starting gate for our 43rd race.

The year is starting out similar to all the others.  That is one wonderful thing about a farm: no matter how fierce or benign the changes in life around the farm, the processes that support the farm change more slowly.  The rains are here, it promises to be a wetter year than we are used to.  The earth is tilting on its axis and the days are getting longer, so temperatures in the soil are on their way toward spring.  The chilling requirements for the fruit buds are piling up in at a good rate, and due to the quiet growth of the season, the deer and turkeys are not frantic to find the little green transplants and emerging seeds of the fall.  Here in January, as always, we sit and wait for the plants to feel the new warmth and begin that fantastic spring rush to maturity.   After all these years of doing it, we know that we will be starting greenhouse plants shortly, anticipating the surety of the drying of the ground sometime soon.  Our new planting of wine grapes, one of my nods to retirement, have survived their first two years at Good Humus.  The citrus trees are bringing us a bumper crop of oranges, grapefruit, lemons and tangelos.

            So there is so much comfort to be taken from the progression of the familiar times of the farm.  At the same time it would be foolish to be ignoring the rush of uncertain biological, social and technological events.  In this world, the farm is as complicit and as immersed as any urban worker or suburban commuter.  As enticing as it is, there is no escape into the beauty of the landscape around us.  Our sensors and the long term studies by committed individuals tell us that there exists no such thing as a safe haven from environmental changes sweeping the globe.   The thought that my small 20 acre home for a relatively diverse habitat will provide a refuge from global change is not borne up by study. 

            It is important for me, as I enter the coming year to bring to the light of my endeavors the reality of my work as I know it.  As I have studied my mixed bag of efforts to caretake our home, I am increasingly aware that there is no way to miss the impact of my practices on the surrounding and distant environment.  It is essential that this impact be catalogued clearly from my limited perspective in order to find an appropriate path forward, a path that signals to all concerned that there is an effort being made to find a way that will at a minimum pass through these turbulent times and with the best of luck and effort, will endure. 

            It has been an unwelcome discovery that the unlimited wealth of crystal clear, lightly mineralized and ancient water that we have been using to support our efforts is not unlimited.  What a surprise that was when the drought started 8 or 10 years ago and simultaneously the investing world discovered the beauty of the relatively cheap land and the free water of the lower Sacramento Valley.  As the pistachio, walnut, grape, olive and almond crops multiplied, so has their impact on our aquifer.  The lesson for me is that nothing is unlimited.   When we came here we planted windbreaks in the first year, an Australian fast-growing, drought-resistant hardwood in a line every 300 ft, about 500 in all.  At the time, my brother Marty who is a forestry consultant in the Ashland area mentioned that it seemed like a lot of one tree in the quest for diversity.  He was right, and we planted California natives in their shadow in order to eventually replace them.   The native drought tolerant species have done well in the shadow of those Casuarina, in spite of that trees ability to gather in every drop of water that falls within 100 ft of them.  But they are the biggest pest of my crop production on the farm, far outweighing eve3n the deer.  The lesson to me is moderation and diversity.  So many lessons, so many mistakes, such a long path, and so far to go.

            Adjustment and flexibility.  Those are the essential elements necessary to learn from my mistakes and to apply what I have learned.  The adjustment, in moderation and with a clear experience from the past, is our responsibility.  The flexibility is the beautiful gift of all those that support us through the years, insuring that along with the will to change that there is the wherewithal to make the changes in a world that is in constant, unrelenting, unforeseeable motion.   With all this in view, we look forward to confronting the challenges of the New Year with the same hope as always.  Jeff

 

Curried Slow Cooked Vegetable Stew

Serve over Basmati Rice to soak up the delicious sauce!

2 cups ½ inch cubes butternut squash

1 cup ½ inch cubes turnips

1 cup ½ inch cubes Parsnips

1 cup ½ inch cubes Carrot

1 cup ½ inch cubes Onion

½ cup diced tomato (or one can diced tomato)

½ cup vegetable broth

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 (15oz) can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained

1 (12.5 oz) jar Maya Kaimal Madras Curry Sauce

Cooked basmati rice

Chopped fresh parsley

Place all ingredients except rice and parsley in a large slow cooker and stir to mix. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Spoon over hot cooked rice and sprinkle with parsley and serve. Prep 20 minutes Cook 4-8 hours Serves 8

 

Bok Choy with Cashews

Quick and easy bok choy recipe. Bok choy sautéed in olive oil with garlic, green onions and a dash of sesame oil. Then mixed with roasted, salted cashews. Serves 4.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped green onions, including green ends

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound bok choy, rinsed, larger leaves separated from base, base trimmed but still present, holding the smaller leaves together

1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil

Salt

1/2 cup chopped, roasted, salted cashews

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add onions, then garlic, then bok choy. Sprinkle with sesame oil and salt. Cover, and let the baby bok choy cook down for approximately 3 minutes. (Like spinach, when cooked, the bok choy will wilt a bit.) Remove cover. Lower heat to low. Stir and let cook for a minute or two longer, until the bok choy is just cooked. Gently mix in cashews.

 

Thai Rice Noodles with Cashews and Coconut Sauce

1 14 ounce can low fat coconut milk

½ cup water

6 slices fresh ginger ¼ inch slices

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 Serrano chilies red or green cut in half

1 pablano Chile

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

6 large cloves garlic peeled

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon honey or agaves

½ cup almond or peanut butter

1 cup toasted cashews chopped

12 ounces uncooked rice noodles

3 scallions finely chopped

 Wedges of lime

Combine the coconut milk and water in a medium sized saucepan, add the ginger, lime juice, chilies, garlic, coriander, mint, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered 10 minutes. It will curdle slightly, but don’t worry. Remove from the heat and stir in the sweetener. (At this point the sauce can steep for several hours, or even overnight or you can proceed with the rest of the recipe right away).The recipe says to strain the mixture through a fine sieve, but I just removed the hot Serrano chili and then put the mixture in a blender and blended, I then added the almond butter and blended until smooth. Heat a pot full of water to a rapid boil, add the noodles and cook according to the directions on the package. Drain the noodles rinse, and drain again, then transfer to a large shallow serving dish. Immediately add the minced scallions and all of the sauce. Toss well. Serve hot or warm with wedges of lime, and sprinkle with chopped cashews on top. Serve hot or warm with wedges of lime, and sprinkle with chopped cashews on top. 4-6 servings from Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven

 

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar

1 cup oil

4 eggs

2 cups pumpkin or butternut squash

3 ½ cup flour

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons soda

½ teaspoon cloves

1-3 teaspoons nutmeg

1-3 teaspoons cinnamon

1-3 teaspoons allspice

2/3 cup water

Cook your fresh winter squash or pumpkin until soft in the oven whole or steam peeled and chopped. Remove seeds, peel off skin and you are ready to use in the pumpkin bread recipe. Mix sugar and oil, add sugar, and stir in pumpkin. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, soda and spices. Add alternately with water, Bake 1 hour at 350 makes 2 large loaves

 

Citrus Salad with Myer Lemon Syrup and Thyme

3 Grapefruit

3 Blood Oranges

5 Oranges

½ Cup lemon Juice (Myer)

¼ Cup Sugar

2 Sprigs of Time

Section fruits and refrigerate in separate containers. (See instructions below). Put lemon juice and sugar in a small sauce pan and heat to boiling. Watch very carefully, cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Set aside to cool. Arrange fruit in bowl or on platter and pour cooled lemon syrup over sections. Separate Thyme leaves from sprig and chop slightly. Sprinkle over sections and serve.

 

How to Section Citrus

Sectioning a citrus fruit is also known as making suprémes. When you have finished sectioning a citrus fruit, you have removed the tough and bitter segments from the citrus and you have extracted all of the fruit's luscious juices.

1. Remove both the top and bottom from the citrus.

2. Position a standard, sharp kitchen knife just to the inside of the orange rind, where the flesh meets the skin. It is important to cut off as much of the bitter-tasting white colored flesh (called pith ) as possible. You do not want to allow any of the white pith to stay on the flesh, but you also do not want to cut away too much of the flesh itself.

3. Slice down, following the curve of the citrus to remove as much pith as possible while maintaining the round shape of the citrus.

4. Clean off any pith that you see attached to the outside of the citrus.

5. Remove the strings of white pith from the inside of the citrus by inserting a knife just on the inside of a pith line. Cut into the citrus, following the line of pith almost halfway through the citrus.

6. Then, find the line of pith that is holding the slice you are working with secure to the citrus. Being careful not to slice through the pith itself, cut inside that line of pith and remove a pith-free triangular piece of fruit.

7. Continue this process of removing slices of pith-free citrus from the fruit until there is no more fruit to cut. Peel back and hold each pith flap out of your way as you go.

8. When you are done removing slices of citrus, squeeze the juices from the pith into a bowl with suprémes. By Chef Juliet Crites