July 20th, 2021

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Chard, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Grapes, Basil, Red Onion, Squash, Cucumbers

 

Bread this week: Puligese OR Whole Wheat, your choice of one

 

 

If you placed an order for peaches, please look for the box with your name on it. They ALL have names, so if you don’t see it, look on the back of the box. If you do not see your name please email and we will help you. Please do not take another box with someone else’s name. If you are having someone new pick up for you, please tell them what to look for.



This Week on the Farm

This week we move into the full-blown summer box.  You know, the one you will be so ready to give up by the end of September.  This summer, as in summers past, this is our time to relax our worries about not having enough to fill the box.  Summer overproduction, that’s what it is all about.  Do any of you have a neighbor, or perhaps this fits you who are constantly at your doorstep giving away tomatoes, squash, eggplant, perhaps a melon?   They know that there is a chance that you don’t want their extras, but are willing to give it a try because they just planted too much in the long ago days of March, April and May.  Easy to do, and to a gardener, it is a sacrilege to waste the rewards of the earth enhanced by labor.  Well, we are that gardener neighbor on steroids.  Summer is a constant question.   Why?  Why?  Why did we plant more than we can do?  For us, it is a matter of trust.  We trust that there will be some crops that will disappear each summer without us seeing a single pickable fruit, flower, leaf or root.  We trust that disease, insects, birds, weeds, and other neighboring species will want their share since they live here next to us, and if you don’t eat, you die.  We trust that there will be enough left over for us to send off to all our friends.  Pretty much it works.  But we have learned to beware of exciting times, or even unusual times.  This year pretty much qualifies as an unusual year.      

I don’t hear anyone wondering what is unusual about this year.   More like, what is not unusual?  When we think of a civilization in tumult, we can all pretty much say we know something about unusual.  But here on the farm, there are other, smaller but telling signs of unusual.  It is unusual to have a rapid expansion of ground squirrels and jack rabbits in a year when there is so little food for them.  The snakes and hawks that feed on them are taking their time about increasing, but we see more snakes than ever before.  Unfortunately, we have lost our greater predators, as the fox family and bobcat mother and daughters have migrated elsewhere.  Surprisingly, deer seem to have had a banner year, albeit late.  What is all this procreation in the middle of a drought?  Upshot is, we have an unusual number of deer, squirrels, jackrabbits, and birds.  And looking out the window at the dry, dry hills, I know that the water and food available at Good Humus Produce is like a magnet for those that are brave.  And boy are they brave.  I can get off of any vehicle and walk within 20 ft of a jackrabbit.  Deer are congregating in our orchards and hedgerows any time day or night.  The feeding requirements of all these sudden neighbors, daily searching for food to make it through the day, means less for us.  That is why we plant too much, so that as our share reduces from 80% to 50% there is still enough for us to say we can harvest the excess.  But we cannot predict it all, nor can we control the results of allowing a little freedom to the natural processes that have sustained our species rise to dominance.  So there were no mulberries, falling victim to winter drought, birds and deer.  There are no trellis cucumbers, the young plants plucked from the ground by who knows who?  Melons, reduced by half.   Slicing cucumbers, squash…reduced by half.  All so unusual, but so natural a response to an unusual time.

The trees are suffering.  Again, how could they not in this unusual time?  Driving across the region, I begin to notice dead and dying leaves and branch tips.  Entire trees are pulling back into their cores, leaving exposed parts to fend for themselves.  On the farm, every tree that hasn’t found some source of water at its roots, is stricken.  And even many of those that we have been watering regularly show the effects of a vascular system that is certainly not adapted to the extremes of heat, wind and drought that we are experiencing.  I especially worry about the redwood trees out our bedroom window.   In my frequent summer watering, I can gauge the health of the tree by the certain response of the tree to a deep watering.  The sudden appearance of new needles at the growing tips is always reassuring, but this year, not so much.  I miscalculated the depth of the crisis below ground and as they pulled back during a hot spell in the spring, many normally growing tips died back.  So unusual after 35 years and 80’ of growth. 

There is so much more going on in the worlds that inhabit this farm, but I have to stop before talking about weeds, insects, molds and fungi.   Rest assured, the box is full of the best of the survivors of yet another year in the Great Central Valley of California.   Have a great week ~ Jeff

 

 

Summer Squash with Spiced Lime Sour Cream

Source: The Hungry Hutch 

 

1 pound summer squash or zucchini, halved and scored

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Vegetable oil, for searing

1/2 cup sour cream

1 lime, zested and juiced, plus more wedges for serving

1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Toss the squash with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes; pat dry with a paper towel. Heat some oil a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. In batches, add the squash cut-side down and sear until browned, 3 to 5 minutes; flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a platter. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, lime zest and juice, hot sauce, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper. As needed, thin out the sauce with a little bit of water to get it to drizzle. Taste and season with salt or more hot sauce as desired. To served, drizzle the sauce over the cooked squash on the platter, sprinkle with some cilantro, and place a few lime wedges on the side.

 

Potato Gratin with Swiss Chard and Sumac Onions

Source:  Yotam Ottolenghi from NYT Cooking

 

FOR THE SUMAC ONIONS:

¼ cup olive oil

1 ½ pounds red onions, peeled, halved and sliced about 1-centimeter thick

Kosher salt

1 ½ tablespoons dried sumac

FOR THE GRATIN:

2 ½ pounds (skin-on) potatoes, very thinly sliced into rounds

1 ¾ pounds chard, leaves torn from stems (stems reserved for another use) and roughly shredded (about 6 packed cups)

⅔ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley for garnish

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 1/4 cup juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces mature Cheddar, roughly grated (about 3 cups)

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

3 tablespoons heavy cream (double cream)

FOR THE BROWN-BUTTER PINE NUTS:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup pine nuts

Kosher salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare the onions: Add the oil to a large, ovenproof lidded skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt to the hot oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the sumac and remove from the heat. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Prepare the gratin: Add the potatoes, shredded chard, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper to a large bowl and mix well to combine. Fold through three-quarters of the sumac onions and half the cheese, and then transfer everything to the skillet, smoothing out the top to even out the potato slices. In a measuring cup or bowl, combine the stock, cream and lemon juice, and pour this all over the potato mixture. Cover tightly with foil, then top with the lid. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the gratin from the oven, and remove the lid and foil. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining cheese and bake, uncovered, until golden and bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let gratin settle for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the pine nuts: Add the butter to a medium skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the pine nuts and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are golden and the butter has browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the buttered nuts to the bowl with the remaining sumac onions. When ready to serve, stir the extra parsley into the sumac onion mixture and spoon this all over the gratin.

 

 

Garlic, Tomato & Basil Chicken

Source: Karina from Café Delites

 

4 chicken breasts fillets, skinless and boneless

Salt and pepper, to season

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon butter, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic or 6 large cloves of garlic Lightly pound chicken breasts between 2 sheets of parchment paper until they are all the same thickness. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil and 2 teaspoons of butter in a skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Fry breasts on both sides until golden browned and completely cooked through (about 5-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fillets). Once cooked, transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Heat remaining butter and oil in the pan. Fry garlic until fragrant (about one minute). Add the tomatoes and cook for two minutes, or until they just begin to soften. Turn off the heat and stir through basil. Season with any extra salt and pepper, if needed. Add the chicken back into the pan, and spoon the pan juices and tomato/garlic mixture all over the chicken! Perfect to serve with a salad, garlic bread, rice or pasta!  Serve with balsamic glaze for extra flavor!

 

Cucumber Salad

Source:  Jeanine and Jack from Love & Lemons

 

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

½ tablespoon agave nectar or honey

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds

⅓ cup thinly sliced red onions

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves

Pickled mustard seeds, optional (recipe below)

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, optional

Pickled Mustard Seeds, optional

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds

Make the pickled mustard seeds, if using. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stir in mustard seeds, reduce the heat, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes or until the mustard seeds are plump. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Make the salad. In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, agave nectar, cucumber, onion, salt, sesame oil, and dill. Toss to coat and chill for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, leaving some of the excess water behind. Top with fresh mint, dollops of pickled mustard seeds, if using, and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Season to taste and serve.

 

Basil Grape Crush

Source: Blyth’s Blog

 

2 large basil leaves

5 - 6 seedless grapes, red or green

1 lime wedge

1 tablespoon simple syrup

2 shots vodka

2 shots of soda water

First, muddle the basil, grapes and simple syrup in a glass. Then add in the vodka and squeezed lime wedge. This mixture is then poured into a shaker. Give it a good mix. Grab a small cocktail glass and fill it halfway with ice. Then you can pour in your mixture. I prefer to keep the muddled grapes and basil in the drink. However, it’s definitely an option to strain them out before you pour your drink into the cocktail glass, if you prefer your cocktails without pulp. Finally, pour the soda water into the glass and stir with a spoon.