June 18, 2019

 

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Bock Choy, Chard, Apricots, Kale, Sage, Squash and Onions

What’s in your FLOWER BOUQUET: Feverfew, Fleabane, Scabiosa, Statice, Yarrow, Coreopsis, Shasta Daisies, & Echinacea.

What’s in your FRUIT BAG? Mulberries, Apricots and Raisins. 

 

 

This Week on The Farm

Our lives, the farm life really revolves around the fruit harvest, every year.  This year it started with the mulberries which have been the most exciting addition to Good Humus since, well I’m not sure, maybe since the planting of our citrus orchard. The mulberries have been pretty easy, we harvest them almost every day to keep up with the ripening ones, but we only have 10 trees, so it is not a crop that we have to be on top of. But when the first stone fruit starts, that is when the pace is picked up, the heat is on so, to speak. Jeff changes to a completely single minded, focused fruit picking man, his blinders are on, many other jobs get postponed, and ya don’t mess with him. If the rest of us don’t join the focus, then well heated words go flying. There are not many crops that are here for 3 weeks and then gone, with the weather the most critical determining factor if we get the crop or not, be it too cold, too wet, too hot the fruit will be effected. Cauliflower can be like that, if you don’t pick it before it opens up well then that beautiful white head turns yellow, not too desirable, but still edible. The fruit harvest has been what our summers revolve around; everything comes second to the fruit harvest, or third or completely forgotten. As we have aged, and our trees have aged the amount of fruit trees we have has decreased, making it not as stressful as years of past. But their pressure, and honestly importance to our income continues. Plus, the apricots are my favorite.

The perfect place that apricots grow, and every year I go back to this place in my mind, is up at 10,000 feet along a rivulet from the high mountains of northern India, where the water comes from 3” mostly in snowfall, where the folks know how to divert water across miles of rocky landscape and the apricot is the sweetest food in their diet-that is where the apricots call home. I have a few trees from those mountains, and they don’t produce much, maybe a box every 7 years, so they know this place is not home to them. The apricot has transformed, and emigrated to the rest of the world, and there are only a few places that resemble those mama roots. I can remember climbing trees and picking apricots with my mom in Brentwood when I was a teenager. Those were not the large gnarly trees I remember climbing in India, but the fruit was pretty darn good and I may have eaten more than what went into my box. Then in the early days of Good Humus we harvested from a very old orchard along Sackett Lane in Winters-it was dry farmed, more like the trees in India, depending on the weather to give them what they needed. Now those were the best apricots I had ever eaten, of course later in my life, they will never compare with the indigenous ones at the top of the world, but hard to compete with place, people and the moment. The fruit from our orchard here is good, not as good as the dry farmed cots, or those that carry the beginning of the fruit line of existence, but our fruit carries all of these stories in them. So you can see, and I know, you already know, but for those few new folks I just had to catch you up on our love affair with the apricots, see if when you eat them you can taste the stories behind this fruit, the long road it has traveled to get to you. Have a great week~Annie

 

This morning and for the last few days we are keeping our fingers crossed for the apricots.  When the winter cold and damp held on for so long in April and May, we knew there would be a late apricot crop and that would land them smack dab into the middle of potential summer heat.  Sure enough, we had a heat wave just before they started to ripen, a few days of 100 degrees or more and with those nights when it just doesn’t cool off.  We moved our sprinklers into the apricot orchard and during the hottest part of the day and into the evening we ran them, depending on the evaporation cooling effect to bring the temperature down a few degrees.  Apricots are just such a persnickety fruit, well known for their demanding nature.  Well, part of that is a distressing tendency to cook around the pits when the nighttime temperatures stay high for awhile too long.  It really is a high desert fruit, still being found in its wild state along the rocky high ridges of the barren mountains that form the barrier between China and her neighbors to the south.   Thus the cooling off period at night is essential.  This characteristic, along with others has defined the historic borders of existence for the older heirloom and wild apricots.  So the Santa Clara Valley, with its cooling sea breezes and coastal moderation became the initial California home of the Blenheim apricot, and it’s planting and harvest later spread around the Bay Area to Brentwood, Solano County and even Winters seeking the right conditions for good harvest.  But even in Winters, it has always been known that west of what is now 505 pit burn due to the later harvest was a possibility.  Up here, detached as we are from the marine influences, we bite our nails and keep the sprinklers at the ready in a sometimes vain, sometimes lifesaving gesture.  So this afternoon we will be setting up our sprinklers.  Stay in touch, the season finale will be a barn raiser!! Have a great week ~Jeff

 

Baby Bok Choy Salad with Sesame Dressing

This Baby Bok Choy Salad is full of crunchy almonds, ramen noodles, and a sweet Sesame Dressing. It's like Chinese takeout in salad form!

 DRESSING:

¼ cup light brown sugar

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (see notes)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

SALAD:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 package ramen noodles crumbled, seasoning packet discarded

¼ cup sliced almonds

1 bunch baby bok choy sliced (5 – 6 bulbs)

5 scallions chopped

To make the dressing, in a small bowl or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine brown sugar, olive oil, vinegar, sesame seeds, and soy sauce. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature while preparing the rest of the salad. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to low. Add ramen noodles and almonds; sauté until toasted, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. In a large bowl, combine baby bok choy, scallions, and crunchy mix. Drizzle salad dressing over the top and toss until uniformly combined. Serve at room temperature. You may purchase toasted sesame seeds or toast regular sesame seeds yourself. To toast sesame seeds, place in a dry skillet over the lowest possible heat and shake frequently until lightly golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. To make ahead, mix Sesame Dressing and store covered in the refrigerator. The baby bok choy and scallions may be chopped and store separately in containers in the refrigerator. The crunchy mix may be toasted ahead of time, cooled, and stored at room temperature. I recommend that you prep the ingredients no more than 1 day ahead of time. To make the salad gluten free, leave out the ramen noodles and sub GF soy sauce.

 

Oven Fries with Crisp Sage Leaves

As beautiful to look at as they are great to eat, these golden slices of potato are scented and subtly flavored with crisp cooked sage. They are an incredible snack or a perfect savory side to any meal, from chicken to filet mignon. You can double this recipe and use the baking sheets. For even browning, toaster the baking sheets halfway through the first 40 minutes of baking.

2 small baking potatoes about 1 pound

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

12 sage leaves

Preheat oven to 400

Cut each potato lengthwise into 6 equal slices. Place potato slices in a large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, toss well to coat potato slices. Remove potatoes slices from bowl. Reserve remaining oil and salt in bowl, set aside. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 40 minutes or until the potato slices are golden brown on the bottom. Remove slices from oven, but leave oven on. Add sage leaves to saved oil and salt in bowl. Gently rub sage leaves along bottom of bowl, coating both sides with live and salt. Working with one potato slice at time, lift slice from baking sheet with a think spatula. Lay a sage leaf on baking sheet and cover with potato slice browned side down. Repeat with remaining slices and sage. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, remove from heat. Using a thin spatula, carefully turn potato slices over with leaves on tip. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until bottoms begin to brown. Serve immediately

 

Swiss Chard Tzatziki

In an otherwise traditional tzatziki, Swiss chard stands in for cucumber, adding a wealth of nutrients; whole-wheat pita wedges bring fiber to the hors d'oeuvre

1 cup green or red Swiss chard, stemmed and finely chopped

1 garlic clove

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 whole-wheat pitas, cut into wedges and toasted

Prepare an ice bath; set aside. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add chard; cook until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain. Immediately plunge into ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain. Using a mortar and pestle, grind garlic and salt into a paste. Stir chard, yogurt, garlic paste, oil, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Serve with pita wedges. Cook's Notes Tzatziki can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week.

 

Spaghetti with Kale and Lemon

I used to be strictly a red sauce and spaghetti noodle kinda girl. However, I would like to think my taste buds have matured over the years. (Maybe matured is not the right word, since I still prefer to hide my veggies in other foods so I don’t really taste them.)  However, this dish helped me realize that kale really can taste good! Granted it gets a little help from olive oil, garlic, lemon and my favorite, cheese, but this was really good!

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes depends on the level of heat you prefer

1/2-1 bunch of kale stems removed and chopped

1/4 cup walnuts toasted (or nut/seed of choice, sesame would be good)

Zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Sea salt and pepper to taste

12 oz spaghetti noodles

1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Asiago or Romano

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic and pepper flakes until fragrant, stirring frequently, approx. 30-45 seconds. Add kale, and stir until slightly wilted. Remove from heat and stir in walnuts, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook pasta in well-salted water according to package directions. Once done, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain. Add pasta to skillet, tossing to coat. Add reserved water as needed to reach desired consistency Sprinkle with cheese before serving. My kids wouldn’t eat this since it contained a green vegetable other than lettuce or cucumbers, but I thought this was delicious! Light, yet filling, and healthy. The red pepper gives it a nice little kick too, but the amounts can be adjusted to suit your taste buds.  From Eat at Home

 

Apricot-Compote Yogurt Parfaits

Build your own fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts with homemade compote for a week's worth of breakfasts ready to go. Twitter Google+

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons water

Pinch of coarse salt

1 pound fresh apricots (5 to 6), pitted and cut into eighths

2 containers (17 ounces each) fat-free plain Greek yogurt

Toasted sliced almonds, for serving (optional)

In a small saucepan, bring 1/4 cup honey, water, and salt to a simmer over medium; stir until honey dissolves, 1 minute. Add apricots. Raise heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring often, until fruit is soft and liquid is syrupy, and 10 to 12 minutes (adjust heat if necessary to keep at a constant simmer). Divide compote among seven small glass jars or airtight containers. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cool, 10 minutes. Stir 1 tablespoon honey into each of the containers of yogurt; divide yogurt among jars. Serve with toasted sliced almonds if desired. Yield: Makes 7