June 2, 2020

 

What’s in this Week’s Veggie Box? Strawberries,
Green Onions, Zucchini, Collards, Carrots, Potatoes, and Spearmint 

 

This Week on The Farm

Jeff started writing the newsletter this morning, but had to run out and start picking the zucchini that has erupted into the summer season. So I took over, trying to finish what he started, so bare with the voice and writing change~Annie

 

At Good Humus this week we have all been keeping our eyes on the ground, so to speak.  Everyone at the farm has been busy transplanting, weeding, harvesting, packing, and all the rest of what it means to derive a living from the products of the fertility of the soil of the Sacramento Valley.  As I sit here at the start of another summer, listening to Francisco, Rogelio and Celia starting their day, I think back to the start of it all and have to wonder at the path that brought us here.  A lot of how we got here is down there in the barn, preparing to go to the fields, but Annie and I have never gotten the hang of leaving the work to others and so we, and now our children, have always been an essential part of the daily work force.   There are a lot of you that are joining the Good Humus CSA for the first time, and I would like to introduce ourselves.

               Forty-five years ago, when Annie and I got married, we had a set of dreams that brought us together.  We dreamed of living sustainably on the land, of raising our family in a rural setting, and of watching sunrises, sunsets and the passing of the seasons in peace and quiet.  At our wedding, I told Annie that I would build her a home in a meadow.  At the ages of 25 and 23, we fully believed that those dreams could come true.  Incredibly, they have.  But what a journey!  The details of our dreams may not be the same; we can’t always enjoy the sunrises or sunsets in peace and quiet, the snowcapped peaks behind the meadow that we envisioned are now the golden foothills of the California Coast Range, and sustainability is an elusive but constant goal as we navigate the 21st century.

               For a small, (26 acres) diversified, (fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, events, value added products produced for the people of the lower Sacramento Valley) family (yes, we did raise those children rurally) farm, Good Humus has been truly blessed by the growth of human relationships that have surrounded us.  We rented our first three quarters of an acre from Howard and Susan Beeman-Pelican, among the first organic farmers in Yolo County and who happened to live right across the street from our rented cottage between Woodland and Davis.  Howard taught me the ropes of vegetable farming in his unique way, and Susan thrived and raised a family amid the chaos of farm life.  They rented land to us for 8 years, eventually 10 acres, taking a stab at helping a young couple who were going to farm differently, and today Susan still buys from us at the Davis Farmer’s Market.

               That Davis Farmer’s Market has been the basis for so many relationships through the years.  We helped start it at about the same time we helped with the Davis Food Coop because we needed someplace, anyplace to sell our produce.  The organic food movement was so small in those days.  We rented two acres of apricots from Pat and Patty Marer west of Winters, flooded the small organic Market in the Bay area and sold the bulk of our crop to the commission houses at the San Francisco, South San Francisco and Oakland wholesale markets.  I am still proud that our closeted organic Blenheim apricots displayed and sold right alongside the fruit that was produced conventionally.  One of many beautiful relationships from the Davis Farmer’s Market was with Ed and Virginia Looney, a retired couple that grew a large garden in Woodland, but when they were full time farming in Brentwood, Ed was one of the largest apricot growers around. We became close friends and they also were our mentors in the new but old system of organic farming. There was not a lot of information out there, possibly Rodale Press was the easiest source of the “how to” for organic farming, but Ed had farmed his entire life, which included before WW2 and knew about farming without chemicals, so he would advise us on how to care take the fruit trees “organically.” Ed also had connections to the Conventional Produce Market in Oakland and was the one that helped us find a buyer at the Produce Houses. Another family that we met at the Davis Farmers Market that we quickly became close to was the Merrell’s; Gene, Margie. Gene an honest to goodness beach bum while he was young, worked for the State, and had an orchard called the Vine Grove in Winters. We would buy the last of their overripe fruit at the end of the market, eating it right on the spot, and driving home with fruit stains down our shirts because it was the drippiest, sweetest, best ever fruit! When we were ready to plant an orchard here on our new piece of property in the Hungry Hollow (which Ed Looney and his real estate friend found and purchased for us to rent) we asked Gene if we could get grafting wood from his orchard for our new rootstock trees. So the Royal Blenheim, Suncrest Peaches and the Flavortop Nectarines all came from Gene’s orchard.

               The true mentors that were really unconvinced and doubtful of our organic farming occupation at the beginning were our parents. Jeff’s dad worked for Del Monte’s fruit growers, spent many hours with them in their Central Valley fruit orchards. In their suburban backyard in Modesto Ted and Jane had about 20 various different varieties of fruit trees. One was a stunning pomegranate tree that produced the hugest tastiest fruit, and in his garden there were the largest sweetest red onions ever! We are always comparing our harvest with the memory of Ted Main’s size and flavor that came from his garden. When we first got married, my dad asked Jeff how we were going to make a living, and he said we were going to farm, and my dad said “yes, but how are you going to make a living”? Over time our parents warmed up to the idea of us farming, and became huge supporters in our lives. Ted Main helped Jeff do the grafting of all those fruit trees that was our first orchard. My dad loved doing the tractor mowing and construction and was right there alongside Jeff building our barn. My mom spent many days with us sorting apricots, or making us meals as we worked full days, mom even helped sell at the farmers markets in Marin and the Santa Rosa. Jane Main was a flower lover and arranger from way back, and grew the biggest plate size dahlias, beautiful fragrant roses, and heirloom iris, many of which are in our garden today.

               As we built our farm in the Capay Valley the organic farming community also grew, and those relationships that we have created have been the pillars of our daily work, and lives. We are very close to Paul and Dru Rivers Muller of Full Belly Farm through the years. Our children grew up almost as siblings, sometimes being mistaken for which family they were from.  We exchange farming practices, Dru and I talk flower shop talk as much as we can, and when in a down moment we are there for support for each other, guidance and a listening ear. There are not many out there that know the challenges, the life style, are on the riding wave of the organic farming practices and changes that are constantly happening, and that means we are not alone standing in our fields! Have a Great week~Jeff and Annie Main

 

Carrot Top Pesto

This pesto is great as a spread, blended in vinaigrette or swirled into soup. To help use all our vegetables, I chop up whatever looks interesting and steam to the texture I like, then add to a small amount of cooked noodles and toss with this carrot top pesto. I added some lemon zest and a drop of juice to brighten it up, plus some garlic to add flavor. Our family liked it with the pasta and chopped vegetables.

½ cup walnuts

2 cloves garlic, peeled

½ teaspoon salt

2 cup carrot tops, leaves stripped, stems removed, clean and spun dry

¼ cup grated Parmesan (optional)

½ lemon, juiced, seeds removed

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Note:  Add parsley or basil leaves if carrot tops don’t yield 2 cups. Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts for 10 -15 minutes or until toasted on a sheet pan or on stove top over medium heat stirring constantly so as not to burn. Allow to cool. Place walnuts, garlic and salt in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add carrot leaves, Parmesan and lemon juice. While the machine is running, drizzle oil in a steady stream through the top. Scrape sides of the bowl and pulse until smooth (or desired consistency). Adjust salt to taste.

 

Pasta with Greens & Tomato Sauce

This homey pasta dish uses pancetta (Italian bacon) in the tomato sauce, but for vegetarians it can be easily omitted. The collards and Parmesan elevate the calcium count to rival a cup of milk.

1 pound collard greens, (about 12 cups), stripped from thick stems, washed, dried and coarsely chopped (1/2-inch pieces)

2 ounces sliced pancetta, or bacon, finely diced (3/4 cup)

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, (not drained)

1/4 cup water

8 ounces medium pasta shells, (3 cups)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Bring 2 cups lightly salted water to a boil in a large wide pan. Add collards and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and press out excess moisture. Set aside. Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil for cooking pasta. Cook pancetta (or bacon) in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, 5 minutes. Drain; discard fat. Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 30 to 60 seconds. Add the pancetta (or bacon), tomatoes and water; bring to a simmer, mashing the tomatoes with a potato masher or the side of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes. About 10 minutes before the sauce is ready, cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring often, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta, collards and reserved pasta-cooking water to the tomato sauce. Heat, stirring, until the pasta has absorbed some of the flavors, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into pasta bowls, sprinkle with cheese and serve. From EatingWell: 4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each

Zucchini with Mint (Curcurica kin Menta)

Ricotta salata is a firm cheese common on the island. Salata means salty; the process for making the cheese involves salting traditional soft ricotta and aging it until it's firm. Purchase pane carasau (Sardinian music bread), a paper-thin flatbread, from GourmetSardinia (www.gourmetsardinia.com). «less

Ricotta salata is a firm cheese common on the island. Salata means salty; the process for making the cheese involves salting traditional soft ricotta.5.0 1

Click on the $ below to see savings

Find local grocery deals. Edit your ZIP code and select your favorite grocery stores to see what ingredients are on sale right now.

1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilClick to see savings

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion tops

5 cups cubed zucchini (about 2 pounds)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons torn mint leaves

6 tablespoons freshly crumbled ricotta salata cheese

2 sheets pane carasau (Sardinian music bread), each broken into 3 pieces

Mint sprigs (optional)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add zucchini, parsley, and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 20 minutes or until zucchini is tender, stirring frequently. Add torn mint; cook 1 minute. Sprinkle with cheese; serve over pane carasau. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.  Sardinian Music Bread is a traditional Italian flatbread whose name originates from its resemblance to ancient parchment on which the islands sacred music was written. The bread is made from just a few ingredients, flour, yeast, water, and salt.  Each thin flatbread is baked twice and it's used as an ingredient for appetizers or in salads. You can eat it like a cracker or pour a little olive oil on it and sprinkle on some salt.  You can serve it on your cheeseboard with cheese and thinly sliced salami. Substitute for Sardinian Music Bread-If you don't have Sardinian Music Bread you can substitute another flatbread such as Lavosh or see the recipe link to make your own. By Efisio Farris, Cooking Light  MARCH 2009

 

Gorgonzola and Green Onion Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

2 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 egg lightly beaten

½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese or other blue cheese 2 ounces

½ cup buttermilk or sour cream

1 tablespoon water

Fresh herbs such as dill, sage, rosemary, oregano, tarragon or thyme. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl stir together the flour, green onion, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside. In a small bowl stir together the egg yolk, cheese and buttermilk, add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once, using a fork, stir just until moistened. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it for 10-12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Divide dough in half and pat or lightly roll half of the dough into a 5 inch circle. Cut into 6 wedges or 3 inch circles or squares. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place wedges 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl stir together the egg white and water and lightly brush wedges with mixture. Top each wedge with a small herb sprig and brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. Remove scones from baking sheet, serve warm. Makes 12 scones. Better Homes and Garden 2012 All Time Favorites Cookbook