June 4, 2019

 

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Carrots, Baby Chard, Baby Toscano Kale, Lettuce, Lavender, and Asparagus (which will be the last of the season)

What’s in your FLOWER BOUQUET: Dianthus, Feverfew, Fleabane, Scabiosa, Veronica, Statice, Coreopsis, Yarrow, Larkspur and Echinacea.

What’s in your FRUIT BAG? Mulberries, Ruby Red Grapefruit and Dried Plums. 

 

 

This Week on The Farm

Many of you have been to our farm here in Hungry Hollow.  It stands out for the greenery that surrounds our home and its gardens and for the mature native species hedgerows that run through it.  Most visible of course are the large windbreaks that are visible for miles.  We are acutely aware that all this is only possible through the use of ancient water that lies in gravel beds 300 feet below us laid down millions of years ago.  Without the use of that water, in natural circumstances, this might be a blue oak overstory, perhaps a valley oak here and there, perhaps with chaparral and other brush fields, and open grasslands.  So we have changed the natural regime drastically and I am certain that it is pretty unsustainable without the addition of all that water.  Toward what purpose do we alter the fundamental nature of the landscape?   What needs do we satisfy and what responsibilities to our family, community and world do we assume?

               These are essential questions in this time when it has become evident that our species is responsible for changes in the forces of nature and that the world surrounding us has more need of protection from us than we have from it.  So it was with decidedly mixed feelings that I came across two neighbors of ours in the last few days.  A four foot rattlesnake with 5 rattles lay across my path by the water trickle in the hedgerow at dusk on Sunday, and a mother and four smaller raccoons make a visit to our recycling area Monday evening just as I went by coming back from shutting off irrigation water in an outer field.  Earlier that afternoon, I saw the mangled body of that rattlesnake, its rattles intact but silent now, laying dead in the path where I had traveled with my tractor and manure spreader.  Twenty four hours earlier that rattlesnake had been a stunningly healthy living being, and those five raccoons showed appeared to be in active, sassy good health.  The young ones skittered away chattering at me and the Mom growled from under the van, warning me away.   So much happens on this complex farm, a normal, often unnoticed, part of daily life.  As I think about what happened in these instances, I am aware that the creation of this farm has also created a tiny refuge, a speck of a safe place to live in or to pass through.  We on the farm are responsible for how we act, how we become a part of all the surrounding life. Have a good week~Jeff

Now you may think I’m a bit “off” when I tell you what I have been doing. I know when I told Ali and Quincy while bunching flowers last Friday, Ali said I really sounded like a crazy person. So the story starts a few weeks ago when friends of ours organized a class on the Hawthorn tree. I have memories of my grandmothers Hawthorn tree in Santa Rosa and how beautiful it was in bloom and in the fall with full red berries. So I went to the class, got out of working the farmers market, on a rainy Saturday and learned about Hawthorns. One story that I will share is that it is the major tree in hedgerows of Europe almost 60% are Hawthorn. When they are 8 years old they cut a branch, not completely through but enough so that you can lay it down on the ground and the tree will then root and sprout creating a dense hedge. So dense that during WWII both the Germans and the Americans at Normandy had to re-navigate around the impenetrable hedgerows. In the class we drank Hawthorn leaf and flower tea, tasted Hawthorn syrup and ate Hawthorn Berries. It was fun to learn about a plant that I had no relationship with and made me want to plant a hedge on the “Back Ten” property. The teacher was from Washington State and has spent years studying the Hawthorns, and other medicinal herbs. She offers a 7 month herb internship and class and made a comment about what they have their students do during this class. They are asked to sit for 10 minutes for 10 days with a medicinal herb.

That is the background to my story, and now I will tell you that I have been spending time thinking about the White Sage that I have planted in my garden. I have tried multiple times to propagate it and have done summersaults to get the seed to germinate and got 1 out of 200 to sprout. So for our April plant sale I actually bought some gallon pots to add to my plant availabilities, but also because I wanted to plant more sage at the farm. So with the comment from the teacher in the Hawthorn class I decided to sit with my sage plants for 10 minutes for 10 days to better understand the plant, learn about  its medicinal properties, to become better acquainted with the sage and possibly understand why it is so hard to propagate. I also have been reading a book The Secret life of Plants and have only gotten to the first 3 chapters, but it is telling about the work done to prove that plants are receptive to human interactions. This one man hooked a lie detector to a leaf and then was going to take a match to the leaf and burn it but before he lit the match the lie detector started reacting-he says to his thought of burning its leaves.

So today is day 10 for me and the sage plants, and it has been something that I look forward to every day. The sage are out on the edge of the property looking south, it is pretty hidden from the rest of the farm, no one knows that I am there, even when folks pass on the road which is 6 feet away. I have a chair next to the sage and I just sit there and treat the plants like my best friends. I talk to them, study the plant morphology of them, watch who comes to visit them besides this wacko woman, and I sit breathing in their strong smell. The White Sage is Salvia Apiana, (Latin for belonging to the bees) a California native and guess who visits the sage at dusk but the big fat black native bumblebees. The bees are so big that when they land on the lower lip of this two lipped flower their weight pulls back the lower lip opening up the corolla tube where the nectar is hiding and the bee sips its nectar (nature continues to amaze me). You may know white sage from the sage sticks that are burned to cleanse negative energy in ceremonies or space. When I sat this week I become completely relaxed, sometimes fell asleep, but finish with a very calm good feeling, like maybe I don’t want to leave my hidden sanctuary. This last Saturday I was driving to the farmers market with my mind a whirling, and was able to get myself into a negative space, angry about this and that, which it is not where I want to be or go, but find myself there regardless. So if indeed a plant can receive our thoughts or responds to our actions, then why can’t I respond to theirs? So I mentally took myself back to my chair next to the sage and brought the memory of their smells and how they make me feel relaxed and good, and with that my mood changed and my anger dissipated. Sitting with the sage for this past week I feel that I took the time to be a part of the sage’s world, who visits it, what it is like to be rooted in the isolated place in my garden, and I came to an understanding of its healing powers. I’m not sure I will stop at 10 days, it has been a wonderful meditative place to end or start a day. Ok there you have it-one crazy woman that has a thing with plants. Have a great week~Annie

 

Strawberry Lavender Spritzer

Here is a summer cocktail to salute the beginning of summer!

¼ cup orange juice

1 cup fresh strawberries

1 tablespoon fresh lavender buds

3 cups white wine

4 cups mineral water

1-6 fresh lavender sprigs

4-6 fresh strawberries

In a blender or food processor, blend the orange juice, 1 cup of strawberries and lavender flowers. Transfer to a jug or bowl. Pour wine over the blended mixture and allow to steep for 30 minutes then strain into a punch bowl, discarding the solids. To serve, fill a wineglass half full and with this flavored wine and top with mineral water. Garnish with a sprig of lavender and strawberry.

 

Chard Patties

You can use a variety of greens for this but chard is the best though! This is one way that my kids love to eat greens, when they normally shy away from them. It is not a glamorous recipe, just a simple concoction.

1-2 bunches of Steamed greens chopped once cooked

1-cup cheddar cheese

1 egg

½ bread or cracker crumbs

Handful of Parmesan Cheese

Steam your greens; drain all the excess water off and then chop. Add the cheese, egg and breadcrumbs and mix well. It won’t really hold together in your hands, but you can spoon it onto a hot oiled griddle to make the patty. Cook until brown on both sides, but make sure to cook to the center about 7 minutes. Serve with rice, and yes, ketchup.

 

Carrot Cake

2 Cups Flour        

2 teaspoons baking powder               

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda  

1 teaspoon salt                    

2 teaspoons cinnamon                       

1 ½ cups sugar    

4 eggs   

1 ¼ cups crushed pineapple drained 

1-cup oil               

2 cups grated carrots          

1 ½ cups chopped nuts      

Sift together flour baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon into bowl. Add sugar, eggs and oil. Mix well. Add pineapple (make sure it is drained will or the cake will be too wet) carrots, and nuts. Put into 3 greased and floured 9” pans. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes

Frosting

½ cup soft butter

1 package 8 oz cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together and mix with 1 pound powdered sugar-over beating creates grainy frosting

 

Lavender Salad

Salad

8 cups lettuce or missed salad greens

4 slices red onion

1 sweet pepper seeded and sliced

1 large peach or nectarine cut into slices

1-2 ounces crumbled feta cheese

In a large salad bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Add the green, onion, pepper and fruit, toss with the dressing and top with the feta cheese.

Dressing

5 tablespoon lemon juice

5 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 teaspoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dried lavender

 

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

2 grapefruit

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon lime juice

12 ounces mixed salad greens

1 firm ripe avocado peeled and sliced

1/3 cup chopped smoked almonds (optional)

¼ cup thinly slice green onions

Salt and pepper

With a sharp knife, cut peel and outer membrane form grapefruit. Working over a strainer set over a bowl, cut between inner membranes and fruit to release segments into strainer. Squeeze juice from membranes into bowl. Discard peel and membranes. In a large bowl, combine oil, lime juice, and grapefruit juice. Add salad greens, and mix gently to coat. Divide evenly among four plates and top with grapefruit segments, avocado, almonds and green onions. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Plum Sauce 

Using Dried Plums rather than fresh fruit gives this plum sauce an especially rich flavor. Plum sauce has a combination of sweet, sour, and savory flavors. It is traditionally served with egg rolls, duck and other rich foods, but it is equally good as a glaze for tofu or vegetables. This version of plum sauce can also be used as a replacement for Hoisin sauce.

 1 1/2 cups prunes

1/2 to 1 cup water

1/3 cup red onion (chopped)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoons rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

3 cloves garlic (chopped) 1 tablespoon white wine

1 tablespoon ginger (fresh grated) Optional:

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chile pepper

1 small pinch star anise (or cloves; less than 1/8 teaspoons)

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium size pot. Start out with the smaller (1/2 cup) amount of water. Bring the ingredients to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add additional water only if the sauce starts to stick to the bottom of the pot.

~Dried plums that were dehydrated at home tend to be drier than their commercial cousins and may require the extra water

~Turn off the heat and let the ingredients cool for 10 minutes. Transfer them to a blender or food processor and puree the sauce until smooth. You can store the plum sauce in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.