June 8, 2021

 

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Green Onions, Chard, Carrots, Zucchini, Oregano, Collards, and Apricots

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

 

Apricots Special Orders:

If you ordered a box for today it will be there for you today. Please double check to make sure you are taking the box with your name on it.

 

 

Dry

California Hills

so thirsty, so thirsty, so thirsty,

in this land of little water

and many people

we must finally understand

the truth of this place

feel the reality of this landscape

and treat each step, each drop

like a treasure

by Odin Zackmam

 

Odin Zackman is an old friend of ours and we are going to start a conversation about California water issues and how we as a farm can move into a more sustainable water usage form of agriculture. Odin lives in the Bay Area and works with individuals, organizations, and communities in California, nationally and globally supporting sustainability, networks and engagement processes to foster social change and build leadership in California and nationally. Learn more about his work at www.digin.org

 

This Week on the Farm   

What a great apricot harvest it has been.  The historically dry weather all spring has translated into an unblemished crop of apricots.  And it was made even better when a old orchard that we had leased twice before in our career became available.  When Arturo, the son of our oldest worker here on the farm (Francisco is 4 years older than I am and has worked with us since 1978), agreed to take care of the day-to-day requirements of the orchard on the banks of Putah Creek, it took away my misgivings about the viability of Good Humus trying to take on another part of our busy lives.  And amazingly it has worked out well.  That orchard ripens in the 10 days prior to our orchard ripening and so as we speak we have finished with picking that orchard and are starting the pick at our Good Humus home place.  The hot weather scare that we had last week was only a scare, saved from disaster by a few degrees lower temperatures and a little wind movement and coolness in the middle of the night that prevented the cooking of the area around the pit in these delicate fruits.  And Arturo has continued with his fruit picking here on the home orchard for us taking the pressure off of Rogelio who has had to shoulder the bulk of the burden in the last couple of years.  Such a burden off of our shoulders!  The lack of qualified farm labor has been such a constant burden in the last

 

several years that it is a welcome and unanticipated change to be free of it for a few moments.  You should be able to enjoy apricots in your box this week and next, and then we hope to move on to plums and peaches.

               How does a farmer deal with the water question in these potentially devastating times without just repeating the litany of complaints that are all over our lives?  Good question and we are in the middle of being required to provide ourselves an answer to that question very soon.  We are currently operating on about a quarter of our normal water supply and have been waiting for a couple of weeks for our place in line for a dropping of our pump further into the well.  That is a Band-Aid that may last a few years or may last less than a year, but it is a warning to us at Good Humus that our days of limitless use of water are finished.  It turns out that we are participating in a large overdraft of the groundwater water available yearly in our region.  This has not always been the case, but recent increases in the development for irrigation of previously unirrigated land for almonds, grapes and olives has changed the picture.  So, our focus at this point has turned to the very real possibility of a future without irrigation water.  As we look at the value to the regional and farm community of a small, diversified family farm we are unwilling to contemplate a future without our actively producing farm.  And so we are confronting the very realistic and reasonable question of how do we reconfigure during a change from year round water based agriculture to a dryland type of farming.  This kind of a challenge is not what we would wish for, and we have done our share of complaining angrily about who did what and why, but ultimately, it is the forming of our farm’s individual future that needs our full attention.  

               At this critical juncture in time, we understand that it is still our mission to provide a living for ourselves and others working on the farm while providing food for our larger community and caretaking of this land for future generations.   In order to continue to do this we rely on 40 years of experience farming in Hungry Hollow, our own certain knowledge that this climatic and social event must be confronted by all living here. The truth is we now need to become an active inventive farm community all confronting similar problems.  With the help of small and resourceful groups of researchers and legislators who understand the gravity of the problem, and a larger community of people that understand the value of choosing to support a local food system working for sustainability where we live and in the changing environment we live in.   Stay in touch and let’s see where all this goes!  Jeff

 

Oven-Roasted Zucchini with Collard-Peanut Pesto

For the collard-peanut pesto (makes 1 cup):

2 cups loosely packed stemmed, chopped collard leaves

1/3 cup roasted peanuts

3 tablespoons white miso paste

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more as needed

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more as needed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the oven-roasted zucchini:

4 med zucchini (about 11/2 pounds), cut in 1/2-inch dice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped, roasted peanuts

Make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the collards, peanuts, miso, and garlic and blend until it forms a chunky paste. While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil through the feed tube, adding more if needed to reach your desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice to taste. Set aside. Make the zucchini: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the zucchini with the olive oil and salt, then spread the zucchini over the baking sheet in one even layer. Roast until the zucchini is brown around the edges, 18 to 20 minutes. To serve, transfer the zucchini to a bowl and give it a few turns of pepper. Next, drop in a few heaping dollops of pesto so that people can scoop as much as they’d like when serving themselves, adding more pesto to the bowl as needed. Pile the peanuts in a small serving bowl and present alongside the zucchini. For any leftover pesto, pour a thin layer of olive oil over it, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 week

 

Wheat Berry Salad With Apricots & Green Onions

1 cup wheat berries

3 ripe, but firm, apricots, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/4 cup dried currants, 5 minutes in cup boiling water

Vinaigrette

1 bunch green onions (about 5), finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp honey

Bring to a boil a large pot of salted, boiling water (water should taste as salty as the ocean). Add wheat berries, return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Wheat berries should be tender but still chewy. Drain water and spread wheat berries out on a baking sheet to cool quickly. Meanwhile, prepare vinaigrette by whisking together all ingredients. Set aside. When wheat berries have cooled to room temperature, toss with remaining salad ingredients and vinaigrette. Serve cold or at room temperature.

 

Farro with Carrots and Swiss Chard

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

½ small onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, 1 minced and 2 smashed, divided

1 cup farro, rinsed

¾ cup orange carrot juice

2¼ cups water, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 (8 ounces) carrots thinly sliced

½ tablespoon honey

1 bunch Swiss chard stems roughly chopped and reserved,

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Parsley for garnish

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and minced garlic, and sweat until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the farro and toast for 1 minute. Next add the carrot juice and 2 cups of water, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the farro to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until its tender, 25 to 30 minutes. While the farro is cooking, glaze the carrots: In a medium sauté pan, heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 smashed garlic clove, carrots, the remaining ¼ cup of water, and honey and bring to a simmer. Cook until the the carrots are tender but not soft, and all of the water has evaporated, 6 to 7 minutes. Reserve for later. In a medium sauté pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining smashed garlic clove and chard stems, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the chard leaves and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook until the leaves are wilted, 5 minutes. Reheat each pan so that the farro, carrots and Swiss chard are hot. Spoon the farro into bowls; top with the chard leaves, glazed carrots and chard stems; and garnish with parsley. Then serve.

 

Zucchini-Scallion Fritters

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini, coarsely grated

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 large egg

2 scallions, finely chopped

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Sour cream, for serving

Place zucchini in a colander set in the sink, and toss with 1 teaspoon salt; let drain 10 minutes. Press out as much liquid as possible. Whisk egg in a large bowl; mix in zucchini, scallions, flour, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until combined. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook fritters in two batches: Drop six mounds of batter (2 tablespoons each) into skillet; flatten slightly. Cook, turning once, until browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately, with sour cream.

 

Oregano Pesto with Capers & Olives

Serve with cold beets, fresh egg noodles, or spread on toast, then covered with tomatoes. You could eat it with most anything.

1 small sliced country bread

2 tablespoons aged red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove-coarsely chopped

Sea salt and ground pepper

¼ cup oregano leaves

3 tablespoons drained capers

1 cup chopped parsley

½ cup pine nuts or walnuts

2 tablespoons pitted Greek olives

½ olive oil

Remove the crusts from the bread, and then soak it in vinegar on a plate. Pound the garlic with ½ teaspoon salt in a mortar until smooth, and then work in the oregano, capers, nuts, and olives until you have a coarse puree. Add the bread and the olive oil and work until the pesto is well amalgamated. Season with pepper taste for vinegar and add a little more if you think it needs it. The pesto will be very thick.