June 22, 2020

 

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: String Beans, Parsley, Carrots, Squash, Cucumbers, Collards, and Potatoes, Black Beauty Plums

Bread this week: Whole Wheat or French Baguette

 

 

This Week on The Farm

 

JeffnAnnie’s Lovely Habitat Bug Land

It was twenty years ago today
When Good Humus started to play

Hedgerows been going in, producing lots of places
They're guaranteed to raise a smile

So may I introduce to you
The act you've known for all these years
JeffnAnnie’s
lovely habitat bug land

We're JeffnAnnie’s lovely habitat bug land
We hope you will enjoy the chow

Sit back and let the nature flow
It's wonderful to be here
It's certainly a thrill to see them grow
You're such a lovely audience
We'd like to make your home with us
We'd love to make your home

I don't really want to stop the show
So I thought you might like to know

That the farmers are going to plant some more
And we want you all to sing along
So let me introduce to you
The one and only NRCS Equip Grant that will help us make  a go of
JeffnAnnie’s lovely habitat bug land

 

Sorry I got Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band tune in my head as I sat down to write today’s newsletter. It just had to be used to introduce today’s topic. I actually don’t remember how long ago we got a grant with Natural Resource Conservation Service to plant a hedgerow at Good Humus. It might have been more than twenty years ago, maybe more like thirty as the trees, shrubs, bushes are becoming significantly big. Deer, fox, turkeys, quail, even bobcats have called JeffnAnnie’s lovely habitat bug land home. What is a hedgerow you ask? Many of the kids that visit the farm for the day get to discover the treasure of our hedgerows, and have to answer that very same question. Their conclusion is its Nature, its diversity, its good bugs and bad bugs all living together, its birds, and animals, its insects, it is the circle of life and it has food and shelter for all of them, but none for us. And why would we plant part of our farm to a place that doesn’t have food for us to harvest and sell? Good Question! But just imagine if we had our crops growing from edge to edge with all crops for us to harvest and no place for insects, and other creatures to live. We would have a lot

more insect damage on our crops, a lot more wind damage to our vegetables and fruit and a lot less diversity of who lives here with us. Our biodiverse

hedgerows can help control insect pests, as predatory insects overwinter in their natural habitat and will move into the surrounding crops in the spring when aphid (the bad bugs) numbers start to increase, and the checks and balance begin. They also act as barriers to windborne pests, and insects in the hedgerow pollinate crops, particularly bumblebees or the ground dwelling squash bees, which need undisturbed ground to burrow and raise their young. Without knowing it so many years ago we planted a diversity of California native species that in the end does the management for us, helping us be organic farmers. We rarely spray our crops because the predators do the work for us.

            We had a consultant out today from NRCS to finish a proposal for another multi species, multi layer hedgerow on the “Back Ten” piece of property. Our son Zach and his wife Nicole, Jeff and I purchased 10 more acres few years ago on which they are building a house this year, and we have planted crops on for the last three years. It is quite different piece of ground than here on the home piece of property. When it is windy, there is no getting away from the blustery blasting wind. Which means the squash will get scratched up from their bristly leaves and Jeff will end up throwing most of the harvest to the ground. Or the snapdragons fall over unless we put a mesh over them to keep them upright. There isn’t much insect activity or bird life, except the big buzzards looking for a meal and no shade either, there aren’t nooks and crannies, or small little Jeff created springs that the wildlife can drink from. It is wide open, which is lovely, kinda like the Big Sky country of Montana. What is exciting is that Jeff and I have planted a hedgerow before and have thoughts of how to do it differently, and the NRCS have new ideas too, such as adding butterfly habitat by planting milkweed or wildflowers for additional insectaries plants. When we planted our first hedgerow a lot of the concepts were new, and untested and debatable if they would increase diversity. Having spent the last 30 years watching this place come to life has been phenomenal. I wish I had done a bird count every year to see how the numbers increased from year to year. It is a lottery system, so we may not get the grant, but there is always next year to apply again. The hedgerow has created in us the attitude that we are sharing this farm with other lives and we are creating food and habitat not just for people but for a larger community of species. If you will plant it, they will come! Have a great week~Annie Main

 

Collard Greens with Parsley-Caper Sauce

Collard Greens
2 bunches collard greens (or leafy greens of choice)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Parsley Caper Sauce
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
½ cup packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Wash and dry the greens well. Remove the ribs from the greens and discard. Pile the leaves together and roll into a cylinder. Cut from end-to-end into ¼-inch threads. To prepare the sauce: In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and process until finely minced. Remove from processor and set aside. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the greens in small handfuls and toss continuously with the oil until slightly softened. Continue to add greens in small batches until they are all incorporated, tossing continuously. Sauté to desired doneness, being careful not to overcook, as the flavor and texture diminishes. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. To serve, toss the sautéed greens with a small amount of the parsley-caper sauce or serve it on the side.

 

Green  Beans & Carrots in Charmoula Sauce

Charmoula is a North African pesto of sorts, usually made from garlic, cumin, fresh herbs, oil, and lemon juice. This vibrant side dish tastes great hot, warm, or at room temperature.

large cloves garlic, peeled

2 oz. fresh cilantro (about 2 cups)

1 oz. fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1 cup)

6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. sweet or hot paprika

1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground

2 lb. slender green beans, trimmed

1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into thin 4-inch-long sticks

Freshly ground black pepper

Chop the garlic in a food processor. Add the cilantro and parsley and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, ground cumin, and 3/4 tsp. salt. Pulse until the sauce has the consistency of rough pesto. Season to taste with salt. In a large pot fitted with a steamer insert, bring an inch of water to a boil over high heat. Steam the green beans, covered, until just tender, 4 to 7 minutes. Pull the steamer basket from the pot, shake to remove excess water, and transfer the beans to a large serving bowl; cover to keep warm. Add the carrots to the basket and steam, covered, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer them to the bowl with the beans. Toss the vegetables with about three quarters of the charmoula sauce. Season to taste with more sauce, salt, and pepper.

 

Taco Stuffed Summer Squash Boats

4 medium summer squash, cut in half lengthwise

1/2 cup salsa

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 tablespoon taco seasoning (or homemade mix)

1/2 small onion, chopped fine

1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped fine

4 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup reduced fat Mexican blend shredded cheese

1/4 cup chopped scallions or cilantro, for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds of the squash, reserving 3/4 cup and storing the rest for later use.

Place the squash in the boiling water for 1 minute, then place on a paper towel to drain.

Spoon 1/4 cup salsa into the bottom of a large baking dish and arrange squash face up. Set aside.

Brown turkey in a large skillet until no longer pink. Add seasoning, onion, pepper, 3/4 cup reserved chopped squash, tomato sauce and water and stir to combine. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Fill each squash boat with the turkey mixture, then top with cheese. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes or until squash is soft and cheese is melted. Garnish and serve with salsa.

 

Zwetschgenknödel-(Plum-stuffed Potato Dumplings)

A treat from the south of Germany and Czech Republic.

Dough:

500 g potatoes (3 medium)

150 g flour

2 pinches salt

1 egg

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Filling

8-10 plums or prunes

1/2 tsp sugar for each plum

Topping:

1 or 2 cups breadcrumbs (60-80 g)

45 g unsalted butter

2 Tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)

Optional:

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Poppy seeds for sprinkling

Cook potatoes in their skins for 20 to 30 minutes until soft. Drain and let cool. Peel and mash. Mix mashed potatoes with flour, a pinch of salt, 1 egg and about 1 Tbsp butter. Mix until well combined and the dough is kneadable. (Add more or less flour as needed). Knead dough briefly on a floured cutting board until smooth. Roll out the dough into rectangular sheet about 1 cm (1/2 in) thick. Dust with flour if it's sticking to the surface or rolling pin. Cut into 8-10 pieces (as many pieces as plums you have.) Prepare the plums: Cut each in half and remove seeds. Add a small amount of sugar (about 1/2 tsp) into one side of each plum, the close back up with the other half. Wrap up each plum with one piece of the dough so it's completely closed up into a ball. Repeat until all dumplings are finished. Cook the dumplings in lightly salted water, on a low boil. They will sink to the bottom at first. (Be careful not to boil on high or it could damage the dumplings. Also do not over crowd the pot... Cook in batches if necessary). When the balls float to the top (5-8 minutes), they are done! Remove from pot and let drain. Make the cinnamon breadcrumb topping: Melt about 3 Tbsp butter in a frying pan. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of breadcrumbs, up to 2 Tbsp sugar and a couple dashes of cinnamon. Fry on medium low until slightly crispy and butter has been absorbed. Adjust taste with more sugar and cinnamon if needed. Top with the breadcrumbs, and optionally sprinkle on some powdered sugar and/or poppy seeds.