March 12, 2019
What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Lettuce, Broccoli, Bok Choy, Mandarins, Beets, Parsley and Cauliflower
What’s in your FLOWER BOUQUET? Rosemary, Pussy Willow branches, Tulips, Anemones, Daffodils and Ranunculus
This Week on The Farm
Sue Ellen, who sells us compost for our fields called yesterday to set up a time to bring a little coffee, sit in the kitchen, chat about life in general, and sell a little compost. As much as anything, that is a sure sign of spring. Sue Ellen has been selling compost to us for a lot of years, bringing yard waste from all around the region and performing the scientific magic that turns it into a good soil builder and plant nutrient in a matter of a few months, a process that naturally occurs over a period of a few years. She graduated from Cal Poly a few years ago, started her own composting business with her Mom, and has been a source of humus for Good Humus Produce ever since. It is such a help to watch as other farm and farm related operations creak and groan to start the wheels turning, knock the ice out of the gears and pulleys, apply a little heat to the lethargy and stasis of the past few months, and move to the starting line. In greenhouses all over the state, the year is moving into full swing. Up at Full Belly, at Riverdog, at Terra Firma and Eatwell and Capay Organics and Say Hey, winter projects that are finished or unfinished are being put to the side and equipment upgrades and maintenance is being finished in anticipation of the first moments when planting in the fields can begin for the new spring.
Around here this spring has been cold and wet for a while longer than usual. I am most surely not complaining, no, no, no. After 5 years of drought, I will never again complain about rain. But practically speaking, a long cold wet spell does bring on special challenges. All the farms I mentioned above, ourselves included, depend on a constant cycle of planting and harvesting of diverse products to keep the income flowing year round. This long wet spell has stretched the harvest of our fall and winter plantings and crops. The short window of dry weather in January was nearly enough to get a planting in the ground, but for us the ground did not quite dry enough to plant. So, the next two months will see a low output from the farm. And needless to say, we are anxiously waiting for the promised wind and sun of the next week or 10 days to afford us some planting space. And being as March is the first warm planting month for summer seeds; we hope to mix a planting of spinach and lettuce, carrots and beets, radishes and white turnips with the first summer squash and cucumber plantings.
By the way, the greenhouse is finally beginning to look good. It has been a scary time here because nearly our entire summer crop of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers is raised in the greenhouse and this year we decided to upgrade our tables and heating system to
promote healthier plants for transplanting. So of course, while we know that new systems require a couple of learning experiences, we blithely moved forward with a revamping, fully expecting that because it is our project, all would go smoothly. I actually know better than that, but am eternally unable to learn the lesson. So a few bumps have occurred, courtesy of a cranky old farmer who thinks that he can and will do everything himself. Following purchase of equipment from a company that immediately went out of business, overheating and loss of 4000 parsley seeds and 2000 pepper seeds to overheating, and a late start while I adjust to this new knowledge, I am a little less cocky about my talents but anxious to do better. Mother Nature has done her part as we look across the heated tables and see lots of little green shoots emerging, and we are keeping our fingers crossed hoping we can avoid any more learning experiences for the moment.
Amid all the rainbows and green grass and breeze and flowers and promises of the Spring we have pretty much lost our orange crop. Now is the time to say, “Boy, am I glad I don’t have 20 acres of oranges!”. The combination of moist humid conditions for a long time, lots of fungus waiting for the right conditions, big shady trees, and perhaps some natural vulnerability led our Late Lane oranges to drop to the ground and the leafy ends of the branches to turn brown. Not all, and some worse than others, but only a small portion of the crop at the very top of the tree where there is light and air movement can be picked. I write it in the mental notebook, think about solutions, and am thankful that while the California climate takes away with one hand, it offers with the other as the world spins and tilts and orbits its way through my life as if nothing has happened out here on the farm. Jeff
This is our first harvest of the small Tango tangerines that are in your box today. Jeff planted 25 trees about 3 years ago; we had a new farm plan which was to plant small amounts of different fruits for the CSA box. It is very exciting to see these come in; they are a late variety, so it will extend our citrus harvest. They have a thin orange rind that is easy to peel, and have a juicy flesh that is seedless, and offer a really sweet-tart flavor. Tango tangerine can be used in both fresh and cooked applications. Wholesegments can be used in sauces and salads, and chopped segments can be used in salsas, baked goods, and syrups. The juice and zest are ideal for cocktails, sangria, marinades, dressings, curds, and sauces. Tango tangerines pair well with poultry, seafood, and pork. They also compliment arugula, basil, mint, turmeric, ginger and chocolate. Their sweet-tart flavor balances peppery, bitter, creamy or fatty, and salty flavors. Store Tango tangerines for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Tangerine Blondies with Chocolate and Pecans
Tangerine zest and glaze give these Blondies a citrusy zing, complemented by semi-sweet chocolate and pecans.
1 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons grated tangerine zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons tangerine juice
2 teaspoons tangerine zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 13x9x2 inch oblong pan with non-stick spray (or grease with butter/shortening) and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar.
Add the eggs and tangerine zest, beating until well blended.
In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking soda and salt until well mixed.
Gradually add the flour and salt mixture, beating after each addition.
Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and use the toothpick to make holes in the top of the blondies about 1 inch apart
Prepare the Glaze by stirring the confectioners sugar, zest, and juice together until smooth.
Pour the glaze over the warm pan of blondies and let cool before cutting into squares.
Refrigerate to keep these fresh for several days. AuthorMimi Holtz
Cauliflower, Dried Mushrooms & Bok Choy
5 large dried shiitake or Chinese Black mushrooms
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 carrots cut into julienne strips
1 bok choy leaves cut into ribbons
cut stems into thin strips
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped scallions, including a bit of greens
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch stirred into 1/3 cup stock or water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili oil
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, including most of the greens, cut diagonally
Cover the mushrooms with ½ cup warm water and let stand 20 minutes, until softened. Reserve the water, discard the mushroom stems, and slice the caps. Parboil the cauliflower and carrots separately in salted water until barely tender. Drain and rinse in cold water. Assemble the aromatics. Heat the wok, add the peanut oil and swirl it around the pan. When hot, add the garlic, ginger, scallions and mushrooms. Stir fry for 2 minutes, and then add the cauliflower, carrots, and bok choy stems and leaves. Season with a little salt, add the reserved mushroom water, and simmer, covered for 3 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture and simmer until the liquid is thickened and the vegetable les are coated nicely. Toss with the soy sauce, sesame and chili oils, and cilantro. Serve garnished with the scallions.
Chopped Broccoli with Lemon
Something as simple as chopping the broccloli instead of leaving it large changes it completely. The smaller pieces seem to make the tastes melt in your mouth. For a heartier dish, toss more or less equal amounts of boiled dieced potatoes, cooked rice, barley, or quinoa with the chopped broccoli.
1 large bunch broccoli about 1 ½ pounds
2-4 tablsespoons olive oil or butter
Salt and Pepper
Fresh lemon juice to taste
Chop the broccoli into small florets, peel and finely chop the stems. Put the stems in the steaming basket, add the florets, then cover and steam unti just a little short of being tender. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and lemon juice to sharpen the flavors.
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyoneby Deborah Madison
Greens with Sweet Onions and Tart Cheese
Superb on any short, substantial pasta, it also tastes good by itself, with a big chunk of crusty bread to mop up the juices.
Try a combination of kale, escarole, Beet Greens, chard, and mustard greens to complement the pungent flavor of the cheese.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups sliced onions
3 large bunches fresh greens stemmed if necessary and coarsely chopped about 12 cups
½-3/4 pound feta cheese
Heat the oil in a large skillet or deep Dutch oven. Add the onion and salt lightly. Sauté over high heat for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat to medium, cover and let the onions cook until very tender about 10 minutes. Add the greens in batches, sprinkling lightly with salt after each addition. When all the greens are wilted, stir in the feta and cook for about 2 minutes longer. Taste to adjust salt, some feta cheese are saltier than others. Transfer to a platter, and grind on a generous amount of black pepper. Serve hot or warm, on or next to pasta or grains, or by itself. Serves 4-6From Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven
Toasted Nut and Parsley Pesto
3 medium unpeeled garlic cloves
1 cup nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, unsalted pistachios or any combination
¼ cup packed fresh parsley leaves, washed and dried
7 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Toast garlic in small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until softened and spotty brown, about 8 minutes, when cool remove and discard skins. Toast nuts in dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant 4-5 minutes. In work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process garlic, nuts, parsley and oil until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down sides of bowl. Transfer mixture to small bowl and stir in cheese season to taste with salt and pepper.