March 26, 2019

 

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Lettuce, Broccoli, Parsley, Carrots, Mandarins, Rutabagas and Cauliflower

What’s in your FLOWER BOUQUET: Rosemary, Tulips, Anemones, Daffodils and Ranunculus

 

 

This Week on The Farm

Slowly but surely, Spring is making its way into the Central Valley.  In spite of the continued damp and cold season, there is no denying the lengthening days.  The apricots are in petal fall and the sepal jacket around the hopeful fruits is all that is left of last week’s blossoms.  Right in sequence, poppies are being followed by lupine along the roadsides as we drive the back roads to the Davis Farmer’s Market.  Our delivery vans are full of the edible pre-flower stalks of broccoli and cauliflower which are the results of a full winter’s work by the leaves and roots from which they are severed for our tables.   Many of those stalks, less edible or desirable, are bursting through the canopy of leaves of cilantro, parsley, lettuce, fennel, and cabbage, signaling a plant to be left in the field.  Deep in the cold wet soil, the carrots fight to gain flavor and the freshly planted potatoes rot, entombed in an airless mud.  At the same time, oregano is vibrant with new growth, daffodils and tulips are picked daily, and the mulberries have the mass of tiny blossoms that will be fruits shortly.

            Our small family farm is really diverse and so each spring there are flowers and vegetables, insects and weeds that love the perfection of the climate and beside them close relations that cannot survive to harvest.  This year we lost several tons of oranges to a rot caused by the rain and cold.  The godetias are gasping for air as soil fungus tears away at their roots.  Also this year the lettuce and kale and escarole that we have has been sweet and mild. I am so glad I don’t have 20 acres of just oranges or godetias.  I can’t imagine the pressure of having to be perfect every year in the course of depending on one crop for our income for the year.  I would panic in weather like this and call in the pest control advisor and the insurance agent and the bank officer to try to get to next year.  For a small farm like this, unable or unwilling to manage all the forces of the year, diversity offers us the same insurance against catastrophe that diversity offers to the world around us.  So we can depend that in the middle of an unusual and potentially devastating loss of any single crop, we have another several crops waiting unharmed.  It has not been an easy lesson, this letting go of perfection in favor of survival, but so far it has worked.  And reward of rewards, after what has seemed like a long absence, Annie looked up from picking daffodils out near the hedgerow, alarmed at Rue’s agitated barking; just in time to catch a quick sight of perhaps “our” bobcat disappear into the wild rose.

            A long Winter makes Spring sweeter.  Annie asked me what I was writing about.  I said “Spring” and we both chuckled as she said “How did I know you 

 

 

would?”  On the farm this is little that is more irresistible than the changing of the seasons, and little that is more beautiful than Spring. In a place so blessed by climate and resources, Spring is an assault on our senses that we continually try to describe in words to ourselves and to you.  The other morning, again on my way to the Farmer’s Market I was having a tough grouchy I’m so imposed on morning when the entire cloudy, grey sky was suddenly turned into a soft, golden bowl from east to west.  The sun had just risen above the Sierras and through some improbable rift in the solid cloudbank the sun’s shafts of light, broken by an uncountable number of mist droplets in the air, color just appeared by magic. As I traced the path of light across the sky, I watched the most intense triple rainbow I have ever seen form across the fields to the west. Two right on top of each other and a third spaced away from the double rainbow, all arcing across that golden backdrop.  And I had just been so unhappy with my lot in life that moment.  I had no choice but to take in the message.  And that is why we write about Spring on our farm in the Central Valley of California~Have a great week Jeff

 

Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole 

The most tremendous veggie casserole in the history of veggie casseroles! I started making it around Thanksgiving as an alternative to broccoli-rice casserole, but it has slowly crept into other meals throughout the year. It's irresistible.

1 cauliflower head

1 large broccoli head

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt, more to taste

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon paprika, plus more for sprinkling

1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Using your hands, break the cauliflower and broccoli into very small florets. Place them in a steamer and steam them over simmering water until slightly tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Set them aside. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring it into the onion mixture and cook it for a minute or so. Pour in the broth, stirring continuously, and cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and stir until it melts completely. Then stir in the seasoned salt, kosher salt, pepper, and paprika. Turn off the heat and set the sauce aside. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter and blend with a fork. To assemble, butter a small (2-quart) casserole and add half the broccoli-cauliflower mixture. Pour on half the sauce, top with half the cheese, and sprinkle on a little paprika. Repeat another round of the veggies, sauce, cheese, and paprika...then top the casserole with the buttery breadcrumbs. Bake the casserole for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden and the casserole is bubbly around the edges. Serve it nice and piping hot! 

Make ahead:The casserole can be assembled and stored in the fridge, unbaked, for up to 24 hours. Allow 10 minutes extra cooking time if baking straight out of the fridge. 

Variations:This recipe can easily be doubled! Use all cauliflower or all broccoli, if you prefer. Use sharp Cheddar cheese instead of Monterey Jack for a slightly different flavor. Sauté 8 ounces sliced mushrooms with the onions and garlic.Yield4–6 servings by Ree Drummond

 

Potato and Parsley Soup

A traditional Irish soup that warms your heart and fills your tummy! Sautéing the garlic and onions in olive oil imparts a characteristic flavor to the soup while the chopped parsley brings out a nice aroma. Puréeing the potato makes the soup thick and sumptuous making it a wonderful meal. Just toast some garlic bread and serve them warm with this soup. Magnificent!

1 cup peeled potato cubes
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
saltand freshly ground black pepperpowder to taste

Heat the oil in a deep non-stick pan; add the onions and garlic and sauté on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes or till the onions are translucent.Add the potatoes and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.Cover and cook on a slow flame for 10 minutes or till the potatoes are tender, while stirring occasionally in between.Add the parsley and cook on a slow flame for another 2 minutes. Keep aside to cool.Blend the mixture in a mixer to a smooth purée.Combine the purée with 1 ½ cups of water in a deep non-stick pan, add the salt and pepper, mix well and bring to a boil. Serve immediately.by Tarla Dalal Makes 3 servings

 

Hasselback Rutabaga 

Never be bummed about getting rutabaga in your CSA basket again. I’ll show you how to cook rutabaga like a champ with my Hasselback Rutabaga Recipe. Even if you don’t think you like them, you must try this.  Especially if you get them with your CSA and don’t know what to do with them.

2 Rutabagas

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 slices of red onion

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cut root part of rutabaga off so it stands up.  Cut slits in the top and stuff with alternating red onion and garlic slices. Place each on a square of tin foil; pour 1 tsp olive oil over each, sprinkle garlic powder and salt evenly over both.  Wrap and bake for 30 minutes or until inside is soft. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until outside is golden. **

** Know that cook times will vary with the size of vegetable.  Mine were pretty small.  You may want to try increasing bake time with foil to 45 minutes and without foil for 15 to 20 minutes.2 Servings Inspired by Foodgawker 

 

Cauliflower Parmesan Crisps

Roasted cauliflower if often my choice for a fast side dish or a quick lunch. It’s very easy to make and all I need is a head of cauliflower, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

I preheat the oven to 425, cut cauliflower florets off the stem, and mix it with some olive oil, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. After that, I just spread it evenly in a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes. It’s the simplest form of cooking cauliflower and the most delicious. Amazing cauliflower snack that kids and adult will love. All you need is a head of cauliflower, block of Parmesan cheese, dry parsley flakes, and some garlic powder.

3 lb head of cauliflower 1 average head of cauliflower

3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp dry parsley 

salt optional

Cut cauliflower florets off the stem. 

Steam cauliflower florets until tender. (10-15 minutes). Place steamed cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse a few times until it looks like fine crumbs. (Make sure there are no chunks left.) Transfer cauliflower crumbs in a doubled cheese cloth and squeeze out all the liquid. (You may have to let it cool a bit or it will be too hot for you to squeeze.) Place cauliflower in a mixing bowl and add Parmesan cheese, dry parsley, and garlic powder. Mix well, until all evenly incorporated. (Taste to see if you want to add salt. Parmesan cheese is quite salty and you may feel like it's enough salt.) Preheat the oven to 425 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop to scoop out cauliflower "dough." Press it into a ball with your hands and place it on the baking sheet. (I used #40 scoop.) Press down to flatten the "dough" into a thin disk, fixing the broken edges. The goal is for the disks to be only about 3 millimeters thin. Repeat with all the "dough." You will get about 12 pieces. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until deep golden brown. Let the cauliflower crisps cool before taking them off the baking sheet. Use a spatula to gently scoop them up. From Will Cook for Smiles