March 3, 2020

What’s in this Week’s Box

 

VEGGIE BOX: Chard, lettuce, Oranges, Leeks, Cilantro, Beets and Mandarins

 

Some Dates to remember:

 

Plant Sale April 18

Mothers Day Hats & High Tea May 9

Mother’s Day Garden Tour May 10

 

Preparations of the Plant Sale April 18, 2020

Saturday Ali skipped the market, and I didn’t do my new norm of working at the Santa Rosa house and we both stayed home and worked in my garden and the perennial garden. With all of this warm weather, the gardens are yelling at us to get out there and get organized. We composted beds, and rototilled, moved coreopsis that has been in the same location for at least 20 years, trying to leave behind the peppermint that has invaded the coreopsis bed. We actually only moving about one third of the coreopsis plants, propagated some for the plant sale, and the rest is well, waiting for a home, which just may be the compost pile. The other beds in the garden are waiting for plants to be nestled into them as soon as possible. On Sunday we had a propagation day, inviting the Sacramento Flower Collective, along with assorted friends and family to help us out in moving the goldenrod bed out in the perennial garden and making many new chrysanthemum plants for a future new bed. We had about ten folks helping out, making the task so much easier and fun, and they were able to take home a trunk full of new baby plants for their gardens. With all of the help, we have goldenrod, spearmint, peppermint, oregano, cottage yarrow, golden yarrow, coreopsis, chrysanthemums and calliopsis planted into six packs, in the greenhouse and hopefully they will be ready for the plant sale in April. We stopped for an earthen oven pizza, fresh yummy salad and wine lunch, sitting together being fueled for the second half of the day.  It was a total work weekend, both Ali and I commented on how wonderful it was to work in the gardens, without pressure to “do” for orders, deliveries, but for the joy of tending the garden with friends.

 

This Week on The Farm

            The world is drying out around us once again.  Last year at this time we were fretting about an inability to plant our spring crops and the loss of a beautiful orange crop to brown rot due to the continuous warm/wet conditions.  This year, we have planted and continue to plant, guaranteeing the chance for an income stream this spring.  This year we have a beautiful, tasty crop of oranges that if you like, we can sell in 30# boxes to anyone who would like a box at their drop.  This year, we are also worrying about the 20 ft drop in the water level in our well.  Give and take, give and take.  We are planting so much in the greenhouse; tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, flowers, parsley, and basil, ignoring the terrible results of last year’s spring transplants.  So far, the things we learned about bottom heat and watering have produced a beautiful germination of all those and fill us with hope for the summer.   As we move forward into the late spring and summer, we will find out most certainly that there is a consequence for continuing to plant as if we had unlimited labor when the reality is far short of that.  But for now, preserving the chance to harvest more than we thought possible still holds a great allure.  In our winter meetings when we decided on our crop quantities, with admirable but foolish optimism, we refused to accept that there are labor limits.  This has been the story of our life and we kind of accept it.  Ali and Claire may eventually have better sense than their parents and bring this only partially sane impulse to plant and plant and plant under some control.   But for now, the exploding of life in this early spring is working its magic on us.

            For myself, I am especially anxious to get a handle on our cover cropping and off season care of the land.  We have increased our acreage under cultivation with the desire to reduce the pressure on each individual plot of land, to extend the rest and rejuvenation period.  The sense of a sustainable agriculture requires the attention to off season rotations as well as the cash cropping rotations.  There is nothing earth shaking about this, but the ability to do it in the midst of all conflicting priorities is one of the great tasks of farming.  It is one of the great truths of farming that we would all be great farmers if we could just do what we knew to be the right thing.  So here’s to trying, and As Tim Mueller of Riverdog Farm put it:  “Being pathologically optimistic”.  And that is the prerequisite and the life and the blessing and the curse of the farmer.  That goes for this beautiful week in the spring, next week, next month, and next year.  In the farmers that I have known for so many years, that is the inextinguishable characteristic.  To all beginning farmers:  May you be granted “pathological optimism”.   We’ll be here next week.  See you then.  Jeff

 

Avocado, Beet, and Orange Salad

The secret to crispy croutons is tearing the bread -- the nooks and crannies absorb more olive oil than evenly sliced pieces. (Of course, the real challenge is not devouring the whole batch when they're warm and fresh out of the oven.)

1 small bunch beets trimmed

2 slices rustic bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (2 cups)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 avocados, sliced

2 navel oranges, peel and pith removed, segmented

2 cups spinach

1 tablespoon toasted salted sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wrap beets tightly in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Once cool, remove skin and slice. Meanwhile, toss bread pieces with 2 tablespoons oil, season with salt and pepper, and toast until golden, about 6 minutes. Whisk vinegar, orange juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over beets, avocados, oranges, spinach, and croutons. Season with salt and pepper. Top with sunflower seeds. Yield: Serves 4 Source: Whole Living, October 2011

 

Zesty Chicken and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro
Canola oil
1 onion, diced small or leeks
4 carrots, peeled and diced small
3 celery ribs, diced small
Salt
Black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon chili powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
5 cups chicken stock
3 – 3 ½ cups cooked, shredded chicken breast (*see note below)
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
½ corn kernels
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 cups cooked rice (I like to use jasmine for the additional flavor)
Jalapeño slices, tortilla strips, and lime wedges, for garnish
(*To prepare the chicken breasts, use 2 split chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on, about 1 ½ pounds, total; sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt and pepper over them, and roast them at 400° for 40 minutes; once cool enough to handle, remove skin and discard bones, and shred the meat.) Place a medium-large soup pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 4 tablespoons of oil; once the oil gets hot, add in the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add in a couple of good pinches of salt and black pepper, plus the cumin, coriander, chili powder, and pinch of cayenne pepper, and sauté for a few more minutes, until the veggies begin to become tender. Stir in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the chicken stock. Bring the soup up to a rolling simmer, and then, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Finish the soup by adding in the shredded chicken breasts, peas, corn kernels, lime zest, lime juice, and chopped cilantro; check to see if any additional salt or pepper is needed. To serve, add some of the rice (about ½ cup of so) to the bottom of your bowl, and ladle over the hot soup; garnish with additional lime, some sliced jalapenos, or some crispy tortilla strips. By Ingrid Beer Yield: Serves 4-6

 

Golden Chard Dessert Tart

It is not unusual in Italy to have ricotta cheese in a tart. This version is enriched with golden grapes and chard. It makes a lovely, not-too sweet finale to a meal.

For the crust

2 cups all purpose flour

½ cup ground blanched almonds

¼ cup sugar

¾ cup butter cut in small pieces, at room temp

1 egg yolk

For the filling

3 eggs

15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese

¼ cup honey

¼ cup dry white wine

Dash of grated nutmeg

2 cups finely chopped chard leaves and tender stems

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 ½ cup grated yellow squash

To make the crust: In a bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, almonds, and sugar and stir. Add the butter and the egg yolks to the dry ingredients. Using the paddle attachment beat on medium speed until the mixture is the texture of coarse cornmeal. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, press the dough evenly into a 9 inch tat or pie pan. Cover with parchment paper or foil and chill for 15 minutes. Before pre-baking the shell, fill its cavity with dry beans or rice to weight down the crust so it will not bubble up. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and the beans and rice used as weight and reserve. To prepare the filling: In a mixing bowl, blend the eggs with the cheese, honey, wine and nutmeg. Then fold din the chard, mint, and squash. Pour the filling into the warm pie shell and bake it on the middle shelf of the oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown. The filling should be set when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. From Cooking from the Rainbo