October 16, 2018

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Eggplant, Basil, Mixed Peppers, Small Onions, Sugar Pie Pumpkin, Cilantro & Green Beans


What’s in this Week’s FRUIT BOX: Apples, Pineapple Guavas, Pomegranate




This Week on the Farm

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game


These lyrics came to mind this morning as I was searching for a newsletter topic. Many times when I am at a loss as to what to write about, I will go into the Good Humus Newsletter archives to get some inspiration. I went back to 2014 same time same place-the topics were about our Farm Preservation Easement and the work that still has to be completed-stating “Exciting times, we are so close to the end of this process, we are so close to the end of the film process, and we both will be so happy when we are finished. Then what? The next chapter will begin to unfold”. And here we are four years later, (and that is a blink of the eye in a lifetime, really isn’t it?), but we are now counting the days to the signing of the legal document that states this farm will be a farm into perpetuity. And we are trying to have a conversation with our kids about the “next chapter” topic with regular family meetings to open up possibilities of how Jeff and I are going to slow down our rolls, and figure out how to continue the production. It is easiest to just go on going on and not look or make changes, yet we are tired, less able to maintain what we have done to keep the farm rolling season in and season out. Boy it is a hard topic to figure out.

                Then there was the sharing of our anniversary get away-we didn’t get off the farm in 2014, but did take some time out of the normal day/night to make it special. That was a time when we worked up to the moment, and then tried to figure out how to make time for a special moment. It is so hard to get away from this land, our work and our passion. I think I am demanding more time outs now (maybe practicing retirement), and they need to be away from our daily work.

                Ali is leaving today for a week in San Diego to work for her company (VC-a company that she does graphic design work for Ultimate Frisbee jerseys) at the Ultimate Frisbee National Tournament, and in the newsletter of 2014 she was flying with her team to Texas to play. Since then her team has won not only National Tournament, but Worlds-dreams come true…The seasons go round and round….

From 2014  I wrote: “As Jeff left this morning we chatted about what to write in today’s newsletter, and he said with the world’s events in the news-whatever they are, are mostly not very good to listen to or read about, so when we think about what is happening here on the farm it seems pretty minor”. Now that line could not be more appropriate today than last year or several years ago. Yesterday I made flower deliveries in Davis and treated myself to a lunch out. I saw some elderly women (my age with gray hair) and thought they look like a friendly pair to sit near. Their conversation was about Kavanaugh…argh that was not the mini vacation I


needed to listen to. I tuned out, sometimes the best mini vacation option, forget it all just for a few minutes.

“When the world wearies there is always the garden.” And so we come back to the farm, in the circle game, to this season’s change and what is different this time round. And there are changes to be sure. Yesterday Jeff and I went to the “Back Ten” property where he is working really hard to get cleaned up and planted up. Just last year at this time he opened new ground for the first time and we planted our fall/winter crops there. Because it has been full of wildlife for the past 30 years he didn’t want to just turn it all over to production, but to only use half at a time, so the wildlife would have a place to graze, and live. So this fall he has pulled out the smaller seedling almond trees, leveled and composted, bedded up and now planted over half of the second half of that field. Leaving last year’s cropped ground still with the crop residue for the deer and turkeys, snakes, lizards, birds and squirrels to call home. This only works if the fields we crop are fenced in, otherwise the wild life will think the new sprouts are their hors d’oeures. It is a nice feeling to have room to plant and give the past season ground a break by planting a cover crop to restore what we have taken with the crops. Ali and I have about 25-300” beds of flowers to plant and they are mostly all ready to go and we should start planting tomorrow. Jeff already has 40 beds planted to veggies, and has another 20 to plant more, and there are still beds almost ready for tulips that come in November. Space, it’s nice to have space. And what was amazing is that this ground is very rich from all the years of no till, but also the wild life fertilization program. This is all very exciting, fulfilling that we can care for the original 20 acres with resting it from season to season, and exciting to see new ground with new potential.


Take your time, it won't be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
So the years spin by
Though dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through


Have a great week! Annie

Honey Custards with Caramelized Apples

For the honey custards:

3 cups milk

3 large eggs

1/2 cup Liquid honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the caramelized apples:

2 medium apples, any variety (see Recipe Note)

1 generous tablespoon butter or margarine

2 to 4 tablespoons honey

1 to 2 tablespoons rum, optional

Cinnamon or nutmeg, optional

To serve:

Whipped cream for serving, optional

To make the custards:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange 6 to 8 ramekins or oven-safe custard cups inside a 9x13-inch baking dish (or other similar-sized dish that will hold a few inches of water).Place the milk into a saucepan over low to medium heat and gently bring it just barely to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat. Whisk the eggs together in a medium to large bowl. Add the honey and salt, and whisk briskly until well-blended. Pour the warm milk into the egg and honey mixture in a slow stream while whisking constantly. Once all of the milk has been whisked in, stir in the vanilla. Divide the custard evenly between the ramekins – I find it easiest to pour the liquid into a large measuring cup with a spout, which allows you to pour cleanly into the cups without making a mess. Dust the top of each custard dish with just a tiny pinch of nutmeg and place the baking pan in the preheated oven. Very carefully pour very hot water (hot tap water is fine) in the baking pan, around the custard cups, careful not to splash any water in the custards. Bake the custards for 40 to 50 minutes; exact baking time depends on the size and depth of the custard dishes as well as the oven. The custards are done when set in the center – test by very gently touching the top of the custard or gently jiggling the pan. The custards will continue to firm up a bit when chilling. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each custard dish from the water and place on a rack until cool enough to refrigerate. Cover each in plastic wrap and chill for 3 or 4 hours, or overnight.

To make the caramelized apples:

Peel, core, and chop the apples into small cubes. Heat the butter or margarine in a skillet and toss in the apple cubes. Cook, tossing often, until the apples are tender. Add small amount of water occasionally as the apples cook; the water will help cook the apples and keep them moist while preventing them from browning. Once the apples are fork-tender, drizzle in 2 tablespoons of honey; taste and add more honey depending upon your preferred sweetness and the tanginess of the fruit. Continue to stir, adding more water as needed and desired. Stir the rum into the fruit, if using, and continue cooking until it has simmered away. Scrape the apples into a bowl to cool slightly before serving over the chilled custards.

To serve: Top each custard dish with a generous spoonful of the apples, a very light dusting of ground cinnamon or nutmeg, and a bit of whipped cream. Serves 6 to 8

Recipe Notes-Two apples is enough for a heaping spoonful of apples per custard. If you'd like a little more topping, just increase the number of apples used. Use roughly 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine and 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of honey per apple.


Pineapple Guavas

If you’ve seen the exotic green-skinned fruit in your local grocery store but have been too intimidated to pick one up, you might be over-thinking things. The truth is, you don’t really need to know anything when it comes to how to eat guava—you can simply dive in and take a bite. The whole fruit is edible and tastes fruity and slightly floral, like a cross between a strawberry and a pear. The fruit, native to the American tropics and commonly grown in Florida and California, is becoming more common as a healthy snack. It’s high in antioxidants, potassium, and fiber. Since you’re likely to encounter it more often, we want you to know how to choose a ripe one, and some delicious ideas to enjoy the fruit.

How to Choose a Ripe Guava-When guavas ripen, they go from dark green to a lighter yellow-green color. You’ll want to choose one of the yellowish ones and make sure that it’s free of blemishes or bruises. Sometimes ripe guavas will also have a touch of pink color to them. A ripe guava will be soft and give under your fingers when you lightly squeeze it. You can also tell a guava is ripe by the aroma. You should be able to smell the fruit’s musky, sweet scent without even having to put it up to your nose. You can buy hard, green guavas and allow them to ripen at room temperature. Placing them in a paper bag with a banana or apple will allow them to ripen faster. Once they are ripe, guavas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. You can also freeze slices of guava in resealable bags for up to 8 months. They're delicious blended straight from frozen in smoothies.

How to Eat Guava-Feel free to simply rinse the guava off and dive in, eating the rind and the seeds. In fact, the rind of a guava has more vitamin C than an entire orange. If you’d like to cut the guava, place it on a cutting board and halve it. Then slice it into wedges as you would an apple. If you prefer not to eat the rind, halve the guava and use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the rind, as you would an avocado. Then, you can slice the flesh if you’d like. Some guavas have pink flesh and some have white flesh. Sometimes they have tougher seeds that you may find unpleasant—though they are completely edible. You can remove these using your fingers or the pointed end of your knife.

Add raw guava to recipes-Other than eating it plain, what can you do with guava? Anything you’d do with regular fruit, of course! What about making passion fruit and guava ice pops this summer? Guavas are also a great way to get out of your boring smoothie routine. Blend it with other tropical fruits to give your portable morning breakfast an island feel. Or slice up and just give it a spritz of lime juice. They're especially delicious in a tropical fruit salad or layered in a trifle.

Cook with guava-Guavas are high in pectin, the naturally occurring substance in fruit that helps with thickening in pies and jams. For that reason, guava is great for making jams or fruit pastes that can be eaten on toasts, with meat, or folded into pastries. You could also make a guava glaze to accompany grilled shrimp. If you’re really going to go over the top and totally dedicate your life to guava, make a rosé sangria with pineapple and guava to serve alongside that grilled shrimp. Now that you know how to eat guava, the real question is how not to eat guava. Emily Johnson


Chicken Sauté With Guava Sauce

LaVerl Daily, director of Le Panier cooking school in Houston, suggests supplementing this slightly tropical entrée with rice, black beans and buttered green beans sprinkled with chopped macadamia nuts. Finish with pumpkin pie.

2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 cup guava or apricot nectar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/4 cup light rum

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Cilantro sprigs

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté until brown and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Using tongs, transfer chicken to plate. Add onions to skillet and stir 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat. Add nectar and lime juice, then rum. Boil until sauce is lightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, scraping up any browned bits, about 6 minutes. Mix in chopped cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to skillet; simmer until heated through, about 1 minute. Arrange chicken on plates. Top with sauce; garnish with cilantro sprigs. Makes 2 servings Bon Appétit March 1998


My Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie

2 cups of pumpkin pulp purée from a sugar pie pumpkin or butternut squash * 

2 cup heavy cream or half and half or condensed  milk

3/4 cup sugar

¼ cups packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 eggs beaten lightly

1 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 good pie crust

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the sugars, salt, and spices. Mix in the pumpkin purée. Stir in the cream. Beat together until everything is well mixed. Pour the filling into an uncooked pie shell. Bake at a high temperature of 425°F for 15 minutes. Then after 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the pumpkin pie on a wire rack for 2 hours. Note that the pumpkin pie will come out of the oven all puffed up (from the leavening of the eggs), and will deflate as it cools. Cook time: 1 hour Yield: Serves 8 ………Serve with whipped cream.

*To make pumpkin purée from scratch, cut a medium-small sugar pumpkin in half. Scrape out the insides (reserving the pumpkins seeds to toast) and discard. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on the lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F until a fork can easily pierce them, about an hour to an hour and a half. Remove from oven, let cool, scoop out the pulp. Alternatively you can cut the pumpkin into sections and steam in a saucepan with a couple inches of water at the bottom, until soft (strain before using). If you want the purée to be extra smooth, press the pulp through a food mill. Recipe from Millie Wood (Annie’s grandmother)