October 1, 2019

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Purple Basil, Squash, Green Peppers, Shishitos, Tomatillos, Parsley, Potatoes and Onions

What’s in your FLOWER BOUQUET: Globe Amaranth, Sunflowers, Marigolds, Zinnias, Celosia, & Cockscomb

What’s in your FRUIT BAG? Apples, Walnuts, Dried Peaches and a Pomegranate

 

 

 

The Hoes Down is only 5 days away!!!

This Sunday was the pre Hoes Down work day-the Hay Fort was built a bit smaller than past years, but lots of rooms to check out. We are making wreaths as fast as we can for the Wreath Room-come see what we created.

We hope that you join us in this Northern California unique farm event.        Ticket Sales are still available

 

This Week on the Farm

Sweaters, jeans, sweatshirts and coats back on!  A short, cooler, but psychologically intense summer is finished.  Fall was officially welcomed at the equinox 10 days ago and the cooler weather has followed in its footsteps.  Around the farm, the big redwoods by the house has dropped a pile of needles, the persimmons are starting to turn color, the pomegranates are cracking open, the pumpkins and other winter squashes are changing color, the deer are browsing higher, the hoot owls are back and so are the evenings. Annie and I have each taken our 3 day rejuvenation journeys to northeastern California to look at countryside that in most cases is still moving at a slower pace than the rest of our state. As we now come in earlier and earlier at dark, we can only sit and look at each other for so long before our thoughts start turning to projects for the evenings. 

            The summer was so compressed due to the lateness of the spring rains and cold that we spent it going 7 days a week in order to make up for the lost time.  And we did ok.  The farm looks like a tornado hit it, but it was only us keeping up on the picking and packing for 4 order days, 2 CSA days and a farmers market Thursday and Saturday of each week.  As I look around, I notice the broken down pieces of equipment scattered where they fell and that couldn’t quite make it through the summer.  Manure spreader (June) rototiller (July) Ford delivery van (August) irrigation water pressure tank (September) have take their place alongside the backlog of garden carts, wheelbarrows, ring rollers, cars and tractors that are slipping further down the priority list.  This leads me to an appreciation of the resilience of the renewable resources on the farm, each deriving their energy from the constant

 

flow of sunlight and air and life and death around them.  The lifestream that has come to reside here on the farm is complex and constantly changing, but we humans are certainly in the middle of it all, working away.

            Francisco has worked with me for the last 41 years.  I say worked with me, but the reality is that we have lived together, been in contact with each other for perhaps more hours than we have spent with anyone else in those years.  Eight to ten to twelve and more hours a day, each of us living to create this farm, means that we have shared most of the experiences of farm life.  Francisco is now 73 years old and showing the sacrifices that the human body makes to such a career.  But the resolve to continue what has become an important part of his life’s work seems just as renewed as ever.  Can you imagine the total mental and emotional energy required to come to work year in and year out for 41 years into the hot and dry or cold and wet fields of a small family farm that has always been vulnerable to all the forces of modern civilization?  To come to work each and every day when your knees hurt and your fingers stiffen and your head hurts, now that is renewable energy at it finest.  If you look into the stories behind Elvira (over 20 years), Celia (over 20 years), or Rogelio (over 5 years) you will inevitably find the incredible force of life and hope that informs the renewable energy that brings to all of us the food that graces our tables.

            We humans, in the final analysis, are only the tiniest portion of the energy that gives form to the life of our farm.  The products of our efforts are dwarfed by the essential nature of the work of the living cells that convert the raw energy of the myriad wavelengths of sunlight into the life on which all other life is dependent.  That primary photosynthetic lifeform gives of that life to the renewable energy storage cell of inestimable size that is the soil of our planet, the dirt of our farm and of our yards, the structural miracle that anchors and supports our streets and towers.   There is so much more that we will never be able to unravel, the mysteries that make up the Great Mystery of the constant renewal of all the interdependent forms of life on our planet.  But the beauty of living life on the farm is that all of this wonder is stretched out in front of us every day, available if we able to take the time to see it.  At the back end of a 40 plus year career on a farm, looking at the explosion of life in all its diversity each year, noting the increase in habitat and species diversity that I see and knowing that big stuff lives off of little stuff that lives off of still smaller stuff that lives off of other small stuff that lives off of the big stuff, and feeling like I know that the more kinds of stuff is here, the more buffered, sustainable, sound and resilient it all is, well then I can look at the work all the Francisco’s and Celia’s and Annie’s and Jeff’s have done and if it is true that the proof is in the pudding, it seems pretty good.

            It has been an intense summer and it is good to be part of your lives this fall.  Jeff

 

Red Basil Vinegar

2 quarts vinegar

1 bunch purple basil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

Purchase vinegar in quart glass bottles, or use your own clean glass bottles and buy vinegar in larger quantities. Put the vinegar in a container with a good spout, cover and heat in microwave to just below boiling. Rinse basil and shake off excess water. Place 2 crushed garlic cloves in each quart bottle. Divide basil and stuff into the bottles stem side down. Use a narrow object such as a metal BBQ skewer or a chopstick to push the basil into the bottle. The bottle should be at least ½ full of leaves and stems. Carefully pour the hot vinegar into the bottles using a funnel. Fill to the top; they will go down as they cool. Cap and store away from light. Flavor develops in a few days. This will last 6 months to a year if kept in a dark cupboard. Yields 2 quarts.

 

Basil Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic crushed

½ cup red basil vinegar, red wine vinegar can substitute

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

½ teaspoons dry mustard

2 teaspoon basil leaves dried

½ teaspoon sugar

½ cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients except oil and mix well. Add oil and mix again. Vary amounts of garlic, salt and other ingredients to taste. Stores refrigerated, but allow to come to room temperature to use.

 

Ratatouille

This hearty country dish from the Provence region of France is an easy mix of seasonal vegetables, garlic, and olive oil.

1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces

Coarse salt and ground pepper

2 large yellow onions (1 pound total), diced large

1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled

2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced large

2 large zucchini (1 pound total), diced large

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves

2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet and use your hands to break tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and bake until thickened, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out excess liquid. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 4 tablespoons oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft, 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf, and marjoram to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, 15 minutes. Season to taste with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Remove bay leaf before serving. This recipe yields a batch big enough for these other recipes: Ratatouille with Pasta, Ratatouille and Baked Eggs, and Ratatouille Phyllo Wraps. It can also be served as a simple side dish or spooned onto toasted crusty bread. Everyday Food, October 2010 Total Time 1 hour, 15 minutes Yield Makes 3 quarts

 

Parsley Potatoes

Potatoes sautéed with onion, garlic and parsley.

1 ½ pounds potatoes

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion chopped

1 clove garlic or 2 green garlic crushed

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Peel a strip of skin from around the center of each potato; place the potatoes in cold water. Set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until tender. Pour in broth and 3/4 cup of the parsley; mix well. Bring to a boil. Place the potatoes into a large pot full of salted water. Bring the water to a boil; then reduce heat. Simmer covered, for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Sprinkle the black pepper into the skillet and stir. Pour the peppered sauce over potatoes and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Ready In: 30 Minutes Serves 6

 

Tomatillo Relish

You can use it as a dip or as a condiment on eggs, hot dogs, meat loaf or burgers. It has an addictive taste.

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, quartered

1 pound plum tomatoes, quartered

2 medium green peppers, seeded and quartered

1 medium sweet red pepper, seeded and quartered

4 jalapeno peppers, seeded

1 large onion, quartered

1 whole garlic bulb, separated into cloves

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup packed fresh parsley sprigs

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained

4 teaspoons canning salt

1-1/2 teaspoons pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1tablespoons bottled lemon juice

In a food processor, process tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro and parsley in batches until chopped.  Transfer to a large stockpot; stir in oil, vinegar, olives, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add lemon juice to four hot pint jars, 1 tablespoon in each.

To preserve your relish: Ladle hot mixture into jars, leaving 1/2-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot mixture. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars; screw on bands until fingertip tight. Place jars into canner with simmering water, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil; process for 20 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Serve with grilled meats or your favorite snack chips.

Deb LaBosco, Foley, Minnesota