October 6, 2020

 

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX:  Pomegranate, Peppers, Cilantro, Salad Mix, Eggplant, Braising Mix, French Breakfast Radish (has some kick), Tomatoes

 

Bread this week: Lavain or Garlic Parmesan -your choice of one

 

This Week on the Farm

Weathering a crisis on the farm.  Sounds ominous, given the various crises that we are all working with, but this is nothing like that.  The farm, farm life, and all of us that make up the human farm life are still at work.  The way of life here is 99% the same.   Of course we are working (literally) our way through these anxious, unstable, and unclear times and how are we handling that on the farm?

               Being an essential industry without the excessive exposure enables us to go about our work without too much interruption, but with important adjustments for our safety and that of our community.  Family farming is already done at home, and daily fieldwork at a small farm like ours is essentially lonely and somewhat isolated.  Right now, for instance, Rogelio is picking plums, Alison is picking tomatoes, Claire is upstairs in the barn office finalizing the lists for today’s CSA run, Celia is in the preparation area washing and bagging, I am at the computer in the house, Francisco is picking braising mix and Annie is watering the new trays of flowers in the greenhouse.  All very, very separated and a big part of each day.  So the major social changes due to the pandemic, working at home and isolation, have been a part of our agricultural life for a long time.  Of course the farm is a social place in our little community.  In an hour or so, we will come together in the packing area to fill the boxes for today’s delivery, but we will be wearing masks and gloves, the boxes will be sterilized, and we will be socially distanced.  Then Ali and I will head out to make the deliveries, but now several months into the protocols, we accept and everyone we encounter accepts the need for masks and distance despite our mutual desire for a handshake or a hug.  Even at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, we are safe behind everyone’s desire to avoid being the one who endangers us all.  That said, the Farmer’s Market is probably the biggest adjustment we have had to make, because it is so very public and has such a social component.  Zach, Ali and Claire all grew up as market rats, familiar with all the vendors that would give them free treats.  Zach has always brought his kids, our grandchildren to the market to provide them with a similar experience.  But, as Ali and Claire says “It’s no fun anymore.”  Social interaction has always been an important part of our experience of the market, and like many of the family farms that are stable parts of the markets, our customers become friends over the years.  Masks, long lines, distancing, and new life anxieties and stress contribute to the girls comments.  To offset the new boundaries to our lives, the changes have given us a chance to explore how we care for each other.  It has been incredibly gratifying and in recognition of what we have been trying to do in the world that so many people have been drawn to the relative safety of fresh, locally grown produce in response to the anxieties of the times.  And we on the farm have felt the responsibility even more strongly to provide for the people that make that decision.  Starting in March, we have increased the quantity in our boxes in order to be sure that we do our part caring for the needs of others in the best way we can.   And to our surprise, the farm has continued to produce enough for many more families, we have survived the new workload, and there is a good feeling to knowing that we are contributing to an increased sense of cooperation in the face of adversity.  Day to day, throughout this and all the other crises, that is how the farm weathers a crisis.  Here on the farm, the tools we use to weather the times are the knowledge that our work is essential for health and well-being, that hard work employs both body and mind, and that our feeling of self worth in the face of all this is as important to care for as any part of our physical body.

               A short note about the fires of 2020 and our farm.  Our farm has thankfully so far been spared the trauma of a fire racing through all you have created in your career.   Other members of the family farm community have not been so lucky.  Starting over is heavy lifting at any time, and these fires make no distinction in length of human endeavor.  The Gofundme platform has several farms needing help to rebuild, and the statewide organizations Community Alliance for Family Farmers and California Certified Organic Farmers have both started campaigns to raise money for those farmers in need.  Contributions are one good way to insure that the locally grown food system stays around for a long time.  In more personal vein, our son Zach in his capacity as a Captain in our CalFire District has been at the front lines of major fires this year, currently the Glass fire in the Napa Valley.  We are careful to not learn more than we want to know.  He has described the fires of the last four years as a new and different form of fire.  We may or may not agree with the fire prevention and suppression policies of the past and present, and no matter where we stand on California drought, rising temperatures, or climate change, when we have historic extremes of high temperatures, low plant and air humidity, and high wind speeds that result in never before seen fire intensities and behaviors, then these are the people that we all call on to protect our lives and life’s work at the risk of their own lives.  I can vouch for how seriously they take their responsibility, how personally gratified they are at the saving of a small farm or a large home, and how personally affected they are by each home they lose. Have a great week ~ Jeff

 

Radish, Potato And Eggplant Curry

1 cup Diced eggplant

1/2 cup Each diced potatoes and radish

2 tbsp Chopped Onion

1 tbsp Chopped garlic and green chili

1 tbsp Chopped Tomatoes

2 tbsp Mustard Oil

1 tsp Salt As per your taste

1 tbsp Coriander Powder

1 tbsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Kashmiri mirch powder

1 tbsp Chicken masala powder

1 tbsp Chopped Coriander leaves

1 tbsp Cumin Seeds

1 tsp kasoori Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves)

1 tbsp Garam Masala Powder

Heat a pan and add cumin seeds, let them splutter then add mustard oil in the pan. Add chopped garlic, onion and green chili in the pan. Add chopped tomatoes in the same pan. Add diced potatoes in the pan. Add chopped radish in the same pan. Stir fry them for some time. Add diced eggplant into the pan. Stir fry them for some more time. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, kashiri mirch powder, salt, chicken masala powder and mix them well. Sear them for some more time. Add 3 cups of water and kasoori methi powder in the pan and cook it on low flame with lid on. Keep checking them in between whether vegetables are cooked or not. Check them if the consistency will become the same as shown in the image. Add garam masala powder and coriander leaves and turn off the flame. Recipe is ready to be served.

 

Steak Tacos with Bell Pepper- Radish Salad

Grated zest and juice of 1 lime, plus wedges for serving

1 tablespoon ancho chile powder

5 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon spicy honey

1 flank steak (about 1 1/4 pounds), halved lengthwise

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups fresh cilantro, plus more for topping

2 scallions, roughly chopped

2 bell peppers (red, yellow and/or orange), thinly sliced

4 radishes, thinly sliced

12 corn tortillas

1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese

Preheat a grill to medium high. Combine the lime zest, chile powder, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons honey in a small bowl. Rub all over the steak; season with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Let marinate at room temperature, 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, pulse the cilantro, scallions, lime juice, the remaining 1 teaspoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender until chunky. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons water and blend until smooth. Pour half the dressing into a large bowl (reserve the rest for topping). Add the bell peppers and radishes to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.  Grill the steak until well marked, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Warm the tortillas as the label directs. Thinly slice the steak. Serve on the tortillas and top with the queso fresco, reserved dressing and more cilantro. Serve with the bell pepper salad and lime wedges.

 

Smoked Braised Mixed Greens

4 strips bacon, sliced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 onion, sliced

Pinch red pepper flakes 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 bunches dark leafy greens, such as kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard and collard greens, stemmed and inner ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped

1/2 cup chicken stock

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and render until you have enough fat to sauté the garlic and onions. Add the garlic and onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the pinch red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute more. Add the greens in handfuls, adding more as the greens start to wilt, tossing with tongs until all the greens are wilted down. Add the chicken stock and cover. Cook until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes

 

Radish Salsa

1/2 pound radishes,, stems removed (about 8-10)

1 clove garlic,, crushed

1 jalapeño,, ribs and seeds removed

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place radishes, garlic, jalapeño, lemon juice, and cilantro in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

 

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta

1 ¾ pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 to 2 peppers, halved, seeded and thinly sliced

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

Kosher salt

12 ounces pasta, such as campanelle or farfalle

2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, halved

1 to 2 fat garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced

Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons brine-packed capers, drained

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)

Grated ricotta salata or Parmesan cheese, for serving

Fresh mint or basil leaves, for serving

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread out eggplant cubes and peppers on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 3 tablespoons oil and season well with salt. Roast, turning everything, until eggplant and peppers are very soft and deeply golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta in well-salted boiling water until about 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate tomatoes over a large skillet so the pulp falls into the skillet. To do this, hold on to the curved side of the tomato in your hand and slide the cut, flat side across the holes. Stop grating just before you reach the skin.Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan with the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer until tomato pulp is reduced by half, then season to taste with salt. Add the pasta, capers and butter, if using, to the pan with the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, tossing until butter melts and pasta finishes cooking, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and toss in eggplant and cheese, if using. Serve pasta drizzled with a little more oil and the herbs.