September 1, 2020



What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Eggplant, Squash, Bell Peppers, Leeks, Purple Basil, Tomatoes, Tuscan Melon, Potatoes


Bread this week: Asiago Cheese Bread and Whole Wheat-your choice of one






This Week on The Farm

            Thank God for “all the things that don’t change-come what may”, to quote the opening of that song from the 60’s.  After a summer that has tested all of us in some form or another, a summer of seemingly endless change, a summer that has created in each of us some additional sense of who we are, September 1st rolls around and as always…..what we can say is that the changes of September never change.  The leaves grow tired of hanging in the still air, the sunlight slants further in from the south each day, the lights go on earlier in the farmhouse at the end of the day, a slight, light and cool breeze comes in through the open windows early in the morning, an early morning harvest will suddenly wet pants and boots with the dew, and powdery spots of mildew splash the leaves of squash plants.  There is that sudden moment that the drone of an airplane overhead has a fall quality in the heavier cooler air, and on the farm we can straighten from the bent over harvest position and be completely aware that yes, the earth is still tilting on its axis, and as sure as we are in the fields for another day, the quality of that droning sound tells us summer will soon fall away to be a memory at the dinner table.

            California’s Central Valley continues to be one of the blessed places on the earth where produce of all kinds can be grown all through the year.  Over the years, as Annie and I have settled into being California farmers, we have clarified for ourselves the twin responsibilities of providing food for people and doing it in a way that promotes the process of moving toward sustainability in that food production.   Since 1975 this pair of goals has guided our decision making.  To stay small, to stay local, to produce and work year around, to provide staples of nutrition, to maintain that nutrition in soil and plant, to set aside habitat for native California species and wildlife, these are all attempts to follow a path toward those goals.  Our career has provided us the continuous chance to pursue those goals.  What incredible luck we have chanced upon a goal that can guide us unchanging throughout our career.  I realize now that working with the world around us tends to that “unchanging nature of change”.  My Dad used to say that there is nothing so constant as change, and I think I can hang my hat on the safety and security of belief in its permanence.

            As we took the step this spring to increase our CSA in response to the need of so many people for a more secure and known path for their food, while we were aware that increasing our food production was the most valuable way that we could lend our skills to the current crisis, we did not want to overstep and do a poor job of serving those that we agreed to provide with fresh local produce.  This summer has been a very special time because thanks to so many factors we were able to double our CSA box delivery and maintain a good selection of vegetables throughout.  As we continue to be in trying times, we are anticipating the need to continue to produce the food that our CSA community expects.  So right in the middle of the summer harvest we began over a month ago to prepare ground for an increased fall planting.  We are right in the middle of that, having just finished planting the fall and winter crops that we all know are so special to our part of California.  Having made our first planting, we are anxiously looking for the first signs of newly emerging leafy greens, edible roots, and flowering heads of the fall, worrying about our capacity to cultivate it all, and noting that the production of squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers is moving on to its inevitable close.  As these three facets, planting, cultivating and harvest coincide, this becomes one of our most stressful months.  The next four weeks are critical to our continued ability to serve you all, and we are hopeful for the continued production of much of what you will see in your box today, and the timely appearance in the next month of the first of the fall and winter products.  Stay tuned and we will do our best to keep you informed.   

            I think I will stop here and go out and pick squash.  It has been my privilege to pick about 700 boxes of squash this summer, and so a few more is a piece of cake.   Take care of yourselves, you are important. Have a great week~Jeff


Summer Rolls with Melon and Basil

Pumpkin Seed Cilantro Pesto

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 seeded jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon coconut sugar or another natural sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 large bunch fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup olive oil or more if needed

Tamarind Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup tamarind paste or sour soup base

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 small red chile, seeded and minced (optional)

Summer Rolls

1/4 to 1/2 ripe sweet melon

About 15 rice paper wrappers

Pumpkin seed cilantro pesto (recipe above)

About 1/2 purple cabbage, thinly sliced

2 to 3 medium carrots, finely shredded

2 cups fresh basil leaves

Large handful fresh mint leaves (optional)

Make the pesto. Combine pumpkin seeds, garlic, jalapeño, sugar and salt in a bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well combined. Add cilantro and lime juice, process to incorporate. With the machine still running, pour olive oil through the tube and process until smooth. Make the dipping sauce. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Make the rolls. Cut the melon in half, remove the seeds, peel and slice the flesh into strips. Prepare a large bowl of warm water and a working area covered with a damp dish towel. Start dipping your wrappers in the water, one at a time, for a minute or so, until it begins to soften. Don't keep the wrapper in the water too long to prevent tearing. Place the soaked wrapper on the damp dish towel and begin to fill. Spread about 1 teaspoon of pesto in the middle of the wrapper, followed by cabbage, 1-2 melon strips, carrots and herbs. Fold the bottom part of the wrapper over the filling, followed by the sides, then roll tightly. Serve right away with the sauce or keep covered with a damp dish/paper towel until ready to serve. These rolls are best when eaten within a day or two


 Stir-Fried Corn w/ Basil & Leaks

4 corn cobs, kernels shaved off cob (2 cups)

2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 leek, white & green parts chopped small

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons basil, chopped

juice of half a lemon

salt to taste

Easy method to shave corn off cob: just stand it upright and run your knife as close to the cob as you can get. The kernels will just come right off.

Heat ghee or oil under medium-high heat in a frying pan.  Add in cumin seeds.  When the seeds start to brown, turn the heat to medium and add in the leeks.  Cook the leaks for about 3-5 minutes, until they are cooked down.  Mix in the black pepper.

At this point, add in the corn kernels and salt to taste.  Fry the corn for a few minutes (doesn’t take long to cook). Turn the heat off.  Squeeze lemon and mix in the chopped basil.  Add salt to taste.


Eggplant and Red Pepper Terrine

Use high-quality, soft, fresh Mozzarella (the kind packed in water in the refrigerated section of the grocery store).

Terrine ingredients:

3 large red bell peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 large, firm eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups loosely-packed flat-leaf parsley leaves

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 oz of fresh Mozzarella, cut into 1/8-in slices, about 14 slices

Raw tomato sauce:

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 to 3 ripe tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds), each cut into 6 to 8 pieces

1/4 cup virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 Blacken and peel the red peppers: Arrange the red peppers on a broiling pan and place them under a hot broiler so that their upper surfaces are about 1/2 inch from the heat. Broil for 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the peppers are blistered and black on all sides. (You can alternatively blacken the peppers directly over the open flame of a gas cook-top, holding them and turning them with tongs.) Place them in a bowl and cover the bowl with a plate. Let the peppers steam in their own residual heat inside the bowl for 10 minutes. Then peel them (the skin will slide off) and remove the seeds. Note that Trader Joe's makes an excellent bottled cooked red pepper that can be used as a shortcut to the above step. Grill the eggplants: Heat a grill or grill pan until very hot. Cut the eggplants into 1/2-inch slices and lay out flat on a large flat surface such as a baking pan. Brush the slices on both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Cook the eggplant slices on the grill, covered, for 4 minutes on each side, until they are nicely browned and softened. If your grill does not have a lid, make a tent-like lid of aluminum foil and place it over the eggplant as it cooks. Blanch the parsley: While the eggplant is grilling, soften the parsley by blanching it in boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove, cool under cold water, drain. Build the terrine: Line a terrine mold (loaf pan) with plastic wrap. Arrange a layer of eggplant in the bottom of the mold and top it with about a third each of the red pepper pieces, parsley, and cheese. Repeat, beginning and ending with a layer of eggplant, until all the ingredients are used. Cover with plastic wrap and press down on the wrap to compact the mixture. Refrigerate. At this point you can make the terrine in advance and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Prepare the sauce: Place the garlic and tomatoes in a blender and blend until smooth. Push the mixture through a food mill (fitted with a fine screen) over a bowl. Add the remainder of the sauce ingredients. Mix well.