September 21st, 2021

 

 

What’s in this Week’s VEGGIE BOX: Apples, Cherry Tomatoes, Eggplant, Basil, Cucumber, Garlic, Squash, Bell Peppers, & potatoes

 

Bread this week: Barbari OR Whole Wheat, your choice of one

 

 

This week on the Farm

With the full moon of last night and the first days of fall, I want to wish you all a beautiful new season of autumn. Changes are definitely on our horizon, and may we all be courageous to face them with grace and strength.

This last week we all took a break from the farm in our own way, as our family hiking trip had to be abandoned because of the closure of the Sierras and all National Parks. Our week of retreat started at what I call the Retro Ranch in Santa Rosa. No phone, no TV or computers, we have a great record collection and my mom’s old phonograph player to keep the atmosphere lively. The entire family was all together for a day and a night before everyone took to their desired path of get away, and restoration. We moved the piano from the farm to the Ranch with all the kids around to move heavy furniture. We also started a reroofing job on the old playhouse that has been a center of kids play since my mom was a child. Our five year old grandson Nolan (Nolie to me) loved to be able to use a real hammer and pound in those old nails in prep for the new shingle roof. One by one the kids headed out to their own adventures leaving Jeff and I to create our own week of fun. The ranch certainly needs lots of attention, lots of restoration, lots of gardening, caretaking, but we also take it as we wish, when we want and at a place that feels right. 

               Jeff and I have been talking, researching, plotting and planning to plant an apple orchard at the ranch on about 1.25 acres that has been open field for my entire memory. The soil is not the best, as it is on top of a hill, and maybe why it is still a hill.  The soil feels like fossilized volcanic ash from Mt Saint Helena. That may not really be true, but it is a hard Duripan soil about 12 inches below the topsoil that is not penetrable with anything but a pick ax. That is a soil that needs building, amending, planting cover crops into, and maybe even a dip ripping before we ever buy our apple trees. So we keep thinking, slowly gathering our resources and knowledge as to what to do. Asking neighbors about what others have done, as there are vineyards all around us doing well. Being stubborn, antiquated souls that we are, we don’t want to plant what now surrounds the ranch, but to go back to what did so well for so many years, and the area was once famous for the “Gravenstsein” Apple. With Good Humus in the hot Capay Valley where we really can’t grow apples and pears, so these crops would be a wonderful addition to our diversified harvest of fruits. They also don’t need daily harvesting year round.

So to continue our quest for information we had a tour with an old friend who has been in the area and grown apples since he was 24 years old. Paul is just a few years younger than us and has been growing and caretaking apple trees for 42 years. We got to know him years ago when a parasol of kids and my women friends would go over to my parents house and make applesauce and juice. It was quite a production, starting with a bin of apples from a local organic apple grower. The bin of apples would be in the bed of the truck, my dad fixed a long plastic pipe shoot that the kids would send down to the apple press that would grind, and then squeeze the juice out. At the same time others were over at the apple peeler slicing dicing and cooking apples on the outside burner down to applesauce. Those apples that we canned into many quart jars of sauce and juice were from Paul’s orchards. We had visited him while picking up the bins, but didn’t take the time to tour and talk much about his operation. So on our time off we made a date with Paul to do just that. He came in his white market van that had returned the day before from a Farmers Market, still with unsold apple boxes in it, making sure to park in the shade. We walked our field, talked soils and apples, tasted the one apple tree in the field and then took a tour of a few of his orchards. It started about a mile from the ranch, what some would consider an abandon orchard with old old apple and pear trees with oaks growing amidst them. We tasted what was still on the trees, talked varieties, and the character of apple trees. We visited another site that was not as old an untended, with new interplantings of baby trees, some surviving some looking pretty sad. In conversation he told us that he does not irrigate, even the baby trees, and that apples are survivors living for years, and can be restored even on the brink of death. One tree had lost its core, you could almost walk through it, but the two arms outside the core were alive and producing apples. We then went to his home place where he started so many years ago with his brother. His true nature came out when we walked his land. Years ago he planted about 3000 redwood seedlings on the edges of his orchard, just like Jeff and I have planted our native hedgerows around our farm. It seems that Paul passion was trees, intertwining nature and with his production watching habitat return and they too have a place in and surrounding his orchards. Paul as you can imagine was a wealth of knowledge about apple care, different varieties, and a true survivor in a diminishing industry. Come to find out he takes care of 88 different apple orchard locations (l believe owning only his home orchard), totaling about 200 acres with a crew of 11.

Kindred souls we were, with a van full of market paraphernalia, love of his trees, taking ground to plant non production trees for the wildlife, and giving us the time to share his stories.  In the end of our tour we bought the heirloom Red Delicious apples from his market van for your CSA box this week. And you will probably see more of his apples in the next month. As you can imagine there is so much more to this story. To end for today I will share a late night email poem his sent when we were trying to make connections:
             

“It’s all about compost and leaf litter and one of the chosen spots of the earth as far as nature is concerned
I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world than this coastal temperate rain forest
no wonder the cars are cramming the roads
enough food for thought
my thoughts are high in the redwood trees
peace an joy this fine young morning
new day is dawning”

 

 

Have a great Week~ Annie

 

Sweet Pepper, Zucchini and Cheddar Clafoutis

Source: The Washington Post

 

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup crème fraîche

4 large eggs

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup coarsely grated white cheddar cheese, divided

2 ounces sliced ham, chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium sweet bell peppers, preferably red and yellow, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch wide strips

1 small zucchini sliced into 1/4-inch strips

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh lemon juice, for serving

Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving

Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, creme fraiche, eggs, basil, flour, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup (3 ounces) of the cheddar and the ham. In a 9-inch ovenproof skillet over high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and the vegetables acquire golden edges, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the egg mixture into the skillet and top it with the remaining 1/4 cup (1 ounce) cheddar and the Parmesan. (Or, for a more elegant presentation, scrape the vegetables into a 1 1/2- to 2-quart casserole dish and add the egg mixture and cheese on top.) Bake for about 25 minutes, until the eggs are set in the middle and puffed at the edges. The internal temperature should be about 160 degrees and the tip of a thin knife inserted should come out clean. Let the clafoutis cool for several minutes, then sprinkle with a little lemon juice and red pepper flakes before serving

 

ALOO BAINGAN – POTATO EGGPLANT CURRY

Source: Vegan Richa

 

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

6 curry leaves chopped

4 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 inch ginger minced

1 hot green chile finely chopped

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 large potato cubed small

1 med eggplant chopped small, or 8 sm eggplants, quartered

1 large tomato crushed, finely chopped

3/4 cup water

3/4 tsp salt

cayenne red chili powder or garam masala to taste

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add cumin and mustard seeds and cook them until cumin seeds change color and get fragrant. A few seconds or a minute depending on how hot the plan and oil are. Add curry leaves carefully. Add garlic ginger and chili and cook for a minute or until the garlic is golden. Add the coriander powder and turmeric and mix in. Add potatoes and eggplants and mix in. Add the tomatoes, salt and water and mix in. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the eggplants and potatoes are tender to preference. About 15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and spice and mix in. Garnish with a good sprinkle of cayenne or garam masala or both, and cilantro and serve

 

Potato Basil Frittata Squares

Source: Food Network

 

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3 cups peeled and 1/2-inch-diced boiling potatoes

12 extra-large eggs

22 ounces ricotta cheese

1 pound 2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 cups chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12-by-18-by-1 1/2-inch half sheet pan. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and fry them until cooked through, turning often, 10 to 15 minutes. Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter in a small sauté pan and set aside. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in the ricotta, Gruyere, melted butter, salt, pepper, and basil. Sprinkle on the flour and baking powder and stir into the egg mixture. Distribute the potatoes over the bottom of the sheet pan. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and spread evenly. Bake the frittata until it is browned and puffed, 30 to 35 minutes. Allow the frittata to cool and cut into 20 single-serving squares.

 

Apple Zucchini Bread

Source: Taste of Home

 

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 large eggs, room temperature

1-1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

1 cup shredded peeled apples

1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs. Add oil, sugars and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients; mix well. Stir in zucchini, apples and pecans (batter will be stiff). Spoon into 3 greased 8x4-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Apple & Gin Autumn Cocktail

Source: No Spoon Necessary

 

4 ounces Gin

4 ounces Apple Cider

1 ounce Lime Juice

2 ounces Honey Simple Syrup

Dash Cinnamon

Optional Garnishes:

2 Thyme Sprigs

1 Apple – cut into matchsticks

Honey Simple Syrup:

¼ Cup Honey

¼ Cup HOT Water

Make the honey simple syrup: Add the HOT water and honey to a mason jar and shake vigorously until the honey dissolves. For the cocktail: Combine gin, apple cider, lime juice, honey simple syrup, and cinnamon in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled. To serve: Fill two glasses with ice and matchstick apples. Strain cocktail to glasses and garnish with sprigs of thyme. Enjoy!