Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Turning Towards Fall

Listen! the wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves! —Humbert Wolfe (1885–1940) "Autumn (Resignation)" (1926)

The seasons are turning here and I have pulled up all the cucumbers this week. The cucumbers beds have become bean beds, and melon beds will soon be sprouting broccoli.

But the melons are not quite done yet, as we have yet to have our watermelons and as you can see the broccoli is barely peeking out of its seeds, so there's still a little summer left in the farm.

But all around me I'm seeing signs of
fall. Birds are flocking away. Leo puts on a sweater in the evening. And my thoughts have turned from harvest to succession.

What's coming in Fall

Pumpkins, Squash, Dry Beans, more green beans, beets, parsnips, carrots, Swiss Chard, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, mizuna, late season corn. For those who are missing their corn, I think we'll be having some in 2 weeks. It looks like as long as the chickens are laying, everyone will get eggs twice a month. Thanks girls!

The eggplants are finally coming on and the peppers are going wild. We
will have tomatoes all the way until the first frost, which I'm hoping doesn't come until November!

If you are not planning to continue with us through the Fall, please drop me an e-mail, because otherwise, Jo is going to be eating a LOT of broccoli.

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) "Nature XXVII, Autumn"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CSA - August 26 - P & P

What's in the Box
Bidwell Casaba, Collective Farm Woman, Rocky Ford and Hale's Best Cantaloupes, Tomatoes, Peppers, Cukes, Zukes, Green Beans - Strangenbohne Ilanz or Romano. Eggs! Flowers, Basil, and tomatillos.

This week's gift: Sundried Tomatoes

Above the Bidwell Casaba, named after General John Bidwell (1819-1900). In 1841 Bidwell became one of the first emigrants on the California Trail. John Sutter employed Bidwell as his business manager shortly after Bidwell's arrival in California. Shortly after the James W. Marshall's discovery at Sutter's Mill, Bidwell also discovered gold on the Feather River of course he became rich. Using seeds he procured from the USDA he planted a casaba melon. The melon was his pride and joy. One house guest at his ranch in Chico, General William Tecumseh Sherman, was exasperated with the menu:"My God, casabas for breakfast, casabas for lunch, casabas for dinner!"

Like orange sherbet in a skin it huge. Have a piece of history for breakfast, and lunch and dinner!

Have a good week

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CSA - August 25 - SCVWD

What's in the Box Melons! Rugoso di Cosenza, Golden Honeymoon, Rocky Ford and Hale's Best Cantaloupes, Tomatoes, Peppers, Cukes, Zukes, Eggs! Flowers, Basil, and tomatillos.

This week's gift: Corny Cheesebread

To the left, why the gophers are proliferating.

Otis with his feral brother playing wrestle.
. Too much fooling around and not enough hunting in my humble opinion.

Not 2 feet from here is a sleek, fat gopher,
snacking on green beans and watermelon! There is absolutely nothing worse than picking up a watermelon and finding a gopher in it.

Cantaloupe and Avocado Salad
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

4 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon plus
2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cantaloupe cut, peeled and seeded
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and skinned

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, oil, and salt; set aside. Cut each cantaloupe quarter in half lengthwise. Run a knife between the flesh and the skin of the melon; discard skin. Slice each wedge lengthwise into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut each avocado half again length-wise and then into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Add cantaloupe, avocado, and grape tomatoes to bowl with dressing and toss to coat.

Melon Sals
3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 honeydew melon, peeled and diced
1 cantaloupe, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped red onion
1 ancho, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
In a large serving bowl, stir together the tomatoes, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Stir in the salt and lime juice. Refrigerate for a bit before serving, if you can wait. Also good on fish and chicken. If it's not hot enough, throw in a little hot sauce.

Enough Zucchini? Yet?
Here's a new recipe for Zuke Parmesan
4 to 5 medium zucchini
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
a few leaves of basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Scrub zucchini and cut into 1/4-inch slices. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, oregano, and pepper. Toss zucchini slices with the seasoned flour, coating slices thoroughly. Heat oil over medium low heat in a large skillet. Sauté zucchini slices in batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Drain well and repeat until all zucchini is browned. Place zucchini slices in baking dish. Top zucchini with tomato slices; top with sour cream over tomatoes, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. And top with Basil. Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.

More Zucchini? Try making lasagna by substituting Zukes for pasta. Hey, it's gluten free!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

CSA - August 18 - P & P

What's in the box

Tomatoes, Gravenstein Applies, Cukes, Zukes, Melons Galore! Hale's Best and Rocky Ford Cantaloupes, Watermelon, and Collective Farm Woman Melon, potatoes, peppers, chives, rosemary, flowers and eggs. If you box has an egg tag, please pick up your eggs from Mike.

Rosemary Potatoes
1 sack of potatoes, washed and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Salt and 1/2 tablespoon coarse-cracked black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook potatoes until just tender; drain well. In a large bowl toss potatoes with remaining ingredients.

Transfer to a baking sheet and roast at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes until browned and fragrant.

Eggs and Vegetables

2 tablespoons olive oil
 + 2 T. Butter
4 peppers, seeded and sliced1 medium sized onions, sliced
2 or 3 potatoes washed and cubed
2 medium sized zucchini, sliced into rounds

2 big ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
Chives, washed and chopped or 1 onion

2 tablespoons rosemary or Basil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 fresh eggs

Grated parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a big skillet that has a cover over a medium heat. Add the potates and cook for about 4 minutes. add the peppers and onions and cook them for about 8 minutes, until the peppers are almost soft. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, if you're using chives (add them now) and cook for about 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft. Add salt to taste.
With the back of a spoon, create 6 indentations in the vegetables. Carefully crack the eggs in the indentations. Don’t let the eggs touch the bare bottom of the pan or the sides or they will burn or stick. Add basil or rosemary. Turn the heat down to medium low, cover the eggs and vegetables, and simmer them until the whites of the egg are set, about 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese over the eggs, and serve immediately.

Above: Banana Squash conquering the world, one structure at a time. God I love vines! Right Scarlet Runner Beans in all their glory. Next year, I'm going to plant a plethora of these. These are just the seed stock. Have a good week.

On another note: Leo and I have decided not to raise the price of the box this year. It will remain at $25. Thanks all of you for your continued support of the farm.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who are these guys?

How can you tell me you like a tomato if you don't know what it is. So, without further ado, here are the suspects.

Clockwise from the top:
Green Zebra
Black Cherry
Sun Gold Cherry
Isis Candy Cherry
Gold Medal a bi-color beefsteak
Djena Lee's Golden Girl

Top: 2 Big Bottom - Goldman's Italian American
Right and left Bottom: Italian Heirloom
Bottom Middle: Early Girl

Clockwise from the top: Amish Paste, Striped Roman, and Federle just in case any of you were feeling saucy.

As more of the tomatoes ripen and new varieties come in, I'll help you identify them. Now on to


On the Plaid Clockwise:
Dark Green, Ancho Mulato (2), Anaheim (1), Jimmy Nardello (0). What's with the numbers?
Scoville Units tell you how how a pepper is. The Ancho is the hottie in this week's group. The Jimmy Nardello is not hot, but sweet. They are beautiful when red, but I couldn't resist giving you a few this week.

And finally below these cute little guys are mini chocolate bells. Not hot at all. Okay the one on the left is a yellow bell.

Iffen we get any heat at all this summer, I planted a lot of colorful bell peppers, and they will color up. There's Red, Yellow & Chocolate mini bells, because Helen asked for them. Ask and you shall receive. Well, at least if you ask early you'll get them next season!

And no, there is not a eggplant in sight. The bushes keep getting taller and taller, but we need a few more hot days to set the fruit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 15 - CSA - SCVWD

What's in the box

Tomatoes, (this week I will do a photo of all the tomatoes to help you identify them) Blue Lake or Romano Green Beans, Gravenstein Applies, Cukes, Zukes - hey you guys asked me to plant them...don't look at me...and never plant zukes if you join a CSA! Melons Galore! Hale's Best and Rocky Ford Cantaloupes, Watermelon, and Collective Farm Woman Melon, Tomatillos & potatoes.

Romano Beans

Romano beans, if you don't already know them, are meatier than regular green beans. They're flat and broad (about 1 inch wide), tender, and sweet, and colorful. To prepare the beans, trim them and cut them on a diagonal into bite-size pieces, then simmer or saute them to serve as a side dish. You can also leave them whole and roast them, which intensifies their flavor and produces slightly charred beans that are addictive. They'll become your new favorite snack.

Roasted Romano Beans

1 sack Romano Beans
1/4 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 sprigs of thyme or rosemary
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Set oven at 450 degrees.

2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the whole beans with the oil, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spread the beans into a single layer.

3. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, or until the beans are tender and browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Look at these Sweet potatoes go! Just seeing them I'm starting to look forward to my sweets.

Next week there should be peppers, finally. The weather has just not been here to make them turn color, so I'll send you some green ones while we wait.

Today I planted corn and dry beans for the fall season. If you are going to continue through the fall, please e-mail me. I'd like to know before I plant broccoli. It's a little known secret. Broccoli is my least favorite vegetable. In an effort to stem my Broccoli Blues, I have ordered Cavolo Broccolo a Calabrese Broccoli. Of all the wonderful things Italians gave us (thanks Dad) why Broccoli? Leo loves the stuff, I hide it in my milk. He makes me eat it. I will eat Romanesco Broccoli...isn't it pretty?

Many beautiful Italian seeds have come in. Four kinds of Cauliflower! (Purple, Cheddar Cheese Color, and Brilliant White. Salad greens of every conceivable color and type. Cabbages and onions from every nation. Leeks to cry for. Favas to sigh for. It's inconceivable! Carrots and beets, spinach and peas...the seeds are flooding in.

Hey, but let's not get too excited we haven't even finished summer yet. Speaking of Italian. To the right, one of the Italian Heirloom tomatoes that aren't ready yet. They remind me of my aunts, sitting around the table making ravioli. Leo, hum the Queen tune again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Melons Madness

Hope you have your melon spoons ready. This week's melons include 2 kinds of cantaloupe. On the left is Hale's Best (golden on the inside), on the right is Rocky Ford, (Green on the inside).

The melon known in the United States as a cantaloupe or muskmelon (Cucumis melo reticulatus) is a member of the gourd family. The gourd family also includes honeydew, crenshaw, casaba, and Persian melons, as well as cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes, watermelons, and chayote.
Cantaloupes are thought to have originated in Africa. They were brought to North America in approximately the sixteenth century. These are a little bit fresher than that.

Storing Fresh Melon
The optimal storage temperature for ripe cantaloupe is 36º to 41ºF (2.2º to 5ºC). The optimum temperature for watermelon is 50 degrees. If possible, place melons in the refrigerator crisper, where the humidity tends to be higher.

Safety Tips for Handling Fresh Melon
Melons are grown in close contact with the ground, which may occasionally introduce bacterial contamination from soil, water, and animals. Although no e-coli has ever turned up at the farm...

Washing Melons
Melons should be washed just before preparing and eating. It is best not to wash melons before storage; this helps ensure a longer shelf life for the uncut fruit. Most bacteria can be removed by scrubbing the whole melon with a clean vegetable brush under clean running water. After washing, blot the melon with clean paper towels to remove excess water. Place on a clean surface, and cut off the stem end about 3⁄4 to 1 inch (19 to 25 mm) from the end.

No soap please!

Always peel, cover, and refrigerate cut melon. Refrigeration inhibits the growth of bacteria.


On the right, the other two melons for the week are Blacktail Watermelon shown left, developed in Idaho by Glen Downs. He was about 17 when he developed this melon.

On the right in the basket is Collective Farm Woman.

The original name of Collective Farm Woman is Kolkhoznitsa 749/753

It is a Russian pre-1940 CV bred by Biryuchekutskaya Vegetable Breeding Research Station, which is still located in the town Novocherkassk, in Rostov region of Russia (South of Russia near Black Sea). Now you know why they called it Collective Farm Woman. On the Brix scale this one rocks at 14! Sweet! Let me know what you think.

Shrimp Martini Ceviche

1 pound medium-size shrimp, deveined and peeled
10 limes, juiced* 

1 small chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 c. watermelon cubed

Freshly ground black pepper to taste 

Coarse salt to taste

Hot pepper sauce (optional)

* The amount of limes needed depends on how juicy they are. You want the lime juice to completely cover the shrimp.
Using a gallon jug, large glass bowl, or large re-sealable plastic bag, add shrimp, lime juice, and chili (juice should just cover seafood). Cover and shake. Refrigerate 10 to 15 hours, shaking or stirring occasionally. Shrimp are done when they are pink and opaque.

After shrimp mixture has marinated, add red onions, watermelon, mint, and pepper. Shake or stir; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Before serving, taste for hotness. If not hot enough, add a few drops of your favorite pepper sauce. To serve place mixture (with juice) into individual martini glasses.
NOTE: Ceviche does not keep well. It becomes rubbery and can be described as overcooked when it sits for over 24 hours. Make a batch only as big as you can eat in one meal.

Melon Smoothie
1/2 ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 cup milk or soy milk
1 cup vanilla ice cream or yogurt
1 cup crushed ice
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Makes about 4 cups.

Watermelon Lemonade
Makes enough to fill two glasses with ice cubes; we quadrupled it to fill a pitcher. We already need more.

1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fresh watermelon puree, strained through a coarse strainer to remove seeds
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) simple syrup*
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold water

Stir it all together and serve over ice. Garnish it with a thin watermelon or lemon wedge, or, if you’re feeling fancy a sprig of mint.

"R" Version: My cousins thinks this taste evens better with vodka. One summer they served a watermelon full of this with a spigot in the melon.

* Make your own simple syrup: Simmer one part water with one part sugar (I did a cup of each and ended up with more than I needed for a quadruple batch) until sugar has dissolved. Let cool.

Frozen melon ball
1 cup of pineapple juice
juice from 1/2 a lime
1 cup of cubed melon
1-2 tablespoons of sugar (if you like it sweet),
and 1 cup of ice.
Pour into four chilled glasses.

Also, thanks all of you for your kind thoughts and words. My mother is finally out of the ICU. It will be a long road to recovery. The women in my family are tough old birds. I saw the car. I can't believe she's alive, let alone barking orders from her hospital bed. I warned the nurses to keep her sedated. She's going to be a handful. We're scoping out convalescent hospitals now. Anyone with a good recommendation, don't hesitate to give me a shout.

Friday, August 13, 2010

CSA - August 12 - P&P

What's in the Box?
Golden Honeymoon Melons, Rugoso di Cosenza Melons, Eggs! well for a few of you, Blue Lake Green Beans, or Italian Roma Beans, (the green beans of my childhood) zukes, cukes, tomatoes, Basil & Flowers.

This week's gift Very Berry Jam. Now you know what happened to the blackberries and blueberries. The raspberries are from a friend.

The flowers have an herb called Shiso in the vase. For those of you familiar with Sushi, you'll have had it before. I like it mixed with cream cheese and Nanami Togarashi (a Japanese spice that some what like paprika mixed with sesame seed), spread on bread and eaten with cukes and avocado. You can also try it in pasta or rice.

Coming soon, grapes & sunflowers.

On a different note, my mother has been in an automobile accident and is in the trauma center at Valley Med. It's been a tough week here on the farm.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CSA - August 11 - SCVWD

What's in the Box?
Golden Honeymoon Melons, Little Sweet Sakata Melons, Eggs!, White Corn (last for awhile), Sweet dumpling squashes, zukes, cukes, German White Garlic and Amaryllis Belladona.

This week's gifts: Brandied Apricots & either cookies or zuke bread.

Above right, mixed melon salad with Strawberry/Rhubarb Sake Dressing. To make dressing add 1 T. Jam to 1 T. Sake.

Right: Zukes on the grill. To make Zukes less watery, place them on a paper towel (doubled) and salt them. Let them sit for 10 minutes, flip them over. Press another layer of paper towels on top. Then oil and grill. Much better! Less mushy!

Coming soon to your box, Sun dried tomatoes (well, as one of you pointed out, they are really dried tomatoes.) But that doesn't sound as good, now does it? Get your melon spoons out! Next week there's more and peppers!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday on the Farm

Just when you thought it was safe to go out in the garden...there lurking behind a leaf is a tomato...no not one tomato, hordes of them. I have filled every picking tray.

Actually, Casey and Leo filled every picking tray. I was sitting by the side of the freeway in a
broken down car. By the time I got home, they had already picked all the tomatoes.

So I went off to look for something to do to keep me out of trouble and I found melons! This week there will be Golden Honeymoon, a honey dew type melon, pictured top left.
The tiny little Collective Farm Woman Melon, bottom left is from Russia. On the right is Rugoso di Cosenza, an Italian melon. This is a type of Canary Melon. There are also a few Hales Best Cantaloupes and even a Blacktail Mountain Watermelon. I don't know which you will get in your box this week, but you will get melons. One lucky box holder will get a Sakata Sweet. Looks like an under ripe tomato, tastes like a ball of sugar. Which reminds me, with Melon Season comes our annual price increase. Throughout the rest of August and September we will be at $30 a week, and then we will drop back to $25. The reason for this is of course water. Melons are thirsty. These are the two months when the water is going 24-7.

This is the first week that eggs will come. I believe that everyone will get eggs at least once a month. Please save your cartons for me.

I will bring the eggs in a cooler, if it's your week for eggs, I'll tie an egg photo to your basket to remind you to take eggs home. Refrigerate them when you get home please.

Remember, eggs are not washed and you should not wash them until you are going to eat them. Egg shells are porous and washing them puts bacteria into the eggs, which will make them spoil quicker. Eggs are good for about a month. Right now the hens are laying little eggs, but by the end of the season, they should be a standard large. In a recipe calling for 2 large eggs, use 3 smalls.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CSA - August 5 - P&P

What's in the box?
White Corn, cucumbers, Early Italian Red Garlic, zukes, tomatoes, green beans, German Butterball potatoes, tomatillos, delicata squash and flowers.

This weeks gifts: Apricot Chutney and Cookies!

Check this out a double yolk! Reminds of the joke about the farmer who was so tight that one of his customers complained about getting a carton of eggs with only 11 eggs. The farmer replied that one of them was a double yolker!

And double eggs are lucky. While eggs with no yolk are unlucky. They used to think that the roosters laid the yolkless eggs and if allowed to hatch would make monsters like Cockatrice. We had a rooster that laid an egg once. But I'll tell that tale another time.

Above, here's the Casey taming the wild feral mother cat who's got another pile of kittens. Casey is helping me on the farm this week. Hooray!

Note: Everyone this week got those FANCY Italian jars. Your name is on them, please return them with the lid. These are BPA free lids. Sometime in August my order will come in, hey the order has to come from Italy because Jardin the maker of Ball lids is too thoughtless to make BPA free lids. And the Italians will send me the lids when they are darn good and ready. These lids are more expensive and these jars cost a small fortune, so please return them.

You all have a good week.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CSA August 4 - SCVWD

What's in the box?
White Corn, cucumbers, garlic, zukes, tomatoes, green beans, onions, German butterball potatoes, tomatillos, basil, oregano and flowers.

This weeks gift, Peach Pepper Jelly
Next week: Eggs, as you can see, everyone's trying to get into the act

Creamed Corn
1 small onion, finely chopped

2 T. butter

4 ears corn, husks and silk removed
1 t. sugar

1/8 t. nutmeg

1/4 cup heavy cream

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large saucepan, melt 1 T. of the butter on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. While the onion is cooking, remove the kernels from the corn. Stand a corn cob vertically over a large, shallow pan (like a roasting pan). Using a sharp knife, use long, downward strokes of the knife to remove the kernels from the cob. Use the edge of a spoon to scrape the sides of the cob to remove any remaining pulp. Or, stand them up on a cutting board covered with a cotton dish towel, it helps contain those little kernels. Add the corn to the onions and butter in the saucepan. Add 1/3 a cup of water and the remaining 1 T. of butter. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the corn is tender. Add the sugar, nutmeg, and cream to the corn. Cook, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Potato Salad

6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup oli
ve oil, divided
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

1/2 cup pitted oil-cured olives

1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Heat grill to medium (350° to 450°) with an area left unheated for indirect heat. Toss potatoes in 1 tbsp. oil; grill flat side down until marks appear, 8 minutes. Turn over, moving to indirect area. Cook until tender, 10 minutes. Let cool, then cut into chunks.
Whisk remaining 3 T. oil, mustard, vinegar, oregano, chile flakes, and in a large bowl. Gently mix in remaining ingredients

Leo’s Grilled Zukes
Using a large Zuke, at least 2 inches around, slice into rounds 1/2 inch thick. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse ground salt. Grill 3 minutes until grill marks appear, flip over and grill 4 minutes on other side.
Man oh man are these good in a sandwich.

Over the weekend we planted pumpkins for pie. Hurray! And this week I'm trying to get in another batch of corn, which we should see just in time for Halloween. Have a good week. I gotta get out and pick more green beans!