Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Now and Then
Once upon a time, far far away Leo and I bought a little cabin. And that was the end of all of our vacations. You see this cabin had to turn into a cottage. Originally, it was dingy, dirty, moldy, and dark. But, it had some charm. So, this is the essay called how I spent my summer vacation. A picture is worth a thousand words.
The front being torn off. The back, a series of wasp nests and rotten siding. Luckily one of our neighbor's had some of the original siding. Oh, boy, let's all play with Asbestos! And this brings
us to this year and 4th of July.
The kitchen originally looked like this: and then it looked like the picture on the left. So here we are many years later.
We have a new roof, electric, plumbing, windows, heating and closets. What don't we have? That's right a kitchen.
I'll let you know how it turns out.
It's a great place to do a remodel. The town is a geographic anomaly. It's about a week to get anything from anywhere. So, we try hard not to forget anything like nails.
Zack and Casey have lived here throughout the winter with no kitchen. They're hoping for a kitchen sink. Me, I'm hoping the kitchen electric gets in so that I can bring the old fridge currently residing in the living room home for my veges. All the new appliances are in the living room along with the cabinets, parts, tools and the kitchen sink!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Parsnips, Potatoes, Onions, Inchellium Garlic, Beets, Rutabagas, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Carrots, Lettuce or Peas and Rosemary.
This weeks special gifts: Zucchini Bread & Butter Pickles & Zucchini Bread or Pumpkin (no nuts). Above, zukes getting ready to turn into pickles.
A few carrots, parsnips & potatoes washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup of stock - vegetable broth or chicken
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4 teaspoons drained, bottled horseradish
1/2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 Tbsp minced chives
garlic clove, minced.
Pre-heat oven to 400°F. In a large roasting pan, toss the parsnips, potatoes & carrots with the olive oil, salt and pepper. (Use a roasting pan with sides no more than 2 inches high.) Add the broth, cover with aluminum foil and roast, stirring once or twice, until the veges are tender and the stock has evaporated or been absorbed, 20-45 minutes. Check often to avoid their getting mushy - especially if they are to be reheated later. Combine the softened butter with the horseradish, parsley, chives and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss the warm roasted veges with the horseradish-herb butter and serve.
Zucchini Fritters2 medium of zucchini, coarsely grated
Ground black pepper
1 large egg
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup olive oil
Sour cream or plain yoghurt
Salt the zucchini with about 1 teaspoon of salt. Try to remove the excess moisture from the zucchini by squeezing the liquid out by twisting it in a towel. Whisk egg in a large bowl; add the zucchini, flour, scallions, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix to combine well. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook fritters in two batches. Drop six mounds of batter (2 Tbsp each) into the skillet. Flatten slightly. Cook, turning once, until browned, 4-6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining batter.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Tonight, we'll sit on the bales and watch the giant Honey Moon (the June full moon) wane. If you're in the neighborhood, come and join us for a beer and watch your problems disappear.
Are Measured in Simple Things
The day the hay is cut, the day the hay is baled, when we plant pumpkins, all make me think of the slow march of time.One day your planting potatoes and the next you are harvesting them. The years roll around and you find yourself doing the same thing. To the right, Leo and I harvesting potatoes in August 1991. The bundle Leo is carrying is Zack at two months. This was his first foray into farm work. To the left is Leo harvesting potatoes in June 2010. I was not sitting in the shade drinking mint juleps, I just stopped to take the picture. And Zack, well he was in the barn weighing potatoes. He and Casey came down for the weekend to give us a hand. Many thanks. For your dining pleasure, this years potatoes are Yukon Gold, German Butterball, and Rose Gold. The earlier red, purple and gold potatoes no longer have names. As you can see, we've been at this awhile, and sometimes the names plum elude me, or is that potato elude me?
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
What's in the Box
Onions, Inchellium Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Summer Squash, Amish Peas, Carrots, Beets & Rutabagas, Parsnips, A little bit of this and a little bit of that... Maybe artichokes, or cabbage. It's a mystery! This weeks gifts: Horehound Drops, Peach Roll-ups, & Spaghetti Sauce.
Amish Peas Amish Peas are great. They can be eaten shelled when they are big or they can be eaten pod and all when they are small. Make sure to string them. To freeze them, blanch the peas for about 1 minute in boiling water over a medium high heat. Drain and dump out onto a cookie sheet and cool in the refrigerator, then transfer to the freezer. Freeze until hard, a couple of hours. Then transfer the peas to a freezer bag. Frozen peas hold for 1 year.
Carrot & Leek Saute - a nice little side dish 1 tablespoon light olive oil 1/4 cup dry white wine (or whatever wine your drinking) 3 medium leeks, white and palest green parts only, chopped and very well rinsed. 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced Pinch of nutmeg Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Heat the oil and wine in a wide skillet. Add the leeks and carrots, cover, and cook over medium-low heat, for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Uncover and sauté, stirring frequently, until the leeks and carrots begin to turn golden. Stir in the nutmeg, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Grilled Summer Squash There's 4 colors of Zuccchini this year, light green, dark green, yellow & Romanesco - which is ribbed and is a bi-color. There are two types of patty pan, one pale green and one dark green. In a 9x13 inch pan, (This is a good time to get out the Pyrex, still the best pan for the price.) Throw in a little soy sauce, some Holly Jam (any kind will do), garlic, a little wine, pepper and herbs. Stir it up little darling. Then cut the Zukes the long way in half. Make diagonal gashes on them and put them gash side down in the marinade. Let them sit for 15 minutes. Just before you grill them, spray them or paint them with olive oil. Grill for 7 minutes.
P.S. Helen, if you're reading this, Leo picked the first Sungold Cherry Tomato of the season. Yeah! The rest can't be far behind.
Treat them like carrots, mashed, steamed, roasted or sauteed.
Annual Charity Picking Box
For 4th of July, we always donate a weeks worth of produce to the Food Bank.
JULY 7 No Boxes. Have a happy 4th! Beginning the week of July 11th, boxes EVERY week.
When I was a child my mother would bundle my sister and I off to Minnesota to visit the Grandmothers during the summer. These two blessed women, must have been totally insane to take us for the whole summer.
We spent July with one and August with the other. When I wasn't fishing or berry picking with the Grandfathers, or fighting with my sister, I was often perched on a stool in the kitchen or basement, watching one of my Grandmother's make something. Women of some talent there was almost nothing they couldn't make, including medicine.
Horehound drops were for sore throats and chest congestion. Of course, as the chief brat, I went from one cold to another, which is why I'm sure my Grandma made these.
Horehound is one of the bitter Passover herbs, and it's very name means bitter. I'm pretty sure I got well in a hurry because I didn't want to have to eat these, or I didn't want to miss a picnic, or a swim party, or a sleepover with my cousins (Hi Jane!), BBQ, a parade...oh how fun summer was.
I've put a few of these in your basket this week. I'm sure you won't like them, but they are effective. Take one at the first sign of missing out on something fun. Horehound drops are made from horehound, water, sugar & lemon oil. I bet they'd be delicious without the horehound!
To the left, Horrible Holly & Terrible Terri. Holly's the one with the kitten.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Summertime and the Living is...
The colors at the farm are the glorious shades of June. Honeysuckle and Jasmine both blooming together, seeps into your dreams and colors your consciousness. The bumblebees are droning and the sun appears to stand still in the sky. Everything feels a little fuzzy around the edges. It's the longest day of the year and the shortest night. Did I mention that it was hot?
Right about now I'm wishing for a swimming hole. I think it's time to head to the hammock. Yawn. Did I mention it was hot?
A regular high holy day. Tonight we'll be jumping over the bonfire to make sure the crops all grow high. We have been planting like wildebeests.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I have over the years thought a great deal about volunteers. One year you plant Zinnias and then pop, some come up the following year in the onions. I spend a lot of time planting Zinnias, and sometimes I get a gorgeous display. Or take the case of melons, I carefully comb catalogs for the perfect melons ordering seeds from all over the country. This year we have some very rare melons for your enjoyment. But look here. A melon coming up in the middle of the corn. What kind of melon? I don't have the slightest idea. Last year there were 5 different melons in this bed. All I can say at this point is that it is not an H2O melon. Then there is a mystery squash coming up in the compost. A tomatillo and a bok choy coming up in the green beans and tomatoes starting up willynilly every where I look. This all sorts of smacks of conspiracy to me. Think about it, I spend hundred of dollars on seeds and countless hours starting seeds, transplanting, composting, watering and poof like wild magic these plants just start themselves.
Well it's all very understandable you say, a seed gets left behind and comes up the following year. It is after all in their nature to try to self persevere. Seeds are very opportunistic. They wait for the right weather and then the right conditions. They are very patient. Some seeds can sleep in the soil for 20 years. It is coded in the DNA from their mother when they should sprout. All I can say is that I have battled with some very stubborn tomato seeds who didn't want to sprout. I have no idea what their mother told them. And, it's a darn shame the whole garden just doesn't volunteer and I could do something that really needs to get done, like painting the living room.
There are garden experts that say that you should rogue all volunteers out of the garden. They might carry disease, and you don't even know if they will be any good. Although this is true, I don't kill volunteers. That's why there is a mulberry coming up in the Tigridia.
Besides, what if this squash is the wonder squash of the decade? What if this is Super Squash and I killed it? I guess I'll just live with the mystery.
Here are a few more volunteers that I didn't have anything to do with. Heck, I didn't even plant their mother or father.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I'd like to report some missing vases. Yes, 9 are white and look like this and 5 are blue look like this, and then there are 11 Strauss Creamery bottles, that I need to return to the Creamery. Do I have any clues as to where they are? Well, let's just say I put them in boxes and filled them with flowers and unlike Otis & Milo or Chance, Shadow & Sassy, they haven't found their way home. Well, you see officer, I can't do any more flowers till they come back. I don't have anymore vases!
What's in the Box
Inchellium Red Garlic, Leeks, Cabbage, Zukes/and or Scallop Summer Squash, Beets, Rutabagas, Carrots, Potatoes, Rosemary, Peas-STRING & SHELLY, Feverfew & statice.
This weeks gifts: Strawberry Rhubarb Jam & Strawberry Bread or Par-Baked Pizza Crusts.
This week we have Amish Peas, they are meant to be eaten in 2 stages, either way they need to be stringed. If they are fat, after stringing, slip the peas out. If they are flat, they can be eaten pod and all (but still string them!) They need very little cooking and the whole pods and the peas themselves can be cooked together. Try them lightly sauteed in butter for a couple of minutes.
RAW: First, peel them with a vegetable peeler. Slice and enjoy as a snack. Chop, dice, or grate them and add to salads. Create a unique salad with diced rutabagas and other vegetables of your choice. Grate them and add to cole slaw. Grate and combine with carrot salad.
COOKED: Rutabagas can be roasted, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, mashed, or stewed. Cook them with potatoes and mash together. Quarter them and roast along with potatoes. Enhance the flavor of stews with chopped or quartered rutabagas. Dice them and add to soups. Stir-fry with onions.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5u1MBY-RKs Rutabaga Boogie! and don't forget June is National Rutabaga Month and 2010 is the International Year of the Rutabaga.
"Rutabaga — it's suitable for any occasion. Rutabagas' firm yet impetuous flavor go well with Bordeauxs, Chablis, or even champagne. Use julienned rutabagas to clear the palate before dessert. Stir-fried rutabagas can bulk up any Chinese dish. Or how about rutabaga ratatouille. And instead of an olive in your Martini, why not try a rutabaga wedge.
"Rutabaga— it's America's under-utilized vegetable." By Garrison Keillor Dec 31, 2005
Hey! These are only partially cooked. You can freeze them when you get home and pull them out to make a quick snack. To use they must be defrosted. Top with your favorite pizza toppings and bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
Look at those Melons Run!
Go Melons Go! Quick, Leo's not looking... race around, cover everything in sight! About the only thing on the farm that likes it over 90 degrees, my friends on the right, who grew a foot on Saturday and another on Sunday.
Ode to the Potato
The first potatoes of the year were harvested on Sunday many thanks to Darci, who is on her last week as an intern, the air conditioning of Target has wooed her to the dark side. This week you will find an assortment of farm reds, purples and golds and russets. Many of these I can't remember the names of. We have been growing potatoes for a really long time. As a matter of fact, Leo and I are the #1 organic potato grower in Santa Clara County. Really.
We try to grow enough potatoes to last the whole year. In theory this works, in practice between all of us, we just use way too many potatoes. If we grew enough potatoes to last all year, the corn and tomatoes would have to go. Typical Americans eat about 73 pounds a year. Although wild potatoes are found from the U.S. to Chile, they are a native of Peru.
Potatoes provide 45 % of the daily need for Vitamin C, which made them worth their weight in gold during the Yukon Gold Rush. Which reminds me, the main season potato from us will be Yukon Golds. Potatoes also provide 18% of your daily potassium needs. Yes, that's more than bananas or mushrooms.
- Store potatoes in a well ventilated place, optimally, at a temperature between 45ºF and 55ºF. (Like the garage floor.)
- Colder temperatures (as in a refrigerator) cause a potato’s starch to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discoloration when cooked.
- Paper bags offer the best environment for extending shelf-life
- Keep potatoes out of the light.
- Don’t wash potatoes (or any produce for that matter) before storing. Dampness promotes early spoilage. The potatoes you receive from us are never washed, not even a little, so give them a good scrub up before eating.
- Green on the skin of a potato is the build-up of a chemical called Solanine. It is a natural reaction to the potato being exposed to too much light. Solanine produces a bitter taste and if eaten in large quantity can cause illness.
- If there is slight greening, cut away the green portions of the potato skin before cooking and eating.
- Sprouts are a sign that the potato is trying to grow. Storing potatoes in a cool, dry, dark location that is well ventilated will reduce sprouting. Return sprouting potatoes to the farm and we'll plant them! But only Foothill Farm potatoes.
- Cut the sprouts away before cooking or eating the potato.
• 1 1/4 lbs. potatoes, very thinly sliced
• 1 cup quartered and thinly sliced onion
• 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
• 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
• 1/2 cup stock or broth
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Spray an 8-inch microwave-safe baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1/3 of the potatoes and 1/2 of the onions on the bottom of the dish and sprinkle with 1/3 the cheese and 1/2 the herbs. Repeat layers, then top with the last 1/3 of the potatoes, layering potatoes so that there is a solid layer of potatoes with no gaps; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Stir together stock, Dijon and garlic salt and pour over the potatoes. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 20 minutes. Use oven mitts to remove dish from microwave; carefully remove cover from dish due to steam build-up and serve. Makes 6 servings.
Variations : Omit Dijon and garlic salt. Layer potatoes with 1 (4-oz.) can diced green chillis and 1/2 cup canned black beans. Use Cheddar or a Mexican cheese blend. Add 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin to broth. Cook as directed above.
Basic Potato Pancakes Recipe
2 c. grated potatoes
2 or 3 eggs
3 tsp. grated onion
1 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1 1/2 tbsp. flour
Mix all ingredients together and fry in hot oil until browned on both sides.
Makes 6 - 8 potato pancakes
Ever wonder what goes on at the farm when we are not farming or baking or cooking? Textiles! Sewing, knitting, dyeing, felting, and of course a little music too. Saturday and Sunday were hot. By the time we got to Sunday afternoon, we had to give up and do something else or tempers as well as temperature would have flared. Always ready to orchestrate something grand, Leo led us in the annual tie dye anything that doesn't move a-thon. I say this because one year a dog got too close to the dye bath and had a stunning shade of blue splashed on it. The great thing about dying is if you don't like it, you can throw it in another tub and do it again. Some years I have a lot of black shirts.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Having a son who's off in his own is even better. Of course sometimes it gets a little lonely here on the farm. There's no nocturnal bumping and thumping upstairs. Our phone doesn't ring constantly and of course the refrigerator is always full and there's plenty of chocolate. The general hum of activity is just a quiet buzz without him here. So whenever we get to thinking it's too quiet, we do the farm tour where Zack's legacy let's us know he's been here and left his mark. Whether his mark was done with a spray can, a packet of seeds, a box of pastels, a lump of clay, or a block of wood.
Zack your presence is felt every day. Have a happy birthday. And what about the presents? The card is in the mail, check the pockets of your last package, and your bank account. Love, us
Sunday, June 13, 2010
While the Sun Shines
I hope you all enjoyed Spring for those few weeks while we had it. I suspect that now we will have summer until the end of September, when we will have a few weeks of Autumn and then jump to winter. The settled weather means it's time to plant beans, lots of beans, squash, cotton and more melons. Living on a farm is kind of living in borrowed grace for a few moments at a time. This morning it was a flock of birds come to rejoice that the hay was cut. The birds danced and flitted, like synchronized swimmers, in one heartbeat between the orderly rows. An extravaganza of exuberance for which I had a front row seat. A special showing that only I was witness to.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
What's in the Box?
Romanesco or White Cauliflower or broccoli, Summer squash - zukes or scallops, rhubarb, favas (last of the season), cherry spinach or cabbage, beets, radishes (spicy), lettuce, onions, & Georgian Fire Garlic
Earlier in the blog there are recipes for rhubarb. The favas don't look beautiful, it's the end of the season for them, but remember you don't eat the outside shell anyway. This week they are creamier than the early ones. Georgian Fire Garlic? Yes, as in Back in the USSR.
Cherry Spinach & Pasta
You will need:
• a package of spaghetti
• a bunch spinach leaves washed and sliced
• about 1/4 cup of basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
• 1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
• a dash of ground red chile (cayenne) or chile flakes
• freshly grated black pepper, to taste
• a drizzle of olive oil
Boil the water for the pasta. Toss in the spaghetti and when it has started to cook, toss the greens right in with the spaghetti to boil together. Cradle a large metal bowl or saucepan over top of the pasta pot. Add the pesto, half the pecorino, the cayenne, and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir while the heat from the water below melts the pesto and heats the sauce. Take it easy, don't let the pasta water boil over. Use a cup to extract some cooking water (about 1/3 cup) and add it to the sauce. When the sauce is hot and combined, remove the bowl. Drain the spaghetti and greens, put into the bowl, and toss it all together, topping with the remaining pecorino.
As the radishes are extra spicy - due to the sudden heat wave, if you use them to make the French Butter recipe, serve them in a sandwich with lettuce. Don't forget, you can roast beets and radishes.
Gifts in the box:
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam & Strawberry Bread.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Salad Dressing:
Mix olive oil, dry mustard, mild vinegar like Mirin or wine vinegar and jam.
The little white flowers are fever few, an herb for headaches.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
30 Days with a Cat
They call me Dr. Professor Longhair. I was abandoned in Northern California. Zack and Casey rescued me and brought me to the farm. Yeah, they knew there were dozens of ferals here, but they knew I was different. I was a lover cat. Left to live in a vent under a house in the snow. They lured me out with a can of cat food and promises of a forever home
Leo knew me right away as a lover man. I took to the stairs, the chair, and I was a cuddling fool. Holly tested me on a road trip, here I am on my own queen bed at Mammoth. I'm a traveling cat. 6 miles from home, I opened the cat carrier and was riding on the jump seat of the truck. That was on Pacheco Pass. By the time we hit Carson Pass I was climbing through the pass through using the port potty and feed yourself station. What's not to love about hotel rooms? Room service 24/7, dial a mom, clean sheets - hey this is the Ritz hotel.
Back at home all is good. So I don't want to go outside. Been there. Done that. It's highly overrated. There's like farm cats, and all kinda of things out there. Just give me lap, lots of lap, lots of big old warm lap and a bowl of cat food and I'm happy.
And then there was day 28. Suddenly, I had a little trouble breathing. Then I stopped eating. Then we went to the vet. It was ugly. But, I'm a prince and I went down like a King. I had a little lung issue. 30 days, it was a good ride. Some cats never get the love. Me, I had it from Zack and Casey and Leo and Holly.
Opening: Farm house cat. Must be lovable and supportive. Good food and good company, must agree to give up sex life. (Well no position is perfect).
Here's to you Doc, best darn Professor we ever learnt from.
Once upon a time Leo and I raised pigs and sheep and ducks and goats and chickens and rabbits and turkeys and geese...and it was even more work than raising vegetables. Hard to believe, but true.
I can leave the vegetables and the farm for a couple of days, knowing that the veges will be okay, the feral cats will be okay and the chickens will carry on. But when we had animals, Leo and I only left the farm once. And whew boy, it was expensive to find a sitter. So we really appreciate anyone who raises humane meat. Most of you know me as fish-a-tarian. Since we stopped raising our own meat, I would not eat meat. I know too much of what goes on down at the ranch and in the processing house. That all changed last year when we received organic grass fed lamb and beef from the Holding Ranch in California.
Last week we received a beautiful package of "cardiac cow" from Ed and Connie from Blacktail Mountain Ranch in Montana. They have bred a Piedmontese and Scottish Highland cow to create the lowest fat/lowest cholesterol breed you'll find. They raise their cattle in a humane, natural fashion. Well tasting is believing. I rubbed one chuck steak with brown sugar and salt, garlic powder and farm herbs and let it rest for 2 hours. On the charcoal grill, I grilled one side, flipped it and shut the vents. 10 minutes later, we were eating great beef.
Ed and Connie are two of the nicest folk that you will ever talk to. (www.blacktailmountainranch.com). I love that we can order just what we need and the cuts we like. You all know that my freezer is crammed to capacity! There's just not room in there for a half a cow.
Connie even sent me some recipes! Now, that's service. I don't know how Ed did it, but he got the famed Chef Paul Alsippi from the Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Montana to send me his recipe for brisket. Father's Day is looking good!
The above photo of Ed was boosted from Eugenia Bone's blog, Well Preserved. (http://blogs.denverpost.com/preserved/) Eugenia has a great recipe for Bolognese Sauce from Ed & Connie's Beef. Some of the very best preserves that you have received in your boxes are from Eugenia's recipes.