Monday, April 23, 2007

Two Small Farms Newsletter #393

Two Small Farms Newsletter
Issue Number 393, April 25th, 2007

1) In your box this week
2) The Tomato Dance
3) Events including a Fava Bean Upick this Sat. April 28th
4) Help Wanted
5) Photos
6) Morris Grass Fed Beef
7) Recipes
8) Which Farm?
9) Two Small Farms Contact Information

1) In your box this week: Baby Leeks, Cilantro, Baby Carrots, Teenaged Yellow Carrots, Little Gem Lettuces, Rapini Greens, Radishes, Bok Choy, Red or Gold Chard, Strawberries OR Artichokes

This week's vegetable list: I try to have it updated by Monday night, sometimes by Mon. am

Quick notes on this week's box begins the recipe section: #5.


2) The Tomato Dance

At Mariquita Farm we're getting lined up to do the "Florida Weave." This probably sounds like the name of a square dance, but actually the "Florida weave" describes a common way to stake up tomato plants.

In the Central Coast, April 15th is generally considered the "frost-free" date. From the 15th on we're unlikely to suffer any overnight freezing. Mother Nature makes no promises about the temperatures she'll cast. This year, on the morning of the 20th there was snow on the top of the Sierra De Salinas south-west of Soledad, and I can remember various frosts on the Pajaro Valley floor after the 15th over the years, but I always start to plant my frost tender tomato vines in mid-April. Not long after we plant the tomatoes it's time to start tying them up.

Not all varieties of tomato require tying. Determinate tomato breeds set most of their flowers at once, so the harvest, when it comes, is relatively concentrated. Determinate tomatoes are often harvested by machine. Because tomatoes destined for mechanized harvest need to be tough and rubbery to withstand the rigors of being picked by a blunt instrument many determinate tomato breeds are designed to have fruit that can be beaten off the vine green, then ripened artificially with ethylene gas, before being cooked down into tomato paste for canning. But I don't grow tomatoes for industrial processing. I prefer to grow the so-called indeterminate tomatoes, which flower over a long period.

As indeterminate tomatoes flower they keep growing....and growing....and growing. Tomatoes evolved in tropical South America as short lived perennials with a rampant, vining habit. One wild tomato type that is still available to gardeners is the so-called currant cherry tomato. Currants have fruits that are hardly bigger than peas, but the vines can reach over twenty feet. The old fashioned, heirloom breeds of tomatoes that I plant still show off their origins as rampant, perennial tropical vines by sprawling over a wide area if they're not restrained. To avoid treading on the tomato plants, to make harvest easier, and to assure that the fruits are not laying on the dirt it is necessary to introduce a little discipline into the life of an indeterminate tomato.

So we pound wooden stakes at intervals down the tomato rows while the plants are still young. As the vines grow, we lash lines of twine from stake to stake, passing first on one side of each pole, then on the other side, so that the foliage is supported between the taunt strings in an upright fashion. That's the Florida Weave. As the plants grow up we spin more twine, so we end up with linear walls of tomato foliage. The workers can walk easily down the rows to inspect the plants, repair the drip irrigation tubes that run along the rows at the base of the plants, or trap for gophers. Breezes can pass between the rows, keeping the plants dry so that any threat of losing plants to humidity loving mildews is mitigated. Eventually, clusters of colorful, flavorful fruits will hang by the cluster, well above the dusty ground, and easy to pick. I'm planning on a bountiful harvest, but in the end, I remind myself that success isn't only up to me. Farming is always a dance, and nature calls the tune.

Copyright 2007 Andy Griffin

3) Events and renewals!

Fava Bean Upick in Hollister at Mariquita Farm this Saturday April 28th 9am - 12 noon (this event is scheduled for the morning because the afternoons at our field get hot, windy and dusty.) Come pick fava beans and visit the farm with Andy and Julia. Lena will be selling her greeting cards and Andy and Julia will also have other produce for sale. Come with your questions, hats, and sunscreen. We'll also have Two Small Farms t-shirts for sale. We'll have a raffle at 11am for a t-shirt and maybe other goodies too! Come on down!

Come join us on SATURDAY May 5th. from 10-1at High Ground Organics for a chance to take part in the grassland restoration project. At 10 am we'll tour the grassland and than get our hands dirty caretaking the native grasses. At 12:00 we'll share a potluck lunch, bird watching and good company. Call Laura Kummerer for more details 831-761-8694.

Saturday May 19th our friends at Slow Food Monterey Bay will do a fundraising dinner for Freedom Elementary school garden program:


Second session is coming up:

Last paid shares for first session are May 9th-11th. Second session starts the following week: May 16h-18th: just veggies = $180; veggies plus flowers = $234. Please call or email office with your intentions. Mail a check to: Two Small Farms PO Box 2065, Watsonville, CA 95077-2065. THANKS much.

4) Help Wanted: High Ground Organics is looking for help selling at their farm stand in

Farmstand Job Opening:
High Ground Organics is looking for a vegetable- and people-loving person to sell at our Redmond House Farmstand in Watsonville. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM. We'd love to have one person work the whole five days, but are willing to split the job if we get a weekday person and a weekend person. Retail experience and good knowledge of vegetables and cooking helpful. $12/hr.

5) Photos:

Baby Carrots

Yellow Carrots

Rapini Greens

Red Chard

Bok Choy

Little Gem Lettuce: (I lifted this image from the web, we'll have our own soon)

6) CSA-style at Morris Grassfed Beef! From Julia: The Morris Family Ranch raises great steers and direct market their meat. All of us farmers are meat eaters, although I think I can safely say that both of our families like meat in small amounts and vegetables in large amounts. For you vegetarians out there: we love you. Just move along to the recipes. Thanks.

For the meat eaters: read on the note that Julie and Joe sent to us:

2007 brings a change to our marketing model that, we hope, a number of you will be interested
in. While maintaining our traditional split half format for selling beef, we are adding a CSA-style
split half, the same split half but stored for you and delivered over the course of the year, for
people who would like to eat Morris Grassfed Beef but do not have the freezer capacity to
store it. Delivery Dates for this option are as follows:

Monday, July 2, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007 and
Thursday, March 6, 2008.

Our target weight is 87 pounds, delivered in three 29 lb. mouth-watering and healthful,
manageable portions. Included in the CSA-style split halves will be steaks, roasts, stew and
ground beef. All CSA style orders will be wrapped in labeled traditional white butcher paper. All
items must be included in the initial order. The cost for this option will be $7.10/ lb, and that
includes cut, wrap, storage & delivery. Reserve your share now! Download your order form at, and send it to us with a $140 deposit. Balance must be paid upon
delivery of first portion in July.


7) Recipes from Adrienne and Julia

From Adrienne Cox:

I have some helpful tips for new bees. I had to learn these things by trial and error, but I thought I would share for those who are new members or for future new members.

1) Always remove greens from roots before putting your box away
2) Store greens in an airtight container/plastic bag in your crisper (prevents premature wilt)
3) Store berries in one layer on plate with a paper towels underneath and on top
4) If carrots and celery are not used right away, both do well sliced and kept in a plastic container with water covering them in the fridge (also works for peppers, apples, green onions/garlic or similar veggies/fruit)
5) Leafy herbs can also be put in water and stored in fridge (think of flowers in a vase) if not used right away. This is all I have so far. I am sure I will have more in the future. I am relatively new at this myself.

I made my first pass at carrot soup this weekend, and I have to say it was pretty darn tasty. (From Adrienne)

3 bunches of carrots (about three pounds?)
1 large leek, like last weeks, or two normal ones
1 1/2 cups cardoon (can substitute cups celery)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. chili flakes
1- tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 - tsp. oregano
1 Lb spicy sausage (I used Amy's chipotle chicken)
1/4 cup parsley
2 32 ounce carton's chicken or vegetable broth
White truffle oil

Thinly slice leek(s), and chop carrots and cardoon into fairly small pieces. Saute leeks for a few minutes then add carrots and cardoon. Saut‚ another 5 minutes and add all spices. Saute an additional 2 minutes and add both cartons of stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Put cover on and simmer until carrots are very soft. While soup is simmering, cook sausagesunless they are pre-cooked, chop into small bite size pieces an set aside. With a hand blender blend soup until pureed and all chunks are smoothed out. Stir in sausage and cook another couple of minutes. Serve with a generous pinch of parsley and a fine drizzle of truffle oil.

first notes on some of the vegetables:

BABY CARROTS: just eat them! They of course work for any cooking whole side dish thing too.

RAPINI: photo link is above. This is also called broccoli raab. My favorite way to prepare this is simple: saute with garlic then finish dish with red pepper flakes. That's it! You can fancy this up with pine nuts, a small splash of balsamic, even parmesan cheese. If your family doesn't like the bite of rapini, try tossing it with pasta or even stirring in some cream cheese to make this a creamy thing.


I'm not a big fan of microwaving, but in this case, it preserves both vegetables' deep color and nutrients as it speeds cooking. The honey and sweet sherry accents temper the bitter broccoli raab for a side dish that's fast, fresh, pretty.

1 hearty bunch broccoli raab (1 pound plus)
About 1 pound fairly thin medium carrots (weighed without tops)
1 tablespoon sweet sherry or sweet vermouth
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher sat
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground hot pepper
2 tablespoons peanut or corn oil
1 tablespoon Asian (dark) sesame oil

1. Cut a slice from broccoli raab base and taste to determine toughness. If fairly tender, trim only 1/2 inch or so from stalks; if tough, trim more. Wash vegetable in several changes of water, lifting out so debris settles. Without drying, spread in microwavable serving dish. Cover with plastic wrap and cook for 2 minutes. Toss, then continue cooking until not quite done, 1 to 2 minutes more. Pierce plastic and allow to cool.

2. Peel carrots. Place in microwavable dish. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook just until carrots lose their raw crunch but are not cooked through 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Pierce plastic and cool slightly.
3. In a small dish, mix sherry, vinegar, honey, salt and hot pepper to taste, stirring to blend. Add peanut and sesame oils.
4. Line up broccoli raab stems on cutting board. Cut apart from tops (the florets and leaves). Squeeze tops dry, then blot with towel. Cut into very thin shreds; return to dish. Slice stems on a sharp angle to form long oblongs 1/8 inch thick; add to dish. Cut carrots the same way and add to dish. Toss with dressing. Season. Chill.

Makes 4 servings. from: Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini Elizabeth Schneider

Pasta e Verdura, Jack Bishop

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large onion (about 1 lb.), thinly sliced
1 bunch broccoli raab
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lb. pasta (linguine or other long, thin shape)

Saute onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden
brown, about 20 minutes. If the onions start to burn, lower the heat.
They should be richly colored to bring out their sweetness.

Meanwhile, bring several quarts of water to a boil in a medium sauce
pan. Roughly chop the greens and stem and boil in the hot water and
cook for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Add the garlic to the pan with the onions and cook for 1 minute. Add
the broccoli raab, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally,
until the broccoli raab is tender, about 5 minutes. Taste for salt and
pepper and adjust seasonings if necessary.

While preparing the sauce, cook and drain the pasta, making sure that
some liquid still clings to the noodles. Toss the hot pasta with the
broccoli raab sauce. Mix well and transfer portions to warm pasta
bowls. Drizzle each bowl with olive oil to taste and serve immediately.

The most commonly found Chinese vegetable is also one of the oldest bok choy has been
cultivated in China since the fifth century a.d. You can find many kinds of bok choy at Asian
markets, all differing in shape and size; this recipe works well with any mature variety.
Active time: 40 min Start to finish: 1 hr

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
2 1/2 lb bok choy (not baby), tough stem ends trimmed
1 shallot, finely chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 oz Gruyere, coarsely grated (1/2 cup)
1/2 oz finely grated parmesan (1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly butter a 2-quart gratin dish and dust with 2 tablespoons bread

Cut bok choy stems and center ribs into 1/2-inch pieces and coarsely chop leaves. Cook stems
and ribs in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes, then add leaves
and cook 30 seconds. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle.
Squeeze out excess water by handfuls.

Cook shallot in 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until
softened, about 2 minutes. Add bok choy and cook, stirring, until greens are coated with butter
and shallot, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread bok choy in baking dish.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then add flour
and cook roux, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking constantly,
and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, 5 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper, then stir in Gruyere and 2 tablespoons parmesan and pour evenly over bok choy.

Toss remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs with remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan in a small bowl
and blend in remaining 2 tablespoons butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse
meal. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture evenly over gratin and bake in upper third of oven until bubbly and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Makes 6 side-dish servings.

Radish Tartar: a sauce for fish or veggie burgers or served with vegetables for a dip? From an
old copy of Sunset's Light and Healthy Cooking:

1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
cup chopped radishes
1/3 cup minced green onions (including tops) or other sweet onion
2 Tablespoons drained, rinsed and very lightly chopped capers
1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
Mix together and serve with fish, steamed potatoes, vegetable crudite, crackers, etc.

Carrots Vichy (Glazed Carrots) from Cooking up World History
Serves 4
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced thinly (you could use the yellows for this recipe!)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons sugar

1. Put all ingredients in a med. Saucepan.
2. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until carrots are tender.
3. Stir well. Continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone.
4. Stir before serving.
Rapini (also known as broccoli raab) with Sultanas adapted from Healthy 123 by Rozanne Gold
1 generous bunch rapini
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 cup sultanas or golden raisins

Trim the bottoms of the rapini, about 1/2 inch. Wash thoroughly and dry. Place in a large skillet
with the broth and sultanas. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and cook until tender, about 10 to 15
minutes, check often til it's done to your liking. Remove rapini and raisins with tongs, letting excess liquid drain off. Quickly cook broth over high heat until it's reduced by half. Add S and P to taste and pour over hot rapini. Serve immediately.

(Julia's note: I got this book Healthy 1-2-3 from the Santa Cruz library system and I like this
one enough I might buy it eventually. Any of you who are part of the Santa Cruz library system
request it! Then I'll have to give it back instead of renewing it twice more. J)

Red (or Gold or Green) Chard with Garlic Cream
adapted from Healthy 123 by Rozanne Gold

1 small clove garlic, peeled
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
1 or 2 generous bunches chard, any color

Push garlic through a garlic press, and combine with sour cream in a small bowl. Season with
kosher or other good salt (standard 'supermarket' salt that comes with all the chemicals to keep it from caking up might give this dish an off flavor, use it if it's all you've got.) and freshly ground
black pepper. Wash chard thoroughly and pat dry. Cut leaves into 1-inch pieces and stems into « inch pieces, then put in a pot with « cup water. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cook, covered, over medium high heat for 10 minutes, or until soft. Drain thoroughly in a colander and place in a bowl. Toss with garlic cream. Add S and P to taste. Serve immediately.

Smoky Shrimp with steamed Bok Choy and Oyster Sauce
adapted from Healthy 123 by Rozanne Gold

16 very large shrimp in their shells, about 1 pound
1 large or 5-6 small bok choy, about 1 pound
3 Tablespoons Chinese oyster sauce

Wash shrimp, leaving shells and tails intact. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Heat a large nonstick
skillet until quite hot. Add shrimp and cook briefly over high heat until shells become opaque
and get a bit charred. (Julia's note: I'd use a cast iron instead, I don't like getting non stick
skillets extra hot!) Shrimp will not be fully cooked. Remove from heat and let cool. Peel shrimp,
leaving tails on.

Wash bok choy, separating stalks. Cut into « inch pieces, include the greens. Bring a large pot
with three inches of water, fitted with a steamer basket, to a boil. Place bok choy in steamer and
cover tightly, steam for 10 minutes or less, until soft. Transfer bok choy to a bowl, making sure to drain any liquid. Place shrimp in steamer and cover. Steam over boiling water for 1 minute.
Quickly toss bok choy with oyster sauce, adding lots of coarsely ground black pepper. Top with
steamed shrimp. Serve immediately. Serves 2

Recipe Index


8) Which Farm?

From High Ground: spinach, salad, bok choy, berries, and flowers
From Mariquita: Carrots, Favas, Kale, Dandelions


9) Two Small Farms Contact Information

Two Small Farms
Mariquita Farm/High Ground Organics
Organically Grown Vegetables
P.O. Box 2065
Watsonville, CA 95077

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