Monday, May 14, 2007

Newsletter #396

Two Small Farms Newsletter
Issue Number 396, May 16th 2007

BEETS by Andy

In this week’s box you will get either a bunch of red or Chioggia beets. The red beet is the only beet I remember from childhood. It wasn’t until I grew up, moved away, and started working on vegetable farms that I learned that there were also gold beets, flat Egyptian beets, Danish carrot beets, Black skinned Crapudine beets, white beets, Chioggia beets, and huge yellow beets called mangles. None of these “different” beets are modern inventions or mere “decorator varieties”—they’ve all been around for ages in different parts of the world. This season we’ll give you some of these different beets to try out, but no mangles. I’ve always been curious to grow mangles, but they can weigh over ten pounds apiece when fully mature, and I don’t want to beet you up too bad. Maybe I’ll grow a crop of mangles some day and feed them to my goats. I can’t say that my kids love beets, but my does do, and so does my buck!

Having grown so many different kinds of beets over the years I can’t say that any particular variety is THE BEST. Sometimes chefs ask me to grow the white beet because they want a beety flavor for a soup but they don’t want the red of the typical beet to distract the eye from the presentation that they have in mind. The Chioggia beet is kind of a mix between the red and the white beet, since it’s skin is pink and a cross sectional cut shows that it’s flesh is marked by alternating red and white rings, like a target. I’ve heard people say that the Chioggia beet is the sweetest beet of all, but I don’t agree. The Chioggia beet doesn’t have the earthy a flavor as the red beet, so the sweetness is more obvious. The gold beet isn’t as vigorous in the field as the red beet or the Chioggia beet, but it is a very popular beet among consumers.

Beets aren’t hard to grow. I like to plant beets on ground that has already hosted another crop. Beets aren’t heavy feeders, and if the soil is too rich with nitrogen beets will develop a disfiguring black crack that splits the root. One way to avoid this malady is to plant a heavy feeding crop, like lettuce, to consume a lot of the fertility ahead of the beets. Then follow the beet harvest with a cover crop to build up the soil once again.

Beets are more than a major crop for us—they’re also a major weed. During the forties and fifties sugar beets were a major crop along the central coast. The crop was harvested and shipped by rail car to Spreckles where there was a large sugar refinery. Some of the rail cars were overloaded, so loose sugar beets rolled off the trains and into the ditches. Those beets sprouted. There’s enough sugar and water in the tissue of a sugar beet to sustain a plant from the sprout all the way to the flowering stage, so soon beet seeds were being spread by rodents and birds all over the place. It didn’t take long for feral beets to lose all their cultivated gloss and revert to being tough weedy herbs with woody roots. The beet weeds that infest our fields probably don’t look much different than the original plants that the early farmers started improving to create all the different kinds of beets that we enjoy today. And speaking of enjoyment, don’t toss those beet greens away! Strip the foliage from the stems and cook them just like chard.

Copyright 2007 Andy Griffin

This is the first week of the Second Cycle
Second 9 week session starts this week! If you want to continue and have not contacted us or have not received a confirmation of payment – call or email us by Tuesday afternoon! Nine weeks is $180, or $234 with flowers. Call or email Zelda, 831-786-0625 or

Kids day on May 26th
Jeanne and Steve at High Ground Organics will be hosting the annual Kid’s Day at their farm in Watsonville on Saturday May 26th, 1-4 pm.
Kids Day Saturday, May 26th at High Ground Organics, 1-4PM. We'll have lots of good educational kid activities (bugs, birds, farm art), plus open space, great views, a couple cute calves to look at (from a distance, they're not tame yet)
5) Photos
Red Chard: (you'll get red or gold)

Beet Photo Essay (includes photos of the beets)

6) Recipes from Jennifer and Julia

What Jennifer Grillo (CSA member) would do with this week's box:

Lettuce Cups with Minced Chicken

Gem Lettuce leaves, washed & spun dry (NOTE: Can also use Red Leaf Lettuce; just break 'em in half)
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 skinless boneless chicken breast, chilled (about 12 ounces)
3 teaspoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons dry white wine
Scant cup canned water chestnuts (about 4-6 ounces), rinsed, drained and chopped fine
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1/2 cup sugar snap peas, cleaned and cut into small strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white, beaten lightly
For sauce
8 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 small garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (optional)

Brush inside of each lettuce leaf with 1/2 tablespoon hoisin sauce and chill.
In a food processor pulse chicken until chopped fine. In a small cup stir together cornstarch and wine and in a bowl stir together chicken, cornstarch mixture, water chestnuts, bell pepper, salt and egg white. Marinate chicken mixture 5 minutes.

Make sauce: In a small bowl, stir together sauce ingredients until sugar is dissolved.
In a large saucepan with 6 cups salted boiling water cook chicken mixture, stirring constantly to break up lumps, until chicken is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Drain chicken mixture in sieve.
In a large non-stick skillet heat vegetable oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and cook garlic, stirring until softened. Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add sauce and cook, stirring, until mixture is coated, about 2 minutes.
Divide chicken mixture among prepared lettuce leaves and sprinkle with pine nuts. Wrap leaves loosely around filling.

adapted from epicurious recipe

****Sinigang Na Manok****

2 1/2 to 3 lb chicken pieces, preferably with bones (I like a mix with mostly thighs)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 med tomatoes, sliced into wedges
1 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspon salt
1 tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
5 cups waterbeet greens, cleaned and cut into manageable strips
chard, cleaned, 'bone' removed, and cut into manageable strips
turnips, cut into ~1 inch chunks
1/3 pkg tamarind paste (or some other souring agent like lemon)
cooking oil
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic until lightly brown.Add the onions, tomatoes and salt. Cook until the tomato skins are loose and the onions translucent.Add the chicken and cook for about 10 mins or until chicken colors slightly.Add the water and simmer for about 30 minutes until chicken is tender.
NOTE: If your tamarind paste still has seeds, remove about a cup of the cooking water and place it into a separate saucepan. Add the tamarind paste and boil it until the paste loosens and you can see the seeds.Use a mesh strainer to pour the cooked tamarind solution back into the chicken.There will be some paste in the strainer; just use a cooking spoon to stir it up in the strainer. The paste will come out on the other side, leaving the seeds in the mesh strainer.
Add the tamarind paste or souring agent and patis (fish sauce). Add the turnip, greens (chard and beet greens) and cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are tender.Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper or additional lemon (if it's not sour enough).
Serve alone or over steaming jasmine rice.

NOTES: - can add green beans (chinese or american) if you like - can use radishes in place of turnips - can use almost any green (spinach, for example) - I usually make this by taste; this recipe is my best guess on amounts. This is a very common recipe in the Philippines; you should be able to find a bunch of them online. Every family has a different variation!


Julia’s Fastest Way to use this week’s box:

Many of my friends with kids are complaining it’s that special time in May when every event, every project, every fundraiser, every extra curricular everything: it’s all happening this week and next. So: here’s my Fastest Way to Cook Up and Eat this week’s box!

Strawberries: Eat them.

On a night you have 15 minutes to turn on the radio and prepare something: wash up and cook up the beet greens with the chard and some garlic in a bit of oil or just a bit of broth. Eat with a squeeze of lemon. Store leftovers for future addition to soup or melted cheese sandwich.

Beets: remove from greens and store til your schedule is a bit calmer: then bake them and let cool and make a simple make ahead salad with some crumbly cheese, green herb and a vinaigrette.

Lettuce: ask your family/room mates to prepare the lettuce into a salad everynight for dinner and or every morning to take to lunch at work.

Summer Squash: make a soup or saute for a quick lunch.

Sugar Snap Peas: these are delightful cooked up but since this is the quickest way to use the box: eat these as is like popcorn. YUM, and eeeeasy!

Carrots: see Sugar Snap Peas! There, you’re done, with little cooking if your schedule is busy.

And for the rest of you: real live recipes:

Sugar Snap Peas:

Roasted Sugar Snap Peas
1/2 lb sugar snap peas
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
S & P to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 2. Cut off rough edge of peas and a bit of the string along the side (your preference how much). 3. Spread peas onto baking sheet so that they are in a single layer. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with shallots, thyme and salt. 4. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Servings: 4

Sugar Snap Peas with Mint
Serves: 6

6 c. sugar snap peas
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. fresh chopped mint

Bring 6 qt. of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Add peas and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until bright green. Drain, place back in pan and add butter, stirring to coat evenly. Add mint and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


Salade de Betterave et de Mâche ~ Beet and Mache Salad
From Debra Fioritto Weber

Pronounced: sah lahd / duh / bet trahv / eh / duh / mahsh

2-3 chioggia or golden or red beets, roasted
1 lb. tender spring greens: lettuce or mâche
2 hardboiled eggs
roasted walnuts
6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons walnut oil
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
fleur de sel (optional)

PREPARATION:To roast the beets: Wrap the beets in foil. Place in a preheated 425F oven. Cook for 40-60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Rub off the skins.
Place the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to dissolve the salt.
2. While whisking, pour in the oils and continue to whisk until the vinaigrette is completely blended.To serve:Just before serving, slice the beets. Toss the beets and greens together in a bowl. Drizzle on the vinaigrette and toss again. Serve garnished with the hard boiled eggs and walnuts. (You'll have extra vinaigrette.)

Chiogga beet salad
adapted from the LA Times: November 15, 2006

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus 1 hour standing time
Servings: 4
Note: From Christian Shaffer. Red and golden beets may be used instead of the chiogga beets.
1 bunch beets: any color
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tablespoons good-quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon (scant) toasted ground coriander seeds
1 shallot, minced
4 ounces (1/2 cup) crème fraîche or sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 tablespoons fresh mint or chervil or parsley, whole leaves or rough chopped

1. Boil the beets in enough water to cover, with 2 tablespoons salt, until tender, about 30 minutes, depending on the size of beet.
2. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, coriander and shallot and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes. In another bowl, combine the crème fraîche, horseradish, one-half teaspoon salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Drain the beets and, while still warm, peel them. Slice them into wedges, about 8 to 10 per beet, and cool.
4. Pour the vinegar mixture over the beets and let stand, covered, at room temperature for an hour. Spoon the horseradish cream onto a platter, covering the bottom. Using a slotted spoon, mound the beets over the cream. Garnish the beets with the chervil and serve.
Each serving: 152 calories; 2 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 13 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 12 mg. cholesterol; 285 mg. sodium.

Teriyaki Beets from Fresh from the Farm and Garden by The Friends of the UCSC Farm and Garden

julia’s note: you can add one finely minced clove of garlic to this sauce if you like. Any color beet will do quite nicely in this recipe.

12 small beets (or one bunch full sized, beets quartered)
4 Tablespoons butter or canola oil
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

Boil or steam beets until almost tender (10-15 minutes). Rinse in cold water and cut in half. Combine rest of ingredients in small pan. Heat gently, stirring, until sauce is smooth. Brush sauce on beets and heat under broiler 5-10 minutes, basting frequently.

Sauteed Chard with Garlic and Red Pepper
Deborah Madison--Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves (or green garlic)
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 large bunch chard
Juice of 1/2 lemon or a few teaspoons red wine vinegar

Heat the oil with the garlic and pepper flakes in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until the garlic begins to color. Add the cooked chard and toss to coat it with the oil. Add 1/2 cup water and cook until it's absorbed and the greens are heated through. Season with salt and a little lemon juice or vinegar.


Sinigang said...


Your Sinigang looks really delicious!

I'm collecting a list of the best sinigang recipes in my blog, and I included your sinigang recipe (just a link though, hope you don't mind). You can see it at

Keep in touch!

Tanya Regala

viagra online said...

Wonderful box! every day your farm develops better products!