Sunday, May 6, 2007

Two Small Farms Newsletter #395

Issue Number 395, May 7th 2007

1) In your box this week
2) Farming in Paradise
3) Renewal Time is now
4) Kids Day at High Ground now on May 26th!
5) Photos
6) Recipes
7) Which Farm?
8) Unsubscribe
9) Two Small Farms Contact Information

1) In your box this week: Everyone gets baby carrots, arugula, kale, salad mix, radishes, mystery. Wednesday: bacon avocados and berries; Thursday and Friday: Fava beans and shitake mushrooms.

Quick notes on this week's box begins the recipe section: #6


2) Farming in Paradise

No matter where I live it’s hard not want to eat like I’m living in Santa Barbara. I lived there once, for a year and a half. My first impressions have remained my best memories of that period—driving into town under blue skies a week before Christmas and seeing Poinsettia shrubs eight feet tall in full bloom at the edge of green lawns, with sprinklers swishing and palm trees waving.

Santa Barbara can be a tough place if you don’t have money. Working on a farm helped me eat like James Beard though, or better. The vegetable farm I was working on was between a lemon orchard and an avocado grove. At lunch some of the guys would go steal some lemons, and othe guys would pick up ripe avocados off the ground. We’d split the avocados in half, squeeze a lemon into the seed cavity, and eat them with our tacos.

I quit that job because, after rent, I didn’t have enough money left over to buy beans, and I went to work as a gardener. My boss let me move into his driveway, and for several winter months I slept in “mi bochito,” my V.W. bug. (I’m 6'1"!) I took care of his garden for “rent.” What I remember about that time was that someone threw a pineapple crown on the compost heap and it grew a big, vigorous plant that yielded a pineapple. I ate it. There were oranges, grapefruits, and kumquats hanging from low branches, and the banana plants in the yard yielded small, yellow bananas.

The climate in Santa Barbara is so mild that it’s almost cheating to farm there. Every crop seems possible, and every crop comes earlier than it does here in the north. Steven and I have developed a system at Two Small Farms to compensate for the disadvantages of farming beyond the gates of Eden. High Ground Organics and Mariquita Farm divide up the planting schedule between his farm on the coast and my farm inland; we take advantage of our different climates to grow a wide range of crops and we pass the responsibility back and forth so that we’re always getting seeds in the ground.

Here’s an update on how we’re doing at Mariquita Farm on getting the crops sown for you. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I’m hoping it will explain what we’re up to. I’ve divided the crops up into plant families because I always have crop rotations in mind. The differences between the demands that different varieties of any given plant family make on the soil are rather superficial. I always make my plans around the families, not the specific breeds, and I thought it would be fun for at least a few of you to see some of the surprising relationships between seemingly disparate vegetables.

Allium: In heaven every meal has an Allium in it. I’m stuck in San Benito County, but I’m doing the best that I can. Our first wave of onions are about a foot high, and the second and third waves are set to be transplanted out soon. High Ground Organics will be doing the scallions this year, and the leeks are their responsibility for the rest of the season. My chives are established, but I’m waiting to harvest until I have enough to give everyone a bunch. Our garlic is trucking along, with harvest projected for mid August.

Brassica: I’ve got purple, white, and yellow cauliflower planted, with harvest expected next month. I like to have the cauliflower harvest over before our weather gets too deadly hot. Spigarello was an experimental crop for us this year, and I’ve got one later crop in the ground to see how it fares under summer conditions. Rapini is done for Mariquita Farm until late Fall, but we have arugula getting bigger by the day.

Chenopodium: The Latin word for goosefoot is Chenopodium, and it’s the official name of the spinach family. High Ground Organic Farm grows the spinach for the Two Small Farms C.S.A. but we share the duties on some of the other vegetables in this family. We have regular plantings of Erbette chard going in the ground, and a series of red, gold, and Chioggia beet sowings. We’re also planting the namesake plant of the Chenopodium family this week, the antique vegetable Red Orach, or purple Goosefoot.

Solanaceae: The first potatoes are about six inches high and growing fast. The early crop will be all French fingerlings. Our second crop just got planted, including Austrian Crescent, Rose Finn, and Russets. The first wave of tomatoes is in the ground and growing. This week we transplant out the second wave. Eggplants go in when we’re finished with the tomatoes. I’ve found it’s a mistake to plant the eggplants too early, since they sulk in the ground when the temperatures are anything less that toasty warm. Finally, the first wave of peppers are all in and happy. They’re sweet peppers. I’m doing a pepper seed trial for Seeds Of Change, an organic seed company, so some odd-ball peppers will be available for aficionados at the U-picks.

Compositae: Steven is going to handle most of the lettuce chores this season, but I’ll start planting escarole in July. I’ve already got a crop of Jerusalem artichokes for fall harvest is roaring along.

Labiatae: Basil is just around the corner. The mint is growing back after our first harvests, an we’re waiting for the tomato harvest to begin harvesting the oregano. We’re propagating beds o Nepitella, and Savory for harvest in future years.

Cucurbita: Our summer squash are in the ground, but the first squash you taste will have come from High Ground. We’re putting in winter squash already, including Butternut, Delicata, and Tromba d’Albenga (a long, skinny heirloom butternut). Several kinds of cucumber are waiting to get transplanted, including the Armenian cucumber, and several pickling kinds that g well in salads too. We’re putting in the very unusual Chilacayote for a fall U-pick.

Umbelliferae: Our carrots are doing well. I have a crop of the funny, little round Parisian carrots that I’m waiting to fatten into cherry sized balls, and some orange Chantenay carrots are getting near to harvest. Red, yellow, white and purple carrots get planted out in July for Fall harvest. My crew likes cilantro, so the plantings are lined up like folks buying bus tickets. But don’t worry—we’re not going to overwhelm you. Parsley is slow to grow, but our next crop is now two inches high, and our herbal celery is growing too, but we’re going to count on High Ground for the stalk celery.

Our fields are full but I’m leaving lots of room open in my planting schedule so that I can respond to the inevitable surprises. Farming is never paradise, after all—it’s more like “pair of dice!”

Copyright 2007 Andy Griffin

3) Renewal Time Is Now!

For those of you on our nine week schedule, this week is your last scheduled delivery! The second nine week session is NEXT WEEK, on May 16th/17th/18th.

Just veggies is $180; with flowers it's $234.

Please call or email the office with your intentions! You can mail a check to Two Small Farms, PO Box 2065, Watsonville, CA 95077-2065. Contact Zelda at or 831-786-0625.


4) 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. Stay tuned for details: they will be in next week’s newsletter.

5) Photos & Vegetable storage


Fava Beans: this is a picture of the beans maturing on the stem

Kale: Lacinato, or sometimes called 'dino' kale, we prefer the Italian name. This kale has thinner ribs and is excellent for cooking.

storage of vegetables:

all should be kept in the fridge except the avocados. Once the avocado is ripe you can extend it’s eating life a bit by then keeping it in the fridge.

Separate greens from roots (radishes and carrots). Store all in fridge.

To eat first: greens of radishes! They are great but they don’t hang out long. To eat second and third: salad, mushrooms. The kale should last at least 4-5 days in it’s sweetest state but should be consumed for best taste within 3-4 days. Berries: within 2 days, but many csa members have told me they successfully nurse their berry consumption with paper towels, single layers in Tupperware. Other members tell me the berries rarely make it home. :)

Mushrooms: eat within 2-3 days.


6) Recipes from Julia

What I would do with the box:

Radishes and Kale:

I would cook up the radish greens together with garlic, because I'm a little boring and that's all I do. This could easily include the kale if you don't have other plans for it. If you just want to cook the radish greens, try washing and chopping them, then stirring them into soup: many kinds would accept these greens: pea, lentil, chicken, vegetable, etc. You can then use them in any recipe: wash and cut them up into ribbons ( I don't remove the kale stems, I just make sure they are chopped fairly finely chopped.) Kale can also be used in many chard applications, especially when spices are being called for, such as in Indian or other cuisines. The radish roots? remove from greens then eat them at your leisure. Excellent potato chip substitute!

ARUGULA: I love this in a green salad, with or without lettuce. If your family doesn't like the arugula salad thing your arugula can be cooked: see above! Or stir washed chopped arugula into a hot pasta dish with toasted nuts and green onions, the hot noodles will wilt the arugula. Feta or blue cheese would make it even better, in my opinion.

Fava beans: either shell them in while listening to a favorite radio or TV program, or get your family or visitors to help. Then proceed with a recipe from this page

Mushrooms: I don’t have a bunch of shitake recipes! I’m boring with these like my cooking greens: I tend to just sautee with garlic or make a simple soup out of them. Let me know you YOU use your shitakes! Thanks.

Couscous Salad with Arugula
adapted from Chef Ellen Ecker Ogden Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 cup green lentils
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1 cup couscous
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed into a paste with a sprinkle of salt
6 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
2 cups packed coarsely chopped arugula or mesclun (salad mix)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese or rindless chevre

1. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the lentils are just tender, about 45 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and transfer to a bowl.
3. In the meantime, bring 1 1/4 cups water and the salt to a boil over high heat. Stir in the couscous, remove from the heat, and cover tightly.
4. Let stand until the couscous is tender and has absorbed the water, about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir into the lentils.
5. Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, and garlic in a small bowl to combine. Pour over the lentils and couscous and mix well.
6. Add the scallions, arugula, and cherry tomatoes and mix. Season with the salt.
7. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. Just before serving, mix in the cheese. Serve chilled.

Julia's note: I make something like this nearly every week. It's endlessly adaptable. vegan? leave out the cheese. Counting calories? ditto: leave out the cheese and use whole wheat couscous. You could also add cherry tomatoes sliced in half if you have a source, or grated carrot, leave out the lentils, etc.


Active time: 30 min Start to finish: 45 min

3/4 cup pecans (3 oz), toasted
1 large garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 oz arugula, coarse stems discarded
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb dried linguine

Finely chop 1/4 cup pecans (preferably with a knife).

Mash garlic to a paste with salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a large heavy knife). Blend remaining 1/2cup pecans, arugula, cheese, oil, pepper, and garlic paste in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.

Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Ladle out and reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water. Drain pasta in a colander, then return to pot and toss with pesto, 1/2 cup cooking water, and chopped pecans, adding more cooking water as necessary if pasta seems dry.

Cooks' note:
• You can substitute 2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley for the arugula, but then you should use only 1/3 cup olive oil (instead of 1/2 cup) in the pesto.

Makes 4 to 6 main-course servings.

November 2002


This North African-inspired stew is good over couscous with a little lemon juice and chopped mint. Because it's made with beef tenderloin, it's ready in minutes instead of hours.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
12 ounces beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup sliced shallots (about 3 large, but you can substitute a brown or white onion or leeks here)
1 bunch baby carrots
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint, divided

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Add beef to skillet and sauté until cooked to desired doneness, about 2 minutes for medium-rare. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add shallots and carrots and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Add all spices; stir 30 seconds. Sprinkle flour over; stir 30 seconds. Stir in broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until carrots are just tender, about 8 minutes. Return beef to skillet; cook until sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Season stew to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped mint. Transfer stew to bowls. Sprinkle with remaining chopped mint and serve.

One serving contains the following: 568.44 Calories (kcal), 57.5% Calories from Fat, 36.33 g Fat, 10.34 g Saturated Fat, 110.53 mg Cholesterol, 19.64 g Carbohydrates, 5.68 g Dietary Fiber, 8.07 g Total Sugars, 13.96 g Net Carbs, 37.16 g Protein.

Makes 2 servings.

Bon Appétit
March 2007


1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large boiling potato(3/4 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 lb kale, stems and center ribs cut out and discarded, then leaves very finely chopped in a food processor (4 cups)
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (28 fl oz)
2 cups water
1 (14-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 lb Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage), casing discarded and sausage cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)

Cook onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and pepper in oil in a wide 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until onion and garlic are softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add potato, kale, broth, and water and cook, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Reduce heat to low, then add chickpeas and chorizo and gently simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes. Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 main-course or 8 first-course servings.

Quick Kitchen
November 2004

Recipe Index

7) Which Farm?

From High Ground: salad mix, radishes, mystery item, berries, flowers
From Mariquita: baby carrots, kale, fava beans, mystery item
From Steve Marsalisi: Bacon Avocados
From Far West Fungi: Shitake Mushrooms


8) Unsubscribe/Subscribe From/To This Newsletter


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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