Monday, June 4, 2007

Two Small Farms Newsletter #399

June 6th 2007
Table of Contents:

1) In your box this week
2) The Bane of Beelzebub
3) What to do with this week's box?
4) Grassland Restoration at High Ground
5) Photos
6) Recipes
7) Which Farm?
8) Unsubscribe
9) Two Small Farms Contact Information

1) In this week's CSA box:

Spring Onions
Red Beets
Bok Choy OR Spinach
Summer Squash (Thurs & Fri)
Cabbage (Wednesday)

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


2) The Bane Of Beelzebub

If our government ever finds out about the intoxicating qualities of basil, they'll want to regulate it. Actually, the word "intoxicating" misleads since it implies that the herb contains toxins. A whiff of basil lifts the spirits so that it's practically the perfume of good health. In India the fragrance of basil is said to invite sattva, or harmony.

In the Greek Orthodox tradition, basil is said to have sprouted around the tomb of Jesus after he rose from the dead. The word basil comes to us from the Greek, meaning kingly, so it's no coincidence that this herb should be associated with the man some people considered to be the King Of The Jews. Basil is widely recognized as a medicinal herb and resurrection from the dead is an ultimate cure.

Some kinds of basil are understood to be holy in and of themselves. Tulsi, a perennial basil from India, is sacred to Vishnu, revered as the incarnation of the Goddess Tulsi ,and valued as a potent demon repellant. All the different kinds of basil originated in South East Asia before being disseminated by trade throughout the rest of the world, so it is likely that basil arrived in the Mediterranean already crowned with its divine reputation.

Because basil is credited with being able to drive off flies, vases of the pungent herb have been placed at times around the altar in Greek Orthodox churches. Evil takes on many identities and one name for the Devil is Beelzebub, which means Lord of the flies. Sometimes tradition considers Beelzebub to be different spirit than Satan, a mere demonic lieutenant, but no one thinks of Basil as an herb of secondary importance. Besides being the herbal base for pesto, basil is a good accent for summer squash dishes, rice or pasta salads, and as a leafy ingredient in savory sandwiches.

One book of mine says that basil tea makes for a perfect hair conditioner and one basil rinse will leave your coiffeur bouncing like the Breck Girl's mane. Some traditions consider basil to be an aphrodisiac. I've heard that Mexican curanderas recommend tucking a sprig of basil into your pocket to recapture a bored lover's wandering eye. Do any of these quasi-magical tricks work? I wouldn't know. But I do grow basil, and I like to think I'm doing my part for world peace by supplying an herb that sanctifies life and flavors food even as it attracts women and repels flies.

Copyright 2007 Andy Griffin


3) What to do with this week's box? From Carolyn Fox

First, I'll cut off the beet greens. I will saute a chopped shallot in bacon fat until soft then add the washed coarsely chopped greens and cook until wilted. Add a splash of balsamic or cider vinegar and if I have any bacon left over from the weekend, crumble it on top before serving. I will wrap the beets in aluminum foil and roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. Let them cool then peel them. Slice them about 1/4 inch thick and toss with seasoned rice vinegar, a little olive oil and chopped mint.

The carrots will become Arabian Nights Carrots: Arabian Nights Carrots (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Carrots with Raisins and Dates)

5 medium sized Carrots (or the equivalent thereof) peeled and cut on the bias 1/4 inch thick
1/2 medium sized onion peeled and thinly sliced
4 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup pitted dates chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. orange flower water (available in liquor stores or the liquor
department of supermarkets)
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger

Melt the butter in an 8 inch skillet over a medium flame. Put in the carrots, onions, raisins and dates. Stir and fry for 5 minutes. Add the salt, honey, orange flower water and ginger. Stir and fry for another five minutes or so until the carrots are tender and the onions are soft.

The secret ingredient is the orange flower water. Be sure not to use too much or it will taste like perfume. In this amount, it just adds a flowery aftertaste that will leave everyone guessing.

The strawberries go in lunch boxes.

The spinach will probably become a salad with thinly sliced red onion and a dressing made of three parts olive oil, one part cider vinegar, honey, stoneground mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Chopped hardboiled eggs and crumbled bacon on top.

The fennel, cabbage and spring onions will go into a variation on Super Slaw:

Super Slaw (from Epicurious)

6 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 large red or yellow bell peppers, cut into matchstick-size strips
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
8 large green onions, cut into matchstick-size strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk first 7 ingredients in small bowl to blend. (Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing.)

Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

This is a very flexible recipe. I will use whatever crunchy vegetables I have and leave out the ones that I don't have. As long as there's a couple of different kinds and approximately the same volume as the recipe calls for, it always turns out well. Since my daughter is allergic to peanuts, I use Trader
Joe's crunchy soy butter in place of the peanut butter. I also substitute one tablespoon of Asian sesame oil for one of the tablespoons of vegetable oil. You can make the dressing and the salad ahead of time but don't mix them
together until shortly before serving.

The basil will either become pesto or just tossed into anything with tomatoes in it.

A fun thing to do with fennel stalks: My Italian grandmother used to use the fennel stalks as a straw.

Instructions: Cut fennel stalks to a reasonable length. Sip cold red "paisan" wine through it. Sit on the front stoop on a hot night and gossip with your neighbors. Repeat as necessary.

Seriously, it's really good. I would not use a fine nuanced Cabernet though.

4) Grassland Restoration Event: Sunday June 24, 2007 (10am-1pm)

Come lend a hand and get to know the High Ground Organics restoration project. As the grassland sinks in to its golden hues of summer dormancy, we will plant a myriad of local sedges, grasses and rushes in to division beds on the farm. These plants will be grown up through the summer and than planted out into the grassland at the onset of the winter rains. We will work together from 10 am-12pm with a potluck lunch and bird watching to follow. Please call Laura Kummerer at 831-761-8694 for details.


5) Photos


Spring Onions (yours might be slightly smaller than this photo)


Bok Choy




6) Recipes from Carolyn and Julia

Some of Carolyn's recipes are above in #3.

My take on fennel, by Julia:

We grow lots more fennel than celery. WHY?: Celery is a selfish vegetable and easily depletes the soil: it also requires lots and lots of fertilizer and water. Fennel is much heartier and easier to grow in a smaller farm setting where many crops are being grown and harvested at all different times.

Fennel can be used in many many places that celery is used. When cooked the anise flavor is almost nil. I saute chopped fennel with onion in the first stages of preparing many different soups, spaghetti sauce, and chili. No one has ever noticed.

The moral of this story: if your family loves fennel chopped in green salad, shaved into it's own salad, or just the sliced bulb eaten with olive oil and a great goat cheese, you're all set. IF you have fennel phobes at home try cooking it when no one is looking, then continue with the casserole/soup/ etc. No one will notice it's not celery!


Tender Mixed Salad Insalata mista Tenera from Verdura by V. La Place

1 head tender lettuce
2 small carrots, peeled and grated
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into fine julienne
3-4 green onions, trimmed and cut into fine julienne
2 carrots, grated (Or when it's tomato season: 1 large, crisp tomato, cut into small chunks)
salt and pepper to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil
Good quality red wine vinegar

Detach lettuce leaves from the core. Wash and dry well. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a salad bowl. Add the remaining prepared vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, and toss. Correct the seasonings and serve immediately.


Fennel: popular as a vegetable in Italy: it can be thinly sliced and eaten plain or as part of a vegetable platter. It is often served with just salt and olive oil as a simple appetizer or salad course. It can be chopped up into salad as celery. I once saw it added to chili -it was delicious.

It was a popular herb in the ancient world of the Greeks and Romans. A recipe from Columella, a Spaniard who served in the Roman army in Syria in AD 60: "Mix fennel with toasted sesame, anise, and cumin then mix that with pur‚ed dried fig and wrap in fig leaves and then store in jars to preserve." (From Spencers The Vegetable Book)

Fennel is high is vitamins A and E, calcium and potassium. Fennel and ginger make a good digestive tea. (Steep the fresh leaves with a bit of sliced ginger for 5 minutes in boiling water.)



2 cups stock (chicken, beef, vegetable....)
1 full sized Fennel bulb, about 1 pound
1 Sliver garlic
2 T Chopped onions
1 T Lemon juice (or more to-taste)
1 t Lemon zest, chopped
1/2 t Dried dillweed (or 1 1/2 -t fresh)
1 t Ground coriander
1 qt Nonfat yogurt

Clean and slice the fennel bulb, reserving any greens for garnish. Cook the fennel in the stock with the garlic and shallots until soft. Puree in a blender with the lemon juice and zest, and the spices. Strain the puree if you wish a smoother texture. Combine well with the yogurt and chill. Serve garnished with chopped fennel greens or chopped cilantro.

Beets: eat the greens first as a cooking green. They are great just like chard, but they don't store well. Then get around to the beets when you have time.

Chocolate Beet Brownies
from: PlanTea
These brownies are rich, chewy and secretly nutritious!

1/2 cup butter (or 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce)
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 eggs
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup cooked beets or 15 oz. can beets packed in water, drained and mashed;
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ

Melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until light in color and foamy. Add sugar and vanilla and continue beating until well creamed. Stir in chocolate mixture, followed by applesauce and beets. Sift together flour, salt, spices and baking powder and stir into creamed mixture. Fold in wheat germ and almonds. Turn into greased 9x13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool before cutting into squares.
While I had fun developing the chocolate beet recipe, it's a treat to see the expression on people's faces when I tell them what's in the recipe. - a note from the author of this recipe.

Honeyed Beet Quinoa Summer Salad, with variations
from Fresh from the Farm and Garden by The Friends of the UCSC Farm and Garden

julia's note: I make many variations of this salad, with whatever vegetables/alliums/dressing I have on hand. I love using quinoa, but brown rice and couscous also work nicely. Likely other grains too. For this much salad I usually use half the amount of cheese they recommend and half the amount of nuts. Any mixture of the below herbs work well: just parsley, just cilantro, just basil, or any combo... chives, tarragon for a different flavor..... the possibilities are endless and having a salad like this on hand makes healthy lunches/dinners much easier.

6 beets, roasted
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups orange juice
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fruity olive oil
3 cups cooked quinoa, or another grain such as brown rice or couscous or??
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, or shredded parmesan, or??, optional
1 cup toasted walnuts or almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped basil OR cilantro
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 minced green onions or 3 shallots or other mild allium
lettuce greens, ready for eating as salad

Dice roasted beets and marinate in orange and lemon juice and honey at least one hour. (Julia's note: I warm up my honey a bit before mixing it in the juices/oil... but don't make it too hot or it will 'cook' the juice and fruity oil!) Combine with other ingredients except salad greens. Chill at least one hour to allow flavors to blend. Serve on bed of salad greens.

Roasted Beets with Walnuts and Blue Cheese
from California Home Cooking by Michele Anna Jordan

1 pound small beets, golden, white or chioggia (or red!)
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
2 T extra virgin olive oil
preheat oven to 350 degrees
Wash and trim beets but do not peel them. Toss them with the olive oil in a bowl, and transfer them to a baking sheet. Roast them until they are tender when pierced with a fork, 40 to 90 minutes, depending on their size. Remove the beets from the oven and set them aside until they are cool enough to handle. Using your fingers, remove and discard the beet skins. Cut the beets into wedges, and place the wedges in a small serving bowl. Add the walnuts and extra virgin olive oil, toss ad several turns of pepper (from a pepper mill), and toss again. Scatter the blue cheese over the beets, and serve.

Balsamic-Dressed Roasted Beets
A simple sweet-and-sour dressing complements earthy roasted beets. Its bright flavors make this dish a fitting accompaniment for roasted meats.
6 medium beets (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 star anise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 .
Leave root and 1 inch of stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Wrap beets in foil. Bake at 400 for 1 hour or until tender. Cool beets to room temperature. Peel and cut each beet into 8 wedges.
Combine juice, vinegar, sugar, and star anise in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 10 minutes). Discard star anise. Combine beets, vinegar mixture, salt, and pepper; toss well.
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

CALORIES 79(3% from fat); FAT 0.3g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.1g,poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 2.4g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 27mg; SODIUM 258mg; FIBER 4g; IRON 1.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 17.9g
Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

Roasted Beets
Kitchen Garden Magazine Sept. 1997

Scrub beets under cold water, rub them with vegetable oil and sprinkle them with a little kosher salt. Roast them on a baking sheet at 350 F. Small to medium beets take 30-60 minutes. You may want to cut large beets in half to shorten the baking time. When the beets can be pierced easily with a fork, they're done. Once the beets are cool, the skins slip off easily.

I have no trouble finding ways to use leftover, cooked beets. In my beet vinaigrette, pureed cooked beets take the place of some of the oil, so this dressing has more nutrients and less fat than traditional vinaigrettes. The vibrant color really dresses up garden salads, pasta salads, and fish. One of my favorite salads is a mixture of greens topped with cubes of roasted beets, slices of tart green apple, and pats of goat cheese, all drizzled with sweet-tangy beet vinaigrette.


Grated Carrot or Beet Salad with Cumin
Deborah Madison--Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Grate or hand-cut carrots or beets, blanch them briefly in boiling salted water, then drain and towel-dry. Dress while warm with Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette, plus 1 teaspoon orange flower water if you like.

Grated Beet Salad with Cumin
Deborah Madison--Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Grate or hand-cut carrots or beets, blanch them briefly in boiling salted water, then drain and towel-dry. Dress while warm with Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette, plus 1 teaspoon orange flower water if you like.

Basil Ice Cream
gathered from Chowhound

2 cups milk, divided
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup sugar, divided
7 egg yolks 1 teaspoon mint liqueur (optional)
Garnish: fresh basil sprigs

COOK 1 cup milk in a heavy saucepan over low heat until bubbly. Stir in 1 cup basil leaves, and remove from heat. Cover and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes.
PROCESS basil mixture in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding solids. Set aside.
COOK remaining 1 cup milk, whipping cream, and 1/2 cup sugar in saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, just until mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat.
BEAT egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until thick and pale. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot milk mixture into yolks; add to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly. Stir in basil mixture and, if desired, liqueur; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 6 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Cover and chill 4 hours.
POUR chilled mixture into freezer container of a 1-gallon electric ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
Pack with additional ice and rock salt, and let stand 1 hour. Serve in frozen lemon shells, and garnish, if desired. I think I got this recipe years ago from

another basil idea that I think came from

Stuff a handful of basil with some other fresh herbs and a half lemon and maybe a couple cloves of garlic into a chicken before roasting. Simple and good.

Basil Guacamole

I know you're thinking "avocados and basil?!" but trust me, it works very well, especially on top of toasted french bread slices. Kind of like a sophisticated, grown-up guacamole.

Italian Guacamole

Juice of 1 lemon
scant tsp. kosher salt
2 cloves of garlic (more if you like garlic)
2 medium ripe avocados
1 c. basil leaves, chopped
1/4 c. finely chopped scallions

Mash the avocados and stir everything else in to taste. Adjust as desired.

Bean Salad Recipe from Michelle Russell

I've been wanting to share how I've been using my Mariquita herbs and purplette onions lately. It's a very simple bean salad that I never tire of, guests have been happy too. First, I get four or so different cans of beans and put them in a bowl. I like to mix colors, so my salad includes garbanzo, black, navy and red. Then I splash balsamic and olive oil over the beans, letting it sit while I wash and chop whatever herbs I have at hand. I like to add at least a half of cup of herbs. My last salad featured parsley and basil. Delicious! Thinly slice the purplette onions and add those too. Stir everything adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve over whatever salad greens
you have. That's it.

I've also made a tasty version by making the vinaigrette separately, in a blender, with dried tomatoes added. The tomatoes get ground up and the vinaigrette emulsifies nicely.

This salad travels well and makes great leftovers.

BOK CHOY: 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.


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 GruyŠre, 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 crumbs.

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 GruyŠre 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.

February 2003


4 medium-large zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise
4 medium-large yellow crookneck squash, trimmed, halved lengthwise
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Place zucchini and crookneck squash on large baking sheet; brush all over with 3 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until tender and brown, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to plate and cool.

Cut vegetables diagonally into 1-inch-wide pieces. Place in large bowl. Add basil, Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 6.

Bon Appetit
July 1999


7) Which Farm?

From High Ground: Berries, Spinach, Bok Choy, Cabbage Summer Squash, Flowers
From Mariquita: Basil, Beets, Carrots, Spring Onions, Mystery


8) Unsubscribe/Subscribe From/To This Newsletter

Two Small Farms Blog

BLOG ADVANTAGES: I can change mistakes after I post them. I don't have to subscribe/unsubscribe folks. Old newsletters easily accessed. Links! (I send this newsletter out as plain text so more folks with differently-abled computer systems can easily read it.) You can sign up for email updates to the Two Small Farms Blog on the main blog page: above on the right.


9) Two Small Farms Contact Information

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


Anonymous said...

If anyone tries the basil ice cream, can they let me know how they liked it.


chardgirl said...

Basil ice cream. Now I'm truly curious, I think I'll have to try it this week. I'll post back. If anyone else tries it, post too. thanks!


jonathan said...

Here's a crack at what we hope to do with our produce this week:

Fennel - We'll slice it thinly, oven roast with olive oil, s&p. Then we'll make some rye toasts, spread a cannelini bean puree (mashed cannelinis with a touch of garlic and ground fennel seeds, oil) on it and top with the fennel. Good with an assertive salad.

Beets are roasted. Greens are sauteed with an onion and white wine, then topped with the beets and some fresh goat cheese.

Summer Squash - sauteed with an onion (brown the onion first) and garlic. Use to top a bowl of buckwheat and sprinkle some fresh basil on top.

Bok Choy - Marinate some chicken thighs in soy, sesame (toasted) oil, garlic, sugar. Bake or steam in marinade with shiitakes. Cook the bok choy as desired (we saute it in butter and salt) and serve together.

We finish the basil by making apricot-basil smoothies, since there are fresh apricots around now (apricots, yogurt, lime, tiny bit banana, basil). Yum.

Carrots I use in soups and sauces, and the strawberries have yet to last long enough to do anything but eat immediately


chardgirl said...

I finally made the basil ice cream. I followed the recipe as closely as I could, except I halved it. (that way I only purchased 8 ounces of heavy cream, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with that much basil ice cream except eat it all!)

I used 3 egg yolks instead of 3 and a half or 4 yolks. I left the mint liqueur out.

The ice cream was a dull green, I can see why it helps to serve in a frozen lemon half with a fresh basil leaf as a garnish. It was delicious as most ice cream can be, especially home made. I used our small Donvier maker, it's very simple.

The ice cream had a pronounced basil flavor, but it took well to the cream/sugar theme and didn't remind me of the usual garlic/cheese theme that basil finds in our kitchen.

This would be a GREAT dessert for any party where you want to impress your guests with something a bit adventurous, try serving with a more mundane cookie, like shortbread.

chardgirl aka Julia