Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Two Small Farms Newsletter #405

July 18th 2007

1) In your box this week
2) Let Them Eat Snake
3) Events including July and August Strawberry Upicks
4) Photos
5) Recipes
6) Which Farm?
7) Unsubscribe
8) Two Small Farms Contact Information


1) In your box this week: Onions, Spinach, Celery, Strawberries OR artichokes, Red Leaf Lettuce, Cilantro, Peppers (not spicy), Beets OR Carrots, Collards OR Kale, Mystery herb (likely parsley)

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

how to store this week’s bounty: all in the fridge as soon as you arrive home,

**This week is the first week of our 3rd of our 4 9 week blocks of 2007. Please do tell Zelda via phone or email asap if you intend to continue but we might not know that yet. Do not rely on just sending a check if you’re not sure we already received it! Thank you. Csa at twosmallfarms dot com. 831 786 0625


2) Let Them Eat Snake from Andy

My mother feels that I'm too hard on my children, so when they visit her she likes to spoil them. "Would you like a piece of chocolate?" she asked Lena one evening.

Lena was watching Loony Toons. "Is it Sharffenberger?" she asked over her shoulder.

I got a phone call about that. But what could I say? I'm a farmer. Many of my friends are farmers, or they have restaurants, or they take cooking seriously, or they have beautiful gardens. For better or worse, My wife and I are surrounded by great food. By the time Lena was seven she was personally acquainted with three chocolate makers. On the "worse" side of the equation, our children have to eat a lot of weird food like salad. If I get a lot of flack from the kids because I've used a vinaigrette that brings out the flavors of the lettuces, rather than a ranch dressing that cloaks them, I retaliate by telling a story.

"I'm not hungry," Lena says, stirring her salad with her fork.

"When I was a kid," I start. "salad was a wedge of iceberg and a pink tomato," I'll answer.

My son, Graydon, has learned to lay low in such circumstances, but Lena loves combat. She bugs her eyes out and gasps, "Must...must get...must get air."

"When I was a kid, salad was a wedge of iceberg and a pink tomato," I'll continue.

But her cynical riposte demands an escalation of rhetoric on my part. I grew up on the Hastings Reserve, a biological field station in the Santa Lucia Mountains managed by the University Of California in Berkeley, so my "when I was a kid" stories can get scientific.

"When I was a kid, I knew a parasitologist who trapped ground squirrels in order to count and examine any flukes residing in their livers. In order to make his research reach a little farther, he'd stew the squirrels up and eat them, once he'd removed the relevant organs."

Lena is rendered temporarily speechless. Maybe she's looking at the salad anew maybe not. Maybe she's counting the days until she's eighteen. When Julia and I struggle to get supper on the table for our kids at the end of a long day, and they reject it, I ask myself how my parents cooked for my sister and I, year after year. One way, of course, was convenience my parents weren't burdened with the ideology Julia and I have adopted of making home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients from producers we know and trust. We had dinner when I was growing up, not cuisine. The meat loaf was sauced with ketchup, the hamburger got "help" from a packet purchased from Safeway, and the chicken wasn't an heirloom breed, it wasn't brined, or free range it was just baked. My parents didn't cook with passion, but they cooked every day whether they wanted to or not, and I understand now that they cooked with love.

"Sick!" Lena had found her voice. "That's just sick!"

"He shared his rodents with me," I continue, " and what I remember most, besides the bags of frozen squirrels in his ice box, with manila data tags dangling from their curled toes, recording the dates, times, and locations of capture, was spitting out bones. Bones, bones, and more bones.

"Completely, totally, absolutely gross!"

But the squirrels I ate at the parasitologist's table were tastier, and tenderer that the rattlesnakes I ate at the herpetologist's though."

"Ew, disgusting!"

"Maybe the rattlers should have been brined."

Observing with delight his sister's discomfort with the salad and the conversation, Graydon asks for seconds on both.

"Can I have more salad? And please, tell us another story, Pappa."

"Well, man cannot live off of meat alone. There was one post-graduate I grew up with, Dr. Michael MacRoberts, who studied the social habits of the California Acorn Woodpecker. The problem with eating acorns is that they're very tannic when fresh. The Esselen Indians solved this problem by cracking the acorns and putting them in a woven basket in a fast moving creek to leach for a few weeks. Then they'd dry them and make flour. But there was no water in the creek when Michael was hungry and the acorns were ripe. So he filled a plastic mesh bag with acorns and suspended it in the reservoir tank at the back of the toilet. Every time the toilet was flushed the tank was drained, and the water that had become infused with tannins was swept away. It wasn't a babbling brook, but it worked. After several weeks of soaking I helped him grind the acorns, and we made gruel."

"Maybe this salad should soak in the toilet," Lena says.

Dinner conversation is going down hill fast, and I can tell I've taken my stories to far. I shut up, but I can't stop remembering.

The field station where we lived was remote, the better for all the wild animals to go about their natural business uninhibited by the public, as scientists peered at them through spotting scopes, made notes about their various manners of sexual congress, or analyzed their feces, their feeding patterns, and their social structures. My father was a botanist, so he had only had to walk out the door of our home and he was at work in the middle of his living laboratory, with the wild hills and fields surrounding him. But my mom was a school teacher, and she had to get up at 5:30 AM and commute to Salinas, where she taught, thirty miles away. When she came home at 5:30 PM, mom had to cook for the family. My father deserves credit; as often as not, he cooked the meal.

Every once in a while my father's boss, Dr. Frank Pitelka, would visit the reserve to inspect the work going on, and while he was there he would stay at our home. Dr. Pitelka was an erudite gentleman and when he was "at table" he liked to talk about food. It was the early seventies. Dr. Pitelka would sit down for dinner, look at the salad my mom had prepared, and begin to wax misty-eyed about this "charming little place on upper Shattuck called Chez Panisse, where they serve the most delicious mesclun salads."

I know now that the word mesclun, the name of Dr. Pitelka's favorite salad, comes from the Vulgar Latin verb misculare, meaning to mix thoroughly. I didn't learn that at table. In between bites of shredded iceberg Dr. Pitelka only said that mesclun salad was a perfectly balanced mix of tastes, textures, and colors. In distant Berkeley, within the confines of what journalists would one day come to call the "Gourmet Ghetto" these perfect little salads were causing quite a stir. Mesclun salad remained an abstract notion for me until I was in college myself, at the University Of California in Davis. I got a summer job on a farm on Garden Highway, north of Sacramento, owned by a fellow named John Hudspeth who worked at Chez Panisse restaurant.

On John's farm I learned first hand about a world of lettuces I'd never heard of before like Merveille de Quatre Saissons, Rouge d'Hiver and Lollo Rossa. We even grew a lettuce named La Reins de Glace, from the French for "Ice Queen", which can fairly be described as an iceberg lettuce that speaks French. But exotic salad greens weren't the only crops John introduced me to. We grew an atlas of crops for Chez Panisse, from Sicilian purple artichokes, Black Spanish radish and French Breakfast radishes to Florentine Fennel, Lebanese squash and Hamburg parsley. I'm a horse that was led to water and drank. I'm still growing these crops thirty years later.

I was still working at John's farm on Garden Highway when I visited my parents one Labor Day weekend. Dr. Pitelka was "at table." Mom had prepared spaghetti and meat balls, with cantaloupe wedges for desert. Frank started in about "this perfect little French restaurant on upper Shattuck where the very ripest, most flawless Charentais melons are paired with prosciutto." I cut him off.

"Chez Panisse doesn't get the very best Charentais melons," I said.

"Have you ever eaten at Chez Panisse, young man?" he asked.

"No, I haven't," I replied, "but I work on a garden that supplies them, and when I see the very best Charentais melon, a melon that is beyond compare in the beauty of its form and the succulence and scent of its flesh, since I'm only a farm worker and I can't afford to eat at Chez, I cut that melon open, and I pop the slices in my mouth until the juice runs down my chin."

Years later, my mother thanked me for those comments.

copyright 2007 Andy Griffin


3) Events

Strawberry U-Picks Summer Saturdays
Come pick your own berries at High Ground Organics, Saturdays 10 am to 1 pm, for the rest of July and August. $1.20/lb. Check in at the Redman House Farmstand first to pick up your empty flat(s). From Hwy 1, take Riverside Drive (Hwy 129) exit. Go west off the exit (toward the ocean). Turn right at the stop sign at Lee Rd. Pass the Chevron stations and turn into the farmstand parking area.

August 5th Open Space Alliance and High Ground Organics Dinner in Watsonville at the Farm:

August 25th: Tomato Upick at Mariquita Farm in Hollister in the morning: 8am - 12 noon. We know we’ll have plenty of tomatoes by then. We will have many more upick days in Sept and likely October. We will also have a Padron Pepper upick day once Andy is sure the patch is prolific enough to make it worth your while! Stay tuned.


4) Photos:








5) Recipes from Eve, Julie, Nina and Julia

from Eve in San Francisco
this recipe from Sunset's April issue is a winner. I have used both your strawberries and your romaine in it several times recently.

Herbed Romaine Salad with Strawberries

1/2 cup raw (unsalted) pistachios
10 to 12 oz. romaine lettuce hearts, cored and roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh tarragon, torn into small pieces
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces
12 ounces strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced shallot (about 1 medium)
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons mild olive oil
6 ounces good-quality mild feta cheese (see Notes), cut into triangles

1. Preheat oven to 350̊. Spread pistachios on a large baking sheet and bake until very lightly toasted (they should still retain some green), 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
2. In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, tarragon, mint, and half of the strawberries. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, shallot, honey, and salt. Drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly, until mixture is emulsified. Drizzle dressing over lettuce mixture and toss well.
3. Divide lettuce mixture among plates, then top with remaining strawberries, toasted pistachios, and feta triangles.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per first-course serving.

Makes 6 servings as a first course; 4 servings as a lunch course

Sunset, APRIL 2007

Julie M.’s ideas on the quinoa salad recipe I posted on the Two Small Farms blog:
Your quinoa salad sounds great. One variation on the theme comes from a raw cookbook we own. It suggests making tabouleh using sprouted raw quinoa as follows:
Soak the quinoa in water for about 2 hours and drain completely. (The grains should be slightly wet, but there should be no standing water.) Leave at room temperature. Rinse once per day in fresh water. In a day or so, the quinoa will form tiny little tails. At this point, use or refrigerate.

Tabouleh traditionally has lots of chopped parsley in it. I often substitute carrot leaves (no stems) for parsley. Then add lots of chopped vegetables and dress with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and herbs.

This recipe was a big hit with my family. It's great when it's too hot to cook, although you have to plan a day ahead to sprout the quinoa. It's also a great way to use carrot tops!


Julia's Quinoa Salad: an All Purpose Recipe

(a quinoa plug: it's a whole grain that's fairly high in protein. My family is always a bit lacking in protein, so I often look for places I can add more. -julia)
I start by taking one package (or one pound) of quinoa from Trader Joes: I dump it in the rice cooker, and add water (1 part quinoa to two parts water.) Cook as you would rice. In my rice cooker, the quinoa acts a little differently and spouts wildly so I drape a tea towel over it so the counter doesn't get so messy. this may not be a problem in your kitchen with your rice cooker. you can of course also cook the quinoa as the package directs with other methods.

I let the cooked quinoa cool off and then put it in a big bowl. Now the sky is the limit for what to add to it to make it into a 'salad'. What I put in last night: olive oil and lemon juice, diced avocado, sliced kalamata (pitted of course) olives, chopped onions, chopped basil, grated parmesan cheese, diced cooked beets, grated raw carrots. And S & P.

I now have a healthy, high fiber, decent protein lunch/dinner/breakfast (I like savory breakfasts!) that's filled with vegetables. I also used up some odds and ends in the fridge: 1/3 jar olives, 3 carrots, half a bunch of basil (Ok, that was on the counter), 3 small onions, etc.

Other addtions? any leftover cooked meat, chopped, smoked salmon, other herbs, pesto, just look in YOUR fridge! oh: you can use brown rice, white rice, couscous, etc. instead of the quinoa.

submitted by Nina Squillante:

Spicy Red Beans & Rice with Greens
Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe for “Spicy Rice and Kale”

1/2 t paprika
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/8 – 1/4 t cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)

Bring to a boil in a medium saucepan:
2 c low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 of the spice mixture
1 c brown rice

Simmer for 45 minutes.

While rice is cooking, sauté in olive oil:
1/2 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced

1 bunch greens, roughly chopped (kale, chard, beet greens, etc.)
1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 t fresh oregano, chopped
1 t fresh thyme, chopped
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
Remaining spice mix

Cook over low heat until greens are tender and beans are heated through. Serve over rice.
Makes 4 servings.

Creamed Spinach
adapted from Too Many Tomatoes by Lois Landau et al
julia's note: you could mix in with the spinach the beet greens, kale, and or collards for the spinach in this dish.

1 1/2 cups cooked spinach and or other greens
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons horseradish, grated (I'd use the jarred stuff if that's what you have!)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg OR 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, depending on what your pantry, tastes and garden have
S & P to taste

Combine and heat. Easy!

2 medium zucchini, trimmed, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper

Assorted cruditis
Pita bread, cut into triangles

Place grated zucchini in colander and sprinkle with salt. Let drain 30 minutes. Rinse zucchini. Drain well. Using kitchen towel, squeeze as much water from zucchini as possible.

Whisk 1 cup yogurt, 3/4 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar in medium bowl until well blended. Mix in zucchini, cilantro, garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Cover dip and refrigerate 2 hours to blend flavors. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Transfer dip to serving bowl. Serve with cruditis and pita bread.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Bon Appitit
March 1996

Fresh Herb Mayonnaise

1 egg
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons lemon juice or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup light salad oil (corn or sunflower...)
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro or basil leaves

Blend first 5 ingredients in blender or food processor. With motor running, slowly add the oils in a steady stream. Add

herb leaves and blend just until incorporated into the mayonnaise. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Celery ideas from MACSAC's "From Asaparagus to Zucchini" cookbook:

Celery is a great addition to salads, casseroles, soups, stews, and stir fries

Dice raw celery into tuna, chicken, egg, potato and pasta salads

Try a lightly sauteed side dish with celery and vegetables of varied colors

Kids love 'celery boats' filled with their favorite nut butteror soft cheese. they can make it themselves!

Try a quick salad: half inch celery pieces tossed with feta cheese, black olives, tuna chunks, and a lemon vinaigrette

with fresh cilantro, basil, or mint.

Jeremy’s Photo of basil ice cream on his blog

Recipe Links


6) Which Farm?

From High Ground: Lettuce, Cilantro, Berries, Artichokes, Spinach, Celery, Flowers
From Mariquita: Peppers, Onions, Parsley (or mystery herb), collards, kale, beets, carrots


7) Unsubscribe/Subscribe From/To This Newsletter http://www.mariquita.com/news/newsletter.signup.html

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8) Two Small Farms Contact Information

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

1 comment:

John said...

Hey Andy,

Its John Hudspeth. It brought tears to my eyes to read take on the garden on Garden Highway. So here we are some 28 years later with mesclun packed in plastic bags at Safeway.

Many changes in our lives, happy to hear you remember employment by me fondly. You give me too much credit, actually I was for all intents and purposes only an absentee landlord and gluttonous constant diner at Chez Panisse. Karen Montrose and those like you did all the work.

I now live in Marin County and thankfully ingest lots of great organic produce. Alice's "Delicious Revolution" has reached fever pitch and a although to my mind has become more than elitist, it has a honorable intent and I as I trust are you, am proud to be a part of its seed.

I only just found your post in a Google search of my name and was perhaps too quick to post so I know nothing about you presently, except you are a devoted gardner & father but I will backtrack to know more.

Warm regards,

John Hudspeth - jrhud@mac.com