Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Two Small Farms Newsletter #409

August 16th 2007

In your box this week:

salad -or- romaine lettuce
radishes -or- fennel
a Mariquita Mystery (summer squash/cukes or?)
High Ground Mystery (strawberries or artichokes)

How to store this week’s bounty: all in the fridge as soon as you arrive home, except for the tomatoes and basil. The tomatoes can be stored at room temperature. The basil: it shouldn’t get too cold so it won’t work in many parts of most fridges. It *may* keep in your vegetable drawer, or better yet the door of the fridge (which is often a tad warmer than the rest of the fridge.). Or on your counter. Or just make pesto within the first day: you’ll be fine.

In The Shade Of The Ghost Pine
by Andy Griffin

Classic pesto is an emulsion of basil, pignoli, or pine nuts, olive oil, and Pecorino cheese. Opinions differ as to whether the olive oil can be augmented (or adulterated ) with butter for added creaminess, whether the sharpness of the sheep-milk cheese ought to be moderated (or cut ) with a mellower cow- milk cheese, like Parmesan, and whether there ought to be parsley and garlic in the blend. Nobody worth listening to disputes the necessity of the pine nuts for the best pesto.

Pesto is called "pesto," not "blendo," because it was traditionally made by hand in a mortar and pestle. Like most people these days, my wife, Julia, makes pesto in a food processor, and I eat it without complaint. I’ve been known to gripe about cleaning all the various paddles, blades and rubber rings that fall out of the food processor, but Julia doesn’t take me seriously. She knows my objections to electric blenders are irrational.

We don’t use my favorite kitchen utensils. Those would be the Indian grinding stones (photo above) I’ve unearthed over the years while working on different farms. I also have a modern, machine-ground stone mortar and pestle that was a gift from some Mexican farm workers I lived and worked with twenty five years ago on a ranch in Marin county, and I do use that occasionally.

These men weren’t legal to drive, and the farm was an hour from the city, so I bought them bulk tortillas, dry beans, and chiles when I delivered the farm’s produce to San Francisco. They cooked over an open fire, and we all gathered around the coals to share dinner. For lack of a comal, which is a flat griddle for cooking tortillas, they toasted their tortillas in an old hubcap laid on top of the coals.

When the guys finally made it to la pulga, or flea market, in Santa Rosa, they bought a proper comal, they bought me a mortar and pestle, or molcajete y mano. "Here’s a new one," they said, laughing. They found my fascination with the old, dirty grinding bowls and pestles we dug up in the field amusing.

The meals we shared weren’t much more than tortillas, beans, and barbecued chicken backs, with home-made salsa in the molcajete to spice things up. The food was always simple, but sharing dinner with them was never a grind.

Recently, I had an opportunity to take a trip to an area called The Indians, tucked away on the eastern side of the Santa Lucia Mountains in southern Monterey County. The region is characterized by massive sandstone formations that jut from the earth. I found numerous bedrock mortar holes left in the sandstone by the Salinan Indians.

This area is called The Indians because it was a last redoubt of the Salinan tribe. Following Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain, the mission system collapsed. The Indian acolytes who’d been at Mission San Antonio, near Jolon, fled back into mountains around 1835, and took refuge in the sandstone rocks. The oak trees nearby gave the Salinans acorns for meal, and pine trees were a source of rich pine nuts. Pine nuts contain up to 31% protein— more than
any other nut— and unless they’ve been shelled, they keep well without going rancid.

The Italian Stone pine, Pinus pinea, is the standard commercial source for pignoli, and it’s been cultivated for its nuts for more than 6000 years. The pine the Salinan Indians depended on is Pinus sabiniana, also called Gray pine, Ghost pine, or Digger pine. These pines are sparsely cloaked in gray-green needles, and they cast scant shade. They can survive on only 10 inches of rain a year. Gray pines are usually multi-branched, and they lean at crazy, drunken angles out of the brushy stony slopes that support them.

The American settlers didn’t value Pinus sabiniana because its wood is coarse, twisted, and prone to splitting, and they didn’t value the Native Californians. Salinan Indians survived by foraging for wild foods. They dug in the earth for edible roots, and they dug into rotten logs for edible grubs. To the forty-niners, who dug into earth for gold and cut down the straight, tall Ponderosa pines for lumber to reinforce their mine shafts, the Indians were "diggers," and the "useless" pines that supported them were "Digger pines."

Since "Digger pine" is a pejorative— think nigger with a "d"— scientists discourage the use of this derogatory common name in favor of the colorless "Gray pine." I prefer the equally unscientific name Ghost pine, because it evokes a spirit of times past.

On my trip I took some photos of the bedrock mortars, and I gathered a handful of pine nuts to take home I’ll make my kids crack the tough shells to help build their character, and they’ll think I’m nuts. But to make a perfectly balanced pesto, there’s nothing like the resinous sweetness of pine nuts to serve as such a perfect foil for the unctuous richness of the olive oil and the spicy fragrance of the basil. Besides, pine nuts have always had a significance that went beyond flavor.

The pineal gland is buried at the geographical center of the cranium. It was named by the ancients from the Latin pinea, meaning pine nut, which it presumably resembles. The pineal gland is a tiny organ of mysterious function, identified by various authorities as the "third eye," or the "sixth chakra."

Pine nuts are shaped like human eyes, so their identification with a gland that promises "inner vision" makes "magical sense." I don’t know if it’s magic, but when I eat pine nuts, they help me taste the past.

Andy’s Photo essay

the photo essay includes the following images:

1. Last redoubt

2. The Indian Rocks

3. Ghost Pine

4. Sandstone counter top

5. Outdoor kitchen



August 25th: Tomato Upick at Mariquita Farm in Hollister in the morning: 9am to 2pm. We know we’ll have plenty of tomatoes by then. We will also have Padron Peppers at this Tomato Upick Day! Also available: Bee keeping demonstration and honey for sale with Greg the Bee Man, other produce for harvest and sale, farm tours with plenty of Q and A with Andy and Julia; mud puddles, and more. Join us!

Strawberry Upick this Saturday August 18th $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.





Photo Gallery


Recipes from Pat and Julia

Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
adapted from Cook's Country April/May 2007

3/4 cups olive oil
2 cups chopped fresh basil
1 onion (small) or shallot or 3 green onions, peeled, roots removed
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Heat 1/4 cup oil with 1 cup basil in medium saucepan over medium heat until basil turns bright green and small bubbles appear, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep 5 minutes.

Whirl onion, garlic, vinegar, water, S & P, and mustard in blender or food processor until garlic and onion are finely chopped, about 15 seconds. With blender running, slowly add remaining oil and sttped basil oil and continue to process until dressing is smooth and emulsified, about 15 seconds. Pack remaining 1 cup basil into blender and process until dressing is smooth, about 15 seconds.

similar recipe to use up thyme from last week: just in case you still have some!:

Thyme-Mustard Vinaigrette
adapted from Cook's Country April/May 2007

3/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
2 green onions or 1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoon whole-grain or other 'fancy' mustard

Heat 1/4 cup oil with 1 tablespoon thyme in med. saucepan over medium heat until thyme turns bright green and small bubbles appear, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off heat and steep 5 minutes.

Process onions, garlic, vinegar, S & P, mustard, and remaining thyme in blender until garlic and shallot are finely chopped, about 15 seconds. With blender running, slowly add reminaing oil and steeped thyme oil and continue to process until dressing is smooth and emulsified, about 15 seconds.

Caprese Salad

serves 4
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, fresh, in slices
12 each basil leaves, fresh
1 pound tomatoes, fresh,
1 cup olive oil, extra-virgin
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse & cut tomatoes into thin slices, this is a good time to sharpen up your knives a bit. If you have a 'steel' use that. it helps!

In four medium-size salad dishes, alternate the cheese slices, basil and tomato slices, overlapping slightly.

Divide the olives evenly and arrange them at the centre of each dish.

Spoon the oil over each serving, letting it to form a pool like a sauce.

Season with salt and pepper, cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving

Pat Lerman's Current Favorite Artichoke Preparation:
Here's my latest favorite artichoke recipe.

Peel the stem and slice off the top inch of the artichoke. Pull off and discard (yes, I know it sounds wasteful) all the meaty outer leaves leaving the soft inner leaves. Slice the artichoke in half lengthwise and, using a paring knife or grapefruit knife, remove the fuzzy inner "choke" and the inner leaves that are attached to the choke.

Cut each half in half again lengthwise and roll in fresh lemon or lime juice or sherry vinegar (for flavor and to keep the artichokes from oxidizing).

Sprinkle with a little sugar and salt and add a finely minced clove of garlic. Keep the artichokes in a bowl in this marinade until you are ready to cook them.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Add the artichokes and sauté with a medium heat. When they start to brown, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover the pan and turn off the heat. Let the pan stand until the stems have become fork-tender. Remove the cover and reduce the liquid over heat until it's syrupy.

Serve the artichokes warm or at room temperature. They are great on a platter of roasted small potatoes, braised onions and other vegetables.


Bread-and-Butter Radishes
adapted from a recipe I saw at Chowhound.com

Makes: 1 3/4 cup

1 bunch red radishes (about 13 radishes)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon yellow or brown mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf


1. Rinse radishes and remove their leafy tops. Holding the stem end, thinly slice radishes with a mandolin or a sharp knife. When you get close to the stem, stop slicing and discard the end. Place radishes in a heatproof, nonreactive bowl, and set in the refrigerator while making the brine.
2. Combine red wine vinegar, sugar, water, salt, mustard seed, coriander seed, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and let pickling brine cool for about 5 minutes. Remove radishes from the refrigerator and pour brine over them. Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes; cover and refrigerate. Use to top burgers, sandwiches, or anything else that needs a little tarting up.

Mango and Radish Salad
adapted from Belgian Recipes

Serves 4

1 large ripe mango (cubed)
12 chopped radishes
juice from 1 lemon
3 tbsp of olive oil
Tabasco to taste
3 tbsp of chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp of crushed pink peppercorns

Place the mango and radishes in a bowl. Mix the lemon juice and oil in a beaker and season with the salt and a few drops of Tabasco. Stir in the cilantro and peppercorns. Stir the dressing into the mango and radish mixture. Place in the fridge for 2 hours before serving.

Really tasty with grilled fish or chicken.

Unfried French Fries
adapted from In the Kitchen with Rosie by Rosie Daley

2 pounds potatoes
oil cooking spray
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon cajun spice or chile powder or curry powder....

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Slice each potato into 1/4 inch ovals lengthwise then each oval into matchsticks. Coat a baking sheet with 3 sprays of the oil spray. Combine egg whites and spice in a bowl. Add the potato sticks and mix to coat. Pour the coated potatoes onto the sprayed baking sheet (I use a jelly roll pan) and spread them out into a single layer, leaving a little space in between. Place baking sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the fries are crispy, turning them every 6 to 8 minutes with a spatula so that they brown evenly. Serve immediately.

Julia's Potato Salad
Serves 6–8

2 pounds new or fingerling potatoes, cut into rough 1 inch pieces and cooked til tender
1 tablespoon rice or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 onion minced
1 small head fennel or celery stalk, cut into small dice (optional)
2-4 radishes, diced
1/4 cup sweet pickle (not relish), cut into small dice (optional)
small-medium handful washed and chopped arugula leaves
1 cup mayonnaise (homemade makes this dish sublime)
3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1 generous bunch minced fresh parsley

Layer warm potato pieces in medium bowl; sprinkle with vinegar, salt, and pepper as you go. Refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients. 2. Mix in

remaining ingredients; refrigerate until ready to serve.


Thinly slice 1 medium-size fennel bulb and 1 unpeeled orange. Arrange - alternating and overlapping or however you like - on two salad plates. Strew with half a dozen salt-cured or Kalamata olives, sprinkle each plate with 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, a few drops of fresh lemon juice, a tsp. of finely chopped fennel leaves, salt and freshly ground white pepper. Serve at once or let the ingredients mingle an hour or so. Serves 2.

The Kitchen Garden Cookbook, Sylvia Thompson


Baking: First, braise the fennel for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish and add just 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Cover tightly and bake at 350

degrees until just tender and beginning to brown. If desired, uncover toward the end to allow any excess liquid to evaporate, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs

and grated Parmesan cheese, and brown under the broiler before serving. Cooking time: about 1 hour.

Braising: Braise fennel in broth, tomato sauce, vermouth or sherry (diluted 1-to-1 with water); add lemon zest, garlic, or onion for extra flavor. Braised

fennel is delicious hot, warm, or chilled. Place fennel slices, or halved or quartered small fennel bulbs, in a sauce pan and add just enough boiling

liquied to barely cover the vegetable. Simmer uncovered, turning occasionally, until the fennel is tender, adding more liquid if necessary. Cooking time:

25 to 40 minutes.

Sauteing: Cut fennel into slivers and heat in a small amount of stock, tossing and stirring it frequently. For extra flavor, cook chopped onion and garlic

along with fennel. A sprinkling of lemon juice and zest makes a nice finishing touch. Cooking time: 10 to 15 minutes.

Steaming: Fennel steamed until crisp-tender can be covered with your favorite sauce or marinated in a vinaigrette, chilled, and served as a salad. To steam

it, place whole or halved bulbs in a vegetable steamer and cook over boiling water until just tender. Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes.

The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition, Shelden Margen, M.D.

More Recipes


6) Which Farm?

From High Ground: Lettuce/Salad, potatoes, radishes, fennel, Berries, Arichokes, Flowers
From Mariquita: Tomatoes, Basil, Onions, M-Quita mystery


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8) Two Small Farms Contact Information

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

1 comment:

viagra online said...

great article from Andy it actually sounds so good!