Wednesday, August 29, 2007

two small farms newsletter #411

August 27th 2007

1) In your box this week
3) Tomato Time
4) Photos
5) Recipes
6) Which Farm?
7) Unsubscribe
8) Two Small Farms Contact Information

1) In your box this week: Basil, Cilantro, Potatoes, Steve's mystery: berries or romanesco, Sweet red peppers, Tomatoes (wed San Marzano, & Friday Heirlooms), Cabbage OR Summer Squash, Andy's Mystery: eggplant, summer squash, or onions

How to store this week's bounty: all (except tomatoes and possibly basil) in the fridge as soon as you arrive home. The tomatoes can be stored at room temperature. Basil? Try it in the door of your fridge, or on your table in water like a bouquet of flowers, or just make pesto.

Notes: last week's spinach in the end had some damage to it so Steve decided to sub in his rapini and chard for the cooking greens. Sorry about any confusion.


By: Laura Kummerer
Grassland Restorationist at High Ground Organics

As the grassland at High Ground Organics Farm hunkers down in to the brown and gold colors of summer dormancy, I begin to reflect on our first year of restoring this grassland through rotational grazing. From a distance the impact of the rotation of cows and goats across this land is striking. The tangle of six foot tall radish, thistle and invasive grasses that engulfed the grassland last year have now been transformed in to a field of neatly clipped weeds interspersed with an abundant spray of California Poppies and the fuzzy leaves of the native Hill Morning Glory. The weeds still dominate the landscape, however, and the bunch grasses and wildflowers are only very slowly showing signs of rebirth. But as I peer out at the grassland with hope, I am reminded how deep change on a landscape is one of subtle shifts. In order to observe this change on a yearly basis, we are required to train our eyes to look very closely to catch the shifts amidst the vastness.

I realize that grasslands themselves are entities that most of us only see from a distance. But if we step in to this backdrop of grass, we would see that grasslands, like anything else in life looked at closely, are composed of an infinite intricacy of interactions between roots and bacteria and soil and insects and an incredible myriad of plant and animal species. I would like to introduce you to a few of the grasses and wildflowers that I have watched change this year so you can “see” the intricacies of our grassland and take stock with me in the subtle shifts that are occurring in the restoring of a landscape.

One of my favorite grasses growing in the grassland is the unassuming California Oat Grass (Danthonia californica). The best way to get to know this beautiful bunch grass is with your bare feet. Your toes can feel the tenacious substance in these grassy mounds that have persevered for possibly a thousand years. These grasses are lush and beautiful in mid spring, but my favorite part of them are the cute little tufts of hair that they have on their leaf blades. It is in early summer during seed production that these plants reveal their true uniqueness. Not only do they create seed at the top of their flower heads like all other grasses, but they hide a neat line of seed away in a tight roll between their leaf and their stem. These hidden away seeds may be left unnoticed by the myriads of animals that love the sweet taste of the oat grass. It may very well be this hidden away seed that has allowed this plant to keep birthing itself against all odds in the small spaces of soil cleared away by the grazers this year.

Another plant that resides in the grassland and was in abundance this year in response to the grazing is a flower in the Evening Primrose family called Sun Cups (Camissonia ovata). It is a joy to walk out on the grassland when the sun cups are in full bloom. They create puddles of yellow all around that look as if the sun is glowing on the earth instead of up in the sky. This plant grows low to the ground and is one of the first flowers to peak out in the early spring. When it emerges during the winter rains it first sends out large leaves tinged with magenta to smash down the annual grasses near by, giving it the sunlight it needs to produce its cheery yellow flowers. These abundant leaves are not only integral to the plant but were gathered extensively by the Ohlone Indians of the coast for salad greens. In late summer the flowers and leaves of this plant dry up and fade away so it takes a practiced eye to find the seed the sun cups form deep down almost below the soil level. Although it is always hard for me to find the seed, I rest assured knowing that the native ants who play the primary role dispersing sun cup seed are more astute than I in locating this bounty.

The final and most special symbol of change for me this year out on the grassland was the first appearance of a bulb plant in the Lily family called Brodiaea elegans. In mid July it caught me by surprise poking its vibrant blue flower above ground in an area that had been recently grazed. The plant does not have a common name in our language but had a myriad of names given to it by indigenous groups throughout California. The Yokut Indians called one special gathering place of these bulbs “kawachu” meaning “place of the grassnuts”. It is reported that these gathering areas grew as thick as grasses, creating the appearance of blue lakes covering the grassland. The bulb of this plant was a staple protein source for California Indian Tribes. Maybe the reason we don’t have a common name for this regal plant in our language is that this bulb along with a whole line of other bulb species were the first to disappear or decline in response to the plowing and other intensive land management practices introduced by the Europeans in the 1700’s. The bulbs that still remain today are now sparsely scattered throughout grasslands and often are choked out by weeds.

The fact that these three plants were able to gain ground this year give me hope that the continued use of rotational grazing coupled with other management strategies will allow us to uncover more and more of the richness that lies buried beneath the weeds and years of neglect on this land. Hopefully, in the years to come our eyes will be able to witness stands of bunch grasses, lupines, clovers bulbs and tarweeds gain a stronger foothold, slowly adding to the complexity of the grassland ecosystem.

photo of a suncup with ant friend

Photo of Brodiaea Elegans

Photo of Danthonia Ca var americana

Please Come Out and See The Grassland For Yourself…
You can join us on monthly restoration parties or come lend a hand on Tuesdays and Fridays during the week!

TUESDAYS-We work from 9-1pm. in weeding, tending animals and collecting seed
FRIDAYS-We are planting up native grasses, sedges and rushes in the green house to prepare them for winter plantings

Saturday October 6th, 2007 (10-1)-Join us in sharing a potluck lunch and preparing the grassland for winter planting.

The directions out to High Ground Organics Farm can be found at Contact Laura Kummerer (831)761-8694 for more details about grassland restoration opportunities.

3) Tomatoes! We can sell 20# of San Marzano 'paste' tomatoes as an 'extra'. 20# boxes are $29 delivered to your pick up site. Contact Zelda in the office to order. 831 786 0625 or reply to this email.

Also: another tomato upick at Mariquita Farm on Sept. 22nd. This last Saturday was a success. thanks to all who visited and enthused about the day.

4) Photos:


Romanesco: (a type of cauliflower)

Photo Gallery


5) Recipes from Terri, Gudrun, and Julia

Thai Marinated Striped Bass - (note any white fish works fine here,
bass is amazing though)
3 Tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 (6oz) striped bass fillets

Combine first 4 ingredients in ziploc, add fish; marinate in
refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Remove fish from marinade,
reserve marinade. Heat a large nonstick pan coated with cooking spray
over medium-high heat. Add fish, cook 4 minutes on each side or until
fish flakes easily. Remove fish from pan. Add marinade to pan, bring
to a boil. Cook 30 seconds, serve with fish.


Shrimp and Corn Cakes - Kao Pood Tod

4 ears corn kernels, cut from the cob(2 cups)
1 cup finely chopped shrimp
2 Tbsp finely minced shallot
2 Tbsp finely minced garlic
2 Tbsp finely minced cilantro root
2 Tbsp red curry paste, more to taste
1 Tbsp sugar, more if corn is not very sweet
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/3 cup tempura batter mix or all purpose flour, more as needed
1 tsp salt
2 tsp shrimp paste
1-2 whole eggs, beaten, adding one at a time and checking consistency
4 cups vegetable oil for frying

Combine all ingredients except the oil and mix well. The texture
should be like cookie dough, holding together as patties. Add more
batter mix or eggs as needed. Do not put too much liquid.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or wok to 375 degrees. With damp
hands, form a heaping Tbsp of batter into a flat, round patty and drop
in hot oil. Lightly aerate the batter by jabbing it with a fork.
Repeat the process until cakes loosely fill pan. Cook for 2 to 3
minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on
paper towels. Serve with cucumber sauce.

Cucumber Dipping Sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups thinly sliced english cucumber
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup thinly sliced red pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced thai chiles
1/4 cup rice vinegar or lime juice
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
cilantro for garnish
In a small pot over medium heat, combine 1/8 cup water, the fish sauce
and sugar. Cook and stir until the mixture is reduced into thin syrup.
Remove from the heat and let cool.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the syrup and combine well. Serve
as a sauce to the shrimp cakes.


Chicken and Leeks (in case you still have leeks from last week!)

6 chicken thighs
2 TBS olive oil
salt & pepper
3 leeks, sliced diagonally into 1 inch slices, cleaned well
3 garlic cloves or 1/4 cup chopped shallots
3/4 cup white wine
1 TBS dried basil (could also use tarragon, I think)
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, without salt

Sprinkle S&P, cumin and paprika on chicken thighs. Brown on both sides in the oil in a dutch oven. Remove to plate. Add leeks and garlic or shallots to pan, saute for 3 minutes, until limp. Add white wine, basil and tomatoes. Bring to boil. Add back in the chicken and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 15-20 minutes, until the rest of dinner is done. Especially good served with cooked pasta.


Since both Steve and Andy are planning on using summer squash in the box this week (on different days, you should only have it from one farm or the other, or not at all...) here are some new (to me) summer squash recipes:

Mom's Summer Squash Recipe
from simply recipes dot com

Filed under Low Carb, Quick, Seasonal Favorites: Summer, Side Dish, Vegetable, Vegetarian, Wheat-free


Preparation time: 20 minutes.

My mother is the only person I have ever known who can make summer squash taste this good. Often this time of year gardens are overflowing with zucchini and summer squash. This quick and easy recipe is a great way to use up some of the bounty. Note that summer squash varies in tenderness, sometimes you need to cook them a little longer, sometmes a little less.

2 lbs squash and/or zucchini, sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed, sliced
2 smallish tomatoes or one large tomato, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
Olive oil
5 or 6 slices of cheese - jack or cheddar
Basil, either dry or chopped fresh
Salt and pepper

1 Put onion, garlic, squash, bell pepper into a large saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Put on high heat and brown the vegetables slightly to develop flavor. As you are browning, sprinkle either dried basil or chopped fresh basil on the vegetables. When vegetables are slightly browned, remove from heat, add the slices of cheese, and cover the pan.

2 In a separate stick-free fry pan, put the tomatoes and cook at medium hi heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to let the juice from the tomatoes evaporate some. After 5 minutes, add the tomatoes to the rest of the vegetables and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Sauteed Summer Squash

This super easy and quick recipe helps use up the excess summer garden produce.
by Normaone

time to make 20 min 10 min prep

2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 cup butter
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 lb zucchini, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds
1 lb summer squash, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.
2. Add garlic, tarragon and onion and saute 2 minutes.
3. Add both squashes and saute 8 minutes until just crisp tender.
4. Season.

Summer Squash Salad Recipe

Evie suspected that when I tried her summer squash salad recipe that I would have to eat my words (no pun intended) regarding my mom being the only one who could prepare squash well. Well, I have eaten my words, and this fabulous salad as well. This is a lovely way to prepare summer squash or zucchini - thinly sliced, marinated briefly with mint in olive oil and lemon juice, tossed with toasted pine nuts, and served with shaved Parmesan. I have made one small adjustment to Evie's original recipe, by increasing the amount of olive oil and lemon juice recommended. I found I needed more to adequately coat all of the squash.

4 small zucchini or mixed yellow and green summer squash (1 lb total)
1/3 cup loosely packed mint leaves
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (1 oz.)
Grana Padano, Parmesan or Asagio cheese for shavings
Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

1 If you are starting with raw pine nuts, toast them first. Heat a small skillet on medium high heat. Add the pine nuts. Stir gently as the pine nuts start to brown. When slightly browned, remove from heat and let cool.

2 Slice the squash into paper-thin slices using a mandoline or other slicer. Set aside in a bowl.

3 Stack the mint leaves, roll them together lengthwise and slice crosswise to make very thin slivers. Add to squash in bowl.

4 Combine the oil and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk together. Whisk in the salt and pepper and pour the dressing over the contents of the bowl. Add the pine nuts and toss all together, gently, but thoroughly. Let mixture stand for at least 10 minutes to soften the squash and develop the flavors.

5 Transfer salad to serving dish or to four individual salad plates. Garnish with shavings of cheese made with a vegetable peeler and a few sprigs of fresh mint.

Serves 4.

Many thanks to Chef Evie Lieb for yet another wonderful recipe!

Marinated Zucchini and Summer Squash
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound zucchini (about 3 large), trimmed and sliced diagonally about 1/4-inch thick
1 pound yellow crookneck squash (about 3 large), trimmed and sliced diagonally about 1/4-inch thick

Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the oil. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the marinade into a small bowl. Cover and set aside. Add the zucchini and yellow squash to the remaining marinade in the large bowl and toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover and marinate at room temperature at least 3 hours or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.

Prepare the barbecue for medium-high

Becky Luigart-Stayner
Grandma Salazar's Albóndigas Soup

Traci Des Jardins has fond memories of her grandmother's recipe for this soup and has reinterpreted it for her menu at Mijita. Chilling the meatballs for 20 minutes helps them hold their shape when cooked. Albóndigas (ahl-bon-dee-gas) is Spanish for meatballs.

1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup short-grain rice
Cooking spray
2 cups chopped onion, divided
1 (1-ounce) slice white bread
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1/2 pound ground sirloin
2 large egg whites
1 cup chopped carrot
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped seeded peeled tomato (about 8 ounces)
4 cups (1 [32-ounce] carton) fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 cups chopped zucchini
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pour water over rice, and let stand 20 minutes. Drain.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1/2 cup onion to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/4 cups. Combine rice, cooked onion, breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup cilantro, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, pork, sirloin, and egg whites, stirring well. Shape mixture into 29 (1-inch) meatballs. Chill for 20 minutes.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 10 meatballs, and cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove meatballs from pan; drain well on paper towels. Wipe drippings from pan with a paper towel. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining meatballs. Return pan to heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups onion, carrot, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add tomato to pan, stirring to combine. Stir in broth; bring mixture to a boil. Add meatballs and mint to pan. Reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes. Add zucchini, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to pan. Cook 10 minutes. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup soup and 1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro)

CALORIES 181 (21% from fat); FAT 4.4g (sat 1.6g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 15.5g; CHOLESTEROL 36mg; CALCIUM 43mg; SODIUM 500mg; FIBER 2.9g; IRON 1.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 20.4g

Cooking Light, MAY 2005
heat. Grill the vegetables until they are crisp-tender and brown, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a platter. Drizzle with the reserved marinade and serve hot or at room temperature.

california vegetable and chickpea chili Other | October 1997

Only native Californians like two wine-making friends of mine in Salinas can regularly throw together a vegetable chili such as this utilizing their almost year-round abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs. For those of us with seasonal gardens, various substitutions often have to be made (canned tomatoes, dried herbs, and the like), but such is the availability almost everywhere today of certain fresh produce even in the coldest months that no imaginative cook should have much trouble concocting a very tasty vegetable and bean chili according to this basic recipe. One advantage, by the way, of using a 28-ounce can of tomatoes with their juices instead of the fresh is that most likely you won't have to add any water to keep the chili slightly soupy.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 medium-size onions, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium-size yellow squash or zucchini, scrubbed, ends trimmed, and chopped
Two 32-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
4 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped and juices retained
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over moderate heat, then add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook, stirring, till softened, about 2 minutes. Add the squash and cook, stirring, 3 minutes longer to soften. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour, adding a little water if the stew begins to get too thick.

More Recipes:

6) Which Farm?

From High Ground: cilantro, potatoes, cabbage, summer squash, romanesco, berries, Flowers.
From Mariquita: Tomatoes, summer squash, basil, corn, eggplant, onions


7) 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:


8) 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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