Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Two Small Farms Newsletter #408

August 8th 2007

Table of Contents:

1) In your box this week
2) Party Animals
3) August Events
4) Photos
5) Recipes
6) Which Farm?
7) Unsubscribe
8) Two Small Farms Contact Information

1) In your box this week: Potatoes, thyme, green onions, cabbage for Wed and celery for Thurs/Fri, 2 heads of lettuce (romaine and/or red leaf), either cubanelle or poblano peppers, and Two mystery items (one might be strawberries or broccoli; the other might be cucumbers, Tomatoes, Summer Squash, or Broccoli di cicco. Why are Steve and Andy 'invoking' the mystery option? The berry fields and tomato patch are being fickle, it happens in farming, same with the cucumbers! Thanks for your patience.)

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, including the potatoes which are "new" potatoes. A new potato is not a small potato but rather it's a fresh potato harvested from a green, growing potato plant. A somewhat scuffed, frayed appearance to the potato skin is a frequent consequence of harvesting such tender spuds and is unavoidable because the skin has not yet hardened. New potatoes wilt and must be treated like green vegetables and stored in a bag in the fridge.


2) Party Animals by Andy Griffin

Growing vegetables is my business, but raising farm animals is my hobby. I've got sheep and goats, but my special pets are my two donkeys, Primavera, a six year old jennet, and her nine-month old foal, Sweetpea. In the evenings, when the scandals and stresses of running a small business can be put to rest for the day, I enjoy taking my donkeys for a walk around our home ranch. Sometimes my daughter, Lena, helps me brush them until their coats are glossy.

You can tell when donkeys are relaxed and happy because they hang their heads in contentment and close their eyes. When Prima is being groomed, her lower lip hangs down as if she's beginning to melt. Sweetpea likes to be brushed too, but as she's young and energetic, she's often impatient to go on her walk. When she and I do go walking, I have to pay attention, because she's only half-trained. At nine-months, Sweetpea already weighs 400 pounds, and she is strong in both body and spirit.

The other evening, Lena was helping me with Sweetpea, and she took a turn at leading her around the barnyard. I explained to Lena that managing a donkey is a question of will - donkeys are stronger than we are, and their big ears serve as radars to pick up even the slightest tremor in our self-confidence - then I handed Lena the lead rope.

A covey of quail flew up from the grass at the edge of the corral with a flurry of wings, and Sweetpea took advantage of the surprise to lunge in terror. Lena lost hold of the halter rope instantly, and Sweetpea proceeded to race around the pen, bucking and snorting, with the lead-rope dragging behind her like a purple snake. When Sweetpea calmed down, I picked up the rope.

I was a surprised at how easily Sweetpea had been able to break free - my daughter doesn't scare easily - but then I remembered a traumatic incident involving a donkey in Lena's early childhood.

When Lena was three, she had her first experience of a Mexican style birthday. It was a picnic at Palm Beach in Watsonville for her friend Saiya. Saiya isn't Mexicana - her mother, Senai, is Japanese and her father, Mark, is German - but they'd met in Paraguay when they both worked for the United Nations. Spanish and English are their common languages. Watsonville is overwhelmingly Hispanic, so it was natural that little Saiya would adapt to local birthday customs.

Mark went to Happy Burro Market out on the edge of town, and selected a bright piñata from the display that hung from the ceiling above the brooms and mops. He could have chosen a chartreuse and orange Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle piñata, or a blue and red Spiderman piñata. But Saiya was more interested in animals than action heroes, so he picked out a classic donkey piñata, and bought enough candy to fill its round belly.

Mark and his brother hung the donkey from the overhanging branch of a eucalyptus tree in the middle of the picnic grounds that lie behind the beach. The piñata swayed gently in the breeze. The gray crepe paper strips that made up the donkey's coat were nicely set off by the animal's cream colored nose and belly. Black crepe paper made for a pretty mane and tail. The piñata donkey was dressed with a colorful paper saddle of red, yellow, green, and blue, and it even wore a little straw sombrero. Saiya, who was turning four, loved the piñata, and so did her five young guests, Lena, Lydia, Maija, Anwen, and Iliana. There were no brothers present.

When the time came to hit the donkey with a stick, it was difficult, because it was so beautiful. But the violence had to be done. The piñata always comes before the presents, and most importantly, before the cake. These little girls had never beaten a piñata before. When her papa handed Saiya a stout, dry stick he'd picked up from underneath the eucalyptus tree, she looked confused. He showed her how to swing it. Because the girls were so young, the parents present decided to forgo the typical custom of blind-folding the children when they struck at the piñata.

Saiya was the birthday princess, but she was a gracious hostess, so she let Lena go first. Lena missed the piñata on her first swing, and only grazed it with the stick on her second. On her third attempt, she struck a solid blow across the ribs of the donkey, and she turned to me with big eyes for a sign of approval. Lena had hit the piñata hard enough for it to swing in an arc on the end of its rope, but not so hard as to crack it. The donkey made a half turn in the air and came back at Lena like a pendulum, kicking her in the back of the head, and knocking her face-flat in the sand.

The other little girls didn't have much luck either. It was the first party I'd ever been to where it looked like the piñata was going to win. The little gray donkey with the straw sombrero raged at the end of its tether like a rodeo bronco, and one girl after another bit the dust. Finally, Saiya begged her Uncle to do the deed. While the girls covered their eyes, he took up the stick and delivered a mighty whack to the paper donkey. The piñata's belly finally tore open, spraying a rooster tail of brightly wrapped candies across the white beach.

The girls swarmed the sand like baboons, and minutes later, when they trooped off to the picnic table for the ceremonial unwrapping of the birthday presents, there was nothing left for the seagulls but a couple of pieces of red and silver foil that smelled like chocolate kisses. I guess the moral of the story is that no matter how sweet and lovely a donkey may appear, you always want to be careful when you're around the business end of an ass.

copyright 2007 Andy Griffin

Drawing by Andy's Daughter Lena of Sweet pea the Teen-Aged Donkey Bucking with joy


3) Events

Strawberry U-Picks Summer Saturdays

Come pick your own berries at High Ground Organics in Watsonville, Saturdays 10 am to 1 pm, for the rest 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 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!


4) Photos:


Peppers & Chiles


5) Recipes from Zelda and Julia

We call this week's potatoes "Godzilla Fingerlings" since they're so big. They are a great, smooth, waxy potato that are perfect for potato salad or home fries, or just about any other potato use. My son mashed some last week and they were also tasty, but then again he used too much butter, so what can go wrong!? -julia

Some ideas for potato salad adapted from Ellen Ogden's From the Cook's Garden

- For best results, make potato salad with low-starch, waxy potatoes, especially red skinned types or fingerlings. High starch baking potatoes will be mealy and crumbly in a salad.

- Don't overcook potatoes for salad. Stick the potatoes with a sharp knife, and if tender, remove from the heat. Try to catch the potatoes just before the skins split, or they could end up mushy. Dress the potatoes while still warm to absorb the dressing.

-To retain the best flavor and nutrients, do not peel the potatoes.

-Potatoes can take a lot of seasoning, especially salt. Keep in mind that the potatoes will taste different once they have cooled. Keep tasting and season to taste.

from Bon Appetit June 1997

2 1/4 pounds thin-skinned potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons dry white wine
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
8 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or thyme!)
1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, thinly sliced ( I would omit this during this cooler season...)

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender when pierced with fork, about 15 minutes or longer. Drain. Cool potatoes until lukewarm. Cut potatoes in salad sized pieces. Place in large bowl. Sprinkle wine over potatoes. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, mustard and sugar to skillet and stir to blend. Pour over potatoes and toss to coat. Add radishes, green onions, parsley and remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and toss to blend. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper.

New Potatoes with Green Garlic

Amounts are flexible: Steam or boil truly new potatoes until they are barely done, it takes less time than 'regular' potatoes because they are so fresh. Heat some oil or butter in a frying pan big enough to easily accommodate the potatoes. Add some (I use quite a bit) chopped green garlic and another herb such as rosemary or thyme if you like. Add potatoes and cook for a little while until the potatoes begin to brown, eat them up when they look like they are ready. You can add salt and pepper if you like.

Cabbage and Potato Pancakes (from Simplicity - from a Monastery Kitchen)

1/2 head small green cabbage
4 large potatoes, peeled and grated
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
3/4 c milk
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
a small bunch of parsley (or thyme!), chopped
8 TBS vegetable or olive oil

Quarter the cabbage and steam it for about 6-7 minutes. Drain and chop the cabbage finely. Place chopped cabbage, grated potatoes, and chopped onion in a big bowl. Mash them thoroughly with a masher and mix them well with a spatula. In a separate deep bowl beat the eggs. Add the milk and beat some more. Add the cabbage-potato-onion mixture. Add some salt and pepper and the chopped parsley. Mix all the ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 250. To make the pancakes use a crepe pan or nonstick skillet. In the pan heat about 1 tablespoon of oil (each time) to low-med and pour in about one eighth of the potato mixture. Flatten the mixture evenly with a spatula and cook over medium heat until the pancake turns brown at the bottom. Turn the pancake over carefully and continue cooking the other side. When the pancake is done, slide it carefully onto an ovenproof platter. Repeat the process until all the pancakes are done. Keep the pancakes in the warm oven until ready to serve.

Thyme - a Few Quick Serving Ideas:
- Add thyme to your favorite pasta sauce recipe.
- Fresh thyme adds a wonderful fragrance to omelets and scrambled eggs.
- Hearty beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans taste exceptionally good when seasoned with thyme.
- When poaching fish, place some sprigs of thyme on top of the fish and in the poaching liquid.
- Season soups and stocks by adding fresh thyme.

Celery and Apple Salad Dijon, Gourmet September 1993

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
4 ribs of celery, cut into 1 1/2-inch matchsticks, plus celery leaves for garnish
1 crisp tart apple, cut into 1 1/2-inch matchsticks

In a bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, the mustard, the vinegar, the sugar, the tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste until the dressing is smooth and add the celery and the apple. Toss the salad and serve it garnished with the celery leaves. Serves 2.

Goat cheese with Thyme and Lemon, Bon Appétit, July 2007

1 (5.5-ounce) log soft mild goat cheese
1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 small garlic clove, pressed (optional) Sliced baguette (toasted, if desired)

Place cheese on plate; using plastic wrap as aid, shape into 5-inch round. Sprinkle with salt, peppercorns, and thyme, and press into cheese. Mix olive oil, lemon peel, and garlic, if desired, in small bowl. Pour over cheese. Serve with baguette.

Cabbage and Apple Slaw with toasted pecans, Gourmet, December 1998

1/2 Granny Smith apple
1/2 small head cabbage
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup pecans
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (or use the green parts of your green onions)

Cut apple into 1/2-inch cubes and very thinly slice enough cabbage to measure 3 cups. In a bowl toss together apple, cabbage, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Chop pecans. In a small skillet toast pecans in butter over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle sugar and salt to taste over pecans and cook, stirring frequently, until pecans are coated, about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and cool pecans slightly. Add pecans with butter in skillet and chives to cabbage mixture and toss to combine well. Season slaw with salt. Serves 2

Recipe Links:



Peppers (not spicy)

Spicy Chiles




Salad Dressings



6) Which Farm?

>From High Ground: Lettuce, green onions, cabbage, celery, one mystery,
>Flowers From Mariquita: Peppers, thyme, potatoes, mystery

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

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