Thursday, October 11, 2007

Two Farms Newsletter #417

October 9, 2007

Table of Contents:

1) In your box this week
2) Global Perspective
3) Benefit Dinner in Monterey on Nov. 11th for the Ventana Wilderness Alliance
4) Photos
5) Recipes
6) Which Farm?
7) Unsubscribe
8) Two Small Farms Contact Information

1) In your box this week: Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Leeks, Fennel, Fingerling Potatoes, Rugosa Winter Squash (an Italian variety of winter squash, similar to a butternut), mystery item from Stephen

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

How to store this week's bounty: all - except the tomatoes and winter squash - go in the fridge as soon as you arrive home.


2) Global Perspective by Andy

I hardly bother to listen to the weather reports anymore. From the middle of April until the middle of September the weather is nearly always the same here in central California, and by October, when the weather finally starts to get interesting again, I have my friend Martin to rely on for information.

Martin is a farmer too, and he used to have the same need to keep up with the weather reports. He farmed along Pomponio Creek, up the San Mateo Coast, where the wind blows strong off the cold Pacific and the storms hit hard. Eventually, the endless rains of an El Niño system kept Martin’s fields wet so late into the spring that he couldn’t get planted in time and he went out of business. After a hiatus spent working in restaurants, Martin got back into farming, but this time he started farming inside greenhouses down in Chualar, south of Salinas. Greenhouses don’t just provide warmth and shelter from the wind for the crops inside, they also protect the farmer from the dire consequences of a wet spring.

But if Martin no longer needs to follow the weather as closely as he once did, following the weather had become a habit and a passion for him, and he keeps up with every system that develops, from the Malaysian archipelago to the Gulf of Alaska. Growing crops in a greenhouse has many advantages over working in the open under the sky, but I suspect that Martin misses the thrill that open air farmers feel when they look heavenward and wonder if their best efforts are going to be washed away. So Martin watches the weather channel, he follows the storms on computer, and he keeps an eye on the sky outside. When changes are brewing a thousand miles out over the Pacific he calls me. It makes him uneasy that I’m too distracted with the superficial day to day details of farming and family to inform myself of what’s headed my way. I suspect he even feels I’m tempting fate by paying so little attention to the weather gods.

This Monday Martin called, me from Paris, France, to tell me about the satellite photos of storm systems lined up across the Pacific like folks buying bus tickets, all bound for California. Martin likes to keep a global perspective. He had an opportunity to travel to Europe— or maybe it’s more correct to say he “created” an opportunity by not having kids— and he spent three weeks traveling across the south of France and the length of Italy, observing the heirloom vegetables that he and I like to cultivate, growing in their ancestral Mediterranean farm fields.

I was able to bring Martin up to date on the precise meteorological conditions on his farm here that prevailed here by looking out my pick-up truck window and adding in some wind to approximate Chualar’s typical brisk ambiance. And I was able to tell him that I’m as ready as I can be for what ever nature throws my way. The hard squash have been taken in from the fields, the seed beds for the next wave of fall planting have been prepared, and our remaining onions are safely under cover. Our first wave of fava beans have been planted for early spring harvest, and I’m already making seed orders for next spring’s planting schedule. When Martin gets back from Europe today he will in all likelihood discover that summer is over along the Central Coast for 2007, and he missed the last golden days, but that’s just what he gets for traveling to Italy, and sipping wine along the Adriatic Sea.

copyright 2007 Andy Griffin


3) Ventana Wilderness Alliance Benefit Dinner: VWA is a favorite charity of many of us here at Two Small Farms: Sunday Nov. 11th starting at 5:45 pm in Monterey at Stokes Restaurant and Bar: $65/person includes tax and tip but not beverage. For more info, go to our web page or call or email Zelda at the office to make your reservation: 831-786-0625,

4) Photos:




Rugosa Winter Squash

Photo Gallery


5) Recipes from Roxanne, Nina, Rhonda, Ilene, Alice, Alexis and Zelda
Roasted Tomato Soup, from Monterey CSA member, Ilene

"This soup is so incredibly delish and so very easy. Everything can be adjusted to fit what you have on hand -- and then it can even be frozen! I made two batches with last week's plum tomotoes; we ate one and froze the other."

2 lbs of tomatoes, washed, hulled and halved
1 onion, sliced
5 cloves of garlic (peeled)
Some olive oil
1 cup (more or less) of vegetable or chicken broth

Place the halved tomatoes, cut side down, into a greased 12x9 pan. Place the onion slices and garlic cloves on top of them. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Place half of the roasted goodies into a blender. Add about half the broth and puree. Pour into a saucepan. Repeat with the other half. Warm gently in the saucepan until the deisred temperature. Serve, dotted with homemade croutons or drizzled with sour cream.

Roxanne from Capitola has been roasting the tomatoes per instructions from Alice Waters:
Rinse and trim stem end off.
Make a shallow slit lengthwise with tip of your knife (so they don't explode)
Use a pyrex type baking dish with 2" sides
Place them on their sides as tightly as possible in 1 layer
Drizzle a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt

"If you're really busy, roast/bake VERY slowly 200-225F for 3-4 hours. If you can watch more closely, 350-375F will cook them in 45min to 60min. When cool enough to handle, run thru food processor or blender. This will produce a sauce thicker than commercial tomato sauce, but looser than tomato paste. I freeze them in 1 cup size portions, perfect for 2 medium pizzas, 1# pasta, most tomato based stews, beans, soups. The real beauty of these tomatoes is the wonderful texture and flavor they have without much cooking or additional ingredients needed. YIELD: 1 bag of 2-3 lbs tomatoes make 3-4 cups of sauce."

Nina in San Carlos has been making this tomato soup recipe, loosely adapted from a couple of recipes from Martha Stewart Living:

Tomato Soup, serves 2
1 t olive oil
1 t butter
1 clove garlic, minced
6 scallions, sliced (or other onion)
1 c chicken broth
2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled and chopped (to peel, cut out core, place in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then move to a bowl of ice water, the peel should slip right off)
2 sprigs fresh oregano
S&P (to taste)
1/2 t sugar (more or less depending on sweetness of tomatoes)

In a saucepan, saute garlic and scallions/onions in olive oil and melted butter. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, & oregano. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 45 minutes. Mash with potato masher if pieces are too big. You can puree it if you like but it was really nice kind of chunky. Add S&P and sugar to taste. Enjoy!

Penne with Garlicky Winter Squash, Jeanne Lemlin, Foodnetwork

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups diced (1/2-inch) winter squash
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 sage leaves, minced or 1/4 teaspoon powdered sage
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound uncooked penne
Grated Parmesan

Bring a large quantity of water to a boil in a stockpot. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the squash and saute 5 minutes, or until it begins to get golden. Sprinkle in the garlic and saute 2 minutes. Pour in the 1/4 cup water, nutmeg, sage, parsley, salt and pepper, and cover the pan. Cook the squash until tender, about 5 minutes more. Cook the penne until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a colander and return to the pot. Spoon on the squash mixture and toss gently. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan and pass more at the table.

Butternut Squash Soup, submitted from CSA member Alice. Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, optional
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chicken broth
1-2 cups water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream for garnish

Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Arrange the halves cut side down in roasting pan that has been sprayed with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Bake squash in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until very tender. Set aside to cool. When the squash is completely cool, scoop the flesh from the skin. While the squash is baking, cook the onion and the ginger in the butter in a saucepan, over moderately low heat, for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened. Add the broth and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, covered. Add the squash pulp to the sauce pan. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, in batches, and puree until smooth. Add enough water to achieve the desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste. Return the soup to the sauce pan and cook over moderate heat until it is hot. Garnish each portion with the heaping teaspoon of low-fat sour cream.

Pumpkin or Winter Squash Puree, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone Deborah Madison

Easy, versatile and useful, leftovers can fill ravioli, turn into a soup, or be added to muffins, breads, biscuits, and waffles. Preheat oven to 375 F. Halve, seed, and bake 3 pounds pumpkin or winter squash until tender, approx. 30 - 40 mins. Scrape the flesh away from the skin, then beat until smooth with a large wooden spoon. This should be easy unless the squash is stringy, in which case, use a food processor or food mill. Stir in butter to taste and season with salt and pepper. Makes about 2 cups. To enrich the puree, grate Gruyére, Fountain, or Emmenthaler into it. Flavor with extra virgin olive oil, or dark sesame oil, or mix in sautéed onions.

Nina in San Carlos also suggests the Simply Recipes, for some good and easy recipes, including this one:
POTATO LEEK SOUP, this recipe can be prepared in 40 minutes or less.

3 large leeks, cut lengthwise, separate, clean. Use only the white and pale green parts, chop.
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
2 lbs potatoes, peeled, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
Salt & Pepper
Marjoram - dash
Tabasco sauce or other red chili sauce

Cook leeks in butter with salt and pepper in a medium sized sauce pan. Cover pan, cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Check often. Do not brown leeks! Browning will give leeks a burnt taste. Add water, broth, and potatoes. Cook for 20 minutes. Scoop about half of the soup mixture into a blender, puree and return to pan. Add dash of marjoram and chili sauce to taste - about 1/4 teaspoon. Serves 4-6.

Leek and Fennel Mashed Potatoes, Gourment, Decemeber 2001

2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), quartered lengthwise, then finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold
1 medium fennel bulb (sometimes called anise; 1 1/4 lb), stalks trimmed flush with bulb, bulb halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/3 cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
2/3 cup 1% milk, heated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Special equipment: a potato ricer, or a food mill fitted with medium disk

Wash leeks in a bowl of water, then lift into a sieve to drain. Cook leeks with 1/4 teaspoon salt in 1 teaspoon butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Reserve skillet.

Peel and quarter potatoes, then cover with salted cold water by 1 inch in a 4-quart saucepan and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. While potatoes are simmering, cook fennel with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining teaspoon butter in skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer, covered, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and force through ricer or food mill back into saucepan. Stir in milk, leeks, fennel, and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead and reheated - this lets the flavors develop.

Linguini with Spicy Leeks and Tomatoes, adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2007

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. fennel seed (or try substituting with 1 tsp, more or less, of finely chopped fennel leaves)
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), split lengthwise, sliced crosswise
1 1/4 pounds plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
12 ounces linguine
1 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
1 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add next 2 ingredients; sauté 1 minute. Add leeks; sauté until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add diced tomatoes; stir 1 minute. Add wine and vinegar; bring to boil. Add fennel leaves and stir in, cover and cook until tomatoes break down, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1 1/4 cups pasta cooking liquid. Add pasta, 1/2 cup reserved pasta liquid, and 3/4 cup cheese to sauce in skillet. Toss over medium-high heat until sauce coats pasta, adding more liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing 1 cup cheese separately.

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, and indeed used almost anywhere celery is used. 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 pureed 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.)

SOME FENNEL IDEAS from The Victory Garden Cookbook

Sprinkle chopped fennel leaves on hot baked oysters or clams.

Add cooked fennel to omelets, quiches, stuffings or sauces.

Add stalks to stocks for their flavor.

Add sliced sauteed fennel to fish chowders.

Cook fennel in your favorite tomato sauce.

Place stalks and leaves on barbeque coals as they do in France. The fennel scent permeates the grilled food.

Slice steamed or blanched fennel, cover with a vinaigrette and serve chilled.

Chop raw fennel and add to tuna fish sandwiches.

Slice fennel thin and layer with raw potatoes, cream and cheese to make a potato au gratin.

Two recipes from CSA member Alexis:

Fennel-Turnip Soup
A tasty, smooth, creamy soup without the use of starches or cream.

4 turnips, roughly chopped
2 small fennel bulbs (green parts too), roughly chopped
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 cans chicken stock
Pepper to taste

Sautee onions in a bit of olive oil until soft. Add turnips, garlic and fennel and sautee a few more minutes. Add chicken stock and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until veggies are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender (or a regular blender or food processor). Strain though a fine sieve and serve.

Strawberry Fennel Salad

1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 pint strawberries, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
A couple squeezes of fresh lemon juice

Toss all ingredients and serve.

Leek recipes

Fennel recipes

Potato recipes

Tomato recipes

Winter Sqash recipes

6) Which Farm?

>From High Ground: Fennel, leeks, romaine lettuce, mystery
>From Mariquita: Tomatoes, potatoes, rugosa winter squash


7) Unsubscribe/Subscribe From/To This Newsletter

Two Small Farms Blog

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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


zylvia said...

Hi all - I love the veggie box but am having trouble peeling the delicata winter squash - is there a particular trick to this task or is it generally difficult? Thanks for any help on this matter...please email at:

ChardGirl said...

Hello, I've seen recipes that call for peeling delicata, but I don't bother with that! I roast them halved and then eat that way, same with acorn squash. Any recipe calling for peeling raw squash I just use butternut, which are smooth and easy as a potato to peel. I hope that helps a little! It goes to show: take all recipes with a grain of salt, including those in our newsletter!