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I can remember back to a time that I just didn’t get the appeal of fennel. This course, stringy, strongly scented vegetable didn’t seem worth the trouble to cook. But now I can honestly say that it is among my very favorite vegetables. I fully realize that there are many of our CSA members who still don’t “get” fennel, and if you are among these, you simply must try Jeanne’s recipe for roast fennel and onions.

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kale-lacinato

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Kale is a type of cabbage that does not form a head from the central leaves.We grow three varieties of kale, green curly leaf or Scotch kale, Lacinato or Dinosaur kale, and Red Russian kale.  Kale is high in beta carotene, vitamin K and vitamin C and calcium.

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kohlrabiKohlrabi is an odd vegetable that I think is often bought more for appearance than for the desire to eat it. Looking like something from a science-fiction movie, they come in lovely deep purple or jade green, and the leaves come up from all over what seems to be the root.

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Lettuce Rows

Lettuce Rows

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Lettuces grow exceptionally well here at our home farm near the coast. They love the cool foggy summer weather. We grow Red Leaf, Green Leaf, Butter Lettuces, Little Gem, and Romaine varieties and offer a mix of baby salad greens in our early spring boxes.

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Think of how often a dish starts with a sauté of onions, carrots, and celery. In Italy this combination is called soffritto. In France it is cooked with butter and called mirepoix, but for general purposes I like it cooked with a light flavored olive oil or even grapeseed oil, which is neutrally flavored, so I call it by the Italian name. I like to make this in larger batches, removing some when it is still pale, or blond, then cooking the remaining amount until it is a darker shade of amber, giving it a caramelized flavor. I sometimes even let some go until it is quite dark, like tobacco, for a very deep flavor. I then freeze it in batches. I use large zip bags and flatten out the soffritto in the bags, making it easier to stack and easier to simply break off the amount I wish to use. Some people freeze it in ice trays as you might pesto. However you store it, having this in the freezer is like having a time machine. It can make having good tasting food on the table much quicker, or if you have several pans going at once it is quite helpful as well as it is easy to burn smaller amounts of onions.

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Vinaigrettes are usually thought of as oil and vinegar dressing. In actuality, vinaigrettes can be used as a sauce, especially for fish and poultry, on sandwiches, as a marinade, or even as a pasta sauce. Vinaigrettes are great poured over roasted vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, and beets, while still warm so the flavors are absorbed. This makes an excellent salad, and is, in fact, how German potato salad is made.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of beets
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of water
1-2 tablespoons vinegar such as white balsamic or sherry

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This is one of those salads similar to the Moroccan type, where there is no lettuce, the dish can be served to start a meal or as a side, or can make part of a light supper with a little soup and a more traditional salad of lettuces. Next time you are out for Chinese or Japanese food and they have the better quality bamboo chopsticks that are almost pencil thick, ask for a set to use for dishes like this, where you need to slice down without cutting all the way through something.

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Fattoush, often considered Lebanese in origin, is one of those ubiquitous salads found pretty much anywhere flatbread is eaten and tomatoes grow. Like the Italian salad called Panzanella it was probably a way to not waste bread after it had gone stale. Of many iterations, the two constants it seem to be flat bread and tomatoes. The greens vary from romaine to butter lettuce to arugula to none at all. Cucumber? Peppers? Radishes? Some use pomegranate seeds, some have pomegranate syrup in the dressing, while some have none. Like so many dressings of the Middle-East, this one is “slack”, meaning it is not a fully emulsified vinaigrette, so be sure to mix it up one more time just before pouring it on.

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Fattoush dressings, like many other Mid-East dressings are loose with a higher acid to oil ratio than French influenced vinaigrettes. There are many, many variations, just as the salad itself varies from place to place. The main difference between v.1 and v.2 is the addition of pomegranate molasses. This brings a deep flavor that has a haunting/addictive tart and almost smoky note to it. Some brands have a little caramel added, and this will lend a little sweetness and a little more of the smoky note. Look for Mid-East and Cortas brands. The latter is tarter.

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Fattoush dressings, like many other Mid-East dressings are loose with a higher acid to oil ratio than French influenced vinaigrettes. There are many, many variations, just as the salad itself varies from place to place. Use this dressing on tabbouleh, Israeli Salad, fish, chicken kebabs, or shrimp.

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Clare WeedwackingBy Restoration Intern Clare Peabody

High Ground Organics’ home farm is protected by two easements, an agricultural easement and a conservation easement. This summer we are lucky to have Brown University student Clare Peabody working as an intern to help our restoration efforts on the half of the property under the conservation easement. This part of the property is a thriving (if weedy) coastal prairie grassland adjacent to one of the few remaining fresh water wetlands in central California. Clare contributes this week’s article, giving you a glimpse of the grassland habitat through her eyes.

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A slightly chunky vinaigrette with a bright, funky aroma, this dressing works on salads and is excellent as a topping for grilled fish such as snapper, tilapia, or halibut. Use with pork medallions, chicken with cumin and oregano, or even on noodles like ramen tossed with vegetables and leftover shredded meat.

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The flavors here are inspired by the Middle East, although I suppose this would work just as well with Mexican or South West fare as well. You could add a squeeze of lime to the mix and sub out the cilantro for mint and the dish would still work quite well.

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Another item inspired by a trip to a taqueria. This time it was a plate of tacos, with the charred meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and green onions that led to this. I really like the surprise of grilled lettuce with the hot/cold contrast and the play of flavors the lettuce gains from the light charring from the grill. There are plenty of fun options that can be added to the salad listed to add interest as well. Having a spritzer for your oil makes this dish simpler, and keeps it lighter.

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A colorful dish with a range of flavors. Serve as a side or a main for a light supper with poached eggs, or add some white beans and a grain such as farro, spelt, or barley and grate some cheese over the top for a complete protein.

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green tomatoes on vineI’ve been getting some questions about tomatoes already so I guess people are getting in the mood for summer vegetables and fruits. It certainly feels like summer with these long days, kids out of school, and the solstice just around the corner. The thing about summer vegetables is that they need those long warm days to grow! Our tomatoes are shaping up to come in earlier than we’ve ever had them before, but they still need a few more weeks.

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I like to make berry infused vinegars which I use as parts of marinades or sauces, and of course I also use them for salad dressings. When using them for dressing, I tend to either use them to contrast with sharper, bitter leaves such as escarole, dandelion, rocket, and the like, or I pair them with more delicate lettuces and then add some fruit and or nuts to the mix. I could see a salad of butterleaf lettuces with strawberries, slivered roasted almonds, and maybe a little bit of crumbled blue cheese with a strawberry vinaigrette made with the vinegar, a little agave syrup, some shallot, a little ginger juice, black pepper, and a light oil such as grapeseed with a touch of almond oil. Garnish the salad with candied ginger bits and a little black pepper that has been dry roasted in a pan-this neutralizes much of the heat and leaves the pepper fruity-and freshly cracked.

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I hesitate to call this a jam as it is useful for more than toast. Try this with pork, chicken, or turkey. Good on sandwiches or as a smear, and would be nice on a cheese plate. This would be good made with berries that are a little over-ripe or starting to look less than perfect.

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This soup is a riff on borscht, with kale filling in for the cabbage, and the vinegar on the roast beets filling in for the things that are often pickled in borscht. Some borscht uses sauerkraut, some have chopped pickles, some use a soured broth or kvass as the base. Although written as a hot soup, it could easily be chilled and served cold with yogurt or labne.

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This is a very pretty dish if you can get the rainbow carrots, but it will still taste great if all you have are monochromatic carrots. It is important to watch the sugar as it browns. It only takes a split second and it can go from caramel to charcoal. Feel free to remove the pan from the heat to slow it down, and have your butter cut and ready to toss in. Do it a couple times and it is no big deal. Besides basil, you could use cilantro or mint. Might even work with shiso. Many rainbow carrots have color that is mostly on the outside, so scrub rather than peel.

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elkhorn sloughLast Tuesday I went to the Elkhorn Slough Water Quality Workshop at the Moss Landing Marine Labs. I had signed up for it months ago when things were less busy, so when I received an e-mail reminder a few days before the event, my first reaction was that I could never afford to take half a day off. After thinking it over, however, I decided that it would be a welcome chance to get off the farm for a while—Moss Landing Marine Labs are located atop a sand dune with expansive views of the Monterey Bay, and the subject was one that is near and dear to my heart. I’m glad I went.

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This dish can be made with cauliflower just as well. The one thing not to do is over-cook the Romanesco or cauliflower. It should be just tender, with a bit of crunch still to it. If you wish, you can pan sear the wedges of vegetable to add caramelized flavor.

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This could be considered a hearty miso soup, or a stew. To add more depth of flavor to the dish, make your dashi using “blond” vegetable stock (see recipe on site). They type of miso will also affect the flavor a lot, with white miso being lighter and sweeter in flavor, whereas red miso tends to be deeper flavored and saltier. For a flavorful contrast, you could quickle the stems from the turnip greens if they are thick and use them as a garnish. Adding dumplings of some sort will certainly make the dish more substantial, as would adding noodles.

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This is a dish of bolder flavors with hints of bitterness to it, so it goes well with fattier dishes such as pork chops, chicken thighs, or things with cheese or cream in them. If you wish, you can dice the chard stems and use them, but they will add more of the “fuzzy teeth” feeling to the dish. Save them with the turnip greens for a stuffing for ravioli or pork chops instead.

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blueberry u-pick kids 3We’ve been enjoying meeting a lot of you at our u-picks!  One more to come this Saturday, and then stay tuned – we’ll probably do some more in the summer. We should have both strawberries and blueberries for you to pick this weekend.

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You could do this with the vegetarian dashi, but the smoky aroma and depth of flavor from the hana-katsuo really make this dish. Although it is not quite the same, and it will tint the dish red, you could use smoked paprika if you wish to go vegetarian. Use this dish as a base for seared fish or roasted King Oyster mushrooms. You could also use this as a base for noodles/pasta.

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A sort of culinary pun on the theme of peas and carrots. Usually the peas carry a sweetness that matches the carrots, but here the favas act as a foil to that inherent sweetness with their almost cheesy nutty flavor and slight bitterness. The basil bridges the sweetness and earthiness of the carrots and the earthy and sharp notes of favas with sweetness and the slight edge that basil has. If you do not have basil, oregano would be great here, or even mint.

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Very simple, but lots of flavor. Watching the broccoli blanch so it does not overcook, and cutting it to the right size, is key here. Don’t overdo the mint or it will overwhelm the dish. Use just enough to taste as an accent. Also, try to use as little oil as you can get away with for this dish as it helps the broccoli to stay firm and bright.

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Bob - loaves and fishesFor at least the past decade, we (and CSA members) have been donating vegetables and fruit each week to a local food pantry called Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes. For years, Loaves and Fishes volunteer Bob Montague was the face of the food pantry program for us. He would arrive every Thursday with an old Ford pick-up truck and load up the CSA vegetables donated by members who were on vacation that week or had even paid to provide a donation share weekly. Since the old truck gave up the ghost, we’ve been delivering the vegetables directly to the food pantry ourselves.

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A simple salad with a contrast of flavors and colors, as well as a contrast of textures. Going light with the dressing is key so as not to overwhelm the strawberries. The idea is that first you get the heat from the dressing, then the berries take it away.

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This dish is a pretty jade green color flecked with gold and velvety black and white. The flavors seem to appeal to everyone and the dish tends to disappear rapidly. The key to this recipe is restraint; use a light hand when blanching the broccoli, adding the sesame oil, as well as the candied ginger. Prep for this dish could be done ahead of time.

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This is another salad inspired by the contents of a taqueria. Using a mandolin or Ben-Riner is best for the carrot and radish slices.

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This dressing goes with a salad of strawberries, lettuce, and pepitas, as well as with a dice of corn, red onion, bell peppers, and cilantro. Sauté it or use raw and dress with this vinaigrette. Use this vinaigrette to dress fish tacos or pulled pork sandwiches. Although the roasted garlic is an extra step, the flavor really is subtler than raw garlic, and the roasted garlic adds a creamy texture to the dressing.

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blueberries ripenThe blueberry bushes are in full swing! You’re invited to come out and pick your own blueberries on May 23rd, May 30th, or June 6th between 10 am and 2 pm. Please bring your own containers if possible. Friends and family are welcome too. No charge for entry. Blueberries cost $5/lb. You do not need to be a current CSA subscriber to come to the u-pick. We recommend close-toed shoes and long pants. Please come only during the designated days times and plan to arrive in plenty of time to wrap up your picking by 2:00. Find directions here.

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Here is a salad with lots of contrasts, as well as room for lots of variations. If you have cilantro instead of basil, use that. Use a dressing with lime and cumin, or coriander and Meyer lemon. See Chef’s Notes for further ideas. For the pepper cress, use a really sharp thin bladed knife to “whittle” the leaves off the stems if your cress is in a bunch.

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This grew out of my liking for carrots and orange juice. Mint often appears with carrots at my table, and basil and mint often swap places in recipes, so it just seemed natural. Using bigger chunks of carrot allows the flavor of the carrot to develop while keeping it from getting really soft. 

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SIGN UP FOR CSA PROGRAM

When you join our CSA, you sign up with the farm to receive a share of the harvest during our 36 week season from mid-March to mid-November. In return, you get a weekly box of organic vegetables and fruit (and optional flowers) delivered straight from our farm to a pick-up site in your neighborhood.

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View our CSA Members Page

This is where you can go to find out what's coming in your box each week, find recipes, identify your vegetables with pictures, and view or print the current and past newsletters. Check here for the information you need to use your box to the fullest.

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