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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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crate packed with veggies compWe’ve had an excellent response to the WorthWild campaign to fund the reusable crates.  We’re already a third of the way to our goal! We appreciate all your supportive comments as well. I think this is a good direction to go in.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon Meyer (or other) lemon zest

¼ cup flat leaf parsley (approx. 6 stems)

¼ cup mint leaves only (top 4 leaves of approx. 8 sprigs)

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The Salsa Verde v.2 is yet another iteration of a favorite of mine. It is actually the first version I did, but another was posted first, hence the order change-up. This one has marjoram, and is probably the most versatile. Cooking the cauliflower at a slightly lower heat takes a little longer, but allows for a good crisping and prevents burning. Use a heavy skillet also.

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This salad uses two quickles (the carrots were a spin-off of the cauliflower) that, with a little study of the recipe, could be made all together, and you could reduce the volume of final product. Both the quickles are quite good, and last a long while in the refrigerator, so doing them both is a nice way to set yourself up for a couple weeks of crunchy sweet-tart vegetables that are easy to deploy. If lavender is not your thing, use the recipe for Cauliflower, Romanesco, and Carrot Quickles on site (which makes this simpler in that you do the carrots and cauliflower together, and the flavor is a more “traditional” pickle flavor), skipping the romanesco and celery and switching the dressing to a white wine vinaigrette with a very little rosemary in it along with some thyme and a hint of garlic.

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Poaching the salmon the night before makes this a quick dish to assemble after work or if company is coming and you want to spend time with them rather than the stove. Actually, pretty much all the prep can be done the day prior, and all you do is assemble things just before serving. Since this can be a knife and fork type salad, you can leave the lettuce in leaves if you wish instead of tearing them into bite-sized bits.

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crate packed with veggies compFor awhile now we’ve been exploring ways to become more environmentally sound in our packaging. The waxed cardboard boxes we use to deliver CSA produce can be used several times, but the fact is, the boxes are not recyclable because of the wax coating and end up comprising a large portion of our landfill bulk from the farm. We’ve used the plastic liner bags to keep the produce fresh and to make the boxes last longer, but even with the bags, which also become part of the waste stream, we get between 4 and 10 uses out of each box. Last winter we asked around to other farms who have switched to plastic delivery crates and got a good report on crates from a company called Orbis.

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Serve this as a side or over pappardelle noodles or with crisp sautéed gnocchi. This could also be served over slices of sturdy grilled bread as bruschetta. Also, it is good hot or room temperature.

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Use this as a starter, a side, or part of a mezze. Roasting the eggplant leaves the outside crisp while the inside is tender and creamy. This, combined with the contrasting yogurt and mint and the pomegranate syrup make quite a party of flavors in the mouth.

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The smoky sweet bacon talks to both the sweetness of the carrots and the earthiness of the kale, enhancing both. If you have some King Oyster mushrooms, they would be an excellent addition.

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greenhouse Aug 2015We are entering the final stretch for this season. The seeds I am setting out to be planted in the greenhouse will be the last we plant until we start up again in November and December for next season’s transplants. Most of these late plantings are the veggies that can stand the cool temperatures and wet soils that usually occur over winter—like leafy greens and things in the brassica or cabbage family. The last plantings of the season are usually about twice the size as the earlier successions so that they will last into the rainy months when we can’t get into the field to plant with our tractors.

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The beans get cooked and dropped into a dressing while still hot so they absorb lots of flavor. The tomatoes add bright notes to the salad while the lettuce texture plays well with the other elements. The beans could be made a day or two ahead, and would easily mix into other preparations.

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This has v.2 appended to it because when I came up with this I wrestled with the idea of cooking the tomatoes first as a base for the potatoes and collards, like this, or where the greens and spuds are cooked, and then dressed with a cold dressing of tomatoes, garlic, onions, and oil and vinegar. In the end, I did both as I am always fascinated how the same ingredients can be put together in different ways to yield “the same but different” results.

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This has v.1 appended to it because when I came up with this I wrestled with the idea of cooking the tomatoes first as a base for the potatoes and collards, or doing it like this, where the greens and spuds are cooked, and then dressed with a cold dressing of tomatoes, garlic, onions, and oil and vinegar. In the end, I did both as I am always fascinated how the same ingredients can be put together in different ways to yield “the same but different” results.

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beesBy Keith Kimes, Kimes Apiary

Keith Kimes is a local beekeeper who keeps many of his hives on High Ground Organics’ two farm properties. We know that many of you are interested in the plight of honeybees worldwide, so we asked Keith for an update on his own efforts at limiting losses in his beehives.

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Roasting the tomatoes with a little sugar before making the glaze intensifies the tomato flavor, and brings out their fruitiness. The glaze is closer to a jam than ketchup, and can be used on cauliflower, squash, fish, chicken, or pork and beef. Add a dollop to braises or a stew of squash, onions, and eggplant.

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A crisp salad with lots of crisp flavors. Serve with tuna or grilled cheese sandwiches.

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A simple yet flavorful braise with nice colors, this is a nice accompaniment for fish, chicken, or pork chops. The dish works fine without the rainbow carrots as long as they carrots are sweet. It will also be less vibrant on the plate, of course.

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AG Farmstand 5We’re busy this week putting the final touches on our new railcar farmstand before our opening this Wednesday in the new location in the Annieglass parking lot on the corner of Riverside Drive/Highway 129 and Harvest Drive in Watsonville. For ten years we operated the farmstand on the old Redman House property which was sold early this year. Losing our lease there was sad, but we’re really fortunate and excited to be able to open at the Annieglass location.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch Scotch kale, torn into bite-sized bits and washed and drained

1 medium white or brown onion, cut into medium dice

1-1½ cup olives* such as cerignola, Taggiasca, gordal, Niçoise, or other firm olive with flavor, pitted and cut into ¼-inch strips lengthwise

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Here, Patatas Bravas are the inspiration. You could use this dish like a tapa and serve smaller amounts of it, or use it as a side dish. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.

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A favorite breakfast of mine is sautéed greens served on thick toast with poached or fried eggs on top. The yolk coating the greens and the crisp chewy toast makes for a great combination. There is a myriad variations on this theme, but the eggs and greens are the baseline. This is often made with leftover greens or potatoes. If you are not a fan of poached eggs, you could skip the potatoes, or simply cut the potatoes into small enough cubes that they will cook through while you fry them. Although it looks like a long recipe, it goes quickly.

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Restoration volunteer day 2015Our restoration volunteer day last Saturday was very productive and fun. Thanks to those of you who came out to help! We got a lot of mulch spread in a short amount of time. Laura Kummerer turned her spotting scope on the osprey nest, so we got a great view of the 2 chicks and their parents, and took a walk through the grassland to identify the different native and invasive species. Thanks to intern Clare Peabody for organizing a successful volunteer day!

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This is a simple dish that can be eaten hot or room temperature, as an appetizer or as a light main dish with a salad.

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This is a dish you want a Ben-Riner or mandolin. If you have a sharp grater that produces almost matchstick thick results, that could work also. This dish uses mirin and shiro-shoyu, a.k.a. white soy sauce. This is a very light colored soy with a lighter body and flavor than regular soy sauce. It adds a light umami quality dishes as well as a little salinity, so you can ease up on salting a dish, and helps bring out the nuances of vegetable flavors. It is great when you want the effect of soy sauce without wanting to taste it or have it stand out in a dish. This dish is beautiful when made with multi-colored carrots, but mature chantenay carrots work really well also.

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Elephant Ears is a very popular dish here, which is breaded and fried pork chops with a tomato arugula salad on top. You could, if you wish, toss the tomatoes with pesto thinned with a little oil and some balsamic. A Ben-Riner or mandolin is best used for this recipe.

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strawbalesWanted: several willing people to help spread mulch in our habitat restoration area by Harkins Slough. The ospreys and turkey vultures will be supervising this fun work day event from 10 am to 1 pm this Saturday. Laura Kummerer (habitat restorationist) and Clare Peabody (restoration intern) will teach you about the native plants that we are trying to reestablish in the grassland habitat as we spread straw over the weedy areas to prevent weed seeds from sprouting.

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This recipe is a sort of faux turnip kimchee, and uses gochujang to bring deep flavor and heat to a simple quickle, which is great all on its own. Using the gochujang really transforms the dish in an almost Cinderella fashion. What is gochujang? You could almost call it the ketchup of Korea- a funky, sweet, salty, nutty paste of fermented soybeans (kind of like miso, but not…) and peppers. The heat can vary, but it will be there. Anything from mild to fairly spicy, it is pasty and thick, and is usually cut with something to thin it a little, and ginger and garlic are often added to up the umami already there. Try adding spoonsful to soups, stews, marinades, and rubs and see how great it is. Here, it simulates the flavor fermentation would bring to these quick pickles, and brings the heat.

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Grappa is a poor man’s liquor made from leftover seeds and skins from winemaking that became chic a few years ago. No matter what you label it, it is still a powerful and raw spirit. Soaking currants or raisins in it is a traditional Italian use for it that can be found in many dishes. Here it is again. If you do not have grappa, use a good vodka.

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For lack of a better word, this is called a “condiment”. It can be used as is to base or top grilled fish or chicken, or used with lettuce to make a salad with a bit more dressing. Add bits of buffalo mozzarella for a salad, or add capers for even more interest. Use Tetilla cheese or buffalo mozzarella and Marcona almonds as a topping for chicken, or mix with shreds of cabbage for a salad, or skip the cheese and use just the nuts.

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Strawberry u-pick June 2015It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of July already! We have a couple opportunities for you to come out to the farm this summer. First, we’ll hold Strawberry U-Picks the next three Saturdays – July 18th, July 25th, and August 1st. Picking time is between 10 AM and 2 PM, so please try to arrive on time to finish up your picking by 2. Now’s the time to make that jam or stock up the freezer with berries for smoothies! Berries cost $2 per pound. Bring your own containers if you can.

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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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