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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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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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Sometimes I have artichokes and am not sure when I will get them into a menu, so I will just cook them when I get the chance whether I intend to serve them at that moment or not. They are good cold, can be re-heated, or worked into something else, as happened here. The combination of artichoke and potato is a great one, especially with sweet waxy potatoes such as Yukon Golds or a fingerling type. This salad would be good with some cauliflower florets blanched and dressed while hot, then cooled and added in.

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squash tunnelThe activity level on the farm has been ratcheted up these last few weeks. This time of year finding time to do anything other than harvesting is difficult. We have three crops—strawberries, blueberries and squash—that have to be picked 2-3 times a week and when you throw in all of the other crops we are harvesting there is very little time left for all of the planting, weeding, pruning and other activities that have to happen to keep the farm going.

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This salad is indeed inspired by traditional tabbouleh, and resulted from a hurried “tour du fridge” one night. For the cucumber, be sure to avoid any with waxed skin, or peel it, especially if the skin is thick. Smaller Japanese cucumbers are ideal. Any squash will do, but Costata Romanesco or Cousa are great because they take on color without getting mushy or bitter better than most other summer squash, and this salad is about the contrast between the chewy farro and the crisp cucumber and squash.

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Another dish in the Moroccan “salad” style. If you wanted to make it more of a Western style salad with lettuce, use romaine. Remove the darker outer leaves and cut the pale inner leaves across the length into thin ribbons and lay them down as a bed for the carrot ribbons. A Ben Riner or mandolin is best to make this recipe, but if you do not have one, slice the carrots on a diagonal with your sharpest knife, or use a really sturdy peeler.

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We ran into a little glitch on Wednesday when we tried to irrigate a new planting of lettuce—the sprinklers never came up to pressure. The well at our home farm is very shallow and very old and we’ve known for the past year or so that it was failing. We are on the waiting list to have a deeper well dug, but with the high demand for wells right now, we’ve got another 6-7 months before that happens. We were hoping to squeak through the year, but apparently that’s not going to happen.

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This gratin is quite simple to assemble, and easier to cook. It can be assembled earlier in the day and then cooked, or you can cook it off and serve it at room temperature or re-heat it. It is even good cold. It makes a great vegetarian sandwich-just smear a soft roll with tapenade and lay in some of this gratin. This gratin is really fun if you have various colors of squash to play with as it yields a nice colorful dish. Although the instructions seem long, they are not really, and once you have done this you will find a hundred variations spring to mind.

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Favas and Romano cheese are a classic Italian combination, from simply eating small early favas and slices of young Romano to mixing them in dishes. I recently had company that did not eat dairy, but I wanted to use pesto. If you taste a fresh young fava it has a cheesy taste, with a little tang and that hard-to-define eau de barnyard funk, along with a slightly gritty yet creamy texture. Just like Romano cheese. Turns out that tender young favas make an excellent substitute for Romano cheese in pesto. Use this vegan pesto as you would a regular pesto.

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Since the main components of this dish are large, this is a knife and fork dish. It can serve as a base for something larger like fish, or you can use it as a side. Add some slices of pork and some noodles and it can be a one-pot full meal.

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blueberries flatIt’s a berry bonanza! The addition of strawberries and blueberries both in the box AND available for special order in the web store in bulk quantities this week has led to a frenzy of berry-related activity. If you have never ordered from the web store before, all you have to do is:

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This was a quick dish thrown together with what happened to be at the front of refrigerator, and it was a big hit.

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Making my own granola is easy, and very satisfying. I always double the recipe as it is just as easy as doing a single batch, and it lasts quite a while. A perfect partner for fresh fruit and vanilla yogurt.

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Here is a riff on the now ubiquitous grocery-store deli salad. This is a great way to use the stems of broccoli, and could be made entirely with stems if you wish. If you do so, back off the volume by 2 cups or you will have a lot of slaw. This is one of those recipes that can be varied a lot for different but equally tasty results.

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This is a super simple slaw dressing that works with the Broccoli Slaw recipe, or any other slaw type salad with assertive flavors like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or beets. This is the closest thing to the dressings on slaws in grocery store deli’s I can come up with.

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This dressing was designed for Broccoli Slaw, but will enhance many other things that that have a bit of peppery bite or assertive flavor, such as dishes with cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, cress, and the like. This iteration is a little lighter than v.2 as it uses less mayonnaise, and a little more oil.

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If you get both blue and straw-berries, this is wonderful to make with them. The granola is easy to make, but you have to be patient when making it. The parfaits can be made ahead and brought out at the last minute.

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blueberries spring 2015This week we got the netting over the blueberry patch–just in time, as the fruit is ripening fast. If we left the patch uncovered the birds would get more berries than we would. We picked the first ripening berries this week, so a few of you will find blueberries as your mystery item. We have four different blueberry varieties planted, and theoretically they should ripen sequentially.

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Meant originally for Salad of Butter Lettuce, Beets, and Broccoli, this is a simple and very versatile dressing. Goes well with earthy foods, or anything bland that needs a little perking up without overwhelming the base food.

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This is a great combination of flavors that all support and play off each other. Romano cheese is a classic pairing with early season favas, so if this is being used with pasta or as a dip add some grated or crumbled romano. This mélange is great for fish, grilled chicken, sandwiches of fresh mozzarella and salumi, or toss it with orecchiette pasta or some chunks of summer squash that have been grilled or pan seared.

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The combination of early season favas and mint is a vibrant flavor that speaks of spring. Young favas and romano cheese are a classic pairing, so romano is used in the risotto instead of the usual parmesan. If you have some very thin asparagus spears, you could cut a few diagonally into half-inch lengths and blanch them until just barely done and add them with the favas. Be sure to add the mint just before serving or it will turn dark and lose some of its brightness.

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Here is a simple yet flavorful dressing perfect for beets or other earthy elements in salads. It would go well with Middle Eastern spiced foods, or make a nice chicken salad. Although it says “Creamy” in the title, there is not much, and it is yogurt or mayonnaise based on your preference. The yogurt will be a little more tart and bright, the mayo makes for a lighter and subtler dressing.

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This recipe calls for a sweet mustard spiked dressing, but this combo would really well with an orangey-creamy dressing such as Creamy Orange Dressing (see recipe) or Orange Poppyseed Cream Dressing (see site for recipe). If using an orange based dressing, try adding pistachios or almonds instead of sunflower seeds.

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lettuce transplantsThe unusually warm spring has produced favorable conditions for us to get our cover crops mowed down and lots of transplanting already done here at our home farmland. This is the first year we are not farming the land we used to lease around the Redman house, but with our 18 acres at Lewis Road and the similar size here at home we have plenty of good ground available.

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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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