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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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strawberry plugThose of you who are long time newsletter readers will recall that we have been involved in the effort to transition organic strawberry growers into using organically grown starts. The problem we are facing now is that virtually no organically grown planting stock is currently available and the standards allow growers to use non-organic plants when their organic counterparts aren’t available. To make a long story short, there was an organic plant nursery (Prather Ranch) that grew beautiful plants for a four year period between 2005-2009.

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This mélange could be used as a stuffing for poultry, Portobello mushrooms, or Delicata squash, a filling for pasta or chard leaves, or just served as a side. Add grains to it for a heartier dish, or top with pine nuts for elegance.

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Here is a sauce that feels rich in the mouth and has big flavors. The texture of the sauce comes from the squash and onions, and there is no cream in it. This sauce was devised for topping red beets, but it would be fine for fish, chicken, or even pork. It would also be nice on pasta as a fun twist on the classic Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce (see recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli on site). Stuff ravioli with chard and cheese, or add ground turkey or pork, and top with the sauce.

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This is a colorful dish with an interplay of textures and contrasts of flavors to add interest. The sauce is sweet and provides high notes, the cabbage is the mid-range and provides sweet and earthy, where the beets are mostly low range and have earthy notes tinged with a mellow sweetness. The vinegar the beets are drizzled with after roasting adds balance. Be sure to cook the cabbage just long enough render it tender, but still possessing some crunch.

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3carrotsWe hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving!

Welcome to the winter season of every other week deliveries. During the last harvest the crew found these three carrots intertwined, which we are taking as a good omen for the season ahead (displayed here by our packing shed manager Aquileo at our harvest party.)

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1210141809aSavoy spinach has a slightly more robust flavor than the flat kind, is well suited to cooking. However, the folds mean you need to be more attentive to washing it. Not a big deal really. Just use a large bowl to swish the leaves around in, then lift them from the water into a colander. Repeat as needed. To check that, look at the bottom of the rinse bowl for dirt, and bite a piece. That should let you know.

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With roasted beets in the refrigerator, you always have a dish waiting to happen. Here, roasted Chioggias are given a North African or Turkish treatment. For the recipe, the beets are cut into batons just because, but if you already have them in wedges, no worries.

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If you have the marmalade ready to go in the refrigerator, this is a quick and simple dish to prepare. The flavor of the crust is nice, but if you put it on a couple days ahead of time and let the chicken “marinate” in the refrigerator, the flavor will permeate the chicken. Since you have carrots in the marmalade, serving carrots alongside the chicken makes a nice pairing.

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Although it says marmalade, there really is no citrus peel here, it is just that the carrot shreds look like orange zest. Use this to top fish, pork chops, or chicken roasted with a fennel coriander seed crust (see the recipe). You want to have your Ben-Riner or mandolin handy for this recipe to make things easier, but a sharp knife can do the trick as well. The best pan for this recipe is a “chef’s pan”.

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It’s hard to believe another CSA season has come to an end. This week we’ll deliver the final boxes for the regular season. Next week we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving and then we’ll take some trips to visit colleges with our eldest daughter. (This is quite a milestone. We leased our first few acres and started farming the year she was born. The kid and the farm are both growing up!)

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Finding different ways to use celery leaves besides sticking them in stock is a “chef thing”. Here is a dual recipe. Chopped, it makes a condiment to be used as you might Salsa Verde. Chopped finer in food processor you get a pesto like paste that can be used on pasta, or on slabs of cheese or smeared onto things. For pasta, try it with something like bucatini or try a whole grain noodle with a little more chew and deeper flavor. Barilla makes a “Plus” line that is made with spelt and barley, chickpeas and lentils, as well as semolina, that has a nice flavor that would go well with this recipe. Try it on fish or poultry-it would go well with turkey for instance. Use as a smear for the white meat or use on sandwiches of leftovers later.

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The pesto is on quotations because you can just toss a handful of basil and garlic into a blender and then add almonds for a quick pesto-ish mélange rather than making a full on batch of pesto. If you wanted to, you could toss in flat leaf parsley with the basil to stretch it, or you can even use pesto from a jar. You would still need to add almonds for the flavor they impart. This is here to use up the last of the season basil you might have in the garden, or in the refrigerator.

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I tend to think of this as Christmas Salad. Not because of when it is served, but because of the reds and greens of its colors and the jewel-like look of the pieces. This would be a good “company” salad as you can cut all the components except the avocado in advance. Then it is just a matter of assembling it at the last moment. This salad is a study in contrasts of colors and textures, and is fun to eat. If cutting lots of cubes seems like too much work, see Chef’s Notes for an easy variation.

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catmodelThe National Weather Service is calling for some substantial rainfall during the early part of next week—which we are delighted to hear about. It’s been just about a perfect fall so far. We’ve had enough rain so that we haven’t had to irrigate much during the last few weeks, and out on the grassland, things are greening up fast. At the same time, the storms so far have been spaced far enough apart to allow us to get in with the tractors and do the things that need doing—cultivating, preparing ground for cover crops and planting a few last vegetable crops.

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Although I usually wouldn’t use chard raw, kale salad got me wondering. If the chard is very tender and the leaves are smaller, they are perfect for this. If they are larger and thicker, and eating some raw makes your teeth feel sort of furry, wait for another time to make this. Serve this as a salad on its own or as a side to cider braised pork chops, ham steak, or sausages.

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A variation on a theme, this soup is made easier by simply roasting the squash and scooping out the flesh rather than peeling and cutting and cooking it. It is a fairly simple dish, and is smooth enough to serve in cups to be sipped if you wish, or you could add substance to it by adding shrimp and/or some rice-even easier if you have some left over in the refrigerator. This soup can be made thicker and then double as a sauce for fish or on noodles with peppers and shrimp added to them.

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cowpumpkin“Severe Drought, Heavy Rains Hamper Pumpkin Crop,” read the headline in one of the ag papers we get. Steve pointed it out to me, “That about sums up farming right there.” Our pumpkin crop did fine here, though, and the cows and goats are now enjoying what’s left of the jack o’lantern pumpkins. The rain we did have last week was about perfect – a nice soaking to help our cover crops and the pasture grasses along, but not a gulley washer. Now we just need it to continue to rain like that once a week or so through the winter.

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This is a twist of another tuna salad recipe, which happens to use the more familiar red globe radishes. Here, black radish fills in for celery and adds a bit of contrast with its mild horseradish-like bite. You could use this tuna salad for a straight-up sandwich, but here it is paired with lettuce and tomatoes and slices of baguette for a build-your-own affair.

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This will fill the kitchen with all sorts of wonderful aromas.

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A medley of textures and flavors, this dish has a nice amount of bitter and tart to offset the sweet elements, keeping it light. This recipe would work well on the Thanksgiving table. If you do not have dates, apples work also. See Chef’s Notes.

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winterThis is the time of year when the scheduling details for the CSA get a little confusing, so I’ll try to clarify how the logistics work for deliveries, sign-ups, and payments this fall.

There are four more weeks of regular season deliveries — these continue until the week before Thanksgiving. November 19 and 20th are the final delivery days for the regular weekly season. There will be no deliveries Thanksgiving week.

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This recipe is for a condiment made of Corno de Toro and Hungarian peppers, but you could use other types if you wish. Use this to top sandwiches, grilled meats or fish such as swordfish or halibut, or on sausages.

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A basic pasta dish with a fresh tomato sauce, but here the squash stands in for the noodles. You want to use your widest pan for this as too much moisture-like you can get from crowding the squash-can render the squash soupy rather than into “pasta” like strands.

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This is the basic technique for spaghetti squash. Using spaghetti squash typically entails two cooking steps. The first is where the squash is actually cooked, and the next is where the “spaghetti” part gets seasoned in a secondary cooking with other ingredients. This is the technique for the primary step, where the squash is cooked and separated into the strands that give the squash its name. From here, you can do all sorts of things to season the squash. Just remember not to over-cook it, and give it lots of room in the pan and minimal moisture to keep it from getting mushy. Also, I find using an oil sprayer really helps ensure an even coat of oil without having really soggy spots or dry spots, which can affect the end results.

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ketchupThis recipe is from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Using “paste” tomatoes such as San Marzanos are ideal because of their low moisture levels. Quickly blanching the tomatoes (boiling them until the skins split then transferring them into ice water) helps to remove the skin efficiently. A quick squeeze of the peeled tomatoes can release most seeds. Processing with a food mill can help remove any skins or seeds you didn’t catch and will give the ketchup the right consistency. This homemade ketchup tastes divine and has quite a bit less sugar and salt than the store-bought kinds.

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This is a bare bones simple White Balsamic dressing for when you want the flavors of the salad to stand out.

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A light and satisfying dish that goes well with lighter flavored proteins, or pairs well with beans and light grains such as rice or quinoa.

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For this salad, a tender lettuce like Butter or Oakleaf is the perfect contrast to the dense beets and crunchy quickles. If you can’t find small red onions for your quickles, go with shallots instead. Although very simple, this salad is so satisfying with the range of textures and flavors. Also, the beets and quickles can be done days ahead, along with the dressing.

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This dish has an earthy flavor that has sweetness and complexity to it. It can serve as a side dish, a base to a stack of items, or thinned a little it can be a sauce. Formed into quenelles it elevates the lowly beet into something quite elegant. A scattering of tender fresh herbs such as tarragon, basil, or shiso is nice, and chervil seems to work quite well here.

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cover cropWe are moving into winter planning mode here. We’ll be seeding some fields with cover crops before the expected rain this weekend at our home farm, and utilizing this rain to prepare our Lewis Road soil (which needs a bit more moisture to plant into) for sowing cover crop seeds next week. Our winter cover crop is typically a mixture of bell beans, vetch, oats, and peas. These crops are allowed to grow through the winter before we mow them down and disc them under in the spring.

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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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