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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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broccoli fieldWithout a doubt it has been one of the coolest summers I can remember in some time. Nearly every morning has been damp and drizzly, and if the sun comes out at all it is only for a few hours in the afternoon. For some crops these conditions can be problematic—downy mildew has set in to some of our lettuce, cucumbers and basil crops. Other heat loving plants like tomatoes, peppers and squash just slow way down. There are, however, crops that love it cool and damp and of these, the broccoli and cauliflower in your boxes this week are fine examples. If conditions are too warm when broccoli is maturing, it tends to “button up” prematurely and form heads that are small and uneven. In cool weather like we have now they form larger, denser, dome-shaped heads with creamy, light green stalks. Cauliflower plants tend to remain closed with their inner leaves wrapped tightly around the developing heads keeping them white and dense rather than discolored and “ricey” when it is hot. Both crops develop more slowly under cool conditions which gives us a larger window to harvest them in.

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If you wish to save time, you can skip sautéing the cauliflower, although it does add a great extra layer of flavor.

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The escarole melts into the onions and adds a nice mildly bitter foil to the sweetness of the onions and the yellow fleshed potatoes. You could use cream in lieu of the stock for richer gratin. To make an all-in-one dish, add ham or bacon.

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This is meant to be a topping for bruschetta, but works perfectly as a side dish or topping on flatbread.

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scrub jay in orchardFor today’s essay, here are some recent pictures from the farm. At lefGoat - redbeardt, a scrub jay in the orchard on a misty morning.

At right, our goats enjoying some beets leftover from Sunday’s Mountain View Farmers Market. This goat’s new name is Redbeard!

 

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Although people think the idea is strange, people always like the savory waffles once they try them. Anytime I cook grains, I always make a little extra and freeze it for recipes like this one. This recipe utilizes another recipe that was a stand-in for another recipe. It is always fun to watch the progression of some dishes. This recipe works for brunch, or as an interesting dinner salad, or you could have it alongside some protein for a light dinner. It is important to the success of this dish that the waffles be hot and crisp.

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Bright and flavorful, this salad is easy to dress up and turn into a light main course with the addition of a can of tuna, croutons, olives, etc.

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Chantenay carrots are actually meant to be grown large. The flavor improves with size, and they seem to have a nicer flavor as well. This recipe can be made with other carrots, but I love the flavor and shape of big Chantenays. Serve this as a side to beef or with roasted Portobello mushrooms as a bed.

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blackbirds in treeOne of the advantages of being a CSA farm is the flexibility that we have in putting together the boxes each week. When a farm is geared towards wholesale markets, it needs to meet the expectations of providing a consistent product throughout the growing season. For instance if you want to be the carrot supplier for a wholesale outlet, you want to be able to harvest a consistent quantity and size of carrots every week throughout the season. This sort of marketing favors large farms, and in fact, there are two huge producers that grow the majority of carrots consumed in the US (Grimway and Bolthouse Farms). As a diverse small farm, we can take some risks in trying new varieties, and we have the flexibility to constantly change what we are growing on any given part of the farm to try to stay ahead of pest and disease problems.

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Be sure to start this enough ahead of time for the radishes and turnips to soak in ice water for at least a half-hour. This helps tame some of the bite, and yields nice crisp slices.

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This paste is similar to what goes onto black cod or sablefish to make the very popular “Cod Miso-yaki”, although this iteration was concocted for roasted turnips. You could also apply this to carrots or tofu as a marinade to prepare them for roasting, or apply it to pork for a while before grilling it.

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This is a very flavorful, “umami” packed dish, and is great as an accompaniment to robust dishes like grilled steak, or milder dishes such as a white fish or chicken as a contrast item. You could add orange juice to the miso for a sweeter range of flavor. You can also add radishes to the dish. Blanch for only a few seconds if they are spicy, then add in with the turnips. Roasting radishes produces juicy colorful chunks that are very mildly spicy. A quick sauté of the greens makes a perfect bed for the turnips. If you don’t have the greens, skip that part of the recipe.

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This is for a salad featuring crisp shaved radishes and turnips, but would be great on cold poached salmon, or hot grilled salmon. Try it with shrimp, or a Mediterranean themed poached chicken salad with arugula, frisée, etc. Although the recipe calls for Meyer lemons, you can use Eurekas. Just watch for the level of tartness.

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packing shedIn the Ag History Museum at the County Fairgrounds here in Watsonville there is a picture of our home ranch back in its heyday as a grade-A milk dairy, probably from sometime in the 1940’s. The picture was taken at some distance, and visible in it are the house we currently live in, the old milk cooler that we now use for an employee break room, and the loose-hay barn that had mostly fallen down by the time we moved in. An occasional visitor from the Midwest will recognize our packing shed for what it truly is, or was, a six-stall herringbone milking parlor. When we bought the property in 2000, it hadn’t functioned as a dairy for nearly 15 years and by all indications had been in decline for sometime before that.

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A variation on roasted beets, this iteration sees the beets cut into bâtonnet instead of wedges, and a combination of orange juice, orange flower water, and vinegar is used instead of straight vinegar. Be careful with the orange flower (a.k.a. orange blossom water) as it is quite strong, and leaves a bitter taste when too much is used.

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Another kale salad, and I think it’s a good one. The process of crumpling the kale does something that makes the kale sweeter, and the beets match the earthiness of the kale. The cucumbers add a nice hit of cool moisture that goes well with the dry salt flavor of the pistachios.

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This is a great way to get more vegetables into your life, and this dish is great for breakfast or for dinner. Cooking the eggs so the yolk is still runny provides a silky sauce for the earthy kale, and runny yolks contain lecithin, which helps counter the effects of cholesterol in the body. If you wish, you could add bits of prosciutto or mushrooms to the kale, or scatter the ramekins with some cheese a few minutes before they come out of the oven.

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The creamy part of this dressing derives from yogurt. Use this dressing with beet and kale salads, cucumbers, with chicken, or shredded carrot and lettuce salads.

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owl box 2016On the evening of July 4th, I walked out to the conservation easement to check on the goats and horses we have grazing there to make sure they weren’t too freaked out by the fireworks. As I approached the oak trees I was suddenly aware of a multitude of barn owls. They were making their hissing shrieks and flying back and forth over my head. I counted at least six owls. I figured they were mostly young ones newly fledged. It was clear that I wasn’t wanted there, so I backed off and took a different route.

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This is pretty much just what it says, a typical pico de gallo salsa, but made with summer squash rather than cucumbers, and scallions stand in for white or yellow onions, and mild sweet Gypsy peppers replace the typical jalapeño. Basil and lemon replace the cilantro and lime, making this an “alternate dimension” salsa fresca. If you like it hot, add a spicy chili or two or scatter some pizza-house chili flakes in.

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Quite simple, but quite good. This is a versatile combination-cut the squash into different shapes, grill it just enough to cook through and chill it and dress it with cold dressing for a salad tossed with some romaine or Little Gem lettuce. Use mint instead of basil, and go Mid-East.

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Here’s a riff on the more forward flavored Charred Scallion Vinaigrette. The yogurt softens the “charred” flavor, and the basil combines with the charred scallion to yield a flavor reminiscent of a wood-fired pizza with a thin crust nicely charred in spots. Use for drizzling on grilled summer squash, or dipping crudité or hot grilled or cold steamed shrimp.

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Gypsy peppers fried in oil that you fried basil leaves in. The crisp leaves form a garnish to the peppers and scallions with garlic which bottom notes. Eat this on toasts, pizzas with fresh mozzarella, serve with simple grilled fish or with pasta.

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by Amber Sciligo, Guest Contributor

blueberry u-pick Amber2

A colleague whose parents are CSA members told me about the blueberry u-pick event at High Ground Organics. I was very excited to attend because: 1) I adore blueberry picking: My husband Jeremy and I used to regularly pick blueberries during the short season in Christchurch, New Zealand, where we lived for many years. And 2) As a postdoc at UC Berkeley, I’ve been working with Steve and Jeanne since 2011, conducting strawberry pollination research on their farm at the old Redman house and more recently, at their home ranch. I was excited to support them and their operation, especially if it meant I’d get to eat blueberries.

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You don’t really need anything else with this sandwich, except maybe some chips, and a beer or some iced tea. You have meat, a couple vegetables, starch, it’s all there. If you take the time to fry chicken, it is always good to make extras as it is the perfect leftover to start another meal with.

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This came about to go into a sandwich with a coleslaw done for the CSA box. Nothing too fancy, no brining or soaking, just dip, shake, and fry.

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This was made to go on a fried chicken sandwich, but is great as is. Using a Ben-Riner or other fixed blade slicer (or even a food processor) makes this a quick-fix dish.

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Use this for South West inflected slaw, for a dip for vegetables or chips, or however. This was made for a slaw to go on a fried chicken sandwich.

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Another dish in the “I love to sauce vegetables with vegetables” category. Here, the earthy funky qualities of leeks and collards are counterbalanced with the sweetness of carrots. The carrots are cooked and milled to a consistency that is not quite a pureé, not quite chunky, but a good match for the silky leek and collards. Although the recipe seems long, the time to make is not, and it is a simple dish to prepare. The sauce goes well with other items such as cauliflower, grilled squash, chicken, pork, or fish.

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Sometimes simple is best. If you want to add a little more dimension to this, New Natives grows broccoli microgreens which perfectly straddle the line between arugula and almond, and will add loft to the salad. Gorgonzola Dolce is a sweeter version of Gorgonzola, but if you cannot find it, just use Gorgonzola.

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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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