March 18, 2014

Four Days in a Casino with Michael Pollan et Al

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Permaculture food forest with animals

It’s true, Lorraine and I have spent the last four days in an Indian Casino in Temecula near San Diego. And it was very generously paid for by a member. Confused, yes I was too when we walked in and smelled the cigarette smoke.
We attended the first Permaculture Voices conference. The casino was big enough and cheap enough to hold all 600 attendees. The first speaker was Joel Salatin and it continued with high powered speakers until late on Sunday evening. We were there because quite frankly organic farming is not going to be enough in the coming climate change and energy/water crisis. I have been uncomfortable for many years with a whole host of organic practices that are not sustainable. I do not even  like the word sustainable as in my opinion it has been used for so much green washing by corporate America.
I bought my Permaculture manual in 1990 and read it from cover to cover several times. I could not get how we could scale it up to farm vegetable and fruit production. A couple of years ago Lorraine and I went to an ACRES USA conference in Kentucky. I took a two day course with Mark Shepard. He practices what we call Restoration Agriculture or farm scale permaculture. Listening to Mark I got it and have been, reading, thinking  and planning ever since.
At Eatwell Farm we do many permaculture practices but we have not as yet tied it all together. We listened to Pasture farmers from Missouri, Virginia and Zimbabwe. Farmers who grow crops between trees rows and soil scientists who told us it was all about soil biology. Farmers who get better yields of corn with no commercial chemical or organic inputs. So much information but it is coming clearer what we have to do.

Want to learn more…

Geoff Lawtons video page

Alan Savory’s TED talk  on how to reverse desertification.

Mark Shepard’s Restoration Agriculture

Dr Elaine Ingham on Soils

Joel Salatin’s TED Talk

Permaculture voices website

March 18, 2014

Eatwell Farm Harvest Share March 19th, 20th and 21st 2014

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Tarragon and Chives: these are in the herb bag this week. Keep them in the crisper.

Radish: If you are not going to eat them soon please remove the tops. Put the roots in a plastic bag in the crisper.

Spinach: Our delicious, and sometimes muddy spinach. Keep in the plastic bag in the crisper and take out only what you need. Wash several times. This way we are told allows it to stay good for up to ten days.

Lettuce: ditto spinach.

Pea shoots: A very seasonal treat. Keep in a plastic bag in the crisper part of your fridge.

Beets: If you are not going to eat them soon please remove the tops. Put the roots in a plastic bag in the crisper.

Green garlic: A wonderful delicate flavor. It is easy to over cook/fry this away. Keep in the crisper.

Red kale: Sweet dark leaves. Keep in a plastic bag in the crisper.

Leeks: We are getting to the end of the leek season so enjoy these flavorful alliums.

Red cabbage: Keeps well in the crisper. Cover any cut surface with cling film.

Carrots: Place in the crisper

March 14, 2014

Harvest Share Menu Suggestions

Sitting In Our Hotel Room
Seems like a very strange place to work on recipes and menu suggestions; I feel a bit like a fish out of water.  Although…. I must admit, Nigel and I travel with an electric kettle, our hand grinder + Blue Bottle Coffee + French Press (thank you Caitlin and James!) a portable induction burner, one pot, one pan, plates, utensils and coffee cups.  We bring our own milk, eggs, good bread from Della Fatoria, homemade yogurt and some fruit.  The ability to at least make a truly excellent breakfast before heading out all day to a conference is comforting, makes us feel good and saves a ton of money.  And quite frankly, there is no where to find a breakfast nearly as good as what we enjoy in our hotel room.  Money savings aside, eating 3 meals a day in restaurants wreaks havoc on your system, especially when you are sitting in conference rooms all day!  I am so thankful for our delicious food and a husband who doesn’t think I am crazy carting a mini-kitchen around while traveling!


Recipes and Menu Suggestions

Spinach Pie +  Salad with Radishes & Buttermilk Dressing
Uses: Pie Spinach or Kale, Leeks, Eatwell Farm Eggs  Salad – Chives, Green Garlic, Radishes, Lettuce
Chicken in Tarragon Cream + Carrot & Pea Shoot Salad
Uses: Chicken Tarragon, Leeks  Carrot & Pea Shoot Salad Carrots, Pea Shoots, Green Garlic
Braised Sausage & Red Cabbage + Good Bread, Butter and or Mustard
Uses: Red Cabbage
Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets
Uses: Kale, Beets and Green Garlic

Salad With Radishes & Buttermilk Dressing
From the Real Simple website
This salad looks so fresh and yummy!  You can keep it simple and enjoy as a side salad or add a little bit of protein in the form of chicken or fish or tofu and turn it into more of a meal.
4 oz Country Bread, cut into 3/4” pieces
1 TB Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Buttermilk
3 TB Mayonnaise
2 TB chopped Parsley  I would also add 2 TB of chopped Chives
1 stalk Green Garlic, finely chopped
Lettuce
4 Radishes, thinly sliced
1 Shallot, thinly sliced
Heat oven to 400F.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with the oil and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.  Bake, tossing once, until golden, 7 to 9 minutes.  Let cool.  In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, parsley, chives, garlic 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Add the lettuce, radishes, shallot and croutons and toss to coat.

Spinach or Kale Pie
Recipe from my friend Cindy Steffy  Serves 4-6
When I lived in Cotati I had a great group of friends who would get together for dinner almost every Thursday night.  Good food, wine and laughs, it was a night we all looked forward to.  My friend Cindy was part of that crazy group.  Now I mostly see Cindy on FB, sadly Sonoma County seems so far away.  Recently she posted this recipe and it looked really delicious.  You can do this pie with either Spinach or Kale or a combo of the two.  Remember kale will take a bit longer to cook.
1 bag Spinach, washed well or 1 bunch Kale
2 Leeks, washed well, chopped and sautéed in a little butter
5 Eatwell Farm Eggs, beaten
1/2 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
1 cup grated Jack Cheese
A dash of Greek Seasoning, if you don’t have any use Oregano and a little Rosemary
Salt ad Pepper
1/3 cup Milk
1 Pie Shell
Preheat oven to 400F.  Blind bake your crust 6 minutes.  Chop the washed spinach and or kale and cook in the water that is left on the leaves from washing, you might need to add a bit more.  Cook long enough to wilt thoroughly.  Mix all ingredients, fill the pie shell and bake for 45 minutes.  Check to see if it is done by inserting a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean you are good to go!

Chicken in Tarragon Cream
The Herbfarm Cookbook  Serves 4
1 1/2 lbs Chicken – recipe calls for skinless, boneless breast but I personally hate chicken that has been stripped of all the goodness that comes with the bones and the skin, that’s me, so please use whatever chicken you prefer!
Salt and freshly ground Pepper
1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Leek, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry Vermouth or dry White Wine
3/4 cup Heavy Cream
2 to 3 TB Tarragon, coarsely chopped
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Brown the chicken. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, carefully lower the chicken  into the pan and cook them for about 1 minute on each side just until they begin to brown slightly. Transfer the still-raw chicken to a plate.  Poaching in cream. Reduce the heat under the skillet to low. Add the shallot or leek and cook, stirring constantly, until softened but not browned, less than 1 minute. Add the vermouth and cook for 30 seconds, then add the cream and half the tarragon. Return the chicken breasts to the pan and adjust the heat so that the cream gently simmers. Cover and cook until the chicken is firm and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. To check for doneness, cut into the thickest part of a breast with a pairing knife — there should be no sign of pink or translucence.  Finishing. Transfer the chicken breasts to a warmed serving platter or individual dinner plates. The sauce should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. If it is too thin, continue to simmer it for about 1 minute and it will thicken. Stir in the remaining tarragon and the lemon juice, then taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve right away with buttered egg noodles.

Ginger Glazed Carrot & Pea Shoot Salad

Adapted Recipe From the “Not Eating Out in NY”  Serves 3 to 4
I had this in last week’s recipes, but we have pea shoots again and it was just too delicious not to include it one more time!
1/2 lb Carrots, peeled, halved and chopped into 1 – 2” pieces
About 1 1/2 cups fresh Pea Shoots
1 clove Garlic or 1 stalk Green Garlic, minced or chopped if using green garlic use the greens too
1 TB grated fresh Ginger
2 TB Light Brown Sugar
Juice of 1 Lime
Salt and Pepper
2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Combine the carrot pieces with the garlic, ginger, half the lime juice, brown sugar, 1 TB of the olive and a dash of salt and pepper in a bowl and toss well.  Let marinade for 30 minutes or over night.  This recipe is done on a hot grill but I am going to try it in a hot oven at 425F cooking on my grill pan for about 13 minutes.  Meanwhile toss the pea shoots with the remaining TB of olive oil and lime juice.  Add salt and pepper.  When the carrots are done let cool a bit then toss in the bowl with the pea shoots and serve immediately.

Warm Kale Quinoa & Roasted Beets Salad

Inspired by Donna Hay Magazine, found on thefirstmess.com  Serves 4
Beets
1 bunch of Beets, scrubbed and trimmed – if they are large quarter them before roasting
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 TB Demerara Sugar
1 TB Grape Seed Oil
Salt and Pepper
Kale Salad
1/4 cup Quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch Kale or use some Beet Greens, stems chopped small, leaves torn
2 TB Grape Seed Oil
1 Stalk Green Garlic, finely sliced
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
Salt and Pepper
Handful of Pecorino shavings
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the trimmed beets in a 2 inch deep ceramic or glass dish. Pour the balsamic vinegar and grape seed oil in. Sprinkle the sugar, salt and pepper around the beets. Cover dish with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, stir the beets up a bit and continue to roast, uncovered, for 20 more minutes. They should be quite tender. Remove from the oven and allow dish to cool.  In a small saucepan, place the rinsed quinoa, 1 cup water and a pinch of salt.  On medium heat bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is mostly cooked and the little tails start to pop out. Remove from the heat, set aside.  In a large soup pot, heat the 1 tbsp of grape seed oil over medium heat. Add the green garlic and smoked paprika. Stir around until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa, a splash of water and half of the kale. Stir around until kale begins to wilt a bit. Add the remaining kale, season with salt and pepper and keep stirring. The kale should all be slightly wilted, but still firm. Take off the heat and transfer kale and quinoa mixture to your serving bowl.  Arrange roasted beets on top of the greens and quinoa. Drizzle salad with the balsamic cooking liquid in the pan. Scatter  the pecorino shavings on top and serve.


Braised Sausage and Red Cabbage

Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Simple Suppers, by Melanie Barnard – Serves 4
2 Tbs Olive Oil
4 large or 8 small German Sausages, about 1 lb. total
1 Onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp Caraway Seeds
1/2 head Red Cabbage, cored and shredded
1 cup Amber Ale
2 Tbs Malt Vinegar
2 Tbs chopped fresh Dill (optional)
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the sausages and brown, turning once or twice, until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a plate.  Add the onion to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and sauté until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the caraway seeds and then the cabbage. Return the sausages and any juices from the plate to the pan.  Stir in the ale and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low simmer until the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the dill. Divide the cabbage and sausages among individual plates and serve immediately.

March 11, 2014

What’s in Your Harvest Share This Week?

Listed in order of use.
The recipes in the newsletter will help you use everything in your box this week, no waste.

Lettuce… Cut and bagged without washing. Take out what you need wash it and return the rest to the crisper. Members report the lettuce stays fresh like this for ten days.

Crocodile Spinach… Sown in November and amazingly delicious. A big bag full today. Again just take out what you need and wash it several times. This is not the same as the flat leaf spinach in the stores.

Cilantro… The freeze in December should have toasted these plants but they made it. Now we have this delicious herb for your table. Keep in the crisper.

Red Russian Kale… Nice and red after many cold nights. The flavor is enhanced the colder it gets. Store in the crisper.

Florence Fennel… The freeze did get the fennel but it regrew. Not as pretty as normal but tasty.

Sugar Snap Pea Shoots… I think this is the first time for this vegetable. The peas have germinated very well so now it is time to thin the plants. Store in the crisper in a plastic bag.

Rosemary and Bay leaves… Your herb bag today has a few sprigs of rosemary and two Bay leaves for the recipes.

Green garlic… A very nice crop, thick and flavorful stems. Do not cook it too long as the favor is delicate.

Carrots (Terra Firma)… Tasty carrots from Los Pablos in Winters.

Leeks… Baby leeks for most people in their boxes. We have sold so many leeks this year! Keep in the crisper.

Green Cabbage… Keep in the crisper and wrap after you cut it in half.

Dried peaches ( Good Humus)… If you thought the raisins were great wait until you taste these.

As always everything certified

March 5, 2014

Before The Storm

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Last Wednesday evening as the sun was setting the whole crew was still on the farm. We planted 2.5 acres of safflower and covered 1 acre with our plastic mulch before the forecast rain on Thursday.
Safflower is an interesting crop not only for the oil it produces. I have been watching many hundreds of acres in our area being planted to walnuts. Walnuts need very deep and loose soil, so farmers go to great lengths to break up the subsoil. I have seen them hire large diggers to prepare a deep trench where the tree row will go. Others bring in caterpillar tractors as big as your house that drink 5

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00 gallons of diesel a day. A few years ago I saw a field planted to Safflower which was then planted to walnuts. The resulting growth in the first year was better than all the other pre planting preparations. Safflower has an aggressive and deep tap root that tunnels down in search of water. When the crop is harvested this tap root breaks down in the soil and then allows any other roots to use this expressway to the nutrients and moisture at depths. This is so much better than heavy equipment guzzling fuel and it achieved a better result. We are doing the same in preparation for planting trees next winter.
Roberto sowed the seed into beds he had prepared as if we were planting vegetables. In this way when they germinate he can cultivate the weeds away with the brush hoe. This seeder plants twelve rows, five inches apart. Each of the plastic tubes in the picture above feeds seed into a metering unit that supplies two rows.

March 5, 2014

Creamy Turnip + Greens Soup

From Greens Cookbook
1 bunch Turnips, save the greens you are using them in the soup
Salt for the Turnip water
5 TB Butter, in all
1 Onion on the larger size, cut in half then thinly sliced
1 to 2 tsp Salt
4 Sprigs of Thyme Salt
4 cups Milk
White or Black Pepper
Peel the turnips and slice them into rounds about 1/4 inch thick.  Bring 3 qts of water to a boil; then add 2 tsp salt and the turnips.  Cover the pot and cook for 1 minute; then drain, saving 1/2 cup of the water for soup.  Melt 3 TB of the butter in a soup pot with 1/2 cup turnip water.  Add the onion, the turnips, and thyme.  Stew them, covered, over medium low heat for 5 minutes, then add the milk.  Slowly heat it without bringing to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the turnips are completely tender.  Sort through the turnip greens picking out any that are not green, and wash them.  Sauté the turnip greens in the remaining 2 TB butter.  Cook over medium heat until they are tender about 5 to 10 minutes.  You can allow them cool, then chop and add to the soup, but we pureed them right in with the rest of the ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

March 3, 2014

This weeks harvest share with recipes to use everything in your newsletter.

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Welch rarebit

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Very Red Leaf lettuce and broccoli flowewrs

Tokyo white turnips
Green kale
Red or green mustard
Red leaf lettuce
Broccoli blossoms
Thyme and bay leaves
Celeriac
Green garlic
Carrots
Raisins
Cabbage

February 28, 2014

Yes, We Want Rain But!

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The first of the peaches and nectarines are coming into bloom, just in time for a dirty great big storm later in the week. We have very limited options to protect our blossom. I can spray a seaweed solution that helps the flower speed up the processes after the bees have visited. Some organic farmers spray a copper solution. Copper is a heavy metal and I do not want that in my soil. So I prefer the Zen approach. I think warm dry thoughts to encourage the bees to do their stuff and hope even after a rain that the flowers dry out quickly and no disease invades them.

February 27, 2014

After The Crop…

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So we harvest the delicious vegetables for your box then what? Once the beds are picked through Roberto chews up the residue into very small pieces with our flail mower. This was purchased for $5,500 in 1995 and is still running well. We have replaced bearings, belts and blades may times. We bought the ‘industrial strength’ model for twice as much money but it has lasted about 5 times as long as the regular flail mower does.
The crop and weed residue is then incorporated into the soil with our Sundance disk. This disk peels the bed apart then mixes the soil back into two ridges 40” apart. Roberto makes two passes then rolls the beds to firm down any large clods of soil that could dry out faster than the main body of soil.
Depending on the season he will have Jose irrigate the beds and follow five days later with another pass of the Sundance disk. If there is still plenty of vegetation for the soil microfauna to digest we will irrigate again. Once we have nice friable soil he will make a pass with the bed shaper. This great tool creates a pool table smooth bed to sow and plant into accurately.
At most times of the year this whole process takes two to three weeks. We try not to rush it but we do need to make sure we constantly plant so that we have fresh crops to harvest for your box 50 weeks a year.
Knowing exactly the right time to cultivate and with which tool is a skill that Roberto and Ramon are become masters of. Their hard work makes it easier to grow great crops every year.

February 26, 2014

Lettuce & Arugula Soup

Recipe from Eatwell Farm Member Dina G
I am planning on making this for dinner tonight. Sounds delicious and I must admit I am really lazy when it comes to making a salad, like cocktails, I prefer them made FOR me:)

1 TB Butter or Olive Oil
2 Green Garlic, diced
1 medium Potato, peeled and diced
4 cups Eatwell Farm Chicken Stock or homemade Veg Stock
2 cups Water
2 cups Lettuce
1 bunch Arugula
1/2 bag Spinach
1/4 cup Cilantro or use the Chives or 1/2 bunch Parsley from this week’s share
Dina said she made this with the Tarragon she had from her share
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1/2 cup Cream, Milk or Yogurt (optional)
Goat Cheese Garnish (optional)
Heat butter in a large pot.  Brown the green garlic and or shallots.  Add the diced potato and stir.  Add the broth and water; bring to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes, till the potatoes are soft.  Add all the greens and simmer another 3-5 minutes.  Turn off heat and stir in the cream, salt and pepper.  With an immersion blender, blend the soup – or blend in small batches in the blender, and be careful that the lid doesn’t fly off from the vacuum effect created by blending hot soup!  Serve in small bowls while piping hot.  Top with Fresh Goat Cheese.