Friday, December 17, 2010

Butternut Squash and Roasted Poblano Casserole

I celebrated Thanksgiving this year with friends in Culver City. Everyone brought a dish. My friend, Mary Beth Puffer, made a fabulous squash and roasted poblano casserole. She said it was a variation of a recipe from the Food and Wine website. Food and Wine gives credit to chef, Julie Robles, at Tavern restaurant.

It's a little work, but so worth the effort. At Thanksgiving it was a hearty side dish, but it makes a rich and beautiful vegetarian entree as well. Here's a version that serves six.

3 large poblano peppers (about 3/4 lb)
1 large butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
4-5 T extra virgin olive oil
3/4 t coarsely chopped thyme
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 t coarsely chopped oregano
1/4 C heavy cream
1/3 C sour cream or creme fraiche
2 T finely diced jalapenos
4 oz Monterey Jack or Manchego cheese, shredded
4 oz farmer cheese
toasted pumpkin seeds

1. Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or under the broiler until they are charred all over. Transfer them to a bowl. Cover and allow them to cool. When cool, peel, stem, and seed the peppers (compost the discards) and cut the peppers into thin strips.

2. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Peel the squash. Compost the seeds and peels. Cut the squash crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices.

3. Brush the squash slices with 2-3 T olive oil. Spread them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 t thyme, salt and pepper. Roast squash at 400 degrees until tender, about 25 minutes.

4. While squash is roasting, heat 1-2 T olive oil in a deep skillet. Add the onion, garlic, oregano and 1/4 t thyme. Cook over moderate heat until the onion is soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes.

5. Add the roasted poblano strips and cook until very tender, about 5 minutes.

6. Add the heavy cream and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

7. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream or creme fraiche and the jalapenos. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

8. Spoon half of the poblano mixture into a large baking dish. Top with half the butternut squash and half the shredded cheese and farmer cheese. Repeat the same layers.

9. Bake at 425 degrees until the gratin is golden and bubbling, about 20-30 minutes. Let rest for about 10 minutes and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds before serving.

Mary Beth added 1T of pickled persimmon juice to her casserole. She said it added a little zing. If you don't happen to have pickled persimmon juice, you can try 1-2 t rice vinegar. Stir it into the poblano mixture.



Today's harvest included:

romaine lettuce or cilantro
2 # broccoli or 2 # onions
turnips or beets
cabbage or 3 avocados
cauliflower or 1 # limes
butternut squash
satsuma mandarins
1 # parsnips
1 # potatoes

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cream of Celery Soup

Last week's warm weather was a nice treat, but we're back to winter again. A soothing and warm soup is just the ticket for these cool days. And this soup is super simple to make.

Scrub and peel 1 lb potatoes. Compost the peels. Cut the potatoes in large chunks.

Wash and trim (if necessary) 1 lb celery. Compost any trimmings. Cut the celery in large chunks.

Peel 1/2 medium onion. Compost peel. Cut into large chunks.

Place potatoes, celery, and onion in a medium stockpot. Add 2-3 C vegetable stock, chicken stock or water. Cover tightly. Bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until all vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes.

Cool slightly. Then puree with an immersion blender, in a food processor, or in a regular blender. Stir in additional stock (1-2 C) to achieve desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 1/4 C (or more to taste) heavy cream. Re-heat to hot before serving.

This soup is delicious as is, or you can season it with a little thyme or dill. Lemon thyme is also very nice if you have it.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Thoughts of The Soil Foodweb at pickup today

Ronnie did the honors today, driving to collect the various harvests for our CSA. He picked up all sorts of things, including me from the airport! Thanks Ronnie!

I just got back from Oregon. I spent four days learning about soil biology from scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham. She is a genius, deserves a Nobel Prize. If more farmers adopted her biological approach, icky agrichemicals - and the demand for them - would be vastly reduced. The world doesn't need NPK, it needs B. BIOLOGY. She has data, case studies and proof that good soil biology produces robust, healthy crops. If farmers focused on maintaining that - a soil teeming with a diverse range of carefully farmed microorganisms - then application after application of NPK wouldn't be necessary, nor would tilling or discing. Dr. Elaine Ingham is to Good, what Monsanto is to Evil.

Ingham's Soil Foodweb approach is all I plan to use at our new growing ground in Glassell Park. It's chez Laura and Andrew Avery (and thank goodness for them!) I'm going to feed and monitor the biology in the soil there, grow flowers without adding any blood or bone meal - nothing but compost and compost teas - and log the progress. A new 400 x microscope and Earthfort tea brewer now rank as VITs (Very Important Tools) in my still non-exitent toolshed.

Here's what we had at CSA pickup today:

Tierra Miguel Foundation: red kuri, butternut and tuffy squashes; cilantro; oregano; gorgeous carrots; persimmons. Big hug to the team at Tierra Miguel. They've been dealing with some harsh weather conditions that have damaged crops yet they still deliver and always with a smile and friendly warmth. Thank you Erin + team!!

Underwood Family Farms: purple kale, red leaf lettuce, fennel bulb, spaghetti squash, leek, French breakfast radish, artichokes, celery, nappa cabbage.

Weiser Family Farms: Russian Banana potatoes, beets, watermelon radishes, heirloom carrots.

Rancho Santa Cecilia: mandarin satsumas, limes

Silver Lake Farms: pea shoot microgreens and red and yellow chard microgreens mix.

Thanks everyone and see you soon!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Green Chile Pork Stew

I picked up my CSA box yesterday along with my pork package from Silver Lake Farms' pig share program. This week's box had just about everything I needed to make a fabulous green chile pork stew!

I cut my stewing pork (about 3 lbs) into about 1-inch chunks and browned them in a little olive oil. While they were browning, I chopped some onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, and 1 clove of garlic. I sauteed the veggies and garlic in a big stew pot, using a little more oil. Then I added the browned pork, a large can of green chile sauce, a can of water, a bay leaf, a little salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. I simmered this stew on very low heat, covered for the first hour and partially covered for the second hour.

When the meat was barely tender, I added big chunks of potatoes and finished cooking until the meat was completely tender (another 30-45 minutes). I'm taking this stew to a holiday pot-luck this evening.

I like to make my own green chile sauce from scratch, fire-roasting green anaheim chiles (plus 1-2 serranos for heat), then peeling, pureeing, and cooking the anaheims with the serranos, garlic, cumin, bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper. Sometimes I add a little epazote, too. This sauce freezes well. But I didn't have any home-made sauce, so I used a can. Either way, it's a hearty and delicious meal.



Dilly Mac 'n Cheese

The minute I saw that big bunch of fresh dill in my CSA box I couldn't wait to get home and make one of my favorite mac 'n cheese variations. With just three main ingredients, this recipe is so easy you can whip it up in a few minutes more than it takes to boil pasta.

Dilly Mac 'n Cheese makes a great vegetarian main dish; just add a salad. Omnivores might like it as a side dish with chicken or fish. It's a particularly good complement for lemony flavors so you might want to use a lemon vinaigrette on your salad or lemon pepper or a lemony piccata sauce on your chicken or fish. Whatever you decide to do, I'm sure you're going to enjoy this quick and tasty dish.

1 lb orzo pasta
1 large bunch fresh dill
3/4 - 1 lb feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook orzo per directions on package.

2. While waiting for the water to boil (or while orzo is cooking), trim the stems off the dill and compost them. Chop the dill finely and set aside.

3. Crumble the feta and set aside.

4. When the orzo is done cooking, quickly drain it well. Do not rinse. Return it to the hot pan (but don't turn on the heat). Add the crumbled feta and chopped dill. Stir until the cheese melts and everything is well mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

You can use a different pasta shape if you'd like, but I find that orzo works especially well for this dish.

I like this dish on the cheese-y side, but you can add more or less cheese, or dill for that matter, to taste.

Feta cheese can be somewhat salty so taste before adding salt.

You can doll up this dish by adding chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Sometimes I grate a little bit of lemon zest into it for extra zing. In the summertime when my garden is overrun with zucchini squash, I'll thinly slice and saute some zucchini and stir it in with the cheese and dill.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sapote !

Last summer, Ronnie came to Los Angeles as a w.w.o.o.f 'er (world wide opportunities on organic farms). He stayed at Edendale Farm just up the road, and volunteered in exchange for a place to kip. Just before returning to the East Coast, he helped me out for a day in Glassell Park, prepping soil and beds at our new growing ground. He worked on a couple of farms in Vermont, and kept in touch.

Ronnie really likes L.A., being outdoors, working with plants and soil, growing food. So now he's back! Helping out at Silver Lake Farms, especially with the CSA. Thank you so much Ronnie!

This week, Ronnie went to Underwood in Moorpark and brought back:

Butter lettuce
Purple carrots
Golden beets
Japanese turnips
Valencia oranges
We were supposed to get broccoli but, well, we didn't!

From Winnetka Farms: Italian heirloom salad greens

From Weiser Family Farms: onions, parsnips, Russian banana bakers

From Tierra Miguel: dill, cilantro, carrots, beets, chard

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: Sapotes and avocados.

Anyone got a recipe for sapotes?

Bruce and Rachel at Silver Lake Farms supplied the most beautiful mustard microgreens. Mild spicy and good-looking with their green leaves blushing with burgundy flecks.

Shelley will post a recipe soon.

Have a lovely weekend and see you soon.


PS. We did it! We controlled our own food source !! More on that later.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Soothing Potato and Leek Soup

Here's what was available at the Silver Lake pick-up this afternoon:

From Weiser Family Farms there were parsnips and Russian Banana spuds.

From Underwood Family Farm there were broccoli, celery, orange carrots, leeks, red chard. green leaf lettuce, candy beets, butternut squash, and hachiya persimmons.

Potato and Leek Soup

A simple and soothing soup is the perfect antidote to the indulgences of Thanksgiving and our CSA box today included the perfect fixings for such a soup: leeks and potatoes. There are many versions of this classic combination. I like my recipe because it's not only delicious, but super easy and quick, too.

1 T butter
2 medium leeks
1 to 1-1/2 lb potatoes
3-4 C chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
1/4 C cream (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
chopped Italian parsley for garnish

1. Melt butter in medium stock pot on very low heat.

2. Wash the leeks. Trim off the root ends and put in the compost. Thinly slice the white and very light green parts of the leeks. You'll probably have to re-wash the leeks as you pull off the outer layers, as dirt often lodges in them.

3. Put the sliced leeks in the stock pot and cook on very low heat. Do not brown. Compost the remaining tough leek stalks.

4. Peel the potatoes and chop into chunks. Add to the stock pot. Compost the peels.

5. Add the stock or water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until leeks and potatoes are very tender, about 15-20 minutes.

6. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. [Alternatively, you can puree the soup in a food processor or blender, but let it cool a little before doing so.]

7. Stir in cream, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, garnished with chopped parsley.

A nice crusty bread and this soup make a lovely meal.



Friday, November 19, 2010

What to Do with Red Kuri Squash

Six different farmers and a shareholder provided today's bounty. Here's what was available at the Silver Lake pick-up this evening:

From Underwood Family Farms, there were valencia oranges, spaghetti squash, romaine lettuce, fennel, kale, and boy choy or boy toy or bok choi (depending on where you're at in life)

Tierra Miguel Foundation provided red kuri squash, horehound mint (native to California), cilantro, dill, beets, chard and carrots.

From Weiser Farms there Russian banana potatoes, brown onions.

Winnetka Farms provided salad greens.

Rancho Santa Cecilia in Carpenteria provided limes, Satsuma tangerines, and Hass avocados.

Shareholder Brian Lee provided beautiful and fragrant guavas from his garden. Thank you Brian!

Silver Lake Farms provided delicious microgreens: arugula and pak choi.

Also this week, there were 2 special items: Sriracha sauce "made with jalapeno peppers exclusively grown by Underwood Ranch" and cured, smoked and carmelized pork belly from the fabulous Rashida Purifoy, chef/owner of Cast Iron Gourmet.

I'm fine with the swine, so I couldn't wait to get home to open my container of carmelized pork belly. In fact, I had to exercise extraordinary will-power not to eat the entire container before pulling into my driveway!

I met Rashida Purifoy, chef/owner of Cast Iron Gourmet, at the Eagle Rock Brewery recently where I tasted (and purchased) her fine pork products. In fact, I had some delicious Cast Iron Gourmet bacon for breakfast this morning. I cooked the thick slices crisp and served them with fresh eggs I got from my chickens. Earlier this week, I served her divine bacon chutney on crackers to a visiting friend. What a treat!

Red Kuri Squash

If you're wondering about red kuri squash, so was I. I've seen it in stores, but never cooked with it. So, the first thing I did when I got home was cut it in half, seeded it (compost those seeds) and roasted it in the oven (along with an acorn squash I had in my fridge) until it was soft, about an hour.

My roasted kuri squash had a rich and slightly nutty flavor. It was less sweet and more starchy than the acorn squash. It reminded me a lot in texture of potato, so I mashed it with butter and a little milk and seasoned it with salt, pepper and freshly-ground nutmeg. It turned out to be a wonderful alternative to ordinary mashed potatoes and would make a deliciously different addition to the Thanksgiving table.

Red kuri squash is a variety of winter squash, so called because unlike summer squash, you can store it for many months. Most winter squashes can be used interchangeably, so you can certainly substitute red kuri squash for the butternut squash in the recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup I posted on October 15; and you can probably use red kuri in shareholder Christina's Butternut Squash Lasagna recipe that was posted on January 11, 2010.

More Thanksgiving Sides: Sauteed Kale and Orange Fennel Salad

Sauteed kale and/or chard make a wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving. Here's a quick recipe using several of today's CSA products:

Chop 1/4 onion finely and saute in a heavy skillet with a lid on low heat in 1 T olive oil or bacon grease. Add 1/4 to 1/2 C chopped carmelized pork belly. Cook until onion is translucent and pork belly is as soft or crisp as desired. While onions are cooking, chop the kale and/or chard (leaf and stem) cross-wise into 1/2 to 3/4" slices. Add to skillet and cook slowly on low heat, covered, until desired doneness. I like my kale to be soft, but some folks like it with a little bite. It's up to you. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you're looking for a tasty salad, try this Orange Fennel Salad:

2 bunches arugula
extra virgin olive oil
white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2-3 fresh oranges, peeled and sliced crosswise, save juice
chopped walnuts or pinenuts (optional)

1. Wash arugula, spin dry, remove stems and compost them. Put dry arugula in a large bowl.

2. Mix together 2-3 T olive oil, 1-2 t white balsamic and 1 T reserved orange juice. Drizzle over greens, reserving 1-2 t dresseing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat.

3. Arrange greens on a platter. Arrange orange and fennel slices over dressed greens.

4. Drizzle remaining dressing over salad and sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired.



Friday, November 12, 2010

Drying Persimmons

Six different farms provided produce for this week's CSA box!

Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark provided:
Butternut squash
Fuyu Persimmons
Fuji apples
Napa cabbage
Red leaf lettuce

Rancho Santa Cecilia provided:
Hass Avocados
Satsuma tangerines

Tierra Miguel Foundation, a biodynamic grower, provided:
Horehound mint

Weiser Farms provided carrots and Russian Banana potatoes.

Winnetka Farms provided Italian salad greens.

And Silver Lake Farms provided microgreens: pea shoot, radish shoots, and arugula shoots.

Fuyu and Hachiya are the two most common varieties of persimmons. Fuyus are firm when ripe, while Hachiyas are best when soft. Hachiyas are great for things like persimmon pudding, bread and cake because the pulp can be easily mashed (think banana bread). You can make baked goods from Fuyus, too. However, because they're firm, they're usually peeled and chopped and they remain discreet bits in your baked goods.

Fuyus are perfect for drying. They're quite beautiful when dried and can be eaten like any other dried fruit: plain as a snack, mixed into oatmeal or granola, even chopped and added to savory dishes like rice pilaf or stewed chicken. I like them in salads, too.

It's unbelievably easy to dry persimmons. Simply wash and dry the fruit and slice them crosswise (horizontally) into 1-4 to 1/8 inch slices. A little lemon or lime juice will prevent them from turning brown and enhance their flavor. Then use the drying method or your choice.

I like to dry fruit in my oven. You'll need an oven thermometer to ensure that the temperature stays around 150 degrees F. Place the slices on cookie sheets lined with racks so that air can circulate. Turn the slices every 2-3 hours. They'll take about 10-12 hours to dry, depending on the thickness of your slices and the temperature of your oven. Convection ovens might be a little quicker because of the circulating air. You want them to be deep orange in color and not sticky. Let the dried persimmons cool before storing them. Well-dried persimmons can be stored in a can or a jar and do not need refrigeration.

If you have a solar dehydrator, you can use that instead. Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne discuss solar dehydrators in their wonderful book, The Urban Homestead.



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wild Kauai Boar

Shelley here - your intrepid traveling recipe blogger. I just got back from Kauai. When most people think about Hawaii, they think sun, sand, and surf; I think about wild boar. In fact, I dream about the wild boar on Kauai. There's a man in Anahola about half way between Lihue and Hanalei who traps young wild boars, butchers them, and roasts them at a roadside stand on weekends. You can smell the wafting aroma of succulent pig on an open fire from blocks away. He sells slices or chunks of any size with well-seasoned, roasted red skin potatoes, island grown sweet corn, and of course, his secret sauce, which is a smoky barbeque sauce with a hint of sweet and touch of tart. It's about as local as you can get on an island where there are very few mammals suitable for eating.

I usually pick up a few pounds of the tender, smoky meat. It's a slice of heaven right off the grill. It's also great cold on sandwiches, chopped and folded into scrambled eggs for breakfast, diced and made into hash with potatoes and onions, or just plain re-heated gently for another great meal.

Being a locavore on Kauai is much easier than it used to be. There's a "sunshine market" every day somewhere on the island and a passel of other privately-run farmer's markets. Competition for island-grown greens, such as arugula and mizuna, can be fierce, but tropical fruits such as papayas, pineapples, and bananas are abundant, as are sweet potatoes, taro, and giant avocados. Island-grown carrots, tomatoes, onions and herbs are also available, as well as eggs from local farms.

Of course, there's wonderful, locally-caught fish, especially ahi tuna. I discovered locally-caught shrimp on this trip. They were so fresh and minimally-processed with their shells, heads, and long antennae still attached! They tasted sweet and juicy sauteed quickly in butter and lime juice with a little salt.

There's a goat farm in Kilauea where a lovely, mild, soft goat cheese is produced. It's sometimes available in local markets but restaurants on Kauai apparently have first dibs. Coffee is grown on many of the Hawaiian Islands and there's a nascent chocolate industry on Kauai, too.

I remember a time when fine food on Hawaii meant steak and lobster shipped over frozen from the mainland. That's still available, but there's no need to settle for that when there's so much locally-grown, organic, fresh food available from small farms and artisan producers. So, wherever you go, take a moment to seek out the local delicacies and you'll take home the memory of these special treats as your souvenir.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Persimmon & Spinach Salad - From Jennifer's son's school lunch program

From shareholder Jennifer:

Hi Tara,
I'll be picking up my first box today with my kids, I'm looking forward to it.
I've been searching for a good way to use persimmons. Mostly I find desserts but this recipe (I'll be trying it this weekend) comes from, believe it or not, the lunch program from my son's public school:

Persimmon and Spinach Salad

3 cups spinach, washed
3 medium "Fuyus" Persimmons, sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons 100% orange juice
2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine oil, orange juice, rice vinegar and salt for dressing
In a large bowl, combine spinach, persimmon and cranberries
Toss with dressing and serve

Jennifer: yay to the good peeps at your son's school for feeding developing brains with real food. Tara

Kelley's fall fruit cocktails

This from shareholder Kelley:

Soooo excited for the fruit. Amazing.

So many great recipes, but since it's holiday season, some of my favorites for those are party-friendly:

Pomegranate seeds are easily mixed into tons of dishes: guacamole, yogurt, ice cream, pumpkin butter (over toast- yum) ... also, for a great salsa that I like to put over grilled fish: pomegranate seeds, lime juice, salt, cilantro, onion, maybe some ginger, maybe some peppers, and voila. :)

See you in a bit!

Kelley: Thanks for being a shareholder since the start. Love ya! And I'm coming to any cocktail party you ever have at your house. oh yeah.

Jess' savory galette with pomegranate seeds

From Shareholder Jess: my favorite way to use pomegranate seeds is on a savory galette, to add a little crunch and tartness. They're not the primary ingredient, but the way I heap them on, they might as well be. This is great for the holidays. I adapted this recipe from

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water

Combine flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Combine butter with a pastry mixer or two knives until mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal. Add the water a tablespoon at a time. Toss with hands until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a disk and store in the fridge for half an hour.

1 small squash (butternut or kabocha work well)
olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, halved and thinly-sliced
Pinch of sugar
3/4 cup cheese of choice (gruyere or parmesan work well)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
pomegranate seeds

Cut squash into half-inch cubes and roast with a little olive oil and salt at 375 for 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, caramelize the onions with the tablespoon of butter, about a half teaspoon of salt and a pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally over medium heat until golden brown (about 20 min).

Turn the oven up to 400. Mix cooled squash, onions, cheese, and sage together in a bowl. On a lightly-floured, ungreased baking pan (or on parchment paper), roll your dough out to about a 12-inch round. Spread your squash/veggie mixture over the round, leaving an inch border. Fold the edges over, crimping as you go.

Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with a generous handful of pomegranate seeds, and garnish with a fresh sage leaf. Serves 6.

Jess' savory galette with pomegranate seeds

From Shareholder Jess: my favorite way to use pomegranate seeds is on a savory galette, to add a little crunch and tartness. They're not the primary ingredient, but the way I heap them on, they might as well be. This is great for the holidays. I adapted this recipe from

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water

Combine flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Combine butter with a pastry mixer or two knives until mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal. Add the water a tablespoon at a time. Toss with hands until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a disk and store in the fridge for half an hour.

1 small squash (butternut or kabocha work well)
olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, halved and thinly-sliced
Pinch of sugar
3/4 cup cheese of choice (gruyere or parmesan work well)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
pomegranate seeds

Cut squash into half-inch cubes and roast with a little olive oil and salt at 375 for 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, caramelize the onions with the tablespoon of butter, about a half teaspoon of salt and a pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally over medium heat until golden brown (about 20 min).

Turn the oven up to 400. Mix cooled squash, onions, cheese, and sage together in a bowl. On a lightly-floured, ungreased baking pan (or on parchment paper), roll your dough out to about a 12-inch round. Spread your squash/veggie mixture over the round, leaving an inch border. Fold the edges over, crimping as you go.

Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with a generous handful of pomegranate seeds, and garnish with a fresh sage leaf. Serves 6.

Friday, November 5, 2010

fall fruit at pickup

We are having so much fun with the CSA program. Today we scored 150 pounds of Fuyu persimmons, and 150 pounds of pomegranates from Rancho Santa Cecilia in Carpinteria. It's fun cos it's new. We didn't have fruit in the CSA this time last year.

Then someone posted a video link to our facebook page showing Martha Stewart smacking a pomegranate on the bottom with a right- no-left handed lady. Cracked up laughing at it.

I picked up from Underwood this morning. They never fail to deliver, and they are such nice people to work with.

On my way home from their farm, I meet Craig from Winnetka Farms and pick up the Italian salad greens he grows. I love this guy. He so knows his stuff. And he's a laugh and a joy to work with. We cannot stop talking and he keeps making me late for things.

Here's what we had at pickup today:

From Underwood:
green butter lettuce
french breakfast radish
spaghetti squash
Cherokee tomato

From Tierra Miguel Foundation:
biodynamically-grown, organic carrots, chard, basil and rhubarb

From Weiser Family Farm: heirloom spuds, tons of garlic, carrots

From Winnetka Farms: Italian salad greens

From Rancho Santa Cecilia in Carpinteria: pomegranates and persimmons

From Silver Lake Farms: "shier than mamma" arrrugula, and radish microgreens.

Recipes coming up next: I'm posting each one received from shareholders.

See you soon!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Yellow Coconut Curry

From Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark, there was:
Yellow seedless watermelon
Kabocha squash
Japanese turnips
Yellow carrots
Romaine lettuce
Red chard
Green cabbage
Green peppers
Baby pumpkins
Red cherry tomatoes
Pink and yellow Brandywine tomatoes

Tierra Miguel Foundation provided biodynamically grown:
Orange carrots
Green chard
Flat leaf parsley
Yellow pear-shaped cherry tomatoes

Grandpa Weiser and Weiser Family Farms provided onions, mixed heirloom potatoes, and parsnips.

One of our choices at pickup today: turnips or parsnips. Brent says add a little brown sugar to turnips to sweeten them up a bit. Parsnips are sweet enough on their own.

Winnetka Farms provided beautiful Italian salad greens: Three kinds of Cicoria: Treviso, Mantovano, and Castel Franco; Cornetto di Bordeaux endive; and Riccia rossa or Curly Red lettuce. Craig gave us a recipe as well; posting it pronto.

But first, Tara says: Loved having Winnetka Farms contribute to the harvest today. Craig and I have had many conversations on the phone. Finally we met in person last weekend at Artisanal LA. He is such a passionate grower. A dream to have for our CSA. Those amazing pumpkins were his as well. Huge Italian heirlooms, dopey happy and orange and plump, and sort of hungover. Kate? I hope yours made you smile.... It sure had character.

At Silver Lake Farms, our little microgreens department - Bruce and Rachel - scored a major breakthrough this week, conquering arugula. We'd been having trouble getting it to germinate and take off well. Now we know the trick. Arugula at pickup soon ! Today it was radish microgreens and pea shoots, grown with biodymamic compost. We love love love our compost pile as you can see above.

David Davis and his lovely lady, Flora Ito, provided the gorgeous avocados today. They have huge trees producing on an amazing piece of land in Glassell Park. We're talking about having me grow there. Very exciting! A third growing ground...

Back in the kitchen, and today's recipe from Shelley is inspired by Thai cooking and uses many of the vegetables in today's box. There are many complex and wonderful flavors in Thai cuisine. However, this simple and delicious coconut curry is super easy to make.

What I like best about this recipe is its flexibility. You can make it with many different kinds of vegetables and/or meats. Sometimes, I use just onions, carrots, celery, and chicken. In the summer, when zucchini squash is over-running my garden, I'll add zucchini to the mix.

My favorite way to make this curry is with five or six different vegetables and no meat. And while I vary the ingredients frequently, I always start with onions and include carrots. From there, you can be creative. You'll want to start with 5-6 C of chopped vegetables in addition to the onion.

As for the curry spice: You can mix up your own curry powder if you'd like. I simply use a very generous amount of pre-mixed sweet curry powder. If you prefer hot, you can use that instead. Let your taste be your guide.

Yellow Coconut Curry

1 onion
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin coins
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced lengthwise
2-3 parsnips, peeled and sliced into coins
1/4 green cabbage, coarsely chopped into large pieces
1 kabocha squash, scrubbed, seeded, partially peeled and chopped into 1" cubes**
1-2 spring Thai basil (optional)
1-2 T oil
2-4 T prepared curry powder, or more to taste
1 can (about 14 oz) coconut milk + 1/2 can water
salt to taste

1. Slice the onion lengthwise and set aside.

2. Prepare 5-6 C chopped vegetables and set aside. Use the vegetables listed above or substitute (or add) others to your taste, such as broccoli, zucchini or other summer squash, red pepper, eggplant, Thai eggplant, potatoes. Most vegetables work, but tomatoes tend to disintegrate with long cooking. If you want to use tomatoes, add them when the curry is nearly cooked through.

3. Heat the oil in a large saute pan with a tight fitting lid. Add the curry powder and toast slightly.

4. Add the onions, cover and cook until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the remaining 5-6 C chopped vegetables, Thai basil (if you're using it), 1 can coconut milk, 1/2 can water and 1/2 t salt.

6. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender - 10 to 20 minutes depending on the type of vegetables and how you chopped them.

7. Uncover, check seasoning, adding more curry or salt, if desired. I sometimes add 1-2 t sugar, honey, or agave syrup. If the sauce is too watery, cook uncovered for a few minutes to thicken the sauce. If it's too thick, add a little water.

I like garnishing this curry with cilantro sprigs and serving it over brown rice, but Jasmine rice is also delicious. You can skip the rice altogether and eat it like a soup if you prefer.

If you're so inclined, you can add some peeled and sliced mango. Pick a firm, but ripe mango and add it when the curry is nearly done.

**The kabocha squash skin may be too tough to eat even after cooking, but keeping the skin on prevents the squash from turning to mush during cooking.



Monday, October 25, 2010

Artisanal LA

Artisanal LA was so much fun this weekend with Christina Wong and Graham Keegan, and the hundreds and hundreds of people who stopped by our stand. 400 CSA flyers flew out - whoosh! Cool!

Lindy & Grundy, female butchers, are today's "it" girls in my book - the stars of the show, embodying where everything's at today in terms of street culture, food and the local movement. They should be on the cover of Time! Pure joy meeting this rockin' duo. Butcher shops are making a comeback! I love it! I'm looking forward to collaborating with Lindy & Grundy on super cool things for our CSA.

More highlights: Christina paired Fuji apple with biodynamic tomatoes from Tierra Miguel and Booya! Caramel-tasting treats. Who'd a thunk?

I saw jaws drop, eyes widen and cameras click at Graham Keegan's display of madder plant roots, backlit to accentuate their color red. Graham dye-designs natural fabrics using plant materials he grows and forages locally. I'm growing indigo and madder for him, adding these extraordinary plants to the cotton and loofah sponges in the garden. The stories these plants tell....!

Loved meeting Gloria Putnam and seeing Nysha Dalhgren and Amelia Saltsman again. And super excited about meeting Cast Iron Gourmet and Cafe De Leche.

Shawna: thanks for organizing such a super event. Artisanal LA rocks!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Apple Crisp

Four farms contributed to today's bountiful box:

Underwood Family Farms provided:
Organic fuji apples
Valencia oranges
Yellow zucchini
Round carrots
Curly kale
Bok choy
Sweet corn

Weiser Family Farms provided:
Butternut squash

Tierra Miguel Foundation, a biodynamic grower provided:
Biodynamic carrots
Mixed summer squash
Yellow pear-shaped cherry tomatoes
Biodynamic chard

And Silver Lake Farms provided delicious microgreens: pea shoots and radish greens.

It's fall and apple season is upon us. I grew up in Michigan with a cider mill practically in my back yard. From September to December, I could smell the sweet aroma of apples being pressed into pure, unfiltered cider. There's nothing quite like it here. It's one of the few flavors of my childhood I can't quite replicate in sunny southern California.

Fortunately, there are many other wonderful apple treats that are just as easy to make here as anywhere else. And apple crisp is one of them. I've been making my own apple crisp since I was a teenager. It's much easier than apple pie and just as delicious. It's great hot out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If there's any leftover, it's also delicious at breakfast with a hot cup of coffee.

Here's my recipe that I've been making for years:

6-8 apples
1 C sugar
1 C flour
2 t cinnamon
1/8 t salt
1 stick (1/4 lb) cold butter, cut into pieces

1. Butter a glass baking dish such as a 9-inch deep dish pie plate or an 8-inch square. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut the apples into quarters lengthwise. Peel and core each quarter and slice each quarter lengthwise into 2-3 pieces. Put cut apples into prepared dish.

3. Using a pastry cutter or a food processor, blend the other ingredients together until it resembles a very coarse meal. Sprinkle on top of the apples.

4. Bake at 375 degree for 45-60 minutes until the crumb crust is well-browned and the apples are bubbling.



Friday, October 15, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Here's what Tara brought down from Underwood Family Farms today:

Butternut squash
Fuji apples
Dragon carrots
Sweet corn
Red leaf lettuce
Yellow pear-shaped cherry tomatoes
Pink Brandywine tomatoes
Pickling cucumbers

And Silver Lake Farms provided pea shoots this week.

When the weather turns cool, I think of soup; and one of my fall favorites is roasted butternut squash soup. It's delicious and so easy to make - simply roast the squash, puree it, and thin it with the liquid of your choice: water, stock, milk and/or cream. Season it with salt and pepper and you've got a wonderful starter; add a nice salad and/or some grainy bread and you have a lovely meal.

If you want to get fancy, you can add some flaked Dungeness cake or shrimp. You can cut the kernels off the ears of corn from today's box and add them, too. I like to add a little freshly ground nutmeg to my soup; squash seems to love that sweet spice.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash
3-4 C chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 C cream (more or less to taste)
3/4 C flaked Dungeness crab
3/4 C fresh corn kernels
freshly ground salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and compost them. Place squash, cut side down on a lightly greased baking an and roast in oven until very tender.

3. Remove from oven and set squash aside until cool enough to handle. Then scoop out squash; compost them skin. [You can roast the squash in advance and refrigerate it for several days before making the soup.]

4. In a blender or food processor (or with a fork), puree the squash. Pour it into a stock pot and add 3 C stock. Heat to a simmer, stirring often. Turn down heat, add remining stock and/or cream, if desired.

5. Stir in crab and corn. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CSA Shares Available Now !!

CSA shares are available for Round 6 of our program.

Pickups are in Silver Lake near the corner of Rowena and Hyperion between 3pm and 7pm every Friday.

It's a 10-week program starting Friday October 15, ending Friday December 17.

As a shareholder you can pick up every week (weekly share) for 10 weeks - $250.

Or you can pick up every other week on Track 1 starting Friday October 15.
5 pickups = $125.

Or you can pick up every other week on Track 2 starting Friday October 22. Also $125.

Payment is required upfront as a show of commitment.

There are three local farmers involved: John Sweredoski grows all sorts of vegetables and greens, which he is famous for, in Bell Gardens. You might know him from the Echo Park Farmers' Market. He is pesticide-free. John also supplies fruit - mostly citrus and avocados.

Craig Underwood in Moorpark: Always great. (see previous blog posts for the full list). Great quality, consistent quantity, and plus they are really nice people.

Silver Lake Farms: I supply the CSA with micro-greens grown by Rachel Klein and Bruce Chan, both shareholders also.

All the produce is freshly picked for CSA pick-ups on Fridays.

Fresh local bread - the best in LA says Tasting Table - is also available, baked by local artisanal baker, Mark Stambler, on Friday mornings. It's a separate program.

Shoot me an email at if you want to sign up or have any questions.

Please indicate full share or half share - and which Track (1 or 2).

Thank you !!



Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lovely CSA birthday !

What a great Friday! Teamwork, productivity, harmony and kindness. Beat did the honors and drove to Moorpark to pick up the veggies. Bruce and Rachel harvested radish microgreens to the sound of some great tunes while Ruby, who just moved in, helped clear up the mess in my office. Thank you everyone!! It feels so good to be part of a team, to be growing again, get organized and create space for new and exciting things ahead.

The lovely Danielle, aided by Willow and Sophia, distributed veggies at pick-up today. Thank you so much!

This CSA just turned a year old. What a big milestone! We started with only veggies but now we have fruit, bread and microgreens as well. And a pig is on the way! Next spring, I'll offer flowers. Yay!

Thank you shareholders past and present for your support, and a big extra thank you to shareholders who've been members since the start. It is so wonderful to be a part of this small community that comes together every week, making Fridays so special. I feel honored to be a part of your life.

Thank you for the handmade gifts! Jennifer and Barry brought pickled beans and cukes, Vi and Dieu brought soap made with one of my loofahs, and Mariana brought a beautiful hand-sketched thank you card that Carolyn made. I am so touched by your kindness. Thank you!

Here's what Farmer John had for us this week:

bag of baby lettuce (red oak, green romaine)
bunch of dill
bunch of dandelion greens
bunch of mixed herbs (thyme, sage, sweet marjoram)
bunch of basil
celery head
broccoli head
bag of green beans
green bell peppers

And here's what Beat brought back from Underwood:

bunch of mizuna
bunch of japanese turnips
romaine lettuce head
bunch of carrots
Kobacha squash
green zucchini squash
green bell peppers
bi-color ears of corn
yellow Brandy heirloom tomatoes
bunch of Easter radishes
acorn squash
mini pumpkins

Have a wonderful weekend and see you next week for Round 6!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Fresh Quick Sweet Cucumber Pickles

Pickling Cucumbers. See Shelley's recipe below for how to pickle them.

Spaghetti Squash. (In my fuzzy head it was a watermelon, sorry! Best I get back to flowers... Tara)

Here's what Farmer John had for us in Silver Lake this week:

Brown onions
Patty pan squash
Iceberg lettuce head
Green chard
Green peppers
Dandelion greens
Mixed herbs: sage, thyme and sweet marjoram
Garlic chives

And here's what Tara picked up from Underwood Family Farms today:

Sharlyn melon
Valencia oranges
Candy beets
Yellow zucchini
Green leaf lettuce
Purple carrots
Red peppers
Pickling cukes
Pink Brandywine tomatoes
Spaghetti squash (err, sorry, i called it a watermelon before Mr. Loewen straightened me out. Thank you Bret! Tara)

Fresh pickles, also known as quick pickles, are quite the rage now and for good reason. They're super easy to make and delicious to eat. They're quick because they don't involve any canning. This cuts the time it takes to make them, but also means they don't last for months on the shelf and they require refrigeration.

You can pickle many different vegetables, but cucumbers are among the most common. You can pickle some fruits, too, just make sure you select something that can stand up to the process without turning to mush.

Here's a simple recipe that I modified to use with the four cucumbers we got in our CSA box today. You'll probably get more brine than you actually need, but it's important that the cukes are covered with the brine during the pickling process. if you want to add more cukes, be sure to get pickling cucumbers, as the regular, eating variety don't work quite as well.

Fresh Quick Sweet Cucumber Pickles

Prepare the cucumbers:
4 pickling cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 T kosher salt
1 C ice cubes

Place sliced cucumbers in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Add ice cubes and enough cold water to cover. Let stand 2-3 hours at room temperature.

Prepare the brine:
2 C white vinegar
1-1/4 C granulated sugar
1 t each turmeric, whole cloves, yellow mustard seeds, black mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all brine ingredients in a non-corrosive pot and bring to a boil. Drain and rinse cucumbers. Add to hot brine. Bring to a simmer, but do not boil. Turn off the heat and allow cucumbers to soak in the hot brine until they reach the desired pickled-ness. I like to let mine soak about 45 minutes. When done, drain and chill uncovered in the fridge until cold. Cover and keep in fridge up to 1 week.


Silver Lake Farms would be happy to host a class on pickling, either quick pickles, canned pickles, or both. We would need a minimum of eight people (though we'd happily accommodate more). The cost would be $48 per person. Let Tara know if you're interested. Home-made pickles look great on a holiday table and they make beautiful and delicious holiday gifts.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce

Here's what Farmer John had for us in Silver Lake this week:

Red chard
Dandelion greens
Mixed Herbs: Thyme, Sage and Sweet Marjoram
Red leaf lettuce
Red tomatoes
Red bell peppers

And here's what Tara brought down from Underwood Family Farms today:

Saticoy melon
Acorn squash
Blue lake beans
Pineapple heirloom tomato
Romaine lettuce
Cherokee heirloom tomato
Yellow pear cherry tomatoes

And Silver Lake Farms provided delicious microgreens: pea shoots (pictured above) and radish greens. Thanks Rachel and Bruce! (I love those lanterns Graham made.)

Don't forgot to bring your re-usable container for the microgreens!

It's late tomato season; and I'm in high gear preserving the flavors of summer to enjoy all winter long. One of my favorite recipes is slow-cooked tomato sauce. I learned this recipe years ago from one of my cooking teachers, Carlo Middione. Over the years, I've made a few small changes, but the recipe is essentially his.

It's a cinch to prepare. Just a little work is involved in getting it started; then it bubbles slowly on your stove-top for three (yes three) hours. But once it's slowly simmering, you only need give it a stir now and then. While it's cooking, you can do some gardening, read a book, watch a movie, just plain slow down...

This recipe makes about a quart of sauce, and it freezes beautifully. I re-use quart-sized plastic yogurt containers to freeze batches of this sauce. But you can use quart-sized glass jars if you prefer. In either case, be sure to leave a little head room at the top, as the sauce will expand a little as it freezes. I prefer freezing to canning, mostly because it's a small batch recipe. However, the pH is a little too high to safely can in a hot water bath canner, so I don't recommend it.

Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce

3-1/2 lbs fresh ripe whole tomatoes
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
6 oz. (1 small can) tomato paste
2 C dry red wine
1-1/2 t salt
1/4 to 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
6-8 sprigs fresh oregano or 1 T dried oregano
red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Start with the most delicious tomatoes you can find. Delicious tomatoes will make a delicious sauce. I like to use a variety of different tomatoes, mixing up the flavors and colors to get a balance of sweetness, tartness, and acidity.

2. Peel the tomatoes: This is easier than you think. Fill with water a pot big enough to hold your largest tomato and bring the water to a boil. In the meantime, remove the stems and cores of the tomatoes. With a sharp knife, score an X on the bottom of each tomato. Once the water boils, turn the heat down, gently drop one tomato into the water with a slotted spoon and leave it there for 20-30 seconds. Remove the tomato with a slotted spoon. Wait until it's cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin and put the tomato in a large bowl. The skin should come off very easily. If it doesn't, your tomatoes may not be quite ripe. Repeat with remaining tomatoes.

3. When the tomatoes are peeled, chop them coarsely and process them in batches in a food processor until pureed.

4. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and stir to coat with oil. Cook about 1 minute. Add the chopped garlic and continue cooking until the garlic just starts to turn slightly golden.

5. Turn down the heat. Add the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, and seasonings. Stir to combine. [You can substitute water if you don't want to use wine, though you might want to add 1-2 t sugar as well.]

6. Let the sauce come to a very slow simmer, just barely bubbling. Cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be thick and deep red. Allow the sauce to cool before storing in the fridge or packing for the freezer.

I use this sauce as the base for all of my cooked tomato-based pasta sauces as well as last week's stuffed peppers. When I re-heat the sauce, I usually check the seasoning and add more salt, pepper, and/or oregano, if necessary.



Friday, September 17, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Here's what Farmer John had for us in Silver Lake this week:

Summer squash
Red leaf lettuce
Dandelion greens
Garlic chives
Red tomatoes
Rainbow chard

And here's what Tara brought down from Underwood Family Farms:
Galia melon
Sharlyn melon
Kabocha squash
Easter radishes
Yellow wax beans
Green leaf lettuce
Orange bell pepper
Chocolate bell pepper
Yellow Brandywine tomatoes

And Silver Lake Farms provided delicious micro-greens - pea shoots and radish!

I love to make stuffed peppers. You can stuff almost any kind of pepper; and you can put almost any savory item in the filling. It's a great way to get creative and use whatever's in your fridge. All you need are some vegetables and a grain; meat and cheese are delicious options, too. With the beautiful orange and chocolate bell peppers in today's box, I couldn't resist making this wonderful treat.

I prefer cutting bell peppers in half lengthwise. One-half makes a nice side dish; two halves make a great main. Depending on the size of your peppers and how full you stuff them, you'll need about 2/3 C filling (or more) per half.

It's best to chop your vegetables into small pieces, but don't mince them. I like to saute all the vegetables before mixing them into the filling; that way some of the water is cooked out and the filling won't get soggy.

A nice, thick tomato sauce in an important component of my recipe. I've been making slow-cooked tomato sauce all summer with tomatoes from my garden. It freezes well for months. If you don't have your own sauce, use whatever tomato sauce you put on your pasta.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

This recipe is for 2 peppers or 4 halves. You can double this recipe if you wish.

2 medium bell peppers
1 T olive oil
1/4 lb bulk (or 1 link, casing removed) Italian sausage (optional)
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
1 small carrot, trimmed and chopped fine
1/2 rib celery, trimmed and chopped fine
1-2 small summer squash, washed and chopped into small pieces
2 leaves chard, washed, trimmed and chopped
3/4 C fresh corn kernels, removed from the ear
1-1/2 C cooked brown rice
2-1/2 to 3 C thick tomato sauce
grated cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and set aside.

2. In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1 t olive oil and brown the sausage, breaking it up into small chunks as it cooks. When done, remove from pan, chop finely and set aside. Pour off any grease from pan and wipe clean.

3. In same skillet, heat remaining 2 t olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 1 minute. Turn down heat. Add carrots, celery and squash. Cover and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add chard and corn kernels. Cook until chard is wilted and vegetables are just soft. If necessary, uncover and cook off any excess liquid.

4. In a bowl, mix the cooked sausage (if you're using it) and the cooked vegetables together with the cooked brown rice. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 C thick tomato sauce - just enough for the mixture to hold together, but not so much that it's saucy. [If you'd like, you can add some grated cheese to this mixture, but I usually don't.] Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Fill each half pepper with the filling mixture.Place them snugly in an oven-proof baking dish. Top each pepper with 1-2 T tomato sauce and/ or 1 T grated cheese. Pour about 1/2 inch hot water in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes.

6. Remove peppers from baking dish and serve each half pepper with 1/2 C thick tomato sauce. You can serve the pepper in a pool of sauce or pour the sauce over the pepper; or you can omit the sauce entirely if you prefer.

I'll post my recipe for slow-cooked tomato sauce next time.



Friday, September 10, 2010

Caprese Salad

Here's what Farmer John had for us in Silver Lake this week:

Yellow summer squash
Basil, mixed herbs or garlic chives
Roma tomatoes
Leaf lettuce

And here's what Tara brought down from Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark:

Yellow watermelon
Butternut squash
Green pepper
Leaf lettuce
Cherry tomatoes
Cherokee heirloom tomatoes

And Silver Lake Farms provided delicious microgreens (radish and pak choi).

If you haven't enjoyed a delicious Caprese Salad yet this summer, now would be the perfect time. With the beautiful fresh green basil and plump cherokee tomatoes at today's pick-up, all you need to add is some fresh mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for this great summer treat.

Caprese Salad is believed to have originated on the island of Capri and the green basil, white mozzarella, and red tomatoes are said to represent the colors of the Italian flag. But don't let that stop you from trying any number of variations such as exotic purple basil or the lovely golden cherry tomatoes that were available from our CSA today.

Great ingredients are key, and the mozzarella cheese is an important component of this dish. Be sure to get soft, fresh mozzarella, not the harder, drier kind you'd use on pizza. The best mozzarellas are made from water buffalo milk; however, there are some very fine cows milk mozzarellas, too.

The simplest way to make this great salad is to slice the mozzarella into thin rounds and slice the tomato cross-wise into slightly thicker rounds. Wash the basil and remove the basil leaves from the stems. [Compost the stems.] Using the largest basil leaves, arrange alternating pieces of mozzarella, tomato and basil in an overlapping layer on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It's that easy.

If you want to get fancy, you can roast cherry tomatoes and use creamy burrata cheese; or you can cut the basil into thin strips and spread it over the salad. If you decide to roast the beautiful golden cherry tomatoes we got today, be sure to toss them in a little olive oil before popping them in the oven. I like to sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper before roasting, too.

However you decide to make your Caprese Salad, pour yourself a glass of wine, cut a couple of slices great bread, and enjoy the waning days of summer - they won't last long.



One more thing: If you're a real cheese-lover like me, you might get a kick out of a silly game called cheeseorfont. You guess whether a word is a cheese or a font. You can play this game at Have fun!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mark's Pagnol Bread on Tasting Table !

Congrats Mark from all your fans and CSA shareholders at SLF !!

Here's a link to an article on Tasting Table about Mark's bread - the best in L.A. !

Check it out here:

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Salad of Dandelion Greens

I quit smoking two weeks ago today. Craig Underwood of Underwood Family Farms says as long as I don't smoke, he'll give us a discount. Deal! So if you notice your bags bulging with a little more produce now, you know why... And the dots in my ears - acupuncture - to help me quit - Thank you Michael Fox!

Here's what we had at pick-up today.

From Farmer John:

Rainbow chard
dandelion greens
bunch of carrots
bunch of mixed herbs (sage, thyme, sweet marjoram)
big bunch of cilantro
romaine lettuce head
bag of peppers
patty pan squashes
garlic chives

From Underwood:

bunch of purple carrots
bunch of Japanese turnips
Romaine lettuce head
blue lake green beans
yellow seedless watermelon
specialty Ambrosia melon
large classic eggplant
brandywine heirloom tomato
bi-color corn
celebrity tomato


Wash and dry dandelion greens
cut bunch in half
dress plate(s) with dandelion greens

sprinkle dried cranberries from Trader Joes over the dandelion greens

get some goat cheese ready - crumble it up on a plate and have it ready...

in a frying pan, sprinkle almond slivers from Trader Joes, heat up a lot of them
keep an eye on them, cos they turn brown fast

when they're ready, sprinkle the almond slivers over the cranberries, then sprinkle the goat cheese over that. The cheese should melt a bit from the heat of the nuts.

Then drizzle salad dressing over the top.

Friday, August 27, 2010

CSA Pickup August 27

Danielle here in my first Silver Lake Farms blog posting! And hey! We're now on Facebook!
Like us! Like us! Like us! (REALLY LIKE US!)

From Farmer John this week:
red chard
dandelion greens
bunch o' herbs
lola rosa lettuce
bunch o' chives

From Underwood:
yellow wax beans
sharlyn melon
celebrity tomato (joseph gordon-levitt. adorable!)
cherokee heirloom tomato
pineapple heirloom tomato
marva tomato
hungarian bell pepper
green zucchini squash
yellow zucchini squash
red leaf lettuce
valencia oranges

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rick's Whole Wheat Dairy-Free Berry Pancakes

It's late berry season here in Portland. We went berry-picking yesterday and found many places already closed. No marionberries could be found in the southwest suburbs. But we were able to glean blueberries and blackberries for 50 cents a pound. We ate lots of berries as we walked through the aisles of bushes that had been picked through several times. Still, there was plenty of fruit for our purposes. When our bowls were full, we paid on the honor system, slipping a few dollars into a slotted can next to the scales on the way out.

This morning, our friend Rick, made whole wheat pancakes for breakfast. They were delicious, chock full of the fruit we'd picked just yesterday. His well-honed recipe was quick and easy. He said it's based on one in The Joy of Cooking, but he's made so many changes, I'd call it his own. This morning's pancakes were made with berries, but Rick says they're just as good with bananas or practically any other fruit.

Rick's Whole Wheat Dairy-Free Berry Pancakes

1-1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 heaping T brown sugar
1-1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1-1/2 C soy milk
2 eggs
3 T melted butter
2 C berries
oil for frying

1. Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl.

2. Pour milk into a separate bowl.

3. Beat eggs with a fork until blended. Then pour into milk and stir until eggs are blended into the milk.

4. Pour melted butter into the liquid mixture, a little at a time, and stir unti well blended.

5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Do not over-mix. If batter is a little too thick, add a little more soy milk. If it's too thin, let it sit for a few minutes and it will thicken slightly.

6. Heat 1 or 2 skillets until hot. Pour in a small amount of vegetable oil and coat the entire surface. Pour in approximately 1/3 C batter for each pancake. Sprinkle fruit over pancakes and cook until bubbles form on the batter and the bottoms are browned. Flip the pancakes and cook on the other side until down.

7. Remove pancakes from the pans and keep hot on a cookie sheet in a wamr oven while you cook up the remaining batter.

Add oil and adjust the heat as necessary. Don't let the pan get too hot or the pancakes will burn on the outside before they're cooked through on the inside.

Serve with whipped butter and warm maple syrup or whatever toppings you wish.



Friday, August 20, 2010

Micro Greens are here!!

So today was our first day harvesting micro greens for the CSA. What are micro-greens? Baby plants - one or two weeks old, grown from seed.

We sow our seeds in flats on the south side of the house, in part sun-part shade. And we have racks out in full sun near the row beds, where the flower crops grow. We're observing, taking notes, watching how things grow.

Producing micro greens is all about timing...oh yes! We timed the harvest for today's CSA pick-up but it took longer to harvest and wash them than planned. Sorry Shareholders! We'll get better at this!

Today's micro greens are baby radish plants. Only the cotyledons are harvested. That's the first set of "leaves" to appear above ground. They're not actually leaves though; they store nutrients that kick-off plant growth. The plant's true leaves come later.

On a radish plant, the first true leaves can feel kind of prickly/furry to the touch, so it's important to harvest the cotyledons, which are yummy - spicy and succulent. And good for you! Cotyledons are packed with micro-nutrients.


I love micro greens, especially spicy radish ones in a sandwich. Get a loaf of delicious Pagnol Bread from artisanal baker, Mark Stambler. Butter the bread or rub some slices with tomato flesh, add avocado from this week's CSA box, a couple of slices of Brandywine tomato, some goat cheese, a handful of radish micro-greens and bingo! I'm thinking: picnic at the beach!

You can get Mark's bread through this CSA and also at the Cheese Store in Silver Lake.

Here's the list for today's pick-up:

From Moorpark I brought back Underwood's:

green leaf lettuce heads
yellow seedless watermelons
brandywine tomatoes
yellow patty pan squash
blue lake beans
Haas avocados
french breakfast radishes

From Farmer John we got:

dandelion leaves
red chard
mixed herbs
curly kale
golden zucchinis
negi onions
green beans