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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Progress at the new growing ground

Bonus day today at the new growing ground in Glassell Park. Laura Villasenor, Ronnie Faile, Jenny McNabb and I started section 2 and completed 3 beds in the blazing heat (thank goodness for a gorgeous breeze blowing through Hidden Canyon). The site is really taking shape.

BONUS!! A cover of crop of black eyed peas, inoculated to get that extra nitrogen, was sown in section 1 beds. It's late in the season to be sowing them but never mind. They'll start working this virgin soil for me before I get the flower crops in the ground next month or October (depends on the weather).

Thank you so much Ronnie, Jenny and Laura for braving the heat and dust today and clearing all those darn clods and making such beautiful beds! Jenny: you've got the touch down girl!! Your beds rock!!

With love, and petals to come,


In the foreground, crappy rocky clayey soil. In the background, dark, beautifully mounded, clod-free beds, enriched with compost and freshly sown with inoculated black eyed pea seeds as a cover crop. The first thing in the ground.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Projects at Silver Lake Farms

News from the farm: a couple of new projects are underway. We started growing micro-greens for the CSA. Bruce Chan and Rachel Klein (pictured) sowed the first batch of radish seeds yesterday. The plan is to harvest these on Friday in time for CSA pick-up. Bruce and Rachel are in charge of seed selection too. Once the radishes are harvested (just the cotyledons), they'll sow pak choy seeds for the next harvest. Exciting!!

Meanwhile, development of a new growing ground for flowers is underway in Glassell Park. I'll tell the full story here soon. Now that the law has changed and growing flowers in residential zones for sale off-site is legal in the City of LA (yay!) I'm back to growing cut flowers. The Glassell Park site is a pretty big undertaking. I feel overwhelmed sometimes by the task at hand. Thank goodness for some amazing people who have chipped in to help these past few months.

On Sunday, Bill Disselhorst, Jenny McNabb, Sunita Deshmukh and Graham Keegan came out to the site to help. We removed clods of compacted soil and shaped, mounded and sculpted the good soil left into growing beds, which will be sown in the Fall. On Monday, Bill came out again (rock on Bill!!) and Erik Knutzen came out as well. We finished section 1. There are 38 beds in all to cultivate - now 25 beds left to go!!

Big thank you to Community Recycling in Sun Valley for 70 tons of compost!!

More soon...


Monday, August 16, 2010

My ratatouille using only CSA veggies

Hey Tara, check out the ratatouille I made using the purple and white eggplants, bell peppers, tomatoes and zucchini from this week's veggies. :)

Christina, CSA shareholder

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Artichokes from Castroville

If you happen to find yourself in Castroville, a small agricultural town off Hwy 1 south of Santa Cruz, you'd be in the artichoke capital of the world - and what a lovely place to be!

Artichokes have a mild flavor that goes well in a variety of preparations. You can dip their leaves in different sauces from melted butter to flavored mayonnaise to a nicely emulsified balsamic vinaigrette. You can stuff them or make a casserole with them.

In summer, I like to grill artichokes to imbue them with a subtle smoky flavor. They're easy to grill, especially if you par-boil them first. Trim the woody stem and tough bottom leaves. Then snip the sharp tips off each leaf using a kitchen scissors. Rub the entire artichoke with lemon juice to prevent browning and pop it in a pot with water. I like to add a little lemon to the water, too.

Bring the water to a boil and cook for about 15-20 minutes, depending on size. The artichoke bottom will still be firm when tested with a long toothpick or skewer. Remove from the water. When cool enough to handle, cut the artichoke in half, rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and finish cooking on the grill, turning it periodically to prevent burning. The artichoke is done when the bottom is tender.

I think grilled artichokes need very little embellishment, but use whatever condiments or dipping sauces appeal to you. Remember to cut away and discard (or compost) the choke after eating the leaves. Then you'll be rewarded with the tender bottom, or heart, to savor.



Friday, August 13, 2010

Bread is here !!

Shelley is on a road trip with Dave up north. Are you having fun Shelley?

She's posting a recipe from up there.


Here's what we got this week:

BREAD !! Mark delivered freshly baked loaves of bread to shareholders who signed up for his Community Supported Boulangerie program. Thanks to everyone who signed up. Mark's bread is a delicious and wholesome addition to the CSA. Love it!!

Seeds arrived today, and on Monday, Bruce and Rachel start sowing micro greens for the CSA. More about that soon.

Here's our produce list:

From Farmer John:

white eggplants
dandelion greens
zucchini blossoms
golden zucchinis
cherry tomatoes
negi onions
red chard
mixed herbs (sage, thyme, sweet marjoram)
tuscan kale
bell peppers

From Underwood:

fairy tale eggplants (see pic above)
round carrots
red leaf lettuce
Sharlyn melons
Galia melons
celebrity tomatoes (today's celebrity: Javier Bardem - for no particular reason other than he just popped into my head)
Valencia oranges (great for juicing)
zucchini squashes
bell peppers in assorted colors (pictured)

Thank you shareholders and see you next Friday!!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CSA SHARES available now !!

Spaces are available now for new shareholders to sign up for round 5 of CSA pick-ups in Silver Lake. Round 5 just started on Friday August 6. It is not too late to sign up.

CSA pick-ups in Silver Lake take place near the corner of Rowena and Hyperion between 3pm and 7pm every Friday.

It's a 10-week program ending Friday October 8.

As a shareholder you can pick up every week (weekly share) for 7 weeks beginning Aug 27th for a total of $175. ONLY 8 shares available now!

Or you can pick up every other week (bi-weekly share Track 2) starting Friday Aug 27th for a total of 4 pick-ups for $100. Only 1 share available now for Track 2.

Or you can pick up every other week (bi-weekly share Track 1) starting Friday September 3rd for a total of 3 pick-ups for $75. 9 shares available now on Track 1!

Payment is required upfront as a required 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: We just started with Underwood and so far they've produced some amazing melons, heirloom tomatoes and radishes (see previous blog posts for the full list)

Silver Lake Farms: I supply the CSA with micro-greens grown by Rachel Klein and Bruce Chan, who happens to be a shareholder also.

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

Fresh local bread is also available, baked by a local artisanal baker on Friday mornings. Please contact me for more details. It's a separate program.

Shoot me an email at if you have any questions and would like to sign up.

Thank you !!



Friday, August 6, 2010

Fried Eggplant

John's white eggplants

patty pan squash from John

French morning melons from Underwood Family Farm

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

Italian frying peppers
White eggplant
Pattypan squash
Red chard
Collard greens
Cherry tomatoes
Zucchini blossoms
Dandelion greens

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

Red potatoes
French morning melon
Saticoy melon
Golden beets
Sweet corn
Yellow wax beans
Romaine lettuce
Green bell peppers
Cherokee heirloom tomato

Just about anything tastes good fried and eggplant is no exception. In fact, frying slices of eggplant brings out its creamy texture.

There are many ways to fry eggplant. My favorite is to use a mixture of finely ground cornmeal and panko, a Japanese-style breadcrumb that's very light and airy. Panko mixes nicely with the heavier textured cornmeal. You can find panko in many full-service markets as well as most Asian markets.

Eggplant used to have a reputation for being somewhat bitter, but most varieties have had the bitterness breeded out. If you're concerned about bitter flavor, you can mitigate it by salting the slices before cooking and allowing them to sit for 30-60 minutes while the salt pulls water and the bitterness out of the eggplant. Set the eggplant slices on a rack or in a colander, salt liberally, allow the water to drain off, rinse off the salt, and proceed with the recipe.

Fried Eggplant

1 medium eggplant
3-4 T flour
1 egg + 1 T water
1/2 C finely ground cornmeal
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying

1. Slice the eggplant crosswise in 1/4 inch slices.

2. Place flour on a plate.

3. Beat the egg and water together until combined and pour into a shallow bowl

4. Mix together the cornmeal and panko. Season with salt and pepper to taste. spread on a plate.

5. Take an eggplant slice, dredge it in flour until lightly covered on both sides, shake off the excess, dip the floured slice in the beaten egg, then coat with the cornmeal-panko mixture. Shake off the excess and arrange on a plate in a single layer.

6. Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a heavy skillet. When oil is hot, fry eggplant slices a few at a time, turning them once, until brown on both sides. Don't crowd them. Frying too many slices at once lowers the temperature of the oil and may cause the eggplant slices to become soggy. Add more oil to the skillet as necessary.

7. When brown on both sides, remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.

The eggplant slices are delicious served hot or warm. They're great plain or served with a hearty tomato sauce. They're also good with garlic mayonnaise or a tempura-style dipping sauce.

You can bread the eggplant slices ahead of time and keep them loosely covered in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before frying them.