Friday, May 28, 2010

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

collard greens

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

Golden Beets
Negi green onions
Green chard
Russian kale
Collard greens
Tat soi
Red romaine
Squash blossoms with baby zucchini
Sage, thyme, and oregano

Avocados love citrus. How lucky for us to get both this week!

Chatting with shareholder, Pam, she reminded me of a wonderful salad that makes a great side or main dish and uses several items from our haul today.

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

1 grapefruit
1 ripe avocado
1 medium bunch red romaine leaves
1 C (or more) arugula leaves, loosely packed
1/2 C sliced sweet onion, such as Vidalia, or fennel
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1-2 T rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
toasted hazelnuts (optional)

1. Peel the grapefruit, leaving it whole, and cut out sections of grapefruit flesh in between the membranes (supremes) or pull the grapefruit sections apart and peel away the membranes, if desired. Set aside. Compost the peels and membranes.

2. Using an avocado that's ripe but not mushy, halve the avocado lengthwise. Remove the pit. Gently slice the avocado flesh lengthwise, being careful not to cut through the avocado peel. Scoop out the slices with a spoon. Compost the peel.

3. Wash the romaine and arugula leaves well in a basin of cold water. Spin or towel dry. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large salad bowl.

4. Add the onions or fennel, your best olive oil, the rice vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and toss until all the leaves are coated with the dressing. You can add the toasted hazelnuts here, if you're using them.

5. Add the grapefruit sections and avocado slices and toss gently. Serve.

This recipe makes 4 side salad servings. If you prefer oranges to grapefruit, this salad is just as delicious with fresh, ripe orange. Substitute 2 oranges for 1 grapefruit.

Omnivores can turn this salad into a delicious main course by adding shrimp. I like to marinate and grill my shrimp, so I start with raw shrimp. Peel the shrimp. Make a marinade of fresh-squeezed orange juice, rice vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped fresh tarragon. Pour over the shrimp and marinate for 1-2 hours (or overnight), then cook the shrimp on a grill (on skewers or in a grill pan), or sear them in a hot cast iron skillet on the stove top. Let them cool a moment then toss them into the salad with the grapefruit and avocado, or arrange them attractively on top of the salad.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beachwood Canyon Pick-up + wonderful news

So much news to tell! In a nutshell - Thanks to City Council President Eric Garcetti, the Food & Flowers Freedom Act was voted in last Friday at City Council. For the update, click here:

Meanwhile, here are a couple of pics.

L to R: UFA members & supporters: Jeremy Drake, Shelley Marks (go Shelley!!), Dave Keitel, Erik Knutzen, Graham Keegan, Erin Leverkus.

Dave Keitel, Erik Knutzen

Tiffany Haynes, Molly Morrison

Thanks to everyone who came to the hearing at City Hall last Friday to support the Food & Flowers Freedom Act. It was such a perfect day - friendship, camaraderie, conversation filled our four hour wait and made it fly by. Hanging with the Urban Farming Advocates group and supporters is like hanging with brothers and sisters... I'm kind of at a loss to describe how good it feels to know such warm-hearted people but I can say this: I am really grateful.

Funny, after the hearing on Friday, four of us went to Glassell Park to break ground on a new site where I'll be growing flowers. The timing was pure coincidence! Flowers now legal? Great! Let's break ground! More about the new growing ground later.

Thanks to Erin, who designed the new site, Graham and William for pick-axing for hours, and to Jed and Danielle for picking up the CSA veggies, manning the pick-up last Friday, and generally taking care of our CSA shareholders. I am lucky to know so many amazing people...

Here's what Farmer John had for us at the Beachwood Canyon pick-up yesterday:

Russian Kale
Negi/Japanese Onions
Collard Greens
Swiss Chard
Tatsoi/Chinese Spinach
Young red & green romaine lettuce
Zucchini Blossoms

Friday, May 21, 2010

Great Guacamole!

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

Red beets
Negi onions
Collard greens
Russian kale
Red & green lettuce
Tat soi
Squash blossoms with baby zucchini

The minute I saw those avocados, I thought guacamole. Though I'll have to wait a few days until mine get soft enough to mash up; that's fine. It'll give me time to check out the Silver Lake, Atwater, or Hollywood farmer's markets this weekend and pick up the other ingredients: a beautiful ripe tomato - they're just beginning to show up from local farms, a juicy lemon - I'll get one right off my tree, and a fiery jalapeno. Hang on to one of theose Negi green onions; they're delicious in guacamole.

There are lots of great recipes for guacamole. Here's one of mine:

2 ripe avocados
1 large Negi green onion
1 small ripe tomato
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro or more (or less) to taste
1 t to 1 T minced jalapeno to taste (optional)
Juice of 1 large lemon (more or less to taste)
Red hot sauce, such as Cholula, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Split the avocados in half lengthwise. Remove the pit. Using a spoon, scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl and mash to your desired consistency. I like my guacamole to have some large chunks of avocado, so I don't mash it until completely smooth, but you can if you prefer.

2. Wash, dry, and mince the green onion. Add it to the avocado.

3. Wash dry, and dice the small tomato and add it to the bowl. If it's particularly juicy, you may want to drain off the juice.

4. If you're using cilantro, wash, dry, and chop it finely and add it to the bowl. I love the flavor of cilantro, but some people think it tastes like soap. Apparently this flavor sensation is genetic. So, it's fine to omit the cilantro. You can substitute a smaller amount (2 T) of chopped parsley, if you'd like.

5. The amount of jalapeno you use is truly a matter of taste. One tablespoon of minced jalapeno will produce a pretty spicy guacamole. So, start with a small amount and add more until you achieve your desired level of hotness. Use gloves when chopping the jalapeno. Remove and discard the seeds.

6. Squeeze the juice of one large lemon into the bowl and stir all the ingredients until well-combined.

7. Add salt, pepper, and a few shots of red hot sauce to taste. Stir again and serve or chill before serving, but not too long, as the guacamole will begin to darken.

The food writer, Harold McGee, says it's a myth that leaving the avocado pit in your guacamole prevents browning. Browning is caused by exposure to air and the pit only blocks this exposure where it actually touches the guacamole. The lemon juice in this recipe will discourage the browning process for a short while. You can further inhibit browning by placing plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole before chilling it. However, it's best to eat guacamole soon after preparing it.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

CSA Recipes From the Lovely Jodi

Tara and Willow and your lovely friend Sophia,

Thank you so much for distributing all of the delicious produce today!
I was thrilled that I was the recipient of an extra bunch of zucchini flowers.
I used the recipe on the blog, amended it by stuffing the flowers with mozzarella and gave the second batch to my neighbors next door.

Motto for the day - One good turn deserves another!

X Jodi
sauteed kale w/hot red pepper, cumin seeds + coriander
organic cornmeal crusted zucchini flowers
stuffed with mozzarella - ready for the frying pan...
frying the mozzarella stuffed zucchini flowers
fried zucchini flowers draining
arugula w/french blue cheese, baby zucchini
(from the stem of the flower), lemon peel, lemon + olive oil
Thanks Jodi! You Rock!


Beachwood Canyon Pick-up 5/18

Volunteers Sophia and Willow returned today to help distribute veggies. In the foreground is Mary Kay's daughter, Amelia. She loooves coming to pick-up and loading up her mum's shopping bags.

In the background is the hilarious Mr. Howard Stevens. He happened upon us today by pure chance. How do I know Howard? He's the agent who found us our house! Three years later, Silver Lake Farms was born. Thanks Howard!

Here's what Farmer John had for us at the Beachwood Canyon pick-up today:

Red and golden beets
Curly Mustard Greens (nice sauteed)
Oregano + Thyme
Negi (Japanese) Onions
Collard Greens
Wildfire lettuce
Green Chard
Turnip Tops (sautee these greens)
Japanese Cucumbers



Friday, May 14, 2010

Fried Squash Blossoms

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

Squash blossoms
Green chard
Russian kale
Collard greens
Red and green lettuce
Tat soi

Squash blossoms are one of the great delights of spring and summer. Their vibrant yellow color belies a mild and delicate flavor. There are many elaborate and delicious preparations for stuffed squash blossoms, but here is a very simple recipe for fried squash blossoms that takes mere minutes to prepare.

1 egg
1/4 C flour
1/4 - 1/2 C club soda or beer, if you prefer
1/4 t salt
pepper to taste
squash blossoms
canola oil for frying

1. In a small bowl, whisk the egg then add the flour, club soda (or beer), and salt until mostly combined. The batter can be a little lumpy, but it should be thin, not thick. Add a little pepper to taste.

2. Rinse and dry the squash blossoms. Carefully remove the pistil or stamen. Cut the stem to about 3/4 inch.

3. Pour about 1/4 - 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy skillet and heat to frying temperature (about 350 degrees). You can check the readiness of the oil by flicking a drop of the batter into it. If it sits at the bottom of the pan, the oil is not yet hot enough. But if it rises to the top and starts frying, the batter is ready.

4. Work in small batches depending on the size of your pan. Dip a squash blossom in the batter, coat it well, let the excess drip off, then pop it in the pan with the hot oil. Don't crowd the squash blossoms. Let them get golden brown on one side, then turn them over and brown the other side.

5. When golden brown, remove the squash blossoms from the oil and let them drain on paper towel. Serve immediately.

You can serve the squash blossoms on their own or in a small pool of marinara sauce or make a lovely basil cream sauce if you want to get fancy.

In any event, if you have squash in your garden, pick the blossoms liberally lest you be overwhelmed with squash later. Then you can enjoy this delicacy often.



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beachwood Canyon Pick-up

Mike's son Nicky loves coming to pick-up every week. This week, he drove the bounty home!

Here's what Farmer John had for us at the Beachwood Canyon pick-up yesterday:

Beets - red and golden
Arugula - strip the leaves off the stem and eat the flowers too
Fresh Garlic
Tatsoi - Chinese spinach
Zucchini blossoms
Wildfire lettuce head
Romaine - young green and red
Baby Bok Choy
Negi Onions - Japanese
Collard Greens
Green chard

Enjoy! And thank you to our lovely young volunteers yesterday - Willow and Sophia. The girls helped distribute veggies to shareholders as part of the community service program at Immaculate Heart School.

Also, I met Sasha Kanno, the director of Wrigley Garden in Long Beach. She drove up to check out what Silver Lake Farms is up to. Sasha is doing some great work in Long Beach. She plans to start a CSA soon, producing on an acre right in Long Beach City. Go for it Sasha!


Friday, May 7, 2010

Farmer's Salad

In honor of Mother's Day, I'd like to share a simple recipe from my mother. When I was a child, my mother often put out a smorgasbord for Sunday brunch that included all manner of delicious sweet and savory treats. Though the items changed from week to week, she frequently included this salad. She called it Farmer's Salad, I think because she used to eat it when she visited a farm.

You can enjoy this salad as a side dish, but it's substantial enough to eat as a main course with some nice grainy bread and butter. It's easy to make and keeps in the refrigerator for a few days.

5-6 radishes
2-3 green onions, such as the Negi onions
2 small Persian cucumbers**
2-3 T chopped parsley
16 oz cottage cheese
2/3 C sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Wash and dry the radishes. Remove the greens and save them for another use or compost them. Halve or quarter the radishes lengthwise, then chop them thinly. Place in a large bowl.

2. Wash and dry the green onions. Thinly slice the white part of the green onions. Save the green stems for another use or compost them. Place the sliced onions in the bowl with the radishes.

3. Wash and dry the Persian cucmbers. I like to leave the skins on but you can peel them if you like. Cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and thinly slice each half. Add slices to the bowl.

4. Add the parsley, cottage cheese, and sour cream to the bowl and mix well. Add a little salt and a good amount of freshly ground pepper.

This salad is at its crunchy best eaten shortly after mixing it up.

**I like to use Persian cucmbers because they're relatively lower in water than other cucumbers. But you can use any cucumber. You can remove some of the water from the juicier varieties by slicing them, sprinkling the slices with a little salt, and allowing them to drain in a colander for about 20 minutes.



Silver Lake pick-up

Here's what Farmer John had for us at the Silver Lake pick-up this week:

Baby Bok Choi
Russian Kale
Green Chard (Nicola's from New Zealand and she calls them Silverbeets)
Wildfire lettuce
Collard Greens
Red Oak Lettuce
Negi Onions
Thyme & Oregano

Since the May 25 hearing and our victory at the Planning Commission, my neighbor Frank, who came to the hearing to protest against the Food & Flowers Freedom Act, is still taking photographs of me. Joy! Here he is snapping me in my driveway today at about 7:45pm. I thought to get my iphone out and snap him snapping me.

I remember Frank once telling me that he has a relative who works at the City Attorney's office. I wonder why Frank continues with his camera.

The next hearing for the F&FFA is due to take place on a Friday soon at City Council. It has been postponed a couple of times. Check in at for news on when the next hearing will take place.

Have a great weekend and Happy Mother's Day!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beachwood Canyon Pick-up

Here's what Farmer John had for us at the Beachwood Canyon pick-up today:

Daikon radishes - eaten raw, grated, like a radish (pic above)

Beets - tops edible too - saute or steam with chard

Arugula - flowers edible too, strip the leaves off the stems

Russian kale - saute or steam

fresh garlic - you can use all of it - bulb, stem, leaves - all edible


Fennel - wonderful grated in a salad

Baby Bok Choi

Dandelion greens - saute or steam

Chrysanthemum leaves - used in soups in Korea and Japan - also eaten raw in a salad (pictured below)

Wildfire Lettuce

Green Chard

Young lettuce in a bag

Storage advice: Wash and dry greens when you get home. Dry using a salad spinner. Chop the greens. Store in tupperware containers with a piece of paper towel on the bottom. This helps soak up any excess moisture. Store in fridge.