Friday, March 25, 2011

Roasted Parsnips & Carrots with Ras el Hanout

If you've never had Ras el Hanout, you're missing something delicious. It's a wonderful, aromatic spice blend that's used throughout Northern Africa. Like curry powder, every version is a little different, but most have some combination of cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, chili, cumin, clove and other spices. I picked up a lovely blend from the Spice Station on Sunset Blvd. this afternoon.

We're so lucky to have the Spice Station in our neighborhood. They have an amazing selection of herbs and spices from around the world. The Spice Station also makes a huge variety of spice blends, such as Ras el Hanout, from their own recipes. Every blend I've tried has been delicious.

It's so easy to turn simple roasted vegetables into something special with a tasty and exotic spice, and that's exactly what I did this afternoon. I washed and trimmed the beautiful red carrots and parsnips from today's box, tossed them in 1T olive oil, added 1 T Ras el Hanout and a little salt. Then I tossed everything again to evenly spread the spices and I roasted them on a cookie sheet in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes, until done. My kitchen smelled divine while they were roasting, too.

By the way, if you're wondering how to prepare tatsoi, treat it just like spinach. It sautes up quickly, and it's great with a variety of Asian flavors like soy sauce, freshly grated ginger, and sesame oil. You can eat it raw, too.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Lola Rosa lettuce, tatsoi, red carrots, celery, Italian parsley, golden beets, leeks, celery root, and Navel oranges;

Pea and mustard microgreens and a little rosemary from Silver Lake Farms;

Parsnips from Weiser Family Farms;

And satsuma mandarins from Rancho Santa Cecilia.

Thank you so much to shareholders Amanda and Josh (pictured above) for helping distribute the bounty today. Also, to dear little Willow (who isn't so little any more!) for coming to help at pickup.

And Happy Birthday Rachel!!



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CSA - general definition

Community Supported Agriculture.

“In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Members or shareholders of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover costs. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land. Members also share in risks, including poor harvest due to unfavorable weather or pests.”

- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) definition

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CSA Shares Available Now!

Happy Spring!!

Shares are available now for Round 8 of our CSA program. (pic above taken last Fall).

Round 8 began on Friday, March 18. It's a 10-week program ending May 20.

If you're interested in owning a Track 2 biweekly share, it means making a commitment to picking up your produce every other Friday for 5 pickups total starting this coming Friday, March 25th. I have 8 Track 2 shares available now. Share cost: $125.

I also have 11 Track 1 shares available. Means committing to picking up every other Friday for 4 pickups total starting Friday, April 1. Share cost: $100.

Pickups take place in Silver Lake near the corner of Rowena and Hyperion from 3pm to 7pm.

If you are interested, especially in Track 2, please let me know by noon on Wednesday (3/23)

If you would like to pick up every Friday for the next 9 weeks starting 3/25, this is totally do-able. Just please let me know you want Track 1 and Track 2 for a total of 9 pickups - share cost: $225. And please let me know by noon on Wednesday 3/23.

For an idea of what to expect, we post a list of the week's goodies + a recipe here. See previous entries.

Shoot me an email at if you'd like to sign up or have any questions. Please specify which Track you'd like to be on (1, 2 or 1&2).

Thank you!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Spinach, Kale and Feta Pie

It's high season for leafy greens, and today's box was over-flowing with many beautiful examples. You just may want to enjoy a lovely salad made from red leaf lettuce, mizuna, spinach, parsley, radish, carrots, and one of last week's avocados that may be ripe by now. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a sprinkle of fine olive oil, some crusty bread and a glass of wine might be the perfect dinner this evening.

If you you'd like to have a little more adventure in the kitchen, try this Spinach, Kale and Feta pie based on Spanakopita, a traditional Middle Eastern dish. It's a little bit of a production, but well worth the effort.

2 T olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
1-1/2 lbs spinach and kale, washed, mostly dried and chopped
1/2 C chopped green onion
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
1/3 lb crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
freshly ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
melted butter (about 1/2 stick, more if necessary)
10 sheets (12" x 18") phyllo*

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" x 12" baking dish. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent, about 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don't let the onion brown.

3. Add the chopped spinach and kale and saute until well-wilted. Add the green onions and parsley and continue cooking, turning the heat down, if necessary, until all or most of the water has evaporated. The mixture should still be moist, not completely dry. Cool slightly.

4. Add the crumbled feta, ricotta, and eggs. Season with freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine. Set the filling aside while you prepare the phyllo.

5. Take 10 12"x 18" pieces of fresh phyllo dough. Cut them in half to make 20 12" x 9" pieces, and stack them. [Or cut phyllo to fit your pan. Whatever size, you'll need 20 sheets cut to fit.] Phyllo dries out easily, so work quickly and keep the phyllo stack covered with a dish cloth while you work.

6. Line the buttered baking dish with 1 piece of phyllo. Brush some melted butter on the phyllo, then stack another piece of phyllo on top and brush it with butter. Repeat until you've put 10 sheets of phyllo in the pan.

7. Spread the prepared filling on the buttered phyllo. Smooth the top, then cover with the remaining 10 pieces of phyllo, brushing more melted butter in between each piece and on top.

8. Bake at 350 until the top is golden brown and the center is cooked through about 30-40 minutes. Cut into squares and serve hot, room temperature, or cold. Leftovers, if there are any, make a nice lunch; or they freeze well, too.

**Phyllo, also called filo dough, is available frozen in most markets and fresh in some Middle eastern markets. If you are using frozen dough, be sure to defrost it thoroughly in the refrigerator before you use it.

At the pick-up this afternoon, I heard that some avocados are taking a long time to get ripe. That's normal. However, you can hasten ripening by putting avocados in a brown paper bag with a banana. Ripening fruit gives off ethylene gas which is a ripening agent. Bananas are picked unripe, so they emit a fair amount of ethylene gas while they ripen in your fruit basket. You can capture this natural ripening agent and put it to good use with your avocados. It'll still take days to ripen a hard avocado, but you can cut the ripening time by a third or even in half.

This week's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: red leaf lettuce, kale, spinach, mizuna, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, Easter radishes, yellow carrots, Cilantro, parsley, tangerines and a Zutano avocado.

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: those divine satsuma mandarines and 2 Haas avocados.

And from Silver Lake Farms: radish shoots and 2 kinds of chard shoots. Yum!



Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rutabaga Butternut Stovetop Tajine

Here's another rutabaga recipe you might enjoy. It's a wonderful Moroccan-spiced vegetable stew called a tajine. Traditionally, a tajine is a stew made in a special clay pot also called a tajine. The pot is a beautiful round baking dish with a tall conical lid. I love making slow-cooked stews in my tajine, but they bake for several hours. Here's a delicious stovetop adaptation that takes less than half the time of a traditional tajine.

Prepare the spice mixture:

1 t cumin seeds
1 t coriander seeds
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry cast-iron skillet over medium heat until aromative and lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Cool, then grind in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. Stir in cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

2-3 T olive oil
1 C chopped onion
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C carrots chopped in about 3/4-inch chunks
2 ribs celery chopped in about 1/2-inch chunks
2 C rutabaga chopped in 3/4-inch cubes
2 C butternut squash chopped in 3/4-inch cubes
Peel from 1/2 orange, pith removed
2 C water
1 C canned garbanzo beans
1 t agave syrup
Chopped cilantro for garnish

1. Heat olive oil in heavy skillet or saucepan with a lid. Add onions and garlic. Stir to coat with oil. Add spice mixture and cook until onions are translucent, but do no brown.

2. Add carrot, celery, rutabaga, and butternut squash. Stir to coat with spices.

3. Coarsely chop orange peel and add it to the pot with 2C water. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down slightly and cook on a medium simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.

4. Add the garbanzo beans and agave syrup. Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very tender and the liquid has cooked off enough to make a very thick sauce, about another 15-20 minutes.

5. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and serve over couscous or rice.



Friday, March 11, 2011

What to Do with a Rutabaga

Given the regular appearance of roots vegetables in our CSA box, it's odd that we haven't had any rutabagas until now. I'm thrilled that this lovely vegetable (aka swede) with a beautiful yellow-orange color and a flavor that's a sweeter cross between between cabbage and turnips was included in today's bounty.

Anything you do with a turnip, you can do with a rutabaga. You can boil it, mash it, or roast it. You can even make oven-baked fries - they're delicious.

My favorite way to eat rutabaga is mashed with lots of butter and salt. Peel away the tough outer skin. Chop into medium to large chunks. Put the chunks in a pot of salted water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook until tender. Drain well. Mash. If the rutabag has retained excess water, you can return the mash to the same pot and boil it off. Otherwise, add butter, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy.

A close second to mashed rutabaga for me is oven roasted. Peel and chop into desired shapes. I like to make thick julienne. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 375 degree oven until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The time will vary depending on how thick you've chopped your rutabaga. Some people like to par-boil the rutabaga until nearly tender before roasting. You might like to toss red pepper flakes and/or chopped fresh parsley on the roasted rutabaga before serving.

It's probably no accident that rutabagas turned up right before St. Patrick's Day. They're a wonderful addition to the traditional meal of boiled corned beef and cabbage. If you start with a beef brisket that has already been "corned," or cured in brine, follow the directions on the package or put the beef in a pot with water. I like to add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and cider vinegar, a bay leaf, 1 minced clove of garlic, some freshly ground pepper, and a little allspice (as well as any seasoning packet that might come with the corned beef). Cover and simmer until nearly tender. This could take 2 to 2-1/2 hours for a 3 pound corned beef.

When the corned beef is nearly tender, add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 1 lb of peeled potatoes, 1 C peeled carrots chunks, and 1 rutabaga peeled and cut into large chunks. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Then add 1 small cabbage, cored and cut into large wedges or chunks. Cover and simmer 15 minutes more. By now the corned beef should be fork tender. Remove from the heat. Let sit about 10 minutes. Then slice the meat and serve with the boiled vegetables. A chewy, grainy bread and some nice mustard are excellent accompaniments.

This week's box included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Japanese turnips, red chard, butter lettuce, fennel, 5# navel oranges, purple carrots, purple kale, celery root, French Breakfast radishes, and rutabagas.

Rancho Santa Cecilia proivded Hass avocados and satsuma mandarins.

From Silver Lake Farms: Pea shoots.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

CSA Potluck Pics !

Good Times!!

Thank you everyone for coming to our first CSA potluck. The food was amazing; it was a really lovely day.

Thank you Nikos for entertaining us with your homegrown songs, especially the one about summer coming. Did you write the words down yet? They are all too good to forget.

Thanks Bruce and Jacquelyn for sending in pics. There's Jacquelyn with Rodney, pictured below.

And thanks to everyone behind the scenes at SLF for working so hard to get the garden ready.

with love,


Friday, March 4, 2011

Fried Cauliflower and Onions

My friends, Susan and Kirk, are visiting from Portland. They joined me this fine afternoon when I picked up my veggies. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, Susan started talking about how she prepares cauliflower. She chops it into very small pieces, much smaller than the typical florets, and sautes them with finely chopped onions in olive oil until brown and somewhat crispy. She got this idea from the chef, Caprial Pence's, blog.

As we drove home, we riffed on the many delicious possibilities that this basic preparation might lead to. Tossing in some toasted pine nuts and finishing the dish with grated parmesan and chopped parsley sounds like a terrific side dish. Susan says that Caprial Pence mixes the cauliflower with pasta, like pappardelle, and adds some cooked and crumbled Italian sausage. What a wonderful main course.

Here's how I'm going to make this dish:

2-3 T olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 medium cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into approximately 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 C toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
2-4 T finely grated parmesan cheese
2 T chopped parsley

1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.

2. Add the onions and saute for 1 minute.

3. Add the chopped cauliflower and saute until brown and somewhat crispy.

4. Stir in the toasted pine nuts.

5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

It wouldn't hurt to add a little heat to this dish in the form of red pepper flakes. Or you can go a different direction entirely and add raisins and a little finely grated orange peel. Whatever you do, have fun.

Here's what we had in our box this week:

From Underwood Family Farms: carrots, golden beets, Zintano avocado, broccoli, red leaf lettuce, French breakfast radishes, rainbow chard, lemon and butternut squash.

From Silver Lake Farms: arugula and mustard shoots.

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: those divine satsuma mandarins and Hass avocados.

And shareholder Debra brought in beautiful pink grapefruit. Thanks Debra!