2011 December

Harvest Ticket Dec. 27-28 Page One

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Click on image to enlarge for easier reading. See Page Two below.
So we’re just starting the very earliest part of our avocado harvest. Actually we always start with our pollinators, which did their pollination job this year, but didn’t fruit much. Anyway, there are Fuerte’s and a few very early to appear Hass in the Large shares this week. Actually, the real Hass harvest doesn’t start for a couple more weeks, usually.
Oddly, the macadamia harvest is weeks later than usual. We’re only NOW raking up any quantity worth getting excited about. Normally, by October we are raking away. So, too the kumquats are much later. I have always enjoyed combining kumquats with cranberries for Thanksgiving, indicating that we actually HAVE kumquats in November, which isn’t the case by a milestone this year. I’m guessing late February. So the climate at least on this farm, is changing in a huge way.
You’ll notice the sprouts are back again this week. They take almost 2 weeks to sprout in this cold weather, as opposed to 4 or 5 days. We hired an electrician to bring electricity to our tiny greenhouse, and we’re going to try moving the sprouting operation inside there, in the hopes that the greenhouse environment is so much warmer that we will be able to grow weekly supplies again. This week’s sprouts are an unusual combination of clover, garlic and cress.
Plenty of persimmons right now as we’re mid-harvest. We’re experimenting with drying and if successful, may include dried persimmons later on. We’ll use a dehydrator, but if you’d like to try your oven, here’s a link: www.marthastewart.com/recipe/oven-dried-persimmons-slices
The butternut squash can sit on your counter for quite a while. Baked, and the flesh scooped out, it offers the base for pumpkin pie, a hearty soup, pumpkin bread/muffins and a fine vegan gravy.

Save time, Save the Environment

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As a busy farmer, every now and then I come up with a time saving device that I’d like to offer to others for their consideration. Here it is: I’ve given this a lot of thought and I think that matching socks is an expectation foisted upon people by the sock industry and I have decided to no longer be victimized by their oppressive social manipulation. Who made the rule that donning unmatched socks was a social faux pas, anyway? I’ll tell you who! The Sock People, that’s who. And why? Because perfectly good, but unmatched, socks by the boatload are thrown away each and every day, filling up our landfills and our childrens’ environmental futures. Those unnecessarily discarded socks have to be replaced, with the only beneficiary being, you guessed it, the sock people. Oh, there’s more. Have you ever stopped to consider the opportunity cost of all that time you have spent MATCHING socks? I bet you haven’t. Well, I have. And it’s a boatload, there, too. I say, let’s spend our time in productive pursuits, not wasting time matching socks…when doing so fails to benefit the end consumer in any real way. Rise up! Defend yourself against the machinations of the sock industry. Red with White, Flowered with Plaid. Proudly display your solidarity against the sock conspiracy and save your valuable time, your sock budget, and the earth!

Next week: why making beds is a waste of time.

Barn Cat Demands Entry

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Okay, so no goats in the house. We’re all on the same page with that. But a cat would be welcome. We’ve had a beautiful feral cat hanging around our packing house for a while, an inport from a local elementary school whose principal asked a member of our crew to take him to our farm as a “mouser.” A few days ago he made his way up to our home, and invited himself inside. He either is a genius, or at some point in his life was an inside cat, because he immediately plopped himself down on my bed and fell asleep. He knows all about cat boxes, we’ve discovered, and hasn’t stopped purring. He’s been here for 3 days now, and the mouse in the house is gone. Since there’s no dead mice pieces lying around, my guess is, his very presence is a deterent, the very best, pest management of all.

At first he refused to venture outside, perhaps fearful that we’d not let him back in if he left. This morning was his first post-home invasion, outdoor excursion. He hung out in the sun, climbed to the top of our patio (photo above) and then returned to his spot in front of our fireplace. The perfect cat, he has found a new home.

On another note, son Frankie thought it would be cool to buy a little catnip for him, and sure enough Cat Man was delighted. that’s him in the photo with a rolled up ball of catnip. I’m wondering if any of our CSA members might enjoy the option of purchasing catnip from our farm?

Harvest Ticket Dec. 20-21 Page One

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Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.
We’re excited this week to include a bag of passion fruit in the large shares. And another week of spaghetti squash. This squash has an unusual characteristic. When opened and cooked, it takes on the appearance of spaghetti. I didn’t even believe it until I tried it, the whole spaghetti thing seems so unlikely. I cook in the oven, often when the oven is on anyway while cooking something else. (Open the squash lengthwise with a sharp knife, or do as we do and slam the thing on the pavement to open. Using a knife can be dicey, don’t take a chance if you’re at all nervous. Take it out front and slam on your sidewalk or pavement. No, it doesn’t open with perfect edges, but who cares?) Cook at 350 with a little olive oil (try Temecula Olive Oil’s local stuff, (website here: http://www.temeculaoliveoil.com/) , salt, pepper, and crushed garlic. Once the strings are easily loosened from the shell pieces, I remove from the oven, let cool, and then add the finished product to stir fries. Or you can eat it just like that, either hot out of the oven or chilled as a salad. The thing I love about Temecula Olive Oil (beside the fact that they are actual local growers of olives) is that they infuse their oils with an assortment of different offerings with results that never fail to amaze. We actually have started a small olive grove here and have been offered the TOOC facility to make oil once we’re harvesting. I can’t wait to have our own organic olives and oil to add to the CSA boxes!

Dangerous Stuff Coming Out of the Sky

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You know, I’ve always thought of goats as rugged animals, survivalists even. A beast that can eat your shoe, or a piece of your car on a bad day, is no sissy. So I am really entertained to discover that they’re afraid of rain. This isn’t an individual trait, but the whole herd’s. Even a little mist is viewed with suspicion, but the actual downpour that we received in the last couple days has been met with herd-wide alarm. Our off-limits farmhouse door is only 40 or so feet from the goat’s barn, but when a few sprinkles landed on them, they roared into my house which offered a closer refuge than the barn door. Like the actual 10 feet more had they gone in the opposite direction to their barn, was too dicey. And then resolutely stood their ground when invited to leave. I know we’ve gone over this before; no goats in the livingroom. But getting a goat to move toward something they’re afraid of is like trying to argue with arugula. Each one had to be unbrella’d and carried to the barn, where they’ve sulked for hours waiting for the wet stuff to go away.

Butternut Pie

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Line a pie pan with pie dough. I often cheat and use Trader Joe’s pie dough, which comes frozen. For a while there, they were having a problem with quality control, but the product now is excellent and a big time saver; especially if you don’t make alot of pies and don’t have a system. There was a time when I made a couple pies or quiches a week, and I really had the whole pie dough thing down to a science. Now, not so much and though a Slow Food Advocate, I use Trader’s product.

Preheat oven to 425.

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups of cooked squash or edible pumpkin. Do NOT try using a decorative pumpkin in this recipe. I’ve tried it, and it was awful, just watery and not flavorful at all.

1.5 cups of organic cream. Watch out for the weird stuff grocery stores are now putting in “cream.” Trader Joes is good, and Henry’s and Sprouts have products without the garbage, too.

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Teaspoons Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Ginger

1 Teaspoon Nutmeg or Alspice

1/2 Teaspoon of finely crushed Cloves

2 beaten eggs
Blend it all in a Cuisinart, Vitamix or blender until smooth. Pour mixture into pie shell, bake for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 350 and bake until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. In my oven, that’s 45 minutes.
Serve with whipped cream flavored with 2 Tablespoons of bourbon.