Harvest Ticket July 14-15.. 2015

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Everything in our boxes this week is identifiable except perhaps the sapotes, upper right in the photo image above. Like avocados, they need to soften after harvest; they will not soften on the tree. Like most subtropical fruit, they are best left unrefrigerated. Leave on your counter until they are slightly soft when pressed and then cut open as you would an avocado. The white, creamy flesh is delicious!Harvest Ticket July 14-15

Cheese Making Class July 19!

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Come on out to Morning Song Farm for our Mostly Mozzarella Class. We’ll focus July’s class on mozzarella and do a couple other very easy fresh cheeses to round out the class time . Limited class size so everyone can actually get their hands into their own cheese, rather than just watch us make it. Mozzarella is remarkably easy once you learn the pitfalls, and have made a few batches. The recipe we’re using is the 30 minute version. The tough part is learning how to understand your cheese, how to knead it properly, drain it and what to look for to reach a beautiful stretch. We’ll also make a  garlic ricotta spread, and an herbed queso fresco to round the day out. You may find that you’ll discover a passion for cheese as we have here at Morning Song Farm. It’s easier than you’d ever think! Take notes, and follow along with handouts and easy to follow recipes so that your success is insured when you repeat the steps at home. We’ll talk about which milk to use, cultures, and why certified organic milk isn’t your best choice.    Don’t be afraid to bring your appetite, as we nibble throughout! Class starts at 9:00 with sampling freshly made cheeses as well as our just churned butter with bread,  muffins and coffee, while allowing you an opportunity to meet your fellow cheese loving adventurers! Get a chance to meet the farm’s beautiful Nigerian dairy goats at the end of the class, and pet our friendly herd. Bring a crunchy granola bar or two and you’ll be everyone’s best friend, especially Carl The Herd Leader who eats anything but really gets excited if it’s crunchy.

Tuition: Even if you are a much appreciated farm member, payment and reservations for our cheese classes need to be made here so that we can use the Meetup software to keep an accurate headcount.  Please, no impromptu arrivals. Our Mozzarella Class size is limited for a reason, we need to have firm reservations so we don’t overbook. The pathway to the barn is rough and unpaved, so stash the stilettos or dress shoes; and opt for sneakers or boots for your cheese making day.

Harvest Shot June 16-17, 2015

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We’re exciteharvest shot 3rd week in Juned to see the blackberries come in so well this year despite reduced watering. They are being picked dead ripe, so won’t stay fresh for very long. Some years we’ve tried picking a little unripe, however what’s true is that picking dead ripe insures full flavor. The downside is they don’t last long! As the heat has arrived consistently now, this is the last week that we’ll be growing sprouts for our CSA boxes. Please do pick up your boxes as soon as possible after our truck delivers so that your produce remains fresh. Hydrocooling is helpful if you’ve arrived late to discover wilted greens: dunk in a sink full of chilled water, shake and refrigerate. This is what restaurants do to insure crisp greens and works just as well in a home kitchen. We’re at the tail end of our avo season, still plenty of fruit out there, but some of the skins are now not sporting cosmetic perfection. The trade-off is that a summer Southern Cal Hass has wonderfully high oil content and is fully flavored. Off-shore fruit is coming into the grocery isles and will look beautiful but not have the oil content that local avos have. Harvesting under ripe fruit maximizes production returns while shipping thousands of miles under refrigeration and then gassing on arrival to achieve an appearance of ripeness results in a beautiful looking fruit but often poor flavor and oil content.

Harvest Shot June 9-10 2015

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We had hoped that we’d get one more week out of the mulberry grove, but the sudden hot spell  vanquished all hope there. All the berries fell off on Sunday and the local bird/rabbit/squirrel population are having a berry fest field day. Best mulberries ever, this was a good season for us, as many years we’ve only gotten a week or two out of the grove. Next year, it will be even better as we learned a thing or two about mulberry management. We also discovered that rattlesnakes like to hang out in that part of the farm, and so next year us harvesters will be “chapped up” with rattlesnake protection, at least in the early weeks of picking when the snakes have gotten accustomed to having the grove to themselves.

Below is this week’s large Garden N Grove box

For whatever random reason, you now have to click on the image to view the entire thing.

harvest shot from blogger

 

 

 

Harvest Shot: Dec. 22/23, 2014

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Beautiful boxbox, 4th week in Decemberes this week. We’re in full Satsuma Mandarin harvest now, and hope everyone enjoys these little gems. So easy to peel, and intensely flavored. We lost our entire fioja guava harvest to agricultural theft this year, (along with pomegranates…earlier)  so the wonderful Satsuma harvest is really appreciated. We actually confronted a thief last week helping herself to our tangelolos, which aren’t ready to harvest yet….and her comment was that she thought that fruit trees near where she could park on our property were ok to pick. Wow. Just wow.  Anyway, fencing is in order for 2015 as the entire 5 acre parcel in the front of our farm seems to be open season for marauders. Just amazing. I really think 20 years ago….heck 3 years ago….thieves wouldn’t  justify their theft. “Ok, you caught me.” Or something of that order before. Now they actually have a moral-ground position.

CSA Box: Dandies For Dinner

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Blooming Amaranth Grain Heads

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Amaranth is among the grains written about years ago in, Save Three Lives, A Plan for Famine Prevention by Robert Rodale. Some of my readers may remember that the Rodales published the Organic Gardening Magazine and were champions of all things pure and clean long before organic certification and commercialization of the organic meme happened along. So…that must be 20 years ago now. I became really interested in amaranth because of Rodale’s writing and have grown some ever since, although never successfully enough to offer to CSA members as an edible. We thought we’d try something innovative and try sprouting the seeds, and although they do sprout, and they are a beautiful rose color, the sprouted seed isn’t all that tasty. Yes, high in protein, but somewhat bitter.

A few of the tiny seeds from that recent experiment landed in the avocado grove, and yesterday I found these plants. They’re gorgeous!

California Crop Harvests Plummet as Drought Takes Toll on National Food Supply

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(NaturalNews) The end of September marked three straight years of severe drought for California, with the state receiving less than 60 percent of its average precipitation.

The lack of rainfall has resulted in immense suffering throughout the state, leaving low reservoirs, fallowed farmland, rising unemployment and complete drying up of some people’s wells.

It’s true that water is the essence of life. All things living depend on it, and without it the world around us would be nonexistent, however, what many of us don’t realize is that California’s drought could soon be hitting your pantry and if not this year, next year for sure.

With the arrival of the 2014 harvest season, not only the United States, but also the world, could soon feel the aftermath of the state’s continued drought.

California is considered our nation’s agricultural powerhouse, yielding a third of all produce grown in the U.S.

Central Valley, which consists of two valleys: the San Joaquin to the south and Sacramento to the north, spans 450 miles, a region that is home to the world’s largest patch of Class 1 soil, the best soil there is, according to The New York Times.

With nearly 300 days of sunshine, the perfect variance in temperature, cool coastal fog and an extended growing season, allows the state to produce a vast range of fruits, vegetables and nuts.

California is responsible for producing 99 percent of the country’s walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, 69 percent of carrots and many other foods Americans store in their kitchens.

Unlike the Midwest, which mainly produces corn and soybeans, the Golden State yields around 400 different types of food, generating 73 percent of the state’s agricultural revenues from crops, with the remaining 27 percent made by livestock commodities, according to Western Farm Press.

Due to lack of rainfall, an estimated 42,000 acres of farmland, or about 5 percent, went unplanted this year, causing the state’s agri revenue to take a $2.2 billion dollar hit.

5 percent of Californian’s farmland went unplanted this year

Fortunately for farmers, increased food prices offered a little cushion to help make up for crops that couldn’t be watered due to this year’s restrictions. If the winter fails to bring adequate rainfall to help replenish low rivers and streams, and “overtaxed groundwater,” the situation could get much worse, farmers say.

“Nobody has any idea how disastrous it’s going to be,” said Mike Wade of Modesto, with the California Farm Water Coalition. “Is it going to create more fallowed land? Absolutely,” he added.

“Is it going to create more groundwater problems? Absolutely. Another dry year, we don’t know what the result is going to be, but it’s not going to be good.”

The drought’s affect on the 2014 harvest is pronounced, with 140,000 acres of rice fields left unplanted, reported the Sacramento Bee. The Sacramento Valley rice crop, an export that serves sushi joints worldwide, has already dropped by 25 percent this year.

Corn production in the state is down an estimated 45 percent, along with cotton declining 23 percent, and oranges 4 percent. Also wine, a California staple, could see price increases due to a 9 percent decrease in grape production, a number farmers say could be much higher in 2015 if rain doesn’t come.

Farmers forced to neglect other crops in order to water the most demanding crops, still doesn’t always end happily. Despite many growers only focusing on almonds, yield still declined, falling to 1.9 billion pounds down from 2.1 billion pounds.

“I’m very nervous about water,” said Ledbetter, a wine grower in Sonoma County. “If we don’t have a rainy winter, I can pretty much guarantee we’re all going to be receiving curtailment notices. If that happens, we’re going to be concerned about keeping the vine alive rather than harvesting it.”

Sources:

www.sacbee.com

http://www.nytimes.com

http://westernfarmpress.com

http://www.motherjones.com

http://water.ca.gov

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/047327_drought_crop_harvest_California.html#ixzz3GirpN3ce

CSA Box Recipe: Acorn Squash Pie

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Acorn Squash Pie

I know that Squash Pie doesn’t sound as tasty as Pumpkin Pie, but here’s a little known fact: most store-bought pumpkin pies are actually squash pies. The pumpkins we all  buy at the grocery store or pumpkin patches make the WORST pumpkin pies ever. Those destined-to-be-decorations are bred for size, not taste.
To reduce the effort and calories, I’ve been making this lately without a crust at all. Baked to perfection, the slices hold up just fine without a crust. Absolutely don’t even think about omitting the whipped cream topping. That would just be wrong.
Here’s my time-tested favorite fall dessert recipe:
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.

CSA Box Recipe: Lime Season is Upon Us!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lime Season Is Upon Us

I’m not going to include a pie shell recipe here. You’ll need to have your baked shell ready. This recipe is not a typical restaurant lime pie. It’s got a good bit more zap to it..meaning if you like sweet lime pie, certainly add more sugar. Or go to Denny’s. I like my lime pie to roll just this side of too sour. With the fruit of 200 lime trees to experiment with, I’ve fiddled with this recipe for years. It’s not for sweet tooths. I think it’s the best lime pie on earth.
Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix together and set aside for a minute.
Combine 1 cup fresh lime juice, 3 beaten egg yolks, 2 tablespoons butter, and 3/4 cup boiling water. Add dry ingredients slowly, blending thoroughly. Bring entire mixutre to a full boil. cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick. This happens fast! Dump pudding-like mixture into pie shell and cool.
For the meringue:
Ingredients:
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar. If you don’t have the finer confectioner’s sugar on hand, you can powder your granulated sugar in a Vitamix if you have one. It only takes a second.
Whip egg whites to a consistency that will hold peaks. Add the cream of tartar, vanilla and sugar.
Using a spatula, ice your pie, and then broil the top to a golden brown for 3-4 minutes. Don’t make your peaks too pointy or your peaks will burn. Serve chilled.