Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Temecula Drop Off To be Later

Hey, it's getting hot out here, and I think as the heat approaches it's time to change the Temecula drop off to a later time so greens aren't wilted. We've been getting to Temecula on Tuesdays by 1:00, but would like to put it out there we'd like to change it to much later, say after 4:00 to avoid the worst of the day's heat. That way your baskets haven't been sitting there waiting for the majority of you who pick up after work anyway. Any comments would be appreicated!

Wild Crafted Fennel

The licorce flavored ferny looking herb that could easily be mistaken for dill, is wild fennel. There are two kinds of fennel; one is grown for the bulb, the other is the one in your basket, grown for the ferny top. I tried something interesting that should definately be tried for St. Patrick's Day next year:

I followed a standard sugar cookie recipe. I cut maybe a fourth of the fennel bunch tops into the cuisinart with all the sugar required and hit blend. What resulted was a bright (and I do mean shockingly bright) green sugar. I then made those cookies with that sugar. The result was a gently licorce flavored cookie that was so green it looked like it had to be dyed. Try it!



Chef Mark Mcdonald says he's using the fennel in a pasta dish.

Mulberries

The wierd looking black-berry kind of fruit is Pakastani Mulberries. Enjoy them fresh right out of their little baskets! Many of our avocados that were burned in October will come back in the next couple years. One hundred of them won't. We plan to replace those 100 with the mulberry tree, which has less water needs. Tell me what you think!

Loquats

Those little apricot looking fruits in the baskets are loquats. Save the seeds of a particularly good tasting one, and try growing it in a little pot. They do make decent house plants for a few years. they're as easy to start and grow as corn! Also, if you throw the seeds in your garden, many with sprout and grow without even being buried. They make an amazing fruit pie; follow a standard apricot recipe. Last night I made a tropical stir fried chicken with loquats. Here's the receipe:



I used Trader Joe's frozen breast meat. I boiled several pieces in a shallow pan until just cooked through. Drain the water (or save for soup later) and cut into strips. Pour a kumquat reduction (recipe again below) over chicken, seed all loquats and leaving skins on, cut in pieces and add to chicken. Slice a few whole kumquats and scatter the rings. Heat again and serve. Finish with a little wild fennel sprig.



Kumquat Reduction:

Throw all washed kumquats you have in the blender. Add water to top of kumquats. Blend on high. Dump mash into sieve and squish liquid with back of spoon into saucepan. Throw mash in compost pile. Heat liquid in saucepan with added sugar and a little cornstarch until thickened.

Price increase of March, 2008

I have received an e mail from a much appreciated long-standing supporter about our price increase of March, and would like to share my response. My guess is, many farm members would like to know why in this economic climate Farmer Donna would increase prices.



Donna:

What is going on with the dynamic invoicing price swings and increases? Are these rates expected to be stable for the next several months? Also, it seems like you just raised the rates..........



Here's my response:

Hi ____,
I really appreciate your support and understand price increases effect everyone. Two and a half years ago, when diesel fuel was half what we’re paying today, the large basket was 40 a week. Now it’s 44.50.

Since fuel costs are a critical component of our produce delivery program, I don’t know what the future holds. Rumors of diesel going to $6 a gallon would certainly effect our weekly basket price, as well as everything else for sale in this country. The basket’s recent price increase was at the end of March and was a $2 a basket increase, pretty much a reflection of the minimum wage increase of January and the sky rocketing gas prices. Property taxes on our farm increase without fail, every year. Water prices have significantly increased in the last 12 months for farmers in San Diego County, due to the water shortage crisis. Fuel prices have effected deliveries as well as the farm’s fertilizer costs. In fact, anything at all that has to be shipped to us, has been increased. And all necessary services provided to us, such as soil analysis, certification, fertilizer deliveries, seeds, and animal feed have increased in cost, no doubt because of the minimum wage increase and fuel costs.


There was a time, early in my CSA days, when I ignored the fact that the CSA wasn’t paying for itself, or paying me anything, either for that matter. Hey, I was used to not getting paid, as the farm had never supported an income for me, even before I had a CSA, and had never paid the farm’s mortgage. I so love what I do, I just had faith that eventually as new plantings came into production, as I found markets for hard to sell rare fruit, and as I became more experienced in general, the farm would be able to pay me a salary and all of it’s expenses. For years, I worked full time, delivered a great product, and dipped into savings each month to make it all happen. That’s not working for free, as my husband has pointed out, that’s working for less than free.



I changed the model of the farm’s operation from farmers’ markets to CSA when he insisted I staunch the red ink or sell the farm. But with only a handful of CSA members, the red ink continued to flow. Not discouraged, I figured when I got enough supporters, and no fruit or produce was being thrown away, the bottom line would iron out. And it has! We’re closing in on 80 fabulous supporters, for whom I am really grateful. I have no choice but to keep a close eye on actual costs and pass them on to the community of supporters that want the farm to continue. That is the very definition of Community Supported Agriculture.

I am very aware that my farm is supported by people, many of whom are being hit hard by the current economic climate. I know there may come a day when I have to give up the farm if supporters are unable to assist me in keeping it going. I sure hope that day doesn’t come, but know that despite my love for the farm and passion for what I do, I am also running a business that has to be relevant and financially, not just environmentally, sustainable.

I think your concerns are valid, so much so that I’m going to post this on my blog. Thanks for letting me know what you think, surely lots of others are thinking the same thing.

Sincerely,

Farmer Donna

Monday, April 7, 2008

Kumquat Pound Cake with strawberries and cream

1 cup pureed kumquats


2 cups butter


1 TBS vanilla


3 cups sugar


10 large eggs


4 cups all purpose flour


1/2 tsp. ginger


1/4 tsp. nutmeg





Cream butter with half the sugar. Then add the other half of the sugar, ginger and nutmeg. Beat at high speed for 4 minutes. Add eggs two at a time. At low speed, add flour until blended. Stir in kumquat puree. Turn into greased and floured 10" tube pan. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes. Invert and remove from pan and cool. Serve with strawberries and freshly made whipped cream.

Kumquat Pie

1 baked shell, I use Trader Joes which come frozen in two packs. They're as good as the ones I make myself and don't have any preservatives or chemicals.


3 tbs. butter


1 cup sugar


1/3 cup pureed kumquats, seeds removed


3 egg whites


3 yolks


1 and 1/2 cup water


1 tsp. lime juice


1 pinch salt


3 tbsp. cornstarch


1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract





Combine water, sugar, constarch and salt. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Boil for around 2 minuites until thickened. Remove from heat, add juice, kumquats and butter. Cool a little and pour in baked pie shell.





For the top of the pie: whip egg whites with a little sugar and the vanilla. I add the sugar and vanilla after a minute or two of whipping. Whip until peaks are easily formed, and they are glossy. Spatula onto the top of the pie, making pretty peaks and put in a 450 degree oven for 3 or 4 minutes until golden.


Eat.

Kumquats Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from the Kumquat Growers, Inc. Recipe site

Packed with wholesome food value, these are different and delicious!



2/3 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 and 1/2 cups REAL oatmeal (none of that weird already cooked stuff)

2/3 cup white chocolate chips

2 cups all purpose whole grain flour (I actually use half white whole grain purchased off the shelf from Trader Joe's and half whole wheat berries freshly milled in my kitchen., using the Vitamix. I've discovered 100% freshly milled can be a little heavy. This is a function of the type of wheat, nothing else. On my to-do list is to find a California organic wheat grower that can supply the different kinds of wheat berries for different cooking needs )

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup pureed kumquats

(cut lengthwise, flick out seeds, add a little water to assist blending, drain off water)



Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs to the mixture and mix well. Combine everything else except kumquats and chocolate. Mix well. Add kumquats and chocolate. Drop by teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes at 375. Makes 2 and a half dozen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

This Week's Baskets

This weeks pick ticket:
Limes, avocados, kumquats, radishes, navel oranges, baby lettuce and head lettuce, Swiss chard, golden and red beets, green onions, green garlic, cilantro, strawberries, and mint. Large baskets saw peas and the first of our passionfruit. Here's something quick to do with kumquats: Throw a handful in the blender with water and a little powdered stevia and a couple sprigs of mint. Blend, sieve pulp out, pour liquid over ice, enjoy. Although I love raw kumquats, I have to admit the full flavor of the fruit doesn't appear until cooked. I think that may be true, also, of quince. A kumquat marmalade will made a jam-eater out of just about anyone!