January 5, 2008

Week 18

SURPRISE, surprise, surprise.
Even the Milk tastes better. I got a gallon of the non-fat that tastes better than the 2% we were used to. Whooda thunked it???
Before we added milk to our add-ons, I looked around for who was doing organic dairy right. Hands down, it was Organic Valley. Let me tell you briefly about them. National Co-op/ Max 500 cows per dairy/ 1 out of every 10 organic farmers in America (not just dairy farmers) is a member/ all pasture is adjacent to the dairies. For more, they’re on the web.
I milked the family cow every morning before school (weird even 40 years ago) so I know the health benefits from Raw Milk. A personal goal for me with Abundant Harvest is to offer Raw Milk. I don’t know how many of you would be interested, but my guess is we’re going to need a much larger subscription base to justify it. Several of you have indicated the desire and your zeal is truly appreciated. As fast as we can find a supplier willing to work with our numbers, we’ll have it on the truck.
In the mean time, and for as long as they’ll keep bringing it to us, this Organic Valley stuff is off the charts good. Wow.

Here’s the scoop. A year and a few months ago, there was an e- coli out break in spinach, remember? It was never traced back to any particular source, despite much conjecture. It wasn’t Organic spinach, but it was bagged by Earth Bound (the most cost efficient bagger) into various labels. Best guess is that some guy spread manure right before planting. The one common denominator through all of it was that it was “pre-cut, bagged”. In other words, the leafy salad stuff comes in, gets rinsed in recycled, chlorinated water, chopped up, often mixed with other greens and then bagged or clammed. These operations take huge capital investments and are thus the
domain of very large agri-businesses. I’m not one of those anti corporate farmer types. They have their place and have worked hard to get there. What I am is a huge personal responsibility guy. It’s none of my business whether you or your kids wear a helmet while snow skiing or riding a horse.
Cut to the chase. Hardly ever has e-coli been found on whole leafy greens. Never on whole Organic leafies to my knowledge. Whole uncut is the venue of small Organic farmers. The American public is about to spend untold billions on food safety when only a particular segment has a problem. By the way, precut leafy greens continue to be recalled despite the protocols. I could expound adnausium but bottom line … if I ski into a tree, you shouldn’t have to wear a helmet in your car. The consumer’s going to pay needlessly and many small farmers will be put out of business over a problem that’s never been associated with them. There, aren’t you glad I got that off my chest???
As promised, Noah’s organic grains will be available as an add on next week. They plan on offering 2 and 5 pound bags of several different types of grain. I just can’t wait to start this segment of the adventure. Don’t you think Carol would just love a flour mill for Valentines Day? Shhh, don’t tell and spoil the surprise. Romantic devil that I am, I got her a heart shaped garden hoe one year at the farm show, but this could even top that.
Seriously fresh milled flour is really where it’s at for flavor and nutrition. Now, if we all applaud real loud, I’ll bet we can get Noah’s mom Sarah to share some tips with us about milling and baking in next week’s news letter. Until then…

Is that something you hear from your kids, or even your spouse? One of our subscribers came up with the idea of mincing the broccoli in a food processor and then adding it to spaghetti/pizza sauce, or meatloaf.

If you have ideas, or unusual uses, for some of the winter vegetables that we are enjoying right now email them to us at kathy@abundantharvestorganics.com. They may be included in our newsletter, or on the recipe pages that will very soon be available on our website. What may be a common vegetable to you may be something unusual to others, and they are looking for different ways to cook them.

The first time we had arugula someone wrote and asked “what do I do with arugula?” The obvious answer is “use it in your salad”, but oh there is so much more. Arugula is used often in Mediterranean cooking and has a nutty and peppery taste at the same time. It has a pleasant sharp flavor when mixed with raw ingredients but is equally tasty in cooked dishes. Because it has a pungent flavor, some prefer to mix it with milder greens for salad. It is also excellent on sandwiches or added to pizza, just as you pull it out of the oven.
Don’t let the great flavor fool you arugula is high in vitamins A and C, and has only 2 calories per half cup.
Here is one cook’s opinion on cooking arugula “Cooking arugula is really a matter of five seconds with some olive oil in a pan; any more than this and some of the peppery flavor will dissipate.” Cooked arugula is also delicious when added to fresh pasta. So don’t just toss it in your salad, try something new. Add it to your soups, put it on your pizza, sauté it, or if you want to be adventurous try making an arugula pesto.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Satsuma Mandarin Oranges
M & K, Caruthers
-Fuji Apples
Ridder & Son, Watsonville
John Fagundes, Hanford
Troy Huckabay, Kingsburg
-Russet Potatoes
Family Farm, Madera
Christopher Ranch, Gilroy
-Red Onions
-Butternut Squash
John Tobias, Hollister
-Red Leaf Lettuce*
-Nantes Carrots
-Jr. Asian Turnips*
-Red Butterhead Lettuce
-Baby Red Beets*
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

To maintain the deep red color of beets, when cooking, add lemon juice or vinegar. If you do not they will turn a more violet color.

Winter Minestrone Soup
2 tsp olive oil ½ cup chopped onion
½ tsp dried or fresh basil ½ tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced 1 butternut squash cubed (1 ¼ cups)
¾ cup diced zucchini ½ cup chopped carrot
½ cup diced fennel (may substitute celery or leek)
1 cup water 14 oz chicken broth canned or homemade
5 Tbsp tomato paste 1 cup uncooked pasta
2 ½ cups chopped cabbage ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion, basil, oregano and
Garlic to pan. Sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add squash and next 3
ingredients (through fennel), sauté an additional 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup water, broth and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in pasta; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cabbage; cook 3 minutes. Stir in pepper. Cook until desired doneness. Serve with cheese Parmesan cheese on top.

Approximately 6 servings.

Optional: Meatballs or other meat may be added if desired.

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