January 18, 2008

Week 20

Listen! Do you hear it? Look outside! Maybe going out to an orchard would help. It’s faint and distant but sure none the less. It’s a huge mighty rumble that ready or not is thundering our way. The desire for another month is like mom and dad on Christmas morning, but the kids know. They’ve been waiting and now it’s here with all it’s anticipated hope and promise.
I saw my first nectarine flower today in Paul Muradian’s EarliGlo’s. A bit later than normal actually thanks to the wonderful cold weather we’ve had this winter. Our stone fruit requires something called “dormancy”, measured as hours below 45 degrees. The more hours you get the longer the dormancy and the better the crop. Our San Joaquin valley here is unique in all the world. The wonderful Tule fog blocks the sun and keeps the cold in like a blanket, allowing the “chill hours” to rack up. We usually get adequate chilling without a killing frost. Water is stored in the Sierras as snow, and comes down to us when we need it during our fabulous HOT, DRY summer. Hot and dry makes sweet and sound peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots.
If you didn’t already, now you know why us farmers are smiling in the winter when it’s really cold for an extended period of time and worried when December’s warm. Happy when the summer’s 100 degrees and dry. Sad when it rains in July because rain rots fruit. Weird aren’t we?
Well, buds are swelling with optimism. Bees are waiting in anticipation and shortly off in late April earshot there’s a mighty rumble coming this way. Can you hear it?

Tal Tartaglia who you know from the delivery truck has been a part of this little dream since I laid it out in his Snow Fall peach patch 16 months ago. The concept resonated because of his own experience and he just wanted to be a part. The truck and his back just couldn’t get along so sadly he’s had to bow out. Our son Erik will be taking over that task. You can check Erik out on the “meet the farmers” section of the website. Give him a hard time. It will make him feel at home.
There’s just a joy about this adventure. I see it in your faces when you come for the weekly surprise. It’s not confined to just the fresh produce. Eating healthy of course is most pleasurable but this is a catalyst for so much more. I get reports about “eating your stuff made me feel so good, I joined a gym and feel even better!”
And “we’re actually cooking and eating together as a family again”
Your encouragement is really valuable right now as we flesh this whole thing out.
Eat Healthy! Vernon

They may resemble an over-grown, ivory skinned carrot, but they are parsnips. Parsnips are actually cousins to the carrot. They are starchy like a potato, but are considered to be nutritionally superior. These days the potato has pretty much taken over as the source of starch in our diets. Believe it or not, long ago potatoes were thought to be inedible. The parsnip was the favored vegetable for several reasons. It had long shelf life; it had a sweet, nutty flavor, and high nutritional value. In fact in ancient Europe parsnips were considered a luxury item for the aristocracy in Rome. They were usually served sweetened with honey or in fruited cakes.
Parsnips should be stored, unwashed, in a cool dark place. If you wrap them in a paper towel and place them in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator they should last two weeks, or longer. Parsnips can also be frozen for later use. To do so cut the parsnips into ½ inch cubes and par-boil or steam them for 3 to 5 minutes. After cooling pack them into containers, seal and freeze for 8 to 10 months. If you cook your parsnips and then place them in the refrigerator they should be used within three days.
Parsnips can be roasted in the oven, steamed and mashed like potatoes, added to soups and stews, or grated raw into salads to name a few ways to use them. If you put them in soups or stews they should be added near the end of cooking or they may get mushy. They can be substituted for carrots in most recipes.

Although a baby artichoke may look like an artichoke that is simply not full grown that is not the case. Baby artichokes are a variety of chokes that mature in a smaller size.
There are benefits to the baby artichoke over its larger family members. Once you peel off the outer green layers of petals, the entire rest of the artichoke may be eaten. This is because the fuzzy choke part does not really develop.
When serving artichokes they go well with something acidic, like lemon or balsamic vinegar, and something creamy like mayonnaise or Parmesan cheese. Steaming isn’t the only way to cook these “babies”. If you look you will find recipes to prepare them sautéed, grilled, baked, roasted and marinated, to name a few. Here is another chance to try something new.
Don’t discard those leaves you peeled off before you cooked the artichokes. Simmer them in water for an hour to make an artichoke vegetable stock that you may use for soups, or other dishes. That way nothing is going to waste.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Navel Oranges
M & K, Caruthers
John Fagundes, Hanford
Troy Huckabay, Kingsburg
-Red Onions
John Tobias, Hollister
-Yukon Gold Potatoes
-Tender Green Cabbage*
-Nantes Carrots
-Red Butterhead Lettuce*
-Baby Red Beets*
-Baby Artichokes
-Bloomsdale Spinach
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

For a little change try tossing a handful of chopped escarole in your favorite recipe during the last 10 15 minutes of cooking. It is a form of endive but is less bitter than other varieties. It is very high in dietary fiber, calcium and vitamins A & C, and iron.


Honey Mustard Carrots
1 ¼ pound carrots, julienned 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Dijon mustard ¼ tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp butter
1/8 tsp salt 1/8 tsp pepper
2 tsp minced fresh parsley
To cook carrots bring them to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until just tender. In a small bowl combine honey, mustard, cumin and cinnamon. Drain carrots; add butter, salt and pepper. Stir in honey mixture and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley.

Carrot Parsnip Stir-Fry
3/4 lb parsnips, peeled and julienned 2 Tbs butter 1
1 lb carrots, julienned 1 Tbs dried minced onion
In a skillet sauté parsnips in butter for 3-4 min. Add carrots and onion: cook and stir until vegetables are crisp tender, about 10 minutes

Broccoli with Lemon-Garlic Crumbs Serves 4
1 large bunch broccoli cut into florets 1 medium garlic clove, minced
7 Tbsp unsalted butter 1 Tbsp minced lemon peel
1 ½ cups soft white breadcrumbs

Cook broccoli in boiling, salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl of ice water and cool. Drain and pat dry. Cover and refrigerate. Melt 3 Tbsp butter in large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli and sauté until heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Add 4 Tbsp butter, lemon peel and garlic to the skillet; cook until butter begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add breadcrumbs; stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top broccoli with breadcrumbs and serve.

No comments: