February 2, 2008

Week 22

Well, we’ve gone & done it now. If there was ever any question about our sanity it’s now settled. Save room at the funny farm for ol’ vern.
Actually, I was in Cambodia this time last year with some of the most successful Dairymen from our area all of which begged me not to do it. “What you’re talking about (this Abundant Harvest dream you’re participating in) sounds great, the timing’s right, we really need it but please Vernon Please don’t do RAW MILK!
Too late now. We held hands, counted to three and jumped. Raw milk has been a personal goal from--as you can see—the planning stages of this little venture. I told folks way before we started that we’d know we were doing it right when we had raw milk on the truck. I was raised on the stuff so I know the value. It was important to my father that his family have raw milk. And since he had free labor (me) it made economic sense as well. I’d get up before school, fill a pail with warm water, go out and bring up “ol Dirty Sally” wash her down with the warm water and we’d have sweet communion for a half hour while the rest of the world woke up. The cats looked forward to some squirts in their direction as well. Feed the cattle and horses. Gather the eggs and take it all in to Mom.
At the time I argued that eggs cost less than chicken feed, and milk costs less than grain and hay plus I’d have another hour in my life. “But son, all your cousins on both sides have allergies, you kids don’t. How much are doctor bills?” Day after he died I sold the cow, But for a few years I still went down to Neves’ dairy and gave ‘em $5.00 for 5 gallons out of the tank so we still had raw milk & cream & butter, I just didn’t have to deal with the cow.
What’s the big deal with raw you might ask? Well, you can check out McAfee’s website, http://www.organicpastures.com/ but the main deal is it’s living. Like my Johnny one note “85% of your immune system is your gut.” Keep your stomach healthy and you’ll be healthy. Living raw milk naturally solves a lot of problems and that’s all I’m going to say. Beyond that I’m out of my league. You know though, we don’t have to be so smart if we just follow the rules. Who would have guessed that this organic produce would just plain taste so good? Chemical free? Sure but taste. Probably not. WRONGO!
You see, biological nutrition puts the flavor in. You can read about it, you can dismiss it if you want, but just eat the stuff and in a couple months, you’ll find yourself craving exactly the fruits and vegetables your body needs to thrive. You’ll find yourself wanting to eat at home because the restaurant just doesn’t get it. Are we crazy? OH YEAH! CERTIFIABLY CRAZY! But this is a right kind of crazy that everyone we love should experience.

Kudos to our farmers. I’m just so proud of each one. Last week, Madera got 2 inches of rain in the three days prior to harvesting your box. The furrows were literally standing full end to end. Team Abundant Harvest was preparing an e mail blast and a phoning blitz to let everyone know we were calling it off and how we were going to deal with everyone’s payments and you find yourself awake at 2:00AM listening to the wonderful rain. We had a few hours break in the weather Thursday morning, and they all said “Forget the restaurants, we don’t have time, but we’ve got to get out the Abundant Harvest Order.” Now that’s love in my book to go out in the mud and harvest all the wonderful things you got last week and to have it come out so nice considering. Escarole was a little rough but I would be too if I stood in that much rain that long.
So where are we at in the produce calendar? Well, end of February is the end of the winter harvest. Traditionally the big guys have gone to El Centro for their winter production. Dec-Jan. More recently that’s changed to Mexico. Most people don’t realize that as of about three years ago, U.S.A. became a net food importer. Sadly, we now import more food than we export and even more sad is the fact that what we’re importing is produce, and what we’re exporting is grain. Even Organic shifts out of the country almost entirely for the winter.
Abundant Harvest however, is committed to fresh, local, minimal packaging, high flavor at a great price. We tell you every week exactly who and where your produce comes from. What that means is you’re going to see more soup stuff in the winter and more salad stuff in the spring. It makes the adventure exciting and horizon expanding all at the same time. We hope you’re family is enjoying it as much as ours.

Tuscan kale has been grown in Mediterranean gardens since the time of ancient Rome. Italians use only the leaf blades. They strip out the center midrib by grasping it and pulling toward the leaf tip. That is not necessary, however, and once cooked you probably won’t find the rib too tough. Kale has lots of vitamin A and C, calcium, iron and several antioxidants. It is also especially rich in alpha-linolenic acid, a substance found in flaxseed and almonds. Try kale sautéed in olive oil with onions until tender and then add salt & pepper, garlic, sun-dried tomato, and pine nuts. Serve it as is or toss it with ravioli.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Navel Oranges
-Satsuma Mandarin Oranges
M & K, Caruthers
Christopher Ranch, Gilroy
John Tobias, Hollister
-Red Irish Potatoes
-Tender Green Cabbage
-Brussels Sprouts
-Nantes Carrots
-Tuscan Kale
-Baby Artichokes*
-Bloomsdale Spinach*
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

Share your organic goodies with your friends and family. Try the Green Surprise Dip using the kale, shallots and garlic from this week’s box. If you’re really in the mood to be generous with your bounty you can serve it with carrot sticks cut from your delicious Nantes carrots.

Saucy Sprouts and Oranges
3 medium oranges 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed & halved
1 Tbsp butter 2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp honey mustard ¼ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
Finely grate peel of one orange, set peel aside. Cut that orange in half; squeeze juice into a measuring cup, add enough water to measure ½ cup; set aside. Peel and discard white membranes from remaining oranges; section them and set aside. Bring 1” of water and Brussels sprouts to a boil. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Whisk cornstarch & reserved orange juice until smooth; add to butter. Stir in mustard and five spice powder. Bring to boil over medium heat; cook & stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened & bubbly. Drain sprouts; gently stir in orange sections. Transfer to a serving bowl; drizzle with sauce. Sprinkle with almonds and grated orange peel. Yield 6 Servings

Green Surprise Dip
1 cup steamed kale, spinach or combination 1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup or can garbanzo beans ¼ cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic ½ onion or shallots, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice or to taste ½ tsp salt or to taste
Puree all ingredients in blender or food processor. Serve with vegetable sticks, crackers or tortilla chips.
Au Gratin Cabbage
2 cups cabbage, shredded ½ cup carrots, shredded
1/3 cup green onions chopped
Sautee until crisp-tender in frying pan coated with cooking spray. Transfer to greased 1 qt baking dish.
½ cup milk 1 egg 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese shreddedCombine in a small bowl. Pour over vegetables. Garnish with 1 Tbsp chopped parsley and 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes

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