March 3, 2008

Week 26

Vernon's Corner
Spring has sprung the grass is “riz” wonder where my lawn mower is! Just have to say that every spring, and what a spring this is. We’ve had more than adequate dormancy and so the blossoms are more prolific than normal. In fact, if you’ve ever wanted to take a Sunday drive through fruit country at bloom time, the 9th of March this year would be spot on perfect. Take a picnic and your sweetie and roll your windows down and just enjoy. When you get to the foothills, all the rain has ‘em so green and the cows are so happy..
.. Well, that’s enough of that. I’ve only got a couple columns here. We of all people on earth should be the most grateful, happy and satisfied.
Hard to believe we’ll be harvesting blueberries in a month and a half, Apricots in 8 weeks (Tasty Rich Apriums May 1st), Zee Fire Nectarines May 20th Flavor Rosa Pluots June 1st. Slap your granny, don’t get no better folks! Used to be the 1st varieties were skin and dish water but now they’re as good as anything we do all season.
My friend Don Warkentin is going to grow us about 10 weeks of Sweet Corn. You’ve never had sweet corn ‘til you eat Don’s. And if you Ever get to shake his hand and look in his eyes, you’ll never ever forget that either. Truly one of the last of the good guys. Ginger Balakian is getting ready to set out her Heirloom Tomatoes for us and speaking of tomatoes… The tomatoes we’ll be getting the next few months come from Hans Wilgenburg. Hans runs an Organic hot house deal a few miles from us (and since my cousin married his nephew, we’re family). For hot house tomatoes, they’re really good. Let us know what you think.
When Kathy can ever quit wrestling the website, we’ll get these guys profiles posted so you can get to know them better.

IF YOU TAKE THAT DRIVE next Sunday, you’ll probably notice that every spray rig in the industry is running at capacity.The spores that cause fruit to rot at harvest infect the fruit at bloom time. I’ll be 51 this month, but dad had me sorting cannery peaches when I was 5. Years with wet springs, we could lose ¼ of the crop to rot. About 5th grade, I remember he took me to a Benlate meeting. This 1st generation synthetic fungicide was truly a miracle. Sprayed at bloom, it stopped brown rot.
By far, the scariest part of producing Organic fruit is to forgo the synthetic fungicides. Organic weeds, worms and fertility are easy by comparison. We use an Organic compost tea, mixed with an Organic probiotic. Plain English, we introduce “good” bacteria so the bad stuff can’t get started. It usually works but costs triple.
By far (in my opinion) the greatest benefit to you and your immune system from eating Organic produce is the absence of these synthetic fungicides. I’m going to spend more time on this but we’re out of space so until next week. EAT HEALTHY! Vernon

Is it broccoli? NO! In fact it is not even related to broccoli. Rapini has many names around the world but broccoli raab is the most common in the United States. This apparently is due to the fact that it develops broccoli like buds but a head never forms. Rapini is actually a descendant from a wild herb and is more closely related to the turnip.
Rapini is used extensively in Italian and Chinese cooking. In fact it is probably the most popular vegetable in Hong Kong. Rapini is gaining popularity in the United States and has become widely used in the western world. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium, calcium and iron.
Rapini is said to have a flavor much like broccoli but more pungent. It has a nutty flavor and has a slightly bitter taste. After cleaning, trim the ends of the stems and then the entire bunch of rapini is eatable including the stems, leaves, buds and flowers, if any. If the stems seem tough they may be removed and started in the cooking process a little before the leaves. Rapini can be broiled, stir-fried, braised, sautéed or steamed. We know this is a new vegetable to many of you and are offering two different rapini recipes for you to try.
To maintain crispness of your rapini: refrigerate, unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag or plastic wrap.

You will notice that we have changed the packing material that is inside your black box. The craft paper is doing a better job of protecting your fruits and vegetables from moisture, which helps prevent premature wilting.
Another advantage of this material is that it is easily recyclable. For sanitary reasons we will not re-use the packing material in your box so you may remove it and recycle it with your other household materials.

We do our best to ensure that the add-on list is up to date and accurate. However, there may be times that an item will become unavailable and we will not find out until after the charges have run on Monday. If this occurs you will be notified that the item is not available and your money will be refunded. Unfortunately this is something that is beyond our control and we apologize for any inconvenience that it may cause.
Speaking of add-ons, check out the new format for the add-ons. Photos coming soon!

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Navel Oranges
M & K, Caruthers
-W. Murcott Mandarin Oranges
Rick Schellenburg, Kingsburg
Hans Wilgenburg, Dinuba
-Red Potatoes
Family Farm, Madera
-Red Onions
John Tobias, Hollister
-Romaine Lettuce*
-Red Leaf Lettuce
Joe Heger, El Centro
-Nantes Carrots
-Desert Artichokes
-Chioggia Beets*
-Tuscan Kale*
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

Due to availability, if you order more than two 4 pound bags of any of the grain items, you may receive two in the current week and the balance the following week.
Penne with Rapini, Sliced Almonds and Raisins
1 bunch rapini ½ lb penne pasta
3 Tbsp olive oil 4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup raisins 1/3 cup almonds, sliced or slivered
Red pepper flakes (optional) Salt
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Wash rapini well and separate stems and leaves. Bring several quarts of water to a boil. Blanch rapini 1 ½ minutes until barely tender. Remove the greens to a colander to drain. Reserve cooking water. Salt the water and add the pasta. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and soften it. Stir the greens into the garlic oil and remove from heat. When the pasta is cooked al dente, add the raisins, nuts and pepper flakes to the greens. Leave some water clinging to the pasta. Place the pan over high heat and toss the pasta with the greens. Season to taste. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Sautéed Rapini with Whole Wheat Rotini
2 cloves garlic minced 2 Tbsp olive oil
Rapini, stems trimmed 3-4 in. 1 cup low sodium, no-fat chicken broth
1/3 cup Feta cheese Prepared whole wheat rotini

Heat garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet until garlic sizzles in oil. Add the rapini, as much as you can fit in the pan at a time. Turn and coat with oil as you wilt the greens. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10-12 minutes to soften bitterness. Remove from heat and add Feta cheese. Toss with prepared whole wheat rotini.

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