April 15, 2008

Week 32

We’re now in our 4th week of thinning. Two or so more after this week and then harvest starts. What a complete and total joy to walk the orchards with the men and the vineyards with the ladies. To be able to have time to find out how their kids are doing (and now grand kids). Several of the folks have been working with us 20-25 years. We’ve worked together through heat and cold, good and bad and there’s a mutual trust that develops over time. It’s the relationships that are most valuable in any endeavor and constantly need to be cultivated and maintained at least as much as the product or service you’re providing. I believe that even in this disconnected ‘e’ world we’re in, there’s still a huge place for relationship in the marketplace. At least that’s what turns my world and remains a constant. There are three dozen farm families around here that trust us to package their fruit for instance. That’s sacred and emotional just to think about because the way we do that impacts that family for generations. There are about 100 people involved in the harvest and packing of all of this fruit that get a Peterson Family pay check each Saturday. In several cases that’s Mom, Dad, and a couple kids. You think that’s possible with out a ton of mutual trust? I’m also privileged to manage a fabulous charity in our town that unites all the churches of Kingsburg in meeting the needs of the poor. It could be a model for our state and nation and if you’re ever in Kingsburg, I’d love to give you a tour. Every day, a hand full of dedicated, underpaid staff and a boat load of volunteers faithfully get it done.
And now, there’s all of you who weekly trust us to find the absolute drop dead best Organic food around to nourish your families. What a total blast. We see your faces as were working because now, we’re actually growing food for specific real people who actually let us know how they like it. This is by far the greatest experience in my farming career, simply because of the relationship factor. WOW!!!
Boy, how did I get off on that tangent? My intent was to just talk about what’s going on with the crops and so let’s get back there. This has been the most classically perfect winter and spring anyone around here can remember. Excellent chilling coupled with plenty of rain and snow during the winter. Then, miraculously, when the bloom started, the rain stopped and we’ve had endless perfect high 60s low 70s for over a month. Unbelievable! Nobody could dial it in any better and the result is exactly what you’d expect. Every orchard and vineyard is at it’s capacity. Plenty of work in idyllic weather for our crews. Plenty of fruit for our farmers and you. Field crops are being held back by the unusually cool weather. Our melon guy told me yesterday that “they’re just laying out there” and Don’s sweet corn’s 1st planting is only up about 3”. Not to worry, 90 by the weekend and all that stuff’s going to just explode with delight.

Edible pod peas are peas whose pods are enjoyable to eat. This is because they are a special variety of pea plant that gives us a soft edible pod lacking the fibrous inner lining of the common pea. Edible pod peas have been grown since 7000 B.C., and are the main type of pea eaten in China and Japan.
There is no need to cook these green gems, but if you blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute it brings out their vivid green color and heightens their crispness, which makes them a beautiful addition to salads. Even when using edible pod peas in stir fry they should be added at the very end of cooking, one to two minutes is sufficient for heating through. Rapid cooking preserves the crisp texture and delicate flavor of these pod peas.
Edible pod peas are excellent in any stir-fried dish with meats and other vegetables, or stir fried alone with shallots and garlic, in olive oil. Try them lightly steamed as a side dish, or add them raw to any cold pasta salad. They also make an excellent finger food as they are clean and will not spoil. Pack them for a picnic or in a lunch.
These pod peas provide iron, potassium, vitamins A and C, and are low in sodium, and another plus is that during the cooking of peas nearly all the nutritional value is maintained from its raw beginning.
Edible pod peas can be stored for up to two weeks in a refrigerator at 40 degrees, F. Wash, drain and place pods in plastic bags before refrigerating.

Curly parsley is exactly as its name implies; curly. At least the leaves at the end of its sprigs are. Curly parsley is often chopped and used in dips, soups, pastas and fish dishes, but is also used for color contrast as much as it is for flavor. Because it has high chlorophyll content, it can be eaten raw as a breath freshener.
All parsley remains fresher when it is kept moist. There are two methods of keeping your parsley fresh. With both methods you want to first wash the parsley in cold water. You may then trim the bottom of the stems and place the bunch of parsley in a glass or small vase with water, just as you would a flower arrangement, and place it in the back of the refrigerator. Or, you may put the parsley in the refrigerator after you wrap it in a paper towel and place it in a plastic bag or container.
Fresh parsley, properly stored, should last up to a week in the refrigerator.

For those of you who have been missing them, the raw butter and cream are back as add-ons.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-W. Murcott Mandarin Oranges
Rick Schellenburg, Kingsburg
-Navel Oranges
Mark Nakata, Caruthers
-Red Onions
John Tobias, Hollister
Christopher Ranch, Gilroy
-Red Potatoes
-Curly Leaf Parsley
Grimway Farms, Bakersfield
-Edible Pod Peas
-Nantes Carrots
-Red Butterhead Lettuce
-Red Leaf Lettuce*
-Bloomsdale Spinach
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

All of the recipes that have been on past newsletters can be found on the website. They are categorized by ingredient so may appear in more than one location. Whether you have misplaced a previous newsletter, or are new to Abundant Harvest Organics, check out these great recipes.

Great Green Vegetable Pasta
1 cup cottage or ricotta cheese 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup milk (optional if using cottage cheese) 1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp basil (dried 2 tsp) ½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp parsley (dried 2 tsp)
Stir together in a bowl and set aside.

12 ounces linguini or spaghetti
In a large soup pot of boiling water, start cooking according to package directions.

2 cups spinach or broccoli 1 cup green beans
2 cups asparagus (cut into segments) 1 cup peas¼ cup green onion, chopped

Stir in spinach or broccoli 6 minutes before pasta is done; boil 3 minutes. Stir in asparagus and green beans slowly; boil for 2 minutes. Stir in peas and green onion slowly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Drain well and return to soup pot.

2 Tbsp butterToss with pasta and vegetables until melted. Add cottage cheese mixture; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper

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