April 27, 2008

Week 34

I may have a life long career in agriculture, but I found out I don’t know beans. Literally! There’s a whole world of different kinds of beans out there that leave pintos (the accepted standard) way back there flavor wise. Carol says it’s not soup & bean weather anymore, so we’re not going to put a bunch of the different kinds up there ‘til fall, but if you were going to get some pintos any way, try the cranberry beans instead. You’ll be glad you did.
Another thing I learned is how to cure the infamous side effects of beans that we’re all too familiar with. Maybe everybody else on the planet knew this already, but here’s how to degas beans.
1) Bring enough water to cover the beans about an inch to a boil.
2) Pour in your beans and continue to boil just 2 minutes.
3) Remove from heat and allow to cool 1 hour or so.
4) Drain off the water (which now contains the gas producing enzyme) and replace with fresh water.
5) Cook like normal
This gets rid of about 85% of the gas. Hey, if I didn’t know, there’s probably somebody else out there who didn’t either and he might be in your car pool so you’re welcome.
Speaking of gas, looks like we’re headed for $5.00 sometime this summer which probably means $6.00 diesel. I’m not an anti oil company guy. Nobody was trying to bail ‘em out 5-6 years ago when they were capping their wells because they couldn’t afford to lift it at $15.00/ barrel. Realistically there’s no viable alternative to petroleum in the foreseeable future. Not that I’m an expert, but I’m told it takes 5 calories to lift and refine 100 calories of petroleum. Ethanol uses 100 to give us 135 and an acre of soybeans only gives us 150 gallons of biodiesel. Until we figure something else out (and now there’s plenty of incentive so I’m sure we will) we’ve got to use biosafe technology to drill and lift our own crude. In the meantime, your produce might start coming in the new Abundant Harvest Prius.
Erik was the overall winner in the Golden State Strongman event this past Saturday. 1st in overhead lift, car lift and wheelbarrow. Tied 1st in stones but wiffed the truck pull. We were all excited and proud for him!! Next stop Iowa in June.
Farm news.
It’s official. The 2 Organic chicken houses in Laton are healthy. Four of the other five conventional houses are struggling with a bit of cocci. Unbelievable.
Exceptionally cool spring, so we’re a good week behind normal now.
The south valley had some extreme low temps Monday morning. Our Organic blueberry farmers got hurt real bad. Some of their table grapes got nipped as well. There might be global warming somewhere else, but not here. Maybe if we all bought just 3 incandescent bulbs and swapped out 3 spiral florescent we could warm things back up. Just kidding Lighten up out there, enjoy a sense of humor and EAT HEALTHY!!!

STRAWBERRIES
We are all familiar with the strawberry. In America it is one of the favorite cultivated berries. They are great fresh or frozen, for breakfast or dessert, made into preserves, or as part of two of our most popular treats, strawberry shortcake or strawberry ice cream.
Familiar yes, but how much do you really know about that sweet juicy piece of fruit? Wild berries were found over much of Europe from the earliest days. Wild berries were planted in gardens by the 15th century. The berries had great aroma and were sweet, but they were small and the plants produced sparingly.
When the colonists arrived in America they were amazed at the abundance and plant vigor of the native strawberry. A Maryland colonist wrote “Wee cannot sett downe a foote but tred on straw- berries”.
In 1838 a horticulturist in Cambridge, Massachusetts by the name of Charles M. Hovey produced a variety that he had developed by cross-pollination. This variety was known as the “Hovey” and was the first fruit variety of any kind originated in the United States by breeding. Since that day many varieties have been developed and the general quality of the strawberry has improved in size, aroma and taste.
We know many of you want to be able to purchase strawberries for freezing and jam. Once we return to warm sunny days we hope to be able to make them available to you as an add-on.

IT’S THE WEATHER
This will make some of you happy and some of you not so happy. This past week has once again shown us that it is not we, nor the farmers that control the weather. Just days ago we were experiencing temperatures in the 80’s and the fruits and vegetables were loving it. But when the weather turned cool again the plants pulled in the reins and everything slowed down a little.
According to the website both the Abundant and Harvest box were to have sugar snap peas this week. Denesse Willey, of T & D Willey Farms, let us know on Wednesday morning that her pea plants weren’t producing enough to fill our order. In fact, she only had enough to put in the Abundant box. Because of that the Harvest box has Rainbow Chard in the place of the sugar snap peas.
Rainbow Chard was in the Abundant box last week and there was a Rainbow Chard recipe on the newsletter. For those of you who are new, or do not have last week’s newsletter, the recipe can be found on the website.

WHO GREW THIS?
Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-W. Murcott Mandarin Oranges
Rick Schellenburg, Kingsburg
-Tomatoes
Hans Wilgenburg, Dinuba
-Russet Potatoes
-Greenleaf Lettuce
Grimway Farms, Bakersfield
-Shallots
John Tobias, Hollister
-Garlic
Christopher Ranch, Gilroy
-Mei Qing Choi
-Sugar Snap Peas*
-Nantes Carrots
-Red Butterhead Lettuce*
-Bloomsdale Spinach*
-Strawberries
-Rainbow Chard#
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
#Denotes Harvest Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

WHERE’D THE BOXES GO?
Have you seen stray black boxes hiding about your home or car? If you find any will you please bring them home next week, we miss them.

Carrot Muffins Preheat Oven to 350º
1 ½ cup vegetable oil 2 ½ cups sugar
4 eggs, separated and divided 5 Tbsp hot water
2 ½ cups flour 1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda ¼ tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg 1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves 1 ½ cusp carrots, grated
1 cup walnuts, pecans or almonds chopped; or raisins
Grease muffin tin with butter or Pam. Cream together oil and sugar. Beat in egg yolks one at a time. Beat in hot water. Sift flour with other dry ingredients and beat into egg mixture. Stir in carrots and nuts. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into mixture. Bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted is clean. Use as muffins or frost for cupcakes. (Over for frosting recipe)

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz package cream cheese ¼ cup margarine
2 ¼ cups powdered sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract or almond flavor
Cream together cream cheese, margarine and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add one cup powdered sugar; beating well. Beat about 1 ¼ cups additional powdered sugar to make spreading consistency.

Fruit Smoothie
2 ± cups any fruit, depending on what is available
1 ½ cups plain yogurt
1 cup milk
3-4 Tbsp honeyAdd to blender, blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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