May 6, 2008

Week 35

Paradox* I’ve been thinking a lot this week about some of the paradoxes we have in our society right now and how they pertain to this Abundant Harvest adventure.
Paradox 1* Americans spent an all time record 11 billion dollars on kitchen remodels in 2007 while simultaneously breaking all records for restaurant sales.
Paradox 2* Around 70% of Americans say they eat Organic frequently but only 2% of our food production is Organic.
Paradox 3* Farmers rank right up there with the clergy in polls of what profession do you trust while Agribusiness (carried out by farmers) is near the bottom of businesses that we trust.
Paradox 4* Most of us trace our lineage with pride back to poor immigrants who came to America with nothing but desire, took the most menial jobs and worked their way up so the kids (us) could have a better life yet for over 25 years we’ve not provided a legal way for immigrants with only entry level skills to come and do the jobs we’ve risen above.
*Resolving the paradoxes*
1* I’m thinking that while we want to value eating and entertaining at home, it would take some sort of really special service that could source varied and exciting produce items and combine them with great recipes to keep cooking at home from becoming boring and eating at home with family and friends exciting. What so many folks have had pointed out in their lives by this subscription is how little we actually eat at home. But with our budgets being stretched so thin, if we swapped one meal a week out, for a home cooked meal, and if that meal were fresh Organic, we’d save a ton on restaurants and be healthier to boot. We all hate to pay for what we don’t use so kind of like a gym membership, if you ponied up for more produce, I’ll bet you’d enjoy staying home to eat it or invite some friends over and share it. Either way we’d be richer in so many ways!
2* I’m thinking that while folks want to eat Organic, they don’t because of cost, quality and availability. We’ve got that licked.
3* I’m thinking there’s no face to conventional agriculture and the folks profiting from it don’t even want “country of origin” much less consumer knowledge of the farmer. What’s needed is a “who grew this” attached to all produce we eat.
4* Maybe some other time. I’m thinking for a start though it would be helpful if we had a place on the website for you to meet the hard working immigrants who’ve come here with nothing but desire who are doing the real yeomen’s work of producing your food. Hard to ignore real folks who picked the strawberries this week.
Hey! I got to be in Bakersfield and Tehachapi last week for the deliveries as well as share your Earth Day events. What a Blast. It was most gratifying to watch you all hanging out and visiting and hear such positive 1st hand reports of the impact this is having. From the bottom of our hearts:
Thank you for Eating Healthy

This week’s featured vegetable is chock full of good things from flavor, crunch, and healthy fiber to vitamins and minerals. They are high in carbohydrates, but, fortunately, rather low in calories. It is the English garden pea, probably the most familiar pea to most of us.
The garden pea as we know it today was developed in England; thus the name English pea. Peas, however, have been cultivated for centuries. No one knows exactly when people began cultivating them, but records indicate that by 3000 BC some variety of peas was part of the diet.
Perhaps your experience with peas has been the frozen variety. Or, perhaps you have memories of helping shell peas as a child. No matter your experience most of us have eaten peas. Luckily, since they are grown only during the cooler months, English peas lend themselves well to freezing. To freeze English peas, shell them; discard the pods; then blanch the peas for one to two minutes in boiling water, drain and dip in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain them again and store in plastic bags or containers in the freezer. Freshly frozen peas should be eaten within six to seven months.
If you are going to eat your peas fresh; shell them when you are ready to prepare them, not in advance. Shelling is simply opening the pod and removing the peas. To store fresh peas place them, pod and all, in a moisture proof bag, and refrigerate them for up to 5 days.

We have always said that one of the goals of Abundant Harvest Organics is to encourage the building of “community”. We continue to see that happening at the delivery sites as you spend time visiting with each other and sharing ideas.
Here’s a great idea to take it a step further. You may look at the add-on list and think “I would love to have more of that great spinach, but I would never use six pounds of it”. Or maybe, “25 pounds of peas! That’s a lot of frozen peas.” How about if you get together with other families and share the cost and the bounty?
As fruits and vegetable are in season, we will try to offer as many of them as possible as an add-on so that you will have the opportunity to purchase them in larger quantities. They will be offered in the quantity sold to us by the farmer. Unless you are into canning, freezing or making jam these quantities may be more than can be used by one family so here is your perfect opportunity to build a form of community with one, or more, of the subscribers in your area.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-W. Murcott Mandarin Oranges
Rick Schellenburg, Kingsburg
-Valencia Oranges*
Marie Ishida & Lynn Takamoto,
Hans Wilgenburg, Dinuba
-Russet Potatoes
Grimway Farms, Bakersfield
-Red Butterhead Lettuce*
-Redleaf Lettuce
-Bloomsdale Spinach
-Bunched Red Spring Onions
-English Garden Peas
-Fresh Dill*
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

Yes, sadly it is time to say goodbye to the oranges and mandarins for this year. The good news is that it is the start of a new season. As Vernon has been sharing the fruit trees are heavy laden with delicious varieties of stone fruit. As they ripen they will be harvested and delivered to you fresh and tasty.

Sweet Pea and Potato Pasta
12 ounces fettuccine 6 Tbsp olive oil
½ lb potatoes, peeled, cut into 1” pieces Salt and pepper
1 lb garden peas in their pod, or 2 cups shelled ½ cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup spring onions, chopped including green top

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and toss with 4 Tbsp of olive oil. While the pasta cooks, place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Add 1 Tbsp salt and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Shell the peas. When the potatoes have 2 minutes left to cook, add the peas to the potatoes. Drain the vegetables and transfer to the pot with the pasta. Stir in spring onions, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, the remaining olive oil, ¾ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Place in bowl and top with remaining cheese. Can be served cold with a salad dressing applied.

Cheese and Spinach Lasagna Preheat Oven to 350º
1 lb cooked spinach Salt and pepper
1 lb ricotta cheese 8 lasagna noodles (cooked)
2 cups strained tomatoes 8 oz mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Squeeze out any excess water from spinach. Put half in the bottom of an oven proof dish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread half the ricotta over the spinach, cover with half the lasagna noodles, then spoon over half the strained tomatoes. Arrange half the mozzarella cheese slices on top. Repeat the layers and finally sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is brown and bubbling.Serve with fresh green salad.

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