June 22, 2008

Week 42

We at Abundant Harvest Organics hold this truth to be self evident that not all carrots (or most any other produce item) are created equal, but the best have been endowed by their creator with certain incomparable delights amongst which are crispy, carroty sweetness not found in their peers. How come you may ask? Partly, it’s the biological fertility we’ve talked about before. Partly, it’s the fact they were just picked by a farmer who knows what he’s doing. And partly, it’s the variety. These Nantes carrots aren’t machine harvestable and have to be handled by hand. Therefore, they’re twice as valuable as the other machine harvestable type most Americans are used to. Denesse tells us this will be the last of these carrots for a while & that gives us something to look forward to next fall. We’re giving you a little teaser on this first sweet corn this week. If Don and I calculated right, there will be about 3-4 for the small & 6-8 in the big, but we won’t know ‘til Friday morning at 5 AM. Next week with this heat, we’ll have plenty and probably start putting it up as an add-on as well.
Ginger says her heirloom tomatoes are week after next and then we’ll know summer’s here in all it’s splendor. Sweet corn, tomatoes and squash with peaches and plums. MY MY MY MY MY! Slap your granny that’s the best.
OK. If you’re wanting to put up some peaches, the best of the season come end of July, 1st of August. They’re called Zee Lady from myself or Paul and we’ll have a great deal on field run. They’re so sweet, you hardly need sugar. Carol slices ‘em up in Zip locks and pulls ‘em out whenever all winter. They’re great for canning as well. We’ll let you know when they’re getting close.
“Are you a cruncher, a leaner or an in-betweener?” That’s an ad campaign our stone fruit industry is running right now. The result of a surprising study we ran that showed about 1/3 of customers didn’t like juicy ripe fruit and wouldn’t buy it unless it was hard. Another 1/3 (which includes me and every other farmer I know) like to lean over so the juice doesn’t run down your shirt and the last 1/3 were somewhere in between. With this in mind, I’ve been trying to give you some fruit that’s ready today and others that would ripen over the week. This week, I’m going a little riper with some of the nectarines. See what you think.
Finally, knock on wood, we seem to be getting the logistics and the add-ons pretty squared away. Everything is at least double checked and signed off by two people. This is our third week of using the High School and Jr. High kids (mostly the children of our regular employees) to put this thing together for you. I’ll get a video together showing the happy crew and post it to the web. We hope to make a “what’s happening on the farm this week” a dynamic regularly updated video part of the web-site and your AH experience.
Well, no profound thoughts this week, but I hope this chat filled in a few gaps in the communication process.

June 15, 2008

Week 41

There are certain rules and principles in nature and business that, like gravity, we ignore to our own peril. Nature really doesn’t care if we like the rule of gravity or not. You jump out of a tree, and the gravitational force is going to pull you towards an eventual sudden stop which is gonna hurt. “Work expands to fill time allotted” and it’s companion “nothing happens without a deadline” (which is why I’m scrambling to get my front page over to Kathy) are a couple that I grudgingly have to acknowledge regularly on a personal level and meticulously require on a professional level.
“Every solution creates it’s own problem” is one I discovered and perfected myself, and someday maybe I’ll relate some of the stories. The most benign improvements create unexpected problems in areas you’d never expect. We see it almost weekly with this adventure. It’s a symptom of life and growth.
Now here’s the one that drives me crazy! “As idealism approaches reality, the cost becomes prohibitive.” That one has bugged me for the last 20 years, and I still hate it. We could use this space for the next 10 years just on that subject and not exhaust the ramifications, but here’s a couple of examples from the last couple days here on the farm.
My friend Fred was down, interested in being the host for El Dorado County. For the last several years, he’s worked as the field rep for one of our plant breeders. He handed me a little white apricot with a twinkle in his eye. OH MY GOODNESS! Brixed (a measure of sweetness) off the chart + a load of apricotty flavor. It would never sell, because it’s too small, and it was too delicate to ship well. Kind of like the Tasty Rich Aprium a month ago, but you guys would just love it. So I start thinking “how many of you all might there be in 4 years so I could grow it just for you, and how much could we put in a box… We’re hoping to break the rule and not land too hard.
I mentioned a couple months back, that we were experimenting with a probiotic (good micro-organisms) with our Organic chickens. The results were astounding from every angle. Growth, litter quality, uniformity all improved just because we put the right beneficial microorganisms in their drinking water. Now we’re going to start doing it with all the houses. Several of you have told me you do the same with your families. Anyway, as I’m showing the results to the company vet, the nutritionist as well as the owner of Mary’s free range, I pointed out that I was pretty proud of what we’re doing with the Organic chickens until the last couple weeks when they just get too crowded to feel good about. I’m proud of the fact that thousands of acres of corn & grain are being farmed Organically to provide the feed for the birds. I’m proud that the nutrition for our fruit trees come from Organic birds on our own farm. I’m proud of the fact that no antibiotics are ever used so folks are eating healthier meat. But I’m embarrassed frankly about the over crowding at the end of the flock. The owner reminded me that we’re in a very competitive business and pointed out that he offers at least three types of chicken for folks to pick from. Conventional, Organic and Heritage. Conventional gets .7 feet / bird, with no outdoor access. Organic gets 1 foot / bird inside and 1 outside. Heritage get 2 inside, and 3 outside, with perches inside and out as well as dust baths and grass cover. They take 12 weeks to mature instead of 8 and have a whole different taste and texture. While most Americans would opt for the latter, less than 1/10th of 1% of our chicken is produced this way. As idealism approaches reality… In a perfect world, the chickens would be scratching in the orchard and enjoying its shade. Give us some time and

So you open the paper on your box and are greeted by a waft of fragrance, and then you see it. It is a bunch of fresh basil. Great smell and pretty to look at but what do you do with it? Well, yes there is pesto, but what else?
First let’s learn a little bit about basil. Basil may look a lot like peppermint to you and the reason is that basil and peppermint are related. There are over 60 varieties of basil, and they all differ in appearance and taste. You can buy several basils that have very unique tastes. They are lemon basil, anise basil, and cinnamon basil. You can guess what their flavor subtly will remind you of by their names. The basil in our box this week is Basilico Genovese which is the most popular basil and has strong scent and flavor.
Basil was revered in many ancient cultures and was thought of as very noble and sacred. In Italy it was a symbol of love and in India it is symbol of hospitality. What may surprise you are the health benefits of basil. It is considered an excellent source of vitamin K, and a very good source of iron, calcium and vitamin A. Basil also provides a good source of dietary fiber, and nutrients like manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium. Store fresh basil wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel in the refrigerator. You can freeze it, whole or chopped, in air tight containers, or in ice cube trays covered with water or stock. These can be added to soups or stews when you don’t have fresh available. Dried basil will keep for about 6 months if it is stored in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark, dry place.
The oils in basil are highly volatile and to preserve its maximum essence and flavor it should be added near the end of the cooking process.

Serving Ideas

Combine fresh chopped basil with garlic and olive oil to make a dairy free pesto and use it to top pasta, salmon or whole wheat brushetta.
  • Layer fresh basil leaves over mozzarella cheese & tomato slices to make a colorful and delicious salad.
  • Adding basil to stir fry will give it a new and interesting flavor
  • Use a food processor or blender to puree basil, olive oil & onion. Add it to tomato soups
  • Enjoy a cup of basil tea by infusing chopped basil leaves in boiling water for eight minutes.
  • If you put basil in a glass of water it will stay fresh a very long time and will sprout roots. You can then transplant it to your garden.

    Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
    -Seasonal Stone Fruit
    The Peterson Family, Kingsburg
    Hans Wilgenberg, Dinuba
    -Green Beans
    -Red Lettuce
    -Nantes Carrots
    -Mediterranean Cucumbers
    -Irish Red Potatoes
    T & D Willey, Madera
    *Denotes Large Box Only
    Contents may vary due to availability on day of delivery.

    Several of you have asked for some way of being able to give a box of produce as a gift without having to pay an extra box deposit, or be concerned with getting the re-usable box back from the “giftee”. If you check out the add-ons you will see that you now have the ability to purchase a large or small box that will be packed in a disposable box. The contents of the box will be identical to the contents of the large or small box distributed to subscribers on that week’s delivery. What a great way to say “I wish you well”.

    Blueberry Coffee Cake Preheat Oven to 425º
    1 ½ cups flour ½ cup sugar
    1 Tbsp baking powder 1 tsp cinnamon
    ½ tsp salt
    Combine in a large mixing bowl
    Gently fold in 1 ½ cup blueberries
    1 egg ½ cup milk
    ¼ cup butter, melted (or oil) Whisk together in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture and stir carefully. Batter will be very stiff. Spread into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan or 2 loaf pans.

    1/3 cup sugar 1/3 cup flour
    1/3 cup nuts, chopped 2 Tbsp butter
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    Mix together until crumbly and sprinkle over batter. Bake in preheated oven until top is light golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temp. Double for a 9 x 13 pan

    Green Beans
    1 pound green beans cut into 1-2 inch pieces
    Cook in a small amount of water until crisp tender, 5-10 minutes.
    Drain. In 1 Tbsp oil sauté ¼ cup minced onion and 1 clove minced garlic. Add 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil; 1 cup chopped tomatoes and cooked green beans. Cover and cook about 5 min. Season to taste.

    June 7, 2008

    Week 40

    I had a lot of fun in Bakersfield last Saturday while making sure the truck got off on time. There were a couple of ladies there excitedly going through their boxes together so I got to tell them about each farmer who grew their produce and how to handle it at home and stuff. Then one said incredulously, “I couldn’t get near this much stuff at the farmer’s market for this price!” (Despite your best intentions, you probably wouldn’t force yourself to buy all Organic either.) That made me think that there are probably a lot of our subscribers who could use a short course on California/U.S. farmers markets historically as well as economically from a farmer’s perspective.
    Don’t ask me why, but you can’t just ship your produce to a store in any old container. Oh no comrade dis vould be verboten! There are federal and state container and markings laws that have to be followed. As a matter of fact, each commodity has a board or panel that must recommend to the feds any new packaging or markings. It’s a lengthy process that takes about a year. It’s not as bad now as it used to be, but a couple times in my career, I’ve had an idea that I felt would give us a competitive advantage and found myself in the difficult position of having to get permission from our competition who conveniently delayed approval until they could get up to speed themselves.
    Enter our beloved “Governor Moonbeam” late 60’s early 70’s with the farmer’s market exemption. Basically, if I pay some fees to the ag commissioner of the counties I farm in, he certifies that I actually grow certain things and that gives me the privilege of selling my own product and that of two of my neighbors at a “certified farmers market” (more fees) where they charge me fees to sell at their market. The neighbors of course aren’t allowed to pay me for selling their stuff. No, we all just love each other and they sell my stuff in return for my selling theirs. It has become a viable option for some farmers and a lot of fun for many communities. The economic advantage a farmer has vs. selling wholesale is this reduction of packing costs as well as keeping the retail mark-up for himself. The consumer benefits by getting a fresher product and the perception that “this guy grew my food”.
    I did farmer’s markets one year after hail messed up my crop and frankly had a blast at it. Both of my brothers have done ‘em, one for over 10 years.
    Here’s the bottom line. You can’t move more than a few boxes of any one item during the 4 hour course of a market. To the extent you’re at the market, you’re not farming and to move any amount of product or provide for your family, you’ve always got to be at some market. You find yourself in this catch 22 of wanting to farm but never having the time. The big addictive plus is the customer interaction.
    The reason we’re able to do this as we are and as we grow even better, is that each farmer is able to be a professional at what he does, efficiently producing Organic farm products yet marketing them directly to you guys with greatly reduced packing costs in most cases. The second advantage is that he’s getting a fair price immediately at harvest instead of the common 6 weeks and now we’re at a level where we can estimate volumes and set price before planting. Lastly, as you in the south valley can see, as we’re able to shift to larger trucks, we can get it from the farm to you for less than a cup of fuel / box, beating out even a Prius! I hope this helps and wasn’t too boring.
    EAT HEALTHY!!!!!

    Depending on your age you may remember helping your mother “string” the beans before she cooked them. The “strings” that gave these beans their common name, string beans, is seldom found in our modern varieties. Green beans are one of only a few varieties of beans that are eaten fresh. They are picked while immature and the inner bean is just beginning to form. Green beans are a classic favorite and can be eaten raw or cooked, hot or cold. They are great in salads, casseroles, sautéed or steamed and from summer to early fall they are at their very best.
    You wouldn’t know it to look at them but green beans pack a power punch when it comes to nutrition, and at the same time they are very low in calories. You can eat a whole cup of green beans for only 43.75 calories! If you are looking for an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese you will find it here. Want a good source for vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate and iron? Here it is. When you add to that magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, copper, calcium, protein, phosphorous, and omega-3 fatty acids you know you are serving your family nutrition.
    Store unwashed fresh green beans in a plastic bag kept in the refrigerator crisper. Whole beans stored this way should keep for about seven days.
    When you are ready to use them, wash them off and snap or cut off the ends and then snap or cut into preferred lengths.

    “Gosh, I know I ordered add-ons but since it was almost a week ago I don’t remember exactly what I ordered.” Do you ever find yourself thinking that on delivery day? Or, perhaps you had someone else pick up your order but they didn’t get all of your add-ons. Maybe you got home and realized that you had ordered 2 dozen eggs but only got one. Have you ever experienced one, or all, of these scenarios? Your host has a list of what you ordered, and will do everything possible to make sure you get your whole order, but it is critically important that you check, before you leave the site, and make sure you have everything you ordered and paid for. A tool that can be used for this is the Invoice that is emailed to you each Monday. On that Invoice is a list of all of your add-ons. We suggest that you bring a copy with you and, before you leave, make sure you got everything on the list. If you are having someone else pick up your order for you, forward them a copy of the invoice and ask them to bring it with them so they are not in doubt.

    Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
    -Seasonal Stone Fruit
    The Peterson Family, Kingsburg
    -Red Onions
    -Summer Squash*
    Ginger Balakian, Reedley
    -Green Leaf Lettuce*
    California Organic, Lamont
    -Mediterranean Cucumbers
    -Red Batavian Lettuce
    -Green Beans
    T & D Willey, Madera
    *Denotes Large Box Only
    Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

    Organic produce does not have chemical residue, but Mother Nature has a way of adding unwelcome elements to our produce since it is grown outdoors. All produce should be washed before you eat it.

    When you visit the add-on pages you will see a new addition. If the grower providing an add-on has a website there is a link available so you can check them out.

    Greek Pasta Salad
    12 oz dried penne (4 cups dry)
    1 medium cucumber halved lengthwise and sliced
    ½ - 1 red onion sliced thinly
    1/3 cup pitted olives, green or black, halved
    Cook pasta according to pkg. directions, drain in a colander & rinse with cold water. In a bowl toss together the cooked pasta, cucumber, onions and olives.

    ½ cup olive oil ½ cup lemon juice
    2 Tbsp fresh basil or 2 tsp dried & crushed 4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 Tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried & crushed ¼ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp ground black pepper 1 cup feta cheese (4 oz)
    In a jar that can be sealed combine the olive oil, lemon juice, basil and oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and shake well. Drizzle over pasta mixture, toss to coat. Cover and chill in frig for at least 2 hours. Add feta, toss and serve. Halved cherry tomatoes may be added as an option

    String Beans with Shallots
    1 lb fresh string beans, ends removed Salt
    2 Tbsp butter 1 Tbsp olive oil
    3 shallots, diced ½ tsp freshly ground pepper

    Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 ½ minutes. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water.

    Heat the butter and oil in a very large sauté pan or large pot and sauté the shallots on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, tossing occasionally until browned. Drain the string beans and add to the shallots with ½ tsp of sat and pepper. Heat only until beans are hot.

    June 2, 2008

    Week 39

    Walk into any class of 4 & 5 year olds and ask ‘em “Who here can sing really well?” and every hand goes up. They’ll even start singing to prove it. “Which of you can dance?” Not only will you get all hands in the air, but you’ll get some pretty impressive improvisation on the old dance floor that would cause the judges to pull out some high cards. “Are there any artists in the room?” Well just come over here to the finger paints and crayons and budding Rembrandts and Michel-angelos will show you the most exuberant displays of creativity you’ve ever experienced. And if you still aren’t convinced of the true value of these creations, just follow ‘em home where the refrigerator – already covered with similar creations will yield to this latest masterpiece. Every one will stop dead in their tracks to marvel at this and other works on display in this most revered focal point of the home (except siblings who really don’t know anything at all about art). Fast forward a few brief years to Junior high and ask the same questions and what a difference. I was the Jr. Hi Sunday school teacher for 22 years (penance for the grief I caused) and I can tell you that one or two hands on each subject are a struggle and then with the caveat of “I’m pretty good at this particular type of art, but not that”. What happened in 9 years??
    You’ll like this story. Here in Kingsburg, we have a beloved Elementary school vocal instructor named Avon Shakespeare. Retired at least 15 years now he was my singing instructor / choir director from kindergarten through 8th grade. I still love to sing and the louder the better. I took his 7th & 8th grade choirs (it was either that or sewing since I already had wood shop). Towards the end of 8th grade, he held me after class and after everyone was out of the room said “Vernon, you don’t sing very well, but you have a lot of confidence!”
    Back to our Kindergarteners turned Jr Hi-ers. The world taught us there’s a lot of stuff we just aren’t very good at. Who Cares??!!
    Always ask for crayons if the restaurant has ‘em. The waiter’s sure not going to be critical and you’ll have fun while eating less bread.
    Here’s the deal. We get old to the extent we accept the implication, when really aging well is the art of doing more with less. When my pick-up was new, I covered 35,000 miles a year. I do half that now and get twice as much done.
    We grow cynical to the extent we accept “there’s nothing we can do to change it” when realistically, with-in our own sphere of influence at least, “it” has just been put on the endangered species list. Folks, if something’s not right, and there’s nothing we can do about it, there’s no sin in going on. But if there’s a chance at putting it right, pity the fool who’d stand in front of that train.
    I know you believe that or you’d be paying double for not so fresh Organic. And I know you’ll stay forever young as you take on whatever’s not right in your own world. EAT HEALTHY!!!

    Have you been missing out? Once you taste Rainer cherries you may think so. Many of us have grown up to believe that only bright, red cherries are sweet and good to eat.
    The Rainer cherry has a creamy yellow flesh and is yellow and red on the outside. Being a hybrid between the Bing and Van cherries, two of the sweeter varieties, it is one of the sweetest and most prized cherries grown. They are generally more expensive than the red varieties and in fact may sell for as much as a dollar each in Japan. The reason that these cherries are valued so much is that they are loved by many for their sweetness, but they have a short growing season and are notoriously difficult to grow. Extreme heat and excessive rain can easily damage the cherry crop. Both of which we have been experiencing in the past two weeks.
    Cherries should be stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator, usually near the back. Cherries can decay more in one hour at room temperature than they can in twenty-four hours at 32º F.
    Just as with berries, cherries should not be washed until you are ready to use them. This will help to preserve the cherries. If you don’t plan to use ripe cherries within six days you should freeze them. To do so wash and drain them until they are dry. Spread the cherries evenly over a cookie sheet and freeze them. After they are frozen solid transfer them to a plastic bag. Your cherries will keep up to a year this way.

    Is it a plum or is it an apricot? Pluots are a cross between the two. But wait, isn’t that what we just had in an Aprium? Yes, but no.
    You would think that crossing a plum with an apricot would be the same as crossing an apricot with a plum but that is not the case. Pluots are one-third apricot and two-thirds plum and so bear a strong resemblance to plums, but have a sweet, intense flavor, and are rich in vitamin A. The pluot was developed, through cross-pollination, in the 1990’s. This was achieved by Fred Zaiger who also developed the aprium. There are now several varieties of pluot available with colors that range from pink to red.
    Pluots are juicy and sweet, which makes them a favorite of most kids. They can be served raw or cooked and can be used in the place of both plums and apricots in your favorite recipes. Try them on their own, mixed with yogurt or as a topping for your favorite ice cream.
    Once pluots are fully ripe they should be stored in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.

    Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
    -Flavor Rosa Pluots
    -Rainer Cherries
    Jeff White, Kingsburg
    -Red Onions
    -Summer Squash
    Ginger Balakian, Reedley
    -Baby Beets*
    T & D Willey, Madera
    -Russet Potatoes
    -Green Peppers*
    California Organics, Lamont
    *Denotes Large Box Only
    Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

    It looks like the Rainer cherries came through this week’s rain OK. That means we are able to offer them as an add-on for next week’s delivery. If you want to purchase a 10 pound box they are available and you may order them off of the add-on list, but you must order them before 9:00 on Monday morning. To do so, login to your account find your Subscription Dashboard and the Edit This Week/Add-on button.

    Zucchini Pancakes Yield: 3 Servings
    ½ cup all purpose flour ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    ½ tsp dried oregano Salt and pepper to taste
    1 egg, beaten 2 Tbsp chopped onion
    2 Tbsp mayonnaise 1 ½ cups zucchini or other similar
    2 Tbsp butter or margarine squash
    Sour Cream, optional
    In a bowl combine the flour, Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt and pepper. Combine egg, onion, mayonnaise, and squash; stir into dry ingredients until well blended.
    In a large skillet, melt butter. Drop squash mixture by cupfuls into skillet; press lightly to flatten. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with sour cream if desired.

    Zucchini Bread
    3 eggs 3 cups flour
    2 cups sugar 1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt
    1 tsp cinnamon 1 cup vegetable oil
    2 cups shredded zucchini or other summer squash 2 tsp vanilla extract
    ½ cup chopped nuts 1 tsp grated lemon peel

    Combine eggs and sugar. Beat in oil, vanilla and lemon peel. Combine the dry ingredients; gradually add to sugar mixture and mix well. Stir in squash and nuts. Pour into 2 greased 9 inch x 5 inch x 3 inch loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

    Week 38

    The average (whatever that means) American I’m told eats about 15 different produce items in a year. Potatoes, carrots, onions, bagged salad, bananas, apples… you get the idea. BOOORIIING!!! No wonder folks get tired of eating at home. We’re doing almost that many any given week. Variety as they say, but variety not only to keep things interesting, but because each plant delivers different nutritional values. We need to be eating a varied diet of nutrient dense food, a portion of that raw in order to thrive.
    Speaking of thriving, I put half of our home ranch chickens on a probiotic this flock as an experiment to see what would happen. Wow. Better livability, color, less odor because the droppings are firmer. Coincidently, I just visited a couple hours ago with Dr. Stephen Gorton whose company manufactures a probiotic (good micro-organisms) product that we’ve used to combat fungal problems in our fruit. He told me that he had developed this product we’re using on fruit initially for an unnamed meat packer. He was getting the same results I’m seeing in chickens from this other product 30 years ago in the hog business. So I asked him how come nobody’s using it?
    “It cost $2.00/ pig which was less than the antibiotics they were using, but the independent vets would lose their kick-back from the pharmaceutical companies” Stephen stood right on my farm and told me that story 2 hours ago. Sounds like some conspiracy malarkey, but he’s an honest guy, and follow the money. There’s sure a lot we just don’t know, but the little we do know is probably enough. More real stuff. Less fake stuff = better health in all areas. It’s truly amazing the connectedness between micro-organisms and plants and people
    Our local leafy guys got nuked by the heat last week.
    Nectarines are Zee Fire from our Nomura farm and peaches are Zee Diamond from right here in front of the house. We’ve decided to just do “field run” in the box which will mean less volume, but truer to the stated guidelines when you signed- up. I really only had one complaint, but what we’ll do is continue to offer the #2 cosmetically challenged stuff at a real cheap rate for those who want to make smoothies or just have for snacking and sharing. EAT HEALTHY

    Ever wonder where some of our vegetables originated? It is hard to imagine that some of the things we eat have been around for centuries. Such is the bell pepper. Peppers, of various varieties, actually date back to 1492, when Columbus and his explorers discovered sweet and hot peppers in the West Indies and took samples back to Europe. The Europeans quickly made peppers a popular food, spice, and condiment. Just twenty years later travelers throughout the West Indies, Central America, Mexico, Peru and Chili found varieties of bell peppers growing in those areas. Most Americans still prefer the sweet peppers.
    The most common varieties of bell peppers turn from green to red and as they mature on the vine they become sweeter. The bell pepper is eaten raw, cooked, roasted, or in vegetable platters.
    A medium bell pepper contains only 30 calories and no fat but has 2g of dietary fiber and 150% of the recommended vitamin C intake.

    To roast a bell pepper place the whole pepper on a foil lined baking sheet under the broiler. Broil until the skin has blistered completely, turning often. Place the pepper in a brown paper bag, close tightly for 15 minutes until the charred skin steams loose from the flesh. Remove from the bag and cut lengthwise so the stem, seeds and membrane can be removed. Cut the pepper into quarters, peel and discard the skin.

    The potato is often known as the world’s most important vegetable. In many countries it is the staple of the diet. The potato was long ago adopted as the primary food crop in Ireland. Potatoes are a healthy choice because they are fat free, very low sodium and a high source of fiber and vitamin C. Russets, however, do have high sugar content.
    Do not wash raw Russet potatoes before storing them. If you do so it will speed development of decay. Russet potatoes should be stored in a cool 40-50º environment that is well ventilated and dark. This will inhibit quick sprouts from growing. If your potatoes do begin to sprout or grow, cut off the sprouts.
    Do not refrigerate or freeze uncooked potatoes as this changes the potatoes’ starch into sugar which will change the taste of the potato and darken the flesh when it is cooked. Prolonged exposure to light causes greening of potatoes and may make them taste bitter. If this occurs peel or pare the green area from the potato before you use it.
    Bar-B-Que’d Vegetables
    Cut squash into wedges or pieces, depending on variety, and place on a piece of aluminum foil with onions, bell peppers, and carrots. Drizzle with olive oil, seal foil into a pouch and put on the grill while grilling your meat. The vegetables will be cooked but still a bit firm, not over cooked. Try the squash and onion alone or add other firm vegetables to the mix.

    Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
    -Seasonal Stone Fruit
    The Peterson Family, Kingsburg
    Ginger Balakian, Reedley
    -Russet Potatoes
    -Green Bell Peppers
    California Organics, Lamont
    T & D Willey, Madera
    *Denotes Large Box Only
    Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

    All of your boxes are packed by human hands and as we all know “to error is human”. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but if you get your box and an item has been omitted please let your host know right away and we will make every attempt to get you a replacement of that item the following week, or replace it with something else, if that item is no longer available.

    Scrumptious Squash Casserole
    4 medium squash, sliced ¼” thick 3 carrots, shredded
    1 onion, chopped 1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 cup sour cream 1 cup seasoned croutons
    Boil squash until tender. Sauté carrots and onion in butter until limp. Add soup and cream, mix. Add ¾ cup of the croutons and squash, stirring gently. Pour into greased casserole. Put remaining croutons in 1 Tbsp. butter and heat until coated. Sprinkle over top of casserole.
    Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes

    Bar-B-Que’d Vegetables
    Cut squash into wedges or pieces, depending on variety, and place on a piece of aluminum foil with onions, bell peppers, and carrots. Drizzle with olive oil, seal foil into a pouch and put on the grill while grilling your meat. The vegetables will be cooked but still a bit firm, not over cooked. Try the squash and onion alone or add other firm vegetables to the mix.

    Fruit Ice Cream
    4 cups mashed fruit 4 cups sugar
    4 Tbsp lemon juice 1 pt whipping cream
    Stir together and put into ice cream freezer. Fill with milk(any percent you wish) and freeze, according to freezer directions