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Local Food and Farm Products 
GOOD FOOD NEWS
Volume 8 Number 24    June 14, 2016

FIELD NOTES: BIG OAK FARM, Sutter Creek

Steve Routt

As a child growing up in Martinez, CA, I lived next door to my Italian grandparents. Primo owned a vacant lot next door to his home and every year grew a huge vegetable garden. I can remember the rows and rows of tomatoes climbing on strings attached to wooden trellises, the onions and garlic, and the squashes. Some of my family’s earliest home movies show me at age 2 or 3 “helping” him harvest the ripe fruit. My grandmother, Rosina, would then put up (oven method) a years supply of sauce, whole tomatoes, and juice. As I continued to grow, my mom, Alvina, continued to have a small garden wherever we lived and also put up tomatoes and all different kinds of fruit.

Flash forward to my adult years. We bought a 5 acre all usable parcel on the outskirts of Sutter Creek shortly after we were married and although I t tried a few times to get a garden started, I didn’t have the time or knowledge to make it work. I retired from high school teaching in 1999 and a few years later decided to give gardening another shot. My wife, Viki, and I joined Master Gardeners and as she gravitated toward ornamentals I took a new interest in vegetable gardening. We purchased an 8 X 16 foot greenhouse kit from Costco and were on our way.

Currently I have about a third of an acre deer fenced and in production. I have a lot of gophers here so I built about 20 4X8 and 4X4 raised beds and also have 6 20-40 foot rows in the ground. I don’t’ always use all of them, but I keep them prepared.

I started with square foot gardening and made soil according to the book: 1/3 each peat moss, compost, and perlite. It worked well and I liked the concept but started to go in a different direction. I had the tree trimmers deliver truck loads of their cuttings to the property, let it compost for several years, and then regrind it through my chipper/shredder. This mixture is what I have in all my beds now and it is great! It is nutritious, holds moisture wonderfully, and continues to decompose into a rich, moist soil.

Mother Lode Harvest is a totally new experience. The hardest part is learning how to do succession planting, and this first year I’m attempting it with beets. I started with seeds, transplanted them once, then put them in the ground when they’re large enough. I tried seeding directly but the earwigs enjoyed the shoots as soon as they appeared - so back to the greenhouse. My first crop to sell was fava beans, and I have a second crop coming along (fingers crossed). The first batch of beets will be ready soon, the second is well under way, and a new batch of seeds will go in as soon as I finish writing this article. My grandson, Collin, works with me a bit and has become an excellent transplanter and today he’ll get his first shot at seed planting.

I’m starting slowly this first year with several varieties of tomatoes, several varieties of squashes, a few cukes, watermelons, and pumpkins. I also have a nice herb garden and have started to offer some of them for sale. Through the Master Gardeners I’ve learned about vermiculture and have a great supply of worm castings for fertilizing. I also fertilize with bat guano and blood meal. I’ve learned a bit of grafting and have limited success with it on my fruit trees.

Finally, I must say that I’m having fun. I spend 5-6 hours a day in the gardens and love it. I give thanks for my memories of my Italian grandparents who left everything to start a new life in America and who passed down, through their genes, a deep love of working with the land and growing and sharing great food.

 

Produce of the Month for June: Strawberries

Strawberries are perhaps the most loved of all berries. Their delicate perfume, sweet taste, heart shape, and red color have long been associated with things romantic. Who doesn’t look forward to spring Strawberry Festivals and to strawberry shortcake at the peak of the season?

Strawberries actually belong to the rose family, and they are unique among fruits because they bear their seeds on the outside, rather than inside the flesh. In ancient times, wild strawberries were found in many places around the world. It is believed their seeds were spread far and wide by birds. The earliest know botanical illustration of a strawberry plant appeared in 1454, and the first hybrid strawberry (‘Hudson’) was developed in the United States in 1780.

Strawberries are very high in anti-oxidants and very low calorie (about 4 calories per medium berry or 50 calories per cup). Ounce for ounce, strawberries contain more vitamin C than citrus.

The Romans believed that strawberries were effective at relieving melancholy, fainting spells, fevers, inflammation, kidney stones, throat infections, and even halitosis. So, enjoy strawberries fresh while they are in season. They taste great, and might even improve your breath, your health, your mood, and your love life.

Sources:

University of Illinois Extension, Strawberries & More:

http://extension.illinois.edu/strawberries/history.cfm

 

 

 

This dish will be one of our appetizers at the Summer Solstice Celebration on Saturday.

Fava Bean Hummus

Recipe courtesy of Greg Motch, Tin Bird Garden, who is famous for this dish.

3 lbs of fresh favas will yield 1 lb shelled beans. This will yield about one cup when the beans are blanched one minute, cooled and popped out of their skins. Larger beans may need a minute or more of cooking after the skinning. Puree with 3 tbs of olive oil, 1 tbs lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt. Fresh garlic goes well with this and could be added along at this time. I used a one inch diameter green garlic which might be equivalent to a couple of cloves of mature garlic. I like raw garlic but this could be mellowed by sauteeing it first. Freshly chopped mint and or cilantro are nice additions.

Linguine with Grilled Shrimp and Arugula-Parsley Pesto

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/linguine-grilled-shrimp-and-arugula-parsley-pesto

This tangy pesto, a variation on the classic basil version, is also delicious spooned over grilled asparagus or steamed broccoli.”

Serves 10.

 

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1 cup packed arugula leaves

1 cup packed parsley leaves

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling shrimp

2 tablespoons reduced-fat ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound dried whole-wheat linguine or spaghetti

1 1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium or large shrimp

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

 

To make pesto, combine garlic, walnuts, arugula, parsley and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Transfer to a large serving bowl and stir in ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano and black pepper. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add linguine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, following package directions for timing. Drain, reserving some water. Stir 1 tablespoon of the reserved pasta cooking water into the pesto. Add pasta to pesto, stir to combine and cover to keep warm.

While pasta cooks, preheat grill to medium-high heat. Thread shrimp onto skewers, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill shrimp, flipping once, until deep golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove shrimp from skewers and add to pasta and pesto. Toss to combine and serve.

Warm Quinoa Salad with Kale and Arugula

Adapted from a recipe by Beth @ Tasty Yummies

serves 4

1 cup quinoa

1 large bunch kale, stems removed, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup shelled, blanched, and peeled fava beans

1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 teaspoons

1 medium onion, diced, or 4 green onions, chopped

1 lemon, zested

1-2 lemons, juiced

1 bunch of arugula, stems removed, finely chopped

1 bunch fresh mint or parsley, stems removed, finely chopped

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

 

Cook quinoa according to the package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add onion, saute until onions are translucent. (Green onions may be sauteed briefly or left raw.) Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add kale and lemon zest. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the kale is wilted. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl add 1/4 cup of olive oil, the juice from 1-2 lemons, 1 minced garlic clove, salt and pepper. Whisk together.

After the quinoa is cooked (about 15 minutes), add to a large serving bowl and fluff with a fork. Add the kale mixture, fava beans, fresh arugula and fresh mint or parsley, toss to combine. Pour the dressing over the top, toss again to combine. Taste, add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve. This can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

WHAT'S IN YOUR BOX
 

Single Box

2 heads garlic Butte Mountain Farm

1 head lettuce Casa de la Pradera

1 oz. arugula Abbondanza

1 lb. peaches Paloma Pollinators

1 lb. apricots Paloma Pollinators

1/2 lb. chard Somerset Gourmet

1 bunch parsley Humbug Creek Farm

 

Family Box

1 lb. summer squash Butte Mountain Farm

1 bunch green onions Casa de la Pradera

1 oz. arugula Abbondanza

1 head lettuce Abbondanza

1/2 lb. kale Upcountry Farm Folks

1 lb. fava beans Blue Mountain Orchards

1 lb. peaches Paloma Pollinators

1 lb. apricots Paloma Pollinators

SHOPPING AT www.mlharvest.com

Mother Lode Harvest has local food and farm products available to order at www.mlharvest.com.

THE ORDERING WINDOW IS FRIDAY AT 9 AM THROUGH SUNDAY AT NOON.

Orders received during that time can be picked up on Tuesdays between 10:30 am and noon, or 4:30 to 6:00 pm, at 1235 Jackson Gate Road in Jackson, behind Teresa's Restaurant. Prepaid orders may also be picked up in Volcano or Plymouth. Payment may be made at pickup by cash or check made out to Mother Lode Harvest, or before pickup by PayPal.

New customers will need to register by using the "join" button on the website before they can shop. A signed customer agreement and membership dues may be mailed to MLH, or brought to the distribution center with your first pickup.

If you have any questions or problems with using the website, please contact our customer coordinator, Michelle, at motherlodeharvest@gmail.com, or 419-2503.

 

MLH Calendar of Events

Saturday, June 18, 5:30 pm: A Splendid Table: a Mother Lode Summer Solstice Celebration
Our first farm-to-fork dinner is sold out!

Monday, June 20, 6:15 pm: Board of Directors Meeting, Distribution Center, Jackson.

 
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Our mailing address is: P.O. Box 534 Amador City, CA 95601
Mother Lode Harvest is a non-profit membership association.