Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mason Jar Salad Tutorial

Mason Jar Salad

Bust out of your lunch rut with a mason jar salad!

Besides the fact that a salad in a jar looks lovely, this tasty trend is simple to prepare early in the week for an easy grab-and-go, healthy lunch solution.  Here's how to mix it up!

The name of the game is layers. The basic idea when packing salad into jars is to start with the most hearty and less-absorbent ingredients first. Begin with the dressing on the bottom of the jar and work your way up through the lighter ingredients until you end up with the leafy salad greens. 

1.  Salad Dressing: Pour your favorite salad dressing into a pint (for a nice side salad) or quart (for a larger salad) size jar. The wide mouth style of  jars work well. 

2.  Hearty Vegetables: Next, add a layer of more firm, heartier veggies such as carrots, radishes, beets and those shown below. 



Vegi Grid

3. Grains, Pasta or Proteins: Next, add a layer of your favorite cooked beans, rice, pasta, grilled chicken/steak or marinated tofu.


4. Softer Vegetables and Fruits (optional): Next, add any soft vegetables or fruits, like avocados, tomatoes, strawberries or dried apricots. 
TIP: If you're making salads ahead to eat throughout the week, wait to add these ingredients until the day you're planning to eat the salad and add them to the top of the jar.

Fruit Grid













5. Nuts, Seeds and Lighter Grains: Next, add any nuts or seeds, like almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds.

6. Salad Greens: Last but not least, fill the rest of the jar with your leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, shredded kale or arugula.


Lettuce


7. Tossing and Eating the Salad: When ready to eat, give the jar a gentle shake to incorporate the dressing, unscrew the lid and empty onto a plate and enjoy!


Salad in a Bowl

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sacramento Food Film Festival - Ticket Giveaway


Spinning-Plates 
Sacramento Food Film Festival is here! We just received two tickets - and we are excited to give them away to you, but you have to act fast!

Entry deadline is 7:00 p.m TODAY, March 19th!
 
Tickets are for the VIP Festival Premiere Reception on Thursday, March 20th, OR to the film "Beer Wars" on Saturday, March 22nd! The winner will choose which event they want to attend. Please note, the events are in Sacramento and you have to be available to attend on either of the two dates mentioned.

ENTER TO WIN
(CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED)

To win two tickets to one of the two events
(winner chooses which event - one entry per person please),
leave a comment below answering the question:

My favorite food-themed movie is ___________.
 
We've randomly chosen a winner! Congratulations to Sabra,
whose favorite food-themed movie is "Big Night."
We hope you enjoy the event!

The Festival, which starts Thursday, March 20th, at Ten22 Restaurant in Sacramento, is a 10-day event that benefits California Food Literacy Center. Farm Fresh To You has been a proud sponsor of this festival since its inception and we encourage you to increase your food literacy by enjoying one of the seven food-themed events taking place March 20th to 30th.

Event prices ranging from FREE to $40 and events will include a mixture of family entertainment, film stars, local celebrity chefs and more! Check out the entire line up of events.
 

More About the Events Featured in our Giveaway

Thursday, March 20, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Film: Watch the award winning Spinning Plates!
Venue: Food Film Festival Premiere at Ten22!
Food & Fun: Ticket includes a swag bag stuffed with olive oil, Chocolate Fish coffee, gourmet vanilla beans, & more! Enjoy wine, appetizers and dessert from Ten22 made with ingredients sourced from Passmore Ranch & Farm Fresh to You.

Saturday, March 22, 4-6 p.m.
Film: "Beer Wars"
Food & Fun: Sneak preview of Ruhstaller Beer’s never-before-released Nugget Ale, a local beer made with native hops grown just off I-80 outside Sacramento. Bites from famed Chef Adam Pechal, including soft pretzels from Freeport Bakery, popcorn, cheeses and nuts from Whole Foods Market Sacramento.
 
No purchase required. Limit one entry per person, please. Entries will close on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 7:00 pm. Winners are chosen by Random Number Generator and announced on our blog on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.

Monday, March 3, 2014

California Endive

Endive

The endive (pronounced on-deev) is a unique and delicious treat that is crisp and bitter when raw, making them a great way to brighten up salads this time of year. When cooked, endive's sharp flavor softens into a mellow sweetness -- whether steamed, grilled or braised.

Endive-Avocado-Cups 

Endive is grown from chicory roots in a dark environment, which is why their tender leaves are such a light yellow. Most people refer to this variety as Belgian endive although it could be called the refined cousin of the chicory family, with its tightly packed leaves and smooth, elongated shape. This versatile veggie can be prepared in many ways: appetizers, salads, stuffed, side dishes and can even take center stage as a main dish. A great way to serve them is to use the leaves in the form of a "boat" and stuff the leaves with goodies like soft cheese, avocado or fruit salad. You can also use them as substitute for chips and eat them with your favorite dip.


California Endive Farms

Endive is one of the most difficult vegetables in the world to grow and requires a two-step growing process before it is ready for to enjoy. The first growth takes about 150 days in the field, where the chicory grows from seed into a leafy green plant with a deep tap root. At harvest, tops of the leafy chicory plant are cut off, the roots dug up, and then placed in cold storage where they enter a dormancy period.


Endive Rows

As demand necessitates, roots are removed from cold storage for their second growth, which takes 28 days in dark, cool, humid forcing rooms, similar to a mushroom growing facility. The control over the initiation of this second growing process allows for the year-round production of endive.

 
Rich Red & White Endive


Although these delicate beauties were once imported from Belgium and Holland, Rich Collins started growing them in California more than thirty years ago. His family farm was started in 1983, with just five acres. Originally named Rebel Farms, because many doubted that Belgian-style endive could be successfully grown in America. Today, California Endive Farms cultivates 300 acres in Rio Vista, CA and is the largest grower of red endive in the world.
A big thank you to the Collins family for sharing this specialty crop with our CSA family!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Eat Your Vegetables Cookbook Giveaway!

Eat Your Vegetables
Photo credit: Matt Armendariz

“Joe Yonan is a kindred spirit; he too is a meat lover who’s embarked on a vegetable-forward adventure and made more room for plants on the plate. But he’s done much more in Eat Your Vegetables: Joe invites us along for a delicious ride that includes the highs and lows of edible gardening and the joy of cooking for one (with smart, practical tips for managing leftovers and minimizing food waste), wrapped in an impassioned plea to get off the couch and—yes!—into the kitchen.” 

Kim O’Donnel, author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations and The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook

An increasing number of people are showing interest in plant-based meals, some for the nutritional benefit, some looking to add a sustainable practice and others in search of economic value. Eat Your Vegetables by Joe Yonan, is the perfect book for anyone looking to expand their produce-based culinary repertoire. Yonan’s friendly voice and straight forward cooking style empowers both the home cook and the experienced vegetarian chef to be bold and pursue their vegetable-centric interest, even if the pursuit only yields a single serving.

Miso Mushroom Omelet
 Spicy Kale Salad with Miso-Mushroom Omelet (Photo credit: Matt Armendariz)

“It's been my ongoing mission to get single folks - 31 million of us in the United States alone - to realize that cooking for ourselves, despite the obstacles, is a worthwhile, satisfying, potentially meditative, possibly invigorating, and maybe even delightful endeavor."

 
Joe Yonan Eat Your Vegetables

This book is filled with 80 inspired vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian recipes such as Spicy Kale Salad with Miso-Mushroom Omelet, Thai-Style Kabocha Squash and Tofu Curry, and a One Peach Crisp with Cardamom and Honey. In addition to these out-of-the-box recipes, look for the everyday tips on shopping, storing, and salvaging leftover ingredients. 

Joe in the Garden (Photo credit: Sarah Gillinhham-Ryan)

Joe Yonan is the Food and Travel editor for the Washington Post, where he writes regular features, including the “Weeknight Vegetarian” column. He is the author of Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One , which Serious Eats called “truly thoughtful, useful, and incredibly delicious.” Yonan has won awards for writing and editing from the James Beard Foundation, the Association of Food Journalists, and the Society of American Travel Writers, and his work has been featured three times in the Best Food Writing Anthology.
  
 We're so happy to have a copy of this amazing
book to give away to one of you!
Here's How to Enter –
To win a copy of Eat Your Vegetables, simply leave a comment below answering this question by Tuesday, March 4, 2014 (one entry per person please).

 What is your go-to food item when cooking for one?
No purchase required. Limit one entry per person, please. Entries will close on Tuesday, March  4, 2014 at 8:00 am. Winners are chosen by Random Number Generator and announced on our blog on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
 

Thank you for all the amazing comments! 
They were so wonderful that we chose TWO WINNERS!
 

The winners chosen at random are Darcie who said:

When I'm cooking for one, I like having my meal in a bowl. My favorite thing is to make homemade udon noodles with a spicy miso broth, poached egg, and throwing in some fresh mushrooms and spinach. I'd love more ways to incorporate veggies in my meals.
 
and Maritza who said:
 
I love Kale in soups or sauté with garlic. I also use it in juicing or smoothies. The Kale that comes in the Farm Fresh box is so fresh and delicious. I love getting my Farm Fresh box -- it's like Christmas every other Tuesday.

Congratulations Darcie and Maritza!

Thank you to Joe Yonan and Ten Speed Press.
Be sure to check out Eat Your Vegetables.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Water Worries

 
Dry Landscape 3

The weather forecast keeps predicting a little bit of rain next week only to update its projections to blue skies and sunny. Until recently, I have really been enjoying the beautiful California weather and now the farmer in me is starting to get a little concerned. The hills are still as golden as they were in the fall. The only difference is that the oak trees don’t have leaves and the livestock have continued to eat what it could of the dry grass. There are little pockets of green grass next to roads where a hose may have leaked, but that is it.

Sprinkler

Late in the fall, we scurried to clean up our summer fields, get them mowed, disked and seeded to cover crops before the rains would stop our equipment from working in the fields. We were happy to have the dry weather then, but now those fields sit bare, with un-germinated cover crop seeds tucked into soil waiting for some moisture. On some of the fields, we laid out our solid set aluminum sprinkler pipes and irrigated them to get the cover crop up.

The harvest crews have been enjoying the dry weather. Harvesting the carrots, beets and leeks have been very easy to do, and our labor schedule has not had to account for a field too muddy to harvest.

Beets

The dry and beautiful weather has provided us with some short-term benefits, but they are quickly fading away. Our first tomato seeds are being sown into the greenhouse this week. With that action, it is hard not to think about the complete crop cycle of those little plants. One of our main sources of water is an irrigation project that collects surface water in a lake and reservoir. I just looked at their current capacity, and it is over 100,000 acre-feet of water less than it was a year ago, and last year was an allocation year.

Dry Landscape

Next week, we will come up with a plan to take care of our crops, assuming there is no irrigation water coming from the canal. The one thing we have working for us is that we sit on a healthy aquifer of groundwater that, if managed properly, will get us through this dry year. The big question is for how many more years will that aquifer need to support us? There exists the chance that February and March get really wet, but at this point, it is hard to assume that will be the case.

The Weather Tree


Weather Tree

Here at the farm, we are always keeping close tabs on the weather. Since it is a new year, we want to invite you to track the weather along with us.  The Weather Tree consists of twelve branches to represent the twelve months of the year and each branch / month has a leaf for every day of that month.

Choose different colors to represent various weather types and color in a leaf each day - colored pencils and felt tip pens seem to work best. At the end of the year you will have a unique record of the weather in your neighborhood.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Giving Back, Thanks to You


When people think of the term "sustainable agriculture," they may think about farming organically or conserving water. When we at Farm Fresh To You think about sustainability, of course we think about how we farm, but we also believe that sustainability has to do with how we contribute to our local community and economy.

Food Bank Deliveries

The holidays offer a time to reflect on community work and giving back. We have a strong outreach program through our CSA and farm that is integral to the sustainability work we do, and we want you to know that by subscribing to our CSA, you as our customers support our efforts in our delivery areas.

SF Food Bank Delivery
 
What we have to give is produce, and we give a lot of it. Last year, we donated over 100,000 pounds of produce to food banks. At the holiday time, we continue to donate bulk produce, but we also give Farm Fresh To You boxes to food banks in Northern and Southern California.
 
Food Bank Delivery
 
This past year, we also started working with a program called Kids Farmers Market, which gives locally grown produce directly to students at elementary schools with a high percentages of free and reduced lunch participants. It has been one of the most rewarding programs for us as a farm. Putting some Satsuma mandarins into the hands of children is about as simple as it gets. The kids get about 10lbs of produce from us and other farms to take home to their families.

Kids Farmers Market
 
Our outreach team also supports organizations focused on healthy eating, sustainable agriculture and education. This year, we have supported everything from an American Diabetes Association run to a local chicken coop tour that benefited a farm-to-school organization. We enjoy working with organizations making a difference in these areas and again, we thank you, our members, for help making our community work possible.
 
Tour de Cluck

 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cleaning and Freezing Tips for Leeks


King Richard Leeks from Our Farm


With the unseasonably sunny skies we've been having this winter, we've had gorgeous King Richard leeks coming in from the fields and into your boxes the past few weeks.

Often loved for their buttery, mild-onion flavor, leeks are a versatile vegetable and popular both as a star-player and/or substitute for onions in a variety of dishes such as tarts, soups, casseroles, everyday sautés and scrambles.

But for those new to this versatile veggie, we're often asked for cleaning and storage tips. Here's a few of our favorite tips for cleaning and saving leeks.

HOW TO CLEAN LEEKS

With leeks, the crucial first step is cleaning them, as they can hold quite a lot of sandy soil. As the plant grows, soil can get trapped between its layers. Here are two helpful tips to clean your leeks. The method you use depends upon how you are going to use the leeks in cooking.

Depending on what dish you’re making, you’ll use a small or large amount of the green stem. For stocks, most of the leeks can be used. For stir-fries or braising, use only the white part of the leek.

Method for Whole Leeks

Cut them in half lengthwise, keeping the root in tact. Run water over the whole leek rifling through the layers to give them a good rinse. If needed, do this a couple of times to make sure all of the fine s  is removed.

How to Clean and Freeze Leeks

Method for Chopped Leeks

For recipes calling for chopped leeks, remove both the root and dark green leafy ends. Slice the remaining white stalk in half lengthwise, then chop crosswise to create half-moon shaped pieces.

Place chopped leeks into a bowl and fill with cold water. Swish the leeks around vigorously to encourage any dirt or sand to sink to the bottom of the bowl. Let sit for a few minutes, then scoop out the clean leeks with a slotted spoon. Or if you're cleaning a lot of leeks, you can place the cut leeks in a colander then partially submerge the colander in a large bowl of water. Swish and clean leeks as you would above but quickly drain by pulling out the colander.

Cut Leeks

HOW TO FREEZE LEEKS

Leeks can be easily frozen for later use in soups, stews or casseroles.  After cleaning, place cut leeks on a clean, dry towel and allow them to air dry.

Flash freeze by placing them on a sheet tray in a single layer until just frozen. Placing a sheet of waxed paper on the tray before spreading out the leeks can make transfer once frozen a little easier.

Freezing Leeks

Once frozen, transfer to a re-usable, freezer-safe container. Use within 5 to 6 months (or before they get icy) for optimum flavor. When ready to cook, add to recipes without thawing.