November 30, 2015

Crisp Fall Colors

From the Fields - Thaddeus


I love the change in seasons. I understand that our seasons may not be as extreme as many of the seasons on our planet, but I still love the crisp fall that settles over Capay. The peach and apricot trees are turning amazing colors. Their leaves are an array of oranges, reds and yellows that change by the day until they fall from the tree in a poetic dance to the ground where they mingle with the lush, green shoots of cover crop that are emerging from the soil. More stiff winds are sure to come in the next weeks, leaving only bare branches that are amazingly vibrant with a deep-red color. Soon Ricardo and his team will walk through the orchard with pruning shears, bringing order to the branches that grew this way and that over the summer, setting the trees up to produce the ideal amount of flowers in the spring and fruit in the summer.



Below the stone fruit orchard, the whistling of harvest crews picking kale carries in the cold air across the farm. The harvest crews are in full swing. Kales, chards, beets, radishes, lettuce, carrots and cauliflower stand ready to be picked, and our team is working just as fast as they can to get them out of the field.



The kale plants that have just been harvested look a bit different. With the largest leaves trimmed from them, their thick trunks are exposed. On top of these trunks, a small bouquet of baby kale leaves remains. These will grow hopefully before the inevitable aphid crop moves in and with any luck, we will be able to get one more harvest from these plants.

Beyond the field, the creek’s wildlife is bustling with activity of the local flock of wild turkeys who are around more than usual. It is funny to me how they show up and leave without notice. The acorns of the oak trees are on the ground and mostly eaten. The oak leaves are still hanging on to trees, but are deep brown in color. Below the trees, last season’s grass remains yellow, but below it, the effects of the first rain can be seen in the bright green grass sprouts that are emerging from the hills. It will not be long until the color of the hills is painted green with the next season of grass.



Our Satsuma mandarin trees are in full production. The crisp nights have helped to turn the color of the fruit orange. They taste great, and our mandarin crew is picking them just as fast as they can. The office is busy with planning for next year. Fields are being selected for all the crops we plan on growing. My trusty old Excel sheet that holds the history of each field is up on my computer screen. First, we select fields that are ready for a rotation of tomatoes. Then, we find homes for the peppers, eggplants and melons. After those crops are settled, we are sketching out a plan for the winter squash and next fall’s vegetables. Everyone is busy.

November 25, 2015

Winter Squash Storage Tips

Winter-Squash-Storage-Tips

Do any of you have an overabundance of winter squash at your house right now? Sometimes getting through all the delicious winter squash can feel like a challenge. But not to worry, we have some tips on how to use and store your squash for winter.

One of the ways we like to store our winter squash is to freeze it. You can do this with a variety of winter squash, like butternut, delicata and red kuri. If you use red kuri (shown below) or delicata, you don't have to peel it!

Winter-Squash


Freezing Directions:

For Delicata or Red Kuri Squash
Rinse and scrub the squash. Cut in half and scoop out the seeds to save for roasting later. Slice the delicata into 1/2-inch slices and spread on a baking sheet. Cut the red kuri into cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Try to leave some room so they can freeze easily. Place in the freezer overnight or until frozen.

For Butternut Squash or Pumpkin
Peel the squash. Cut in half and scoop out the seeds to save for roasting later. Cut into cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Try to leave some room so they can freeze easily. Place in the freezer overnight or until frozen.

No need to cook the squash before you freeze it. Note, if you do, it speeds along the process of the dish you add it to.

Frozen-Winter-Squash

Once frozen, dump the squash into an airtight container to store in the freezer. To use, throw the frozen cubes directly into whatever you're cooking without thawing first. Thawing first will make your squash mushy. Here are some recipes you can make with the frozen squash:

Roasted Squash Salad with Goat Cheese
Butternut Squash and Potato Curry
Crockpot Chili (This recipe doesn't call for squash, but it would be a delicious addition! Just add the squash in when you add in the bell peppers and carrots)
Delicata Squash, Kale and Shiitake Rice Pilaf
Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Seeds

Store-Winter-Squash

Another way we like to use our squash is to peel it (for butternut), cut into cubes and store in our fridge for up to a week. You'll find you are much more likely to use the squash if you have it pre-cut and ready to use.  They are wonderful in the recipes mentioned above, or you can roast them on a baking sheet with a little bit of olive oil and salt at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown. We love roasted squash as a healthy, quick side dish. Or, you can substitute butternut squash for the pumpkin in this Homemade Pumpkin Bread.

Do you have any recommendations for using winter squash? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Add Squash To Your Delivery: CSA members - head on over to our online Farm Stand Market to customize your upcoming delivery. The Market is open from noon on Thursday until 10 am, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day. After you confirm your produce items, click the orange button "Confirm and Continue To Other Farm Products" to add the products to your delivery. 

Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.

Thank You at Thanksgiving

From the Fields - Thaddeus
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There are many things that I love about my job - the beauty of the farm, toiling with Mother Nature, watching things grow - but there is one thing that I love most about my job, and it is the random places I run into all of you. 

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It generally happens one of two ways. For some reason, I am at a home that I haven’t been to before (a friend of family most often), and I see a Farm Fresh To You box in the house or the newsletter on the fridge. The second way is I am walking down a street I have never walked before, and I see Farm Fresh To You boxes neatly stacked on porch waiting for their driver to pick them up. Bumping into Farm Fresh To You customers at your homes is the without a doubt the thing I love most about our work. It makes the produce we grow and the service we provide real – thank you!

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It is the season to sit down with loved ones, enjoying each other and giving thanks. For many families, including my own, food makes this list. For this farmer, all of you, my most valuable customers, make this list. I am so thankful for all of you and the support you offer our farm family. You may not know how amazing you are and why I am so thankful for all of you, so here is a short list.


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1. You have made a choice to trust us to feed you and your family on a routine basis. The routine part of this is huge. The routine part enables me to make a planting schedule that goes through the year and that I am confident we can sell. The routine part allows us to provide work for our farm team through the year, and it enables us to develop delivery routes that provide stable work for our driving and packing team. Your routine support of our farm (and I mean every delivery) is the backbone of our existence.


FFTY_Produce-Boxes-Winter


2. You are the best supporter of local produce. Every week our team finds the best local selection possible and every delivery you support that selection. When you receive a Farm Fresh To You delivery, you support, dollar for dollar, local and organic produce in a way that you could not do at a retail store, even if you tried.

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3. You care about how the food system affects you AND others (even if you don’t know it!). Farm Fresh To You customers know they are getting healthy food, but they may not know they are creating healthy work environments for our family of employees and healthy places to live for the many living things that are part of our farm’s ecosystem.


employees at farm

The second group of people I am thankful for is our family of employees. What we are doing is pretty amazing. We have successfully created a vertically integrated food system, literally from the fields of our farm to the doorsteps of our customers. We could not do this without the talented teams of people that make every part of our food system work in harmony. These folks are of the heart and soul of our company, and I am proud be able to work with them.



November 20, 2015

Get Your Greens On Juice

Get-Your-Greens-On-Ingredients

Get your greens on, get your greens on! This healthy green juice with kale, apples, parsley and lime is the perfect way to start your morning on the right foot. Loaded with tons of vitamins -- and calcium from the kale -- this juice will totally make up for those cookies you eat later on.

Get-Your-Greens-On-Juice

Get Your Greens On Juice

Ingredients:
(makes 1 juice)

1/2-1 head of kale, depending on how much you like the flavor (we used purple, but any kale will do)
1/2 bunch parsley
2 apples (we used Granny Smith, but feel free to sub any apple)
1 lime

Directions:

Blender/Food Processor Directions: Cut the apples and remove the seeds and stems. Cut into small chunks and add them to the blender or food processor and process with a little bit of water until smooth. Tear the kale leaves from the stems and add them to the blender. Process until smooth. Chop the parsley and add that to the blender and blend until combined. Strain if desired. Slice the lime into wedges. Pour the juice into a glass and squeeze the lime wedges over the juice. Enjoy! 

Juicer Directions: Cut the apples in half or quarters and remove the seeds and stems. Feed them down the chute one at a time until processed. Add the parsley down the chute. Add the stalks of kale one or two at a time down the chute until processed. Slice the lime into wedges. Pour the juice into a glass and squeeze the lime wedges over the juice. Enjoy! 

How To Add Juicing Fruits and Vegetables To Your Delivery: CSA members - head on over to our online Farm Stand Market to customize your upcoming delivery. On the second page of customizations, you’ll find “Produce by the Case” and can stock up if you want a larger batch of produce for juices. The Market is open from noon on Thursday until 10 am, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day. After you confirm your produce items, click the orange button "Confirm and Continue To Other Farm Products" to add the products to your delivery. 

Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.

November 18, 2015

Know Your Farmer: Creekside Farms

Creekside Farms Family
The leaves have turned, the air is crisp and we can almost smell Thanksgiving dinner in the air. With the holidays right around the corner, many of us are looking for simple ways to add that warm and cozy feeling to our homes. The addition of a wreath to the family door is often the tell-tale sign that the holidays are upon us. And this year, our family will be hanging a beautiful, artisan wreath from Creekside Farms on our door.


For more than 25 years, the Umbarger family has owned and operated Creekside Farms.  They pride themselves on growing their floral bounty naturally without the use of harmful pesticides.  In addition, they believe in taking the extra time and care to hand-harvest their herbs and flowers.

Drying Racks
Drying Racks of Flowers and Herbs

Located in California’s Monterey County, the warm climate is ideal for growing and drying herbs and flowers. All of their flowers and herbs are naturally air dried, although a drying chamber is used in the later months when the days are shorter and the temperatures aren’t sufficient to dry the herbs.

Creekside Farm
Creekside Farms

Welcome your guests this holiday season with a fragrant natural wreath or give it as a gift to someone special. These wreaths are intended to be hung indoors where it is protected from the elements.

Creekside Farms Wreath
Creekside Farms' Wreaths

How To Add a Creekside Farms Wreath To Your Delivery: CSA members - head on over to our online Farm Stand Market to customize your upcoming delivery. The Market is open from noon on Thursday until 10 am, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day. After you confirm your produce items, click the orange button "Confirm and Continue To Other Farm Products" to add the products to your delivery. 

Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.

Sunchokes aka Jerusalem Artichokes

Sunchokes

Despite the fact that one of the sunchoke's official names is the Jerusalem artichoke, it isn't related to the artichoke (or Jerusalem) at all. The sunchoke is actually related to the sunflower and is native to North America. Basically, the sunchoke is having an identity crisis. The ginger-looking tuber (an outgrowth of a stem) contains no oil and is high in protein, making this a popular substitute for potatoes. The best part? You don't have to peel these before roasting (though you can, if you prefer). We like doing a simple roasted sunchoke and have shared the recipe below, but here are some other ways to use these fun tubers:

Thinly slice them and toss them in your salad (like this Brussels sprout and sunchoke salad)
Pickle them (try swapping them for the jalapenos in this recipe)
Combine them with your mashed potatoes, or try them mashed on their own

Sunchokes-Cutting-Board

Herb Roasted Sunchokes

Ingredients:
1 pound sunchokes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon rosemary, minced
salt to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Scrub the sunchokes and remove any excess stringy bits. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary. Bake the sunchokes for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sunchokes turn golden brown.

Serve warm and enjoy!


Roasted-Sunchokes

How To Add Sunchokes and Rosemary To Your Delivery: CSA members - head on over to our online Farm Stand Market to customize your upcoming delivery. The Market is open from noon on Thursday until 10 am, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day. After you confirm your produce items, click the orange button "Confirm and Continue To Other Farm Products" to add the products to your delivery. 

Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.

November 12, 2015

Hostess Gift Ideas For The Holidays

Hostess Gift Ideas


The holiday season is upon us!! It's time for drinking eggnog, eating too many slices of pie and the best part -- parties! Getting invited to a holiday party can be nerve-racking, especially if the host or hostess says "just bring yourselves," because you can't show up empty handed! We have a list of some fun gift ideas that your host or hostess is sure to love. The best part? You can get all of them delivered in your box!

Happy Girl Marmalades

Hostess Gift Ideas


We have a variety of marmalade flavors from Happy Girl Kitchen Co. including Meyer Lemon Ginger, Meyer Lemon, Pink Grapefruit, and "Da Bears" Lime. Bring one (or a few!) of these for your host or hostess to spread on bread, crackers or as a pancake topping.


Fall Cutie Bouquet, Thomas Farms
Hostess Gift Ideas
This bright and colorful bouquet is sure to brighten any room or table! If you're showing up the day of a big dinner, we recommend bringing a vase (or a large Mason jar) so you don't have to make your host or hostess search for one while they're in the middle of perfecting the gravy.


Culinary Seed Set

Seed-Sets

This is the perfect gift for your gardening-loving host or hostess. Give them one of our three-seed collection sets and let them experience a gift that truly keeps on giving:

  • The Culinary Herb Collection comes with 11 organic heirloom varieties and information on how to dry and use herbs: Genovese basil, cilantro (coriander), dill, fennel, thyme, oregano, sage, savory, chives, parsley and rosemary.
  • The Urban/Small Garden Collection contains 13 seed varieties that are suited for small spaces and containers including: Galina Tomato, Green Arrow Pea, Chantenay Carrot, Boothby's Blonde Cucumber, Lacinato Kale, Chioggia Beet, California Wonder Pepper, Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash, Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach, Merveille des Quatre Saisons Lettuce, Purple Plum Radish, Genovese Basil Herbs and Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean. This kit would make a great gift and includes a very handy booklet about how to save the seeds from your garden.
  • The Founder's Collection contains 22 seed varieties that are rare, extreme weather tolerant and disease resistant including: Black Cherry Tomato, Sweetmeat Winter Squash, Mandan Bride Corn, Armenian Cucumber, Shin Kuroda Carrot, Bulls Blood Beet, Scarlet Runner Bean, Amish Paste Tomato, Summer Crookneck Squash, De Cicco Broccoli, Red Russian Kale, Giant Musselburgh Leek and more.

Honey and Sea Salt Walnut Butter, Old Dog Ranch
Old Dog Ranch Raw Honey Walnut Butter
This heavenly spread is made with sustainably grown walnuts, a touch of local honey and a sprinkle of salt. Your host or hostess will love this sweet and salty spread that will take their morning toast or apple slices to a whole new level.

    Capay Dried Lavender Bunch

    Hostess Gift Ideas


    We love this bouquet of dried lavender not only because it looks good, but it smells good, too. Fill your host or hostess' home with the intoxicating scent of lavender this holiday season.


    Gourmet Salt Gift Set

    jacobson salt co



    These salt sets are the perfect gift for your food-loving host or hostess. The attractive jars and vials add a special touch to the already amazing salts included within them. Choose from these four options:
    • Italian Salt Set - includes 3.6 oz jars of Rosemary, Garlic and Tomato Basil salt
    • Salt Gift Set - includes vials with samples of Sweet Onion Salt, Habanero Salt, Garlic Salt, Basil Salt, Black Pepper Salt and Pure Flake Finishing Salt. Get a taste of these delicious infused salts and take note of the pairing notes with suggested combinations for each salt. 
    • Pure Flake Salt and Peppercorn Set -  (Note: the peppercorn requires a grinder)
    • Spicy Salt Set - includes Chili Lime Salt, Ghost Chili Salt and Habanero Salt

    What are your go-to host or hostess gift ideas? Let us know in the comments below!


    How To Add Host and Hostess Gifts To Your Delivery: CSA members - head on over to our online Farm Stand Market to customize your upcoming delivery. After you confirm your produce items, click the orange button "Confirm and Continue To Other Farm Products" to go to the second page of customizations where all these items are located. The Market is open from noon on Thursday until 10 am, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day. Make sure to click the button that says "Order Selected Items" to confirm adding these products to your delivery. 

    Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.

    November 5, 2015

    Hachiya vs. Fuyu Persimmon Lowdown


    Fuyu-Persimmons
    Persimmons are such a fun fruit we look forward to every year, but knowing the differences between the two main types (Hachiya and Fuyu) is key. Fuyu persimmons are best for eating like an apple and have a unique flavor, spicy sweet with hints of tropical flavors. Some even say they can sometimes detect a hint of cinnamon! Hachiya persimmons on the other hand (pronounced HA-CHEE-YA) are best for cooking and baking. The flesh has a smooth, creamy texture and tangy-sweet flavor.

    Hachiya-Persimmon


    The trick to cooking with a Hachiya persimmon is to let it get super soft and start to get black spots. The squishy texture should be similar to a seriously over-ripe tomato -- that's when they're perfect to cook with! The black spots are not harmful, don't worry.

    Hachiya-Persimmon-Squish

    We used our Hachiya persimmons to make Persimmon Lemon Bars, or PersEMON bars (ha!)

    Persimmon-Lemon-Bars


    Persimmon Lemon Bars (aka PersEMON bars)
    makes 1 pan PersEMON bars

    INGREDIENTS:
    For the crust
    2 sticks butter (1/2 pound)
    1/3 cup sugar
    2 cups flour
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    For the filling
    4 eggs
    1 2/3 cups sugar
    1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
    2-3 overripe Hachiya persimmons (see photos above for reference)
    1-2 lemons, juiced (approximately 2/3 cup juice)
    2/3 cup flour

    DIRECTIONS:
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. Using a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the flour and salt and mix into the butter and sugar mixture until it's just incorporated. You should have a crumbly, dough-like texture. Dump that into the greased pan and flatten into the pan until the whole bottom is covered. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the dough mixture is very lightly browned.

    Squeeze the ripe persimmons over a measuring cup to extract the juice and pulp from the skins. Leave out most of the skin if possible. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, Hachiya pulp, lemon juice and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set, but still kind of wiggles when you shake the pan. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and dig in!


    Vibrant Food Cookbook Giveaway
    Photo Credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink


    Persimmon with Broiled Goat Cheese:
    This dish is almost like a caprese salad with persimmons. We love this festive version -- these would make a quick and delicious appetizer for the holidays when people need to eat, but you need them out of the kitchen.

    This is inspired by a dish that I love to serve as an appetizer in the fall. Often I’ll just serve slices of firm Fuyu persimmon with plain goat cheese—that alone is tasty enough to surprise and intrigue guests. But I decided to fancify it a little by broiling the goat cheese, which makes it a warm, melty, tangy, wonderful thing. It’s really important to select firm Fuyu persimmons for this dish. Soft Hachiya persimmons are unripe when firm, and once ripe, they won’t support a slather of cheese.

    INGREDIENTS:
    4 ounces soft, fresh goat cheese
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 Fuyu persimmons, quartered, seeded, and thinly sliced
    Fresh thyme, for garnishes

    DIRECTIONS:
    Preheat the broiler.

    Place the goat cheese in a ramekin and drizzle the olive oil over the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil about 6 inches from the heat source for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is a deep golden brown. Allow to cool for a couple minutes.

    Spread about a teaspoon of baked goat cheese on each slice of persimmon. Garnish with thyme and black pepper and serve immediately.

    ***   
    Reprinted with permission from Vibrant Food written and photographed by Kimberley Hasselbrink (Ten Speed Press, © 2014)
    How To Add Persimmons To Your Delivery: CSA members - head on over to our online Farm Stand Market to customize your upcoming delivery. On the second page of customizations, you’ll find “Produce by the Case” and can stock up if you want a big batch of persimmons. The Market is open from noon on Thursday until 10 am, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day. After you confirm your produce items, click the orange button "Confirm and Continue To Other Farm Products" to add the products to your delivery. 

    Not part of our farm family? Find out if we deliver to your neighborhood.