For those of you who get the family or large box, or all fruit boxes, you may have some wickson plums in them this week. Don’t mistake them for an unripe plum, as some people tend to do! They are green plums, ripe, tasty, and ready to enjoy.
I met Debby a few years ago, when she was new to the LA market scene. Ever since then, “The Garden Of” has been my first choice for lettuce in our farm boxes. They’ve been harvesting their own heirloom seeds for over 30 years. They take extra effort in the health of their soil, beyond organic standards. When you taste their beautiful vegetables, you can tell they are growing from their hearts.
A few weeks ago, I was heading out to pickup produce from two farmers by myself. I began heading in the direction of Hollywood, when Debby called.
“Kali! Our truck has a flat tire and we’re stuck in Thousand Oaks! We could be here until tomorrow, we have no idea. You should come get your order here at the truck.”
A part of me thought, ” I should give them a little time and pick up from JR Organics at their Mar Vista Booth first.” Instead, I went on my way to Thousand Oaks to meet up with Debby.
I was just a mile away when Debby called again.
“Kali, how close are you? We got the tire, and we need to make a mad dash to the Hollywood Farmers Market, and your whole order is at the front of the truck, it would take us an hour to get everything out, to get to your order!”
I was happy they were going to make it to the Hollywood Market, and all the food they harvested was going to be sold. phew! Also, I was holding back that part of me that was a little concerned, that our boxes would be delivered later, and going through all the logistics in my head, getting in touch with our crew, and thinking about what to tell our customers.
“That’s ok, I should’ve listened to my intuition and gone to Mar Vista first.” I told her I loved them, and it’s all part of the comedy of life. Then turned around, and headed on my way to Mar Vista before Hollywood.
Once I got to them at the Hollywood Farmers Market, I was 5 minutes ahead of them, and an hour behind schedule. All vendors were already set up, and selling for the past hour. Shu opened the back of the truck and I came to help them unload along with several other people at the farmers market. More people started stepping in. Everyone was excited and happy to help out, and immediately customers were grabbing at their vegetables, as if they had been eagerly awaiting Debby and Shu’s arrival. Debby was busy selling, Shu handed us crates. People were adorably inspired, taking video of us, and saying things like, “It takes a community!”.
I was secretly hoping people would be impressed by my ability to carry 50 lb crates of potatoes by myself. That didn’t seem to happen, but a girl, stopped me to say how much she loved my pants.
I wanted to take a picture of this beautiful communal scene of people coming together for a very special small farm, but I had to make a mad dash to get our boxes made, once I had finished helping Debby and Shu get set up.
Today, In Topanga, a friend asked me if I ever pick up at the Hollywood Farmers Market. I said, “Yes. Not usually, since they usually deliver directly to us.
“I think I saw a picture of you”. And showed me a picture on instagram. My back was turned, and I was far away.
“How did you know that was me!?”
“Because of your pants!”
So now that I have the picture, (thanks to the pink pants) I get to show and tell about that beautiful morning when so many people pulled together for Debby and Shu, who deserve loads of praises for everything they do.
I was asked to do a demonstration at the Yogi Tree next week, so I came up with an assortment of quick pickled veggies. Since I don’t like zucchini raw, this was the first time I tried to pickle it. It turned out to be very tasty, and I like the texture.
Here’s what I used.
From the garden: rosemary, mint, and nasturtium flowers.
From the Organic farms: green beans, zucchini, garlic, and biodynamic allspice.
From my cabinet: turmeric, real salt, white vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. (all organic)
Two 24 oz, mason jars. Make sure to sterilize the jars.
For the brine: Fill one jar with half water and half vinegar. Pour it into a pot and add 2 tablespoons of salt, and other spices you want. Some people add a little sugar to balance out the salt and vinegar. You can also add more or less salt.
Pack the two mason jars with washed and chopped veggies. I chose to boil the green beans for 3 minutes, and then add raw zucchini on the top. Just zucchini would be good too. Then, a little crushed garlic, rosemary, and nasturtium flowers.
Boil the brine, and then pour it into the jars. That amount of brine should cover two jars. If it’s a little short, just add a little vinegar or water to top off the jars. Then add a little oil on top. Shake the jars. Usually, it’s good to wait at least 2 days so the flavors have time to absorb. It’s nice to give the jars some shaking each day.
This should last at least two weeks.
The best way one of our farms described tat soi to me is, it’s like a mix between spinach and bok choy, and tastes even better then spinach. You can cook with it or eat it raw and it tastes great either way.
Something that’s happened due to the effects of the drought is that some small farmers are taking less risk as to what they’re growing. They want to be sure it will sell on the table. Tat soi is one of those vegetables that’s not easy to grow, and some farms have told me it doesn’t sell well enough because people don’t know what it is. For that reason, it’s been a while since it’s become available. So this week, I’m thrilled to have tat soi from JR Organics, and repost this very simple recipe of a time I first discovered this tasty green.
Fresh Lemon Juice
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I have been making slightly different versions of avocado soup every week recently, using what I have available. One week I used spinach, another I used lots of basil, another week was lime and cilantro…. I got my hands on bell pepper and heirloom tomatoes this week, so that’s what I used, and I love this version.
2 lbs zucchini (this time I used gold bar zucchini)
2 ripe Avocados
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
oil of choice
1 red bell pepper
1 small heirloom tomato
paprika, cayenne pepper, real salt, and cumin
Chop the onion. Heat up a pot with some oil. Add the onions and garlic and stir fry on low/medium heat. Sprinkle in plenty of paprika; cover all over those onions. Add cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper, (the amount you like). Add chopped tomato. Once the onions have cooked down, add some water. Bring it to a boil, add in chopped bell pepper, and let it simmer for a while. It’s ok if it doesn’t simmer a long time, but if you can, let it simmer an hour or two, so the broth gets tastier.
There should be just enough water in the pot to cover the zucchini. Then add chopped zucchini and cook medium/high heat until the zucchini is cooked through.
Add the soup to a blender, then add avocados and fresh cilantro. Blend super smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little more broth or water. If it’s not thick enough, add another avocado.
You can eat this hot or chilled!
Green garlic was in our family box today! Sage Mountain Farms green garlic is the best there is, I wish we could smell it through this picture!
Instead of using green onions, I had kurrat, (also called egyptian leeks) from our last box. They’re tastier and rare to find.
~ Red Cabbage
~ Kurrat or green onions
~ 1/3 cup Red Pepper Flakes
~ 1/4 cup Green Garlic
~ 1/4 cup fish sauce
~ 1/3 cup salt
~ 1/4 coconut palm sugar
Make a brine in a large pot, combine the salt and the sugar with 2 quarts of water, heat until the salt dissolves, and the water is warm, but not hot!
Pour the brine over chopped cabbage and kurrat and leave for 30 minutes.
Make a paste by mixing, garlic, red pepper flakes, and fish sauce in a food processor.
Drain the cabbage, and put it in a bowl, sprinkle a little more salt. Mix in the delicious, spicy paste!
~About 3 lbs of zucchini (cut with a mandoline slicer or zucchini spiralizer)
~4 tablespoons organic pastures raw butter or coconut oil
~5 cloves of garlic
~half a large onion
~2 cups homemade beef bone broth (grass fed from Novy’s Ranches) or vegetable broth
~1 cup organic pastures cream or coconut milk
~sun dried tomatoes
~kalamata olives from Nuvo (most olives in the store contain lye, Nuvo doesn’t)
~red pepper flakes or a fresh hot pepper, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning
In a large pan, melt the butter, and add garlic, onions and spices. Cook for a few minutes on medium heat.
Add the broth and cream. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until the sauce thickens.
Add zucchini noodles, sun dried tomatoes and olives.
Cook the zucchini until it’s cooked but not too soft.
You can add basil or other fresh herbs. You could also add cheese, and stir it in while simmering the sauce.
This recipe was taste tested by 3 surprise visitors who were very happy with it.
Purple Cauliflower and Spinach Salad
Veggies: Purple Cauliflower, Spinach
Herbs: Savory and Chives
Spices: Salt, Pepper, Sumac
Coconut Oil and Fresh Lemon Juice
Break the cauliflower into little florets and Steam them on low heat in a pan with coconut oil, savory, salt, pepper, and sumac.
Mix the cauliflower while it’s still hot, with chopped fresh spinach. Add fresh lemon juice and chopped chives.
If you didn’t hear the story about a random piano abandoned on the top of the hill in Topanga, the mystery was quickly solved, that it was put up there for a music video shoot. Some locals had mixed feelings, some wanted to rally together and make some music, some felt that leaving an out of tune piano on the top of the hill was irresponsible and the crew should be fined for littering. Nonetheless, I’m always up for a hike, and we took a little family adventure with our rare sub-tropical fruits, out to see a rare siting of a piano atop the hill. Yes, it was out of tune, and 6 keys were broken, it’s possible some day it’s destined to fall down the hill and create a big mess, which sounds pretty awful, but a piano on a hill is beautiful. I had never seen so much graffiti in Topanga. This is an area I haven’t explored in the 6 years of living in the canyon. The hike going up there had graffiti on the rocks leading up to the watch tower. Topanga Graffiti, “Love Yourself!” At least, there were some good messages. People were already carving initials and messages, and putting their stickers on the piano. It was a very touristy type of scene. Somehow I imagined, we would just encounter a few locals, playing music together, the way we like to gather in Topanga. Someone referenced me once as the connoisseur of fruits and veggies, when I said I must come off as a food snob. I just really love knowing the people who are so passionate about the food they grow and share with us. It moves me. I’ve come upon the very best fruits I didn’t know existed, like babaco papaya, surinam cherries, jaboticaba berries, pink guavas, and ice cream beans. I light up and experience foodie bliss! When I take a bite, I think about all the people who would fall in love with it too. I feel lucky to know a few exceptional farmers, growing rare sub-tropicals with so much love and passion. I’ve listened to their struggles with all types of issues from the drought, to the weather, to paper work. They keep going, in spite of the struggles, and it warms their heart to be appreciated. If you order a paradise box, just know that the fruit has a mind of it’s own, the weather will decide if we have passion fruit one week, and none the next, but through the year we’ve been providing sub-tropical fruits, there were only a few weeks in the winter that we had to hold the paradise orders, due to to low volume of fruit. To order a paradise box with seasonal, local, sub-tropical fruits go to our website. http://www.savraw.com
JR Organics has yellow squash for us, for this Sundays farm box. It’s unexpected this early, exciting for our bellies, and at the same time, a call to our attention about the sunny winter we just had.
During last years beautiful and sunny winter in January 2014, we visited Etheridge Farms to learn more about the effects the drought was having on his farm, and get his insights. It was sprinkling when we got there, which was nice, but he lightly joked, saying, “it’s kind of like going to a bar and getting flirted with, no big deal. It’s not going to do that much good, it really isn’t. It’s a good start, yes. It hasn’t rained since December 7th, that’s 54 days by the way. This is not really rain, this is more or less a trinkle.”
It didn’t do much to help with their water situation. Gene and his family have been working on building a deeper well since that winter, which has slowed their plans to start their organic vegetable farm, as well as causing a few challenges with some of the fruit.
Gene Etheridge has been growing organic fruit for over 30 years, his wisdom, passion, and excellent fruit has compelled us to stand by him for years, supporting his farm every week.
Before the drought, I had collaborated with Gene about some of the exciting heirloom vegetables we would like them to grow for our farm boxes. Those plans have really slowed, due to the drought. On the lighter side, it seems that more people are growing gardens at home and in their communities, like the Kiss the Ground project in Venice.
Which brings us to rain barrels. It’s the first day of Spring, and we’ve spent most of the day planting veggies in our garden, from the heirloom seeds we started. It’s not too late, or too early to get prepared and get our rain barrels from Aquatopanga, for next winters rain. We’ll need them.
As Gene said, “I don’t think it’s a water problem, I think it’s how we use the water, so we need to find a way to be very efficient.”
Aquatopanga is a new supplier of rain barrels, which was set up in frustration when faced with the difficulty of finding quality rain barrels locally.
They have a stock of recycled rain barrels that qualify for rebates and will help you claim up to 100% of the cost. Mention SavRaw when you contact them for a $10 discount on each barrel.
Also, if you share this post and refer your friends, you’ll get a $10 credit on your SavRaw account for each barrel your friend buys. Have them mention your name when they contact Aquatopanga.
or call 805-231-7420
Drought has become a fact of life here in SoCal, which makes gardening all the more of a challenge. Just last week, LA county announced that it is going to enforce watering restrictions and fine people who water more then twice a week. However, there is hope at the end of the dry tunnel – rebates are now available to help gardeners conserve water in rain barrels for next to nothing. Nearly all water companies and most cities offer rebates to enable you to install up to 4 rain barrels per household – these barrels attach directly to your downspout so your whole roof becomes a rain zone collection zone, resulting in gallons of water from the slightest drizzle.