Saturday, September 4, 2010


As leaves begin to fall so do CSA member numbers. I don't really understand this phenomenon. In September and half of October we still get plenty of summer produce. The weather gets cool and people tend to cook more. So, what is the reason that when fall arrives, membership falls with the leaves?

I assume people get busier since kids are in school. Parents have to go to sports events, after-school activities and help kids with homework. But, really, it makes so much sense to me to continue a CSA membership at this time of year because eating home cooked food brings a sense of peace to a family. Sitting down for a meal during this hectic time of year is calming. Cooking is almost meditative.

Oh, well.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tess's Grapes

This morning I juiced some Black Emerald grapes from Tess's Garden. Wow. It was a beautiful ruby color and was so refreshing. My son Duncan and I drank it all in about ten seconds. I am wondering how it would be to make grape jelly using these or other seedless grapes. I may give it a try.

My crabapple jelly was less than successful. It didn't gel. I'm pretty sure it's because I reduced the sugar. I'm going to pick more crabapples and do it again.

By the way, Tess's Garden is trying to raise funds to build a commercial community kitchen in Brentwood, Contra Costa County. They are listed on the Pepsi Refresh Challenge this month. Vote for them. There will also be a fundraising bar-b-que at the garden on August 28.

Keep eating local.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fruit, fruit and more fruit

Wow, it is certainly high season for stone fruits here in Contra Costa County. We started getting cherries in early June and have moved on to apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines. So juicy and sweet when they are harvested at the peak of ripeness. But most consumers buy these delicacies in the supermarket. Many producers sell to wholesalers from far distances who want a fruit that ships well. As a result, the fruit is picked unripe with the hopes that it will ripen on the shelf.

My sons had never had a peach directly off a tree before we moved to California in 2000. As a result, they didn't think they liked peaches or other stone fruits. Once they met some of the farmers who grow our fruit, they decided to try a peach. I'll never forget the day several years later when one of my sons encouraged a friend to try a peach at our house. "Really," he said, "you won't ever taste a better peach. They're the best." I can't remember if his friend agreed, but I do. Bring on the stone fruits!

Monday, May 31, 2010

End of Season, Beginning of Season

"Summer's here! Well I'm for that, got my rubber sandals, got my straw hat." James Taylor wrote that in one of his songs. I'm beginning to feel it even as the wind blows cool through my house. The cherry harvest is underway in Brentwood and I've been enjoying that harvest. Last week, we had Brooks cherries, this week Rainiers. Each variety has its own uniqueness. I love them all. Next will be apricots, then peaches, nectarines, pluots, plums. Oh yum!

And in the veggie department, the fava beans are still being harvested as well as lettuces, chard and other greens. Coming up: summer produce like tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers. I love each season but summer is so full of great stuff, it's hard to not love it best.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Changing Seasons

Despite the weird winter-like weather, the season is absolutely changing.
Farmers in Brentwood, 25 miles east of my house, are harvesting the first cherries of the season. Many of them are members of an organization called "Harvest Time" which was begun to promote local farmers and their delicious produce. The growers created a farm map and most of them set up farm stands and u-pick operations. Memorial Day weekend is the busiest day of the year in Brentwood with hundreds of people travelling to the area to pick the first delicious cherries after a long winter doing without.

Next on the harvest schedule will be apricots. I love the two fruits together. Deborah Madison published my favorite recipe for them: cherry and apricot crisp. With a slight hint of almond extract, the flavors of dark sweet cherries and the first tart apricots of the year are unbeatable.

So, all hail spring! Even when it still feels like winter, the fruits are ripening and telling us the warm weather is not far behind.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Grow Your Own

One of our members and the host of Eat Outside the Box in Lafayette, Autumn Gonzalez, has a creative new business. She and her business partner, Julie Cimino, have started growing food for people in a clever and unique way. Click on the link below to get an idea of what Autumn and Julie do. They will come to your home, assess your site, create a plan and execute it for you. You will have freshly grown veggies as close to home as possible: your own backyard.

The name of Autumn and Julie's business is Homegrown and in their tag line they urge you to Eat Your (own) Vegetables. If you want to have a garden but don't know where to start, contact Autumn.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sorrel Time

Sorrel is a beautiful leafy green. The sorrel we got this week in our CSA box was long, pale green and looked a lot like puntarella or dandelion greens. It has smooth leaves, though, without indentations on the leaf edges.

Sorrel grows wild in many places but has also been cultivated for centuries. It can be eaten in salads, on sandwiches or cooked. Commonly used in stews or soups, sorrel has a tangy flavor and is high in ascorbic acid. Recipes that feature sorrel can be found in almost every culture.

Sorrel has iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium phosphorus and fiber.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Greens, greens, greens

This week, my rapini, (all mixed types) was used up in one meal. Granted the meal lasted us several meals with leftovers. So, many of you have asked me what I did with all those bitter greens this week. This is what I did. I have adapted this recipe to suit the amount of greens I had. I also increased the red pepper flakes.

Rose’s Pasta with Winter Greens
1 pound winter greens (chard, kale or rapini)
2 small Meyer lemons
6 TBS olive oil
6 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
8 C water
2 tsp kosher salt
1 pound penne rigate
3 oz parmesan cheese grated

Chop up the greens into 1 inch strips (or bite sized) pieces. Juice one lemon, cut the other into wedges and set aside.

Add oil to a wide bottom 12 inch saucepan with sides at least 6 inches high. Tip pan so oil collects along one edge. Add garlic and cook gently over low heat until deep golden, about 4 minutes. Add pepper flakes, 8 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil.

Add the pasta and stems and stalks of greens to boiling water. Boil over high heat for 7 minutes, stirring for the first few. Add leaves of greens and boil for another 7 minutes, stirring to keep pasta and greens submerged until the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and stir in half the cheese and lemon juice stirring constantly.

Divide pasta, greens and cooking liquid into serving bowls. Garnish with a wedge of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The New Season is Upon Us

Well, it's finally time!

Time for locally grown winter greens and farm fresh eggs. Through the months of December and January I visited the farmers' market more than usual. But nothing compares to the fresh and tasty produce I get from our local farms. This season, I have had to wait an extra month. Torture! The rains beat down and flooded out some of the plantings. But now -- next Tuesday to be exact -- I will be finally getting the freshest, local food possible.

I can't wait for the dark yellow yolks of the eggs. Shelly's "girls" have a pretty good life and that happiness is manifest in their eggs.

Oh boy!! I'm ready.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fair Food Project

Since November I have been working for a non-profit in California with a focus on the social justice aspect of agricultural sustainability. At the end of the year, California Institute for Rural Studies rolled out its newest project, called the Fair Food Project (see it at Sometimes, we overlook the fact that one of the tenets of sustainable agriculture is social justice. Everyone thinks of environmental benefits some people think of economic equality but not many people really think about social justice. In Slow Food, we talk about good, clean and fair food. Now, in addition to asking where our food was grown, how it was grown, we should also pay attention to who actually grew it. Please take some time to watch this multi-media project. I think it is really well done.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rain Delay

Eaters, we have been getting a phenomenal amount of rain this winter. Although it is great for our upcoming summer, it has decimated some of the newly planted greens we would normally start our CSA season with. So, sadly, last week I announced a two-week postponement of the start of our first season of local eating. But, hey, it could be worse. We could live in North Dakota. As I write this, it is 17 degrees in Bismark and overcast. Not much tilling going on there! Looking at all of North Dakota's weather postings, the high is in Fargo where it is snowing and 25 degrees.

So two weeks. I think we can wait.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

2010 Season

Wow, it's been too long since I sat down and wrote here.

We're getting ready to begin the 2010 season of Eat Outside the Box. I have been getting a lot of inquiries over the winter break and hope to grow the CSA this year. It's been difficult to keep up with all my work. But, we will begin next month with winter produce from Knoll Farms and eggs from Shelly's. The cost of eggs will rise to $6 a dozen but they are so delicious I'll be paying for sure.

The chickens are so happy with Shelly who refers to them as "my girls." I hope some of you have taken the opportunity to buy eggs from Shelly and her family at the Danville farmers' market on Saturdays.

I don't know about you, but I am craving winter greens, green garlic and baby onions. I am looking forward to beets and potatoes and little tiny carrots. I wonder how all our produce is growing with all this rain.