Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!

Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!
peel, eat, repeat

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sun is shining and the broccoli is ready for pickin!

A new grapefruit is on the scene, exciting…ok well maybe not too exciting but really tasty whether or not you like grapefruit. Oranges crossed with grapefruit create a really big orange looking fruit that is sweeter than sweet and has a grapefruit finish. They are calling it a Cocktail Grapefruit. I am venturing to guess because the flavors are similar to a grapefruit juice drink. Yummy! Also look for a Peach Mandarin, looks like a Satsuma with a little bit tighter skin, still really easy to peel and a tropically lush flavor that actually has peach undertones. I found both of these gems at Hamada’s farm stand at the Diablo Valley Farmers Market. (Saturday 9 to 1 Kaiser Shadelands parking lot) I also found the Cocktail Grapefruit aka Sweet Grapefruit at the Diaz Farm stand at Tuesday Concord Farmers Market. (Todos Santos Park 10 to 2) They have really great citrus as well as Hamada. J and J has good fruit too but not the fancy new ones.

Good News Flash about Pleasant Hill Farmers Market: the City of Pleasant Hill is reviewing an agreement with Pacific Coast Farmers Markets, same operators as Concord FM as well as about 50 or more other farmers markets in the Bay Area. I don’t know if anyone remembers or even knew that last year California Farmers Markets tried to get the Pleasant Hill market and move it in front of the old Left Bank as well as add about 30 more farmers. California was not awarded the contract and went on to open the new Diablo Valley Farmer Market at Shadelands. That market has been great all year, probably 3 times at least as many growers as old Pleasant Hill, none of the bizarre craft stuff, just a farmers market, for some serious produce shopping. Crafters are ok when the item is truly homemade but when stuff is coming in manufactured in some factory in another part of the world it has no place in a farmers market and no claim to anything remotely resembling sustainable practices.

Pacific Coast does not have crafters in their markets either, just farmers, flowers and food. So I for one am very excited about a new Pleasant Hill Farmers Market. Is there a new location on the horizon? Maybe on Crescent? More farmers for the people of Pleasant Hill? Time will tell. Having been personally involved in the operations of farmers markets for 10 years I know well that it is difficult to get the shoppers down to the market but I also know that with effort, ingenuity and a little bit of marketing cash it can be done. Look at Diablo Valley Market. From 0 to 60 out of the gate. That market has been great from the get go because the operator gave the shoppers a lot more farms to choose from, a lot more organic to choose from and put some dough into the management and promotion of that market. It shows and I hope the same will follow for Pleasant Hill and we get a market to be proud of that farmers will be happy to sell at.

Our organic garden at College Park High School is really growing great guns. Broccoli is ready everywhere. Garlic is perfect for the green garlic love and cabbages are getting tighter heads every day. They will be ready in no time. The Brussels sprouts are adorable with their little round cabbage heads adorning huge stalks of great leaves. Students are amazed and bewitched by the knowledge that this is how they grow! Wait till we cook them together and they taste fresh broccoli and fresh Brussels....oh yeah, this is why we put in the hours and do the work, just to swivel some young taste buds in our direction of healthy choice. Yeah, their is a bit of a glow over here.....

Sun is shining magnificently today and I just got to hit the trail but wanted to drop a few recipes on you before I put on my muddy old hiking boots and borrow someone’s dog. Get outside now before it starts raining again!

This is a great soup that first night is soup and second night thickens up into a base for a nice piece of grilled fish. Feel free to add a chopped head of Gai lan, chard or spinach at the end for a super punch of nutrition.
Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of peeled, cubed butternut squash
3 carrots, chopped
6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups of cooked lentils
2 tablespoons of freshly ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of freshly ground cumin seed
salt to taste
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Add squash and carrots and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the stock and the spices and bring to a simmer. Add the lentils and simmer on medium heat until the squash is soft. Season with salt. Makes enough soup for a nice lunch or dinner for a couple of days.

Winter Vegetable Soup w/ Rosa marina
1 large red onion, chopped
1 celery root, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups of cubed butternut squash
2 tablespoons of olive oil
6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
½ bunch of chopped parsley
! bunch chopped Swiss chard
2 cups of Rosa marina pasta or orzo
salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onion, celery root, carrots and squash in olive oil for 5 minutes.
Add stock and bring to a boil. Add pasta and simmer until the vegetables and pasta are cooked. Add parsley and chard and season with salt. Makes enough for a few days of constant soup.

A mesmerizing little simple slaw that leaves you with a great big smile on your face and people coming back for more.
Napa Cabbage Salad w/ Tangerines, Feta and Lemon Vinaigrette
1 head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
3 tangerines, peeled and sectioned
4 new onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup crumbled feta
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of white balsamic
Sea salt and pepper
Toss everything together in a bowl. Serves 4.

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