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

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What??! Another Calendar??

Hot off the presses the 2011 Farmers Market Lovers Calendar has arrived on newsstands everywhere. Well almost everywhere. I mean at least they are on the worldwide web, 2 places! and Once again Dave’s amazing watercolors of seasonal fruits and vegetables found at farmers markets and a few mouthwatering, provocative recipes for each month.

Locally they can be found at ORCHARD NURSERY & FLORIST 4010 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette, CA 94549 (925) 284-4474

At Orinda Books 276 Village Square , Orinda, CA 94563 Store (925) 254-7606 ...

The Gardener 1836 Fourth Street, Berkeley, California 94710
510.548.4545 | Fax 510.548.6357

You can also find us bundled up selling them Saturdays at the Diablo Valley Farmers Market in the Kaiser Shadelands parking lot from 9 to 1 in Walnut Creek and at the Moraga Farmers Market on Sundays in the Moraga Commons parking lot from 9 to 1.
They make a great hostess gift for holiday parties under $20 and are great for the fruit and veggie farmers’ market gourmet cookin, art lovin peoples in your family.

Shorter days and dropping mercury set the stage for stellar winter gardens and this year with our much extended warm autumn winter gardens should be better than ever. At all of our school gardens we had an amazing Community Service Day in Pleasant Hill in September with crews of tireless volunteers making light work of weeding, pruning, laying mulch, filling boxes with amendments’ and compost rendering these school gardens kid planting ready for year round crops. Broccoli, snow peas, cauliflower, chards, kales, peas, onions, garlic, carrots, beets, radishes, lettuces and greens, all student planted, tucked in for winter ready to lay some fresh vegetable goodness on us in a month or two. Already lettuce and arugula have made it into the salad bowl with abundant fresh herbs.

We harvested a bushel basket of potatoes from the College Park garden memorably scarlet, rose and purple and sautéed them with the onions we had planted last year. Special Ed students gingerly slicing them up to toss into a pan of sizzling olive oil instantly transporting teachers, aids and students to a cozy, heartwarming happy place just with the heady scent. If you have never tasted fresh dug potatoes, you ought to ford valley and stream to get you some. They are completely different from a store bought variety. Starches are almost non existent and even cooked well new potatoes have a crunch and snap to them with a clean finish reminiscent of water chestnuts.

Apples played a starring role in the Diablo Community Day School lunchroom this week. Comparative tastings prove to be a priceless tool illustrating to students different varieties of apples, all the same fruit, with amazingly varied flavors, textures, colors and names. We tasted them on Golden russet apples from 1750 eastern US as well as Dutch rooted apples from 1648 and pink tinged Grenadine among many others. Students’ rate whether they like, dislike or are ok with each apple and use these figures to determine percentages in their math classes. Tastings definitely do double duty for Stephanie and I cementing the true knowledge that we are both multi tasking control freaks and project this on all of our captive students by bribing them with food.

The Bridge Program at Loma Vista Adult Ed organic garden as well as Diablo Day School Organic Garden do not have the support of a traditional parent teacher club consequently leaving us without a steady budget for our nefarious activities in the gardens and kitchens at these school so we hosted a fundraiser dinner in conjunction with Slow Food Delta Diablo, sort of an underground thing which I am into these days, at Steph and John’s house the other night. We could fit 22 people and charged $50 a piece and it was sold out before we could even advertise it. I cooked for it and the girls all served and it was a blast. We sold lavender sachets that the students at College Park made from their own lavender plants as well as doggie treats that the students at The Bridge Program made. We almost made our budget for one of the schools so now we just need to get the dough for the other one going. Expect news of another dinner in January and a wine tasting event at Periscope Cellars in March.

Fuyu persimmons, apples, pomegranates, kale, chard, cauliflower, broc, carrots, beets, grapes, current crop nuts….just a few of the amazing items to be found at the winter farmers market currently. Get out and get some goodness flowing through your veins and opening your heart and mind to wonder and success, joy and passion. Support the farmers and maybe pick up one of those dang calendars.

Faro or Spelt as it is also known is the whole grain of the wheat berry. When cooked until soft it makes a great foil for salads or sides not to mention an awesomely nutritious vegetarian main dish. Mixed together with rice and quinoa, well draw your own conclusions when you taste the combo…you will not be disappointed!

Quinoa, Faro and Brown Rice Pilaf w/ Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables and Herbs
½ cup quinoa
½ cup brown rice
½ cup faro
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into medium sized cubes
2 carrots, chunked
2 golden beets, peeled and cubed
1 bunch cauliflower, broken into flowerets
1 bunch broccoli, broken into flowerets
1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, sliced thin
¼ cup of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon, thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook quinoa, rice and faro separately as directed. Sauté onion and garlic in oil until slightly caramelized. Add in squash, carrots and beets, broccoli and cauliflower. Sauté for 4 minutes. Add broth and simmer covered for about 5 more minutes until vegetables are tender. Add grains, greens and herbs to vegetables and heat through. Season to taste. Serves 6.

This is so easy my son makes it regularly. It is so tummy warming that you will swoon and sigh heavily.
Cauliflower Soup
1 large head cauliflower, core removed and chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
½ cup ½ and ½ or unsweetened almond milk
½ teaspoon fresh curry powder or garam masala or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until slightly caramelized. Add cauliflower and sauté for a few more minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes until cauliflower is soft. Blend with an immersion blender or in a blender cup and add ½ and ½ or almond milk. Bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat and season with spices, salt and pepper.Makes 4 nice servings.
Alternatively add a large chopped yellow potato along with cauliflower and omit cream. Can be garnished with a nice grated cheese.