Friday, April 18, 2014

This Weeks Box 4/19/2014

We had a new customer sign up today. A little later, she emailed us back and asked are you organic? I was stumped. I mean, yeah, we're organic. But that word does not say nearly enough about what we really are. I needed to give her a better answer than "yes. So I did my best. I hope I was not to forward. I am afraid that I might have been. Please new customer, the farmer is a little overly passionate. He is harmless. I promise

Dear "New Customer"
My name is Taj. I am the farmer here at the ranch. Welcome to our CSA.  We are really glad to have you. And thank you for asking if we are organic. We put a lot of effort and intention into every step of our farming process. I do know that there is a huge variance in quality within the vague umbrella of "organic". On one end of the spectrum, there are some super large farms out there who follow the bare minimum to receive an organic label in order to serve that market. There are also small farms like ours, who with the help of a hand full of volunteers, put a lot of love, effort and intention into every aspect of raising up our veggies. We do it this way because we eat this food. We love our fruit, avocado trees, herbs and veggies. One thing that makes our veggies really special to us is the fact that we save seed as often as we can. Seed saving is a complex topic, but essentially, seed saving allows the vegetables to become acclimated to our farms unique conditions. Over time, and after a few seasons, plants become more adjusted to our local weather, pests, soil and other environmental influences. It is a real comfort to know that our veggies are evolving and growing along with us. Getting better and better every year.  We use some methods that are considered inefficient by large organic farms. As much as possible, we apply what is called compost tea. This is an extra amendment for the plants that is above and beyond the worm castings, compost and minerals that we add to the soil at planting intervals. Compost tea is like ice cream for plants. It is basically a tea of garden compost that is steeped, strained and aerated for high oxygen content. There are too many benefits from compost tea to list. Since I have been growing food, I have found that happy healthy plants do not attract pests. If a particular crop manifests pests for some reason, we have done something wrong and we need to pay attention to what is happening. Because the last thing we would want to do is put chemicals on already sick plants and then give them to friends, family and CSA members.  I am guessing that you did not expect such a detailed answer. In reality though, There is a whole lot more. It just does not seem fair to answer that question with a simple "yes". At this point, I am quite certain that this email  might be of some value to some of our CSA members. I would like to post it in our weekly newsletter. So thanks for the inspiration. I promise to remove your name!  Now that I have assured you that we are 100 percent organic, I would like to invite you and your family for a tour of the farm. After years of running this little CSA, I have found that the people who have stayed with this program for years are the people who have come out and walked the land. There is a value of connection in doing this that I cannot quantify or describe. A closing of the circle if you will. I hope that in the momentum and excitement of starting your new CSA that you can schedule a weekday or Saturday afternoon to come out and see where your food is grown. You won't find another place like this anywhere. We will get your sign up and pick up info out to you shortly. Don't hesitate to connect with us if you have a question or concern. We look forward to growing your food for you. Again, welcome to you and your family. 

If for some reason, any of you have never received an invitation to tour the farm, Please take some time to consider it. It is worth it. Schedule a tour
Also, everyone is welcome at our quarterly volunteer work projects on May 17th from 9:30 to 12:30 Acquaint yourself with our land, the farmers and the volunteers. Most importantly, have fun and do some farm work. After projects we will retire at the picnic tables under the pine tree and have some healthy food and drink. Kids are definitely welcome. Hope you all can make it! Please wear close-toed shoes (no sandals!), and bring a hat.  Our well water is some the best tasting water right out of the tap. But you should bring some sort of drinking container.

The list

cara cara oranges
bunching onions
salad/spinach mix
red bell peppers
persian cucumbers
full head of green cabbage "this stuff is sweeeeet"
mexican squash
multi color beets

Cabbage and Leek Gratin
Serves 6
You just can't beat the delicious flavour of cabbage baked in a lovely cream sauce with a buttery crumb baked on top.  It's a way of helping even the most ardent cabbage hater to change their minds!  I could eat a whole plate of this and nothing else!

1 medium cabbage
3 medium leeks
3 TBS butter
3 TBS flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
a dash of hot pepper sauce
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup of fresh bread crumbs
2 TBS butter, melted

Remove any old and tatty looking leaves from the outside of your head of cabbage.  Cut it into quarters and remove the core.  Shread coarsley.

Trim the leeks, cut in half and wash them thoroughly.  Shred them coarsely as well.  Mix them into the cabbage.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil.  Add the vegetables.  Bring back to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook them for about 5 to 6 minutes, just until barely tender.  Drain in a colander.  Make sure you get as much water out as you can.  You don't want any to dilute the delicious cream sauce.

Preheat the oven to 180*C/375*F.

Make your cream sauce by melting the 3 TBS of butter in a saucepan.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring over medium heat, for about one minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and nicely thickened.  Season to taste with some salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.  Add a splash of hot pepper sauce to taste. 

Put the cabbage mixture into a buttered shallow dish.  Pour the cream sauce over top and allow it to soak in for a few minutes, while you make the crumbs for on top.

Melt the 2 TBS of butter and then stir in the bread crumbs, mixing all together well.  Sprinkle the buttered crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely bubbling and the crumbs are lightly browned on top.

Note - I sometimes add a cup of grated gruyere cheese, plus 1 heaping TBS of grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce to give it a rich and cheesy flavour.  You may also add some grated cheese on top if you wish.

Cabbage add leeks love fennel too! Just sayin.

Potato Green Cabbage and Leek Soup

Braised Fennel and Leeks


Saturday, April 12, 2014

This Weeks Box 4/12/2014

Greetings From the Ranch

Here is the list

haas avocado
purple carrots
dinosaur kale
bag of mixed lettuce
spring bunching onions
persian cucumbers
mexican squash
red potatos
This Cilantro Avocado Mandarin Onion Honey Salsa is versitile. Commonly, I see it on Salmon. I can imagine that it goes just as well with chicken or even pork? What is great, is that everything you need to make it is in this weeks box!

If you are looking for not so serious, add some apple and a little ginger to bring out the flavor in all of it
Healthy Kale and Carrot Juice Recipe from

Sunday, April 6, 2014

This Weeks Box 4/5/2014

Good Morning!

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Here is the list
Tangelos These are easy to peal. And they are sweet with a faint tart edge
Persian Cucumbers
Curly Kale
Snap Peas
Lemons "45 Uses For Lemons" I like number 4
Red Potatoes
Bunching onions
Bag of Lettuce
Red Bell Peppers
Rainbow color Beets

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This is Big Red. He has been around the farm for almost 10 years
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He has been a "ranch only" truck ever since he was rear-ended and then pushed into the back of another truck in an accident downtown.

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Works harder than anyone here. And never asks for anything in return.

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He takes a lot of punishment too. "Tocayo modifies shifter ball."

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Here is Tocayo having a wallet snack in the comfort of big red's luxurious bench seat.
Yep. Big Red

Cucumber Bell Pepper Quinoa Salad with Avocado
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Kosher salt
1 cup quinoa
1 garlic clove, pounded to a smooth paste with a pinch of salt
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
3 and 1/2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, plus more as needed
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red pepper, halved, seeded, and finely diced
1 small- to medium-sized cucumber, peeled and seeded, if necessary, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
2 to 3 ripe avocados, sliced
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Rinse quinoa under cool running water, lightly rubbing it between your fingers for a few seconds. Add it to the boiling water and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the quinoa well and spread out on a baking sheet to cool. 2. Put the garlic, shallot, jalapeño, and lime juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and stir to combine. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and whisk to combine. Taste; add more salt or lime, if necessary.
3. Put quinoa, red pepper, cucumber, and chopped cilantro in a medium bowl. Drizzle about half the vinaigrette into the bowl and gently fold to combine. Taste; add more salt, vinaigrette, or lime juice, if needed.
4. Arrange the sliced avocado on a platter or individual serving plates. Season the avocado with salt and drizzle the remaining vinaigrette on top. Spoon the quinoa salad on and around the avocado. Garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately.

Beet and Potato Tart Tatin with Caramelized Fennel and Gruyere
makes a 7-inch tart
Buckwheat and Hazelnut Tart Crust
1/2 cup (70 g) superfine brown rice flour
1/3 cup (45 g) buckwheat flour
1/3 cup (40 g) tapioca starch
1/3 cup (35 g) hazelnut flour
2 teaspoons ground chia seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 tablespoons (110 g) cold unsalted butter, diced
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
Combine the first seven ingredients in the food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the diced butter and pulse about ten times until the butter is the size of peas. Add the water and pulse until dough comes together. It will not form a ball. Simply press it between your fingers to see if it holds.
Transfer dough to your preferably cold surface and knead a couple of times. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, flatten it with your hands, and refrigerate for one hour.
(In this time, roast the beets and purple potatoes).
Dust your cold surface with a bit of superfine brown rice flour. Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut a circle that is slightly bigger than your mold. The scraps can be saved for another time.
Transfer the tart base to a sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate the tart base for 30 minutes.
Prepare the filling
5 assorted colors baby beets (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 medium purple potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 springs thyme
pinch salt
pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1.5 ounces (45 g) Grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Toss the slices beets and purple potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, pinch salt and black pepper. Bake the vegetables for 30 minutes until potatoes are done (they take less time than beets) and remove them. Continue to bake the beets for a few more minutes until tender, about 10 more minutes. Set aside and cool while making filling.
Reduce oven temperature to 375F (190C).
Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the rest of the olive oil and cook the onions, fennel, garlic, and a pinch of salt until tender and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, stir, and remove from heat. Set aside and let cool slightly.
Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator. Lightly dock it with a fork.
Place the roasted vegetables inside the tart mold tightly packed. Spread the caramelized onion and fennel mixture on top and sprinkle the Gruyere on top of that. Place the tart dough on top and tuck it into the edges.
Bake the tart for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The Calendula Crew!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This Weeks Box 3/22/2014

Here is the list

bag of salad greens
red russian kale
baby fennel
green onions
beets with greens

Save The Date!

The Blue Sky Ranch spring work party will be on May 17th. Projects will start at 9:30am and go until 12:30pm. After projects we will retire at the picnic tables under the pine tree and have some healthy food and drink.  Bring a friend. Bring your the family. Kids are welcome. Hope you all can make it! 

Vegan Creamed Chard
10 to 12 cups finely chopped chard (big parts of stems removed and see
other recipe below for an idea.)

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews
1.5 cups vegetable broth
1 whole freshly squeezed lemon
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 to 2 teaspoons Herbamare (or other spices you enjoy)

Chop the chard in small pieces and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the onions and garlic.
Sauté for about 5 minutes or until softened and beginning to change color. Add
them to a blender along with the cashews, vegetable broth, lemon juice, nutritional
yeast, and spices. Blend until smooth and creamy.  Place the sauce and chopped
chard back into your large skillet and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until chard
has softened and sauce has thickened. Taste and season with sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper.

Chard Stems Recipe:
Slice you stems nice and thin, almost like cutting a bell pepper.  Sauté with a littloil and water till almost soft.  Flavor with nutritional yeast and tamari and enjoy
along side your creamed chard.

Why eat chard you ask….
Chard is so good for you! It is packed full of anti­oxidants and vitamin­ c. They also
have good things like beta­carotene, vitamin­E (anti­inflammatory). All these great
vitamins help support healthy eyes, immune system, heart and your bones.
So eat more CHARD!!!!

Do you know who picked your veggies this week? Yes you do!
Taj, Jade and Nate 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

This Weeks Box

The List

red peppers
romaine lettuce
gold nugget tangerines
purple scallions
purple cabbage
persian cucumbers 

I haven't always been a farmer. I used to run my own roof construction company. I ran myself ragged for 75 hours a week. I Worked with toxic materials and even some pretty toxic people. Half the meals I ate manifested themselves through the drivers side window of my truck.

My first exposure to farm fresh food happened  7 years ago. It was a Saturday afternoon. I and a friend were on a mission to cook the best meal of our lives. She said that in order to do that, we needed greens from this one particular farm booth at the Poway Farmers Market. She made a bee line to a farms booth way in the back corner of the parking lot. The sign said "La Milpa Organica" A young couple, "David and Maria" were tending the booth. There was a very large line of people at the time. But strangely, David and Maria appeared utterly undaunted by a line of humans that might have rattled even the most experienced retail pro. Instead, they moved with slow but intentional, "zen like" precision. All the while, smiling genuinely and making eye contact with every word. These two had a confidence and a manner about them that was attractive. Naturally, I was curious to know what was behind that. 
We finally got to the front of the line and we ordered our greens and a bunch of carrots. I experienced sticker shock when I realized we just payed 5 dollars for 1/4 lb of mesclun and 3 dollars for a small fuggly looking bunch of carrots.

Remember Rene Zellweger's famous phrase of affection in the movie Jerry Maguire? Let's just say, La Milpa Organica had me after the first bite of mutant carrot. I was theirs. Needless to say, the meal was pretty amazing. Something about the food from that farm had an instant and profound effect on me. It was different. It made me feel different. I remember how two days later, I was actually sad about getting to the bottom of a bag of lettuce. It was like withdrawal. And worse, I had to wait 5 more days to go back there and see if I could get more.

I showed up alone. It was bright and early the following Saturday morning. I got a refill on my greens and I also got a chance to chat with David for a little while. We chatted a bit and then he would help a customer, and then we would go back to talking. At some point, a young woman who was also probably new to farmers markets, ordered a bag of greens. She asked, "by when should I eat this?". His straight faced answer, is as clear to me today as it was 7 years ago. This lettuce is still alive. We just cut it. I suggest you eat it right now.  Something clicked in me when I imagined the implications of what this young man just said. Something inside needed him to mean what I imagined he might be meaning by this statement. 

After visiting the farm booth for a few more Saturdays in a row, it was quite clear to me that this group of people from La Milpa were operating on a whole other level of appreciation and understanding about food. I could not get enough of their food or their attitude about food. One morning, out of the blue, David told me that I needed to go see Barry at the farm. "He's my uncle and he really likes to talk about food and farming". Three days later, I met Barry Logan. He was standing on the edge of a field of lettuce... and he was barefoot. I would describe Barry as half tree, half Mexican Indian. A real life organic farmer. I did not want to stare, but if I had, I am sure I would have seen the  roots growing out of the bottom of his feet. After knowing Barry for two minutes, It was clear and obvious that this man was the source-well of the jedi like understanding of food, farming and nature that I had been picking up from the rest of the farm crew. "Why don't you walk with me", he said. Just leave your shoes by that tree if you don't mind. And so began my informal initiation into the world of Community Supported Agriculture.

Our Annual Spring Work Party
Is a great way to acquaint yourself with our land, the farmers and the volunteers.
We have narrowed down the dates for our spring work party to two possible days in May. Saturday, May 10th. And Saturday May 17th. If you happen to be set on going, now is the time to let us know if you would like to come but can only make one of these dates. Whichever date gets more requests will be the date we announce next week. Projects will start at 9:30am and go until 12:30pm. After projects we will retire at the picnic tables under the pine tree and have some healthy food and drink. Kids are definitely welcome. Hope you all can make it!

Please wear close-toed shoes (no sandals!), and bring a hat.  Our well water is some the best tasting water right out of the tap. But you should bring some sort of drinking container.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

This Weeks Box 4/8/2014

Here is the list

salad mix
baby carrots
haas avocados
green onions
red and white potatoes
snap peas

We grow this food. We do this work  for you. Because you asked us too. Life gets hectic and sometimes we might forgot why we are in a CSA in the first place. This is the cleanest, tastiest, nutrient dense food available to the public in all of San Diego. It is more than a meal. It is our vitality kit. It is that little extra bit of energy for the week that makes all the difference. There! I bragged.

Happy 1 year anniversary buddy! Tocayo walked onto the ranch exactly 1 year ago today.

Oohh Romanesco  How I long to cook you in a pot with some butter. We will eat you. Ohh yes. We will be eating you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Farm at Blue Sky Ranch is looking for recipes!

We're working on changes to our website, including - by popular demand - a recipes page.  But we need your help populating it!  What is your favorite recipe, using ingredients you find in your weekly farm box?  Share it with us!

Send us your recipes by choosing one of the following options:

  1. Email the Farmer

    Email us a link to your favorite recipe, or write it out in full text.  We'll do the rest!
  2. Post it to our Facebook Wall

    If you just can't wait to share that favorite recipe, consider posting a link to our Facebook wall.  We'll check back periodically and compile them all for the website.
  3. Send us a Private Message in Facebook
    If you prefer to send us a private message with your recipe, feel free to do so.

Like us on Facebook
The List 
orange bell peppers
purple and orange carrots
multi color beets
salad mix with arugula spinach, pea tendrils and edible flowers
gold nugget tangerines 
green onions
 baby bok choy
 just enough snap peas and tomatoes to make an awesome salad. Unless you set your box on the front seat of your car. In that case, the snap peas and cherry tomatoes most likely disappeared.
Check out those amazing green onions!!
Got room in your pickle jar? Stick a hand full of small beets in with the remaining pickles. In a week or so, you will be glad you did.
Our grilled Baby Bok and Green Onions Recipe 
It is real easy. Marinade: Start with 1/2 cup of soy sauce. Add some fresh or powdered ginger. You would be surprised how much fresh ginger you can put on this dish and not have it be overpowering. Besides, it is so good for you. And it really helps in digesting the meal. Add some coarse pepper. Add a spoonful of something sweet, like agave or honey. Add 3 tbsp of olive or coconut oil. Add juice of 1/2 a lemon. I like to put the zest of the lemon in the marinade too. You do not have to though. 

Prepare: Take out you onions and bok choy. Cut them in half longwise so that you have 2 symmetrical pieces of each whole. Check the image above for clarification on how to cut. Put the cut veggies in a tray or dish and pour the marinade, "which is basically fresh made teriyaki" allover the veggies. 

Take the veggies out to the Grill: Turn the heat on high. Cook them with the top downfor about 1 minute at a time on each side. Do not leave the grill for any reason. You would not want to get distracted and than come back in 5 minutes to find nothing left except little crunchy pieces of black carbon on the grill.

Goes great with wild rice or quinoa.