Saturday, July 12, 2014

This Weeks Box 7/12/2014

Thank you. That we still have enough water in the aquifer to keep the crops and trees refreshed.
 Thank you. For successful deer fences.
Thank You. for good weather. Not too hot. Not too cold.
Thank you. Ag supply, for extending credit this year. 
Thank You. You know who. For flats of heirloom tomato starts donated after deer decimated the first crop of tomatoes.
Thank you Tim at Ramona Organics. For trading some of your best crates of peaches for our lemons.
Thank you. Local pollinators for doing such a good job after the beekeepers removed their boxes and relocated to irrigated land this season. 
Thank you. Local Harvest and Farm Bureau for all the referrals.
Thank you. Amazing CSA hosts. For offering your homes every week. 
Thank you volunteers. For putting your love into action through your work for the farm.
Thank you members for embracing the goodness and the bounty as well as the bad. For pulling out that bunch of chard with new excitement. As if it were the first time.
Thank You! Thank you! Thank You! Thank! You! Thank! You!


mongo big peaches
young sweet carrots
bell peppers
big bunch of basil
mexican squash
passion fruit
romaine lettuce
persian cucumbers

This young man shows us how to eat passion fruit. Apparently, there are no normal people who upload videos on how to eat rare fruits. 

And in case you missed it, here is our friend from a few weeks ago. Showing how to eat a sapote

Black Bean Lettuce Wrap Featured Image

Black bean and summer squash lettuce wraps

Gluten free beef lettuce wraps with avocado and peach salsa

1 lb lean beef (93%) or bison
4 ounces of your favorite gluten free barbecue sauce
2 ounces of a cheese that pairs well with your barbecue sauce (I used mango fire cheddar)
1 ounce of olive oil
4 tablespoons of your favorite salsa (I like Trader Joe’s Spicy, Smoky Peach Salsa for this meal)
2 avocados
1 large head of lettuce
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the beef, barbecue sauce, and olive oil in a large bowl. Chop the cheese into small 1/2 oz sticks.
Form a patty from 1/4 of the beef and barbecue sauce mixture. Make it flatter and larger than you usually would, then place the cheese stick in the center of the patty and wrap the rest of the meat around it, encapsulating the cheese. Repeat with remaining 3/4 of the beef.
Bake the beef in the oven on a baking sheet covered in tinfoil; bake for 8-10 minutes or until firm.
Serve on a lettuce wrap and top with a 1/2 an avocado and peach salsa.
 Spinach and avocado peso pasta :substitute chard for spinach"


Saturday, June 28, 2014

This Weeks Box 6/ 28/ 2014

persian cucumbers
cactus apples
baby carrots
white and red potatoes
zucchini and yellow straightneck squash
green onions

One of our members shared a tip for keeping farm fresh baby carrots firm. If you cut off most of the greens, you can just drop the carrots "root first" into a glass of water for about an hour before eating or refrigerating. Even if the carrots are already rubbery, they are still alive, so putting them in water will firm them up in an hour or so.

​They are heeeeeere! I will spare the images of the carnage. The Deer did cause quite a bit of damage.

So, what do you do when deer start sneaking into the gardens and orchards at night?

​You take your manager of unwelcome guest services on a camp out until a proper deer fence is erected.

It took 4 days of doing regular work as well as working on the deer fence project and camping out at night. The fence is finally erected.  The deer left the garden alone with no one guarding last night. I love my bed. More than I ever knew.

I think the peaches are pretty awesome.
The oranges are super sweet.

How to eat a sapote I think this woman is actually pretty hilarious because it hard to tell if she is trying to be funny or not. And that can be very funny.

No lettuce this week. Can you guess why? Lettuce will be back next week. Along with strawberries. and maybe, just maybe our first taste of tomato. Ooooh?! Nice.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you might not want to look at the next recipe. It has bacon. No judging please.

Friday, June 13, 2014

This Weeks Box 6/13/2014

We are now selling 1 dozen eggs and organic hand made soap through the farm store!!

The List
purple cabbage
green onions
baby beets
a few strawberries
white peaches
armenian cucumber
salad mix
baby squash with blossoms
chard or kale
5 backyard eggs in a paper bag

Meet Jewel,
She is an amazing friend and a beautiful person. The organic soaps she makes by hand are are as unique and  wonderful as her one of a kind spirit.

Her products not only nourish the body, they also support ones intention to have a connection to the real people who are behind the products that are most intimate to us. Like food and body care. Enough said?

From Coconut Milk,  Lemongrass bars to Super Moisturizing Hemp Soap,  Jewel has stocked us with 5 kinds of hand soap. Here is the store preview link so that you can get more details on each of these new products.

The store opens for placing an order the day after your last pick up and stays open all the way up until Friday at 5pm. You can get to the store through this store link or by logging into your account.

Thanks to Suzanne Walker in Jamul and the Psalter family in San Diego, we finally are able to put together enough product to offer eggs in the store every week. We will sell them for 5 bucks a dozen. After having real eggs from happy birds, it is hard to go back to store bought. Just this morning, I went to crack an egg on the edge on the pan. I must have forgot who's eggs I was working with, because I had to hit the thing three times before I hit it hard enough to break the egg. I tossed the shell into the empty compost bucket. The empty shell alone hit the plastic bottom of the bucket, and made a loud thud with the sound and force of a golf ball. Too funny!

Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Honey Butter
Looks good with mint garnish. Basil garnish ought to do the trick though.

Squash Tacos with Avocado Yep! We got that.

Cabbage and Egg Stir Fry 

Cabbage Beet Tangerine Slaw
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 9 ozs beetroots (cooked, canned would work)
  • tangerines pink grapefruit
  • 2 tsps olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 10 fresh Basil Leaves (chopped)
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (roasted, kernels)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

This Weeks Box 5/ 10/ 2014

The list

red bell pepper
large persian cucumber
head romaine lettuce
bunching onions
loose beets
new white potatoes
small but very tasty early peaches
sprig of rosemary

The journey of a peach begins with a blossom. It might involve a boy and a girl and a dog. A dusty backyard and a basket of impossible spheres of adoring jubilance. "Are these for us?", was not the natural question. For in our prayerful attention to the dusty, fuzzy, heavenly orbs, the ideation of no tomorrow, manifested into "celebrate now!"

Uhh....Nice poem dude...Now, how bout that peach?

These parsnips showed up on our doorstep early yesterday morning.

Mr Nate has been volunteering with us at least once a week for over a year. In that time he has taken some of his knowledge gained here, and applied it toward creating an impressive urban garden in his large back yard in Ocean Beach.  Earlier this week, Nate mentioned that he had a bumper crop of parsnips and that he was going to pick them on Friday and drive them all the way out to lakeside just to donate them to the CSA box for this week. I said wow Nate, that is a long way to drive for just parsnips. Well, he did. And these are not just parsnips. These are some real beauties. Some time soon, I would like to do a post on service. Nate will definitely be in that post.

Root Vegetable Medley A la Blue Sky Ranch

Harmony came out to the farm yesterday to work on the farms new website with the recipe pages. Before getting to work, We decided to throw 4 different veggies and an herb from this weeks box into the oven and see what came out.

We started with lemon, parsnips, beets, new white potatoes, bunching onions and rosemary. All of these from this weeks box.

We cubed the veggies and then made the dressing by adding 1 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey and about 10 leaves of rosemary from the stalk. Then Blended for 30 seconds.

Poured the dressing into the bowl of cubed veggies and stirred well.

Baked at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Took off the top for 5 minutes and set to "broil" for the caramalized effect on top.

Viola! Ate a bowl of this with a piece of "Bread and Cie" olive and rosemary bread.

Cucumber Salad With Feta Cheese, Cucumber, Red Bell Pepper and Onion

  • 1/2 small cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 pound feta, preferably French goat's-milk feta
  • 2 tablespoons best quality olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or red-wine vinegar
  • Coarsely ground black pepper 
#1 Thinly slice the cucumber halves. You need just 1 cup. In a bowl, combine the cucumber with the onion and sprinkle with the salt. Mix, then let sit for 15 minutes.

#2 Meanwhile, put the romaine in a large salad bowl. Break the feta into small (1/2-inch) pieces and drop them into the bowl. Gather the cucumber and onion in your fist and squeeze out any excess moisture. Scatter them over the romaine. Sprinkle the oil and vinegar over the salad. Grind pepper over top and then mix the salad gently so that you dress it without mashing the cheese to bits.

Volunteer Work Party Is Next Week!

It's time for our quarterly Volunteer Work Party! Join us at the Farm for a morning of projects, sun, and refreshments. Come socialize with other members and the farmer while you roll up your sleeves and make your mark on our little CSA.

The event begins at Blue Sky Ranch at 9:30am and ends around 12:30pm. Please wear closed-toed shoes (no sandals!) and bring a hat. Our well water is some the best tasting water right out of the tap - just remember to bring some sort of drinking container with you!

All ages welcome. This won't be back-breaking work, but be prepared to get your hands dirty. Light refreshments will be served toward the end of the event.

Please RSVP for detailed directions to the farm.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

This Weeks Box 4/26/2014

purple bunching onions
gold nugget tangerines
salad mix with spinach
bunch of 5 different herbs.

​L-R, sage, calendula, lemon verbena, holy basil "substituted catnip", lavander

Crush a sage leaf and drop it in your water. Make a hot tea with a few leaves. Or take home a bunch of it and plan an epic meal around this most amazing herb/spice. A decent link on sage uses and recipes. Some of our customers, tie one of those little bunches of sage with string to make a little sage wand for smudging. This sage is not the white sage we have offered in the past. This is common garden sage. It is more mild and floral smelling. It also has has a wider range of uses than white sage.
Calendula appears to have the solar energy of sunflower, except, all that energy is packed into a tiny flower. Here at the ranch, we make a healing skin salve with calendula infused in olive oil with raw honey and green tea. Heart opening is the first quality that comes to mind when I think of calendula. It has an intoxicating smell. It is totally edible and has bookoo positive medicinal qualities to boot. Pull the petals off and sprinkle them on a salad or Make a hot tea with a couple whole flowers.
Lemon verbena will tell you everything you need to know about itself in one sniff. Crush a leaf in water. Make a hot tea. Chop it up fine and put it in a salad. Lemon Verbena loves to be invited to a veggie stir fry. Also make a great salad dressing when a few leaves are blended with olive oil, balsamic, lemon and honey.
Lavander. I am pretty sure we all know her.
Holy Basil actually ended up not making the cut at the last minute. There literally was not enough to cut. We put in a sprig of catnip instead.

Leaves of the Catnip Plant
I consider all the herbs in the bunch to be mood enhancers. Mood elevators to be exact. Except for cat nip. This one falls on the sedative side of the spectrum. Even though kitties appear to go into a crazed bliss upon rolling in the stuff, it is because it is calming them into euphoria. Unfortunately for us humans, we can roll in cat nip all day, but if we do not make a tea of the leaves, we cannot feel the sedative effects of cat nip.
If your feeling up to it, take a little of each herb, crush it all up and let it sit in room temp water for at least half a day. This is called a cold infusion. Cold infusion can be as strong as a hot infusion since you are preserving all the constituents of the plants instead of cooking some of them off. Strain the water into another glass and enjoy. Once in a while, here at the ranch, we like to try and to gather anything and everything that is blooming or tastes good. We chop it all up fresh and let it sit in the sun in a jar for a few hours and then chill it. We call it the whole farm tea.

​Whole Farm Tea. Or "The Suicide"

Spicy Beets and Tangelo Salad Recipe!

Here is some stir fried beets and greens recipe that uses beets, chard, spring onion and lemon verbena!

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 to 12 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, sunflower oil or peanut oil
6 ounces firm tofu, diced (1 cup)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 large cloves)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 large or 4 small beets (1/2 pound), peeled and cut in 2-inch julienne (about 2 heaped cups julienne)
1 mediumspring onion. white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, cleaned and sliced thin
1 pound beet greens or chard, stemmed, washed well in 2 changes of water, and coarsely chopped (about 6 cups tightly packed; it’s fine if water remains on the leaves)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 sprig minced lemon verbena
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water or stock
1. Combine the sugar and salt in 1 small container, the soy sauce, sherry and sesame oil in another, and place within arm’s reach of your wok. Have the other ingredients in separate containers within arm’s reach of your wok.
2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan, then add the tofu and spread out in a single layer. Don’t stir for 1 minute, then stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until it begins to color. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for no more than 10 seconds. Add the beets and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds to a minute, until it softens, then add the beet greens and salt and sugar. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until the greens have wilted. Add the sesame seeds, soy sauce, sherry and sesame oil, the beets and lemon verbena and stir-fry for 1 minute. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and stir-fry until the liquid in the wok glazes the vegetables and tofu, less than a minute. Remove from the heat and serve with rice, noodles or other grains. 

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!