we will have fresh certified organic Piri Piri or African Bird’s Eye Cayenne Peppers at the Ojai Farmer’s Market this Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm. Like most things we are bringing to market, these peppers are available in extremely short runs. Their potent spice and robust flavor makes a little go a long way. (at Ojai Certified Farmers Market)
Posted on Saturday, July 19th 2014
Tzatziki with Cucumber and Dill
This flavorful and cooling yogurt based sauce is a regular fixture in my house when cucumbers are in season during the summer. Served cold, it works great as a dip for fresh vegetables such as carrots, peppers and tomatoes, alongside grilled meats, or inside pita bread with falafel or chicken.
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- ½ cup sour cream (optional)
- 1 large green cucumber or 2-3 miniature white cucumbers skinned, seeded and grated
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- A couple sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
- Salt to taste
- Cheesecloth or cloth napkin
- Mortar and pestle (optional)
- Place your grated cucumber into the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much fluid as possible over a sink. Place remaining cucumber in a small mixing bowl.
- Place garlic in mortar and pestle, sprinkle with salt, and mash into garlic until a sort of garlic-salt paste is created. Add to cucumber.
- Add remaining ingredients - yogurt, sour cream and dill into the bowl and stir to combine.
- Taste for salt and place in refrigerator to chill before serving. Makes about 2 cups.
Posted on Thursday, July 17th 2014
Thoughtful article about image vs reality in farming that we experience firsthand.
Posted on Thursday, July 17th 2014
Nearly a month has elapsed since the blessed summer solstice and the universe is busy hurling fastballs of opportunity our way. At long last, Mano Farm and All Good Things Organic Seeds have been invited to participate in the Ojai Farmer’s Market starting this Sunday, so we have been hurriedly expediting our updated certified producer’s certificate and taking the necessary steps to prepare ourselves for this exciting and unexpected development. This is the first time that either Quin or I have held a booth at a farmer’s market so it goes without saying that this is a huge step for our farming endeavor. As for me, I am both honored and terrified.
Throughout much of my short farming career, my ability and preference to work independently has been my best friend and my worst enemy. I’ve always found working alone on the farm to be the most delightful and thrilling profession there is. On the other hand, my singular strength is limited and while it does improve with experience, I could always benefit from the help of more like-minded participants. Despite the fact that I spend most of my life growing things for a living and adjusting to changing circumstances in the natural world, I am unnerved by the idea of changing or growing my business, not to mention asking for help. Help costs the business owner time and money up front, and it’s been easy for me to overlook the long term benefits of creating the infrastructure needed to accept and incorporate help – until now. Opportunities for growth are presenting themselves and it’s time to react.
That being said, I have been fortunate with my supply of workers thus far. Every Friday, I’m joined by Michelle Dohrn and her daughter Phoebe who make harvest cleaning and preparation a breeze while delighting me with stories of the many different ways they’ve eaten our vegetables. And from just down the road, Jan Waterlow has been a regular participant on the farm for probably over two years now and provides consistent support and great company that I now find hard to get along without. We also just welcomed a lovely new intern from Canada named Allie who will be working with us for the duration of July and her presence has been hugely beneficial and refreshing. In the short time that she’s been with us, she’s tamed the thorniest raspberries, wrangled the most massive zucchinis and wielded hook and hoe ripping unsuspecting weeds from the soil with a smile on her face and Devendra Banhart in her ear buds.
And lastly, the help and encouragement that I receive daily from Quin is immeasurable. His love for Mano Farm has been unyielding since the beginning and working alongside him has shown me that there is definite strength in numbers when multiple minds are focused on achieving the same ultimate goal.
For this weekend, your homework is to eat tomatoes, zucchini, beans and onions and be merry. If you’re in the Ojai area, consider coming on out to the farmer’s market this Sunday where we’ll be selling our wares and collecting high fives in Steve’s old slot. We’d love your support.
Posted on Friday, July 11th 2014
Raw Summer Squash Pasta
Want to really taste the season? Try this raw pasta dish inspired by the flavors of summer. It tastes delicious cold or warm and is super easy to make, about 10 minutes of prep and long lasting nutritional value for your body.
- 1 zucchini squash, shaved thinly lengthwise with a vegetable peel
- 1 yellow summer squash, shaved thinly lengthwise with a vegetable peeler
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cherry, grape or any variety of tomatoes, halved
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoon finely chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Peel your squash. If you prefer them warm, soak the shavings in warm water while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- In a large bowl, gently toss together all ingredients. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.
Brought to you by Mano Farm’s official food blogger, Michelle Dohrn. Contact Michelle at email@example.com.
Posted on Friday, July 11th 2014
Mano Farm is hiring one employee for 10 hours a week. Shifts include Saturday harvests from 6pm-8pm and Sundays from 7am-3pm working our stand at the Ojai Farmer’s Market. We will only be considering applicants able to work both shifts, and the first shift is this coming Saturday. Email your resumes or questions to manofarmers @ gmail.com. Thanks!
Posted on Monday, July 7th 2014
Posted on Thursday, July 3rd 2014
Simple Summer Shish Kabobs
These colorful kebabs are a summer barbecue favorite and can be enjoyed alone or alongside any grilled meat. Showcase the farm fresh loot from your CSA!
- 2 crookneck squash
- 2 zucchini
- 1lb fresh tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 5-10 wood skewers, pre-soaked in water to prevent burning
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Juice of one lemon (zest optional)
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, parsley or both, chopped finely
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Gather your crookneck squash, zucchini, onions and tomatoes and give them a slice and dice. Load them onto pre-soaked skewers and set aside in a platter or large Pyrex dish.
- In a small bowl, whisk up your marinade of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, lemon juice and/or zest, basil or parsley and garlic and drizzle over the veggies.
- Let the skewers sit in the marinade for a couple of hours or throw directly onto the barbecue and cook to your desired tenderness.
Posted on Thursday, July 3rd 2014
salt pepper oil and heat is all that’s needed for these potatoes that just came from the ground. #lowandslow
Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd 2014
In Beijing, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo and other cities, the spectacle has triggered laughter, finger-pointing and questions from bemused passersby. But Mr. Han, 40, gives no answers.
“I want to create a game for the public and let society answer,” he said one recent afternoon while sitting in his airy studio on the outskirts of Beijing. “I’m just a player in this game. It’s your job to interpret the meaning.”
Posted on Sunday, June 29th 2014
See that? That’s the face of someone who obviously hasn’t seen next week’s forecast yet. It looks we’re heading into a week with temperatures in the high 90s, so even if you’ve already snagged one of the shady spots for the 4th of July parade downtown, there’s a good chance you’ll still suffer from mild heat stroke just like everyone else.
I planted some of the most beautiful winter squash (seen above) and hibiscus starts I’ve ever beheld this evening while the sun was low in the sky. I’m hoping they have a chance to get their bearings before the July heat takes them to school.
The peak planting window for summer crops is officially closing. Planning out and planting up that big blank slate of a south field was all fun and games comparatively speaking - now it’s time to buckle down and weed. Anyone want to help?
In the next couple weeks we will be selling a number of rare summer annuals in case you’ve got the ground space for them, including Glass Gem corn, Shirazi tobacco, Hibiscus, Japanese trifle tomatoes, Aji Amarillo peppers, Huichol flowering tobacco and Chinese Golden Giant amaranth. Try your hand at saving some of these rare seeds for your own arsenal. Information will be posted on our Facebook page so stay tuned if you’re interested.
Don’t forget - harvest is occurring on Thursday next week due to Independence Day on Friday. Be sure to grab your vegetables quickly before they too succumb to heat exhaustion. If you’re going to be out of town and don’t plan on picking up your share, please let us know.
Until next time,
Posted on Thursday, June 26th 2014
Fermented Summer Squash with Onions and Dill
This is a great use for any leftovers (aside from leafy greens) from the past week’s CSA share, prior to Friday’s pick-up.You can throw in anything from cauliflower, cabbage, green beans, chard ribs, carrots or any other root vegetable - so long as it is sourced from somewhere you can trust. You can easily double this recipe and use a 1/2 gallon jar instead of a quart because let’s be real, zucchinis take up a lot of space.
This recipe uses summer squash, large green onions and dill leaves and flowers. Fermenting your vegetables aids in digestion and provides beneficial bacteria for your gut. It’s also a great way to preserve your food while increasing its nutritional benefits.
You will need:
- 1 wide-mouth quart mason jar with lid
- 1 crock neck squash
- 1 zucchini
- 1 large onion
- 1 dill flower
- 2-3 dill leaves
- 2 dried bay leaves or one fresh grape leaf (they provide tannins to keep veggies crisp)
- 1 tsp mustard seed (optional)
- 1 tsp celery seed (optional)
- 2 cup spring water
- 1 tablespoon mineral sea salt, himalayan, celtic or any type of unprocessed sea salt
- To make the brine solution, add your salt to 2 cups of lukewarm water and set aside to dissolve.
- Place your grape or bay leaves in the bottom of the jar.
- Chop or slice vegetables and gently pack tight into jar, placing spices, dill flower pieces and leaves in-between layers. Leave about one inch of room between the top of the vegetables and the mouth of the jar.
- Fill with brine to about 1/4” from the mouth of the jar, and make sure all veggies are fully submerged.
- Screw the lid onto your jar - not super tightly - and set on your kitchen counter to let nature take its course. It’s best to set it on a plate in case of overflow during fermentation.
- Allow for 7-14 days to ferment, unless you have an airlock system which can then take 4 days. After 7 days, begin tasting your vegetables each day. Once you are satisfied with their flavor, place the jar into the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process. Enjoy!
- If you are having trouble getting your vegetables to fully submerge under the brine, try using a clean weight such as a smooth stone or small cup or jar. For example, place a small 4 oz jar upside-down over the vegetables and fill it with brine, so that once you place the lid on top of your quart jar, it will push the smaller jar down and fully submerge the vegetables.
- If you don’t have enough brine, just make more using the same proportions listed: 2 cups water to one tablespoon of salt.
Contributed by Mano Farm’s official food blogger, Michelle Dohrn. Contact Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Thursday, June 26th 2014
Hello lovely vegetable eaters.
This is the time of year when the plants are on the move. The tomato vines are stretching out their arms and responding to guidance by growing new branches out of their armpits. The summer squash patch is a sandpaper jungle that requires bodily contortion and lots of hopping (which is more like leaping with my short legs) before plunging headfirst into the belly of the beast, only to resurface with too many squash to carry. Most of these plants have the favorable trait of an upright stature, but eventually they join the others in ambling across the pathway and into the cucumber patch next door where those vines are well into their own quiet chaos.
The raspberry canes elongate and flower while continuing to send up vigorous shoots from below, and their wispy branches reach out to tug at your shirt as you walk by. The reign of the perky, tidy tufts of kale, broccoli and radish is over. There’s no “searching” for that Japanese turnip or Snowball cauliflower. Their leaves act like arrows, inviting your eye to follow them down or in and voila! There awaits thy fruit on a shiny platter. Nope, those days are long gone - summer is all about the vine. As a result, harvest is far more like a hunt.
Sure, sometimes you’ll run across zucchinis so gargantuan they’ll literally stop you in your tracks. Or the occasional berry or those first couple ripe cherry tomatoes will beckon for you, but it’s likely that they’ll vanish into a mouth (like mine) a couple days before the Friday harvest. The good stuff knows how to hide, and techniques must be developed to sniff them out on harvest days. Leaves act as shields and the best fruit can fall off the vine to rot, or grow to be the size of large infants if missed.
The tried and true method is the walk-by followed by circle-back every couple yards to see what you missed the first time. If this footpath were mapped out it would look a lot like a series of small curly-cues along the garden bed, and works especially well for raspberries and tomatoes. Then there’s the classic dance of digging through leaves, involving a breast-stroke type of swimming motion for the arms, which is better suited for the summer squash and cucumber.
The more angles you can see from, the better. For example, a child might find berries you missed due to their height perspective, so it’s wise to incorporate the squat in order to get the view from below when you’re picking alone. Let those kids eat all the berries they can get their hands on!
Does this theme transcend past the garden and into our social realities? When searching for answers, how many angles do you consider and how deep would you dig? How often do you revisit philosophical roads once traveled? Surely that answer is tied into how badly one craves the truth they’re seeking.
Here’s to the search!
Posted on Friday, June 20th 2014
Farm Fresh Tacos
This is a quick and easy meal featuring essential farm flavors savored in their raw state. You can present it buffet style where people can pick and choose their toppings. Diced avocado is also a nice compliment when they are in season.
1/2 medium-sized cabbage
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 large carrot
2 large kale leaves
1-2 green onions
1 8-oz. can of whole black, pinto or refried beans
1 8-oz .package of queso fresco
1 dozen corn tortillas
Chop or shred all veggies and set aside
Warm beans on the stove
Grate or crumble cheese
Warm or fry tortillas
Contributed by Mano Farm’s official food blogger, Michelle Dohrn. Contact Michelle at email@example.com
Posted on Thursday, June 19th 2014
Digging for gold
Posted on Friday, June 13th 2014