Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Basket!

Such a chilly day today! This calls for.....
Warm Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Steam beets without skin until fork tender. Mash Lavender Lane Sweet Onion and Dill Goat cheese with fork, some lemon, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and pepper (perhaps some plain yogurt would make it more sauce-like). Dollop over the beets and sprinkle with chopped celery. Serve with pita or crusted bread.

Please find for your baskets 2 acorn squash, a very large broccoli head, some fall beets, wonderful salad greens, including baby spinach and arugula. Of course there is always our bounty basket area with potatoes, peppers, and the like.

Rudolf Steiner and the Necessity of a Vegetarian Diet

The founder of our premium organic way of farming, which we call biodynamic, stated that he owed his vigor to a vegetarian diet. “I myself known that I would have been unable to go through strenuous activities of the last 24 years without vegetarian nutrition” (Rudolf Steiner, Nutrition and Health: Lectures of the Workmen: Anthroposophical Press, NY, 1987). All of the energizing exposure to the cosmos, including sunlight, starlight, and moonlight, experienced by plants in a garden that can be passed directly to the human being is negated when we eat meat. When the human being eats animal protein, she or he has to break it down into amino acids, urea, and glucose. However, this cosmic energy, so vital to our health and stamina, which we find as a direct source from plants, has been absorbed by the animal that is consumed. How this animal energy is used by the human being then becomes a question. What it boils down to is that, if you want to eat meat, you should hunt it in the wild. The Native Americans, who ate the flesh of animals, maintained a state of health and alertness greater than commonly seen today. Why? According to Steiner, there entered a pact between hunter and prey regarding the transformation of the hunted animal into a level of higher existence through ritual and respect. Going to a grocery store to eat a package of meat from a cow slaughtered in a disrespectful carnage houses could lead to big problems in the realm of aggression, etc. I shall simply ask: could a lot of inner city violence be a result of fast food meat consumption? One anthropologist has suggested the warfare in prehistoric Europe became permanent only after livestock breeding became common in rural communities. And Rudolf Steiner says that, if we look at the physical processes which result from meat-eating: “...we find that red blood corpuscles become darker and heavier and the blood has a greater tendency to clot. Connection with the plant world strengthens the human inwardly. Meat introduces something which gradually becomes something of a ‘foreign substance’ in humans, and goes its own independent way in him. Because the nervous system is thus influenced from the outside it may become susceptible to various nervous diseases. So, we see that in a certain sense, ‘we are what we eat.’ Can you imagine the madness we would see in a herd of cows fed on pigeons? Despite the calm, peaceful nature of a dove, the cow would be simply mad.” Why? The dove has eaten the life energy of the plant directly and the cow would only eat the flesh of a dove that has been denuded of this energy (Rudolf Steiner, Nutrition and Health: Lectures of the Workmen: Anthroposophical Press, NY, 1987).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eye to Eye with a Raccoon

Last night, I went out to the compost to deliver some leftover greens and such. One of the composts is tied around a tree. I bend over, drop in the goodies over the encircled hardware wire, stand up, and am no more than two inches from what could have been construed to me in the darkness as a holdup! But no, this masked trickster, was a raccoon. He did not tear off up the tree, but rather he or she looks at me with an air of condescension and, how shall I put it (?), saunters up the tree at a most cocksure pace.

In native cultures, raccoon is the trickster who uses his wits to lead enemies astray, leaving them stranded and bewildered. The Cheyenne call him “macho-on” -- “one who makes magic,” and his or her bandit’s mask lends him an aura of mischievousness and wily intelligence. They are connoisseurs with food, preferring to dip food in sauces, spinning it around and around, and chewing to the point of savoring. 

Hats off to these survivors, who have lived practically unchanged on our continent for a million years or so. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Bit about Potatoes and Today's Harvest Baskets

The potato was cultivated by the peoples of Peru, the Incas. The Spanish conquistadores found the potato to be a very cheap staple to feed their slaves (as aspect of "discovering America" not always acknowledged). It would yield a huge amount of bulky starch on little arable land. However, this was a food product that was also grown in Europe, first grown there in 1588 by the botanist Clusius. However, it was treated with a great deal of suspicion in Europe where the peasants saw the plant as evil. For a couple of centuries the potato received a bad rap in Europe, blamed for everything from scrofula to leprosy. For forty years, the French pharmacist and agriculturalist Antoine-Auguste Parmentier sought to turn the tide of the French public opinion. The peasantry had hiterto trusted nothing but grain before the Revolution, but after it millions of Europeans abandoned the tradition to take up potato nutrition at roughly the same time. This is a quote from the Austrian philosopher and scientist, Rudolf Steiner, and founder of biodynamic farming: "One can study the development of human intellectual faculties from the time when there were not potatoes to the time after their introduction. Potatoes at a certain time began to play a particular role in Western devlopment. Before potatoes were eaten a great deal, people grasped things less quickly and readily, but what they grasped, they really knew. Their nature was conservative, profound, and reflective. After potatoes were eaten on a larger scale, people became quicker in taking up ideas, but what they thought up was not retained and did not sink in very deeply. Very small amounts of potato find their way into the brain, and can can be very potent; they spur on the forces of abstract intelligence." (K. Castellitz and B. Saunders Davies, Nutrition and Stimulants, Lectures and Extracts from Rudolf Steiner, Biodynamic Literature, USA, 1991.) In Japanese macrobiotic tradition the potato is seen as extremely "yin" (cold, expanded, watery, dark); it needs to be balanced in cooking by fire, sea salt, butter, fennel, or cumin seeds. Baked in their jackets or skin, potatoes give more nutritional value as the nutrients and some protein lie just under this skin. When the peel is removed, any nutrional value of the potato is lost. They are great roasted and served with lots of chopped parsley, garlic, chives and basil and then served with a good crispy green salad. Now, after your potato meal, remember you may be full of great ideas, but don't expect to remember them in the morning!

For your baskets today, please find, yes, potatoes, parsley, swiss chard, carrots, delicious Gala apples and more.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thank you and our Harvest

I wanted to give a public word of deep thanks from the heart to our outstanding apprentices, Anders, Mary, and their son, Noah. Of the many projects handed over to them, you can see that the bread oven was an amazing accomplishment! We've had some delicious pizza already. What is most uncanny is that the majority of the materials were donated (beer bottles, sand, etc.) or dug up (our infamous Copley clay!). Again, thank you for all, dear friends.

In your baskets this week:
Choose from a large head of broccoli or cauliflower
2 pounds of freshly dug potatoes
Large green bell peppers
A variety of greens (Mustard, Arugula, Spinach, Mizuna, Jericho, etc.)
A bunch of collards

Semi-hot hungarian peppers (great to add to scrambled eggs!)
In the bounty area: tomatoes, runner beans, basil, and more.

Look for our special goat cheese this week: Garlic Dill and Sweet Onion Sage.

Cauliflower and Potato Tian
(Serves 3-4)
1 medium cauliflower, separated into small florets (6 cups florets)
3 medium potatoes, quartered lengthwise and sliced ¼ inch thick
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil, or ½ teaspoon dried
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup dry white wine or vegetable stock
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
Generous seasoning w/ freshly ground pepper

The Topping
2 slices homemade-style white bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a large bowl combine the cauliflower, potatoes, garlic, parsley, and basil.
3. In a small bowl beat together the olive oil, wine, water, salt, and pepper. Pour it on the vegetables and toss thoroughly to evenly coat them. Scrape this mixture into a 2 ½ quart shallow ovenproof casserole. Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes.
4. Meanwhile make the topping by placing the bread in a food processor or blender and processing to make fresh bread crumbs. Pour them into a bowl, then drizzle on the tablespoon of olive oil. Toss thoroughly to distribute the oil.

5. After the casserole has cooked for 45 minutes, remove it from the oven and discard the foil. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese, then distribute the bread crumbs all over the top. Bake 15 more minutes, or until golden brown.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Making a Compost Pile - Biodynamically - to be Ready for Spring Planting!

A Sunday Afternoon Workshop, 20 September, at Lavender Lane Biodynamic Farm (1-4 P.M.)

There is hardly a gardening book published in the last twenty years that does not extol the virtues of what James Crockett referred to in "Victory Garden" as “brown gold.” There are recipes for compost building that are as elaborate as making a soufflĂ©. We hope to offer some simple suggestions for a great compost. But what separates a biodynamic compost from others is provided by Rudolf Steiner in his lecture on “enlivening.” Compost, he spoke, with biodynamic preparations (a variety of herbs and plants from yarrow to stinging nettle) to enrich it, will be the quickest way to heal the land. “The point is that we should add living forces to it.” We will delve into how to do this and offer our herbal compost preparations to all of our workshop members for their own compost. The cost for all is ten dollars for CSA members, thirty dollars for non-members. As compost preparations for the workshop need to be ready for you, please send an e-mail by 13 September to reserve your slot ( We will gladly accept fees at the time of the workshop.
Thank you!
Farmer Jake

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September Harvest and Saint Michael

Summer wanes as autumn approaches. Of course, the air smells of ripe apples. Sunlight, like goldenrod, is everywhere. Amid this ripening, we sense in our garden the bustling process of getting ready for bed. At night, chill is in the air; the flies and mosquitoes are no longer pesty. At the equinox, when days match the length of nights, there is the celebration of Michaelmas. St. Michael vanishes the dragon, giving us courage to overcome our hardness, our habits, so as we may take on wings and soar. 

This week, please find for your baskets on our harvest table: a large spaghetti squash, two varieties of kale, swiss chard, polish garlic, sweet Italian grape and cippolini onions, genovese basil, heirloom tomatoes, one pound of freshly-dug French carrots, stevia (nature's natural sweetener), and look for runner beans, kohlrabi, sunflowers, and more in the bounty area. This week's goat cheese selections include lemony cream cheese and garlic-dill. The delicious recipe below uses most of the items in your basket for a Sepember dish!

Spaghetti Squash Recipe

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup goat cheese
3 tablespoons sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. 
Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled. 
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook only until tomatoes are warm. 
Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, goat cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.