Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekly Newsletter 13

Casalegno Family Farm Weekly
The pears are in full peak right now – hope you all are enjoying every juicy bite of them! This is the time of year that we begin to plan our crops for the cooler weather, and give some of the beds a chance to rest before the next planting.  We are planning for lots if broccolini, greens and lettuces, more carrots, potatoes, beets and radishes and may even try something we have never grown before – leeks!

In this weeks full share box:
Blue Lake and Romano Beans
Squash and zucchini
Heirloom tomatoes!
Cherry Tomatoes


This pie is hands down, no doubt about it PHENOMENALLY good.  Even I think so, and I am not really a “pie person”.  But I LOVE this pear pie!!! And I know you will too.  If you would rather use the fruit in your box for eating fresh rather than baking, let us know and we can sell you some seconds (imperfect, over ripe or partly bruised) at a cheap price for the pie, or you can always buy extra fruit at the farm stand!   It is definitely worth it - trust me this recipe is amazing, and easy!
5 or 6 very ripe Bartlett pears, cored, peeled and halved
1 unbaked pie shell (homemade or store bought)
¼ c butter           ½ c sugar            ¼ c flour                
2 eggs          1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325°
Arrange pear halves in pie shell, rounded side up, with small ends pointed toward the center. (see photo at right)
Beat butter, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla on high until well blended.
Pour over pears and sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds (optional, but really nice)
Bake 45-50 minutes, til light golden brown on top.

Grandma’s Marinated Romano Beans

This is a favorite family recipe that people rave about every time I serve it! I honestly never measure the ingredients, just use lots of garlic and you can’t go wrong!

1.       Rinse desired amount of beans and trim stem end off.

2.      Steam for 7-10 minutes, or until very tender.

3.      Place in shallow bowl or large dish and dress with good olive oil and red wine vinegar, a few cloves of pressed or minced garlic, a sprinkling of freshly snipped Italian parsley and sea salt to taste.

4.      Mix well and let marinate on the counter for 15-30 minutes and enjoy at room temperature.



Pesto Topped Grilled Summer Squash

·         1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

·         1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, (see Tip)

·         1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

·         1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

·         1 clove garlic, minced

·         2 teaspoons lemon juice

·         1/4 teaspoon salt

·          About 1 pound summer squash, sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick

·         Canola or olive oil cooking spray


Preheat grill to medium-high.

Combine basil, pine nuts, oil, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and salt in a small bowl.  Coat both sides of squash slices with cooking spray. Grill the squash until browned and tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve topped with the pesto.

Tip : To toast pine nuts, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.




·        2 red onions, julienned
·        Salt
·        5 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced (can be seeded too, if desired)
·        2 teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
·        2 cloves garlic, minced
·        2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
·        2 tablespoons rice vinegar
·        1/4 cup vegetable oil, preferably canola
·        Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
·        Freshly ground black pepper
Place the onions in a large bowl; set aside.
In a colander, lightly salt the cucumbers and let drain for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the ginger, garlic, chives, and vinegar in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly add the oil and whisk until smooth. Add the pepper flakes, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the cucumbers to the onions and toss well. Add the dressing and toss well. Adjust the seasonings. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours before serving. Serve chilled.

Thanks everyone! See you next week~              
~Casalegno Family Farm

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Weekly Newsletter 12

                                                         Casalegno Family Farm Weekly
Week of Aug 14 - 20. 2011
This week the pears are really ripening up and they are so tasty when properly handled.  Be sure to treat them really gently, bruising can spoil them.  And eat them up within the next few days – see below for more info on the best way to store and ripen them.  You all should be receiving the first of the cherry tomatoes really soon, if not this week and the heirlooms are on their way!

Because Bartlett Pears ripen from the inside out they are never ripened on the tree, but picked and left to sit at room temperature to mature at a more even rate.  They are ready to eat when they turn almost completely yellow, begin to soften when gently pressed around the stem end, and give off a sweet aroma.  Place them in your fruit bowl if they are still a bit green, and check them often.  Never place in the fridge to ripen.   They are very delicate and do tend to bruise easily when ripe so be sure to treat them very gently! When properly ripened they are so sweet and juicy and very delicious, but due to their fragile nature this finicky fruit is not widely grown commercially.  There may inevitably be a few imperfect ones that get into some of the boxes no matter how well we sort them, so if any of you get a mealy pear please feel free to grab something off the stand in replacement next week. 

Penne Pasta With Tomatoes and Squash
1 pound penne pasta
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
about 3 or 4  zucchini and/or summer squash sliced
Sea salt and black pepper
1 small red onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped or a basket of cherry tomatoes
Pinch of red pepper flakes (if desired)
1/2 bunch basil, sliced
shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese                        
Bring a saucepot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain and toss with 2 Tablespoons oil.  Set aside.  Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a skillet. Add the zucchini and yellow squash. Season with salt and pepper. Cook very quickly, remove and cool. They will be cooked more later, so they should only be half cooked at this point.  Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onions. Cook until slightly caramelized, then add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, squash, zucchini and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta, squash, and basil. To serve, place the pasta in a large bowl and sprinkle with the cheese.
To make this recipe completely over the top I cooked ½ lb. bulk mild Italian sausage in a separate skillet, drained it and added it to the pasta - YUMMY!!!!

Vegan Spicy Peanut Green Beans                                                                                                                Thanks to Megan for passing along this recipe, originally from VegNews’ Recipe Club.
What You Need:
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin or water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
What You Do:
1. Steam the green beans just until tender, about 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, tamari, sesame oil, mirin (or water), and sugar and set aside.
3. Heat the peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the reserved beans in batches and stir-fry for 30 seconds, transferring the cooked beans to a platter.
4. When all the beans have been cooked, add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to the same pan and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Return the beans to the pan and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the reserved peanut butter mixture and stir-fry until the beans are hot and coated with the sauce, about 30 seconds.

• 1 quart vegetable oil for deep-frying     • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour      
• 2 tablespoons white sugar  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon    • 2 teaspoons baking powder   
• 1/2 teaspoon salt    •  2/3 cup milk • 2 eggs, beaten • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
• 3 cups apples - peeled, cored and chopped                        • 1 cup cinnamon sugar
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, deep-fryer or electric skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour in the milk, eggs and oil and stir until well blended. Mix in apples until they are evenly distributed.
Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes depending on the size. Fry in smaller batches so they are not crowded. Remove from the hot oil using a slotted spoon and drain briefly on paper towels. Toss with cinnamon sugar while still warm.

Thanks everyone – See you next week!
~Casalegno Family Farm

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekly Newsletter 11

Week of August 7 – 13, 2011
Last week we had the pleasure of hosting a lovely young couple that has been on the road traveling for over a year.  James and Maarja, from England and Estonia respectively, flew to Venezuela to begin a long trip up through Central America and eventually all the way to Canada.  They have been traveling in a yellow VW bus they bought in Mexico, camping on the way and working for farms as they go.  They were spirited, respectful, hard workers enthusiastic about our farm fresh produce and we were really happy to have the chance to get to know them and help these like-minded people on their way!
Who we are
For something different this week, I thought you all might be interested to know something about the hard working people that make up our little farm right now. 

ISABELLE JENNICHES      lead worker
Friend, neighbor and artist, Isabelle is an accomplished gardener originally from Germany.  She has been living in the states for 6 years and this August it will be one year that she has been working with us here on the farm.  She is a major part of our day-to-day operation and it was much of her hard work that kept our Farm Stand stocked through last winter.  You will often find her out in the field harvesting for the CSA boxes, prepping beds and creating many of the beautiful bouquets you see here at the stand.  Her strong work ethic, experience, commitment, and true regard for sustainable living make her an invaluable part of our farm.

REUBEN CASE-GABBARD    farm hand and beekeeper
A Soquel Hills native, long time family friend and all around great guy, Reuben has been farming with us for over a full season.  He graduated cum laude from UCSC in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in European History, and has plans to go back to school to get his Masters degree.  Reuben’s exposure to beekeeping during his childhood when his uncle kept hives on the family’s property led to his current interest in apiculture.  He is a hard worker with dedication to the land and strong beliefs in mindful eating.   When he is not working at the farm pulling monster weeds you might find him studying in preparation for grad school or onstage as singer in a local band.

MEGAN LUCY   UCSC intern/volunteer
A truly captivating young woman, Megan came to us through the intern program at UCSC.  After a hard earned major in Legal Studies with a minor in Education, her personal interest in organic farming and local foods encouraged her to do her required internship hours at a local farm, and we were lucky enough to get her!  She interned with us from March – May and enjoyed her time with us so much that she has stayed on with us as a volunteer whenever her busy schedule allows.  She will be embarking on a 1000-mile bicycle trip from the Oregon border all the way down to Mexico in September and we will really miss her!

Celine is another wonderful addition from the intern program at the university.  This month she will receive a Major in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Organic Agriculture. Her background working with several other farms such as Frog Hollow, Thomas Farms and Billy Bob Orchards make her a great asset to us this summer. Celine is full of new ideas and is passionate about helping small farms.  Her infectious smile, enthusiasm and interest in small farm management will no doubt take her far on her path toward her goals in the world of organic farming..  An avid runner, she also loves to surf and spend time with her dogs.


MATT KOTILA   owner/farmer
As a member of the fourth generation of the Casalegno family in Soquel, Matt grew up here on the property and has been working on the farm since he was a little boy picking up apples off the ground in the orchards for 25 cents a box.  He helped his grandparents with the planting, harvesting and farmer’s markets during the summers, and 9 years ago began to take over the running of the farm.  His goal to restore the orchards and his dedication to the integrity of this piece of land show his pride in the hard work of his forbearers and his family’s heritage.

MARISSA KOTILA   owner/manager
Growing up in a big Italian family I am possessed of a love of family and a passion for cooking good fresh food.   I find that coordinating the CSA fulfills my desire to connect with the community by providing them not only with local organic produce but also with a link to the people that grow it.  And I love the feeling I get selling at Farmer’s Markets every week and personally talking to our customers knowing that our farm is nourishing people’s families all over the county every day.


WYATT KOTILA  quality control/farmer in training
At almost 4 years old Wyatt can tell the difference between chard and kale, is an expert roly poly, slug and cucumber beetle catcher and is beginning to learn the art of gopher trapping.  You may see him running around the farm, munching on an apple or taking care of our 4 barn cats.

Special mention also should be made to our parents and all the Aunties, Uncles, Brothers and Cousins, that have helped out over the years.  We are so lucky to be surrounded by family members that are always there to lend a hand if we need it.   Most recently our awesome brother James has been coming out every Sunday to help out with the endless summer harvest.  It means so much to us to be able to have our family out here with us!

And of course none of what we do would be possible without the lifetime of hard work, wisdom and support from Grandma Vi and Grandpa Bill Casalegno.  They have taught us so much and continue to be an inspiration to us every day.  Grandpa was born and raised on this property and has lived here his entire life.  Many of the wonderful family recipes we share come from Grandma's kitchen.  The times we have spent learning from them here on the farm are some of our most treasured memories!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beautiful Bean Trio

If you have not come by the farm stand yet to get some of our colorful beans now is your chance! We have trays of these gorgeous veggies for sale at the farm stand right now but they won’t last long.  Pictured here from left to right are Yellow Wax Beans, Trionfo Violetto Beans and Blue Lake Green Beans.  All three are heirloom varieties with lots of flavor.  We also have beans for sale by the pound, including our family favorite – super tasty  Italian Romano Beans.
 Get them while you can! Now is the time for freezing, canning and pickling, or just fresh beans to enjoy with dinner! 

  • green beans
  • olive oil (just enough to lightly coat beans)
  • sea salt 
  • fresh ground pepper 


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. trim green beans, rinse and dry well.
  3. Put green beans on a large cookie sheet
  4. Drizzle with olive oil,.sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper to taste, and toss to coat.
  5. spread them out into 1 layer on pan
  6. Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans are brown in spots and somewhat shriveled.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Weekly Newsletter 10

Casalegno Family Farm Weekly
July 31 – August 6, 2011
This week we started the Felton Farmer’s Market.  Because it is a pretty small market it has always been a great place for us.  It feels like the Farmer’s Markets are getting so big that it is getting harder for small farms like ours to really keep our presence.  We are often lost in the shadows of the huge farms with mountains of produce.  So my advice to you next time you go to the Farmer’s Market is to try not to overlook the quaint little stands.  Sometimes it is hard as a “consumer” not to be easily lured by the sheer masses of veggies or fruit you will see at the larger stands.  But it is QUALITY that counts, not QUANTITY, and I often find that the smaller farms with their modest harvests have absolutely beautiful things to offer, if only people would take a moment to see what they have in the little baskets on their tables.  Ask them where they are from!  And remember the true philosophy of the Farmer’s Market – supporting small family farms and eating local foods.

 In this week's full share box:
Romano Beans
Blue Lake Beans
Summer Squash and Zucchini

GRAVENSTEIN  (and their cousin red Gravenstein) APPLES
Well known for their versatility as a terrific eating, sauce and pie apple, the Gravenstein has been a favorite since it was introduced in North America in the early 1800‘s. The Gravenstein apple has a crisp and juicy texture, and a good old-fashioned sweet- tart taste.  They are dense with lots of flavor, which makes them perfect for sauces and pies, and they are crunchy and tasty enough for fresh eating!

Grandma’s Marinated Romano Beans
This is a favorite family recipe that people rave about every time I serve it! I honestly never measure the ingredients, just use lots of garlic and you can’t go wrong!

1.                   Rinse desired amount of beans and trim stem end off.
2.                  Steam for 7-10 minutes, or until very tender.
3.                  Place in shallow bowl or large dish and dress with good olive oil and red wine vinegar, a few cloves of pressed or minced garlic, a sprinkling of freshly snipped Italian parsley and sea salt to taste.
4.                  Mix well and let marinate on the counter for 15-30 minutes and enjoy at room temperature.

 This time of year we are drowning in summer squash and zucchini - so you all are receiving more than your share in your boxes each week!  I know it can seem hard to think of creative ways to use it all up, so here is a great article from Mother Earth News with lots of ides, tips and recipes.
 Here are a few of my favorites:
•Toss slices in oil, salt and pepper, then roast in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, turning once.
•Grate squash instead of (or in addition to!) cheese into scrambled eggs.
•Add grated zucchini to any cake batter for extra moisture.

Enjoy everyone! May your week be filled with friends, fun and fantastic food!!!

-Casalegno Family Farm