Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekly Newsletter 18

Casalegno Family Farm Weekly
This week I have included a guide to the 5 types of heirloom tomatoes we are growing here on the farm.  You will find some combination of these tomatoes in addition to the more obvious little red Early Girl’s with their distinctive tangy tomato flavor.  Each heirloom is different in flavor as well as look – have fun identifying the different types in your box!                                    

In this week's Full Share Box:
Early Girl and Heirloom Tomatoes
Sweet and Bell Peppers
Romano Beans
Zucchini and Summer Squash



Amish Heirloom.  Beautiful, large, pink fruit.  Beefsteak size.  Sweet, rich complex flavor. 


Similar to the much loved Brandywine, but a bit zingier.   Stronger, rich tasting solid yellow fruit. 


Unique dusty rose color with greenish shoulders.   Very tasty fruit has a smoky sweet flavor.   Ark of Taste selection.


                        Big Rainbow → 
Orange and gold with a lot of red striping.  Dense in taste, as if all the colors were accompanied by their own specific flavors. An exciting eating experience!

Yellow/gold to orangish skin and flesh boasting a sweet luscious flavor with a hint of pineapple. 

Also called the ‘Northern Pie’ or ‘Northern Spie’ Apple, This wonderful heirloom variety is native to New England and was discovered around 1800.  It has a mild tart flavor with great crisp, juicy white flesh.  Although not commonly grown elsewhere, in it’s native area it remains a staple for baking, eating and juicing.



·         4 peppers
·         2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
·         3 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives (or any olives)
·         4 tomatoes
·         2 tablespoons olive oil
·         Freshly ground black pepper
·         4 TB toasted pine nuts (you can do this quickly in a hot pan on the stovetop)
·         Few sprigs of fresh basil, coarsely chopped
·         Freshly shaved parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large, shallow baking dish with Olive oil.
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, removing the seeds but leaving the stem. Although the stem is not edible it looks good in this dish and helps the pepper retain its shape. Place the peppers cut side up in the baking dish.
Divide the sliced garlic and the olives evenly among the peppers and put in bottom of each. Cut each tomato into wedges and stuff wedges into each pepper on top of olives and garlic. Drizzle each stuffed pepper with a little oil and season with a few grinds of pepper.
Roast the peppers for about 40-50 minutes or until they are tender and beginning to brown around the edges.  Remove from oven and top with toasted pine nuts, chopped basil and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.  This recipe can be used with  small peppers and tomatoes for bite size appetizers or larger ones for a delicious veggie side dish!  Cooking time may need to be adjusted depending on size of peppers.



Jane’s Apple Crisp

My mother in law makes this crisp and it is absolutely wonderful!
·        4-6 apples, peeled and sliced
·        1 TB lemon juice
·        ½ c water or apple juice
·        1 tsp cinnamon
·        ¼ c butter
·        1 c sugar
·        ¾ c flour
·        ¼ c very finely grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter an 8x8” baking dish.  Mix sliced apples, lemon juice, water or apple juice and cinnamon and pour into baking dish.  Cut sugar and flour into butter until crumbly.  Mix in cheese and sprinkle over top of apples in baking dish.  Bake for 1 hour.

Over the next few weeks your CSA sessions will be ending at different points so I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your dedication and support to our little farm this growing season.  It has been a bit of a difficult year in some aspects but you all have been the cornerstones of our operation and made it possible for us to continue to do what we love to do – to grow, learn and connect.   We will continue to be in touch with you all and really hope to see you drop by the farm stand over the late fall/early winter.  Please go to our blog site to continue to get info and updates about activity here on the farm – and as always please feel free to contact us for any reason!   Thank you again and enjoy the last bit of the harvest ~
The crew at Casalegno Family Farm

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekly Newsletter 17

Casalegno Family Farm Weekly
Week of Sept 17 – 24, 2011
Friday is the Autumn Equinox, 1 of 2 times during the year when the day and night are of equal length.  As the days now begin to get shorter we follow the cycle nature laid out for us and also see things on the farm start to wind down a bit. Most of the Summer veggies are just about done, and we are starting to harvest the Winter Squash.  You all should be receiving some in your box this week.  With the wet cool summer we lost many tomato plants to blight, after being hit hard by a colony of gophers earlier this season, but even though it has been a hard year for the tomatoes there should still be plenty at least for you guys in your boxes. 

·         2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes
·         6 cloves garlic, peeled
·         2 small yellow onions, sliced
·         1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
·         Salt and freshly ground black pepper
·         2-4 cups chicken stock
·         2 bay leaves
·         4 tablespoons butter
·         1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
·         3/4 cup heavy cream, optional
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Wash and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking dish. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized.
Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stockpot. Add 2 cups of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.
Wash and dry basil leaves and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth or transfer to a food processor and then return to the pot.   Return soup to low heat, add cream (if desired) and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  (NOTE: My food processor left the soup a little chunky, which was OK, but I drained the soup through a fine sieve to make the texture even smoother and it was so creamy and good I didn’t even have to use the fresh cream!)

The Pippins always start to drop from the trees right after the Autumn equinox.  This means it is time to start picking apples in earnest.  We have over 150 Newtown Pippin trees alone - in the early 1900’s when much of our orchards were planted, Pippins were the gold standard in apples.  It is actually believed to be the apple from “The Big Apple” since it originated in New York City in the 1720’s and is the only significant apple from that area.  Grown and loved by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, this heirloom apple’s complex “piney green apple flavor” and firm texture makes them good for eating fresh and a high natural pectin content ensures their superb performance for baking and storing.   Jefferson famously declared from France, “They have no apples here to compare with our Newtown Pippin.”  Many of the trees in our orchards are 80-100 years old, and still producing! We grow over 15 apple varieties, almost all heirlooms, and are dedicated to preserving some of these wonderful, unique trees through grafting techniques.  As we rebuild our aging orchard we are focusing on planting a greater variety of unique, rare and/or heirloom varieties that will grow well in our area.   Some apple trees we planted more recently that are new to our orchard include the Gala, McIntosh and Pink Pearl.   While I love the diversity, we will always be “Pippin People”, and once you have tried this apple in all of its stages we know you will be a believer too!  Enjoy them fresh and tart the way they are now, early in the season, and see how fantastic they are for pies or applesauce then appreciate how long they can be stored and still be tasty and firm!

Chunky Autumn Applesauce
Fresh homemade Applesauce is a great way to enjoy autumn’s bounty of apples.  Really easy to make and something great to give the kids.

All you need are a few apples, water, a little apple juice (make some yourself with an apple or use store bought) and some cinnamon.

~Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove core.  Put into a medium saucepan (If you are making more use a bigger pan)
~Cover about ½ way with water, then add about ½ cup apple juice (or enough so the apples are 2/3 covered)
~sprinkle with cinnamon - amount to your preference ( I like a lot!)
~Cook on high until just boiling, put lid on and reduce heat to low, cover and let cook until apples are tender, about 20-30 minutes or so, stirring several times to break apples up.   
~If it needs more liquid add some apple juice.  You don’t want to cook it so long that the apples become mushy - it should be chunky, but soft and juicy.  ~Let cool before serving.  Keep in the Fridge for about a week.  Great with pork dishes, as a snack or even with vanilla ice cream!

WINTER SQUASH                                                                                                                    
This week your box contains 1 or 2 Delicata winter squash.                                            
 These squash were all just harvested, and would benefit from a period of “curing”. This simply means that they should be kept at room temp (around 70°) for 10 - 20 days before using.   After that, store them close to 50° for best results.  Delicata squashes will last from five to eight weeks.  They can be prepared many ways – here is a great way to make the Delicata that includes some apple cider that you all will be getting in your boxes soon!
Peel with a vegetable peeler, then cut lengthwise in half, and scrape out the seeds. Cut each piece in half again lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.  Sauté for a few minutes in butter with salt, rosemary and sage, then add 1½ C apple cider and boil down over medium heat until cider is a glaze and squash is tender - 20 - 30 minutes.


The apple “seconds” are really starting to pile up so it will be time to do a pressing soon! We will try to let you all know in advance when it will be so you all can come check out the process.  Look forward to getting a jug of our delicious fresh pressed apple juice soon!

Have a wonderful week!
     ~Casalegno Family Farm

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekly Newsletter 16

Casalegno Family Farm Weekly
Week of September 11 – 17, 2011
This last week the National Heirloom Exposition took place at the county fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.  This was a historic event that showcased the largest exhibit of heirloom produce ever, with growers from across the country, and many well- known speakers, heirloom livestock, activities and vendors. Our farm had actually been asked to attend and set up a booth, but the timing was not advantageous for us and we unfortunately were not able to make it.  While it may seem that the growing and eating of heirloom foods is just the next “fad”, many of us hope it is a practice that is here to stay.  Over the years, mass-market growers increasingly developed fruits and vegetables for traits geared to high sales and travel ability, not high flavor or vitamin content.  This is the reason that there are so many fewer produce choices at the supermarket.  By growing heirloom plants and saving the seeds we can prevent thousands of wonderful varieties from extinction and enjoy the diversity in taste, color and texture that our tables were meant to see.  Since heirloom seed is never modified or hybridized it stays true year after year so by choosing heirlooms we are also making a stand against GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), which have been proven to be harmful to human health as well as the environment.  The diversity of heirloom seeds may possibly even help to prevent famine due to crop failure when a mono-culture gets wiped out by disease.  In your own gardens and when you are buying your food we encourage you to try the unusual, the unknown, the old-fashioned heirlooms.  Help save a plant, your health and the environment, and give the gift of variety to your children!

In this week's Full Share Box:
Heirloom Apples
Summer Squash and Zucchini
Sweet, Bell and Hot Peppers
Romano Beans
Heirloom and Early Girl Tomatoes
Beets or Carrots
a bunch of Grapes

Of all the wonderful treasures our little farm has to offer, these grapes are my very favorite.  All through the summer I watch them grow, checking them often, waiting impatiently for the first perfectly ripe, juicy bunch of grapes that promises that intense flavor experience that I am crazy about.  Right when the light begins to change, to get deeper and more golden, as the nights cool off and I can feel autumn in my bones these beautiful fruits are finally fully ripe.  Every few hours when I am working out on the farm I find myself helplessly gravitating to the grape vines to enjoy another bunch.  We don’t have that many vines, and if I had it my way I would eat every single one!!! Well, probably not every single one - they are somewhat perishable which is why you don’t see them in grocery stores, and should be eaten within 3 days to be enjoyed at their best.  The purple variety is a Concord cultivar known as “Isabella” and we believe the greens to be a cross of the grape “Cassady” with the Concord that created another variety, the “Niagara”.   The Concord grape was developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts.   In 1853, it won first place at the Boston Horticultural Society Exhibition, and was then introduced to the market in 1854.  Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch developed the first Concord grape juice in 1869 and since that time most of the Concord grapes grown in this country are put to that use, but many, like me, think they are fabulous for eating fresh.  While I can’t say enough about them, the truth is that everyone’s tastes are different.  They are very intense, and have “slip-skins” which can be tart, and contain seeds.  If you don’t particularly enjoy this type of grape please let us know! We would be happy to trade them for something else, especially since we have such a limited quantity, and so many fanatics like me! Which is why I am happy to say that the cuttings we planted 2 years ago are doing well, and have already began bear fruit.  Here is a precious little bunch for you to enjoy!

 Fresh Salsa

        5 medium/large tomatoes                                                         
         1 small/medium bell pepper                                                    
         1 HOT pepper (more or less depending on preference)                 
         1 small red or yellow onion                                                                     
         1 small bunch cilantro                                                                            
         ½ head garlic, peeled
         Apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste
1. Dice the tomatoes as chunky or fine as you would like and put into a LARGE bowl.
2.  Cut all peppers into quarters and de-seed.  Cut red onion into quarters too.  Place onion and peppers into food processor and chop COARSELY - just give it a few pulses.  Really - DON’T overdo it!! This can be done by hand too of course, but it is much more work!!  Place into bowl with tomatoes.
3.  Put cilantro and all peeled garlic into food processor and chop - probably just a few more pulses than for the peppers.  Once again - DON’T overdo it!  Add to bowl.
4.                   Pour 1-2 Tablespoons cider vinegar into the bowl, add salt and pepper to taste and stir.  As it sits the flavors will meld and the spice will come out!  Store tightly covered in the fridge.  This should make approximately 1 Quart of fresh salsa…ENJOY!!!

1 pork tenderloin, cubed          1 medium onion, chopped         
 4-6 cloves garlic, minced         1 bell pepper, chopped            
 1 basket tomatillos, chopped        1-2 hot peppers, chopped
1 lb sweet peppers chopped (can be roasted first, or just added to sautée)    
1 lb tomatoes, chopped
oregano, sage, cumin, salt                  NOTE: use all juices from any chopped veggies

1.                 Brown pork in a large skillet.  Do not cook through. 
2.                 Add onion and garlic (and peppers, unless you are roasting them) Sautee few minutes, until onions are translucent.
3.                 Pour into large Crockpot with the rest of the ingredients (with reserved juices) and season to taste.  Slow cook 8 hours.  Serve topped with a little sour cream with Spanish rice and beans and fresh salsa.

Marissa’s Pasta Estiva (Summer Pasta)
I make variations of this pasta all summer long.  As with most of my recipes nothing is precise and I encourage you to use your own tastes and preferences and experiment!
1 pound pasta
2 cups green beans, rinsed, stem ends removed, cut into thirds
3 cups mixed squash, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 large tomatoes, diced  ( 2-3 cups, depending on preference)
8 basil leaves
6 ounces mozzarella fresca balls (the kind that comes packaged in liquid)
 Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large sauté pan.  Add the squash and green beans, salt and pepper and sauté over medium heat a few minutes, until tender crisp.  Add the garlic, sauté a couple minutes more, then add tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste, cook another few minutes, then cover and let simmer.  Meanwhile cook pasta.  When the veggies are tender add the basil leaves, tearing them in half.  Stir in the little mozzarella balls and cook another few minutes until they begin to melt.  Serve immediately over hot pasta. 

 To your health - SALUD!!!!                    ~Casalegno Family Farm

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekly Newsletter 15

Casalegno Family Farm Weekly
Week of September 4 – 10, 2011
Nothing really says “fall” like freshly picked apples, and over the next few weeks as we get closer and closer to the autumn equinox we will be sharing with all of you some of the wonderful offerings from our heirloom orchards.  We grow around 15 different heirloom apple varieties and each one of them boasts some delicious unique quality.  Our orchards are 100% organic – they are not sprayed with anything or even irrigated.  You will find these dry-farmed apples to be smaller than grocery store apples, but they are denser, crisper, and much tastier.  Over the last 30 years many of the older trees on the property were lost and less new trees were put in, until 2 years ago.  We planted many rootstock trees that we will be using to graft branches from our beloved antique trees onto, thereby preserving these really special varieties.

In this weeks full share box:
Romano Beans
Sweet peppers - Italian Long Green Sweet and Purple Bell
Zucchini and Summer Squash
and 1 surprise extra - may be carrots, beets, cucumbers, broccoli or tomatillos
Heirloom apples in your box this week include:

Jonathan & Jona-Gold Apples

The Jonathan is a spicy and fragrant, juicy, sweet-tart, all-purpose apple that is especially good for hand-eating. This beautiful crimson-red apple brushed with green highlights was discovered as a chance seedling in the 1820s at Woodstock, New York, and named for the man who first promoted it.  The Jona-gold is a fabulous cross between the Jonathan and a Golden Delicious.  It is slightly larger and sweeter, with a more green and yellow coloring.

Cox’s Orange Pippin Apples
This English heirloom apple is often regarded as the finest of all dessert apples, and definitely is one of our very favorites.   Its wonderfully complex and aromatic flavor really set it apart from the rest! It was first grown in 1825, at Colebrook in Buckinghamshire, by the retired brewer and horticulturist Richard Cox, And soon became wildly popular in England and beyond.  They have the distinctive flatish Pippin shape, often with brown russeting at the top.  The skin is red and orange striped over green, and it has a thicker textured yellow flesh.  We‘re proud to be able to share this delicious apple with all of you - Enjoy!


5-7 Fresh long sweet/mild green peppers                                                  FOR SAUCE:                     
½ lb jack cheese                                                                                   3 TB finely chopped onion
3 eggs                                                                                                   1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tb flour, plus more for dredging                                                       1 TB butter
Salt                                                                                                        1 8 oz can tomato sauce
Pepper                                                                                                  1/3 cup water   
                                                                                                               ¼  tsp salt
TO MAKE SAUCE: saute onion and garlic in butter until golden brown
Stir in tomato sauce, water and salt bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

1. Roast and peel peppers, let them cool.  This is optional , but recommended,
2. Cut peppers down one side and carefully remove seeds.  Stuff with strips of cheese.
3. Separate eggs - put whites into a medium shallow bowl or dish and yolks into a small bowl.  Beat whites until they thicken a bit.  To the yolks add 2 TB flour, 1 TB water and ¼ tsp salt and beat until thick and creamy, then fold into whites. 
4. Heat 1 ½ inches of oil in a large skillet.  Place about ½ cup flour into a dish.  Dredge stuffed peppers into flour, then dip into egg mixture to coat evenly.  Place each pepper in skillet and cook until golden brown, gently turn and brown the other side, about 3-4 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.
5. Place peppers in large baking dish, pour sauce over top and cover with grated cheese.  Bake at 325° until cheese is melted and heated through, about 20-30 min.

Now that tomatoes are finally coming in we will be eating a lot of this at our house! It is one of our favorite summer dishes.

Caprese Salad
·        3 tomatoes
·        3 tablespoons olive oil
·        1 1/2 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
·        1 package Fresh mozzarella cheese packed in water
·        12 - 14 leaves fresh basil, sliced  (or whole!)
·        Salt and pepper to taste
·        2 or 3 cloves garlic pressed or minced
Slice tomatoes about one quarter inch thick and arrange on a plate.
Slice thin discs of mozzarella cheese and place on each tomato. Top with a sprig of basil.  Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pressed garlic. Drizzle over tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

 Summer Squash, Mushroom and Bell Pepper Smothered Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ lbs)
2 sprigs fresh basil, shredded
1 tsp Oregano
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp cayenne
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 TB butter
1 small green bell pepper thinly sliced
2 small zucchini or summer squash thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella or cheddar, or ½ cup of each!)

1. Heat a large nonstick pan with cooking spray or a little olive oil.  Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spices, cook 8-10 minutes on medium heat turning once until juice is no longer pink when thickest pieces are cut.  Remove from pan and  keep warm.
2. Melt butter in the pan over medium heat.  Cook onion, garlic, bell pepper, about 5 minutes, then add mushrooms and squash .  Cook for another 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender.
3. Place chicken back in pan, spoon veggies over chicken.  Sprinkle with cheeses, cover and remove from heat.  Let stand until cheese is melted - just a few minutesServe each person 1 half breast covered with the veggies and melted cheese.


Thank you everyone ~ have a happy healthy week ~

Casalegno Family Farm