Thursday, May 17, 2007

pies for a birthday

When the fruit is ripe

I will bake you pies all year long,





lemon meringue

Happy birthday, K.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On the Farm

All last year, I used to log onto the "daily farm photo" over on Farm Girl Fare and feel wistful. Now every morning I'm walking through a new day on the farm--fog over the ocean, sun on the strawberries, spider webs strung through the kiwis. This is the sign leading to the back farm entrance as well as to a university housing complex known as The Village. But I love this sign; it always makes me think that the road will lead to a Bruegel scene with haystacks, thatched roofs,and women with little caps and long aprons.

This is part of the main field, where I'll be learning irrigation for the next 3 weeks. Lots of greens growing here, plus flowers, beets, carrots, cauliflower, and garlic.

The plum orchard, with a huge fruit set that we've been diligently thinning.

And did I mention that the farm's open to the public daily from 8am to 6pm? Or that we'll holding a fund-raising strawberry shortcake festival, made with organic berries harvested right here, on Wednesday, May 23rd, from 3 to 6pm? I'll be the one in the pink hat and pink-striped apron, handing out bowls of cream and strawberries.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother Earth Day

The ingredients for Saturday's dinner, foraged from the garden and farm. The last of the spring rhubarb and a few broccoli leaves from last winter's bolted plants, three small artichokes and a handful of purple-stalked asparagus from the perennial beds, plus new spinach and a head of red-leaf lettuce. And for dessert, sun-warmed berries from the strawberry patch.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

You Are Horribly, Horribly Old

What I wouldn't do to swap my 39-year-old smarts for the knees (and backs) of my 23-year-old fellow farmers... Weeding baby onions and planting long, long rows of peppers in the sweltering sun yesterday, I felt beyond creaky.

But the best moment was lying down in one of the just hip-wide furrows of earth between the rows. Cradled in the clods, I did feel nutured by the earth. Or maybe it was just the joy of being stretched out instead of folded up.

Later, there was an impromptu dance party in the farm center, with everyone rocking out to "Come on Eileen" and "Just Like Heaven" and I realized I was the only person there who had personally danced to that stuff when it was actually on the radio, in my assymetrical haircut and silver shoes. And then I pulled a muscle in my hip and have been limping around the farm all this morning, feeling even more old and gimpy, if that were even possible. Or worse, like the fake-young man at the beginning of Death in Venice, the one foreshadowing von Aschenbach's eventual transformation and downfall.

Making fresh cornmeal waffles helped, but still...I need to find a way to reconcile my brain and body with the 20-something crew around me.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Carrot Salad for a Heat Wave

Sitting in the excruciating hip Ritual Roasters on Valencia and 22nd Sts right now, drinking an iced decaf americano (first proof of hipness: no decaf drip. Clearly, in this setting, decaf is as uncool as your mom's 5 lb can of Folger's) to chill out during this unexpected but blissful Bay Area heat wave. At the counter, displayed under a sign reading "Because you're not the selfish bitch everyone thinks you are," are little red gift cards emblazoned with chipper slogans like "You're an asshole without coffee." On the sound system is a violin-drenched Canto-pop remix of the James Bond theme. It hurts a little, really.

But then again, really good coffee, couches, wireless and all the soul patches you'd ever want to see! After a late night and early morning making lemon-poppyseed muffins (white flour! no quinoa! naughty, naughty!) and farm-produce frittata (spinach, arugula, tarragon, spring onions, and mint, all picked fresh by moi, sauteed with local eggs from Everett Farms), followed by homemade whole-wheat pita (really fun to make, and they actually puffed into useable pockets) with hummus, falafel, carrot-mint salad, more spinach, and peanut butter cookies both straight up and vegan, I got the heck outta Dodge and came up to to a happy, sun-drenched Cinco de Mayo San Francisco. Every tattooed girl and boy and all their dogs were celebrating by drinking Tecate and eating chips in Dolores Park; Lanette and I hit the worth-the-hype Bi-Rite Ice Creamery for mint-chip and butter-pecan scoops first, then joined the throngs basking on the grass for mimosas with her pals.

I had good intentions for boosting my farm fashion quota with cute and useful t-shirts and overalls from Buffalo Exchange and Thriftown. Which means, of course, that I am going back to tentland with a fabulous rhinestone-studded 50s party dress, bought at a Valencia Street fence sale for $5.

Of course, I had to make big bowls of mango salsa and guacamole, my favorite California foods, to go with the mojitos at Shar and Jackie's. These are so easy that they hardly garner actual recipes. Mango or avocado, lime juice, salt, red onion, cilantro, minced jalapeno, mixed up together to taste. Don't skimp on either the lime or the salt.

What you do need to make, however, is that carrot-mint salad, a made-up dish that was the hit of the plant-sale picnic, at least in my mind. Sort of vaguely Moroccan, and much better than that boring carrot-raisin salad that everyone makes. Because the flavors are concentrated, this works best as an addition to a sandwich or as one of several dishes, rather than as a stand-alone itme. The mint is really wonderful, and adds a nice zing that balances the carrot sweetness. No measurements, since it's dependent on the number of carrots you have and how much salad you want. The mint shouldn't overwhelm; you just want lots of nice green flecks among the orange.

Carrot Mint Salad

carrots, peeled and grated
mint, stemmed and finely chopped
a couple glugs of olive oil
a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
a splash of mild vinegar, like apple cider or rice
salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients up; the dressing should lightly coat the carrots without sopping. Taste and adjust. Chill if not eating right away.

Friday, May 04, 2007

How can you keep them down on the farm?

Much bustle here on the farm today, as we get ready for the big fund-raising plant sale this weekend, at the Barn just past the main entrance to UC Santa Cruz. After making many, many wheelbarrow trips back and forth from greenhouse to truck, I drifted off down the slope with a bucket to thin the extra fruit off the apple trees. A wet and meditative job, deciding which of the five or six baby apples in a given cluster will live to become fodder for this fall's pies, and which ones will hit the bucket, destined for compost.

My plant sale job, you may be SHOCKED to learn, is cooking breakfast and lunch for my fellow farmies (yes, we're called that for real--they've even made a great army-green t-shirt with F*A*R*M*Y across the front) as they work the sale. So I'll be on duty from 5:30am (to get breakfast toted down by 7am) to about 2pm, and then....up to the city!!!

I actually didn't get into San Francisco during the couple of days between arriving on the west coast and heading down to tentland, so I'm very, very excited. And even more excited to sleep inside where it's warm, and have a bath! And eat MEAT, instead of kale n' beans n' beets. And maybe even a hot tub at Osento, and ice cream from the new Bi-Rite Ice Creamery. Two days of city glam, without farm boots or flannel! Except, of course, my fabulous psychedelic-pink flannel pajamas, courtesy of Queen Christina.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

a poem for a huge pink moon

The stars will come out over and over
the hyacinths rise like flames
from the windswept turf down the middle of upper Broadway
where the desolate take the sun
the days will run together and stream into years
as the rivers freeze and burn
and I ask myself and you, which of our visions will claim us
which will we claim
how will we go on living
how will we touch, what will we know
what will we say to each other.

- Adrienne Rich, Dream of a Common Language

Last week, I asked for poetry, and Jen happily complied (see the comments below for 3 swell poems). But this one turned up in an email from my old college pal Christine, currently living in London with her husband and son.