The sun is shining, the blossoms are starting to appear, and the non-profit Harvest Time is amping up for the 2009 season. Calloo Callay! What a joyous day!
Anyone who has visited the area’s U-Pick orchards or many farm stands has certainly picked up one of Harvest Time’s handy maps at the check out. These free maps show where their members are located, what they grow, and approximate seasons they are open. Nice, very nice.
Naturally, they also boast a very handy website, Harvest4You. There is a handy Find Farms option in case you want to check out a farm that you read about in your paper’s food section or on the menu at a restaurant. But, the real area to see is Pick a Product as it is a gem! Here you’ll find a list of everything from Almonds to Wine; just click on the word at it will take you to a links for their members providing that food or drink. How handy is that?
Our very local paper, the Brentwood Press ran an article about their first meeting of the year. Primarily it was just a bit of blah, blah, blah to me as I just want to know when I can get my asparagus and strawberries to kick off the eating season. I’d never make it as a farmer, but as an eater I excel! Any local person may also note one oddity here: they met at Sweeny’s? Huh? This is a very Brentwood Cafe (note: no website link) crowd with a few power lunch at Caps folk thrown in. Sweeny’s is a fine, long standing, local dining and drinking establishment, don’t get me wrong. But again, I just don’t see the local farmers mixing it up with the young 20 somehthings at the bar and all.
If you’ve already been to the incredible Ferry Building in San Francisco and want to come out and get the authentic experience, check out Harvest4You and make it a total success.
Oh, the back story! If you’re just looking for a too easy to be true recipe, skip on down the post a bit, but if you want a laugh stay here for the details.
Let’s just start by saying this should be categorized under “Should have seen this coming a mile away”. Here’s the lowdown:
- Teen age son comes home from school needing Dad’s famous chili recipe for Spanish class. That’s an easy one! Dad’s recipe means wait until Dad comes home and ask him. I’m done!
- Sure, I know that Dad’s chili recipe is a tightly held secret and no written account of this divine dish exists, but again, not my issue.
- Next day, son still needs recipe.
- Late-ish that night, son hands me my totally unorganized recipe binder asking for another recipe, Chile Verde. Good alternate choice! A great dish.
- Son types up said recipe in Spanish and prints it for class. (Printer actually has toner for the first time ever in the history of computers when an assignment was started the night before it was due. Yahoo!)
- Ok, you can already see this coming a mile down the tracks, but I’m just relieved that none of this has landed on my plate so to speak. We’re talking week day survival skills here!
- Skip ahead a few days. Son texts me to say that he needs to bring the Chile Verde to school the next day to share in class. Are you kidding me? A long cooked dish with a small army of ingredients and I’ve got less than 24 hours notice?! And, of course since the gods and goddesses are all against me at this point, I’m at work for a late meeting until 8 that night to find out how awful the upcoming budget cuts will be on everyone. Sucks to be me.
- In a moment of desperate inspiration, I realize that while there is no way dear Son will be bringing in Chile Verde from that recipe, there just may be a slow cooker recipe out there. Hit up All Recipes (with a great slow cooker recipe selection to be sure), choose the Chile Verde recipe with the fewest ingredients and best ratings.
- Stop by the store on the way home to pick up the very few needed ingredients, prepare and toss in the slow cooker and go to bed.
- In the morning, Voila! delicious food for the wonderful Son to take to school the next day.
- Next day, Grateful Son comes home and (without any prompting whatsoever) tells me that my Chile Verde was a hit. Yes!
Honestly, this is so good that I’ll likely toss the previous, more authentic, recipe and just stick with this. Its that good!
Slow Cooker Chile Verde
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cubed
- 5 (7 ounce) cans green salsa (Hernandez is a good choice)
- 1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapeno peppers
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir until fragrant. Add the cubed pork, and cook until browned on the outside. Transfer the pork, onions, and garlic to a slow cooker, and stir in the green salsa, jalapeño peppers, and tomatoes.
- Cover, and cook on low over night.
- I doubled the recipe and ended up using 3 cans of Hernandez green salsa and one bottle of store brand green salsa.
- The original directions were to cover, and cook on High for 3 hours. Reduce the setting to Low, and cook for 4 to 5 more hours.
- This has a bit more kick than you may expect from the ingredient list.
- Do be sure to trim all fat off the pork. Anything missed with feel pretty gross in your mouth when eating the meal.
- Serve in a bowl with a dollop (love that word!) of sour cream or over rice to soak up all the delicious broth.
Overall, this is a very quiet time of year in the fields. We have dirt, dirt growing various nutrients for feeding the crops this summer, and, well, more dirt. The one bright spot in the landscape is the strawberries.
The farmers have carefully tucked the plants in plastic sheets to keep those precious little roots warm. This means one late harvest in the Fall, and strong plants ready for the new season in the Spring. The anticipation just kills us all at this point of year when we are so, so, SO ready for fresh local foods!
In a related thought, Mrs L of Pages, Pucks and Pantry was recently reminicisng about New Year’s resolutions not quite kept. Last year, I was going to finally can / jar/ put up for winter, some of our amazing harvest. In the height of any season here, fruits and veggies are sold by the flat, just waiting for this experience. I wanted to, planned to do some canning for the first time in my life. But no. On reflection, I realize that I don’t really want to can / jar/ put up for the winter much of anything. What I REALLY want is to show up at someone’s house who actually knows how to do this and have the proper equipment, contribute a few flats of fruits or veggies and some new Mason jars, and simply take orders in their kitchen. For 2009, I’ve got this clarified version of the resolution on my list. Wish me luck!
Wolfe Ranch mandarins and clementines .. oh yum! They are offering some weekend U-Pick, but one look at the fields on my most recent trip told me that appropriate boots are not a part of my wardrobe. The pickings at the table were slim, which I took as a good sign. That must mean that they are selling lots of their juicy fruits to locals. It doesn’t get much better than that!
The plan was to buy a bag of fruit, give away half, then find a recipe for the rest. What I forgot to include in my plan was the appetite of one teen age boy! But hey, if that is my biggest problem with this venture, life is sure sweet.
If you are in the Bay Area and want to take a quick trip down a country lane, past both new and established orchards, over a little wooden bridge, and on back to a quiet magical place frozen in time, this is the side trip for you. The worries of the world simply melt away along this journey. Just remember to bring your boots.
Side note: the owner is quite sad that their signature purple bags are no longer available. She was bummed about that as she individually stamped each brown bag with their unique rubber stamp.