A Summertime Feast – Courtesy of our California Farmers

Huzzah to California’s Farmers/Growers!!

What we snagged at the Farmers Market.
Everything here was used in our Feast.

Menu
Store-bought hummus with baguette slices
Fresh organic strawberry margaritas
Roasted organic corn-on-the-cob with chipotle mayo and cotija cheese
Roasted veggies (eggplant, red onions, summer squash, sweet peppers, and studded with garlic cloves)
Roasted yellow potatoes with arugula and feta cheese
Mothership Tomato Salad
Sirloin Steak (Yes, I cook for meat eaters. ≋;> )
Espresso served over gelato (vanilla and chocolate)

Some of these photos were taken in haste and turned out a bit blurry. My apologies…


Not included in our Fourth of July Feast but something I’ve whipped up a couple times this summer.

Roast Veggies & Pasta Bake

Any vegetables can be used here. During the colder months I might try this with winter squash, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and perhaps parsnips. Anything goes, really. The key is to roast each vegetable separately in a baking pan. It normally takes about 30 minutes in a 350° oven, but some veggies may take less (or more) time. Just keep an eye on them.

Recipe
4-5 heirloom tomatoes, sliced in chunks or quarters
2-3 onions, sliced in half-moons
2-3 summer squash, sliced in half-moons
1/2# dried penne
A boatload of shredded mozzerella
Grated parmesan (fresh)
EVOO
Salt and pepper

Note: Roasting the vegetables can be done a day ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble the bake.

Preheat oven to 350°.

I like to roast the tomatoes first so the onions can cook in their juice. Arrange tomatoes in a foil-lined baking pan, drizzle with EVOO, season with salt and pepper, and pop in the oven. Once the tomatoes have roasted to your liking spoon them into a container – but leave the juice! Next up: the onions. Again drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Bake these until they soft and golden brown. Spoon them on top of the tomatoes (You’ll be mixing all the veggies together anyway.) Treat the squash the same way: drizzle with EVOO and season. These may take a bit longer than the others depending upon the size of the pieces. The squash should be soft and slightly browned. Add to the tomato/onion mixture along with whatever juice is left in the pan.

Cook the penne in boiling water according to directions on package. Meanwhile, spoon your veggie mixture into a 9×11 greased casserole dish. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the veggies. Toss well. At this point I like to throw in a couple (or three…or four…) good fistfuls of the mozzerella and toss again to thoroughly incorporate. THEN I cover the entire top with more mozzerella and finish off with a layer of parmesan.

Into a 350° oven it goes for about 30 minutes or until the cheese starts bubbling.

Bon Appétit!

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Small Farms are Fantastic!

We are blessed to have 12 Farmers’ Markets in Silicon Valley. We normally frequent Sunnyvale’s on Saturdays and have come to know many of the vendors. (Several received loaves of my famous Christmas Cake last December.)

This year I have heard many stories of empty supermarket shelves. I’m not sure if it’s our location or the fact that we don’t shop at big name chains (Safeway, Lucky, Walmart, etc.) but we’ve not seen that problem. (Exceptions: Cat food and litter, and distilled water.) We also don’t consume processed food – unless it’s labeled “organic”, and then it’s a treat.

I’m always telling people that if they are lucky enough to have a Farmers’ Market near them to purchase food from the local, small and family-owned farms (many of which grow organic produce). It keeps these wonderful folks in business AND the food is so much better, and better for you. It’s a win-win for everyone.

I apologize for not getting these photos up sooner but time gets away from me sometimes; however, they’ll give you an idea of how bountiful and FUN these markets are! I hope you enjoy and are inspired to seek one out (or get one going in your community).

The synthetic fertilizers that plump up our crops
churn out more nitrogen than all of the plants and microbes do naturally.

– Diane Ackerman (The Human Age)

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Celebrating Lughnasadh

August 1st marks the beginning of the harvest where we begin to harvest what we have sown. Lughnasadh (or Lammas) is the first of three Wiccan harvest festivals observed – the other two are Mabon and Samhain. (It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the Summer Solstice…)

Today at the Sunnyvale Farmers Market, we overheard C-Farms saying that it was the “end of tomato” season. They grow the most amazing varieties of tomatoes. Huge tables filled with regular and cherry-sized tomatoes dominate their stand every Summer. Today there was only two tables. Every year I look forward to the corn and melons at Pinnacle and the tomatoes at C-Farms. The end of Summer is upon us and I’M NOT READY!!!! Dammit.

Still, there was plenty of Summer’s Bounty and we took advantage of it.

The melons and squash will get eaten straight away, while the Heirloom tomatoes will become “The Mothership“. The organic (Did I mention everything here is organically grown? Well, now I have.) corn will be roasted and frozen for use during the “off-season”. Same goes for the tomatillos, although I may reserve some for salsa.

It is this time of year, late Summer, when the Earth is overflowing with abundance, warm sunshine, and Magick. Express your gratitude for those who labor to grow the food you eat; and if you have a backyard bounty of your own, share your food with others. This year, lughnasadh falls on a Sunday which is ruled by the Sun. Make a point to go outside and lift your face to its healing rays and smile. It’s a day for healing and miracles.

The planet does nothing but support us and we are constantly committing crimes against nature.
– Daphne Zuniga

As you thank Mother Earth say a healing prayer, as well, for her health affects all life here. You may want to invoke Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest who presided over the fertility of the earth.

Let us take nothing for granted.


Blessed Berry Lemonade

½ cup honey
1 cup lemon juice
3 lemon chamomile tea bags (I don’t care for chamomile so I will be substituting green tea)
2 cups blueberries
6 cups water

In a small saucepan, dissolve the honey in lemon juice over low heat. Place tea bags in a blender and pour lemon juice over them. Allow to steep for 9 minutes. Remove tea bags and puree with blueberries and water. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve over ice.

Serves 8

Recipe courtesy of llewellyn.com

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Indian Summer…

An Indian summer is typically caused by a sharp shift in the jet stream from the south to the north – the warm temperatures are usually accompanied by dry, hazy conditions. The warm weather may last anywhere from a few days to over a week and may happen multiple times before winter arrives for good.

We are so lucky here in California. Farmer’s Markets are plentiful, offering seasonal organic food and artisanal items. Food is picked that morning or the day before (depending on when you go) so you know you’re getting it super-fresh! Plus, people are selling handmade soaps, lotions, jewelry, clothes, and there’s always a stall or two with plants for sale (you can’t beat the prices) – not to mention homemade ice cream*. Throw in music and fresh air and you have a mini-festival every week!

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