Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Morning Coffee Cake

Everyone should have this easy, delicious anytime cake in their kitchen repertoire. You can use any stone fruit with this. Right now, we love it with dainty white Opal peaches.

1 stick (4 oz / 8 tablespoons) butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 tsp ground cardamom, optional but it adds a nice herbal-lemony flavor
1/2 lb peaches, pluots, or nectarines, pitted and sliced into eighths
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with a pinch of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, or cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter with sugar and salt until fluffy and well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Beat in vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, and cardamom (if using) together. Stir flour gently into butter mixture. Scrape batter into an 8” x 2” round pan, lightly greased if you plan on unmolding the cake, ungreased if you’re happy eating it right out of the pan. Embed the fruit slices, cut side down, into the surface of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with spiced sugar. Bake for 45- 50 minutes, until the top of the cake is a deep golden brown and the fruit has almost vanished beneath the surface. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bruschetta with Peach Salsa and Melted Brie

Here's a great appetizer idea using our peaches! Tweet or send us your pictures!

Place the cheese in the freezer for about 20 min for easier cutting. To make this appetizer in advance, you can prepare and refrigerate the salsa up to a day in advance. Toast bread and assemble just before serving.

2 cups chopped peeled peaches (about 4)
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (about 1)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Dash of ground red pepper
1 8 ounce French bread baguette, cut into 24 slices
4 ounces chilled Brie cheese, cut into 24 pieces

1. Preheat broiler
2. Combine first 7 ingredients; set aside
3. Arrange bread slices in an even layer on a baking sheet. Top each bread slice with 1 piece of cheese; broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts and bread is toasted. Remove pan from oven. Top each bread slice with about 1 1/2 tablespoons salsa; serve immediately.

Yield 12 servings (serving size: 2 bread slices)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Plum Good

Right on time with the summer solstice, our slurpy-tangy Santa Rosa plums tell you that summer has truly arrived on the farm. The Santa Rosa, as you might have guessed from the name, is one of the true stars bred by famed California horticulturist Luther Burbank at his plant-breeding research center in Santa Rosa.

Red-skinned with a purple bloom and amber flesh flushed with red, the Santa Rosa is plump plum perfection: sweet with a bit of tartness in the skin, with good texture and lots of juice. These are one of our favorite and most reliable plums of summer - we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Coming up soon will be our first nectarine of the season, the silky-sweet white beauty Jade. With smooth, fuzzless skin that's splashed magenta over white, Jade is a luscious and fragrant white nectarine that's dripping with sweetness. Slurp!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mixed fruit dessert with Frog Hollow Farm fruit!

Just received a great dessert idea from Frog Hollow Farm friend, Diana Fredrich. Here's another great way to use our Frog Hollow Farm fruit!

email from Diana:

I made a dessert on Sunday for a dinner party - and it was a great
hit. I wanted to share with you.

First - I made a vanilla pound cake.

But - I simply sliced up all the beautiful Frog Hollow fruit (and added some Livermore strawberries) into a glass serving bowl.

THEN - I poured about 1 cup of a very good chilled
French Pear Liqueur over the fruit and tossed it,
then chilled it.

I served the fruit over pieces of the pound cake then
topped with fresh whipped cream.

It tasted amazing -
AND - it looked spectacular !!

The next day - we also had the fruit / liqueur over
gourmet vanilla ice cream (delicious).

This sounds amazing and such a great use of local fruit! We'd love to see your pictures of this great use of our fruit and hear about other great ways to enjoy Frog Hollow Farm fruit! Email your photos and ideas to!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Looking for other ways to enjoy our amazing Bing cherries? Here's a great recipe from Frog Hollow Farm's Stephanie J. Rosenbaum.

Baby Greens Salad with Goat Cheese & Cherries

You can also add a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs to the dressing--try tarragon, basil, chervil, lovage, or parsley.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 4-oz log of soft goat cheese (chevre), divided in 4 rounds
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
5 cups mixed baby greens or salad mix
1 cup halved, pitted cherries
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, shallot, wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread bread crumbs on a plate. Roll each round of goat cheese in crumbs until completely coated.

Place on a baking sheet. Bake until cheese is soft but not melted and crumbs are slightly crisp, about 8 minutes.

Toss salad greens and cherries with dressing, turning to coat evenly. Divide onto four plates. Top each plate with toasted almonds and a goat cheese round.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Recipe for Apricot Chicken

With the recent warm weather, we've had a chance to enjoy our fantastic organic apricots - both the Orange Red and Robada varieties! If you like apricots as much as we do then you'll love this recipe, courtesy of Frog Hollow Farm's very own Becky Courchesne.

Apricot Chicken

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium yellow onions-chopped finely

2 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon dried chilies

¼ teaspoon garam masala

1 whole chicken, cut up 3 to 3 1/2 lbs

1 medium tomatoes –skinned and seeded, or 3 whole canned tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

2c chicken stock or combination chicken stock and water

¼ teaspoon saffron

2 tablespoons hot milk

1 jar apricot conserve or 6-7 fresh apricots halved and pitted.

Rinse the chicken pieces in cold water then pat dry with a paper towel. Pound the garlic, ginger and dried chilies with 1 teaspoon of the salt into a paste. Sprinkle the saffron over the warm milk and set aside.

In a sauce pan with a tight fitting lid or Dutch oven saute the onions in the olive oil until translucent. Then add the ginger/chili/garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes more.

Add the chicken, garam masala, tomatoes and the remaining salt. Add the chicken stock and or water and simmer covered until the chicken is tender and the liquid has reduced to about ½ its original volume (about 45 minutes). Add the milk/saffron and the apricots or apricot conserve. Simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm over basmati rice with chopped pistachios or almonds.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

ZenChef's Apricot - Almond Tarts

Chef / blogger / and Frog Hollow Farm customer, Zen Chef, has posted a great Recipe featuring Frog Hollow Farm's Apricots. You'll love his post - check it out at

ZenChef is a private chef in New York City. His blog, Zen Can Cook, is brilliant and his recipes sound and look amazing! You can follow him on twitter @ZenChef.

Thanks ZenChef!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tour The Farm!

We're often asked, but until now have rarely provided the opportunity... We are excited to announce the much anticipated and highly desired - Frog Hollow Farm Tour!

For a limited time, we will be giving a "behind the scenes" tour of Frog Hollow Farm! You'll have the opportunity to taste our mouth-watering fruit right off the trees; walk amongst the orchards and soak in the warm Brentwood sun, and see first-hand where our amazing savories, pastries & conserves are made. This is a great opportunity to really get a feel for what happens at the farm before the legendary fruit arrives at your table!

Each week, we will be selecting the first 20 customers to use the 10% coupon code SMO_09 when making a purchase at We will be hosting the tours each Friday, 12pm-2pm throughout the summer!

Oh.... don't forget your cameras or camera-phones! The best photos posted to Twitter each week will earn the photographer an Organic-Cotton Frog Hollow Farm T-Shirt!

We look forward to seeing you at the Farm!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Aprium Coffee Cake

1 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
10 tbsp butter (1 stick + 2 Tbsp), chilled
1 tbsp milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp milk
1 lb apriums, halved

1 tbsp crème fraîche, heavy cream, or sour cream
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg

Confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9'' cake pan, preferably springform.

In a food processor, quickly pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together. Add butter and pulse until butter looks pebbly and chunky. Add sugar and pulse briefly. Add egg and milk, and pulse until mixture is just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Top with halved apriums.

In a small bowl, beat crème fraîche, sugar and egg. Pour mixture evenly over the top of cake. Bake about 40 minutes, or until golden and the apricots are tender. Turn off the oven and leave cake in the oven for another 10 to15 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar just before serving.

Stone Furit, At Last!

No more teasing—stone fruit is here! The weather has cooperated and we started picking our first stone fruits in mid-May. CSA members will find dainty sweet Brooks cherries, which aren’t as big and fleshy as Bings but are still a delicious eating cherry and a welcome harbinger of summer. We’ve also added a few of our first apriums. This hybrid fruit looks and tastes a lot like an apricot, but it’s actually a cross between an apricot and a plum. Its genetic makeup is roughly 70% apricot and 30% plum, just the opposite of the pluot.

Both the aprium and the pluot are the brainchildren of plant breeder Floyd Zaiger of Zaiger’s Genetics in Modesto. Zaiger produced the first aprium, which he dubbed “Honeyrich,” in 1989. Adding some plum into the mixture increased the fruit’s sweetness and juiciness, and the aprium has become a popular early summer fruit, especially in California. Recently, Frog Hollow Farm’s apriums were featured on the menu at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, as part of a chefs’ event called the AlmondInnovation Project. Chefs from across the country were charged with coming up with new almond recipes, and our apriums made a delicious part of several desserts created by Corry Barrett, pastry chef at Lola’s in Cleveland, Ohio.

These first fruits are so tasty, we don’t think they’ll last long enough for you to wonder about storage. But just in case, remember that cherries break down quickly at room temperature, so store in the refrigerator any cherries you’re not eating right away. They’ll last a couple of days, but are always best eaten sooner rather than later. Firm apriums will soften up at room temperature. Leave any particularly firm fruit out on the counter for a day or two until it’s as ripe and soft as you like. Then, eat it or store in the refrigerator. Like any stone fruit, their shelf life, even in the fridge, is brief. If you have extras, try making a quick and easy fruit-topped coffee cake perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a teatime pick-me-up.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On Board the Enterprise

What's in your box? This week has something new: Enterprise apples. Why Enterprise? For those in the apple-breeding community, there's a secret tip-off: the letters pri tucked into the name Enterprise. PRI stands for the Purdue-Rutgers-Illinois apple breeding program, a horticultural research & development program started in 1945 between Purdue University, Rutgers University, and the University of Illinois-Urbana. To honor the work done at these schools, every new apple bred by the program is tagged by the letters "PRI" somewhere in the name. Other apples have included Prima, Priscilla, Williams Prize, and Pristine.

Enterprise is a particularly tasty late-season apple. It ripens late and goes boldly into cold storage after picking, turning even sweeter and developing more complex flavors after one to two months held just above freezing. First planted in 1982, it has an illustrious parentage combining Rome Beauty, Starking Delicious, McIntosh, and Golden Delicious. A lot of what makes Enterprise valuable, though, isn't visible to the average consumer.

Apples, like just about every commercially developed fruit, are susceptible to all kinds of fungal and bacterial diseases. These can be combated with potent chemical sprays and dusts during the course of the growing season, but a better route, especially for the organic grower, is to get to the root of the problem and breed disease-resistant varieties. Enterprise was bred to resist several common apple diseases, including powdery mildew, scab (which forms unslightly brown patches on the skin), and fireblight (which kills and blackens the tree's limbs). Organic growers are smart to plant these tougher, less susceptible types of trees, since starting out with a tougher tree means less trouble-shooting (and less chance of an orchard ravaged by disease) during the growing season. Tougher trees also mean less chemical interventions, even for non-organic growers. So when you bite into these beautiful apples, take a moment to thank those decades of tireless apple researchers!

Waldorf Salad
Created at New York City's famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1880s, Waldorf Salad is a sweet and crunchy addition to any summer picnic menu.

3 apples, cored and cubed
1 cup thinly sliced celery or cubed jicama
1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes if dry
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar (if needed)
salt and pepper to taste
Romaine lettuce leaves, for serving.

Toss apples, celery, walnuts, and raisins together. In a separate bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice and sugar (if using). Toss dressing with apple mixture, taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve over Romaine lettuce leaves. If making ahead, omit nuts and mix in just before serving.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hit The Jackpot!

It may sound like a casino, but this week’s Golden Nugget is actually a juicy, seedless tangerine wrapped in a distinctive lumpy-bumpy skin. In our climate, the Golden Nugget ripens in late January or February but can hold on the tree with no loss of quality through April and May—making it a great “bridge” fruit between winter’s oranges and grapefruits and the not-yet-ripe cherries and apricots of early summer.

Developed at the University of California at Riverside in the mid-70s, the Golden Nugget is a hybrid mandarin variety, resulting from a cross of two tangerines, Wilking and Kincy. The fruit is tart when first ripe, but mellows to sweetness as the fruit hangs on the tree before being picked in the spring. It’s often described as “Pixie-like” for its resemblance to the tiny but popular Pixie mandarin.

Along with your Golden Nuggets, you’ll find blood oranges, ruby grapefruit, kiwis, minneola tangelos, and avocados. As always, your kiwis and avocado will ripen best at room temperature. Once they yield to gentle pressure, store them in the refrigerator. Citrus keeps best (and tastes most refreshing) when stored in the refrigerator. Try using this week’s selection of citrus to make some refreshing juices for cooling off with during this week’s heat wave. Try pouring a mix of blood orange and tangelo juice over chipped ice with a splash of sparkling water.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Rain and Oranges

Be careful what you ask for! No sooner were we talking about the balmy weather and wishing for rain than a storm moved in, giving us a wet and muddy week--much to the delight of our big farm pooch, Noches, who's never happier than when he's got lots of orchard mud to track everywhere. Luckily, the winds weren't too bad and the trees look even healthier for their spring bath.

We hope you enjoyed the spring holiday weekend. At the farm, it's a quiet time, watching and waiting for the next few weeks as the first cherries begin ripening. We can't wait to start putting our own Frog Hollow Farm fruit into your boxes, but there's no hurrying Mother Nature. Look for the first boxes of cherries to arrive in about a month. Once the season starts, though, it will bring with it a steadily growing avalanche of fresh stone fruit, from cherries and apricots through peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots.

Until, we'll be continuing on with a mix of juicy citrus, kiwi, avocados and the occasional sub-tropical treat like passion fruit or cherimoya from Southern California. This week's recipe is a fast, easy, and healthy fish-and-salsa dish, using a mix of citrus with cilantro and a bit of hot chile. You can also cut the fish into strips and serve it as a taco in warmed tortillas.

Red Snapper with Mexican Citrus Salsa

Adapted from Mark Bittman in the New York Times.
This vibrant citrus salsa makes a great pairing for simply cooked fish. Serve with sliced avocados alongside.

1 orange or tangelo
1 small grapefruit
1 lemon, preferably Meyer lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 habanero or other chili, seeded and minced, or to taste
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil
4 red snapper fillets, 4 to 6 ounces each, preferably skin on

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut orange in half horizontally and cut out sections as you would a grapefruit, leaving the membranes behind; do this over a bowl to capture all its juice. Remove seeds and combine flesh and juice in bowl. Repeat with grapefruit and lemon. Stir in habanero and salt, adding cilantro just before serving.
Put oil in a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. A minute later, add fish, skin side down; season top with salt. Cook until skin begins to crisp, 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to oven. Cook another 3 or 4 minutes, or until a thin-bladed knife meets little resistance when inserted into thickest part of fish. Serve fish with salsa, immediately.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Around the Farm

We're enjoying this balmy weather out on the farm, although we would like we would like a little more rain before the dry season sets in. But this mild, warm, and sunny weather is great for the trees as their tiny fruits begin to grow. Excessive wind, rain, or hail can damage the delicate young fruits at this stage, scarring their skins or even knocking them off the branches altogether. So we're hoping this mild weather continues, helping us towards another bumper crop this summer.

The fruit we all love is just one part of what can be used from the tree. At our cafe in San Francisco's Ferry Building, we keep a stash of dried peach leaves on hand to add whenever we make iced tea. The leaves add a delicious subtle fruitiness, and keep well dried or in the freezer. We decorate with eye-catching displays of flowering branches brought in from the orchard.

Smash an apricot pit with a hammer and you'll find a small, tender kernel inside. This kernel is used to give the distinctive bitter-almond flavor to baking extracts and liqueurs like Amaretto. While you shouldn't eat these kernels whole, you can drop a couple of kernels into a batch of apricot jam to give just a hint of almond flavor. Later in the season, as the trees are pruned back, we might load up the barbecue with fragrant, clean-burning apple or cherry wood. (Applewood-smoked bacon is a particular favorite in the Bay Area, and with good reason, since the smoke produced by applewood enhances rather than overwhelms the pork.)

Now is a great time to get ready to preserve some of your summer bounty. Lay in a stock of fresh canning jars (available at many supermarkets and most hardware stores) or get a few big boxes of heavy-duty plastic freezer bags. Whatever you can't eat at its peak can be canned or frozen for later use, when the luscious peaches of July are just a memory.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Orange & Passion Fruit Gelatin

Made with fruit juice and unflavored gelatin, this jiggly dessert has all the slippery fun of Jell-O, but it's actually good for you, without any added sugar or artificial colorings.

2 passion fruit
3/4 cup Bonterra organic muscat wine or other lightly sweet white dessert wine (white grape juice can be substituted)
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange or tangelo juice
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin, such as Knox

Scoop the insides of the passion fruits into a small saucepan, and warm gently. Scoop into a strainer and push the pulp through in a bowl, leaving the seeds behind. Add muscat. Sprinkle on the gelatin. Let gelatin soften for several minutes.
Warm orange juice until just hot but not boiling. Pour into gelatin mixture and stir well until gelatin is dissolved. Pour into bowl and chill for four or five hours or overnight, until firm and set.

Adapted from Good Tempered Food by Tamasin Day-Lewis.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Passionate Fruits?

Thanks to its name, the passion fruit shows up on a lot of Valentine's Day menus. But what's passionate about the passion fruit? Well, we hate to disillusion all you romantics out there, but the name has nothing to do with its powers as an aphrodisiac. The fruit of this tropical vine was dubbed the passion fruit by Catholic friars arriving in its Brazilian homeland, who saw Christian symbolism in the shape and markings of the flowers.

As Elizabeth Schneider writers in her book, Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables, "The complex and remarkably beautiful flowers are the origin of this name, with different parts of the bloom representing the wounds, crucifixion nails, crown of thorns, and the Apostles." Some of the friars even saw the vine as justification for their missionary work; to them, it was clearly put there to bring the indigenous populations to Christianity.

That's a lot of symbolic freight for one plant to carry. Luckily, no matter how you look at the plant, the passion fruit itself is a delicious, sweet-tart treat that has been enjoyed all around the world for centuries.

The easiest way to eat your passion fruit is to cut off the top and scoop out the jelly-like golden pulp with a spoon. The small black seeds are edible and pleasantly crunchy, although they can be sieved out for a more elegant presentation. Let the fruit soften and get a little wrinkly before eating for the fullest flavor and aroma.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recipe-Chunky Guacamole

Let your avocados ripen at room temperature until they have a little “give” when gently squeezed. Always cover any leftover cut avocado tightly, since they will oxidize and turn brown when exposed to air.

2 ripe avocados
juice of 1 lime (or to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced (optional)
1 scallion, chopped (or 1 tbsp minced red onion)
1/4 tsp cumin
3 or 4 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1 tomato, seeded and diced

Cut avocado in half and remove pit. Scoop out flesh and mash roughly. Sprinkle with salt, lime juice, minced hot pepper, scallion, and cumin. Stir together well. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, lime juice, or cumin as needed. Just before serving, stir in most of the chopped cilantro and diced tomato. Sprinkle with a little more chopped cilantro and serve. Baby carrots, celery sticks, and red bell pepper strips make great healthy “dippers”!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CSA Newsletter: Food Not Lawns 3 22 09

Food Not Lawns is the catchy title of a very useful book. In it, subtitled How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community, author Heather Coburn Flores makes a persuasive case for homeowners to turn their home turf into edible gardens. Whether you’ve got a front yard, a back yard, or even just a sunny strip along the side: one you get beyond the green lawn, the potential for really going green expands with every square foot of soil.

There are decorative edible flowers, like nasturtiums, that can grow between rows of vegetables. A trellis lush with climbing bean vines draws in bees and hummingbirds while forming a natural screen for privacy--much more delicious than a board fence or box hedge. (Scarlett runners produce prodigiously, first bright-red flowers, then succulent flat beans which can be eaten fresh or left to mature into bright pink-and-black shelling beans.)

Children find root vegetables irresistible--the mystery of what’s hidden under the soil, the surprise that something as ordinary as a carrot or a radish actually lives deep in the dirt, the thrill of pulling on a handful of leaves and yanking out a full-grown carrot or fat red beet.

Even the Obamas are taking Flores’ advice. Not the whole White House lawn, but one section (over by the girls’ swing set) is going to be turned into an organic garden. It will double as an edible schoolyard for local D.C. schoolchildren, who’s not only get to weed and water but will take their harvest into the White House kitchens and learn how to cook (and eat) their dirt-fresh bounty.

By doing this, the Obamas set a great example for families all across the country. Maybe you don’t have the space to grow all your own squash and potatoes. But you can probably grow several months of salads, courtesy of a pack of mixed salad-green seeds, a sprawling cherry tomato plant, perhaps a sugar-snap pea vine or two. Kids who’ve gotten dirty planting, watering, poking at and picking their own vegetables are much more likely to eat (and like) their veggies. Why not plant some seeds today and see what grows?


Avocados? Tomatoes? Isn’t this supposed to be a fruit CSA? By common definition, both avocados and tomatoes are, technically, fruit, even if you wouldn’t bake them in a pie. (Although we have seen--and tasted--both green-tomato and creamy avocado-chocolate pies!) Much like a peach or a cherry, the avocado’s single pit contains all its tree’s genetic information.

Given enough time and space, you could grow your own avocado tree from the avocado in your box this week--although it’s probably more feasible to grow a simple houseplant instead. After you’ve eaten your avocado, poke three or four toothpicks into the pit, equally spaced like spokes on a wheel. Use the toothpicks to suspend the pit (wide side down) over a glass of water, keeping the bottom submerged. Watch the roots grow from the pit; when you’ve got a sturdy-looking tangle, plant in a generous-sized pot with the tip of the pit sticking out of the soil.

These organic tomatoes got a jump on summer by growing in warm greenhouses rather than out in the chilly spring breezes.

So, what's in the box this week?

Avocado ~ Haas Eco-Farms, Temecula, CA

Grapefruit~ Star Ruby
South Texas Organics, Mission, TX

Apple~ Fuji
Deneven Apples, Santa Cruz, CA or Bruce Rider, Watsonville, CA

Orange ~ Navel
Eco-Farms, Temecula, CA

Tangelo ~ Minneola
Eco-Farms, Temecula, CA

Wilgenburg Greenhouses, Dinuba, CA

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Kumquat Reading

Hope you've been enjoying your kumquats this week! The San Francisco Chronicle recently featured these sweet-tart fruits in a short article filled with with some interesting history and facts, including intriguing ideas from local restaurants. Range uses them in a salad with smoked trout, while the Chez Panisse Cafe tops Page mandarin sherbet with candied kumquats. There's even a bakery in New York City called the Kumquat Cupcakery.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA

Community. Function: noun. 1: a unified body of individuals. Supported. Function: transitive verb : to promote the interests or cause. Agriculture. Function: noun 1: the science, art, or practices of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting product.

Many Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are treated like fruit delivery services—a grocery store on wheels, if you will. In reality, a CSA is a manifestation of something much deeper in our cultures and civilizations. Yet it wasn’t not until the mid-1980s, long after the principle farming communities had moved to urban areas in hopes of better lives, that the first CSAs (as we know them) came into being. And they did so not out of a need to provide food—large multinational agribusinesses could do that well enough—but out of a desire by individuals to farm at a sane, sustainable level in order to nourish the Earth and provide food to like-minded people. During and prior to this period, many farmers went out of business and their lands developed—never to be used to grow food again. But some farmers fought back. And not with pitchforks and rakes, but by realizing they weren’t the only ones that cherished farms, farmers, and fresh organic food. So they farmed differently……

The Happy Child CSA—Frog Hollow Farm’s version—is one of the best ways we have to bring our legendary fruit to you. But, as I started out, our CSA is more, so much more, than a fruit delivery service. In addition to bringing you organic fruit year after year, we require a certain almost spiritual commitment beyond membership. That is, we may ask you to support us as farmers and as a farm in ways we can’t even imagine. Yet knowing that you’re there for us and we’re there for you is what a modern, CSA farm business is all about.

2009 promises to be a stellar season for us. The plums are in bloom, cherries + apricots not far behind, and so on. In a few months we’ll be harvesting our first fruit and reveling in the joys of what it means to be a farm in the 21st century. And with supporters like you, who can blame us.

Friday, February 20, 2009

And so it begins.....

After several days of cold, rain, and wind, we're finally starting to see the beginnings of Spring here at Frog Hollow Farm. For a few weeks--slowed only by the cool, wet weather--we had been seeing fruit tree blossoms begin to develop. Today, we were actually out helping Mother Nature get a start on the 2009 crop year. How, you ask? Well, through what is known as supplemental pollination (SP). Come again, you say?

As most people are aware, almost all farmers rely on pollination of their crops to fertilize the flowers in order to make fruit (or vegetables). The method most growers use is natural pollen sources disseminated by honeybees and other pollinators (e.g., wasps, flys, insects, even some birds, wind, etc.) Honeybees were, and are, by far the most important. In fact, there are many crops that simply wouldn't exist without adequate pollination; and other that unfortunately are weakly compatible. That is, there may be plenty of pollen and plenty of pollinators, but the pollen just isn't the right type to "make fruit."

Pollen incompatibility plus the current crisis surrounding honeybees (i.e., colony collapse disorder), in addition to weather issues, has sent many growers in the direction of using supplemental pollination (and pollen) to set a crop. Years ago, growers of some crops (like apples) overcame the incompatibility issue by planting compatible varieties close to each other, or collecting "floral bouquets" as an additional source of pollen. Since most stone fruit is self-fertile, SP simply helps nature along, or wasn't needed at all. But for varieties that are not strongly self-fertile, SP not only assists Mother Nature, but is an absolute requirement for a crop.

So, in the Spring pollen collectors go out into orchards to cut anthers (i.e., where the pollen resides in the flower) and collect the pollen. The pollen is then sold to growers who use Frog Hollow Farm. This pollen is generally good for more than 1 season and can be frozen used for several years. However, just like with natural pollination, growers must make sure they get compatible pollen from the collectors. Rule of Thumb: don't use pollen from the same variety you're trying to pollinate.

Here at Frog Hollow Farm, we actually mix the pollen with a silica type material in order to provide a surface for the pollen to stick to and a little weight to make sure it gets to the flowers surface. We put the pollen/silica mixture into a modified leaf blower and drive up and down the rows blows pollen into the trees. And that's where we were today.

It'll be a few months from now before the results of the activity are fully realized. But in just a few weeks (or days if we had a microscope) we'll be able to see the little fruit (fertilized flowers) begin to develop. There'll be more postings in this blog about the crop development, so come back often. For now, enjoy the pictures and video of the beginnings of the 2009 season.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cherimoya--the Andean ice cream fruit

A cherimoya (Annona cherimola) doesn’t look like luscious eating. Often shaped like a heart, it’s green, knobby, and pocked with scales like a pine cone. Yet hiding beneath the forbidding aspect of this pre-Columbian fruit is a seed-studded, creamy-custard pulp brimming with fragrant musky-sweet juice. (Some fans find the flavor similar to Juicyfruit® gum, or a mix of pineapple and guava.) Says Calimoya® founder Jay Ruskey, “The cherimoya will take you on a little vacation from the chill of winter.”

This fruit has a long growing history in South America. Its name comes from the ancient Quechua language of the Incas. Originating in the highlands of the Andes between Colombia and Bolivia, they require a very specific combination of southern hillside exposure, rich soil, and mild climate without great swings in temperature or harsh winds to thrive. Southern California, it turns out, is a great place for cherimoyas.

Having started in 1992, Ruskey now has 22 acres of cherimoya trees in the foothills of Santa Barbara. Choosing the right site is a challenge, but cultivation and post-harvest handling practices are equally important. California lacks the particular bees and wasps that pollinate the trees in its native habitats, so each flower must be hand-pollinated. (In Oaxaca, the flowers are used to flavor agua frescas.) The fruit itself must be hand-picked and carefully protected from bruising during picking and packing. Fruits can range in size from a petite 8 ounces apiece to 2 pounds or more. Cherimoyas are best ripened at room temperature. Let ripen for 1 to 3 days, as needed, until they are just beginning to soften. (Overripe, squishy-soft fruit can lose its custardy texture and get grainy.) Once ripe, refrigerate and serve chilled. Avoid jostling or bumping the fruits, as they’re easily bruised despite their tough-looking skin. The easiest way to eat them is to simply slice in half, pull out the central fiber, and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, removing the shiny black seeds as you go. You can also quarter, peel, and slice, popping out the seeds with the tip of a spoon. Toss with pears, melon, pineapple, bananas or grapes for a fruit salad, or puree into a dessert sauce or smoothie.

Written by Stephanie Rosenbaum for the Happy Child CSA newsletter (Feb 15 2009).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Apricot Chicken

Stay tuned and remember you may also substitute Frog Hollow Farm dried apricots for fresh. Frog Hollow Farm apricots are just around the corner!

serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions-chopped finely
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon dried chilies
¼ teaspoon garam masala*
1 whole chicken, cut up 3-31/2 lbs
2 medium tomatoes –skinned and seeded, or 3 whole canned tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
2c chicken stock or combination chicken stock and water
¼ teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons hot milk
1 jar apricot conserve or 6-7 fresh apricots halved and pitted. (You may also substitute Frog Hollow Farm dried apricots for fresh).

Rinse the chicken pieces in cold water then pat dry with a paper towel. Pound the garlic, ginger and dried chilies with 1 teaspoon of the salt into a paste. Sprinkle the saffron over the warm milk and set aside.
In a sauce pan with a tight fitting lid or Dutch oven saute the onions in the olive oil until translucent. Then add the ginger/chilie/garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes more.
Add the chicken, garam masala, tomatoes and the remaining salt. Add the chicken stock and or water and simmer covered until the chicken is tender and the liquid has reduced to about ½ its original volume (about 45 minutes). Add the milk/saffron and the apricots or apricot conserve. Simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm over basmati rice with chopped pistachios or almonds

Monday, January 26, 2009

Roasted Warren Pears

This is a wonderful simple dessert that can be put together at the last minute.

4 ripe Warren or Bosc pears

1-2 tablespoons organic sugar

½ cup mixed chopped dried fruits, such as cherries, peaches, raisins or persimmons (optional)

¾ cup fruity white wine or sauternes

1 vanilla bean cut in half horizontally and lengthwise

Lemon zest and juice of 2 lemons

Peel the pears and cut off bottom ½ inch so they sit flat and upright.

Place the pears in the pan with the dried fruit. Sprinkle with sugar, wine, lemon juice and zest. Scrape out the seeds from inside the vanilla bean and spread some of seed-paste on the pears.

Bake at 400ºF for 20-25 minutes, or until pierced easily with a knife.

Serve warm with ice cream. Make sure to get every last drop of syrup!

From the kitchen of Becky Courchesne

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Everyday is CSA Day!

What's CSA, you ask? CSA is Community Supported Agriculture and is a not-so-new-but-gaining-in-popularity consumer movement that's changing how people buy their food, meet their farmer, and protect the Earth. Yesterday, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. In addition to all of the obvious changes that occurred yesterday, one of the biggest was a massive shift in how politics in this country will be conducted, not just for the next 4-8 years, but for eternity. There's no going back. Absolutely, there are going to be those that would rather wallow in the same kind of "business as usual" politics we've been (with little exception) forced to endure since President Eisenhower milled about the West Wing. That's a long time folks! But with the election and swearing in of Obama, we officially shift our political thinking not to the left or right, but forward. We need to make 2009 the year where we do the same with our food and farms.

Despite the issues with the economy that are forcing people to make short-term, often drastic, changes to their purchasing patterns, people still need to eat. And as our political winds blow sweet and refreshing, so are the winds of how people eat. Farmers Markets, CSAs, organic, local, biodynamic...whatever. People are willing more than ever to make changes elsewhere in their budget before they make changes in how they buy food. People are done and over with the bad food we've been forced to eat since, well, Eisenhower was president. The Industrial Age of Food is Over (almost anyway). And as Obama's administration brings this misguided ship we call the US hard about, so will the American people change our food systems. There'll be more food grown on a farm near you, by a farmer you know, and in a way that doesn't squander anymore environmental capital for our future generations than in anytime in the last 70 years or so.

Make a difference America! Join a CSA, find a Farmers Market, meet your farmer--reject industrial food at all costs. Beginning today! Your country's farmers need you!

PS we'd absolutely be tickled pink if you'd consider joining Frog Hollow Farm's Happy Child CSA. We have numerous CSA sites around the Bay area, plus we ship almost everywhere in the US. But even if you choose to not join our CSA, please join a CSA near you. For information on finding a CSA near you, please visit the Local Harvest web site.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cookies, Granola, and Jams..Oh My!

We know that many of our Happy Child CSA members have been Frog Hollow Farm supporters for years. Of course, you know all about the fresh organic fruit delivered to you each week throughout the season. What you may not know is that Frog Hollow Farm also produces a delectable menu of goodies right here on the farm. Until recently, these items have been only available on line, at select farmers markets, and at our shop in San Francisco’s Ferry Building—now we’d like to share them with you through the Happy Child CSA*.

Each week, beginning this week, we're including a sampling of Becky Courchesne’s kitchen creations in each CSA share box. We'll do this throughout the season for as long as we can. In each share box, you’ll find an order form that can be used to order larger quantities of these and other items for delivery with your next CSA share. (For those of you not already CSA members, please call or email us and we'll get you set up. Please visit our listing at Local Harvest for more detail and an explanation of where we currently have CSA host sites.) We’ll limit available items to the sample products and a few others that we think you’d like to try. In the near future, you’ll be able to order any additional CSA items on-line, but for now please use the enclosed form—and by all means call with any questions or to special order items (such as our incredible pastries).

Frog Hollow Farm is dedicated to being fresh and new in all areas of our farm. As a “partner” in Frog Hollow Farm’s success, we hope you’ll choose to order a full range of our products in addition to the “can’t live without” fresh fruit you get each week. The selections will change throughout the season (as many of the goodies are made with seasonal fruit)—though many will remain throughout. As we go along, hopefully you’ll tell us what you like, what you don’t, and maybe even give us new product or recipe ideas.

Feel free to call or email us at any time with questions about our products, or to just chat.

Organically Yours,

Farmer Al, Becky,

& the Frog Hollow Farm Team



Ph: 925 634 2845 x203

FAX: 925 516 2332

* What's a CSA? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. At Frog Hollow Farm our Happy Child CSA is a program that anyone can join and receive a box of our organic farm fresh fruit weekly year-round, or just during peak season. CSA is a way for our customers to support us and in vest in the future of local farming.
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