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Community Supported Agriculture

Swiss Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash with Garlic Cream Sauce

Although there are only 5 ingredients in this simple dish, it sure packs a punch and allows the hearty flavor of the vegetables speak for themselves.  As a great cold weather green that is packed with vitamins and fiber, the sauteed chard is mellowed by the soft roasted squash and warm garlic cream sauce. Impress your guests with this simple dish that is full of flavor, texture and nourishment. 

Ingredients:

1 Acorn Squash
1 Bunch Swiss Chard
4 cloves Garlic
¾ Cup Milk
2 Oz Feta Cheese

 

1.  Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
2.  Place aquash cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 400°F, until fork tender and set aside.
3. 
Peel cloves of garlic and add to oven for 10 minutes alongside the squash.
4.  Remove garlic and in a small mixing bowl, puree with milk and feta cheese, adding salt and pepper to taste.  5.  Coarsely chop chard and sauté in a medium saucepan with olive oil over high heat until wilty (stems are okay to use, add 2 or 3 minutes before leaves).
6.  Place sauteed chard into hallowed out squash and drizzle with cream sauce.  Bake for another 10 minutes and serve hot out of the oven. 

classic baked acorn squash

Photo courtesy of simplyrecipes.com

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Warm and Hearty Ratatouille

Crisp fall evenings summon warm meals that satisfy our bellies and warm our souls. This hearty ratatouille dish is simple and easy to prepare, yet incorporates some of our favorite fall staples that will keep you and your family full and happy!

Ingredients: 

3Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves

1 handful parsley

2-3 eggplant cut into ½ inch pieces

2 pepper cut into thin slivers

4 tomatoes coarsely chopped

1tsp salt

pinch of black pepper

 

1.  Over medium-low heat, add the oil to a large skillet and saute the onion, garlic, and parsley, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened.

2.  Add the eggplant, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the eggplant has softened. Stir in pepper, tomatoes, and salt, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in a few grinds of pepper to taste.

3.  Serve warm over a bed of grains or enjoy in a bowl with a piece of fresh, crispy toast.

cuttingboard

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Tomatillo and Pepper Stew

Ripening in their delicate husks, tomatillos are hidden gems that provide a pop of flavor and color to many late summer dishes.   This week's recipe combines these flavorful fruits with our favorite smoky peppers to yield an easy yet hearty meal.  Keep it vegetarian and serve with crispy toast or toss in cubed pork for some added gusto.

tomatillos

Ingredients:

1pt tomatillos
olive oil
pinch of salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 medium peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
6 oz grated cheddar cheese
Cubed pork (optional)

 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Husk and dice tomatillos. On a baking sheet, toss with oil, chopped onion, and salt and place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until well cooked.
3.  Place tomatillos in a large saucepan and puree with an immersion blender until chunky.  Add seeded, chopped peppers.
4.  Stew until peppers become soft and add cooked pork if you like. Top stew with grated cheese and enjoy with crispy toast or tortilla chips!

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Tomatillo and Pepper Stew

We just can't get enough of those sweet and juicy tomatoes! Their versatility enables them to shine in any dish and incorporating this week's tomatillos will add a punch of color and flavor to this summer stew. Keep it vegetarian and serve with crispy toast or toss in cubed pork for some added gusto.

tomatillos

Ingredients:

1pt tomatillos
olive oil
pinch of salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 medium peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
6 oz grated cheddar cheese
Cubed pork (optional)

 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Husk and dice tomatillos. On a baking sheet, toss with oil, chopped onion, and salt and place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until well cooked.
3.  Place tomatillos in a large saucepan and puree with an immersion blender until chunky.  Add seeded, chopped peppers.
4.  Stew until peppers become soft and add cooked pork if you like. Top stew with grated cheese and enjoy with crispy toast or tortilla chips!

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Summer Sungold Salad

Bring on the tomatoes! Hidden Villa's fields are bursting with these plump and juicy fruits that are packed with nutrition and flavor.  The intense summer heat has ripened them to their full potential and can be enjoyed best in this fresh summer salad.

tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 pint sungold tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup minced basil

1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet onion

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

pinch of salt

 

1. In a mixing bowl, prepare the onion by adding vinegar and salt and allow to stand while you make the rest of the salad.
2. Prepare tomatoes and basil and toss with onions.  Add salt to taste and toss together to combine ingredients.

Enjoy as a great side salad for any summer meal while soaking in rest of the season on your porch or patio!

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Fiesta Pan-Fried Peppers

SweetPeppers

Spice up dinner this week with this one-skillet medley that can liven up a plate of ordinary beans and rice.  The rich and smoky flavors from our anaheim and ancho peppers are released as they are pan fried and simmered with a variety of our summer tomatoes.  

Ingredients:

5-7 medium frying peppers, coarsely chopped (seeds and all)

olive oil

salt

1 large onion, finely chopped

5 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

6 oz grated cheddar cheese

1.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 3 T olive oil and the peppers.
2.  Stir fry the peppers until slightly softened-8 minutes. Add onion and a pinch of salt to taste and continue stir frying another 8 minutes.
3.  Add tomatoes, salt to taste and continue stir frying another 8 minutes until peppers are fully softened, onions are caramelized  to a golden brown and the tomatoes are stewed.
4.  Reduce heat to low, cover the skillet and allow to simmer for 8 more minutes.
5.  Garnish with grated cheese and serve over top a bed of warm beans and rice!

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Field to Families-Experiencing Supportive Partnerships in Our Community

There is nothing quite like getting your hands into the soil and spending a warm summer morning volunteering with our CSA crew. After going over details of the morning’s tasks, myself and fellow volunteers were directed to rows of melons and tomatoes to begin clearing weeds and as we worked, we learned why this tedious task was so important to keeping our crops productive and healthy. Not only did I get to know the land that I was working on, but I also got to know the people that I was working with. As we continued to zig-zag down each row, I was able to learn a little bit more about our volunteers and what motivates them to come out to Hidden Villa. Whether an employee, volunteer, or visitor, many of us share a common interest to connect with the natural world and feel a sense of responsibility to take care of this space for future generations.

That same week, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Mountain View Community Services Agency, whom we partner with to provide about 25% of our produce to their Food and Nutrition Center, which is then distributed to over 4,800 low-income residents. I was excited to see first-hand how this figure makes an impact on the community. As I was led back to the Food and Nutrition Center’s distribution area, I instantly recognized our bright yellow bins full of cucumber, kale, squash, fennel and fresh basil. While walking through the different food stations, I was told that members loved coming on produce day because they have never tasted vegetables as good as the ones that come from Hidden Villa. In addition to donated produce, the Food and Nutrition Center also makes sure that the shelves are stocked with staple items such as rice, beans, bread and pasta to offer a balanced diet and easy preparation.

I couldn’t wait to throw on an apron and help out in any way that I could. Stationed at the check-out area, I made sure that baskets were full of the number of items each member was allowed to have and offered any assistance if they had questions about the produce. Not a single person passed through the check-out without a smile on their face and as I smiled back, I could not only see the impact that this partnership has in supporting the local community, but I could feel it. Spending time in the field with our CSA crew and volunteering with the CSA of Mountain View’s Food Bank gave me a great sense of appreciation for the amount of work that many folks contribute toward improving the lives of fellow community members.  

We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.- Orison Swett Marden

kale and squash

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Finger Lickin' Green Bean Fries


This week's CSA basket features crisp and crunchy green beans and this recipe provides a twist on this often pickled produce.  Swap out ordinary french fries for this healthy finger-food that can stand alone as an appetizer or as a savory side with grilled chicken, fish or other summer vegetables...no fork required! 

Ingredients

1 large bunch of green beans, rinsed

1 cup balsamic vinegar

Olive oil and salt to coat

Soy sauce (optional)

1. Heat one cup of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan, reduce until it is syrupy.

2. In a large mixing bowl, toss green beans with oil and salt.

3. Spread the beans in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 425 degrees. After 10 minutes, drizzle balsamic syrup over the beans and add soy sauce, if desired. Return beans to oven and roast until they are blistered and brown in spots.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Greenbeans

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Sweet and Tangy Shaved Fennel Salad

 

 

 

Fennel is widely cultivated for its aromatic seeds, flowers and bulb that closely resembles a sweet anise flavor, though not quite as strong.  It is light and crunchy and can be integrated into soup, roasted, sauteed or even served raw.  This recipe incorporates the crunch and sweetness of raw fennel with the fresh tang of lemon and serves as a great as a side dish to any meal.     

 

 

Ingredients:

1 fennel bulb, shaved paper thin with a mandoline or meat slicer

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves

1  Tbsp chopped flat-leafed parsley

2   Tbsp shaved Parmesan cheese

In a large mixing bowl, gently toss all of the ingredients together and serve immediately or chill before serving to allow flavors to blend.

 

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Grilled Summer Squash Cole Slaw

Many of us think of summer as an opportune time to prepare our food outdoors, firing up the grill and enjoying meals under warm, clear skies.  Some commonly seared vegetables, however, don't always have to be served hot-off-the-grill.  Let these grilled summer squash chill out in this refreshing and light cole slaw recipe from our very own CSA crew. 

You will need:

2 cups of thickly sliced summer squash
olive oil
1 head of cabbage, finely shredded
3 medium carrots, grated

½ cup of finely minced basil
1 clove garlic
¼ cup cider vinegar
3 T mayonnaise
3 T olive oil
½ t soy sauce
pinch of salt

Light the grill for medium heat.  Lightly baste the squash slices with olive oil, apply to the grill and lightly salt. Grill the squash until browned on each side and remove from heat. While the squash is cooling, prepare cabbage, basil, and carrots. Mince the garlic and in a bowl, combine with vinegar, oil, mayo, soy sauce and ½ t more salt.  Coarsely chop the grilled slices of squash and combine in a bowl with carrots, cabbage, basil and prepared dressing. Allow cole slaw to chill before serving for optimal flavor and enjoyment! 

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Enthusiastic, Motivated, Sign me up

Last week I attended an event at Stanford University, Food Summit 2, aimed at bringing together "community activists, university scholars and others who are coming together to discuss strategies to address and solve the most challenging and important food-related crisis in our communities, our country, and around the world." Among the many panels and conversations was the implicit agreement that there is a food crisis happening and that any solutions will need to be interdisciplinary. 

(A brief plug: the third panel on Hospital Food was most excellent, and Marydale DeBor and Frank Turner deserve an extra round of applause for their candor and hard work.  They've taken the daunting task of reinventing the way hospitals feed people and created simple and elegant solutions.)

One of the earliest audience questions brought up an important, and perhaps missing, component from the day - Who is training young people to farm?  A good question, considering that at the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 40% of farmers in the US at 55 years of age, or older.

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Interns, Definitions of

If you haven’t ever thought about it (and until recently, I hadn’t) the word “intern” has an interesting etymology. From the French interner or “to confine within set limits,” the word has use as both a noun and transitive verb. However, the definition can very greatly depending on its grammatical use.

Intern (in-turn) -  vb
1. ( tr ) to detain or confine (foreign or enemy citizens, ships, etc), especially during wartime - noun
2. chiefly  ( US ) a student or recent graduate receiving practical training in a working environment

(Source: Collins World English Dictionary)

But in common parlance, especially among twenty-somethings an internships is often known as “the modern equivalent of slavery, except nowadays, people are actually willing.”

So where do we fall? Confinement, like on an enemy ship? Or practical training?

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I Love...Mondays?

jeff_taft.pngMondays have a bad reputation, definitely the underdog of the week. It is the day when you see a pile on the desk, when messages are checked and coffee gets spilled, the day blamed for the end of weekends and vacations. Mondays have even become the most likely day for a break up. But at Hidden Villa? Not quite the same, especially for interns...

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Growing Farmers: Interns at Hidden Villa and Beyond

bottom_module_internships5_jbThis week marked the beginning of a flood.  And while it is unusual for it to rain in Los Altos in the summer, it is perfectly normal to drown in a tide of basil, cucumbers, and summer squash.  This is second only to the yearly drenching in tomatoes and eggplant.  Eating so much highly anticipated produce has my stomach and brain thinking about farms and how much I enjoy knowing farmers (a brief explanation:  most of my actions, professional or otherwise, are motivated by my stomach.  Freudian interpretations aside, I look forward to each meal and snack more than all holidays, vacations, and birthdays.  Unless they also happen to involve meals). 

Considering farmers I know brings up several former interns at Hidden Villa who have all dove into the world of farming headfirst, and to excellent results.  Some highlights:

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The White House? Like…Obama?

bottom_module_intern_2_jbBeing the first post, I’ll start with introductions….I am a former Hidden Villa intern now in the year-round position of Food Education Liaison and Intern Coordinator.  Coordinating the intern program means, for the most part, answering questions –  questions from interns, from other staff, and from many curious and motivated people who feel like Hidden Villa would be a great place to intern (first answer: it is).  So let me take this opportunity/soapbox to toss a few things out there.

FAQ’s about the Intern Program at Hidden Villa:

This look great! What internships are there?

We offer ten residential, year-long internships in the following departments: Community Programs (Public Programs) (one position), Animal Husbandry (one position), Agriculture (two positions, plus a more advance Journeyman’s apprenticeship), and Environmental Education (six positions).

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