Booooooo Scotts Valley – as if the bee’s don’t need a break.

The lovely city Scotts Valley, Ca. adopted a new ordinance yesterday “allowing” home owners to have bee hives on their property for pollination and honey collection. A newspaper article’s headline in the local paper makes it sound like a great new plan.

“Bees will fly free in Scotts Valley: Leaders approve new rules allowing backyard hives”

Key points in the ordinance that I just love…

Requires applicants to notify neighbors of the planned hives and when the planning decision will consider the beekeeping application.

Beekeeping permit fees would be charged at the planning staff rate of $124 per hour.

Wow great! Does it make any sense at all that you can’t just have a hive of honey bee’s in your own backyard without having to run it by the whole neighborhood and pay a fee?  And you have to fill out an application? WTF?!!!! Thank god I live in Boulder.
The full article is here.

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Don’t forget to get zucchini

summer squash preparationsSo, the mini garden is finally producing something other than herbs.  The zucchini are here! As usual with squash, they come on strong and quickly overwhelm you.  We have found several tasty recipes to combat the the onslaught of squash.  zucchini pizza with mozzarella and squash blossomsOnce again, Jamie Oliver to the rescue with a refreshing and easy salad using zucchini that requires no cooking. edible flowersPizza is also a good standby and a great way to use the zucchini flowers, even if it does just look pretty.

Raw Zucchini Ribbon Salad (adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe)

Zest and Juice of 1 lemon
1 fresh chilli or 1/4 tsp. of chilli flakes
6 small yellow and green zucchini or 2 large (the small ones taste a little sweeter and don’t need to be seeded)
Handful of fresh herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, or whatever you have works)
Olive Oil, salt and pepper

In your salad serving bowl, mix the lemon juice, a splash of olive oil, the lemon zest, chillies and chopped herbs.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wash your zucchini and remove the ends. Use a peeler to slice off ribbons of the zucchini into your bowl of dressing. You will have piles of ribbons that you can then toss with the dressing at the bottom of the bowl and serve.

If you are preparing this well ahead of time, wait to combine the zucchini with the dressing until just before serving.


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The best Eggplant Parmesean – Repost for Merissa becasue I blew it last time.

Eggplant flowerLast Fall, we went to Italy for a one-month food tour.  As a part of our trip, we spent 7 days at Organic Tuscany, an all organic cooking school near the town of Certaldo in the region of Tuscany.  We spent the week learning traditional Tuscan cooking techniques and recipies from Shilpa, Manuela, Riccardo and Tina .  Our favorite and most replicated was the Eggplant Parmesan.  It is like none you have ever tasted and we have converted several Eggplant haters with this dish.  There is no better way to use up our loads of tomatoes and eggplants than with this dish.  fancy eggplantWe sometimes make it twice a week when we have abundant ingredients. We have started splitting the eggplant in half and substituting our “Paddypan” squash.  They are almost undetectable and it is a great way to use them up! Here is their recipe and instructions.

INGREDIENTS:

2 large aubergines/eggplant (or substitute 3 medium Paddypan squash or zucchini for one of the eggplant)
1 kg/2 lb ripe tomatoes (or one large can of crushed or whole tomatoes, a jar of italian pasata works even better)
1 sm yellow oninon
1 clove garlic
1 tbs. fresh oregano
200g/7 oz mozzarella, ripped into small pieces
60 g/2 oz parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Sprig of basil, leaves only
DIRECTIONS:
Slice the aubergines lengthways into thin slices.  Sprinkle them lightly with salt and leave between two tea towels (dish-cloths) for an hour, weighed down with some plates. Any bitter residue should seep out into the cloths. Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil and grill for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside. You will be making several such batches, which will take time to grill!

Plunge the tomatoes into a pan of just-boiled water (switch off the heat) and leave for a couple of minutes. You should then be able to remove the skins easily. Chop the tomato into small pieces. Set aside. Chop the onion finely. Heat a medium skillet with a few splashes of olive oil for the sauce.  Once the oil is hot, add the peeled garlic clove, sliced in half.  Cook the clove of garlic in the oil for a few minutes to get the flavor of the garlic infused in the oil. Remove and discard (or snack on) the cooked clove.  The oil will be infused with garlic flavor but no big chunks or burnt garlic to contend with.  Add the chopped onion and cook until it is translucent and soft. If using canned tomatoes or pasata, pour the tomatoes into the skillet at this time.  If using the fresh ones, add the chopped pieces to the skillet.  This will be your sauce.  Add the oregano, salt and pepper to taste and let this cook until the flavors marry and it is tasty.

In an ovenproof dish, place alternating layers of aubergine slices, mozzarella, parmesean and tomato sauce.  Bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese on the top is golden brown. 5 minutes before the cooking time is finished, sprinkle the torn basil leaves on top.

Eggplant ParmesanNOTES:

If you are pressed for time, you can skip step 2. Modern aubergine varieties have little bitterness. If you do skip this step, remember to add salt too the aubergines as you grill them.

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Babies at the farm

Just barely caught a snapshot of this little precious before Jon scared it off trying to “help” it.

fawns at the farm

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Peas and Artichokes – a survival story.

English Shelling Peas for pastaAfter moving abruptly to our new place, the garden at our old house suffered to say the least.  We recently went back to get a few stray items and were pleasantly surprised to see a load of shelling peas and artichokes waiting to be harvested! No water except for the rain.  No fertilization or weeding. These poor plants probably even survived a dozen or so trampling incidents at some beer fueled ragers thrown by the new tenants.  freshly picked spring artichokesShelling peas are a time consuming vegetable to prepare but they are worth every minute. Especially prepared in a pasta dish with fresh linguini and artichokes with grana padano. MMMMMMmmmm.linguini with peas and artichokes

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Butchering a whole hog – La Cocina

Whole hog butchering at La CocinaToday we attended a class on hog butchering at La Cocina with Ryan Farr.  Ryan is a local San Francisco chef who started offering butchering and sausage making classes last year.  His company, 4505 Meats, makes and sells home made Hot Dogs, Sausages and Chiccharones made from whole LOCAL hogs they butcher themselves. Ryan offers a wide array of butchering classes including, whole lamb, whole hog, sausage making and more. The hog we butchered was about 150lbs. and completely cleaned of all hair and offal.  It was a great class for beginners because all of the “gross” was taken out beforehand.  Ryan demonstrated each major cut to the whole carcass and then split the hog in several pieces so a few of us could work on a portion of the hog.  We ended up with a “prosciutto”, ironic.  skinning pork belly at Ryan Farr's whole hog classWe also skinned the belly in order to wrap it into a beautiful pork Roulade. The entire animal, including the head, was butchered down to edible pieces and split between the class attendees.  We ended up taking home about 25 lbs of pork.  Lastly, we got to taste some of 4505 meats sausages and hot dogs and got a special treat.  Ryan cooked up the hogs brain in butter for us all to try.   Butter fried pigs brains - ryan farrPretty fantastic actually!

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Temporary Housing

reclaimed wood chicken tractorUntil we can get a tractor into our new sand stone filled hillside, we have to make some temporary housing for all our layers.  Jon dismantled a huge wheelchair ramp that was on the front entrance to our new house and turned it into a very crafty chicken tractor.  They actually seem to like hanging out in there all day long and we can move it around the yard fairly easy.  Everything on this bad boy is re-claimed, including the nails. portable chicken tractor

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