Some beautiful sungolds you will receive this week.
Some beautiful sungolds you will receive this week.

The farm is a quiet place lately.  The last successions of lettuce and root crops are in the ground, and now instead of planting we are focusing on harvesting and starting the annual process of putting the farm to bed.  The winter squash are peeking out bright orange and green behind their browning vines, the corn stalks are drying, rustling gracefully in the autumn breeze, and the finches are plucking out the seeds from the last sunflower heads.  There is more spaciousness to the work, not the frantic pace of “getting everything into the ground in time” of the spring, but a slow steady rhythm of abundance.

The fall tasks tend toward stocking up for the winter; preserving everything possible in order to savor some summer sweetness in January.  On Sunday Chris and I made four gallons of the Sicilian spread caponata.  I had never tried caponata, but Chris promised it was well worth all the effort of dicing, and so we began. We got up early and cut up tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and onions into tiny pieces, fried them in olive oil and threw all those glistening jewel-colored bits into a big pot.  The pot simmered on the stove, filling the house with savory, mouth-watering smells. We listened to loud music as we chopped and rambled on about whatever popped into our heads.  It was a good four hours to get everything into the pot but felt like the right way to spend time, in the tradition of slow food and Italian grandmothers.  By the late afternoon the caponata had cooked down into a thick, chunky sauce and we took it still warm to the river to enjoy on crusty baguette with good friends.  It was such a satisfying process and a timely reminder of what life had been and could be, focused on feeding and sheltering yourself and your loved ones with tangible effort, rather than having a job in order to buy those things.

This is why I love fall, and why I love farming.  The abundance that comes at the end of the season, and the lifestyle that includes preparing and eating food with family and friends.  When I encourage people to buy local and organic foods, besides all the myriad health and ecological reasons, the incredible flavor and pleasure of eating is probably the most compelling to me.  The slow food movement recognizes and celebrates this and I encourage y’all to look into it more here if you haven’t heard about it.  I hope you are able to spend some slow, pleasurable time enjoying this week’s share, and I’ll see you on the flip side.

love, Willow

Anticipated harvest:



boc choi/tatsoi






summer squash



Here’s the caponata recipe we used, courtesy of Susan Shehab (Chris’s mom)

2 large eggplants, diced

1 cup olive oil

4 bell peppers, diced

1 large onion, diced

6 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup green or black olives, pitted and sliced

3 hearts of celery, chopped

1/4 cup capers  (the celery & capers are important)

1/2 cup wine vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

Brown the eggplants in half of the oil.  Remove.

Add more oil if necessary & when hot – add

Peppers – cook ’til wilted & remove.

Now, sauté onions ’til wilted then add

Tomatoes & simmer ’til they are reduced to sauce.

Add olives, celery, capers; simmer a few minutes

Then add wine vinegar, water, sugar, cooked peppers

& eggplants.  Season with s/p and cook over low heat

’til vegetables are well cooked and sauce thick (30 minutes).

If you are canning:  process in hot water bath as follows:

1/2 pints for 20 minutes boil

pints for 40 minutes boil

Serve at room temp on small pieces of good bread

With a sprinkling of grated cheese.  Enjoy!  Love, Mom


And in case you haven’t already had an eggplant parmesan (a favorite way of mine to eat eggplant and tomatoes) here’s a nice twist on this traditional dish.

Eggplant Parmesan (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

The eggplant is normally baked in a single layer with sauce and cheese, but in a pinch you can feed more people in one pan if you do it lasagna-style in layers.  Serve over angel hair pasta.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 5-7 large tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Casserole Ingredients:

  • 4 medium eggplants (about 4 pounds), cut in 1/2 in. thick slices
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (about 8 oz)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella (use fresh, water-packed mozzarella if you can)

1. Preparing the Sauce:
Dice the tomatoes and put them in a colander in the sink. Let them sit for about 20 minutes, so that all the extra liquid drains out. In the meantime, chop your basil and garlic. You’ll have some extra time to use up here, so start slicing your eggplants up. When the tomatoes are drained, mix them in a bowl with the basil, salt, garlic, and olive oil and let it all marinate.

2. Frying the Eggplant:
Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. (Or, if you’re coordinated, I recommend doing two pans simultaneously, to save time.) When the oil is hot, lower the temperature to medium. Briefly dip each slice of eggplant in the egg and shake off the excess, then toss it in the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until it is soft. Put the cooked slices on a platter off to the side.

3. Assembling the Casserole:
Preheat your oven to 350°. Spread about 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. Lay slices of eggplant on top, with edges touching. Sprinkle about half the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses over the top, then add another layer of sauce and another layer of eggplant. Spread the remainder of the sauce over the top, then finish off with the rest of the cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.



Last Week’s Share Box!
Last Week’s Share Box!

I don’t know friends, I’m at a loss this week of what to say. The farm has been beautiful. The trellising is practically falling down from the weight of so many tomatoes. The zinnias bloom with bright colors like skittles, the statice with its delicate hues of blue, and the frosted explosion grass with explosions of frost. We’re not big weeders, Willow and I, and so quite a few puddles of purslane dapple the landscape as well. The eggplant are loaded (is it redundant to say eggplant plant?). The grass in the pasture has dried a golden amber. And I am mostly happy, content with the everyday stuff of living, missing the one I love, loving the life i lead.

No theme this week for the newsletter. No poignant stories or farm gossip really either (with Willow on vacation I mostly just talk to myself). I just feel fine, and that is an alright feeling to have. Today, with the help of some friends, I finally finished the deer hide I started tanning last fall. My trailer fills with the smell of woodsmoke and the finished hide lays over my chair. There is something completely engrossing about working a hide, and today I found myself deeply engaged in the present moment to a degree I don’t always experience, even on the farm. There is a way in which working with natural materials, on nature’s clock, slows down everything before and blurs the importance of an after, leaving only the responsibilities of the moment – feeding the fire, watching the hide, and sitting on upside down milk crates with friends, idly discussing the changes of fall.

So fine. Life is a beautiful thing these days. It is picking eggplant plants and sewing deer hides. It is loving someone so big and watching that love challenge me to open up even further. It is feeling grateful for my community at large, and for the love that jumps oceans and state lines to connect me to those that don’t live here. It’s also honey dripping and manzanita berry picking, closing in the chickens and falling asleep to the crickets, today’s tranquility and yesterdays agitation. Yep. That’s it. Time for bedtime. Make ratatouille and be happy.



 Anticipated Harvest:
  • Basil
  • Lettuce
  • Summer Squash
  • Onions
  • Greens – Kale/Collards/Chard
  • Bok Choi/Tatsoi
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets?
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes!
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
Recipe: Ratatouille!

In case you have forgotten this simple pleasure, the variations are endless and the ingredients abundant this time of year. Here’s one idea, which you can cook in a cast iron on the stove top, stirring occasionally, of you can bake in the oven too. Shredding cheese on top ain’t bad either.

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 medium pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 garlic clove crushed


I’m struck in this moment by the peach tree in my yard. It’s just a wee thing, 12 feet tall and growing next to the chicken coop. I never planted this tree, neither did the land owners here. Instead it came in with some compost, a gnarled little pit tossed into the pile on a summer day, left to it’s own devices. When I moved here, almost four years ago, it was a spindly bit of root stock, sad sickle leaves covering it’s few branches, looking a little misplaced in the yard, next to the shed that the land owner’s kids had painted with flowers and clouds. In fact, that year, sometime mid-summer, it was mistakenly weed-wacked along with the rampant blackberry, and I never expected to see it again.

Every year since I’ve almost peripherally taken note of the thing. Someone over for lunch will comment on it. “Oh, you have a little peach tree right there,” they’ll say, and I’ll nod, but almost not quite believe it, because, really, how does something as tender as a peach just grow on its own? I mean, it died once, so why would I place my attention on something so destined to fail, so fragile it takes whole orchard set-ups and specific varieties just to survive the strange weather and frosts of the foothills?

Looking at it now, I realize that I have been captured by that little sweet thing without even knowing it. It has four peaches on it, ripening in the heat, fuzzy like little kitten paws and the color of rainbow sorbet – orange and pink and green. In fact, I almost feel like crying, I am so struck by the beauty of this tree that has grown up all on its own.

What if I could regard my own growth like this perfect little peach tree? How relaxing, to consider my evolution to be as beautiful as this one right in front of me. I’ve been growing up a lot this year, learning to love and learning to be my most authentic self and learning to take risks and be true. It’s been hard, but how different it is even in this moment to consider that my process has been just as natural, just as painful, just as wind-tossed, and just as fruitful as that of the peach.

Ok, so now I am crying a little bit. And I’m feeling a lot of love for not only this peach, but my yard, the wind today, the overhead sprinklers drizzling the lettuce sprouts, the river that awaits my afternoon visit, my sweet lover flying across the world to hike great mountains, all the great mountains that watch over us, and the ripe peach, from another little peach tree, that sits on my table and smells like heaven. And of course the peach pit beneath, which will make it’s way into my compost, and sprout, and be pulled inextricably, in it’s own sweet time, to become something beautiful.



Anticipated Harvest:

  • Tomatoes!
  • Summer Squash – we are going to give you a lot, be prepared.
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers?
  • Beets/Carrots
  • Basil
  • Tatsoi
  • Turnips/Radishes/Cabbage
  • Greens – Kale/Chard/Collards
  • Garlic


I know I don’t always give out complicated recipes, but more and more I realize that I hardly ever try complicated things in the summer. I just make a salad, and put everything delicious in it. So, with that being said, I want to encourage you all to use your grills and ovens this week, especially with the summer squash and eggplants. Because all you need is a little brush of olive oil and sea salt, and shazam, you’ve got gourmet. I have been appreciating eggplant, sliced 1/4 in thick, grilled both sides, and just plain like that. Same thing with the tomatoes even, roast them before you make a sauce or salsa and the caramelized flavor of acid and sweet come right out. Have fun!

Woah I am feeling happy. Happy like a fox. Happy like a vine, spilling down the river canyon, twisting around trunks and branches and reaching towards the sun. Happy like a human being, just fresh from walking the fields at dusk, with bare feet and a handful of sweet peas.

Yes. I just saw my first tomato, orange and almost red on the vine. This is the real deal. This is summertime. We are doing it. The fields are mostly weeded in preparation for the farm tour and festival tomorrow, the summer squash sprouted actual squash sometime in the last twelve hours, and the first sunflowers are opening their faces towards where the sun rises. Oh my gosh, do you have any idea what this is like in the life of a farmer?! Glorious. Ecstatic. Delicious. This is the moment we work for all spring. And when it happens there’s no fan-fare, no bells and whistles, radio announcements or speeches. Just the barely audible sound of tomatillos pushing their purple bottoms out of papery husks. Only the slight rustle of the cucumber as it carefully latches onto its trellising for the first time, wrapping its little tendril arms around the netting. So quiet, but so dang sweet. All these little plantaroonies shaking off the dew and fluffing their leaf-feathers and saying, “Yo world! Yo farmer chics! We’re ready to go! Pick us, eat us, prune us, and for the love of sweet potatoes, turn on the water!”

Come tomorrow and walk our fields. Come feel the first tiny breaths of summer. Come and let the anticipation and wonder of what’s to come next light up all the little fireworks in your mind. I am feeling so happy that not only am I here today, doing this work, seeing this miracle, but i am also getting to pick all this food to be eaten by you. What a gift, to participate in something as soul-stirring as to witness this place. Thank you for being a part, and doing your part by eating all this up. Have a great rest of your weekend, and if we don’t see you tomorrow, see you on Tuesday.



Click here to find out more about the farm tour and festival tomorrow!

Anticipated Harvest:


  • Beets! – Willow’s out of town, so naturally I am just going to give beets out this week.  Just Kidding, also…
  • Carrots!
  • Cabbage or Broccoli
  • Tatsoi or Bok Choi
  • Basil
  • Chard/Collards/Kale
  • Parsley
  • Summer Squash – we’ll see how much we get. might be a slow start, but then BAM, by next week we’ll all be swimming in it.
  • Scallions
  • Seaweed – Not harvested on the farm. Surprising, I know. But I traded some plant starts for way too much wakame, and so, behold, Seaweed for the CSA.


I’m not sure if I printed this before, but it sounds SO GOOD. You don’t have to separately wrap beets in foil, sounds a little like over-kill to me. But if it’s too complicated anyway for your taste, just roast dem beets and use them all weeks long in anything. The below is from epicurious.


Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Pistachios

yield: Makes 8 servings

active time: 30 min

total time: 2 1/2 hr

Active time: 30 min Start to finish: 2 1/2 hr


  1. 3 large red beets (1 2/3 lb without greens)
  2. 2 large golden beets (1 lb without greens)
  3. 1/4 cup minced shallot
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  5. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 1/4 cup pistachio oil
  8. 4 oz soft mild goat cheese
  9. 3 tablespoons salted shelled pistachios (not dyed red), coarsely chopped
  10. 1 oz mâche (also called lamb’s lettuce), trimmed (4 cups)


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Separately wrap red and golden beets tightly in double layers of foil and roast in middle of oven until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap beets.

While beets are cooling slightly, whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking.

When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off and discard skins. Separately cut red and golden beets into 1/4-inch dice and put in separate bowls. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons dressing to each bowl and toss to coat.

Place cookie cutter in center of 1 of 8 salad plates. Put one eighth of red beets in cutter and pack down with your fingertips. Crumble 2 teaspoons goat cheese on top, then one eighth of golden beets, packing them down. Gently lift cutter up and away from stack. Make 7 more servings in same manner. Drizzle each plate with 1 teaspoon dressing and scatter with some pistachios.

Toss mâche with just enough remaining dressing to coat and gently mound on top of beets. Serve immediately.

Cooks’ notes:  Beets can be roasted and diced 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using.

There is nothing more beautiful than a barn full of garlic, hanging in bunches from the rafters. Except maybe a whole bed of calendula flowers, all blooming at once, bright orange and sunshine yellow. Oh wait, also the squash plants, reaching tall and broad-leaved over yellow trumpet-shaped blooms. And the cow that just galloped by (you heard me, galloped) with her golden sweet calf in tow, and tops of carrots sparkling with sprinkler mist, and what else, oh yeah, EVERYTHING right now.

In this week I hereby proclaim to drop all superlatives, a few more armloads of emotional baggage, and all pretenses. The only thing I will not drop, is the ball. It is in this vain that I hope to relax more into the present moment, feel my feelings in their entirety, and continue to function as a farmer – i.e., grow vegetables for you. Even though it is mad-hot and the weeds seem to duck when we approach with a hoe and the tomatillos, gosh darn those rascals, show their utter disdain for our trellising by growing sideways instead of up – still we will triumph. Appreciations to Willow, my trusty patient loving farm-mate, without whom I could never dream of farming in any way that even came close to how enjoyable the last three years have been. And appreciations to all of you in our CSA and in my life – for being so big, bold, and beautiful. You would all fit in quite nicely here on the farm-scape, you pretty things, and I hope that at some point this season you come on by and do just that.




Announcements, read up ‘cause the second quiz is upcoming –

Flower Share starts TOMORROW! So fun! We are not at full tilt just yet, but with so much blooming its hard to not just start early! Yes! (and its not too late to sign up, or you can buy an extra bouquet at pick up if we have ‘em, but its not guaranteed)

Saurkraut is the ferment of the week, and our friend shan will be set up to do another mini-class and demonstration at pick-up tomorrow. Come and learn from the EXPERT, no joke, on all things fermented and delicious. And if you claim to “not like saurkraut” then you are full of kraut. Try this and you’ll never look back again. Shan will provide you with jars, directions, Celtic sea salt, and some sauerkraut flavorings.  There will also be knives, graters, bowls and everything you need to go home with a jar of fermenting sauerkraut – ready for your enjoyment in just a few days! Just $5 and a few minutes of your time – you’ll have your sauerkraut and the knowledge and experience to make more.

Questions?  Shan – 478-5628

Chicken and Lamb Shares still available with Red Rocker Farm. We get his chicken share and it is SO GOOD. Matthew is also an excellent raiser of pastured lamb – we ate a piece with visiting friends on saturday and they were blown away! He has a quippy announcement below the note on harvest and recipe.

Anticipated Harvest:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots!
  • Salad Mix!
  • Basil!
  • Oregano.
  • Bok Choi
  • Collards/Kale/Chard
  • Dill
  • Turnips/Tatsoi/Radicchio

Recipe – A Note on Cabbage Slaws:

The variations of the classic “slaw” are endless. I thought it would be fun to mention a handful of dressings/combos and let you do the choosing.

All recipes involve shredding the cabbage, and then:

Classic – 1 onion chopped, mayonnaise, sugar, salt, lemon juice

Chinese – 1 pkg. ramen noodles crushed (sans seasoning packet), toasted slivered almonds, toasted sesame seeds, diced scallions.

Fresh – mayonnaise, honey, mustard, shredded carrot, fresh parsley

Fruity – mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, honey, 1 tsp celery seed, 2 apples, raisins, sunflower seeds!

Have fun with your cabbage!

Craving that lamb chop with your tat soi? That chicken drumstick with your fava?

Well, Red Rocker Farm, one of the other farms in the Living Lands Agrarian Network, would like to offer Soil-Sisters’-CSA members a convenient way to access delicious, local meat.

Poultry CSA

Once a month, be able to pick up Red Rocker Farm chickens at your Soil Sisters’ CSA pickup! Sign up for two, three, four, or more chickens a month and they will be brought to In the Kitchen the Tuesday after their Thursday processing, from July until the end of Soil Sisters’ CSA (~November). The price per chicken is $20–e.g. if you sign up for 2 chickens a month, the price would be $200 for the season (July-November, 10 chickens total).

Remember, although three or four or five or even six chickens per month may sound like a lot, you can always save one or two each month in your freezer for the wintertime, when there is no Nevada-county production and roast chickens and soups seem especially appealing.

Half Lamb

Red Rocker Farm’s lambs will be available in two weeks’ time. Raised on pastures in Placer and Nevada County, these lambs come from a flock of ewes bred to excel in a grass-based sheep operation. When cooked correctly, lamb that is grass-fed is better for you and has a mouth-wateringly superior taste. Sign up now for half a lamb and connect at a Soil Sisters’ CSA pickup later in the month of July. The prices and weights are:

1/2 Lamb: $180 (~14-18 lbs)

Whole Lamb: $350 (~28-36 lbs)

Please email Matthew at if you are interested in chickens or lambs!

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