Sunday

Pumpkin Patter

Great Atlantic Pumpkin
at the farm
They can weigh 2,000 pounds, but we are not going for a record like that.

You probably know that pumpkins are part of the squash family, 
but did you know that the word originated from the Greek language?
Or that signs of pumpkin seeds date back 5,000 years in Mexico?

We have other "pumpkin patter" as well as some 
savory (and sweet) ways to cook with pumpkins,
but you'll need to go to our new farm blog space at
We appreciate that you've been following the blog, 
and hope you will "follow us" as we move to a new "blog space"
Same farm, same musings just a new link.

Good for the table, good for the ground

Daylight savings time change confirms we are now officially 
It's the time of year we want to burrow into a favorite sweater 
and are happy to have the aroma of a long 
simmering soup or stew throughout the house. 
Our chefs are also tweaking the menu at the girl & the fig.
A new chicken dish on the menu is this 
pan-roasted half chicken, fall panzanella, butternut squash, 
currants, walnuts, pancetta vinaigrette, which certainly makes 
good use of our prolific crop of winter squash at the farm.
.
It seems to fit the feeling of the season that 
much of what we are growing at the farm burrows underground, 
just the way we are inclined to do under a throw blanket with a book by the hearth.
Even though radishes, carrots, onions and leeks are 
part of the spring bounty at the farm, we also grow them at this time of year as well.
"Plants like onions, garlic, and other members of the allium family confuse bugs 
with their strong scent and just encourage them to fly away," 
so having them in our rotation is a core part of our biodynamic farming plan
We've talked about "companion planting" here before. 
Here are some other tips on companion planting and 
which good tasting vegetable plants are also good for your soil.
Baby tri-colored carrots a few weeks ago
carrots growing fast
good for the soil
Not only do the alliums replenish the soil and provide nutrients so 
the beds can thrive throughout the year, these vegetables are 
important ingredients for so many of our Chefs' inspirations.
onions cooking at the fig
Alliums appear in almost every recipe since they are so versatile and 
pretty much essential as flavoring component. 
So, of course we would grow them all year round! 
Shallots are considered a "cousin" to onions and garlic, but they have a milder flavor. 
They are just as "flexible" but chefs use them differently 
than they do their stronger cousins. 
"A shallot can insinuate itself into a wide variety of dishes 
without overwhelming other ingredients.
It is suave and elegant, with an appealing subtlety. 
When it is used with other alliums, any dish blossoms with a full spectrum of flavors, 
which is why I always add shallots of my French onion soup."
She considers them indispensable for vinaigrettes, as do our chefs at "the fig." 
And a must-have in your kitchen are our "Pickled Shallots," courtesy of

Pickled Shallots
2 cups shallots, sliced
11⁄2 cups red wine vinegar 1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 tablespoon salt
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
In a saucepan, combine the wine vinegar, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the thyme, bay leaf and shallots and stir to coat evenly. Cook briskly for exactly 1 minute over high heat and remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to stand until it cools to room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Makes 11⁄2 cups 

 How do you like to use alliums?
And what vegetables are simmering 
in that stew on your stovetop these autumn days?

We will be transitioning this blog to a different site and hope you will find us there.
If you subscribe to our posts, please change to 
http://sonoma-figgirl.com
We'll post here for awhile longer, but like everything at the farm,
changes occur, so please move along with us.
Thanks for following the blog.

Saturday

Fall farm treats

I'm not sure about where you live, but for those of us in Sonoma, 
right now the weather continues to "mess with us" a little. 
Mornings are cold, sometimes foggy assuring us that 
indeed the calendar is correct and we are well into autumn. 
Then by afternoon when the temperature has reached 
80 degrees, we think we are in summer. 
So, of course it is layering for our clothing choices, but somehow, 
love those summer salads as we do, when it comes to culinary choices, 
we really do find ourselves in sync with the calendar. 

Fortunately, our winter squash beds are prolific so "the fig's
popular butternut squash soup, featured on page 204 
will be appearing on the menu at the restaurant, or is an easy go-to meal for you too.
talk about farm to table!
butternut squash soup photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country

Butternut Squash Soup, Balsamic Reduction, Fried Sage
When summer squash transitions to winter squash, soup always comes to mind. Butternut squash is a wonderful, hard variety that when cooked just right will utterly delight you. At this time of year, you’ll find several squash varieties at the market, so give the others a try in this recipe. There are a handful of options to garnish this soup. Fried sage has a nice earthy flavor and will be a wonderful flavor contrast to the creamy soup. Another option is Candied Pumpkin Seeds (page 315). They will definitely add a textural surprise!
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped

1 large leek, white part only, cleaned and chopped
2 shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
21⁄2 pounds Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, chopped Salt and white pepper to taste

1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1 bunch fresh sage leaves, picked, for garnish Balsamic Reduction (page 311), for garnish

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, leek, shallots, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes. Stir the vegetables occasionally to prevent browning. Add the squash to the vegetables and stir. Add 2 quarts of water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce
to a simmer, and cook until the squash is just tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the heavy cream and the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Remove the vegetables from the heat and purée immediately in a blender or
food processor. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Heat a small amount of blended oil to 300°F and fry the sage leaves until crispy. Transfer the sage leaves to paper towels to drain and cool.
Ladle the soup into 6 bowls and garnish each with a drizzle of the balsamic vinegar reduction and a few fried sage leaves.
Serves 6 

By the way, as we explain in Plats du Jour cookbook: 
"Even though they are harvested in the fall, they are called winter squash 
because their hard, thick skins protect them during the winter storage, 
which was crucial in the days before refrigeration. 
Their large size and sometimes odd-looking exterior seem 
to intimidate some cooks but they are actually very easy to work with. 
Once you remove the tough outer skin or cut one in half and roast it with the skin on, 
you've got a very nutritious and adaptable ingredient." 
There are many varieties of winter squash 
and you can substitute one for the other in recipes. 
Here are some other winter squash recipe ideas
Planting squash always yields great bounty, 
and similarly, there is no shortage of other tips on cooking winter squash.

The recipes are all well and good you say, 
but that thick skin, which may be good for the squash, 
kind of scares you when it comes to cutting the squash? 
Of course you can't enjoy the versatility of winter squash 
and experiment with these recipes if you are unsure how to cut it. 
Check out this video for a great tip:
We have other vegetables growing at the farm that say "fall" including cauliflower.  
Our chefs feature a popular cauliflower & romanesco gratin 
with cauliflower cream, sort of a "mac & cheese in disguise!" 
caufliflower plant earlier this fall, soon ready for our chefs
Romanesco broccoli is an especially delicious variety of green cauliflower, 
but can be hard to find, so yo can substitute broccoli in the recipe. 
Did you know there is also orange and purple cauliflower? (More color in the garden). 
Chef tip: look for cauliflower heads (called curds) that are tightly closed, 
surrounded by bright green leaves.

cauliflower & romanesco gratin photo by Steven Krause
for Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
So, you can see that cauliflower is not as dull as it might seem—it's colorful and healthy 
and much more versatile than you think. Besides our "mac & cheese" version, 
did you know that if you grate cauliflower curds to "rice like" shape, 
you can use them to make risotto? Use the cauliflower instead of the Arborio rice! 
At 25 calories per cup for cauliflower, that's tempting, right? 
Check out a cauliflower risotto recipe which ensures the flavor 
and consistency will be creamy and savory.
Got you thinking of how to be creative with cauliflower
How about savory kale, garlic & cauliflower puree pop tarts? 
Fun way to get your Vitamin B, C, K and manganese.
kale, garlic & cauliflower puree pop tarts
photo & recipe courtesy of reclaiming provincial
All this rivals summer's bounty at the farm, 
which helps on these cold autumn mornings. 
But actually, with recipes and ideas like this cooking, 
we might not mind if it doesn't warm up in the afternoon. 
After all, could be a perfect time for soups and stews 
and we have just the right ingredients growing at our farm.

What's growing at your farm? 
And do you have a favorite fall recipe to share?

Friday

Seasonal colors

that we are shifting seasons here in Wine Country. 
It gets dark earlier each evening and we notice it is no longer possible 
to take a morning walk in the light around 6 am. 
Halloween decorations do not seem premature as October flies by, 
but the colors at our farm still alternate between signs of summer and cues to autumn.
the tomatoes just keep on going!
persimmons signal fall in the orchard
as do the juju berries 
But even as we continue to harvest our precious tomatoes, 
we know that most of what we are picking will 
soon be frozen or preserved in some way.

And as we've done with the other beds at the farm, we will clear away the 800 plants, 
refresh the soil and plant something else for our winter garden. 
broccoli and radish planted here
While we are always reliant on the weather for success at the farm, 
in winter, we are even more dependent on "good" weather, 
so we stick close to what we know works well for us at the farm.
carrots are always on the menu "at the fig"

Our chefs make good use of our carrots, whether at the bar or in the kitchen.
"The Harlot" cocktail with carrots & beets from the farm
Executive Chef John Toulze 
at the farm now, we have several varieties of carrots:
amarillo which are yellow and berlicum which are orange
amarillo carrots
berlicum carrots
Did you know there are many varieties of carrots
Carrots range in color from orange to yellow, white to red to purple!

The farm palette is colorful each season, whether it is a rainbow of tomatoes choices, 
all the varieties of squash, carrots and radish.





what will we see at the farm growing here?

Saturday

The Zen of Farming



Why do we farm? While our main motivation 
is to grow our own food, know where our vegetables come from, 
have control over how organic and natural the process is, 
and to share that with you, our diners, we also find 
ourselves drawn in to the "zen of farming," the experience 
and connection with the land which leads us to a greater re-connection with ourselves.
Executive Chef John Toulze
alone in his garden "behind the fig"
Perhaps we knew it and perhaps we didn't really know the extent of it, 
but the farm(ing) draws us in and invites reflection on things we didn't anticipate
well beyond the importance of caring for the land and cultivating good food.

We certainly don't purport to anything approaching preaching on this subject, 
but we just know the benefits we reap from our labors.
And we appreciate our neighbors in the area who subscribe to this as well.
We "got it" immediately when we read a recent post at Edible Marin & Wine Country's 
about Green Gulch Farm in Marin: "The farming at Green Gulch is 
about taking care of the land completely, whole -heartedly, 
with attention to detail...we practice the full experience of interconnectedness." 

Another neighbor we salute is Slide Ranch
a non-profit teaching farm in the Marin Headlands,
"which has been providing Bay Area children and their families 
hands-on opportunities to learn about where our food comes from, 
as well as environmental stewardship, since this historic 
34-acre dairy property was first protected in 1970.


As we stop and reflect on what needs to be done at the farm 
to look ahead and prepare for what we will do next,
it seemed like the "right moment" to ponder why we are farming at all.

Why do you farm? 
What do you "get" from your garden, 
besides delicious vegetables and fruits?

Farm highlights

humbled indeed when we discovered
one of the birds was feasting on our figs!
who can blame them though?
As we've talked about here, farming keeps us humble 
and on our toes—there are things we plan for and can expect and often things we can't. 
We are always adapting and learning.  
The farm reminds us that it is an alive and constantly growing place
not much time between the planting of the upper quad
and the winter squash explosion!
Sometimes it is the surprises we find that are 
even better than what we expect to see.
we are still amazed at the blossoms on our tomato plants
late September!

Some other farm highlights include:
we always love the first fig sighting
behind "the fig"
and this one at the farm.

knowing that even those these tomatoes are green,
they are ready
and will soon be these "fried green tomatoes" at
the girl & the fig
encountering a bee hard at work
and a lizard too. Can you find this guy?
cropping makes him a little more visible,
but his camouflage suit is pretty good
and running into this bird right outside the orchard
he was busy getting his dinner too!
The farm is in flux right now as we transition 
from summer to fall and look ahead to winter.
summer squash competes with
winter squash to inspire the chefs!
these beds will soon have leeks & garlic
and our Atlantic Giant squash is close to harvesting
did you know Atlantic Great squash have been bred for 130 years?
and our persimmons will soon be ready 

What surprises do you find in your garden?