Zucchini Bounty

Since August 7 marks the "official halfway-through summer" marker, 
we are still picking up steam from spring planting into summer's bounty. 
But for sure, these are plentiful days at the farm. 
Last week we riffed on our bean bounty.

like a sea of beans!
But you knew it was inevitable that we'd soon be talking about zucchini!
As is evident at the Farmers Markets, this is peak squash season.

thanks to our busy bees at the farm,
our squash blossoms abound
This is the time of year when you do almost feel challenged 
about what to create with zucchini. 
And if you are one of those running out of zucchini ideas, 
look ahead to August 8 (the day after the summer halfway mark)
"Established by Pennsylvanian Tom Roy, who submitted the idea 
to Chase's Calendar of Events, while the day certainly 
allows you to unload the result of "overzealous planting," 
the real motivation was to encourage sharing within communities.

Our chefs won't be participating though—they are inspired by what we are picking.

This week's Plat du Jour at the girl & the fig featured ENTRÉE:
garden squash salad - pine nuts, avocado, oven-dried cherries, poppy seed vinaigrette
squash abounds at the farm
we are even growing squash in the Orchard

Whether you decide to share with your neighbors or not, 
it is likely that right now you are overwhelmed with squash choices, 
whether from your own garden or as you 
peruse what the farmers are bringing to market. 
This week in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, one of our local food writers and friends, 
Did you know that not all zucchini are green?

Although our minds and menus are full of summer squash, 
we are looking ahead to their winter cousins. 
In the upper quad beds where our potatoes did so well
we've just planted Atlantic Great Pumpkin, Sucrine Du Berry
Red Kurri (Hokkaido), Table Gold Acorn and Butternut squash.

the newly planted beds of winter squash in upper quad
looking at the lush summer squash in the lower quad
And in a few months, we will be serving our popular honey glazed winter squash dish.

photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
As much as the bounty of squash from the farm is the main event these days, 
there are certainly bursts of other colors and treasures every time we are harvesting.

one of our jewel-like Ping Tung Long Eggplants
the 800 tomato plants were planted
so they wouldn't ripen all at the same time.
Do you have a favorite squash recipe to share? 
With all that we are harvesting the farm, even though our chefs are very creative, 
we are always looking for new ideas! 


Morning pick=evening's dinner

With everything blooming at the farm, this is the time of year 
when farm to table is as immediate as it can get. 
The chefs make a stop at the farm in the morning to see what they can pick, 
returning to the kitchen and start getting creative for you.
beans and tomatoes in upper quad beds
at the farm
bountiful bean beds in the Orchard
few of our 800 tomatoes!
beans ready for the chefs

This week's Plat du Jour at the girl & the fig shows off our farm bounty, 
starting with ENTREE of 
chilled garden squash soup with dill crème fraîche, espelette oil

and then following with PLAT dish:
braised pork cheeks with garden tomato ragoût, smoked romano beans, ricotta salata

We are loving the beans we have at the farm, so you just might see 
Grilled Lamb Loin, Summer Beans with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette, 
one of our favorite dishes from Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's 
As we say in the book, "in the first week in March, 
dozens of baby lamb graze at the Benziger Winery." 
We pride ourselves on sourcing as much as we can locally, 
so there is a certain symmetry to this dish in particular, 
since the vegetables (both the fresh beans and the tomatoes 
for the vinaigrette which are dried from last year's bounty) 
are grown at our farm which is on the other 
Benziger winery property at Imagery Estate Winery.

Grilled Lamb Loin with Summer Beans
photo by Steven Krause 
Here's the recipe if you want to try it:

Grilled Lamb Loin, Summer Beans, Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
In the first week in March, dozens of baby lambs graze at the Benziger Winery. Inevitably, these lambs end up on our menus through the next few months. We are conscious of using the whole animal in our cooking, so we get creative and combine the different cuts of lamb with various cooking methods. Summer means grilling; the meat’s flavor is in its prime and the grill provides just the right amount of heat without melding the flavors.
For the lamb:
3 pounds lamb loin
1 bunch fresh rosemary, chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the beans:
1 pound haricots verts, blanched
1 pound yellow wax beans, blanched
2 pounds fresh Shelling Beans, cooked (page 313) 1 tablespoon blended oil

For the vinaigrette:
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1⁄4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, for garnish
2 tablespoons chives, cut into 1-inch pieces, for garnish
1⁄4 cup oil-cured olives, such as Nyons, pitted and cut in half, for

To prepare the marinade:
In a large pan place the lamb loin, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
To prepare the vinaigrette:
In a small bowl rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain the tomatoes, place them in a food processor, and purée with the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare the lamb:
Preheat a grill to high. Remove the lamb loin from the marinade, removing any excess oil and the garlic. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Cook the lamb on a hot grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
To prepare the beans:
While the lamb is cooking, place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Heat the blended oil and add the beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste and heat through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss the beans with half of the vinaigrette.
To serve:
Slice the lamb into 12 portions. Place two pieces of lamb on each plate and distribute the beans evenly over the top. Garnish with the herbs and olives and drizzle the remaining vinaigrette around each plate.
Serves 6 

Some "didja knows" about beans:
"Didja know" that a pole beans can be eaten fresh when picked young, 
or leave them to dry in the shell: The beans turn glossy black 
and are great in stew and chili. (nice reminder of summer later in the year)
And "Didja know" that Dragon Tongue beans are bush beans 
that start out light green, then grow splotchy as it ripens. 
These can be eaten as snaps when 
young or shelled for hearty beans when mature.

What's a favorite recipe of yours using summer beans?


Garden Love

courtesy of 
Every day at the farm is a new discovery of what's ripened, what's ready to pick. 
The whimsical graphic of Life's lessons" from the garden 
really gets to the heart of the relationship.
Basil "bouquet" gift from the farm 

Summer love: You and your garden—us and our farm. 
These are the long days of summer when you can really enjoy each other.
All your hard work planning and prepping and planting 
and now the garden is giving back to you. 

Matt from Local Landscapers and
Executive Chef John Toulze planting 800 tomatoes
summer love back at us!
these flowers are part of our
farm romance

And then, of course, there's just the part about 
how good everything tastes freshly picked from the farm.
Or, the mystery and then discovery of gathering your produce, 
whether it is from the garden or the farmers market, 
surveying your bounty and deciding what to cook. 
Our chefs enjoy figuring this out for you each day 
when we bring them what's freshest at the farm.
Plat du Jour features California sea bass with
garden purple potato purée, grilled garden squash, citrus beurre blanc

Gardening is really all about discoveries. 
Not only the "what can I make with what I've grown," 
but all the life lessons we have mused on beforepatience, experimenting
Another perk of gardening is the exposure to new varieties 
you may not have seen or tried before. 
And, when you grow your own food, you know what goes into it, 
how it's fertilized and its overall care. It is cost effective, and good exercise—anyone 
who says that gardening is not aerobic has never 
prepped a garden bed, raked leaves or shoveled compost! 

And of course, there are fewer chemicals and less 
distance traveled to get the food on your plate.
 We are proud to support our local farmers who supplement 
what we grow at our farm in our effort 
to bring the most local food to you at our tables. 
Here are some more reasons why you should grow your own food.

If you already are doing this, then even as you are 
in summer love with your garden, you may be 
thinking ahead to a plan for fall garden (already??).
Here's a great tool (on the computer rather than in the shed) to help you prepare.

What are you growing in your garden?
And what do you love most about gardening?