Author Archive | Jamie Collins

WHAT’S IN SEASON: ASPARAGUS

If you love fresh, local asparagus, you might want to start growing your own

PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK TREGENZA

Elegant asparagus—often called the king of vegetables—has long been considered a sure sign of spring, but cultivation of the delicate green spears here in California has declined sharply due to labor costs and the huge amount of land required to grow it. Farmers’ market favorite HOG Farms stopped growing asparagus this year, but a few other growers are stepping up to fill the gap. And it is well worth seeking out locally grown, in-season asparagus—because the taste can’t be beat.

Asparagus, or “grass” as it’s called in the produce industry, is in the lily family. In order to have a continuous supply from January to June, it is grown in three main … Read More

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WHAT’S IN SEASON: CARROTS

 This vibrant year-round staple tastes best in winter when its sugar content is highest


Photo courtesy Ventana Big Sur

Did you know that although carrots can be grown practically year-round in the Monterey Bay area, they are the tastiest when harvested and eaten in winter? This is because carrots, like parsnips, convert their starches to sugars when it turns cold, an adaptation that protects their cells from freezing when the temperature drops—and makes them an especially flavorful as well as beautiful seasonal vegetable for your winter menus.

COLORFUL HISTORY

Wild carrots evolved in many different colors and the ubiquitous orange color only appeared a few hundred years ago, apparently after seed breeders decided that orange carrots had the best flavor. If you talk to Ronald Donkervoort, who owns Windmill Farm … Read More

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WHAT’S IN SEASON DEMYSTIFYING ASIAN GREENS

Have you ever been at the farmers’ market and found yourself intimidated or confused by the spread of locally grown Asian vegetables—so many leafy items displayed that you have never seen or tried before, right alongside unusual bumpy squash and purple and green beans that are so long they hang off market tables? Navigating the Asian vegetables can be a bit overwhelming. But it is worth your attention as most of them are grown for their nutrient value, tenderness and flavor, and a good portion are from heirloom seed. Knowing the basics will open a whole new culinary world of flavor, texture and health.

We at Serendipity Farms have been growing a few varieties of Asian vegetables—we’ve played around with pea tendrils, mustard greens, bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna and amaranth

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WHAT’S IN SEASON: AVOCADOS

Getting to know locally grown
varieties of the buttery treat

whats-in-season-avocados
Grown in Santa Cruz County: clockwise, from center, Zutano, Reed, Lamb Hass and Gwen varieties.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARGAUX GIBBONS

As a College of Ag student at Cal Poly, one of my class projects involved caring for an avocado orchard, selling the fruit, and learning to identify the more than 100 varieties of avocados grown on campus. Becoming an avocado connoisseur, I quickly honed in on my favorites. One of the perks of the project was an unlimited supply of fruit, which was great for a broke college student. I practically lived on avocados, and I can’t remember ever becoming sick of them. They were satisfying and always gave me a sense of well-being, probably due to their high vitamin B … Read More

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WHAT’S IN SEASON: PARSNIPS

Celebrating a deceptively delicious and versatile winter root

parsnips

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CAMILLA M. MANN

Parsnips are one of my favorite root vegetables as their flavor is sweet yet complex and complements so many winter dishes. I’ve enjoyed them roasted with other roots for as long as I can remember, but my very first time cooking a rabbit is when I really fell for them. I wrapped the rabbit in bacon and roasted it in a pan filled with chunks of parsnips, butternut squash and purple sweet potatoes that I had covered in coconut milk seasoned with nutmeg and cardamom. There was no going back—I was in love with the deep earthy flavor and buttery sweetness that the parsnip deployed and the way the coconut milk turned the roots into a rich … Read More

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