Author Archive | Jamie Collins

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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WHAT’S IN SEASON: FARM TO LUNCHBOX

A farming mom’s own strategies
for getting the healthful, delicious fall harvest
into your kids’ lunches—and their stomachs

wisFarmbox

PHOTOS BY JAMIE COLLINS

I have always been interested in nutrition, so when I started my farm 15 years ago, I chose to grow the most vitamin–rich varieties of produce that I could find. I planted red bore kale and cosmic purple carrots because of their high anthocyanin properties. The greens I grew were ones I knew to be chock full of vitamins, like pea shoots, dandelions and spinach. I’ve even harvested edible farm weeds like stinging nettles and purslane for their substantial vitamin B and omega 3 content. I’ve appreciated the abundance and nutritional value of the food I’ve grown, but it wasn’t until I had my boy that I realized … Read More

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WHAT’S IN SEASON: NOPALES AND PRICKLY PEARS

The dual-purpose cactus

wisNopalesManfred Warmuth harvests a cactus paddle from his garden.

Ever notice large stands of cactus with hot pink fruit growing randomly alongside farm fields in the Monterey Bay area? These are nopal cactus, native to Mexico and planted by farm workers who brought them here from their home country. With uses that range from a hangover remedy to a blood sugar regulator, this prickly succulent is finally getting some recognition, thanks to a few creative local food and drink producers who take on the tough job of spine removal, and turn the paddles and the sweet fruit into brilliant products.

HISTORY

The Opuntia cacti, commonly called nopales in Spanish, refers to the fleshy cactus pads that bear sweet-tart magenta fruit called tuna in Spanish, and prickly pears … Read More

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