From the Land 4.24


The spring season is coming to a close. Please make sure you are up to date on your CSA share payments. If you have questions about your account you can email us at or call us at (928) 350-1401. You can also ask us when you pick up your share on Wednesday.

Note from Crooked Sky Farms:
To all Crooked Sky Farm CSA members. Many of you  who have been with us in years past know that this is our planting season. Share lists at this time will be a bit repetitive so we really do appreciate all your support while we are getting ready for all your summer treats. Here is a preview of all the wonderful treasures you have to look forward to coming soon:

Coming soon…
End of April-summer squash
Beginning of May-various cucumbers
End of May-purslane and basil
Beginning of June-tomatoes 
Mid June-eggplant, okra and peppers
End of June or early July-various melons, corn
We are also happy to announce that we have listened to all your requests and have planted 1500 fruit trees! Just a few examples include the following: 
Thank you again for supporting your local farmer and helping to keep Arizona healthy,  happy and thriving.
Warm Regards,
The Crooked Sky family


food for thought

full share: kale, eggs, salad mix, grilling onions, choice of swiss chard/beet greens or Siamese Dragon stir fry mix, cabbage, red potatoes, and grapefruit!

partial share: Kale, eggs, salad mix and grilling onions!


veg of the week

grapefruit: Citrus Paradisi 

Grapefruit is a subtropical fruit first cultivated as a hybrid in Barbados in the 18th century. The tree usually grows to about 20 feet tall. The fruit’s pulp comes in white, pink or red. Usually the redder the pulp the sweeter it is. The top producers of grapefruit are the US, China, South Africa and Mexico.

Uses: Grapefruit is wonderful in a variety of dishes but is not limited to its edibility. To scent your home, simmer a cup of grapefruit with half a cup of water on the stove. To scent your laundry mix grapefruit and water and spray after washing and before you hang it out to dry. Placing grapefruit rinds around your garden will help deter cats and other animals. For a skin exfoliant in the shower, mix two tablespoons sugar and one tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil in a cup of grapefruit juice. The sugar will scrub your skin and the grapefruit juice will tighten it. For a simple healthy snack, cut a grapefruit in half and slice the pulp in each half, making it easier to get at with a spoon. Drizzle honey on each half, eat. In Costa Rica, grapefruit is cooked to reduce its sour taste and sometimes eaten with dulce de leche.

Nutrition: Grapefruit is a good source of vitamin C and pectin fiber. Studies show that grapefruit can help lower cholesterol and burn fat. Grapefruit seed extract, GSE, is sold in natural foods stores and taken for its antimicrobial properties.

To store: Grapefruit can keep in the pantry for about a week or in the fridge for two to three weeks. Grapefruit can keep for up to a year in the freezer. To freeze, remove seeds and rind, then place in a mixture of 3 cups sugar to 4 cups water boiled.


Svalbard Global Seed Vault
By Alex Deck

Its comforting to know that seeds from all over the world are being stored in a secure seed vault in Norway. The Svalbard Seed Vault is located on Svalbard, 810 miles from the North Pole. Construction was funded entirely by the government of Norway and began in June 2006. The first seeds began arriving in 2008. 

Seeds are stored 390 feet into a sandstone mountain called Spitsbergen. The entrance to the vault is 430 feet above sea level. Spitsbergen was chosen for its lack of tectonic activity, making it a secure place in case of a natural disaster. Local coal fuels refrigeration units that keep the temperature at 0 °F. The bank is so well insulated that even if the refrigerators failed it would be several weeks before the temperature rose to 27 °F, the temperature of the surrounding bedrock permafrost.

The facility has the capability to hold up to 4.5 million different kinds of seeds with 500 seeds each. In July 2012 the number of seeds in the vault numbered around 750,000. 



Broiled Grapefruit

  • 1 pink or red grapefruit, halved
  • 1 T light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 C plain low-fat yogurt
Heat broiler with rack set 4 inches from heat. With a paring knife, loosen grapefruit segments from membranes and pith.
Sprinkle grapefruit with sugar and cinnamon. Broil on a baking sheet until tops are slightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
Top with yogurt, and garnish with more cinnamon.
Shaved Fennel with Grapefruit

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 grapefruit
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/4 C slivered cerignola or other big green olives
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 C fennel fronds, chopped

Using a mandoline, slice the fennel into thin shavings.

Cut the bottom and top off of the grapefruit. Using a knife, cut the peel off of the sides, following the curve of the grapefruit and being careful only to cut away the peel and bitter pith. Hold the fruit in 1 hand over a bowl and cut the flesh of the grapefruit away from the membrane to release a wedge. Repeat until all segments are released.

In a large saute pan over medium heat coat with extra-virgin olive oil and add the fennel. Season with salt and saute for 1 to 2 minutes or until the fennel is warm and coated with the oil. Remove from heat. Toss in the grapefruit segments, olive slivers and juice and sprinkle with the fennel fronds. Serve immediately.

Grapefruit and Mixed Green Salad with Pistacio Crusted Goat Cheese Rounds
From spoonforkbacon

pistachio crusted goat cheese rounds:

  • 4 oz goat cheese, sliced into 1 ounce portions and partially frozen
  • 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 C crushed pistachios
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • 8 cups mixed greens, loosely packed
  • 2 grapefruits, cut into supremes
  • 1/3 C pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 2 oz jicama, julienne
  • 1 recipe, champagne vinaigrette

Preheat oil to 375°F.

For goat cheese rounds: Dredge partially frozen discs into the flour and shake off excess. Next, dip discs into lightly beaten egg and finish in crushed pistachios until fully coated. Freeze rounds until fully frozen, about 30 minutes. Fry each round for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain onto paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and set aside until ready to use.

For salad: Place mixed greens, grapefruit, nuts, and jicama into a large mixing bowl and toss together with vinaigrette. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Divide the salad among four plates and top each with a pistachio crusted goat cheese round. Serve.


From the Land 3/6


As many of you know, I will be leaving Prescott College in June. I have spent almost every day for the past 7 1/2 years at the college for both school and work, and – though I am excited for my move to the east coast – I will be sad to leave this amazing community. The CSA is something I have worked very hard on, and be assured that it will continue once I’m gone!

The CSA is not yet accepting applications, but the Prescott Farmers Market is currently seeking a Managing Director. If you’re interested, you can see the job posting here:

food for thought

full share: spinach from Whipstone, grapefruit from the Hawkins’ trees in Phoenix, navel oranges, “siamese dragon” microgreens, red potatoes, fennel, swiss chard, and curly mustard greens!

partial share: spinach, navel oranges, “siamese dragon” microgreens, and red potatoes!

veg of the week

fennel: Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel is an extremely versatile vegetable – it can be eaten raw or cooked, and the fronds, bulb, seeds and flowers are edible and vary in taste. It is highly aromatic with a slight licorice taste which lessens when cooked. It also – as you will read below – has great medicinal qualities.

Uses: Slice the bulb and add to salad or stews. Roast it. Braise it (recipe below). Blanch, marinate, or cook with risotto. Chop the fronds and add to salads or soups, and dry the extra for future use.

To store: Fennel loses its flavor as it is stores, so eat soon. Store in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.


Lactofermentation update

Make sure you try our fermented radishes this week! They’ve now been fermenting for 2 weeks, and are a great example of how easy adding fermented vegetables to your diet can be!

You can also sample some fermented sauerkraut and beets today. They are from Homesteader’s Supply and have been fermenting for 8 days; though they’re not quite done, they are a great example of developing tastes and the different needs of different vegetables.

We also have the Pickle Pro (airlock) for sale in the CSA. They are the easiest way to ferment any vegetable without having to worry about mold. Pick one up for $9.95 or 3 for $29.95. Have fun experimenting!


Health Benefits of Aniseed, Cumin and Fennel
By Alexander Deck

In Ayurvedic medicine, common home spices are used to combat illness and keep the body healthy. Everyone is naturally drawn towards eating flavorfully spiced food. Imagine grating aspirin on your curry. That won’t make it taste any better, but cumin will! In addition, adding cumin will act as a preventative medicine by acting as a digestive aid and reducing flatulence.

Here are some common household spices and their medicinal benefits*

  • Aniseed helps as a digestive aid and to relieve menstrual cramps
  • Cumin also helps as a digestive aid, reducing flatulence and as an appetite stimulant.
  • Fennel seeds work just as well as a digestive aid. In most restaurants in India it is offered with sugar after a meal.

These three spices can be taken after meal all together. Roast the aniseed, cumin and fennel, then take a half teaspoon of each altogether. Chew well then swallow with a glass of warm water. This will greatly reduce gas issues and flatulence.

Suggested cooking uses for a less intense flavor:

  • A fun use of aniseed is as a substitute for chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies. Grind seeds before adding.
  • To make Indian dal, cook one cup lentils with a teaspoon salt. In a separate pan simmer 3 TBSP oil or coconut oil with 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp fennel seeds, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for 3 minutes, then add to lentils.

*Information from


braised fennel
adapted from orangette
serves 4

  • 3-4 fennel bulbs, trimmed of stems and fronds
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • About ½ C dry white wine
  • About ½ C chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt, preferably a good, flaky variety

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the fennel into 1- to 1 ½-inch wedges. Warm about 2 Tbs of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Lay fennel wedges in one crowded layer in the pan, and cook them until they are golden on the bottom, about 5-10 minutes, and then flip them to gild the other side. Salt them lightly. As the fennel finishes browning, remove the wedges to a flameproof baking dish. You may need to brown the fennel in batches, adding oil as needed, until all of it is browned.

Arrange the fennel in a single, crowded layer in the baking dish. Add the wine and chicken broth in equal parts to reach a depth of ½ inch. Place the dish over medium heat, and bring the liquid to a simmer. Transfer the dish to the oven, and bake until the fennel is tender, about 20-30 minutes. Serve, with additional salt for sprinkling.

arugula, fennel and orange salad
adapted from william sonoma
serves 8-10

For the citrus vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

FOR THE salad

  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 3 large navel oranges
  • 4 cups arugula, mizuna, or other small-leafed salad green

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest, olive oil, canola oil, mustard, tarragon and shallot. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cut off the stems and feathery fronds of the fennel bulb and remove any bruised or discolored outer layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and cut out any tough core parts. Cut the bulb halves crosswise into slices 3/8 inch thick and then cut the slices into 1-inch lengths.

Working with 1 orange at a time, and using a sharp knife, cut a slice off both ends of the orange to reveal the flesh. Stand the orange upright on a cutting board and thickly slice off the peel and pith in strips, following the contour of the fruit. Cut the orange in half crosswise, place each half cut side down, and thinly slice vertically to create half-moons. Repeat with the remaining oranges.

Place the fennel and arugula in a large serving bowl, add half of the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat thoroughly. Arrange the orange slices in a pinwheel or other design on top. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve immediately.

spinach, chard, potato and herb stew
adapted from diane kochilas
serves 4-6 as a main course, 8-12 as a side or “meze”

  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8-10 small potatoes, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped, reserving their juices
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 fresh (or 1 dried) bay leaves
  • 1 bag spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch chard, chopped separately
  • 1/2 C snipped fresh dill
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 C snipped fennel fronds
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • feta cheese for garnish

Heat 1/4 C of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onion, chard stems, and fennel bulb until tender, about 8 – 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and stir to coat in the oil. Pour in the grated tomatoes and add the salt and pepper to taste and the bay leave(s). Cover and simmer over low heat until the tomato mixture is thick, about 20 minutes.

Add the spinach to the tomato sauce, in batches, and cook, covered, until the spinach and chard have lost most of their volume and is wilted. Add the dill and fennel fronds. Toss gently to combine, being careful not to break up the potatoes. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper and sprinkle in a little nutmeg. Cook, covered, until most of the liquid from the spinach has cooked off, the contents of the pot are thick, and the potatoes tender.

Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Pour in the remaining 1/4 C of olive oil and serve.

To serve: Plate the stewed greens in a shallow soup dish and sprinkle, if desired, with crumbled feta, and  with the lemon wedges.

From the Land 12/14


This is the last week of Fall Share! Please get your contracts in ASAP – all contracts are due by December 31 (but I know how December goes – get them in while you’re thinking of it!)

food for thought

onions from Whipstone; and salad mix, baby fennel, oranges, swiss chard, and spaghetti squash from Crooked Sky!

veg of the week

fennel: Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel is a crunchy, slightly sweet, licorice-tasting plant that is used as a vegetable and an herb, with both culinary and medicinal uses. Fennel originated in the Mediterranean, though it is now grown in many parts of the world and is most commonly associated with Italian cuisine. It grows so prevalently in some parts of the US and Australia that it is considered an invasive species. It is cultivated for its leaves, stalks, fruits (often mistaken as seeds), and – in the case of Florence fennel, like what we’re getting this week – the bulb. It is known for its unique anise or licorice taste, due to presence of anethole (which is also present in higher quantity in anise and star anise).

Fennel contains a unique combination of phytonutrients that give it strong antioxidant activity. Anethole – that which causes the anise or licorice flavor – has been shown to reduce inflammation, help prevent cancer, and protect the liver from toxic chemical injury. Fennel is also an excellent source of vitamin C (immune strength), fiber (healthy cholesterol levels), folate (healthy heart), and potassium (lowers high blood pressure).

The leaves, bulb, stalk, and fruits (“seeds”) are all edible. The bulb and stalks are excellent sauteed with onions or braised with scallops, sliced as a sandwich topping, sliced thin and topped with plain yogurt and mint leaves, or sauteed and served with salmon. The leaves and fruits can be used fresh or dried to keep on your spice rack!

Food Rule #30
by Annie Teegarden
Looking through Michael Pollan’s food rules, I stopped on #30: “Eat well-grown food from healthy soil.”  One of the benefits of being part of a CSA is that we know our food is grown by people who care about food and their soil. But anyone who gardens knows it’s sometimes not easy to keep Arizona soil healthy.
When I first moved to Arizona from the midwest, I could not believe that food would grow here.  “It’s the desert!” I would say, but after a while I realized that the soil doesn’t need to be beautiful and black to produce delicious food.  Typically, healthy soil has a good layer of organic matter on top, plenty of living organisms, a little moisture, and a loamy texture.  If this was a natural ecosystem, healthy soil would also have a permanent root system, but since we are talking about agriculture, we know that there will only be plants in this plot of land for part of the year during the growing season. So how do farmers keep their soil healthy?
There are many practices farmers use to keep up the health of their soil.  On a conventional farm, fertilizers (especially synthetic nitrogen) are put into the soil on a regular basis, because the plants continually take what they need for optimal growth, leaving the soil needing to be replenished. On a small scale and on organic farms, manure and compost are great ways farmers can help improve soil fertility.  In general, cow and horse manure is rich with nitrogen and phosphorous, which are the two of the most essential nutrients.  Compost is also high in nutrients. Of course, the quality of the compost and manure depends on what is either in the compost, or what the animal was eating.  If those primary sources are high in nutrients, then the final product will also be high in nutrients.
If you know that your soil is lacking in nitrogen, another good way to keep up high nutrients is rotating crops with intermittent years of cover crops that are legumes.  Legumes are nitrogen fixers, which means that they will produce their own nitrogen if nitrogen is limited in the soil.  (If the soil is already high in nitrogen, the plant will not fix any of its own and take all it needs from the soil.)  Planting a crop of legumes, like alfalfa, for a few years, then tilling it into the soil to let it decompose, is a great way to keep your soil healthy and nitrogen-rich.
Our PCCSA farmers use many of these methods to keep their soil healthy and produce the highest quality food. Whipstone and Crooked Sky Farms are both Certified Naturally Grown, which means they don’t use any synthetic fertilizers (or insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides, for that matter) on their soil. They use crop rotation, compost, manure, and cover crops to keep their soil – and therefore our food – healthy. Chino Valley Farms uses only organic inputs in their greenhouse, and crop rotation in their fields to maximize their produce. Rabbit Run, while not certified organic or naturally grown, is committed to ecologically responsible growing methods, which means using no synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides, applying compost and implementing crop rotation, cover cropping, and fallow season.  As they sum up on their blog: “Our main pest and weed control is done by building soil health. Healthy, living soils mean strong plants that have increased disease and pest susceptibility.” All of our farmers work hard to keep their soil healthy, producing the highest quality produce for us to enjoy throughout the year! Beautiful.
orange, fennel and avocado salad
adapted from
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 fennel bulb, stalks cut off and saved for later
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado

Whisk together vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until salt is dissolved, then add oil, whisking until combined well.

Cut peel, including all white pith, from orange. Halve orange lengthwise, then cut crosswise into thin slices. Halve fennel bulb lengthwise, then cut crosswise into very thin slices. Halve, pit, and peel avocado, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss orange, fennel, and avocado with dressing to combine.

couscous with fennel, chickpeas and chard
adapted from
  • 1/2 pound (1 1/8 cups) chickpeas, soaked in 1 quart water for four to six hours (or overnight)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed, leaves washed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 medium or 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed (save fronds), cored and chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, ground
  • 1 tablespoon harissa (more to taste; substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper if harissa is unavailable), plus additional for serving
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/3 cups couscous

Drain the chickpeas and transfer to a large pot. Add 1 1/2 quarts water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer one hour while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Tear the chard leaves off the stems. Wash the stems and dice. Wash the leaves thoroughly and chop coarsely. Set aside. Chop the fennel fronds, and set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy casserole, Dutch oven or, if you have one, in the bottom of a couscousier. Add the onion, leek, fennel and a generous pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, until tender, five to eight minutes. Add the chard stems, and stir together for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and ground spices, and stir together for 30 seconds to a minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add the harissa or cayenne and the dissolved tomato paste, and stir together for another minute or two. Add the chickpeas with their cooking liquid, plus another cup of water if you think there should be more liquid in the pot. Stir together, and bring back to a simmer. Add salt, cover and simmer 30 minutes to an hour until the chickpeas are thoroughly tender and the broth fragrant.

Stir in the chard greens and chopped fennel fronds. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until the greens are very tender and fragrant. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt, garlic or harissa as desired.

Reconstitute and steam the couscous. Serve in wide bowls, top with the stew and serve.

Yield: Serves four generously.

Advance preparation: The dish can be made through step 4 up to three days ahead and refrigerated. Bring back to a simmer, and proceed as directed. The couscous can be reconstituted up to a day ahead, then steamed before serving. The stew keeps well in the refrigerator for three or four days.

potato-crusted catfish with fennel vinaigrette and spaghetti squash
adapted from

For the Spaghetti Squash: 

  • 1 spaghetti squash, about 3 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced chives
  • 3 tablespoons minced red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 bulb fennel, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped assorted soft fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the catfish:

  • 4 (5-ounce) catfish fillets
  • 2 teaspoons creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Place the squash halves, cut side down, in the bottom of a roasting pan. Add olive oil and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the squash is tender. Allow to cool slightly and then run a fork through the squash flesh to release the squash in strands. Toss the squash with the butter, salt and pepper, to taste, the minced chives, red pepper, and garlic. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

While the squash is cooking, prepare the Fennel Vinaigrette. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the fennel and saute until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the red onion, garlic, and fennel seed and cook, stirring, until onion is soft and garlic is fragrant, 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and wine and cook until the wine has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Transfer to a nonreactive bowl and allow to cool to room temperature while you prepare the catfish.

Season the fillets on both sides with the creole seasoning. Rub the flesh side of each fillet with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the mustard. Squeeze the grated potatoes with your hands to release any liquid and then divide the grated potatoes between the 4 fillets, pressing onto the flesh side on top of the mustard coating.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

Heat 1/2 cup of the vegetable oil in each of 2 large nonstick skillets over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add the fillets, potato side down, being careful to keep the potatoes on the fish. Cook until the potatoes are crispy and golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer to the oven and cook until the catfish is cooked through, about 10 minutes. (Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your fillets.) Remove from the oven. Spoon some of the spaghetti squash onto the center of 4 plates, and serve the fillets over the spaghetti squash. Divide the Fennel Vinaigrette among the tops of the fillets, about 1/3 cup each. Serve immediately.