Gettin' fresh … in Northern Nevada

Posts tagged “Fresh Veggies in the Desert

Great Basin Basket Share, Week Five

What’s in the box?

Green Garlic – Lattin Farms
Hakurei Turnips – Pick’n & Grin’n @ Lattin Farms
Broccoli – Pioneer Farms
Green Cabbage or Napa Cabbage – Pioneer Farms
Darkibor Kale – Pick’n & Grin’n @ Lattin Farms
Sunflower Shoots – Dayton Valley Aquaponics
Gourmet Lettuce – Pick’n & Grin’n @ Lattin Farms
Jericho Romaine – Pick’n & Grin’n @ Lattin Farms
Assorted Herbs – Lattin Farms

I have my add on items … bread, teriyaki beef jerky and a salted caramel-pretzel crust brownie.   OH!  And, eggs from Lahontan Farms that are somehow not in the photo.   This is a new thing on the basket share for me.  The weekly add-on items change and you order them in advance.   Fun, local, yummy stuff!

This week includes the beef share.   It was a full cooler load from York’s Meats in Fallon.

The packages range in portion size but included top sirloin (x2), rib steaks, chuck steak, carne asada (x2), ground beef (x5), and chuck roast.

We are pretty excited to try some Nevada beef — especially after a few weeks of heavy greens.



Great Basin Basket CSA, Week 5 (10/31/13)



This week’s haul included a couple of fun things and a little bit of sad news.   First things first, what’s in the box? (All organic from Lattin Farms unless otherwise noted)

  • Lettuce
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Arugula
  • Decorative Gourd
  • Sunflower
  • Decorative Indian Corn
  • Potatoes from Workman Farms
  • Butternut Squash from Peri & Sons
  • Onions From Peri & Sons

What do you do with a full sunflower head?   Thankfully, the newsletter came with instructions.   (I love that the farm doesn’t assume that I know this stuff.   Instructions are appreciated!)


How to Make Your Own Sunflower Seeds

Cover the flower head with a paper bag and secure into place by tying around the bag with a string.

Hang the cut sunflower upside down by the stem in a warm but ventilated area for three weeks to two months while it cures. The seeds will fall out over time, caught in the paper bag.

Place the dried sunflower seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator for storage. Roast the sunflower seeds by spreading them in a flat layer over a cookie sheet and placing in a 300-degree oven for 20 minutes. Add salt or leave them plain based on your preference.




I love the decorative stuff because they can hang around until Thanksgiving and not be confused with my Halloween decorations.



Now, the sad news …  the drought was pretty tough on my farm this year.   And, well, drought conditions make it pretty tough on about everything around here.   Here’s the official scoop from my CSA newsletter:

“It has been a challenging year for us – drought, heavy insect and disease pressure, crazy weather (including about three weeks without sunshine due to wildfires).  Despite these difficulties the basket went out every week full of fresh produce. The variety, due to problems noted above, was not up to our usual standards – lots and lots of some things and less of others.  Thanks for putting up with those variables. 

We are changing the basket substantially in 2014 to ensure we can send a full basket of good produce every week, despite the challenges we anticipate due to continued drought. Luckily at Lattin Farms we have storage ponds on the farm and will be able to plant for the new seasons we are implementing for 2014. 

We will have two seasons rather than three, with an Early Season Basket beginning the first week of June and running through the end of July. This season will begin with the usual greens, plus beets, turnips, carrots and in July the first 
of the summer squashes, tomatoes and peppers. Late Season Basket will include August and September and will contain all the crops you got this year. This will allow us to concentrate on our major season as we face the challenges with weather and drought. 

Our sign-up for 2014 will be up on the website within the next couple of weeks and we would appreciate early sign-ups with the $50 deposits as we may be required to limit basket numbers if the drought worsens. 

We are asking some of our cooperating farmers if they want to pick up some of the spring and fall business that we have had. Look to our website later in the year for announcements on other subscription programs for spring and fall baskets. Thanks again for your loyal support.   Rick Lattin”

Well, that’s just how it works here in the desert.   No water, no life.  You have to do the best you can with what you have so we’ll see how it works out next year for crops and Fresh Veggies in the Desert.

Let me know what you think … I was looking forward to the winter break but now it’s a little sad that I’m watching the CSA change at the same time.

Galia Melon


Summertime is all about fresh melons.   Cantaloupes, watermelon, honeydew … and, now, GALIA.    This cantaloupe looking treat was a new one for me but I knew right away that it was going to be wonderful.   When you can smell the sweet goodness of a fruit right away, you know it’s gonna be great.



Cantaloupe on the outside, honeydew on the inside …


According to Wikipedia, “The Galia, also known as Sarda سردا(Urdu) in southeast Asia, is a type of F1 hybrid melon originating from a cross between the green flesh melon cultivar “Ha-Ogen” and the netted rind melon cultivar “Krimka”. Developed in Israel at the Ne´ve Yaar Research Center of the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) by the melon breeder Dr. Zvi Karchi and released in 1973, Galia melon was named after the first name of Karchi’s daughter that means “God’s wave” in Hebrew.”    

Interesting.    All I know is that my taste buds liked it.    I’m a little freaked about how seeds/plants are developed and bred but I trust my Lattin Farms to grow it organically so, I’m going to not think to hard about this.


The taste was a mix between cantaloupe texture and watermelon flavor with a little bit of a different tang.   Really good.   This was one of the first things for me try out this week’s veggie box.   I’m so happy to be back with Lattin Farms!



Have you ever had a Galia melon?    How do you feel about how plants are modified/bred/etc?    I’ve been doing more research about GMO stuff but I’m not sure how I feel about it right now.

Farmer’s Market Funk

Welcome to what Northern Nevada calls a “farmer’s market.”   On any given day of the week, there is a parking lot somewhere in town with at least four or five booths set up and a display of fruits, veggies or etc with a big FARMER’S MARKET sign waving in the air.

I guess I’m in a funk about my fresh veggie situation.   I’m just not impressed lately.   I am beginning to regret my decision to not do the CSA box this year.   I have loved Bountiful Baskets but it’s not very local.   And, well, the farmer’s market situation isn’t very local either.   Ugh.   I like knowing my farmer.  I’m a foodie bloggie snob.   I just joined the club this morning, as a matter of fact.   (See HERE, you can join, too!)

Don’t get me wrong.   There is some good stuff to be had out there.   But, really?   Check out these shots from a random, local casino parking lot.   (Honest.   Casino parking lot.)



Yup.  It was pretty crowded that day.

Actually, the lack of crowds is the up side for me.   There are a few farmer’s market in the evenings that are more of a “meet-market” than I would like soooo … this one is pretty good.  You don’t have to fight for parking, you can get some freshies and move on with your life.   And, BONUS, it is really close to my office so I don’t even have to use up my lunch break to go there.   (woo hoo!)

Most of the vendors are from California and have a sign displayed on their booth somewhere.   But, I don’t really get the  farm fresh feeling from these types of markets.   And, don’t get me started about organic or GMO stuff.   {insert RANT here}

That being said, the fruit selection at this little ditty was pretty nice.   There were lots of free samples available and, yes, I did buy several things. This week was all about fruit:   Rainier cherries, pluots, plums and peaches.   Mmmmmm.   Sweet goodness.





Do you have a local farmer’s market?   Is it in a casino parking lot, too?    Hmmm.   I didn’t think so.

The Practice of Producing Pepper Plants

Last year, I took up an offer for some free pepper seeds.   Not just ordinary old seeds from any store or even specialty seeds from the overpriced home garden shop, I got seeds from a fellow blogger.   Blogmeister, if you will:   The Peppermeister.    Sir Pep happily shared a nice bounty of pepper seeds and I have attempted to make them grow.

Attempt is the key word here, people.   Attempt.

Here are my lovelies in late March, all full of hope and dreams:


I was particularly proud of my nice little labels for all of the varieties that I was going to soon harvest.   Please comment on how nice the labels are, it will make me feel better.

Take a look at my first born sprout.   This is a magic moment in Pepperkind.


Progress is happening … aren’t they pretty?




Here, my lovelies were growing nicely and the weather was getting warm so I decided it was time to migrate my seedlings to a protected area out in the yard.

HONESTLY, I attempted to protect them.   Attempt is the key word again.   Ugh.

Devastation.    It was colder that day than expected and the direct sunlight was not kind.   Dammit.


Well, a few survived and I’m still attempting to produce a few pepper plants.   Wish me luck.  I’ll keep you posted.


Adventures in Fruit Cutting

One of the hardest parts of getting a big box of fruit is that you have to prepare or process it all before it goes bad.   And, now that it is warmer here, it seems that the fruit ripens a lot faster.    Yesterday was a fruit cutting day.   Pineapple, mangoes and papayas.   Bountiful Baskets apparently gets a lot of fruit from Mexico.

Fresh fruit is a treat for me so it usually doesn’t last long at my house.   Plus, I love to freeze it and add it to smoothies or ice cream.   Here’s a look at my handiwork:



Pretty exciting, huh?   Not.   Well, I was all chop-chop-chop in uniform (hahaha) sizes until I got to the mango.



Now, let’s clarify a bit here.   I like mango-flavored stuff and didn’t really think that cutting up a mango was a technical skill.  Ooooh, how I was wrong.

I didn’t know fruit preparation required Google instructions until now.

Apparently, the pit thing on these babies is kind of weird.   It’s not like a peach, for example.   I was expecting this to be like an avocado.   Nope.   Whole new adventure.    You kind of have to cut into it hoping to avoid the non-pit, hard area and then surgically remove the good fruit stuff from the peel.   Mmmm-kay.   Whatever.



Then, there was my next mystery fruit.   Clearly, these are not grown in Nevada.   I had to ask what this is.    I have been told that it is a papaya.   And, while I have eaten dried papaya and had papaya-flavored things, I had not cut a fresh one until now.    This little sucker was worse than the mango.   I have no idea what the proper technique is.   But, I kinda adopted the mango-method and then peeled it with a paring knife.   I ended up with tiny (yet tasty) bits of sort of smashed papaya.   They will taste good IN something but not so great to just eat on their own.



This is a closer look at the non-pit thing.   What the heck?   You can’t just easily separate it from the fruit part.   Maybe, I should check Pinterest.   I dunno.



Anyone have some good tips on dealing with these tropical babies?   Magic peeling wand?   Is there a uni-tasker for papayas?

Rhubarb Fail

Rhubarb is a strange fruit/vegetable thing.   Technically, it is a vegetable but it cooks out with a sweetness that pairs it well for jellies, jams and mostly notably PIE.   I opted out of the traditional preparations this time and tried a food experiment.   Today, I tried to make rhubarb fruit roll-ups or fruit leather.    Tried is the key word of the day.   I tried.

If you have been hanging around Fresh Veggies for a while, you might remember that last year I had great success with rhubarb pineapple upside down cupcakes.   I managed to make them while camping, no less.   Click that link if you would like to try rhubarb.   Keep reading here if you want to see my latest fail.   Fails are more fun, right?   Keep reading …



I think rhubarb is kind of pretty, don’t you?   The plants grow to a decent size.   They are actually fairly impressive if you get to see one in real life.



I started by chopping up the rhubarb and just boiling it down to a mushy syrupy mess.   At this point, most people add sugar.   I decided to be “healthy” and try it without the added sugar.   Mistake #1.   If you attempt this, add sugar.  Just do it.


I saved the liquid from this boiled down mess.   It has most of the natural sugars and I am going to use it for a fruit salad dressing later.   Stay tuned for another post … a hopefully, more successful execution of edible food.

The mush was a little bit stringy (like celery) so I used the hand blender to make it smoother.   My research on fruit leather suggested that I use a silicone mat to cook the goo on in the over.   This is a wise choice.   One of my only wise choices  in this food experiment.    I baked the first batch of fruit goo overnight as low as the oven would go, as suggested by several recipes.



Here’s a shot of the crispy concoction I discovered in the morning.   Fail.   Crispy, crunchy, burnt fail.



Lucky for you (or not), I had more fruit goo to try, try again.   The next batch was cooked on super low for only a few hours.   More like, four hours.   It dried nicely and came out in traditional fruit leather style.



However, it tasted like tangy, slightly bitter shoe leather.   Looking at this photo makes me think it looks like corned beef.  I wish it had tasted more like corned beef.  I regret even tasting it.  Bleck.  I do not recommend this recipe.   Again, try the cupcakes from last year if you would like a good rhubarb recipe.   HERE

Or, hang in there, I plan on a fruit salad later this week … that sounds good.

Do you like rhurbarb?  Want to share a FAIL?   Please leave a comment and make me feel better about ruining an entire batch of rhubarb.

Grilled Artichokes




For most people, artichokes are a labor of love.  There is a lot of work that goes into eating one and, for me, I have no idea how to tell ahead of time whether or not it is going to be worth all of the work.   I mean, really, all I want is the heart and how do you know from the outside if an artichoke has a big, tasty heart in there?   I could get all philosophical here but, let’s just cook some veggies and move on with it, OK?

First things first, clean and clip your tasty friend.



I boiled the artichokes for about 20 minutes to soften them up a bit.   You will need to cut them in half and remove the fuzzy “choke” (the purple-ish hairs that are inedible) from the center.   Then, just put them on the grill until they have a nice char, whatever you feel like.

I prefer mine with steak.   Don’t be fooled by the veggie facade, I am a carnivore at heart.



These artichokes looked good and were a fun sport but they didn’t have much heart.   I peeled and dipped each leafy layer.   At the end, though, I was glad there was steak.



I like to buy marinated artichoke hearts for salads and other meals but I have yet to figure out a better way to pick a fresh artichoke.   Any tips or suggestions?   What’s your favorite way to prepare an artichoke?

Bountiful Basket: May 4, 2013



This week was my first Bountiful Basket.   I am so completely impressed.   This is fantastic!   Easy, affordable, convenient. All of the things that I love!   AWESOME!

What’s a Bountiful Basket?   It is a food co-op.   Now, to be clear, this is very different from the fruit/veggie box that I blogged about last year.   This is not a community-supported agriculture subscription and it is not just local.   Each ‘basket’ is a share of the fruits and vegetables (or other food items) that the co-op could purchase with a group of contributions from the members.   Membership is free but you do need to sign up in advance via the website.   The Bountiful Baskets organization is a  non-profit, national organization so check their website to see if there is a location near you.

Now, here’s what I got this week for about $20:



In case you are not paying attention, there is a ton of stuff here.   I’m talking two super large heads of romaine lettuce, grapefruits, bananas, green onions, bell peppers, artichokes, cabbage, yellow squash, cantaloupes, watermelon and a pineapple.    The bulk of the fruit appears to be from Mexico.   I got the impression from the website that some of the produce was from Arizona and California as well.


I added on five loaves of artisan bread for $8.50:



This gigantic vat of coconut oil was $18.50.   I have seen considerably smaller containers for more at my local store.   What do you do with coconut oil?   Cook with it.   Use it for your hair.   Make sunscreen.   All kinds of great stuff.   It’s supposed to be good for you, too.   Google it.



And, I couldn’t resist some rhubarb.   This huge bag was $5.00.   Now, to decide what I’m going to do with it.    Any suggestions for something different other than pie or jelly?   I’m thinking it will go great with the pineapple or maybe, even the grapefruit.



Overall, I’m really happy with the quality of the produce and I love the ease of ordering.   The baskets are every other week and, if we are going to be out of town or something, you don’t have to participate every time.   The volunteers at the pick-up point were really friendly and there is a Facebook group for my local area where people share recipes, etc.

The only bad thing that I can think of right now is that I’m missing the “Know Your Farmer” aspect that I had last year with Lattin Farms in Fallon, NV.   But, I still love them so I know I will make a special trip to their food stand soon enough.   Bountiful Baskets won’t steal me that completely from them.

Let’s hear from you — what do you think?

Bountiful Baskets Washoe Valley

I think I may have found a new veggie basket for this year.   Since moving to our new house, I have debated whether or not to do the CSA this year and just wanted to try something different.   Tada!   The solution fell right into my lap the other day when I discovered that there is a food co-op that does a fruit and veggie basket right in my neighborhood.   Wow!  How convenient?!

What’s this new discovery?   Well, silly me, I had heard of a program called “Bountiful Baskets” a long time ago but I don’t think there was a local spot for me at the time and … then … I forgot about it.   That simple.   It is a national organization of volunteers so check their website and see if it’s convenient for you, too.


Their own description of how it all works looks like this:

“We hope you enjoyed your experience with Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op (BBFC). BBFC distributes produce baskets, organic produce baskets, artisan bread and sandwich bread every other week.

BBFC is a group of people who work together for mutual benefit. This is a grassroots, all volunteer, no contracts, no catch co-operative. Since there are no employees at Bountiful Baskets, we as a group pay rock bottom prices on your food. This also means the co-op would not happen without volunteers. If you are interested in the co-op continuing, please volunteer occasionally. All it takes is a little time, energy and a smile. Volunteer opportunities include helping prepare the baskets, breaking down boxes, assisting with the distribution, and packing up. To help out, simply arrive an hour early dressed and ready to work with water to drink.

See you at Co-op!
Sally & Tanya and The Whole Bountiful Baskets Team

The deal is that you go to their website every other week to opt-in and then volunteer every so often to help out with the distribution.   OK.   I can handle that.

This week’s offering included extra add-ons like two different bread packages, coconut oil (1/2 gallon expeller pressed in a glass jar for $18.50), granola, a guacamole kit, 8 lb flat of strawberries, 4 lbs rhubarb or a 40 lb bag of valencia oranges.   I opted to try the bread, coconut oil and rhubarb.

Keep your fingers crossed, Fresh Veggers.   I hope this is as cool as I think it’s going to be!   I’ll post an update this weekend.  Pickup is on Saturday!

Has anyone else out there tried Bountiful Baskets?   Leave a comment, please.  I would love to hear about your experience.

P.S.  I’m waiting to see how this first week goes before I figure out the volunteering portion of the deal.

My Local Food Co-Op

Instead of doing the CSA subscription this year, I have decided to forage for Fresh Veggies in the Desert on my own.   I love Lattin Farms and had a blast with the weekly CSA box last year.   No complaints.   I would just like to try something different.   And, I noticed lots of opportunities to get some of my farm favorites from local stores as well.   So, you can still expect to see Fallon produce at my house this year.

Today’s visit is to the Great Basin Community Food Co-Op in downtown Reno.   This fantastic store has grown from a tiny little co-op to a real, live contender to the regular chain grocery store.   I am smitten.   There are lots of ways to become a member and get a discount.  But, if you just want to drop by and shop, no problem.   Everyone is welcome!   For more info, please check out the GBCFC website HERE.   Or, check them out of Facebook HERE.

The store is located at 240 Court Street, near Arlington and the Truckee River.  Parking is odd but it’s downtown so either hope for some of the limited spots in their lot or buck up and figure out how to use the meter kiosk.   The Co-Op is in that funky Spanish-style building.   If you’ve wandered past Wingfield Park or out of the downtown casinos, you’ve seen it.


Look at this produce section!   Wowzers.    Now, to be fair, this is not all grown in Nevada-proper.   But, Reno sits pretty darn close to California so that’s kinda local, right??    It’s all organic and beautiful.   There was lemongrass, fresh ginger and horseradish–not just your standard fare, here.


Squashies, apples and pears.   WHAT??!   Is that a Honey Crisp apple?   OMG.  I love this place.


Then, I saw this.   Fill your own container with honey.   Or vinegar.  Or olive oil.    REALLY!


What?   You forgot to bring your own container?   Here’s some:


The Co-Op packages up sandwiches and salads in the cooler for a quick lunch or snack.   Then, if you want to linger, there is a full upstairs with books and gifts to peruse.    I think I saw a seating area up there, too.   This place is a hidden treasure downtown.

The prices are fair but not cheap.  It’s Reno’s local Whole Foods.   Only better.   Because it’s not a chain store.   And a couple of other reasons.

There were just so many great things about this store that I couldn’t possibly pack it all into one post.   They have a locally roasted, proprietary blend of GBCFC coffee for crying out loud!    (Whole bean bag purchased, more on this later.)

You can bet I’ll be going back there and sharing more discoveries with you.

Do you have a local food co-op?   What do you think about it?   How does it compare to my desert oasis, the GBCFC?