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Gotta have a greenhouse!

The project is under way! Farmer Marge Pikarsky wants — and needs — a big new greenhouse at Bee Heaven Farm so she can grow more organic seedlings that you want and love.

Margie, and farm manager Nicole Fiori, have a big, expensive dream, and they need your help to make it happen. Make your donation online here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/bee-heaven-farm-needs-a-greenhouse#home

Big or small, it’s all good. Thanks for your support!

Bee Heaven Farm is growing!

After 10 years, Farmer Margie Pikarsky has outgrown the little shade house where she and her crew plant seeds and start growing seedlings. The little shade house doesn’t have much room to work for three people. It’s made of wood and plastic sheeting, is overgrown and falling apart. Many more seedlings are growing outside on stands made from wooden pallets, under the dappled shade of a royal poinciana tree. The pallets are falling apart too, in the tropical rain and heat. There’s a limited amount of space to meet the increasing demand for organic seedlings.

Margie wants — and needs — a new professional greenhouse. The one she has her eye on is 90 feet long and 60 feet wide. On one side, seedlings and starts will grow on metal stands (that won’t rot), and tender plants will grow directly in the ground on the other side. But something like that doesn’t come cheap. So Farmer Margie is turning to you — her faithful customers and CSA members — for financial assistance.

All the details on the project are posted on Bee Heaven Farm’s fundraising page. New video updates will be posted both there and on this blog. Help the farm grow! Give what you can!

Got mangoes? Photo by Serge Penton.

Got mangoes? Photo by Serge Penton.

This time of year mangoes are everywhere. There’s plenty to be had from Art’s tree, and the fruit is on sale right now at his Upper Eastside and Southwest Farmers Markets. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to chance upon a roadside stand with people selling off their backyard excess. And sometimes friends bring me mangoes. Last week, my co-worker Serge had his car stuffed with sacks and buckets of mangoes, picked from his tree. “Take as many as you like,” he told me. I scurried off with a bag full of Zills — then came to my senses — I can’t eat all these!

So every summer, the challenge remains, what to do with all those mangoes?

This summer (mostly because it’s been so hot) I decided to make mango ice cream. Non-dairy, vegan ice cream. Don’t worry, I’m still am omnivore, more or less, but lately dairy has dwindled from my diet. Coconut everything is all the rage, so how about… mango-coconut sherbet?

A quick search online came up with a very simple recipe: mango, coconut milk, sugar, lime juice. Serge suggested adding cinnamon, and I also added some ginger. The online recipe called for toasted flaked coconut, used as a topping, but I didn’t have any.

Mango-Coconut Sherbet

Ingredients:

3 cups peeled, seeded, cut up mangoes
1 12 oz. can coconut milk
sugar, lime juice, ginger, cinnamon

Instructions:

In a blender, puree mangoes together with coconut milk. Add lime juice, cinnamon, ginger and sugar to taste. When you like the flavors, pour the mix into the ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes one quart.

Donvier ice cream maker, from the 1980s. Still works!

Donvier ice cream maker, from the 1980s. Still works!

My trusty, 20 year old Donvier ice cream maker was pulled out of the pantry and put into back into service. It is super simple to use. Freeze the large cylinder overnight, and chill all the ingredients. Then pour the mix into the cylinder, insert the paddle, put the lid on, and attach the turn handle. This is an all-manual operation.

Almost done.

Almost done.

The liquid will freeze in contact with the cold cylinder. Every three minutes, turn the handle, which turns the paddle, which scrapes the frozen mix off the inside wall of the cylinder. Make one turn, then wait three more minutes, then do it again. If you wander off and come back 10 minutes later, you’ll discover it’s impossible to turn the handle. That’s where a butter knife comes in handy, to break up the frozen mix. Don’t break the paddle! Keep turning every three minutes until everything is frozen. The ice cream (or sherbet) will be of soft serve consistency. Pack it into containers and freeze it for at least an hour to firm up.

If you can’t find a Donvier, take a look at the Cuisinart ice cream maker which goes for about $70-80 on sale. Like my all manual Donvier, it has a cylinder that needs to be frozen overnight. For the added price, you get a motor that turns the paddle for you. How easy can it get! Now, to mix up another batch of mango sherbet…

Mango-Coconut sherbet

Mango-Coconut sherbet

CSA share: week 20

CSA family share: week 20

CSA family share: week 20

CSA small share: week 20

CSA small share: week 20

Cheese share: Hani's cheese, (with Himalayan pink salt)

Cheese share: Hani’s cheese (one with Himalayan pink salt)

Mediterranean share: Hommos and baba ganoush

Mediterranean share: Hommos and baba ganoush

CSA share: week 19

CSA family share: week 19

CSA family share: week 19

Cheese share: assorted cheeses

Cheese share: assorted cheeses

CSA small share; week 19

CSA small share; week 19

Alert: No Mediterranean share this week! Double Med shares next week!

Visit from a VIP

Mike the visiting farmer gets a visit from the Congressman. L to R: Mike, Margie Pikarsky, Joe Garcia, Mike Dill, Kevin Chambliss. Photo by Nicole Fiori.

Mike the visiting farmer gets a visit from the Congressman. L to R: Mike, Margie Pikarsky, Joe Garcia, Mike Dill, Kevin Chambliss. Photo by Nicole Fiori.

It’s not every day that a politician stops by Bee Heaven Farm. But back in January, on a gray drizzly afternoon, Congressman Joe Garcia and some of his staff came to pay a visit with farmer Margie Pikarsky, one of his constituents.

“He’s making a real point of talking to farmers,” Margie told me. “Finding out what we do, what we need, what we want, and how to help.” She said he mentioned that he’s working on a series of visits with all the organic growers in Redland to get their input.

The visit made a favorable impression on farm intern Nicole Fiori. “I thought it was really refreshing to see that he got involved. It felt like he actually wanted to help us achieve our goals.”

Joe Garcia and Margie Pikarsky walking and talking at Bee Heaven Farm. Photo by Nicole Fiori.

Joe Garcia and Margie Pikarsky walking and talking at Bee Heaven Farm. Photo by Nicole Fiori.

And so Margie took the Congressman on a tour of her farm. They strolled around and stopped to smell aromatic allspice leaves, taste delicate pei tsai greens, and spoke about various topics impacting agriculture — NAFTA, immigration labor, and two insect borne diseases — laurel wilt and citrus greening — which are threatening to destroy Florida’s avocado and citrus crops.

Read more about the Congressman’s visit here.

Farmer Margie Pikarsky and Congressman Joe Garcia, with a package of Rachel's Eggs. Photo by Nicole Fiori.

Farmer Margie Pikarsky and Congressman Joe Garcia, with a package of Rachel’s Eggs. Photo by Nicole Fiori.

Red velvet brownies

Yes, they are that red! Bet you can't eat just one.

Yes, they are that red! Bet you can’t eat just one.

Bee Heaven Farm CSA members have gotten beets a few times in their shares this season. There’s a pretty good chance those homely root vegetables are still hanging around somewhere in the back of your refrigerator. Now, don’t get me wrong! I love beets, and grew up eating them — boiled, roasted, pickled. But never in baked goods. Until now…

Beets were the original coloring agent used in some red velvet cake recipes back in the day. They are great for baking because they become sweet when roasted, and hold moisture. Plus, the earthy beet flavor combines beautifully with dark chocolate.

I found this recipe for beet brownies on a lovely food/farm blog, and tweaked it a bit (my changes are in italics). The original recipe calls for a topping of fresh blueberries, which sounds fabulous; but even plain and warm out of the oven, they are scrumptious. I’ve made this recipe several times, and each time the brownies get gobbled up in no time flat, and people beg me for more. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Brownies

•    1 cup of beet puree*
•    3.5 ounces (one bar) of good-quality chocolate (at least 70% dark)
•    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
•    2 teaspoons baking powder
•    pinch salt (about 1/8 tsp)
•    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•    7 tablespoons butter, softened
•    1/3 cup brown sugar
•    2 eggs, room temperature
•    1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

* Note: Roast about 5 or 6 beets, then let them cool. Using gloves, remove skins, then puree in food processor. If you roast more than you need for the recipe, pureed beets are a delicious side dish dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

1.    Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
2.    Melt chocolate over double-boiler. Set aside.
3.    Whisk together flour with baking powder and salt and set aside.
4.    Cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is creamy. Add melted chocolate, beet puree, flour mixture, and walnuts. Mix well.
5.    Pour batter into 9 x 13 baking pan lined with baking parchment and bake for 25-30 minutes.
6.    Let cool and cut into triangles. Serve with fresh-picked blueberries and share with family.

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