Lifes A Choke
California Artichokes are available year-round with peak season being Spring.
Artichokes are members of the Compositae, the huge daisy family. In fact, when you eat an artichoke, you are eating in essence a flower bud.
Weighing in it at about 1.5 pounds each, this artichoke is the artichoke of all artichokes. Unlike other artichokes, the Lyon comes with a 7″ stem that when cooked is also quite edible. The Lyon is round and robust, boasting more heart than any other artichoke. The heart is sweet, dense and unequivocally delicious!
Artichokes are a good source of fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C, potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc.
There are so many things you can utilize the Lyon artichoke for: steaming, roasting, braising, poaching. Once cooked, you can use the heart for a puree, top a pizza or just eat it with some lemon juice and sea salt. Just don’t let any of this premier artichoke go to waste, You will never have tasted any artichoke like it prior or since.
From 1530, artichoke gardens were to be found around Lyon and Cavaillon, but the buds produced were small and decidedly not plentiful, rendering the artichoke of the period a true luxury item. The 19th century saw the peak of production of the artichoke in France.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SPRING CROPS:
Artichokes, Arugula, Avocados, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cardones, Carrots, Cherimoyas, Citrus: Buddha’s Hand, Grapefruit, Meyer Lemons, Mandarins, Kumquats, Blood Oranges, Cara Cara Oranges, Pomelos, Tangelos, Eggs, Fava Beans, Fennel, Fiddlehead Ferns, Green Garlic, Herbs: dill, leeks, chives, parsley, mint, tarragon; Lettuce, Mushrooms: Chanterelles, Hedgehog, Morel, Porcini; Nettles, Parsnips, Passion Fruits, English Peas, New Potatoes, Treviso, Radicchio, Radishes, Ramps, Rapini, Snap Peas, Sorrel, Strawberries, Watercress
Ramona Ducks are not laying eggs for 3 months. Life’s a Choke has artichokes, asparagus, zucchini with blossom and baby green zucchini.
Blood oranges, cara cara oranges
Lee, kishu, satsuma and clementine mandarins, pomelos, oro blanco grapefruits, meyer lemons, bears limes, kaffir limes – it’s time for our favorite winter fruits!!! and finally…..kumquats!!! both meiwa and nagami!
Sugar Snap Peas: – as seen above! snappy, succulent and sweet!
Fava Beans – Jaime Farms
New Zealand Spinach – Rutiz Farms
RANCHO DEL SOL IS BRINGING US THE CITRUS OF THE GODS: KISHU TANGERINES – SWEET, PETIT AND SEEDLESS!!
GARCIA ORGANICS – FUERTE AVOCADOS!!!
The fuerte avocado was once the gold standard cultivar of avocados in California. It has a rich, creamy flavor with notes of hazelnuts and a clean, grassy finish.
POLITO FARMS HAS ORO BLANCO GRAPEFRUIT, CLEMENTINE MANDARINS and PERFECTION MANDARINS!!
COLEMAN FARMS – STINGING NETTLES, TOKYO LONG JAPANESE ONIONS ARE GORGEOUS AND A GREAT WINTER FRESH ONION! PEACOCK KALE, PORTUGESE KALE, FRENCH SORREL, CARDONES, FRISEE, RED FRILL MUSTARD IN BUNCHES, SPIGARELLO AND PERSIAN WATERCRESS
MCGRATH FARMS HAS THE BABY RED AND WHITE SCALLIONS! THEY ALSO HAVE RAPINI and MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: PEA TENDRILS!!
JAIME FARMS HAS THEIR BABY CARROTS IN 4 COLORS AND THEY ARE CUTE!!! ALSO, BABY GOLD TURNIPS AND RED KURI SQUASH!!
BEYLIK HAS THE HARDY AND RELIABLE JAPANESE TOMATOES AND PERSIAN CUCUMBERS
Baby Broccoli!! – Coastal Organics, Weiser Family Farms, Coleman Farms, Rutiz Farms…..
Red Frill Mustard – McGrath Farms: is back!
Black Radishes – McGrath Farms
Watermelon Radishes – McGrath Farms
Red Okami Spinach – McGrath Farms
Japanese Turnips – McGrath Farms
Red Bok Choy from Coleman Farms! – Also known as Red Violet Tatsoi Hybrid, this is a unique bok choy vartiety The shiny leaves range in color from red-violet to dark purple, and they hold their color well even in the summer heat, although this variety also tolerates colder temperatures. Lightly textured, the spoon-shaped leaves have a mild mustard flavor.
Duck Eggs – from Ramona Duck Farms!! Larger in size than chicken eggs, the whites of duck eggs tend to be a bit more thick and opaque and the yolks are a striking yellow. As the bird is naturally wilder, duck eggs typically have a stronger flavor compared to that of a chicken egg.
Black garlic is cultivated and harvested right here in California and it is waiting to allure you…
The farmers market is filled with vivid reds and deliciousness! Gloria Tamai Farms has Gaviota Strawberries. Coleman Family Farms has Vulcan Red Leaf lettuce, Rancho Del Sol and Garcia Organics are harvesting some amazing Blood Oranges!! Coastal Organics grows giant red violet chard and Jaime Farms is bringing some sweet Black Cherry Tomatoes!!!
Red Mustard Greens: Windrose Farm
Braising Greens Mix: Rutiz Farms; a blend of delicious young greens – Hon Tsai Tai, Komatsuma, Red Russian Kale, Green and Red Mustard, and Tatsoi
Bloomsdale Spinach: Tutti Frutti Farms
Beck Grove – Fallbrook, CA:
Beck Grove, Fallbrook is home to a 100% certified biodynamic and organic orchard/farm. Biodynamic farming stimulates and supports soil fertility through the use of farm-produced manures and composts. Beck Grove has a singular cow that meets all of their manure needs. I was there and the scent was in the air. Their orchard was converted from an abandoned avocado farm to the 33 acre orchard where over 15 different fruit crops, most of which are unique to the produce landscape, yet perfect for a chef’s palate. There grove spirals east to west and north to south with rows upon rows of fuyu persimmons, pomegranetes, kumquats, kaffir limes, blood oranges, satsuma tangerines, meyer lemons, bearrs limes, passion fruit and minneolas. As with many growers, due to water restrictions the orchard faces serious consequential decisions of having to let some of the land go wild as they will not be afforded the water resources to feed all of their crops.
kaffir limes – indulgent, fragrant, sexy, sweet, zesty are just a few words that come to mind when thinking about this exotic citrus that is finally finding its way to a more “global” stage.
Beylik Family Farms – Fillmore, CA
Persian Cucumbers – petite and crunchy! No seeds=sweet!
Japanese Tomatoes – “Tough Boy” brings hefty flavor, succulence and meatiness.
Yellow Tomatoes – sweet, tangy and heartier than your average yellow tomato!
Coastal Organics – Oxnard, CA
Coleman Family Farm – Carpinteria, CA
Pirella Lettuce – A mild-flavored limestone variety originally developed in Kentucky to withstand the heat!
Deer’s Tongue Lettuce – Triangular shaped leaves give this loose-leaf lettuce its distinct look and name. The leaves are tender, mild, succulent and have a melt-in-your-mouth flavor.
Red Butter (Piret) Lettuce – you won’t find this anywhere else! Award-winning for its taste and texture, Pirat is a butterhead variety that has tender and sweet red-tinged leaves with a snappy succulent blanched heart.
Vulcan Lettuce! A cut and come again variety – It has crisp, ruffled, mild flavored, candy apple red colored leaves that give way to a pale green background.
Freckles Lettuce – Freckles! Sweet leaves, crispy inside. Perfect lettuce for salads mixes.
Lollo Rossa Lettuce – A red leaf lettuce variety, the distinct red color increases and becomes more intense in this remarkable lettuce when confronted with severe cold or heat.
Frisee – An early Italian variety Endive known for its decadent sized head and self-blanching heart. Its leaves are long and mid-toned green with a white fleshy ribs. Wonderful sweet and mellow flavor.
Treviso – Gorgeous, green and red and a hearty crunchy leaf. Has a tendency toward bitterness. Soak the greens to remove unwanted astringencies.
Red Bok Choy! – Also known as Red Violet Tatsoi Hybrid, this is a unique bok choy vartiety The shiny leaves range in color from red-violet to dark purple, and they hold their color well even in the summer heat, although this variety also tolerates colder temperatures. Lightly textured, the spoon-shaped leaves have a mild mustard flavor.
Red Frill Mustard –
Persian Watercress – A.K.A. “Shahi” the peppery frilly leaf that has a similar shape to wild arugula, yet it is more fragile and “cressier” in flavor.
Stinging Nettles –
Chrysanthemum – This Asian “pot herb” is the edible leaves of the garland chrysanthemum. The deeply lobed green leaves are a bit bitter in flavor but give off the floral aromas of its flower.
Fallbrook Mushroom Farm – Fallbrook, CA:
A field trip to Fallbrook Mushroom Farm is an educated journey into a virtual Chinese forest where mushrooms where dominate the landscape. Long and narrow, screened barns are home to thousands upon thousands of oyster “spawns” and shitake logs. The mushrooms are cultivated on agro-waste (which is essentially recycled agricultural food sources) in spawns filled with rice, grains, cotton, straw, wheat, millet and maize that serve as the mushrooms’ food and protein source. The spawned bags (see picture above) are stored in low-lit raised shelving as they begin colonizing. They are watered from a sprinkling system above daily to retain the appropriate levels of moisture for the mushrooms to grow prolifically. Harvests occur approximately every 60 days and are picked before the mushrooms begin to spore. The most effective way to harvest the mushrooms is to remove the entire colony from the spawn’s stem so that a new crop can grow all at once. One spawn bag can cultivate about 3-5 harvests.
Baby Oyster Mushrooms – These mushrooms are harvested at a younger age than their sand dolllar counterparts. They have a mild and delicately earthy flavor. The stems, although still a little chewy are far more edible than a matured oyster mushroom stem. They have more adaptable cooking applications at their younger age.
peewee shitakes – 100% edible!!! Tiny, thin and tender stalks and a meaty cap make for an amazing mushroom experience! The mushrooms are harvested the SAME day they arrive in your kitchen. And their local!!!
The shiitakes are farm raised and harvested on protein filled cedar logs. The logs can produce over 4 pounds of mushrooms over their lifetime. They are also 100% recyclable. Once the logs are exhausted they can be used for composting or as a natural fertilizer.
What is unique about Fallbrook Mushroom Farms besides the information that I shared with you? Well, considering that 85% of the world’s oyster mushroom production comes from China and the fact that the oyster mushroom is the third largest cultivated mushroom, having an oyster mushroom farm in our own back yard is simply a privilege. Fallbrook Mushroom Farm is a pristinely run organic family farm. They harvest their mushrooms the same day we have them delivered and they are harvesting the mushrooms smaller so that they are more tender and the mushrooms themselves are higher yielding. The mushroom caps range in sizes from button to half-dollar versus SAND dollar, making them the only oyster mushrooms known to be picked at that size. You can do so much more with these mushrooms than adding them to “Hot Pot”. *available by the pound or by the five pound flat.
Garcia Organic Farm – Fallbrook, CA
Fuerte Avocados – This former market gold standard was displaced by the Hass avocado because of its thicker skin and ability to handle being shipped to distant marketplaces.
Meiwa Kumquats! Pop in your mouth, eat, Repeat! Sweet!!
Cara Cara Oranges –
Meyer Lemons –
Kishu Mandarins –
Cocktail Grapefruit –
Developed in the 1950’s, the Cocktail Grapefruit is actually a hybrid of Siamese Sweet pommelo and Frua mandarin. As it was never officially allowed for release, the hybrid escaped from the University of California Riverside.
Gloria Tamai Farms, Oxnard, CA
Wild Arugula (bunches)
Plus!!: Dill, Mint, Italian Parsley, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower
Jaime Farm – Ontario, CA
Mixed Baby Bunch Carrots – beautiful yellow, orange, red, and purple haze carrots with tops
Baby Gold Turnips –
Rainbow Chard – striking colors, hearty leaves.
Black Cherry Tomatoes
J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch
Bacon Avocados – This avocado is a mid-winter green variety. It is a good quality medium-sized fruit averaging 10-12 ounces. The Bacon has a sheen green easy peeling skin with a flavorful, smooth and creamy flesh.
Zutano Avocaods – Shiny green skin, pale light and fluffy flesh, sweet but not oily. Skin retains its green color even when ripe!
Walnuts – grown in the Santa Rita Hills at Rancho La Viña; these are addictive!!!
Life’s A Choke – Lompoc, CA
Lyon Artichoke with stem– large and in charge! This is a very jumbo, round, meaty variety from Southern France that yields a whole lot of heart!!
Baby Anzio Artichokes
Baby Green Zucchini
Asparagus: Pencil to Jumbo
McGrath Family Farm – Camarillo, CA
Pea Tendrils –
Black Radishes –
Japanese Turnips –
Rainbow Chard –
Beets: Chioggia (Candy Stripe), Forono, Gold, Red & White – Forono Beet produces smooth, cylindrical shape beets–for perfectly round slices every time.
Rapini Spigariello and Sessantina Grossa
Red Okami Spinach (3 lb. Box) – Delicate lovely, baby red spinach produces rich green spear-shaped leaves with tender contrasting red edible stems and offer a mild spinach flavor.
Mixed “Saute” Greens (3 lb. box) – A gorgeous mix of flavorfull and spicy baby greens suitable for salads and light sautéeing. In the mix: mustard greens, mustard frill, dandelion greens, arugula and tatsoi.
Wild Arugula (3 lb. box)
Mike and Son Egg Ranch – Ontario, CA
Brown Eggs farm fresh eggs that are unequivocally delicious with gleaming yolks! Each egg is individually candled! (5 doz case only)
Polito Family Farm – Valley Center, CA
Oro Blanco Grapefuit – golden-flesh, sweet and juicy
Clementine Tangerines –
Perfection Tangerines – seedless, sweet and perfect!!!!! This tangerine makes other tangerines seem…well…less than perfect.
Pudwill Farm – Nipomo, CA
RANCHO DEL SOL – Jamul, CA
Kishu Mandarins – Seedless and very easy to peel, golf ball size Kishu mandarins (tangerines) offer a sweet and tangy flavor. Measuring typically about two inches in diameter, the skin is exceptionally loose. The flesh is a beautiful bright orange and super juciy.
Italian Sorrento Lemons
Cara Cara Oranges!
Sweet Limes –
Cara Cara Oranges
Oro Blanco Grapefruit
Rutiz Farm – Arroyo Grande, CA
Persian Watercress– a unique variety, with a wonderfully spicy-sweet kick
Baby Green Romanesco –
Baby Calabrese Broccoli – available sporadically until late fall..
Savoy Spinach – cut in small clusters of 3-4 leaves – beautiful!!
Sugar Snap Peas –
French Breakfast Radishes!
Schaner Farm, Valley Center, CA
Hen Eggs – limited
Emu Eggs –
Tutti Frutti (Italian for All Fruit) – Santa Barbara County and Carpinteria
Baby Broccoli –
Mixed Heirloom Potatoes – Fingerling sized heirloom variety of six different potatoes, including french fingerlings, Russian bananas, King Edwards, All blues, Ruby crescents and red thumbs.
Red Thumb Potatoes – Red skinned on the outside, and pretty in pink on the inside
Russian Banana Fingerlings – oh so creamy..
Chiogga, Gold and Bull’s Blood Beets by the bunch
Braising Mix Greens -aka field greens, the mix varies but the greens are a hearty blend of baby sweet chards, kales, mustard greens and tatsoi
Oriental Mixed Greens -a perfect combination of loose leaf red and green frill mustard and mizuna
Rustic Arugula – loose leaf, frisee style and perfectly peppered!
Yasutomi Farm – Pico Rivera, CA
Baby Bok Choy – Baby bok choy’s attractive three to four inch long green leaves with characteristic succulent white stems offer a tender texture and mild, sweeter flavor.
Baby Celery – Fresh, sweet, herbaceous with leaves about the size of cilantro or parsley, baby celery delivers an intense celery flavor that is much stronger than mature celery.
Green Onion Chives – comin soon! mild, sometimes sweet green onion and chive hydroponic hybrid. great shelf-life too!
Miners Lettuce – It’s hydroponic!!! It’s an heirloom European seed. Unlike wild Miners Lettuce, this cultivated variety has a milder sweeter mache-like flavor than its more bitter counterpart. Its stems are thin, crunchy and equally edible as the tender leaves.