Slow Food Santa Cruz: Annual Edible Gardens Tour
This past weekend was the annual Slow Food Santa Cruz Edible Gardens Tour. The tour which normally focuses on private gardens, highlighted school gardens this year. We stopped at three different schools to see what they called “gardens”, but were more like small farms! One of the sites had about 30 varieties of apple trees. Students are out in the gardens learning both during and after school, as the curriculum is highly tied to the gardens. The dedicated staff teaches gardening, nutrition, and cooking utilizing garden ingredients.
The Fitness 4 Life program introduces additional components of health such as biking, dance, and other forms of exercise. The kids made fruit packed bike-powered smoothies at the event, using one of their Rock the Bike bicycles. It was amazing to see the kids pedaling as fast as they could to blend the fruit.
Just to give you an idea of what was in the gardens: figs, avocado, kiwi, apples, rose hips, grapes, persimmons, kale, sunflowers, corn, tomatoes, 5 or so varieties of peppers, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, stevia, mint, verbena, and I could go on….
To learn more about the Santa Cruz chapter of Slow Food visit our website.
If you’re ever driving along the One, and passing the Pescadero area (a little south of San Francisco), stop to hike along the ocean and marsh. There’s some good bird-watching to do, and spots to stop for thoughtful contemplation. I sat on a bench and read for nearly an hour, becoming so absorbed in the book that I forgot where I was.
Another jem near Pescadero along the One, is Pie Ranch. As the name implies, they have pie for sale, however the ranch is so much more. While I’d been inside the Pie Ranch shop before, I’d never seen the actual farm. Lucky for me, they offer a self-guided tour of the farm, which is exactly what I did.
I was greeted by goats and a puppy, fields of greens, fruit trees, and veggies galor.
And back in Santa Cruz…for anyone that wonders why I love running so much at the crack of dawn…this picture should explain it.
And now for the food!
Blanching loads of organic tomatoes I harvested at Live Earth Farm. Tomato sauce recipe is below!
Protein-Packed Pasta with Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 1.5 cups dry brown lentils
- 1 box of pasta (I used a brown rice and quinoa blend)
- 1 tbl avocado oil
- 4 cups kale, chopped
- 2 cups tomato sauce (see recipe below)
- Few handfuls of fresh herbs, chopped (oregano, rosemary, basil)
What to do:
- Rinse the lentils, add to a medium pot with 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender (around 20 minutes).
- While the lentils are cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions.
- In a skillet heat the avocado oil, and add the kale. Cook over medium heat for around 5 minutes.
- Once the lentils and pasta are cooked, drain them both and add them together in one pot. Stir in the tomato sauce and kale.
- Plate the pasta, top with some herbs, and enjoy!
Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 12-15 medium tomatoes
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbl oregano
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbl olive oil
What to do:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Carefully add the tomatoes and cook for one minute until the skin begins to split. Transfer the tomatoes into a big bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cooled slightly, peel the tomatoes completely.
- Add the tomatoes and other ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth
- You can add the blended sauce back to a large saucepan over medium-low heat, cooking for around 15 minutes. Add some olive oil before adding the tomato sauce to prevent sticking! Stir frequently and allow some of the liquid to evaporate (concentrating the flavors). This extra cooking time also makes the lycopene in the tomatoes more available for your body to absorb.
- Remove the pan from the heat, let the sauce cool, and divide evenly into glass mason jars. Leave a bit of room at the top of the jars if you plan on freezing them (the liquid will expand as it freezes). You could also can the sauce, however I’m not (yet) familiar with the process.