September 2018 Journal: Sunflower Petals, Bolongese, and Grapes Two Ways



On the cusp of autumn, fruits swell and sweeten. The world offers itself to be known, to be explored and felt and tasted. The weight of ripe tomatoes, the plump tangle of dusty grapes, the piney scent of beaded sap on black sunflower heads. That sap is called “extra-floral nectar", isn’t that a nice term? The sun slants sideways, a rich amber hue like a Sungold tomato, right before it splits open. Like a bowl of sunflower petals, radiating.

Sunflower Petal Pesto

sunflower pesto

We don’t often think of pesto made with sunflowers…or with zucchini! But trust us, this pesto-inspired zucchini basil spread is light and green and wonderfully versatile.  It is now the favorite thing to do with excess zucchini.

Zucchini & Basil Spread

zucchini basil spread

On the vine, grapes take their time. Before they are quite ripe, pick a few clusters to make verjus. It means “green juice”, but the translation doesn’t really do it justice. It’s a cooking acid and a cocktail ingredient, beloved of butter lettuce, and a quiet companion to the flavors of wine.



When the rest of the grapes are ripe, roast them. Scatter them over ice cream, or into a salad studded with goat cheese. Drape them, pooled in their sweet caramelized juices, on a cheese plate. Magnified and intensified by roasting, they retain a satisfying pop-crunch-burst in the mouth. 

Oven-Roasted Grapes with Thyme and Olive Oil

roasted grapes

And now we get down to the meat of the meal, and to the squash of it, too. This recipe from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons cookbook is one you might find yourself making more than once this year. After all, the season of summer squash is fading, but the season of winter squash has just begun.

Pumpkin Bolognese

pumpkin bolognese


We were so pleased to use a little pumpkin from our own demo garden in this recipe. We’ve been gathering seeds and flowers and pumpkins and more from the roadside garden. As we move into fall, it’s time for an irrigation tune-up, and a pruning of woody shrubs. As we harvest summer crops, we make room for the fall favorites. Wander through the garden with us here.

Garden Notes
garden notes

Workshops & Events

Come on down to the Farmer’s Market! We’re there often, filling our baskets with Produce that we don’t grow ourselves, or just can’t get enough of. Sometimes we teach classes there, too! You regular readers know all about it. Friends old and new alike are invited to join us at our latest (free!) Farmer’s Market class offering.

On September 8th the Scotts Valley Farmers' Market and September 18th the Felton market hosts their annual Apple A Day Celebration. We’ll join in the festivities with a demonstration of making applesauce at 10:30am 9/8 and 3:30 on 9/18. Participants in the class get a recipe for fresh applesauce, an overview of water-bath canning, and a 10% off coupon good for everything in our kitchen store up in Ben Lomond. The market will host all sorts of apple festivities as well, with fresh apple pressing and live music. Fun for all ages, and tasty, to boot.


Hard Apple Cider Class
For those interested in a harder kind of apple cider, save the date for October 6th. We’re holding a hard cider class, in partnership with the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market. Participants will get a box of apples with their class fee, as well as a comprehensive overview of everything cider, from choosing apples and pressing juice, to adding yeast, primary and secondary fermentation, bottling, carbonation. Sign up online, or in store.)


Savor these last moments of the season. It’s been a hard year for fire in California, and though we’ll miss the melons and tomatoes, we welcome the thought of full rivers, cool rain, and the sprouting green foliage of garden and forest. We’re not there yet…but the cool misty mornings are already murmuring about clouds and rain. In the meantime, eat the flowers, smell the tomatoes, and drink in the glowing sunsets. We are lucky to be here, wherever we are.

This journal and the articles in it were written by Jessica Tunis, unless otherwise noted.