Writer: ELSA CAVASOS | Photographer: SARAH A MILLER | Nov./Dec. 2017
Since the beginning of their relationship, Jessica and Justin Bullock have enjoyed a life that embodies a common love of nature and sustainable agriculture. As a young couple, they began growing organic, chemical-free vegetables in 2007 and six years later opened Red Moon Farm on 38 acres in Van, Texas.
“The vast majority of our work is (growing)organic produce,” Jessica says. “We have chickens, as well, but our focus is the vegetables. Everything
we use for our produce is approved (nonchemical) substances, but mostly we rely on healthy soil.”
The Bullocks sell some of their produce each Saturday morning at the Rose City Farmer’s Market in the parking of Juls restaurant in Tyler. However, their main focus is growing healthy food for dozens of families participating in their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership service.
CSA members commit to buying produce each week from the Bullocks, who grow and deliver it to host families in different cities. These families serve as the pick-up points for the members.
The 100 families who participate in their CSA each week receive a box full of freshly harvested organic zucchinis, yellow squash, bell peppers, beets, green beans and other selections. at their farm near Van, Texas.
The Bullocks say it typically takes them six hours to get all the boxes assembled and packed and about a full day of making the deliveries to the pick-up sites located throughout the region.
Twice a year, the Bullocks also host a dinner at which they serve guests carefully crafted meals featuring food grown at the farm and beef from cattle raised by their partners, Twin Pines Beef.
“We get creative with these farm-to-table events,” Jessica says. “We bring live music and create menus that will be different but exquisite at the same time. We are always proud to show off our vegetables and what can be made from them.”
At a recent dinner, they served pork belly wrapped meatloaf sitting on a sweet potato puree and a lemon and beet ice cream churned at the farm.
The Bullocks are driven by love and devotion to Mother Nature and because they enjoy it so much, do not see what they do as a job.
“Justin and I never saw ourselves in a cubicle job with fluorescent lights looking down on us,” Jessica says. “We like to be outside and if we can do that while also helping the community at the same time, then we are happy to do it.”
How does Community Supported Agriculture work?
Members are essentially shareholders in a farm, reaping the benets of the harvest, connecting with a food source and supporting local agriculture.
Red Moon CSA members agree to buy a share of produce each week during a 10-week season.
Each week, members receive a box full of fresh, seasonal vegetables grown at Red Moon Farm. The contents vary depending on what’s ripe. To learn more about Red Moon Farm, go to redmoonfarmtx.com.
Recipes from Red Moon Farm
ROASTED SPRING SALAD WITH FENNEL AND RADICCHIO
- 1-2 fennel bulbs
- 1 bunch of carrots
- a few beets
- 1 head of broccoli
- 1 head of raddichio
- 2 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- half a lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- cracked pepper to taste
Scrub the beets and parboil them on the stove top in a heavy sauce pan until you can pierce them with a fork. Cool to handling temperature then remove the skins. Halve or quarter any large beets. While beets are simmering and cooling, prepare the fennel.
Preheat the oven to 375. Trim the fennel bulb and thinly slice on a mandolin from top to bottom, keeping the base intact. If you don’t have a mandolin, simply use a sharp knife and slice as thinly as you can through the whole bulb from top to bottom. Toss with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Roast until beginning to turn golden brown, turn and roast for another minute or two. If your pieces are not an even thickness, they may not brown evenly. Not to worry, just remove them as they are done and allow the rest to finish cooking. Remove to a plate to cool.
Turn oven up to 400. Place beets, carrots, peeled garlic cloves, and broccoli florets evenly on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until taking on some color and the broccoli is a touch crispy. The broccoli will be done first, so remove and continue roasting the rest, about 25-35 min. total. Turn the vegetables as needed to prevent burning.
While you let the vegetables cool a bit, coarsely chop the radicchio and place in a large serving bowl.
Make the dressing: combine all dressing ingredients in an empty jar, screw the lid on tight, and shake to emulsify. Transfer the vegetables on top of the bed of radicchio, arrange the fennel crisps on top, and drizzle on the dressing. Ta da!
SHREDDED CHICKEN AND ROASTED CHICKPEA TACOS WITH GARDEN VEGGIES
Depending on the vegetables in your fridge, you can change the proportions, substitute one for another, or throw in something entirely different. I’d imagine shredded cabbage, sliced cucumber, tomato, salad turnip, or collard would all work beautifully. Also, I would be interested to see someone try this dish with shredded beef. We will be well stocked with Twin Pines Beef in just another week or two, right in time for the summer CSA deliveries.
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 2 Tablesoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablepoon garlic, minced
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (Available in our webstore from Lonesome Lady Ranch!)
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 8-oz. beer
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chili powder-Ancho or New Mexican
- 1 Tbs garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 fennel bulb, finely shaved
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 jalapeno, sliced into rings
- finely shredded kale, cabbage, or Swiss chard
Corn and Flour tortillas, warmed on the stove top
- Salt and pepper
- Sour cream
Chicken: Preheat oven to 450. In a hot skillet, heat the coconut oil and sear the chicken on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Place chicken and beer in a baking dish and roast in the over for 20 min. While baking prepare your spices. Once the chicken is finished cooking, place in a bowl and shred with two forks, adding your spice mix and most of the pan juices to make the chicken super moist.
Chickpeas: drain can of all liquid, mix all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat the chickpeas. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for about 30 minutes, until fully cooked, soft, and a bit dry to the touch. Don’t roast them all the way to crispy.
Thinly slice the garden vegetables you have chosen to use.
Assemble some top notch tacos and dig in!
PEA SHOOTS WITH BROWNED BUTTER
When butter is browned, it takes on a warm, nutty flavor perfect for the nuttiness of the tender pea shoots. This lightly cooked vegetable would be tasty aside roast chicken, or graceful underneath a filet of grilled fish. Enjoy this rare treat.
Serves 4 as a side.
- 1 large bunch of fresh pea shoots
- 3 Tbs. European style butter
- salt and pepper to taste
Wash and trim the pea shoots, removing tough stems or lower portions. The best parts of the pea shoots are very tender. If you cannot pierce and break the stem easily with your finger nail and thumb, it’s tougher than you want for this preparation. Snip with kitchen shears into 3- 4-inch segments and set aside.
Select the highest quality butter you can find. We like Plugra brand, but if you can find it, Organic Valley’s pastured, cultured, organic butter is the best. Watch out for sticker shock, but truck me, using just a few tablespoons of high quality butter is worth it for such a delicacy as pea shoots. In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and swirl around the pan occasionally. Watch carefully for it to begin to brown, which takes 2-3 minutes. Once browned, place the shoots in the pan and quickly toss to coat. Toss constantly, evenly heating the shoots, until all leaves are wilted and lightly cooked, about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
ROASTED RADISHES, PEPPERS, & GARLIC
You can use any amounts of these vegetable that you have on hand, but here’s how I did it:
- 4-6 beautiful bell peppers, in any color
- 8-9 radishes
- 5 cloves of garlic
- sea salt
- olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Trim the tops and tiny root off of the radishes then scrub the dirt off. If your radishes are small, leave them whole for a lovely look, or halve or quarter them if they’re quite large. Toss with a little olive oil and sea salt and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes.
Wash and chop the peppers into large bite-sized pieces. Peel the garlic and cut any large cloves in half of thirds. Toss all in olive oil and a bit of sea salt.
After the radishes have pre-roasted for 10 minutes, flip them over and add the peppers and garlic to the same baking sheet in a single layer. Roast all together for another 30-35 minutes, until all are tender and caramelizing. Check periodically for too much browning.
You can serve immediately, while warm, or make a day ahead and refrigerate. Try this mix in another dish like a quiche or frittata, a tart, or another wonderful recipe.