Sunday, July 10, 2016

Cooking - always an adventure!

OMG - yes I make PLENTY of mistakes in the kitchen - some correctable, some not. For example I had some skinny asparagus so I decided to make my Asparagus Rice soup a little while ago - but whoops! Turns out what I thought was brown arborio rice was actually Barley - so a new version was born - Barley Asparagus soup - slightly different but still delicious. Note to self - when putting grains in a cute glass container in the cupboard include the label.
Barley or brown arborio rice?

Then a few days later I needed to sauté some onions for something or other and got distracted and walked away from the pan - and hello burned onions! Not recoverable. And what a nice smell that greeted me when I went back downstairs! My friend Rachel was just arriving for our walk and she was like - What? - you burned something?! - YES. No one is perfect in the kitchen. Just some things are less disastrous than others - and really in the scheme of things, what's a little burned onions? As they say, no use crying over spilt milk or burned onions - you gotta just get back on the horse. Ok, sorry enough cliches. Go watch your pot. XO

Nicely burned onions

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Pluot by any other name

Whether you call them Pluots or Plumcots - either way they are delicious! Basically it is a hybrid of a Plum and an Apricot - firm and sweet yet tart - and when my friend Mindy said her trees were full and they were not going to last much longer I got my happy self over to her house and cranked out a
couple huge batches of Plumcot Jam. The color is amazing - and the taste even better. We adapted a recipe from Sunset magazine - it's crazy the amount of sugar they want you to put in - so here is our nicely tart version - you could use Plums if you can't find these at your friends or farmers market - but beware - you don't want this kind of Plums ; 0
Although I do now own a cherry/plum pitter so theoretically I could do it with that other type...

Spiced Pluot Jam

6 cups diced Pluots - basically you need to remove the pits but leave the skin so we just chopped them around the pits as they were big enough.
2 cups sugar (I think we only used about 1 cup of sugar - so use your own judgement if you like it tart use less)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 bay leaf
1 orange - using a vegetable peeler get long pieces of the peel without the white part and big enough so you can fish them out later
1 vanilla bean split in half

Throw everything in a large wide pot and bring to a simmer - stirring and removing the foam that rises to the top for about an hour or until it's thick. To test this put a little plate in the freezer and pour a tablespoon on it and if it sets up when you tilt the plate you are good. Next fish out the leaf, peels and bean scraping the pod to get all the yummy seeds in and then either refrigerate in jars or process in water bath for 5 min. Make some toast and enjoy summer all year long!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Becky-wiches and Cookies for Tuesday Music

I love our Tuesday Music on the Plaza here in Healdsburg! Every Tuesday in the summer everyone puts their blankets and chairs down and gets together for food, wine and catching up - oh yeah there is music too! Last night my friend Caroline was in town for work so she got to party with us (and Uncle Sam) after!  I harvested the first 2 - yes count them - 2! Speckled Roman Tomatoes- so I cut them in half and sprinkled with some olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted at 200 degrees for about 3 hours in my little toaster oven - then with those I made the 1st of 2 sandwiches (or as our friends like to call them Becky-wiches) for our picnic. This first one was MY roasted tomatoes with mozzarella and prosciutto toasted; and the second one was pesto mayo, fresh sliced tomatoes (these I had to buy at the farmers market as my others are not quite ready yet - but soon!) mozzarella and basil both on ciabatta rolls from Downtown Creamery and Bakery. And for desert - Dark chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies - oh yeah. And Yes - this is The Best Town Ever!

"Uncle Sam" walks around every year collecting donations (and hugs) for our even more amazing 4th of July Fireworks show - Can't wait!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

FFA Parade and Cake Auction

OK, Healdsburg is adorable. Can I tell you how adorable? Every year the Thursday before Memorial day is the FFA (Future Farmer's of America for those not in the know) Parade in our little town. Everybody lines the streets with their chairs by noon and at 6pm the parade and the wine drinking start.  Half of town is walking in the parade; the other half is sitting and watching - this year I was in the former group! That's right - I'm on the Board of the Healdsburg Farmers Market so I helped proudly carry our sign on the parade route in front of our "float" which was a way cool old truck and trailer. We passed out little hand stamped (by me, my friend Mindy and her 2 adorable girls) sunflower seed packets and waved to the crowds. And then there is the Fair - I've never made it to that part of the event but then Mindy invited me to bake a cake for the auction (ok, coerced) and go with her and the girls on Friday night. Well the theme this year was Beach Party so this is the cake I baked - it was a yellow cake with strawberry jam in the middle and vanilla frosting - on top are Teddy grahams sitting on "beach towels" made out of candy strips and "floating" in the ocean in gummy Lifesavers. About as damn adorable as my town right?! Then they auction off the cakes (I think the $ goes to a scholarship) and mine went for $220! But the real treat was that I won the "Best Decorated Cake" Award! So fun!!
Auctioning my cake

The Award
Mindy's cake was adorable too - and her's went for the highest bid of the night - 350 bucks! So a successful night for all!
Mindy's adorable Sheep Cake
And no, we didn't have any fun during the parade. Not one bit.
And yes - you can see the actual award on the wall now in my office ; ))))

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wednesday Night Farmers Market opens tomorrow!

Blueberries from my garden
In case you haven't heard - our little mid-week market opens tomorrow 6/1/16 in Healdsburg - in the parking lot next to Shed by the Purity building - and there is parking! I'll be there shopping tomorrow even though I'm growing my own now - this is our first harvest of blueberries - maybe someday I'll have enough for a pie or at least more than a handful but for now I can supplement at the market! Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Chicken Lettuce Wraps - out of my garden!

My dear friend Mindy had us over to their farm for dinner and since she had so much lettuce - beautiful big butter leaf heads - she decided to make PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps - and it was delicious! So much so that when I got some tender sweet lettuces of my own (woohoo!) last week I decided to make it for the two of us - Mindy shared the recipe and I made a few adjustments so here you go.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps serves 2 with a little leftover

tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chicken breast tenders (these cooked up so easily)
1/4 onion diced fine
2/3 cup mushrooms diced
1 clove garlic chopped
1 can water chestnuts diced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
about 6 large whole leaves of butter lettuce (or iceberg if you can't find or grow ; )

In a large pan heat the oil over medium high heat then cook the chicken tenders until browned and cooked cooked through, remove and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pan and put in the onion and cook about 5 min. Toss in the mushrooms and cook until soft then add the garlic for the last couple min. Meanwhile dice the cooled chicken into tiny bites then add to the pan along with the rest, the water chestnuts, soy, vinegar and ginger- tossing around to coat and re-heat the chicken and make all the flavors meld. Serve in the lettuce "cups" and drizzle over the sauce. I served with brown rice for a perfect dinner.

1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons each of
soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot chinese mustard (or 1/2 teaspoon coleman's dry mustard)
2 teaspoons garlic red chile paste
1 tablespoon corn starch
For the Sauce - mix all together and cook in a small pan for just a few minutes until slightly thickened.

Thanks Mindy for sharing the recipe and and extra big thanks for having us over! And, if you are like my friend and don't like mushrooms you can leave them out - my husband who is not thrilled about mushrooms either ate it but liked that Mindy had left them out! I get it - if this recipe had cilantro in it I wouldn't add that!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Farmer's Market opens in Healdsburg this Saturday!

YEAH! I'm so excited to finally, after the cold, wet winter months have the Healdsburg Farmer's Market back! I can't wait to go and see all the farmers and what they have growing - and bring home bags full of fresh veggies, eggs, flowers and lots more! So meet me at Shed at 8:30 for a cappuccino and scone and then a stroll around the market! Some of you may already know but I was asked to join the HCFM board last year as their Community Rep - so along with getting to voice my opinion -ahem - I also got invited to their Holiday Party - this year held at Shed - it was a wonderful pot luck dinner; as you can imagine all great food. It reminded me of when I was a kid and went with my mom after church to the pot lucks - that is only thing I do miss about church- those big tables laden with homemade cakes and desserts galore! This night I was too busy socializing and eating to get a shot of the table with all the dishes before it was attacked by hungry farmers -You will just have to imagine all the lovely food that filled those bowls - I'll try to get some better shots at the Mid-summer dinner
 ; ) So come out and support your local Farmers!

Healdsburg Farmer's Market Starts Saturday May 7

The farmers of Healdsburg and the local region are proud to be peddling their produce at the Market's seasonal opening Saturday, May 7, from 9:00 to noon. The Market will be located in its usual spot in the North Street parking lot behind the Bear Republic and Hotel Healdsburg, and across from Shed. 

But this is not a usual year. There's been plenty of rain to ripen the rutabaga, but no flooding to drench the daisies. Look for the goodness of early spring: leeks, green garlic, kale, carrots, lettuce, chard, arugula, strawberries, flowers and more. 

So much more than vegetables is the flowering of community at the Market. Here you will meet your neighbors and friends to share stories around eating. Like a high school reunion you'll forget names, but say hi again to the folks who work so hard to grow your food. There's Yael Bernier, Emmett Hopkins, David Pew, Ed Miller, Lou Preston, Mat Humphrey, Renee Kiff, Mary and Bert, Joan and Horace, Stan and Terri, Jim Neufield, Duncan the mushroom guy, Sharon Vyborny, Russ Messing, Dan Magnusen, Sam who carries forward Nancy's spirit for Middleton Farm,  Manuel Reyes, the Basurtos and the Busalacchis. Hey, a hug is even better. 

In a class of his own there is Alan Podesto, the Cloverdale guy who makes the ceramic dishes that make your food taste even better. And look for the new farms that are popping up like dandelions in the spring. Our Market welcomes Noci Sonoma and Porter Creek Farm this year, and there will be more.

Organic and sustainable are the new normal; many of our farmers are certified and all are healthy and wholesome.  Grass-fed is hot and it's at your market too. Say howdy to local ranchers Deb Owens and John Ford, visit boutique butcher Sonoma Meat Company, sample cheeses from West County and Mendocino, and rustle up a herd of seafood from Bodega. And enjoy the buzz of Hector's Honey with our friend Sandra.
Hungry at the Market? Try fried chicken biscuits from Backyard Restaurant, market veggies in a wrap from Green Grocer's Taco Farm, bag a baguette from Costeaux Bakery, or just munch your way from stand to stand while jiving to the bluegrass tunes of The Foggy Mountain Boys on opening day.

What better way to start your weekend? The Healdsburg Farmer's Market is in your town; it IS your town. Bring the family; become a part of it.