Monday, September 29, 2008

Cooking Under the Influence

Busted. I admit it. I have been cooking under the influence. Considering my 15 years of sobriety, don't worry...I am under the influence of Barbara Kingsolver's, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

The gist of the book is to eat locally for many reasons. I haven't finished the book, but I believe the main reasons are to cut back on a consumer's demand on petroleum (farm equipment & transporting the food great distances in refrigerated trucks and is harmful to the environment), support of the local farmers, and eating food that is the freshest possible.

Tonight's meal was CA Sea Bass that I pan sauteed and topped with Jeff's version of Vivianne's Fried Italian Peppers. This is a very simple dish made with our farm fresh peppers that have been sliced and sauteed with good olive oil and a touch of garlic. We needed a salad so I picked our two winning tomato varieties, White Queen and Paul Robeson. I also picked the last of our lettuces, speckled and Amish deer tongue, some arugula and a few leaves of basil. I marinated the tomato chunks in a little olive oil (my current favorite is Dry Creek Olive Company's Three Orchard's blend) and some of our home-made red wine vinegar and thinly sliced basil. We also happened to have some prosciutto on hand so I threw that in, too. Not exactly local...but certainly not wasteful!

Dessert was sliced ripe Bartlett pears from our tree in the backyard. I heated up a little local (Clover) butter, added the pear slices, tossed them around a bit, added some maple syrup (from my local Trader Joe's store...does that count?) and then crumbled some left over ginger molasses cookie bits over the top. Served with a dollop of non-fat Greek-style yogurt. YUM.

Tomorrow I am going to make some soup with our Swiss "Bright Lights" chard, small pieces of Jeff's bacon and some white beans. I want to do what I can to eat as much as possible from our garden.

We are also in the process of canning & preserving everything and anything we can. Today we bought a 9 gallon glass bottle/carboy for making our red wine vinegar. The little crock we were using just wasn't big enough. See...we have parties and folks bring red wine and the bottles are opened but not finished and they are leftover lurking in the kitchen. We started making vinegar a couple years ago but just are not keeping up with the excess!

Now I need to find 40 to 50 cases of Kerr 8 ounce jelly jars in preparation for the famous Zinfandel grape jelly! Let me know if you have a secret stash!

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Have you seen where Summer has gone?

I can't believe how fast Summer zoomed past. CRAZY!!! I am just now sitting down share our exciting tomato news only to realize that this all took place 3 weeks ago!

Windsor Farmers Market holds an annual Tomato and Pepper Festival the first Sunday of September. Included in that festival is a tomato competition/judging. Last year we won: First place in the purple-black tomato category with a "Cherokee Purple", first place in the yellow category with "Olga's Round Yellow Chicken" (you've gotta know we HAVE to grow that one!) and third place in the red category with our Florentines.

This year I am proud to announce more ribbons!!!

We won first place in the purple-black category with "Paul Robeson", named after the famous actor, second place in the white-yellow category for "White Queen" and...drum roll please...BEST OF SHOW for Paul Robeson.

Farmer Jeff has worked very hard to produce tasty tomatoes. We don't water them as much as other growers do. We have smaller tomatoes, but the ribbons show they have been judged and deemed BEST!!!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Coming Soon...the Tomato Competition

We have been beyond busy and writing at 1:21am is not the ideal. Sleep is the ideal. Keeping that in mind, I will sneak back to bed and write more when I am next awake. Then I will tell you all about the tomato competition!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Wolves Inside

Years ago this parable, attributed to the Cherokee tribe, was sent to me and I lost my copy. As I am struggling to find peace within (so I can settle down and go to sleep at 1 am)I decided to look for it on the internet...and found it! It is perfect for me right now. It has, in the past, helped me enormously and I pray it helps me tonight!

The Wolves Inside You

An elder Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He
said to them, "A fight is going on inside me.. it is a terrible fight and it is
between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret,
greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false
pride, superiority, and ego.

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth,
compassion, and faith."

"This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other
person, too", he added.

The Grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then one child
asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The wise Grandfather simply replied... "The one you feed."

Tonight I will feed the "positive" wolf.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Hot Summer = Crush

Right now, I could really use some sleep. We are working a lot of hours, doing a lot of events, I have a lot of paperwork to do...BUT it was too damn hot to sleep! Once I woke up I found myself listening to the traffic on the road and started counting the trucks going past that were hauling grape bins. (Honestly, they DO make a different sound!)

Crush is on in full force. We were at a wine tasting the other night along with other wine industry folks and one of the guests was on the phone with her staff discussing which grapes had been picked that day. Crush waits for no man...or woman.

The Farm is also going great guns. The peppers are not only at peak production, they are turning red! It is very cool! The eggplants are coming in, too. We have some really beautiful "white tango" eggplants, white looking Japanese eggplant, that are most prolific. We have something like 6 or 7 varieties of eggplant. One of them is finally popping out its fruit which is like little fat purple striped fingers.

Not only do we have the farm to look after, but lots of events. This Saturday we are serving "tastes" at the Kendall-Jackson Tomato Festival for, get this, 2,000 people. OYE!!! Farmer Chef Jeff is serving "Not Your Grandma's Tomato Aspic". It tastes like the freshest tomato salad you have ever had, but cold and jiggly! Farmer Chef Jeff calculated he would need 23 gallons of the base. Once again...OYE! He roasted some of the tomatoes to give them a deeper flavor. Brilliant! Okay, so that is one event.

Sunday is the Windsor Farmers' Market 7th Annual Tomato and Pepper Festival. We have entered some tomatoes for judging and have high hopes for a ribbon or two! Last year we won 3 ribbons! In addition to the tomato judging, the Windsor Farmers Market in cooperation with Windsor and El Molino High School Culinary Arts program is building the World's Largest BLT. Farmer Jeff is donating the bacon necessary to build the 135 foot sandwich! He put the bacon into the smoker last night at midnight and was back at the smoker this morning at 6 am to turn it off. He will go to the culinary class at Windsor High School at 8 am to talk to the students about the process of making bacon.

To add to our already full plate, we are also appearing at the Saturday night event, Range to Plate - An Evening Celebrating Sonoma Grown Meats. Farmer Chef Jeff created a recipe the event with lamb, the meat he was given to showcase. He created: North African Lamb Sausages with Eggplant Charmoula and Toasted Almond and Mint Cous Cous. YUM!!!

Well...that is what we have to get ready for so I had best go get myself in gear for the day! Have a great weekend!

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