Farm Day!

My friends and I recently took a tour of 5 farms in Vacaville, CA. It is about an hour drive outside of San Francisco, in the Pleasants Valley area of Solano County. The tour was made possible by the Slow Food Solano and Solano Grown groups. We started the tour at Soul Food Farm. There, they have pastured eggs, chickens, and Olive Oil. They are also starting to grow a bunch of lavender in collaboration with the woman that helps run the next farm we visited, Morningsun Herb Farm. They have lavender there, too, along with culinary and medicinal herbs. The next farm we went to was the Be Love Farm. The owners of this farm also own Cafe Gratitude, and Gracias Madre, which are vegan restaurants in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The fourth farm on the tour was Sunny Slope Orchard. There, they shared fresh squeezed orange juice and oranges and other citrus as well as showed us their fruit trees. They have apricots, peaches, plums, figs, citrus and persimmons. Lastly, we went to Mercier Grapevines. Here, they grow grapevines to sell to local wineries/vineyards. They showed us how they graft together the vines and they also let us take one vine home to grow and one already growing pot of grapes. It was a hot, fun day learning about the local farms and how they operate. I am definitely grateful for these small farmers that take the time out of their day to give tours and teach people about the food they produce. Support your local farmers! Go to the farmer’s market! Buy local! Really, it not just about supporting them, but it will help you eat healthier and it is always good to know where your food comes from. Below, there is a slideshow of the photos I took on the farms (in no particular order). All of the farms offer tours; just go to their website to find out more information!

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April Showers Bring May Flowers.

Can you believe that we are only a couple of weeks away from May, already?

I know that I was definitely busy between, uh, last July and now. :)

But now that I am all caught up on the exciting things I’ve made since then, I will now share what I made in April, since I spent the month posting about the past.

In the beginning of the month, I celebrated Passover. I even hosted a Seder for the first time! I made a (super delicious) pescatarian dinner that included veggies from the farmer’s market and fish from the San Francisco Fish Company and wine from The Wine Merchant. Here is a list of recipes I made/adapted for my Seder:

Baked Stuffed Zucchini (My favorite dish, besides the matzoh ball soup.)

Matzoh Lasagna (I added spinach to mine. Surprisingly good…almost as good as lasagna made with noodles)

Matzoh Brittle (made it twice…once for my Seder, and once for a friend’s Seder. The first time, I followed the recipe and the second time, with the inspiration from a friend that came to my Seder, I added some ginger to some pieces and some cinnamon to others)

The fish part of the meal was just some sauteed cod. I just cut the fish into pieces that fit into the pan, sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. No real recipe, just cook until fish flakes apart with a fork. I think it was about 2 or 3 minutes on either side.

Throughout the month, I also made some ice cream. I got the recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, David Lebovitz. I added a chocolate fudge sauce to it while it was in the machine churning, but it turned out I added too much, because it caused the ice cream to soften and it separated. This made it a sort of micro-chocolate chip-caramel ice cream. All in all, it was pretty good. I would like to make more ice cream using his recipes and just stick with the recipe, because I have a feeling they will turn/churn out well. (See what I did there?!)

Some other things I made this month include a simple pasta dish, an orange-lemon pound cake,  and mini tartlets, again. The pasta dish was spaghetti, peas, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil all tossed and heated/cooked together in a saute pan. First, the olive oil cooks the garlic, then the peas and tomatoes are added, and finally the pasta. Lunch or dinner is ready in minutes!

The orange-lemon pound cake was made with some orange sugar…which is just like vanilla sugar, but with orange zest. All you have to do is zest some orange (or any other citrus, or a combo would be good, too) into sugar and rub them together. It makes the flavor stand out more. The recipe I used was more or less made up. It is a simple 1:1:1 ratio, as you may have guessed. In this case, it was 8 ounces butter, 8 ounces sugar, 8 ounces flour, and an egg, some vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Bake in a buttered loaf pan in a 350-degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes before overturning and cooling completely on a cooling rack.

The tartlets I made were basically the same as before, using orange curd and candied orange peel as garnish. The shells were made with a pie/tart dough recipe that used cream instead of eggs/water/other liquid. But you can go ahead and use sable dough if you’d prefer.

So, that’s what I’ve made in April (so far). I am excited for what the month of May will bring! What are some of the things that made April special for you? What are you looking forward to in May? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

All Caught Up {Fresh Pasta and Waffle Brownies}

As you may know, I have been trying to catch up on what exciting things I’ve made before returning to blogging. The last couple of items I would like to share with you are the fresh pasta and the waffle brownies I made.

Up first, the pasta. I made fresh pasta for the first time in a long time.

It is a bit of a process to knead together the flour and eggs, but once you get started, it is really easy. It is one of my favorite doughs to work by hand. Just two ingredients, rolled out thin, and cut into pieces. Cooks in a few minutes. It really couldn’t be easier. And it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than the pasta from the store. You can even add tomato or spinach right to the pasta dough (might require more flour, to make it not so sticky) which makes it so flavorful, you don’t need to add anything. Maybe just some olive oil. Oh! Pro-tip! Make sure you salt your water! It’s the best way to add salt to pasta (or to veggies).

The other item I am excited to share is waffle brownies.

These are brownies made in a waffle iron. What the what?! Yes, you can pour waffle batter into a pan and wait a long time for them to come out of the oven. OR, you can pour it on your waffle iron and have brownies in like 5 minutes! We all know that (basically) instant brownies are the best! Don’t be fooled, though, these brownies are for dessert, not breakfast. Or are they?! :)

Schmoozing in Sonoma

I went on a Sonoma wine tour with Birthright Israel/Bay Area Tribe. The “theme” of this year’s trip was “I heard it through the grapevine.” We (sorta) learned a bit about gossip/it’s connection to Judaism, hence the title of this post, “Schmoozing in Sonoma”. Also, it’s just what happens when you get a bunch of (tipsy) Jews together. :)
Yes, it has nothing to do with dessert (though there was really good gelato) but it does have to do with food, so I felt like it was okay to add to my blog. :)
There were almost 200 people on the trip, so we were divided up into four different buses. Each bus went to two wineries and all of us met up for lunch at an olive oil company. (this is where the gelato comes in)
My bus went to Landmark and Mayo wineries.

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The first was bigger (I think) and had better wine. Though, my judgment might have been thrown off a bit because it was about 11:45am and I had not really eaten anything before we left. The other winery we went to after a quick lunch-catered by Beautifull!-so I only had one (half) glass and it was only okay. But, based on others’ reviews, I would say that overall, the first wines really were better. Also, at lunch, there was wine on from a keg (like beer) made by this guy. It was a cool experience overall. I would’ve liked some sort of tour/more background about the wine, and not just tasting, but I guess there was not enough time for all of that. I’ll have to find time and a way to get back there again someday.