News in Produce

Berry Fest with the Produce Man!

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Posted May 18th, 2012 in News in Produce, Posts

Last Mother’s Day weekend I had the tremendous honor to cook on stage with Michael Marks the Produce Man. Michael is a local produce authority and spokesman for Raley’s and Bel Air, local family owned grocers.  Stay tuned to this blog to see the video very soon.

The basic concept was to illustrate a recipe made with fresh berries versus Oregon canned berries and we let the audience decide which was best.  I made a traditional Northwest Crisp with the oatmeal, brown sugar and butter topping. The recipe is easy and works equally well with either fresh or canned berries although some folks actually liked the Oregon Fruit version better! (and they were not members of my family or people I paid!).  Michael was a great host chalk full of interesting produce info and culinary tips.  So nothing went to waste we made Mixed Berry Mock Mojitos with the leftover berry syrup.  DELISH and refreshing!

I also had the great honor of meeting Ryan from Johnsonville Brats. Ryan travels around with the BIG GRILL and writes the daily blog at Big Taste Grill.  Let me tell you this grill is big like you have never seen. It is really a semi truck.  Johnsonville was grilling brats with strawberry bar-b-que sauce for charity and Ryan wanted to try our ribs with raspberry chipotle sauce.  Ryan is a grill master and he judged this sauce to be excellent. You can read his blog here.


Two days of serious speed cooking took its toll and I spent Mother’s Day afternoon in a massage chair getting a pedicure with my daughter.  The perfect end to a great weekend!



Traveling is Good for the Soul and the Food is Good Too!

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Posted February 10th, 2012 in News in Produce, Posts

I just visited one of the places on my bucket list and it was truly amazing.  Vietnam is a magical place. Many people of my generation have mixed emotions about this country in Southeast Asia but I found it pretty wonderful. The best part about traveling in the third world is how disconnected you are from all your gadgetry. I really needed to be somewhere I could not be found and it met that expectation perfectly.  In addition the countryside is beautiful, the food is excellent, fresh and healthy, the people are friendly and it is CHEAP!

One of the best things about my trip was traveling with my niece, Leah. She is an English teacher in Taiwan and has been there for two years. She is a seasoned traveler in Asia so I did not have to be in charge. She is adventurous and game; from surfing lessons to sliding down sand dunes at daybreak with a beautiful sunrise, to photographing beautiful food, to trying a dozen different fruits for the first time, we were great traveling companions.

Her friend Angela is also an English teacher in Taiwan. She hosted us in her lovely apartment, made us the best “white coffee” we had anywhere and took us tooling around, 3 on a scooter.

The fruit is quite amazing. Most of it I had only seen on episodes of “Chopped” on the food network, usually followed by an exclamation of “what do I do with this???”.  We tried mangosteen, rambutan, dragon fruit in two varieties, star fruit, passion fruit, green oranges, a custard apple, jack fruit in fresh and dried form and the very stinky durian but only in ice cream and candy.  The ice cream was interesting and even kind of good as long as we ate it side by side with coconut and chili chocolate. The candy was definitely a taste we did not acquire.

My favorite was dragon fruit and I had the red, the white and the juice. It is not very sweet, more vegetable than fruit and tastes a lot like jicama. It is grown in orchards like our blueberries but the plant looks like a cactus and the fruit is big like a grapefruit and dark pink. Inside it is usually white with black specs like black sesame seeds. The seeds have a great texture and don’t get stuck in your teeth.

I could have stayed at least another week basking in the warm sun, swimming in the warm water and enjoying the lovely bahn mi sandwiches and pho soup with fresh herbs.  Lucky for me I live a few blocks from the “Little Saigon” section of Sacramento where I will be exploring soon. Unfortunately there is no wide expansive and deserted beach or cute Aussie surf instructor either.  That is why we need to take vacations.



Blogger Berry Fest!

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Posted August 5th, 2011 in At the Farm, News, News in Produce, Posts

Last weekend on the end of our vacation, Kaitlin and I flew into Portland for the Oregon Berry Festival.  Two of our favorite bloggers, Leela Ross from The Kitchn and Kimberly Morales from Poor Girl Eats Well  joined us for the festivies.   Leela and Kimberly had already spent the day on Friday with Oregon Fruit Folks touring a local farm with Phil our field man and then the cannery with Bryan Brown.  Leela has some great pictures of their day posted on her blog.  I think Kimberly will be talking about it this weekend as well.


The first ever Oregon Berry Festival was a great event put on the Oregon Berry Commission at the Ecotrust Building in the Pearl District of downtown Portland.  Kaitlin and I took over the booth from John Doyle and Thea and we were immediately slammed!  We sampled Berry UP! with lemonade until we ran out and handed out lovely mini blueberry tarts made by Oregon Fruit’s  own Ashley Nasbe. Both items were a huge hit.

Lots of folks had the chance to try fresh berries outside, then came in to the trade show area to sample products made from local fruit.  People seemed pleasantly surprised at how easy the tarts were to make with Oregon Fruit Blueberries.  We finally got a chance to look around after we ran out of everything and we got to sample some things.  The highlight for both of us was a Meyer Lemon sorbet with huckleberries!

In the evening, we had the pleasure of attending the Gala Dinner at the Heathman Restaurant and Bar and what a dinner it was!

Chef Phillippe Boulout and Chef Michael Stanton prepared a 5 course extravaganza with Oregon berries represented for each course. We began with Blackberry Martinis and a Blackberry Foie gras crostini. 

The salad course consisted of mixed greens, local goat cheese and fresh Oregon Strawberries-some of the sweetest most flavorful strawberries on earth.  The fish course featured Chinook Salmon with a red raspberry reduction.  This was followed by an Anderson Ranch Lamb Chop (and you already know how much I love lamb) with a lovely cranberry jus from the Vincent Family Farm.  Kaitlin is not a lamb lover even though she is one quarter Greek but she loved this lamb!  The next course was Oregon Bison Au Poivre with Marionberry salad. I have never had Bison before and it was delicious and tender. 

The grand finale was a Berry Trifle like none I have ever eaten.  It was HUGE and no one thought they would be able to finish it but some of us were licking the glass when it was done (I’m not mentioning any names here!). All the berries were included: Blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, marionberry, raspberry with biscuits adn creme chibouste. 

The only thing that surpassed the food at this dinner was the company.  I felt quite honored to be able to hang around with two ladies that are as passionate about food as I am.

Farmer’s Market Day

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Posted July 15th, 2010 in At the Farm, News in Produce

I have been reading about a big Farmer’s Market in downtown Sacramento where the local restaurants go on Sundays to buy their weekly produce. Last weekend I made the trek and it was an incredible experience. The first thing I noticed was the aroma of freshness everywhere: basil, peaches, berries, peppers, all blended together into a delightful perfume. The second thing I noticed was how much more prepared my fellow shoppers were than I was. I had my small market bag; everyone was pushing wheeling shopping carts.  In no time I was heavily laden with my finds-8 ears of corn, a dozen peaches, an assortment of peppers to make the salsa I will be posting tomorrow and a variety of summer squash in an array of colors. 


I had to make a trip back to the car to unload so I could go for another round.  I never even thought about how I was going to consume all these treasures in one week.  My kids are grown now, I live by myself.  My daughter Kaitlin is home for several weeks this summer and we are having fun cooking healthy so at least I would have some help.  As I strolled some more and bought some more I started to devise a plan to cook for some of my friends and began to get a bit more strategic as I formulated a menu.  I even picked up a bouquet of some assorted blue hydrangeas for the table and a bit of local goat cheese for an appetizer. 


 This place was amazing, the assortment was vast, the vendors were jovial, the prices were really good and everything was fresh and ripe.  No rock hard, grocery store fruit from foreign countries-this was all grown a short drive from the market.  The next day when my friends arrived my friend Dana brought about 10 pounds of apricots from her tree to share with our friends.  All the apricots on a tree ripen within a couple of days and you have to use them fast.  My friend Michele had delivered an enormous bag of fresh figs the week before.  All this bounty drove home for me why our grandparents had been canners.  There was simply no way to eat all this fantastic produce immediately so there had to be a way to keep it for the months that aren’t so bountiful.  I made a few jars of fig jam for my dad and will probably do the same with some of the apricots.  It was much easier than I thought and so delicious. I will definitely go back to this Farmer’s Market but first I am going to buy a wheelie cart.

Fruitful Relief

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Posted June 11th, 2010 in Healthy Tips, News in Produce

Recently we received a letter from a “fruit fan” in Texas singing the praises of Red Tart Cherries in Water.  This gentleman reminded me of the fantastic healing properties of this particular fruit and I wanted to share them.  For years we have been receiving letters touting the benefits of cherries for gout relief.  There has been a cult following among the holistic community who has always known that cherries made gout sufferers feel better.  Dr. Ludwig Blau first reported in a Texas Medical Journal in the 1950’s that a diet including 6 cherries per day provided complete relief from the crippling pain in his big toe in just a few days.  His personal physician replicated these results on 12 patients.  “Gout is a form of arthritis which afflicts about 1 million Americans and doctors say it is on the rise.  The pain results from a build up in uric acid that condenses into sharp crystals that lodge in the joints and the connective tissue around them, resulting in inflammation.” ¹.  According to the Cherry Marketing Institute, a recent study by University of Michigan researchers revealed a cherry-enriched diet reduced inflammation markers in animals by up to 50 percent. Other studies indicate that the anthocyanins in cherries may be beneficial for a range of inflammatory-related conditions, including arthritis and gout. Charles from Texas confirmed in his recent letter that eating a half a can of our Red Tarts a day cleared up his flare up in just a few days. I have sent cherries to my friend Theresia, in Mississippi and my brother, Kevin, in Seattle, both dealing with painful gout. My niece, Jessica learned about the potential benefits of cherries for inflammation in Medical School.  It appears that current scientific research supports anecdotal folk wisdom. Although “The Queen” does not presume to dispense medical advice, it can’t hurt to try a food remedy, especially a delicious one. So, if you are experiencing painful inflammation, try my Tart Cherry Citrus Smoothie for breakfast everyday and I bet you will feel better. 

¹Selene Yeager, The Doctors Book of Food Remedies

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