If you’re reading this, I’d like to thank you for following along for the last few months as I cooked, ate, explored and wrote about my experiences pursuing my passion for food and health. It’s nice to take note of the little accomplishments along the way so that you can one day appreciate the grand view. Enjoy this weekend doing what you love to do!
Category Archives: Events
June 27, 2012 – 5:26 pm
Braiding garlic is easy and produces a beautiful way to display it in your kitchen for a year or more. At Eatwell Farms, we used a piece of twine to form a “backbone” to the braid and left the stalks splayed out to each side, however you can also make a more compact one without by simply using the stalks for structure. Here’s how:
June 25, 2012 – 8:09 pm
Eatwell Farms is located about an hour and a half from of San Francisco, in Dixon, California. They are a CSA, and for members, host special events throughout the growing seasons. Last weekend, we visited the farm to pull garlic from the ground and braid it into beautiful garlands to be hung in the kitchen and used all year long. We met other friendly CSA members, toured the farm and dined on freshly picked vegetables, among other goodies. Eatwell Farms grows about 50 different crops and also keeps close to 3,000 laying chickens on their property. Eggs can be ordered in your boxes, however the sales from them only cover the costs of room and board for the animals. The benefit for the farm actually comes from the amount saved in organic fertilizer by simply moving the coops throughout their many acres. We learned that the effort that goes into cultivating healthy soil pays for itself in the healthy produce that springs from it. Please enjoy these few images of the farm and stay tuned for future posts about specific recipes inspired by it’s bounty. I encourage you to check out the Eatwell Farms website for more information about their business and to become a member today!
June 4, 2012 – 6:46 pm
I was fortunate enough to visit the Bouverie Preserve yesterday for an event called The Art of Eating, to benefit the Audobon Canyon Ranch. It was a beautiful afternoon of outdoor food and wine tasting and live auctions.
“This year we celebrate ‘Women Who Change the Way We Eat.’ The name of the event is based on MFK Fisher’s book, The Art of Eating, a collection of her works that changed the way we think about eating and drinking in America. MFK Fisher was a close friend of David Bouverie and spent the last two decades of her life living on his private estate, which he donated to Audubon Canyon Ranch in 1979.
David Bouverie was born in 1912 in England. He came to the States as a 26-year-old architect who hoped to construct pre-fabricated homes. He wanted a private home for himself in the country with a perennial stream. After searching the San Francisco area, he found his property in Sonoma County.
The main home is still as it was when Bouverie was alive except for two outside sculptures that were donated to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. David Bouverie would have been 100 years old this year.
Audobon Canyon Ranch is a non-profit organization that owns a system of wildlife sanctuaries, manages approximately 5,000 acres of wildlands in Marin and Sonoma Counties and provides first-hand nature-based educational experiences to more than 6,000 Bay Area schoolchildren annually at no cost to the schools.”
I paired up with Chef Eve Love of Marin Sun Farms to serve 250 guests juicy spring chickens fresh from the ranch. Eve had brined and then roasted 350 pounds of bird in the days leading up to June 3rd, but in a tent kitchen set up on the property, we finished roasting, warming and butchering, then plating with a carrot, beet & lentil salad by The Girl & The Fig’s Chef Sondra Bernstein. Here are some tips for making your own juicy roast chickens at home. And if you haven’t read any of MFK Fisher’s work, I recommend you pick up a copy of “The Gastronomical Me,” “How To Cook A Wolf,” or even the entire “The Art of Eating” collection for some serious food and cooking inspiration.
Makes 3 whole roast chickens
- 1 cup sea salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- enough lukewarm water to fill a bucket to submerge chickens
- 3 whole spring chickens
- ground black pepper
- ground mustard seed
- ground dried onion
- ground dried garlic
- ground dried oregano
- 1 cup olive oil
- Dissolve salt and sugar in a few inches of water in a bucket or crock large enough to submerge chickens.
- Add chickens and remaining water and set in cooler for 24 hours.
- Remove chickens and let dry thoroughly in a cooler or refrigerator.
- Combine spices in your desired quantity with the olive oil and rub over chickens.
- Roast breast-side up in a 350 degree oven for about 45 – 60 minutes, until cooked through and browned.
May 29, 2012 – 3:53 pm
Vermiculture, or worm composting, allows you to compost your food waste rapidly, while producing high quality compost and fertilizing liquid. Best of all, it’s self-contained and nearly odorless: perfect for city living!
I have a long history with worm composting. My mother became a certified master composter and taught it in her Montessori classrooms since I was a toddler. We had at least one bin in our backyard at all times, eating our household’s food waste and also supplying all of our friends and neighbors with starter kits for their own vermiculture projects. And as a housewarming gift when we bought a home in San Francisco, my father made a custom redwood bin that stands beautifully in our tiny backyard. Although I must admit there was a time in my teenage life that I was a tad bit embarrassed by my family’s obsession with worm composting, both before and after that brief period, I was proud of this resourceful method that I learned. I recently found a book I made about vermiculture for a grade school assignment, complete with photographs of my best friend and me introducing our worm bin, the worms inside and the things they composted:
Perhaps the reasoning for vermiculture is a bit simplified in this piece, but it’s benefits are still apparent: less waste, more compost, healthier gardens.
Starting a Bin
Starting your own bin is simple. All you need are a few materials, some of which can be as basic as a store-bought plastic tub or as fancy as a custom-built redwood box. There are several great online resources for information on worm composting and storefronts with related products. I’ll share the basics here, but feel free to do some research on your own too:
- worm bin (many sites sell these in various materials, some with multiple levels that make it easier to harvest the castings and juice, however you can also use a simple plastic tub or a wooden box with a tight-fitting lid)
- 5 inch layer of shredded black and white newspaper
- 10 inch layer of cocoa hulls, straw or shredded leaves
- 1 quart of starter worms (most often one of two species rarely found in soil and adapted to the special conditions in rotting vegetation, compost and manure piles: Red Wigglers (Eisenia foetida) or Red Earthworms (Lumbricus rubellus).)
- water to moisten worm bedding
- Lay down the mulch layer of hulls, straw or leaves.
- Lay down shredded newspaper layer.
- Wet entire bed until damp and let drain for a couple of hours.
- Sprinkle starter worms (and any material they are in) on top of the layers and let them wiggle about in their new home.
- I waited a couple of days for them to get acclimated until I added my first bucket of food scraps.
- You will want to make sure the bedding material stays damp, but not soaked, until the food scraps begin to take up more area.
- Eventually, you will see worm castings and other organisms living harmoniously in the bin.
- At this point, I usually uncover a couple of inches of material from one side of the bin, empty my food scraps into that trough, then cover them back up.
- In a few months, you should have a thriving community and can probably even fill a quart-sized container for a friend or neighbor who wants to start a bin of their own.
- As needed, scoop some of the rich castings from the bin (avoiding the worms that wiggle away from the light when the bin is open) and use in your garden. You may also collect the liquid from the bin for the same purpose, (many store-bought varieties offer convenient spouts and shelf-like levels for easy collection).
May 14, 2012 – 5:22 pm
Giddy, just returning from a weekend camping adventure, I thought I’d share a recipe for a simple, finger-licking meal of chicken thighs and asparagus, both cooked directly on the campfire grill. While I love cooking up tasty meals when camping, I also like to have as much time as possible exploring the outdoors, so tend to plan ahead with dinner preparation. With this fine weather, get outside and take your culinary skills with you. It’s fun and gratifying. After all, just about anything you make will be even more delicious when eaten by the campfire.
Campfire Chicken Thighs
- 12 bone-in & skin-on chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup whole grain dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & pepper
- The night before you take off for camping, in a glass container with a tight lid, layer the ingredients as follows:
- 4 chicken thighs, skin-up.
- Smear with mustard.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- Sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper.
- Repeat 2 more times, then cover and set in freezer.
- The next morning, your frozen prepared chicken will not only stay fresh for a couple of days, but will keep your cooler cold for a bit too.
- To cook, start fire about 30 minutes ahead of time so that you have some red-hot embers within/surrounding the logs.
- Place chicken on the grill, skin-side down, and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Flip and cook for another 8 – 10 minutes.
- The dripping fat may create some flames, however they will subside quickly and actually add a nice crispiness and flavor to the chicken, so don’t fret.
- Serve with side(s) and enjoy with your hands!
- 2 bunches (about 2 pounds) asparagus, ends snapped off
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & pepper
- The night before you take off for camping, in a glass container with a tight lid, place asparagus.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper.
- Shake dish to distribute oil and coat asparagus thoroughly.
- Keep in refrigerator until packed in cooler.
- A few minutes after you put the chicken on the grill, spread asparagus out in a row, perpendicular to the grates.
- After about 4 minutes, roll them over and cook the other side.
- They are done when slightly darkened, yet still firm.
May 11, 2012 – 2:00 pm
Your local farms are often gracious hosts too. I took a drive out to my hometown of West Marin yesterday to see what’s cooking at the Marin Sun Farms Cafe. I was overwhelmed by the loving hospitality, the delicious meal sourced practically in the backyard and the fresh bounty presented at the butcher counter. My heart was thoroughly warmed by the visit and I was reminded how close I am to such beauty and pleasure, and how fortunate I am to have access to such incredible treats. In fact, everyone in the bay area and peninsula is too! And if you can’t make the trip, consider the convenience of a nearby delivery through the Marin Sun Farms Meat Club CSA.
I meandered back home through the country, stopped to take some pictures, and began preparing a scrumptious meal for dinner guests with the tri-tip I picked up at the farm. Here’s the recipe I used, thanks to Chef Eve Love.
Tri Tip w/ Garlic-Butter Glaze
- 4 lbs Marin Sun Farms tri-tip
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Unwrap meat, sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with olive oil, then let sit.
- Combine garlic and butter plus a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle and grind until mostly smooth.
- With grill on it’s lowest temperature, place meat on, fat-side down if possible.
- It’s OK if the fat creates some temporary flames (in fact they create a nice crispy dark surface), however low and slow is the key for the majority of the grilling.
- Turn about every 7 minutes to let each side face the grill.
- Check temperature after about 30 minutes and if it is 140 degrees or more, remove and place on a cutting board.
- Immediately slather with garlic-butter glaze and let rest for about 10 minutes.
- Cut into 3/4 inch slices and serve.
April 23, 2012 – 7:07 pm
Following such a radiant weekend in the bay area, I’d like to pause a moment to appreciate the plentiful blooms and other beautiful signs of the season. After all, Spring has sprung!
We are in the final stretch of April and so this post is dedicated to all of the passionate gardeners out there who are thinking about the months ahead and the full potential of their growing space. This includes people like my parents with their simple raised bed garden in West Marin and Barbara Kingsolver, who fed her family for one whole year almost exclusively on products from or near her home. Featured in Animal, Vegetable Miracle, this clever illustration depictis an imaginary plant that bears, over the course of one growing season, a cornucopia of all the different vegetable products one can harvest. It’s called a vegetannual and I hope it inspires you as much as it did me.
March 21, 2012 – 9:36 pm
Avocados have a long and storied history. They’ve been used as a sexual stimulant, a beauty product, an ingredient for salads and much more. But its versatility is not the only reason why I adore this magical fruit. While I don’t believe in singular super-foods per say, I do think nature has engineered the perfect combination of nutrition and taste in the flesh of an avocado. They are rich in in protein, fiber, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid, zinc, healthy saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acid. When asked what one food I would choose to consume entirely if it were the last on earth, I would answer, “avocados, obviously.” And since I’ve been teased for maintaining a regimen of at least one daily avocado, I’ve borrowed the line for my blog. In the preceding days, weeks, months, years (hopefully), I plan on sharing my ideas around food as well as living. I’ll post recipes, projects for home and health, local events and perhaps an occasional rambling about my favorite fruit on the planet. I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions along the way and I hope you enjoy The Daily Avocado!