Early February I was strolling through the Sonoma Farmers Market in the beautiful wine country of California and taking in the bountiful winter harvest of our region where it’s still possible to eat food freshly harvested from our local farms. I was feeling a sense of gratitude for the warm sunny day as I reflected on how my friends and family were experiencing one of the coldest winters on record on the East Coast.
It was lunchtime, so I stopped by one of my favorite food vendors: The Green Grocer (www.windsorgreengrocer.com). “Local, Sustainable, Delicious!” is their motto. The menu changes weekly based on what the farmers’ market vendors are selling that very day. Can you imagine having a food booth and not knowing what produce and food items you’ll be preparing until that very morning? Not a difficult feat for Joe Rueter the chef, owner and gastronomist of The Green Grocer and his staff. Joe is a professionally trained CIA chef – not your government CIA, but the internationally known Culinary Institute of America CIA (www.ciachef.edu).
My lunch included freshly forged shiitake mushroom tacos with winter greens and sprouts. I complemented this with a winter green salad featuring pickled red peppers, cooked sliced potatoes and sautéed kale. The salad was topped with sprouts and locally made feta cheese. Yum! As I savored each bite, I was pleased to see young mothers bringing their children to have lunch at the farmers market to teach them where their food comes from. I was especially pleased to hear sounds of children laughing and marveling at the bright colors of fruits and vegetables that greeted them at eye-level. Truly endearing were the sounds of pre-school children delighting in the textures and tastes of their Green Grocer lunch. It was obvious to those standing by that this was a special lunch outing for the children who valued what they were eating. I spoke to the giggling girls and they shared how excited they were to be there because they had their own school garden and they knew that the food from the farmers market was garden fresh and the best!
I invite you this spring to take your inner child with you to a farmers market and look at the produce from a child’s eyes and take in the beauty and appreciation for what both farmers and food venders bring to your table: Local, Sustainable and, oh, so Delicious!
To your health,
Sonoma Lemon Dijon Vinegrette
by Chef Lynne Bennett
1/2 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice to taste
1-2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
*Use fresh organic and local ingredients when available.
Directions (Best prepared 1 hour ahead of time and chilled):
Prepare shallots and garlic. In a mixing bow whisk together lemon, vinegar, shallot, garlic and mustard. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate. Toss on salad and serve. Enjoy!
The chef-owner is Swedish borne Helene Henderson. Cooking is not a new profession for Helene. She grew up on a farm and in the kitchen. In 2005 she even published a cookbook titled, The Swedish Table (University of Minnesota Press) which draws on her childhood memories and her insight into the treasures of Swedish cooking. The 125 recipes found in the cookbook offer both traditional Swedish dishes and modern recipes.
Helene hadn’t planned on opening a restaurant when she and her husband bought a two-acre property in 2008 on the coast of Malibu to start a family farm. She only opened her restaurant a few years later from the urgings of her family and friends who tasted many of her incredible dishes.
Malibu Farm’s menu and website (www.malibu-farm.com) makes it clear what is served and why I love this place so much. They serve fresh, organic, and local: everything from the menu comes from four local farms including their two acre Malibu Farm where everything is organic and seasonal, and the chickens, pigs, and goats are named, live happily, and are range-free.
Their cuisine is simple “real food,” prepared to bring out unique flavors and complementary blends that tantalize and tickle both the sophisticated and finicky taste buds. Nothing is low fat or non-fat, as “whole” foods is best. No fake food like margarine, veggie butter, nor sugar substitutes. Their mantra: Lots of local, fresh, organic veggies, whole wheat and whole grains, free-range and sustainable dairy, meats, and seafood.
We arrived around 9 AM and although there was a line, the seating was very prompt and stress-free. My husband ordered the multigrain pancakes, bacon bits and maple syrup dish ($12). The pancakes were fluffy, gorgeous, and scrumptious. I had the quinoa oatmeal maple syrup with coconut milk ($8). A lovely blend with a sweet base of coconut milk that was a tasty, healthy, and a delightful way to start my day.
This unexpected dining pleasure reminded me that the sustainable and locavore food movement for the few is no longer. Instead it has become a lifestyle choice that is now out in the open for all to enjoy.
ADDRESS: Malibu Farm 23000 PCH, Malibu, CA 90265
(located at the end of the Malibu Pier)
CONTACT: (310) 456-1112, email@example.com,
HOURS: Wednesday to Sunday, 9am-3pm. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.
What's at the Market This Winter?
The following produce can be found at most local farmers markets and grocery stores. Seasonal foods vary depending on your region:
Winter Vegetables: Arugula, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, chards, collard greens, fennel, garlic, kale, kohlrobi, leeks, lettuces, mushrooms, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sweet potatoes and turnips.
Winter Fruits: Citrus, apples, kiwifruit, Pears (Asian, Cactus), dates, and red currants.
A Winter Recipe with Seasonal Vegetables
Enjoy this warming recipe made of winter root vegetables. Expand the “home fries” concept by including local seasonal winter root vegetables from your region alongside of, or in place, of potatoes. I have made this recipe several times and it is absolutely delicious. It will warm up your chilling bones during any meal on a cold winter day or evening.
Recipe taken, with permission, from Flavors of Health Cookbook, page 74. By Ph.D. Ed Bauman, N.C. Lizette Marx,
© 2012. To purchase: http://astore.amazon.com/baumcollholin-20/detail/0985722908
As we enter winter solstice season, this offers us the opportunity to spend extra time with family and friends and to share traditions and recipes. Use this occasion to remind yourself of what is really significant in life. This is also an important time to unplug electronically and slow down your lifestyle. Start a new tradition for yourself by doing these simple, free, and valuable activities:
I wish you a happy holiday season with positive and healthy memories to last a lifetime.
Chicken Bone Broth
Servings: 4 (About 4 Cups) – double for Hearty Lentil, Chicken, and Vegetable Soup as needed.
2 cups of chicken bones or bone remnants of a whole chicken
8 cups of cold filtered water (enough to just cover the bones)
4 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar
2 celery sticks chopped
1 large carrot chopped
1 large onion chopped
6-8 cloves of garlic chopped
1cup shiitake mushrooms chopped
2 sprigs fresh parsley chopped (or dry 2 tsp dried parsley). Alternative: 1 sprig of fresh thyme chopped (or 1 tsp dry thyme)
1/2 tsp freshly ground peppercorns
CHICKEN BONE BROTH DIRECTIONS:
Combine all ingredients into a large stockpot and let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to boil and remove any excess fat and foam that rise to the top. Reduce heat to a simmer for 3-4 hours. You can reduce cooking time by cutting bones into small pieces. Strain broth through colander, or fine cheesecloth for a clearer broth. Discard bones and cooked vegetables. Best served fresh in 1 to 2 days. Divide remaining broth into 1cup containers or ice cube trays (once frozen remove cubes and store in glass freezer-safe containers) and freeze for future use. Use within 3 months.
Oak Hill Farm is situated near the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains in Glen Ellen, California. It is located in Sonoma County’s beautiful and historical region that is widely known as the “Valley of the Moon,” which was made famous by author, Jack London, who wrote about the region and was one of the first sustainable farmers of the early twentieth century (www.jacklondonpark.com).
Oak Hill Farm was started fifty years ago by Otto and Ann Teller. Their family farm is designated as a “protected wild land” through the Sonoma Land Trust. Like Jack London, the Tellers continue to farm responsibly with natural resources that follow an organic farming model: no chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.
Fall is my favorite time to drive to this farm and shop for local fruits and vegetables to make my SOUL food: Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and Local.
The drive along scenic Highway 12 that winds gently through the gorgeous vineyards and olive grooves of this Mediterranean landscape is enough to relax your soul and prepare you for the amazing bounty that awaits you at Oak Hill Farms Red Barn Store. As food and wine connoisseurs start to descend into this region to view the earth’s beautiful and amazing show of vibrant fall colors and flavors, they once again get to experience the region’s famous grapes as they dance off the vines and into their glasses. You know that wine harvest activities have begun.
Early fall on the farm is also a time to gear up your senses and celebrate the abundance of the season’s fruits and vegetables harvest. Fall’s unique produce contributions to farm-to-table recipes include: apples, pears, eggplants, beets, sweet peppers, pumpkins, broccoli and rainbow chard. Tables are delightfully complemented by the local array of flowers in season: zinnias, cosmos, and broomcorn.
Patrons have a variety of ways to purchase the local bounties of Oak Hill Farm: visit the Red Barn Store, their booth at a local farmers markets, or subscribe to their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. For more information, visit: www.oakhillfarm.net
To help you experience the flavors of our local fall harvest, please enjoy my Roasted Harvest Frittata recipe.
Roasted Harvest Frittata
By Chef Lynne Bennett
10 large organic eggs
1 small organic pumpkin
1 large walla walla onion, cubed
1 small head of roasted garlic
1 antohi pepper, seeded and diced
1 corno del toro pepper, seeded and diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups blanched organic Swiss chard
8 ounces crumbled Greek feta
8 ounces grated Vella Daisy Raw Milk Cheddar
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch cayenne pepper
Himalayan sea salt and black pepper to taste
Eggs: are high in tryptophan, selenium, iodine, riboflavin, protein, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D. Eggs are a source of choline that boosts brain health and reduces inflammation. Eating eggs for breakfast helps promote weight loss.
Pumpkin: The health benefits of pumpkin are wide-ranging. High in Vitamins A and C, pumpkin also has a modicum of Vitamin E and is high in potassium, dietary fiber, and manganese. Eating pumpkin promotes lung health.
Onions: are beneficial for their high quercetin content as well as chromium, Vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Eating onions promotes cardiovascular health and supports bones and connective tissue. Onion’s anti-inflammatory properties help with a variety of health conditions.
Peppers: are famous for their capsicum content, as well as Vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, manganese, dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, and folate.
Swiss Chard: is a super food high in Vitamins K, A and C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, Vitamin E, dietary fiber, copper, and calcium. Chard helps regulate blood sugar and has high anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Feta Cheese: Feta is high in riboflavin, Vitamin A, B6, B12, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.
Raw Milk Cheddar: is high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid— a good fat that also fights cancer) and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Turmeric: is a natural liver detoxifier that may prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects. Turmeric aids in fat metabolism, helps with weight management, and is used to help fight cancer.
Cayenne: is so amazing it is being used to kill cancer cells in the lungs, prostate, and pancreas and is can purportedly stop a heart attack in 30 seconds. Cayenne increases metabolism, helps rid the body of bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Cayenne stimulates the peristaltic motion of the intestines and aids in assimilation and elimination.
Himalayan Sea Salt: helps regulate the water content throughout the body and promotes a healthy pH balance in cells, particularly in brain cells. Promotes blood sugar health and helps to reduce the signs of aging. Assisting in the generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in your body, Himalayan sea salt helps absorb food particles in the intestinal tract. Sea salt also supports respiratory and sinus health.
Copyright 2011, Lynne M. Bennett , California Culinary & Wellness Adventures
Lynne Marie Bennett is a certified Natural Chef, Nutrition Consultant & Educator, and certified Culinary Travel Professional through World Food Travel Association. Her company is California Culinary & Wellness Adventures.