When I think back to one of the joys of summer as a child, the 4th of July, watermelon, and summer fresh fruits and vegetables are what come to mind. Waking up to attend a small town 4th of July Parade in Sonoma this year will be on the minds of several of our local families and vacationers as they prepare to celebrate our nations birthday. The thing that makes our little parade so special is our local hometown flavor with a hint of passion, history, culture and the combined energy of our community to keep it all alive. Our beautiful little town is situated in the backdrop of the Sonoma Mayacama Mountains in the heart of one of the world’s premier wine producing regions (www.sonomacity.org). If you find yourself in Sonoma on July 4th, join in the celebration.
Summertime is also a great time to visit local farms. My mouth starts watering as I recall the tangy taste of tomatoes, the whiff of the basil’s fragrance from a stem I just snapped off, and the sweet juice of a peach on my fingers and my lips as I bite. My hometown of Sonoma is also a wonderful place to explore our local farms. You can learn about our farms that are open to the public by visiting a great online resource: Farm Trails (www.farmtrails.org).
Back in 1973, a group of Sonoma County farmers got together and formed the nonprofit, Farm Trails. Their goal: to help ensure the preservation of Sonoma County’s rich agricultural heritage. The farmers created a map & guide listing the local farms and agricultural businesses and invited the public to meet the farmers and learn more about the origins of their food. These forerunners also produced the Gravenstein Apple Fair held every August to celebrate the heirloom apples of Sonoma County. In addition, Farm Trails created seasonal farm tours to promote their mission of cultivating “community by facilitating both farmer-to-farmer and farmer-to-public educational forums, as well as offering relevant events to foodies and aspiring producers.”
Dry Creek Peach Farm is one of the farms on this “trail” that I visited. The farm grows organic tree-ripened, hand-picked and hand-packed peaches, which ensures that the high quality flavor and the optimal nutritional value of the peaches are retained. This small, family-run farm is located in the Dry Creek Valley of Healdsburg in Sonoma County. It is one of the last remaining peach farms in the Northern California wine country area (www.drycreekpeach.com).
When you visit Sonoma in the summertime, be sure to first visit online at: www.FarmTrails.org to learn about upcoming agricultural and farm events that you can attend during your stay.
OTHER SONOMA LINKS TO VISIT
Gravenstein Apple Fair, Sebastopol, California: August 8-9, 10AM to 6PM: www.gravensteinapplefair.com
Sonoma Visitors Bureau:
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.