Blog Statement

Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

April 27, 2016

Passport Wine Weekend of Dry Creek Valley

There comes a weekend every April that I longingly look  forward to.  A weekend like no other in Sonoma County.  I hope for nice weather, happy to have a driver and spend time with good friends as we clink our glasses through Passport Weekend in Dry Creek Valley.





Beginning our journey at 10 a.m., we head out to our first destination and to meet the rest of our group.





Selby Winery.  Where we check in, pick up our passports and begin a full day of tasting delicious wines, paired with fantastic bites.



Selby always does it right with their Mardi Gras themed party.  Alligator Stew, baby cake, Mardi Gras girls, beads, music, magicians and fortune tellers....just about everything Mardi Gras.  We were well on our way to a fun and tasty day.



Another favorite on the list of approximately 50 wineries is Mauritson Family Winery.  As the saying goes, "Know Your Farmer"....well we are friends with the grape growers for this winery and loved their Rockpile Zinfandel.

Chef Charlie Palmer cooked up some mighty fine cuisine...I could have eaten the shaved beef atop a parmesan crisp all day.  


Here's most of our group with wine maker, Clay Mauritson and chef, Charlie Palmer.




Onward we go.




More wine.  More food.  This is the largest vat of paiaya I have ever seen.




It's a good thing they stamp your passport at every winery because by the end of the day, they all sort of get blended together in my memory bank.



Until next year....


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March 3, 2016

Darn Good Chocolate Bundt Cake

Tuesday afternoon I spent my lunch time at Marvin's Restaurant in nearby Cotati for the monthly meeting of North Bay Dairy Women.

North Bay Dairy Women began the year of 1965.  The purpose of the group is to .....

"educate the public and to promote The Dairy Industry through the dissemination of authentic information; to promote better producer-processor-consumer relations and greater use of all dairy foods through the support of advertising and educational programs and through social events."

I enjoyed a very fresh spinach salad, topped with crispy bacon bits, red onion, hard boiled egg and croutons all with poppyseed dressing.  I ate the entire thing and it held me over til dinner time.  So good.

During the meeting, the new Board installations took place.....Congratulations Kristy, who will sit as the incoming President.  



During the meeting, I was sitting across from a long time member, Lori, which reminded me of one of my all time favorite chocolate cake recipes.....a recipe Lori had submitted to our North Bay Dairy Women cookbook......Darn Good Chocolate Bundt Cake.



This photo is from is from a couple of years ago, which is probably the last time I baked this cake but now that it's on my mind, I'm SO craving it and need to bake it right away.  A family favorite, for sure.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.



Darn Good Chocolate Bundt Cake

Ingredients:
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
1 pkg. 3 oz chocolate instant pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
12 oz of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Bundt/tube pan
baking sheet

Directions:
Spray a light mist of cooking spray in the tube pan.  In a bowl mix cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, oil and water.  Mix with beater on low for one minute.  Scrape sides of bowl and beat another 2-3 minutes.  Fold in the chocolate chips and then pour into prepared pan.  Place tube pan on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 1 hour.  Cool a few minutes, run a knife around edge and invert to a wire wrack or plate.  Add glaze or powdered sugar to top it off.

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February 23, 2016

Memorable Moments of February

Here we are, almost at the end of February.  It's been crazy busy just with every day life around here....I'm sure you all can relate.

We are at the beginning of "Spring Training" with Bryce's little league team.  I am looking more forward to his Opening Day than I am to the MLB Opening Day.  Only two more years in little league for him and I'm going to cherish every game.  Paige is starting up with softball again as well, so from here on out, every night will be filled.






We were able to pull Dominic away from the ranch for a few days to head up to Lake Tahoe for Ski Week.  Both of the kids' schools have a week off in February every year which makes for a perfect opportunity to head up to the snow for some skiing if there is snow.  This year there was plenty of snow.

Boreal Mountain.....





The view from Incline Village....




No matter how fun a get away vacation is, it always feels good to come back to the ranch.  Especially with these two waiting anxiously for our return...



I don't think I've yet introduced Chipper to you.  He was Bryce's birthday present.  He really wanted a hunting dog.  So Chipper, the Beagle Terrier cross came to live with us at the tender age of 8 weeks old last September.

I must share with you......Chipper is the most intelligent pup.  He is SO smart that he created his own doggie door......




 In our screen door.......




Chloe refuses to use it....she's such a DIVA. 

We're definitely looking forward to the end of the "puppy stage".  It's costing us for sure.  I won't even show you the photo of our coffee table.....

I'm not sure how much of a "hunting dog" Chipper will be.  He's more of a big lap dog right now.

No worries, Chipper.  We still love you.

What's not to love?!


The month of February is short, maybe that's why it becomes so busy for many of us.  A few of the other things we've been doing include.....

The Darling Daughter Daddy Dance at Paige's school......

The annual Marin County Farm Bureau Dinner with this year's honors going to Marin Organic receiving the "Friend of Farm Bureau" award.



Also honoring John Zimmerman, DVM, and awarding him the "Lifetime Achievement Award".




We also had time to celebrate some birthdays this month.  
Dancing Queens....




Do a little wine tasting in beautiful Sonoma....





And catch some gorgeous sunrises......


Oh yeah, just one more little tidbit.  Dominic is running for Marin County Supervisor, District 4.  We (mostly him) have been a tad bit busy with that new endeavor as well.  If interested you can read all about it on his Facebook page....


....where there are links to articles and his website.


To close out February, we have a few more events to attend.  Definitely looking forward to March and more spring-like weather.


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February 9, 2016

Heart Shaped Chocolate Mocha Bundt Cake

Oh my.  How cute is this heart shaped Chocolate Mocha Bundt Cake.  Terra's Kitchen put this delicious looking cake together and I wanted to share it with you all.

Bonus.....it's low in sugar.



One of my favorite flavor combinations involve coffee and chocolate and here it is in the form of a bundt cake.  So yummy.  Here's the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2/3 cup high quality cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 5 tablespoons cold brewed coffee (we use Baltimore-based Zeke's Coffee)
  • Butter Coffee Pour Over (recipe to follow)
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Generously grease a Bundt pan with butter (we used a heart-shaped Bundt for Valentine's Day). Set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and light in texture (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the sour cream and coffee and mix until combined.
  5. Gradually add the dry JUST until incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt and bake until the center of cake springs back when touched and a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean (about 45-50 minutes).
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and pour Butter Coffee Pour Over mixture over the hot cake. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Release the sides and bottom of the cake from the pan with a narrow metal spatula or knife. Invert the pan onto a plate or cake stand. Remove the pan and dust with cocoa powder or powdered sugar before serving.
Butter Coffee Pour Over
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brewed dark roast coffee (we use Zeke's Coffee)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Directions:
  1. Add ingredients to a small sauce pan over low heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
Photo and recipe courtesy:  Terra's Kitchen
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January 26, 2016

Superbowl Chili

We live just 25 miles north of San Francisco, the "City By The Bay".  The "City" is totally gearing up for the Superbowl 50, which will take place at Levi Stadium...(home of the Forty-Niners... wah wah). I, myself, plan on steering clear of the city the next few weeks but can't wait for the Superbowl itself!
The Superbowl is always a great reason to have or attend a party, eat chili, drink beer and my favorite thing of all, in regards to the Superbowl....the commercials!

There's something about football and chili that just go hand in hand.  Don't you agree?  I do love a good pot of chili and there are SO many different varieties to choose from.  Just recently, Tocabe, an American Indian Eatery out of Denver, sent me this hearty looking recipe for their Green Chili Stew. Tocabe (as seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) claims this recipe to be "warm, spicy and delicious as well as unique and authentic".  So if you're having a Chili Cook-off for your own Superbowl Sunday, you might want to throw this one into the mix.

Photo and Recipe courtesy Tocabe: An American Indian Eatery



Tocabe: An American Indian Eatery’s Green Chile Stew
SERVES 4-6 

INGREDIENTS 
  • 1 large potato
  • 8 ounces fresh ground beef
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1/3 cup flour (might need more depending on how much grease is in the meat)
  • 3⁄4 cup mild green chili (prefer fresh, but can substitute with frozen or canned)
  • 1⁄2 cup hot green chili (prefer fresh, but can substitute with frozen or canned)
  • 1 1⁄2 cups corn (prefer cut off cob, but can substitute frozen or canned)
  • 2 teaspoons green chili powder (optional)
  • Grated cheese (optional, we like cheddar)
  • Sour cream (optional)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Peel and cube the potato into 1/2 inch diameter pieces and set aside.
  2. In a sauté pan on medium heat, cook the ground beef and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Break into serving sized pieces (whatever size you want).
  3. Cook the green chili powder, if you are using, into the beef.
  4. While the beef is cooking, place 4 cups water in a stock pot with the potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until fork tender; do not cook until the potatoes mash.
  5. When all the rawness is cooked out of the beef, turn off the heat. Slowly add the flour while mixing into the beef in order to make a roux. Mix the flour into the beef completely until no dry flour remains.
  6. Once your roux is complete, add to the stockpot with the cooked potatoes. Add the green chiles, corn, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Fully mix all the ingredients and place the stockpot back on the stovetop.
  7. Bring up to temperature on medium heat, stirring occasionally. This may take up to 30 minutes or more. Feel free to add cheese or sour cream, if desired.

More info about Tocabe

"Founded in 2008 and owned by Matt Chandra and Ben Jacobs, Tocabe is the only American Indian owned and operated restaurant in Metro Denver. The restaurant’s warm, open space features American Indian cultural elements infused with contemporary design to create a unique, welcoming atmosphere. Tocabe takes it origin from Grayhorse: An American Indian Eatery, which was established in downtown Denver in 1989 by the Jacobs family (tribal members of the Osage Nation). Tocabe uses some of the family recipes from Grayhorse along with additional Osage recipes to create a fresh take on American Indian cuisine. Tocabe was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2012."

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January 5, 2016

End of Season Wrap Up

Happy New Year!  The last two weeks of 2015 were doozies!  I'm sure you all can relate.  Two weeks off of school for the kiddos = a full, fun filled schedule.  Normally I like to have a nice relaxing, mellow time while the kids are at home for break, but that was not the case this year...






Every year we like to collect donations and deliver to the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in San Francisco.  So on a very rainy day, the first day of school break, we loaded the car and trucked into the city with the goods.  We finally made it to the brand new, beautiful facility.....





.......but not until after we accidentally drove to the old facility across town.  It was a rainy day adventure to say the least.







Leading up to Christmas, we had a few family dinners scheduled, to help prolong the holiday.  Christmas Eve day we have the tradition of going to Great Grandma's house, (Dominic's Grandma) here on the ranch.  We spent a good part of the afternoon with Great Grandma, all dressed in her beautiful red, before the rest of her family came to her house for dinner.






I always reacquaint myself with photos and wall hangings every time we visit Grandma Mary.  This is a painting of Burdell School, which was a one room school house that was built on the ranch in the 1800's.  It was burnt down in the 1950's, but it lives forever on Grandma's kitchen wall.






Another favorite of mine is this painting of our family's dairy before Stafford Lake was built.  In the 1950's, the dairy was moved to its current location so that Stafford Lake could be built.    







Christmas Eve night is spent on the ranch, at my mother and father-in-law's house.  This has become a very meaningful family tradition where we, along with Dominic's sisters and their families gather for food, drink, good times and the opening of presents.  

Bryce had fun playing "Santa" this year....and yes, he is wearing his cousin's Raiders Santa hat.....yikes!







Christmas morning is spent at home, very relaxed and cozy before heading over to my sister's house to celebrate Christmas afternoon with my side of the family. 

The party continues, with Fuzzy, the photo-bomber and all.






Three Portuguese Girls-A-Cookin'.







Linguica and bacon, among other goodies.







OH, and the highlight of Christmas night, we finally were able to meet our new little, one month old cousin.  The kids were amazed at how small her little toes and fingers were.







And proud Daddy, is extremely happy with his little girl.....and yes, he IS a Dallas Cowboys fan....





After Christmas was over, we didn't want to let the festivities go quite yet so we headed out to the coast with some very good friends for another Christmas tradition that began in 2014....Oysters and wine.



above photo credit: Heather



There was a whole lot of enjoyable eating during the last part of the year.  I'm almost sad to see it go.  But, we must keep on track.....spring is around the corner, right?  

Paige and I decided to take a ranch hike with our new pup, Chipper.  Chipper is six months old and has never really been on a leash, until this day.  He did pretty well!  He made it to the top of the hill behind our house without any stalling.  Here we had a nice, clear view of the ranch, Stafford Lake and in the distance, San Pedro Bay.   





This hike was also an opportunity for Paige to rack up some steps on her new Fitbit Flex.






Between Christmas and New Year's, a good friend asked me if the kids and I would be interested in attending the fabulous production of Cavalia - Odyesso in San Francisco.  Absolutely amazing.  I am a horse lover and rider and was completely awestruck by what these horses were able to accomplish.  Wow.  






Before New Year's, it got cold.  REALLY cold.  Something like 28 degrees.....Now I know that's not cold for some of you, but for us California wimps, it's too cold.









New Year's Eve, our out of town cousins drove up to stay the night with us and we ate, drank and watched Napoleon Dynamite after the ball dropped.  






I am thankful for great times, and especially for the great memories.  It's a Wrap, 2015.  

I hope your end of the year wrap up was awesome!  Looking forward to an exciting  2016!


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