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

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September 19, 2017

Bacon Ale Cheese Dip

With the onset of fall this week, thoughts of muted, cozy colors, comfort food, warm drinks and football all come to mind.  We tend to host more get-togethers during the fall and winter months in our house.  Mostly casual events and mostly centered around a football game to watch.

Whether or not you host football parties, here's a yummy recipe that can be served up no matter who's house you're at.

Bacon Ale Cheese Dip


½ pound bacon slices
1 Tbsp. butter
½ yellow onion, diced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp.  POD & BEAN™ Stone Ground Mustard
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. dark brown ale
6 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Soft pretzels for dipping

Heat oven to 350° F.

Add bacon to a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté for ten minutes until just crispy and then remove and place on a sheet tray lined with foil. Allow bacon to cool and then rough chop. 

In a large saucepan on medium heat, melt butter and then add the onions and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes.

Whisk in the Dijon mustard, POD & BEAN™ Stone Ground Mustard, and the ale, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Increase the heat and bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the cream cheese and reduce the heat to medium. Whisk the cream cheese into the ale mixture until the cheese melts and becomes creamy. Turn off the heat.

Slowly add five cups cheddar cheese to the ale mixture, stirring until the cheese melts and is smooth.

Stir in ¾ of the bacon and save the rest to sprinkle on top.

Spray a 1 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Pour the dip into the dish and top with the remaining cheddar cheese and the rest of the crumbled bacon.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the dip is bubbling. Serve warm with soft pretzels.

Special Thanks goes to The Cocoa Exchange for sending me this recipe to share with you all!

"THE COCOA EXHANGE™POD & BEAN™ portfolio of sauces and seasoning blends, are your new secret ingredients in the kitchen to infuse cocoa into all of your game day and party treats. Best of all, the sauces add another layer of flavor without adding unnecessary salt or sugar. The brand offers limitless savory options all made with chocolate, from White Chocolate Raspberry Honey Mustard to Chipotle Hot Sauce."
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June 7, 2017

Free Ice Cream for National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!

If you are lucky enough to live in any of the cities listed below and love chocolate ice cream, you are eligible for FREE ice cream in celebration of National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!

With National Chocolate Ice Cream Day today and National Best Friends Day tomorrow, ' Chocolate Ice Cream Index'—which recently ranked America's most chocolate ice cream-loving cities and is rewarding residents of those cities and their best friends with FREE ice cream all day long on June 7 and 8.

To get the scoop on America's ice cream-eating habits, Postmates [] (America's most popular universal delivery app) partnered with the cocoa bean counters at [] to rank cities across the U.S. based on the total number of chocolate ice cream deliveries, the frequency of these deliveries, and the overall preference for chocolate ice cream over other foods.

(data analysis conducted by National Today Data Insights)


#1: San Antonio
#2: New York City
#3: San Francisco
#4: Chicago
#5: Portland
#6: Charlotte
#7: Phoenix
#8: Kansas City
#9: Oklahoma City
#10: Los Angeles
#11: Ft. Lauderdale
#12: Miami
#13: San Diego
#14: Denver
#15: Philadelphia
#16: Nashville
#17: Las Vegas
#18: Atlanta
#19: Austin
#20: Seattle
#21: Sacramento
#22: Dallas / Ft. Worth
#23: Minneapolis
#24: Washington, D.C.
#25: Virginia Beach
#26: Pittsburgh
#27: Houston
#28: Columbus
#29: Boston
#30: Milwaukee
#31: New Orleans
#32: St. Louis
#33: Raleigh
#34: Louisville
#35: Tampa
#36: Palm Springs
#37: Baltimore
#38: Orlando
#39: Jersey City
#40: Indianapolis

To encourage even more Americans to scream for ice cream today and celebrate their BFFs tomorrow, Here is what you need to do to receive FREE ice cream if you live in the cities listed!.............

Postmates is delivering free ice cream to residents of the 40 cities above who download Postmates and order on June 7 or 8.

1. Download the Postmates app by visiting:

2. Add any ice cream to your cart from your favorite local or chain ice cream parlor

3. Use code ICECREAM to get it for free

To get more insights from the Chocolate Ice Cream Index, visit:
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May 3, 2017

Sunset Celebration Weekend Is Approaching!

If you have yet to experience Sunset Celebration Weekend, here is your chance!  I've had the opportunity to attend this event a couple of different times and I am so looking forward to this year's line up!

Here are some pictures from a previous Sunset Weekend I attended....  Sunset Celebration Weekend 2014
Here's some info for you!  Hope to see you there.
Tickets are now on sale for the 19th annual Sunset Celebration Weekend, May 20 and 21, 2017, at Cornerstone Sonoma, Sunset’s wine country location. Sunset fans join editors, celebrity chefs, vintners, craft beer brewers and renowned lifestyle experts for this two-day series of culinary, wine, garden and lifestyle experiences. To purchase tickets and find more information, go to
For the second year, Time Inc.’s Sunset, the leading lifestyle brand in the West, will host Celebration Weekend at Cornerstone, a marketplace with food, wine and spirits, shops, gardens and event spaces that serves as Sunset's beautiful wine country location year-round.
Featured Exhibits, Seminars and Experiences
Sunset “Smart Cottage”
Feeling outsmarted by smart home technology? The Sunset “Smart Cottage” at Celebration Weekend will prove that a high-tech home can be both attainable and beautiful. Sunset has partnered with leaders in smart technology and design, including Mosaic, Decorist, California Closets and Thumbtack, to reimagine a classic 900-square-foot cottage on the Cornerstone property into a permanent showcase for function, technology and style. From Nest and Amazon Echo to the August Smart Lock and Phillips Hue lightbulbs, Sunset editors are curating the most powerful technology to up your home’s IQ.
Visit the “Smart Trailer,” a special-edition Tommy Bahama Airstream parked adjacent to the Smart Cottage, and discover a world of portable and easy-to-install smart devices that run on batteries but pack a big tech punch.
Can’t visit the Smart Cottage in person? No problem. Visit to view a preview of the “Smart Cottage.” The “Smart Cottage” will also be featured in the September issue of Sunset magazine, accompanied by an immersive 3D experience, using a Matterport Pro Camera, providing a view of the Smart Cottage from every angle on
Camp Sunset
This year, Sunset is creating the ultimate glamping experience at “Camp Sunset.” Under three white canvas teepees, courtesy of Under Canvas, attendees can enjoy summer camp-style activities, a photo booth and gourmet s’mores while learning about the latest products essential for any glamping trip. Want more inspiration for cooking under the stars? Head over to the Live Fire cooking stage to check out the chefs from “Dirty Gourmet,” which was founded to rethink food in the outdoors.
From the Pacific Northwest to SoCal, the West’s Best Chefs Headline Two Days of Cooking Demos on Two Stages: The Sunset Outdoor Kitchen and the Live Fire cooking stage
Los Angeles
Alvin Cailan—Chef/Owner, Eggslut, Amboy and Unit 120
Tyler Malek—Head Ice Cream Maker, Salt & Straw (PDX, LA, SF), Wiz Bang Bar
Gabriel Rucker—Chef/Co-owner, Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro
Matthew Domingo—Culinary Director, Traeger Pellet Grills
Northern California
Ryan Scott—Chef/Proprietor, Finn Town; host, nationally syndicated “The Ryan Scott Show”; author ONE TO FIVE: One Shortcut Recipe Transformed into Five Easy Dishes (Oxmoor House/Time Books) (San Francisco)
Chris Cosentino—Chef, Cockscomb (San Francisco)
Perry Hoffman—SHED, Culinary Director (Healdsburg)
Douglas Keane—Healdsburg Bar and Grill; Two Birds, One Stone (Healdsburg, St. Helena)
Ari Weisswasser—Chef, Glen Ellen Star (Glen Ellen, Sonoma County)
Robert Masullo—Chef/Owner, Masullo’s (Sacramento)
Michelle Tam—Nom Nom Paleo (San Francisco)
Samin Nosrat—Author, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: The Four Elements of Good Cooking (Simon & Schuster) (San Francisco)
Wine Seminars
Join Sunset Wine Editor Sara Schneider and some of the West’s most revered winemakers and spirits experts for educational sessions that range from “Wine List Secrets from the Sommeliers” to “Zinfandel: Back to the Future with California’s Wine”.
Cost per seminar: $20 per person. Wine seminars have limited seating and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Purchase advance tickets while supplies last at Tastings are included in the cost of each seminar. Must be 21+ years old to attend.
Tour the Sunset Test Garden
Designed by Homestead Design Collective, the Sunset Test Garden is divided into distinct garden “rooms,” including the Cocktail Garden, the Farm, the Backyard Orchard, the Flower Room and The Gathering Space, the outdoor living room of Sunset’s dreams.
Celebration Weekend 2017 Event Information:
A complete schedule of presenters and events, event information and online tickets are available at
Stay up to date on Sunset Celebration Weekend 2017 by liking Sunset on Facebook and following Sunset on TwitterInstagram and Pinterest, #sunsetcw.
Sunset Celebration Weekend sponsors include Belgard, Delta Faucets, Toyota Mirai, Sunbrella, and Pure Leaf.
***Event activities, participants and schedules are subject to change.
Time Inc.’s Sunset ( is the leading lifestyle brand in the West. Through magazines and books, events and experiences and digital and social media, Sunset covers the West's best flavors, destinations, design trends and innovations. Sunset engages and inspires an audience of over 5 million educated, active and affluent consumers every month through its five regional print editions—Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, Southwest and Mountain—as well as via all tablet devices and its website. In addition to its print and digital publications, Sunset showcases the region’s unique lifestyle and noteworthy destinations through its flagship events, established home programs, licensing partnerships, books and International Wine Competition.
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March 20, 2017

Airbnb for Bees!

We had the pleasure of hosting guests all winter long here on the dairy farm this season.  Approximately 10 million Honey Bees vacationed here for the winter season.  Yep, 10 million!

Two hundred bee boxes (hives) were placed at two separate locations on the ranch.  Each box contained 50,000 bees and one queen bee.  They are taken away from their area of work to rest and take care of the queen bees through the winter months.

Bees have one priority in the take care of the queen bee.  What this means is they need to keep her warm and safe.

In order to keep warm, the bees form a cluster or huddle in the hive.  They flutter their wings and "shiver" in order to create heat.   The continuous motion and use of energy is how the bees keep the inside of the hive warm.  The bees are free to fly outside of the hive, if desired as well.

To create enough body heat and to stay alive, the bees need enough honey to keep them going, which the bee keeper provides.

Fun Facts:

  • To make one pound of honey, bees must visit 2 million flowers.
  • Honey does not spoil
  • Honey Bees are the only insect that produces food that humans consume.
  • Worker Honey Bees are female. (Duh)
  • A worker bee lives about 6 weeks and a queen bee can live up to five years
It was a fun experience to have the bees on the farm.  Everyone seemed to cohabitate nicely.  They didn't bother the cows or my horse, Joey.  They are now located back in the Central Valley of California to work the many acres of almond and walnut orchards.

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January 13, 2017

Warm Up Your Winter With Kale Soup

It's been storming non-stop here in Northern California lately and its got my kids climbing the walls but all I want to do is stay indoors as much as I possibly can where it's warm and cozy.  The day before my Dad's 90th birthday, yesterday, I decided to make one of his favorite soups and venture out to deliver it to their house so they could stay warm and cozy too.  

This soup is SO good and hearty and super easy to make.  I grew up on it as it was one of my Mom's go-to, feed a family of five meals.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Easy Portuguese Kale and Linguica Soup

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 15 oz cans of chicken broth
4 cups of kale, chopped, thick stems removed
3 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans of white Cannellini beans
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 link of Linguica, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup of your favorite dried pasta


In a large soup pot, cook onions and garlic in olive oil...careful not to burn the garlic, until onions are translucent.

Add the potatoes.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the linguica, beans, kale, diced tomatoes, dried pasta and broth and bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking stirring every so often, until the potatoes are tender.  About 20 minutes.

Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook a little longer and add water if needed for a thinner broth.

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December 21, 2016

Easy Last Minute Cookie Recipes

It's the week of Christmas, every night of the week is booked, the kids are ready to be done with school for holiday break and I have cookies to bake for the annual cookie exchange that I am invited to and not a whole lot of time to do so.

I need something easy and quick to bake that will look fabulous and  fancy.  Both of these recipes are super easy and from scratch and one I cheated a bit.

If you're in a bind as to what to bring as a last minute treat, keep these in mind...

Raspberry Ribbon Pistachio Bars

1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salted pistachios, chopped
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine softened butter, sugar and egg.  Beat until blended.  Stir in flour.  Spread half the dough into a 9 x 9 pan.  Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Spread jam to within 1/2 inch of edge.  Add pistachios to remaining dough and blend.  Drop by spoonfuls over jam to cover.

Bake 35 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes and cut into squares.

(Thank you, Jonni D. from Novato for the recipe)

Peppermint Oreos

1 package of Oreo Cookies
1 package of Peppermint Kisses
Edible Decorations

Unwrap and melt peppermint kisses and place in a microwave safe container.  Melt the kisses at 30 second intervals, stirring at each 30 seconds until melted.

Dip each individual Oreo Cookie in melted chocolate and place on waxed lined baking sheet.  Add edible decoration to the top.  Allow to cool.

Kids LOVE these!

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December 19, 2016

Surviving the Holidays ~ Caregivers

With Christmas fast approaching, we are all busy with last minute details and errands that need to be done.  Having elderly family members in your family might mean it's time to modify the holiday schedule that you have become accustomed to.  If you are a family caregiver for an ill or cognitively impaired individual, you may not be looking forward to the holidays; more work, more company (including those who may not realize how their presence and demands impacts on your schedule and work load), and additional stress on you and the person you care for.  First and foremost, the comfort of our impaired loved one should be taken in to consideration, even if that means reluctantly modifying past holiday traditions that may add more confusion or stress to your loved one.

Holiday gatherings easily show off an individual’s deficits. Imagine how confusing it is to be impaired and surrounded by people who know you, but you have no recall. Think about the constant noise (music, bells, etc.), bright lights and decorations that distort your sense of who and where you are. Imagine going to a family party with foods that no longer may be recognizable to you or that you are unsure how to eat.

So some good advice is to learn to set realistic expectations—for you and your family member.

For your loved one:

  • Attempt to maintain a regular schedule whenever possible.
  • Simplify: shorten visits and events. You do not have to accept all invitations. Determine which ones might be the most important or provide the most joy to your loved one.
  • Watch your family member’s reactions. Pay attention to their stress levels and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Attempt to limit visitors to smaller, sporadic groups. This might be a perfect time to let other family members “visit” while you (caregiver) take a nap, Christmas shop or quietly read a book. If you must attend a large gathering, locate a quiet spot to leave the crowd for a “time out.”
  • Make introductions with explanations. Act like you are introducing the visitor to your Mom or Dad.
  • Maintain the familiar. Old traditions, familiar music, reading/signing holiday cards or other simple customs can be enjoyable and feel comfortable to the impaired individual.
  • Pay attention: unthinking guests may offer your 90 pound mom on heavy medication the “spiked” eggnog, or mom might forget she is lactose intolerant and make herself a cheese plate.
  • Keep physical conditions in mind. A person in pain or with special medical needs should be asked how much and when they want to participate. Don’t insist that they do. Give them an “out” if it becomes too exhausting. Needless to say, ask family who are sick to visit at another time.
  • Where possible, solicit your loved one’s involvement in simple preparations—cooking, cleaning, sorting, etc. Most importantly, thank them for their help. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
  • Get involved and do something (anything): a short walk to look at Christmas decorations, an animated holiday musical that encourages simulated dancing or swaying, decorating a tree - these are all possible activities.
  • Reminisce about past gatherings, traditions or people. It’s time to bring out those old photo albums!
  • Be prepared! Make sure you have a supply of medication, incontinence products, quick snacks, some baby wipes and an extra sweater when going out.

As a caregiver:

  • Set reasonable expectations for yourself. You cannot do everything, and, most importantly, you don’t have to. Do you really need to make 5 kinds of cookies when you can go to Costco?
  • Maintaining the same schedule and simplifying the season will go a long way in easing your stress.
  • Ask for assistance! Ask family members to come sit with mom and dad while you do errands. Better yet, ask them to bake the holiday cookies or come help you clean the day before Thanksgiving. Learning to ask for help will make for better caregiving. After dinner coffee when mom is taking her nap is a great time to bring up whatever ongoing help you need.
  • Self preservation: remember to take care of yourself first. Airlines advise you to put on your oxygen mask before your child’s so you can clearly and safely care for another. Self care helps you maintain your health, your patience and your sanity.
  • Forget about perfection! A lopsided tree, gift cards instead of an actual boxed presents or a bakery pie will not detract from what’s important about the season. Spending time with family, keeping mom or dad comfortable with the gathering, and sharing the love will create a much longer lasting memory.

Thank you to Igor Lebovic, the CEO of Kindly Care, who emailed these helpful tips to me to share with you all.

Follow Igor Lebovic on Twitter:
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