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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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May 31, 2010

My Portuguese Heritage

Yesterday, the kids and I met my parents at the Petaluma Holy Ghost Society Portuguese Festa.  Being Portuguese, I grew up attending these Festas every summer, all summer long.  I want my kids to be exposed to the Portuguese culture as they grow up,  just as I was.  This is the perfect way to do it!

A little bit of my family background:  My Dad is the youngest of 13 brothers and sisters and was born and raised on the Azores island of Sao Jorge.  In his late 20's, he decided to move off the island and make his way to America as most of his brothers and sisters had already done.  On his journey, he stopped over in Brazil for about two years where he found a job as a Milk Man and met my Mom. My mom's heritage is Italian but she was born and raised in Brazil with her 12 brothers and sisters.  All of my Mom's family is still in Brazil and we have never met any of them in person. 

After his two years in Brazil, my Dad made his way to America.  He sent for my Mom to come over three months later.  They made a happy life for themselves and eventually us, when we came along in Northern California.

In the very early years, my Dad worked on a couple of different dairies as a milker.  By the time my sisters and I came along, he had taken a job at McNear Brick Company and then eventually Sonoma State University to work as a grounds keeper where he retired from.  My mom was a Stay at Home Mom raising my two sisters and me.

We didn't go on any family vacations but we did get to attend EVERY Portuguese Festa in the surrounding area.  Probably about 6 or 7 every summer.  We met many new friends at the festas that we would only see when we attended the festas, something for us to look forward to. 

Festas:  are typically celebrated with parades, a special mass in town at the Catholic church, and a coronation of the festa "queens" with feasts of sopas (soup) and meat following afterwards. It is said that Queen Isabel of Portugal was compassionate towards her subjects during a 14th century famine, and often snuck out to feed the poor with bread hidden in her cape.

In today's parades, young women re-enact her legacy and dress as queens in formal gowns, velvet capes and tiaras. Each association's annual coronation is honored by the presence of local queens and their families. The queens are selected based on succession; depending on how long a girl has been marching with the association, she can move up from flower girl or side maid and eventually earn her place as baby, junior, or senior queen.

Here are this year's queens and side attendants from Petaluma's festa.....

Flag bearers from the parade...

Our Lady of Fatima statue.......

St. Anthony statue........

When the parade arrives back at the hall, the Senior Queen releases a white dove.

Lunch is served.  Soupas.  French bread soaked in special seasoning juices.

Meat so tender and flavorful, no knife is needed.

It's all served up family style.  One of my sisters, Gloria, pouring some punch for one of her friends....

In Petaluma, there are two dining halls. Both are filled to capacity.

The kitchen crew.......

In one of the dining halls there is a display of all the past Petaluma queens.....

I found a photo of my sister, Lisa, when she walked as Junior Queen in 1986.

After we ate, the kids wanted to check out the little chapel adjacent to the dining hall.  This chapel is only used the Friday night before the parade to recite the rosary for the new queen.

"Hurry up and take your picture, Mom"

Dad, Mom, Bryce and Paige in the chapel.

In the dance hall, games were played.....

Bryce won a knife set.....great!  The conversation on the drive home was dominated by Bryce trying to negotiate keeping his knife set in his bedroom.  Sorry buddy.

Paige's prize, dish towels which she promptly threw down to the ground exclaiming for ALL to hear that she didn't want them!  I knew they would be grumpy today after going to sleep late the night before.

Some live auction items.......

Dessert.  I LOVE these Portuguese cookies!  They are my favorite!

I'm trying to track down this recipe so that I may attempt to bake a batch.
A soupa dinner is served again at 6 p.m. and dancing goes on late into the night. We didn't stay.....maybe next time!
Happy Memorial Day!
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May 29, 2010

Yesterday, Sex and the City 2 opened!  What a perfect night for another girls night out.  Here's how it all went......

We began the evening at Graffiti restaurant in Petaluma.  Graffiti sits along the Petaluma River and has an outside terrace and an inside lounge style bar with great atmosphere and a beautiful view.  Perfect for cocktails and appetizers.

 Lemon Drops were the cocktail of choice for the evening.  I was a little late and therefore missed out on the cocktail hour. Lemon Drops were consumed by the time I arrived and the girls were ready to walk over to the theatre.

We all thought the movie was great, even with all the bad reviews it's getting.  If you loved watching Sex and the City on HBO when it was on, you'll love the movie.  It was like watching one long episode of the HBO show. Perfect!

After the movie let out, we walked over to Pazzo for our dinner reservations.  I normally eat dinner at 6 p.m., so by 8:30, I was SO hungry!  I couldn't wait to dig into Pazzo's Mediterranean cuisine!  Thanks Marissa for making all the arrangements for the evening!

Gina, Tiffany & Teri with their good friends, the Lemon Drops........

I enjoyed one also........

Heather, Angie, Leah & Marissa......

Time for food.  Some delicious Calamari.....

I had the pork tenderloin with a cranberry/pineapple sauce over a bed of risotto and swiss chard.  So good!

Leah's Chicken Athena also looked really good.......

A fun night was had by all!  I hadn't seen these ladies for three months or so and it was really nice to visit and catch up with everyone.  Pictured from left, Teri , Lisa, Renee, Leah, Angie, Gina, Marissa, Heather, Tina & Tiffany. 

Thank for a fun night ladies!  Looking forward to the next one :)
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May 28, 2010

My Subway Breakfast

A few mornings ago before getting Bryce ready for school, I felt rushed to get out the door without being late for school (luckily it was not a pre-school day for Paige).  I didn't have time to eat breakfast and I always eat breakfast, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try out Subway's new $2.46 breakfast special before running errands. A healthy option breakfast sandwich and coffee for just $2.46! 

I ordered the Western Egg and Cheese on a whole wheat english muffin.  Right after I placed my order, Paige informs me she needs to use the restroom, so off we went.  When we returned, my order was ready.  I thought it was okay.  The english muffin was not toasted, only heated through which left for a chewy english muffin.  I'm not sure if this is how they normally prepare it or you need to ask them to toast it for you.  Though I wasn't very satisfied with my order, I wanted to give them another try.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to try breakfast at Subway again and it was a whole lot better.  I ordered the same thing, the Western Egg sandwich and asked them to toast it for me.  This made all the difference for me, although it could have been toasted a bit more.  So if you decide to try Subway for breakfast, and you don't like the texture of a chewy english muffin, make sure you ask for extra toasting.  I think it's worth the $2.46.

The Western Egg sandwich is 180 calories.  Black Forest ham, egg, green peppers, red onion and your choice of cheese.  You can choose egg whites instead of whole egg.

Each sandwich has 20 to 30 percent of recommended daily calcium intake, which is primarily derived from the two cheese triangles on each melt.  I chose not to have cheese on mine, but next time I will include it.......

I got my calcium intake with the large amount of milk I poured into my coffee.....

Something exciting:
This morning I received an email letting me know that my asian noodle salad was selected for one of today's (May 28th) Top 9 recipe selections on  It was chosen out of 3,352 entries!  I was very excited and wanted to share with you.  If you missed the the recipe, here it is again.... Asian Noodle recipe.
Happy Friday!  Cheers! Pin It

May 27, 2010

Winter Storm Warning, in May?

Oh where oh where is our summer? I would be happy with spring weather! We are having a winter type storm today here in CA. We've received 1 1/2 inches so far this morning (by 9:15 a.m.) in our rain gauge.  Hopefully the last storm of the season. I'm so ready for the sun.

Yesterday, before the storm moved in,  I snapped a few photos of some things around the yard that always put a smile on my face.

Some of my favorites are all the flowers that are in bloom right now.  This yellow rose bush in particular, is my very favorite.  It just says 'summer' to me.

I love the variation of color on the petals of this Nasturtium.  We have a small deck right outside the back door to our house and last year I decided to throw out some Nasturtium seeds underneath it.  They grew like crazy and fill in the space nicely.  If you don't consider yourself a 'Green Thumb' try a package of these seeds, they'll boost your confidence!

A bonus with this plant:  the leaves can be used in salads!

Can you spot the lizard?

Hearty Primrose......we like hearty.

What is your favorite flower and why?

Happy Thursday!
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May 26, 2010

Healthy Asian Noodle Salad

Asian Noodle Salad is a great, healthy, light weight salad perfect for dinner as a side dish or to stand alone.  

Ingredients you'll need (recipe below)

Asian Noodle Salad


1 lb whole wheat spaghetti 

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 bunch asparagus

1 cup edamame

3 thinly sliced green onions

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

salt to taste


Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water. Meanwhile, clean, stem, and slice mushrooms. Add mushrooms, asparagus and red bell pepper during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.

In a small bowl, mix together vinegar, soy sauce, oil, lime and ginger.

Transfer pasta and veggies into a serving bowl; toss with ginger dressing, edamame and sliced green onions, parsley.


Happy Wednesday!
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May 25, 2010

Our Biggest Delivery of the Year~

As I was headed down our driveway the other day, just before cresting the hill to drive down the hill, I see a very large load traveling up in the opposite direction.  I stop to wait (it's a one lane drive).  The silage trucks are coming.  This means silage delivery will begin the next morning.  Approximately 1600 TONS of silage to be exact.  It will take about 2 1/2 days or so for the delivery to be complete with 13 trucks, working non-stop in the daylight hours traveling to and from the silage fields.  Many truckloads.

This delivery of silage occurs every May when the silage fields are ready to be cut.  Silage is a mixture of fermented oats, rye grass and some other grasses and it is mixed in with grain by the tractor load to feed 250 cows and 200 heifers.  Read more about what we feed our cows HERE.

The silage is dumped onto the conveyor belt (the green platform you see) which then gets pushed into the plastic bags one truck load at a time. It takes about 3-4 minutes to unload one truck load.

The purpose of keeping silage in bags is to prevent air from getting in and causing it to spoil.  The same as storing your own food in an airtight container.  When all is finished, we end up with seven bags that vary in length from 100 feet to 250 feet long.

This is what it looks like close up.

Here is Bryce standing in an opening to one of the bags that is currently being used.

Every year the silage trucks pick away at the road (our driveway) leading up to our house.  But this year with all the late, wet weather we've had, has left the ground extremely soft for May and is by far the worst year for wear and tear on our driveway.  Not sure yet, what's going to happen with the driveway.  Yikes!

Happy Tuesday!
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