Showing posts from 2015

4th Annual Wellness Kitchen Fundraiser - Top Chef Competition -- Dinner, Winetasting, Silent Auction

Please consider attending a fundraiser for an extremely worthy local charity, the Wellness Kitchen. The goal of the evening is to raise $50,000.  The funds will be used to support the Healing Foods program, education, and general operations of the facility.  The fundraiswer will help to expand programs and reach community members that are in critical need of healthy food, education, and support.

What is the event?  It's an evening of dinner, winetasting, and a silent auction, but there's more.  Three local chefs will go head-to-head in a timed competition in the style of Food Network's "Chopped."  The competing chefs this year are Chef Jacob Lovejoy, Cass Winery; Chef Adam White, Twin Cities Community Hospital (TCCH); and Chef Hector Giancarlo Peres Scolari from Daou Vineyards.

The Top Chef Judge will be Chef Alex Martin from Crush Catering.  The distinguished panel of judges includes local doctors and dignitaries will sample the appetizer, main dish and dessert …

“Joy of harvest belongs only to those who endure the pain of sowing." ~ Sunday Adelaja

It's a busy time at the rancho, but satisfying.  The rose garden Stuart planted to represent all the members of the family has blossomed into a fragrant, beautiful area of our courtyard, and it is a highly luxurious moment when I can put aside my other responsibilities and sneak out to cut some roses to grace our home.  Their fragrance is a beautiful reminder to take time to enjoy life, even if it's only for a moment.

The fig tree has produced like a champ this year.  Almost too many figs to eat.  How do we know this?  Because whenever we are going anywhere, the host or hostess prefaces the sentence with, "And no, we do not need figs." So what do we do with all these figs?  We make fig jam, strawberry-fig jam, dehydrate figs, make fig appetizers with goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto, drizzled with olive oil, and grilled -- and on and on -- and it's still producing.  Perhaps a sign of El Nino to come?  We hope.

We also harvested our Petite Sirah.  It's a very…

"No greater thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen." Epictetus

Even a casual reader might guess, it is fig season at the rancho -- and a big one, at that.  It is curious to this creator of all things fig that so many people comment that they don't like figs, but they like Fig Newtons and they like fig jam.  Interestingly, figs go into fig jam and Fig Newtons.

So this is your Fig 101 course.  To the left, you will see 8 cups of figs.  What can be done with figs, you might ask?  This is a fruit that is truly sweet.   As an experimenter (tinkerer) with recipes, it seems it must be balanced out by savory or salty ingredients, otherwise, one could go into a diabetic coma.  Figs, however, are one of the most power-packed fruits, nutritionally speaking.  For more information on the details, please click here:

On a practical note, though, people want to know how they can incorporate figs into their daily lives.  First off, in Mediterranean climates, such as ours, figs ripen in August.  Figs can be…

Butter to Olive Oil Conversion Chart for Recipes

You might be thinking, I'd like to use olive oil instead of butter more, but how would I possibly go about converting my recipes?  Voila!
You're welcome!
Butter to Olive Oil Conversion Chart for Recipes

Butter EVOO 1 tsp. ¾ tsp. 2 tsp. 1 ½ tsp. 1 Tbsp. 2 ¼ tsp. ¼ cup 3 Tbsp. 1/3 cup ¼ cup ½ cup ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. 2/3 cup ½ cup ¾ cup ½ cup + 1Tbsp. 1 cup ¾ cup

"There is no comeback without a setback"

It is a good day to be at the rancho.  The last of the awards in the olive oil competitions was announced today, and Azul y Oro was awarded a Gold Medal in the California State Fair 2015 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, thus bringing our combined medal total for the 2015 year to three gold medals and four silver medals for both of our olive oils.

Our story is not really about the medals, though.  Our story is about believing in one's self and believing in one's product, and that passion for delivering an exceptional product, focus, and perseverance will eventually win the day.

Wouldn't it have been better to have won all Gold Medals and Best of Class Awards?  Wouldn't it have been better to have had a larger yield?  Definitely, but we have to leave some excitement, happiness, and goals for other years.

One has only to scroll through the blog posts of the last year to read the discouraging, heartbreaking setbacks that occurred in this pursuit of excellence.   It is…

“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” ― Diana Scharf

The rancho just received the good news that our 2014-15 olive oil has been certified extra virgin.  Besides the stewards of the rancho, possibly only one other person knows how much work went into bringing in a crop from last year -- possibly one of the most difficult growing seasons on record.  One has only to read the blog for the last year to catch a glimpse of discouraging news layered upon angst layered upon challenges from nature layered upon -- one gets the picture.  After a particularly cruel freak hail storm, it was thought the entire crop was destroyed.

And yet, we continued on toward our goal, which was seemingly ridiculous to most, because we were focused on achieving extra virgin certification when most people kept commenting that they couldn't see any olives.  We could, though, and persevered on through snakes, construction, battles against other pests, low crop yields, coyote attacks, and finding a mill that would accept us with a low crop yield.

The ranch manager …

When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

It's citrus season at the ranch.  There is something so hopeful about bright, cheery fruit that becomes ripe during the darkest part of the year.  One of the orange trees was picked in December.  Every single piece was truly enjoyed -- by New Year's.

So now we turn our attention to the lemons -- so many lemons.  What can one do with lemons?  To start, we'll whip up a batch of limoncello -- but the bulk of the lemon is left over.  What then?  We'll juice what remains and put it in ice cube trays, freeze it, and use it for homemade lemonade during the summer or defrost several of the ice cubes to use for lemon juice when cooking.

What can one do with limoncello, though?  How much can one possibly drink?  There is so much more to do with limoncello than mere drinking -- "mere" drinking?  Sorry, I didn't mean that.

Anyway, our Pinterest/Recipe page is chock full of amazing recipes, so click away and go create something incredible.  What's the link, you…

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” — Helen Keller

As the sun sets on 2014, a year filled with many changes, and we look toward 2015 and many more changes and challenges to come, one cannot but be filled with the optimism that the new year brings.

Along with that optimism comes resolutions, lists, and goals.  Our first major goal is to stop straddling two cities and move full-time to the ranch and enjoy a more peaceful, simplified life, while taking time to enjoy all the area has to offer, our new friends, and more time watching sunsets, playing golf and exercising, while perfecting our wine and olive oil.

We plan to be bottling our 2015 olive oil soon, as well as our 2013 Zinfandel, followed by our 2012 Petite Sirah. The jury is still out on the 2012 Cab.  We plan to adhere to our racking, SO2, and bottling schedule.

2015's plans also include the purchase of a labeling machine, so we can free up hundreds of hours spent in the barn yearly labeling -- despite the hours of fun that trying to line up a label and bottle on a checked…