Farm to Fork

The Farmer’s Market in the Farm-to-Fork Capital

Let me tell you about this incredible farmer’s market! Sacramento has always been the heart of California agriculture. When I was growing up we called it “Sac-o-tomatoes”. And we really do grow a lot of tomatoes here! In the summers, the curves of the freeway are red with tomatoes that roll off the top of the open air trailers when they turn. Cow-tipping, ice-blocking, and crawdadding were all a part of my teenage years. (Don’t worry, we never actually tipped a cow!) We picked wild blackberries by the river in the summers, and headed to Apple Hill in the fall for fresh cider and apple donuts.

As the farm-to-fork movement grew in California, Sacramento led the charge. We have amazing educational urban farms like Soil Born Farms. We have a community of chefs who are excited about local, seasonal products. Our city council has embraced urban farming, strongly supporting initiatives for backyard chicken flocks, and school gardens. The city hosts an amazing farm-to-fork festival each year. Tickets to the cornerstone event of the festival – the Bridge Dinner (literally on the Tower Bridge, over the river) – are highly coveted, and sell out within minutes. And we have such exciting, vibrant, farmer’s markets, almost every day of the week. The biggest of these is the downtown Sunday market, under the freeway. Farmers from all over the valley bring their wares, year-round. Most of the regions top chefs can be seen here on a regular basis, as well as hundreds of locals. You always run into someone you know here!

We are at the end of our winter season, so today I found beautiful citrus fruits including pomelos, tiny sweet yellow limes, and my favorite, Meyer lemons! I also found strawberries bursting with flavor, wild caught salmon, exotic mushrooms, baby lettuces, handmade sausage, seedlings for my garden, a fragrant eucalyptus wreath, and a French apple almond tart. Of course, Daisy also got a gigantic, flaky, chocolate croissant. It’s no wonder this place is a favorite of both of ours!

Farm to Fork, Garden, Things I Like

Headed to the Farmer’s Market!

Today I’m headed to the downtown Sacramento farmer’s market with my favorite six year old, and my favorite Christmas present! I use this wagon in the garden and barn for a million things. It has all terrain wheels that can handle the pasture, and carry heavy loads. It’s washable, and collapsible, so I also throw it in the car each week, and load it up with bushels of treasures at the farmer’s market. I used to use baskets, but they kept breaking, because I love to find the full flats of slightly bruised strawberries, peaches, or cherries, for making homemade jams. No more!

Here’s link if you’d like to check it out: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B06VTCLX48/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520200974&sr=8-1-spons&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=creative+outdoor+all+terrain+folding+wagon&psc=1&smid=A1VLPYMYU04LA0

Recipes

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce and Dark Chocolate Sauce

Our family has a few birthdays all bunched together. I love birthday cake, but there’s only so much cake one family can eat! This is how the Cookie Cake was born. It’s basically a huge chocolate chip cookie, served in wedges, warm and gooey, and crisp on the edges. It feels like a special occasion desert because it is enormous and decadent looking, and is served with two homemade sauces, and the best vanilla ice cream. But, like all my recipes, it is simple and no fuss. And, (although this is not necessarily a good thing) there is NO limit to how much Cookie Cake one can eat. Leftovers will be grabbed in chunks as you walk by. You will accidentally finish off the whole thing. You will have to make more!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake with Two Homemade Sauces: Salted Caramel, and Dark Chocolate

Ingredients

For Cookie Cake

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter

11/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups four

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3 cups chocolate chips

Optional:

1 or 2 cups toasted walnuts

(We have one child with a nut allergy, so I don’t usually include them, but lightly toasted walnuts are so delicious in this!)

For Salted Caramel Sauce

2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

(To be honest I never measure any of this. It’s impossible to mess it up. You can add more cream if you want it runnier, more salt or vanilla if you like those flavors)

For Dark Chocolate Sauce

2 cups Dark chocolate chips, or bar cut in chunks – I love Callebaut or Valrhona

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

(Again – I just eyeball all of this. As long as you have more chocolate than cream, you can’t go wrong!)

Instructions
For Cookie Cake

Preheat oven to 350

Spray a something inch spring form pan with baking spray (or butter and flour).

Cut a circle of parchment paper slightly larger than the pan, put in bottom of pan.

Cream together:

Room temperature butter

Brown sugar

White sugar

Then add, and cream again:

Eggs

Vanilla

Add all powders on top of creamed mixture:

Flour

Baking powder

Baking soda

Salt

As the powders are sitting on top of the creamed ingredients, mix JUST the powders around with a spoon or spatula. (I do this instead of mixing them in a separate bowl before adding them, because I hate doing extra dishes, but it’s a good idea to distribute the baking powders and salt in the flour. So this is my compromise.) Then mix the dough completely together with the electric mixer.

Add chocolate chips, and toasted walnuts if you like.

Mix once more.

Spread dough into springform pan. Don’t worry about making it too even – it will even out on its own.

Chill (if you have time)

Bake at 350 until crispy brown on edges but still soft in the middle.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Add sugar to saucepan and stir in high until all sugar has melted and liquid is turning light brown.

Quickly take off heat and add cream. (If you wait the melted sugar will continue to brown and turn burned.)

Be careful! It will bubble up and steam when you add the cream. Stir until it mixes smooth with heat proof spatula. It will be VERY hot.

Add butter, vanilla, and salt to taste (some people prefer really salted caramel).

Dark Chocolate Sauce

Add chopped chocolate, cream, and corn syrup to glass bowl.

Microwave, on low, for 45 seconds at a time, stirring between, until chocolate is melted and cream mixes in. It will be a glossy dark chocolate sauce at this point.

Be careful not to let the chocolate scorch in the microwave.

Stir in a pinch of salt, and vanilla.

Serve warm with bowls of sauces. Enjoy!

Chickens, Getting Started with Chicks, Keeping Chickens

The Babies are One Week Old!

We’ve had the chicks for one week now. They are growing so fast! The brooder is already getting crowded. I’ll move them to a bigger pen soon, but I want to keep them warm by the fire for one more week, so I needed to make a little more space for them. I decided to get rid of the standing waterer and feeder, and hang feeders from the outside, to give the chicks more room to spread their wings.  Also, the standing water feeder gets dirty so quickly, even if you do put it up on a block.

I drilled a few more holes in the container, (I love my power drill – can’t imagine life without it!), so the chicks could access the spouts of feeders and water bottles hanging in the outsiders the brooder. I’ve never tried a water bottle for chickens before. I didn’t even get the special chicken nipples, I just used a water bottle we had never used with the bunnies. I wasn’t completely sure it would work. But these smart girls figured it out almost instantly!  I dripped the water on the tip of new waterer with my finger a couple times.  Once one chick figured it out, the others quickly followed.

The chicks are eating and drinking so much more than they were a week ago.  They need it because they are getting big so fast!  Pretty soon you may want to switch to larger feeders and waterers, to make sure they don’t run out.  They are also getting flight feathers on their wings, and will start to flutter out of their brooder, given the opportunity, so make sure your lid is secure!  Even though they are such sweet fluff balls when they are brand new, they are getting stronger and more hardy every day.  This is good news!  You’ve passed the first, most fragile, week.  Congratulations!

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