Strawberry Picking!

IMG_3604A few weekends ago we went strawberry picking at Swanton Berry Farm! Nothing screams summer is finally here like fresh, ripe strawberries, and though the day wasn’t quite as blue and sunny as I had hoped it would be, the berry picking was perfect.



2013-05-11 13.32.06


IMG_3589 bug



2013-05-11 16.55.45-1

Also, how often do you find a store or company that works off the honor system? Basically, you come in to the little farm stand store with the berries you’ve picked, weigh them and walk over to the little cash drawer and deposit your cash. There’s even a pile of money for you to make your own change. Seriously, that’s just awesome.  And it’s not just strawberries for $2.50/lb (seriously, when was the last time you saw strawberries in the store for that cheap?) but they sell fresh coffee for $1, and shortcake and chocolates, and jam…sooooo much jam. And, it’s all based off the simple idea that as a basic honest human being you’ll pay for what you take. I loved it.IMG_3603




White Bean, Sausage, and Kale Stew

Photo Dec 07, 9 08 33 PM

I love good soups and stews. And, this is good stew! I’ve been making this for a really long time, but lately had forgotten about it. It made it’s way back into the dinner rotation a few weeks ago, and I’m oh so glad it’s back. I think you’ll love it too.

And now on with the show….

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb precooked pork sausage, like kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 15 oz cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 small bunch of kale, leaves stripped from stems and coarsely chopped (about 4 packed cups)

salt and pepper

1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until browned.
  • Add the beans and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth, bay leaf and kale and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered for 10 minutes.
  • Discard the bay leaf, season with salt and pepper, and serve drizzled with olive oil and Parmesan cheese.



Chicken & Leek Stroganoff

I love love love leeks. The mild onion flavor is fab. And, I love love love mushrooms. So imagine my delight when I come across a recipe that calls for both!  Add cream, and it might just be heaven in a bowl.  Granted, it’s probably not the healthiest recipe, since it calls for soooo much cream, but it is super tasty. Especially with all that lemony goodness added at the end.

3/4 cup long-grain rice

1 leek

8 ounces crimini mushrooms

2 chicken breasts

1 tbsp olive oil

1 pat butter

1 glass white wine

pinch pepper

pinch salt

1 bunch fresh parsley

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1 lemon

  • Cook the rice per the package directions
  • Cut both ends off the leek, quarter lengthways, slice across thinly, and wash well under running water. Leeks like to collect lots of dirt, so make sure you rinse well.
  • Slice the mushrooms
  • Slice the chicken breasts into little finger size pieces
  • Put a large frying pan on high heat and add some olive oil and the pat of butter
  • Add the leek to the pan with the white wine, a small glass of water, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. A good tip when cooking with white wine is to always use a wine that you enjoy drinking, that way you know the flavor will be good
  • Let it simmer for 5 minutes, covered loosely with a piece of aluminum foil
  • Finely chop the parsley, stalks and all
  • Remove the foil and add the chicken, most of the parsley, the cream, and the yummy mushrooms
  • Stir, bring back to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Just before serving, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from both halves over the stroganoff. This is important because using the lemon means that you have to use less salt.
  • Serve with the remaining parsley sprinkled on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.



Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook.

Strawberry Raspberry Vanilla Quick Jam

Back on Monday I mentioned going to the farmers market and picking up some lovely berries for jam making.  I also promised to post the super easy recipe for Strawberry Raspberry Vanilla Quick Jam. It ended up being a cross between a thick jam and a berry syrup, and the lemon juice made it perfectly tart. It was just perfect for drizzling over pound cake for desert. Seeing as how this is the first jam I’ve ever made, I’m officially hooked. I may never buy store bought jam again.

And now on with the show….

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/2 pound fresh raspberries

vanilla bean scraped of its seeds, pod reserved (I used a teaspoon of vanilla extract because I just couldn’t find real vanilla beans)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

juice of 1 lemon

  • Hull the strawberries
  • Place strawberries, raspberries, vanilla, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until fruit breaks down and liquid thickens.
  • Remove from heat, and place in jars. Mine ended up making about three small canning jars full of jam.
  • Place in refrigerator to cool.

Per the original recipe from Joy The Baker (I just love her blog), this lasts up to 10 days covered and sealed in the fridge.



Lazy Sunday Drives

I love a Sunday that unravels unplanned. Where you just jump in the car, with a general idea of direction, and see where you end up.  That’s how today started.  Tim had a general plan to head down Highway 1, prompted only by a colleagues recommendation that it was just a pretty drive.

About an hour into the drive we stopped at Alice’s Restaurant in Woodside (population 5000), and also, apparently, a major roadside attraction for motorcyclists. I got my standard pastrami on rye, Tim got his standard biscuits and gravy.  I like old cars. Here’s a random pic of an old Ford from the parking lot.

Next up, driving through the Coastal Redwoods we stumbled upon Castle Rock State Park. Sadly, unless funding comes through, the Gov. will close Castle Rock in July. Good thing we inadvertently visited when we did.

Then we headed towards Santa Cruise, not wanting to head back home the same way we came. Enticed by this sign:

I made Tim stop, turn around, and go back.  I just happened to have exactly $2 in my wallet that I can argue couldn’t have been better spent. I think Fambrini’s Farm Fresh Produce stand was one of my favorite stops of the day!

Naturally, Tim took advantage of a photo opp, and decided to become roadside fruit.

Full of organic strawberry’s we were back on the road again, ready for another detour. This time it was a left turn to Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Final stop of the day? Well, you can’t expect us to drive up the coast and not stop at Sam’s Chowder House for chowder and fish and chips. We skipped the famous lobster rolls, but only this time.  They have a Chowdermobile food truck that parks at Golden Gate Park every weekend. We’ll grab lobster rolls another time.

And eight hours after we left we ended up back home.  I’d say that was a pretty good Sunday!