Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blueberries at their peak - Sebastopol Berry Farm

With flavors that range from mildly sweet to tart and tangy, blueberries are nutritional stars bursting with nutrition and flavor while being very low in calories. Blueberries are at their best from May through October when they are in season.
Blueberries are the fruits of a shrub that belong to the heath family, which includes the cranberry and bilberry as well as the azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Blueberries grow in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea to a marble. They are deep in color, ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-gray waxy "bloom" that covers the surface serving as a protective coat. The skin surrounds a semi-transparent flesh that encases tiny seeds. from Wholefoods

Blueberries -- Antioxidant Superfood
Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory.
"Inflammation is a key driver of all chronic diseases, so blueberries have a host of benefits," says Ann Kulze, MD, of Charleston, S.C., author of Dr. Ann's 10-Step Diet, A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss & Lifelong Vitality. When selecting berries, note that the darker they are, the more anti-oxidants they have. "I tell everyone to have a serving (about 1/2 cup) every day," Dr. Kulze says. "Frozen are just as good as fresh." Be sure to include lots of other fruits and vegetables in your diet as well. Remember too that, in general, the more color they have, the more antioxidants. from Web MD

The best way to freeze blueberries is in a single layer on a baking sheet. Dry them as well as you can first without bruising them by laying them on a layer of paper towels and covering them with more paper towels. Place them lovingly, and without crowding them, on the baking sheet, pop it in the freezer, and wait. Once frozen, pack the berries into appropriate storage containers and return them to the freezer. From Ochef read more

From the wineloverspage
Think outside the blueberry muffin and try savory sauces.
But that's what Ingredient of the Month is all about, my friends reminded me. Think outside the box. Contemplate the flavor and style of the featured ingredient, and let your creative spirit run free.
Fair enough. I picked up a couple of boxes of blueberries, ate about half of them right out of the box like popcorn. Then I looked in the fridge, hoping inspiration would strike. Soon enough, it did. A leftover chunk of duck breast, sliced into thin medallions and very briefly re-heated, made a fine base for a savory, spicy blueberry sauce, with no sweetening beyond the natural blueberry flavor. Crushed juniper berries added a remarkably compatible flavor complexity; lemon juice imparted a mouth-watering tangy note; a good strong dose of black pepper and just a hint of anise-scented Asian "five spice" and, finally, a dash of Cholula Mexican hot sauce to finish up with a touch of hot-sweet excitement.
It exceeded my most optimistic expectations, and even my long-suffering bride, who doesn't like fruit-and-meat combinations at all, had to admit that the dish was splendid ... and came back for seconds.

Where to pick your own in Northern California

As recently as 1997, California grew only 196 acres of blueberries but now it has about 4,500, which are estimated to yield more than 20 million pounds this season. That's still well short of Michigan, the nation's largest producer at 110 million pounds last year. But when California's plantings mature, its production may reach 50 million pounds, exceeding Oregon's, now the third-largest U.S. producer.From the LATIMES

Sebastopol Berry Farm
"Our family started the farm back in 1986 after purchasing part of the oldest blueberry farm in California - Green Valley. Some of the blueberry bushes are almost 100 years old. We started growing blueberries and over the years have expanded to include other berries. For almost 25 years, we have dedicated ourselves to growing the most flavorful berries. Sabina and Tarcicio Vigil, mom and dad, have put all their efforts into making the farm the best berry farm in the North Bay. We believe in clean agricultural practices and have been growing organic and pesticide free berries since 1986. Each family member has been active in contributing to our success - from deciding which berries to plant to selling directly to our customers at local farmers markets in Northern California. It's truly a family owned and run farm!
Where to find us?
We sell directly at the farm. Call ahead to find out what's in season and hours of operation. - 707.694.2301

At the peak of the blueberry season, you can also find us at the following farmers markets:
Tues - Napa (morning), Healdsburg (evening)
Wed - Santa Rosa
Thurs - San Rafael (Civic Center)
Fri - St Helena (morning), Cloverdale (evening)
Sat - Healdsburg, Petaluma, Davis, Palo Alto, Santa Rosa
Sun - San Rafael, Sebastopol, Menlo Park, Walnut Creek"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Yummy yam salad

The word yam comes from African words njam, nyami, or djambi, meaning "to eat," and was first recorded in America in 1676.
There is great confusion between yams and sweet potatoes in the United States; most of the vegetables labeled "yams" in the markets are really orange-colored sweet potatoes.
Yam salad

Perfect for picnics
3 large yams
Olive oil, vinegar, red onion, red and yellow bell pepper, sorrel, water cress,
Peel and cube the yams –
Coat with olive oil and roast at 375 until just cooked trhough.
While the cubes roast prepare the dressing.
Small chop ½ of red pepper and ½ yellow
Put ¼ red onion, about ¼ pound of water cress (stems and all),and about ½ cup sorrel leaves in a food processer for a fine chop
Combine the peppers and onion cress mixture in a large baggie then add your favorite vinegar and oil dressing and let the flavors combine while the yams roast. As soon as the yams come out of the oven add the dressing mixture. The yams will absorb more flavor while hot.
Serve chilled
Another version is to run the yam mixture through the food processor for a smaller chop and put about spoonful on a lettuce leaf for a great appetizer.