Monthly Archives: October 2008

A Week Without : Wheat

homemade bread
The other week I went a week without eating wheat (well almost). I’ve never been one for taking on extremes, I’ve always believed that a healthy dose of moderation will do anyone just fine. But I was listening to an integrative doctor during a long car ride and his arguement of why we should take a short fast from certain foods was too compeling, I had to try. He stated that every once in a while, you should go a week without a certain food and see how your body reacts. Wheat is a good place to start because we tend to eat so darn much of it, as I found out, it’s in so much that I eat on a daily basis without realizing it.

Did you know that as much as one in three people are sensitive to gluten, which is found in wheat? That’s a lot of people! Most people don’t even realize it, which is one of the reasons that he suggested cutting out wheat for a while and seeing how your body does. Wheat is also full of starches which are hard to digest and makes you gassy. Ick. Now I don’t want to convince you that eating wheat is bad, I don’t think it is, but its good to stop and evalute what you eat from time to time, don’t you?

So I went a week without wheat. And here’s what I learned about myself:

  • I didn’t have that overly full, bloated feeling after meals, which I do when I eat a bowl full of pasta or a sandwhich on a huge roll.
  • It was harder to keep myself feeling full because I couldn’t grab my usual piece of toast or cracker to snack on.
  • It forced me to eat things that I wouldn’t normally eat, like more vegetables and nuts, which are probably more healthy anyways.
  • I lost three pounds that week!
  • Wheat is in beer which I didn’t realize after drinking half a bottle one evening. Whoops.
  • When you get together with a friend who you can talk for hours with, you’ll soon forget that you are on a wheat fast, when you look down and realize that you are munching on pretzels.
  • Around day five I went through a serious bread withdrawl and headed over to Whole Foods for one of those frozen gluten free breads. They are really awful!
  • The day I went back to eating wheat, I ate a handful of crackers and immediately felt that overly stuffed feeling again.

So, what will I take away from this experiment? I learned that when I want a snack, maybe I should look for something else besides bread or crackers, that overall I should cut down on my wheat intake. But being that I don’t think I have a gluten sensitivity and that there are such incredible bakeries around here, I won’t give up bread perminently. And if I ever need to lose a few pounds to fit into that skinny dress, I know how to!

Have you ever given up anything? What was it and how did you react?

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Filed under musings, what we've learned

Its Good For the Soul

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Sometimes growing your own food and getting your hands dirty in the soil isn’t just about getting higher levels of nutrients, or eating local to save the world, or being self sufficient, or saving money, or anything like that. Sometimes is just about bringing more beauty to your life. And we all could use a little more of that, couldn’t we?
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Won’t You Be My Neighbor

HGTV Dream House
Get your clicking fingers ready, my friends, because coming in January you can win the chance to be my neighbor! The new HGTV Dream House is being built just one block over and about three blocks up from our house and its gorgeous. Very much a Sonoma Farmhouse kind of a feel to it, just much, much larger and I’m sure much more elegant than any true Sonoma farmwife could ever dream of.
HGTV Dream House
True, it is on a somewhat busy street and it is in the very strange way-over-the-top block of enormous Ledson homes, but if I won this house, I’d take it in a heart beat. It’s an easy walk to downtown, close to schools, and I think even has a decent size back yard. So start exercising those index fingers now so you can enter in January to be my neighbor.

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Harvest Celebration

Festive Harvest Party
We’ve talked about having a harvest party for a long while now, years even. But this weekend we finally did it. It just so happened to be a certain young boy’s second birthday too, so on top of eating and visiting we also got to do some singing and cake eating.
He Turned Two
Party Decorations
The weather was gorgeous, cool enough to have pumpkin soup but warm enough to enjoy sitting outside in the warm sun. Unfortunately I wasn’t in the frame of mind to take photos of the food Scott made for everyone, but he truly outdid himself. We put our dining room table outside, put the two extra leaves in it and every last inch of it was filled with platters of food. Five different type of crostini, shrimp ceviche, fennel and grapefruit salad, tomato and mozzarella salad, fruit platters, cheese platters, deviled eggs, and the curried pumpkin soup. We made sure that each dish contained something from our garden, even if it was a small thing like herbs.
Peeling Eggs for Deviled Eggs
Peeling eggs in preparation for deviled eggs
Thank you to our fine friends and family, some of whom drove over an hour to come, for sharing with us. We are so lucky to have you in our lives. Thank you for celebrating our favorite season and for wishing our little guy a happy birthday.

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Filed under Life in Sonoma, our weekends

11 Ways to Eat Locally in Sonoma

 Farm Dinner

Here in California, I’d say that everyone who lives here could easily eat at least 70% of their diet locally. In fact it would be a darn shame if Californian’s didn’t. I mean this is a huge agriculture state, in most spots it’s actually hard to keep things from growing. And the beauty of it is that we can grow things nearly year round. So we should be eating locally. It just makes sense.

Luckily in the Sonoma Valley not only do we have farms aplenty for getting fresh produce, but we also have many fine people who craft their own food. I’m sure there are countless small food business that I am going to leave off my list, but these are a handful of places that we buy from:

Cheese

  • Vella Cheese – On weekend days we like to go for a walk after visiting our favorite bakery, along the bike path heading east. Right before you get to The Patch, a large vegetable farm on the north edge of town, you reach Vella Cheese Company. If you are lucky you’ll be there right when the milk truck pulls up to deliver a tank full of local milk. This is always a big hit with the boys. Ig Vella has been making cheese here for decades and has more awards tucked under his belt than you can imagine. Buying right from this old stone building and being able to walk home with a bag full of cheese and butter is always special for us.
  • Sonoma Jack – Although we usually will pick up Vella’s Jack over Sonoma Jack, I couldn’t forget to include this local favorite in our list. They carry just about every flavored variety of Jack that you could imagine, from Pesto Jack to Jalapeno Jack to Mediterranean Jack….the list goes on and on. If you go to their storefront on the Plaza you can sample them all for free.
  • Laura’s Chevre – Now housed in the old Clover Stornetta factory, when chevre is my craving (and when isn’t it, really?) Laura’s is my first choice.

Bread

  • Basque Boulangerie – Oh, this is our very favorite place to go on the weekends. It’s always busy. Packed with both locals and tourists, but we always go with a bakery fairy on our shoulder who clears out a table just in time for us to sit down. It’s an easy walk here and by the time we get here we’re starving for their delicious pastries and breads. Our favorites? The morning buns with all of their sugary carmely goodness and their cinammon raisin toast (two, inch and a half slices of bread served with plenty of butter). Just heaven.
  • Artisian Bakery – Whole wheat sourdough is our bread of preference when making toast or a sandwich and Artisian’s is incredible. If you stop by their storefront instead of picking up a loaf at the grocery store, you’ll save a good amount of money. Plus you can pick up one of their white chocolate macadamian cookies which will just make you cry and give up cookie making, they are so good.

Other Deliciousness

  • Tortilleria Jalisco – Sonoma has a high population of Mexicans, which is to our good fortune when it comes to food, among many other things. On West Napa Street, tucked away into the most bizarre of spots, between car washes, accountants and a shady cell phone store, is Tortelleria Jalisco. You can get both corn or flour tortillas which are fantastic. If you don’t have time to stop by their store, you can pick these up at Sonoma Market and if you are lucky they are still warm.
  • Wine – You don’t think I could write this post without mentioning wine, right? Being that the wine industry keeps our town thriving, I couldn’t leave this out. There are countless local wineries here, including Ravenswood which I used to design for (anyone seen their shiraz label? that was my illustration). They have beautiful tasting room and the people who work there are incredible.
  • Angelo’s Meats – When we get a craving for jerky or smoked anything, we head right over to Angelos. I’m not sure exactly where he gets his meat from, but he does all the smoking and drying himself.
  • Barking Dog Roasters – Oh, I know, the coffee beans of course aren’t local, but the roasting is, and isn’t that something worth writing about? This coffee is good, much better than Pete’s or any other ‘fancy’ coffee that we’ve tried. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the fact that it’s roasted just across town.

Produce

  • The Patch – When I first moved here, I stumbled upon The Patch within the first day or two. They have a simple stand that they sell their produce from all on the honor system. When I found that, I knew this was the place for me. A town with a farm in the middle of it that sells it’s goods on the honor system, yes this was the place for me. As I’ve come to find out, there are so many backyard gardeners here that setting up a cardtable full of veggies on your front lawn with an honor system pay method is common. Anyway, it’s painfully beautiful at the Patch, gorgeous veggies with vineyards and rolling hills in the background… It fills you full of Sonoma pride.
  • Oak Hill Farms – But just in case you didn’t get your fill of pastoral Sonoma beauty, head over to Oak Hill Farms on Highway 12, across from BR Cohn Winery. We love visiting the store in their old red barn, not only for their fantastic vegetables and flowers, but for the scenery. You must stop here if you are ever in town.

This is just a small list of local ways that you can eat here in Sonoma. But its our favorite way to eat. Many times I wish that we could live in a place where maybe the home prices were just a little more reasonable, or where the summertime heat wasn’t quite so intense. But when I think about the above list, I’m thankful and happy that I live here. But most of all, I’m hungry now. Enjoy your day, I’m off to find a snack.

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I Miss Fruit

Fruit
I’ll admit it, I miss fruit. A lot. Yes, yes, we have a bunch canned and frozen, but I miss having mounds of it on my counter. I miss grabbing it for a quick snack. We are completely out of fresh fruit at our house. We finished the last of the apples, the pears got immediately canned, and the asian pears (which I never shared with you, did I) are also gone. I suppose for the local eater, this begins the time of eating frozen, dried and canned fruit. And while I won’t miss the summer, I will miss the fruit.

Also a note to all of my blogging friends, I want to appologize for not visiting your blogs and commenting as I used to. I miss visiting and I hope to be back at it soon.

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We will learn one of these days

Chard in the Grass
One of these days we’re going to learn not to let everything go to seed in our yard. In the meantime we made a meal of these random chard plants that have grown in our newly reseeded lawn. We knew our usual weed suspects, purslane and amaranth would be among the weed culprits, but chard? Really?

Anyway, this brings me to the fact that I have signed us up to take part in the Eat Local Challenge for the month of October. And for this challenge, we are going to try and eat very local. Within our property bounds local. My goal is that every meal this month will contain something local in it. And every day at least one meal must contain something grown in our garden. This actually is an easy challenge for us, well, at least played by my rules. We eat out of garden for most meals and rarely buy produce. But this just gives us extra incentive to eat something from our yard for EVERY meal. Wish us luck!

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Filed under leafy greens

Have you Sprouted Brussel Sprouts?

Brussel Sprouts
Have you grown Brussel Sprouts before? Do you even like to eat them? I admit I’ve only had them a few times in my life, but I have really liked them. They are great roasted, soft insides with crispy carmalized outter leaves. And I seem to remember having them as a kid once with that thick orange cheese sauce which makes anything taste better. But we’ve never grown them.

They are really cool, funky looking plants and I hope that I have a whole bed of them to photograph in a few months. I was reading up on them and they said that its best if you don’t plant them where other brassicas have been growing in the past two years….hmmmm, what has been growing in that bed? We really do need to keep better track. Well, this summer that’s where the watermelons were, but who knows what was there before that. Like the cabbages, these need regular moisture and well drained soil. And they grow best when the temperatures are around 65 degrees. We hope to give them what they need.

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Filed under leafy greens, state of the garden