GOING NUTS!

Approximately 4,000 California walnut growers produce over 600,000 short tons of walnuts annually.  Right here in El Dorado County, 205 walnut trees on 10 acres at Perry Creek Walnut Farm are budding out that delicious fruit at a steady pace.  A rainy season promises a bumper crop of organic English walnuts for the farm in Somerset, say proprietors Betty Allen and Bob DaCosta.

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sign Betty Allen moved from New York to Somerset in 2010 and never looked back. Although she advertises on a regular basis with her New York business network, Betty also sells to locals and internet customers.   Betty and Bob do all the harvesting, drying, shelling, packing and shipping the old fashioned way—by hand. The walnuts are harvested in October   Whole and shelled walnuts are available in all sizes from 1 to 10 pounds, plus shipping. Twenty pounds in the shell brings you an additional two free pounds.

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Well known in the community, Perry Creek FLAV-R-ROASTED Fancy Mixed Nuts and sugar and spice and candied walnut packages are available at the farm stand out front. You will also find homemade items such as 3-Berry Jam, Apple Butter, Organic Pasta Sauce, farm fresh organic eggs and vegetables in season . Community involvement includes fostering animals, Pioneer Firefighters Association and Farm Bureau as well as El Dorado County Farm Trails Association.nutmachinebettys-farm-stand

 

*In 2011, Walnuts were certified by the American Heart Association as a heart healthy food. Researchers include walnuts in superfood lists to help you

Initial findings from the Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study presented at Experimental Biology 2016 (EB) indicate that daily walnut consumption positively impacts blood cholesterol levels without adverse effects on body weight among older adults.1 The WAHA study is a dual site two-year clinical trial conducted by researchers from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University and is aimed at determining the effect of walnuts on age-related health issues.

A USDA Ag Research Service study results show that daily consumption of 1.5 ounces of walnuts significantly affects the bacteria in the human gut in a way that is favorable to decreasing inflammation and cholesterol, which are two known indicators of heart health.

Researchers from the University of Georgia have found walnuts to be a great option for getting more polyunsaturated fat into the diet, with 13 grams per ounce.

Walnuts are unique among nuts in that they are primarily composed of polyunsaturated fat (13 grams per ounce), which includes alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. They are the only nut to contain a significant amount of ALA with 2.5 grams per one ounce serving.

http://www.morningagclips.com/category/national/western_states/california/

90% of the phenols in walnuts are found in the skin. The form of vitamin E found in walnuts is in the form of gamma-tocopherol, found to provide significant heart health protection.

94.5% of U.S. adults consume no tree nuts whatsoever. Researchers find that nut eaters take in 5 grams more fiber, 260 mg. more potassium, 73 more mg. of calcium, 95 more mg. of magnesium, 3.7 mg. more E and 157 mg. less sodium.

California produces 90% of the 38% of all walnuts grown in the U.S.

Quinone juglone, a rare and valuable antioxidant/anti inflammatory in walnuts, is found in virtually no other commonly-eaten foods. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=newtip&dbid=278&utm_source=daily_click&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_email

Most walnut trees are grown on black walnut rootstock these days, so it is interesting that a particular toxin called “juglone” from the roots, buds, leaves and nut hulls seeps into the soil and may turn susceptible plants nearby yellow or cause them to wilt and die. It is important to keep the highest concentration of the toxin that exists around the canopy of the tree raked clear.
Field crops like alfalfa, crimson clover and tobacco are especially sensitive to black walnut tree toxicity as are vegetables like asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, pepper, potato, rhubarb and tomato. Susceptible fruits are apple, blackberry blueberry, and pear.

Purdue University has informal lists of plants that tolerate juglone and those that are sensitive to it, and planting, according to the University of Wisconsin, can be up to 50’-80’ from the trunk. Naturally you need to consider the sun and shade requirements of the plants, as well. For more information: The go-to book for anyone growing nut and fruit trees in California is the UC Davis publication, The Home Orchard.

 

The Season is FIGS!

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Glorious Figs
The parable of the fig tree exists throughout the bible and in other spiritual and fictional works. In Matthew 24:32 it tells us “its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.” Many references of the fig and fig tree are translated over and over and symbolizing many things for many people.

“Figs have a short season in early summer and a main season from late summer until fall. The first crop of the season is called the breba crop, which comes in on the last season’s growth. Spring frost often eradicates the breba crop and the remaining previous season’s growth.

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The majority of figs produced arise from the main crop, which are generally not subject to frosty conditions. The sweetest types of figs are Black Mission figs and Adriatic figs, which are commonly used in desserts and paired alongside cheese and fresh fruit. Kadota figs and Brown Turkey figs are not as sweet and are usually used in salads or in recipes that include sweeteners.”

Reference as it may, controversy often prevails over figs…. which tastes better, what to do with the first crop if there is one, and how best to use them. People seem to like them or not, not much in between. Black Mission and Brown Turkey figs seem to be the most common at most markets, but a wide range of figs—including striped Adriatic figs and pale green Kadota figs—is increasingly available fresh. While there are subtle differences in flavor and sweetness level, figs do more or less taste like figs, so there’s no reason to be wary of trying a new variety.

Many people are unaware of this culinary delicacy due to its rarety on the grocery aisle.  Black Mission and Brown Turkey figs seem to be the most common at most markets, but a wide range of figs—including striped Adriatic figs and pale green Kadota figs—is increasingly available fresh. While there are subtle differences in flavor and sweetness level, figs do more or less taste like figs, so there’s no reason to be wary of trying a new variety.

Figs are members of the Mulberry family and provide an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, copper, manganese, potassium and pantothenic acid. A low intake of potassium-rich foods, especially couple with a high intake of sodium-rich foods (such as processed or fast food), can lead to high blood pressure. Like other fiber-rich foods (apples, dates, pears and prunes), figs are helpful in a weight management program. Each fig has a calorie count of 47, outweighed by its other benefits, which extend to the fig leaf! High in antioxidants, choose fully ripened figs. Dark figs are high in phytonutrients.

Figs are delicate, perishable, hard to transport and available only part of the year: June-through September. Organic dried figs are available year-round, need to be relatively soft, free of mold and have a pleasant smell, and can be substituted in any recipe calling for figs, dates, raisins, and other dried fruits.

Ripe figs should be covered, layered with paper towels to keep them super dry, and used promptly to avoid mold.

USEFUL IDEAS FOR FRESH OR DRIED (Rehydrated) FIGS

Lay whole figs in a single layer on a baking sheet, then freeze in zipper bags up to a year.
Peeling is not necessary, and go well in any baked cake, muffin, cookie, jam chutneys.
Wash right before eating. Keep chilled in refrigerator.
Use as any fresh fruit, with breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Especially sweet due to sugar content – add to any dessert dish, or even meat sauces.
Add sugar, rum or brandy to mashed figs and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Add instant pizzazz to morning cereal with chopped figs and honey.
Skewer figs and alternate with chicken or pork on the grill.
Carmelize onions and mix with figs into any salad mix, pizza, or pasta.
Wrap with prosciutto for a classy hors d’oeuvre.
Spread halves with goat cheese or mascarpone and crown your primavera recipe.

For more super-easy yet utterly delicious ways to make tasty use of fresh figs, see 10 Quick Fig Recipes (these honey-fried figs  are a personal favorite, while these bacon-wrapped figs tend to disappear in an instant at a party).  See next blog article: Glorious Fig Recipes.

A WEEKEND MUST-HAVE-LET’S GO!

PvilleFarmersMktYOUR LOCAL FARMERS MARKET PUTS YOU IN TOUCH WITH  YOUR  COMMUNITY AND WITH REAL FOOD

You’re likely to see your local farming family, like the Hoovers (Hooverville Orchards, Placerville, CA, or the Perez family)  all pitching in to get the farm fresh produce out and about.

This is where Real Honest to Goodness takes place:  Real Food without hormones, pesticides, wax, sprays and irradiation.  Certified Farmers Markets foster the community as well as the farmers who grew your nourishment, because WholeFarmilyatF.Mktwithout them there is no food.  Farmers markets and farms are vital to the community and its economic sustainability.  Local restaurants rely on farm fresh produce and are quick to explain “locally grown” to customers who today seek fresher and healthier menu choices.  Farmers know that good food does not come in a box.  We need to teach children that delicious fruit does not grow inside a grocery store.  You will often meet the whole family or at least part of it.  The other half may be at another market location that same day.Kevin andBenFarmersMkt2016

Farm families often work all week, picking, planting, planning, and constructing within their farmland.  Summer weekends are devoted to sharing their bounty, Mother Earth’s bounty, with you.  You have the opportunity to meet and talk to the people who grew your food.  This is your chance to bring your family and encourage them to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables…the very ones they can pick out themselves.

You will run into friends, neighbors and perhaps make new acquaintances.  This is an activity much more important than talking politics, or shopping for shoes.  You can taste before you buy, and even get a discount if the farmer is smart enough to have “ugly fruit” for a better price.  You can find out exactly how the food was grown, and satisfy your concerns about food safety or problems growing your own vegetables.  RedBeets                              Eggplant:Cucumbers

You will find more than fruits and vegetables.  It’s an adventure discovering local honey, for example, not any from far away lands that are laced with sweeteners and chemical preservatives.

“If it came from a plant, eat it;
if it was made in a plant, don’t. ” 

―  Michael Pollan

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Q&A about Nitrates

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Image Source: Pixabay

Q: How can I make nutritional sense of all the different brands and types of hot dogs and lunch meats for my children?

A: I hate to start answering a question with a question, but where are you shopping? Most large supermarkets carry what has a selling history: big business and others continue to include MSG and chemical preservatives like nitrates and nitrites in their goods. On the other hand, some manufacturers like manufacture goods with nitrates as well as “Natural” goods without harmful chemicals and with natural preservatives such as celery. (note: “natural” is not the same as “organic”).

Since I’m an experienced product demonstrator, I find that many parents today freely give their children samples of food and if it tastes good to them, they buy it without ever reading the label. Other parents, looking at label ingredients, decide to forego the product and head for the natural foods section. Uncured turkey hot dogs are just as tasty they say, and don’t carry the health risk of preservatives. Slowly, slowly, will we ever learn to eat for health, not just taste?

One elder recently was convinced that cooking the foods to a high temperature killed the preservatives. Perhaps at most the harmful bacteria, but the preservatives are still there to play havoc with your hormonal and other body systems.

Image source: Pixabay

Ancient Grains – Holy Moly!

And I thought I knew something about grains, flours, beans and seeds.

In looking through the “Breakfasts” cookbook Bob Moore autographed when he gave it to me, I found an A-Z tutorial: where grains’ names came from, and what they mean, if it is a grain, seed, grass, how old it is, how it was used, what nutritious powers it has, and other recommendations.   This cookbook has 100 healthy whole-grain recipes and is a brand-new addition to Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods library of resources.   Many of the recipes are gluten-free and include options, tips, and other useful information at www.bobsredmill.com/recipes.

What does “steel cut” mean, if Bob’s Red Mill is so famous for “stone-ground” grains?

Once harvested, oats are transformed into a wide variety of products.  The whole kernels (toasted and hulled after harvest) are oat groats (whole oats).  Chopped into tiny pieces, groats become steel-cut oats (Irish or pinhead oatmeal).  When stone-ground into coarse bits, groats are called Scotch oats or Scottish oatmeal.  Or, the groats might be “rolled” or “flattened” as in the cases of rolled oats or quick-cooking oats.  Bob’s Red Mill offers 5 Gluten-Free Oat products, and 10 additional oat products.

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Oats are highly susceptible to contact with gluten-containing grains during planting, harvest, transport and milling.  Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free, dedicated buildings isolate the products and store them in dedicated silos.  Each shipment is tested throughout the process to ensure that their purity meets rigid international gluten free standards.

Oregon Truffle Festival 2016

“My objective with this blog is to provide readers with fun, informative tours around the world of farm fresh food, who creates it for us, why it is healthy to eat, how to best use it and where to find it.  Not an all encompassing view, just a journal of my travels to share.”  Betty Albert, Naturopath/Certified Nutritionist  www.greenchefpress.com

2016 Oregon Truffle Festival Celebrates International and Award Winning Portland Chefs, Food Producers, Vintners, Beer Craftsmen and Authors

All three weekends in January of the 11th Annual Truffle Festival in three Oregon locations featured an all star lineup and a bounty of local, national and international chef talent showcasing truffle tasting events, gourmet gala dinners, hands-on classes and of course, the truffle hunt and dog training seminars.

The Oregon Truffle Festival is North America’s premier event for truffle appreciation and education. Held every January, the festival attracts thousands of culinary tourists, growers, dog trainers, scientists, and media from all over the globe. The event was founded in 2006 by renowned mycologist Dr. Charles K. LeFevre and his wife, Leslie Scott. Today, the team is rounded out with culinary director Charles Ruff, who has been a part of the festival since its inception. This dynamic and participatory truffle festival continues to innovate as it stays ahead of the industry growing around it. More info can be found at oregontrufflefestival.com or on Oregon Truffle Festival’s Facebook page.IMG_0179IMG_0182

Attendees with their dogs dotted the lobby of the Eugene Hilton during the last day of the festival.   Several ticket holders of the hunt boasted a bounty of white truffle finds and called the festival “very satisfying all around”.   The Fall rains usually bring maturing truffles closer to ground surface, but this year Oregon experienced a dry fall, hence the truffles have become more accessible in a current  very wet winter. The truffle season continues through June, however more recently, hunters are finding it difficult to forage. Some of the best truffle territory is on privately-owned tree farms in the coast range. Last year the Oregon Board of Forestry began to require permits from truffle hunters and most of the large timber companies don’t offer permits for this activity or any mushrooms.

Portland’s latest wave of food and beverage authors were featured at the festival’s closing event, The Eugene Fresh Truffle Marketplace on Sunday, Jan. 31st alongside local vendors selling fresh Oregon truffles, regional wines, and artisan foods. Elias Cairo (Olympia Provisions, Portland), Christian DeBenedetti (Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery Founder and celebrated beer author) and Mark Bitterman (The Meadow) spoke, presented recent publications and lead a series of cooking and cocktail demonstrations.

The ballrooms at the Eugene Hilton were filled with  Marketplace vendors, each telling their story, giving samples, and offering education as well as their artisan products.  Infused with truffle bits and/or aroma, or booze or beer, every imaginable type of food was present including baked goods, chocolate, sauces, cheeses, oils, and as usual, even ice cream.  Truffle oil is never to be used to cook with, but as a finishing touch, and John Newman, the chef from Newman’s at 988 in Cannon Beach was showing off his recipe of pasta with foie gras, marsala sauce truffle oil and shavings.IMG_0194IMG_0196

In cooking, black truffles are used to refine the taste of meat, fish, soups, pasta and risotto. Unlike white truffles, the aroma of black truffles does not diminish when they are heated, but becomes more intense.

With a price of about 1,000 to 2,000 euros per kilogram ($200-$400/lb.), black truffles are the second most expensive truffles after white truffles, and one of the most sought after edible mushrooms in the world. The black truffle or black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum), the second-most commercially valuable species, is named after the Périgord region in France and grows with oak and hazelnut trees. Black truffles are harvested in late autumn and winter. IMG_0185IMG_0181

In December 2014, a White Alba’s Truffle weighing in at 4.16 pounds or 1.89 kilos was unearthed in the Umbrian region of Italy by the Balestra Family of Sabatino. It was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York. While some had expected it to sell for $1 million, it was sold for $61,000 to a Taiwanese buyer.

The natural habitat of the black truffle includes various regions in Spain, France and Italy. The tradition of their cultivation, search and use goes back more than 200 years. Black truffles are now also cultivated in Australia, New Zealand, Chile and North America. Cultivation involves planting of certain tree species whose roots are inoculated with truffle mycelium or mycorrhizal. The first fruiting bodies can be harvested about four to ten years after planting  the trees.IMG_0177

There are three natural and/or cultivated varieties of  truffles in the Pacific Northwest:  white, black and French Perigord, according to mycologist Dr. LeFevre.  They grow under the Douglas fir, he said, and much research has gone into bringing them to market.  A demo at the Marketplace by Dr LeFevre illustrated an inoculation procedure to bring the truffle mycelium into roots of a tree seedling.  These trees are then sold, Dr. LeFevre related, to local growers and others.  It is rumored that even in El Dorado County an orchard grower has obtained trees, but beyond that, information is a sworn secret.