International Food Blogger Confab II

2017 IFBC badgeHighlights from the conference held in Sacramento, CA. Sept. 28-30, 2017 must include the hardworking vendor from San Francisco Bay Coffee Co. who stood by with free uplifting brew every hour of the day!

logo.pngTheir words say it best:

“Our approach to farming, milling, roasting, packaging and selling coffee is different than any other company. By going straight to source, we are able to focus on farming innovations that preserve natural habitats, yielding a better tasting product. We focus on packaging improvements to reduce the environmental impact even further and we constantly focus on quality control. All of this combined, improves the lives of everyone we do business with.”

Another vendor whose lengthy and extensive presentation was noteworthy was Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Aged, the Product of Italy so often found gracing you gourmet dinner salad. But their products are many, including jam, and their site is an education in itself on how the vinegar is made.

img01-1.jpgNow let me brag about the city who hosted the event, most fitting since they are America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital and proving it every day.  visit their home page to see how.  And don’t forget to visit the State Capitol and all that the rest of this city has to offer.


IFBC Conference Highlights I

Sacramento, CA, “The Farm to Fork Food Capitol”, was home to over 250 attendees from all global corners who wanted more from their food blogs than hashtags.  We learned about everything from SEOs to video lighting, from getting more visitors to getting paid by blogging free lance, using ads, and so much more.  There were so many presenters!

Nugget luncheslunchtables

Nugget Market not only set out complementary lunch but also demonstrated what a healthy lunch looks like. I can’t compliment them enough on their quality and customer service.

BloggersTellAllnicky at podiumPresentors including Nicky Bobby from CropMobster told us how to blog better and illustrated how the impact our blogs has on the audiences we attract.LambDemo1Lamb slidersSuperior Farms sent Rodney Blackwell, Burgerjunkies and Jason Azevedo, Chef from Drewski’s Hotrod Kitchen Food Trucks to demonstrate lamb recipes and taste the quality of Superior Farms lamb.

I can’t compliment the Residence Marriott enough on the quality home away from home they offered attendees, including complementary breakfasts, gym and parking conveniences, and more.  Next year it was announced the International Food Blogger “experience” will be held in New Orleans, LO, August 24-26, 2018.  Hope to see you there!



International Food Bloggers Conference …one of many presentations…

2017 IFBC badgeI’ve been looking forward to this food writing technology conference for a year.  It occurs this weekend, September 28-30, 2017 in Sacramento, CA, the  “Farm to-Fork-Food Capital”.   I was happy to see that the makers of this convention are also thinking globally and showing us locally how one example of improved practices in and about the environment can impact humans and food production everywhere.  One of the most exciting presentations I’ve read about so far at the convention is  one about sustainable livestock agriculture.  UC Davis will show attendees their beef cattle feedlot and the science behind reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions measured through the GreenFeed System.  The presentation explains the current trial and how Mootral™, an all natural powdered feed supplement from garlic and citrus extracts, helps cows digest and reduce methane emissions by 30%.

Ten years of R&D went into Mootral™ before its final form, ready for commercialisation in 2017 with pilot programs around the world.  Dairy and meat products are looking forward to earning the Cow Credit label that signifies their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.  Livestock emissions are responsible for 15% of all global anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs).  If Mootral™ was fed to all cows on earth it would equate to 3 billion tons CO2e or 2.5% of current global emissions.  This is equivalent of taking at least 200 million cars off the road.  These facts about cows are significant.

There will be 2.5 billion cows by 2050, the same number projected for vehicles.
A cow pollutes more than an average car driven for a year.
One cow produces 2.4 tons of CO2 a year.
80% of of methane emitted by cows comes out of their mouths.
This methane is at least 21x more toxic than CO2.
Less than 10 grams of Mootral™ a day reduces emissions by at least 30%.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the global livestock industry is responsible for 15% of all GHGs, the world’s third largest contributor after energy and industry.  The realities of climate change and consumer preferences for responsible, sustainable products have sparked a paradigm shift in the food industry.  Food companies and farmers alike are rethinking the way food is produced and manufactured.

The use of natural plant flavonoids in Mootral™ suppresses the methanogenic bacteria in rumen fermentation while leaving bacteria that aids in digestion intact.  Zaluvida, the Mootral™ manufacturer, claims that widespread adoption of the supplement would be the equivalent of 500 million cars being taken off the road.


Seven Grandfathers Farm


Bell bean cover crop May 2012.jpg

Thirty years ago, Craig Thomas had toiled over a specific French drain for his raspberries, hoping to eliminate any standing water, and improve drainage. It wasn’t about the bees pollinating or the rabbits eating the canes in winter. Soil structure and organic nutrients were not the problem in this meticulously tended garden. Insects and pests simply didn’t have a fighting chance because the ground was teaming with beneficial microbes. But his clay soils harbored a common soil-born fungus that made organic raspberry farming a challenge.


While grappling with the raspberry problem, Craig decided to call El Dorado County Agriculture Department about the poor performance of the berries, and was surprised to hear back from Dick Bethel himself, then El Dorado’s county Farm Advisor. A personal visit was the next surprise, and if three is good luck, Dick diagnosed the difficulty quick as a wink. “You’ve got phytophthora”, he told Craig. “Pretty common around here, a systemic condition that makes some berries tough to grow in these soils”. What you’ve got to do is hunt for and try disease-resistant berry varieties. But that wasn’t all Bethel confided to Craig. “You have done a remarkable job with your place, here.” he went on. “This is what an organic farm should look like.”


Craig set about to plant blackberries and almost by accident found a successful variety as part of a free trial variety sent by an Oregon nursery. This variety, “Triple Crown”, is a product of research and trials done in partnership between USDA and the University of Washington and offered to the public to grow and propagate without patent restrictions. The rest is history so they say, since now, each season, the small farm sells berries in stores in Placerville, Auburn and Grass Valley and to folks who come to the farm. On the 7.5 acres parcel, 2 acres are farmed organically with a variety of vegetables, 60 orchard trees including stone fruits, figs, apples, basil, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, onions, and garlic and then there are the lovely flower bouquets you often see at Placerville Co-op. “This year, we might direct some effort toward CSA subscriptions, or a larger farm stand,” Craig said. “Right now we are happy selling directly to locations such as the Placerville Co-op. Generally, what we pick and what a customer buys is enjoyed by their family within an 8-hour time period. It is very satisfying to be able to provide that degree of local organic produce to the community.”

Three years after moving to El Dorado County, Craig began farming in Kelsey, and by the mid-1980’s it was El Dorado County’s first certified organic farm. Craig was proud of finally achieving what had been his vision for some time. In late 1970’s Craig taught the first sustainable agriculture class at Chico State University, popular with the younger generation of Peace Corp and first-time farmers. Craig also earned an anthropology degree from Chico State with an emphasis on cultural ecology, a program that reinforced his own philosophies around the spiritual, social, economic and ecological relationship between people and Mother Earth. In the late 1970’s he decided to call El Dorado County home and organic farming a way of life.


Seven Grandfathers Farm was named one day when Craig was in his field, enjoying a beautiful day full of sunshine and the ridge-top vista when he looked up and saw seven perfectly formed pure white thunderheads looking down on him. He thought of the Seven Grandfathers and the relationship with the land, a rich inheritance to be respected and passed on as caretakers, its quality fostered by his and his wife’s hands and enhanced by beneficial insects, tons of compost, cover crops, soil tests, an old Kubota tractor, a suite of well-cared-for hand tools and a labor of love


Craig also has his hand in the Sierra Forest Legacy program, as its co-founder and Conservation Director. This is an independent coalition of 80 environmental non-profit organizations that work on Federal forest policy and how the national forests should be managed. This is what he calls his “day job”, a term often echoed in the farming community. His scientific background (and his wife Vivian’s, too, as a biologist), form his attitude about food safety regulations as well as the rigorous methods and practices they both use on their organic farm. “Regulations have a valid role in government to make sure our food supply is healthy and safe,” he said. Craig believes, based on USDA research, that many, many more people are turning to organic to insure their own family’s food quality and safety. “Organic farmers, like myself, demonstrate extensive procedures that are audited annually to validate compliance with the USDA, National Organic Program and quality. And people want that.”

These procedures include more than having your regulatory status in order and up to date. Paying apt attention to the health of the soil is a number one priority. “That soil organic matter and the right balance of nutrients makes for nutritious food,” Craig emphasized. This includes careful attention to crop rotation, soil testing, compost management, increasing organic matter in the soil, and whatever else a farmer can do to increase plant health and nutrition. Contrary in philosophy of big industrial farming, who mostly lean on unnatural, chemical sprays and fertilizers, it isn’t the yield or the weeds Craig is concerned about, it is making sure that soil is a happy city of microbes doing their job in his two acres of intensive farming. Certification comes via the California Certified Organic Farmer nonprofit organization (CCOF), committed to advancing organic agriculture through certification, education, advocacy and promotion.


The non-profit Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) supports organic integrity by developing clear information and guidance about materials, so that producers know which products are appropriate for organic operations. Only OMRI registered sprays or soil amendments are used at Seven Grandfathers Farm, “and more natural products are showing up for organic use that are targeted and quick to degrade due to intensified organic research,” Craig said. “For example, there is a spray that is used to paralyze the gut of the Coddling Moth larva, a common apple pest in the Sierra Nevada foothills and elsewhere, that is specific to the larva of this moth without harming other insects. This targeted natural product eliminates the need for widespread pesticide chemical use.”

Farming is not without its wildlife challenges. “It’s quite a sight,” Craig relates, “watching three grey foxes climb one of our cherry trees as they come ripe. But part of the relationship with the land is to foster a harmony with the critters that have lived here a lot longer than we have. So the deer, wild turkeys, tanagers, hawks, foxes, raccoons and my neighbor’s cat work out the agreement between maintaining habitat diversity, a reasonable level of “sharing” and a healthy level of organic food production for our community.”

Craig’s background includes a stint in the marketing and selling of fresh farm goods as well. In the later 80’s he started the Peoples Mountain Market in Garden Valley that runs June-October in Garden Valley Park, corner of Garden Valley Rd. and Marshall Rd. Local growers mix it up with musicians and crafters in a welcoming park environment. Craig started the outdoor market with a friend and managed it twice during its 30-plus year history.

Now, on the Board of Directors for Placerville Natural Foods Co-op, Craig hopes to help strengthen the relationship between local growers, and outlets like the Coop and the communities they serve. His article in the February 2017 newsletter spells out his heartfelt encouragement to buy/eat local.

Buying Local benefits include:

  • The desire for food of superior quality—freshness, flavor, ripeness, and extended shelf life;
  • Understanding food safety issues and learning about farming practices directly from the grower, including visiting the farm;
  • Support for small business in the local community;
  • Preserving farmland and open space while supporting sustainable economic activity;
  • Access to unique and heirloom varieties;
  • The ability to buy products that don’t survive long-distance shipping;
  • Depending on several factors such as the farming system, the possibility of a lower carbon footprint and CO2 emissions from production through consumption.
  • Natural food stores and local farmer’s markets have the highest level of consumer trustworthiness (USDA 2014)

“Good food does not come in a store shelf box.”  by Unanimous


February Comfort Food

Winter Pot Roast.jpg

A winter pot roast is the perfect match for a day when the rains took a breather and you want to get out in the garden, or at least get some seeds planted in the garage!

So simple to do in the morning:

Put the pot roast in a skillet with some bacon drippings and brown all sides, along with some hand fulls of onion, pepper, carrot, quash, potatoes, whatever you like.  Pour the lot into the slow cooker and add a couple cups of wine, and broth, turn on high for 6 hours or less and take it out when the dinner salad is ready.



Seeds for Spring

Sounds like a book title, but no, it was to be a video.  Then I find out I have to upgrade this site to post videos.  The forthcoming rains predicted are a good reason not to plant directly into the garden containers.   So here is the set up in photos, instead.

The shoe bag is a terrific idea because it does not leak, you can hang it wherever it gets good light, and watering is a simple matter of a squirt now and then with a water bottle.  The dirt is organic seed starting mix that was first well mixed with water, an important step. It cannot be too wet or too dry.  Some seeds (the package read) need light to germinate, so I didn’t cover again with a bit of mix. I didn’t fill the pockets but half-way, good thing, because it was heavy enough!

The other containers on the right came from store-bought produce, oven-ready chicken or regular seed starter trays.  The trays collect any water dripping out, and I don’t plan to over water the other containers which do not have drain holes. The covers keep the humidity and moisture just about right. These containers all have greens: kale, lettuces, parsley, arugula, and the like.  The seeds for root vegetables are going into the ground tomorrow, 2/13, since they are sensitive to transplanting.   I’ll keep you posted!



There I go again, copying one of those “that looks good” recipes off the internet.Yesterday, I must have torn out a baker’s dozen from some of the magazines saved up.

What is the matter with me?! The internet is full of any and every possible recipe known to man or woman. Even kids pick up their I phones if they need to know how to make something. Yet I continue the magazine subscriptions like a junkie.

My society meeting members know better than to bring something to eat to a meeting without a recipe. “Can I get your recipe” is quickly satisfied compared to having to go back home, dig it up and email it. There are others like me out there. My sister says the same thing, and complains about her boxes of paged recipes waiting for more attention.

I can’t believe the amounts of money I have spent over the years paying people to file those slips of paper. They are smarter than I am, but occasionally one will belabor over several stacks of sorted pages, asking if she, too, might copy some. My file drawers are full, waiting for the big “cleanout day”. My computer is full. Now I have several files of different project, and of course there is a Recipe Section.

My favorite TV food network show is the “Chew”. That cast of characters can keep you laughing over more recipes produced in their lickety-split segments than any I know.

I can’t believe the amount of time I spend on the internet looking for that “one that looks good” today. Of course I have signed up to receive a daily email, but the one I want is not on the agenda of those listed. Not today anyway. This allows me time to complain about the number of emails I have to wade through and also how hard it is to find what you are looking for on the internet.

Then, because I am such a health-minded foodie, I must add, subtract, substitute and revise every one to meet the latest information received about “better choices”. By this time, half the day has slipped through my recipe-finding colander, and I can complain about that, too. More research, more time, after all one cup of sugar isn’t one cup of stevia, you know.

Then there are the fabulous blogs I follow. It isn’t just that they have a daily notice on email for an important health facts, there are recipes to catch your eye, your time, your copier, and that big in-box of like-minded paper under the desk.

What is one to do? I have, in the past, put together workshops for foodies like myself. Like most addicts, I had a hidden agenda. After all was said and done, complaints aired, questions raised and answered, problems resolved, surely someone would come up with a way to stop the craving I had to keep collecting recipes. No such luck. We left every meeting with a whole new set to file, or put in “that box”.

Today I blame Michael Symon’s Coconut Cake:

Coconut Cake MICHAEL

This Coconut Cake is delicious for any occasion!


4 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 lemon (zested)
4 large eggs (room temperature)
2 1/2 cups buttermilk (well shaken)
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup coconut water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut

For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line the bottoms of 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, and eggs one at a time and mix to combine. Slowly add the buttermilk and then the flour mixture in 3 additions. Turn the speed to high and mix to aerate the batter, about 30 seconds.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, turning and rotating the pans halfway through baking. Remove from oven and cool completely.
For the Coconut Icing: Prepare a double boiler with water and turn the heat on to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, coconut water, cream of tartar, and salt, and mix to combine. Place the bowl over the simmering water and immediately begin whisking. Whisk until the egg whites start to become frothy and the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour the egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the coconut and vanilla extract and whip on medium-high speed for 3 more minutes until light and fluffy.
To Assemble: Slice each cake round in half horizontally. Stack the first layer of cake onto a cake stand. Spread about 3/4 cup of frosting to the edge of the cake and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of coconut, top with another layer of cake, followed by 3/4 cup of frosting spread to the edge and 1/4 cup of shredded coconut. Repeat three more times ending with the frosting.
Coat the sides of the cake with the remaining shredded coconut. Slice and serve.
Tip: For a store-bought solution, use your favorite cake mix and add lemon zest to the batter.



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.


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.


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.

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.

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.





Adapted from a great site “Modern Farmer” you might want to correspond via

The history of turkey domestication goes back 2,000 plus years to an archaeological site in Guatemala, probably a ceremony, sacrifice or feast.

Picture this. The first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, where the Mayflower’s provisions yielded little that might resemble a feast, let enough to feed the 50 or so Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag who attended. William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth colony, wrote that deer (or venison) was a centerpiece of that 1621 meal. Wild turkey as well as ducks, geese, swans, and small birds were probably part of the main fare on that first harvest holiday. Other local food of the day included seafood and shellfish, corn, probably multicolored, hard ground and stewed into porridge. Additional vegetables included potatoes, winter squash (hubbard, acorn, butternut), Jerusalem artichokes, beans and berries. Since their supplies were depleted by the time of their arrival, the feast would be void of pumpkin pie.

Turkeys originated in Mexico, turn different colors depending on mood or breeding season, and the “snood” above the beak is what attracts female turkeys, the larger the better.

We don’t see turkey eggs at the market because it makes more economical sense to market the bird not the not-so-plentiful production of eggs (at $3-3.50 apiece).

Their name came from a mistaken identity early on by settlers who thought they were guinea fowl from Turkey. But it would be too weird to change the name to “Mexico”.

They are called Guajolotes in Mexico, and sometimes, because of a somewhat ignorant populace, I’ve heard, they become elected officials.

Digging the Dirt with UCCE Master Gardeners

I recently had the pleasure of attending Secrets of the Soil, a workshop,         with the likes of:

Chuck Ingels, Farm and Horticulture Advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Sacramento County since 1996 and overseer of the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center.
His topic:            Physical Characteristics of Soil, Plant Roots and the Rhizosphere

Amanda Hodson, Ph.D in Entomology and U.C. Davis Project Scientist.
Her topic:           Soil Food Web, Defining Healthy Soil

 Rei Scampavia, doctorial candidate at UC Davis, researches nest site selection in bee species. Her topic:  Ecosystem Services and Ground Nesting Bees

Their presentations are available on the .edu link above, as well as these presentations:

What is IPM?         
Beneficial Predatores

Agricultural and Natural Resources

Also check out the .edu link above for resourceful links such as:


Yes, I am very impressed, inspired and encouraged with my re-acquaintance with Master Gardeners of El Dorado County. The workshop was more than terrific – I even came home with a worm composting bin for red wigglers!  The link below gives you step by step directions.  redwigglerwormcomposter



I got lots of my questions answered, and not all of them agreed with what else I’ve heard. Which gives credence to the words of Chuck Ingels when he tries to answer questions from the gardening community. “It depends,” he says. It depends on too many variables given the complexity of the world beneath, above, and around the soil.   There are millions of species, thousands of studies, and way too many possibilities for any given situation. I guess that’s why they offer so many classes. Hats off to Master Gardeners!