Monthly Archives: May 2013

The first step to being good at something is being bad at it.

It takes courage to try something new, to fall flat on your face, to dust yourself off and try, try again.

Every success I’ve experienced has started with a miserable failure. My first career as a hairdresser began with a lot of bad haircuts and my second career as a housewife started with quite a few frustrated tears. Giving up on either job was simply not an option and despite feeling overwhelmed I am thankful that I kept going. Learning my way around the art of hairdressing and figuring out how to manage a busy household are two skills that have proven to be well worth the time and patience I needed to invest in both. Without either of them I wouldn’t be the professional multitasking wife/mother, or friend-that-can-give-you-a-quick-trim I am today! More importantly conquering those skills gives me the confidence and perspective I will need to go on and ace the next challenge I decide to pursue, whatever that may be.

Another craft I have recently mastered is that of pizza making. For years my family has suffered through plenty of over topped, soggy, bland pizza crust. Determined to master a flavorful, thin crispy crust, I kept moving forward. Recipe after recipe, and then it finally happened. I cracked the pizza code! It all magically came together; the temperature of the oven, the amount of yeast and olive oil to use, how much garlic to work into the dough. Success was mine, and it tastes as delicious as it felt!

Whether we are aware of it or not, we all practice our own food philosophies. Some of us are more stringent than others living committed vegan, vegetarian, or all organic lifestyles. A few of us are fueled by sugar, willing to choke down spinach in order to get to the best part of any meal, dessert! Then there are the advocates who help keep our food safe and also keep consumers informed on how our food is raised.

Regardless of where your food values lie, what should be important to all of us is knowing where our food comes from. It’s easy to shop through a supermarket, picking up beautifully wrapped produce or meat without a thought as to how it got there. Were these tomatoes grown locally? How far did your eggs, nestled neatly in their crates, have to travel to make it to the refrigerated section? Just as it’s important to know if our food is organic, GMO or gluten free, we should also be asking where our food comes from and is it locally grown or not?

Earlier this week another local food blogger (Dorothy over at Crazy for Crust!) and I were invited by the California Farm Water Coalition to tour a few local walnut orchards (national walnut day is this Friday!) and see first hand where a good portion of our nations walnuts are grown and exported. We had the honor of meeting Todd Ramos of Ramos Farms, a third generation walnut grower. After listening to his story I quickly understood that what he does is not just a job; instead it is a lifestyle and a legacy passed down to him by his grandfather, who came to this county with nothing but an American dream. After our walk through the orchards, the red carpet was rolled out for us at Lester’s bakery. There we ate mile-high sandwiches served on homemade walnut bread, and apricot walnut bars (YUM!) for lunch. We were even able to meet Stan Lester himself, a local walnut grower, packer, and shipper. He too reflected on the farming lifestyle quoting Warren Buffet “Do what you love.” Stan passionately explained the importance of knowing your market, your crops, staying current with efficient watering techniques, and the economic influence their farms are to their community and nation. It was obvious to us that these men love what they do but they also innately understand the importance of protecting what they do. The responsibly to perserve these increasingly important family-owned farms doesn’t end there. As consumers we also need to know where our food comes from and to buy as locally as we can. More than just for the sentiment of buying local, supporting local farmer’s markets, fruit stands, and local grocery stores directly supports these farms, the countless jobs these farms provide, our local economy, diversity in the food market, and the ever important American dream.

After taking a look around the Mariani Nut Company and being a gifted a huge bag of walnuts, we drove home reflecting on the rich farming history in Winters, California full of gratitude for the hard work and dedication from these farmers and their families. Of course I couldn’t let that beautiful bag of  walnuts sit in my pantry for too long! I whipped up this easy spinach and walnut pesto for dinner the next night and I couldn’t help but smile knowing the food I was feeding my family was lovingly grown by generations of proud, hard working families just like mine.

I hope all my talk about health and granola hasn’t scared you away from this place. My intention here has never been to discourage or make you feel guilty about what you’re eating, but instead to inspire and encourage you to cook for yourself and for those around you. I also always want to be 100% honest with you about what I am currently feeding my own family. Yes, on occasion we order pizza, go through drive-thrus, and treat ourselves to Taylors milkshakes and hamburgers.

So just because I am constantly sharing ways on how to add more spinach to our diets, or trying to figure out how to make healthy snacks for my boys doesn’t mean I don’t love junk food every now and then! The thing that I don’t love about junk food is the way it makes me feel. Sluggish, tired, and all around blah. So when it comes to junk food I have two choices, 1. Eat/enjoy the fast food and don’t complain about the stomach ache it might give me. 2. Figure out how to make the junk food minus all of the funky ingredients that make me feel kinda gross.

Notice I didn’t say a word about making these treats less caloric or “skinny”? Sometimes diet substitutes are just as bad for you! I don’t indulge my junk food habit everyday so when I want to dive into a basket of animal style fries, a big plate of nachos, or a crispy, sweet funnel cake it better be the real thing!

Take this frozen peanut butter, chocolate, pretzel pie for example. Yes, there is a whole stick of butter in that crust. There is a thick layer of chocolate ganche, and and even thicker layer of whipped cream, real sugar, and peanut butter on top of that buttery crust. Did I know what I was getting myself into when I cut myself a nice big slice for desert? Oh yes, and every bite was worth it because I knew exactly what was in this creamy, frozen slice of heaven!