Farmers Markets 2012

I love Farmers Markets and besides finding fresh fruits and vegetables, I also love all of the other goodies that can be found. A few weeks back, at our local market, I found a crepe booth. Yum! I love crepes. We also have a local bakery and Z Pie even has a booth. I don’t know if you have ever had Z Pie. They are these delicious little pot pies in several flavor combinations. They even have desert pies. But … back to the Farmers Market 😉 A lot of the same spots host Farmers Markets weekly but a few local places have changed this year. Briggs Ranch is no longer offering a Farmers Market on Friday mornings but now Palladio in Folsom has one on Thursdays from 8-1 in front of Whole Foods Market.

Photo Source

Here are links for local Farmers Markets for the 2012 season {most markets run from June – October}. Check sites for exact dates.

  • For El Dorado County Markets, click here.
  • For Sacramento, click here.
  • Foothill Farmers Markets is mostly listings for Placer County. Click here for those locations.
  • Davis offers a year round market, click here for times and locations.
Local Harvest is a great resource for Farmers Markets in your area – you can search by zip code. You can also find CSA’s, events and farms.
Now — if my garden starts producing, that will be a whole other post 😉
Happy Weekend friends!


Backyard Inspirations

Hello friends! It’s all sunny and pretty here in Northern California today. Well, a little windy which is making me wheeze cause I’m allergic to all the pollens BUT it’s pretty and the temps are perfect. Of course this weather reminds me that we have to redo the backyard.We moved into our home almost 8 years ago and the backyard was all pretty and fresh a year after we moved in. Well since then we have had another child and gained a new dog. The backyard has seen better days. It’s time for some serious replanting and because of our monster new puppy dog, we will need to install new drip lines and do a few other repairs. This dog likes to chew!!! And climb. And chew. It’s a bad combo really. Thankfully we do have a dog run to keep him in once we make things all pretty again. So that he can not destroy our hard work. We are trying to make this redo nice but also do it on a dime {give or take a few hundred!} Aside from a few basic replacements like plants, new sod and planting a garden — we have a huge area to  completely relandscape. It has been a sandbox and very loved play structure but as time has gone on, the kids have become more interested in taking it apart board by board then playing on it. This is a decent sized area and we have been a little stumped. I think the general consensus is pulling up the bark and replacing it with flagstone and pea gravel. We’d also like to add a seating area with a fire pit. It’s totally going to be a labor of love {which I want done by May 18th cause I am hosting a baby shower on the 20th}. No pressure! I also want to move my garden. I have never really liked where we put it and now that some space is freeing up, the time for a new home has come!

Of course because I am planning and needing inspiration, I am all over the place looking up ideas, pics, etc. I wanted to share some of the fun things I have found with you! Maybe you will be inspired? If you can’t tell, I am really hung up on benches. I like that you can fit several people on them and they have a different vibe then your standard patio set.

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As you can see there are many options. These are just a few of my favorites I love the idea of the sunken herb garden but we may stick to some old wine barrels. I’m also thinking of creating a cutting garden so that I can always have fresh flowers {season pending of course!}. Do you have a backyard that you love? What is it that you love about the space?

Zucchini Pie

So we have this garden. Some things are happy, others not so much. Zucchini seems to be one of the happier plants. Tomatoes have had better years {insert sigh — I love homegrown tomatoes}. Thank goodness for Farmers Markets and now Farmer Gene’s Farmstand! I saw this recipe and decided to make it. Sort of 😉 It’s Zucchini Pie from Whole Living Magazine.

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Here is their version:

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound (about 2 or 3) green zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound (about 2 or 3) yellow zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 large eggs plus 5 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces low-fat feta cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add green zucchini, half the scallions, half the garlic, A teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini has softened and is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Rinse skillet; repeat process with yellow zucchini and remaining teaspoon olive oil, scallions, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer to bowl with cooked green zucchini; let sit until cooled. Drain and discard any liquid.
  3. Add dill, parsley, and eggs to zucchini; stir to combine. Pour into a 9 1/2-inch round, deep baking dish. Cover with tomato; sprinkle with feta. Bake until set, about 1 hour. Serve hot or at room temperature.

And mine which is like the above but I added the pre-made crust and took out a few other ingredients. It was served up with a side of fresh strawberries after a busy night of soccer practice. It seemed to be a success!! I also made it the day before and just warmed it up before dinner last night.

Ingredients

  • 1 pre-made pie crust
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1 large sliced tomato
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 container Feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Saute zucchini in pan with olive oil, a pinch of salt and some pepper. Do both sides until starting to brown.
  3. Layer in the bottom of the pie crust.
  4. Layer tomato slices.
  5. Whisk eggs, dill and rest of salt & pepper. Poor over zucchini.
  6. Sprinkle with Feta cheese.
  7. Bake for approx 1 hour.

Do you have a garden? If you are looking for fresh produce and it doesn’t grow in abundance in your backyard, check out this past post on local Farmers Markets. Click here to find more information.

Gardening 101 — Kind Of

What? Are you feeling confused by the title of this post? I like to have a garden, I like to be in my garden but mostly I love to reap the benefits of having a garden. All of these being said, I am hardly great at it. I intend to be better this year. Create more food and maybe even feel a little savvy when it comes to planting and growing things in my own backyard? Time will tell but I have scoured some local places for details on how to grow a vegetable garden and how to do it well. Ready. Set.Grow!!!

I found a great website with listings of all local (or most of) the local nurseries. Click here for Sacramento Gardening’s list of Nurseries and other helpful info. There are so many places in the great Sacramento area. It’s been awhile since I have visited nurseries. We tend to buy plants and flowers from Home Depot and Lowe’s but I’d like to shop the local nurseries this year. That being said, I had a nice chat a few weeks back with someone {I have forgotten her name and I feel guilty for that cause she was so nice and helpful!} at Green Valley Nursery here in El Dorado Hills. I have decided to buy all of my plants and fertilizer from them this year. I like that they grow their veggie plants from seed and it is already acclimated to our climate. Lifetime Master Gardener Fred Hoffman, respectably known as Farmer Fred, is coming to Green Valley Nursery & Landscape on Saturday, May 14th from 12pm-2pm. Might be a great time to stop in and ask questions. Wish I was going to be in town for this event — darn it!

So a few tips I have picked up along the way: test your soil, till your soil, plant at the right time (Mother’s Day is usually the marker where we are beyond the last frost) and make sure your plants and seeds are getting the right amount of sunshine and water.

Wanna see where my garden is going?? Right here ~ where my kids are currently playing with dump trucks.

Isn’t it lovely?? 🙂 I assure you — last year we got some good stuff from this lil’ plot of land. This year I hope to get more! I had plans of getting it all ready and planted on Mother’s Day but that turned out to be a cold and breezy day. I am now shooting for this Thursday or Friday, Fingers crossed! We are having some very confusing weather right now. Hot/cold, rainy/sunny ~ I can barely keep up!

Oh, my tip on tomatoes? Try and give them there own space. They seem to take up a lot of room. We are putting ours in old wine barrels this year which we managed to get for free. Woot woot! You are supposed to change the location of your tomatoes year to year and also change the soil. Ever seen or heard of a horn worm? They are fat, green little suckers that will ruin your tomatoes! If you notice that your tomatoes are half eaten, start the search. You have to hand pick these nasty little critters out of the garden and then get rid of them. Click here for photos and more details.

Do you usually plant a garden? What are your favorite things to grow? I love tomatoes and herbs the most. I am hoping to get some pumpkins out of our garden this year as well. I want to make planting and tending to the garden a family affair. I want everyone to feel like they are a part of growing the food that ends up on our table. I even found some Disney Cars seeds at Home Depot yesterday {snap peas and pumpkins} to entice my youngest. He loves Disney Cars but not veggies — hey, if it works! 😉

Happy gardening to you!

Spring Cleaning

This seems to be my motto as of late. Once the weather starts turning a little warmer and the skies shine a little brighter, I get the bug to clean. This means a lot of deep cleaning, purging {donate!!} and maybe even a little redecorating. We are coming out of the chilly Winter months and gearing up for the hot Summer months. The in-between time is perfect for opening up the house and airing it out so to speak. Do you feel the need to Spring Clean?

Funny cartoon eh?

Some tips of where to begin:

Start up and work your way down. You can do this by wiping down cupboards, cleaning bathroom mirrors or even wiping off counter-tops. If you start the other way, you just ‘remake’ your mess. My biggest example of this is when I am cleaning my kitchen. It only makes sense to wipe everything off of the counters and clean out the fridge before I clean the floors. Then I can get any bit of mess that might have fallen along the way.

Pick an area or project and follow through till the end. I typically do things in a order.

  • Dust
  • Change bedding
  • Vacuum

I also tackle all the bathrooms in order.

  • Clean toilets and sinks
  • Clean mirrors
  • Wipe down exteriors (cabinets, counter-tops and lastly, the  outside of toilet)
  • Floors

For the main parts of the home — you know, the well loved kitchen and family room {which usually needs it the most}:

  • Dust
  • Wipe down inside of fridge & inside of microwave
  • Wipe down all appliances
  • Wipe down cabinets
  • Remove items from counter-tops and clean well
  • Sweep & mop floors
  • Vacuum carpet

I know, some of this might seem obvious — or not 😉 These are my ‘basics’. Of course there are some more heavy duty things that can be done less often. Ready for those? You are probably thinking, “Isn’t what you listed enough already? Jeez lady!”. But I am not done. Not yet!

Oven — one of my least favorite of all but so worth it when done. We have self cleaning ovens but that whole process just freaks me out and smells so toxic. Here is a natural cleaner that I have yet to try but plan to soon! Click here for the recipe.

Cleaning windows — inside and out. I will say that calling on a professional is actually VERY worth the money. We have done it several times. They do a great job for less then $200 {2 story home over here}. You can of course do it yourself if you are that motivated or want to save the money.

Carpet Cleaning — I am about to call on Phelan Carpet Cleaning at 916.747.7243. This is a local business here in EDH.

Pantry — purge people! I just found some salad dressing that was um, a couple of years past it’s expiration. At least it did not walk off of the shelf itself eh? It is also helpful to organize things by catagories and also utilize baskets to keep like items together. Examples?

  • Canned items
  • Dressings, marinades, etc.
  • Baking items
  • Breakfast items
  • Quick grab n’ go snacks

Linen Closets — can you let it go? Old bedding, towels, etc? I just let go of my almost 6 year old’s baby blankets. Well most of them. That was a tough one but really, I don’t ‘need’ them anymore. Sigh.

Playrooms — a lot of us tackled these right before or after Christmas but if not, go for it. I promise that you will come out with at least a bag or two of unneeded items. Word of advice: Do this when the kids are NOT home or they will stop you mid-toss!

This is more like me — smile and all

Outside — yep, Winter pretty much wrecked our yards. Time to pull up those weeds, clean off the patio furniture, power wash the decks, clean out the BBQ and maybe plant a few flowers? Make it livable cause I promise, BBQ weather is right around the corner.

My best advice, find an area that needs some special TLC and tackle it. Make that your project until it is done and then move on. Cabinets are so often a breeding ground for crap {if you have a better word, feel free to insert it where I typed crap ;)} Open them up and reorganize — getting rid of what you can and should in the process. Go ahead, pick a room and GO!

A few other tips for freshening things up a bit:

Use natural cleaners as much as you can. The less toxins, the better for your environment. Here are a couple of sites that share recipes for natural cleaners:

Brands you can buy that are eco friendly:

Another idea is to open the windows and let the fresh air in as much as you can. Out with the stuffiness of Winter and heaters and in with fresh breeze, flowers and chirping birds. Before you know it, we will be sitting in our air conditioned homes praying for a breeze! Enjoy it now.

One of my favorite things about Spring cleaning is how fresh everything feels after. I feel so accomplished and ready to go into the busy Summer months.

2011 CSA’s and Farmers Markets

Pretty soon, the sun will start shining a little more. The birds will be singing. The world will be lush and green and all things beautiful will start to bloom {wow, I sound like a cheesy greeting card eh? Ha ha}. Anyway, with the onset of all of this wonder will come an abundance of gardening and more choices for seasonal fruits and vegetables. I have done a little research on where you can get the best of the best. Between Farmer’s Markets and CSA’s, there are many choices. Plus you can grow your own but that will be in a whole other post 😉

Are you looking for a list of what produce is in season throughout the year? I came across this great little cheat sheet. I will be keeping it on hand for reference. Would you like your own? Click here for a copy.

A great resource that covers all Farmers Markets in California is the California Certified Farmers Market. You can search for markets in your area and also find additional resources such as tips and featured websites with recipes, seasonal info, etc. Click here to be directed to that site.

I wanted to include direct info for some of the local areas as well.

Auburn area — click here for the Foothill Farms directory. There are year round and seasonal markets in the area.

Sacramento — click here for details on Farmers Markets in Sacramento. Many are year round and there are also several that are seasonal which is right around the corner (typically June – October). A little birdy told me today that the Sunday Market located at 8th and W is fantastic. It’s a bit of a trek from here might be worth the occasional trip.

El Dorado County Markets are not open yet. I can tell you that Boa Vista Orchards (located within the majestic area known as Apple Hill), is open year round with a variety of fruits and vegetables. You can click here for the direct El Dorado County Farmers Market site. I was also informed by a local source that there are more then just one located within Apple Hill. It might take a little searching as they are not associated with the California Certified Farmers Markets. My suggestion? Make a trip to find more orchards that sell year round and visit a couple of the beautiful wineries along the way. One of my favorites is Boeger. Another market coming our way soon will be located at Green Valley Nursery. I blogged about them awhile back but when I was there the other day, I was told that once this is up and going — they plan to sell all week instead of just one day a week as originally planned. Please click here for their direct website and follow them for more details.

I hope you found this post to be resourceful in your search of local markets. Eat fresh — it’s better for you, our local farmers benefit and we can leave a smaller carbon footprint on the Earth.

Could You be a Part-Time Vegatarian?

I think that this is an interesting topic. It seems that more and more people are finding ways to eat better and also leave a lighter carbon footprint on our Earth. One of the easiest ways to do this is by eating less meat. I know this might seem like a huge deal to some of you and less of a big deal to others. I personally would be fine as I don’t seem to eat a lot of meat anyway. According to a recent article by Lucy Danziger at SELF Magazine, there are some very good reasons to become a part-time veg head.

  • To stay slim
  • To help the planet
  • To fend of cancer
  • To protect your heart
  • To save cash

Click here for the full article.

You could make baby steps and start by making one day a week a meatless day. A lot of people do a Meatless Monday and make meals that are vegetarian based on Monday. Could you start here?

I found this fun lil’ site on healthy eating. Check out Happy Cow for Healthy Eating. You will find restaurants, recipes and even a newsletter. Here are a few vegetarian (vegan) restaurants  in the Sacramento area:

There are also unlimited recipes on-line. Just do a little search for vegetarian recipes and you will have so many choices!

Here are a couple of my personal  favorite meatless meals:

Black Bean, Corn and Zucchini Enchiladas from Cooking Light

Creamy Shells with White Beans and Tomatoes

And a few recipes I’d like to try:

Black Bean Burgers with spicy cucumber relish from Cooking Light

Spinach-Black Bean Lasagna from Southern Living

Could you eat less meat in your diet? Do you have any favorite vegetarian recipes to share?

An Apple a Day

Apples are one of my favorite fruits and a go to staple in my diet as far as ‘healthy’. Who hasn’t heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? There is definitely some truth behind this saying.

A few bits of information to support this saying ~ read on: According to Women’s Health contributor,Brittany Risher, an apple a day could keep your fat jeans away. The fiber in apples slows digestion, and if your stomach is full of fruit, you’re less likely to reach for a sugary snack, says Koff. A medium apple has four filling grams of fiber (most of it’s in the skin, so don’t peel it!). Bonus: Research has found that inhaling a green-apple scent when a food craving hits may trick your brain into thinking you’ve already eaten—and result in weight loss.

Other health benefits of apples:

  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reduces chance of heart disease
  • Reduces the risk of stroke
  • Helps prevent prostate cancer
  • Fights the risk of lung cancer
  • Helps alleviate the condition of COPD patients

Another healthy benefit of an apple for breakfast? An apple is more effective at stimulating and waking us up than any form of caffeine.

Apples make a great snack and for some added oomph, dip them in some peanut butter. Homemade applesauce is easy and so much better then the prepared stuff from the store. Click here for the recipe. Try it with less sugar, a little goes a long way. I love throwing apples into my salad for the extra texture and flavor. The recipes I have found for apples are endless. Go ahead, I dare you to do a little search. So. Many. Recipes!!! YUM! Do you like apples? I’d love to hear your favorite recipes.

Here are some tidbits of info to add to this saying.

Detox — Foods that help the body

I am sorta trying a new path ~ it’s called yoga {yes, I bet you have probably heard of it ;)} I took a few classes. Loved the “after” {during kinda kicked my butt but the after part I did love}. I decided to give myself 3 months of going 2-3 times a week. More if possible. Now of course I think this will be a great thing for my physical well being but honestly, I am doing it more for my mental well being. I stress. Easily. Often. Over anything. It’s stupid really as I am an optimist but I tend to really hold on to stress and thus I end up with the hated migraine. Now, if you are at all intrigued by my new endeavor, check out Zuda Yoga. It’s not for the weak, I assure you! They have two locations — Folsom and Midtown.

Yoga is supposed to be healing. So is eating better. Did you know that some foods actually help your body “detox”? No, chocolate and sugar are not on the list. Sorry to disappoint you!

A few detox foods are:

  • Fruits – remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  • Green foods – think Kale, chard & spinach.
  • Citrus – add some lemon to your water.
  • Beans – the magical fruit {I won’t finish that one for you}.
  • Omegas – fish, flax seed & avocado are all good sources.
  • Garlic – an easy way to spice up almost any main dish.
  • Nuts – as a snack or even on a salad.

Those are just a few of many thing that can be great for your body. For more ideas and details on how to do a detox, head on over to the Global Healing Center by clicking here.

Good-bye Tree

Well I did it, had too. My tree was so dead that it pained me to look at it any longer. It came down two days ago leaving behind enough pine needles to create a whole new tree! For now it sits on my front porch. Waiting. For Boy Scouts to come and take it away as they do every year. I know quite a few people use the New Year as their fresh start and thus taking down decorations. Well, I always think I will wait and then the tree pushes me. Needles everywhere so I cave and start the organizing of the seasonal decor. I am a major fan of Christmas and very sad to see the season come to an abrubt halt but it does and when that happens, I turn a page and go into clean and organize mode. Also known as “Type A Girl”. I admit, we are just barely a few days past Christmas and I have all of my Christmas decor nicely stored away and my kitchen is about 95% reorganized as well. I can’t help it. It’s like a drug. Once I start I can not stop and my list of projects goes on and on. OK, I guess none of this is totally relevant but I had to share 🙂 I have been missing writing but alas, the spirit of the season overcame me and I had to take a short hiatus.

Now, as I mentioned we usually leave our tree for the Boy Scouts in early January with a donation in an envelope. Easy. Done. I am doing a little research though and did you know that many trees are not properly disposed of and end up in landfills? Take the time to do a little research before disposing of your tree. Click here for local places that will take proper care of your used trees. Also, do note that you might pay a fee but it will be a small price to pay to assure that your tree is properly recycled and turned into something resourceful versus sitting in a landfill. Also, the alternative should you be so willing it to turn in into firewood to keep yourself warm and cozy during these cold winter nights .

So what is the 411 on your tree disposal?