The best cauliflower dish EVER

Beautiful, big cauliflower from Min-Hee Hill Garden deserves the best recipe ever.  Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table    Cauliflower Bacon Gratin

“If the French celebrated Thanksgiving, I’m sure they’d find a place at the table for this cauliflower gratin recipe. Simply made, appealingly rustic, and very tasty, it can sit alongside a main course or, with a little salad (and maybe even some cranberry sauce), take the stage alone for brunch, lunch, or supper. The recipe was given to me more than twenty-five years ago, and after making it the first time, I wrote in the margin that it was a little like a quiche (it’s really only the addition of flour that sets it apart from a quiche filling) and in some ways like a pudding, in that it’s rich, soft, and creamy. It’s a classic—it was popular when it was first passed along to me, and it’s a recipe that’s still treasured today. Serve it alongside anything roasted—it’s nice with something a little rich like a roast—or have it with a salad and call it supper.”–Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan’s Cauliflower Gratin Recipe  via Leite’s Culinaria

And from Ourbestbites   a best ever cauliflower recipe without bacon  Roasted Garlic and Parmesan

TheDreamCatcherRanch and Black Sheep Farm have great bacon.   And for the unbacon among us who still want a smoky flavor check out the smoked olive oil and smoked brown sugar from The Smoked Olive.




If you missed the Saturday market, you missed these key lime tarts from Crumb Hither.

The origin of Key lime pie has been traced back to the late 19th century in the Key West, Florida area. Its exact origins are unknown, but the first formal mention of Key Lime Pie as a recipe may have been made by William Curry, a ship salvager and Key West’s first millionaire; his cook, “Aunt Sally,” made the pie for him. If such is the case, however, it is also possible and maybe even probable that Sally adapted the recipe already created by local sponge fishermen. Sponge fishermen spent many contiguous days on their boats, and stored their food on board, including nutritional basics such as canned milk (which would not spoil without refrigeration), limes and eggs. Sponge fishermen on the sea would presumably not have access to an oven, and, similarly, the original recipe for key lime pie did not call for cooking the mixture of lime, milk, and eggs. (read more from Wikipedia)

The first recipe for key lime pie was recorded in the 1930s and it is the state pie of Florida.    Here’s a list of other state’s official foods.    While California doesn’t have an official pie – following the Florida designation of  a state pie, we had a state mock pie contest.

What do you think should be the California State Pie…..or even the Sonoma County pie?





Raymonds Bakery

Raymond’s isn’t the kind of place most people will just stumble across. It’s about a mile from downtown Cazadero, and to get there, you need to travel on Highway 116, approximately 8 miles through the woods west of Guerneville or 4 miles east of Hwy. 1. Then you turn north on Cazadero Highway and continue another 5-1/2 miles until you see The Elim Grove Cottages.

The lodge and bakery nestle beneath the majestic old growth redwoods that tower above Austin Creek. On any given day, the bakery is hard-at-work, sending out a jaw-dropping, mouthwatering array of fresh-baked-daily breads like rustic baguettes, traditional French, Pugliese, seeded sourdough and French sourdough.   Depending on the whims of the bakers, there may be garlic-rosemary and kalamata olive-rosemary loaves, Parmesan focaccia, New York deli rye, 9–grain whole wheat, Italian ciabatta, onion rolls, or breads like buttermilk potato, semolina raisin, pumpernickel rye and cinnamon-raisin swirl.

It’s all the work of Mark and Elizabeth Weiss.  Now you can get Raymond’s breads and more at the Saturday market.   And they hold community swing dance lessons on the side.  Their bakery has become a community center.  Welcome Raymond’s a great addition to our already great collection of bakers.







Williamson Strawberries

Strawberry fields forever…..

Williamson Farms has strawberries almost all year long.

The farm, managed locally by family member Sheri Williamson, grows strawberries in San Diego, Ventura, and Monterey counties. The southern fields produce strawberries in December and January—a marvelous function of a subtropical climate—while the more northerly, coastal fields start months later, in spring, but remain in production almost through the year.

“At our southern farms, we have trouble when the temperatures get to just 80 or 85 degrees,” says Williamson, Temperatures don’t often climb so high in Monterey County, and they almost never hold there for days on end—which is perfect for a strawberry.

Erica is at the Saturday Santa Rosa Farmers Market.  Ask her which berries are in season

Contact Sheri Williamson for information about her strawberries







Diana – the people’s sweet potato

Schletewitz Family Farms Wed/Sat markets has citrus but they also grow the Diana —

RED DIANA YAMS; The Diana has a rose colored exterior with the interior meat being bright orange with an oblong shape and a semi-smooth exterior with the meat tender and moist. This yam was developed from a cross between the Garnet and Beauregard.

Like the bison-buffalo confusion, the yam-sweet potato differences are somewhat symbolic at this point.

The sweet, orange-colored root vegetable that is often thought of as a yam in the United States is actually a sweet potato. Yams purchased in the United States are almost always sweet potatoes, no matter what color and shape they are.

So where did all of the confusion come from?

A true yam is a starchy edible tuber that is generally imported from the Caribbean. It differs greatly from the sweet potato in taste, texture, appearance and family.

Depending on the variety, sweet potato flesh can vary from white to orange and even purple. The orange-fleshed variety was introduced to the United States several decades ago. In order to distinguish it from the white variety everyone was accustomed to, producers and shippers chose the English form of the African word “nyami” and labeled them “yams.”

Even though the USDA requires that orange-colored sweet potatoes always be labeled “sweet potato,” most people still think of sweet potatoes as yams regardless of their true identity.

Schletewitz carries citrus at great prices ..especially good for those who like fresh squeezed orange juice.  Drop by for a taste!

Schletewitz Farms, started in 1932, is truly a family enterprise.

The family philosophy is to grow only what they themselves enjoy. Their goal is to provide safe wholesome food for others to enjoy. To achieve this they have planted about 150 acres with a variety of fruits which ripen in succession during all four seasons starting with apricots and ending with grapes. They are also diligently working toward organic certification.

The Schletewitz family is proud of their farm and happy to have you visit their orchards. 9394 East N Ave., Sanger California. Take Highway 99 North from Sanger and exit on East for 10-12 miles




One of the best ways to fight over fishing and keep the oceans healthy is to eat more periwinkles.  At least try them.

Santa Rosa Seafood has periwinkles.   Sure you say, I’ll try them what are they?

Periwinkles are one of the most overlooked and underrated members of the seafood family. They are called “the poor man’s escargot.” They make a great appetizer and it’s fun to master the technique of getting those little guys out of their shell. (read more)

The meat is high in protein, Omega 3 and low in fat; according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, raw snails in general are about 80% water, 15% protein, and 1.4% fat.

How do you cook a periwinkle?

Peterson counsels you to wash the periwinkles in a colander under cold water as soon as you get them home, checking to see that their little doors are securely shut (a sign that they’re still alive). Smell any that don’t give evidence of being alive and toss them out unless they smell like the clean, briny sea. Cook them, oh, so briefly, because an overdone periwinkle will break apart when you try to get it out of its shell, causing untold frustration. Three minutes is the limit on cooking, he says, and the easiest method is to pop them in a pot of boiling water, spiced with a little cayenne pepper.

If you want to be fancy, Peterson suggests you poach them in a wide sauté pan in a little court bouillon, where the liquid comes only halfway up the shells of the beasts, spoon them into hot bowls, swirl a fair amount of butter into the court bouillion and pour it over the periwinkles. Serve with crusty bread, and be sure to pull off the operculum — the little doors — before you eat the periwinkles.


Is there a techique to eating them..here’s Serious Eats take  ”

Periwinkles on the other hand, require little patience but a considerable amount of know-how. To eat a periwinkle, you must bring the opening of the shell to your lips and suck: not too forcefully like a vacuum but not too gently, either. At first you’ll receive a slight rush of the oceanic juices within, as sweet and as ambrosial as can be. While you’re sucking, lower the tip of your tongue to the opening of the shell and use just slightly more pressure to bring out the tip of the animal itself. The flesh will be stuck to a small, perfectly round piece of armor, the periwinkle’s last defense against the outside world. Find that circular piece of shell, and use a toothpick or the tip of a pointy chopstick to scoop out the meat. And there you have it: the somewhat complicated, though not time-consuming way of getting at periwinkle meat. Fear not if this sounds too tiresome. You’ll get it by the dozenth or so periwinkle.

Santa Rosa Seafood also has Ipswitch Clams an east coast clam We’d like to introduce you to a local New England delicacy… the world-famous Ipswich clam. In Ipswich’s wild and beautiful coastal areas, clammers dig them from the flats by hand using simply a clam rake and a strong back – just as they have for hundreds of years. These sweet softshell clams are beyond compare, traditionally steamed and served with their own clam broth. If you’ve never prepared this delicacy at home, it’s very easy. Try steaming your clams in white wine or beer for a different taste. Five pounds will serve two adults as an entree, four as an appetizer  




Tom Noble, Armstrong Valley Farm, is a great reason to come to Wednesday market.   He’s always got a big smile even when it’s raining.  The Wednesday market is  time to get to know the farmers and ranchers .  Tom is wonderful farm-to-table cook.  Ask him what he’s been eating.  Tom’s puckish sense of humor shines through when he brings various vegetable oddities to the market.

Last week he brought a very large carrot pictured here and a he also has lemons that look like they are giving birth to either an alien to a Buddha’s hand.

Hey this is Northern California — you all have boots and rain coats.  If this were winter you wouldn’t even notice it was raining.

Easy parking and a great collection of farmers and ranchers.   Eggs, mushrooms, cheese, prepared foods, breads, fruit, plants for your garden, a great array of produce, poultry, meat and seafood.




Two more weeks of  gardening classes at the market

April 28

Selecting the Best Plants for Your Garden

Free basil seedling and soil in a compostable container

May 5

Children’s Gardens

Enjoy a free pumpkin plant to grow in your garden.

Tomato specialists Ma and Pa’s Garden are back but you have to get there early — they sold out by 11:30 AM every single tomato plant gone!  But there will be more next week.

Triple T Ranch and Farm offers organic vegetable starts – they have a wonderful selection of peppers.

Skyview Nursery remains one of the popular stops at the market.  As with all the nursery stock at the market, it is grown locally so it is perfect for the Sonoma County gardener —  no location shock.  Glenn is a wealth of information and if you live at the coast and are determined to grow warm weather crops – he can give you suggestions to increase your chance at success.

Nature’s Spirits offers organic starts.  A great selection of greens and other vegetables.

And if you want your vegetables to do particularly well especially tomatoes – think about shopping with your newest vendor – The Oz Family Farm — they raise rabbits and now they are offering rabbit manure.

Rabbit manure is a prized fertilizer for gardeners. They “double digest” their food and because of this ultra-digestion, the fertilizer isn’t as “hot” and so you can put it directly into the soil without concern for burning seedlings. Also, unlike horses, which only digest their food once, rabbits (and ruminants: cows, llamas, deer…) thoroughly digest any grass-seeds they eat making the seeds sterile so they won’t sprout in your garden beds. This saves a huge amount of energy later in the season by reducing the amount of weeding necessary.
Daffadils, Dahlias and Lilies Oh My! has beautiful blooming plants to add a spot of color to your garden right now and unusual flower starts for later blooms.  In stock now she has cinnamon colored sunflower seedlings.
X-oticals known for their orchid selection also has colorful potted spring flowers.
Fulton Creek Nursery specializes in gardening for those who have a tiny space.
They have beautiful herb bowls and combination lettuce pots –  make the most of your gardening area.

Michele Anna Jordan has been writing about shopping at farmers markets for the Press Democrat for the last fifteen years.  She takes a look back at her first column and offers a great bit of history of the Original Certified Santa Rosa Farmers Market and her column.

Here’s her list:

Strategies for Successful Farm Market Shopping 

  • Take a cooler with ice (for dairy products, poultry, seafood, and strawberries) and a bucket of water (for flowers).
  • Keep several strong cloth or string bags in your car.
  • Remember to take small bills and plenty of change (in larger markets, guard against pickpockets, a potential problem as markets become more popular).
  • Go early and walk the market before making your purchases; taste and compare whenever possible.
  • Don’t shop with a list—look for what is at its peak, then build a meal around it.  A well-stocked pantry of staples (olive oils, vinegars, spices, pasta, beans and other legumes, and frozen homemade stocks) back home makes this a breeze.
  • Take large or heavy items to your car immediately, or ask the farmer to set them aside for you.
  • Don’t barter over small items, only large quantities (lugs of peaches, for example) near the end of the market day.
  • Remember to bring sunscreen in warm weather.
  • Ask questions even if you think you know the answer (it’s often not what you expect).
  • Relax and try not to hurry.  The pleasure of being at the market is nearly as important as your purchases.
  • Put your car keys in your pocket or purse before you begin shopping.

read more from this column originally published April 23, 1997


In today’s column there is a little more market history  both column have wonderful seasonal recipes

Do you have a tip for shopping at the market?




Just a few examples of the great finds at the Wednesday market.    Beautiful spring bouquets from Ridgeview Farm — just the beginning of their bouquet season and they also have some lovely little heads of lettuce.  As well as their fine produce Ortiz Bros. has fragrant, fresh lilacs .  Armstrong Valley has lot of lovely shallots.  Triple T is spring all over with broccoli side shoots and purple mizuna –The delicate leaves add crisp, fresh beauty to a salad of other micro greens or mixed with white daikon. Milder than arugula, the peppery mustard flavor is an excellent addition to soups and stir-fries, as well.   Redel’s has bulk, unflavored almonds at a great prices.

If don’t feel like cooking,  let Lata or Mi Fiesta take care of that for you.  Pictured here is a sweet corn tamale with chipotle salsa  Each is pretty darn good on its own and together – a maiz- ing.  And Lata has the best tikka masala anywhere.