Eat-More-Peaches-cover

July 30, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
1 Comment

Eat More Peaches! A Tour of Wawona Farms

 

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Don’t those peaches look divine?  How often do we get ripe peaches right off the tree?  Only in the summertime!  That is, unless we can find frozen peaches with that “right off the tree” flavor… and now I know where to look for  special frozen fruits!

I’ve been traveling this summer!  About a month ago,  I was invited to participate in a farm tour  by California Farm Water Coalition.  On the first day of the tour,  I met Jackie of  The Seaside Baker  and Puja of  Indiaphile at Lindberg Field in San Diego. We three  flew to Fresno on an early morning flight.

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Our CFWC hosts Clare Foley and Brandon Souza were waiting for us at the Fresno airport with two other bloggers,  Sue of It’s Okay To Eat the Cupcake and Natalie of The Devil Wears Parsley.   We loaded our luggage into the back of the SUV,  checked the status of the snacks and beverages, and off we went!

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Our first stop was Wawona Farms, the largest producer of frozen peaches in the USA.   We were greeted by Linda Smittcamp and her son Blake, who told us about the history of his family’s fruit business and gave us an in-depth tour of the processing plant.  Peaches from 50-60 growers in the area around Fresno are harvested throughout the fresh peach season and brought to this facility to be washed, cut, sliced, frozen and packed.

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Wawona Farms also freezes  late season strawberries, has a small  bakery for specialty products, and participates in the USDA school lunch programs.  If you have ever purchased the Walmart brand of frozen peaches, you may have enjoyed Wawona Farms products.  Those delicious organic frozen fruit blends that are sold by Costco and used in smoothies come from Wawona Farms.  Marie Callendar’s peach pies are made with Wawona peaches!

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We were invited to see every production area,  watch the employees as they worked, and we even had a chance to see the brand new quality control laboratory that would be opening soon.   I was most impressed that this business had grown from a  family farm and packing house for tree fruits beginning  in 1945,  to a larger frozen fruit operation in 1962,  to  the multi-faceted business still owned by a multi-generation family today.  Employees include people of all ages, notably older adults who have continued to work for many years.  This is a business that produces high quality healthy food,  supports many families as an employer,  participates in fund-raising to help the community, and  continues to give back to their community in many ways big and small.  Their mission is “to produce fruit products that consistently achieve the product and service expectations of our customers in a cost effective, environmentally responsible manner.”

We asked how the California drought is affecting Wawona Farms.  This year the supply of local fruit is lower due to the restrictions on water use.  Some area farms have lower production and some will not survive.  Wawona already must import some of the fruit that they process.   Seeking out new ways to remain profitable, they have partnered with other companies to produce food products using their own facilities, such as cookies, fruit turnovers, and frozen fruit pops.   A new product they have introduced is an amazing cookie that tastes like a miniature peach pie called “Peach Jewels”.   These are even available in a gluten-free version.

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If you happen to visit the Fresno area,  be sure to visit The Peach Tree Fruit Stand in Clovis.  Established 50 years ago by the original farmer’s wife, the current “farmer’s wife”  Linda Smittcamp now  runs the stand with the help of local students. Available here are  fresh peaches,  frozen fruit products, and those amazing Peach Jewels.  We had a wonderful time sampling the frozen peach and strawberry pops, selecting fresh peaches, buying cookbooks, and loading up on boxes of Peach Jewels, which are frozen and can be baked at home.   We were thrilled to accept tee shirts offered as a gift:  “Keep Calm and Eat A Peach!”

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I’m still dreaming about those tasty Peach Jewels, and planning another trip to the Fresno area so I can bring home a cooler full!  I’m wishing that Costco might carry them…if you ever see Peach Jewels from Wawona Farms at Costco,  call me right away!

Coming next on our tour:  A visit to Hudson Farms of Del Rey, California.

 

 

July 7, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
35 Comments

Mimi Avocado and Friends’ Ultimate Summer Ice Cream Giveaway!

Maple CreemieIt’s summertime and guess where I am?   Vermont!  Today is one of the most perfect summer days I have seen in a long time…so my mother, daughter, and I drove out to the Bragg Farm in East Montpelier to get a Maple Creemee.   If you are ever traveling in Vermont, be sure to sample the maple soft serve ice cream (in local vernacular it’s called a “creemee”).   It wouldn’t be summer in Vermont without maple creemees! Birthday-Dinner-Collage-2014 Last night we celebrated my birthday (which doesn’t officially happen until later this week).  It was very special to have 2 of my siblings,  my sister’s  husband, one niece, one daughter AND my mother here …plus our wonderful neighbors and their grandson.  It was a real old-fashioned 4th of July party with fireworks in the yard.   In Vermont we can buy and shoot off fireworks  (with a permit) and there were beautiful bursts of color appearing on the distant hillsides as other families enjoyed their celebrations…plus millions of fireflies out in the field! Fireworks-Collage I was so happy when some of my San Diego food blogging friends asked if I would like to participate in a giveaway …it’s the perfect way to celebrate a BIG BIRTHDAY (any guesses?)  by giving a gorgeous Kitchenaid Mixer to one of you.   Scroll down for the details…I hope you enter!   I would LOVE it if one of my readers could win this beautiful prize package!   Click on the link at the bottom of this post:  “a rafflecopter giveaway” to enter !   What kinds of ice cream will you make if you win?   How about making your own maple creemee?  I’d love to try that! Kitchenaid-Giveaway-Graphic I’m excited to be partnering with other San Diego Food Bloggers to offer this wonderful summer giveaway to our readers. Win a 5-quart chrome finish KitchenAid mixer with the specialty ice cream attachment, and a copy of the ultimate ice cream book, David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments.

If you haven’t visited my friends’ blogs, please do check them out!

Barbara Cooks Barbara makes gorgeously fresh food, and all of her recipes include Weight Watchers’ Points and nutrition information. Here’s her Coconut Berry Swirl ice cream. California Greek Girl Mary showcases the healthy Greek lifestyle with a Southern California twist. She’s the co-author of Cooking Techniques with Olive Oil. Here’s her Mango Tango Sorbet. Indiaphile Puja and Steve demystify amazing Indian dishes with a fresh modern flair, and often include step-by-step photography. Here’s their Mint Avocado Kulfi. Kitchen Konfidence Brandon’s photography is drop-dead gorgeous, with creative recipes perfect for entertaining including lots of tasty cocktails. Check out his ice cream recipes. The Seaside Baker Don’t be thrown off by the title, Jackie features recipes of all kinds, not just baked goods. But as a professional baker, her cookies and treats rock. Check out her amazing ice cream sandwiches. Looking for maple? Try my Fresh Figs and Walnuts Glazed with Maple Syrup over ice cream. Sweepstakes Official Rules: By using the Rafflecopter widget below you are agreeing to the Official Rules, outlined here.

  • NO PURCHASE NECESSARY
  • Only residents of the U.S. over the age of 18 are eligible to enter.
  • Duration: Monday July 7 through Monday July 21, 2014 at 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time.
  • Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter.
  • The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • Winner will be selected by Rafflecopter within 48 hours of the sweepstakes closing and contacted by email. Winners have 24 hours to respond to their notification email to claim their prize. If they do not respond, another winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter. All prizes will be awarded.
  • We are not liable for technical failures or typographical errors, or resolving identity disputes related to the winner.
  • We will obtain winners’ name and mailing addresses in the notification email. Once prize(s) have been mailed we will maintain that information for up to one year but will not use it for any other purpose.
  • This sweepstakes is sponsored by Barbara Cooks, California Greek Girl, Indiaphile, Kitchen Konfidence, Mimi Avocado, The Seaside Baker, Ten Speed Press, and Recipe Renovator, P.O. Box 34054, San Diego, CA 92163-4054. (619) 365-5065.
  • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
  • Prize description: KitchenAid 5-quart Pro stand mixer in Chrome, KitchenAid ice cream attachment, one paperback copy of The Perfect Scoop. Retail value: $468.97.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Vermont Mimi Avocado

A Julie Andrews moment in the hills of Vermont!

June 21, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
3 Comments

Hot Dog! Little Goodies™ on Avocado Toast

Little-Goodies-On-Avocado-Toast-sigYou all know about my obsession with avocado toast.  Being married to an avocado farmer and living in the middle of thousands of avocado trees does have perks…plenty of avocados to eat every day!   We often put avocados on hot dogs, but how about hot dogs on top of  avocado toast?   These cute little healthy hot dogs are perfect! Once I figured out how delicious the Honest Dogs™ from Fork In The Road Foods are,  I decided to try another one of their products.   I couldn’t resist these cute Little Goodies™.   We used to enjoy cocktail hotdogs for parties until we found out that the additives and preservatives in them gave us a headache. Little Hot Dogs Fork In The Road Foods uses only the best, most honest ingredients, with no added nitrites or nitrates.  The beef is pasture-raised with no antibiotics or added hormones.  And the hot dog ingredients listed on the package do not include any hard-to-pronounce items. ingredients-better I’m so excited to know that those spectacular Honest Dogs™ are also made as Little Goodies™!     They’re so cute too…perfect for my lunch…on avocado toast! Little-Goodies-horizontal-sig   Of course, you can always cut a hot dog bun into smaller pieces and have a picnic.  Use mustard and California avocado.   These Little Goodies just scream “CUTE”!

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Grill a hot dog bun in butter, then cut a bun into 6 pieces for these adorable little mini Honest Dogs™

Disclosure:  I received product samples from Fork In The Road Foods,  but purchased these Little Goodies™ myself.   I was not paid for this post.  All opinions are mine. Need fresh California avocados so you can make toast?  Check out our family farm site California Avocados Direct for avocado gift boxes and monthly subscriptions.

June 20, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
8 Comments

Please Don’t Eat The Honest Dogs™ (Before I Can Blog About Them)

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Honest Dog™ with mac & cheese, mustard and fresh California avocado

I need to tell you about these hot dogs.  I first tasted them at the Big Traveling Potluck, a food bloggers conference held last April in Murrietta, Ca.  Fork In The Road Foods was a sponsor of the weekend, and we were treated to some of their special hot dogs and a scrumptious Black Forest Ham.  (More about their melt-in-your-mouth hams another day)

A few weeks after the conference, I received a package from Fork in the Road Foods including several varieties of their hot dogs, plus an Uncured Honey Maple Ham.   This was very nice of them to do…sending me some free meats to try.   So I bought a package of hotdog buns and cooked the Honest Dogs with Pasture-Raised Beef from the care package.

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I fully expected to try different toppings on the hotdogs,  take some really nice photos, and write a blog post about them.    I did fix up one hot dog for a photo, and handed it to  The Farmer to try.

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Honest Dog™ with dijon mustard and fresh California guacamole

The bun was grilled in Kerrygold butter,  spread with dijon mustard.  The Honest Dog™ was  heated slowly in a skillet until is began to brown nicely…then I added some fresh guacamole.     Once The Farmer got a taste of this meat,  the rest of the package disappeared. “Hey, you need to try one of Mom’s new hot dogs!”   No one in our family  had ever tasted a hot dog so tender and  with so much flavor.   The fact that these dogs are uncured (no added nitrates or nitrites), made with sustainable family-farmed beef raised with no antibiotics of added hormones makes them stand out  above any other hot dogs we have ever eaten.

I wasn’t able to take any more photos of hot dogs that day because the hot dogs were all eaten before I could think about what to put on them.  I was mortified.  This company was kind enough to send me meat but I couldn’t get a blog post written because people were eating the meat faster than I could blog.

A week later I drove to our nearest Whole Foods store (about 25 miles away in Del Mar) and purchased several more packages of Honest Dogs.  Sadly, those too were eaten before I could experiment with toppings.  This was beyond embarrassing .

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Honest Dog™ with black beans, salsa and fresh California avocado

Do other food bloggers have problems with family members eating the tastiest samples before recipes can be worked out and photos taken for a proper blog post?   I may need to get a special locked box for our refrigerator, because even though we have plenty of good food for meals,  these special hot dogs kept disappearing.

I started reading labels on hot dog packages in our local market.  I even tried a different brand of uncured beef hot dog.  They just weren’t as good.  For now Fork In The Road meats are sold exclusively at Whole Foods stores,  so I began looking for excuses to drive over near the beach where all the Whole Foods stores in our area happen to be located.

Yesterday a VERY happy surprise arrived via FedEx.  A beautiful box with a styrofoam insert, complete with a cold pack…and (drum roll)…two gorgeous packages of Fork in the Road Honest Dogs™ arrived on my doorstep.   Those nice people at Fork In The Roads Foods understood,  took pity, and sent me more Honest Dogs™!   This time  I resolved to write a blog post or die trying!

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Honest Dog™ with avocado slices and salsa

I  hid those packages of Honest Dogs™ in a special corner of the fridge  so no one could find them!   Today at lunchtime I cooked up 5 of those dogs and finally began dressing each one with different toppings,  set up my background and took some photos.   The whole time I was doing this  “someone” kept asking, “Now can I eat the hot dogs?”   I had to bite my tongue…after all, our family members are more important to us than amazing food samples that we want to cook and photograph…right?

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Honest Dog™ with yellow mustard, Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar and fresh California avocado

Just reading the package makes you feel good:  “We’re a community of independent family farmers, chefs, and workers passionately committed to doing what’s right.  We never ever take short cuts and always hold ourselves accountable to you and to one another.”

And I will do the right thing too.  I’ll make sure I stock up on Honest Dogs™ every time I’m anywhere near a Whole Foods.  And here’s hoping that we’ll be able to find them closer to our ranch someday soon!

Thank you,  Fork In The Road Foods, for your kindness and your patience.   Your meats  are truly making a difference in our family.

Disclosure:  I accepted gifts from  Fork In The Road Foods to sample and use in recipes for my family.   I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own.

 

June 5, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
15 Comments

The Secret for Saving Half of an Avocado

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When I make avocado toast for breakfast,  I can usually fit half of a large avocado on one large slice of sourdough bread.  It takes a little engineering and a little artistry to arrange those slices perfectly on the bread.   I’ll  admit that it’s easier to eat if you mash it up a little because the avocado sticks to the bread much better.   Those slices just look so pretty on top of the toast.  Add a little fruit and you have a picture-perfect avocado toast.

What about the other half of the large avocado?  What happens to it?  In our house,  half of an avocado is always in demand, so we rarely have any leftovers.   It must be a problem for other people though, because I’ve seen several different kinds of “avocado holders” for sale in kitchen stores.  Really?  People think they need to buy something to store their leftover avocado half?

Today I’m going to share a deep dark secret with you.   Are you ready?   (leaning in to whisper in your ear)   It’s okay to leave the  seed (or pit as we like to call it)  in the 2nd half of the avocado and just leave it out on the kitchen counter.   Overnight.   (Okay this is where I admit that I sometimes have a piece of avocado toast for an evening snack.  So there might be half of  an avocado available in our house after all.)

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Oh sure, the avocado will darken when it’s exposed to the air.  You can wrap it tightly with plastic wrap if you want to try to keep it from darkening…but it’s completely unnecessary.

avocado-fresh-under-pitWhen I remove the  pit the next morning,  I can see that the fruit is perfectly beautiful under the seed.  Hmmm.  Looks good enough to eat!

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Slice off a  very thin piece of the avocado (just enough to take away the brown part) and voila!  Fresh, perfect, amazing California avocado!  It’s like when we clapped to bring Tinker Bell back to life!

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See,  when I turn the thin brown piece of avocado over, it looks just as nice as any avocado should appear! (Nevertheless, I discard that thin slice.)

Who would know that the avocado  sat on the kitchen counter all night?  Or all day?   And who would care?    The flavor is wonderful because it hasn’t been stashed in the refrigerator.  (I really prefer mine at room temperature, don’t you?)

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So there you have it.  Perfect slices…just peel away the skin and make yourself a piece of toast.  Or a burger.  Or a nice salad.

If you’re one of those people who always buys little bitty avocados because you can eat the whole thing by yourself,   I hope you will no longer be afraid to get those spectacular large avos that are available from California  growers during peak season…now!

If you wish you could get them where you live,  just visit the website for our family farm and order a box!  If you’d rather order by phone,  give us a call at 844-286-7447…chances are that Mimi Avocado will even answer your call herself!

 

 

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