August 18, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
10 Comments

Maine Lobster Meets California Avocado!

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One of my favorite treats is Lobster Roll.   When I visit Vermont, I always make it a point to get lobster roll.   The grocery store near my mom’s house sells a package with three little lobster rolls, and I’ve been known to snarf all three in the parking lot.  There’s a restaurant on Lake Champlain in Burlington where I love to order lobster roll,  but you only get one on the plate with french fries and cole slaw.   I’ve never had my fill of lobster salad.

Imagine my excitement when I received an e-mail last week from Joe of LobsterAnywhere.com .   It began:  “Hi I came across your site on Twitter of all places! Would you be interested in trying some lobster. …”   I think I stopped breathing right then.   Lobster?  Of course!  Joe and I struck up an e-mail conversation that included a discussion of the best rolls to use for a lobster roll,  whether to get live lobsters and cook them myself, or choose the frozen lobster meat,  and of course we talked about Vermont…since that’s my home state.   The next day I received an e-mail from FedEx that a package had been shipped at about 5 pm from Massachusetts and would arrive at our ranch in California the next morning!   A lobster care package was coming all the way across the country!

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Sure enough, FedEx delivered the box at 10:17 am the next morning.  I couldn’t wait to open the box!  The first thing I saw?  Pie!!  Two darling little pies: one apple and one blueberry.   Be still my heart,  my new friend Joe sent me pie!  Then I saw the old fashioned top-split hot dog buns …made with potato…from one of my favorite Vermont bakeries!  I dug into the box to find the lobster….and what did I see next?  Knock me over…it was clam chowder!  Frozen solid, ready to reheat…authentic New England clam chowder, one of my most favorite comfort foods.  Joe, you really outdid yourself!

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In the bottom of the box was the most amazing bag of frozen lobster I had ever seen…2 POUNDS of perfectly cooked  lobster meat,  still frozen rock hard…packed with dry ice…it just doesn’t get any better than this.  All the lobster a girl could eat, plenty to share,  and it would require NO WORK at all.  Just decide what to make,  and enjoy!

I put all the goodies into the refrigerator to thaw out.   At suppertime I took out the lobster and put the bag into a huge bowl of cold water.  It took just a few minutes for the meat (all knuckles and claws)  to be ready to use.   I followed the instructions that came in the package; rinsed the meat and then transferred it to a handy OXO box.  I couldn’t believe how much meat came out of that bag!  It takes 6-7 lobsters to yield that much meat!

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I chopped up some celery,  chives from my garden,  added a couple of tablespoons of  Best Foods mayonnaise (same as Hellman’s back east),  and drizzled some lemon juice from our lemon tree into the bowl.  Then I mixed in some of the lobster pieces that I cut into bite-sized pieces.

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Chopped celery, chives, mayonnaise, lemon juice and lobster for the filling

 

There was plenty of lobster…no scrimping here!  I used about a third of the package to make enough lobster salad for four heaping lobster rolls.  (As much as we miss our kids,  living in an empty nest does have it’s perks once in a while!)

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It’s VERY  important to grill the hot dog buns on the outside in butter. Real butter.  (I use Kerrygold.)   Do not attempt to put homemade lobster salad into anything less than a butter-grilled bun.

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Place a nice big piece of lettuce leaf inside the roll to protect the soft bread from the moist salad.  Now is the time to lay perfect slices of avocado on top of that lettuce leaf.  These are Reed avocados…they’re in peak season right now.  Never tasted a Reed?   Here’s a photo…and you can read more about them here.   They are the creamiest avocado you’ll ever eat.

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Pile that beautiful lobster salad generously on top of the avocado and lettuce.   I like to eat mine with a fork…first the lobster and avocado…then the lettuce with the last of the delicious lobster salad dressing….and finally that soft, fresh hot dog bun grilled in butter.   One trick:  eat the lobster salad off the top and then refill the bun.   Only in your own home can you do this!

Since I still have some lobster in the fridge (can’t believe I’m saying that:  “lobster in the fridge!”)  I decided to make Lobster-Avocado Toast for breakfast this morning.   Joe, you have spoiled me rotten.

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  If you want some lobster in YOUR fridge,  just visit Joe’s site http://www.lobsteranywhere.com and get the frozen lobster meat.   He has some really imaginative gift packages there too…what a wonderful idea to send a lobster gift AND a gift box of avocados from CaliforniaAvocadosDirect.com!

I can’t wait to order some more lobster…and that clam chowder was out-of-this-world too.  Such sweet and tender clams, and sooo creamy!   I’ll go on record right now: if anyone wants to send me a present for birthday or holidays,  Joe’s lobster is definitely on my wish list!

I still have some lobster left…what shall I make next?

DISCLOSURE:  I was not paid to write this post.  I wasn’t even asked to write this post. I just wanted to write it because I love the lobster  THAT MUCH and it was so nice of Joe to contact me out of the blue and offer me a gift.   All opinions are my own.  I wouldn’t tell you I liked something if I didn’t really like it.   By the way, I just sent Joe a box of avocados to try.  Hope he likes them!

Oh yeah,  I linked to OXO because they gave me the handy box at a blogger conference called “The Big Traveling Potluck”.   And Kerrygold sometimes gives me cheese but I bought the butter for the lobster rolls.

August 3, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
3 Comments

Savory Breakfast Muffins Recipe

savory breakfast muffins

This morning I made muffins…but not sweet cupcake-like muffins…these are savory muffins with bacon, zucchini and carrots….plus extra sharp cheddar cheese!  The Farmer gave them a thumbs up!

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These little savory muffins are like miniature omelets, Continue Reading →

August 2, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
4 Comments

Rain in August? Avocados Love It!

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I’ve been writing posts about the farm tour with California Farm Water Coalition this weekend.    Did you see the one about the peaches?  And the one about Hudson Fruit Stand?  After all this talk about the severe drought in California,  we were astounded when it started raining on a Sunday afternoon in August!  Not just a few drops…but real, honest-to-goodness rain!

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There isn’t enough rain to measure in the rain gauges…but we have had a wonderful afternoon sitting outside Continue Reading →

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July 31, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
1 Comment

Meet Liz Hudson of Hudson Farms in Sanger, Ca.

 

 

Liz Hudson's Peach Cobbler

Part 2 of Food Bloggers’ Farm Tour with California Farm Water Coalition

A few weeks ago I was invited to a  farm tour of the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno, California sponsored by the California Farm Water Coalition.     If you missed all the peaches in  Part 1 of the tour, we’ll wait for you to catch up.   Read about our morning at Wawona Farms and The Peach Tree Farm Stand here.    After a delicious lunch at a local restaurant featuring fresh local produce,  our group of food bloggers  headed south to Hudson Farms Farm Stand in Sanger, California.

California Farm Water Coalition Farm Tour 2014

Natalie and Sue (top right)
Puja and Jackie (bottom right)

Driving southeast from Fresno, our hosts Clare Foley and Brandon Souza of California Farm Water Coalition pointed out various crops  as we passed acres of farm fields.   Some of the fields were lush and green while others were dry and brown.  We learned that water availability to farms has been restricted due to years of drought in California.   Without snow and rain during the winter months,  there is no way to recharge the water supply.   Water that was promised to farmers and  has been available for agriculture in the past has been allocated instead to cities due to population growth,  and also to  restore habitats or protect fish species.  Sometimes water has been discharged into the ocean instead of being stored for critical human use, without any proof that it is improving the habitat for native fish.  As a result,  many family farms are in jeopardy and agricultural regions of  the state are experiencing unprecedented loss of employment.

California water supply facts

Hudson Farms Fruit Stand

If you are traveling in the Fresno area, be sure to stop by Hudson Farms Fruit Stand, 4300 South Academy in Sanger, and enjoy a visit with Liz Hudson.  She is a one-woman encyclopedia when it comes to all things agriculture.  Liz and her husband Earl come from long family legacies of farming,  and are currently  operating a 5th and 6th generation farm.  It’s no wonder that she is such a fascinating person to meet, as she spent 30 years in agricultural public relations and communications, and serves on numerous boards related to the ag industry.

You will find Liz tending a huge garden behind the farm stand,  greeting customers with tastes of delicious fruit,  relating stories about the latest adventures on the farm,  offering the recipe for her famous peach cobbler,  or encouraging a friend to try new combinations for fruit jams….just for starters!   Read more about Liz and her family’s activities here.

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When we arrived at the fruit stand we were invited to take a seat at the table where family members and neighbors regularly gather.  We tasted fresh fruit,  enjoyed homemade lemonade and devoured Liz’s famous peach cobbler.

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As we listened to Liz describe the farming operation,  we couldn’t help but notice all the materials she had collected regarding the   water supply in California.  Inspirational messages are written on white boards or displayed in frames…there is no shortage of optimism and hopefulness here.

Liz Hudson of Hudson Farms

Liz Hudson of Hudson Farms shares a bounty of fresh produce and knowledge.

Liz was eager to  show us her vegetable and flower garden behind the farm stand…”her passion.”  Brandon pointed out the  drip irrigation tape that can be recycled for other uses after it has done its job of delivering water directly to the roots of the plants.  The soil in California’s central valley is the best soil in the world for growing food…truly there is no better place on earth to produce the nutrients that people need.  Over the years farms have become more efficient, increasing production of food for our nation as well as other countries of the world while decreasing the amount of water needed to grow all that food.

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Even with amazing innovation and efficiencies,  farmers have been required to bear the heaviest restrictions in water availability in a seemingly unfair and unbalanced manner.   (Our own avocado farm has been affected for years by restrictions imposed on agriculture long before the general public was even told that a drought existed….but that’s a different story for another day.)   Sadly, those who are in the position to make the important decisions affecting  funding for additional storage and water availability are not always well informed about the history,  the science,  and the big-picture consequences of  allowing the world’s best food producing region to dry up.  Contrary to the daily news reports, the California drought is not all about the weather.  A winter with lots of snow and rain would certainly help the situation for some farms,  but the real  need is an integrated and balanced plan to restore the earth,  care for the animals,  provide for people in cities,  plan for landscaping,  and ensure that our important agricultural resources are respected and prioritized at the same time.

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Hudson Farms Fruit Stand offers fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers in season.  They also have homemade jams and other products made by local artisans.  By the time we loaded up the car to head back to the hotel,  we had fresh floral arrangements, special veggies to use in our recipes, and of course, more fruit!

Freedom-Jam-Collage-4You probably wish you could  have tasted that peach cobbler, don’t you?  And did you hear me say that Liz generously shares her recipes?  You can find the recipe for  Liz’s cobbler or try some of her other delicious creations here.   (look in the bottom left-hand corner of the webpage)

This was just the first day of our amazing tour sponsored by the California Farm Water Coalition.  Stay tuned for Part 3 when we travel to the west side of the San Joachin Valley…cantaloupes, vineyards, tomatoes and almonds.

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July 30, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
3 Comments

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. Continue Reading →

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