Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!

Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!
peel, eat, repeat

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010......what? Holy cow, what happened to the millenium that just happened?

New Year, new beginnings, lot’s of resolution and strength the first few days or weeks anyway but as sparkling clean January rolls into hearts and chocolates February, life returns to normal turning ambition as cold as the frost on the fences and roofs. Good news is keeping nutrition mojo flying high is easier than ever for savvy local shoppers. Score exercise as well as the best produce going at your seasonal farmers market. My preference is in Walnut Creek on Saturday at Kaiser Shadelands from 9 to 1. Convenient time and day to get what I need for weekend entertaining or stocking up for the following week with tons of close parking to dash in and out when it’s raining. Developing the of habit of shopping farmers markets has benefits ranging beyond getting the best tasting, freshest produce you can buy. When you pull yourself out of that warm bed, you are inadvertently lengthening your day making it easier to get all those weekend projects started and finished while making it to all those games.

By mid February the gym is not as crowded, my gym anyway, allowing a quick cup of morning tea before flying off to claim my square on the padded floor and the e-mails I receive for vegetable recipes slack off considerably.
One of my resolutions this year is to work a little harder at keeping the interest up in the buying, cooking and consuming, of fruits and vegetables.

Studies continuously show that eating a diet containing lots of plant based foods helps with health problems across the board as well as maintaining good health and energy levels.
With all that energy you garner taking up a walking program or gym routine you tone up not only your muscles, but your mind, heart and lungs as well. Within a week or two, your legs and arms take on this toned, firm feeling when you or someone else rubs them, feeling your long lost muscles asserting themselves, reflecting brighter eyes and clearer skin gazing back at you from your mirror in the morning.
New feelings of sparkle and energy will draw you to new interests, or possibly new interests to you as well. Perhaps you’ll be extending your walk to a hike in the hills or possibly a run. Maybe a long term fitness goal like a cancer walk or run is in the future. Exhilarating bike rides with a great farmers’ market snack break on a blanket somewhere semi private with a beneficial friend or loved one is definitely a positive side effect. The possibilities are truly endless. Did I mention the effects of a healthier you on your sex life? Mmmm, have I gotten the wheels turning, maybe squeaking just a bit??

Make the time. You and your family will appreciate it. They say that it only takes 30 days to make or break a routine.

Bottom line is that it is not a month long thing. It is a life change and gradually it will become of part of you, making you, your family and the planet happier adding a spring to your step and a swagger to the flip of your shiny hair.
Wow, all this from seasonal, local vegetables and a walk? Where do I sign up.....

This is a lovely, incredibly sexy salad that showcases amazing winter citrus with equally amazing winter beets. Feel free to choose yellow or golden beets, Chioggia or wonderful old red. A combo is stellar. Serve salad with nice crusty bread as a foil for the goat cheese in the salad. Rub a little beet juice on lips for an irresistibly tasty, kissable mouth.

Roasted Beet and Orange Salad
4 medium sized beets
1 Cara Cara orange
1 blood orange
1 navel orange
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
¼ cup crumbled chevre or feta
3 cups assorted salad greens
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash beets and remove stem end and root tail. Rub with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in baking dish, cover and roast at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour until beets are easily pierced with a knife. Let cool until you can easily handle them. Peel, quarter and slice the quarters about ¼ inch thick.
Peel and slice the oranges. Place greens in a bowl. Toss in the beets, oranges and goat cheese. Drizzle remaining olive oil and rice vinegar over. Season with salt and pepper and gently toss to mix all.
Serves 4.

Winter Squash, Root Vegetable, Lentil and Brown Rice Pilaf
This is a great side dish served alongside poultry, fish or meat but is also a fantastic vegetarian main course served with a nice winter greens or cabbage salad.
3 cups cubed winter squash
3 cups cubed root vegetables
1 cup cooked lentils
1 cup cooked brown basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock
¼ chopped fresh herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté vegetables in olive oil until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add lentils, rice and vegetable stock and simmer for about 10 minutes until stock is cooked into the vegetables, lentils and rice. Add chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper. Serves 6.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A sad day

From the very first moment my eyes connected with hers, it was love at first sight. She was a scrappy little thing, unimaginably angry with the world for brutally taking her mother and siblings away from her at birth. We found Camille at 4 weeks of age in the pound and aptly named her after the latest hurricane. An astoundingly sweet Calico, with bright blue eyes and the cutest pink nose, always twitching with curiosity, Camille was up to any mischief but too smart and sassy to ever get caught in the act.

Jumping into trees to eat bird’s dang near every week of her life, I always was horrified by that, yet to keep her inside was to see a cat in agony. Our house has been pest and rodent free for 19 years.
Camille was laid to rest today with my son and I sobbing uncontrollably as I still am, as I sorrowfully pen her obituary. She is buried in a place of honor, next to Roscoe, the first love of my life and Eddie our amazing guinea pig we lost a few years ago, in the backyard orchard.

Most comforting, to me, is to have a treasured member of your family curled up in your bed at night, always at the ready to move, hopefully to get some food, as you do. Unfortunately the good comes along with the sorrow. My Dad pointed out to me years ago as well as just the other day, animals, loved pets, do not live as long as humans. I pointed this out to Luke just a few minutes ago. Comfort is not found so early in the mourning of our sweet Camille, but it will be sooner than later.

We have our current three year old hurricane, Katrina, roaming around crying. She did not have to travel to the vet with us to know what the heck is going on around here. I could tell something was off with her when I woke up this morning. She knew, she knew her mother and best friend was going to leave her today.

Our beautiful, independent, sweet, soul sister Camille, we love you and will never forget you. Let any wily feline try, excepting Katrina, to come close to filling your pristine white socks. It is a long shot my darling girl. It is a long one.

Camille the amazing 19 year old calico we were beyond fortunate to share a life with. You will be missed. Gone but not forgotten.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hot Off the Presses and if I can figure out how to add the graphics......

"... Hardscratch Press of Walnut Creek, a small publishing house known for its fine-crafted books ..." ― The Independent (Livermore, Calif.)
... and, to celebrate our 20th year, a fine-crafted calendar (and a great gift)!
A fifteen-month guide to what's seasonally fresh and locally grownat Bay Area farmers markets, with simple, sensuous recipes by Lesley Stiles, and delicious watercolor art by David Johnson.ISBN: 978-0-9789979-6-0.10¾x16½ inches, on fine acid-free,100% post-consumer-waste recycledpaper. $17.50 (incl. Calif. sales tax). For sale at Shadelands and Moragafarmers markets in December, or we will mail ($2.50 for priority mailper calendar) to as many addresses as you request. Also available unbound, for framing.Lesley Stiles runs a catering business in Pleasant Hill, Calif., and promotes sustainable and healthy food sources. She provides cooking demonstrations at Bay Area farmers markets and helps schools start gardening programs, in addition to writing the food blog, “Do you know where your food came from?” ( Hardscratch Press designer David Johnson’s illustrations of produce and other subjects appear regularly in the Contra Costa Times. Versions of many of the recipes and paintings in The Farmers Market Lover’s Calendar, 2010, previously appeared in the Times as the Produce Pro.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Farmers Market Lovers Calendar is here!! 15 months of amazing, mouth watering water colors of fruits and vegetables by Dave Johnson along with tantalizingly sexy recipes and suggestions by yours truly. Available at Diablo Valley Farmers Market Saturday from 9 to 1 in the Shadelands Kaiser parking lot or at the Moraga Farmers Market on Sunday from 9 to 1 in the Moraga Shopping Center complex. We will be selling in these markets through December. You can also get them at or e-mail me and I will get one out to you. They are $17.50. A perfect hostess gift or perhaps for your special fruit and veggie lover friends for under $20.00.

Made Shepard's Pie the other night and Luke asked me if I could make it every night. He liked it. I told my new friend Spencer I would put it up here because he is a cooking man with 3 teenage sons and so here it is. I tried to keep it as healthy as possible without a lot of fat and loaded with veggies without the boy catching on. It worked. Hope it works for you.

Shephard’s Pie, My Way
½ pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 bunch kale, chopped fine
1 ½ cups chicken stock
½ cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon flour stirred into ¼ cup cold chicken stock
3 to 4 potatoes cut up
½ head cauliflower, cut up
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup grated Reggiano parmesana
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to *425 and spray or grease a large, deep baking dish. Heat sauté pan and add olive oil. Heat olive oil and add turkey, onions and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes until browned. Add carrots and kale and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add stock and tomato sauce and cook 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile boil the potatoes and cauliflower in water until soft. Mash with milk and butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the meat mixture into a sprayed or greased baking dish and top with mashed potato and cauliflower mixture. Top with grated cheese and bake 2o minutes until bubbly and lightly browned. Serves 4 to 6.

As we wade ever deeper into holiday territory I actually am feeling pretty good about the whole thing this year. I have embraced my anti consumerism rant and am trying to not be quite so affected by the mass of humanity waging price wars as well as territory wars over cheap bullshit that sweet little people in other countries spread across the planet probably were hurt in some way to produce. I have noticed that there are a few alternatives to plastic electronic shit like buying a goat or cow for someone in a poor village somewhere. That is a good one. You can buy your loved ones carbon off sets or home owners edition wind machines too. There is always good stuff at the farmers market (besides our amazing calendar) like olive oil, jams, fresh nuts, like those, fruits, you know the drill. Everyone I gift is getting a home made garam masala spice mixture in a recycled jar with a recycled ribbon and a recipe for using said spice on a piece of paper made from 100% recycled materials. Ho, ho, ho. Poor Lucas.

Steph and I went hiking in Briones the other morning and it was incredible to be walking on our own ridge in snow! Green shoots of new grass peeking up everywhere and then these hill sides sprinkled with snow. What a beautiful contrast. That snow business was fun. Cold but pretty awesome.

Lots of sweet varieties of great citrus at the market waiting to be tried, kiwi, greens...mmmm
Happy Holidays!