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

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hot off the presses the 2012 Farmers Market Lovers Calendar has arrived on newsstands everywhere. Well almost everywhere. I mean at least they are on the worldwide web at Once again Dave’s amazing watercolors of seasonal fruits and vegetables found at farmers markets and a few mouthwatering, provocative recipes for each month.
Locally they can be found at ORCHARD NURSERY & FLORIST 4010 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette, CA 94549 (925) 284-4474
At Orinda Books 276 Village Square , Orinda, CA 94563 Store (925) 254-7606 ...
The Gardener 1836 Fourth Street, Berkeley, California 94710
510.548.4545 | Fax 510.548.6357
Also at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley and Across the Way (Ace Hardware Moraga)
You can also find us bundled up selling them Saturdays at the Diablo Valley Farmers Market in the Kaiser Shadelands parking lot from 9or 10 am to 1 in Walnut Creek and at the Moraga Farmers Market on Sundays in the Moraga Commons parking lot from 9 or 10 to 1. If you are local, I will deliver in time for Christmas. Just e-mail me at
They make a great hostess gift for holiday parties under $20 and are great for the fruit and veggie farmers’ market gourmet cookin, art lovin peoples in your family.

Depending on your frame of mind, holiday season can either be a warm glow, uncontrolled baking and hugging time of the year or an overwhelming, anxiety producing, grumpy and depressing time of year. Pondering the frame of mind thing, perhaps the concept of “I’m the boss of me” and can decide how you want to navigate the tunnel of December. Two items of interest loom large in the 99%’s minds. Most notable, the expense and pressure of gift giving as well as taking the time to take care of ourselves while taking care of everyone else’s incredibly pressing needs at the same time.
Excellent strategies for maintaining a smile on your face and a strong, clear grip on your happy place this month are many and varied. Large quantities of the latest and greatest expensive gifts take a back seat in our family while the concept of community and generosity loom large. Having a family where the number 30 would be the quantity of my immediate family, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nephews, we only grow boys round here, and parents, we came up long ago with a fabulous plan for gifts. We go the old secret Santa route. You set the limit on price amongst yourselves. What evolved from this initial money saving strategy is what it is really all about, family and friends sharing quality time with each other. Our clan is so big that it takes hours to complete the process and by that end time we have had an amazing cooperative (key strategy word) dinner and an evening filled with love and laughs. No pressure, unless my rule about not bringing cheap wine counts.
If one polled all friends that gift each other during the holiday season the answer would be the same from dang near all. Don’t do it! I know everyone can’t make jam to give out to friends and teachers but everyone can come up with a card that wishes happy holidays to all and a nice line about how your family is giving to the community this year. This could be in the form of volunteering at the food bank, Monument Crisis Nursery, Christmas for Everyone, or sorting items at your church or school. It does not have to cost money, only a bit of your time. Crazy side effect of the give back: it is relaxing.
Banish the holiday binge victim living inside all of us with a strategy. That word again. Always take a food that you want to eat to a potluck or buffet party. Possibly a lusciously steaming pot of butternut squash soup, an amazing winter grain dish, seasonal roasted veggies or simply a big basket of Satsuma mandarins from the farmers market for people to grab. Flavored soda water is great to space out the wine creating an even happier person the next day. Eat something healthy and filling before you go if you are worried about party offerings and feel the power of preventing madness and anxiety and notice the sweet smile of satisfaction on your face knowing that you are indeed the boss of you.
As always, get out and walk or Zumba or Booty Boogie or Pilate or yoga or anything to get the heart pumping and blood flowing through your calm, beautiful, serene and peaceful body and mind. Let your love light shine out to everyone. Permeate those nooks and crannies with joy. Take an old person to lunch. Give the will work for food person a buck. Sing loud. Eat plenty of chocolate in nice forms. French kiss someone. Hug your teenager. Love you.

Butternut Squash and Herb Pasta
This is really quick and yummy pasta but you could also substitute quinoa, rice, faro or any other grain that you love. Feel free to add as many veggies as you like!

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
1 pound whole wheat or brown rice pasta
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Handful fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, oregano, basil
½ to ¾ cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup grated cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss squash with olive oil, salt and garlic and roast in a *400 oven for 20 minutes. Cook pasta in salted boiling water to al dente. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and add onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Toss cooked pasta, squash and stock in and mix until heated through. Add herbs and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cheese. Serves 4 to 6.

Persimmon Cookies
Fantastic for gift giving as they hold well layered w/ waxed paper or parchment in tins or plastic ware.
Makes 50 cookies

1 cup butter
¾ cup molasses sugar (from Trader Joes) or turbinado or brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
11/4 cup peeled and chopped persimmon (about 2 large or 3 small persimmons)
21/2 cups wheat flour
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons fresh ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped and toasted walnuts
1 cup raisins (the dried Thompson Seedless grapes from the Farmers’ Market are awesome)

Preheat oven to 350* and spray cookie sheets with canola oil or line with parchment paper.
Mix flour, salt, soda and spices together and set aside.
Combine butter and sugars and beat until smooth.
Add the egg and persimmon pulp and beat well.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
Add the raisins and nuts and mix until incorporated.
Drop by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
These cookies are cake like and will seem too soft but pull them out anyway as they will be nice and moist.

As avocados are featured this month on the 2011 calendar here are a couple of tantalizing cheesecakes containing avocado in them.
Avocado cheesecake with Walnut Crust
3/4 cup shelled walnuts
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seeds
2T melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 fully ripened avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut in pieces
Heat oven to 350°F. In food processor, pulse walnuts until finely ground. Add graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, anise seeds and salt; pulse just until combined. Add 2 tablespoons butter; pulse until ingredients are thoroughly combined and resemble wet sand. Press into bottom of an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Bake 20 minutes; cool completely.

In measuring cup or small bowl, combine gelatin with 2 tablespoons water; let stand for 5 minutes. In saucepan, combine milk, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla and lemon zest; bring to boil. Add gelatin; simmer until gelatin has completely dissolved, about 1 minute. In food processor, combine avocados and cream cheese. Pour hot milk mixture into processor; process until very smooth. Pour into baked crust; cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set. Remove side of pan; cut cheesecake into 10 slices. Serve with raspberry sauce, if desired.

Avocado Cheesecake
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Put almonds into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter, and pulse until just blended. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Set aside.

16 ounces of cream cheese
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 medium sized avocados
2 teaspoons of lime zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon rum
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a mixer combine cream cheese and sugar, and blend until smooth. Add eggs one at a time until they are incorporated into the batter.
Place avocados into a food processor, and pulse until they are smooth, add lime zest, lime juice, rum, and sour cream, and pulse until you have a uniform mixture, add the avocado mixture into the cream cheese, and mix well. Pour into spring form pan. Bake for 45 minutes, check to see if the cheesecake is set, it should still have a small jiggle in the middle when you bump the pan.
Remove from oven, and cool completely on a rack.