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Archive for February, 2012

Lemon Pie





430 ml (1¾ cups) flour
2.5 ml (½ tsp) salt
45 ml (3 tbsp) sugar
125 ml (½ cup) cold, unsalted butter, in chunks
30 ml (2 tbsp) cold vegetable shortening, in chunks
Ice water, as required
4 washed lemons, juiced and zest grated
180 ml (¾ cup) sugar
15 ml (1 tbsp) corn starch
4 egg yolks
60 ml (4 tbsp) melted butter
Whipped cream, to taste



  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter and shortening and pulse on and off about 20 times or until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Add 60 ml (¼ cup) ice water and pulse to combine. Continue pulsing on and off until the dough begins to gather in a ball, adding a little more ice water, if necessary. Remove dough, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F.
  4. On a floured work surface, roll out dough and press into a 23 cm (9 inch) pie plate with removable bottom. Prick all over with a fork, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil and fill with dried peas or beans.
  5. Bake on lower rack of oven for 25 minutes. Remove aluminum and peas and set aside to cool.


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice and zest, sugar, corn starch, egg yolks and melted butter. Cook until thick and pour into the cooled pie crust.
  2. Bake on the lower rack for 20 minutes, remove from oven and cool at room temperature.

Limoncello Recipe



10 organic Sorrento lemons
1 (750mil) bottle 100 proof vodka or 1 bottle Everclear
5 cups distilled water
4 cups sugar

First wash and peel zest only, the white part makes the liquour bitter

***Using a serrated peeler makes an easier job of peeling***

*Place peels in a glass jar with tight lid. Store in a cool dark place for 40 days, the longer the better

*Make a simple syrup with the sugar and water -boil for 5 mins.-

*Let cool to room temperature and add to alcohol & peels

*Store again and let sit for at least a week and then strain through a paper coffee filter into a bottle

*Keep in freezer for use


It is wonderful as a palate cleanser or as an after dinner drink. 


Eco-Farm Conference February 1-4, 2012

After a whirlwind week of seminars, meetings and parties Eco-Farm 2012 has come and gone.  I last left you with my blog about the Eco-Farm Tour.  Thursday I hit the ground running at 8:30am with my first seminar National Organic Regulations where I learned about the National Organic Program(NOP) and their goal to insure organic integrity and protect the organic label.  

Next was the Global CSA Movement.  CSA’s are a great way to get a variety of fresh produce either delivered directly to your door or to pick up at a central location.  By purchasing produce from a CSA you are supporting local farmers while receiving produce fresh from the farm. CSA’s are called by many different names around the world and I listened to inspiring stories from farmers about the Participatory Guarantee System(PGS) in India,  Teikei in Japan and the AMAP in France.

We were lucky to have such amazing weather in Pacific Grove. As locals can attest, it can be foggy, cold and rainy during February.  I spent my lunch hour on the beach taking in some sun and watching the waves. Check out the Earl’s conference bag hanging from a bike on the beach.

Late afternoon the Extend the Harvest with Fermentation seminar was packed as we all squeezed into a tiny room to listen to Todd Champagne from Happy Girl Kitchen and Kathryn Lukas from Farmhouse Culture speak about kraut and pickling.  We explored the history and science of krauts, kimchis and pickles and even learned hands on how to make our own kraut at home. Yes, Todd is dressed as a pickle!

Thursday evening the gang from Earl’s had dinner at The C on the water front in Monterey followed by a party we co-hosted with Organically Grown Company, Alberts Source Organics and Heath and LeJeune.

Friday morning bright and early 3 Successful Organic Farmers spoke about what they do on their farms, why they do it and what they learned along the way.  Bob Cannard from Green String Farm in Petaluma, CA, a group from Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA and  Shinji Hashimoto from Ichijima Tanba city, Japan.

Midmorning I attended Keeping Organic Relevant where the discussion lead to the confusion between natural and organic in the consumers mind.  The term natural is not regulated and it doesn’t mean organic.  Consumers have an image that natural products are cheaper than organic and just as healthy for you. In fact organic products are often the same price as natural. Read your labels when shopping and check for the CCOF or USDA Organic  symbols. 

The final seminar of the day was the Farm Bill 2012 whose goal is to promote health and prevent hunger.  One topic discussed was that the term food stamp has a stigma attached to it and is no longer being used.  SNAP(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)  is the new name and more and more farmers markets are accepting SNAP cards which is great.

Friday evening Earl hosted a dinner at Montrio Bistro in Monterey with vendors, business acquaintances and some of the Earl’s crew.  It was great to finally meet many of the people I work with and put a face to the name.

Saturday morning was the final day of the conference. Many of us attended one final seminar before heading back to the bay area. I went to the Farmer-Chef Relationship seminar, and as a food lover and home chef with an advertising background this was extremely interesting to me.  Tucker Taylor from French Laundry in Yountville, CA came from a banking background and decided he needed a career change.  While working on a farm in Atlanta, Tucker was introduced to Thomas Keller and moved out to California to start the French Laundry garden.  Cynthia Sandberg from Love Apple Farm in Santa Cruz started growing tomatoes for herself and now everything she grows is sold only to Manresa in Los Gatos, CA.

The 4 days I spent at Eco-Farm were truly inspirational and educational.  I heard directly from farmers around the world about the joys and frustrations of farming organically and it inspired me to buy a book about urban organic gardening.   To be in the company of over 1,500 people who all love food and care about the land as much as I do left me with a strong feeling of community. As I watched the closing ceremony on the beach I was already looking forward to the next Eco-Farm conference. 

Susan Simitz
Marketing Manager

Eco-Farm Tour 2012

Amigo Bob was one of the original founders of Eco-Farm 32 years ago and our tour leader.  Wearing shorts and a hat adorned with a ladybug and a ribbon trailing off the back he lead us on a tour of 3 farms and a vineyard, breaking down any confusing farm terms for those of us not farmers.

Fogline Farm

First stop was Fogline Farm in Soquel Village in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Johnny and Jeffrey share the land with Bruce Manildi, a third generation farmer. Fogline is a fully integrated organic farm with vegetables, fruit trees, pigs and chickens. They have 3 acres of vegetables and 20 acres of orchards. The pigs are slaughtered in Modesto, the closest slaughterhouse and then brought back to the farm to be made into sausages.

Fogline Farm Berkshire Pigs

They raise both broiler chickens and chickens for eggs.  Fogline also make added value products like salsas, hot sauces and jams to sell at local farmers markets along with the broiler chickens, eggs and sausages. Currently the only other way to try their amazing bounty is to sign up for their local CSA.

Our second stop was Yellow Wall Farm in Santa Cruz where Allen and Judy Hasty run a CCOFcertified microfarm.

Yellow Wall Farm

In 1998 they started selling only to family and friends. Now they have expanded to restaurants, New Leaf Community Markets and have a farm stand down the road. Neighbors can still buy their eggs and slip the money under the door.  They have 1 ½ acres of row crops and ½ acre of a fruit orchard with asian pears, plums and peaches. This was a major life change for both of them and they are loving it!

We stopped for lunch in a public park in Santa Cruz and had a gourmet lunch prepared by a chef from Outstanding In The Field Farm Tours. Organic apple juice, rabbit stew with savory cabbage, organic greens from Happy Boy Farms and a sweet apple crumble for dessert. It was a perfect sunny day to have a picnic in the park.

Next on the tour was UC Santa Cruz CASFS (The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems).  CASFS is a training program for aspiring farmers and anyone interested in farming. They offer a 6 month apprenticeship for 39 students each year. 2012 is already filled up and they recommend signing up now for 2013.  The students learn by doing and experimenting and the teaching manuals are available online. People come from all over the world to learn how to farm on the central coast of California with its unique Mediterranean climate.  CASFS sells 60% of what they grow to their CSA, 30% to local grocery stores and 10% at a food truck at the base of campus.


Bonny Doon Vineyard

Our final stop was The Bonny Doon Vineyard.  The winery and the tasting room are now located in Santa Cruz. They grow many bio dynamic white wines and are also experimenting in the San Juan Batista area with growing vegetables and new grape varieties from seeds instead of the standard grafting procedure.  It will be interesting to see how their new experiments turn out.

The day was fun filled and educational for someone like me who has no farming background.  I now have a better understanding and appreciation about the intense work and care farmers put into growing their food and raising their animals to feed us.

Susan Simitz
Marketing Manager


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