california

Sun Mountain Farm (Apple Hill, CA)

AppleHillI am so ready for fall.  The summer has been lingering on for way too long and I have just about had it with the endless over 100 degree days.  One of the earliest signs of fall is when Apple Hill, located just outside Sacramento, opens to the public every year on Labor Day weekend.  Crowds of city-dwellers shed their shorts and swimsuit coverups and get dressed for a day in Apple Hill with plaid shirts, cutoff jeans and boots in a desperate attempt to get fall to make even the slightest appearance.

This weekend was actually semi-cool, meaning 86 degrees so at least some departure from the oppressive heat we have been experiencing for way too long.  We decided to really try to indulge in some cool weather by getting a really early start and meeting friends in Apple Hill at 9:30 am in the morning.  One of the best farms to get a really early start and get the full fall experience is Sun Mountain Farm, a you-pick apple farm that has been a repeat visit destination for us for years.  With friendly owners, a picnic table area and acres of apples it’s a fun adventure for anyone looking to pick their own apples and get a real farm experience.Sun Mountain FarmSun Mountain Farm is a small family farm producing many varieties of apples, blueberries and wine grapes that have been enjoyed in award winning wines from El Dorado County.  Apple varieties at the farm include Fuji, Gala, Cameo, Mutsu, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith and varieties rotate as they ripen throughout the season.  This year has been a particularly early season so apple picking started two weeks ago and should continue for the season through October.  Growing practices on the farm are personally managed with strict attention to sustainable agricultural methods and underlying scientific principles and the apples even though are not certified organic, are grown with limited chemical intervention.AppleHill9Apple you-pick is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm weekends through apple season and during the week by appointment.  Definitely call the farm ahead to ensure apples are available for picking as they do get picked over as the season gets busier.  Apples are $1 lb. and bags are sold by the $5 or $10 size and you pre-pay prior to picking.  Bring cash since the farm does not accept credit cards.AppleHill3AppleHill4AppleHill6 AppleHill11AppleHill12Sun Mountain Farm is located at 3000 N Canyon Rd in Camino, CA and can be reached by phone at 530-621-3740.  There is no running water available to guests and one outhouse restroom is available.  Parking is in a dirt lot on the edge of the farm.

For more information on Apple Hill farms visit the Apple Hill Growers Association.

May in California. Tot Friendly Food Festivals and Events.

Sacramento Area

Galt Strawberry Festival

May 21-22
Galt, CA
The Festival has become a destination throughout Northern California and the pride of Galt. The event includes food booths, a car show and carnival.
www.galtchamber.com

A Day on the Farm

May 15
Soil Born Farm, Rancho Cordova, CA
Purchase fresh from the field, organically grown vegetables & fruit at the event and participate in cooking classes and workshops, farm tours and more.
www.soilborn.org

Sacramento County Fair

May 26-30
Sacramento, CA
The Sacramento County Fair is a family-friendly event with all the amenities of a traditional communal expo along with modern day entertainment. A livestock barn with auctions, freestyle motocross demo, carnival rides, demolition derby, buzzworthy local bands and bull riding events take place over the course of five days.
http://www.sacfair.com/

Bay Area and Beyond

Oakdale Chocolate Festival

May 21-22, 2016
Oakdale, California
IChocolate samples and items for purchase on Chocolate Avenue. 200+ Quality and variety vendors in Arts & Crafts, Chocolate Avenue a variety of food and Specialty Merchandise & Services. Amusement Park, Classic Car Show, and Western Show. Entertainment on: Chocolate Challenge Stage, Cowboy Cook’n Stage, and Main Stage.
https://www.oakdalechamber.com/

El Dorado Wines Passport Weekend. (Northern CA)

EL Dorado Wineries

This winter we had so much fun during our Instagram Takeover of the El Dorado Winery Association and you might have seen some of our photography featured on their social media sites. So this weekend we are headed back up to El Dorado Wine Country for Passport Weekend.

El Dorado Passport 2016 is more than just wine-tasting. In the 25th year, it has become widely known as a weekend dedicated to exploration, hands-on education, and celebrating one of the most beautiful areas in the Northern-California region.

It’s your passport to a weekend full of adventure. It’s your ticket to freely roam through the Sierra Foothills. It’s a time dedicated to engaging with all things local: landmarks, attractions, hot spots, amazing food, and most of all, locally-produced wine from award winning wineries.

Purchase your tickets, pick a starting winery, and off you go on a self-guided adventure through El Dorado Wine Country.

Tickets are available online until tonight. Tickets can also be purchased during the weekend at Skinner and Madrona Vineyards.

The wineries are open 11:00 am-5:00 pm this weekend, April 16-17 see you there!

Are you going to El Dorado Wine Country this weekend?  Tell us your itinerary we would love to hear more!

Want to see more of our last trip to El Dorado Wine Country? See our recap post of our adventures from our winter weekend away.

Farm Tots Weekend.

Pancakes and Strawberries

It’s been hot here in California this week and it got so nice yesterday we all took a quick icy dip in our pool for the first swimming day of the season. It didn’t last long, and now there are more storms headed our way. We are going to try to get out in between rain downpours this weekend to pick strawberries! Two of our favorite local organic strawberry farms opened this week and we have been waiting to get some of the juicy local berries for ourselves! I’m so ready to make strawberry jam and syrup. Two of my favorites! We got our outside furniture all set up last weekend so I even got to have breakfast out by the pool this morning. Pictured here. At least I got out while I could! Here is what we are obsessed with this weekend. What are you up to?

Want to know where to find local strawberries in the Sacramento area? Here is our guide from last year

Last year we were picking strawberries in March, this year the two local farms for picking organic strawberries are just opening this week

Since we are talking about strawberries we definitely are going to try these Strawberry and Vanilla pancakes

Why stop now let’s just say I’m packing some make ahead lunches with this Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Goat Cheese

We are trying to figure out how to escape some of our obligations on the weekends to attend some food festivals and family friendly events this month too

Farms and Farmstands To Visit March. (Northern, CA)

Davis Ranch

Farm season is starting and some farms and farmstands in Northern California are starting to open. Here is a list of some that we recommend.

  1. This list includes only farmstands that are open to the public and don’t require reservations.  Look for a list of farm visits by appointment in a future post.
  2. These are only farmstands that are open for business in March.
  3. We didn’t include produce stores, just traditional stands.
  4. In the next month or two this list is going to get much longer so stick with us.  For now, try to visit a  farmstand you haven’t tried yet.
  5. Some local farmstands don’t just feature their own produce, they source selections from around the state and beyond.  If you are trying to just eat organic or just local (or both) make sure to ask questions and choose carefully.  I still like buying my produce from a farmstand instead of a big grocery store, even if it’s not all local.

El Dorado County

Boa Vista Orchards (Farmstand)
Open Daily
2952 Carson Road
Placerville, CA
www.boavista.com

Placer County

Ikeda’s California Country Market (Produce Stand)
Open Daily
13500 Lincoln Way
Auburn, CA
www.ikedas.com

Otow Orchard (Farmstand)

Tue-Thu 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and Fri-Sun 10:00 am to 6:00 pm 6232 Eureka Road
Granite Bay, CA
www.otoworchard.com
Sacramento County
Davis Ranch (Farmstand)
Open Daily
13211 Jackson Road
Sloughhouse, CA
www.davisranchproduce.com

Kingbird Farms (Farmstand CSA)
Digital Farmstand, Order Between Monday-Thursday On Website, Pick Up Friday afternoon-Saturday
8869 Orr Road
Galt, CA
www.kingbirdfarms.com

Yolo County

Full Belly Farm (Farmstand)
Open Fridays from 2:00 pm-6:00 pm
16090 County Road 43
Guinida, CA
www.fullbellyfarm.com

Ikeda’s California Country Market (Produce Stand)
Open Daily
26295 Mace Blvd.
Davis, CA
www.ikedas.com

Loving Nature Farm (Farmstand CSA)
Open Daily
38883 Z Line Road
Clarksburg, CA
www.lovingnaturefarm.com

Pedrick Produce (Produce Stand)
6850 Sievers Road
Dixon, CA
no website

Yolo Fruit Stand (Produce Stand)
Open Daily
46710 County Road 32B
Davis, CA
no website

Don’t see your favorite farmstand on our list? It could be closed this time of year or maybe it slipped by us! Leave us a comment if you want to see a farmstand added to our list. We love hearing from you.

March in California. Tot Friendly Food Festivals and Events.

March is here! After a break over the winter we are back and it’s time to start planning for weekend tot friendly family activities. There aren’t many events yet, since weather is changeable this time of year, so make sure to plan early for the events that are happening in our area. If there isn’t any events that your family can attend make sure to get out and support your local farmer’s market or farmstand.

 

Sacramento and Surrounding Area

Davis Pig Day

March 5, 2016, 9:00 am-1:00 pm
Fourth and C streets in Davis, CA
Pig Day, celebrating all things pork at the Davis Farmer’s Market along with celebrating local agriculture, local farmers and local foods. Bring your appetites for individually priced items from vendors, including breakfast sammies (with bacon or pulled pork), pigs-in-a-blanket, pork fried rice with vegetables, pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, piggy pops (French bread on a stick shaped like a pig’s head), pig cookies and bacon-flavored “frozen confections.”
A petting zoo of piglets and other children’s activities will be on site, as well.
http://www.davisfarmersmarket.org

Soil Born Farms Early Spring Plant Sale

March 19, 2016, 9:00am – 01:30pm
Sacramento, CA
Fill your early spring garden with seasonal vegetables, flowers, medicinal and/ culinary herbs and edible perennials, including fruit trees.
www.soilbornfarms.com

Bay Area and Beyond

Petaluma Artisan Cheese Festival Cheese Tasting and Marketplace
March 20, 2016
Petaluma, CA
The last day of the Petaluma Artisan Cheese Festival and one the tots can participate in. A day under the big top for an afternoon like no other! Meet over 90 artisan producers and experience the best of local cheese, wine, beer, ciders and other specialty foods. Discover the next wave of interesting cheese accompaniments, cheesemaking products and books. Pick up new recipes, tips and tricks at chef demos scheduled throughout the day. Bring your pocketbook as there will be an opportunity to purchase your favorite cheeses and artisan products. Your ticket includes admission, access to chef demos and author book signings, the coveted Artisan Cheese Festival insulated cheese tote bag and a festival wine glass. $45 per person, $20 for kids 12 and under.
http://artisancheesefestival.com/

Free Redwood Parks Day. Redwood Parks in California (CA)

California's 49 Redwood State Parks Map

I can say with conviction that I am not a Black Friday shopper. I think the only Black Friday sale we indulged in was to buy a new dishwasher and it was not on Black Friday and was online not in a store. I am a firm supporter of not participating in any of the insanity associated with “the biggest shopping day of the year.” Don’t get me wrong. I love to shop. I crave deals. I just think that the Thanksgiving holiday is one that should be shared in a relaxing environment surrounded by family and friends.  I am all about this year’s new tradition, Free Redwood Parks Day. (more…)

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe (Carmel, CA)

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeMost of our fruits and vegetables are grown locally. We try to only use organic and local in our home cooking as much as possible. We do buy some of our produce at Costco or the grocery store and when we do we try to buy California grown organic products. One of our favorite brands is Earthbound Farms. We buy their salad mix and carrots when we can’t get to farmer’s market or the farmstand that week. I like that the brand is semi-local (less than 200 miles away) and is creating more organic farmland in our state every year. Earthbound Farms has over 50,000 acres of organic agriculture in their network of growers. On a small piece of that land sits the adorable Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe in Carmel, CA. This place is exactly what Carmel means to me, earthy bohemian and artistic California chic.

We travel to the Monterey and Carmel area often because my younger sister lives there and both my brother and sister went to boarding school there. For years we have been staying out our favorite hotel, The Hyatt Regency Monterey, and exploring all that the area has to offer. Because we travel so often we often stock our room with our own food and try to eat as clean as we can while we are there.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

A friend that also travels to the area often mentioned we should try the Earthbound Farm for lunch one day on a recent trip. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t been there before or even heard of it! I tried looking on Google and found it was difficult to even find the address and then found the Yelp page and we were on our way.

When we pulled into the parking lot I was instantly obsessed with this perfect local stop. Earthbound Farms started with a 2.5 acre organic raspberry farm just down the road from the current farmstand in 1984. The farmstand was opened 8 years later and then expanded to the farmstand and cafe in 2003. Earthbound Farms has brilliantly put a quaint authentic face on their large agriculture brand and allows locals to engage directly with the people who provide food to thousands of consumers around the country. By allowing people to see how the brand started and sample what they produce now families are able to interact directly with a company they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to know.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Cafe

The cafe was our first stop after finding our way into the farmstand building and we were hungry and ready for lunch. Led by Executive Chef, Sarah La Casse, the cafe offers organic menu choices that showcase Earthbound Farms produce and allows guests to understand her passion for fresh and flavorful food that utilize the palette of the fields right outside her kitchen. The cafe also serves as a creative venue for recipe tasting and sampling new food combinations. The menu board shows what is available and it is kept simple and straightforward. Every day there is a meat and vegetarian grilled panini for $8.95 that changes throughout the day, a market salad for $8.95 and choice of 2 soups, cup for $3.95 and bowl for $5.95. A salad bar offers all the Earthbound Farm specialties and big wood bowls for those that want to make their own at $8.99/lb. There is also a kids’ menu that includes organic grilled cheese on house made bread for $4.95 or peanut butter and jelly for $3.95. Organic and fair-trade coffee along with frozen yogurt completes the simple approach to dining menus.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

There are shaded tables just outside the farmstand main entrance and a larger group-dining area with picnic tables in a cooler open barn area. Sitting outside on the patio we were so entertained by the fields and gardens surrounding us we all relaxed and chatted for much longer than vacation lunches ususually last with a 3 and 5 year old. I ordered the kale and white bean soup with house-made French baguette slices, Ben got a sliced Italian meat panini and the tots each got grilled cheese sandwiches. We finished lunch off with organic chocolate frozen yogurt and made our way through the gardens that had been tempting us throughout our lunch. Everything we tried was perfectly prepared and didn’t leave us with that post-vacation regret.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Gardens

Walking through organic gardens after a nice meal might be my favorite afternoon activity with children. The Gardens include a kid’s garden, herb garden, berry patch, flower garden and more. Each are of the garden areas are accessed through gorgeous arbors and paths that make the whole experience more adventure than teaching. We were the only people in the gardens during our visit and our children could just run and explore without fear of bothering anyone or getting lost. We tasted raspberries right of the vine, admired flowers and learned about organic farming methods all while being immersed in a storybook like environment that each of us could appreciate.

The Gardens also play host to private and public events throughout the year. Posted events include educational days, craft days and more.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Market

We returned to the market after our garden tour to stock up on local fruit to have in our hotel room during our stay. Prices might be higher than other local farmstands only considering the location of the place in one of the highest rent areas of the state along with the ease of purchasing so much in one stop makes the prices realistic for a travel budget. Not to mention more affordable than dining in local restaurants. The market stays full year round of Earthbound Farms produce that is all organic and locally-produced. There is a refrigerated section that includes take-away deli selections perfect for easy hotel lunches and dinners. Bakery choices are available too along with gourmet specialty grocery selections and Earth-friendly gifts. Definitely where I am going to be buying souveniers from now on. A flower stand outside offers specatular organic flowers featuring what’s local and in season. We made off with overflowing baskets of strawberries, blueberries and fat juicy peaches we demolished in the car before we even hit the main road. Having fruit and vegetables as snack options in our hotel room when we travel is one of my travel secrets and this place makes it easy and fun to do just that.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

Earthbound Farms Farmstand and Cafe is open 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily and is located at 7250 Carmel Valley Road Carmel, CA. The Farmstand and Cafe Facebook page is the best resource to view upcoming events and valuable information. A dirt parking lot and restrooms with running water are available to guests.

This is not a sponsored post and is a real review of a place we like.

Farm Tots Home Design. Kitchen Remodel.

When I chatted with a friend this summer about our ideas for updating our home over a glass of wine she looked at me with a wild look in her eyes and told me if I was considering a kitchen remodel I should pretty much forget it. Or start investing in barrels of alcohol. Or flee the country. I nervously laughed it off having one remodel under our belts, I thought she was exagerating or just trying to be funny.

We waited a year and lived with the kitchen the way we bought it. We told ourselves we needed to wait and figure out exactly what we wanted before we started any updating. So here we are. A year later. Regrouping and starting a full kitchen remodel. I am the general contractor, tiling hired gun and designer. We are brining in two sub contractors to demo and put in new cabinets and install new countertops. Everything else is on us. (more…)

August Tot Friendly Food Festivals

There are so many events going on this month we had to find our favorites to share with you. Our guide to August Tot Friendly Food Festivals only includes events that include activities for kids and have a child friendly environment. Get out and learn more about the foods that come from our area.

 

Sacramento and Surrounding Areas

Woodland Tomato Festival
Woodland, CA
August 8
8:00 am-2:00 pm
The event takes place on Main Street in Downtown Historic Woodland , this festival is known for its unique programming not found anywhere else. From Face Painting, to Heirloom Tomato Tasting and from tomato Salsa Competition with free samples open to the public, to the beloved Tommy Tomato mascot- this is the premiere Tomato Festival of Yolo County. Explore tomato country in Yolo County.
www.woodlandtomatofestival.com

Sacramento Banana Festival
Sacramento, CA
August 8 and 9
The Sacramento Banana Festival is an exciting two-day festival that kicks off with a 5k run/walk on Saturday. Enjoy your day filled with fun, food, exciting live entertainment, and exhibits. The event benefits the National Academic Youth Corps, which provides art and educational programs for over 15,000 youth and adults every year right here in Sacramento, as well as over a dozen other worthy local charities.
www.sacbananafestival.com

Soil Born Farms Tomato and Melon Jubilee and Fun On the Farm
Rancho Cordova, CA
August 8
A summer tradition at the farm stand. All the usual Saturday at the farm activites plus heirloom tomato and melon tastings, chef demos, live music by Millington Strings, preservation tips, farm tours, yoga and a free succulent class. The same day you can also join the fun and explore the American River Ranch: Meet the farm animals, dig in the garden soil, plant seedlings, make a farm fresh snack, create something special to take home. Pre registration is required for Fun on the Farm event.
www.soilborn.org

California Fig Fest
Fresno, CA
August 15
9:00 am-1:00 pm
Catch Bravo Network’s most beloved Italian Chef at our main stage! Fabio Viviani will be cooking up a delicious fig-inspired recipe in a LIVE cooking demonstration. With his contagious humor and wit, you will not want to miss this event. Be a part of a live audience as a production crew will be recording for new television show, Global Bites! Savor gourmet food samples from over 20 of California’s best executive chefs and restaurants. A collection of more than 50 vendors and sponsors will display and sell their fig-inspired (and other) items for all to enjoy. From fine-art, glass, pottery, cook books, culinary ware, jams, olive oils, fig trees, fresh figs and more! A true celebration of the California Fig Industry! Enjoy delicious fig-inspired favorites from six local food trucks.
www.CaliforniaFigs.com

Fairfield Tomato Festival
Fairfield, CA
August 15 and 16
Visit Tomato Alley where you can find hundreds of varieties of tomatoes, gourmet tomato products, and more waiting for you at the Fairfield Tomato Festival. A Salsa concert from 6 to 8:30pm will cap a day full of live entertainment, kids’ activities, a farmers market, a Film Festival (Attack of the Killer Tomato, of course), the West Coast Barbeque Championships, a Chili Cook-off, and more.
www.fairfieldmainstreet.com

Bay Area and Beyond

Gravenstein Apple Fair
Sebastopol, CA
August 8 and 9
Apple lovers from far and wide gather in Sebastopol, the Gravenstein Apple Capital of the World, to celebrate the crop with Gravenstein Apple Fair. Contests include apple peeling, apple juggling, candy apple eating, apple pie eating and apple pie baking contests, to name a few. Two days of exceptional musical talents on several stages. Wine tent, Microbrew Tent, Beer Wagon, Chef’s Tent, food tents, kids entertainment, and apples galore make this one of the healthiest festivals of the year in California. Drive along the Gravenstein Highway to arrive at the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair and you’ll pass by dozens of farms, many with roadside stands.
www.gravensteinapplefair.com