Spring is in the Air

Though it is still chilly, there is no lack of farm fresh fruits and veggies to choose from while we wait for the cherries, berries and other spring bounty.

Your Garden is in the “Grow Mode”

Flowering and deciduous trees need water (before and after) fertilizing and application of  nutrients as they bud out.  Plants need to have moist roots to access nutrients.  Continue reading

Italian Tour Guide Now Fan of Placerville

Anne Robichaud had a few days free during her U.S. cooking tour and dropped into Placerville recently. Lucky enough to have seen her kitchen prowess in Livermore a couple of years ago, she called me for a quick visit downtown. Every other exclamation was, “I love this town!” She prowled around the antique stores and Violet’s with fervor, had lunch at Heydey and heard all about the ghosts that might still haunt the Carey Hotel.AnneRatCareyHotelFull.jpg

One of Anne’s favorite things to talk about, research and taste is Olive Oil, of course, so Leslie at Winterhill gave Anne a “festival of tastes”, including the olive oil that won such International acclaim two years in a row, named “Shakespeare’s Acre”. This is a blend of 7 Tuscan varietal olives grown on the Winterhill farm in Placerville, CA.

Shakespeare’s Acre won the Silver Medal at the international competition in New York City and last year won the GOLD MEDAL!

California Olive Oil Council Certified Extra-Virgin (as all of Winterhill Olive Oils are) Shakespeare’s Acre tested out as having no negative attributes and comes in at a free fatty acid level of .2%.   This is far below the required level of .5% at California Olive Oil Council. The lower the free fatty acid level, the higher the antioxidant levels.AnneRinWinterhillFull.JPG

A beautiful full bodied extra-virgin with multi layered flavors of green grass, fruit and earthy notes, it enhances all foods with increased flavor profiles and provides superior health benefits as well.

Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in Italy in the 1970’s, so rural life, people and Umbrian cuisine are “una passione” for her. Now a tour guide in central Italy for most of the year, Anne teaches Umbrian rural cuisine classes in private U.S. homes in Feb/Mar. See www.annesitaly.com.

Anne writes frequently of Umbrian and other feast days and celebrations, of visits to cities all over Italy’s culinary spectrum, often complete with recipes. Sign up at the Italian Notebook and/or join Anne’s Inside” Umbria tour in May!

Ancient Grains – Holy Moly!

And I thought I knew something about grains, flours, beans and seeds.

In looking through the “Breakfasts” cookbook Bob Moore autographed when he gave it to me, I found an A-Z tutorial: where grains’ names came from, and what they mean, if it is a grain, seed, grass, how old it is, how it was used, what nutritious powers it has, and other recommendations.   This cookbook has 100 healthy whole-grain recipes and is a brand-new addition to Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods library of resources.   Many of the recipes are gluten-free and include options, tips, and other useful information at www.bobsredmill.com/recipes.

What does “steel cut” mean, if Bob’s Red Mill is so famous for “stone-ground” grains?

Once harvested, oats are transformed into a wide variety of products.  The whole kernels (toasted and hulled after harvest) are oat groats (whole oats).  Chopped into tiny pieces, groats become steel-cut oats (Irish or pinhead oatmeal).  When stone-ground into coarse bits, groats are called Scotch oats or Scottish oatmeal.  Or, the groats might be “rolled” or “flattened” as in the cases of rolled oats or quick-cooking oats.  Bob’s Red Mill offers 5 Gluten-Free Oat products, and 10 additional oat products.


Oats are highly susceptible to contact with gluten-containing grains during planting, harvest, transport and milling.  Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free, dedicated buildings isolate the products and store them in dedicated silos.  Each shipment is tested throughout the process to ensure that their purity meets rigid international gluten free standards.

Introduce yourself to whole grains with Vanilla Coconut Pound Cake

There they all are, in most grocery stores, outlets and health food stores. Bob’s Red Mill bags of 100% organic flours, beans, peas and grains have his smiling face and message “To Your Good Health” on the front. Each bag describes the specifics of the product (usually only ONE ingredient, unprocessed of course), nutrition, tips, and how to use it with easy to follow recipes. More recipes can be obtained by calling the company. They sent me tons of individual gluten-free recipes when I was catering, using their products, and they answered any question I posed on the phone. The company has over 400 products! Little did I know how many cookbooks they had for sale! I have them now, and you will see lots of easy, healthy-eating right here.




1 cup Bob’s Red Mill (BRM)  Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup BRM Organic Coconut Flour
1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup Coconut Oil
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
12 oz Vanilla or Plain Coconut Yogurt

Preheat oven to 350º.  Spray a 9×5 in. loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Sift together flours, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Cream sugar and coconut oil until well blended.  Add eggs, and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Add dry ingredients, alternating with yogurt until combined.  Pour into pan, smooth top and bake until lightly golden and a pick comes out clean, about 40-50 mins.  Cool completely.

The Short Story About Bob


Bob Moore, CEO and President of Bob’s Red Mill, Milwaukie, Oregon, has been featured in national magazines, TV and Radio networks, and interviewed by one notable writer after another.  ABC World News probably started the avalanche of media coverage when he announced the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) for multi-million dollar Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods to become an employee-owned company.   “People before Profits”, by Ken Koopman, (Inkwaterpress.com) details his amazing, inspiring life story and clearly illustrates how he lived, why he thinks the way he does, what he does in the face of devastating adversity and how he became the generous philanthropist he is today.

When I asked for an interview for yet another national magazine, did this CEO and President of a billion dollar manufacturing company brush me off, refuse to answer my call or tell me he had been there, done that?  Nope.  He put aside some time during the week I specified and, as he does to his many employees when they appear outside his door, and said to “come on in”.  Bob is more than friendly.  He is a compassionate person, anxious for all to know about his humble beginnings and the lessons learned along the way.  He wants the American kitchen to know what he knows about life, how to treat people, and the importance of a healthy diet that includes whole grains.  Not because he is one of the few manufacturers world wide who has perfected the natural stone ground process of farm to table grains and how they are sold, but because he is passionate about people realizing better health and wellness through a healthy diet and lifestyle.


I wanted his direct words, and he was not bashful about reiterating what has been his philosophy and motivation to make and sell whole grains —

Bob insists that whole grains done the old fashioned way provide the very nutrients that keep the human gut happy, and thereby, the whole body healthier, warding off the unbelievable number of conditions and diseases that plague us today.     The grains, when processed in this natural way, possess the PREbiotics necessary to feed the probiotics already in the intestines, hungry for healthy food to stay prolific and keep our digestion and immune system happy.   Many manufactured, store bought probiotics and prebiotics don’t often make it to the digestion area where they do the most good.  Nor do they provide the more natural fermentation process that whole grains offer and that healthy digestion requires. “It all starts there,” Bob says. “People don’t realize that their health problems, whatever they are, start in the gut.”

Oregon Truffle Festival 2016

“My objective with this blog is to provide readers with fun, informative tours around the world of farm fresh food, who creates it for us, why it is healthy to eat, how to best use it and where to find it.  Not an all encompassing view, just a journal of my travels to share.”  Betty Albert, Naturopath/Certified Nutritionist  www.greenchefpress.com

2016 Oregon Truffle Festival Celebrates International and Award Winning Portland Chefs, Food Producers, Vintners, Beer Craftsmen and Authors

All three weekends in January of the 11th Annual Truffle Festival in three Oregon locations featured an all star lineup and a bounty of local, national and international chef talent showcasing truffle tasting events, gourmet gala dinners, hands-on classes and of course, the truffle hunt and dog training seminars.

The Oregon Truffle Festival is North America’s premier event for truffle appreciation and education. Held every January, the festival attracts thousands of culinary tourists, growers, dog trainers, scientists, and media from all over the globe. The event was founded in 2006 by renowned mycologist Dr. Charles K. LeFevre and his wife, Leslie Scott. Today, the team is rounded out with culinary director Charles Ruff, who has been a part of the festival since its inception. This dynamic and participatory truffle festival continues to innovate as it stays ahead of the industry growing around it. More info can be found at oregontrufflefestival.com or on Oregon Truffle Festival’s Facebook page.IMG_0179IMG_0182

Attendees with their dogs dotted the lobby of the Eugene Hilton during the last day of the festival.   Several ticket holders of the hunt boasted a bounty of white truffle finds and called the festival “very satisfying all around”.   The Fall rains usually bring maturing truffles closer to ground surface, but this year Oregon experienced a dry fall, hence the truffles have become more accessible in a current  very wet winter. The truffle season continues through June, however more recently, hunters are finding it difficult to forage. Some of the best truffle territory is on privately-owned tree farms in the coast range. Last year the Oregon Board of Forestry began to require permits from truffle hunters and most of the large timber companies don’t offer permits for this activity or any mushrooms.

Portland’s latest wave of food and beverage authors were featured at the festival’s closing event, The Eugene Fresh Truffle Marketplace on Sunday, Jan. 31st alongside local vendors selling fresh Oregon truffles, regional wines, and artisan foods. Elias Cairo (Olympia Provisions, Portland), Christian DeBenedetti (Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery Founder and celebrated beer author) and Mark Bitterman (The Meadow) spoke, presented recent publications and lead a series of cooking and cocktail demonstrations.

The ballrooms at the Eugene Hilton were filled with  Marketplace vendors, each telling their story, giving samples, and offering education as well as their artisan products.  Infused with truffle bits and/or aroma, or booze or beer, every imaginable type of food was present including baked goods, chocolate, sauces, cheeses, oils, and as usual, even ice cream.  Truffle oil is never to be used to cook with, but as a finishing touch, and John Newman, the chef from Newman’s at 988 in Cannon Beach was showing off his recipe of pasta with foie gras, marsala sauce truffle oil and shavings.IMG_0194IMG_0196

In cooking, black truffles are used to refine the taste of meat, fish, soups, pasta and risotto. Unlike white truffles, the aroma of black truffles does not diminish when they are heated, but becomes more intense.

With a price of about 1,000 to 2,000 euros per kilogram ($200-$400/lb.), black truffles are the second most expensive truffles after white truffles, and one of the most sought after edible mushrooms in the world. The black truffle or black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum), the second-most commercially valuable species, is named after the Périgord region in France and grows with oak and hazelnut trees. Black truffles are harvested in late autumn and winter. IMG_0185IMG_0181

In December 2014, a White Alba’s Truffle weighing in at 4.16 pounds or 1.89 kilos was unearthed in the Umbrian region of Italy by the Balestra Family of Sabatino. It was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York. While some had expected it to sell for $1 million, it was sold for $61,000 to a Taiwanese buyer.

The natural habitat of the black truffle includes various regions in Spain, France and Italy. The tradition of their cultivation, search and use goes back more than 200 years. Black truffles are now also cultivated in Australia, New Zealand, Chile and North America. Cultivation involves planting of certain tree species whose roots are inoculated with truffle mycelium or mycorrhizal. The first fruiting bodies can be harvested about four to ten years after planting  the trees.IMG_0177

There are three natural and/or cultivated varieties of  truffles in the Pacific Northwest:  white, black and French Perigord, according to mycologist Dr. LeFevre.  They grow under the Douglas fir, he said, and much research has gone into bringing them to market.  A demo at the Marketplace by Dr LeFevre illustrated an inoculation procedure to bring the truffle mycelium into roots of a tree seedling.  These trees are then sold, Dr. LeFevre related, to local growers and others.  It is rumored that even in El Dorado County an orchard grower has obtained trees, but beyond that, information is a sworn secret.