It's that time again. Cottage Food Day at the Fair is coming up on July 9th and we need 3 outstanding cottage food operators to participate. There will be a competition in the morning and a then time slots for the participants to sell their products through out the day. The sales opportunities are open first to the competition participants.
If you are interesting in participating please fill out the application HERE.
I will give you an update soon! Thank you all for your interest.
From the California State Fair Website:
Promote your small business and educate the public about California’s Cottage Food Industry by competing in a live snack-backing challenge at the California State Fair. Cottage Food Operators will prepare a single baked snack in front of a live fair audience in the Cooking Theater. The audience will decide the winner by popular vote
We have all had one of those days. I have had one of those quarters. Now with everyone on their feet we are looking forward to a great 2016. Here is a little insight into my life and business from my end of the year letter. Hopefully it will inform a little bit of why I have been so quiet for so long and what I am looking forward to in the coming year. Best wishes to you all for 2016!
"Whew! 2015 blew by. We had a strong year with over a 75% growth in sales by August, and in May we were awarded a small business development grant by Whole Foods Market. We utilized that money to make much needed updates to our packaging, and it also allowed for some experimentation with recipes- out of which came one of the most popular jam flavors of the year: Cantaloupe Lime Mint. I will be working hard this summer to come out with a full line of melon jams; keep an eye out for them at markets in the late summer and early fall.
Also this year Ben and Max snack sponsored the Sac Food Swap in partnership with the River City Marketplace. This is an opportunity for members of the community to come together and swap (no cash is exchanged) great foods that they make in their home. At our last swap there was all kinds of great food: jams, salsa, bread, etc. We look forward to continuing the food swap in 2016 and building an even better relationship with River City Marketplace, which is quickly becoming one of the preeminent maker's markets in the central valley.
At the end of 2015 we experienced a setback that is all too common for sole proprietors. We had two family medical emergencies in October: my mother broke her hip and my youngest son Teddy fractured his skull. Though everyone is on the mend and business is quickly returning to normal, this derailed all business activity until the last two weeks of December. While we had strong sales in our last few weeks of the year, we will have to spend some time rebuilding in the first quarter. This is also why many of you that I work with on a regular basis did not hear from me in the last quarter of the year.
We are all looking forward to growth in 2016. With markets, classes, media appearances and speaking engagements already booked, it is shaping up to be a banner year. It will also hold some much needed updates to the website to drive more sales and an increasing presence at markets and events around the central valley and bay area.
Owner Ben and Max Snacks
Max (5) and Ben (2) and Baby Teddy (1) too!"
Due to some extenuating circumstances I am going to keep this short and sweet!
You probably saw me making caramel apples on the news this morning, and yes they are as simple and delicious as they look. You can follow these directions to get killer from scratch caramel apples. Or this recipe for quick and tasty caramel apples. In either recipe I like to add a little fresh scraped vanilla bean to the caramel, makes it extra tasty.
Also I am participating my favorite market River City Market Place this upcoming weekend (October 10). We will be hosting the inaugural Sac Town Food Swap there, you can get more information for that here, if you would like to sign up to swap your tasty creations click here.
And as usual we will have a ton of great artists and vendors showcasing their wears. Here is a small list of the artists who participated in today's segment:
Tula in Bloom, check her out for unique one of a kind jewelry.
Wally's Whimsies, wood work for your kidlets
Drift Wood, beautiful up cycled wood pallet paintings
ABC Nursery and Home Decor, tags and signs for your home or nursery
The Bag Lady, lovely hand made bags
Peace, Love and Soy, amazing candles
Come to the market to find more amazing locally produced products. See you next Saturday for the swap and market!
If you are like me this summer has been a bountiful season filled with all kinds of amazingness. I am bursting at the seams with all kinds of amazing food I want to share. Join me for the first ever Sacramento Food Swap at Fremont Park October 10, 2015. We are looking forward to partnering with the River City Marketplace for this exciting new event.
If you would like to sign up for the event go to the Event Bright (you must sign up to participate)
If you have questions after you read the FAQ's email me
Here are some details about what a food swap is from The Food Swap Network:
How does the actual swap work? I’m still a little unclear how the whole “bid” process works.A “bid” is only a place to start when deciding who wants your stuff and who you might talk to first. As for the actual swapping, swappers will ideally have a look at their item’s sheet (which tells them who is interested and what they have to offer in exchange). The swapper will make their way over to the person they want to trade with and seal the deal. If a swapper doesn’t get as many offers as items they have to offer, then they can go around and just chat with people and see if they’re interested in trading. It always works out really nicely.
The order of offers on the sheet is arbitrary; you should go down the list according to what items you actually want, not who wrote their name down on your sheet first.
What do people usually bring?Anything that they’ve made or grown themselves. We’ve seen homemade bread loaves, empanadas, lavender infused vodka, duck eggs, marmalades and preserves, marshmallows, cookies, canned peaches, bundled fresh herbs, sausages, limoncello, homemade pasta, bags of pecans, pierogies, pies…you name it!
Can I bring a sample of my item to share with everyone?Absolutely! Samples help “sell” your items to attendees who might not be sure about accepting your offer.
Does writing your name on something guarantee you’ll get it?NO! Swap sheets are just a starting point for hashing out trades when the swap starts.
I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by turning them/their item down. How do I avoid making people uncomfortable?It should be emphasized in the beginning that in no way should swappers feel obligated to accept someone’s offer (if they don’t actually want the item), nor should swappers get their feelings hurt if someone turns them down. Food is a very personal matter and a number of factors – like food allergies, personal preference, utility of the item in their kitchen – will influence someone’s decision to swap. Sure, you can always swap and give away the item, but only if you have extra items to work with, which will not be the case for people who only bring a few items.
Do I need fancy packaging?No. It’s up to you how you want to present your items. Some people are happy to write on the top of their jars with a sharpie but other folks really enjoy fancying it up; do whatever suits you best.
How many people usually attend?It varies by location. Anywhere around 10-15 attendees will make for a fine swap. Any less than that and you all will probably end up with an even array of everyone’s goods, which is still fun. Many cities can host up to 25 swappers comfortably indoors, and some groups are swapping with up to 50 people. (The Sac Town Food Swap is aiming for 25 people)
You can also check out Food Swap network for more info on this swap and other swaps around the world. See you on October 10, 2015!
You have the best intentions and then everything goes down the tubes. You make plans with your husband to go out to dinner for the first time in months and then your son falls and splits his head wide open and requires a trip to the emergency room to get stables (2 staples no anesthetic, he is one tough boy). You make plans to clean the house and get ready for an upcoming party and then Norther California spontaneously combusts and you have to pack it all up and help out some family in need of temporary shelter. Or you go to Costco thinking, I just need to grab a few things only to have one kid with a poop-splosion and then the other one fall and re-split his head back open while dealing with the poop-splosion of the other one leaving you to pack up all of the naked poopy bleeding children and head back to the hospital.
While we are so thankful all of our friends and family made it out of both the Butte and Valley fires with their lives some made it out with little else. We are looking into ways to support regions of California that are near and dear to our hearts and here is one way you can help too. This family lost everything in the explosive Valley Fire. If you have a way to help out it would be greatly appreciated. Pyzer Family Fund
We are slowly getting back to normal here and the staples come out next week. Once everything stops bleeding or burning down I will get back to more regular posts.
Until then, it's been one of those months.
Our Commitment To You:
~We know our farmers and their farming practices
With an eye toward sustainability as well as environmental and social responsibility, we only use produce from local farmers who follow best practices. We are finding people who are being responsible with their use of both organic and non-organic products, and using each when appropriate in the smallest amounts possible. They treat their farm workers well, with the respect for safety and well-being that all deserve. They are doing their best to limit waste and ensure that all of their produce is used. We look at the whole picture to ensure long term sustainability of our product and the entire chain of people who help produce it.
~We know our fruit
We have taken the time to get to know what variety fits best in different applications. Some fruit is best for eating, while other fruit is best for cooking. We are committed to using produce in a way that makes its best attributes shine. Some of the heirloom varieties that we use may be unfamiliar, but the result is surprisingly flavorful.
~We are a work in sustainable progress
Collectively, we have made a commitment to consume less. This is much easier said than done in our modern use-it-once-and-throw-it-away world. As we continue to pursue our commitment to better earth care, we have made changes in our product packaging choices. For our jams, jellies, preserves, and butters, all of the packaging is reusable and recyclable. If you bring the jar back to us, we will give you a jar deposit refund of 50 cents. You can use that towards your next jar of jelly, pay your parking meter, or give your children a tip for their good behavior at the market. It’s up to you. It’s our way of saying thanks for reusing. For any of our grain products the packaging is recyclable. We are moving towards compostable packaging for all of those products. Hopefully we will be there by 2016. We are always a work in progress.
~We are committed to our community
While this is a personal and family passion, we also are committed to Sacramento. Our family has been in the greater Sacramento area for over 100 years. We came as farmers developing a relationship with the land in the early 1900’s and it is a connection we continue to foster today. We will continue to strive to make Sacramento, the Farm to Fork Capital, a place where budding food culture and food education are a top priority. We continue to pursue this passion by teaching food and farming education classes in and around Sacramento.
We live here and we want to see Sacramento shine.
This weekend you will find me at the Sacramento Children's Museum talking about the joys of eating healthy delicious food. I will be hosting a cooking demo for parents about how to cook great yummy things in a hurry. Also there will be healthy snacks and a healthy eating activity until 1:30pm.
Join us for a great day, yummy food and all the museum fun you can handle!
Happy Hearts Healthy Eating Info
I was able to get one class in before the winter holidays to show you how to make fantastic holiday gifts. So if you have time to join in a class on Saturday December 5th from 1 to 4 click this link and follow all the registration details. It will be an afternoon of tasty snacks, wine and a little holiday rush detox. So much better than hitting up the mall. You will leave with at least three unique handmade gifts that anyone would love to have and a calm rested out look on the rest of the holidays.
There will also be craft kits and other handmade items available for purchase. So it will be like a makers market and a class all rolled into one!
Hand Made Holiday Class Registration Details
This summer we took our first genuine family vacation since we had kids. We have had obligatory trips to Disneyland and a quick jaunt to the beach here and there, but no real vacation. It was like so many of those beach or lake vacations of yesteryear with little interaction with technology and lots of time spent running in the sun, staying up too late and eating all kids of wonderful food. Such a wonderful summer gift.
We stayed at an amazing house right on the bay, and everyone played in the water, went digging for clams, and dropped crab traps all day. By night we roasted marshmallows and sat in the hot tub looking at the stars. On the rare occasions when we felt the need to leave our little hideaway, we were greeted with the most amazing sights and sounds that the Puget Sound has to offer.
We took a few extra days on the way home and ambled down the Oregon coast after visiting with some of our dear friends in Portland and meeting their unbelievably cute new pug. We saw some of the most enjoyable parts places and we took the coastal train from Garibaldi to Rockaway Beachand made the obligatory stop at the cheese factory as well as finding some hidden gems along the way. One of which was Garibaldi, one of those Oregon coastal towns so small if you blink you might miss it but it well worth the stop.
I hope you all get to experience a vacation like this some day; these are the kinds of vacations that restore the soul.
Here is a list of some of our favorite places from the trip as well as the wonderful house we stayed in:
Our wonderful beach hideaway
Amazing currant muffin recipe (she also has a good point about cooking shows)
How To dig for clams
How to go crabbing
Community Supported Fisheries Oregon Coast
Harborview Inn (the most pleasant surprise lodging I have every had)
Tillimook Cheese Factory Tour Info
Oregon Coast Train
What a great time its been working with California Kitchen at the California State Fair. I look forward to continuing our partnership and finding hew and exciting ways to engage with Californians about their food choices next year. As I promised, here are the remaining few recipes from the fair. Hopefully you are able to use them and the Fish Watch Guide to make informed choices about your seafood purchases.
Vegetable Stuffed Sole
1 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1 small yellow summer squash, cut into matchsticks
½ onion, sliced thin
4 sole fillets
½ cup of ricotta
1 tbsp fresh dill
4 tsp olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 pieces of pancetta
In a bowl, combine ricotta, fresh dill and salt and pepper to taste. Set to the side.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cover a 9 x 11 baking pan with olive oil. Place the fillets in dish. Place about ½ cup of vegetables at the wide end of the fish and roll up jellyroll style. Place seam side down and top with one piece of pancetta. Bake for 15 minutes or until fish begins to flake. Serve immediately.
Panko Crusted Tilapia Nuggets
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup whole milk
Coarse salt and pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs
¾ cup flour, divided
2 lbs tilapia fillets, cut into chunks
To make fish nuggets, cut tilapia fillets in half and then chunk into nugget size pieces. Preheat oven to 375, with racks in top and bottom third. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and place oiled rack into pan; set aside. Place egg and milk in a wide shallow bowl; season with salt and pepper and mix with a fork. In a second bowl combine ½ cup flour, salt and pepper with a fork. In a third bowl, combine panko, ¼ cup flour, salt and pepper. Dip tilapia into egg, shaking off excess, then into flour then into panko mixture, pressing to adhere. Place on prepared racks in baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom halfway through.
½ cup mayonase
½ cup yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs fresh dill
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Combine all ingredients with a fork and set aside in fridge for 1 hour prior to serving.
Filter Free Zone
Everything is put through a filter before it gets to us these days. This will be a space where photos will be unfiltered, simple projects will be showcased and more difficult ones will not be portrayed as things that only took a few minutes. This will be a place where I show in photos and short posts some of the things that inspire my family and business. I hope that you will be inspired to try something different!