Young Olive Oil

January 25, 2008

We met some new friends over the holidays, Steve and Marguerite Remde. The Remdes own Belle Farms, a small, family run farm in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains. They grow olives trees and make Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the Tuscan tradition: hand-picked, cold pressed, and unfiltered to preserve the flavors. Marguerite sent us a bottle of their Olio Nuovo, harvested just last month. It was delicious: almost peppery and cloudy in view. Of course, I’m always looking for something delicious to dunk a piece of San Juan Bakery sourdough in, and this was perfect. To learn more about Belle Farms, you can visit them online at

I am reading Eat, Love Prayby Elizabeth Gilbert.  Her dedication to food while in Italy is truly admirable: the only museum she went to during four months there was the National Museum of Pasta! Last night I found myself reading out loud her account of a soccer fan’s cheering, just to hear myself speak Italian again – vulgarities and all. Her descriptions of the algae-green spinach leaves, bloody tomatoes and tight-skinned grapes make me yearn for the daily visits to Il Mercato Centrale in Florence.  Italy is a foodlover’s paradise and it’s no wonder that Gilbert found comfort there during an otherwise tumultuous time in her life.  I will get back there.


Cattle and carbon

January 12, 2008

We’ve all heard the rant that cattle contribute to global warming. “Cattle Free by ’93” was the battlecry of non-rural “environmentalists” in the late 80s and early 90s – a reference to getting cattle off of public lands. Today, I hear mis-informed critics blaming cattle for their large carbon “footprint” and calling for people to eat less meat if they want to fight global warming. It’s unfair to blame animals for human activity. 

The irony is that our work – and that of all grassfed beef producers who manage thier land well – actually reduces carbon emissions – we’re beyond “carbon nuetral,” we’re carbon negative.  Well managed grasslands are one of the earth’s best weapons against global warming. Here’s a quick ecology lesson: cattle turn the soil with thier hooves, fertilize it with their dung and urine and regenerate new plant growth. Plants reduce carbon emissions. The key word here is “managed.” Overgrazing, no doubt, leaves a barren landscape that cannot capture carbon. Well-managed herds, though, actually improve the carbon cycle by encouraging new growth, deep roots and  lush landscapes. Visit to learn more. And make sure you know how your food was produced … you can fight global warming by supporting the farmers and ranchers who work everyday to reduce carbon emissions.

New Beginnings

January 5, 2008

My New Year’s resolution is to pay more attention to this blog. I will try not to notice the “0 Comments” (In all caps and red, I might add) below each post and tell myself that it is the exercise that is valuable. I love the idea of having a record, too. Like a good stew, perhaps it’s better if my words just sit for a few hours before anyone takes them in …

Our Christmas meals were classic this year. My mom, Anne, made Beef Bourguignon from a family favorite cookbook:A Private Collection, Recipes from the Junior League of Palo Alto (ISBN: 0-9606324-0-9). This recipe is great, not only for its amazing taste and list of ingredients: beef, cognac, butter, oil, bacon, garlic, herbs, onions, wine, more butter, etc., but becasue it is best when made a day or two ahead of time. The flavors fully develop over time (like my blog!) and it’s perfect for large winter parties or football game gatherings. The cook can enjoy herself with everyone else and serve up the best meal at the same time. My mother’s table is also always beautifully set and the view from my parents’ home of San Francisco at night is magical.

Our tradition on Christmas is to eat at Joe’s parents’ place, the “main house” on the ranch. I am lucky to have two mothers who still enjoy cooking … someday we’ll take over the duties. Joe’s mom, Anne, roasted a Morris Grassfed standing rib roast … and to toot our horn here – it was amazing.Wish I had a third party here to verify this, but it truly was one of the most tender cuts we’ve ever tasted. The harvest was from our 2007 season, which we think was a banner year for Morris Grassfed Beef. The perfect combination of rain, forage, sunshine and genetics all came together last year to help grow the best beef we have since we started in 1991.

Anne’s ability to cook it just right – has to be a bit on the rare side – makes this dish such a treat. Served up with gravy and generous amounts of mashed potatoes, my children are almost too full for dessert. But that would never happen, especially with Jack who is drawn to chocolate like a magnet. Served with Calera’s Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir, 2001, this meal was a perfect celebration of Christmas. A toast to Anne and Rich for cooking and hosting, and to Joe for all of his work to grow good food, nurture the soil, and carry on his family’s ranching heritage was a perfect way to honor those who made the celebration possible.  Cheers!

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