Peaches & The Farmer’s Market

Guess what tomorrow is?
peaches |
peaches and nectarines | santa rosa community farmer's market |
It’s National Eat A Peach Day. I looooove peaches, especially white peaches. They’re probably one of my favorite fruits. No national proclamation required for me to fawn over this fragrant stone fruit that drips down your wrist with its peachy-goodness the minute you bite into a ripe one. And if Saturday August 22nd isn’t enough of a fuss over this sweet orb, then let’s celebrate it again on Monday August 24th as that’s National Peach Pie Day.  Sounds like there’s going to be some baking in store for me! I personally am going to enjoy these little guys all weekend long by bringing home a huge basket full from the Santa Rosa Community Farmer’s Market.

gravenstein apples | santa rosa community farmer's market | whiskandmuddler.comWhen I took these photos at the Market recently (thank you for the tour Jim!), the first lot of the Gravenstein apples had just made their debut for the season in a few of the stalls. Needless to say, shopping a local farmer’s market is one of the best things you can do for your community to support local farmers, growers, and artisans. Eating seasonal, fresh foods that are organically or sustainably grown is great for your health too, as there’s nothing like food straight from the garden with all its vitamins, nutrients, and minerals intact. The perfect way to keep your body in tip-top shape— you know, so that we can indulge in some sinfully good peach pie now and again! :>)

Enjoy my walk through the Market and then get out there this weekend to shop your local Farmer’s Market. Don’t forget the peaches!!

strawberries | santa rosa community farmer's market |



cabbages and zucchini at santa rosa community farmer's market |

fresh veggies at SRCFM |

carrots and beets | SRCFM |

All the vendors at this market have amazing produce. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get around to everyone (next time though!). Here are the ones I included in the photos above: Revolution Bread, Coyote Family Farm, Rize Up Farm, Rojas Family Farm, Garden Earth Farms, Triple ‘T’ Ranch Farm, La Chiquita Farm, Toscano & Sons, and J&J Ramos Farms.

Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m |  Wednesdays 9 a.m. to Noon
1351 Maple Avenue (Veteran’s Bldg) | Santa Rosa, CA 95402 | 707-237-5340
Market Manager: Jim Fenton

Honey & Vanilla – Aloha Style

Here’s the final post- a sweet ending if you will- on my recent (and wonderful) trip to the Hawaiian Islands. I did some research before leaving California (the die-hard foodie I am! ) for unique culinary producers I could check out whilst I was on the Big Island. Figured there had to be a few farms in this tropical paradise that offered tours or tastings. So I scoured tons of websites and lots of travel blogs and found articles like this one and this one which pointed me in the direction of these two amazing food artisans: Rare Hawaiian Honey Company and Hawaiian Vanilla Company.  We combined both visits on the same day as they’re within a 30-minute drive of each other. This made for a fun, full-day outing and a great self-guided culinary excursion up the coastline from Kona towards Waimea. I didn’t take any photos on the drive up (dang it!) but trust me when I tell you the views were spectacular!

Rare Hawaiian Honey Company | range of honeys |

Rare Hawaiian Honey Company
Trading an avocado farm in Southern California for honey hives in an isolated forest on the dry side of the Big Island, owners Michael and Amy Domeier couldn’t be happier with their move to Hawai’i. Having previously spent short periods of time on the island, they both knew this location was special. Once they made their permanent move, they added the title of Beekeeper to their business card– and haven’t looked back since. The company was originally founded in 1981 (under different ownership) and Michael & Amy purchased it from them three years ago. Over the decades, the honey has developed a true cult following (add me to the list!) and has garnered well-deserved kudos from the specialty food scene by receiving the finalist award for Outstanding New Product from NASFT. What makes this raw and Certified Organic honey so unique is the stunning pearly-white color. There’s nothing else like it in the world. The bees feed on over 1,000 acres of rare Kiawe trees (pronounced “kee ah’ vay” in Hawaiian), a species of mesquite native to Ecuador and Peru. It produces a clear honey, which after only a few days, crystallizes into its signature white color with an unbelievably creamy texture. Its fragrance is laced with delicate tropical and floral notes….unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. Wonderful!
calamansi honey | rare hawaiian honey co. |
calamansi honey | rare hawaiian honey co. |

beehive from Rare Hawaiian Honey Company
rare hawaiian honey company |
They have several types of honey, depending on the season, and what’s flowering. In the winter, the 400 hives are moved closer to wildflowers in bloom near a large macadamia nut farm along the coast or upcountry in an area called Honokaa. The Great White is one of their limited bottlings as this monofloral honey is only ‘pulled’ (removed from hive) at certain times of the year.  Bet you can guess which one was my favorite. Ah, too easy huh! The Calamansi took a close second though. I’ve never tasted a Calamansi before–it’s a cross between a mandarin orange and a kumquat, grows mainly in the Philipines and Malaysia. Warning: it’s a very tart fruit on its own, but when its juice is added to the honey, the mixture reminded me of a beautiful lemon-lime curd. Each honey is so distinct in its consistency and taste profile. Was great fun sampling through them all with Amy herself (thank you again Amy!). You can purchase any of the honeys shown through their on-line shop, or better yet– if you’re going to be visiting the Big Island, book-in for a tasting at their shop in Kamuela/Waimea. You’ll be in for a treat!

To visit:
Rare Hawaiian Honey Company
66-1250 Lalamilo Farm Road, Kamuela, HI 96743
Phone:  888 663-6639 |
Tasting by appointment

Hawaiian Vanilla Company |

Hawaiian Vanilla Company
Like many of you bakers, I use vanilla extract all the time. I know there are certain brands that are supposed to better than others, but I’ve never taken the time to actually learn why that it is or how vanilla extract is even made. But after our visit with the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, I now have all those answers and an even far greater appreciation for how this perfumed spice is grown.

The trip up to the Reddekopp family’s vanilla farm feels like a true culinary mission….CIA-style in fact. Although they’re widely publicized throughout the area on brochures and tour sites, getting there is a different story. There’s only one small road sign off the main highway leading you to the turn-off (which I swear we passed at least 2-3 times), and then a long, winding road which climbs up over the cloud line to about 1,500 feet above sea level– leading deeper and deeper into the dense tropical forest. What felt like a secret journey up the mountain made our arrival all that more satisfying. Like we were ancient explorers on our own spice expedition! Everything is low-profile here—probably because there are other family homes near-by AND when you consider vanilla is the second most expensive spice (next to Saffron) selling for upwards of $1200 a pound….well, you’d be keeping all this under wraps too.
sign in shop at Hawaiian Vanilla Company |

Jim Reddekopp | Owner Hawaiian Vanilla Company

Jim Reddekopp | Owner Hawaiian Vanilla Company

Upon arrival for our pre-booked tour, we were warmly greeted by owner Jim Reddekopp and his family (who also work at the farm) and served a refreshing and killer vanilla lemonade. Seriously, best lemonade E.V.E.R. ! Jim gave the group a tour of the greenhouses to see the vanilla orchids. Yes, the vanilla bean is actually a pod from a flowering plant in the orchid family. These precious orchids will only grow in a band 20 miles either side of the equator. The regions we’re most familiar with are Madagascar and Mexico, but now, the Hawaiian Vanilla Company is the first grower here in the U.S to successfully cultivate vanilla.  The farm uses a proprietary mix of soil to grow the plants in and they’ve developed their own system for trellising and water-drainage as well. Jim calls the setup his “vanilla canoes”. When it comes time for the plants to reproduce, each one is pollinated by hand to ensure the fertilization happens at just the right location on the plant. This is an extremely meticulous process as you can imagine, and there’s only about a 24 to 48-hour window in which to do it in. After flowering, the pod develops & ripens gradually over the next 8 to 9 months. Eventually, it will turn black and give off the unmistakeable vanillan-aroma. Each pod contains thousands of tiny seeds, and both the pods and seeds within are used to create vanilla flavoring.
vanilla orchid greenhouse | Hawaiian Vanilla Co. |
vanilla orchids at Hawaiian Vanilla Co. |

vanilla orchid | hawaiian vanilla co. |

During our tour, Jim shared with us his most prized gift from a vanilla farm down in Mexico. This sculpture is meant to replicate an Inca temple—it’s completely made from vanilla beans! It was really heavy for its size strangely enough, and the aroma….simply divine! Back at the main shop, we feasted on their homemade vanilla bean ice cream topped with a special liliko’i curd.  Then we shopped away for all-things vanilla. I’ll definitely be back for another visit, as they also offer a “vanilla lunch” too.
vanilla bean sculpture |
vanilla extract| hawaiian vanilla company |
all things vanilla | hawaiian vanilla co. |
vanilla extract | hawaiian vanilla co. |

vanilla extract | hawaiian vanilla co. |

liliko'i dressing | hawaiian vanilla co. |

To visit:
Hawaiian Vanilla Company
43-2007 Paauilo Mauka Rd. | Paauilo, Hawaii, 96776
Book tours and tastings here. There are several options to choose from including a full lunch to a farm walk.  For questions, (808) 776-1771

All and all, this was a happily jam-packed day full of information, sights and incredible tastes. What a blast! I highly recommend taking the time on your next vacation to scout out some local culinary producers near your destination. It will help you get a deeper sense and appreciation of where our global cuisines come from, as well as strengthen the mutual bonds of food-love we all share.

 *not a sponsored post, just sharing the stories of some awesome families who simply love what they do  :>)

How time flies……the first year.

It’s a month of some epic celebrations.
Pink Champagne cupcake from Sift |

So that calls for sparkles. And lots of glitter. You see, my little bloggie here turns one year old today. Whaaahooo! That was an incredibly fast year wasn’t it? And I have a semi-milestone birthday myself this weekend. Oh, and my jury duty was postponed till December- double whaaahooo! All 100% awesome-possum reasons to pop open a bottle of bubbly and toast away! (wow, with that line, it doesn’t take a Sheldon to figure out how old I am- geessh!)

As I was looking back through old posts to find my first one (June 12, 2014), it gave me the opportunity to peruse some of the earlier articles I had written. I’d imagine that all of you once-newbie-bloggers out there also experienced a cringe-worthy trip down memory lane when reflecting back on your blog’s first year. Especially when it comes to the styling of pages, quality of the photographs, the randomness of thought & organization of topics. Writing a blog, has for me, been a wonderful (and much needed) creative outlet, which is now fueling a new career on the creative side of the culinary & beverage world.  However, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that all my years in the retail & wine biz did absolutely– without question– directly contribute to where I am today.  I would not have the knowledge (or courage) to embark on this slightly terrifying incredibly exciting adventure without all my past accomplishments (and failures) to guide me along this crazy, wonderful path. And it of course goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway!) that YOU— all of my family, friends and readers—have given me so much encouragement, inspiration, post ideas, and the occasional spell-check (you know who you are & gracias!). And to all my Inspirations– everyday you teach me a new kitchen hack, share an interesting POV, or make me hungry. So to ALL of you, a ginormous thank you, thank you, thank you!!

In honor of my first blogiversary, thought I’d feature some of my most favorite posts, as well as answer some camera questions that I’ve received this past year. Enjoy reading (or re-reading) because I’m going to leave you now so that I can dive into these glitter-bombed bundles of sweetness right this minute!

 DSC_0409-1-1The BEST Peach Pie (posted June 21, 2014). This was one of the first posts where I shot all the photos. I had just purchased my fancy-schmancy DSLR camera about a week before-hand and was happily clicking away! I didn’t know diddly tu-tu about lighting back then (obvs), but I am proud of my novice composition. And seriously, it is one killer peach pie!

ifbc2014_125x125IFBC Countdown Is On (posted Aug 10, 2014). I was sooo excited to attend my first blogging conference. And the experience did not disappoint. My little pea-brain was on stimulus-overload by the time it was over. I left feeling inspired, energized, informed and ready to delve so much deeper into all aspects of writing, photography and brand promotion. I made great social/networking connections last year, all of whom I hope to see again this year.

Citrus SaltCitrus Salt | (posted Dec 1, 2014)- This was the first time I felt like I was getting the hang of composition and lighting (well, sort of). Needless to say, that journey continues today as I read, practice, watch others, practice and then….do more practice. But I am happy with how the majority of these shots turned out. Plus the recipe is dead simple and it honestly is something I use daily in my kitchen.

Aussie wine adventures | whiskandmuddler.comAussie Wine Adventures Part 1 & Part 2– (posted Feb 18 & March 4, 2015) Okay, goes without saying that a trip down to my favorite place on earth—eating, drinking and have a bloody good time with my friends– totally qualifies as memorable posts. I loved (to infinity!) every minute of it. Enough said.

Fresh Cherry SconesFresh Cherry Scones |– (posted May 17, 2015) this was a recent one where I had some fun with a macro extension lens to get some good close-ups. Was so happy to finally have something I baked that week turn out right. For some reason, it had all been massive fails. You can read all about it in the post.


What kind of camera do you shoot with?
I use a DSLR -Nikon DS3200 with a Nikon DX 18-55mm lens. Sometimes for a real tight close-up, I’ll use an auto focus macro extension tube set.

I noticed you shoot with natural light. What’s your preferred time of day to take photographs?
It all depends on the time of year and the weather that day really. During the winter months when the light is lower, I only have a window from about 1pm- 4pm. I like to shoot in my kitchen where I get the most even light. Natural, soft light is the best for food photography. In the summer, I can start as early as 9am but by 2 or 3pm, the sun has shifted and then it becomes a struggle to get ‘the shot’. I sometimes use studio lights for bottle or product shots.

What software do you use for touch-ups and finishing?
I initially used PicMonkey because it was free and very user-friendly. But as of February, I only use Lightroom and Photoshop. I took a couple classes on both, but have really learned it by hands-on trial and error. I still have a TON of learning to go, and probably only use a fraction of what it can do. But I love the results with both products.

What color of food is your favorite to photograph?
I seem to be on a red & green kick at the moment. I love the deep, dark red colors of cherries and rhubarb…especially on a rustic or darker background. That’s probably why you see so many recipes featuring both of those ingredients. I also like anything green. Shooting the Super Greens Smoothie Discs post was so much fun. All the hues of green throughout were beautiful, plus the textures of lettuces, fruits and vegetables gave it some interest.
Battle Royale cupcake from Sift |

Notes: these are two cupcakes from my favorite! cupcakery, Sift Dessert Bar here in Sonoma County. The first one up top is Pink Champagne (raspberry cake with champagne frosting) and the bottom one is Battle Royale (almond cake with blueberry tequila filling, topped with acai berry cream cheese frosting)…’s the flavor they won Food Network’s ‘Cupcake Wars’ top honors with. It’s probably my most favorite….after the now discontinued (R.I.P.) Chocolate Peanut Butter Ripple. But EVERYTHING they bake is delicious,  so can’t really go wrong with any of them.

Yes, it appears that ‘favorite’ is the only descriptive word I know today….counted it five times already….probably missed one in there too. Forgive me!   ;>)

facebook  |  twitter |  pinterest | instagram | delectable | bloglovin’