Growing up in the south, we took a lot of pride in our home state of Texas. I could (kinda) draw the shape of my state about the same time I could write my name. Texans love the shape of their state, if you haven't noticed. There's a Texas shaped potholder in every kitchen in that state! In 7th grade, we studied Texas history and I wanted to know everything I could about our great state. The wildflowers (I would "flower press" the Indian paintbrushes and bluebonnets to glue to homemade cards!), the smell of BBQ floating through the humid Texas air when we would walk our neighborhood at night, the Alamo, TexMex (it’s a very special kind of Mexican food)…. I could go on, but you get my drift.
So, I want my children to have the same relationship with California, their home state. It’s a special place with so much to offer. California has given me my life in a way…. many gifts. My university education, my career, my family….and amazing food and drink! Can we say Napa Valley wine and olive country? Avocados, berries, vegetables… ok, you get it. And I didn't even mention the gift of the ocean! But seriously, if you are purchasing California Grown products for your family, it’s a good thing wherever you are.
We recently enjoyed a day at the Farmer’s Market. Have you done this as a family? It’s really fun…but beware, the kids want to eat and touch EVERYTHING. My goal was to show the kids how rewarding it is to go and personally meet the farmers that helped grow, harvest and pick the food that was going to be on our tables. I believe in buying locally grown food. Even in the heat wave we are currently experiencing on the west coast, I prefer the outdoor farmer's market. So, continuing part of the wellness series on the blog, today we're encouraging eating pure, clean and fresh.
I could go into all the benefits for the environment (less pollution and byproduct shipping), so pat yourself on the back for doing something good for all of us, but specifically, I like the benefits for the family. I get a more intimate look at the food that will be going into my children’s bodies. And mine! California Grown for me means that it's fresh. It hasn’t been sitting in a warehouse somewhere being preserved, which in turn allows us more of the nutritional benefits.
We had one goal that day: making salads from scratch! Don’t laugh. I know that sounds silly. It’s a salad! But for a 6 year-old and a 2 year-old (that follows the leader), it was a fun endeavor to go find the green fluffy lettuce, kale, the cucumbers, carrots, berries, etc. Huck took samples from several California Grown olive oils (we met the people that made it and they explained the whole process). Huck found a “spicy” one (Jalapeño) and thought his dad would like it. I explained we’d use this home grown olive oil on our salads later. It's amazing. When you use FRESH INGREDIENTS, simplicity is the key. Each commodity has so much flavor, you don’t need any tricks or additional products. Simple, straightforward, clean ingredients make the taste buds sing! Tomatoes, pine nuts, avocado, parmesan, lettuce and cucumber with a drop of fresh Jalapeño olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and ground pepper. WOW. (for extra credit, I finely chop the lettuce. AHHH. The best! And I like to aggressively "massage" the kale to soften it before I finely chop.) If you guys have a special salad recipe, I would love to hear it. I recently incorporated grapefruit in this same salad and it was marvelous.
And all the berries! The blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc. We’re making a berry salad and adding homemade whipping cream to it! (I think we’re throwing in some peaches, too). The kids and I literally wash the berries and Huck drizzles a bit of the cream over it. If it's a dessert salad, add a bit of brown sugar. (And if it's basically for dessert, add a slice of angel food cake. Too easy!) That's it!
My desire to learn about the different parts of our great country hasn't ceased as I get older… each state has so much personality and specific gifts it offers. What’s the best thing about your state? What is your favorite locally grown product(s)? Is that something you value? What should I try to purchase from your state or at least try when I’m there next?
To my boys’ home state, (and my honorary home state) I must say, thank you for the love, California! We love you right back. And we support CaliforniaGrown.org. I am so happy to partner with you for this wellness series to share this love!
ps- for those of you that are curious- my dress was just restocked in all sizes;) I'm wearing a size small.
And also, thanks for all the support you all showed about B&B. I'll be writing about all that very soon.