Berry delicious pickings

“I found one,” a small voice said among the rows and rows of berries on a recent Wednesday morning.

“It is juicy?” another responded.

Juicy it may have been, but more important to the kids was pointing out the red juice from the freshly-picked olalieberries running down their fingers.

“It looks like blood,” 8-year-old Zoe said. Her key to finding the perfect berry is by examining the color.

Zoe was one of the people wandering around Phipps Country Store and Farm in Pescadero picking berries.

Cooking is a wonderful way to introduce your children to a variety of food. But kids may not put together where the food came from. Are berries endlessly available at the neighborhood grocery store? If not, how do they get to the store?

The farm offers a chance for families or individuals to wander around, see the animals, buy fresh produce and even hand pick berries.

Olaliberry, pronounced oh-la-leh berry, season is soon ending, but the tart berries are still available. Simply wandering the fields can offer a great lesson. The vines aren’t always green. Color of the berry can greatly change the berry’s flavor.

In the instance of the olaliberry, darker is better — a little too light and watch for the super sour face! The process isn’t too difficult.
After a beautiful, coastal drive to Pescadero, pull into the farm and pick up a small bucket and a liner. Ask for advice on looking for the perfect berries.

These tart, sweet and juicy berries were developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of Oregon State University in 1949 by crossing a Loganberry with a Youngberry. Despite being developed in Oregon, the cross between a blackberry and a red raspberry is primarily grown in California. In San Mateo County, the berry is most known in pie form served at Duarte’s Tavern, which visitors to the farm will pass before arriving. Opened in 1894, olaliberry pie is one of the restaurant’s specialties. To make your own at home, start with picking the main ingredient fresh.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine 6 cups of olaliberries with 3/4 cups of sugar (maybe more if the berries are really tart), a pinch of salt and juice and zest from one lemon. Taste for sweetness. Add 3 tablespoons minute tapioca and let sit for 15 minutes, according to a recipe by

Line a 9 inch pie plate with dough rolled out to 14 inches, letting the dough hang over the rim of the plate. Fill with the berry mixture, smooth the edges and dot with butter (It should take about 2 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces). Cover with a second piece of dough. With a pair of scissors, trim the dough so it extends an inch beyond the rim of the plate. To seal, fold dough under so it sits on the edge of the plate. Pinch into a decorative border. You can crimp with a fork.

Whisk 1 egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of milk to create an eggwash which will be brushed over the dough. Sprinkle the top with sugar. With a sharp knife, cut a few vents into the dough.

Bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce to 250 degrees, place pie onto a baking sheet, then bake an additional 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the crust is dark and the olaliberry juice is bubbling through the steam vents.

The country store at Phipps opened in 1978 as an old garage building with a dirt floor, picnic table countertop and a cigar box for keeping the cash. It allowed the children to sell produce, and kept them busy during the summer, according to the farm’s website.

Today the store has a bean room, herb and spice room and a plant nursery.

A variety of farm animals and birds live just outside the store year round. Anyone who visits has access to enjoy the various aspects of the farm, including berry picking.

The Phipps Country store is located at 2700 Pescadero Road in Pescadero. From the north, take State Route 92 toward Half Moon Bay. Once in Half Moon Bay, take a left on Highway 1 south. Continue on Highway 1 for about 17 miles. Turn left onto Pescadero Road. Follow Pescadero Road into town, about 1 to 2 miles. You will come to an intersection that has a small market/gas station on the corner. Do not turn here. Continue straight for about 1 miles on Pescadero Road and you’ll see a sign on the right side that reads, “Welcome to Phipps.” Park in the lot to the right of the store. The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through October. It’s $3 per person, for individuals 5 to 59 years old, to enter the farm. Each pound of berries is an additional $3.


Dracula’s directions for clean hands

Do you ever sneeze or cough? Of course you do. Who doesn’t?

When you sneeze, do you cover your mouth? Three out of four of you attempt to stop the spread of germs by covering your mouth. Chances are most of you — us included! — are not covering our mouths correctly. Research found most people use their hands. What a great thing to teach your little one! No one wants to be coughed or sneezed on. On the other hand, what happens next? You walk into a room, an office, the bathroom, your car. Your hand, now covered in germs, goes on to touch multiple surfaces that many other people touch.

The point: Germs are EVERYWHERE!

Maybe you covered your mouth the right way. Maybe you washed your hands right after. But that doesn’t mean everyone else did. And throughout the day you, and your little sous chef, most likely touched things that had germs from other people not as hygienically-focused as you.

This is why cooking requires lots of cleaning.

Creating a clean cooking environment starts with washing your hands, according to Use warm water and soap for at least 20 second before and after handling food. Also, wash the cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot water and soap after preparing each food item before moving on to the next.

Lastly, consider using a paper towel to clean up surfaces. Using a cloth towel is completely OK as long as you use hot water when washing the towel to not spread germs.

By the way, the correct way to sneeze or cough is into your elbow. No joke. Think of Dracula pulling his cape in front of his mouth. That’s the move you want to replicate.

Sneezing into your elbow sounds silly, but it is the best alternative if a handkerchief isn’t available. Regardless, be sure that you, your little kitchen helpers and all your cooking tools are clean before starting any culinary project.

Scrumptious strawberry sweets

Some smells bring back memories. In that way, strawberries are like summer.

There’s a sweet smell that feels the air and regardless of what’s being made in the kitchen, adding strawberries makes it sweet and summer-like. Many fruits can be that way.

Funny thing about strawberries — they aren’t fruit. They’re part of a flower, the receptacle of the flower of the plant to be exact. Bright, red and delicious, strawberries have a very long history of over 2,200 years. They were found in Italy as far back as 234 B.C. In the 18th century, people in Argentina feared strawberries were poisonous. Early settlers in Massachusetts, on the other hand, grew fond of strawberries grown by local American Indians.

Strawberries are readily available in California, which is home to over to over 23,000 square acres of the plant. If all the strawberries produced in California in a single year were laid berry to berry, it would wrap around the world 15 times. California produces over 1 billion pounds of strawberries annually. But California is not the only place where strawberries are grown. Strawberries are grown in every state in America and all providences in Canada.

While eating the naturally sweet treat, point out to your little one some unique traits about strawberries like it’s the only fruit with seeds on the outside. On average, a single strawberry has 200 seeds.

Including fruit into the diet of you and your children can be as simple as offering snacks or as a healthy addition to nearly all desserts. Making those desserts does not need to be time consuming!

Twist the classic bruschetta with fruit, courtesy of You’ll need a baguette of choice, 1 tablespoon of butter softened, 2 cups of chopped strawberries and ¼ cup of sugar.

Cut the baguette into slices. Preheat the oven to broil. Spread a thin layer of butter on each side of the bread. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a large baking pan.

Place the bread in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes, until lightly toasted. Spoon some chopped strawberries onto each piece of toast; then sprinkle sugar over the strawberries.

Place under the broiler again until caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve right away.

Cooling down on the Fourth!

Today is a day all about red, white and blue!

The Fourth of July marks the day of paying homage to independence. One lasting symbol of that freedom is our flag. Did you know the American flag was designed by a woman?

Betsy Ross designed the flag in 1776. It’s rumored that Betsy impressed President George Washington with her ability to cut a five-point star with a single snip of her scissors! Can you do that? Us either…

The flag was actually adopted in 1777 with specific instructions that the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” 

In honor of the flag, we’re featuring a culinary not to Old Glory from cookbook author and FamilyFun contributor Ken Haedrich.  This chilled treat is made by layering strawberry sorbet and vanilla and blueberry-flavored ice cream in a loaf pan, chilling each layer until it’s firm. Served with homemade blueberry sauce and fresh fruit, it’s a sweet, summery ending to any Independence Day meal.

To make the blueberry sauce, combine 1 pint of freshly rinsed blueberries and 1 tablespoon of water in a medium-size saucepan. Partially cover the pan; then bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering the berries until they begin to break down, about 2 minutes. Stir in a ½ cup of sugar and cook the berries until they become soft, about 1 to 2 minutes more.

Stir together 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch in a small bowl until evenly blended. Stir the mixture into the berries; then cook them at a low boil, stirring constantly, for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and transfer it to a medium-size bowl. When the sauce is cooled, cover it and place it in the refrigerator to chill.

For the dessert, start by lining a 9- by 5-inch metal loaf pan with two sheets of crisscrossed plastic wrap, leaving a 3-inch overhang on all sides, then chill the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Place the 1 pint of strawberry sorbet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to soften, then spoon the sorbet into the pan and mold it, using a sheet of plastic wrap to smooth the top as needed. Cover it with foil and freeze it for 2 hours. The last 30 minutes, soften the 1 ½ quarts of vanilla ice cream in the refrigerator. Remove the pan from the freezer, add half the vanilla ice cream, mold it, cover it with foil, and freeze it and the remaining ice cream for 30 minutes. For the third layer, mix the remaining ice cream with 3/4 cup of the blueberry sauce, and add it to the pan. Freeze the dessert for one more hour.

Chill a platter in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Right before serving, thin the remaining blueberry sauce with a spoonful of water or orange juice. Invert the dessert onto the platter, unwrap it, and garnish it with fresh berries. Use a sharp knife to slice the dessert, and serve it with the sauce.

Once finished, share your patriotic treat with ones you love at a barbecue! It will be a tasty way to be patriotic and end a great meal.  

Making tasty treats for baby!

New babies are super cute, with their little toes, cooing noises and big, sleepy yawns.

And this week, KCA welcomed a beautiful baby girl to the family! Lani, KCA’s executive director, welcomed a beautiful baby girl, named Lilana, at 9:08 p.m. June 23. Both are doing great!  

But not everyone loves a baby, particularly older children who are accustomed to not sharing the spotlight. Including these new big brothers and sisters with the chores associated with all things baby can make the transition a little easier.

Clearly newborns won’t be eating baby food. Once the little one is enjoying more solid treats, around 8 to 10 months old, everyone can be part of making what’s on the menu. It’s not exactly a challenging recipe. It is a fun way to talk about colors, the importance of clean food and responsibility to care and respect the new baby.

Many foods are based simply on fruits and vegetables. Have the big brother or sister pick out his or her favorites and let’s get to work. As a youngster I enjoyed carrots and peas.

Start by washing the veggies in cold water without soap.

Many foods should be steamed or boiled before being mashed up. This really depends on the food. Take carrots, the vegetable should probably be steamed. If using baby carrots, there is no need to use a knife! Bigger carrots should probably be cut into smaller pieces, however.

Steam the carrots, rather than boiling them. This will help keep most of the vitamins inside the food. If you don’t have a steamer, don’t panic! Put the carrots in a pasta strainer and suspend it over boiling water. Steam will slowly cook the veggies while keeping all the goodness inside.

Did you know carrots are a wonderful source of a vitamin called beta-carotene? Hard to say right? Think of it like this: A fighting fish is called a beta. It’s also a work often used to describe early prototypes in technology. Break down carotene by saying this, Care Oh! Teen. You got it!

Beta-carotene is known to help with your eye sight and helps keep people generally healthy.

Once steamed put the carrots in a food processor, where they will remain until close to a pureed state. The carrots will be warm, but the cooling process will thicken the puree. Use the hot water from steaming the vegetables to thin out the puree, making it edible for the baby.

Not all food needs to be steamed. Mangoes, for example, are already pretty soft. If the food is being prepared for a really small baby, however, it probably should be. If you decided to use mangoes, slice up into pieces until you have one cup, then puree and follow the instructions above.

By helping, our new big brother or sister learned to eat healthy and helped pass those traits on to their new little sibling.

Making an arctic blast

Who doesn’t love ice cream? Now that the weather’s getting warmer, ice cream will be on the minds of more and more little ones. Who are you kidding? You’re thinking about a cool treat as well. Enjoying this summer staple can be more than going to the store and grabbing a carton.
Make ice cream with your kids! It doesn’t take a lot. All you need are some food storage bags, half and half or milk, sugar, vanilla, ice, rock salt and five minutes!
First, fill half of a quart size food storage bag with ice and add 6 tablespoons of rock salt. Then seal the bag. Next, put ½ cup of milk or half and half, 1 tablespoon of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of vanilla in a sandwich size food bag and seal it. Place the mall bag inside the large one, and reseal it.
Now it’s time to shake it!
Put on some music and dance around while shaking the bag. It should take about five minutes for the ingredients in the smaller bag to become ice cream.
While your hands might be cold during this process, the ice actually gets a little bit warmer before the ice cream becomes ice cream.
But how does it work?
The outer bag, the one with the rock salt and ice, becomes super cold when mixed together. Salt makes the ice melt, like when we use it on snowy roads. Basically, it heats it up because the combination drops the freezing temperature of ice, making it extra cold. By heating up the ice, a super cold environment starts to surround smaller bag. That super cold environment allows the milk, sugar and vanilla to freeze into delicious, home-made ice cream!
This extra cold method could be intense for the hands of your little ones. Have gloves or a towel handy to put around the bag while they are shaking it just in case. Once you’ve got ice cream inside, take the small bag out, wipe it off to get the salt off and put your fresh ice cream in a bowl and enjoy!
We like to add yummy toppings like fresh strawberries or a bit of honey on top. So have your favorite tasty topping ready as well!
You’re enjoying a treat that’s been around for so many years!
Where ice cream came from is debated.
It all started with ice-based treats. A frozen mixture of milk and rice was enjoyed in China around 200 B.C. The Roman Emperor Nero, 37 – 68 B.C., is said to have ice brought from the mountains and mixed with fruit—a delicious delicacy. Ice cream was really popular in the desert.
Arabs were among the first to use milk as a main ingredient in the frozen treat. They sweetened it with sugar, rather than fruit juices.
Making ice cream got easier in 1846, when Nancy Johnson invented the hand-cranked ice cream churn. The invention made it easier to get the cold treat. But bowls were still required until 1904, when at the St. Louis World Exposition, an ice cream vendor who ran out of dishes improvised by rolling up waffles to make cones. That’s where we get waffle cones.

Kids Culinary Adventures to release “Chefs First Activity Book”

As professional chefs we begin with safety first! This entertaining and educational book provides hours of fun.  Small children will safely identify kitchen tools through a color, cut and paste activity which is a great introduction to everyday kitchen utensils.

This fun engaging book comes with a small recyclable card board “toolbox” to carry their culinary items. Just like a real chef . This activity will also teach small children about items that could be hazardous if handled without the proper introduction!

“Given the right equipment and an opportunity to use it correctly, your child will be able to manage peelers, paring knives, and other kitchen gear with surprising dexterity and confidence…but, only with the proper training; those tools can also be hurtful to small hands!” ~ Chef Gigi

At Kids Culinary Adventures we think it all sounds as if everyone needs to just get back around the kitchen table! This year designate a day each week to prepare a meal together! And allow the kids to be a part of the journey. When you’re in the kitchen with your child, how often do you find yourself pouring the flour, dumping the spice, washing the bowl… and before you know it, the child has just had a chance to watch, or stir! Of course, it is only natural for us as parents to drive these skill sets, as they were driven for us. Successful parenting time in the kitchen will be a rewarding experience for your whole family.

Below are lists of items that can help you get started ; please remember… as adults we view the world differently. In the kitchen we all will have to address a child’s natural interest in the variety of shiny small wares we have in the drawer. Because we use peelers, mashers, and cutters in our home kitchens on a regular basis, children will naturally be curious about them; parents and caregivers look at that overstuffed utensil drawer as something that fulfills a purely functional purpose. But what does a child see? Well… now that’s different!

Through the eyes of a child that over stuffed drawer looks like a toy box full of fun gadgets, and this can be dangerous, and while successful parenting in the kitchen implies us to allow a child to do for themselves; it doesn’t mean to leave them unattended with hot or sharp kitchen materials!

Also, when making your determinations, keep in mind every child is different. You should make the decision based on the child’s ability to focus, their desire to learn, and their dexterity. A child should always be supervised in the kitchen but allow them to take the task, unless you see danger ahead!

Children under 7 years old should be given tasks of measuring, additions of ingredients stirring kneading or mixing ingredients by hand, shaping dough, spreading, mashing, shredding or tearing herbs and lettuces. Shucking peas and legumes; shopping, test tasting, and cleanup.
Children 7 to 9 can handle peeling tasks. Guide a small hand with your own hand at first. The more often they hear, “Always peel away from your hands, not toward them,” the better. Have them peel over a paper towel for easy clean up.

Children 11 and older are usually ready to begin using a paring knife. While peeling vegetables with length like carrots help keep their hands and the peeler further and further apart from one another. Start this age group put with vegetables that offer a little less resistance, and are easier to cut, such as zucchini and peeled cucumbers.

Kids 13 and older can use larger knives and tackle more challenging cutting jobs. Even though these kids show more dexterity keep an eye on them. Usually this age breeds confidence which will lead to increased speed…increased speed which can lead to cuts. A gentle reminder to slow down is often the best way to keep someone on the right road. Make sure all your knives are sharp. If by chance, (and let’s hope not) someone does get cut a cut from a sharp knife the cut be as bad as one from a dull knife. Keep your cutting board on top of a damp towel to prevent it from moving and always work clean, it’s safer.

To understand organic seems to be four years of college ! I’ll try to define it – (in short order) the best I can without turning green !

Organic foods… are they safer, healthier  or more nutritious?

The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weed killers, organic farmers may conduct sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds controlled.

Listed below are differences between conventional and organic farming

Conventional  Farming

  • Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.
  • Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease.
  • Use chemical herbicides to manage weeds.
  • Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth

Organic Farming

  • Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
  • Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
  • Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
  • Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing to help minimize disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an “organic certification program” that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed. Any farmer or food manufacturer who labels and sells a product as organic must be USDA certified as meeting these standards. Only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification; however, they must follow the same government standards to label their foods as organic.

If food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the USDA standards and that at least 95 percent of the food’s ingredients are organically produced. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.

Illustration of the USDA organic seal

Products certified 95 percent or more organic display this USDA seal.

Products that are completely organic :

  • Such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry a small USDA seal.
  • Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal or the following wording on their package labels, depending on the number of organic ingredients
  • 100 percent organic. Products that are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
  • Organic. Products that are at least 95 percent organic.
  • Made with organic ingredients. These are products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal can’t be used on these packages.

Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can’t use the organic seal or the word “organic” on their product label.

They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however. You may see other terms on food labels, such as “all-natural,” “free-range” or “hormone-free.” These descriptions may be important to you, but don’t confuse them with the term “organic.” Only those foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.


Chef Gigi to Guest Demo at Simon Kidget Club!

Chef Gigi will be whipping up some fun with Simon Kidgets Super  Duper Mini Chefs Club at The Standford Shopping Center this Saturday June 5th, 2010.

You wont want to miss this- an interactive kids culinary event that combines food family and fun! Mini Chefs can come and explore the fun side of food by getting involved in hands-on learning activities ! Chef Gigi will be doing  exciting food demonstrations  and sharing the fun with Sprinkles Cupcakes, Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn Kids!

Kidgit club members are encouraged to bring a non perishable food item to donate to our local food shelter. For registration in your area or to learn more about The Simon Kidget Club click here!

Chef Gigi is on at noon and 1 o’clock come join the fun! 660 Standford Shopping Center, Stanford Ca.

Remembering Your “Que”!

The History of Barbecue

The Spanish explorers arrived in the new world to find the natives preserving meats in the sun. This was a successful preservation method but the problem was that the meats were often infested with bugs and this meant spoilage. The indigenous people learned to build smoky fires to keep the insects away and help preserve the meat, which would be hung on racks over the fires.

The native Indians called this process “barbacoa” and this is where the history of barbecue begins. The barbecue process developed further when Africans and Europeans migrated to the United States. They brought cattle and pigs with them and replaced the fires and racks with large smoke houses and pits.  Polynesians had been cooking pork in this way for thousands of years, but it was a new and successful idea in the new world.

Pigs were very easy to keep and were the most commonly barbecued animal at the time. Meat had to be eaten quickly after slaughter or preserved by smoking because refrigeration was not available. Spicing was an alternative to bbq. The direct descendant was the pit barbecue, which could hold a whole hog. Meat cooked in this way would have to be cooked for as many as fourteen hours before it was done.

Poor cuts of meat were slow cooked in the early colonial era to reduce their toughness. Better cuts of meat did not need to be smoked in this way because they were already tender enough.

Salt was used in large quantities to dry the meat so it would not be contaminated. Smoking had the same effect. Cold smoked meat was a type of early barbecue when the meat would be preserved by smoke and dried by sun exposure.

The History of Grilling

The history of grilling is a lot more recent. Grilling over a barbecue was reserved for picnics and campsites until the 1940s. As the middle classes began to move into the suburbs, backyard grilling became popular. George Stephen, a metalworker who lived in suburban Chicago, was bored with the flat, open brazier type grills available at the time. He cut through the middle of a harbor buoy, put a grate on top and used the top of the buoy as a lid. He cut vents to control the temperature. This was the first Weber grill we know today.

Where Did the Word Barbecue Come From?

Nobody knows for sure but the most likely theory is that “barbecue” derives from the West Indian term “barbacoa”. Others claim that it comes from the French “barbe a queue”, which means “from head to tail”.

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