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Journal

Second Harvest

Second Harvest

First a poem, then her voice cracks, the emotional toll of the last six months is palpable and rolls into the crowd. Nikiko is recounting how challenging the 2019 growing season has been...unusual monsoon-like rains, hail storms and higher than average temperatures. As the sun peaks over the orchard, we can feel the full range of sadness, frustration, grief, hope and determination the Masumoto family has experienced throughout this year. A sense of gratitude emanates from us all, it’s clear that each one of us is ecstatic to be here, we know it’s not a given and each season we can be invited back to harvest is a blessing...a chance to come together again to take part in something sacred, thanks to the cooperation of Mother Nature and the Masumotos’ exertions. 

I’ve been counting down the days since July 28, 2018 to reunite with my stone fruit family. The pillow soft soil giving way under my boots, the morning rays playing amongst branches heavy with fruit, contented voices floating upwards alongside the billows of dust, the glee of filling vibrant blue buckets to the brim, fully aware each nectarine and peach picked is a small miracle.

Being back at the orchard with ‘our trees,’ I’m taken over by a wave of awe and enchantment. Somehow I’m lucky enough to participate in Masumoto’s harvest for a few hours because they’ve unflinchingly dedicated 365 days of grueling work to ensure their trees will bear a bounty I can reap. And the joy each family member exudes to have us there is remarkable. Their commitment and passion for sustainable farming and building community is beyond words, like a born talent, similar to Mozart composing music, they possess a gift that can’t be stifled and must be shared with the world.

My adoption team is a fun mix of new and familiar faces. As we dive into harvesting, I make new friends and swap stories with pals from last year. After months of anticipation, we’re giddy to see that there are a ton of ripe Le Grand nectarines to be picked, and because this is the last day of harvest, we get to take them all. We waste no time and work diligently, scaling ladders and grasping what we can on our tiptoes - we have a singular, unifying goal: extract all the viable Le Grands!

We move pretty quickly and just as the temperatures are getting close to 100, we’re relieved to have boxed and divided up the whole haul. Ravenous and damp with perspiration, we merrily make our way to the shady center of the orchard for an alfresco brunch prepared by a team of lovely volunteers. The meal is delicious, conversations are easy, Mas and Nikiko swing by to say hello, cheerful dogs sit at our feet and I’m deeply happy.

Adopting a tree at Masumoto’s family farm is not about taking home pounds of fruit, but celebrating this land that has been organically cultivated for 71 years, the camaraderie shared amidst the rows of trees and a magical family that treats you as one of their own.

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Mezze Cookout

Mezze Cookout

Small group cooking classes are a wonderful way to meet new people, get to know loved ones on a deeper level and discover new techniques. Plus, let's face it, they're just plain fun and tasty...

Our friend, Megan of Seasoned Cook has a great workshop this weekend and there are three slots left. Read below for all the details...if we weren't booked up, we'd be taking these slots for ourselves.

Mediterranean Mezze
Sunday Aug 18, 2019
11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Berkeley, CA
$30
Email megancbarrie [@] gmail [.] com to reserve a spot

Who doesn't love eating with their hands? These dishes are no-fail, crowd-pleasing appetizers when, combined, make up an incredible Mediterranean meal. We'll be making flavor-packed hummus, roasted babaganoush two ways, homemade flatbread, tzatziki, and tabbouleh.

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Favorite Quarterly Potluck

Favorite Quarterly Potluck

You all know I'm obsessed with Miracle Plum's Cookbook Club / Potluck...yes, it is 100% worth the drive from wherever you live, in my case San Francisco. Check out this recent The Press Democrat article detailing how the club is helping build community. My hubs and I got interviewed by the reporter regarding our attendance and we have some featured quotes, ha!

Also, save the date of September 15th for the next meet-up...our beloved La Cocina will benefit and their book, We Are La Cocina is on deck! Email hi [@] miracleplum [.] com and let them know you're interested in joining the bookclub list.

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Arepas from Scratch

Arepas from Scratch

Deeply inspired by Váyalo! Cocina and too far away to try theirs, we’ve found a scrumptious arepas recipe from Pinch of Yum that we’d like to make at home…

If you’re craving Venezuela cuisine and cooking arepas at home is improbable, we’ll take this opportunity to shout out Yo También Cantina in San Francisco. Lady bosses, Isabella and Kenzie craft food that combines traditional flavors of Venezuelan and tropical cuisine with seasonal California ingredients, resulting in a vibrant cooking style that they have come to define as, tropical-local. Swing by and be delighted!

Arepas with Carnitas and Sweet Potato

2 cups precooked cornmeal (see notes)
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups warm water
Oil for pan frying

Filling ideas:
Chipotle Shredded Chicken
Carnitas 
Magic Green Sauce or other sauce
Black beans
Sweet potatoes, sliced into thin pieces and sautéed in olive oil and salt
Red onions (pickled? yum)
Cotija cheese

Mix the precooked cornmeal and the salt. Add the water and whisk to remove any lumps, then stir until combined. Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes.

Using your hands, divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten in gently to create a disk, about 1 inch thick.

Heat a thin layer of oil (about 1/4 inch deep) in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the arepas and fry for about 6 minutes on both sides. The arepas should get a dry fried exterior without getting overly brown. Set on paper towels to drain and cool.

Cut the arepas in half and stuff with your fillings!

Notes:

Precooked cornmeal is also called arepa flour or harina precocida or masarepa. I buy this kind on Amazon. This is not the same as masa harina which is uncooked. This version is COOKED which means you don’t need to bake it all the way through in the same way as you would with masa harina. I am not sure how substitutions would work – but from what I’ve read, the arepa flour really does get a better texture both inside and outside. 

The texture of these is a little corn-cakey, so if the insides are a little sticky that’s okay and good.

Photo credit: Pinch of Yum

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Spotlight | Kristina Cho

Spotlight | Kristina Cho

We’re all about spreading the love for some of our favorite Instagram accounts this week and one of our top three super stars is Kristina Cho, also known as @eatchofood.

She is an architect turned home chef and I can’t get enough of her dumpling posts with mouth watering photos. Granted she does a whole lot more than dumplings, but as a dim sum fanatic, I lean towards her savory Chinese-inspired recipes and am aiming to participate in one of her workshops soon. 

Kristina and I officially met at a Pineapple Collaborative SF event several months ago, when the kitchen essentials collection was just a pipe dream. I pretty much geeked out when I saw her and introduced myself; just as I hoped, she is a humble, kind person following her heart and passions. I’m pleased to report she is now a Loyale partner and you’ll be seeing our goods sprinkled throughout her photo shoots! 

If you scoped out our social platforms, you probably saw the stunning Rose Siu Mai pic we featured. Pop over to Kristina’s blog for the full delicious recipe...plus, there’s a giveaway underway with her now on Instagram - enter now for a chance to win one of our SF-made aprons

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Seafood Boil

Seafood Boil

We've got Maine on the brain, as we shimmy our way into summer! Whether you're on the coast or not, we can't think of a better way to enjoy the season than with fresh seafood, cold beverages and good company to break bread with...

Check out Epicurious' comprehensive guide to throwing together a seafood boil, this coming long weekend is the perfect time to gather some friends and make a delicious mess.

Picture: Chelsea Kyle for Epicurious

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Heatwave Cooking

Heatwave Cooking

When SF temps are exceeding 90 degrees and no one has AC, what's a girl to cook? Shrimp and more shrimp...now that my pantry is in order post move, I'm finally cooking again and prawns are a wonderful easy and delicious ingredient to focus on. Check out this delish recipe from the NY Times and stay cool Bay Area-based pals!

Sautéed Shrimp With Coconut Oil, Ginger and Coriander

2 ½ tablespoons refined coconut oil
6 scallions, white parts thinly sliced; dark green parts sliced and reserved
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 pound large shrimp, shelled
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the coconut oil in the pan. Add the white scallion slices, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the coriander and cook 30 seconds more.

Add the shrimp and salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until shrimp are opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the green scallion pieces and cook until just wilted, 10 to 15 seconds. Season with lemon juice and black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.

Photo credit: NYT Cooking

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Activism + Palestinian Food

Activism + Palestinian Food

We're already prepping for Miracle Plum's June book club potluck! We snagged a copy of Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen at the SF Public Library and have been immediately charmed by the heartfelt stories and travel journal quality of this cookbook...

Here's an excerpt from a Healthy-ish interview that gets to the root of her motivation for penning this book:

"Yasmin Khan hopes Zaitoun—the Arabic word for olive, notable as both a cornerstone ingredient and a symbol of peace—can be one such space. In many ways, the timing feels right: Most of us want to widen our lens. Our favorite books and shows—whether it’s Samin Nosrat’s deep-dive travels in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat or the renewed emphasis on global narratives on shows like Chef’s Table—grapple with issues of representation and identity. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s runaway hit Jerusalem now shares a shelf with Reem Kassis’s The Palestinian Table, and, of course, Zaitoun.

“I wanted it to feel hopeful,” she says. “We live in a polarized and divisive time when people's communication—online, offline, in the political realm, in any realm—is hostile. I understand that. There's a lot of toxicity, but I wanted to create a book that would make people feel optimistic and connected, because I really believe that they're the feelings we need to foster if we want to progress forward.”"

We encourage you to check this book out and support Yasmin!

Photo credit: Zaitoun

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Spotlight | Miracle Plum

Spotlight | Miracle Plum

Miracle Plum is the dream job and full time hangout of Santa Rosa natives Sallie Miller and Gwen Gunheim. They offer delicious pantry items, responsibly grown staples from local farms, beautiful kitchen wares, cookbooks, food centric magazines (hi Cherry Bombe), grab-and-go lunches, natural wines and craft beer.

The space is so dreamy, like a retrofitted barn, with white washed walls and all the sundries you could ever want, creatively strewn about in a cozy way that feels akin to home. Basically I want to move in...

Sallie and Gwen started hosting a book club/potluck a bit ago and when I heard the next book was Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat, I RSVP’d immediately. I decided on her Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli and took it to the umami heavens with a few anchovies. While I was preparing it, I realized that this was first time I was following a recipe to the letter in four years; it was comforting to just be led along, knowing I would achieve amazing results. There were a lot of instructions in what on the face of it is a pretty basic recipe. Each and every one was completely worth it. And I love the way that Samin has a poetic way of writing recipes, like when boiling the pasta water, “salt until it tastes like the summer sea.” These simple instructions encourage you to be intimately involved in the process thus bringing your senses to life.

I was excited to experience the bounteous spread that awaited us, but was also looking forward to seeing Megan, a new friend I’d made while volunteering with La Cocina. I’d roped her into attending since she is a huge Samin fan and an accomplished cooking instructor; we had a grand time gabbing over the buffet of our dreams.

It was such an enchanting evening and inevitably, my eyes were so much bigger than my stomach! Faves included focaccia, chicken pot pie, fennel and radish salad, and almond cardamom oil cake...I can’t deny I also really enjoyed my Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli. The crowd was friendly and convivial and Sallie and Gwen were consummate hosts; all in all it was it was a lovely night...strangers sharing their handiwork and bonding over thoughtfully made food gave way to a warm and wonderful time.

MP’s next book club/potluck is on June 23rd for Yasmin Khan's latest release Zaitoun, email hi@miracleplum.com to sign up for it! Or if you're in Sonoma county, pop by the store and enjoy...

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