CA OLIVE RANCH HARVEST TOUR

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Easily one of my top five pantry staples, extra virgin olive oil is what I use to cook with most often. To dress a salad or finish my favorite roasted potatoes or add moisture to the best lemon loaf ever. We were invited up to the groves and mill of California Olive Ranch to take a closer look at their process and while I had an idea of the olive oil process from past work experience, it was fascinating to see it on a larger scale.

First of all, the transparency was enough to make me love their brand even more, as they are truly taking every precaution to ensure their oil is the highest quality. I couldn’t believe how many rounds of quality control the olives go through before they are actually pressed. You are probably familiar with their green, squared bottle. They sell it at most grocery stores and even sell at Costco. While the ‘Everyday’ oil is great for, well, everyday, I really enjoyed getting to taste the difference between their Reserve Collection bottles - some mild, or a more spicy, peppery variety for getting great flavor as a salad dressing where you’ll really taste it.

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This November, California Olive Ranch is introducing a new suite of products called Destination Series. As they’ve prepared for the weather systems to fluctuate, the brand has been establishing relationships with other olive growers outside of the U.S., who grow their crop with the same attention to detail. After years of perfecting the craft, they are releasing a line of affordable blends, reflective of these partnerships abroad. We had the chance to taste them and again, each so unique and fresh tasting. Can’t wait to pick up a few bottles.

We had the opportunity to ride the harvester that collected the olives, and then see how they get from there, to the mill and the dozens of steps that happen before the oil is bottled and on store shelves. We included some photos here, but there is more information on their site for Olive Oil 101.

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I grew up often using rancid oil, and only through learning more about cooking, can identify that terrible smell. Kind of like...plastic? It is a smell you know immediately if you compare it to a truly fresh bottle. How long have you had the bottle you’ve been using? Do you keep it in the pantry, not right next to the hot stove? Olive oil is best stored in cool, dark places. Did you know that people take shots of it to help with inflammation and that it’s been known to bring cholesterol levels down, lower blood pressure, and improve bone calcification and mineralization? I just think it is such a fascinating product that we use without thinking on a daily basis.


I am partnering with California Olive Ranch to share a few olive oil recipes here over the next few months, so stay tuned.

The best part of all this, is that California Olive Ranch is giving away a YEAR (!!) supply of their new Destination Series extra virgin olive oil to a Sprouted Kitchen follower. Head over to our instagram page asap to enter!

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FALL CHEESE BOARD

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Per request! Many moons ago, we made a summer cheese here. It was simple, had a few handmade components but was super quick to throw together. Since then, and especially lately with the holidays coming up, there have been requests for a fall version. It’s not so much that cheese has a season, but the accoutrements do. Slightly heavier cheeses, fall fruits, darker foresty vibes with the herbs and colors.

I included four cheeses: Emmi Le Gruyère, a young blue cheese, a soft goats’ cheese and a firmer, saltier one, such as pecorino, (or a dry manchego is great too). Emmi Le Gruyère is a great specialty cheese to upgrade a recipe or prepare a cheeseboard. I used it in the mini sandwiches because it melts well and has lots of flavor. I made a candied walnut to go along with the blue cheese, drizzling honey and herbs on the goat and leaving the dry cheese cut up. I like to have other bits for snacking that will satisfy the non-cheese lovers. I added fresh pears, grapes, dates, olives — this adds variety, visual interest, and covers a variety of diets, so at least everyone has a snack. I’ll be sure one of my crackers is gluten free, cause it seems someone always is. One of our favorite nights this past year was hosting a game night for friends and I asked everyone to bring an app to share. Funnily enough, every single couple brought some form of a cheese plate, so next time I’ll be more specific :) Anyway, if you find yourself needing cheese plate inspiration this season. Hope the below may help!

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mini apple + gruyère grilled cheese

You could use pear in place of the apple, or even included a thin slice of ham if that’s your deal.

1 baguette
2 crisp apples, cored and sliced thin
4 ounces of Emmi Le Gruyère, grated
Dijon mustard
Butter or olive oil, for cooking
Slice the baguette into thin slices.

Heat a slick of butter or olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. On a slice of bread, give it a swipe of Dijon, a generous sprinkle of Gruyère, a few apple slices, another sprinkle of Gruyère and then top with another piece of bread. Griddle the mini sandwiches for about 2 minutes on each side until the crust is golden and then cheese is melted. Repeat in batches with remaining ingredients.

These can be made in advance and warmed in a 250’ oven for 5 minutes before serving to refresh them. 

mapled walnuts

If you stock pecans, those will work great here too. Make extras, these are so yummy in green salads.

1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. light brown sugar
3/4 cup walnut halves, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 350’ and line a small baking tray with parchment paper. In a small saucepan, warm the butter, maple and brown sugar together till combined. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Spread them on the baking sheet and roast for 5-6 minutes until dried and just toasted. Remove to cool completely to crisp up. These can be made up to a week in advance and kept covered until ready to use. (Also great in salads!)


To Assemble:

Mini sandwiches with Gruyère and apples

A wedge of blue cheese with the crumbled candied nuts on top

Soft goats’ cheese (chevrè) drizzled with honey and a handful of fresh thyme leaves and ground pepper

A dry, salty cheese: such as pecorino, parmesan, aged manchego

A dish of assorted olives

Dates - pitted if you wish

Fresh Pears

Salami, if that’s your deal

Crackers: a few different sizes, shapes

Herb bundles on there for color


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This post is sponsored by Emmi. They make the delicious Gruyère featured here, amongst other award winning cheeses. See their site and locator to find where you may be able to find their brand near you. All opinions expressed herein are my own. Thank you for supporting our partners, so that I may continue to create recipes here.

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Chocolate, Dessert, Fall, Gluten Free, Snack, Winter

HONEY FUDGE

They are four and a half and almost three. My babies are potty trained, can buckle their own car seats, and clear their plates from the table. The crib will be passed to a friend next month and I’ve been donating the toys that seem, well, baby-ish. We finally went on a family vacation last month, where we all slept in one room and it was great - no one needed to sleep in the bathroom and the equipment we had to schlep along was minor. While still not easy (is it ever?), I feel like we’ve crossed some sort of parenthood threshold where I can breathe a little easier. The exhaustion scale is tipping more towards mental than completely physical as they become more little people and less baby.

I think I’ve mentioned before that Curran (4.5) is pretty emotional. High highs and low lows. Cries easily, loudly, and feels his 4-year old feels deeply. He LOVES to eat. Is not a toucher/cuddler. Thrives off quality time. A collector of gadgets and junk. He hoards his treasures in various bags, backpacks and cases, and takes them around with him everywhere… a little seasonly obsessive, like his father and my sister. Right now we’re in a police man season, so lots of walkie talkies, badges, the jacket, etc. Cleo adores him, but mark my words Curran will be the one keeping her out of trouble in high school.

She likes to pester him and scream at the top of her lungs if he tries to give her a dose of her own medicine. She LOVES cuddles and touches and passes out “I love you’s” generously. She has a will of steel. She insists on dressing herself in the clothes I like least in her closet and no matter the question, the answer is always “pink!” She has my favorite intonations and facial expressions. She is a charmer and a little bit crazy.

Both kids have beautiful blue eyes, are tall for their ages, are quirky, and look like each other, while not a spitting image of either parent. How wild it is to get to know them - to observe what makes them tick or make their eyes light up. These things are equally magical and incredibly frustrating, all in the scope of a day. I somehow feel surprised that we’re in a new phase. So much of the past few years has been head down survival, but gradually, I feel I can stop and SEE them now, instead of just keep everyone fed and alive. Does that make any sense? Obviously I’ve always been “aware” of them, but now, more so them as the people they are becoming. Anyway. It feels really special. Parenthood is pretty wild, in so many more ways than just being tired, like everyone tells you you’ll be. I feel extremely lucky to be their mom.

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Chocolate Honey Fudge

This honey fudge was from the first week of Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club and it was a raging success (shameless plug that I still think you should join because it’s been so neat to cook dinner along side people and share ideas). It is not often you can please all the dairy free, gluten free, egg free, honey eating vegans, and vegetarians all at once, but we’re working on it! Cheers, us.

As this may be the most favorited recipe I’ve ever written, I figured it needed to live here too.


RECIPE INGREDIENTS

2 ounces dark chocolate, well chopped
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch) or raw cacao, plus more for dusting
pinch of sea salt

1/3 cup honey plus 1 Tbsp. 
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup crisp rice cereal

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate along the bottom of the pan. 

In a food processor or a strong blender, combine the almonds, cocoa powder and sea salt. Pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse sand, about 10 times. You want some crunchy bits of almonds. 

In a saucepan, combine the honey and coconut oil and bring it to a gentle boil. Stir to mix. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Add the almond mixture and the rice cereal into the wet mixture and stir to combine. Any extra add-ins would go in here. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, smooth the top and put it in the fridge to cool for at least an hour. 

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