Sabra: Greek Yogurt Dips

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This is a sponsored post for Sabra Greek Yogurt Dips.  All opinions are my own.

tastemakers

I had the opportunity to travel to New York City to visit the Sabra Greek Yogurt Dip factory for a press visit.  You’re probably familiar with Sabra Hummus Dips, but its lesser known brother, the Greek Yogurt Dip division, is on its way to grocery stores nationwide.  And let me tell you…you need to give them a try.  

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One of the best features of the Greek Yogurt Dips is that they are made with crisp, fresh veggies.  Take these perfectly cubed chunks of cucumber, waiting to be added to freshly made yogurt.  The small plant located in Farmington, NY processes over 8000 lbs of farm fresh vegetables a week.  Yes, a week.  Crazy.  The yogurt is made in-house for every batch of dips.  Fresh yogurt + farm fresh veggies = a refreshingly better dip….with crunch and texture and crisp veggies.  Get a coupon HERE to taste test for yourself.

city scape

When I arrived in NYC I cabbed over to dinner with some of my most favorite foodies: Brandy, Gina, Carrie & Fabiola.  Typically when you attend a press event, there’s dinner out somewhere, but this was a little different.  We actually prepared dinner for the PR folks.  And let me tell you, it was awesome.  So much laughter and a nice easy atmosphere.  It was truly amazing.  

steak

The gorgeous Gina (Running to the Kitchen) made a beautiful beef loin and Brandy (Nutmeg Nanny) carved it up perfectly.  It was seriously hard to not keep nibbling on the perfectly roasted loin.  Other items on the menu were Coconut Shrimp from Deb (Smith Bites), Roasted Veggies & Baked Potatoes with all the fixins from Carrie (Poet in the Pantry), a giant salad from yours truly and Roasted Berries and Cream from Fabi (Not Just Baked).  Oh…and bourbon, lots of bourbon from Brandy.  Cuz that’s how she rolls. 

radio city

After our delicious and relaxing dinner, we all decided to walk back to our hotel.  Along the way we passed Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, the Ice Rink where they put up the giant tree every year and a whole lot of amazing retail shops.  At times I had no idea which way to look.  So much to see, so many shiny objects.  Did I mention this was my first ever trip to New York City?  Unless you count the time I flew over the city on my way to New Jersey.  Ok, you’re right, that doesn’t count.  

stephanie painting

We managed to squeeze in a little artistic expression.  This is Stephanie and she’s the amazing rep for Sabra.  She completely crushed the “paint this veg” challenge with that purple pepper masterpiece.  I, on the other hand, have decided that painting is not my forte.  I’ll stick to planting veggies- not painting them.

It was a whirlwind adventure, but so worth every second to sample Sabra Greek Yogurt Dips, laugh with friends and experience a new city.  Don’t forget you can get a coupon for the dips HERE as well as find out about all of the different dips and get info on the traveling tastings.  

P.S. – the Diced Onion is my fave.  Try it on a baked sweet potato.  Oh baby…so good.

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 I am a paid Sabra Tastemaker and will periodically post recipes, travel recaps and serving suggestions for Sabra Hummus, Sabra Salsa & Sabra Greek Yogurt Dips.  All opinions are my own.

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Tillamook Cheese #Blog2Farm Tour

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

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One of the things I love about my job are the opportunities that come my way.  Over the past 7 years of blogging I have had the opportunity to go to some fabulous places: to name a couple GE Monogram in Louisville, KY home of Bourbon.  Can I get an Amen?!  Beautiful Southern Oregon to Harry & David and to Northern California for Dole Salads.  My most recent trip was to Tillamook, Oregon.  Home of Tillamook Cheese.  Can I get another Amen?!

Hotel Deluxe Portland | farmgirlgourmet.com

Our adventure started in Portland, Oregon.  I love Portland.  If it didn’t rain 564 days a year, I’d move there in a hot second.  We stayed at the Hotel deLuxe in downtown Portland and if you love old Hollywood glam, this is the hotel for you!  See Humphrey back there, he’d approve!

Hotel deLuxe Portland | farmgirlgourmet.com

There are hotels where you make a mental note that you MUST, without question, return again.  Hotel deLuxe is at the top of the list.  After settling in I headed out for a quick bite with my blogging friend Gerry from FoodnessGracious.com.  If you haven’t checked out his blog, you definitely should.  He’s also a master caramel maker.  It’s true.  We came back to a welcome reception in the hotel where we met our PR friends from SodaPop PR as well as several Tillamook executives, while enjoying grilled cheese sandwiches, hors d’oeuvres and a local libations.

Tillamook Cheese Factory | farmgirlgourmet.com

The Oregon landscape whizzed by as we traveled west from Portland to Tillamook the next morning.  We started through the dense evergreen lined mountain pass and ended in the pastoral Tillamook valley.  Home to lots and lots of cows.  The cow population in Tillamook outnumbers humans…28,000 dairy cows strong.

We stopped at the Tillamook Cheese factory where we were treated to cheese sampling, a lesson in how to “taste” cheese from their Master Cheese Taster in the Sensory Department.  We all thought it would be pretty great to have her job, until we saw the palette of 40 lb blocks of cheese and then she let us in on the real way to taste.  Bite it, chew it and then “expectorate” it.  Can you imagine if she had to actually consume it?  Yikes.

Cheesy fact: Tillamook Cheese Plant in Tillamook Oregon houses 10% of the worlds cheese. That’s 50-55 million pounds of cheese at any given time in their cold storage warehouses.  I know where I’m going if there’s an apocalypse!

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

After a delicious lunch at the factory we headed to my 4th love – the ocean.  First through third of course are husband and kids (not always in that order).  Being in land-locked Eastern Washington state is tough on this sea loving girl.  As soon as I see that big blue expanse, I release a sigh of joy.  We stopped for a leg stretch at this gorgeous lighthouse.

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

Pictured from Left to Right: Kathy (Panini Happy), Stacy (Kid, Stuff, World), Vianney (Sweet Life Bake), Jennifer (Real Posh Mom), Yours Truly, Gerry (Foodness Gracious), Staci (7 On A Shoestring) and Carrian (Oh Sweet Basil).  Not pictured are Chelsea & Nate (Someday I’ll Learn).

Of course we needed a “cheesy” picture.  Right?  Check out Jennifer’s cheddar inspired Tom’s.  Cheese-tastic.

Tillamook Chese | farmgirlgourmet.com

We headed to our motel across from this gorgeous view.  No, that’s not the rock from The Goonies, but I think it may be its twin.  Nevertheless, it was magnificent and although it was cold, I stood on my balcony and gazed at it’s wonderment for quite some time before heading over to dinner with the group.

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.comAnd of course, it was just as grand in the morning with the sunrise illuminating every rocky crease.  After a quick breakfast at the motel we headed to one of the 99 farms that make up the Tillamook Co-op.

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

I was in my farmy element as soon as I stepped off the bus.  Smooch cows – check!  I tried to put this one in my pocket, but she was a tad too big.  At the dairy farm we walked the barns with the owner and she told us all about their day-to-day operations.  3:30 am – milk the cows.  3:30 pm – milk the cows.  The 12 hours in between – feed, clean, calve, clean some more, feed some more.  If you think it’s easy work being a dairy farmer, think again!

You may be wondering:  “why can’t they just milk at 8 am and 8 pm instead of getting up so early?”.  The components found in milk (fat, protein, water etc) are richer in the early morning hours than they are in the afternoon milking, making for a better base for making cheese and rich dairy products.

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

Before we all hopped back on the bus for the ride back to Portland, we circled the boots for one last group shot.  3 days, a lot of miles, wonderful new friends, reconnecting with old friends and delicious cheese.  Hard to beat and definitely one of my favorite blogging tours to date.

More Cheesy Facts:

  • A cow can drink a bathtub full of water.  It takes about 2 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of milk.  So they must drink drink drink.
  • More than 50% of a dairy farmers income will go back into the cost of feeding the cows.
  • Cows sleep lying down – in case you were thinking about doing some cow-tippin’.
  • It takes 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese.
  • Tillamook Cheese Plant can receive anywhere from 1.6 million to 1.8 million pounds of milk per day!

Tillamook Cheese | farmgirlgourmet.com

The crew that made it all happen!

Special thanks to Tillamook and SodaPop PR for inviting me on this #Blog2Farm tour.  Passionate people + great companies = the best recipe ever.

Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.  My airfare, hotel, meals and travel were provided by Tillamook.

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On the Road to IFBC!

Pike Place Market | farmgirlgourmet.com

All photos are from my Instagram feed which is viewable on Facebook & Twitter.

Pike Place Market | farmgirlgourmet.com

It seems like only yesterday I was chatting with my friend Marnely from Cooking with Books about going to the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle (IFBC).   In reality, it was last winter, but it feels like moments ago.  I knew I had to go when she said she had bought her ticket.  Yes, the conference is going to be totally great – but getting to meet my long time blogging friend in real life, well that makes this event 10 times better.

Foodista IFBC 2013 | farmgirlgourmet.com

IFBC is a conference that is organized by Foodista.com each year in a different city.  This year it happens to be in Seattle which is only a short 5 hour drive from my house.  The conference is filled with sessions to make you a better photographer, a more engaging writer and even a session to help you master SEO.  This is an intimate conference in that only 300 tickets are sold before they lock down registration.  I know what you’re thinking…”300 is intimate”????  If you’ve ever attended a bigger conference like BlogHer Food, then you know that it’s 300 x 10!  I’m definitely looking forward to the smaller group.

Seattle Space Needle | farmgirlgourmet.com

One of my local blogging buddies, Tammilee from Tammilee Tips.com, and I will be hitting the road this coming Thursday en route to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

IFBC | farmgirlgourmet.com

Along the 5 hour trek we will cross high desert, the mighty Columbia River, then back through more desert and tumble weeds before we hit Snoqualmie Pass where the landscape goes from dry amber wheat fields to lush dense evergreen forests.  Before we know it we will be in the thick of city life.  Cars beeping, cabs rushing by, the smells of every kind of food imaginable and tall buildings surrounding us like giants.  Oh and of course my favorite home away from home…..

Sur la Table | farmgirlgourmet.com

Stay tuned for more updates while we’re at the conference.  Make sure to follow me on Instagram for all of the fun, food and landscape you can handle.  Don’t miss a second…it’s going to be a blast.  There may even be a pj party involved.

Read more about IFBC here…

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Harry & David – A Southern Oregon Experience

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The gang with Matt from Harry & David.

A week ago I had the great opportunity to visit beautiful Medford, Oregon and the wonderful folks at Harry & David.  If you’re like me, you probably have heard about Harry & David, and most likely have either ordered from them or received a beautiful gift basket at some point in your life.  I can recall my mother receiving the catalog every holiday season and thumbing through the pages of deliciousness.  So when the email came through that they wanted me to come visit their facility and hear about their products, I was over the moon excited.

I arrived in Southern Oregon and settled in to the Magnolia Inn in Jacksonville, just outside Medford.  Can I just tell you – the Inn was incredible.  The owners, Susan & Robert Roos, made each of us feel like family.  Every morning the smell of bacon wafted through the historic home and every afternoon we were met with delicious goodies like Oreo Brownies that Susan found on Pinterest.  Yum!

The cars came to pick us up for dinner at Sandy’s house.  If you haven’t checked out Sandy’s blog www.reluctantentertainer.com you are in for a treat.  Not only is she beautiful, talented and a great gardener, she’s also an AMAZING hostess.  She treated us to a Harry & David infused dinner, including a kicked up version of H&D’s Wild Mushroom & Leek Soup, in her gorgeous home.

It was a wonderful evening and I had the pleasure of meeting some food bloggers in person that I have made great online relationships with and reconnect with some of the bloggers I have met on other trips.  Here’s the complete list of all of the fab friends that came:

Day 2 started with a trip to the Royal Crest Orchard.  It was a brisk and beautiful morning.  We were greeted by some of the Harry & David executives as well as the H&D Chef who gave us nibbles of crisp endive, Rogue Creamery Bleu Cheese and of course…pears.  We learned that the Royal Riviera comice pears are grown on a quince root stock to keep the trees from becoming too tall to harvest and the quince roots love the sticky clay soil of the Rogue Valley.

After our orchard visit we headed to the Harry & David factory where we had the opportunity to see the world famous Moose Munch being made.  Then we headed to the testing lab were we had the opportunity to taste test some of the best chocolates in the world.  One was considered as 2012’s best chocolate.  Yum!  If this isn’t ironic, I don’t know what is.  The head chocolatier at Harry & David….his name is Charlie.  I’ll give you a second to think about that…….

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?  Ya, totally cool.  He was super informative and is actually a 3rd generation chocolatier.

We headed to the amazing city of Ashland for a wonderful lunch at The Peerless Restaurant and Bar and some shopping.  Every little detail of this trip was well thought out.  Building in time to shop and just chill out was really a wonderful surprise.

Day 3 started with a visit with the merchandising crew and a long and interesting discussion about future products that Harry & David will be rolling out as well as some prototypes still be considered.  It was a lot of fun.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch by the pond and enjoyed mingling with new H&D faces followed by a nice stroll around the pond post lunch.

After lunch it was time to get to work.  We headed back to the facility and into the basket making abyss.  We started through the fruit sorting area where we saw pears the size of your head.  Yes, really.  Huge pears.  Then on to the basket production line where we had the chance to make a basket on our own and then ship it to whomever we wanted.  My grandmother is going to get a great surprise in the mail today!!  We headed off to the Harry & David store for some serious shopping.  My box came in the mail today I can’t wait to make a luscious dinner from the goodies I bought there.

After shopping we headed back to the inn for some R&R.  And by R&R I mean massage.  Oh yes, every detail.  Sandy, you rock girl.  It was amazing and refreshing.

To end the day we headed for dinner at a surprise location.  It turned out to be a wine cellar where we would be having an 8 course meal.  How exciting…we all love wine.  We mingled for a minute when our attention was shifted to one of the H&D executives who had a special message to share with all of us.  Not only were we having 8 courses paired with specific varietals, but those varietals would be none other than Harry & David’s new line of wine.  Our wine guy Matt was beaming from every pore!  We tasted a few before heading to the wine cellar for an amazing meal prepared by H&D’s chef.  I took a few phone pics, but it was dark, my phone camera lens is scratched, so I won’t bore with you the unsavory photos.

Note: Harry & David’s wine line will be out in early 2013…so stay tuned.

Leaving on Saturday morning was incredibly hard.  We had so much fun.  So many laughs.  I think I left part of being in that beautiful valley.  Many thanks to Harry & David and Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer for inviting me on such a fun trip.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experience in gorgeous Southern Oregon.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated to write this post.  I was however, provided airfare, hotel and meals.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

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Quillisascut Intro to Farming: Day 3

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 3 via farmgirlgourmet.com

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 3 - via farmgirlgourmet.comMorning of Day 3 brought us clear skies and a beautiful sunrise.  The rains had passed overnight and gave the air a fresh cleanliness that only rain can do.  Today’s itinerary is full of farm chores, farm visits and gardening practicum.  First up is chores and breakfast.  Being that I’ve had poultry before, it’s my daily job at 6:30 am to guide other retreaters in the ways of feeding and watering the critters.  A job I absolutely love.  Maybe it’s because I enjoy clucking back at the ladies in the morning.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 3 via farmgirlgourmet.com

Stine whipped us up some white bean and sausage ragu with a perfectly poached egg on top.  It was hearty, healthy and filled our bellies for the long day ahead.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 3 via farmgirlgourmet.com

Our word for the day was “Sustainable”.  When you think of your future or the future of humanity do consider how practices of today can alter the way our future will look?  Does modifying our food genetically modify us?  Our landscape?  How we live?  We can’t live in “the now”, we must live with intent for a healthy future and for our children’s healthy future and that can only happen through using sustainable practices.  Ways you can foster sustainability, whether you live in a farming community or an urban metropolis is by supporting your local farmers and purveyors.  Know where your food comes from.  Make friends with the men and women who are growing it for you.  Buy seeds locally to grow your garden.  By foods that are grown, sold, marketed as close to your home as you can.  Eat seasonally.  By seasonally – that means to pass up the strawberries in January.  Wait for your local abundance and preserve for the cold months.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 3 via farmgirlgourmet.com

After our discussion of knowing your food and farmers we headed to the garden for some garden practicum which including pruning the viniferous grapes and checking the soil to see if it was ready to plant.  The rains from Day 2 made the soil too wet to work, but luckily the sun was out and we could revisit planting on Day 4.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 3 via farmgirlgourmet.com

After lunch we headed to Crandall Farm where they not only have a gorgeous orchard of fruit trees but also roast their own coffee and have a retail store on site.  We made delicious raspberry jam (from last years abundance) with Janet before taking a tour of the orchard with John and their sweet old lab Kona.  They orchard was relocated off the banks of the Columbia River in the 1940’s and their love of their place is evident in the joy the express while telling us about it.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 3 via farmgirlgourmet.com

After the Crandall’s we headed to Cliffside Orchard to meet up with Jeff.  He gave us a tour of his organic orchard nestled in the hills and showed us some of his orcharding techniques.  It was a very informative visit and the passion with which he speaks makes you want to go home and plant a few rows of fruit.  One thing that definitely resonates with all of the farmers we’ve met during this few days of the retreat is the love of the earth and the love of what they do.  Jeff spoke of how he feels a connection with the people who buy his fruit.  Watching kids grow from years at the farmers market and realizing that his organic growing practices will shape the lives of those children as they become adults.  It’s a duty he takes very seriously when tending his orchard.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 3 via farmgirlgourmet.com

Back at the farm we all washed up for a phenomenal dinner of Chicken Shepherds Pie and a large green salad.  It was delicious, satisfying and the perfect end to a wonderful day.  Day 4 will bring lots of gardening, food and animal husbandry.

Thanks for reading…

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Quillisascut Farm: Intro to Farming Day 2

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 2 via farmgirlgourmet.com

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 2 via farmgirlgourmet.comDay 2 at Intro to Farming.  The rains came in and pelted the metal roof most of the night and into the day.  That didn’t stop us from our daily chores which began at 5:45 AM with milking goats and chores around the farm.  Then we headed back to the Farm School and had a hearty breakfast of Tortilla Española (sliced potatoes & scrambled eggs that are baked) and Raisin Bread with assorted cheeses and jams.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 2 via farmgirlgourmet.com

After breakfast we talked about “Respect”.  Each day is a word of reflection to start the morning off right.  As stewards of the Earth we need to respect it each and every day.  Lora Lea talked about respecting the soil, insects, pollinators, the weather and even the milk bacteria.  Which was our segway into the next part of our morning.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 2 via farmgirlgourmet.com

Mother Nature wasn’t all that happy today and sent lots of rain our way.  That didn’t dampen our spirits as we headed to the cheese room to learn farmstead cheese making techniques from Lora Lea.  We made Feta, Chevre, Mozzarella and Ricotta from the mornings goat milking.  4 different techniques but each incredibly delicious.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 2 via farmgirlgourmet.com

After cheese making we came back for a hearty lunch of Split Pea Soup and home cured Ham & Cheese sandwiches.  Stine is totally busting it out for us.  After lunch we packed up a couple of cars and headed for some farm tours.  First up was Dick Roberson’s place where he contract grows for Ann Harman of Morning Myst Botanics.  He also raises sheep and grows an enormous garden that overlooks the Columbia River.

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 2 via farmgirlgourmet.com

We hid out in Dick’s hoop house for a while waiting for the rain to break before heading to our next farm tour, but Mother Nature wasn’t wanting to play nice, so we high tailed it to the vehicles and hit the road.  John and Michelle of Meadow Lark Farm (no website – yet) were next on the docket and it was incredibly refreshing to meet these too Earth loving souls!  They love what they do and they beam with excitement talking about it.  They showed us around their 100 year old farm and the work that they’ve accomplished in the past 4 years is quite admirable.  If you live in the Spokane area, you’ll find them at the Colville Farmers Market with strawberries, fruit and veggies.

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When we got back we all rested up for dinner of pizzas in the pizza oven that Rick built.  If you’ve never had a pizza that was cooked in an outdoor pizza oven, you are missing out.  They only bake for a few minutes in the oven and come out incredibly delish.  One of the participants had an epiphany at dinner: “Tonight we are eating full circle.  We milked the goats, made cheese from the goats and are now eating the cheese with dinner”.

After dinner cleanup the majority of the participants headed for their warm comfy beds.  It was a long day of farm life and everyone was ready to hit the pillow.  Stay tuned for day 3.

Thanks for reading….

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Quillisascut Farms: Intro to Farming–Day 1

Quillisascut Farm - Intro to Farming Day 2 via farmgirlgourmet.com

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Several weeks ago I received an email from Lora Lea of Quillisascut Farm asking me if I’d be interested in coming to her Intro to Farming workshop and being a guest blogger.  I had been to Lora Lea & Rick’s farm back in February during their Chef Retreat, an annual gathering of local Chefs that happens the weekend after Valentine’s Day, and did not hesitate to send back my response that I’d love to attend. 

08-DSC_0547This is new territory for Lora Lea and Rick, as they’d never had a blogger come for the sake of blogging the days events.  So we’re learning to ride this bicycle together and I am truly honored that my name was the 1st out of the hat. 
12-DSC_0502Rick and Lora Lea bought they’re piece of dirt in scenic North Eastern Washington state in the late 70’s and have built an amazing farm on 30+ acres nestled into the mountains of Rice, WA.  They have goats, pigs, chickens & ducks and have several gardens for fresh grown organic vegetables and herbs.  One of the main things they’re known for is their farmstead cheese.  After arriving today, we were all greeted with a hearty snack of fresh bread and crackers and 6 kinds of homemade cheese, from soft fresh Chevre to a semi-hard Curado cheese that is similar to a Manchego in taste and texture.
17-DSC_0581One of the items on the itinerary for Day One was learning about composting.  Not just a heap of compost but also about worm composting.  A tip from Rick is that the worm composter should never smell.  That’s the sign of good worm action.  Stinky = too wet, so add some dry matter such as leaves or shredded newspaper.
07-DSC_0556The “Worm Juice” is used as a concentrate to mix with water to fertilize the garden, trees and new veggie starts.  Rick swears by the stuff.  Note to self: Buy a worm composter ASAP.  After getting a tour of the gardens and animals we all headed back to clean up for dinner.  Stine was on kitchen detail and she made us a rockin Duck Leg, Heart & Gizzard Confit, Baked Kabocha with Curado & Bread Crumbs, White Bean Ragu and Sweet and Sour Caramelized Onions. The meal was phenomenal.

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After dinner Ann Harman from Morning Myst Botanics gave a presentation on growing herbs and value added distillations and hydrosols.  She distills her own hydrosols (evaporated water infused with oils via distillation from flowers or herbs) and sells them wholesale.  It was absolutely fascinating.  You definitely should look her up if you enjoy homeopathic products.  I purchased a couple of hydrosols from her….shhhh don’t tell the husband.

04-DSC_0564Well, that’s the end of Day 1 here at Quillisascut Farm.  Day 2 is going to be a fun one…the day starts at 5:45 with goat milking and will be nonstop until 9 pm.  But that’s life on the farm!  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s excitement.

Thanks for reading!

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