Family Farm Weekend at The Apple Farm

We are now officially those people who pay money to go stay on a farm. 🙂  That being said and jokes aside, what a wonderful and relaxing break it was at The Apple Farm in Philo.  Also an eye opener as to how much work goes into running an organic farm.  Of course, Ria’s profession of choice has swiftly gone from seal-trainer to farmer.  Little does she know, there is so much more to farming then the little bit she was involved in while we were up in the Anderson Valley for our little farm getaway.

The Apple Farm is family run and aside from being a spectacular apple orchard, they host weekday and weekend cooking classes and farm stays.  I have been meaning to get out there for a getaway with my hubby for years but life and the kiddo kept intervening. So when they started offering Family Farm Weekends, there was no stopping us from getting up there.

Children adore farms and our little munchkin in particular loves the open space and the animals.  Goat and cow milking somehow came naturally to her, but what she enjoyed most was collecting the eggs from the chicken coop.  Beautiful brown, light green and light blue eggs.

Ria is not one to embrace her chores or help willingly around the house.  However, the novelty of being on a farm got the better of her and she was up front and center trying everything.  She could barely contain her excitement and was up at the crack of dawn and ready to go milk some goats and cows, feed the chickens, round up the animals, clean the cow’s shed etc.

Friday began with a farm tour and a milking and cheese making demonstration followed by appetizers consisting of chips with avocado and tomato salsa and citrus marinated shrimp (I will be making this one real soon!).  This was followed by a simple dinner of chicken tostadas with (farm-grown, amazingly creamy) black beans and all the fixin’s.  Dessert was roasted blenheim apricots with cookies and freshly made almond gelato.  All accompanied with some crisp Anderson Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

On Saturday, after Ria’s “chores” were done and the grown-ups finally got out of bed, we had a simple breakfast of cheddar biscuits, granola, home-made yogurts and jams with some lovely coffee.  The children then ran around the farm and after a while participated in churning butter with an old fashioned butter churn and also made goat cheese.  A simple but very delicious lunch of Fresh Summer Pasta was served outdoors under a magical setting under a canopy of trees.

After lunch, we were free to enjoy some down time or to go swimming in the river, take a walk in Hendy Woods State park across the river, or drive into town (Philo or Boonville).  Dinner preparation began at around 5 pm, with another round of chores for the kids at 6.30 pm before a scrumptious dinner of snow-pea and mint soup, pork loin with fennel rub, grilled zucchini and radicchio cous cous, green salad and local cheeses, all finished off with strawberry shortcake with hot cream sauce. What a great spread!

Sunday morning was another opportunity to help with chores which once again Ria was all over; then a “simple” breakfast of freshly baked apricot and almond scones that Ria and I helped make.  After breakfast, we started work on brunch of ceasar salad and fritatta with potato and goat cheese before the other other families departed.  We stayed an extra day to enjoy the peace and quiet the farm offered.

We are already plotting a return trip and left the Apple Farm refreshed, relaxed and with a much deeper understanding of what it takes to run the farm and how much work and love goes into growing and making really great sustainable food.

A Summer Treat: Fresh Tomato Pasta

This is a page from Stacie’s culinary world.  One of the best things about writing this blog with Stacie, is that both of us have nudged each other to venture out of our comfort zones and cook new and different things.  I admire Stacie’s ability to turn simple ingredients into delicious and amazing food.  Her creative presentation of food and ability to make things look “just right” is something I may never be able to accomplish.  The cooking, however, I will attempt.  The presentation, I leave to her.

I grew up in a family of food snobs and it is relatively rare that we approve of the food cooked outside our house.  I grew up routinely listening to my parents complain on the car drive home from dinner parties about how awful/sub-par the food at the party was.  Now, my hubby does the same (I am far kinder and more generous with my comments 🙂 ). After my parents ate at Stacie’s, they were full of compliments and almost could not believe that someone fed them such a spectacular and thoughtful meal.  For once and at last, “the food snobs” were blown away.

Stacie, this one is all you.  I almost feel guilty posting this recipe.  But, when I ate it on our recent mini-vacation at The Apple Farm in Philo and recreated it at home, I was thinking of you and how much you have taught me.  Plus, it’s summer and the markets are abundant with some pretty awesome tomatoes.  We have about 2-3 months of this dish left and we are going to make it many, many more times.