Monday, August 28, 2006

Bloomingcamp Ranch

NOTE: I just spent half an hour trying to upload the pictures for this post, with no luck. Blogger seems to be uncooperative this morning. I will try again later, but until then, here is the text.

When we first started to vacation at Pinecrest Lake our children were small and needed periodic breaks from sitting in the car (and I could only take so much Raffi on the stereo). Over the years we have found parks, rivers, vegetable stands, and other waystations to make the journey more enjoyable. One longstanding stop, always on our agenda, is Bloomingcamp Ranch located outside of Oakdale on Highway 120.

What first attracted us to Bloomingcamp was the big roadside signs for their famous pies. But it is so much more than that. The 110-acre farm includes acres and acres of fruit orchards, a big red barn structure which serves as the bakery, a beautiful pond and green grass picnic area (which also serves as the location of many a wedding), and roaming geese, ducks, and swans.

It is our usual habit to stop in both on the way up to Pinecrest Lake and on the way home (yes, it is just that good!). On our way up, we park and go in to purchase a whole pie to take with us, and a variety of treats to eat out on their tree-shaded deck. Normally we buy the Dutch Apple Pie, which is our very favorite, mounded high and covered in a sweet crumbly topping. Also available on any given day depending on the harvest is peach, apple, berry, apricot, and several other scrumptious flavors.

For noshing out in the garden or at a picnic table near the pond, they have slices of all their pies available, apple blossoms, fruit turnovers in 4 varieties, huge cookies, as well as fresh fruit, and cider pressed on the premises. As an added bonus, they sell food so that you can feed the ducks and geese down by the pond. That always gave the kids free rein to romp around on the grass, stick their toes in the water, and be chased by the occasional nasty goose (beware!)

This year we splurged and got both a Dutch Apple and a Peach and we were not disappointed. Fresh, with a moist flavorful filling of fresh fruit, and a very tasty crust, we found they are good for both dessert and breakfast (I can get a bit lazy on vacation).

So if you are in the vicinity, make sure to stop by and enjoy a slice.

Bloomingcamp Ranch and Bake Shop
10528 Highway 120
Oakdale, CA 95361
209-848-8881 (website is not functioning at this time)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The World Is a Kitchen (aka Shameful Self-Promotion)

The long-awaited publication of my book, The World Is a Kitchen (co-edited with Sonoma County resident and cookbook author Michele Anna Jordan) has arrived. Sample copies shipped directly from the printer were waiting for me propped, very aptly, on my kitchen table. They are, in my most humble opinion, gorgeous. But I do hope that you will all check them out for yourselves when they hit the bookstores. (I hear Amazon is selling them already!)

From the casual cook to the seasoned traveler, and for the serious gourmand, The World Is a Kitchen is meant to inspire its readers to pursue food in a new way, exploring new lands, new cultures, and new cuisines. Chefs, travel writers, and dedicated foodies share their unique experiences, transporting readers into kitchens in Morocco, Italy, Belize, Cyprus, Kenya, Vietnam, among others, revealing the diverse traditions of other countries through their cuisine. Explore the gastronomic side of travel through their experiences, trying the hard-won and treasured recipes as you go along, and then get ready to plan your own adventure. We have even included a large resource and reference section to help get you started. Can’t you just imagine jetting over to Vietnam and munching your way through miles of street vendors? Or helping Katrina-ravaged Louisiana by visiting New Orleans in all its revised splendor and gastronomic glory?

The World Is a Kitchen would not be possible without the support of family, friends, my trusty sidekick Emilia, the writers themselves, and the food blogging community, all of whom contributed and supported this project in a multitude of ways. (Two notable food bloggers have stories in the book as well.) Alas this five-year labor of love does not end with the printer shipping the books. Now comes the marketing and publicity and bookstore events. Advance notice has gone out through an online source, books will be mailed to reviewers, posters are being made, and postcards will be sent to event locations.

In addition, a website will soon be up and running so that you can see the Table of Contents, read the Introduction, and get a sample of the stories that are included. We will rotate recipes for you to try and the Resource and Reference section will be available online (as well as web links). We will have blog posts about culinary travel, news from the food world, recaps from the tour, as well as feedback from our readers. There will be a press center with praise (oh how I love that!), reviews, the event schedule, press release, and jpeg of the book. I will alert you when the site is finished (

So mark your calendars and come out to an event! Many venues will feature contributors and something tasty from the book. And if you have any suggestions for additional events, please let me know. To date, the following cities and bookstores are lined up:

Sunday, Oct. 8 Third Place Books Ravenna, Seattle
Tuesday, Oct 10 Wide World Books & Maps, Seattle
Wednesday, Oct 11 Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park (WA)
Monday, Oct 16 Distant Lands, Pasadena
Thursday, Oct 19 Book Passage, Ferry Building, San Francisco
Wednesday, Oct 25 Get Lost Travel Books, San Francisco
Thursday, Oct 26 Copperfields Books, Montgomery Village, Santa Rosa
Monday, Dec 4 Capitola Book Café, Capitola (CA)

As things progress I will keep you posted. And if you do buy a book, please let me know what you think. I would appreciate feedback of any nature.

Thanks for tagging along on my journey!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My Book…is done

But I still have not seen it. Ten sample copies arrived at my house today for approval. My lucky daughter got to see the book before anyone else. While I would have loved to rip open the box and proudly hold that first copy myself, this is the next best thing.

Friday, August 04, 2006

My Book…almost

My last day before leaving for the lake, and I have found out that the press samples of my book will not be arriving. The printer is running a day or two behind, so they won’t arrive until Monday, after I have left. One one hand, I have waited five years for this moment, so what is another two weeks, on the other hand, I have waited five years for this moment, and I don’t want to wait any longer!

I vacillate between being zenlike and understanding, and stomping my feet like a spoiled child. Of course, there is nothing I can really do, so off to the lake it is….

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Time for Camping

We are preparing for our annual vacation at Pinecrest Lake. A Brady family ritual for the last sixteen years, we are planning on two weeks of fishing, hiking, and relaxing beach time. But first I need to plan the meals and do some shopping. Because although we gave up actual camping 7 years ago and now stay in a cabin, our meals have never been what you would typically expect to eat around a campfire.

Early on in our forays to the forest, we went with another family, who shared our passion for good eats. Breakfasts consisted of fresh drip coffee from Peets, pancakes, eggs and sausage, and French toast rather than cold cereal and Nescafe. For lunch we made godfather sandwiches (round sourdough, oil/vinegar/herb dressing, hot coppa, mortadella, salame, provolone, artichoke hearts, olives, roasted red peppers), bagels and cream cheese, and the occasional tuna or pb&j thrown in for the kids. When we returned from a day at the lake, we would crack open a bottle of wine or mix up a pitcher of margaritas (one year we even had a blender to make blended drinks!), and prep for dinner. We were quite civilized, having appetizers while we worked. Sometimes cheese and crackers, maybe prawns in the woods (large shrimp and cocktail sauce), or guacamole and chips. For dinner we would feast on pasta carbonara, London broil, fajitas, chicken mole, jambalaya (although we do cheat and use a base mix like Zatarain’s), and a barbecue night with burgers and dogs. Basically our food consumption didn’t vary much from what we would eat at home. We always figured that even if we couldn’t afford to stay indoors, we could at least eat well.

This year we are going for twice as long, and we have a house full each week. Feeding 8-10 people each night for 14 nights is a lot of planning. We normally eat out at one of the fine local dining establishments during the week, so that means 12. This is what I have planned:

Chili, cornbread and salad
Carne Asada fajitas, salad
Pasta with bacon, garlic, cilantro and asiago, sourdough and salad
Twice cooked chicken (precooked in a marinade, then grilled), rice, grilled veggies and biscuits
Fresh caught trout, burgers, salad, and baked beans
London Broil, roasted potatoes and carrots
Chicken Mole, tortillas, salad
Jambalaya with smoked sausage
Marinated Tri-tip, grilled veggies, mashed potatoes
Fred Burgers (gourmet burgers from my son’s butcher shop)
2 surprise meals provided by my brother and his family

Now, off to the store…..

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Postcard from the Edge

I haven’t had much time to read lately, but with a spare hour late one night, I went cruising my favorite blogs. So I was over at Cream Puffs in Venice scoping out the latest delish dish, when I saw a post on The Postcard Event which led me to What’s for Lunch Honey (more on this wonderful site on a different day).

Meeta had put out a challenge. Blogger Postcards from the World. Those of us in the alternate reality (aka blogosphere) were invited to communicate in an old-fashioned honest way via snail mail. In a relatively short time she had 64 people signed up to send a postcard to a perfect stranger.

Right now my life is less than ideal. My father is seriously ill and I am working to get his house on the market. I have just finished the book I have worked on for the last 5 years (although in all fairness, we have only been in production for 9 months) and have what I consider to be the detestable job of working on the tour and publicity (it is definitely not my forte). Work is a bit hectic since I am leaving Saturday for two weeks. But I’m always up for a challenge, and signed right up. Today, I dug through my drawers and reminisced as I pawed through postcards to send. One from my alma mater, from which my daughter just graduated from. Another from the lake we are heading to on Saturday. And the one below – from one of our trips to Mexico.

I'm glad I participated. It was a nice diversion and I really do love being part of the blog community. Everyone I communicate with has been helpful, supportive, and enlightening.