The Little Luxuries of Summer

I love simple food in the summertime.  Fresh vegetables, fruits, breads, grains, yogurt.  There is a richness in flavor that is best at this time of the year because the world is full and abundant.  Self-indulgence in these areas is not a bad thing.  And when one is recovering from a cold, and the mere thought of handling food or eating is not at all interesting, it is a good time to go out and buy unusual and wonderful things.  So I did . . . and ended up with:

  • yogurt from St. Benoit from Sonoma County, CA
  • Wensleydale cheese with blueberries
  • organic rolled oats for granola
  • a custom-made sandwich with, among the ingredients, red onion marmalade and arugula
  • Firestone Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA

I’ve never heard of St. Benoit, but did a bit of research on them, and think they are really onto something.  You can learn about St. Benoit and see what you think.  Dinner tonight was a bit of their yogurt, a nectarine, and chopped almonds.  Very satisfying.

I used to make my own yogurt.  I’m rather tempted to again.  Yogurt is especially good with granola, too.

And, at the moment, I am baking a batch of granola in the oven, as I love the crunch of granola and the sweetness of fruit for breakfast.  The biggest problem with most granolas is they are horribly sweet if boughten.  I prefer to make my own.   Formerly, for sweetness I chose real maple syrup, but my husband doesn’t much care for maple.  I don’t like sugar in granola.  One day I ended up with some agave syrup and a craving for granola, and used the syrup.  The result was a bit of sweetness without a maple flavor (I like maple, personally . . . ) nor the intense flavor brown sugar can give foods.

Granola Recipe

6 c. organic rolled oats
2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. agave syrup
1/4 c. canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together all ingredients in a dutch oven, and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, for about an hour, until toasted to your liking. Let cool to room temperature.

You can substitute or add whatever you want. This is what I had available.

Looking for Organic & Local

All this self-indulgence started making me look for what is around here in Ventura County.  Agriculture is a big industry in our county – the history of the county is tightly bound to raising crops, such as avocados, berries, citrus.  We have a couple of excellent producers of organic produce –  McGrath Family Farms and Underwood Family Farms are two with whom I am familiar.  I looked up local honey after reading about the potential that a lot of honey may be tainted and illegally imported.  Not a good thing.  Locally, it looks like we have a good source nearby at Bennett’s.  Meat is another issue.  We have free range beef from Watkins Cattle Company.

At heart, I’m a backyard farmer.  I would love to have the time to produce more of what we eat, but I have to work, and our backyard is too dark and shady at present for any real crops.  Instead, I try to support the local farmers rather than the large chain stores.  We also try to cook most of what we eat from scratch, but of course, not everything can be done this way.  When we go shopping, we never cease to be amazed at all the packaged foods people buy as the mainstay for their meals.  Our baskets are filled with very few boxes or frozen foods.

Kind of snobby, huh?  I guess I literally put my money where my mouth is.

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