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A Sense of Place: Summer at Homeward Bounty Farm 

Sometimes I feel that all the weeks and months of the year are just a count down until summer. Summer is time’s destination. My spirit looks forward to it so much. It is as if the longer days gift you with more time to live. I love the clear skies and the crystal water of the rivers and lakes. I love that you have to go high in the mountains and forests to find cooler temperatures. I love that sometimes it’s so hot in the middle of the day that the field is a rippling mirage, and I’m forced to drink a beer on the porch, to take off my boots and wait for the sun to dip lower in the horizon, at which time work can continue. I love that another season comes to fruition in the heart of summer. Plants grow, flower, fruit, their actions defining how this season will be celebrated and what lessons will be learned.

Exhausting and exhilarating are the days of summer. It’s never a challenge to fall asleep after these long days. My body collapses and is covered in a cool breeze, one that has welcomed itself in from the open window. Each … Read More

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The Whole Scoop

Four Score Years of Shubert’s Ice Cream in Chico

Eighty years ago this past spring, as Leonard Shubert drove the tree lined Esplanade in Chico, he knew he had found a home for himself and for his ice cream parlor. Shubert made a bold decision to leave frigid Montana, where his work as an insurance salesman had been upended by the Great Depression. His departure was buoyed by an alluring offer from a company selling ice cream-making machines and the company’s promise of a hefty supply of mix with the machine purchase.

But where to settle? Shubert wanted a sunnier climate, one that would favor his luck as the owner of an ice cream shop. Little did he know that eight decades later, that very shop would proudly remain in the same location on Chico’s 7th Street, east of Main Street, run by the fourth generation of his family, still a “scoop shop”—the title the ice cream industry confers on ice cream shops that produce their own homemade product on-site.

Enter the Subsequent Generations

The second generation of the family soon entered the business. In the early 1940s, Shubert, after getting the shop established, sent his nephew Charlie Pulliam … Read More

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Just a Dash

Homemade Hickory Smoked Sea Salt

It’s a great time of year, these days between late spring and early summer when the sunlight is generous, the air smells like jasmine, and evenings are so perfect for grilling.

I’m one of those people who, at the end of the week, like to grill everything left in their fridge—meat, tofu, vegetables, watermelon (which is so delicious grilled and sprinkled with sea salt and a squeeze of lime), halved avocados brushed with olive oil and grilled face down, and whatever else I have lying around. We might make sandwiches (with grilled garlic bread) or burgers, and load them up with grilled leeks and squash and bell peppers.

Then we light a fire in the firepit and enjoy the bounty. I’ll have some sparkling wine, and we all watch the fire; sometimes we roast marshmallows, but most importantly, we talk. My kids often have a few friends over. It’s one of my family’s favorite summertime rituals.

Sometimes, when life is too busy for an evening spent outdoors, tending the coals, or when the seasons change and you want to fondly remember those soft summer nights with the comforting flavor of food fresh off the grill, … Read More

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Herb Butter Extra

3 Fs for Plating this Summer

These Fs Equal A+ Presentations

Like any good home cook, when throwing a dinner party or a casual barbeque, I strive to create inviting and unfussy dishes that welcome my guests yet still elevate the affair and leave my friends and family feeling like they’ve been served something special. To accomplish this, in addition to honoring the ingredients and preparing a delicious meal, I created the three Fs of dinner party presentation: family-style, flat, and finishing herbs.

Family Style: With all the running around that a dinner party demands, there’s rarely time to plate individual dishes perfectly. So why bother? Instead, go family style. Not only do the passing of platters and the sharing of sustenance inspire a sense of community; you get to focus on simply showcasing the food.

Hot tip: now is the time to take out all those platters you never use!

Flat: A few years back, piling food as high on the plate as possible was de rigueur, but recently restaurants have begun to use the plate or board as a wide canvas, and now, because of how easy and beautiful it is, home cooks are following suit. So instead of hiding your ingredients, let your … Read More

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Humboldt Bay Hosts the Humble Oyster

Oyster Farms Yield Many of the Mollusks and Invite Visitors

While the federal government busies itself retrogressively nixing protections for national parks and endangered species, an unexpected environmental hero quietly rests in the saline waters of Humboldt Bay—the humble and elegant oyster. Both seafood and sustainability are flourishing on the North Coast, where oysters (and farmers) are positively impacting the health of intertidal waters and the entire region.

Given their knack for either romancing or reviling eaters while being eaten alive, oysters are already fascinating characters. Plus, each mollusk filters between 30 and 50 gallons of water through its gills each day, helping to remove pollutants like nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon dioxide from ocean water. Additionally, oysters are a keystone species, which means that a web of marine plants and animals depends on them for survival. A healthy oyster culture attracts diverse sea life, controls algae, and improves water clarity. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, a guide that helps consumers make smart choices about seafood, gives Pacific oysters the green light on sustainability—the shellfish are ranked as a Best Choice seafood option.

Looking across the calm, metallic surface of the Humboldt Bay, visitors would never guess the beehive of … Read More

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Wintu Homeopathy

Ted Dawson’s Mountain Wintu Herbs Honor Plants and Customs

Indigenous healing traditions often embrace an entire ecosystem, encompassing a wide range of holistic treatments, interlacing a multitude of beliefs and customs. 

Bringing his own cultural remedies to market for the consumption of the general North State population is Ted Dawson, of the Nor Rel Muk Wintu (Western Northern Mountain People) from Junction City. Ted learned much from his Grandmother Lillian, but he is an accomplished and highly educated ethnobotanist as well. Ted’s sense of humor and his willingness to share his indigenous traditions and extensive botanical knowledge with his community is a rare gift to the North State. 

A conversation with Ted may begin with him telling you about a skunk he’s skinned, or that he “forged a bunch of knives the other day,” or he may instruct you to eat dandelion flowers before they go to seed and to put their greens in your salad if you’re suffering a particular gall-bladder related ailment. He has a vast knowledge of local plants and where to find them, as his family has lived on North State land forever, generation after generation passing down locations for finding useful plants and … Read More

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Muesli Musings

The Fruits of Summer

This is the time of year when sunshine is bursting in the flesh of sweet sweet fruit. Sunlight muscles out the darkness of night, and we have more time for all the things on our never-ending to-do list. One thing I always find is that more light hours of the day do not necessarily yield more tasks done, as the sweltering heat commands a level of respect and relaxation in the middle of the day. Time is at once accelerated and stagnant in the rippling heat waves of our longest days.

It’s these pockets of time that teach me to slow down and make time for what I want. When I take the time to be still and observe, I notice buzzing bees, busy ants, playful birds, and the fragrant bellow of fruit ripening into bright, drippy color. I can even detect the smallest rhythmic dance of leaves stirred by a hot dry breeze. 

This stillness of nature is there every moment of every day when we’re all bustling about our days and counting through the tasks to complete. I invite you this season to slow down and enjoy the fruit of summer. Savor each as … Read More

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California Grain Campaign

Since the first domesticated grain, Einkorn wheat, was cultivated in the Fertile Crescent over 12,000 years ago, grain has been the foundation of the human diet. Two-hundred thousand varieties of wheat are grown around the world, though you would not know from browsing the baking aisle of your local grocery store, where your only options for wheat flour seem to be a generic white “wheat” or a slightly browner “whole wheat” with no discernible origin, dozens of flavorful, nutritious grain varieties are being successfully grown by small farmers in California.

The California Grain Campaign, founded in the fall of 2016 by a small group of farmers, millers, and bakers, seeks to change the air of anonymity present in California’s grain economy. Consumer concern for transparency in the food system is marked by a rise in the popularity of farmers’ markets and CSA programs, and the market for local, organic meat, eggs, dairy, and produce in the state has become all but saturated. Yet how many vendors at the market are selling breads and pastries made with locally grown grain?

According to Dave Miller, a baker from Yankee Hill and one of the founders of the Grain Campaign, the answer is … Read More

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Order Up, Chico!

Freshly Made Dinner at your Doorstep

Is the battle for a fresh healthy dinner feeling impossible to win? Many eaters have discovered the convenience of shopping online for their meals—and Chico residents needn’t resort to the national meal delivery services. Four Chico companies provide a variety of super convenient, fresh, healthy, and flavorful meal options that they deliver right to your door in microwavable, freezable, biodegradable, compartmented containers. Eaters need only peruse what the companies’ menus offer, place an order, and enjoy food made by these local chefs.

These businesses have arrived as part of a bigger dining revolution taking place across America. Combat veterans might recall the MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) provided them by the military, but those ready-to-eat rations of yesteryear are all grown up. Instead of a vacuum-sealed bags of freeze-dried beef patties (aka “Hockey Pucks”) and vegetables, today’s MREs are brimming with fresh, local, and often organic ingredients. These are delicious, customized offerings prepared by experienced chefs and delivered directly to eaters, whether as meal kits or meals delivered. National companies providing meal kits—like Blue Apron and Purple Carrot—deliver recipes, fresh ingredients, and seasonings to recipients’ front porches, and the recipient cooks the meals at … Read More

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Emerald Triangle Farm Tours

Cannabis Tourism Offers A Growing Industry For Rural California

A social and economic experiment still in its infancy, California’s shiny new cannabis industry will have impacts no one yet sees. As the provisions of Prop 64 are incrementally unrolled, both traditional and state-of-the-art cannabis operations are slowly opening up shop across California. While a few towns saw crowds lining up to purchase legal bud on January 1st, the majority of businesses wanting to enter the fray struggles with a convoluted permitting process. Industry veterans speculate that between the web of red tape and a combined county/city/state tax rate that tops 30%, cannabis farmers are an endangered species. Yet, new business models like collectives, where small farmers share bureaucratic resources under one license, are bolstering prospects for survival. Another avenue for preserving farmer livelihoods lies in branding; cultivators strive to distinguish themselves as boutique producers of “premium” or “sun-grown” cannabis, strengthening their value in the competitive marketplace. Despite these efforts and innovations, the forecast for Northern California’s famed marijuana farmers is still bleak. One great green hope remains—cannabis tourism. 

“It’s not the miners who got rich during the gold rush, it was the guys selling shovels and picks,” … Read More

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