Archives For Food and Wine

The Food and Entertainment category is for recipes, hosting, parties.

Birch Wine Gift Box

Think outside the heart this Valentine’s Day with an unexpected gift from

Tasteful home accent gifts by Roost Home Furnishings will delight your guy or gal (without busting the budget).

The Godfather Desk from the film by Francis Ford Coppola

The Northern California Wine Country is a spectacular destination for wine lovers. We take all things wine very seriously here. Most wineries are elegantly rustic showcases for the main attractions – wine and grapes. In contrast, a newcomer to the Sonoma County wine region has created a new kind of winery, with much more than a tasting room.

The man who brought this vision to life is the famed movie director, Francis Ford Coppola. He says his concept is “…a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.”

The result is the Coppola Winery, a family-friendly “wine resort” with gardens, restaurants, tasting rooms, swimming pools, and the Movie Gallery, a museum of memorabilia from his famous films.

Don Corelone at his Desk in the film by Francis Ford Coppola

Fans of The Godfather trilogy flock here to see Don Corleone’s desk and chair, where Marlon Brando and Al Pacino sat in many scenes in some of the greatest films of all time.

Original Tucker Sedan from Coppola's Movie

The original – and cherry – Tucker Sedan from Tucker: The Man and His Dream slowly rotates on a large turntable to the awe of classic car lovers.

There are scripts, production notes, and casting reviews from other great movies like Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Even some of his Academy Award statuettes are on display.

Apparently this is an idea whose time has come.To make the most of a pool day at Coppola Winery, it’s a good idea to get there early. And don’t even think about dining at “Rustic, Francis’s Favorites,” the popular Italian restaurant, without reservations. Happily, the Movie Gallery is open to the public at no charge, and even spur-of-the-moment visits will not disappoint.

Have you visited Sonoma County?
We’d love to hear your Wine Country stories.

Teacher's Apple

10. It is a nutritious fruit that says “Thank you for being a good teacher.”

9. It shows you are a nice, respectful kid.

8. It’s nice to carry on an old tradition that associates apples with knowledge and education.

7. Your family grows apples and likes to share them.

6. Your mom put it in your lunch box, but you hate apples.

5. You didn’t read a single book on your summer reading list.

4. You meant to give it on the first day of school, but forgot.

3. It’s never too late to be an “apple-polisher.”

2. It will be a distraction from your incomplete homework.

And the number one reason to give your teacher an apple:

1. You need an A in arithmetic!

But seriously. Dedicated teachers everywhere deserve kindness and respect. Even if you give your teacher an Apple iPad, don’t expect special treatment. Just enjoy how good it makes you both feel.

If you want to know more about this tradition, visit Smithosonian Magazine

Produce at Full Belly Farm CSA

You may not know it, but there is probably a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group nearby that could dramatically change how you shop for fresh produce. Not to mention your family’s diet and health.

Thanks to the efforts of many people who have devoted their lives to small organic farms and community gardens, there are co-ops and farmers markets thriving just about everywhere, including urban areas. Tired of soaring prices and declining quality in the big grocery chain stores?

Consider how easy it is to share in the bounty your community growers offer:

  • Visit to find a CSA near you
  • Go to the CSA’s website, or visit in person, and complete a membership form
  • Pay a very reasonable membership fee
  • Choose a central delivery/pick-up area
  • Receive a weekly box of fresh seasonal organic produce

Produce display at Full Belly Farm in Sacramento, CAPrograms vary in cost and service, and depending on your membership level, each box holds about enough produce to feed a family of two or four.

Full Belly Farm is a 300-acre certified organic farm near Sacramento, California, which exemplifies how a great CSA works. Every week they bring exceptional produce to a market hungry for alternatives to pesticide-laden, genetically engineered, and highly processed foods.

These photos were taken by a Humble Abode office mate who attended last fall’s “Hoes Down Harvest Festival” at Full Belly Farm. Thanks, Thea!

Do you have a favorite Community Supported Agriculture group? Spread the word…

[ Learn more about CSAs in your neighborhood ]

Bookmark and Share

Scenes of Meyer Lemons in Sonoma County, California

With its moderate Mediterranean climate, the unparalleled grape-growing region of Northern California attracts visitors from everywhere in the world. Humble Abode Inc. is blessed to be located in the beautiful heart of Sonoma County Wine Country, where less heralded but exceptional produce grows alongside the scenic vineyards.

We have perfect growing conditions for strawberries, figs, and even some citrus trees. One of our local favorites is the Meyer lemon, a sweet, versatile variety prized by chefs everywhere. A co-worker says her seven-year-old tree has heavily-perfumed blossoms nearly all year, and bears fruit from December to May.

The crop is so huge this year, she brought several dozen lemons to the Humble Abode office last week. You would’ve thought the lemons were lumps of solid gold! Word traveled fast, creating a rush to the break room for fresh cups of hot tea, bottles of spring water, and even fresh squeezed lemonade, all with chunks of the juicy citrus. They loaded up produce bags with more to take home amid exclamations about the wonderful lemony aroma.

Our Meyer lemon fiesta included ways to use this gold mine of lemons. Talk of mojitos created a buzz, until a colleague said he would make limoncello over the weekend. Why pay $25 for a bottle of this popular lemon liqueur imported from southern Italy, when you can make your own quite easily and inexpensively?

Everyone clamored for the recipe – and more fat, fragrant Meyer lemons, please! – so we thought you might like to see how simple it is to make your own batch of this luscious golden ambrosia.

To produce approximately one quart of homemade limoncello liqueur:

  1. Use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of the bright yellow outer skin of about 5-6 large or 8-10 medium size Meyer lemons. Be careful not to include any of the white pith that is between the skin and the fruit.
  2. Put the lemon zest into a quart size glass jar and fill with unflavored vodka or other neutral spirit.
  3. Shake well to mix, tighten the lid, then store in a cool dark place until the lemon shavings lose their color. Give the container a few shakes every few days until the liquid turns a bright yellow and is very aromatic, approximately 2-3 weeks.
  4. Strain the liquid through moistened cheesecloth into a clean jar or bottle; be sure to squeeze all the liquid out of the cloth to get all the flavor.
  5. Make a simple syrup by combining one cup of sugar with one cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and has a mildly darkened color. Do not boil.
  6. When the syrup is cooled to almost room temperature, add it a little at a time to the lemon and vodka liquid until the mixture’s sweetness suits your taste.
  7. Pour the liqueur through a funnel into a large sterilized bottle and seal tightly. Let your limoncello rest for at least a week – the longer it ages, the smoother and more complex the flavors.
  8. When it’s ready, keep the limoncello well-chilled by storing in your freezer – it will not freeze because of the alcohol.
  9. Pour into your best liqueur stemware and impress your guests with this gorgeous homemade ambrosia after a wonderful meal or just hanging out on balmy summer evening.

Buon Appetito!

If you have any unusual ideas for using lemons, please drop us a comment. We love hearing from you!

Done right, almost anything tastes better grilled. The problem I have is being stuck in a hot kitchen doing prep work while everyone else is outside sipping cocktails. When I finally get outside, I stand over a hot grill fretting over whether the chicken is cooked all the way through or the burgers are charred to a crisp.

Sound familiar? Well, this year, my grilling mantra is “keep it simple.” Friends and family will bring side dishes and dessert for our Memorial Day barbeque, while I’ll offer up grilled salmon and vegetables that should prove to be delectable without much prep or grilling drama.

I found this easy recipe online (for about six people) and can’t wait to fire up the barbie. Check it out:

Ingredients Directions
  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
  • lemon pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Season salmon fillets with lemon pepper, garlic powder, and salt
  • Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and vegetable oil until sugar is dissolved
  • Place fish in large resealable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture and seal
  • Turn to coat salmon completely
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  • Preheat grill for medium heat
  • Lightly oil grill grate – rub extra oil on skin to prevent sticking
  • Place salmon skin side down to start; discard marinade
  • Cook salmon for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork
This part is totally up to your personal preferences. I’ll be grilling fresh asparagus and kabobs with onions, mushrooms, and red, yellow, and orange bell peppers.
  1. Wash veggies well and trim stems, etc.
  2. Cut peppers and onions  into large chunks
  3. Marinate all veggies in your favorite vinaigrette in fridge for 4 hrs.
  4. Drain veggies and keep marinade in reserve
  5. Thread peppers, onions, and mushrooms onto skewers, alternating by color
  6. Cook veggies on medium-hot grill for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally and basting with extra marinade

Colorful, healthy, and best of all, quick and easy. Bon Appetit!

We love your feedback, so let us know if you tried or improved our recipe.

[ Learn more at ]

Get ready for grilling season

We’re salivating just thinking about the aromas of burgers, kabobs, salmon, and veggies crackling on the grill. Smart backyard cooks know doing a pre-season grill tune-up is essential for a great Memorial Day meal to kickoff summer.

Our gas grill checklist:

  • Start with the owner’s manual for best ways to clean your grill
  • Pay special attention to the grease trap
  • Clear out any dust, debris, spider nests, etc.
  • Inspect for broken parts, and for holes, cracks, and brittle areas on hoses
  • Mix a little dish soap with water in a spray bottle, turn on the gas, and spray connections and hose to look for bubbles, indicating leaks. Tighten loose connections and replace the hose if necessary
  • Follow a good clean-up routine after each use to prolong your grill’s life, performance, and safety

You now have the green flag to indulge your passion for excellent barbeque!

Any of you BBQ veterans want to share a grilling tip?

I have never given chickens much thought. I hear random things about their lifestyles (free range, caged, organic, fertilized, and so on). I occasionally feel gratitude to them for being a staple in my diet (although I try not to dwell on it). And the amazing egg is my favorite fast food at all hours of the day or night.

About this time last year, my next door neighbor built a small, luxurious coop on the other side of our fence. The sawing and hammering stopped, then constant, innocent peeping began. Three tiny chicks had hit the poultry lottery and were settling into their cushy new condo.

I fretted about nasty smells and irritating sounds, none of which materialized. Each time I stepped out my door a flurry of peeping, and eventually clucking, greeted me. The neighbor coos to them, causinig me to wonder: Are chickens like dogs and cats? Do they respond to baby talk?

Well, yes, actually they do. As I’ve gotten to know these little ladies, I have discovered they are very social indeed. When we humans talk about the pecking order at home, work, or play, we probably aren’t thinking about chickens. But spend a little time with chickens and you’ll see where we got the phrase.

Charlotte clearly rules the roost and has taken it upon herself to keep the other two girls in line. She sports deep orange body plumage with extravagant blue and green tailfeathers. She knows she’s gorgeous and doesn’t take any guff.

Eavesdropping on their conversations, I have learned there’s a certain tone when they are contented, another when their owner talks to them, and a frantic cackling when they are out of sorts. When a satisfied twitter follows some raucous squawking, chances are good someone just laid a new egg.

One recent quiet Saturday, Charlotte clucked and squawked in an alarming new tone . My neighbor came out and shushed her, but she was inconsolable. Starting to really worry, I stuck my head out the door just as the ruckus stopped, and just in time to see a big fat squirrel leap from the top of the fence to a nearby tree. Charlotte had given him a piece of her mind while sounding the alarm to everyone within earshot.

I was happy to receive a few of the ladies’ first eggs last week and ate them with gusto – and toast. Other than summer veggies, I’ve never been so close to my food source, which is at once deeply gratifying and slightly disconcerting, mainly because I’m certain I could not eat the birds now that I “know” them. Fortunately, they are strictly layers, so we can avoid that dilemma. The bottom line is I now have a “guard chicken” close by who is as good as any dog when it comes to the neighborhood watch.

Do you have a suburban chicken story to share? We’d love to hear from you!


Humble Abode —  February 8, 2012 — 1 Comment

Basil is so easy to grow at home, especially in the summer and fall. Put several basil plants in the ground to have enough leaves to make pesto.

Pesto is a versatile sauce. It’s the perfect dressing for pasta, but is equally delicious as a topping for bruschetta. As a garnish, it transforms a vegetable soup into a sublime meal.

Pesto is quite easy to make. The only equipment needed is a blender or food processor. Simply put a cup of fresh basil leaves (not too small or young, nor the larger older leaves) into the blender or food processor with a pinch of salt to taste. Process the leaves for a couple of seconds until the leaves are chopped. Add 5 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan) or a combination of Parmigiano and Pecorino cheese. To that, add 3 tablespoons of pine nuts, a couple of cloves of garlic and about one half cup of good extra virgin olive oil. Process until a smooth sauce is formed. If using a food processor, process the sauce by pouring the olive oil in the feed tube while the machine is running. This method allows the sauce to be processed to the exact consistency desired.

Pesto should be used right after it’s made since the sauce will quickly lose its bright green color and turn dark. To help preserve the green color if not used immediately, pour a bit of olive oil on top of the sauce in a bowl. The olive oil will help prevent the sauce from oxidizing and darkening.

Want to try something different?

  • Replace the basil leaves with cilantro leaves and use pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds) in place of the pine nuts.
  • Add a serrano or jalapeño chile to the remaining ingredients from the recipe above for a delicious cilantro pesto with a kick.
  • Dress pasta or add to a bean salad for an unexpected treat.
  • Make a roasted garlic pesto by roasting a head of garlic in a 400° oven for 40 minutes. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted garlic from the cloves. Combine the garlic with 2 tablespoons of capers, a half a cup of parsley leaves, one-quarter cup of parmesan or pecorino cheese, and a half cup of olive oil.  Process in a blender or food processor until the sauce is smooth.

Buon appetito!

Good African Coffee

Humble Abode —  February 6, 2012 — Leave a comment

While we’re on the subject of coffee…We saw the article about Good African Coffee in the New York Times Magazine and became instant fans. It is a great read for all, not just the coffee obsessed. Meet Andrew and get a glimpse into the new world of entrepreneurship happening in Africa.

Good African.

We found this on Freshly Pressed this morning as we sipped our first cup of coffee in the Humble Abode office. Very, very well done, Kim!

1000. heartfelt | thanks for the coffee | coffee | served daily.

Salsa Chorizo Spaghetti

Salsa Chorizo Spaghetti

Spaghetti has always been our steadfast, old reliable, staple meal in my family -easily three meals a week. We always made it and ate it the same way. After participating at a local chili cook off my imagination grew. To me, chili and spaghetti sauce is like family. The first addition to my spaghetti sauce was salsa which then easily lead me to adding chorizos. The result is an explosion of taste and zest to my normally mundane steadfast, old reliable, staple meal.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb of Chorizo, remove the skin and dice
1 onion, chopped
1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) jar of salsa
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
3 bay leaves
pinch of salt and ground black pepper


  1. Remove the skin and dice the Chorizo. Then mix  it together with the ground beef.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef, chorizo and the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain grease, if desired. Recommend to keep some of the grease for flavoring.
  3. Add the ground black pepper, tomato sauce, diced tomato, salsa, basil, bay leaves, and salt. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  4. To serve, spoon over freshly cooked spaghetti along with a side of garlic bread.