Fruit Stands on the Back Roads

I almost always travel the back roads of Sonoma County whenever I have to go somewhere. Usually, I’m driving my teens to school or work or to visit a friend in another town. I love Sonoma County and all its country roads, and even though I would definitely classify my job as a rigorous Taxi Mom, it’s all worth it for the widespread country views which I adore and soothes my soul. Views of golden rolling hills or wide, flat grasslands combined with pastures and lazy cows and fluffy clouds or clear blue sky days that go on forever is the norm. Every time I go for a drive it is all worth it! My last outing I decided to go off my beaten paths and explore the small produce stands here and there.IMG_9413
First stop, after dropping my daughter off at work driving from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol a (20 minute or so drive), is my little, newly discovered egg stand on the side of the road by Ragle Ranch Regional Park. Fresh farm eggs! Years ago I raised my own chickens and eggs, but for a long time now I have been reduced to shopping for eggs in the local grocery stores. Fresh eggs are so much nicer than supermarket chain eggs. The yolk is bright yellow in color and full of flavor. Brown eggs and blue eggs from Araucana chickens are such a delight for me to see and to bring home! And if I walk along the fence in the park I can visit the flock of chickens from where my eggs came from, so I know they are the real, fresh deal! The eggs are pricey because of the cost of feed for the chickens but I don’t mind, I’m keeping them healthy with their favorite grain; the owner smiling and my new fresh egg habit going!IMG_9974
Next stop, on my way home by the gorgeous Laguna de Santa Rosa off High School Road is The Sonoma Swamp Blues Organic Blueberry farm, (Oh, yum!). Throughout the late winter and early spring I have been watching the farmers cultivating their blueberry bushes from afar while driving and I just couldn’t wait for the season to begin! Summer is here at last and the blueberries are in huge delicious form. Big containers, full of large juicy, organic, indigo colored blueberries line the counter. This is my second year of buying blueberries from the stand so I can make my blueberry muffins, pancakes and fruit yogurt to name a few. I love my blueberries grown on the Laguna Swamp land. I figure the soil must be rich in nutrients to grow such delicious blueberry bushes. When I see the Sonoma Swamp Blues tent with its big banner sign it always makes me feel somehow like I’m taking apart in Louisiana’s bayou living!IMG_9920IMG_9924IMG_9922
Next Stop, winding through the back roads, I have to cut over (just once), to Hwy 12 to pick up my fresh strawberries at the little stand there. Oh my gosh, so worth it! The owners are super friendly and begged me to take pictures of their fruit. (Honestly, they didn’t need to because my camera was out already), the strawberries and blackberries were asking permission to be photographed! Gorgeous, plump, bright red and juicy strawberries; full, deep dark, purple blackberries are in baskets on the counter. Large white buckets in the back filled to the top full of berries! I bought 1/2 a flat of strawberries and a basket of the blackberries. More fresh fruit to add to my yogurt for my quick morning breakfasts before I hit the road being, Taxi Mom.IMG_0876 IMG_0874
After winding my way home back through the country roads past pastures, barns, cows and horses I make one last stop at the top of my street to our friend’s little wooden farm stand. They have had a stand up for years on their grandfathered farm in the middle of suburbia. I always swing by their stand and pick up a basket full of fruit for a tart or smoothies. In the fall I pick up green apples perfect for baking apple pie and making applesauce. Today they are selling peachcots, loquats and raspberries. “Loquat? What’s a loquat?”, I think to myself. I’m not sure what a loquat is so I drop my coins in the container and take the other two fruit baskets and now I’m happily on my way home with my bounty of fresh fruit and sunny thoughts from my country back road travels. Simple pleasures make me happy and today is a great day!IMG_9979

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Scones

Lovely, warm and cozy scones. If you are going to the trouble to make lemon curd then you had better bake a batch of these wonderful gems.  Another recipe from my Scottish mum of course.  There is something to be said about a scone over a muffin, doughnut or croissant. They are in a category all on their own. They are more dense than a muffin and not as light as a croissant. Scones are hearty and made the perfect size,  just right to fill you up with a cup of tea and a soft-boiled egg, the way my mum used to serve them. I think they were invented to help you get through the long, cold winter mornings in Scotland. I love my scones with currants but you can switch it up with all types of dried fruits from golden raisins to dried cranberries. Slice into one right out of the oven, add lemon curd or a dollop of butter and let it melt into its own existence…they are so good. There are all kinds of scone recipes but for some reason I always come back to this recipe my old standby, perfect buttermilk scones.

Scones

10 ounces flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/2 currants

1 egg

1/4 cup buttermilk

Sift together dry ingredients, rub in butter with back of spoon. Whisk together buttermilk and egg.  Mix into flour mixture with fork and mix in currants. Gently knead on lightly floured pastry board.  Roll out  about  1/4  inch thick round circle and cut out 8-10 smaller rounds or triangles.  Bake in 450 degree oven for about 12 minutes until golden.  This recipe can be doubled.

Jack London State Park

We celebrated my Dad’s 76th. birthday October 18  here at Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen,Ca. The park has to be one of the best places in Sonoma County to visit. Usually the vineyards are ablaze with all the fall colors you can imagine, this year you can see that fall arrived late and the leaves are just starting to turn! Hopefully next year I will time it right to visit this amazing place in it’s full colorful glory.


Korbel Vineyards in the Summer

Driving through Guerneville,Ca. on a hot summer day by the Russian River I couldn’t resist but snap these shots of the gorgeous Korbel Champagne Vineyards. I live so close to here but driving down the road on the way to the Korbel cellars for a picnic or a day at the beach or a day to splash around in the river is like being on a vacation~heavenly!