Archive for the ‘Homegrown’ Category

The Fair Is More Fun (And Costs Less) When You Enter A Competition.

May 8th, 2012 No comments

NOW is the window of time to enter a Competition at the Orange County Fair.

Did you know it costs less to enter a Fair Competition than it does to get in the Fair?

When you enter a Competition, you receive a Fair admission ticket — Enter here.

Do your Tomatoes look better than previous winners (above)?  If so, enter the Garden & Floral Competition.  Have you taken a dazzling photograph or do you paint?  Yes?  Enter the Visual Arts Competition.  Or view the complete list — There has to be a Competition for you.

Bottle Beer or Wine, can Jams or Pickles, or bake?  Enter the Tasty Creations Competition.

More Competition INFO can be read here and the specifics regarding all Culinary Competitions are linked here.  Enter most contests in May and June, and Single Day Contests (in person competitions, shown below) now or after the Fair opens.  See schedule here.  Good luck!

Don’t miss the sign up deadline(s) — You might just win.

Always A Food Angle To A Stunning De Place, De Place: The Arboretum.

April 23rd, 2012 1 comment

Finally inside The Arboretum, our Los Angeles Fantasy Island this day — Ever been there?

We fed turtles (and crazy fish) Cheerios left on the dirt by others — They loved ’em.

The turtles didn’t have much of a chance for a Cheerio with the big-mouthed fish in the water.

And birds stood by scouting for plentiful small fish (and whatever else).

Across the lagoon is the bell tower where Tattoo famously exclaimed “De Plane, De Plane.”

There’s beauty and wonder at The Arboretum — It’s an exploratory way to spend the day.

Bring a camera, cold beverage and good walking shoes to be prepared to see all comfortably.

Food Garden Coming Soon — For those who don’t eat insects, live fish and dirty Cheerios.

A peek inside the old Santa Anita Depot — In photo vintage cooking utensils weave between reflections of today, behind me and up close, as we reflect about life yesterday.  See it?

All this splendor is there for YOU to see.

Below is the Queen Anne Cottage seen on Fantasy Island.  Do you remember it?  Some outdoor scenes were filmed around the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.

It sure was peaceful lounging on the Queen Anne Cottage porch.

Already an adventurous day, before heading to Santa Anita Park nearby for its last weekend.

What’s Your State Food? California Wine At An Alaskan Timeshare.

April 18th, 2012 No comments

What’s your State Food?  And do you agree?  Can you even read the list?  I’m not sure I can.  The photos definitely help.  CA Grapes for Wine sounds especially right with AK King Crab.

Spring Sprunging On Easter Day: Paving The Way For Yo No Se.

April 8th, 2012 1 comment

An Easter table setting awaiting a family meal.

Easter Cupcakes made by Kids in the Kitchen.

A backyard set for BBQ-ing, Ping Pong, Appetizers, Mimosas, doing nothing or anything.

Chef Lexi of Kids in the Kitchen cleaning the BBQ — Cute and helpful, a delightful combination.

Remnants of Candy, gifts and cards scattered throughout — Happy to be alive in Spring!

Calm Down On The Over-Marketing Of Organic: It’s Just Food People.

March 12th, 2012 1 comment

Get Your Eyes Off These Carrots: Ingredients For The Best Carrot Soup.

March 8th, 2012 No comments

Hhhmmmm — Not sure where to start regarding the above, so instead report about the Carrot Soup I made and will post the recipe when prepared again and photographed.  It was a superb combination of Roasted Carrots, Chicken Stock, Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic and Fresh Thyme, puréed.  It was beautiful, complex and flavorsome.  The pictured Carrots weren’t used for my Soup, somehow it wouldn’t seem right!?  Should they put on pants?

Anatomical Creations Utilizing All Parts: Zest, Peel & Juice.

February 1st, 2012 No comments

Do you remember Orange Guy?  I thought he was so cute and wanted to peel him alive.  Well, I gave it a try and created Orange Dude, if you see what I’m sayin’ — It just happened that way.  The photos are minimized to tone down our rating.  Enlarge each for a better peek. 😉

What excites me most here are these Orange Jellies I made for the first time — They are absolutely delicious!  I will soon be posting more about them, along with an easy recipe adapted from another.  All pictured utilized one glorious Orange.  It’s a sexy, sweet thing.

Contemplating Where To Eat Next On Top Of This Week’s Hill.

November 16th, 2011 No comments

East is a good place to start from So Cal, or in my fridge to assemble a picnic for the next hill.  Hhmmm, contemplating as shown and doing nothing (yet) — Photo Credit on hump day.

Time Is A Great Teacher: It’s That Time.

June 27th, 2011 No comments

Time is a great teacher, too bad it kills ALL its pupils.  Where did I read a variation of that?  Inedible Dahlias are on sale again — I just spoke with the nice gentleman that sells them.  He and his wife have a lovely garden of spectacular Dahlias in Costa Mesa.  Stop by before sundown, call if you can, or just park and walk towards their backyard.  They’re usually there.

Revere The First Summer Day & Birthday Of A Sweet Sister.

June 21st, 2011 No comments

Fresh cut Strawberries and Kiwis, if you get to them before the kids — Happy 1st Day of Summer to all and Birthday to Ami on the longest DAY of the year.  Yeah we’re hap-happy…

Colored view from the HB Pier in June — It happened the same day as this.

As Spring Has Sprung, Weekend Strawberry Tours Have Begun.

March 30th, 2011 2 comments

Can you believe the weekend Strawberry Tours have already begun at Tanaka Farms?  Time flies by too fast, but I’m happy to see it again.  We went last year and loved the experience.

Happy First Day Of Spring: It’s Time To Plant Food And Save Money.

March 20th, 2011 No comments

Today is the first day of Spring — It’s time to start planting a few things to save on produce.

Carrot Love In The Club, Actually From The Farm To Our Table.

June 12th, 2010 No comments

Why did we feel guilty eating these Carrots?  It’s probably because they seemed to be in love.  We got ’em during our tour of Tanaka Farms.  Carrots are one of the amazing clues left by God — Read more about that here.

Easy Recipe: Giant Baked Sweet Onion For Two.

June 5th, 2010 No comments

The largest Sweet Onions in town can be found at Tanaka Farms.  Continuing our report about our recent visit to Tanaka Farms — In addition to the Strawberries, we took home a giant Sweet Onion to make one of our favorite side dishes, Baked (or BBQ’d) Onions.

Tanaka Farms grows their Onions amongst the Strawberries.  They say it helps to keep certain pests away from the Strawberries and it sweetens the Onions.

Baked Onions aka Onion Candy is a much loved side we often enjoy with Filet Mignon and loaded Baked Potatoes.  We’ve previously posted the recipe here.

Without visiting the above recipe link, know here that it’s an Onion that’s tented in foil with Bacon Grease, Salt and Pepper — And then it’s baked in the oven or on a BBQ for about an hour.  This extra large Onion took longer (a little under 2 hours) and indeed it was incredibly sweet to eat.  It served two very well.

Baked Onions are so easy to make.  The rule is generally (1) Onion per guest — If getting them from Tanaka Farms, they can be shared.

If this doesn’t sound good to you, it’s understandable — We once appalled at the idea too, but they’re sooooo good.  You might be missing out.

Tanaka Farms: Orange County’s Largest U-Pick Farm.

June 1st, 2010 No comments

Have you been to Tanaka Farms yet?  If you haven’t, you’re missing out.  It’s in Irvine and is also known as Orange County’s Largest U-Pick Farm.  During certain tours you get to pick your own Strawberries, Watermelon and much more.  We recently went on the Strawberry Tour, which was more fun than we imagined.

At the end of the Strawberry Tour, you get to pick and take home your own large basket of Strawberries, which happens after you eat as many as you can stuff down.  We all said they were the best Strawberries we had in our lives.  Not sure why, but they’re amazingly sweet.  The tour lasts about an hour. 

While on the tractor ride that’s included with the Strawberry Tour, you get to try a few of the seasonal vegetables along the way.  After sampling all, you feel like you’ve just had a healthy meal.  We joked that we should bring Salt, Pepper and Ranch Dressing next time — And we seriously might.

In addition to the endless Strawberries, we ate Radishes, Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, Green Beans, Iceberg and Red Leaf Lettuce directly from the field.  What a treat!  And when you’re done eating, you just toss the remains (aka Carrot and Radish tops, Strawberry leaves, etc.) over your shoulder off the tractor.

Weekend Strawberry Tours are running now through June 27th (weather permitting) and the Watermelon Tours begin in early July.  Tanaka Farms also offers Cookout Tours, whereas you get to pick, wash and cook your own meal directly from and at the farm.  The view from the cookout area is beautiful.

We still keep talking about how much fun this was and that we now look forward to enjoying Tanaka Farms all year long.  They have a fresh produce stand that’s open daily. 

Family run Tanaka Farms is organized, friendly, fun, clean and pesticide free.  They do a lot of creative planting to put forth the best produce possible.  We’re impressed with ALL.

California Avocado Commission & Too Hot Tamales Interactive Lunch.

May 1st, 2010 No comments

Nibbles of Tidbits was recently invited by the California Avocado Commission to attend a gourmet, interactive lunch and cooking demonstration with chef partners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of the Too Hot Tamales.  Since I was unable to attend, but didn’t want to miss it, Nibbles of T sent its resident Guest Blogger, Bonnie of Bonnie Joy Designs.  She always provides an interesting angle to a story and was excited to receive a personally signed copy of Cooking With Too Hot Tamales (below). 

Ahhhh – Those Avocados were Awesome!

Avocado advocates Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (a.k.a. The Too Hot Tamales) along with the California Avocado Commission hosted a rousing, festive Food Blogger-only event ahead of Cinco de Mayo at their downtown L.A. restaurant, Ciudad, last Saturday. The afternoon began with a surprise. Actually, it was the “interactive” portion of the show, which turned out to be a “Top Chef” style competition featuring the Food Bloggers themselves as the chefs along with California Avocados, and a very long table full of potential accoutrements.

The Food Bloggers were given only seconds to pair up (I assume none of the Bloggers had ever met one another before, which made what came next even more amazing), then they were given just 3 minutes to flesh out (pardon the pun) their best recipe for guacamole. Then they got a mere 5 minutes (yes, there was a timer!) to execute their dish and 2 more minutes to give it a definitive name. I can report that the Food Bloggers took this competition very seriously, even if it was all in fun.

And I don’t think I need to tell you who the judges were… But what I can tell you is that even they were impressed at how well all 10 recipes turned out. Bravo! (Sorry Susan, that’s actually not a plug for the network you are on as one of the final “Top Chef Masters” on May 5th…or… maybe it is). I think I got to sample all ten dishes, and they really were all tasty and creative, so everyone was a winner.

The next hour featured the Too Hot Tamales doing what they do best – whipping up a four course meal with each one featuring avocados as the core ingredient. If you want to see poetry in motion, then you need to experience Susan and her long-time business partner Mary Sue as they whirled and twirled their way through a menu that included a Crispy Avocado Taco, an incredible salad with fried (yes, fried) capers, Chicken and Avocado Chilaquiles and for dessert, Avocado and Mango Slices with a Creamy Yogurt Dressing. They even managed to blend an Avocado and Orange “Liquado” to drink. Needless to say, each dish was a masterpiece.

Ciudad Executive Chef Jeremy Tummel and Jan DeLyser from the California Avocado Commission also joined in the fun that happened at this invitation only event. If you came away from this afternoon hungry, then you did not attend the same event that I did. The attention to detail was impeccable – from the beginning Margarita to the personalized cookbooks at the end – and was well appreciated by the interior designer in me.

I now have a fresh appreciation for a fruit that is locally grown and nutritionally packed. So be sure to add Avocados to your daily diet, and not just on special occasions or on Cinco de Mayo!

Thanks Bonnie.  I love Avocados too and my parents eat ’em almost daily.  It looks like I missed a pretty cool event, but I’m happy to have the exciting report and photos.

Note:  Bonnie bought a new camera for this event — As I write this, it’s in the process of being returned.  We like what was captured, but weren’t happy with the graininess of the photos.  What’s posted here is the best of the worst.  Click on the Blogger links above to view better photos.

Learn Where To Find All The Farmers’ Markets In Orange County.

April 7th, 2010 No comments

Fava Beans for sale at the Corona Del Mar Farmers' Market

As Orange County Food Examiner, I just posted a collection of links to most (if not all) the Farmers’ Markets happening in Orange County.  It’s a terrific resource — You can learn where they all are here.

Photos From The Farmers’ Market In Corona Del Mar.

March 28th, 2010 No comments

Farmer's Market in Corona Del Mar

We’ll soon be posting about Orange County Farmers’ Markets on  This weekend we started with a visit to the Corona Del Mar Farmers’ Market.  Our visit was also inspired by the new Cookbook we’re trying, Southern Living’s Farmers Market Cookbook.

Farmer's Market Flowers

Right now the Corona Del Mar Certified Farmers’ Market has a lot of beautiful flowers — You can surely tell it’s Spring.  It’s one of the smaller Farmers’ Markets in Orange County, but offers plenty of variety.  We post a sampling here and will later publish a slide show on Examiner.

Farmer's Market Squash

Farmer's Market Flowers


More Farmer's Market Flowers

Fava BeansFarmer's Market HoneyAsparagusClock Tower Near Farmer's Market

The Corona Del Mar Farmers’ Market is at PCH and Marguerite, near the pictured clock tower.

Homemade Pickles With Leftover Pickle Juice.

September 15th, 2009 No comments


misc-021I’ve always wanted to make my own Dill Pickles, but dread the whole canning sterilization process — It’s a turn off, HA.  So I searched for a way around it and came across a good shortcut for a quick, easy homemade Dill Pickle.  Its author, Michele of Cooking with Michele used Cucumber spears, but I was in need of chips.  And with some leftover Bubbies Pickle Juice and a self sealing mason jar, the result is above.  After a week, they were nicely crunchy and absorbed some of the Bubbies flavor and Dill Pickle taste.  It’s a great use for leftover Pickle Juice — It’s like getting a second jar of Pickles for free, or for the price of a few Cucumbers.

In That Same American Backyard On July 4th.

July 5th, 2009 No comments


Last year the Carne Asada was from Gems Market in Yorba Linda and this year it’s from Costco.  Both were good — We’ve got no complaints about anything.  It was a beautiful day in America.



We had Hot Dogs, made Tacos, ate Salads, Fresh Cherries, Edamame, Chips, Salsa, Watermelon, Homegrown Tomatoes, Basil and more.



And check out these shoes (directly above right), they’ve got bottle openers built in to the bottom of them.  Too funny — I had not seen that before.  They came in handy on this thirsty day.

Related Links:

Another Bouquet of Herbs From A Friend’s Garden.

September 11th, 2008 No comments

It’s always nice in the Summer to receive Herbs from a Friend’s Garden.  Here’s another creative way to keep them for a short period of time.  It’s fun to open the fridge to see a Cup-O-Herbs, especially if the Herbs have blooms.  This bunch includes Garlic Chives, Rosemary, Basil and Pineapple Sage.  There’s a little water at the bottom of the cup.  It’s like a decoration in your fridge.  I thought about adding a tablecloth. 🙂

But learn something from my unrelated mistake.  You probably wouldn’t notice, but if you do — I should have removed the Tomato Paste from the can before placing it in the refrigerator.  I’ve read that’s what you’re supposed to do.  I was just keeping it for a day, but that’s no excuse.  It’s the bad in the good, the bad and the funny.

Related Links:

The Breakdown Of A Chocolate Bean.

August 19th, 2008 1 comment

Chocolate’s progression on its way to your mouth.  I didn’t get to see the entire process, but the HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE links below will show you more.

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Related Links:

Beautiful Summer Dahlias in Costa Mesa.

August 16th, 2008 No comments

Some flowers are edible, but these aren’t.  This post is for the locals, but you can certainly enjoy the pictures.  If you’re nearby it’s a fun find.  Dahlias can be fresh cut from our Costa Mesa neighbor’s backyard from June to September.

Just point to the one you want and Mr. or Mrs. Banks will cut it for you.  They’re located at 1589 Riverside Place in Costa Mesa, California 92627 – (949) 642-8107.  The Dahlia prices range from $3.00 – $8.00 each.  If there’s a ‘Dahlias Today’ sign out front, feel free to walk back to see the beautiful flowers.  They’re gorgeous.

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