The summery and lovely weather we are having calls for a stroll to downtown Martinez on Thursday to the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market to check out all the fresh fruits and vegetables from the fields in the nearby valleys. As an extra inducement to visit the market, Sugar and Spice from Richmond will be offering their delicious varieties of goodies for your snacks and desserts. Their products will keep you away from baking in a hot kitchen while still being able to serve freshly baked goodies.
In addition to this bounty, the Sunset Olive Grove from Castro Valley brings their fine extra virgin olive oil that is grown and pressed in Oroville on their forty acre orchard which has trees that are around 100 years old.
The olives are handpicked between late November and February and cold-pressed either the same day or the following day. The folks at the Sunset Olive Grove are very proud to display the California Olive Oil Council’s Seal of Extra Virgin Olive Oil – a recognition that is not easily earned. Their philosophy states “we enjoy being part of the land and sharing the wonderful oil that California produces….We appreciate the opportunity to educate our customers about the health benefits of olive oil…and how to choose and use the product.”
Having been reared by an Italian mother, I have in my kitchen cupboard the staple ingredient of her cupboard – olive oil. I am reminded of my old friend Ken who thought olive oil was only good as a hair dressing! Such misinformation! Everybody knows that olive oil is good for dandruff all the way down to the dry skin on your heels and every other place on the skin that needs some gentle softening and lubrication. (That is if you don’t mind giving out the delicate aroma of salad dressing!)
Being the major ingredient in a zesty salad dressing and a wonderful topping with a bit of vinegar, salt, and minced parsley for boiled potatoes, olive oil gives a great flavor boost when sautéing a few chopped onions for the bottom of the pan in which you are to steam spinach or other greens.
¾ c. olive oil
¼ c. lemon juice or cider vinegar
1 T. sugar
¾ t. salt
¼ t. paprika
¼ t. dry mustard
¼ t. pepper
Combine in a screw-top jar. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Store in refrigerator and shake well before using. Makes 1 cup.
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½ lb. mushrooms, chopped
4 T. olive oil
2 T. cider vinegar or wine
½ t. salt
2 green onions, minced
Mix together and let stand for 1 hour before using.
1. Dressing on salad greens
2. Place in unbuttered rounds of French bread to serve as appetizers
3. Use on cold chicken or shrimp as a dressing
4. Use as a sandwich spread for small tea sandwiches