Category Archives: Farming


I am sure that a lot of you are planning your Thanksgiving meals full swing right now (so fun!) and for many of you (including me), you will be going to Thanksgiving at someone else’s house where a roasted Turkey will take center stage. ¬†Thanksgiving can be a touchy time for plant-based eaters / vegans (which ever label you prefer) in that so much focus is put on the turkey and as a result we tend to get a lot of attention from family and friends for not consuming any.

I know a lot of you feel guilt about attending a Thanksgiving celebration where turkey is served. ¬†Rest assured that there is something you can do to help offset your guilt…Adopt-A-Turkey! ¬†For 25 years now Farm Sanctuary has been rescuing turkeys at Thanksgiving time (and all year round). ¬†Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey project:

“[S]eeks to end the misery of commercially-raised turkeys by offering a compassionate alternative for Thanksgiving. Since 1986, Farm Sanctuary has rescued more than 1,000 turkeys, placed hundreds into loving homes through our annual Turkey Express adoption event, educated millions of people about their plight, and provided resources for a cruelty-free holiday. For a one-time $30 donation, anyone can sponsor turkeys residing at Farm Sanctuary.¬†Sponsor a turkey¬†and receive a special adoption certificate in your name ‚Äď or give sponsorships as gifts for family and friends. Donations are also needed to¬†support our lifesaving efforts¬†to promote a compassionate Thanksgiving and protect all farm animals.”

For the second year in a row, Ellen DeGeneres is the spokesperson for this wonderful project.

Says DeGeneres: “Did you know that every year between 250 and 300 million turkeys are bred for slaughter in the United States? More than 46 million for Thanksgiving alone. So, this Thanksgiving instead of eating a turkey, please join me in adopting one from Farm Sanctuary‚Äôs¬†Adopt-A-Turkey Project¬†and you can give a turkey something to be thankful for.”¬†

Image of Ellen courtesy of VegNews

Turkey images courtesy of FarmSanctuary

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Filed under Animal Welfare, Education, Farming, Vegan, Vegetarian


I am mesmerized by farms and orchards.  Though I have never lived on a farm, it is in my blood.  My mother comes from a long line of farmers, and my father grew-up working his family’s orange groves…maybe it is their stories that drew me in as a child and maybe that is why I have such idyllic notions of farming.  My logical mind knows that I realistically have no idea what living and working on a farm entails and the hardships that farmers face daily, but that doesn’t change the fact that living on a ranch has always been my dream.  I am called to the land and the animals and I know that ranch life is part of my destiny when the time is right.

Theresa Weir didn’t have that calling, yet apple farming became her life. ¬†I just finished her memoir, “The Orchard,” and I am numb.¬† I appreciate Theresa’s courage in telling the story the apple farm she married in to…a farm and family that never truly allowed her in.¬† While it is common knowledge that farming is backbreaking, constant, and exhausting work, our culture has romanticized it beyond recognition.¬† Theresa had the guts and honesty to tell the story of modern farming with truth and transparency. Farming nowadays is not the farming of our grandparent’s time; big business has taken over. Pesticides rule and people get hurt.

Theresa’s memoir has elevated my respect for organic farmers (a respect that was already sky high).  Organic farmers are literally risking their farms and livelihood to provide us with pure food; they are one infestation, drought, or awful storm away from losing everything. That is the epitome of bravery.

I truly understand the circumstances that push farmers toward the use of pesticides in their attempt to hold on to the land that has been in their family for generations, but chemicals are not the answer.

Please read this book.  The Orchard was so intoxicating that I could not put it down…I read this book so quickly that it was as if I drank it.

We need to reclaim our farmland.


This weekend my lovely little girl turned 6!  In honor of her autumn birthday and my recent completion of The Orchard, my family took a trip to Oak Glen for a fun-filled day of apple picking.

Both of my children share my love of the land which made the day all the more special.

We visited Los Rios Rancho which is my favorite organic apple orchard in Oak Glenn.  While there we ate lunch while listening to a bluegrass band comprised of 4 siblings.  It was heartwarming to listen to their music while their parents proudly looked-on from a table piled high with their cds for sale.

After lunch we went into the U-pick orchards and had a lot of fun taking turns with the apple picker.  Since the orchard is organic, there were quite a few apples with worm holes, but I will take worm holes any day over pesticides!  I was just so darn happy while walking through the orchard with my children, husband, and parents.

After picking apples we made our way back to the main buildings at Los Rios Rancho and had our hand at making our own apple cider the old fashioned way (translation…with man power). ¬†The cider was sooooo good and sweet…the kids went nuts for it!

We really had a wonderful day in Oak Glen. ¬†When we got home we set to work making homemade apple pie and apple crumble. ¬†My daughter was having so much fun baking with her Nana. ¬†It felt great to have three generations in the kitchen creating together. ¬†I can’t think of a better autumn “birthday cake” than fresh baked apple pie and crumble.

I highly recommend taking your family for a day of apple picking.  It is so important for us to support our local farmers.

To learn more about Oak Glen click here.

Oak Glen pictures taken by photographer Tony Tseng


Filed under Books, Education, Farming, Farming, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian


Seeing as my kids and I are absolutely obsessed with farms,¬†we love Tanaka Farms.¬† Tanaka Farms is Orange County’s largest organic farm consisting of 30-acres of beautiful farmland.¬† Farmer Tanaka is a 3rd generation farmer and we feel so lucky that he is farming near us right in the middle of Orange County.¬† Tanaka Farms¬†produces fruits and vegetables¬†for their produce stand (amazing) and¬†their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program which is now delivering!¬†

Tanaka Farms is most famous around here for the wonderful educational tours they provide throughout the year.  They have Cookout Tours, Strawberry Tours, Watermelon Tours, Pumpkin Patch Tours, and during the holidays they sell Christmas Trees (not a tour).

Every year I make sure I take the kids on the Tanaka Farms Strawberry tour.  We get to go out on the farm in a tractor pulled wagon and sample produce along the way (carrots, sugar snap peas, baby Maui onions, cilantro). 

The tour guide teaches the kids (and adults) so many interesting facts about farming, i.e. they plant onions between the strawberries as a natural pest deterrent.

At the end of the tour we are set free in the strawberry fields to pick our own strawberries.¬† While we can only bring home what fits in our strawberry basket, we¬†are allowed¬†to eat to our hearts content while out in the fields (two years ago I ate so many strawberries I gave myself hives…it was still worth it!).¬†

All three of us have some not so flattering pictures of us gorging on berries…

For more information about Tanaka Farms Tours click here.

For more information about Tanaka Farms CSA program click here.

For more information about Tanaka Farms produce stand click here.


Filed under Education, Farming, Vegan, Vegetarian

FARM FRESH TO YOU – Organic Produce Delivery

The Delivery In My Courtyard Yesterday

The Delivery In My Courtyard Yesterday

About a month and a half ago I bought a Groupon¬†for an organic produce delivery service called Farm Fresh To You.¬† Groupon was offering a deal that I couldn’t resist, $15 for¬†a¬†mixed organic produce box that usually costs¬†$31.¬† I am such a fan of the service that I signed on as a regular customer.

I love getting the deliveries….I feel like I have a present waiting for me in my courtyard!¬† ¬†I¬†chose to receive deliveries every two weeks, because I really like going to the Farmer Market too.¬† The service allows you to customize how often you receive deliveries and it is very easy to log in and cancel a delivery if need be (i.e. if you will be out of town).¬† I have also found their customer service to be phenomenal (they call¬†every so often¬†to check in and ask if you have any questions).

Top Layer of Produce

Top Layer of Produce

Bottom Layer of Produce

Bottom Layer of Produce

The oranges from our delivery yesterday were honestly the best oranges I have ever had.  The flesh was the color of grapefruit, but they were so sweet!  My kids each ate one and they both asked for more.

Part of the fun for me is figuring out what I am going to make with the fruits and veggies they deliver.  I have a feeling the kale is going to become kale chips!

Here is a description of their services in their own words:

We Harvest a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables from our farm and create several home delivery and office delivery service options for you to choose from. Our Regular Service is our most popular home delivery for those who have some time to cook and Mostly Fruit Service is great for those of you who are always on the run. The produce in each service changes weekly and varies seasonally, but we work with neighboring organic farms to ensure a good variety of produce year round.
You Choose the service you would like to receive and the frequency you would like to receive your service. The day that you receive delivery depends on your zip code, and the frequency of your delivery can be weekly, every other week, every third week or every 4th week delivery.
Customize your service after you sign up for your delivery by logging onto your account or contacting the office via phone or email. You let us know the item(s) you would not like to receive and we automatically change the item(s) if they come up in your standard seasonal selection. Feel free to add extra items for an event or dinner and we will deliver them with your next delivery.


Filed under Farming, Services


Baked Lima Beans

Baked Lima Beans

When I was a kid I HATED lima beans.¬† My dad loved them, so we ate them a lot.¬†¬†Just thinking¬†of lima beans used to make my mouth dry…they always tasted so mealy and¬†intensely dry¬†to me and no amount of butter¬†could fix that.¬† To this day I see one of the bricks of frozen Jolly Green Giant lima beans and shudder.

Fast forward to adulthood.  A few months ago my husband and I had the priviledge of enjoying an amazing night at the Segerstrom Family Farm in Costa Mesa.  Our friends invited us to join them at the farm for a charity event (The Festival of Children) and it was truly one of my favorite events ever.  We began by going out into the fields to pick the produce that would be used in our dinner.  There was a private chef who prepared all of the food with her team and we spent the night dining outdoors under the stars right next to the fields.  It was spectacular.  The food was phenomenal and the company was even better.

The Segerstrom Farm began as a lima bean farm, so when the night ended we were all sent home with bage of dried lima beans and fantastic pumpkins to take home to the kids.

Segerstrom Lima Beans

Segerstrom Lima Beans

For the holidays my mom and dad gifted me a HUGE (750+ pages) vegetarian cookbook¬† called World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey and one of the lima bean reciped jumped out at me.¬† The time had come for me to give lima beans another try…I already had some outstanding beans in the pantry from the¬†Segerstrom Farm, so¬†¬†I had no more excuses.

World Vegetarian

World Vegetarian

Shockingly I LOVED this recipe.  The beans were creamy and so flavorful.  I am sure it is attributable to high quality beans and a well written cookbook.

Madhur received this recipe from the nuns at the Ormylia Monastery in Macedonia.


1 cup dried lima beans or any large white beans, picked over and washed

¬ľ cup oil

1 medium onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin half moons

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices

2 good-sized (6-7 ounce each) tomatoes, finely chopped

1 ¬ľ tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley

3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried oregano


Soak the beans overnight in water to cover by 5 inches.  Drain, discarding the soaking liquid and rinse with cold water.

Dry Beans vs. Soaked Beans

Dry Beans vs. Soaked Beans

Put the beans in a pot with 3 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil.  Remove the scum that rises to the top.  Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for 40 to 60 minutes, or until the beans are just tender (If the dried beans are very fresh it may only take 20 minutes).  


Skim the Foam

Skim the Foam


 Meanwhile, put the oil in a flame and ovenproof casserole-type dish and set over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the onion.  Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the onion has just wilted.  Put in the carrot and cook another minute, stirring now and then.  Now put in the tomatoes and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened.  Turn off the heat.
Onions, Carrots, & Tomatoes

Onions, Carrots, & Tomatoes

Sauteed Onions, Carrots, & Tomatoes

Sauteed Onions, Carrots, & Tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 325ňöF.

When the beans have finished cooking, add them and their cooking liquid to the dish with the onion, carrot, and tomatoes. 

Gently Mix in the Lima Beans

Gently Mix in the Lima Beans

 Add the salt, lots of black pepper, the parsley, and oregano.  Stir to mix. 

Add the Herbs

Add the Herbs

Put the casserole dish into the oven and bake, uncovered for 2 hours. 

Ready for the Oven

Ready for the Oven

Serve hot.  I served this with a salad and some crusty whole wheat bread, but it would taste great over barley or pasta as well.

Baked & Ready to Serve

Baked & Ready to Serve

For a printable version of this recipe click here


Filed under Beans/Legumes, Books, Farming, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian