The Cheese Cracker

The cheese does not stand alone! That would be boring. When eating cheese, one pulls out all the stops: firstly the cork, then proceed to cured meats, chopped fruit, gherkins and a myriad of sauces, creating a lavish spread that all will relish. Cheese is an appetizer that demands accoutrements!

Besides wine, the essential accessory is crackers. Delivering a bite of cheese from the block to our lips requires a platform worthy of its grandeur. Beck’s Bakery blesses us with the perfect pairing. Their whole wheat and whole rye crackers complement essentially any cheese! Nothing short of savory, these crackers are impressively simple and yet divine. They are crispy without being hard, and tasty without overpowering the feature presentation.

Beck’s are crackers that one can wholeheartedly enjoy. They are made entirely of locally grown and milled whole wheat and whole rye flour: stoneground in town! It doesn’t get any better than this folks. Wholesome grains provide important nutrients and are released slowly in the body, unlike the refined grains in so many baked goods today. Who could resist an “I heart gluten” pin after shoveling down some tuna salad with these classy crackers?


Stone Ground Whole Wheat Crackers                                                               4.5 oz bag

Who knew crackers could be this good! These are thin and crispy – almost like wheat-thins, but better. Fantastic with cheese, hummus, egg salad…

Local stone ground whole wheat flour, water, sunflower seeds*, sesame seeds*, local honey (Humboldt Honey), olive oil*, French Grey sea salt. *organic


Stone Ground Whole Rye Crackers                                                                   4.5 oz bag

Very thin and crispy with a just barely there fennel finish…pairs beautifully with goat or sheep cheeses…try these crackers with thin slices of Manchego

Local stone ground whole rye flour (Nelson Ranch – Ukiah), water, pumpkin seeds*, sesame seeds*, local honey, olive oil*, fennel seeds*, French Grey sea salt. *organic


Love thy Cheesy Neighbor

Here in Humboldt we celebrate the uniqueness of our locality like it’s our job. And it’s true: we are very special and that is something to celebrate. The cool thing is, we have awesome neighbors too. I want to take a moment to honor our friends to the North and South who are also contributing to a vibrant local food scene.

Benjamin Barber sparked this idea in his TED talk about “Why mayors should rule the world”. His thoughts remind me that, while it is important to focus on the issues of our region, it is also imperative to recognize our interdependence with other communities around the world on a local level. A good example of this concept is Arcata’s sister city in Nicaragua: Camoapa.

While nation-states can too easily become abstractions that fail to address specific problems, Barber, in his lecture, reminds us that cities are where the action is because cities are where we live and act as citizens. Mayors are familiar with local issues because they are usually from the area they govern; their ability to problem-solve in a pragmatic way is crucial to uniting diverse regions. Barber envisions mayors forming a network of global governance that actually has the capacity to represent its people.

In the spirit of Barber’s talk, let’s bring food to the table. The last couple years I fell in love with traditional foods. This romance was sparked by cheese: Dutch gouda, French brie, Spanish manchego, Italian parmesan, Swiss swiss! They all have a heritage whose authenticity is guaranteed. Europe’s “Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO) certification or a more specific appellation denomination protects the reputation of genuine, regional foods. It is a system that ensures a product is made traditionally and from a specific locality.

Today’s food industry tends to overlook the time-tested and approved artisan approach to production. Yet there are those of us who draw inspiration from this long history and work to reinvigorate our food with these principles. Sonoma County and the Rogue River Valley stand out as regions bursting with artisan style products that complement Humboldt’s own offerings. This month I have really enjoyed a couple new cheeses from these locales.


When tomato season kicked in the fresh mozzarella began flying off the shelf. Having tried plenty of bland tasting pasta filata style cheeses, I found Pt. Reyes fresh mozzarella to stand out cleanly from the pack. The magic is in the mouthfeel; the subtle texture of this brined mozzarella is unexpectedly remarkable!

Raw milk cheese is making a comeback. Both Pt. Reyes Creamery and Rogue Creamery offer raw milk blue cheeses that are fabulous. Rogue River Blue was just released at the beginning of September. It is a seasonal offering whose unique character reflects the region from whence it came. Rogue River Blue is a rich, buttery blue wrapped in pear brandy soaked grapes leaves before being cave-aged for 9-12 months. The choice of nearby Clear Creek Pear Brandy and Carpenter Hill Vineyard Syrah leaves is no coincidence. These decisions hint at Rogue River’s underlying values and provides the resulting cheese with a vital depth of character that is hard to describe. I will gladly work on community-building if it means eating this cheese!


Mayonnaise Du Jour

aimg_56aCasey’s Place in the Fog Blog

This year, I learned to love mayonnaise. Since so many people avoid the white stuff, I thought that sharing my newfound obsession might spark a renaissance of coleslaw and potato salad! The catalyst was a homemade batch of mayo from my local egg lady. Sadly, store bought mayonnaise does not hold a candle to the forest-fire-like-situation of the real deal, so if you want to change your mind about mayo, its best to start at home with an egg & some oil.

Turns out, this creamy white condiment has been in production for over 300 years in France. Making mayonnaise is a household ritual there; recipes guarded as family secret. Emulsifying oil into an egg with the snap of one’s wrist is probably easy for the French– a part of their cultural heritage– but for the rest of the world, this whipping technique is a bit trickier.

I am going to teach you the goof-proof way (no finesse required) to make mayo. The method requires only three things: a mason jar, ingredients & an immersion blender.

hm1aMayonnaise du jour

Start with a pint-sized mason jar (it’s a good size for blending/storing & has markings so you can measure the oil). Add your ingredients:

  • 1 Egg. Whole or just the yolk.
  • 3/4 Cup Oil. If you use olive oil, the Extra Virgin varieties present a very strong flavor. I stick with the lighter canola, vegetable or safflower oil. You can also do a combination of several. Find what suits your taste.
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice.
  • 1 tsp Vinegar. Apple cider, white wine & tarragon are all good options.
  • 1 tsp Salt.
  • 1 tsp Sugar.
  • Dash Mustard. Any kind, even dry.
  • You may opt for a dash Cayenne.

With all the ingredients in the mason jar, place the blender over the egg on the bottom of the jar. Blend. You will see the egg emulsify into a solid, creamy consistency. Slowly incorporate the rest of the oil by pulling upwards. You just made mayonnaise!

It’s best to have some piping hot potato fries on hand so you can adjust seasoning as necessary. Mayo will set in the fridge & last about two weeks, but better if you can finish it within the week. I like to make small batches (as above) for a specific use.

There are endless applications for mayonnaise. My mom makes a fried egg on toast with minced white onions & mayo. It is one of my favorites now, too.  Mayonnaise is especially good with baked chicken, fish, eggs, potatoes, as a vegetable glaze or just on a sandwich!

Mixing mayo with cooked foods & adding a pickle helps to preserve its freshness. Try this recipe on fresh locally made bread of any variety by tossing together.

Tuna Salad:

  • Local Albacore, canned
  • 1 Tbsp Bacon, bits
  • 1 Tbsp Pickled Jalapenos, chopped (or relish)
  • 1 Tbsp Celery, chopped
  • 1 Dollop Mayonnaise du jour
  • Fresh Ground Pepper

Another great use for mayo is incorporating it into a dressing for vegetables or a main course. You can just add a dollop to your chicken before baking or thin it to create a glaze with either hot water, lemon juice or milk. Finally, you can bet the whole farm & make some bleu cheese or

Ranch Dressing:

  • 1 cup Mayonnaise du jour (solid, creamy, tangy)
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream (gives body, but light & mild)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Chives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

Optional additions include 1 tsp Fresh Dill, Worchestershire Sauce, Paprika, Fresh Oregano, Tabasco & White Vinegar. Whip together & taste with a succulent vegetable spear (kholrabi is an exciting option, but a carrot works just as well). Adjust seasoning to suit you & thin as needed with:

  • Buttermilk/milk 

From my kitchen to yours, deliCasey


The Translucent Revolution, Arjuna Ardagh

> The word belief originates from the Old English word leof which means, \”to hold dear\”. The Encarta World English Dictionary defines it as \”acceptance by the mind that something is true or real often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainly\”. But we only develop beliefs about certain things…
> In other words we hold beliefs about things that we don’t know about from direct experience. Why? Because we are unwilling to stay in not knowing…
> Sometimes people ask \”do you believe in God\”? But what difference does a mental conclusion make? Either we feel God all around us and within us and our heart is open to the Great Spirit creating and connecting all things or we don’t. Believing in what we do not feel creates a plastic, mental world with no nourishment or depth to it…
> Only when we’re willing to be both good and not good and everything in between does our feeling of being separate relax and the goodness of all life begin to flow through us…
> As we will discover, the way to dissolve a belief is to stop resisting both sides of the polarity. When the internal fighting stops there is no longer any need for belief…
> Byron Katie is masterful at unraveling the mind:
As long as we’re at war with our own mind we are at war with the world and with the whole human race. Because as the long as we want to get rid of our thoughts, anyone we meet is likely to become an enemy. There is only one mind, and people are going to tell us what we haven’t dealt with yet in our own thinking. \”you’re fat. you’re stupid. you’re not good enough.\” If you are an enemy to your own mind other people have to become enemies too sooner or later. Until you understand, until you can love the thoughts that appear in your mind, then you can’t love the rest of us. You work with the projector – the mind – not the projected world. I can’t really love you until I question the mind that thinks its sees you outside itself ….
> As soon as we are able to recognize thought as a passing event, we become unglued from it. We can then question its reliability. However translucent we may have become, this process of letting go of a personal reference point always feels like a small death, but it always brings with it a rebirth. Thought and action can occur in completely new ways, as direct  and innocent responses to the present moment, unclouded by the undigested past…
> Knowing this, as the core of translucent practice, we learn to relax the first impulse to react. We relax and we wait. We relax into not knowing. We relax into feeling the disturbance in the body. We relax into feeling the environment as if it were an extension of our own body. We soften into the acceptance of the unreliable nature of the mind, and we surrender…
> Allow yourself to stay in the middle of the mental tension with all its conflicting points view, and feel them all. Give yourself permission to not know; feel the inevitable reality that you actually don’t yet know what to do or say stay with all that and wait, then see what happens. Relax back from the whole thought process, and just wait for the current flowing through all of life to flow through you too.