A California Girl, in Jersey.

It's easy to get caught up in my head, and my neighborhood.  It's easy to forget that as I am feeling uncomfortable in 50 degree weather, there are places buried under snow.  Spending Christmas in New Jersey, in the snow, has reminded me, I'm (once again) overdue for a good dose of perspective.
The idea of a white Christmas is romantic, especially when we have plane tickets back to the sunshine.  But what if this was my reality?  Could I handle it?  My husband has been outside in the snow for a half hour, shoveling, for fun.  Seriously.  Fun!?  I can't even wrap my frozen head around the idea of that.
As I plan my spring garden I don't have to take into consideration the deer, rabbit and hungry gopher.  Last frost?  We never get a first.  My watermelon could probably make it though December.  I've realized that when it comes to seasons in the garden, I'm spoiled.  I can still go out back and pull some swiss chard and peppers for dinner.  Looking around here in the snow, I couldn't imagine trying to make a living off of the land.  How do you survive the winter months?  What if a freak storm comes along and destroys your autumn crops?  It seems to work out though, since south New Jersey is full of farmland.  They make it work.   I suppose you really appreciate that first sprout, and each spring the first tomato must seem so bright and delicious. Waiting all year for strawberries must make the day they arrive extra special.
And the process of canning makes so much sense out here.  It's out of necessity, and also a sense of history that I sometimes feel disconnected with.  So, what to do?  I'm talking to everyone I that can about their experiences growing food here.  What tricks and what troubles? 
I'm getting some past due perspective.
....And, I'm thankful.....


Pie Pops!

What's keeping me busy these days? 
Besides my totally needy dogs, these adorable little PIE POPS are!
What's a pie pop, you ask?  Think single serving of pie, on a stick....cute!
Holidays are coming and these babies make great office/vendor/neighbor/foodie friend gifts!
I've been busy baking and packaging- $2.50 each or $25 for a dozen. Free delivery on orders over $30., and I can package them to your liking- individual, dozen, 2 dozen, etc.
Seasonal & local produce.
...check in to see what's cookin'!
 Interested?  I completely understand!  Call or email me~
(714) 317-3525, miss.cacciata@gmail.com


 "As the days grow short, some faces grow long.  But not mine.  Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy.  It's time to start making soup again." 
~Leslie Newman

The Day I Killed a Crab.

He was sweet.  
He wasn't threatening me, but I didn't have a choice, really.
Chef's orders.
It's part of learning to cook professionally.  People eat crab.  Not me, but people.  Hell, I didn't eat any animals for half of my life.  What business do I have killing animals?
I've come to terms with the fact that I'm a gather, not a hunter.
And don't get me wrong, I WAS a vegetarian, and am not anymore.  I'd like to consider myself a conscious carnivore though. I don't eat meat for every meal.  I really think about the animal the steak used to belong to.  Local is good, etc etc.
But I digress-
Back to Jonesy.  
Yes, I named him.  That was mistake #1.  He was cute in that very ugly/only a mother could love him sort of way.  And he looked at me, moving his mouth as if I could understand.  It was sad, really.
So, with the chef by my side, we said thank you and goodbye. 
Some American Indian tribes say  "ho, mitaque oeyasin," which translates to  "I respectfully acknowledge you, all my relations."
Dust to dust, baby.
It's pretty ironic that it's a pot of water that killed him.
Water is all he knew- it was his life source.  
And I know what you're thinking.
Yes, I've been called a hippie, and maybe it's true.  I don't care for tie-dye or Phish, but I'd hug that little crab in a second, even if he pinched me.  
So there it was- "the circle of life", so I'm told. But it doesn't make it easier or make it necessary in my opinion. 
In the end I'm glad it was me who put Jonesy into the pot that day.  I don't know if anyone else could have loved that silly little random crab as much as me.  
I loved him so much I ripped his heart out.  
It made me feel like I was 16, listening to the Smiths.
In the end I turned him into a souffle. Poor little guy.  
He fed my classmates well, and for that I thank him.


Revisiting my Favorite Sin!

Hello holidays.  I missed you.  I think about you sometimes; your yuletide awesomeness.  As much as I hate freezing my ass off, I am enjoying an actual season change.  It helps me believe in the whole "white Christmas" possibility.
Can you think of a  better way to welcome December than fattening up a la Ol' Saint Nick?
.....Me either.
I went ahead and got the fat train moving with this little number.
Mac & cheese, deluxe!
Once you have the basics down for a cheese sauce, you can get creative and go nuts, which I did here.  I started the bechamel base with bacon fat, naturally.  But that was out of pure resource- I had just fried bacon, and I wasn't about to waste!
A mix of five cheeses went in, including an amazing 10 year cheddar and brie.  After a little (or a lot) of heavy cream, we were in business.  I baked the whole number, and topped it with a mix of fried onions, panko bread crumbs, bacon and Romano cheese.

 Ding dong.


Drink up!

It's happening.  My worst fears, realized.
The price of coffee is going up, up, up!
Ok, maybe it's not my worst fear, but it's up there.

Let me explain.....
It may not be immediately apparent, but it will be.   
The price of "green" coffee has risen over 50% in the past year.  That means the raw beans are increasing in price,  so expect to see it on the front end soon.  Many coffee producers are already reporting increased prices in single cup and bulk coffee like Tully's, Starbucks, and Folgers. 
So, why is this happening?  Why?!?!
Basically, good ol' supply vs. demand.  Coffee producers are having lower yields, which is partly to blame on the weather.  Also, an increasing amount of people/countries/cultures are reaching for the cup.   Can you blame them?  Eastern cultures are forgoing their tea for a more western way to wake, coffee!

So, drink up, while you can still afford to! 
I can't wait to see the prices of my favorite specialty roasters increase, like Stumptown, Illy, or Intelligentsia.  Currently Stumptown is averaging $15 per 12oz bag.... ouch.
They have already been priced at a premium, but fair is fair, and you can taste the difference.  I guess it's time to really savor the cup, and be a more conscious consumer.  I already have stopped eating and buying cheap-o meat & dairy because I know you get what you pay for.
Check out the news report from NPR on it..
.... or read about it on CNN Money.