Christopher Ranch’s California Garlic Blog

It’s no mystery that fresh garlic is one of the most popular, versatile ingredients ever. What remains relatively unknown, however, are the distinct flavor, quality and health differences associated with varying garlic varieties. Christopher Ranch, a family farm in Gilroy, Calif., grows a California heirloom garlic that is a leader in each category. All Garlic Is Not Created Equal. We’ll show you why.

FESTIVAL FEVER

Just a short communiqué this time around, garlic lovers, as I’m headed out to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The garlic scampi is calling me and I must heed the call…

First stop, though, is the Christopher Ranch booth. It’s loaded with 2,500 gorgeous garlic braids, 5,000 lbs. of our new crop California Heirloom Garlic bulbs and 7,000 jars of Chopped and Crushed Garlic, Pesto Sauce, Garlic Ginger Stir-Fry, Organic Garlic and more to celebrate Gilroy’s gastronomic garlic gala. Ahhh, the sweet smell of the stinking rose!

Check out the photos of our hardworking CR booth set-up crew. They are worth their weight in California Heirloom Garlic. Yours truly, Garlicia, is behind the camera.

I’ll have some SPECIAL NEWS about Christopher Ranch’s signature garlic on August 1. Our CR California Heirloom Garlic has a story to tell…

GARLITOPIA IS GILROY, GARLIC AND FESTIVAL

Just a couple of weeks ago I was whining about how cold it was. Well, it’s been in the 90’s for a few days and, already, I’ve had enough. I feel for the parts of the U.S. that are undergoing non-stop sweat.  The heat is not my friend (I melt…), but in our neck of the woods right now, it does bring some good things…

•After harvest, our fresh California garlic bulbs love to hang out in their sunny wind-rows (see photo) for about 12 days to get nice and dry and ready for market

•Our sweet corn is getting sweeter by the minute and the ears I had yesterday were crunchy wonderful.

 •Our beautiful bell peppers are in the process of being picked and packed (the pickling up to you!)

So, I’m inclined to welcome the sunshine and the heat because it brings us all good things to eat! Ooof, I did just say that, ya’ll, but it’s so true and tasty. 

One more thing the heat brings… The Gilroy Garlic Festival.  But GGF weather is capricious… misty cool in the mornings and blazing hot in the afternoon – all the better to eat, drink, dance and revel in garlicville! So I’ll enjoy the cool time and drink plenty of water when the sun starts to melt my garlic ice cream.

I’ve been to every Gilroy Garlic Festival, all 32 of them (soon to be 33), and I’ve worked in the Christopher Ranch booth every year. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be absent at this time of year, leaving Gilroy and garlic and 100,000 “visitors” behind to go sit up to my neck in a cool body of water somewhere. But the lure of garlic is like the lure of chocolate. I just can’t get enough, have to have it, and the minute I step onto the festival grounds, no matter how tired or cranky or over it I am, the sight, the smell, and the excitement of it all just grabs me and propels me into the heart of garlitopia. I can’t deny that it’s also the scampi, the calamari and the garlic bread, but the beauty of 100,000 people all on the same page, thinking about garlic, eating garlic, looking at garlic and enjoying the heck out of garlic just makes me feel connected to a very robust and delicious world – if only for that fleeting last weekend in July.

Hope to see you there, July 29-31. GO GARLIC!

AWARD WINNING FREE LUNCH IS RICH WITH GILROY GARLIC

I love a free lunch – and a free lunch that knocks my socks off is, well, priceless!  Lucky me, I was in the right place at the right time when I walked into the lunchroom and three of my co-workers, whom I’ve dubbed the “Healthy Lunch Bunch”, were enjoying a wonderfully aromatic meal that I couldn’t help but drool over, I mean admire…

The “Bunch” recently united in the interest of dropping a few elbees by eating healthily (is that a word?), cutting the carbs and trading off cooking duties to prepare a nutritious lunch every day. Collectively, they’ve lost 23 pounds in two weeks without sacrificing flavor – Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic has a little something to do with that – and I can tell you, if I had the Lunch Bunch as my personal chefs, I’d be on the road to wellville instead of swellville (if you get my drift….)

Imagine my surprise when I showed up for lunch without a lunch (it’s sitting on my kitchen counter…) and the chef-of-the day, Richard, generously offered me a plate of Chicken Marsala, fresh zucchini and salad! I don’t think it had anything to do with the way I was gushing over their repast, but no matter. I thanked my lucky stars, graciously accepted and savored every amazing bite. What a feast – all gloriously garlicky, all good for me, all delicious – and a testament to the power of garlic to make healthy eating taste like cheating!

The food was so delicious, I begged for recipes, gave it a Kodak moment and wrote this blog. If you’re looking for a luscious meal that’s low in cals and carbs, but loaded with zip and flavor, be good to yourself and garlic up to the Healthy Lunch Bunch Lunch (great for dinner, too.) Thanks for sharing, dear “Bunch” and, Richard, I hereby present you with Garlicia’s Alli-Yum Award – given to those whose food creates a garlic festival in your mouth.

RICHARD’S GARLICKY CHICKEN MARSALA

1 ½        to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders
2             cups Marsala wine
1             cup low-sodium organic chicken broth
6             cloves Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic – chopped or minced
1             white onion – cut in rings
16           oz. mushrooms – cleaned and sliced
3             tbls. extra virgin olive oil
               Morton & Bassett Italian Seasoning
               Cayenne pepper
               Fresh ground pepper
               Salt

Add 1 tbls. olive oil to sauce pan on medium/high heat. Add wine and simmer until it reduces a bit. Add the chicken broth, then Italian seasoning, salt, pepper to taste. Lower heat and allow to simmer. In a frying pan, heat 1 tbls. olive oil on high heat. Add the onions and garlic, sauté until lightly browned. Add mushrooms, blend and then add mixture to wine sauce.  

Place 1 tbls. olive oil in frying pan on medium/high heat. Place chicken in pan, add salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper and brown for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Pour the wine sauce over the chicken, cover and simmer for 5 minutes on low. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley, sage, basil or other greens from your herb garden!!!  Enjoy!  Serves about 4.

THE LUNCH BUNCH GARLIC ZUCCHINI 

2          yellow squash
2          zucchini
8         cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic
            Extra virgin olive oil
            Balsamic vinegar
            Organic sea salt
            Freshly ground black pepper

Cut squash into spears, drizzle with olive oil and a splash of Balsamic vinegar. Using a garlic press, crush garlic over squash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Blend, cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. To cook: Grilling the spears directly on the grill is highly recommended! TASTY! Stovetop works too! Sauté on high heat for 5 minutes or to desired doneness, stirring occasionally.

GILROY RICHARD’S SPICY DRESSING

1          cup fat-free Greek Yogurt
            Morton & Bassett Italian Seasoning
            Cayenne pepper
1 to 2  cloves Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic – finely chopped
            Onion powder
            Smoked paprika
            Fresh ground pepper
            Salt

Mix the Greek yogurt until it’s creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients to taste. I add a bit more cayenne pepper & onion powder to give it a great kick! (Garlicia suggests using at least 2 CR garlic cloves to kick it up another notch!) Use as a salad dressing or to “disguise” (or enhance) your veggies!!!

TESTING YOUR GARLIC KNOWLEDGE

 

Do you like your trivia with a side of roasted garlic? If so, this pungent quiz is for you! The first 10 entries to answer all 20 questions correctly, will receive a garlicky gift. Please e-mail your answers to: garlicia@christopherranch.com    

1. Gilroy’s gastronomic gala

_ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

2. A garlic by any other name _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _

3. The bigger they are, the easier they peel

_ _ _ _ _ _

4. Garlicky French mayo  _ _ _ _ _

5. Weak defense against the bulb

_ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _ 

6. The Garlic Capital of the World  _ _ _ _ _ _

7. A baked bird with LOTS of flavor

_ _   _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _ _   

8. Spanish word for good taste  _ _ _

9. Garlic’s gentle giant relative

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _            

10. This garlic is heads and shoulders above the rest

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _

11. Garlic gathering period  _ _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _

12. Garlic’s proper name  _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _ _

13. Gives garlic its health benefits and aroma

_ _ _ _ _ _

14. A day without garlic is  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

15. The best garlic is grown here  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

16. Anti-garlic fly-by-night  _ _ _ _ _ _ _

17. Intertwined garlic hang-up _ _ _ _ _

18. Garlic and oil “bath”  _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _

19. Garlic this way has a mellow, nutty flavor

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

20. Christopher Ranch’s Garlic line is over 50 years old, so it’s described as

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Dashes indicate the number of letters in each word. Spaces between the dashes mean there’s more than one word. All of the answers have appeared, in one way or another, in my blogs from the 14 months, so if you’re struggling, give them a look-see.  Have fun, good luck and GO GARLIC!

*Christopher Ranch employees are ineligible for prizes.

 

GARLI-PEñO BURGERS PUT THE FIREWORKS IN YOUR 4TH

Hot day, hot food, hotcha, cha cha – it’s the 4th of July! After voting for our independence in 1776, (no, I wasn’t there!) John Adams wrote to his wife to say that the day would be the most memorable in history and celebrated with “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations… forever more.” Woohoo, J.A. called it, but he forgot one thing… BARBECUE!

I’ll be front and center on the grill line Monday, flipping the almighty all-American burgers for our 4th fiesta, but this time around I was keen to put a few fireworks into my same ole, same ole burger blend. While I was updating a flyer for our Christopher Ranch Chopped Jalapeños, an idea hit me! Hmmm…

Now, our CR Chopped Jalapenos are spicy and tangy and lovely all by themselves, but, I said to myself, imagine what they would be like with some fresh chopped Christopher Ranch California Heirloom garlic thrown in, and then, I said to myself, imagine if I whirled up this garli-peño blend and added it to my burgers! As my mouth started to water, I said to myself, I’ve think I’ve come up with something gooood!

I became obsessed with the garli-peño idea (why else would I be talking to myself…) but I wanted to give it a test run before the 4th. I hit the market for supplies after work, did a few chores at home and started prepping my burger essentials. I was ready to create and it turned out to be the easier than I thought…

GARLICIA’S GARLI-PEñO BURGERS

5   cloves finely chopped Christopher Ranch California Garlic

1   4.25 oz jar Christopher Ranch Chopped Jalapeños

1   lb. ground beef

I blended everything together, made 3 giant patties, but didn’t add any other ingredients because I wanted to experience the true taste of my creation. I browned the burgers well (and slowly) in a skillet and served them on whole wheat buns with lettuce, tomato and touch of mayo. I usually drown my burgers in catsup, but I held off this time to let the jalapeño flavor come through.  I presented one to my “royal taster” (he loves beef and anything hot and spicy) and he gave me the thumbs up, even though his hands were full, and plowed through his burger. I took that as a sign of confidence and took my first bite…

My burger could have used a little salt and pepper, but I must say, it was pretty darn gooood – hot, spicy, juicy and garlicky. However, I think it needed a bit more fire, so if you want a really explosive burger, add more CR Garlic and more CR Chopped Jalapenos to light it up – after all, if you’re like me, you love fireworks on the 4th of July! 

P.S.  One more thing… go ahead and put catsup on it. This Garli-peño burger can take it!

P.P.S.  I had some garli-peño mixture left over and threw it in the blender with a pinch of sugar and salt and made my own Sriracha sauce to serve on the burgers. My “royal taster” gave me another thumbs up on that one.

PUT THE FIREWORKS IN YOUR FOOD – AND HAVE A SAFE AND SANE 4TH!

GARLIC LOVIN’ LUMBERJACK MAC AND CHEESE

It’s Friday, it’s my birthday and I’m having trouble concentrating. My mind is going in several different directions with too many projects, too many distractions and not enough time to address them all today. I’m also cold… Summer officially started three days ago and yet it’s still overcast like March sending my thoughts to cozy, comfort food to calm me down and warm me up.

Normally, on a warm June day I’d be working on a big summer salad, roasted Christopher Ranch Garlic (good any month) or grilled goodies, but, ummm, macaroni and cheese just popped into my head. Maybe it’s because mac ‘n cheese seems to be everywhere these days – there are new recipes on the web, it’s being served in food wagons and it’s showing up on restaurant menus and cooking shows. I just saw Rachel Ray prepare her version loaded with bacon and chicken. Holy cholesteroly, boys and girls… It’s not your grandma’s (or Kraft’s) mac and cheese anymore. Velveeta has been replaced by Bechamel sauce and – hallelujah-it’s-about-time – garlic has been added!

Looking for a culinary flashback, I pulled out one of my cookbooks, Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook, copyright 1950, for some retro recipes. The first ten recipes in the Supper section just happened to be for Macaroni and Cheese, but the stand-out was called Lumberjack Macaroni, an ax swinger of a dish made bold by the addition of Worcestershire and chili sauces. Although it might fit in with today’s new wave of mac & cheese recipes, there was not a single clove of garlic in it. Easily remedied and not for the faint of stomach, here it is in all it’s cheesy glory made even bolder with the addition of Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic! 

LUMBERJACK MACARONI  (aka GARLICIA’S RETRO GARLIC LOVIN’ LUMBERJACK MACARONI)  

Spread out on hot large platter . . . 

Boiled macaroni (8 oz. uncooked)

Sprinkle with . . .

2 cups grated American cheese (1/2 lb.)

2 to 4 tbls. Worcestershire sauce or more *(“Do not be sparing!” says Mr. Bell.)

¼ cup chili sauce

5 to 10 peeled cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic or more (“Do not be sparing!” says Garlicia.) Boil and drain these with the pasta, and serve with the pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

Pour over all . . .

¾ cup piping hot melted butter

Mix with 2 forks until sauce is creamy. Serve at once on hot plates

Amount: 6 servings.

*Trivia Bite: My Betty Crocker cookbook states that the original recipe was the favorite of Mr. James Ford Bell, the founder of General Mills. I copied it verbatim with the exception of adding the exceptional Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic.

THE POWER OF CHERRIES

Christopher Ranch is the largest grower, packer and shipper of fresh California garlic in the nation, but they also have a few acres of cherries in the product mix. Granted, this year was somewhat of a disaster for the cherry crop due to the rain, but it turned into a heyday for the lucky kids who attend the Ranch’s onsite Headstart Child Care Center. 

Like a couple of pied pipers, Bill Christopher and his son, Ken, led a gaggle of 20 children and their teachers into the orchard for a cherry picking spree. Bill had carefully scouted out trees with enough fruit for a junior feeding frenzy and low hanging branches so the kids could reach the ripe, juicy, luscious bounty on their own. How do I know the cherries were ripe, juicy etc.? Even though I had my hands full of cameras, I still managed to grab a few pieces of red gold and devour them at blinding speed.

The children, however, were each armed with a bag marked with his or her name. They excitedly ran from tree to tree and branch to branch packing as many cherries in their bags as they could carry. Red faces and smeared mouths were rampant from running and eating and eating and running, and when all was said and done, they amazingly had the patience to pose for a group photo. I rack it up to the soothing power of cherries. Red gold, indeed…

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