Christopher Ranch

  (Gilroy, California)
Gilroy's finest. Family owned since 1956
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Christopher Ranch Garlic FAQ

On any given day, I get several questions on the care and feeding of garlic. Most consumers know the basics of garlic “how to” but if you’re not quite sure or you’re a novice in the ways of garlic (yes, there are a few of you out there…) here are the answers to some of our most frequent queries.

•WHAT IS GARLIC?  Garlic has been called many things throughout the ages, e.g. the “stinking rose”, the “king of seasonings”, but it is sometimes put in the spice or herb category. The dictionary defines spice as a pungently aromatic vegetable substance that adds zest, flavor and interest to food. Sounds right so far… An herb is defined as a soft-stemmed plant that usually withers and dies each year, an often-pleasant smelling (we think so!) plant used in medicine or cooking. Again, that sounds right… Well, both definitions work for me, but garlic is above all a vegetable. After much thought, however, I think I’ve come up with the best description of all: garlic is in a class by itself!

•HOW DO I STORE FRESH GARLIC BULBS?  Keep fresh bulbs in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Garlic needs air circulation so store it in an open container, basket, net bag or open cardboard box. A small wicker basket is ideal for storing garlic conveniently on a kitchen countertop as long as it’s not near heat or moisture (like the oven or sink) or in the sun. Refrigeration is also an option but store garlic in an open container, keep it dry and do not store in a plastic bag. Garlicia’s option: don’t store it, use it!

•HOW SHOULD PEELED GARLIC BE STORED?  Peeled garlic must be constantly refrigerated at cold temps – 34º to 38º – for best storage. Under ideal conditions (cold temps and no break in the cold chain), it can stay fresh for several weeks (more or less), but look for the “best by” date on the bag when purchasing. As long as peeled cloves are not moldy, “slick”, mushy or overly fragrant, they’re good to use even past the expiration date.

•CAN I FREEZE PEELED GARLIC?  You can freeze peeled garlic but it changes the consistency. Frozen garlic can turn mushy when thawed, but the good news is that most of the flavor remains. It’s best used in sauces or dishes that don’t need chunks or pieces of garlic. Store in the Christopher Ranch bag or any airtight plastic or vacuum-sealed bag (get all the air out first) and freeze for 3 to 6 months. It may be necessary to double bag it so the aroma does not “travel”.

That’s our garlic primer for the day, my friends, and if you know someone who’s garlic-challenged, please pass on the info. Knowledge, like garlic, should be shared!

 
 

Garlic Chicken Soup- Nothing to Sneeze At!

Happy (cough, cough, sneeze, sneeze) New Year! Seems cold season is upon us, my dears, and whether you believe garlic has the power to stifle a cold or not, it certainly won’t hurt, especially when it’s teamed with chicken soup. There are studies that say both chicken soup and garlic contain anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent a cold’s miserable side effects, and if miserable describes the way you’re feeling, why not try a little hot, garlicky therapy.

If you don’t feel like cooking (who does when they’re sick) just add 2 or 3 tsp. of fresh chopped CR California Garlic to your favorite canned or packaged chicken soup while it’s heating for a double whammy of a cold buster – or just to make “store bought” taste yummier. If you can talk the significant other into cooking or can even drag yourself to the stove (it’s warm there…) here’s a recipe that’s nothing to sneeze at. It was adapted from the “Food Pharmacy” by Jean Carper.

DR. IRWIN ZIMENT’S PRESCRIPTION GARLIC CHICKEN SOUP FOR COLDS & COUGHS

28         ounces of chicken broth

1            bulb garlic (about 15 cloves)

5            sprigs parsley, minced

6            sprigs cilantro, minced

1            teaspoon lemon pepper

1            teaspoon minced mint leaves

1            teaspoon minced basil leaves

1            teaspoon curry powder

Peel the garlic cloves and place them with the other ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Inhale the fumes of the soup during preparation. Drink the soup, one cup at the beginning of each meal, until it’s finished. (The soup can be strained after simmering if one doesn’t care to eat the herbs.) Add chile pepper flakes or vegetables to taste.

DID YOU KNOW? Here are a few garlic tidbits to go with your soup:

• There is an ancient Telugu proverb that says: Garlic is as good as ten mothers. (Telugu is one of the languages of India.)

• A 17th century writer summed it up with this statement: “Our doctor is a clove of garlic.”

• In 1858, Louis Pasteur noted that bacteria died when they were doused with garlic.

• At the turn of the century, garlic was the drug of choice for tuberculosis.

• Albert Schweitzer used garlic to treat cholera and typhus.

• During World War II, British physicians treated battle wounds with garlic.

• Several studies say that garlic is packed with chemical compounds that can boost the immune system.

• Garlic is said to have a soothing effect on the respiratory system.

• The average clove contains five calories, vitamins B1, 2 and 3 and vitamin C, plus the minerals calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and germanium.

Please note: the above information is not intended as medical advice. For health information, diagnosis and treatment, consult your physician – and get well soon!

 
 

Jingle Bulbs, Jingle Bulbs, Garlic All The Way!

One of my favorite maxims, “a day without garlic… tasteless!” is especially true for the holly days. What would Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Boxing Day (please forgive me if I’ve forgotten one – and, no, Festivus does not count) be like without garlic to sweeten – as in enhance – your favorite holiday fare? Hold the garlic and we’re talking mundane roast beef, weak salsa, lifeless vegetables and ordinary mashed potatoes. Your menu would be, in Garlicia terms, humdrum with no yum.

Well, bah, humdrum! In the coming days, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite party foods, liberally laced with garlic, to help make your holidays jingle with flavor. Today’s recipes are “snackers” to keep guests occupied until the main event/dish commences. Best served with a chorus of carols and a carafe of wine…

ROASTED GARLIC STUFFED MEATBALLS

30         Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic Cloves

2            lbs. hamburger

1            lb. Italian sausage

1/3        cup seasoned bread crumbs

1            tbls. catsup

1            tbls. Worcestershire sauce

1/2        tsp. each salt & pepper

1            tbls. Italian seasoning

1            tbls. finely chopped fresh parsley

Pinch of chile flakes

1/4        cup Parmesan cheese

2            eggs

Take Italian sausage out of casing. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except garlic cloves until very well blended. Take 1 to 2 tbls. of mixture and start to form into a ball. Press thumb into ball and put one garlic clove in center, then seal mixture around it to form a 1” meatball. Brown meatballs lightly in small amount of oil, transfer to a baking dish sprayed with Pam. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes. To serve: place in warming dish with a favorite sauce, i.e. marinara, barbecue, if desired or offer sauces on the side. Makes about 30 meatballs.

NUTS FOR GARLIC

1            tbls. vegetable oil or 2 tbls. butter

2             cups raw pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds or a combination your favorites

6             or more cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – minced

1            tsp. soy sauce

Heat oil or butter in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and lightly sauté for a few seconds before adding nuts. Add nuts, stir and continue stirring until most of the nuts are golden. Remove from heat and add a light sprinkle of salt if desired. Wait a couple of minutes and add soy sauce and blend. Serve warm or store in a zip lock bag or a container with a tight lid.

 
 

Thanks, garlic!

Much has been written and many movies made about the first Thanksgiving but in my somewhat sparse research on the day, I can find no mention of GARLIC!  I searched several websites for a correlation between garlic and Thanksgiving #1 but, sadly, the food at Plymouth Plantation circa 1621 was, most likely, devoid of any real flavor – at least garlic-wise.

Most sources say the first Thanksgiving was a harvest festival also celebrating the pilgrims’ survival of their first brutal winter in a new land. The celebration lasted three days with enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans, and their feast consisted mainly of fowl (wild turkeys were plentiful), venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin and squash. There was no garlic and, also, no butter as the pilgrims brought no livestock on the ship over – bad news for the dairy lovers in the group.

I can only sigh when thinking about turkey, lobster, clams, etc. with no garlic butter, and I’m wondering how long it took for garlic to find its way onto the tables of Massachusetts residents. Perhaps the Native Americans had already cultivated an allium relative but weren’t ready to give away all their cooking secrets right at the get go.

Evidently, it would be at least another century before garlic went mainstream in some areas of the new world and now, 250 years later, I would like to give thanks to whoever graced that very first dish with garlic. Whether it was a stroke of luck or sheer genius, it must have been a most memorable meal…

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
 

Garlic and the Flavorful Foursome

Oh, yes, without a doubt my favorite headline of the week was: “Martha Stewart Liquors Up Turkey Before The Slaughter!” Have to admire Martha’s somewhat humane way of making the Thanksgiving experience less painful for the birds, but if she really wants them to feel (and taste) better, she’ll massage them with lots of fresh, chopped Christopher Ranch California garlic before they head for their place at the table.

While Martha’s at it, I hope she nestles some peeled Christopher Ranch garlic cloves, shallots and pearl onions around them to make them comfy and savoricious – that’s savory and delicious – I know it’s not a real word but it so aptly describes the flavor of this trio of alliums when tossed in a bit of olive oil and baked around poultry or pot roast. Make it a foursome with Christopher Ranch cipolline onions, too. Any turkey would be proud to go out in style with this much flavor and richness.

If you opt for a little more variety than just olive oil, try this blend of alliums, herbs and root vegetables with your Thanksgiving turkey or as a robust side dish.

ALLIUM, HERB AND VEGETABLE ROAST

1            lb. carrots – peeled and sliced in 1” slices

1            lb. potatoes – scrubbed and cut into chunks

10         or more cloves Christopher Ranch Peeled California Garlic

8           Christopher Ranch Peeled Shallots

8           Christopher Ranch Peeled Pearl Onions

8           Christopher Ranch Peeled Cipolline Onions

2            tbls. extra virgin olive oil

1            tbls. butter – melted

1            tbls. fresh rosemary – finely minced

2            tsp. fresh sage – finely minced

2            tsp. dried oregano – crushed

1            tbls. fresh basil – finely minced

Preheat oven to 450º.  Blend oil, butter and herbs. Place all vegetables and alliums in a large baking pan, drizzle with oil mixture and toss until all are well covered. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and carmelized. Use a spatula to remove mixture so you can get all the crispy, carmelized parts out of the pan. Great vegetarian meal or side dish. Vegetables and alliums can also be baked around meat or poultry in the same pan.

 
 

ADD MORE GARLIC AND LAISSEZ LE BON TEMPS ROULER

On the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we would like to acknowledge the people of New Orleans and surrounding areas for their courage, strength and tenacity in getting their communities and lives back on the road to recovery. Much work is still needed, but their spirit shines through in their rebuilding efforts and their drive to preserve their society, culture and, most definitely, their food.

Although I hate to admit it, a lot of my experience with New Orleans style food has been limited to the use of Tony Chachere’s seasoning, and if you haven’t tried it, cher, do, but if you’re also looking for some classic Cajun or Creole dishes, check out one of my favorite websites, www.NolaCuisine.com There are recipes for Shrimp Creole and Etouffé, Red Beans and Rice, and other traditional fare, but what got my mind and mouth going was the Chicken Fricassee. Even though it’s a Louisiana staple, I still think of it as the dish immortalized by pregnant Marge Gunderson in Fargo (the movie) who devoured a plateful of it at every roadside buffet. Never did a dish look so warm and satisfying…

Even the word fricassee makes your mouth water, and this recipe from Nola will have you channeling your inner Marge. I am shamelessly copying it here with much deference to the author. The only suggestions I have (no disrespect intended) are to increase the garlic by at least one tablespoon, and to add ½ cup of chopped Christopher Ranch Green Garlic* as the final garnish. Ah C’est Bon!

NOLA CUISINE CHICKEN FRICASSEE RECIPE

5  – 6  lbs. chicken legs and thigh quarters

For browning the chicken:

1  cup flour seasoned

2  tbsp. kosher salt

Few turns of black pepper

Healthy pinch of cayenne

For the Fricassee:

1  cup lard (home rendered), bacon drippings, duck fat or vegetable oil (if you must)

¾   cup flour

2  cups onion, chopped

1  cup celery, chopped

½   cup green bell pepper, chopped

½   cup mushrooms, sliced

2  tbsp garlic*, finely chopped

½   cup dry white wine

1  quart chicken stock, preferably homemade

1  bay leaf

1  bundle of fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine

Kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste

2  tbsp. fresh thyme, taken off of the stem and chopped

1  tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1  tbsp. hot sauce

½   cup green onions, thinly sliced

1 recipe Creole Boiled Rice

Heat the lard, or whichever fat you chose to use, over medium high heat until a small sprinkle of flour quickly sizzles when tossed in. While the fat is heating mix together the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne, dredge the leg & thigh quarters in the mixture and shake off any excess, set aside on a plate. When the fat is hot, brown the chicken until golden on both sides, do not cook all the way through, set aside. Mix together the onions, celery, and bell pepper (holy trinity) in a small bowl.

When the chicken is browned and set aside, pour off 1/2 cup of the fat, leaving about 1/2 cup of it in the pan. Over medium heat gradually whisk in the 3/4 cup of flour until incorporated and slightly thick, stir constantly until a roux the color of peanut butter is achieved, then stir in 3/4 of the holy trinity, mushrooms, and a pinch of Kosher salt, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes more, stirring slowly but constantly.

Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium, cook 5 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock very gradually to avoid lumps. When it is all incorporated bring the mixture to a full boil to bring the flour to it’s full thickening power, then reduce the sauce to medium low. Stir in the remaining trinity, garlic, bay leaf, bundled thyme, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Submerge the chicken in the sauce cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until falling off of the bone tender. Remove the bundled thyme and bay leaf and stir in the chopped thyme. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Serve the chicken with Creole Boiled Rice, and a generous portion of the sauce topped with green onions*. If you like, the sauce or gravy for this dish could be finished with heavy cream, sour cream, or creme fraiche. This would also go great with dumplings to replace the rice.

Note: It is important to have the sauce for this dish almost fully seasoned before adding the chicken, because you want the chicken to take on all the flavor of the sauce. Nola suggests slightly under-seasoning with the salt as the sauce will reduce a bit. Serves 4.

 
 

Garlic makes your tongue smile

 

Christopher Ranch’s garlic harvest is continuing, and the precious cargo is arriving by truckloads at our Gilroy “home ranch” to be graded, packed and shipped out. You can always tell it’s harvest time when the road into the ranch is strewn with the garlic chaff that flies out of the trucks. We’re at the height of our favorite season when it starts snowing garlic skins.

Garlic isn’t the only thing we’re harvesting right now. Sweet corn, yellow and white, is coming in from our fields – and how sweet it is. It’s so tasty, in fact, that you can hold the butter and save the calories! We’re also harvesting our crisp and crunchy red and green bell peppers. Garlic, corn and bells – what a perfect trio of summer flavors.

Speaking of flavor, it was the hot topic at the recent Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Foodservice Conference in Monterey, CA. Our attending sales squad, Amber (L.A. Division), Justin (Gilroy) and Anthony (New Jersey) listened to discussions focusing on flavor, safety, sustainability and consumer education, topics that Christopher Ranch is deeply invested in and has been for many years. Amber reports that PMA President, Bryan Silbermann even opened the session talking about the importance of flavor, but her favorite quote of the day (and mine) came from another attendee, “we need to make our tongues smile.” We couldn’t agree more. Flavor is what our California Grown Heirloom Garlic is all about.

Leaders of Pack: Anthony, Amber, Justin run PMA 5K, Monterey, CA

In closing PMA news… Kudos to Amber, Justin and Anthony for running the PMA FIT 5K race that kicked off the PMA Conference. Justin and Amber both finished 3rd overall in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, and Anthony finished in the top 25. Congrats to all for going the distance! Further kudos to Justin for “making tongues smile” with his Green Garlic Vinaigrette – it was a hit at the conference.

Our Green Garlic packaging has been updated with large lettering to make it easier to find in the produce section. How-to-use info and Justin’s recipe are on the back of the bag. If you don’t see it at your local market, please ask your produce manager about our new Baby!

We’ve also been getting lots of thumbs up for our new Peeled Garlic bags. They’re recyclable, re-sealable and tamper proof. The best part: they contain 100% natural California Grown Christopher Ranch Garlic with no additives or preservatives. FYI: always keep Peeled Garlic constantly refrigerated at cold temps (34º to 38 is best) for longest storage life.

Well, so much for writer’s block. I’ve gone on way too long, but when it comes to garlic, I just can’t say enough.  Now, go out there, pick up some Christopher Ranch California Garlic (Green or otherwise) and make your tongue smile!

 
 

Gilroy Garlic Festival Over, but the Flavor Lingers

1st Place Cook-Off Winner, Margee Berry beat out 7 other contestants with her "Warm Weather Watermelon Crabmeat Kissed South Seas Soup."

The Gilroy Garlic Festival has been over for a week, but I still miss it… no more garlic scampi, no more wine tent, no more Elvis (E loves a good festival), no more running into long lost friends, no more selling California garlic braids hand over fist in the CR booth, and no more banter by Chef Fabio Viviani on the Cook-off Stage, who was in stellar form again this year throwing anecdotes, commentary and vegetables (you had to be there) at a standing room only crowd. 98,000 garmands* and I had a glorious time!  (*garmand: Garlicia’s word for someone who’s a glutton for garlic as opposed to garmets who are a taste more subdued about their obsession.)

The festival, as usual, was alive with happy people, great music and beautiful arts and crafts but, as always, it was all about the food. Throngs lined up at dozens of food booths, and the Cook-Off area overflowed with crowds waiting (with garlic breath) to see who would win the cooking contests. The stage bustled for three days with incredible chefs, both amateur and professional, whipping up stunning dishes in the open-air kitchen. Like all the GGF chefs before them, these were serious garlic lovers who blew everyone away with their imagination, focus and, most of all, their passion for food and cooking. The chefs and the Gilroy Garlic Festival never cease to amaze and inspire me.

Roggie, Garlicia and GARZILLA - fired up and ready for the garty, uh, garlic party!

Check out www.gilroygarlicfestival.com and www.gilroydispatch.com (click on NEWS then Garlic Festival) for Cook-Off and Showdown winners, recipes, videos and festival information. You just might be inspired to join us at next year’s festival…

WARM WEATHER WATERMELON CRABMEAT-KISSED SOUTH SEAS SOUP

1st Place Winner – Gilroy Garlic Festival Cook-Off – Serves six

Ingredients:

5      cups cubed small seedless watermelon, rind removed

1       tbls. mild olive oil

1/4   cup chopped shallots

2       tsp. minced peeled ginger

2       tsp. minced trimmed fresh lemongrass*

1        tsp. minced Thai chili or other hot chili, such as Serrano

1        tbls. minced Gilroy garlic

1        cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice

2        tsp. rice vinegar

1        tsp. fish sauce

1/2    tsp. sea salt

Crabmeat topping:

2         cups cooked lump crabmeat

1/4     cup finely chopped green onion

3          tbls. chopped cilantro

2          tbls. chopped fresh mint

2          tsp. fresh lime juice

4          tbls. grated radish

1.         In a blender, purée the watermelon, then transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

2.         Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add shallots, ginger, lemongrass and chili; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute more. Transfer to blender along with juice, vinegar, fish sauce and salt; purée until smooth.

3.         Stir mixture into watermelon mixture, then strain and press through a fine sieve, discarding solids. Chill soup at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Soup can be served at room temperature or slightly chilled.

CRABMEAT TOPPING: Toss crabmeat with the green onion, cilantro, mint and lime juice.

TO SERVE: Ladle soup into bowls, then top each with a mound of the crabmeat mixture in the center. Garnish crabmeat with grated radish.

*Note: Trim root end off fresh lemongrass stalk, then remove two outer leaves. Finely mince with either a micro plane zester or knife. Ginger and garlic can also be minced on a micro plane.

A Quiz: Are You Hooked on the Gilroy Garlic Festival?

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is here and you’re still irresistibly drawn to it every year for reasons you may not even comprehend. This simple test will confirm if YOU are hooked on the Gilroy Garlic Festival:

1. You’ve arrived at the Festival and it’s 101º out there so you:

a. Go home

b. Consume mass quantities of Fruit Friz and Garlic Ice Cream

c. Cruise the Mist Tent and then hang out in the Wine Tent

d. Enter the Garlic Topping contest to take your mind off the heat

2. The Pyro Chefs in Gourmet Alley have a 5 foot blaze leaping out of the calamari pans and you:

a. Run for your life and jump in the creek (it’s probably dry so look out…)

b. Take lots of pictures to send to the relatives back home

c. Take bets on which chef will singe their eyebrows

d. Scream WOOHOO and stare in amazement like a first time tourist

3. You’re waiting in line for the Scampi in Garlic Butter and you:

a. Take a Pepcid Complete because you already have heartburn

b. Become best friends with the person behind you

c. Become engaged to the person behind you

d. Break up with the person behind you (but refuse to give up your place in line…)

4. You go the Great Garlic Cook-Off  and tell everyone within earshot that you:

a. Think the contestants use too much garlic

b. Think they don’t use enough garlic

c. Wish you were one of the cook-off judges

d. Have tried every one of the winning recipes from every Cook-Off

5. The band is starting in the Amphitheatre and you:

a. Try to head away from the crowd and all that noise

b. Get in the beer line fast so you can have a cold one with the music

c. Beat everyone there because you got online yesterday to see who was playing and when

d. Are the first one on the dance floor, waving wildly at your friends to “come on down”

6. You go to the Christopher Ranch Garlic booth and you:

a. Buy one bulb of garlic

b. Get into a heavy discussion with the staff about the benefits of California garlic

c. Buy the biggest braid they have so you can wear it around your neck all day

d. Buy as much garlic as you can possibly carry hoping it will last you at least a month

7. You’re leaving the Festival grounds and you’re:

a. Hot, tired, hungry and cranky

b. Hot, tired, full and happy

c. Hot, tired, full, happy and broke

d. Hot (you probably lost 5 pounds!), tired (you’ll sleep good tonight!), full (yay, you don’t have to cook dinner!), happy (you loved every minute!) and broke (you sure got some cool stuff!). You’re also carrying a bag of pepper steak sandwiches for later…

Your Score: If you picked only A. statements, you are not hooked and live a bland life free from garlic breath. (You’re safe for another year unless your new neighbor is a vampire… Blaahaha!) If you picked B.,C.,and especially D., you’re addicted for sure… to fun, friendly people and great, garlicky food. Your tastebuds are poised and ready for the gastronomic gala that is the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I’ll see you there!

Breathfully yours, Garlicia

 
 

Gilroy's Glorious Garlic Festival is Here!

The 32nd Gilroy Garlic Festival is upon us and Christopher Ranch, like most of Gilroy, is scrambling to get ready for a great gastronomic garlic gala. Our garlic harvest is in full swing with loads of white bulbs coming in fresh from the field, our packing sheds are packing and our braiders are braiding so we’ll have plenty of ajo for all the garlic lovers descending upon Gilroy. The co-founders of the Festival – Don Christopher is one of them – knew that July’s garlic harvest was the perfect time to celebrate Gilroy’s claim to fame!

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is the largest food fair of its kind in the world, and it serves up the best garlic dishes found anywhere: garlic scampi (my favorite), pepper steak sandwiches, Festival calamari in red sauce (my other favorite), garlic stuffed mushrooms, pasta con pesto (who am I kidding, they’re all my favorites!), even ‘gator gets the garlic treatment and for dessert… garlic ice cream. You have to try it at least once just to say you did. I love watching kids eating it for the first time – their initial unmitigated joy at the first lick of vanilla ice cream and then their utter surprise, or should I say shock, when the garlic aftertaste hits! The look is photo contest worthy.

Every year the festival feeds and entertains over 100,000 guests during the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July. Gourmet Alley serves up 10 tons of beef, 4 tons of pasta, 4 tons of calamari, 2 tons of scampi using 2 TONS of Christopher Ranch California garlic, and 4,000 volunteers happily donate their “hourly wages” to 150 non-profit charities. The festival is also going green this year using compostable utensils and cups and locally sourced food and products. 100 artisans sell everything from pottery to paintings, and over 50 food booths have something garlicious and/or refreshing for every taste. You’ll find fresh bulbs, bags, braids and jarred garlic products in CR’s booth – and ALL of our garlic and garlic products are California grown, California made and California fresh.

Chef Fabio Viviani (right) with 2009 Chef Showdown winner, Ryan Scott

Four stages present entertainment (even yours truly will be performing with The Corvairs) and premier cooking events including The Great Garlic Cook-off where 8 amateur chefs from across the nation compete for cash prizes and a crown of garlic bulbs, and the Garlic Showdown which pits four prominent Bay Area cooking professionals in an Iron Chef type competition. The contestants are given a “secret ingredient” and will have two hours to prepare, plate and serve their creations to a select panel of judges including our own Bill Christopher! Chef Fabio Viviani, from Bravo Network’s “Top Chef” show is hosting again this year. He’s a crowd favorite with a personality as spirited as the food being prepared. The Great Garlic Cook-Off Finals willbe streamed LIVE on the internet?at www.gilroygarlicfestival.com on July 24, 2010, at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Catch it if you can!

Come Friday, you can find me at the Scampi booth. I’ll be the one licking garlic butter off my chin and laughing out loud. Jeeps, I love this time of year…

 
 

The Garlic Bulb Balloon Guy

Talent comes in many forms and if you’ve ever seen “America’s Got Talent” you know what I’m talking about. On a recent trip to Chevy’s for fajitas and a watermelon margarita (delish if you haven’t tried) my co-worker, Roggie, and I ran into one such talented person – Ben, the balloon guy. Gilroy’s Chevy’s has had a balloon person, on and off, for many years creating animals, hats – you name it – for squealing numbers of kids, but this night I wanted the balloon guy to make something for me.

Being an equal opportunity balloonista, meaning there was no age limit on his making anyone look juvenile, Ben was ready to grant my wish. “What would you like me to make?” he asked. My immediate answer: “a garlic bulb!” Even with a margarita in my hand, garlic as usual, was on my mind. Ben’s reaction to this request surprised me: “I’ve been working here for 7 years and no one has ever asked me to make a garlic bulb!” Really? I thought it would’ve been number one on the Garlic Capital’s top ten balloon list – or at least a close second to the little doggie with the puffy legs.

Well, it was Ben’s time to shine and, with a big smile, he sprang into action, stretching white balloons, blowing them up, tying them off, even biting off pieces of balloon to make small sections (these were to be the roots of the bulb*) in a virtuoso performance. Rog and I were amazed and delighted when, in a matter of minutes, he whipped out an adorable, chubby Christopher Ranch (of course)) garlic bulb, complete with a little green stem on top. A one-of-a-kind! I happily tipped Ben, finished my marg, and out the door we went with Little Ben; the name just seemed appropriate.

LB sat in a place of honor on my desk for a week or so until, sadly, it started to deflate, becoming a mere shadow of its former glory. Only the good die young, I guess, but I’ll always have my memories… I think it’s time for an encore performance by the balloon guy – and another margarita for me! Thanks to Ben at Chevy’s in Gilroy for making us smile!

*Always look for some roots when buying garlic! Garlic from China has the roots completely shaved off.

 
 

Put Fireworks in Your Food: Add Garlic-a-Lotta


July 4th is Sunday, and the little kid inside of me is really looking forward to the fireworks. Most of my neighbors must feel the same way because, every year, they shoot a sizable wad of currency into the night sky. My family will be lighting up our annual $39.95 cache at appointed intervals but, mostly, we’ll be in our lawn chairs ooohing and aaahing and sipping wine. Not a bad way to spend an evening…

If you’re anything like us, however, it’s the flavor explosion earlier in the day that causes the most excitement – the barbecue. Whether you’re grilling tri-tip, ribs, chicken or fish, you can add a few fireworks to your favorite fare with Christopher Ranch’s fresh California garlic – it’s born in the USA – and what could be better on this all-American holiday!

For maximum bang in your BBQ, this recipe using Christopher Ranch fresh chopped garlic and green garlic will complement anything from steak to salmon. Gremolata (pronounced Garlic-a-lotta, yes!) is a traditional Italian blend made with simple ingredients. It’s used as a garnish, condiment or “salsa”, and is a great topper for a wide variety of dishes.

GREMOLATA

AKA GARLICIA’S GARLIC-A-LOTTA

1             lemon – peel finely grated to equal at least 1 tsp. of zest

¼          cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

3            garlic cloves – finely chopped

3            shoots green garlic – finely chopped

Drop or two of extra virgin olive oil if desired

Dash of sea salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

The beauty of this blend is its flexibility – a few tweaks can turn it from Italian to Greek to Chinese or whatever persuasion lights up your tastebuds. If you’re going Latin: substitute cilantro for parsley and add finely chopped jalapeño to taste; Greek: substitute finely chopped mint for parsley and add a pinch of sugar for a great lamb topper; Chinese: add a touch of chile paste, soy and rice wine vinegar. The possibilities are endless, just let your heritage and plenty of USA garlic be your guide!

Have a Happy, Safe and Sane 4th of July!

 
 

This green garlic recipe tops them all!

The sun has finally seen fit to shine on this burg (sadly, a little too late for our cherry crop) but with 90 degree weather expected this weekend, dining light is on tap for me and mine. And what’s better than a big, beautiful green salad on a hot day?  Well, a lot of things (a walk in the redwoods, a winning lotto ticket, okay, I’ll stop…), but when I’m craving greens, I’ll go to great lengths to build a masterpiece piled high with freshness, flavor and even a little love.

If you’re like me and throw your heart and soul (and the kitchen sink) into a salad, you don’t want to ruin it with a mediocre and/or bottled dressing lacking any real personality. Which brings me to the point of this blog: our very own Justin (salesperson slash chef) has created what I so eloquently described as “awesome” when it first hit my taste receptors, Green Garlic Vinaigrette. Before you tell yourself, cripes, it’s another green garlic recipe, do not NOT try this recipe. Besides being fresh, zesty and just plain delicious, this dressing is a refreshing pick-me-up for an energy draining dog day. Try it on salads, meat, fish, chicken, burgers – and in or on any food you can think of.  Last night, I grilled some venison sausages, sliced them up and used Justin’s GGV as a dipping sauce instead of mustard. It was, and I contentedly repeat myself, awesome!

JUSTIN’S GREEN GARLIC VINAIGRETTE 

3        oz. Christopher Ranch Green Garlic, trimmed and coarsely chopped

3        tbls. chopped cilantro

3        tbls. white wine vinegar

2        tbls. water

½       cup canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend green garlic and cilantro first, then add vinegar, water and blend. With blender still running, add oil very slowly until well blended

 
 

Oh Shoots, It’s the Garlic Family BBQ

 

It’s May – it’s Memorial Day – it’s barbecue, baby! No matter what the weather’s doing (Gilroy is unseasonably cool and dewy right now) the grill and my taste buds are ready to spring into action. Grilling is my favorite way of cooking and I refuse to listen to those who say charred is not a food group. Vegetables, especially, taste amazing on the barbie and CR Green Garlic is a primo candidate for grilling.

GRILLED GREEN GARLIC is quick and tasty – the perfect appetizer or side dish for an outdoor bash. Trim, wash and pat dry at least 4 Christopher Ranch Green Garlic shoots per person. Coat shoots with extra virgin olive oil, a little salt and pepper if desired and place on the grill. Turn every minute or so until lightly browned to a nutty sweetness. All that’s left to do is pour the wine, serve the shoots and leave the chips and dip in the dust. This is barbecue with character – fresh, delicious and healthy! 

Now that we’ve kicked off our garlic party, let’s get to the beef. My once-upon-a-time mom-in-law, the late, great Josephine, created a killer marinade for top sirloin steaks. It’s loaded with enough fresh lemon juice to make you “gleek”, but the lemon also seems to have a tenderizing effect on the meat. I have a wonderful, heirloom Meyer lemon tree in my yard so I recommend using Meyers, but any type of lemon will do as long as it’s fresh. Josephine had no recipe measurements because she did everything on the fly, but I’ll give you my best guesstimate on her ingredients. Feel free to adjust if you must. 

JOSIE’S BBQ SAUCE: Squeeze 6 or more fresh lemons into a bowl, pits, pulp and all. Add 1/4 cup catsup, 1/3 cup Worcestershire and ½ cup A-1 sauce. Add 3 to 4 cloves of fresh crushed garlic, a generous pinch of Italian seasoning, and if you have any raw CR Green Garlic left, chop and add. Blend and set aside about half a cup of sauce to use while grilling. Marinate a couple of your favorite steaks at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight, in the refrigerator. Grill to desired doneness while basting at intervals with the reserved sauce. Serve hot and zesty!

 

You’re on your own with the side dishes, but I suggest potato salad and old-fashioned garlic bread, both spiked with chopped CR Green Garlic. You just can’t have too much of a good thing!

 
 

Salt vs. Garlic – and the Winner Is…

If you’ve ever downed gallons of water to quench a never-ending thirst, gazed at your puffy calves and ankles turning into kankles, or wondered why your favorite ring is now choking the life out of your finger, you know what salt can do to you. These are a few of the noticeable consequences of consuming too much salt, but what’s more frightening are the effects you can’t see.

Your body needs some salt to help maintain the right balance of body fluids, transmit nerve impulses, and help your muscles contract and relax, but too much salt makes your heart work harder to move blood through your blood vessels, thereby increasing the pressure in your arteries. This barrage can lead to the development of high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Twenty five percent of American adults have high blood pressure but many don’t know it because this “Silent Killer” can be symptom free.

 The recommended daily allowance for sodium is about 2400 mg but the average American consumes about twice that amount! Sodium occurs naturally in many foods but most sodium intake comes from packaged or processed foods and chemical additives like sodium chloride – table salt. 

 What’s a body to do? Eat fresh, unprocessed food and cut back on the salt – way back. I can hear you saying “food just doesn’t taste as good without salt” (I’ve said it myself), but Christopher Ranch has a bold solution:  ADD FRESH GARLIC INSTEAD OF SALT. Using one teaspoon of fresh garlic in place of one teaspoon of salt can eliminate 580 mg of sodium – and increase the flavor of your food! 

 Hmmm, less salt, more flavor… sounds like a win-win situation to me – for you, your heart and your health. All it takes is a little diligence and lots of garlic, most preferably Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic.

 
 
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