From the Earth to the Table

There is nothing better than being surrounded with great friends, good wine, and a delicious home cooked meal and one so fresh you know for sure you’re doing your body a great service.

I know you’re all saying, “Wow, you are so lucky to write stories about food and then get to taste it too.”  Yes, that’s correct! Our host Lynda Brewer created a heart-warming experience and one I’ll not forget for a long time.

I want to tell you a little about Lynda and how she evolved into this great reputation amongst her circle of friends. She was born in Boston and raised in Florida and longed to see the world. As life moved forward Lynda became a flight attendant for United Airlines and got her wish.

Tom, her husband was affiliated with Ford Motor Company for 31 years and his position brought travel to their lives all over the world. While living in Thailand farm fresh vegetables and fruits were abundant and a way of life for this region. Local residents often prepared indigenous meals from the earth in the Brewer’s home leading a way of life for the family.

Lynda wanted her children to recognize how delicious farm food could taste. She taught her sons how to plant tomatoes and bell peppers. It was a positive experience for the boys and offered a better understanding of the wonders of growing healthy food.

Today, a kitchen culture presence is most definitely created in Lynda’s home due to her love for cooking, entertaining friends and family, and it’s her natural talent.  All the best cookware, appliances, bakeware and specialty accessories are in this fabulous and inviting kitchen. Healthy and farm fresh meals are the cornerstone for Lynda. “I loved playing restaurant and cooking for the family when I was younger; it’s in my soul and cooking for friends brings me great joy, Lynda said.” She also recalls someone telling her that what you love doing as a child can become a way of life in the future.

The meal Lynda prepared for our gathering was as gorgeous as it was delicious. The large kitchen was filled with trays, beautifully handcrafted platters, and plates filled with farm fresh vegetables, fruits, baked chicken, a specialty sausage and a surprise dessert. The fruits, vegetables and herbs were generously donated by Moon Goat Farms owners Jodie and Jarrod Word, a 2-acre parcel in Trabuco Canyon, CA.

Watching Lynda dancing through her kitchen was like a pre-orchestrated event. She moved with such grace while preparing and designing enticing plates of food for our total dining experience. We couldn’t wait to begin!

One of the enjoyable experiences for each of us was to watch Lynda make the whole process look so simple. We decided we could all do this on our own too. All the homegrown herbs from Moon Goat Farms were in little containers and all labeled. You take a little of this and a little of that, sprinkle a little here and there and you’ve got a beautiful plate of food.

The time arrives for us to begin our culinary journey. Everything is totally mouthwatering, and we are so ready to begin. The entrees are placed buffet style for the pickings.

Lynda’s favorite chef is Ina Garten, an American author and host of Barefoot Contessa, a Food Network program. Included from several of her cookbooks, we dined on Tuscan Lemon Chicken, Parmesan Smashed Potatoes, Balsamic Roasted Beet Salad, Roasted Parsnips & Carrots and a Pesto Flatbread with Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes drizzled with local San Clemente’s Oliver’s Balsamic Vinegar.

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

By Barefoot Contessa

Serves 2 or 3

Ingredients:

1 (3-1/2 pound) chicken, flattened

Kosher salt

1/3 cup good olive oil

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, halved

Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt on each side.

Directions:

Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a ceramic or glass dish just large enough to hold the flattened chicken. Add the chicken, and turn to coat. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning once or twice.

When ready to grill, prepare a hot charcoal fire on one side of a grill (or turn a gas grill on low heat). Spread ¼ of the coals across the other side of the grill. Place the chicken on the cooler side skin side up, and weight it down with the dish you used for marinating. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the underside, is golden brown. Turn the chicken skin side down, weight again with the dish, and cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Place the lemon halves on the cool side of the grill, cut side down, for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove the chicken to a plate or cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken in quarters, sprinkle with salt, and serve with the grilled lemon halves.

 

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

By Ina Garten

Serves 4

 

Ingredients

2 pounds parsnips, peeled

1 pound carrots, unpeeled

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

If the parsnips and carrots are very thick, cut them in half lengthwise. Slice each diagonally in 1-inch-thick slices. The vegetables will shrink while cooking, so don’t make the pieces too small. Place the cut vegetables on a sheet pan. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Roast for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, tossing occasionally until the parsnips and carrots are just tender. Sprinkle with dill and serve hot.

We also enjoyed Lynda’s creative sauteed organic beef sausage with caramelized onions and a beautiful brussel sprouts dish with bacon, pecans, brown sugar and Oliver’s Balsamic; a Joanna Gaines recipe.  For dessert, Lynda prepared Martha Stewart’s Lime Squares with Pistachio Graham Cracker Crust. This was really wonderful especially coming from the homegrown lime tree in the backyard.

 

Lime Squares with Pistachio-Graham Cracker Crust

By Everyday Baking

Yield: Makes 16

 

Ingredients

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter melted and cooled, plus more for pan

2/3 cup shelled pistachios

1 cup (4 ounces) graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon grated lime zest

2 large egg yolks

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with melted butter. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.

In a food processor, finely grind pistachios with graham-cracker crumbs, sugar, and zest. Blend in butter. Press mixture into bottom and 1 inch up sides of prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool crust, 30 minutes.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and condensed milk. Add lime juice; whisk until smooth. Pour filling into cooled crust; carefully spread to edges.

Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on rack; then chill at least 1 hour before serving. Using parchment paper overhang, lift out of the pan, and transfer to a cutting board.

With a serrated knife, cut into 16 squares, wiping knife with a damp kitchen towel between each cut. To store in the refrigerator, cover with plastic wrap.

Arriving at the dining table we each receive a surprise blood orange and Tito’s Vodka martini. The edge of the glass is dipped with brown sugar and blood orange zest. We toast one another and cheers Lynda for one unforgettable farm to table experience.

Jodie Word of Moon Goat Farms was one of the guests at our table and we thank her for freely providing all the beautifully selected vegetables, herbs and fruits to accompany the vast menu Lynda so graciously prepared.

Jodie and Jarrod Word have been together for many years and purchased a two acre ranch in Trabuco Canyon, CA in 2013. The ranch has goats, sheep, chickens, ducks and bunnies. Jarrod found his passion being a gardener and started growing vegetables and fruits which turned out to be totally delicious and so healthy. After entering local county fairs and winning blue ribbons his desire grew stronger. The growth became abundant and the couple decided to sell their produce. While drinking some wine in their garden under the moonlight and thinking about a name for their farm, one of the goats began to bleat. Moon Goat Farms came alive and a thriving and successful adventure.

The farm produces corn, lettuce, carrots, onions, tree peppers, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, beans, zucchini, peaches, plums, berries, exotic fruits and so much more. Moon Goat Farms also bottles their homemade secret Hot Sauce made from several varieties of the tree peppers, onions, and tomatoes from their farm.

All the farm products are available for delivery to persons in Cote de Caza, Dove Canyon, Ladera Ranch, Robinson Ranch, and Mission Viejo. You can view MoonGoatFarms.com showing many of the abundant packaged fruits and vegetables available. You can also customize your order.

Delivery is once a month, every two weeks or once weekly. Medium boxed items are $45 and $60 for the larger size. Once you see the size of each of the assorted selections, you will recognize that only a natural organic and well fed growth area can produce these delicious and amazingly abundant fresh produce varieties.  

Jodie Word is an educator and helps people become knowledgeable about the benefits of local farming and buying local.

“Many vegetables require a female/male partnership to bloom. For example, zucchini will bloom a beautiful yellow flower. It will need to be pollinated in order for the fruits to bloom. You also need a pollinator, bees. So we have created a pollinator-friendly garden by planting lavender plants which invite the bees to the area as well as provide a water source, Jodie said.”

We are lucky to live in communities where we can get our produce straight from the farm.  Not only does the food we eat taste so much better but we are supporting our local farms and families.