Living in the Midwest, it's easy to joke about California -- and stereotype the people who live there. We tend to think of Hollywood, beaches, blondes and botox.
I had an attitude adjustment during a family visit to Fresno, Calif., which is part of what the state calls the Central Valley, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Weird as it is to say, take away the palm trees and I felt very much at home.
I couldn't get enough of the San Joaquin Valley's amazing landscape: As far as the eye could see, blooming cherry trees, fruit-laden orange, grapefruit and olive trees, and lettuce. Plus, thousands of rows of gnarly leafless (for now) grapevines. California is the world's largest producer of raisins and Fresno is where the grapes are grown, harvested, then gently laid out on paper sheets in the rows between the vines to dry.
There's a lot of sunshine in this part of the U.S., which conversely means farmers must invest in some serious irrigation systems and canals for their crops because it doesn't rain enough to sustain the crops. Watching how the systems and waterways work is a testament to the diligence of the generation of farmers, ranchers and migrant workers who produce the bounty we eat more than 2,000 miles away.
On a road trip to Monterey, there are no interstates to travel, so you get to see the beauty of the countryside on the drive: hills, valleys and miles of farm fields, plus rolling green pastures for sheep and beef cattle. We passed through the small town of Castroville, which calls itself the "Artichoke Center of the World," and if we'd detoured north just a bit, we'd have stopped in Belleville-sized Watsonville, the strawberry capital, and Gilroy, home to more garlic than any Frenchman can handle. (Gilroy Foods processes more garlic than any other factory in the world; most pickled, minced and powdered garlic come from Gilroy.)
Living in the Midwest, the bread basket of America, I have a tendency to forget the abundance of other foods that grow elsewhere in this country and that we regularly put on our tables. We are so fortunate to live in a place where so much is available to us year-round.
So, since raisins and other dried fruit are favorites of mine, I thought it only appropriate that I dig into the recipe archives of Sun-Maid Raisins (located in Fresno) for this recipe. It would go well with ham leftover from Easter. Plus, you can substitute dried cherries or blueberries, if you like.
3 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
Salt and pepper
Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl.
Combine all dressing ingredients and blend well.
Pour dressing over salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss and serve. Makes 4 servings, each serving (1 cup) with 110 calories, 3 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 22 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 0 cholesterl, 95 mg sodium.
Easy roasted carrots
The perfect roasted carrot doesn't have to be a tricky thing. Peel a pound of carrots and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Add a couple tablespoons of butter to a roasting pan; melt the butter in the hot oven and then toss the carrots in it. Roast 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 325, add a bare quarter-cup water or stock, roast for 20 more minutes. Turn. Roast for 20 minutes more, checking occasionally.
-- Food52 blog Dinner vs. Child
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