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tv   [untitled]    August 9, 2010 5:00pm-5:30pm PST

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>> coming up on "california country," meet some of the folks responsible for adding a little zest to our lives. then, what a chef wants, this man will find. tag along with us as we go on a produce pursuit in northern california. then, meet a farmer who is surrounded by his favorite things--his berries and his brothers. finally, think starting a vegetable garden is
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hard? our expert has advice to get you started and on your way to a homegrown meal in no time. it's all ahead, and it starts now. [captioning made possible by california farm bureau federation] >> so we all know that california is king when it comes to growing citrus. and when it comes to growing lemons, no one is bigger than this ventura county farm. and with over 7,000 acres of lush lemon trees, limoneira isn't just the biggest lemon grower in california, but in all of north america. based in santa paula, the farm is a testament to what hard work and determination can do. founding fathers nathan blanchard and wallace hardison first bought the land way back in 1893 and named the ranch limoneira, which means "lemon lands" in portuguese. >> and at the time, they wanted
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to bring about the first full-scale commercial operation citrus ranch in the u.s. and from there, we added, throughout the years, over the last 115-16 years, 3 other families have come into the fold, and that's where we've grown today to be our 7,000 acres that we are in california. >> once called the home of the lemon, it actually took 15 years before those first farmers even turned a profit at the limoneira farm. but they persevered, and as they say, they've come a long way, baby. things have obviously changed a lot over the years, but one thing that hasn't changed is the desire to explore innovative programs. the farm invests a lot of time, research, and investment into improving lemon production through innovation. in 2008, they completed work on a solar panel project that stretches across nearly 5 acres and can help to power their lemon storage facility and packing house. and despite being the oldest continuously run citrus packing operation in
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north america, it actually is pretty state-of-the-art these days. >> basically, what we're looking at here is the camera system that basically takes a picture of each piece of fruit. then what happens is that it can tell, basically, its color, its size, and then how much blemish might be on that lemon itself. >> and whatever isn't deemed of the highest and best quality is then removed and sold to be used as lemon-scented cleaners, air fresheners, or candles. so what's the key to growing a great lemon for all of these years? as it turns out, location, location, location. >> lemons are very temperamental with the weather, just like we are, as a matter of fact. in fact, they enjoy the beautiful weather that we do. they're able to flower year-round, and that's why we can get such great production off these smaller trees. they're relatively small trees. and so, we're in a perfect scenario between not too hot, not too cold. we're a bit of the goldilocks of
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the citrus growing area. >> california is the number one state for producing lemons, and limoneira farmers account for nearly 13% of the state's total lemon production. so what do you do with all those lemons? well, you make lemonade, of course, but with a twist. the dictionary describes lemons simply as a yellowish, acid fruit of a subtropical citrus tree. but for ryan seng of grange bar and restaurant in downtown sacramento, lemons are oh, so much more. >> it's one of those staples. it's one of those foundations of a decent bar is they use a lot of lemons. even--you'll see, you know, you're making limoncello or some kind of infusion in the back. you'll use just the rind, or you're making a syrup with it. but then, you have the lemon leftovers. you can juice it so you get 2 uses out of it. >> they are the main ingredient for several of his specialty drinks on the menu, including a pink lemon margarita. but he's not alone in adding a little zest to his menu. over at rick's dessert diner in sacramento, you
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know right away this place is special. from the funky exterior to the gigantic cakes that greet you when you walk in, this place is a hit. >> well, we come about once a week, and it's just the freshest desserts. everything is so good here. we moved to sacramento about 2 years ago, and we saw the bright pink building, and we're like, "ok, we have to check that out." and since then, i've been completely hooked. like, have to come and get my fix. [laughs] >> we do desserts the original way, out of scratch, homemade style, and we have the best ingredients, in our case. we don't compromise the price for the quality of desserts. and we have been number one for 22 years in a row. and the reason for that is the hard work and using the best ingredients. and freshness is most important to me. >> they do make desserts look like a piece of cake to prepare here. and with almost
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300 delicious items on the menu, it's hard to choose a favorite. while chocolate is tops, lemon-based pastries are a close second. and when it comes to making those citrus-based delights, they do have their own spspecial standards here. >> if it's not freshly squeezed, it's not lemon. they are important, because if i don't get fresh lemon, i will not have a good-tasting cake. >> ahmed says they use more than 20 pounds of fresh california lemons each week in everything from lemon bars to the rich and gooey lemon cake with lemon buttercream frosting. mmm! so, the next time you indulge in a lemon meringue pie or sip some lemonade, pay tribute to california lemons. after all, being a little bitter really never tasted so sweet, right? for "california country," i'm tracy sellers. >> brought to you by allied insurance, a member of the nationwide family of companies,
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which also includes nationwide insurance. on your side. from farm to feast. stay tuned for more of the tempting tastes of california.
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>> welcome back to "california country," the show that takes you on an all-expense-paid trip to experience the best-kept secrets of the golden state.
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>> oh, we got some more spinach. so that's in watsonville. here, we have some romaine lettuce from salinas. >> for jim mills, life is quite simply all about produce, and evey day, his sacramento warehouse receives tons of it from just about every region in the golden state. >> broccoli from salinas. over here, some artichokes from watsonville and castroville. fennel from a local farm over in yolo. >> but the bulk of this produce doesn't stay here very long. within a few hours, much of it is trucked out to restaurants and businesses in northern california, some delivered by mills himself. he spends hours on the road, visiting farmers and chefs, taking produce from one to the other, and educating both parties along the way.
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>> may need a look at the progress of a particular crop or report back, maybe some feedback, to the farmer about how the chefs are using it or what they might be looking for in the near future. >> in many ways, produce express and people like jim mills are the link between 1,300 different restaurants in northern california and produce from all over the golden state. today's visit took us to del rio botanical farm in yolo county, where suzanne peabody ashworth was keen to get restaurants to start trying the fresh fava beans and greens she's growing. >> so we'll take some of these greens into a couple of restaurants this morning and see what the chefs want to do with them. in sacramento, there's been an explosion of restaurants over the past 4 or 5 years in our capital. again, sacramento, california, agriculture, fruits and vegetables--there's a very
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nice link there and the interest that my customers have in this produce. >> we call at 5:30 in the morning and get the normal order, and then, along about 7:30, we get the emergency orders. and if the phone doesn't ring between 7:30 and 8:30, it's a really wonderful day. but if it rings around 7:30 or 7:45, we then have to hustle around and make sure that we have enough for jim, who's always early and picking it up and getting it out to the restaurants real quick. [indistinct talking] >> so we've got salad greens today, fava greens. >> her fava beans and boxes of her braise mix were eagerly received at the magpie caterers marketing cafe in sacramento. chef ed roehr wasted no time turning them into a delicious dish. >> jim's been a great help in us for learning what we can get in the area and how we can get
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those items here. well, without a connection to the food, you know, i think when you're trying to make food as close to the farm to table as possible-- we are busy, our calendar is busy all the time, and the reality of the matter is is as a chef of a place like this, i don't even have a lot of time to cook. it's almost--there's so much going on, and having somebody that you can depend on and somebody you can trust, that gives us the confidence to go out to our clients and our guests here in the cafe and say, you know, "this is what we told you it was. this is from here. and this is where it comes from." and that's a big deal. information is a big deal. >> the restaurant has an extremely busy kitchen. but to mills, who's in his sixties, it's like home from home. he knows about the stresses chefs face, since he used to be one. for 14 years, he was the head chef for randy parygary restaurants in sacramento. today, he's traded in his chef's
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hat to promote, educate, and even celebrate produce with other chefs. >> i use email. i use the phone. but the best thing to do is to be able to go into a restaurant, to go into the kitchen, to find the person cooking the food, and say, "hey, what can i get you? what are you looking for?" >> i would just be doing seed production if it weren't for jim driving in here and refusing to drive away and saying, "no, i really want this stuff. no, ycu don't understand, i really do want to buy this stuff." and "i really want this, and i really want it now, and i really want some, and i want samples," and you know, so forth and so on despite my best efforts to get rid of him. >> as chef michael tuohy starts preparing mals with the greens, he admits his job would be so much more difficult if it were not for produce experts like jim mills. >> jim fills a need here that nobody else does, and that is he--his company and him, particularly, works with several small farms that i would want to work with directly. however, my time is really challenged most of the time, so he takes a load
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off my shoulder by--he's almost a one-stop shop, and so, i can place my order with him, and i know that i'm getting the best of what is local, fresh, and organic, if i specify. >> mills admits that following the produce directly from the farm to the fork is a grt way to make a living, but he admits that this job, like any others, has its occasional frustrations. >> yes, we do still have some chefs asking us for heirloom tomatoes in march, and that's not going to happen. [laughs] >> but, he says, the vast majority are eager to try the variety of vegetables grown in the golden state. so produce express, which has about 3-400 produce items in its warehouse daily, will probably keep delivering them for a long time, making jim mills one happy produce man. in sacramento, charlotte fadipe, "california country tv." >> this segment is brought to you by the california farm bureau federation.
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>> welcome back to "california country."
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>> from san diego to watsonville and dozens of places in between, the golden state is the undisputed king of this little berry that packs a huge combination of having great taste, beauty, and nutrition. did you know that california is the only state to produce strawberries all year round? which is exactly why farmers are coming up with brand-new ideas on how to use one of our vorite fruits. drive past the strawberry fields in santa maria this time of the year, and you'll be treated to the fragrance and color of fruit fit for a king. a naturally cool climate mixed with the balmy pacific winds insulate this area from getting too hot or too cold, making california one of the absolute best places in the entire world to grow strawberries--not that you have to tell daren gee that. >> how much do you need? what do you need, a box or two boxes? >> i'm just going to get a flat, at least, a flat, so.
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>> a flat? >> $5,000. but for you-- [laughs] >> we'll reduce the price. >> a good deal, huh? [laughs] >> daren is founder of daren's berries, aka db specialty farms, where they grow 4 varieties of strawberries across more than 700 acres, making daren one of the largest individual growers of strawberries in california. all is a far cry from where his farm started out--as a small class project. >> and it was so exciting to actually grow something and to see success, and in those days, we had 6 acres. all of us kids would get 6 acres to grow our cotton projects. well, you know, now it became a competitive thing. and so, i just fell in love with the idea of rming a plant and harvesting it and seeing the fruits of your labor. >> today, the fruits of his labor are as much about
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the people wking with him as the food he grows. that's because he is surrounded by family these days--not only his 2 brothers, who have returned to the farm, but also the community of workers he has by his side on a daily basis. >> well, people are everything. ok. if you have the best people, then chances are, you're going to have the best farm. it's not just--it's not, you know, just the idea of growing strawberries. you have to have people that will help you execute your--you could say it-- you'd call it your dream. you could call it your vision. >> on a farm, it's a close-knit thing. you can't be everywhere every minute. so you're depending on other people to pay attention to the farming. >> daren definitely has a passion for farming. he was in ag his whole life. we knew it since we were little kids that he was--he would tear the back yard up and replant, and we would do this constantly. he just loved, loved plants.
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>> in the berry business since 1990, daren has seen the industry in california grow leaps and bounds over the years. believe it or not, it's now a billion dollar business in the state. but not all strawberries are created equal. there are actually more than 600 varieties, but only a handful are grown commercially in california, one of the most popular being the albion variety that daren worked closely with uc-davis to develop. >> it has several advantages over other varieties. first of all, the production is high. i mean, this thing will produce anywhere from 6,500 to 8,000 trays a year, ok? the second thing that it does, it has that beautiful red color, probably one of the prettiest berries that you can buy on the market. it also has shipping ability. so what it does is it allows us to ship it full color. now, that has been something that has eluded us for years.
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>> once the berries are picked, they are then rushed into the cooling facility where huge fans draw out field heat. once cooled, they are then trucked off for same-day delivery to a variety of places, including one of northern california's most famous berry businesses, shari's berries. started in 1989, this is the place where strawberries go on a unique adventure. here, they are drizzled, dipped, dunked, and no doubt devoured by those lucky enough to receive one. >> you talk about how a company succeeds. it's got to have a product with some distinction and some appeal. and everybody loves chocolate-covered strawberries, and we do the best. we're the best at it. we're the largest in the country in making this product. we have the best mechanisms for packaging. we have the best reliability for certainty of delivery on the requested date. >> part of that reliability rests with the dozen or so growers throughout the state that the company works with on a continual basis. each flat
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that comes in is checked for sweetness, size, and quality. in fact, their standard has been dubbed in the industry as the shari pick, because in a business where freshness reigns, there is simply no room for error. >> so we have very particular standards that we go through. sometimes, the fields, when the crop is good, will actually have them pick a berry to our exact specifications, our minimum sizes. so we don't jupt take any berry. it has to be of a certain quality, a certain size. >> the relationship with growers is premiere. in fact, we--when we get a relationship started, we like to show them what our final product looks like. in fact, we like to send them boxes of shari's berries now and then in thanks for their efforts and also so they see what the final product looks like. >> the company estimates they did up to 2 million strawberries, used 60 tons of chocolate, and shipped to more than 200,000 homes every year.
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>> everybody remembers and can tell you the story about the day they first received shari's berries. and that's how we came up with the moniker, the unforgettable gift. >> from berries covered in ooey, gooey chocolate and showered with nuts, to berries dressed up in chocolate-covered tuxedoes, to good old fashioned ripe berries ready to be enjoyed straight out of the field, california growers can take great pride in growing one of america's favorite fruits. for "california country," i'm tracy sellers. >> hi. i'm chef paul murphy. and today, we're going to make an absolutely fabulous strawberry salad with bleu cheese from point reyes. i have some romaine lettuce, some strawberries, some carrots. and we're going to finish it off with a balsamic glaze. these are the simple steps you're going to take to enjoy this wonderful strawberry salad. some romaine lettuce, we're going to cut it as strips. next, we're going to slice up some of the strawberries. we're going to place these ingredients in a bowl, add some of the carrots,
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and last but not least, that delicious point reyes bleu cheese. we're going to put, oh, a nice amount. we'll chop it up. so we'll toss this. we'll add some of the balsamic glaze. what it is, it's pomegranate syrup, and i reduce it, and i add balsamic vinegar to it. so it's a wonderful, wonderful alternative to something else. this dish can be enjoyed as a first course, or i would serve it as a dessert with a nice port, or maybe a big cab, and you finish off a lovely evening at home. so there's all the ingredients. chef paul murphy's strawberry salad with bleu cheese, carrots, and romaine lettuce. this strawberry salad is a crowd pleaser at home, or you could come to humphrey's and have us make it for you.
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>> welcome back to "california country." >> steve mcshane here, mcshane's nursery and landscape supply, here to introduce you to the wonderful world of container gardening. look at this wine barrel planter--fabulous way to get your own veggies into the kitchen. some mizuna, some red mustard. there's even some chard in here. i see chives, onions, and notice the flowers.
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beautiful. easier to produce and put together than you could imagine. first, start with the stuff that you like to put in your dishes. if you use a lot of parsley, put it in there. maybe broccoli, cauliflower? in my case, i'm a huge fan of fresh beets. i love beets. i also love arugula. there's nothing like an arugula salad. and heck, it works in soups and on pizzas. and i also use a lot of chives. so that's what's going to go into my garden. first steps with this wine barrel here include a little bit of gravel in the bottom, one to 2 inches. a high quality potting soil, too. be sure to read the label. you want things like kelp meal, feather meal, bat guano. this is good stuff for inside your garden. once it's in there, you're ready to rock and roll. you get planting by mixing in a diversity of plants. break up the roots a little bit. plant to the same depth as where the plant may have been inside the 6-pack. get a few of those guys in there. make it look pretty. it doesn't have to be perfect, because this is your
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home farm. some flowers. it's already looking wonderful. we don't want to forget some fertilizer, too. throw a couple of sachets in there or, perhaps, some organic fertilizer, or some conventional fertilizer. the plant does not know the difference. by peppering a little bit in, as we get going, we're going to give these plants a real head start. and before we know it, we're going to have ourselves a cornucopia of vegetables and flowers. getting something like this in your yard is easier than you think. let's get gardening. >> that concludes today's tour of the best of "california country." join us next time for more undiscovered treasures from the most fascinating state in the country. [captioning made possible by california farm bureau federation] [captioned by the national captioning institute]