Any good meal ends with a great dessert. So it seems to make sense that we end Goat Week with some goat milk ice cream. 

I was lucky enough to be sent a shipment of Laloo's Goat's Milk Ice Cream from Petaluma, Ca. They currently have four flavors: Vanilla Snowflake, Rumplemint, Capraccino, and Dark Chocolate. I hope they come out with more flavors soon because I'm more of a fruit flavored or swirl girl. 

As I mentioned earlier this week, goat milk is often an alternative for people that suffer lactose intolerance because the lactose level is much lower than cow milk. Therefore, after I tasted each one, I gave a couple of pints to Susan to taste test since she suffers from lactose intolerance. She was thrilled to help.

Even better is that Laloo's ice cream has about half the calories of the equivalent amount of Haagen Daz or Ben & Jerry's! Plus a lot less sugar and fat!

Susan and I agreed, the flavors were wonderful. I particularly liked that the slight goat milk flavor actually accentuated the vanilla for me. The chocolate is extremely chocolatey, made with Scharffen Berger's 77% dark chocolate. The ice cream is easy to scoop (not rock hard) and nice and creamy.  They were even kind enough to send a couple of pint coozies to keep the pints insulated while not freezing your hands when you eat.

So, as we end Goat Week, please be sure to go out and try some goat milk products. They are better for you than cow's milk, and really tasty too. 

Last post we learned a bit about goat raising from Scott Bice of Redwood Hill Farm. Now it's time to see what happens to all that organic goat milk that is collected each day from his farm and five others that Redwood Hill Farm works with. It all gets transported to their solar powered creamery on the outskirts of Sebastopol.

Goat milk products are becoming more and more popular as lactose intolerance, like so many other food allergies lately, is increasing in the population. Goat milk has lactose, but a lot less of it and so it can be tolerated by many people who can no longer drink cow milk. Goat milk happens to be closest in structure to human milk. The fat globules are smaller which aids in digestion and in a recent study of infants allergic to cow milk found that 93% of them were able to drink goat milk with absolutely no allergic reaction.

photo: Redwood Hill Farm
As early as 1972 Redwood Hill Farm started to branch out into new products with kefir, or drinkable yogurt. They now have three flavors of kefir and five flavors of yogurt. In 1990 they started into cheeses with a goat milk feta. Since then they have added four flavors of chevre, two cheddars, and five other types of cheese: Cameo, Camellia, California Crottin, Tetra, and Bucheret.

For my tour of the creamery I am met by Rich Martin, the Chief Marketing Officer. He's familiar with dairies as he worked previously at Strauss Family Creamery. 
installation of reverse osmosis system

There is no sweeter thing than playing with baby animals.  Especially if those babies are as young as four days old. 

I am visiting Redwood Hill Farm in Sebastopol. Redwood Hill is the first Certified Humane goat dairy in the country and is the where the goats are bred and raised for Redwood Hill Farm goat milk products:  cheeses, yogurts, and kefir. And it happens to be birthing season! Baby goats galore!

4 days old!
Redwood Hill Farm started back in 1968 when Kenneth and Cynthia Bice bought it so that they could get "back to the land" with their nine children. The children soon started to raise and show goats for their local 4-H and quickly they had a goat farm. Eventually the milk was sold to health food stores and the family started producing kefir. Eldest daughter Jennifer took over the farm and business and started to expand it by introducing cheese products. Now RHF includes not only the expanded farm property, but also a creamery/factory to produce the goat milk products, and a new company, Green Valley Organic, that makes lactose free yogurt, sour cream, and kefir.

In Part 2 I will talk about my visit to the creamery, but it all has to start with the goats. There are about 300 of them at the farm consisting of four different breeds. Along with farming the goats for their milk, Redwood Hill also takes them to national shows and often wins awards for best examples of the breeds. Scott Bice, the youngest sibling, gave me a tour of the farm and points out the four breeds...

I realized that this week was island food week since I had eaten at a Jamaican restaurant one night and a Filipino one the next. I don't feel I can rightly post full blog reviews of either one since I've only eaten at each once. This is a double quickie review of both. Suffice it to say, I'm looking forward to going back to each one.

Sari Sari Filipino Buffet

Sari Sari Filipino Buffet on Urbanspoon

We'll start with the Filipino because that's part of my heritage. I've mentioned before that I am half Filipino, but my mom never made anything but adobo, lumpia, and pancit. My Filipino culinary education is seriously lacking. While I've visited the Philippines many times as a child, I never got to know the other traditional dishes such as kare kare, sinigang, dinuguan, etc. It's also caused me problems when dining at Filipino restaurants because it means I've sometimes ordered the wrong thing trying to get something I was familiar with,  or not ordering things because I don't want to waste money by ordering something and then not liking it.

That's the beauty of a buffet!  Here you can sample about 20 dishes and not have to worry about wasting money.  The buffet at Sari Sari is only $8.99 for all-you-can-eat.

Let me start by telling you where it is because the address really doesn't coordinate well with where it actually is.  The address is 7909 Bruceville Road in South Sac, but if you go by your GPS, you'll be going around in circles, like I did the first time I tried to find it.  So let me tell you better directions.  There's a strip mall with a Big Lots at the corner of Valley Hi and Wyndham.  Go around to the right side (the Wyndham side) and that's where you will find it.  Why it has a Bruceville Road address, doesn't make sense to me.

The place is actually quite large and I'm kinda betting that on the weekends it gets full.  I was there on a Wednesday night, 7 pm, and so it was pretty quiet. One of the features that made me feel like I was back in Manila was that there was a hand washing sink in the dining room behind the buffet. A lot of times you eat with your hands to pick around all the bones and bits. Many restaurants that serve traditional Filipino food will have an actual bank of sinks on a wall of the dining room for patrons to wash their hands.  I don't know if Sari Sari intentionally put theirs in for this reason, but it brought back memories for me.

The buffet has a lot of items and there is a little label above each one. Unfortunately, it only names the item and doesn't describe it. Kare kare is oxtail stew, but non-Filipinos won't know that.  Or that dinuguan is pork in pigs' blood. Maybe in that case you don't want to know, but still, I would have liked a little bit of description, even if only to say chicken versus pork. 

I was there with two others that were not familiar with Filipino cuisine. All of us agreed we would come back. The food was hot and flavorful, as Filipino food tends to be. Filipino food does a lot of mixing of flavors - sour with salty is a big one. I was able to try the dinuguan and found that I liked it. It had always been a scary dish to me because of the blood and something I wasn't willing to purchase a whole order of. Here I was able to sample it and discover it wasn't so bad. Sadly they did not have the pancit or adobo.

slightly mixed halo halo
Drinks are extra as is the traditional dessert halo halo.  Halo halo means "mix mix" and is a dessert with mixtures of shaved ice and evaporated milk to which are added various boiled sweet beans, jello and fruits, and served in a tall glass parfait style. Sometimes there is also ice cream and flan. You mix it all up and enjoy.

If you are an adventurous eater who wants to sample many dishes at once, then give Sari Sari a try. 


Taste of Jamaica (Closed already)

Taste of Jamaica Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I had a Groupon that was expiring this week and that's why I made a mad dash to Taste of Jamaica on Tuesday. I've got too many expired Groupons and wanted to get my full money's worth from this one. 

ToJ is located at 3010 Florin Road. It's not the best area of town and a pretty lousy location if you ask me. But I'll bet the lease is cheap. The place is large because it has a dining side and a bar side. Don't expect it to be attractive either. It's just a basic place with a few Jamaican pictures taped to the wall.

The place has been open for about six months and the reviews seem to be a love it or hate it variety. I was therefore a bit wary. The owner was a friendly guy and helped me decide on the jerk chicken, of course, and the shrimp curry.

I'm no expert on jerk chicken and it seems to me that it's one of those dishes where every sister, mother, and uncle has a different take on a family recipe. All I can tell you is that the chicken was moist and well marinated. Not really spicy, but good.

I was more impressed with the flavors of the shrimp curry and ate the whole plate up while the jerk chicken went as to-go. My only complaints were that the shrimp were the small size, like in the 60 count range, and the price was high. The seafood dishes here appear to be the most expensive.  Considering the size of the shrimp, I would have felt better paying $10, $12 max, versus the $15.95 I was charged. Still, the dish was delicious.

Both dishes came with sides, including a stewed cabbage that was pretty spicy on its own. The plantains were sweet and nicely caramelized.

I'm interested in going back to try the oxtail stew, dumplings, and more.

Almond milk and a blueberry smoothie

Some would argue that it's just simpler to buy a carton of almond milk at the store. But they've never seen how simple it is to make almond milk at home. It's really not so much effort for a fresher, healthier version. The steps below will look like a lot, but in actuality, they probably take no more than 10 minutes total.

First let's discuss why you should make it versus buy it.

Cartoned almond milk is not just almonds and water. There are extra ingredients to thicken and stabilize the milk. Such things as locust bean gum, gellan gum, sunflower lecithin, d-Alpha tocopherol (Vitamin E), Zinc gluconate, Vitamin A palmitate, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D2. Why would you want these additives when you don't need them?

Another reason would be the cost. It really is more cost efficient to just make it as you need it.  In Sacramento you can find raw almonds for $5-10 a pound at the farmers market. That pound of almonds could easily make a gallon+ of almond milk, depending on how thick you like it.

Prepping almonds

There are two things you will need to buy before you begin. Almonds and a paint strainer. Paint strainer? You will need to strain the milk and you could buy a nut bag at a health food store to do that. But it's cheaper and basically the same thing to buy a paint strainer bag from the hardware store. They come in quart and 5 gallon size.  You just need the smaller bag.  I like to take an added step of boiling the bag right before I make my milk to make sure it is sterilized. Also be sure to wash your hands well before squeezing out the milk.

Paint strainer
Making the milk does take a couple of days simply because the first step is soaking the almonds. So step 1 is simply putting the almonds in a bowl or jar and covering with tap water. You leave it out for overnight to 2 days. Apparently the longer the nuts soak, the creamier the milk will be. 

I love this picture of the sheep and chickens together!
For many people a trip to the farmers market is just a produce oriented grocery run, quickly grabbing the items needed for tonight's supper or this week's juicing. Not many people pay much attention to who is certified organic, who is not, and which farms may practice organic farming, but just couldn't afford to get the certification.  The questions of how produce or livestock are raised require getting to know the farmers and, if you are lucky and able to, a visit to their farm or orchard. 

Sacramento is lucky in that we are within 10-50 miles of hundreds of farms, thus our Farm to Fork Capital designation. Many of these farms do provide opportunities for the public to come and visit for fun with a bit of education combined. Some of the well known farms with visitor days include Capay Organic, Soil Born Farms, and Twin Peaks Orchard. Each of these  provide opportunities to see where and how your produce is grown.

Sinclair Family Farm has a Day on the Farm as well (details at end of post), but their focus is on livestock and showing you an environment where pigs, chickens, sheep, and cattle are being raised in the best way possible.  They raise happy animals.

I was invited to go visit the Sinclair Family Farm in Newcastle. The Sinclairs are not multi-generational farmers with a history spanning 50-100 years. Instead, Karin and Keith got involved with farming first through participating in 4H programs when they were young. Once they met and married, they had children of their own and bought a 15 acre property in Penryn. Soon their children started raising animals for 4H as well. Their daughter, Tina, raised sheep and their son, Matt, raised cattle. Over the years they added more sheep and cattle, bought more property, and then added chickens and pigs.