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Cafe Iveta a Sweet Addition to the Westside

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Food

Written by Tara Leonard

SANTA CRUZ (July 2010) -- I’ve been using Iveta gourmet scone mixes for years with consistently delicious results. Fast and easy to make, the scones are light and flakey (not dry and crumbly) with the perfect balance of tender dough and generous fillings. Who can resist flavors such as Cranberry Orange, Pumpkin Spice or Cinnamon Chip? In fact, the only thing better than making Iveta scones at home is having someone make them for you! Now lucky Santa Cruzans can enjoy that luxury every day at the new Café Iveta on the Westside.

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Meat Markets Go Local, Organic

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Food

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (March 2010) - The fast-evolving market for organic meat has caused a shakeup in grocery store meat departments locally, with some stores switching to California-grown organic meats and others adding organics for the first time.
In the past few months, New Leaf Community Markets have begun stocking California-raised natural and organic grass-fed beef, replacing a line of organic meats produced in Uruguay. Staff of Life market has also jettisoned its Uruguayan organic beef in favor of a California-raised brand. Even venerable Shopper’s Corner, which has sold prime conventionally-raised beef for more than 70 years, has recently added a small selection of organic beef to its popular meat counter.
What a change from 2008, when the only organic beef in local stores came from South America or a feedlot in the Midwest, and shoppers who bought organic were mainly concerned about drug or pesticide residues in the meat. Few worried about their burger’s carbon footprint, humane treatment for the animals or how many miles their steak traveled between pasture and market.

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Farewell To The Corn Dog - Santa Cruz Transforms School Lunch

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Food

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (February 2010) - Jamie Smith is a friendly guy - he’s just impatient, and very direct. The new food service director for Santa Cruz City Schools is on a mission to evict junk food from district cafeterias, and replace it with fresh, healthy, scratch-cooked meals.
That may explain why, when Smith strides into the kitchen at Gault Elementary School or Harbor High, some staffers greet him with a smile and a handshake, and others get that unmistakable “oh, no!” look in their eyes.
It’s not clear that Smith notices the occasional look of dismay. He’s stalking the premises, often with a cell phone mashed to his ear, peering into steam trays and coolers, and rummaging through paperwork. But he doesn’t appear to miss much.
On a recent visit to a district elementary, Smith was chatting up a few employees when a deliveryman slapped a receipt on the counter and said “here’s the bill for the ice cream”. Smith gazed at the deliveryman’s retreating back and said mildly, “Ice cream on campus? Oh, my.”

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The Carnivore's Dilemma: Natural, Organic or Grassfed Beef?

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Food

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (APRIL 2009) - So you’ve read Michael Pollan’s books, and vowed to buy as much locally-grown, organic food as your grocery budget allows. But the tradeoffs get complicated when it comes to buying meat.
Step up to almost any meat counter in Santa Cruz and prepare to be confronted with a consumer dilemma. There’s grassfed organic beef, most of it shipped in from Uruguay, a 9,000 mile, oil-fueled journey. Other brands of organic beef hail from the U.S. Midwest, and require somewhat less shipping. But those cattle spent the last three to six months of their lives on feedlots, which many activists consider contrary to the principles of organic farming.
You can find several brands of “natural” beef raised in California. But the term “natural” can legally apply to cattle raised on corn, hormones and antibiotics, and kept in confinement for a full year. You just want the best for your family and the environment – how do you separate the beef from the bull?

 

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Cafe Brasil: Charming Brazilian Bistro Worth Waking Up For

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Food

Written by Tara Leonard

SANTA CRUZ (June, 2009) – Here’s the thing. I’m not really a breakfast person. I’m not wild about morning in general, which explains how I’ve managed to live on the Westside for more than ten years and never eaten at Café Brasil. I’d heard plenty of rave reviews for this colorful Brazilian bistro, but every time I passed by the vibrant green building there were daunting crowds of people spilling out the door, sprawled on bright blue benches in the lush garden or sipping coffee on the steps—crowds that I’d heard could wait for up to an hour for a table. An hour during which one could still be sleeping. However, one fog-free morning, curiosity beat inertia and my daughter and I decided to ride our bikes over for a mid-week breakfast. Surprisingly, it’s a ride I expect we’ll make many times in the future.

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Turkey Talk

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Food

Written by Tara Leonard

This November, Santa Cruz families large and small will gather together for that beloved American holiday, Thanksgiving. Steaming pies will be cooling on the counter, rich gravy thickening on the stove and even if cousin Amanda isn’t speaking to her football-obsessed husband or your teenage son is sulking at the kiddie table, it will all seem worthwhile as you carry in the golden, fragrant centerpiece of the meal, the Frankenturkey. Um…what?

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The Quirky Quince

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Food

Written by Tara Leonard

Ask five people what they know about quince and chances are three of them will say, “Quints? You mean quintuplets?”
“Unfortunately quinces are a little bit of an anachronism in our day and age,” admits Christof Bernau, Garden Manager and Instructor at UCSC’s Farm and Garden, which has half a dozen quince trees. “It’s not a fruit that’s well known or recognized in the United States.”

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When Life Gives You Broken Candy Canes...

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Food

Written by Tara Leonard

When the Christmas tree fell over for the second time, I felt my holiday spirits waning. Yes, in hindsight I might have taken the first collapse a bit more seriously, leading to remedial action. But that first time, as I took in the crumpled tree, wet carpet and shattered ornaments, my thoughts leapt only to gift search and rescue. I scrambled to pull the wrapped presents from an ever-widening puddle of murky water and broken glass while my two eager-to-help dogs munched on broken candy canes, still in their wrappers. Let the holidays begin!

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The Buzz on Local Honey

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Food

Written by Tara Leonard

It’s a revelation, that first sweet taste of honey on my tongue. This is sage honey, translucent yellow with a hint of vanilla, conjuring images of sultry summer days and the thrum of sun-drunk bees floating from blossom to blossom.
I’m visiting Walls Honey Farm in Soquel and I arrived with some trepidation. Like many of us, I have a love/hate relationship with bees. Sure, these industrious insects pollinate flowers and give us mankind’s oldest sweetener, but a few painful stings have made me wary. Frankly I’ve never been a huge honey fan. But suddenly, with this drop of sunshine on my lips, I’m a convert. This is why the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used honey as a gift to their gods. I can’t wait for more. Happily, there are a number of beekeepers, or apiarists, in Santa Cruz County who provide a wonderful variety of honey and beeswax products for our enjoyment.

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Persimmon Passion

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Food

Written by Tara Leonard

Confess to Laura Everett that you have never eaten a persimmon and a look of disbelief flashes across her tan, smiling face. Everett believes that there are only two kinds of people in the world -- those who love persimmons and those who have never eaten a truly ripe piece of this colorful fall fruit. I've been warned that you'll never forget your first bite on an unripe Hachiya persimmon, the puckering astringency, the bone-dry mouth. But as owners of Everett Family Farm in Soquel, Laura and her husband Richard are just the people you want handing you your first plump sample, still warm from the tree, its distinct acorn shape encased in a glossy, orange-red skin.

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Zillions of Zucchini

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Food

Written by Tara Leonard

 “Are your neighbors friendly?”
“It depends on how much you like zucchini.”
Stuffed zucchini, grilled zucchini, zucchini quiche, pancakes and pesto. Though kids are heading back to school and the tourists have all gone home, Santa Cruz zucchini plants continue to produce at such a prolific rate that you can hear cries of “What? Zucchini again?!” at dinner tables across the county. If you’re sneaking zucchini onto a neighbor’s porch under the cover of darkness or feeding leftover zucchini casserole to the dog, it’s time to get help. You’ve come to the right place.

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