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DIY Dreamin'

Longing to create your own food forest, food biz, or farmhouse cheddar? Upcoming events offer the chance to get savvy and learn plenty of new skills... Oh, and to taste some incredible cheese!

Handcrafted cheeses top the menu at the Artisan Cheese Festival.
(Photo by Derrick Story)

In this newsletter:

●   Taste, learn, and explore at the Artisan Cheese Festival  
      March 20–22
●   Create your own food forest - March 21
●   Make sure your food business is legal - March 24
●   Book Review: The Nourishing Homestead
●   Recipe: Bellwether Farms Fromage Blanc Gelato

Don't miss our Spring issue, where you can read about CHEESE THERAPY! Click on the cover image above for the online version.

Cover art: "Magic Tractor"
by Margo Rivera-Weiss.


Say Cheese!

The Fantasy Cheese Table is a cheese-lovers dream come true. (Photo by Lindsay Katz)

There’s plenty to smile about at California’s 9th annual Artisan Cheese Festival, held in spectacular Sonoma Wine Country. Artisan cheese is made following ancient traditions: always in small batches, and using as little mechanization as possible. Over the three-day festival, attendees can meet some of the most celebrated artisan cheesemakers, along with chefs, farmers, and industry experts. They'll discover new cheeses and pairings with wine, beer, and cider. Executive Chef Erik Johnson from J Vineyards & Winery hosts Bubbles and Brunch, a cheese-centric cooking demo and seasonal meal accompanied by J’s sparkling wine. Chefs compete for votes in a roaming feast of sweet and savory dishes. The festival gives back to the artisan cheesemaking community with donations to nonprofits including the Sonoma Land Trust and Petaluma Future Farmers of America. Prices vary by event. Info and tickets: here

Artisan Cheese Festival
Friday–Sunday, March 20–22
Sheraton Hotel, Petaluma

Farm tours, like this one at Weirauch Farm in 2014, are hugely popular among festival goers. (Photo by Derrick Story)

Visitors to the festival's Grand Marketplace can purchase exquisite cheeses, wines, meats, and more. (Photo by Rick Roellke)

At the Grand Tasting, festival goers sample an array of scrumptious and creative dishes made with cheese. (Photo by Derrick Story)
Forests in the City

Designing and Creating Resilient, Tree-Based Plant Communities 
Saturday March 21, 12–4 pm 
Location: South Berkeley, TBA

Food forests are more than orchards; they can regenerate our natural world and reverse the damage caused by pollution and modern chemical agriculture while providing food and medicine. At this permaculture-based gardening workshop, food forester Jeremy Watts demonstrates how to grow drought-tolerant urban fruit trees that integrate native plants. Topics include how to learn by observation of Mother Nature, selection of appropriate trees and plants, water conservation, and more. Cost: $60. Work-trade slots available. Info: Registration: here

Jeremy Watts shows his appreciation for an heirloom tomato in his food forest.
(Photo courtesy of Food Forest Design Works)
Your Food Biz and the Law

Along with a terrific product, it takes legal know-how to launch a successful food business.
(Photo courtesy of the Food Craft Institute)

At Oakland’s Food Craft Institute, get the scoop on the legal pitfalls and opportunities involved in launching and marketing a food business. Learn about choosing the right business entity, fundraising regulations, employment rules, food safety, California’s cottage food law, and more. Cost: $30. Info: here

Legalize Your Food Biz!
Tuesday March 24, 5:30–7:30pm
The Food Craft Institute

Homestead is Where the Heart Is
Review by Kristina Sepetys
As springs bursts out all over, thoughts turn to gardens, new baby chicks, the delights of young spring produce, and hand-crafting specialty foods. Some may wonder how to dig more deeply into these pursuits to honor the seasons, and to live and eat closer to the earth and in community. A new book by Ben and Penny Hewitt describes the resourceful, interdependent life they’ve built on their small farm in northern Vermont, shares lessons learned, and encourages others to find balance and joy in their work and lives.

Read this review 
Bellwether Farms Fromage Blanc Gelato
This recipe from Zazu Kitchen chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart uses tangy, buttery fromage blanc from Sonoma County’s Bellwether Farms. An assortment of Bellwether cheeses as well as meats from the Black Pig Meat Company, run by Estes and Stewart, will be on offer at the Artisan Cheese Festival marketplace.
Serves 6
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 cups fromage blanc
2 cups Greek yogurt
1/4 cup corn syrup
For the gelato, first make the simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar to a boil. Chill in an ice bath. Once cool, blend the fromage blanc, yogurt, corn syrup, and simple syrup in a blender. Freeze in an ice cream maker, according to its directions.

Practice making this gelato now, and when strawberry season starts, you'll be ready to try it in place of the whipped cream in a strawberry shortcake. When stone fruit comes in, try it with grilled peaches. Just fire up the grill, cut some peaches in half, remove the pits, and rub with oil. Grill until marked, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill and douse with amaretto. Place two half peaches on each plate, top with a scoop of fromage blanc gelato, and sprinkle with crumbled amaretti cookies.

                                                                    Pictured above: Bellwether Farms fromage blanc is at the heart of this dish.
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