Local Food and Farm Products 
Volume 7 Number 49    December 8, 2015

FIELD NOTES: Damas Vineyards, Fiddletown

What a whacky harvest season this has been! The pears were small and gritty, the walnuts few and sorry looking. The grape harvest was pathetic (only about 40% of normal). We got some nice apples and pomegranates, ripened ahead of their usual schedule, and a bumper crop of jujubes--although there are only so many outlets for that strange fruit. The BIG news is about the olive crop, which almost was triple our normal production.
We planned to hand pick our olives on November 1 for milling the next day. We hired a crew and started picking early, then had to knock off around 1 pm, when it started to rain. No matter—we had already filled four quarter-ton bins, more than we have ever harvested for milling—yet we had only picked about half of our trees!
The next day, we had the olives weighed at the mill, and sure enough, we had well over a ton, even with so many left hanging on the trees. We began to ponder what to do. Once we tasted the oil made from our olives, there was no question. We could not stand the idea of letting the rest of our crop freeze, rot on the trees, or get picked off by birds, when they could be made into such a heavenly concoction! So, we did a second picking and another trip to the mill in Hollister. We are rich in oil! Our estate grown, hand-picked, stone milled olive oil is now available for purchase at the MLH pickup location in 375 ml bottles perfect for gift giving.
“Olio Nuovo” is what Italians call newly pressed olive oil. It is celebrated much the way the French rejoice in the release of “Beaujolais Nouveau.” This newly milled oil is something special, and it is only available for a limited time in fall, during the milling period. It should be enjoyed within a month or two, after which it will clarify, the solids will settle, and it will transform into the clearer green-gold olive oil we know and love. New oil is much more pungent, spicy, and peppery--a vibrant, green, rambunctious, sassy goddess. It is so delicious that Italians prefer to consume it raw on toasted crostini with a pinch of sea salt, but of course it is also fabulous sprinkled on salads. I loved using it to make a classic olive oil cake like this one: 
If you would like to receive our quarterly newsletter with updates on farm news and special offers on our olive oil and wine selections, please get in touch. Send a note to and we will add you to our list.
Cheers and Happy Holidays to all,
Mara and Deborah
DAMAS Vineyards (and Orchards!)




Sunchoke-Kale Hash With Farro

Contributed by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, January 2010.

3/4 cup farro
2 1/2 pounds large sunchokes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound Tuscan kale, tough stems discarded
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil blended with 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 small red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, halved if large
Freshly ground pepper
In a medium saucepan, cover the farro with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat until the farro is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the farro.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the sunchokes with water and add a pinch of salt. Boil until the sunchokes are tender, 10 minutes; drain. Slice the sunchokes 1/4 inch thick.
Fill the large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the Tuscan kale and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the kale and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the kale leaves and then coarsely chop them.
In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the blended oil. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 12 minutes.
In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of the blended oil. Add the sunchokes in an even layer and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the sunchokes, reduce the heat to moderately high and continue cooking until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Push the sunchokes to the side of the skillet.
Add 1 more tablespoon of the oil and the oyster mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil along with the farro, kale and onion and cook, stirring, until hot. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 one day ahead; refrigerate the components separately.


Tarte Normande aux Pommes (Custard Apple Tart)
From the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child


1 partially baked pastry shell (8 inch diameter) in a tart pan
1 lb. (about 3 cups) firm cooking apples quartered, cored, peeled, and cut into 1/8-inch lengthwise slices
2/3 cups sugar, divided  in half
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
¼ cup sifted flour
½ cup whipping cream
3 Tbsp. calvados (apple brandy) or cognac
Powdered sugar in a shaker
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Toss the apples in a bowl with ⅓ cup sugar and the cinnamon, then arrange them in the pastry shell. Bake in the upper third of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until they start to color and are almost tender. Remove from oven and let cool while preparing the custard.
Beat the egg and remaining ⅓ cup sugar together in a mixing bowl until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back on itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the flour, then the cream, and finally the brandy. Pour the mixture over the apples. It should come almost to the top of the pastry shell.
Return to oven for 10 minutes, or until cream begins to puff. Sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar and return to oven for 15 to 20 minutes more. Tart is done when top has browned and a needle or knife plunged into the custard comes out clean.
Slide tart onto a rack or serving dish, and keep warm until ready to serve.  Note: this  tart is perfectly sweet without the powdered sugar.




Single Box  

1/2 lb Sunchokes

2 Quinces

2 lbs Persimmons

2 lbs Apples

4 Caramels

3 oz Sugared Walnuts

1 piece Quince Membrillo

Family Box

1/2 lb Sunchokes

1/2 lb Salad Mix

1 Quince

1/4 lb Walnuts

2 lbs Apples

4 Caramels

3 oz Sugared Walnuts

4 oz Pope's Bread

Remember add-ons and consignment available each week.


Customers Dick and Josie


Mother Lode Harvest has local food and farm products available to order at


Orders received during that time can be picked up on Tuesdays between 10:30 am and noon, or 4:30 to 6:00 pm, at 1235 Jackson Gate Road in Jackson, behind Teresa's Restaurant. Prepaid orders may also be picked up in Volcano or Plymouth. Payment may be made at pickup by cash or check made out to Mother Lode Harvest, or before pickup by PayPal.

New customers will need to register by using the "join" button on the website before they can shop. A signed customer agreement and membership dues may be mailed to MLH, or brought to the distribution center with your first pickup.

If you have any questions or problems with using the website, please contact our customer coordinator, Michelle, at, or 419-2503.


MLH Calendar of Events

Board Meeting December 15, Tuesday 12:00 at the DC.
 Jackson's annual Health Fair is coming up January 30, 11:00 - 4:00 PM, at the Senior Center. This is a community outreach opportunity and we need volunteers for short shifts.        Contact Michelle:

 An important General Meeting for all members of MLH is coming up in February or March 2016. We will be presenting our new business model and
need everyone's involvement and input. More to come.
There is a correction of dates for Dennis Friis's memorial and celebration of life event.

Date for memorial at Sutter Creek Methodist Church is Saturday ll:00 December 12.  Date for Celebration of his life at Amador High gym is Sunday December 13, 12:00.



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Our mailing address is: P.O. Box 534 Amador City, CA 95601
Mother Lode Harvest is a non-profit membership association.