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Mis-adventures of the Neophyte Baker Part 2

When the days get colder and shorter I always feel the need to nest. Maybe it harkens back to our days of hunting, gathering, and hibernating, but whatever it is, all I want to do is stay home and bake. My boyfriend loves and hates this time since he is the taste-tester and the dish-doer. Hey, beggars can’t be choosers and besides, he is way better at the dishes than I am (just in case he reads this).

If you remember my pumpkin bread disaster you know that I am not the best baker alive, but I have a good spirit and never give up. I decided to try another holiday favorite: snickerdoodles but made in a cupcake form. Doesn’t that sound delicious? A warm, soft, sugary cupcake with cinnamon frosting on top!  It sure does to me and by the way, snickerdoodles were my mom’s best cookie recipe and my favorite of all time. I have made them so many times that I was convinced I could ace this cupcake recipe no problem. Well, things don’t always go as planned.

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Landlords, Round-a-bouts and Cotati

We’ve received numerous requests to explain our motivations to build a new store in Cotati and our position regarding the various road designs being contemplated for Old Redwood Highway that may effect our decision to move forward with that development. 

Our plans to build a new store on Old Redwood Highway close to the intersection of Hwy 116 originated from years of failed attempts to negotiate an extension for our current lease that expires in 2014.  We had tried for several years to schedule a meeting with the landlord to negotiate an extension, but the landlord was unwilling to even meet with us to that end. In addition, we were frustrated with the deteriorating condition of the Rancho Cotati Center and lacked confidence that our landlords would make appropriate investments in the center to support our long-term business goals.

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Mis-adventures of the Neophyte Baker

I decided that writing a blog entry for the Oliver's website about using fresh pumpkin instead of canned would be seasonal and fun.  I found a tasty-looking Alton Brown recipe for pumpkin bread that looked "kind of simple", right up my alley.  Simple was the name of the game - I'm not a baker - I do ads and social media here at Oliver's.  Besides, my boyfriend's place is small and not conducive to a baking extravaganza.  So I picked up a sugar pie pumpkin in the store, went home and got to work.  
     I cut the top off, scooped out the seeds, saving them to roast, and cut the pumpkin into sections that could fit in my hand.  The recipe called for grated (?) pumpkin so I chose a sharp-edged spoon to scrape the pumpkin, shaving it into a shreddy-looking pile.  This simple act took over AN HOUR.  My hands and arms were aching. Libby's was starting to look really good.  I had to watch a crappy reality show to help get over myself.

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French Pastry Gets My Goat

Let me tell you a story of how a dented bar of goat butter started my culinary odyssey.

I had never much thought about goat dairy as a food group, beyond the infrequent chunk of feta in a Greek salad or crumble of chevre on a salade composee in some gourmet ghetto.  It's probably because my background is in French pastry where cows play a much bigger role than do goats.  So when that foil-wrapped brick of goat butter landed in my hand while standing on aisle 15 amidst the dairy coolers here at Oliver's in Cotati, it did not initially murmur "dessert".  Who knew goat butter would be so transformative or suggestive?   

I took it home and thought "I need to bake something with this."   The flavor of the butter was sweet and subtle, with only a hint of goat tang and I wanted a simple recipe to accentuate this.  A buttercream would be perfect, since butter is its chief flavor.   I streamed boiled sugar syrup onto whipped egg whites, gradually added softened goat butter into the mixer and flavored the glossy, creamy mass with vanilla bean.  With a small offset spatula, I mounded this silken cream on tiny cashew meringues, forming sloping walls with pointed nipples festooned with edible gold leaf.   They were, in a word, amazing.   The buttercream was ethereal, held its shape beautifully and dissolved on my tongue.  I was smitten - it was the finest buttercream I'd eaten in the last 30 years, 28 of which were spent working as a pastry chef.  Now I was really intrigued.  What else could I make?  How would goat dairy behave in other recipes?

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Green Efforts

Oliver's is proud to announce the launch of our "Green Efforts" web page. This tab provides a way for us to keep interested citizens up to date on how our greening efforts are going. Our interactive slides allow you to see our sustainability mission, the guiding force for our efforts; where this mission has taken us i.e. the projects we have completed; and the results of our completed projects. Each month we will update projects we have completed, and subsequently the accumulation of results

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Where "Local" Means Sonoma County

To us Local means Sonoma County -- period. Not Marin, not Napa, and definitely not the state of California, as some of our competitors define it.

From the day we opened our doors in 1988, we’ve built our business on the simple premise that the best food and wine in the world are produced here, in Sonoma County. We didn’t feel like we were pioneers at the time, but as people have come to understand and embrace the value of locally grown and made food and the value of shopping locally, we realize we were part of the early days of the movement.

As a Sonoma County business, we’ve built enduring relationships with local growers, makers, and manufacturers, because they make the foods and wines we love. Many of them were getting started when we were. Now they are nationally known, but for us, they are still old friends who often delivered products to our Cotati store in their cars back in the late 1980s.

Along with local products being excellent choices for taste and quality reasons, buying locally also improves our local economy. The dollars you spend at local retailers buying local products support other local businesses and our tax base, too!

Tasting Notes

Matt Rice

Get Your Smoke On!

Take your outdoor cooking to the next level with your very own, limited edition, Mark West smoker. From now until Tuesday April 25th, stop by your neighborhood Oliver’s Market and enter to win a Mark West smoker.

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An Egg-cellent Natural Dye That Every Bunny Will Love

You don’t need to use harsh, artificial dyes to obtain bright and vibrant colors on your eggs…you can do it the natural way! 

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Making the “Local” Difference at Oliver’s Market

From the day we first opened our doors, we’ve built our business on the simple premise that the best food and wine in the world are produced here, in Sonoma County.

Read More…