Monday, July 16, 2012

Buena Loma Gardens - Baked Kale and Salsa con Nopales

My friend asked me to publish the article she wrote on her trip to Buena Loma Gardens and share it on my blog, which published on July 4th, 2012. In her article, she plugged a local farmer, Charlie, and his wife, Elvie. It was a win-win situation: I got to share a gem and it peaked my interest to visit myself!

After my son and I went blueberry picking, we took a nice ride out to the other side of Temecula - about a 25 minute drive from the Temecula Blueberry Co. It was a scenic ride. I have lived here for 4 years and haven't even scratched the surface of what Temecula has to offer! In my friend's article (already linked above), she said she got lost but found some signs to Buena Loma Gardens (below) and thought, why not?! So I ventured the same route and this is what I found, too: 

Before my visit, I had contacted Elvie and Charlie to inform them that I would publish Elisa's article on my blog and would keep them in the loop about the amount of hits her article generated. I informed them that I would be bringing my son to see them and learn more about their farm. 

Believe it or not, we spent 2 hours there! When we first arrived, a family was there purchasing produce and another customer showed up after us. I met Charlie first. I introduced myself and then he went to get Elvie. She came out a few minutes later with a tray full of yummy snacks. She gave all of us a few food demonstrations on how to make flavorful combinations. One of the demonstrations and samples she offered us was kale baked with EVOO, garlic, salt, and her tomato pesto. She added the kale to slices of fresh avocado. It was delicious. I love both kale and avocados but I would not have thought to put them together at least not in the manner that she showed us!

She also showed us another nutritious snack using Asian cucumbers but this one is worthy of a separate post or read it here. Below is a picture of Salsa con Nopales. I inquired about the uses of nopales and she brought out the salsa along with some tortilla chips to dip and it offered a fresh taste with a slight crunch. I grew up in south Texas and many of my friends' families prepared and ate nopales. I am open to trying every fruit and vegetable so when I had the salsa it seemed like a familiar taste. I am sure I've had this before as a kid many moons ago. 

I was given a personal tour of their garden and I lost count on the varieties of fruits and vegetables that they grew. If I had to take a guess ... probably 30-40 different plants! Charlie spoke to me about his vast knowledge on composting and organic gardening. The information I learned, I hope I can remember when I start next season (and for the very first time!) gardening in soil. Charlie said I could email him for support and gain the know-hows to keep a beautiful and fruitful garden. (Until that times comes, I will be gardening through the use of the Tower Garden by Juice Plus+ (aeroponic gardening). 

Both Charlie and Elvie spoke about their passion in educating the public about healthy eating and helping people to see how easy and affordable it really is to eat well never compromising on taste. They said it goes beyond just eating healthy - it is a way of life! I couldn't agree more! 

We spent $12 and I came home with 8 Kara Kara tangerines, 8 Ana apples, 3 nopales, some cayenne peppers, her organic dried seasonings, 1/2 pound of dried persimmons, 8 white nectarines, 10 bunches of kale (freshly picked from the garden), 3 Asian cucumbers, and a sample of her tomato pesto. 

The hospitality and friendliness of Charlie and Elvie is inviting and makes you feel comfortable as soon as you get out of your car. That's probably why we stayed so long! My son enjoyed playing in the dirt while I got to take in some new recipes. When it was time to go, he wanted to stay and hang out. That's a good sign if anyone knows how a 3 year old can be.
Fresh kale before baking. 

Since our visit, my son has thoroughly enjoyed the dried persimmons. We've eaten all the nectarines, and most of the tangerines along with most of the apples. I baked the kale using half (5 bunches). The best way to make the kale is to bake at 275 degrees for 30 minutes. Longer at lower temperatures is better than quicker at higher temps - well, unless you're using the hot California sun. For example, drying persimmons in the sun takes about 8 hours but in a dehydrator, it is about 24 hours. 

I may remove the stems next time for better crisping. 

Enough about my visit. Have you gone yet? If you haven't read the other post yet, they're open 7 days a week from 9a - 7p or by special arrangement (always call first). Ask Elvie to show you some food combinations when you stop through and please do not forget to tell her that you learned about her through the Conveying Awareness' blog. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

#BuenaLomaGardens: A Hidden Treasure in #Temecula, Ca

This week is Support Small (& Local) Businesses Week (July 1-7) and I have a special place to share with you by way of my friend who visited Buena Loma Gardens for the first time just a couple weeks ago.  She has given me permission to share her story with you. 
About 2 weeks ago I packed up the kids for a hike to the Santa Margarita Trail in Fallbrook, Ca.  I had a general idea of where I was going but was relying on my cell phone for directions.  As luck would have it, I missed a turn and found myself in a rural part of town with no cell reception.  I was getting ready to turn back when I spotted a sign for Buena Loma Farms.  I was intrigued by what I might find so I followed the signs to a small stand on the side of the road.  Actually, it was the home of Charlie and Elvie Colabella.
Immediately, Charlie came out to greet us and had us sampling fruit.  We had the sweetest oranges and the most delicious grapefruit, apples and blood oranges.  We also tried sweet Gloria Gold limes which Elvie called 'magic' lemons.  I think she called them magic because they looked like lemons but actually had a mild taste without the tartness of a regular lemon.  
Charlie and his wife, Elvie eagerly gave us a tour of the gardens.   We saw the many varieties of fruits and vegetables that were growing on the farm.  The kids were also allowed to help Charlie pick blackberries, while I hand selected kale straight from the garden.  
Charlie and Elvie developed the land over 16 years ago and just one month ago started selling to the public.  All their fruits and vegetables are organically grown, using a homemade fertilizer and are hand cultivated.   Charlie has a special interest in educating the public on home gardening and composting.  
We eventually made it to the Santa Margarita Trail, but the best part of the day was discovering Buena Loma Gardens, meeting Charlie and Elvie and tasting some wonderful produce.
If you visit in the next few weeks you will be treated to eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, melons, Italian heirloom squash (known as Marianna Di Chioggia), kabocha squash, apples, persian mulberries and figs.  Personally, I’ll be back in about a week for the Persian mulberries.  
Since my last visit, Elvie has created a picnic seating area for visitors to sit and enjoy the serenity of the gardens.  Visitors are also welcome to bring their own picnic lunches.
Buena Loma Gardens is a 20 minute drive from Rancho California and the 15 Freeway in Temecula.   They are located at: 45485 Buena Loma Road, Temecula, CA 92590.  Their summer hours are 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday or otherwise by special arrangement.  If you have any questions, you may contact Elvie at or at (951) 694-5328.   ~ Elisa DeCristo, Murrieta, CA

When you stop in be sure to tell Charlie and Elvie that you learned about them through Conveying Awareness. This helps them know that their efforts at networking are reaching many.  Thank you!

Update on 7/6/12: I, Jessica with Conveying Awareness, visited Buena Loma Gardens on the 4th of July and I will be blogging about my experience and some recipes that Elvie shared with me that I made the days following my visit.  

Choose, eat, and live well! =)