Hey all, I decided to take a pause with blogging because of what was happening in the wine country with the fires and it just didn’t seem right and trivial to post recipes during such a crisis. With the encouragement of my sister Carrie and our winery’s customers I have decided to start up again.
I didn’t wake up with sirens, or fire alarms … I woke up because my floor-to-ceiling curtains were hitting my face because of the wind. This is when I smelled the smoke. It was around 1 a.m. I walked to my window to close it, then the power went out and my phone started to buzz with incoming text messages. The wine country was on fire in three different areas and people we grew up with were fleeing for their lives, their homes burning behind them.
Nuns Canyon, Atlas Peak, Tubbs … those are all areas in the wine country which are each known for past fires throughout wine country’s history. Only this time there were multiple fires on every single one at the same time. To give you a perspective how big this area is and how hard it was in the first few hours to figure out where and how fast the fires were hitting areas. Rhode Island is 1,545 square miles and Sonoma County is 1,768 square miles … this doesn’t even include Napa; which also was getting hit. Over 220 square miles were burned in total … just in Sonoma County …
The Sunday before the fires I was stressing out about if I had the right photograph for this blog post; as well as trying to figure out how to show and describe how to easily peel and break open a pomegranate. Five hours after going to bed my valley and the people in it would change forever. The amazing acts of heroism, giving, and love our valley showed the world around us will always remind me why I live in Sonoma.
I was also frustrated … for one week I felt helpless; I was watching on social media the destruction and the need, and I didn’t know how I could personally help folks. I knew I was okay, my family was fine, and we all had enough time to evacuate for personal and family heirlooms to be safe. I am not a first responder, I don’t know anything about nonprofits, or even how to approach FEMA. Then a call-out went out on Facebook for folks who have the certification with food that I have to have to cater events at the winery. I signed up; this I know, I know food safety and I know how feed loads of people.
I helped out at The No Pay Café which was a free food distribution center that was the brainchild of Sheana Davis of The Epicurian Connection. The only question we asked folks was how many people they were feeding. No Pay Café also provided many of the first responders with food as well — many of the first responders called this firestorm “the 10-pound fire” because they gained weight. During this time we got our food for our valley residents who were in need from Facebook which sent over 98,000 meals to our town; Jackson Family Wines sent over 25,000 meals; SF Fights Fire sent over 20,000 meals; Amy’s Kitchen sent over 80,000 meals. Many local businesses opened up their warehouses, halls and large refrigeration units for the café to store the food as well as distribute it.
It was an honor to work with Sheana as well as the other volunteers and meet all of the chefs who were donating their fares. Many of the volunteers had lost their homes, cars, property, or just couldn’t go back and they couldn’t sit in a hotel or their friend’s homes anymore. Over the days we all found out how many times folks had packed — if they could … we all got really great laughs of the random things in a panic our brains told us to put in the stuff we couldn’t live without.
This recipe I created years ago because my mother had an amazingly prolific pomegranate bush and there is only so much jelly you can make. Don’t know how to peel a pomegranate? Check out this post! The brightness and tartness of the pomegranates are well-balanced with the sweetness of the pears and nuttiness of the avocados. It pairs well with both lighter reds, oaked and unoaked whites as well as sparkles and dry roses. Miguel, our foreman, loves this salsa; I have to be careful during events when I make it because sometimes he is sneaking some when my back is turned. When I do catch him he always gives me a wink and assures me that it’s his favorite dish that I make. This salsa can be used to top fish, or grilled chicken. It’s super easy and very pretty when finished.
My random thing I packed in my car? A box of Barry’s Gold Irish tea. No idea what I was thinking.
Pear & Pomegranate Salsa
- 2 Bosc pears — cored and diced small
- 2 medium pomegranates — peeled and all the pith removed from seeds
- 2 medium avocados — diced small
- 4 medium Roma tomatoes — diced small
- 2 jalapenos (optional )— diced finely (seeded if you don’t want spicy)
- 2 limes -- juiced
- 6 green onions— whites and greens sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup of cilantro — coarsely chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons dark chili powder
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- Step 1 First of all you need to be able to peel a pomegranate fast … check out this post.
- Step 2 In a large bowl add all ingredients except for avocados.
- Step 3 Mix well.
- Step 4 After mixing well slowly add the avocados and fold into salsa, so you won’t mash them up too much.