Humans have been pick­ling and pre­serv­ing food for nearly 5000 years.

Queen Cleopa­tra attrib­uted her good health and remark­able looks to her indul­gent diet of pick­les.

The United States gov­ern­ment rationed pick­les in the 1940’s, dur­ing World War II. Forty per­cent of the nation’s pro­duc­tion went to our armed forces.

Aunt Bee (the fic­tional tele­vi­sion char­ac­ter of the 1960’s Andy Grif­fith Show) entered her home­made pick­les in a local con­test, cre­at­ing angst in the fam­ily over her “kerosene cucum­bers”.

Over cen­turies, the love affair for pick­led foods has only grown stronger. Cur­rent pickle trends move well past a cucum­bers only rule. A wave of “DIY” pick­les of fruits and veg­eta­bles in acidic baths or brines keeps us inter­ested.

Sweet, sour, salty, spicy or hot cre­ative and com­plex com­bi­na­tions make us pickle happy. Cus­tomized blends of vine­gars, salts and spices are the for­mula to win­ning secret recipes.

Read more: Pickle Pantry →

It’s not that we hate cake. Most of us have enjoyed a deca­dent slice of choco­late, coconut or red vel­vet cel­e­bra­tory cake before.

It tasted great as we toasted the bride and groom, grad­u­ate, retiree or anniver­sary couple.

Birth­day cakes are a bit dif­fer­ent and very per­sonal. Young ones get tur­tles, trains and car­toon char­ac­ter cakes molded and dec­o­rated to their surprise.

Teens fre­quently bake their own or one for their friend. They choose ice cream cakes, fun­fetti or Oreo cookie cake. Cup­cakes included for teens and sweet­ness is off the charts.

Adults get the wide open cake range from car­rot with cream cheese frost­ing to molten choco­late lava and every­thing in-​between.

Birth­day choices run the spec­trum with­out any guilt over bak­ery pur­chased cakes. Bundts and spe­cialty types go over the top on stun­ning designs. Where to place the can­dles might prob­lem­atic between the swirls, curls, rib­bons and fresh flower petals.

Read more: Birth­day Wishes →

It’s cus­tom­ary on Mother’s Day to honor mom with break­fast in bed or a din­ner menu made on the bar­be­cue.

Col­or­ful flo­ral bou­quets, arrange­ments, and pot­ted bloom­ing plants are an expres­sion of love for those moms who pre­fer botan­i­cal signs of affec­tion.

While the orig­i­nal idea of a day devoted to moth­ers was con­cep­tu­ally a day of observ­ing peace dur­ing wartime, today’s remem­brances have more to do with fam­ily gath­er­ings and activ­i­ties.

There are some moms out there who just want a quiet day of gar­den­ing, read­ing for plea­sure or leisure time. That could include a dream of nap­ping on a lounge chair or ham­mock. Sleep deprived moms are largely fueled by cof­fee and the next item on the daily “to do” list. Check.

Expen­sive pur­chases of jew­elry and the like mat­ter less than catch­ing our col­lec­tive mom breath. Cre­at­ing space and time to slow down is really what moth­ers may need most. In par­tic­u­lar, moth­ers of small chil­dren rel­ish a few min­utes to themselves.

Read more: Mama Mia! →

Even though straw­ber­ries are grown year-​round in Cal­i­for­nia, it seems like we appre­ci­ate them more when they are at peak of sea­son.

Inclement weather this year has kept us guess­ing as to when the robust strawberry-​producing regions around the state will see some good spring vol­umes.

From San Diego to Mon­terey (Watsonville/​Salinas), Cal­i­for­nia has sev­eral straw­berry vari­eties in com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion. Each one has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics, advan­tages and har­vest time.

Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia sci­en­tists have bred straw­berry qual­ity stan­dards for size, firm­ness, shelf life, yield, and resis­tance to dis­ease. By name, some vari­eties include Aro­mas, Camarosa, Camino Real, Chan­dler and Ven­tana.

Con­sumers usu­ally never see the vari­etal named, but we know what we like. Sup­ple, juicy, sweet-​tart berries that make us grate­ful for short­cake, waf­fles and chocolate.

Read more: Oh Berry! →

Every day is Earth Day in the demand­ing world of agri­cul­ture. Today’s farm­ers are keenly aware of the value of water, soil and clean air.

These irre­place­able assets are essen­tial to pro­vid­ing for our food secu­rity. Sus­tain­able farm­ing prac­tices con­nect the dots for farm­ers and the land and sur­round­ing nat­ural habi­tats.

The future of food and that of the planet are insep­a­ra­ble. What we choose to grow, how we grow it and what we want to eat in the future deeply influ­ence the nat­ural envi­ron­ment.

It’s been sug­gested that adopt­ing one of three (Mediter­ranean, pescatar­ian or veg­e­tar­ian) dietary plans would not only improve human health fac­tors (Type 2 dia­betes, can­cer and heart dis­ease) but would also pos­i­tively affect envi­ron­men­tal impact.

Data is stack­ing up to sup­port the links between diet-​health-​environmental challenges.

Read more: Earth Days →

Fresh pineap­ple can be cut, cored and peeled in a vari­ety of ways. Once we learn how, we adapt our meth­ods to how the fruit will be served.

A recent social media sen­sa­tion fea­tured a pineap­ple hack that had hun­dreds of thou­sands of pineap­ple lovers doubt­ing their tech­niques.

The Japan­ese Twit­ter share makes eat­ing pineap­ple as easy as peel­ing away each bite as if peel­ing away an arti­choke leaf.

There were many naysay­ers who went on to chal­lenge the hack with failed video ver­sions of pineap­ple rolling, cut­ting, carv­ing and pulling. It turns out, the smaller, snack pineap­ple ver­sions in the orig­i­nal video may be more accom­mo­dat­ing than what we typ­i­cally find in our local mar­kets.

In any event, its ter­rific to have such wide atten­tion paid to pineap­ples this time of year. Easter cel­e­bra­tions, along with upcom­ing grad­u­a­tions, Mother’s Day and other spring menus put pineap­ple in the spotlight.

Read more: Pineap­ple Glow →