Califonia Bountiful

California Country's 2010 holiday gift guide

Nov./Dec. 2010 California Country magazine

Are you looking for a gift to pamper a loved one? A unique token of appreciation for a co-worker? Something delicious to put on the holiday table or wrap in brightly colored paper? Go with a gift that gets its start on a farm or ranch in California! The California Country team offers these recommendations from the Fresh Ideas section of our magazine. For other ideas, check our holiday cookbook bonus section and our Book Reviews archives.

Holiday Meals and Snacks

Ham for the holidays

Llano Seco Rancho, an intact Spanish land grant in Butte County, was purchased in 1861 by John Parrott and remains in the family to this day. Now operating an organic hog farm, the family provides a variety of pork products from bacon to ribs as well as a traditional holiday ham that's available only twice a year—around Christmas and Easter. The slow-smoked hams come whole or half and bone-in or boneless.
Available: online and at some supermarkets and farmers markets
More information: or 530-513-8055
(From November/December 2010)

Going with the grain

Ornbaun Family rice began in 1987 when a young couple, following in the footsteps of the family's farm heritage, began growing rice on their farm near Williams. Today, the couple and their family produce and market products including premium medium grain, premium sushi, and organic brown and white rice. Their packaging offers consumer convenience with an easy-measure window and resealable pour spout.
Available: online
More information: or 877-986-7423
(From November/December 2010)

It's hip to dip

Inspired by the popularity of rich, creamy Greek-style yogurts, Santa Barbara Bay Foods has introduced All Natural Greek Yogurt Dips to their line of salads, spreads and dips. Made from California milk, these dips are prepared in the kitchens of their state-of-the-art facility in Santa Barbara County. Greek yogurt dips are a delicious alternative to traditional sour cream-based dips. Flavors include Cucumber Dill and Zesty Ranch.
Available: supermarkets nationwide
More information: or 805-688-5248
(From July/August 2010)

A pepper for every palate

Why roast and slice bell peppers when Mezzetta will do it for you? Hand-selected from family farms in California, Mezzetta's bell peppers are packed at their Napa Valley facility within 24 hours of harvest. Choices range from Tri-Color Roasted Bell Pepper Strips to Roasted Bell Pepper Strips & Caramelized Onions. Stir into a pasta or potato salad, top a steak sandwich or add to a pizza.
Available: online and at supermarkets nationwide
More information: or 800-941-7044
(From July/August 2010)

Ghee whiz

Ghee has been popular in India for centuries, but now it's being produced in Marin County by Ancient Organics. Its founders describe ghee as "the essence of milk." Ghee is made by boiling butter for several hours until all the moisture has evaporated and all the lactose and milk solids have settled to the bottom. The Ancient Organics brand is made from California organic milk. Ghee can be used like regular butter, but it doesn't require refrigeration.
Available: online and at select natural food stores
More information: or 415-868-9890
(From May/June 2010)

Getting your goat (in a good way)

In business since 1934, Meyenberg has long been a trusted name among goat milk connoisseurs. But as more people discover the nutritional benefits, versatility and flavor of goat milk products, the Turlock-based company has grown in size and stature to become the nation's largest maker of goat milk products. Its award-winning lineup includes garlic and chive cream cheese, powdered milk and European-style butter.
Available: supermarkets nationwide
More information: or 800-891-GOAT (4628)
(From May/June 2010)

Yummy Treats

Crunchy and delicious

In the San Joaquin Valley west of Modesto is an area known as Wood Colony. It's where the Wenger family grows walnuts and founded the Wood Colony Nut Co. The Wengers use nuts raised in family-owned orchards to produce a variety of creatively packaged treats, such as Dark Chocolate Walnut Toffee Clusters. Can't decide? Gift certificates are also available.
Available: online or by phone
More information: or 209-576-1406
(From November/December 2009)

Do yourself a flavor

Maybe you've heard of fennel, but did you know it flourishes wild in California's coastal fields? Pollen is extracted from its dried flowers to make fennel pollen spice, then San Diego-area chef Bernard Guillas adds California-grown herbs to further enhance the fennel flavor. Blending and packaging of Chef Bernard's Fennel Pollen Spice Blends is done in Tulare County. The blends are available in eight flavors, ranging from Little Devil for meats to Divine Desserts for baked goods.
Available: online
More information: or 760-214-2524
(From November/December 2010)

Sweet sauce

Traditionally a staple in South American homes, dulce de leche is now available throughout the United States—thanks to Oxnard-based Lourdes Gourmet. The rich, milk-based sauce is made from farm-fresh California ingredients including milk and honey. Perfect on your favorite fruits, bagels and, of course, ice cream.
Available: online and at select natural food stores
More information: or 805-382-2984
(From May/June 2010)

A tasty trio

Fruit-infused vinegars from Global Gardens begin with figs, pomegranates, strawberries and other California fruits that are picked fresh then creatively blended with either California champagne or balsamic vinegar. Use in place of lemon in recipes, as stand-alone salad dressings without oils, in fruit salads or on steamed veggies. Global Gardens is Santa Barbara County's only complete specialty food company, featuring more than 50 food products made exclusively from their own family recipes.
Available: online or at the Global Gardens Destination Store at 2477 Alamo Pintado Ave. in Los Olivos
More information: or 800-307-0447
(From March/April 2010)

Granola grandeur

What started as a simple gift idea for friends and family has turned into granola grandeur for Bay Area-based Sugajules Artisan Granola. Handmade in small batches, Sugajules offers two granola varieties that pack quite a crunch. The Whole Nine Yards includes California almonds, honey, butter and brown rice syrup, while Cherry on Top combines California cherries, pistachios and semisweet chocolate chips.
Available: online and at certain natural food stores
More information: or 415-845-4908
(From September/October 2010)

Butter up!

Bob Vitchev was working at a restaurant in Germany in the 1970s when he asked the chef—a prominent man from Belgium—what made him so famous. The chef answered, "It is very simple: garlic, pepper and, always, lots of butter." That was a turning point in Vitchev's career. Today his family-owed company in San Diego County offers six flavors of gourmet butter made with California milk. Vitchev used his grandmother's recipe for a garlic-flavored butter and developed the other recipes himself. Bonelli's Fine Gourmet Butters are delicious melted over steamed vegetables, pasta or a grilled steak.
Available: online and at select San Diego County stores and farmers markets
More information: or 619-517-3160
(From July/August 2010)

Make A Toast

Cheers for pomegranate wine!

Chaucer's Cellars of Bargetto Winery in Santa Cruz County produces a pomegranate dessert wine using 100 percent pure California pomegranate fruit, with no artificial flavors. The wine has a richness similar to that of fine liqueur, but with a lower alcohol content. It's great chilled as an aperitif or dessert wine or when used to mix a cocktail (recipes are on the company's Web site)
Available: online or Bargetto Winery at 3535 N. Main St. in Soquel and Monterey Tasting Room at 700-G Cannery Row in Monterey
More information: or 800-422-7438
(From November/December 2009)

Pamper Them

Cashmere: the fiber of royalty

There's nothing quite as comfy as cashmere! Founded in 1990, California Cashmere Co. in Calaveras County is the only commercial custom cashmere dehairer in the United States. (Dehairing is the process of separating the hair and the cashmere.) They offer gift packs of yarn and cloth as well as a variety of clothing. Tours of the affiliated Al-Rafiq Farm, with their cashmere-producing goats, are available by appointment.
Available: online
More information: or 866-754-5751
(From November/December 2009)

The luxury of lavender

Ornbaun-Gibson Ranch in Colusa County makes Lavender Linen Spray from pure, locally grown lavender. It's perfect for spraying on your pillows just before bedtime to help you sleep. Other lavender products such as bubble bath and lotion also provide unique fresh aromas. Lavender has been used by Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations and today remains an ingredient in high-quality bath and body products.
Available: by phone or mail order
More information: or 530-473-2979
(From November/December 2009)

A treat for your skin

A refreshing blend of California beeswax and honey with spearmint and peppermint oils creates this invigorating moisture therapy. Bath Petals Greek Honey Mint Body Butter contains only pure, rich emollients, without any water or other ingredients to dilute its moisturizing power. Beeswax is a natural emulsifier and thickener that holds moisture, while honey nourishes the skin and helps eliminate fine wrinkles. Located in Los Angeles, Bath Petals is a woman-owned, family-operated business.
Available: Online
More information: or 310-532-4532
(From May/June 2009)

For Pet Lovers

Pooch perfection!

It all started when their black Pomeranian, Kona, became violently ill from eating imported chicken jerky. Unable to find a safe and healthy American-made alternative, Cynthia and Tom Darmstandler began experimenting and making their own dog treats. Today their plant in Oakdale uses USDA-inspected boneless, skinless chicken breast or turkey breast from a California poultry farm to produce Kona's Chips. These all-natural treats range from Chicken Krispies to Turkey Jerky and are suitable for dogs on special diets.
Available: online and at selected pet stores
More information: or 800-808-2072
(From March/April 2010)

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