On a rare visit to the Ferry Building farmers market in San Francisco several years ago, I discovered Frog Hollow Farm, whose lusciously flavorful fruit brought me back to the pre-silicon Silicon Valley of my childhood. Even into the 1980s, a few family orchards still remained as shady green oases amongst the suburbs, with farm stands selling the sweetest, juiciest apricots and plums. Frog Hollow’s “legendary fruit, organically grown” was the only fruit I’d encountered since that could match my memory of those long-gone orchards.
For years I intended to make a return visit, but with a constant stream of babies in the house, the hour drive to San Francisco might as well have been ten. But this summer I realized that Frog Hollow has an extensive CSA program with pick-up locations all over the San Francisco Bay Area, including one just minutes from my house. And for those who live elsewhere, Frog Hollow also has a growing mail-order business that sends the farm’s legendary fresh fruit and fruit preserves across the country.
Frog Hollow is no ordinary farm. “Farmer Al” Courchense began in 1976 with 13 acres in Brentwood, CA, in the Sacramento River Delta. Farmer Al went organic in 1989 and over the years expanded to 133 acres as word of his remarkable fruit spread to Chez Panisse and beyond. Farmer Al’s wife Becky is a former pastry chef at famed Oakland restaurant Oliveto and runs the superb culinary side of the operation, including conserves, pastries and dried fruit.
Mail-order food is very often unexeptional quality for exorbitant prices. But the best are more than just great food – they are a transporting experience. My great friend Nicole once sent me a box of bagels and smoked salmon from Zabar’s in New York City, and while I blanched to think of what it cost her, I luxuriated that morning in the feeling of having brunch on the Upper West Side. Harry and David sends boxes of acceptably pretty fruit, and Edible Arrangements sends amusing bouquets of flavorless cut fruit. But Frog Hollow Farm sends an authentically succulent taste of golden California.
If the Frog Hollow CSA lasted all year, I might never have to cook. The kids are overachieving on fruit intake…
And we are excited every Wednesday to discover what our new box of treasures holds.
We haven’t been disappointed yet.
A great benefit of being a CSA member is that you can add other Frog Hollow products to your weekly (or bi-weekly) delivery without shipping charges for less than mail-order prices. I am hooked on Frog Hollow’s remarkable preserves.
Most commercial jams are 45-55% sugar, and frequently the top ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. Made from its naturally sweet, tree-ripened fruit, Frog Hollow’s apricot and peach conserves are 80% fruit and 20% sugar. Conserves are a whole-fruit jam, and these conserves are dripping-sweet fruit simply preserved in a jar.
On bread or toast, stirred into yogurt, spooned over ice cream…I may never cook again. Or at least not until my weekly treasure box ends in late September.
Next week is my two-year blogiversary! To celebrate, I’m sending a trio of Frog Hollow Farm conserves to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment in the box below to share something you’ve liked or learned here at Chinese Grandma, or a suggestion for what you’d like to hear more of in the coming year. And since I’m celebrating my big #2 year, I’m also giving away my favorite Badger Anti-Bug Balm to help a second lucky reader safely ward off bugs in the summer heat. Winners will be selected at random (using this random number generator, for any other math nerds out there), as I love you all too much to choose.
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I’m sad about the death Wednesday of fellow Californian Marion Cunningham, author of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and The Breakfast Book, at age 90 from Alzheimer’s disease. Her brilliantly moist cream scones will live on forever in my kitchen.
But I loved reading about Cunningham’s life in the New York Times obituary by Kim Severson, as well as Severson’s 2001 article, “A Cooking Kinship / Marion Cunningham and Alice Waters on friendship and lettuce” from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Thank you for taking the time to blog. I am always inspited by your recipes.
hi vanessa – i’m so grateful to have such nice readers! thanks for taking the time to comment.
I first came to Chinese Grandma because of your amazing kitchen on Apartment Therapy, and now I use your balsamic vinegarette recipe all the time (and always get compliments!)
I’m confused….I thought you live in Ohio?? Well, anyway. Your roasted cauliflower has become a staple in my kitchen. Thanks.
hi kathieb – i know, it’s confusing – for us too. we were in CA before we were in OH. now we’re moving back to CA again this summer. just spent some time in CA after kids got out of school, and now we’ll finish up summer in OH and move to CA before school starts. it’s all quite a mess (literally!).
Oh no! Leaving that wonderful kitchen? !!!!
hi kathieb – ooh, i agree, that roasted cauliflower is the bomb. i think it’s the olives – and slicing the cauliflower instead of the usual florets. thanks so much for sharing back!
I followed your Vegan Chocolate Cake receipe, it was so easy to make! Will definitely make again, thanks!
hi dw – i am so glad you liked the cake! we make it too often and always love it.
Wow, those peaches look amazing! Happy Anniversary! I’ve learned your balsamic vinaigrette recipe by heart. 🙂
liz, making vinaigrette with her eyes closed – love it! thanks so much for sharing back.
I try so many of your recipes – thanks for all of them. One of my favorites but perhaps the easiest is your balsamic vinaigrette. So simple but oh so good. Congratulations on two years.
hi lee – you are too awesome for trying so many of my recipes. i agree the vinaigrette is a staple. thanks so much for the comment.
Happy Anniversary, CG! I can’t believe it’s been two years. I love reading your blog. I am always referring back to your gift guides… I’m giving my cousin’s kid a Stomp Rocket Jr. next week.
hi lily – stomp rocket…fun for all ages! thanks for reading from the beginning – a true friend indeed. =)
I love the simplicity and wholesomeness of your blog. It’s never overwhelming with too many baseless entries. All entries are so thoughtful and inspiring. Thanks for the great recipes and healthy living tips!
hi lexi – i always strive to be respectful of your time – i know how scarce and precious it is. i really appreciate all my wonderful readers! thanks so much for taking the time to comment.
Happy 2 year Blog Anniversary! I love to read your blog and have tried recipes from it and had great results! Thanks
hi meera – i am so glad you’ve enjoyed some recipes! thanks so much for taking time to comment.
Congrats, Chinese Grandma! Hope you are well since I last saw you at BlogHer! I just love your blog! So thoughtful and inspirational!!! 🙂
tricia! so happy to hear from you. ping me if you come up to the bay area, i’m headed back come fall and would love to see you. =)
Wow. I want to weep just a tiny bit looking at that fruit; I remember the days of luscious Silicon Valley fruit, too! 🙂
Well, Happy Blog Anniversary! I always look forward to reading your posts, and my friends are glad that I do. It’s because of you that at least three families have a new favorite salad dressing [your Balsamic Vinaigrette is queen!], after all. Keep doing what you’re doing!
hi meg – i love that you’ve become a balsamic vinaigrette evangelist! that is too great. thank you so much for sharing back.
I’ve tried several of your recipes, but the tip that I go back to almost weekly is the overnight steel-cut oats. That has made my breakfasts so much more enjoyable.
hi torie – i agree, it’s so great to have a cooked breakfast ready to go in the morning!
You are my Julia Child! Because of your blog, I have learned to make my own teriyaki sauce (well actually your sauce recipe) in pretty pink jars, baked my first cake (chocolate), made my first batch of French toast ( I use vanilla soy milk instead of milk, delish and it makes the added sugar unnecessary), convinced my in laws that salads are neither boring or evil if dressed perfectly (balsamic vinegrette – of course), and summed up the courage to make up my first recipe (zucchini, galic scape and parmesan pancakes)… I could go on and on… I hope to continue working my way through your recipe list, and share in your passion for produce, family, and the simple joys of marrying too well and aging with confidence! Keep up the good work and happy blogging!
P.S my Chinese mother is stunned by my sudden proficiency and creativity in the kitchen 🙂
hi lingling – i might have to frame your comment and put it on the wall! honestly, it makes me so happy that the blog has been useful to you. and i love that your mom is mystified by your prowess in the kitchen – thanks for making my year!!
Thanks – love your balsamic dressing
hi joe – so glad you like it!
It seems that many food blogs make for interesting reads and make me drool. Seems only yours seems yummy and simple enough to getme up and cooking in the kitchen. Thank you!
christina – this was such a nice comment!! thank you so much, and keep cooking! =)
Congratulations on 2 years!
thank you, jocelyn!
i love your recipes! and your tips are always so helpful!
hi alexandra – i’m so happy you find the blog helpful! that makes my day. =)
Hi Lillian….congrats on your two year anniversary! I love to read your blog and get new recipes…..my faves are the scones and vinaigrette dressing. Hope all is well with you and your family….love the picture of the little munchkin eating the apricot!
hi diann – so fun to hear from you here. thanks for taking the time to comment!
I just discovered your blog this week while searching for Chinese beef noodle soup. My own Chinese grandma used to make it for me, and I can’t wait to try your recipe. This site has quickly become one of my favorites – thank you!
hi jamie – i hope it worked out for you! thanks so much for taking the time to comment.
I recently discovered your blog and love it! My family just moved to Silicon Valley last summer so it has been fun reading your posts. After moving here my son became allergic to mosquito bites so we use Badger along with another favorite, Kids After Bite. I generally become frozen in the kitchen and have appreciated your step by step instructions with photos. I love the California Greek Salad and yes, your balsamic vinegarette is amazing. My daughter made scones to sell at our garage sale yesterday and they were a huge hit. Thank you so much for your time and thoughtful posts and welcome back to California.
hi smiley – i love that your daughter made scones to sell at your garage sale! that is fantastic. i’ll have to check out kids after bite – thanks for the tip!
I have found so many things to drool over on your blog, from your fabulous kitchen to all sorts of good eats. I loved your mac and cheese recipe (and have made it several times since recently learning your blog!), and I am already planning to go through the archives to see what I’ve missed. Would love to see more comfort food recipes! (Thanks!)
hi lisa – oh, that mac and cheese is so good. love that comfort food when the weather gets cool. i’m looking forward to it already!
Happy 2-year anniversary! I came upon your site while googling flaxseed pancakes, and not only did the 19 people who came to brunch on Sunday love them, but now they love your site, too. Thanks for a refreshing, insightful and practical website, and hope your 2 years eventually makes it to 20!
hi patricia – did i never reply to this? chaotic summer! so happy you enjoyed the flaxseed pancakes, those are my favorite. i hope to make it to 20 years too – i have so many more things to write about than i actually have time for. eventually maybe i’ll get to it all. =)
Congrats on the two years as well as the move back to CA. I found your blog through In the Kitchn and I am addicted to your posts!! I have printed out a few recipes to try this week for dinner – the chicken stir-fry and maybe adobo chicken the following week. We are seriously getting chickened out over here!!! I am looking forward to signing up for the Frog Hollow Farms CSA box and I am always on the hunt for delicious preserves that are as close to the earth as possible. My lovely friend, Jen, just gave me a jar of her homemade strawberry preserves after she taught me how to make macarons…..delicious but time consuming!! Anyhow, I just had to write to let you know how much I have been enjoying your blog and I am also from Ohio so I was immediately drawn in for that reason as well. I adored your kitchen and if you plan to re-create it over here…..well, soapstone should be easier to come by;-) I am in San Mateo and I have three kids and would love to hook up with you and your kids for strawberry or ollaliberry picking if you are up for a little trip!!! All the best!!
hi michelle – ack, i’m so late replying to your lovely comment…crazy summer. i love that you are enjoying the blog, and nice to know another ohio-california soul out here. =) hope you had a wonderful summer with your crew!