Sacramento Seed Library, located within the Colonial Heights Library
4799 Stockton Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95820
Sac Seed Library

Looking to start a garden? Want to grow your own fresh herbs and veggies? Check out the new seed library at the Colonial Heights Library. It's just one more reason on a long list of reasons why I love Sacramento.

For those who are unfamiliar with what a seed library entails, it's pretty much what it sounds like. You go in and check out seeds, plant them and then at harvest time you bring some of the seeds from your plants back in so that others can grow them the next season. The library is self-sustaining in that way. The best part is that the service is totally and completely free! Can't beat that.

I stopped in this week and picked up seeds for two tomato varieties, I thought it might be a fun project to do with the kidlets. The librarians on duty were kind enough to give me a quick run down on how the seed library works.

First, take a look at the binder. It has a chart that tells you the best months for growing various plants, vegetables and fruits.

Then go over to the catalog. The seeds are organized by skill level: easy herbs, easy ornamentals, easy edibles, difficult herbs, difficult ornamentals and difficult edibles.

Pick a drawer. Inside the category, you'll see seed packets organized by alphabetical dividers.

Choose which ones you like. Fill out one of the envelopes with the seed name and variety, then transfer your seeds into the envelope. You can then either complete the Checkout form on one of the library's computers or do it from home on their webpage.

To return seeds (after harvest), place your seeds in an envelope, complete the Check-in process online and place the seeds in the Return Seeds drawer at the library. Easy-peasy, right?

I ended up choosing some Chadwick Cherry and Japanese Trifele tomatoes to grow with the kidlets. Hopefully one of us has a green thumb. What do you plan on growing in your garden?

1015 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 498-9224.

Yesterday I met up with some friends at Blackbird Kitchen for a casual Happy Hour. Being a fan of Chef Kevin O'Connor's cooking after dining at one of his amazing Treehouse dinners last year, I was really looking forward to seeing what his newest project with owner, Carina Lampkin had to offer. I loved the food but some other aspects of Blackbird left me pondering whether it'd be a place I'd return to.

First of all, the restaurant is in an awkward part of town (9th and K) for accessibility and parking. I live in Midtown but usually tend to avoid that area because of the mess of cars, construction zones and abundance of panhandlers. I ended up having to make several laps around the area before I was able to find a parking spot that was open and not in a tow-away zone. The restaurant was a little easier to locate since the front wall showcases a big mural of blackbirds in flight. The interior is separated into two-stories with the bar/lounge area occupying the lower half and a small dining room in the upper loft space. The decor is quite eyecatching- hip shades of greys accented by a wrought iron staircase and interesting bits of artwork...very urban. Some time and thought were definitely put into creating an aesthetically pleasing oasis for their patrons.

My friends and I were looking forward to nibbling on some small dishes since we had heard rave reviews regarding Blackbird's fresh seafood Happy Hour which consisted of oysters ($1), fish tacos ($5), and mini lobster rolls ($5); however, when I inquired about the HH menu we were advised by our server that they were no longer offering the lobster rolls. Strange since, just that morning I had received an email from Downtown Grid touting Blackbird's HH lobster rolls and it's still listed on their online HH menu. A bit disappointed but not dissuaded, we decided to order some fish tacos and the lobster and beet salad ($15). The fish tacos were delicious- they consisted of two perfectly executed mini tacos made of fried cod topped with cabbage and some sort of relish. The fish had a subtle, spicy curryish aftertaste that was very appealing. The Maine Lobster and Roasted Beet salad was gorgeous in presentation- large chunks of lobster intermingled with fresh burrata and delicious candy colored beets cut into bite-sized wedges. You definitely didn't feel shortchanged with this salad. The highlight of our visit though were the cocktails. I started off with some sort of specialty cocktail made from bourbon and huckleberries that they called Patsy's Punch (I think?) was so-so and didn't make much of an impression on me. For my second round, I quickly switched to the Moscow Mule after tasting a friend's. Blackbird's Moscow Mules are served in a cold copper mug with crushed ice, they're not overwhelmingly ginger tasting...the perfect refreshing summer cocktail. Loved it! Too bad they don't have a patio, I could definitely see knocking back a few mugs of these while engaging in some summertime patio drinking.

My only real issue with Blackbird was the service. The two servers who came by our table were polite but service was so extremely slow. The restaurant and the bar were pretty quiet when we were there so I'm not quite sure what the issue was. Everything from ordering a drink, getting our food to even getting our check seemed to involve a very long wait. In fact, we wanted to have a few more more drinks but we got so tired of waiting that we closed out our check and decided to go get a few more cocktails elsewhere in the Grid. One of my friends pointed out that Blackbird would probably do more business if they expanded their Happy Hour food menu and time frame (currently it's only 4-6pm) and try and attract the after work crowd. I think she has a point. If they had a bigger Happy Hour menu (more than just 2 items) and faster service, I could see visiting more often but I don't see driving out there specifically to have dinner. For dinner, there's just a lot more places in Midtown that are easier to get to, in the same price range and offer more refined service. I guess I'll wait awhile and see how Blackbird settles into it's nest before going back.

Hi Readers,

Just wanted to let you know that starting May 26th, I will no longer be using NetworkedBlogs. So if you get updates to my blog posts via NetworkedBlogs you may want to switch over to liking my Facebook page at  A Girl and Her Fork.


Ally @ A Girl and Her Fork
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Oh cheese, glorious cheese...yum! Did you guys see that ALL CHEESE wedding cake on Cup of Jo this week? My gawd! My jaw dropped ---does it get any better than that? Well it can. Even cheese needs a sidekick. Batman had Robin, Cousin Larry had Balki and Ren had what should your cheese's wingman be?  I vote for pickled grapes. Seriously, pickled grapes. They're delish. I ran across the recipe in Molly Wizenberg's book, "A Homemade Life," a few years back and these little orbs pickled with cinnamon and black pepper will rock your tastebuds. This last batch, I used some leftover muscat grapes and paired the finished product with some creamy Cypress Grove Purple Haze chevre---total foodgasm!

Molly Wizenberg also writes the food blog, "Orangette" which I love.

Pickled Grapes (adapted from "A Homemade Life" by Molly Wizenberg)


1 lb. seedless red or black grapes (I used muscat grapes and it came out fine.)

1 cup white wine vinegar (Make sure you're using the right kind of vinegar, please. It makes a big difference.)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 (2 1/2 inch) cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Wash and dry the grapes. Take a sharp knife and poke a slit where the grape's "bellybutton" is. This will help the pickling juices get in there. Place the cut grapes in a large bowl.

2. In a medium pot, mix the white wine vinegar, sugar, brown mustard seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and salt together. Stir the ingredients up to make sure they're combined. Bring it to a nice boil. Give it one last stir, remove from heat and pour over the grapes.

3. Allow the mixture to cool to room temp and then ladle into clean jars with lids. Place the jars in the fridge and allow them to sit overnight.

4. Serve the grapes cold with your favorite cheese.

* The pickled grapes will keep for a week to a week and a half; however, the flavor will become more pronounced the longer it sits.
I'm a bit late getting this post up...but we went to the beach this weekend!

Mr.S. didn't have the kidlets so we thought we'd take a day trip out to Half Moon Bay and relax on the beach. We ended up having lunch at this great little casual eatery called Barbara's Fish Trap in Princeton-By-The-Sea. The Fish Trap is located in a teeny red building on stilts right on the pier. There's a covered patio area in the front and regular seating in the back.


We were starving by the time we stopped for lunch and everything sounded wonderful on the menu, so we decided to get a little of everything. We split the calamari, which Mr.S. loved. He thought it was the absolute bees knees until he got his fish and chips which he said was the best he'd ever tasted. I took a nibble and I had to agree. The batter was light and crispy and the fish was nice and moist. There wasn't any of that heavy greasiness that I typically detest in fish and chips. He also got a cup of their clam chowder which he wasn't jazzed about but I thought was okay- it was nice and hearty, chock-full of clams and dairy-free (which was great for me. I think they use potato as their base instead of milk or cream). I ended up ordering the Dungeness crab sandwich...and it was divine. A good-sized serving of crab on a soft bun. The crab was nice and fresh and the bun was delicious; however, I did think the sandwich was kind of pricey. The place itself was kitschy and cute though - lots of windows to see the harbor and a big fisherman's net adorning the ceiling. The service was friendly but so sloooow. They were pretty busy though so we tried to cut our waitress some slack but they really needed an additional server on duty.

After lunch we headed over to San Gregorio State Beach, just off the Cabrillo Highway. I think this is my favorite beach we've gone to so far. The first park of the beach opens up to tons of driftwood, a small lagoon and lots of people but if you go down just a bit further to the right, you'll come upon a secluded, sandy beach with nary a soul. We felt like we had the beach to ourselves...and the best part was---there's two sea caves that are accessible when the tide's low. The first cave doesn't go back very far but the second one's fun in there but a bit spooky. Also according to the park ranger if we had gone further down, we would have stumbled upon a nudist beach. We didn't get down that far, instead we decided to take a trail that goes up one of the ridges. If you go, check it out! The view up there of the ocean is absolutely breathtaking (and the climb is super easy).

San Gregorio State Beach:
Beach access fee $8 (but the pass they give you is good at all state beaches for the entire day)
No dogs on beach
No fires on the beach
There are BBQ pits, restrooms and picnic tables in the first part of the beach
Beach closes at sundown

Barbara's Fish Trap- is cash only
281 Capistrano Road     (650) 728-7049

"Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal, since it will be the last thing your guests remember before they pass out all over the table." ~William Powell

I know it's BBQ season when I look out my living room window and I see the squirrels in my yard throwing around the bark I laid down like it's New Year's Eve confetti. They get feistier the hotter the weather gets. Those bratty squirrels...they drive me crazy! As does BBQ season at times. I love BBQ season but with the invites comes the age-old question of, "What should I bring with me- an appetizer, some sort of summery drink or dessert?" After a winter filled with pies, tarts and cobblers I'm always ready for a change of pace. The nice thing about the warmer weather is that the farmers' market starts becoming flooded with luscious stone fruits and sweet, ripe berries...the perfect ingredients for making a clafoutis. A what? A clafoutis. It's a French dessert that consists of a firm egg custard (think like the texture of flan) and traditionally is made from cherries, but you could do it with any fruit really. Last night, I made mine from cherries and blueberries. Right now Brooks cherries are in season and quite cheap- they work perfectly for this recipe. Now, the "traditional" recipe says you should use unpitted cherries but I'm always worried about someone cracking a tooth so I play it safe and opt for pitted. As for the blueberries, they're still early in the season and kind of pricey at the farmers' market (4 dollars!) so I got mine at the store ($2.50) but later in the season I hope to go blueberry picking. Mmm, fresh berries! Did you know there's a ton of places to go blueberry picking near here? My friend Katy sent me a list and the blueberry farms should be opening up around early to mid June. I can't wait to go!

Here's a list in case you're interested in going too (just click on the name to get more info):

American River Cherry Company (they have cherries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
Patrick's Farm
Berry Heaven
Bolster's Hilltop Ranch
Sun Mountain Farm

Blueberry and Cherry Clafoutis (adapted from Food Blogga's Cherry & Blackberry Clafoutis recipe)


1 cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons of slivered, toasted almonds

3 large eggs

2/3 cup granulated or baker's sugar

1/2 cup AP flour, sifted

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup cream

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

butter (for greasing the pan)

confectioner's sugar or whipped cream (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Grease a 9-inch round baking pan with butter.

3. Place the cherries, blueberries and almonds in the pan and spread evenly.

4. In a bowl, mix your eggs, sugar, flour and salt until the batter's smooth.

5. Add your almond extract, vanilla extract and cream. Again, mix until smooth and then pour it into your pan over the fruit and almonds.

6. Bake for about 45 minutes. Slip a knife into the middle of clafoutis, if it comes out clean it's done. When you take the clafoutis out of the oven, you'll notice it still has some jiggle and will slightly deflate- that's ok, it's totally normal.

7. Allow clafoutis to cool.

8. If you wish you can dust the clafoutis with confectioner's sugar or top it with whipped cream.

9. Serve.


Ok, I lied to you. I know I said I was going to give the David Chang recipes a rest- buuuuuuut I ended up with a ton of scallions this week and needed to do something with them so I threw together some of his ginger scallion sauce. I ended up pairing it with some soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles) I had laying around in the cupboard and it was absolutely delish. I definitely recommend it unless you hate scallions or hate ginger because this tastes like a whole lotta both. It's also a great sauce to make because it keeps for a few days in the fridge and you can integrate it into all kinds of dishes- chicken, rice, seafood.... Just remember to have an Altoid on hand afterwards because this sauce will definitely leave you with some pungent breath.

Ginger Scallion Sauce (adapted from "Momofuku" by David Chang and Peter Meehan)


2 bundles of dried soba

2 bunches of fresh scallions

1/2 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1 1/4 teaspoon usukuchi (or a reduced sodium light soy sauce)

3/4 teaspoon mirin*

3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)

toasted sesame seeds, for garnish


1. Thinly slice the scallions (whites and greens).

2. In a bowl, mix together the sliced scallions, ginger, oil, usukuchi, mirin and salt. Allow it to sit about 20 minutes so the flavors can meld. (Note: Don't skip the waiting period, it does make a difference in the taste.)

3. After 20 minutes, taste. Add more salt if necessary or if it's too salty for you, you can add 3/4 teaspoon of sugar.

4. Boil some buckwheat noodles (about 4-5 minutes). Drain noodles and rinse with cold running water.

5. Mix buckwheat noodles with ginger scallion sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

6. Store the leftover sauce in an airtight container and place in fridge.

* The original recipe calls for sherry vinegar, I didn't have any on hand and mirin worked fine as a substitute.


Lately I've been a bit stressed out and haven't really felt like cooking. At lunchtime I've been mostly nibbling on salads, raw veggies and fresh fruit but today I felt like eating something a bit more substantial so I decided to make a double batch of kinpira gobo. Kinpira gobo is one of my favorite Japanese side dishes and one of my "comfort" foods. It's traditionally served with rice and oftentimes you find it tucked into cute little bentos.

Gobo is the Japanese word for burdock root. Burdock root is high in fiber and potassium and when cooked has a nice earthy taste and crisp texture. Kinpira refers to the cooking style- sauteing then simmering. Everyone has their own way of making kinpira gobo but when I make it I like to add some carrot (but I've seen it made with lotus root as the accompanying ingredient on numerous occasions). The salty-sweet glaze and shichimi togarashi gives it a nice little kick. It's a pretty quick dish to make once the julienning is done and can keep in the fridge for several days.

Gobo (burdock roots)

Fresh carrots

Kinpira Gobo


One burdock root (~ 3 feet long)
1 carrot
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of mirin
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of canola oil
a few drops of toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
shichimi togarashi (optional)


1. Rinse the burdock root and remove threadlike roots. Peel skin off with a vegetable peeler.
2. Julienne into thin matchsticks and immediately submerge in a bowl of cold water.
3. Keep the julienned burdock root in the bowl of water for about 10 minutes. The water will turn a brownish color. (Don't worry, it's normal.) Drain the bowl and refill with fresh water. Repeat the process until the water is clear. Leave the burdock root in the water until you’re ready to cook.
*Covering the burdock root in water keeps it from oxidizing and turning black.
4. While you're waiting, julienne your carrots.
5. In a bowl, mix your sugar, mirin and soy sauce. Set aside.
6. Heat your canola oil in a wok or large pan.  Add the burdock root and stirfry for about 4-5 minutes on high heat, until it softens slightly.
7. Add your carrots and cook for a another 2-3 minutes
8. Add your sauce, lower heat to medium and allow to simmer until the liquid is reduced and gone.
9. Add a few quick drops of toasted sesame oil. Give the dish a good toss and then remove from heat.
10. Season with a bit of shichimi togarashi (optional). Allow the kinpira gobo to cool to room temperature.
11. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve with rice.

May 11-12 Paradise Chocolate Fest

May 12 Jubilee Pig Roast  

May 12-13 Roseville Berry Fest

May 18-20 Lodi Zinfest

May 19-20 Galt Strawberry Festival

May 19 West Coast Brewfest 

May 19-20 Castroville Artichoke Festival

May 20 Smoke and Fire Cookoff 

May 20 Pacific Rim Street Fest

May 26 Tour de Cluck

June 1 Davis Street Food Rodeo

June 2 Raley’s Grape Escape

June 3 GOOD Street Food + Design Market!/GOODstreetfooddesignmarket

June 4 Fourth Annual Urban Agfest  

June 8-10 Crawdad Festival 

June 9 Old Town Elk Grove Chili Festival 

July 13-15 Brentwood CornFest

June 23 King of Feasts  

July 20-21 Marysville Peach Festival

July 27-29 Gilroy Garlic Fest 

July 29  Courtland Pear Fair 

Aug 4-5 Watsonville Strawberry Festival 

Aug 11 Woodland Tomato Festival

August 11 & 12  Sac Buddhist Church- Annual Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar

August 18 Sacramento Banana Festival 

August 18 San Francisco Street Food Festival

Sept 11-13 National Heirloom Exposition 

Sept 13-16 Lodi Grape Festival  

Sept 15 Fair Oaks Chicken Festival

Oct 5-7  California Avocado Festival 

Oct 13 Trailfest 

Happy Sunday! What a weekend- there were all kinds of things going on in town...concerts in the Park started Friday night, there was Derby Days to celebrate and Cinco de Mayo to toast to. So if you're too pooped to do any heavy duty cooking today but need some sustenance, try throwing together this thai basil hummus. The cannellini beans give it a wonderfully smooth texture and the peanut butter adds a bit of nutty flavor...perfect for spreading on some raw veggies or toasted pita. It's a nice change from the boring old chickpea hummus.

Thai Basil Hummus (inspired by 28 Cooks)


2 (15 oz.) cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

3 fresh cloves of garlic, sliced

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup of thai basil leaves, chopped

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste


- Combine cannellini beans, peanut butter, grapeseed oil, lime juice and garlic in food processor. Pulse several times.

- Add in thai basil. pepper, salt and cayenne. Process until smooth.

- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

- Cover and chill in fridge for about an hour.

- Serve with your favorite accompaniment.


The weekday farmers markets are back! For those of you who work downtown, I'm sure you're pretty excited since you can pop over during your lunch hour and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. They're open from 10:30am to 1pm. For dates and locations, check out their website: California  Certified Farmers' Markets.

This week I picked up some beautiful spinach at the farmers' market. Since the weather took a slightly cooler turn, I decided to whip up a batch of stracciatella. Never heard of stracciatella? Stracciatella comes from the Italian word meaning, "rags" or "shreds." In this recipe, you beat the eggs before adding them into the soup and the eggs morph into wispies that look little rags. It's sort of like an Italian egg drop soup. It's the perfect soup for's not too heavy.

Stracciatella (adapted from Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island's East End by Silvia Lehrer)


1 pound fresh spinach, stems removed

4 cups of stock (it's traditionally made with chicken stock but I decided to use veg stock)

2 large eggs

Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

a pinch of nutmeg

1/3 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled

lemon wedges (optional)


1. Wash and dry your spinach. Make sure to remove any sand, grit and leaves that look jacked. Remove the stems and chop the leaves into strips.

2. In a pan, heat up the olive oil with the garlic cloves over medium heat. After about 3 minutes, the garlic will turn slightly brown. Remove and discard the cloves but keep the oil.

3. Add the spinach and toss so it gets coated by the oil. Lightly saute the spinach for about 3-4 minutes. Season the spinach with the Kosher salt, pepper and nutmeg.

4. In a pot, combine 4 cups of vegetable stock and the sauteed spinach. Over med-high heat, bring to a boil then lower heat to medium low. Let the spinach simmer in the stock for a few minutes. Then taste. Adjust seasonings if  needed.

5. In a bowl, beat the eggs until they're slightly frothy. Add in the grated cheese and 1 tablespoon of the heated broth. Whisk again then add the mixture in a slow stream to the pot containing the stock and spinach.

6. Upon adding the mixture, stir the contents of the pot around and around for several minutes. The eggs will slowly take on the appearance of little torn "rags."

7. Served immediately. If you like, you can add a small squeeze of lemon to give it a little kick.