Gift-giving from the Mother Lode 

> Dear Friends,
> Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way, we can all set our sights on the end-of-the-year holidays. The season provides the perfect occasion to make those small gestures toward those that we want to
> acknowledge with our love, friendship or gratitude–without spending a bundle. Whenever I make a small gift of this kind, I try to offer something unique and special–what’s the point if the recipient can buy the same product at the local supermarket or WalMart?–and, especially to those living outside our area, offer something that conveys the unique character of our Mother Lode region. >
> Unfortunately, there has not been until now a lot to choose from: apart from local wines and a few olive oil producers, our region has had little to offer in inexpensive, high-quality gifts made here in the Mother Lode. Blue Mountain Orchards now fills this void by offering an array of superior, non-perishable food products, many of them with no commercial counterpart, using local ingredients. Most are in the $5 range. Now all items come with an attractive logo-label “Blue Mountain: Made in West Point CA 95255”, enhancing the item’s gift appeal and its local origins. >
> Topping the list of unusual gift items are three that I have been making for years and offering to my own family and friends. What I call POPE’S BREAD is an extraordinary loaf of assorted dried nuts and fruits with a bit of chocolate, bound with a minimum of honey and flour. It represents all that is good about fruit cake (a festive amalgamation of raisins and other dried fruits and nuts) and eliminates what is not so good (those dreadful glaceed fruits and the cake part). Despite its name (on the theory that only the Pope can afford it), a small loaf runs only about $6 and, cut in thin slices, goes a long way and lasts forever–if you don’t consume it on the spot. Virtually everyone in my experience who has tried it loves it. >
> Another unusual item are FRUIT-NUT CARAMELS. Originally created by my own piano teacher in the same home where I now live in West Point and perfected by me over the years, these caramels, as far as I can determine, are made nowhere else in the world. We are so accustomed to tasting vanilla or chocolate when we put a caramel in our mouth that at first the taste comes as a surprise. But by the time the morcel is chewed and becomes soft enough to swallow, the fruit flavor becomes unmistakeable, and even lingers in the
> mouth after swallowed. Four varieties are available: apple-walnut, pear-almond, peach-walnut and orange cashew. They come in an attractive holiday sachet in the quantity of your choice: $2 for 4 caramels. >
> Another one of my favorite Christmas items are FLORENTINES. Of Italian origin, these are rounds of chewy caramelized almonds with a bit of candied orange peel, cherries and citron, on a thin chocolate base. They are so beautiful with their hints of red and green that you can use them as Christmas tree ornaments! And they taste fantastic. $1.00 each (order ahead to be sure they are available). >
> Otherwise, I offer a number of canned goods, all personally made by me with mostly home-grown ingredients at the height of their season. If you don’t know the recipient of your gift very well, choose something familiar that most everyone likes, such as BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES, one of the PEAR or
> PLUM jams, APRICOT SYRUP, HOMEMADE TOMATO CATSUP, or APPLE BUTTER WITH FRENCH APPLE BRANDY. The quality of these products is so superior to the store-bought equivalents that those receiving them will still know they are getting something special. If those you are giving to are more adventurous
> in their tastes, offer them an item with a more unexpected flavor: FIG/WALNUT JAM, FIGS IN RASPBERRY-RED WINE SAUCE, one of the QUINCE items, JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE PICKLES, or a CHUTNEY. Most of these items cannot be found in commercial outlets. >
> While some of this season’s items have already sold out, there is still much to choose from. All items on the attached list are still available. >
> Items may be picked up in West Point, Martell or San Andreas. Shipping is possible if the customer covers the additional costs. GIFT BASKETS of any items of your choice are available, at an additional $5-10 charge, depending on size. Orders for gift baskets must be received by December 20 if you want them by Christmas. >
> Otherwise, happy holidays to all.
> Ron Brickman
> Blue Mountain Orchards
> Ron Brickman, owner and producer
> 22021 Highway 26, West Point, CA 95255
> (209) 293-4227
> December, 2010
> All products are available in the apple sales room in West Point at the address indicated above (southern edge of town, toward Wilseyville). For those who live in the West Point area, the sales room is open any time that the APPLES sign is displayed at the beginning of the driveway along the curb of Highway 26. Others should call or email ahead of time to be sure that the sales room is open. >
> Orders made at least 24 hours ahead by phone or email can be picked up by prior arrangement at my piano teaching studios at Mother Lode Music in Martell (Mondays and Fridays) and San Andreas (Thursdays). >
> Nuts and most fruits and vegetables are grown on the premises and are pesticide-free. >
> All of our products are made locally, from recipes and techniques perfected over several years. Over ninety percent of the fruit, vegetables and nuts used in these products is grown on the premises, without use of pesticides, and are picked and processed at the peak of perfection. Many of these products are in limited supply. Not all products are available at all times. Any item makes a unique gift originating in the West Point area. Gift baskets available. Ounces (oz.) are fluid ounces, by volume and not weight. Shipping possible at additional cost. >
> CREDIT FOR RETURNED JARS AND LIDS: Return reusable canning jars and lids and earn credits toward your next purchase: 75 cents for quarts, 50 cents for pints and half pints >
> SPECIALTY ITEMS, now available for the holiday season
> POPE’S BREAD, a marvelous, Italian-inspired, dense confection of mixed nuts and dried fruits, with a hint of chocolate and orange, individual loaves in variable sizes, served cut into thin slices. A fantastic gift, $12.00/lb >
> FRUIT-NUT CARAMELS, a unique creation–fruit-flavored caramels whose flavor develops in the mouth as they are chewed and dissolve. Apple/walnut, pear/almond, orange/cashew, peach/walnut. Decorative sachets of 8 or 12 assorted caramels ($4 and $6) >
> FLORENTINES, 3-inch rounds of caramelized almonds with candied orange peel, citron and cherries, on a thin dark chocolate base, a beautiful and delicious Christmas confection, $1 each >
> #Pear Harlequin: a novelty dating from the 1920’s–pear, crushed pineapple, orange and maraschino cherries, 8 oz., $5 > #Pumpkin Butter: with ginger, brown sugar, and orange, 8 oz., $5 > # Santa Rosa plum, 8 oz., $5
> # Raspberry-Cranberry Jam, 8 oz., $5
> #Sour Cherry Jam with Almonds, 8 oz., $5
> #Concord grape jelly, 8 oz., $5
> #Concord grape jam, this version has the chopped grape skins in the jam, for added flavor, 8 oz., $5 > #Chestnut jam, 8 oz., $5
> #Fig/walnut jam, 8 oz., $5
> #Quince “Honey,” jam made with ground quince and sugar, cooked to the consistency and color (a beautiful amber-rose) of honeycomb honey, 8 oz., $5 > #Green tomato preserves with lemon, a Southern delicacy, 8 oz., $5 > #Authentic Orange marmalade, made from Seville oranges, 8 oz., $5
> #Apple Butter with French apple brandy, concentrated apple flavor with a touch of spice, 8 oz., $5
> # Dolgo Crabapple Jelly, made from small red crabapples originally from Siberia, a beautiful rose color and intensely flavored, 8 oz., $5 >
> #Chestnut pieces in cognac syrup, for ice cream and puddings, 8 oz., $5 > # Apricot syrup/topping, 16 oz., $6
> #Wild blackberry syrup, 8 oz., $5
> #Prunes in Armagnac, a specialty of Southwestern France, use as a topping on vanilla ice cream, 8oz., $4
> #Candied orange peel in heavy syrup, 8 oz., $5, use in pastries and confections
> # Whole figs in raspberry-red wine sauce, try these with a dollop of crème fraiche, whipped cream or sour cream for an easy and elegant dessert, or use as an unusual topping for puddings or pound cake, 8 oz., $5. pt. $7 >
> #Bread and Butter Pickles, 16 oz., $5
> #Sweet Pickle Chunks, extra crunchy, gherkin style, 16 oz., $6
> #Bistro Pickles, mixed vegetable pickles, extra fresh and crunchy, with cracked whole spices, 16 oz, $5 > #Jerusalem artichoke pickles, 16 oz., $5
> #Mustard pickles, mixed vegetables in a mustard sweet/sour sauce, 16 oz., $5 > #Pickled figs, 8 oz., $5
> #Watermelon rind pickles, in heavy syrup with whole spices, 8 oz., $5
> #Pickled crabapples, small whole crabapples with stems, spiced, use as garnish, 16 oz., $5, 8 oz., $3 > #Pickled cherries, made with home-grown sour Montmorency cherries, 8 oz., $5 >
> All of the following condiments are particularly good served with ham, smoked pork chops. sausages and other pork products, but can also be served with other meats or used on sandwiches. For an easy hors d’oeuvre, spread cream cheese on crackers and top with a chutney, sweet red pepper relish, or hot pepper jelly. >
> #Pear Relish, with green and red peppers, 16 oz., $5
> #Chowchow: green tomato, pepper and onion pickle relish, not too sweet, add mayonnaise for a fantastic tartar sauce, 16 oz., $6, 8 oz. $3
> #India Relish, a long-time favorite of chopped vegetables (cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, onion) in a sweet-sour dressing with mild Indian seasoning, great on hamburgers, 16 oz., $6, 8 oz., $3 > #Peach Chutney, 8 oz., $5
> #Tomato Catsup, the real thing, nothing like the store-bought version, 8 oz., $4 > #Italian Prune-Plum Chutney, 8 oz., $5
> # Prize-winning Corn relish, fresh corn off the cob with finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onion, a fantastic burst of summer flavor, low sugar and salt, 16 oz., $6 > #Apple catsup, 8 oz., $5
> #Quince-Winter Pear chutney, 8 oz., $5
> #Apple chutney, 8 oz., $5
> #Red pepper relish, 8 oz., $4
> #Spiced plum sauce, 8 oz., $5, a recipe from the 1880’s, serve with game and other meats > #Hot pepper jelly, 8 oz., $5, all-natural amber color, mildly hot
> #Red pepper catsup, use in place of tomato catsup for a flavor punch, makes a fantastic dipping sauce for fried oysters and fish, 8 oz., $5 >
> CANNED FRUIT and VEGETABLES (# = now available, 9/1/10)
> #APRICOTS, intensely flavored Royal Blenheim halves, in medium syrup, qt, $10
> #PEARS, halves or chunks of a superior Bartlett variety, in medium syrup, pt., $5
> #LARODA PLUMS (superior, rare variety), whole, unpitted, in medium syrup, 1 qt, $10 > # SANTA ROSA PLUMS, whole, unpitted in medium syrup, 1 qt, $7 > #GREENGAGE PLUMS, whole, unpitted in medium syrup, pt. $4
> # PEACH HALVES, classic California varieties (Suncrest, White Nectar), in light to medium syrup, qt., $8, pt, $4
> #WHOLE FIGS IN SYRUP, Black Mission figs in medium syrup with vanilla bean and sliced lemon, perfect on a hot buttered biscuit, 8 oz. $4, pt, $6
> #ROMA TOMATOES, plum-type, peeled, whole with basil, the best choice for tomato-based dishes off-season, up to a pound of tomatoes in each quart jar, qt, $6, pt. $3 > #APPLESAUCE, Late-Harvest Blend (pippins, Sierra beauty, russets), 16 oz., $5
> #POACHED QUINCE SLICES IN HONEY, this fruit, of historic importance to the Mother Lode, deserves to be rediscovered. Serve this compote slightly warmed with a drizzle of heavy cream for an unusual and delectable dessert, or use as a pie or tart filling, 16 oz., $5
> #OLD-FASHIONED MINCEMENT, made from a 19th-century recipe, the real thing. Add 2-3 cups of chopped apple to make a pie, 16 oz, $6 >

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