Olio Nuovo is here! Hudson Ranch olive oil is a true celebration of the moment! The first batch of the season is available today at Oxbow Produce & Grocery. It is prized for its grassy flavors and spicy finish, and full of very fine olive particles that are suspended in the oil giving it more intense flavors. It is meant to be used immediately in order to capture these flavors before they dissipate. Catch it if you can!

Whole Spice soup base is a premium, all-natural blend of spices, using only the highest quality of ingredients, with no chemicals or MSG. And with no meat products added, it is truly a vegetarian’s delight. In addition to using in soup, Whole Spice soup base may also be used as a dry rub for meats or fish, and a variety of other vegetarian dishes. With so many wonderful uses Whole Spice soup base is sure to please. Try this simple soup recipe at home…

Whole Spice White Bean Soup

Quarter cup olive oil plus extra for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cups leeks (white part only), diced
2 Tbs. Whole Spice soup base
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
1 28 oz. can or frozen white beans (any kind of white bean will do)
Fresh parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sauté carrots, celery, leeks, garlic in olive oil for five minutes. Add soup base, chopped tomatoes and white beans and simmer on stove for 45 minutes. Spoon into four bowls and garnish with fresh parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients:Thai Spice Shrimp
1 oz. Thai Spice blend
1 cup sugar snap peas
2 carrots, sliced thin 2 celery stalks, sliced thin 1/2 red onion, sliced thin 1/2 red bell pepper, stem and seed pod removed, sliced thin
1 lb. jumbo shrimp, shelled and de-veined
1/2 block of firm tofu, sliced in one-inch cubes
1 can coconut milk
1 can straw mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Green onions and cilantro for garnish

Sauté sugar snap peas very quickly in vegetable oil and remove from skillet. Toss shrimp and tofu in the Thai spice blend and sauté in the hot skillet for about two minutes, browning on both sides. Add coconut milk, straw mushrooms and vegetable broth. Once the liquids are simmering, add the snap peas, carrots, celery, onion and bell pepper. Simmer to taste but be careful not to over cook the shrimp.

Whole Spice Manager, Jackie Henkelman, likes to serve this with Jasmine rice and garnish with sliced green onions and tons of cilantro. She also likes to have some fresh hot chilis on the side.

The Eucalyptus bloom is sparse this year, but the Acacia trees will soon sprout their yellow blosMarshall's Farm Honeysoms. Airborne Acacia pollen causes many to have an allergic reaction to pollen. Marshall’s Farm Eucalyptus/Acacia honey contains trace amounts of the pollens that make people suffer during this time of year — add it to you daily diet now and you may experience some relief from your seasonal allergy symptoms. Napa Valley wildflower, as well as other honeys by region, are also available. On a sweeter note, Marshall’s Farm has a sweet solution for saying “Bee My Honey” on Valentine’s Day. Order by January 19 to guarantee delivery the week of February 10.

Feeling a little empty without the tree and lights? Fill the void with fresh, locally grown flowers fromThe Monkey Flower Group! As usual, materials will be selected based on whatever is looking freshest and most beautiful from California’s growers, but likely candidates include parrot tulips, ranuculus, acacia buds, ferns, freesia and orchids. There’s no better way to banish a post-holiday slump!

Whole Spice has many curry powder blends to choose form, including Vindaloo. Warm up your family during the holiday season with this delicious and easy recipe. Take two skinned and boned chicken breasts cut in one-inch cubes. Toss the chicken in a Ziploc bag with one oz. of the curry blend to cover the chicken. Slice two small carrots, two stalks of celery, a half an onion and a half of a bell pepper. Sauté the chicken in olive oil on both sides until browned, then add the vegetables to the pan. Stir until onion becomes translucent, then add one small can of crushed tomatoes, a half cup of broth of your choice and one tablespoon mango chutney. Put a lid on the pan and let simmer for a half hour. Serve with Basmati rice or naan, an Indian flat bread available in most grocery stores.