Tag Archives: Farmer Freed

Santa Cruz Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 7

Goodies from Cheese Shop 831
Photo courtesy of Cheese Shop 831

Welcome to the final installment—part 7—of my holiday foodie gift guide with information for several local businesses if you have some last-minute shopping to do. Contact me at tara@santacruzfoodie.com with questions or comments.

Also see:

Gift guide part 1

Gift guide part 2

Gift guide part 3

Gift guide part 4

Gift guide part 5

Gift guide part 6

Note: some past installments include events that have taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

I wanted to mention one non-food-related idea: there are so many wonderful artists in our County, and some rely on the annual Open Studios event to bring in a significant part of their income. Due to the pandemic, OS could not take place this year. The sponsoring organization—Arts Council Santa Cruz County—launched a great “curated directory” website to showcase visual artists and provide easy opportunities to support these creative individuals. Visit the Visual Artists Network website at visualartsnetworkscc.com.

My mother, Fereshteh Fatemi, is one of these artists—a talented jeweler—and she’s donating 10% of her sales through Christmas to Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County.

Speaking of Second Harvest Food Bank, another gift idea is to make a donation to them in honor of someone that you care about. This year, more than ever, people are relying on SHFB for food. The organization distributes over eight million pounds of food each year to children, families, vets and seniors in Santa Cruz County.  More than half of the residents they serve are kids. Traditionally, every dollar donated provides four healthy meals to someone in need. Right now, thanks to a challenge grant from the COVID-19 Local Response Fund at Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, donations are being matched so your dollars are having a double effect.

Here are a few more gift possibilities:

Captiola’s Brown Ranch Marketplace (the center with Trader Joe’s) recently welcomed the store Cheese Shop 831. Owner Jillian Pirolo was supposed to open her business several months ago but got delayed due to the pandemic. I’ve been told by one friend who shopped there that they have amazing cheese—including local, regional and international varieties—and I’ve seen on Instagram @cheeseshop831 that they have other products like olive oil, handmade cheese boards, truffle hot sauce, towels and oven mitts. Visit cheeseshop831.com.

Aptos gift shop Hammond Glass Engraving & Gifts is open by appointment from Tuesday through Saturday. They carry items like Christmas mugs,  Spode mugs, wine glasses, high-ball glasses and serving dishes. The shop has been around for 30 years, and Jessie & David Campbell bought the business in 2018. I haven’t been there myself, but I hope to check it out post-holiday-season. Visit hammondaptos.com.

Five Star Catering put together a fun Local’s Gift Box; read more and purchase online. It supports eight local Santa Cruz area businesses affected by the pandemic including Mutari Craft Chocolate, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company, Edith Meyer Wedding Cakes, and Magnolia Fine Gifts and Apothecary. They are even offering no-charge, no-contact SC County delivery. Visit fivestarcatering.com/holidayboxes.

Michelle Kneads Dough Monterey County is home to talented pastry chef Michelle Lee. A finalist on Food Network’s recent Halloween Baking Championship and a former staff member at restaurants including The C Restaurant+Bar at Intercontinental the Clement Monterey, Michelle found herself out of work due to the pandemic. She decided to get her cottage food permit and start doing pop-up “QuaranTreats.” I’ve enjoyed her food at The C and at special events, and also bought one of her yummy QuaranTreats and plan to buy more. I don’t know if she does gift cards for future treats, but just telling any “sweets fans” you know about her is a gift in itself! Visit Instagram.com/michelle.kneads.dough.

Lots of wineries and breweries are offering gift cards if you want to give your gift recipient the choice of what exactly they will receive. You can get contact info for many wineries at the Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains website. Visit winesofthesantacruzmountains.com/wineries.

A final list of stores & vendors (without going into too much detail I wanted to make sure and at least share a few more names):

Santa Cruz County

Counter Cultures Kitchen Visit IG @countercultureskitchen

El Salchichero Visit elsalchichero.com

Far West Fungi Visit farwestfungi.com/pages/santa-cruz

Farmer Freed Salts Visit farmerfreed.com

Itso & Notso Hot Sauce Visit makefoodhappy.com

Marini’s Candies Visit mariniscandies.com

Mountain Feed & Farm Supply Visit mountainfeed.com

Sushi Market Sprouts Visit Instagram.com/sushimarketsprouts

Monterey County

Carmel Honey Company Visit carmelhoneycompany.com

The Chef’s Stash (weekly local food boxes curated by chef and restaurateur Gabe Georis and chef Brandon Miller, with omnivore and pescatarian options). Visit thechefsstash.com.

Elroy’s Fine Foods Visit elroysfinefoods.com

Happy Girl Kitchen Visit happygirlkitchen.com

Jerome’s Carmel Valley Market Visit jeromescarmelvalleymarket.com

Other Brother Beer Visit otherbrotherbeer.com

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

Santa Cruz food event highlights for Friday, October 7

Gluten-free Cocomojo’s by Makse Bar, one of several vendors at the Choose Santa Cruz pop-up market Oct. 7 Photo credit: Makse

Gluten-free Cocomojo’s by Makse Bar, one of several vendors at the Choose Santa Cruz pop-up market Oct. 7
Photo credit: Makse

If you’re lucky enough to be in Santa Cruz on Friday, Oct 7, you have an incredible array of one-night-only food choices. Here are details for three events.

Ocean2Table will be at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center selling dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. The Pescatarian Popup will showcase three items: wild morel mushroom soup ($8), fresh sablefish tacos ($12) and fresh sablefish cakes ($8, similar to crabcakes but made with Monterey Canyon sablefish). Ocean2Table is participating in honor of an event at the Center which celebrates the Leatherback Sea Turtle.

Location: Exploration Center, 35 Pacific Ave. (across from the Wharf)


Efi’s Dutch-Indo will be at POPUP for dinner from 5:30-9 p.m. The menu will include Indonesian-style Satay (with yellow rice, Indonesian style peanut sauce, and a side of picked cucumber); Gato Gato (vegetarian) with steamed and fresh veggies, rice and Indonesian-style peanut sauce; and Resoles (ground beef and green onion mix rolled in hand made crepes, breaded and deep fried). Creator Michelle McKay says, “Inspired by my mother, Efi’s (pronounced Afee’s) will be a Dutch-Indo culinary delight. The Netherland once ruled the spice trade in the 17th century. Indonesia with its wealth of spices was once the colonial crown of the spice trade. The Dutch wholeheartedly embraced Indonesian food, not only in the colony, but back home too. I plan on cooking the Dutch-Indo foods that I grew up with.”

Location: POPUP, 1108 Pacific Ave.

Several food/drink vendors are participating in the “Choose Santa Cruz” pop-up market at design agency Cosmic from 5-9 p.m. Food and drink vendors include Coffeeville, Makse Bar, Farmer Freed Culinary Salt Blends, Companion Bakeshop, Santa Cruz Winegrowers Association, and Lupulo Craft Beer House. Other participating local businesses include Childish Santa Cruz, Agency, Hive & Hum, A’zaht Designs, and Glow Candle Lounge (soon to open on Pacific, candle-making studio Glow is an offshoot of Petroglyph ceramics studio). The City of Santa Cruz Economic Development Office is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Choose Santa Cruz brand and web site. They are also launching the Choose Santa Cruz coloring book, a collection of drawings from local artists of their favorite sights and scenes around Santa Cruz. The books will be available for sale at the event and online afterwards, and there will be space available, along with colored pencils (supplied by Palace Art), for people to color in books they buy. 

Location: Design by Cosmic, 115 Cooper St.

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer


12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 5: Farmer Freed culinary salts from Santa Cruz

Farmer Freed culinary salt blends come in six varieties

Farmer Freed culinary salt blends come in six varieties

It’s Day Five of Santa Cruz Restaurant Examiner/Santa Cruz Foodie’s “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway.” See end of article for how to win a Farmer Freed culinary salt three-jar set. Special note: it’s been brought to my attention that after my articles are posted, there is sometimes a several-hour delay before a notification is emailed to my subscribers.  These email alerts are not something I control, so during this giveaway (or anytime, for that matter), you can always check my home page to see if a new article has been posted.

Santa Cruz resident Emily Jane Freed runs her own business, Farmer Freed culinary salt blends, which she makes with organic ingredients from local farms along the California Central Coast. “We know all of our farmers and their families’ names, and we are proud to know the people that grow the additions for the culinary salt blends,” says Freed.  The salts can be used in two ways: add a pinch when cooking, or use as a finishing salt as you sit down to enjoy a meal.

Farmer Freed salts are sold in Santa Cruz County stores, online and at selected stores in the greater Bay Area. Her blends come in six flavors: Everyday Herb Salt, Sababa Salt, Spice It Up Salt, Pucker Up Citrus Salt, Dilly Goat Salt, and Vanilla Bean Baker’s Salt.

They make great gifts—to yourself or to others—and this weekend you can buy them in person at two events. Farmer Freed will be at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge on Saturday, Dec. 19 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. for a Holiday Artisan Food & Gift Market, which features over 25 vendors selling unique, local, small batch artisan foods and gifts, and at the Live Oak Farmers’ Market Sunday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The Vanilla Bean Baker’s Salt, which Freed says is good with items like cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, breads, pancakes, and waffles, is sourced sea salt from South San Francisco which is the only North American sea salt bed in the US. The sea salt is steeped with both whole and ground vanilla beans (grown under organic conditions) from The Vanilla Company in Santa Cruz who works with vanilla farms throughout the world to bring better working conditions and wages to their farmers.

“Everyday Herb Salt is a perfect match for eggs, popcorn, avocados, roasted veggies, and everything,” says Freed. “One of my favorite things about the Everyday Herb Salt is when people sing Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Scarborough Fair’ since this salt blend includes parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,” she adds. All herbs are organic and grown locally on Hwy 1. Spice It Up pairs well with pizza, pasta, eggs, popcorn, and can be used as a meat rub.

An interesting note: Freed is also Regional Production Manager at Santa Cruz’s Jacobs Farm/del Cabo, Inc. where she grows organic culinary herbs, edible flowers, and mixed vegetables. Seems like farming is in her blood!

“When creating Farmer Freed, I wanted a way to give back to the Jewish community—which plays an important role in my life,” Freed says. She created the Sababa Salt, which is modeled after Za’atar, (a Middle Eastern herb mix that includes oregano, marjoram, and thyme). Additionally, 36 cents from every jar of Sababa Salt goes to support female farmers via Farmer Freed’s “You Grow Girl” program—which empowers women to farm organically and sustainable within a Jewish agricultural context. This “You Grow Girl” network includes female farmers from California and Canada; Freed is working to include farmers in Israel too.

There is a group of people behind Farmer Freed, not just Emily. Cheryl Isaacson from Lincoln Street Studios came up with the logo and labels for the salt blends. “Cheryl is a creative genius and I feel lucky to have her on the Farmer Freed team.” Keith Holtaway, founder of Pizza My Heart, is Farmer Freed’s business advisor and mentor via the Small Business Development Center. “Keith has gone above and beyond to help Farmer Freed get on shelves of shops and grocery stores throughout California and beyond,” says Freed. Keith is a fan of Pucker Up Citrus Salt (he uses it on fish and salads), and Sababa Salt (for roasted vegetables).

Emily Freed has been thinking about creating a women’s food entrepreneur group in Santa Cruz. “There are so many strong women in Santa Cruz who produce food products,” she says. “I think we could all benefit from sharing our experiences, networking with one another, etc.” She’s looking for a venue that would host the first gathering, and her idea is that all could bring their culinary creations to share. She encourages anyone that might have a space for this group to reach out and connect through the Farmer Freed web site’s contact form.

One lucky reader will win a culinary salt set worth approximately $30. It will include Spice It Up, Everyday Herb, and Vanilla, which are the most popular salts.

To enter, email your name to tfatemi@gmail.com by Fri. Dec. 18 at 9 p.m. and include the words “Farmer Freed.” The drawing will take place the next morning and the winner will be notified via email. Employees of Examiner.com are not eligible for the promotion.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz ocean-inspired holiday shopping plus gourmet food gifts

Mutari Hot Chocolate, a vendor at Jingle Shells

Mutari Hot Chocolate, a vendor at Jingle Shells

Jingle Shells will be on Sunday, Dec. 7, at Seymour Center in Santa Cruz. It’s a family-friendly holiday shopping event with ocean- and nature-inspired gifts plus gourmet food gifts.

The annual Jingle Shells Arts & Crafts Festival is from noon to 5:30 pm. Participants can explore the Seymour Center’s exhibits and aquarium, and meet local artisans while shopping for unique holiday gifts including jewelry, ceramics, and art glass. There will be crafts for kids, too.

Vendors selling gifts include four related to food and drinks. Twins Kitchen creates innovative jams and mustards using seasonal and organic fruits from local farms. Flavors include Strawberry Balsamic Jam with rosemary, Black Pepper Raspberry Vanilla Jam with lavender, and Apricot Bourbon Mustard. Farmer Freed makes culinary salt blends using local organic ingredients. Yami’s Spicy Secrets will be there with curry spice blends, and you can purchase gifts from Mutari Hot Chocolate which creates handcrafted single origin hot chocolate blends using organic cacao beans.

Seymour Center will be serving free hot cider, and selling Odwalla bars and juices. Weather permitting, Gary and his Snappy Dog truck will be selling his famous sausages for people to eat. Attendees can also enjoy live music.

Also note that the Center’s Ocean Discovery Shop (this is separate from the special vendors appearing that day) is offering 10% off all purchases on Sunday. All proceeds from these shop sales benefit the Center’s educational programs. For anyone unfamiliar with the Center, it’s dedicated to educating people about the role scientific research plays in the understanding and conservation of the world’s oceans. Read more at Seymour Center’s web site or call (831) 459-3800.

The Details
Sunday, December 7: Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and free for Friends of Center members, UCSC undergrads, and kids under 3
Location: Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab, 100 Shaffer Road (past Natural Bridges State Beach, at the end of Delaware Avenue).

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Holiday shopping 2013: Santa Cruz artisan food and gift sale

Cardamom Tuesday Silk Road elixir, available at Sunday's artisan food and gift sale

Cardamom Tuesday Silk Road elixir, available at Sunday’s artisan food and gift sale

Santa Cruz’s Front Street Kitchen is hosting an exciting artisan food and gift sale just in time for your holiday shopping needs. The event is Sunday, Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Event organizers have announced there will be “all local, handmade, small batch gifts” plus live music, samples from selected vendors, an artisan gift basket raffle, and free admission.

Vendors include Farmer Freed with culinary salt blends; Fish Princess Farm with salsa, preserved lemons, and chutney; and Cardamom Tuesday with artisan elixirs that you can use in coffee, homemade soda, cocktails, and more.

Other products are chocolate truffles, toffee, jams, ice cream club memberships, gluten-free baked goods, food-based beauty and bath products, and several sweets from local high school ROP students.

I can’t wait to do some shopping and support local independent businesses at the same time! Happy holidays.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

The Details:
11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sun. Dec. 15, 2013
Front Street Kitchen, 504A Front St., Santa Cruz
(831) 588-4515