I have a thing for cows! Jordan and Ninny in Norway 1999!I was a staunch vegan until I met Ninny. Taking a half an hour hike to call out for her in her open pasture as the endless sunset of the northern climate was taking place is just the beginning. Sitting in the barn and nuzzling into her side as I milked her and listening to the rumblings and grumblings of her stomachs completely won me over. Cows are such tranquil creatures and their milk is so SWEET!!! I did not remain a vegan for very long. I caved to the pressures of fresh cream and hand picked raspberries - one of the most exquisite desserts on the planet.
With 6 gallons of milk a day, there is a lot of experimenting in the kitchen that can happen. When you hang out with a family cow you really understand why humans discovered so many different ways of preserving the milk....there is so much of it! Can you think of a more diverse single ingredient? Through my travels far and wide, I have been keenly interested in the different ways of preserving food and milk is a true standout. Even amongst the fresh cheeses, yogurts and kefir there is such variety! I can hardly contain my enthusiasm in my cheese workshops and the one last night proved no different. They become a hybrid of preservation workshop and cooking workshop where we make such things as paneer and srikand (a traditional Indian dessert). The possibilities are as endless as the milk supply! Below see some photos from my travels and fun with cows.
Oxen in the winter in Sweden pulling a sleigh!Oxen in India working the field.
Sunrise on the pasture grounds. Friends at Live Earth Farm visiting their ahimsa cow "surabhi". She is who I am currently getting my milk supply from. For inquiries in getting her milk email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Girl Kitchen Co. Culinary Camp
June 15th - 19th 9-5pm for kids 8-12 years old and 12-15 years old.
173 Central Ave. Pacific Grove
$350 per child, sibling discounts available and internships available. REGISTER HERE!!!
Your child will learn:
How to prepare healthy, local, seasonal meals
Cooking and baking techniques
How to preserve the bounty of the region
To make healthy food choices
In addition we will:
Visit the local farmer's market
Take field trips to the tidepools
Have picnics at the beach
Do arts and crafts projects
Have special guest speakers
We will adventure in the happy girl kitchen and around Pacific Grove to learn about food and community! You do not have to pack any food as the children will be making and eating breakfast, lunch and snacks and even taking home a quart jar of soup to contribute to dinner! There is also an option for early drop off and late pick up for an extra fee. By the end of the week your child will be ready to help out in the kitchen and may have more skills than you do!
Schedule: Arrive, prepare and eat breakfast together and talk about plan for the day. Food prep for lunch and preserved food of the day. Go on walking outing around Pacific Grove to enrich our day. Return for lunch or eat a picnic lunch out. Make preserved goods and soup to take home. Art project. Depart.
Overview day! We will plan our menu for the week and learn about the big picture of food. We will walk to Nob Hill and learn how to shop well! Your children will learn how to read labels and explore the geography of the store and understanding the role of a modern grocery store in our food systems (think Michael Pollan). Seasonality, processed food, sustainability and health. I will have every child pick out their favorite food and we will read the label and see if we can create a more healthy version. We will then break for lunch at Happy Girl. In the afternoon we will walk to the Monday Farmers Market in Pacific Grove and counter what we learned in the grocery store with what we are experiencing in the market. We will also go to the library to pick out some botanical art books and cook books to inspire our week! We will return and learn the art of pickling that afternoon.
Our special outing this day will be adventuring in the tide pools and visiting Historic Cannery Row and discovering the area and that Happy Girl Kitchen is the last cannery in Monterey county! We will also be starting sprouts for the week and preparing some strawberry jam.
The special outing today will be to a local backyard garden and we will plant our own seedlings of lettuce mix to take home and learn about food miles. The kids will make their batch of strawberry jam.
The special outing today will be an adventure at Lover’s Point Beach. We will pack a picnic in the morning and enjoy a day at the beach and fly kites in the field. We will come back and bake gallettes and make cheese!
The grand finally day. On Friday we will focus on planning a big feast for our families to enjoy together on Friday night! It is going to be a great party! They will also make some sauerkraut to take home as their little pet for the summer.
Food preservationists! Order by Tuesday AM for delivery this FRIDAY!!! Only chance for Meyer Lemons!
all boxes of lemons will include recipes for Lemon Ginger marmalade, lemon beet shrub, lemon spritzer, candied citrus peels and Morrocan Lemons.
This week Terrence Welch, one of my all time favorite farmers called saying he has 2000 a ton more meyer lemons than I can use. Literally a ton. So, I told him that I would send the word out to my group of food preservationists to see if any of you could take some off of his hands. This will get us all rolling for apricots, strawberries and cherries......It is going to be a great year!
food preservationists offerings this week:
Order period closes at 2 pm Tuesday, April 14th. No exceptions--we must give our farmers' time to pick and prepare your orders.
Pick up 4-7 PM from the locations below.
The Food Preservationist offerings for pick up Friday, April 17th, 2015 are:
| Pickling Spice Proprietory Blend 1 Pint Jar for $15.99
| Raw Local Wildflower Honey 1 quart jar for $24.99
| Raw Local Sage Honey 1 Quart Jar for $24.99
| 30 LBS. Bucket of Organic Evaporated Cane Juice for $44.99
| Pickling Spice Proprietory Blend 1 Quart Jar - tis the season for pickles. Stock up! for $27.99
| Organic Meyer Lemon box - 25 lb box - with recipes for marmalade, shrubs, canidied citrus peels and syrups for $49.00
Marmalade tends to be a mysterious cousin to jams and it is perfect time to fall in love with them!
March is the peak season of Marmalades and here at Happy Girl Kitchen we make 12 different varieties from locally sourced organic citrus! We want to have a party to celebrate marmalades and celebrate the end of winter! Join us for a grand tasting of marmalades all dressed up in many different ways. We will be serving many dishes featuring marmalades as an ingredient and marmalades on their own. It will be a social evening of tiny bites and big ideas!
On the menu:
Fresh Kale salad with Big Sur Marmalade
Rice pilaf with Lime Marmalade
Roasted cannelini beans with Orange Rosemary Marmalade
Crustini with goat cheese and Meyer Lemon Ginger Marmalade
For dessert? Marmalade thumbprints!
To drink? Citrus shrub cocktails!
It is going to be a fun social evening celebrating the star of the month! Marmalade.
The event will take place at our cafe in Pacific Grove at:
173 Central Ave. Pacific Grove, CA 93950!
Tickets are $15 ahead of time or $25 at the door!
What is cheezy love to you? Here at Happy Girl, cheezy love is so many different things that we had to throw a party just to celebrate it. Cheezy love. It is that kind of love that keeps on feeling good. Love that you can laugh at and with and makes you feel like you are swinging as high as you can get at the playground. I can feel the butterflies in my stomach right now! Cheezy love can be AWKWARD at times especially when people are being coy. Cheezy love is something that we are all looking for at some time in our lives! Come find cheezy love at Happy Girl!
All "cheezy love" photos by Michelle Magdalena!!!
Who knew that cheezy love could be so CUTE!Cheezy love is just so funny!Cheezy love with a devil on their shoulder!
Jonah knows all about Cheezy love...Girls know what cheezy love is all about! Why are all the girls so happy over there? Ask Mr. Cheezy love!!!
"just keep it clean boys" Grandpa.
Grandpa on the far left came into our shop while we were doing the photo shoot as a customer and made it very obvious that he wanted to join the photo shoot even though he didn't. It is this kind of spontaneous joy that comes out of Cheezy love!!!
Cheezy love is a chance for couples and singles to have a good time together and dance, eat, drink take photos and more!
A party and a lifestyle at Happy Girl! Buy tickets here
February 14th 6-9 pm
*Tasty bites - yummy appetizers by happy girl to keep the party going!
*Speed dating - For couples and singles alike just a chance to get to know one another better!!!
*Photo booth by Michelle Magdalena - We are proud that this amazing photographer will be sending you home with stylish portraits from her photo/kissing booth!
*Live Dating Game - With Colin, our host who is Clint Eastwood in his younger years, we will all be entertained by this live version! (still seeking qualified applicants!)
*Dancing - Live records and a disco ball and plenty of space!
*Wine and cocktails - Served by Ian and Heather Brand!
January 22, 2015
Happy Girl Kitchen Co. presents…
Dine with the farmers
House made pickles + Crackers + Popcorn
Membrillo + Toma Cheese
Mandarins + beets + black garbanzos
Flagolet shelling beans + dry farmed tomatoes + brussell sprouts
Nettle + mushroom risotto
Roasted and stuffed honeynut squash + kale pesto
Farmstand cover crop salad
Blue Bottle Coffee
Stewed quince + ricotta + shortbread + pomello drizzle
A room with these many farmers and the skills of chef Matt Millea is sure to be a night to remember. Thank you for being a part of the revolution, one plate at a time!
Our most recent article in our column for Edible Monterey Bay just came out and can be read here.
Remembering a beloved designer who taught young local restaurateurs to create settings that reflect their cuisine—and to have fun in the process
By Jordan Champagne
Photography by Lisa Eisner and Patrice Ward
Known for his gift for spotting and creatively repurposing salvaged materials, Big Sur artist Erik Seniska designed the interiors of Big Sur Bakery, Happy Girl Kitchen and Carmel Belle. A beloved and larger-than-life personality with a spirit much younger than his 59 years, Seniska died of cancer on Nov. 2, even as his many friends were planning a celebration of his life and work at The INDY in Sand City. In this piece, Happy Girl Kitchen’s Jordan Champagne looks back on her friendship with him.
When we first signed the lease for what would become Happy Girl Kitchen’s Pacific Grove café, I had no clue how we were going to design the space. Our talents lay in recipes and working with the local harvest, not in putting together a restaurant. At the time, I was living in Big Sur, and a friend at the Big Sur Bakery said, “I have just the guy for you. He’s amazingly talented and loves good food.” That sounded perfect to me, since I had always enjoyed the aesthetics of the Bakery. But when the time came to meet him, I was a little nervous. I was familiar with his work and just thought of him as amazingly hip. I walked up to the building which would soon be our café and saw him looking through the window into the bare space. His appearance immediately made a strong impression. He wore work pants that were smeared and splattered with a vivid array of paints. He wore an extra-large straw hat and held a leather tool kit with the words “The Eye” etched into it. He was even hipper than I had imagined.
He spoke with authority, and within moments, it became apparent that he was in fact the designer for us. But even so, I had no idea that he was going to become one of my closest friends and hugely impact how I see the world.
Born to New Yorker parents in Clearwater, Fla., Erik Seniska lived for a time in Boston and Brooklyn. He studied graphic design and took jobs that would later inform his interior and landscape design, like growing plants for nurseries and doing freelance display design. Eventually, he moved to San Francisco to pursue his design career on the West Coast. Erik’s own term for his profession, which he wrote in a profile in the 2009 Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, was “freelance bohemian.”
Erik was extremely skilled at decorative painting techniques—particularly a textured style done with specially notched tools called comb painting.
He quickly blew away design firms in the city. Soon, a company from the Monterey Bay area saw his work and hired him to design the interior of a house that was being built in Big Sur. He fell in love with the landscape.
The Big Sur project that would become the perfect platform from which Erik’s style could shine—and that would ultimately lure him into moving down—was Fish Fry, a tiny, rat-infested, hand-built redwood cabin from the 1940s. Perched high on a ridge over Garrapata State Beach on a 560-acre estate that Erik was hired to help redesign, the cabin was for a year both his home and a guesthouse design project over which he was given complete artistic license.
“I have always used garbage and repurposed it for artwork,” he told me in a conversation recently, so the raw, gutted cabin and the pile of galvanized metal, wood and other salvaged materials left waiting for him next to it were an inspiration.
The cabin ended up being a stunning work of art, with every square inch intentionally designed by Erik. It was during his work on this project that he found the Big Sur Bakery.
“I discovered them because they had the best coffee. Being from New York, Iwas such a snob about coffee. On Sunday I would grab The New York Times and head down for coffee and breakfast and spend the day down there,” he recalled.
Co-owner Mike Gilson has his own memory of their first meeting.
“There was a line out the door and I was the only person working the coffee bar—and wearing a white T-shirt. From the back of the line I heard this guy say, ‘Oh, honey, that blouse is filthy and must be changed!’”
Erik had a way of making inappropriate comments loudly in public that made you laugh and remember him.
The bakery was one of Erik’s first commissions to transform a public space, and to gather material for it. Gilson recalls, “Erik would walk the beaches and find pieces of wood and seaweed and hunks of things, rusted out metal and pieces of boats, and he would hang them on the wall and say: ‘It’s all about color, arranging and cruising.’ Erik said we should look beyond the finish of found objects to see their line and function—be creative and go for a big impact with simple things.”
Erik’s holiday installations were a highlight of his work at Big Sur Bakery.
He would gather giant leaves in Sycamore Canyon just down the road, bunch them tightly and hang them from the ceiling. For Thanksgiving dinner he would cover the entire floor with sycamore leaves to create the effect that autumn winds had just blown them in.
“Every restaurant should have its personality stamped on the inside. It has to be an entire environment that ties in with the food,” he said, describing his philosophy. But the interiors of all three restaurants he would design in the region—the Bakery, Carmel Belle and Happy Girl Kitchen—share a sustainable feel to match their seriously sustainable food. They also exude a sense of whimsy.
At Belle, Erik helped design a modern yet cozy atmosphere that reflects the restaurant’s extremely high-quality yet informal food. For the walls, he used chicken wire and various renditions of the restaurant’s signature hen; for seating, he saw past the bad textiles and peeling paint of some booths he found at a salvage yard and used fabulous new fabric to inject color and comfort among the stylish steel chairs.
At Happy Girl Kitchen, Erik wanted to create a general-store-meets-the-farm feel, and everything he did added to the farm-fresh experience. He mounted old wooden produce boxes from Van Dyke Ranch on the walls to hold books and used vintage ladders fitted with salvaged wood shelves to display our pickles and jams. He constructed counters in the board-and-batten style of old farmhouses and topped them with chopping blocks.
Erik’s final design for the local food community was a “parklet” that sits in front of Happy Girl. It’s a place to make the most of Pacific Grove’s elusive sun and relax at café tables amid drought-resistant plants in an area once occupied by curbside parking.
It took many trips to the salvage yard to construct it, as we wanted to create the feeling that this tiny park had been there for a long time, with wood that was worn to a cozy patina. The bold color and patchwork nature of Erik’s design have been jarring for some, and embraced as a work of public art by others.
Erik Seniska was the real thing—a living, working, breathing artist. He had the “eye” to see the true potential in materials—including those that nobody else wanted. He was extremely talented and alarmingly honest, and he showed me how to see the world in such a different way. Erik was an inspiration to truly live each moment to the fullest, in complete abandon. He has left his personality permanently stamped on everyone who had the great fortune of knowing him, and our community has been brightened by the creations he left behind.
Jordan Champagne is co-owner and founder of Happy Girl Kitchen Co. She has a passion for preserving the local, organic harvest and loves sharing her secrets at the workshops she teaches across the region.
Where does your money go?
Most of us agree that accounting is no fun. But one of my favorite parts about it is seeing where all that money goes. At Happy Girl a big chunk of our money goes to local, organic farmers and that is just one of the things that puts the "happy" in our name. We also buy other things from local food artisans and interesting people for our shop. This past year we have paid our local artist and builder friends to help build and design our new parklet. Of course another huge chunk goes to supporting the amazing people that do all of the good work at happy girl. We have a great team of people doing farmer's markets, running the cafe and shop, delivering and picking up at farms, designing our labels, baking our goods, cooking the lunches and of course making all of the delectable preserves that define Happy Girl. This holiday season we would like to give you confidence that your purchase of Happy Girl goods is going to contribute to supporting the local farms and this wonderfully wacky family of Happy Girl. Thank you and be proud of where your money goes because it truly can make a difference. Together we can continue the revolution through food!!!
Carving pumpkins is one of my favorite things to do this time of year! Carving pumpkins with a group of friends is even better! I just love pumpkins. They have something special about them. I love going out to the fields where they are growing and seeing all of their personalities peeping out from behind the dried leaves. I love finding that one...or two....or three or ninety special pumpkins that want to go home with me. Have you ever been to a mass pumpkin carving? Then come!