Cooking With Wildcrafted Candy Cap Mushrooms

Every wildcrafted meal or herbal medicine begins with a journey into the wild. Farm to Family Ranch is located in the forested mountains of Northern California and we are blessed to have a variety of mushrooms growing here. We are certified by CCOF to wildcraft Oyster Mushrooms, White Chanterelles, Black Trumpets aka Black Chanterelles, Matsutakis, Chicken Of the Woods, and Candy Caps.

Candy Caps tend to grow in mossy areas around ferns.

Many mushrooms and plants are toxic and being knowledgeable is crucial. We use seven identifying factors to identify Candy Caps. These mushrooms are used in ice cream and savory dishes. Candy Caps are said to be aphrodisiacs, as you will emit the odor of maple syrup after eating them and can even taste them on the skin. Some people say they can smell maple syrup in their urine. I, personally, don’t smell it emitted from my skin, or my urine, but when I walk outside and breathe in fresh air.

Candy Caps are a great addition to the Farmacy and a meal.

Candy Caps make a great addition to the Farmacy. They are a great source of protein, fiber, and B vitamins like Thiamine, Riboflavin, and Folate. What a beautiful gift from Mother Earth.

I will be adding these Candy Caps to my pine nut rice dish for the benefit of its flavor and nutritional abundance.

Ingredients: Candy Cap, Pine Nut Rice

1 C rice, 1/2 C chopped onions, 1 C rice, 1/2 C chopped onions, 1/2 T chopped garlic, 3 T pine nuts, Candy Cap mushrooms chopped in 1/2, 2C broth of your choice or water.

Add onions, pine nuts, and seasoning to heated pan.

Heat pan with 1 T olive oil, add onions and pine nuts and season. Sauté until pine nuts are golden and onions are cleared and browning on edges.

Add garlic and candy caps.

Add garlic and candy caps and drizzle with olive oil.

Sauté until fragrant.

Add rice and broth or water.

Once fragrant, add rice, give the pan a shake and add broth. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover fifteen minutes.


Biodiversity of Mother Earth Provides! We are blessed. Pura Vida!

Continue reading “Cooking With Wildcrafted Candy Cap Mushrooms”

Parsley, an amazing supergreen!!

This is the post excerpt.

20180614_112242.jpgParsley is one of the most nutrient packed greens out there!


A Most Flavorful, Nutritive Green

Parsley is more than just a garnish; it is a flavorful, nutrient-rich green.  Parsley is a relative of celery and was once referred to as “rock celery”.  Mostly we see parsley as a garnish and used for good breath following a meal.  You may be surprised to know that parsley contains Vitamins K, C, & A; folate; iron; copper; potassium; magnesium, fiber, calcium; manganese; phosphorus; zinc; and vitamins B3 & B1.  Parsley is like the unsung hero of the vegetable world.  I use parsley all the time in many dishes:  meatballs, pesto, on sandwiches, in smoothies, in salads, in soups, in stews, in falafels, on chopped on top of brussel sprouts or asparagus, and countless more… Not only does it taste great, it is packed with vital nutrients. 

Farm to Family Bio Refresh

Greetings from Farm to Family Ranch, we are a hybrid homestead, like a “Jetsons”-“Little House On the Prairie” fusion.  We are all about independence and self sufficiency here on our ranch, yet we are still strongly connected to community and outside resources to obtain and maintain our self sufficiency.  We are working towards not working a 9-5 ever again, and the pandemic has been the bomb in our lives that is forcing that reality.

We are here to take you along on our journey to gaining our independence, with blogs and posts about up-cycling, re-using, farming, fadmscaping, cooking, herbal medicine preparation, dyi, and more … basically sharing our lifestyle and how we are adjusting our consumption to match our environmental concerns with everyone. We have hopes that everyone will share their lifestyle discoveries and changes with us, so we may evolve into a new global lifestyle together.  

Our interdependence as humans mimics that of the natural world in that we each have something we do that someone else thrives from, and vice/versa.  Plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to use as a building block in photosynthesis, and emit oxygen as a waste product into the atmosphere.  Animals remove oxygen from the atmosphere to use as a final electron acceptor in cellular respiration and emit carbon dioxide as waste into the atmosphere.  I grow an abundance of produce and provide it to people who do not grow food.  People who do not grow food give me money to buy food I don’t grow.  

Think Globally, Act Locally

We created Farm to Family to share the knowledge and skills we have so we may become self sufficient; and hopefully others may follow our lead to self-sufficiency.  Our global culture needs a massive life style change that can lead to self-sufficiency of our species.  Currently, humans are manipulating Earth’s resources and cycles to a point that our weather patterns have changed, species are going extinct, and ecosystems & biomes are also becoming threatened.  

If we all work separately at our own homes, but together sharing strategies online at developing new lifestyles; we can create worldwide change for the better of Earth and all of her inhabitants!

Greenhouse Devastated By Blizzard, We Have No Choice But to Reach Out For Help


Devastated by Blizzard, Farm to Family Appeals for Help

Last week, our greenhouse was destroyed by an unprecedented blizzard. We have no other option than to appeal for financial assistance to reclaim our loss. All contributions add up and are generous, no matter the size. Please share our story and gofundme link in your social media network. We will keep you updated with our progress.

Click my go fund me link: gf.me/u/zhz483 to make contributions.

Our story 

Greetings!  We are Cathy and Bill Brown, hybrid homesteaders and owners of Farm to Family, a tiny organic produce farm and firewood supplier in the northern California coastal mountains of Mendocino County.  I use the term hybrid, because we are not quite self sustainable.   I grow and and sell wholesome organic produce to local markets and to our local Food Hub, and Bill sells firewood generated through wildfire mitigation.  All of our business is currently done locally, with hopes to expand with an educational component and my herbal line of self-care products.

The year 2019 was a tough one for us financially, so I got a 9-5 as a chemist to pay the bills.  I was still able to sell produce on the side, but the farm suffered from my divided attention.  Six months later, Covid19 appeared. I sensed this pandemic would be huge; and I moved my elderly mother in with us.  Despite the challenges, we were managing., and Mom was safe in our secluded location.  Then, I got furloughed… “It’s ok”, I thought, “now I have all this time I can put into Farm to Family”.  We decided to upgrade the greenhouse with all up-cycled materials we could find on our property; we called this “shopping at our in-house Ranch Store”.

I got my seedlings germinating while Bill scrounged materials to build functional, waist high growing trays for me to keep hundreds of four inch transplants inside the greenhouse until able to transplant outside.  He installed a reclaimed bathroom vanity for storage of small tools, and created a small working counter, and converted the in-ground greenhouse rows I grow peppers and melons into beds with borders.  On the outside of the greenhouse, Bill reinforced the fiberglass siding on the sidewalls and built counters with sinks for bunching and organizing harvests.  At this point, I had been upgraded from bending over and creating makeshift tables for seedlings and working stations for harvesting.  I had a wonderful new, functional workspace.  It was glorious!!

I grew a variety of vegetables outside that I hardened off in the new greenhouse set-up, and I was able to produce peppers and melons inside the greenhouse until November!  The pandemic caused restaurants to close, but our local Food Hub adapted to the challenges of the pandemic and provided a new purposeful outlet for my produce.  The Food Hub was using our organic produce to fill 200 bi-weekly FEMA relief boxes for hungry people in Mendocino County.  In the mean-time, my furlough stretched from weeks into months.  I had made it through a great growing year thanks to my upgraded greenhouse.

Then, I got terminated from by job.  “It’s ok”, I thought, “its too hard to care for mom, who needs someone around, and go off to a 9-5 job.  I can piece together a few more things to generate income.  I’ll make it work!  I have to.” 

What Happened

Now it’s January 2021, and it was time to get seedlings germinating.  Preparations began in the greenhouse and I started sifting soil for seedlings.  Then, disaster.  An active atmospheric river slammed California with a massive winter storm bringing snow and winds like Willits has never seen in the 22 years we have been here.  The winds and snow completely destroyed our greenhouse.  The foundation of our little business lay completely twisted and broken, with no way to salvage the remains.  The side walls still stood, but the hoop framework, the plastic cover, and some of the solar powered fans were destroyed.  We are devastated.  We have no way to pay for their replacement.

But, wait, there’s more…the greenhouse was not the only victim of the storm.  The fencing that keeps hungry deer from eating our orchard and vegetable crops grown outside the greenhouse was damaged by trees falling and snapping the posts.

Our greenhouse was the lifeline we needed to extend our growing season. Outside, the season begins May through June and ends in September.  The greenhouse extended our season to begin in late winter, January to February; and to end in early winter, November to December.  Without these growing extensions on either end of our short season, produce does not have time to mature into a salable product.

The loss of our greenhouse and fencing is a devastating blow our homestead simply can not  recover from.  My growing season will be cut too short to grow produce that generates income.  This could be the final blow for Farm to Family.

When I first laid eyes on the twisted wreckage, “It’s not ok!”, I cried… “what now?”, I agonized… losing all hope, and full of despair, I made a Facebook post to share my loss.  There was an outpouring of volunteers to form a work party that will help erect a new structure, and it was suggested to me that I write a gofundme page.  “It might be ok”, I thought, “It will be ok, it has to be”.

We have determined the cost of replacing the top half of the Greenhouse is $4,000.00: fans at $90.00 each, fence posts at $200.00, and concrete $120.00.  We can re-use the fencing, and intend to up-cycle what parts from the demolished greenhouse we can into purlins to reinforce the framing.  We have volunteers ready to come help reclaim what we lost in the storm.  We are grateful for the offer of labor from friends and neighbors appreciate all the phone calls of support.  Together, we can do this!!  

We Need Help

For us to continue providing fresh, organic vegetables locally to our community and to help fill those FEMA boxes, we need help.  With your donations, we will be able to make necessary repairs, preserve this small family farm, and continue to give back to the community.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts now for your compassion, support, and contribution!

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Amazing heart healthy superfood everyone should include in their farmacy

Purslane is a tasty succulent packed with nutrients, giving it a multitude of health benefits.   Purslane is rich in the essential Omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid;  minerals: zinc, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, & calcium; and Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, & E.   Purslane also contains betalain alkaloid pigments in the reddish stem, betacyanins in the yellow pigment of the flowers, and betaxanthin in the leaves. All these pigments provide powerful antioxidant and antimutagenic effects,. Purslane is rich in fiber and is one of the vegetables with the lowest calories at 16kcal/100g.

Purslane is such an amazing superfood because it not only contains so many beneficial nutrients for us, it contains them in high levels relative to other plants.  Vegans and vegetarians looking for Omega-3 fatty acids have the richest plant-based source of omega-3’s in Purslane!!! Vitamin E and Beta Carotene are at six times the level they are found in spinach or carrots.  Purslane also contains potassium in higher levels than other plants, which is not only important for metabolism, but stabilizing blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy circulatory system.  Purslane is also high in pectin which is known to lower cholesterol.

Purslane is tasty, somewhat crunchy, a little citrusy, and slightly peppery.  Some people compare it to watercress or spinach.  Many cultures around the world incorporate purslane into their cooking.  Purslane is used raw in salads, baked like spinach in pastries, fried stems with feta, stewed in soups, pickled, and super juicing.  The pectin in purslane provides it with a natural thickening ability for smoothies, soups, and stews.

I eat it raw in salads.  Please comment how you like to consume the amazing Purslane!!


Not Just For Cats 

Catnip is a powerful and useful herb in the mint family.  Catnip is a nervine and can be used for relaxation, as a sedative for sleep, anxiety, stress, migraines, and stomach issues.  Nervines help with these issues because they nourish and lubricate nerve tissues. 

Catnip is also an anti-inflammatory and can be used for arthritis, hemorrhoids, and swelling from hives or bug bites/stings.  Catnip contains vitamins A, B, & C, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and sodium.

Tea is one of the more common ways catnip is taken for its nerving properties. The flowering tops of the plant are steeped in water. I use leaf in my tea.  Unlike traditional tea, you do NOT want to put catnip in boiling water, bring the water to a boil and remove from heat for a minute before beginning the steeping process. Consume like any other herbal tea.  A poultice or salve can be used for hemorrhoids and stings.  Leaves can be tossed onto green salads or fruit salads for added nutrition and a splash of flavor.

Catnip is easy to grow; and pollinators love their flowers.  

Foraging herbs and making a salve

In this video blog I take you foraging for chickweed, plantain, and comfrey leaves. I then take you into the kitchen to create a healing salve. I included a small math lesson in order to help people understand how to calculate the volume of vitamin E required to preserve the salve.

I chose to use chickweed, plantain, and comfrey leaves in this healing salve because of their herbal properties.

Chickweed has demulcent, emollient, and refrigerant properties. All these properties are beneficial for skin. This amazing little star weed is full of vitamins that nourish, cool, and heal skin.

Plantain has alterative, stringent, diuretic and antiseptic properties. These properties prevent swelling, soothe irritation, and promote healing of our skin.

Comfrey has vulnerary, demulcent, and astringent properties. Comfrey leaf has a magical way of healing tissues making it essential in any healing salve.

Thank you for watching. Please be one of the first to follow our videos out at our brand new Farm to Family YouTube channel and click on “like” if you like it.

Upcycling at the Hybrid Homestead: Greenhouse Seedling Tables

Here at Farm to Family Ranch; we are making the most of our time being furloughed and in need of a “new normal” when the Shelter in Place orders are lifted.  We are putting our efforts into upgrading the farm to be more efficient and user friendly.  We are using materials on hand at our ranch to upcycle into useful, innovative, equipment.  Redwood lumber for this project were taken from our barn, where it was no longer in use. Doug Fir lumber was scavenged from old projects, or dismantled structures. Growing trays are being re-purposed from an old indoor growing project. As we scavenge materials for upcycling and repurposing, we have come to call our collection of materials “The Covid Store”; and we try not to shop anywhere else. Nothing new was purchased to create this amazing, functional seedling growing table.

Fitting seedling tables into basic framework.

We are re-purposing the old tomato trellis that was already installed in the greenhouse and the north, framed wall of the greenhouse as the foundation for the seedling tables. The 6×6 beams set in concrete and the studs in the north, framed wall are being used to hang the edges of the tables. The tables are set with a slight slope to allow for draining.

Seedling table construction

Studs in the north wall are notched for the horizontal support beams to take the weight of water soaked soil. Horizontal support beams beneath the tables also help to bear the weight of these tables once they are filled with plants. All horizontal beams that stretch from the wall to the vertical 6x6s are set with a slight slope to allow for drainage. All tables are conveniently set at hip height to prevent bending.

Framing detail

Framing for this structure occurred at the same time as table installation. Each table edge is sitting on horizontal beams.

Framing detail

Here in the framing detail, the framing that each table sits inside of is seen. In between tables, there are two 2x4s – one for each table to have its own frame.

Completed framing with seedling tables installed

Extra foundation blocks with notched 4x4s were added for additional support.

First Seedlings in the Re-Purposed Seedling Tables

Here we have our first round of seedlings loving their growing spot.