One piece I love about Bay Leaf Kitchen is connecting kids to the source of their ingredients. With each farm visit comes an expansion to our circle of friends and farmers. While planning our upcoming Meet Your Meat series I was lucky enough to meet the Magruder family who instantly welcomed us into their home and ranch.
Even the drive to the farm is transformative: scenery turned from flat dry land to rolling hills of pasture and wooden ranch houses. We parked, carefully avoiding free roaming chickens that didn't seem to notice our presence.
The whole family of Kate, Mac, Grace and Kyle greeted us on the porch. After warming hugs, we headed through an old wooden screen door into the ranch house, and found the kitchen to begin prepping dinner. I can always find my way around a strange kitchen, but the Magruder kitchen instantly felt like home. It was laid out in a perfect kind of way with multiple cutting boards, serving dishes, a giant sink and even built in stools for kids to reach the counter. It was stocked with all my favorite staples too: local honey, fresh olive oils, and an abundance of salt and pepper grinders.
As we cooked everyone pitched in – I focused on potato gnocchi, which we dressed in Kate’s garden basil. Mac smoked pork chops and cactus which had been cleaned of its stingers. A small mountain of kale picked, washed and turned into a salad.
Over dinner Mac told us the verbal history of the farm, while the rest of the family interjected color: "For five generations (the 6th is on the way) our family has been honored to steward this land. Magruder Ranch (also known as Ingel-Haven Ranch) is located in Potter Valley, 130 miles north of San Francisco. In 1919, our family first purchased these 2,400. Each generation has left its mark, from sheep, to pears, to grass-finished cattle" Margruder Ranch. The fascinating piece to me is that each generation adapted and changed the product of the land. Mac told us that when his father died of cancer it was the turning point for him and the ranch - no more petiscides, hormones, or hurting the land or humans would be part of their story. That is when he began sustainable ranching, eating, and living.
I can't wait to bring Bay Leaf Kitchen up there in September.