Balsamic Vinegar Methode Tradizionale

by admin on May 31, 2016

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A tribute on Memorial Day

by Peggy OKelly on May 30, 2016


Robert John Jake MD        WW II and Korea

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  Theodore Roosevelt


A very special Memorial Day for my family as we honor all fallen veterans along with my dad who now rests in peace at the Veterans Home Cemetery in Yountville.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of the men and women who have been or are in the Arena.  God Bless You.   

God Bless Us All,


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Greens and Black Beans Quesadillas

by Peggy OKelly on May 5, 2016

Happy Cinco de Mayo!
There are a few food blogs that I follow and one of my favorites is Cookie and Kate .  I don’t eat meat or dairy so it’s a little more tricky to pull something together every night that has variety.  I love getting daily emails and when inspired adapting the recipe to what I have in the house.

Although I love the ritual of preparing a meal..I don’t always have the energy to do so…and that is when I turn to our oils.  Our flavored oils, aside from the Lemon, are pressed together.  So the basil is pressed with the olive, etc…  It is a true marriage..not an infusion.  Both are viable means of production but I love the freshness that the pressing brings…and it also retains more nutrients.  I infuse my Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil with essential oil from organic lemons because I prefer the taste over pressing the rinds, seeds, etc…

For Cinco De Mayo, I’ve included a recipe from Cookie and Kate…and I’ve adjusted it using my flavored oils and what I had on hand.  I’m sure the original is fabulous so you can try that too…but I’ve put in my substitutions in BOLD ITALIC so you can follow my version. It will also give you a sense of how to substitute with the flavored oils. For instance if a recipe calls for olive oil and garlic cloves…I use our Garlic EVOO and leave out the clove, etc…

I hope you enjoy it!

Broccoli Rabe and Black Bean Quesadillas ( Adapted from Cookie and Kate)

Prep time:  15 mins

Cook time:  15 mins

Total time:  30 mins

Serves: 4 quesadillas


Marinated broccoli rabe (I used Mustard Greens)

Refried black beans

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil  ( 1 tablespoon our Garlic EVOO)
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped, or ⅓ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced (eliminated)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 1½ cups cooked black beans

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The Forever Peace

by Peggy OKelly on March 17, 2016

Emily came home last weekend as she was studying for an accounting midterm and needed her mom.   I was good with Fifo and Lifo but when she brought up perpetual and periodic inventory, my mind went blank.   After all it has been 25 years since the CPA exam.    I sat down at my computer to google the answer and an email appeared…Dexter Filkins.  I stared at it for a few seconds…Dexter Filkins…Dexter Filkins….oh geez Dexter Filkins!!

Lets go back two years..2014… when I had an inspiration to travel to every country…find what is indigenous to that land…and create products that would connect people to the earth…its people…and their traditions.  After a family vote…we named it Ground…the parent company would be Ground Mother and the countries would be Ground “country” with a logo that represented that land.  I did all the admin…got the name, the urls, etc… and then tucked the concept neatly away in my heart knowing that it would manifest in its own time.

In March of 2014, as many of your might recall, Kaelin and I met Emily in Morocco as her internship in Ghana was coming to an end.  We stayed on a farm outside of Marrakech..excited to connect with the farmers and learn about what they grew.  Do you remember the car ride from the airport that I wrote about?  Yes it wasn’t a “they” was a “him”…and he was a businessman who developed the property…and guess what…he grew olives.  Needless to say, we became fast friends.  He didn’t speak good English but it didn’t matter.  The “farmer”, Fouad,  asked me to teach him how to produce olive oil that would meet the International standards and in exchange he would help me understand the landscape and pursue my vision.   We accomplished a lot in those ten days considering we were on vacation but I returned alone three weeks later to seriously pursue Ground Morocco.

It’s difficult to find the words to express the experience…it was magical…and oppressive…fascinating…and demoralizing…walking in lead shoes one moment and on air the next.  The energy was so thick at times I felt as if I couldn’t breathe.  At one point in the journey I didn’t know why but I felt a strong urge to go home.

“Why are you so quiet Peg gie?” Fouad asked.  “ I think I am going to go home.” I said quietly.  “What?!” he exclaimed.  “Are you completely crazy?  First we are four hours from an airport and Peg gie you are in Africa so you cannot just “go home”.  Everyone is letting you in…that is not normal Peg gie…you are getting everything you wanted..and you want to leave?!  I don’t understand.”  “No Fouad…you are getting it for me…no one looks me in the eye…and I sit in these meetings and dinners and feel as if I don’t exist. I don’t know how to feel about any of this…I am the one who is putting together the project and everyone acts as if I work for you.  I’m over it…I just need to go home.”

Fouad and I were kindred spirits…we had the connection of the olive and business from the moment we met…and an ability to be painfully straight with each other .  “Peg gie….you are the one who comes to this country to do business…you are the one who wants to be introduced to all of these people who happen to be men….you come into this culture but you act as if your methods and your culture should rule.”   “ You don’t like it..fine…don’t do business here..that’s easy…I have things I need to be doing you decide…but if you want to do business in this country you have to understand the is only right.”  I sat with his words for the rest of the journey to the town of the Rose…he was right…I was not in Kansas anymore.

It was not easy but I spent the rest of the trip in observation rather then judgement.  At the end of the two weeks I had developed an entire bath and body line with locally sourced ingredients….met amazing artisans…and learned a lot about myself.  Although I was far from in love with Morocco, it was difficult to say good bye.

As soon as the wheels touched down in the USA I was on Amazon ordering the Book of Islam.  I was determined to gain an understanding of the culture through its history so I could have perspective.  I watched every Front Line doc on the Middle East…picked up some other books and then as we all now know…got in a “not an accident”.

Fast forward to last October.   I was in thick in cognitive therapy on all levels but my priority was regaining my ability to read and write freely.   I was back to a life of practice practice practice.  I was listening to books online, listening to a lot of NPR and Frontline…and somewhere along the way I got the tip that I had to read “The Forever War”…by Dexter Filkins.

Six pages a day was all I could read at that point.  Hard to explain but the brain just shuts down and if you push it, the inflammation flares and it’s a long painful night.  I stayed with the program for the first week.  About 48 pages in I was motivated to pick up the pace…so I did….slowly but surely I added a page a day…and then added reading in the morning and at night…and before I knew it I was at a chapter a day.   As I read the final line….closed the book…and sat back in somber contemplation about the realities exposed in “The Forever War”…I realized I had read the book….I did it….my ability to read was coming back!

The next few days were filled with gratitude…for the knowledge and understanding I had gained through the book….true journalists…God bless them…they go where most wouldn’t and report back…so we can all be informed…if we choose to be.  And brain..the body’s ability to heal if you respect it enough to listen and follow its lead…give it the time it needs…and again that book that motivated me to dig a little deeper push myself a little harder…

Olive harvest was upon us not much after that last page was turned.  Caught up in the aromatherapy of freshly milled oil I was inspired to share a bottle with the author of The Forever War…Dexter Filkins.  I wrote a note of gratitude and sent out a bottle of our Olio Nuovo knowing that most likely he would never receive it..or understand it.  That didn’t seem to matter as I handed it over to the UPS driver the following day.

I hadn’t thought about that bottle of olive oil until the email came across my computer last Friday night.  Dexter Filkins…thanking me for the olive oil he had just received…a very kind and heartfelt note of gratitude and appreciation.  The circle was complete.

That’s it…reads like a soft ending in a world of reality TV.   Strangers connecting….in gratitude…appreciation…and with kindness.  Hmm….what a wonderful world this could be.

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Making Way for New Growth

by Peggy OKelly on March 11, 2016

As the dogs and I set out on our morning walk we heard voices coming from the road. It was unusual to hear any noises in our little place in the woods much less early in the morning.  I decided to divert from our normal route to a path that would lead us to the road.   As we closed in on the valley floor, the dogs stopped…ears stood up…and they focused intently on the cars and trucks parked on the side of the vineyards.   I could not see any people but I could hear voices and laughter coming from within the miles of vines below.

It was our first sunny day in quite some time so I knew I had the perfect opportunity to take some pictures.  I ran the dogs home…grabbed my camera…and set back out to the scene.  As I walked into the vineyards I could see the workers deep in the vines.  I was struck by the joyfulness in their voices….and the laughter.   It was still early in the morning….cold….and they were pruning…..yet such light heartedness.  I felt their joy enveloping me and before I knew it I too was enamored with the day.

As I walked back up our drive I felt the newness of life….the water was flowing in the streams….the sun was shining….and old growth was being cut to make room for new.  I felt a renewed sense not only for the day but for the year to come.  It reminded me of an essay I wrote a few years ago for the blog of Christopher Kostow, Executive Chef The Restaurant at Meadowood……


NEW GROWTH…by Peggy O’Kelly of  St. Helena Olive Oil Co.   July 21, 2104.

Pruning. It’s an indication that harvest is over….old wood cut back to make way for new growth…a new season has begun. I always take time to give gratitude to the old growth and acknowledge the presence of it within the new….as life is a series of connections…all dependent upon one another….and never ending.

My journey began as a child running wildly through the hills of Yountville…soaking in the spirit of a land once inhabited by the Wappo Indians. We spent many long days hiking, making forts, swimming in the reservoir and playing with everything that nature provided.   As I grew up and my older siblings entered the workforce I began to learn about the entrepreneurial spirit that ran deep in the land….Schmidts with The French Laundry, The Tiedmanns with Oakville Public House, The Original Oakville Grocery, The Catersons with The Wurst Place, Ann Grace and Ruby Redman with Napa Valley Mustards….and more.   Farm to table was rooted in the Napa Valley long before the first vineyard was planted….there was no need to market it…just live it.

At 18, I ventured off to University in San Francisco.  I spent 10 years running fast and far from the life that unbeknownst to me had taken root within my soul.  After the birth of my first daughter I was drawn back to the Valley for farmers markets, family dinners and pet parades.   It was in one of my visits that the olive tree came to light.  A vintner was pruning the trees on her property with the aim of producing Napa Valley extra virgin olive oil.  I was intrigued and soon drawn into the lore of the olive tree. The thought of bringing it back to life in the Napa Valley became my obsession.

I drew from the spirit of the Napa Valley I knew as a child to launch my new venture…and maintained my inspiration with the continuous energy of new growth in the Valley.  I modeled my business after the leaders of the wine industry as olive oil was just as misunderstood.  We opened the first olive oil tasting room/production facility in the United States and began our quest to educate our customer directly…..formed relationships with local olive growers and began our niche production of Napa Valley orchard designated extra virgin olive oils…and drafted our core message of preservation of traditions that help sustain the olive as a life-giving food source while honoring the land from which it came.

Every year when the old branches fall to the ground, I say a prayer of thanks for all that has come before….then look up at the new growth and am excited at what more there is to come.

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From Earth to Bottle

by Peggy OKelly on January 1, 2016

This is the time of year that I fall in love all over again.  The energy of the trees fills the orchard with a buzz….it’s as if they know that they have done well…and are excited to give healing, light, sustenance and peace.  As I walk through the fields…..I can’t help but feel reverence…and absorb their strength and feel their peace.   It’s not unusual for tears to fill my eyes as I thank them for the rich life they have provided my girls and I….all of you….and mankind since the beginning of time.  We are simply a steward….and give all credit to the the four directions….and these magnificent olive trees that never stop giving.

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This was no accident

August 18, 2015

I stood in awe as I watched Emily tighten, snap and secure the straps on her backpack at the United counter.   There was little worry this time as in the twenty years since her feet hit the planet she has experienced many adventures..all over the world.  By her command of this pack I knew that […]

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Better Without Butter? We Say Yes!

January 30, 2013

Our retail staff member, Armando, recently got us all hooked on popcorn drizzled with Jalapeno and Lime Extra Virgin Olive Oil then finished with fleur de sel…so good. Since we all loved that combo so much we decided to try out a few more. Here are our favorites: 1. Seafood Rub with Stone Press Extra […]

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The Restaurant at Meadowood

November 5, 2012

  A returned phone call, availability for an immediate meeting and true interest in the happenings at St. Helena Olive Oil Co.  are not things that I would expect from one of the youngest three Michelin star chefs in the Country.   Christopher Kostow, chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood, is a breath of fresh air. […]

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Note from Peggy

July 17, 2012

I have a mentor and good friend who taught me about front loading.  Front loading is work with no visible return…just keep pushing up the mountain, he would say, and soon you will reach the peak and begin your descent.   He assured me that it would be well worth it.  I’ve drawn strength from these […]

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