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Remember Me

The Lunch Lady

Getting to Know Me

I come from a food family. In my family, recipes are our heirlooms. My grandmother threw herself into food and cooking after the death of my grandfather when I was very young. I spent hours with her in the kitchen while she baked bread, decorated cakes for family and friends, whipped up chilled soups and perfected countless dessert recipes. I admired her skills very much and when I turned seven, she took me to Maurice et Charles in San Francisco owned by her dear friend Maurice Amzallag. I ordered the wild boar with juniper berries and there was no turning back!

Growing up, we lived on a small family farm and raised our own livestock, eggs and poultry, grew our own fruits and vegetables, and my Mom did lots of cooking, baking, preserving, and canning. She made her own fruit leather, granola, breads, preserves, cured meats, and I was often under foot in the kitchen helping out. We had a connection to most of what we ate. One neighbor had an apiary and gave us 5 gallon buckets full of golden clover honey and orange blossom honey, one neighbor had a fig tree, one a plum, walnut orchards, almond orchards, we had access to the best that the good earth had to offer. At each harvest, it was a scramble to find new ways to prepare and preserve the abundance to last the entire year. I remember giant bowls of cherries looking like glistening garnets on our kitchen table, warm from the morning sun, skins tight with sugary juice. We endlessly shelled almonds and walnuts, our fingers rough from the work. Applesauce. Our crank peeler was priceless because of the sheer volume of apples we processed in our small kitchen each fall, but we knew there would be applesauce cakes, and warm applesauce on oatmeal with fresh cream for breakfast in winter. There was one year when we all thought if we even saw another zucchini, we would pass out. Collecting eggs was my morning ritual. I gently reached in under the sleeping chickens and removed their beautiful, creamy brown, white, and green eggs, warm from their bodies, and sometimes still with a soft shell. Breakfast. During the day, the chickens would forage through the garden, finding bugs, our natural pesticides. The great horned tomato worms were their prize, and they would all rush greedily to the feast when one was found. Days on the farm were long, at times arduous, but always rewarding.

As a teenager, I began cooking for my family on my own, and it felt natural to be providing my loved ones with nourishment. It was rewarding work. At fifteen, I was given the opportunity to travel to France where I sampled pastries, chocolates, bread still warm from the boulangerie, a real croissant, fresh market foods, and I stumbled upon authentic Moroccan food. I was changed forever. When I sought a part time job back home, it was no surprise that I looked in the culinary field nourishing others. I found peace in the ritual of preparation, and in the fast pace of the professional kitchen. I loved the way I could access people through food, reliving with them their food memories, and introducing them to new ones. I discovered the definite connection between the essence of a person and how they nourish and sustain themselves. I found camaraderie in my fellow food workers, and I knew I had found my place in the world.

Working in the culinary industry took me to many interesting places, mainly throughout California, learning everywhere I went. When I worked side by side with a Japanese man, I learned about New Year's mochi and the Japanese theories of balancing a plate. The many and dear Mexican cooks enriched my knowledge of my own heritage and gave a history to my own celebration foods. A waiter from Spain taught me how to use almonds in savory dishes and schooled me on Spanish cheeses. Indian food brought me to an apartment in El Cerrito drenched in the aroma of spices, wearing a sari, and patting out fresh, warm roti with my hands. I learned people really wanted to talk about their childhood dishes, their cultural staples, what sustained them through times of sorrow and celebration. It was a part of their identity. I immersed myself in food culture taking notes, recording recipes and sketching dishes everywhere I went. I learned about cultural foods, vegetarian foods, macrobiotics, raw foods, everyone had some specialty to impart, and I ate it all up! The bulk of my working experience was in the San Francisco Bay Area where I discovered catering. I worked for both Paula LeDuc and Savoy Catering of Emeryville and Oakland respectively, eventually leaving Paula LeDuc to become the Executive Chef of Savoy Catering. I adored making people's fantasies come true for one event through flavor, aroma and texture. I loved making people's food memories with them, but on a grander scale than I could achieve in a restaurant. Celebration food, mourning food, nourishment as reward, as surprise, as enticement or invitation, it all thrilled me.
Once my family was well begun, I started preparing high-end boxed lunches for local businesses and private clients, and Lunch Lady Catering was born. I have since grown to full service events, my favorite medium. So for me, things have come full circle. I live in an area I love, making the food I love for friends, and family. I use my childhood memories of food fresh from the ground, vine, or tree to nourish my clients with fresh, wholesome ingredients, and care. Each dish contains elements extracted from an experience in my life. It continues to be a joyous one! Thank you for being a part of it, and letting me be a small part of yours!


What’s Happening in Murphys June 1 through June 11, 2011

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 06/02/2011 08:53 AM
Murphys, CA....Tuesdays in June - Winemaker's Night at Alchemy - Every Tuesday night you can expect free live music on our patio from 5:30-8:00, our delicious dinner menu, and a featured menu option for one low price. Call 209-728-0700 for reservations. Fridays in June - Fridays At Alchemy. Matt Cullen Delivers style with pop, country and jazz vocal performances from the 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond every Friday on our patio from 5:30-8 pm. The music is free, and there's room to dance. Call 209-728-0700 or visit for more information. .....

Click Above to Visit This Week's Sponsor, Newsome Harlow!

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Tour Guides & Cantamos Kick off Free Music in the Parks at Copperopolis, Town Square THIS WEEK!

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 05/26/2011 05:42 PM
Copperopolis, CA....One show, two sounds and performances; The Tour Guides featuring Jessica Brittany Mouser, and Cantamos, (Tour Guides unplugged ) with lead singer, Michela Macfarland.....The 20th anniversary of Free Music in the Parks is kicked off at Copperopolis Town Square, by the Tour Guides & Cantamos. On Wednesday, June 15, starting at 6:30 pm, you will be transported to another destination with their renditions of numerous and timeless songs with an emphasis on Latin styles. Whether it is bossa nova, rock, country or jazz, their groove will move you.....
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Early Summer Succotash~by The Lunch Lady

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 05/15/2011 07:57 PM
Despite this gray drizzle, summer is coming. I can almost taste it. The cherries and apricots may be few and far between because of the late snows this year, but I will savor each morsel. I am longing for the lush leaves of sweet basil, the juicy peaches, ripe tomatoes with a dash of sea salt, the sight and smell of my Dad canning his spicy, garlicky peppers, and crisp lemon cucumbers from my Mom's garden tossed in vinegar. These are the things I love about summer. This week, I am bridging the gap between the tender days of spring, and the full days of summer with a vegetable dish which includes some of the best of each season. .....

Click Above to Visit The Lunch Lady Now!
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Not Your Mother's "Creme Brulee!"~by Lunch Lady Catering

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 05/06/2011 10:18 PM
Creme Brulee is a classic French dessert which dates as early as 1691. It is loved by many including, and especially, me. I love the cool creamy custard contrasted with the super thin crispy caramel sugar shell, and the crunch and melt that happens wile eating it. Mmmm, just the thought makes me happy! A few years back, I modified my traditional recipe by adding cardamom, which is one of my favorite spices. It is like a peppery nutmeg, and is often .....

Click Above to Visit The Lunch Lady Now!
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Local 8th Grader Headed to State Science Fair.....Still A Little Short of His Goal

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 04/24/2011 04:13 PM
Calaveras County, CA...Update 4/28/11: Michael has received some very generous donations from our viewers! The family is so thankful! "I am so excited for him, what a wonderful opportunity he has before him and with his drive to do the best he can, hopefully he will place during the state competition. He is going to go back to the IGA in Copperopolis again tomorrow with his project to answer questions and share what he has discovered. Hopefully by the end of the day he will have reached his goal , he has a baseball game on Saturday morning" States Michael's Grandmother, Cindi Bent.....Local 8th grader, Michael Legge is headed to the State Science Fair! Michael won 1st place at the Calaveras County Science Fair in his division with his project "Mysterious Bacteria vs. Evil Tobacco." Michael is a student at Mark Twain Elementary and needs our help! Here is a letter from Michael: "Hello my name is Michael Legge and I am an 8th grade student at Mark Twain Elementary School. Mark Twain doesn't require students to do science fair projects but I went out and did one on my own. .....
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"Challah Bread"~by Lunch Lady Catering

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 04/23/2011 08:02 AM
Once upon a time, many years ago, I cooked in a very good restaurant in Oakland called The Autumn Moon Cafe. Sadly, The Autumn Moon is no longer there, but the lessons I learned while there have really stuck with me. I worked under the great Chef Kerry Heffernan who taught me so much about both cooking and life. She was the kind of Chef who was tough and commanding in the kitchen, but would nurture ideas and experiments to help her young chefs grow and develop their style. I am forever indebted to this woman, she was instrumental in my growth as a Chef and person. But I ....
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The Lunch Lady Is Here to Help with Your Easter Dinner...And She Promises Not to Tell!

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 04/18/2011 02:11 PM
If you are having a holiday dinner this week and need that perfect sweet treat or accompaniment, The Lunch Lady help you dazzle your friends and family! "And if you say you made it yourself, well, we won't tell ; )"

Click Above to Visit The Lunch Lady Now!

Another Yummy Recipe "Tangerine and Fennel Glazed Walnuts"~by The Lunch Lady

Posted by: thepinetree on 03/16/2011 06:23 PM
I am preparing to cater a fabulous dessert party this week, and one element of one of the desserts is so fabulous, I just had to share! I am using these glazed nuts to top tangerine mousse napoleons. I hope you find a delicious way to incorporate them into a meal or dessert in your home soon and let me know what you think!.....

Click Above to Visit the Lovely Lunch Lady Caterer!
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Roasted Artichoke Hash~by The Lunch Lady

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 03/14/2011 09:24 PM
The artichokes are poking their spiny heads out of the supermarket display with their "frost kissed" green and rust leaves. The buds are nice and tight, the sign of a very fresh artichoke, the leaves and heart are meaty and succulent. I love artichoke in all it's forms. My husband makes the most delicious steamed artichoke I've ever had. Perhaps it is the luxury of being cooked for with love, but I think he has a couple of secrets in the boiling bath as well! Anyway, this recipe is a bit time consuming, but well worth it! Serve it for brunch topped with poached eggs, or for dinner with roasted chicken and pan juices. ......

Click Above to Visit the Lovely Lunch Lady!

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Veggie Supper~By Lunch Lady Catering

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 03/11/2011 07:03 PM
Recently, a friend of mine was in a quandary as to what meat-free meals to serve her Catholic family on Fridays. She turned to me for some suggestions. Now, having cooked my share of meals for vegetarian clients over the years, I was prepared with a long list of recipes. This one was the one she thought would fit her family best. It is a hearty, delicious meal when paired with a whole grain salad such as quinoa or wheat berries. It is also a family friendly meal if you get the kids in on the assembly! The stuffing is just a suggestion, and is adaptable to just about any season, or whatever veggies you have hanging out in the fridge! Phyllo Vegetable Turnovers..

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