by Carine Hines

Napa Valley Register

On last year’s Fourth of July, the small town of Guinda in the Capay Valley (in northwest Yolo County) hosted the “world’s tiniest” Fourth of July parade. It consisted of a gaggle of children on a tractor-trailer, with a couple of bikes and a golf cart. We all filed to our local volunteer fire station for its annual barbecue and fireworks.

Last year ended up being the most highly attended parade and barbecue, with the most dramatic backdrop. Three days earlier, the County Fire started in Guinda’s front yard, and our parade was in visible sight of flames creeping north along the mountains, smoke hazing our vision, and Cal Fire trucks driving up and down the valley.

The Capay Valley truly has an incredible community, one that is rare to find in modern California. It is reminiscent of the rural communities of a century ago. We are all neighbors, and we all support each other despite our different backgrounds, professions and interests.

Just a few weeks ago, another fire started in Guinda, hinting at another difficult fire season. My husband, Robert, who is also a volunteer firefighter, went out to protect structures all through the night after having worked a full day at the Napa Farmers Market. Luckily, the fire was quickly contained and no one was hurt.

Climate change, heavy rains and long droughts make our beautiful state even more prone to raging wildfires. How will we adapt to this new norm? How will we protect our homes and land? And most importantly, how will we allow California’s natural ecosystem, which includes fire, to run its course without hurting humans?

It will take the efforts of scientists, firefighters, local governments and higher-ups in Sacramento to find this balance. In the meantime, Guinda will have another “world’s tiniest” Fourth of July parade, hopefully to the backdrop of blue skies.

Every year, I bring potato salad to the Guinda fire station’s Fourth of July barbecue. I love this recipe because it is so simple, and it is perfectly seasonal for early July. The secret is to use waxy, small-farm-grown potatoes. You will find them at the Napa Farmers Market. Choose Yukon Golds, red fingerlings or Yellow Finns that are freshly dug. The flavor of a fresh-dug potato grown on minimal water in a warm climate is unbelievable compared to a store-bought russet.

Enjoy this delicious recipe from Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food.” This cookbook lives on my countertop and is my go-to cooking bible for simple recipes that showcase seasonal produce.

Capay Valley

Potato Salad

1-1/2 pounds waxy potatoes (Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, red fingerlings, red creamers)

2 eggs

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper

1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or 1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

2 tablespoons drained and chopped capers

Optional: 2 to 3 slices bacon

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until a paring knife pierces them easily. Drain, cool, and cut into bite-sized pieces. I keep the skins on or only peel half of the potatoes because the skins are packed with flavor and nutrients. Place in a large mixing bowl.

Cook the eggs in simmering water for 9 minutes. Cool in cold water and peel.

Mix the vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over the potatoes, gently stir and let sit 7 minutes.

Add the onions to the potatoes along with the olive oil or mayonnaise. Stir gently. Taste for salt and vinegar.

Chop the eggs and gently stir them into the potatoes along with the chives, parsley and capers.

If using, sauté the bacon and dice. Reserve the bacon cooking fat and substitute 1 tablespoon of bacon fat for 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Fold in the bacon bits, then serve.

Serves 4.

Kids’ activities at the Napa Farmers Market: Bring your youngsters to the market’s Education Station on Tuesdays and Saturdays for Story Time at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.

On the KVYN Music Stage: Fred McCarty will perform at the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday, June 29, and Oscar Reynolds will perform at the market on Tuesday, July 2.

Harvest of the Month: Through June, enjoy comparative tastings of apricots and raspberries at the market’s Education Station at 11 a.m.

Carine Hines is co-proprietor of Sun Tracker Farm, a Napa Farmers Market vendor, and a member of the market’s board of directors.

The Napa Farmers Market takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the parking lot of the South Napa Century Center, 195 Gasser Drive, Napa. The market also participates in the Market Match program, doubling the value of CalFresh benefits purchasing power for all eligible food products. For more information or a schedule of upcoming events, visit