by Carine Hines

Napa Valley Register

I come from a long line of farmers in France who have surely been farming since before French people spoke French. It is a deeply rooted cultural tradition for a husband and wife to farm a little corner of land together and have children to pass it on to.

In every generation, the woman worked as hard as her husband harvesting, milking the cows and drying the prunes that were famous in our region. One of the woman’s main duties was to cook for the family and care for the children.

My grandmother had six children and often cooked for up to 12 people every day. While my grandfather was a good and loving father, he was not the one to actually feed, clean and comfort his children. As in so many generations before, this task fell to the woman.

Robert is not the only farming father today who takes on the same responsibilities as a farming mother. In every farm in my community I see fathers rising up to their role as father, while still working hard as farmers. I see couples who work as teams, with both mother and father actively engaged in parenting and farming. It’s common to see a father bring his child to feed pigs, harvest olives, ride tractors and sell at the farmers market. These children learn to be patient and to help on the farm, and, most importantly, they see their father and mother as equals.

While women still fight for equality in the workplace and in society, it is better to be a woman now than it ever was before. In the farming community, I see a revolutionary change: Women today can be both farmers and mothers.

Although this equality is long overdue and still in progress, I do want to thank Robert, and all the other farming fathers, for doing an incredible job raising their children, caring for their farm, and supporting their women partners. That long line of women farmers in my family tree would be so impressed at what it means to be a farming family today.

Black Pepper Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

This recipe from Sue Li in The New York Times is my new go-to easy and delicious meal. You can add different vegetables, such as grated carrots, to add a splash of color. If you don’t like beef, substitute tofu or chicken.

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, coarsely crushed

3 garlic cloves, grated

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

¾ pound sirloin steak, thinly sliced crosswise (substitute diced tofu or sliced chicken)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 head small green cabbage, thinly sliced

2 carrots, grated (optional)

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cooked rice

Put peppercorns, garlic, brown sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add sliced steak and toss to coat.

Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook, stirring frequently, until some of the edges are lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the soy sauce and toss for about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl or plate.

Add the cabbage (and carrots, if using) to the skillet. Spread in an even layer and let cook, undisturbed, for 1 minute so that some pieces caramelize. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt.

Return the steak and any juices to the skillet. Reheat, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Transfer to a serving platter. Top with toasted sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with rice.

Serves 2 to 4.

Kids’ activities at the Napa Farmers Market: Bring your youngsters to the market’s Education Station on Saturdays for Story Time at 10:30 a.m. There might be coloring, matching games or other fun activities too.

On the KVYN Music Stage: On Saturday, Dec. 21, Kendall Osbourne will be performing.

Harvest of the Month: Through December, enjoy comparative tastings of mandarin oranges and cauliflower at the market’s Education Station at 11 a.m.

Please donate: Donate to the Napa Farmers Market before Dec.31 on and 100 percent of your donation will go to the Market Match program. Market Match helps low-income families purchase nutritious produce at the Napa Farmers Market by doubling their CalFresh (food stamp) dollars!

Carine Hines is co-owner of Sun Tracker Farm, a vendor at the Napa Farmers Market. She is also on the market’s board of directors.

The Napa Farmers Market takes place in the parking lot of the South Napa Century Center, 195 Gasser Drive. The market is open Saturdays year-round and on Tuesdays, April through September, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, to sign up for its newsletter or donate to the market, visit