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Seeking help from Santa’s kitchen elves?

How local businesses can help make the holidays delicious
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal features editor
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Are the holidays making you hungry? You need to fuel up before making that list and checking it twice, and area restaurants and businesses are ready to help. Whether calling in an appetizer platter, picking up some baked delights during your lunch break or tossing a complete ready-to-serve holiday meal into the shopping cart, there are plenty of ways to let someone else do some of the cooking. “We have all kinds of stock,” said Shawnie Machado, manager of Machado Orchards in Auburn. “We take care of all our walk-ins.” The folks at Machado Orchards are keeping busy assembling gift packs and baking plenty of holiday pies. While Thanksgiving is the busiest, with 700 orders and a total of 4,000 pies, the Machado crew isn’t out of the orchards yet. “Christmas isn’t as crazy as that day, but it’s close,” Machado said. Machado Orchards is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Christmas Eve, and while they plan on keeping plenty of pies ready for those drop-in customers, pre-orders are never a bad idea, especially for customers craving a sugar-free pie. Amy Eldridge, co-owner of Confluence Kitchen, has a message for all those holiday elves out there. “You don’t have to do it all,” she said. Confluence Kitchen offers a little bit of everything, from ready-to-eat salads and sandwiches to heat-at-home dishes to feed the entire family. “Our chicken pot pies are probably the most popular, they’re a no-brainer and pretty much everybody loves them,” Eldridge said. Shepherd’s pie is another take-home favorite for chilly December days. These “goodness to go” frozen meals are available in small (for two to three people) and large servings (for four to six people). Confluence Kitchen can also help with more custom requests, and a 48-hour heads up is much appreciated. Think of the pre-order consideration a way to help businesses help you. “It takes time to do this stuff,” said Cathy Bianchi, who recently opened Gimme Cake Too in Downtown Auburn. Gimme Cake Too offers some take-home options, including cookies, cakes up to six inches, and cupcakes, but call ahead for the bigger, more customized orders. Anyone looking to satisfy the sweet tooth on their shopping list might also consider swinging by the Old Town Dessert Café, where shoppers can assemble gift boxes. “We have a huge assortment of chocolates and truffles,” said owner Tammy Browning. Cupcakes, cookies and plenty of other sweets are also available for purchase. Auburn’s farmers market, which takes place 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays in the jury parking lot at Auburn Folsom Road and Lincoln Way, features plenty of take-home holiday goods. Local baked goods from the Baker and the Cake Maker and salmon spread and Hawaiian style ahi poke from the Little Fish Company are just a couple ideas from Carol Arnold, Foothill Farmers Market Association general manager. Or, when you have absolutely no time to cook and need to call in the big guns, consider turning to Auburn-area supermarkets such as Safeway, Raley’s and Bel Air, where you can order complete holiday meals. Feed quaint gatherings of four up to crews as big as 12 with a complete meal ranging in price from $39.99 to $99.99. Options range from spiral cut ham to a natural turkey dinner. __________ Holiday helpers Bel Air 2222 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn (530) 889-8626 Confluence Kitchen 13471 Bowman Road, Auburn (530) 885-3886 Foothill Farmers Market Association www.foothillfarmers market.com Gimme Cake Too 846 Lincoln Way, Auburn (530) 885-5889 Old Town Dessert Café 167 Sacramento St. (530) 885-5562 Machado Orchard 100 Apple Lane, Auburn (530) 823-1393 Raley’s 11384 Lincoln Way, Auburn (530) 885-0669 Safeway 2550 Bell Road, Auburn (530) 887-3230