Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Wedding Picture From Long Ago

These are my maternal grandparents, Kathleen and Raymond Coakley, on their wedding day in 1914. There was a huge difference in their age; she was much older. Her final wish before she died was to not have her age in her obituary. The family complied. so I won't spill the beans here either.

She was the old maid school teacher in a small town in Minnesota; he was the town catch. I love her hat; it's worthy of wearing to a royal wedding. I don't remember her as very stylish, but I do remember her wonderful, simple home cooking. She loved chocolate and thought meat was bad for you.

She stood 4 ft. 10 inches tall; he was well over 6 feet. Together they weathered the birth of four children (one, a son, died at birth), the Great Depression, World War II and the death of their only son in that war. Life was not easy for them. She was a devout Catholic; he went along.

They were my favorites and they knew it; in their eyes I could do nothing wrong. I remember riding my bike to their house to tell them about my life. They would sit in rapt attention to whatever I said. I loved it. In college they brought me cranberry juice and raspberry jam plus $5 on occasional Sunday when they visited.

My grandfather outlived his wife, all of his children and even his children's spouses. He was a good man. I loved them both very much.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Weather OCD

No I'm not a hoarder of things this time of year; I'm a hoarder of weather facts that will support my hope that the weather is changing from hot to cool.

For example, I found an App for my iPhone that gives me sunset and sunrise times for Lincoln. A shorter day means sun falls on me for a shorter time. Unfortunately this has caused my dog, Harleen, to decide to go to bed earlier because it's dark outside. But I can deal with that.

Last night we had heat lightening that was just incredible; mother nature at her best. Luckily she didn't cause any fires in the area. With no rain since early June, things are pretty dry around here. It was nice to see something different in the sky.

During the summer here the sky is blue every day; it gets really boring. So now every time I see a cloud roll in I get my hopes up that it means change. is saying we have a 10% chance of rain every day. It's getting cooler at night. The days are less hot.

As you can see I am obsessed. This happens nearly every fall. I love the winters here; they are not unbearable like some other parts of the country. My fleece is ready.

Many people's lives have ended or been ruined due to weather this year. So my whining seems a bit out of place, but I promise I will only write this kind of blog once a year. I hope the weather in your world will be kind to you.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Raw Peas and Fava Beans; Yummy

The recipe I'm using for dinner tonight comes from Jamie Oliver who's dressed like a snap pea in this photo. He's talking to some bureaucrat at an elementary school back East. I'm making one of Jamie's recipes tonight that is mostly snap peas and fava beans. You don't cook any of it. Fava beans come in those big hunky pods that look weird. You see them in the farmer's markets this time of year.

When my sister Vicky reads this she will wrinkle her nose and say, "ish." She hates peas in any shape or form. But I bet I could get her to eat this.

Jamie cooked this recipe on his TV show last week. The recipe is in his cookbook, "Jamie at Home." He cooks in a simple, healthy way that really resonates with me. He never measures things and likes to use his hands more than spoons. I still have to measure.

Pretty simple recipe: fava beans, snap peas, pecorino cheese, juice of one lemon, a few leaves of fresh mint (from my new herb garden), sea salt and olive oil. Mash up everything in a food processor (Jamie used a mortar and pestle). Serve on toasted sourdough bread that has been rubbed with a slice of a raw garlic while the bread is still warm. Spread the green mixture on the toasted bread.

Then break apart a ball of fresh mozzarella cheese and place over the green mixture. Pile on a few bits of lettuce, a dash of olive oil, and a quick squeeze of lemon juice. And dinner is ready.

So far I've made the green mixture. It's resting in the refrigerator until dinner tonight.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Kitchen Toys

Pretty weird looking things aren't they?

The one that looks like WallE's girlfriend Eve is called a Flavour Shaker. Its inventor is my current favorite TV chef, Jamie Oliver. I've watched him using this on his TV show called "Jamie at Home" on the Cooking Channel. It's a modern version of a mortar and pestle. He uses it most when he's cooking with fresh herbs. Comes in several colors. Mine is the same color as the one pictured. The red one just looked too garish.

My goal this year is to plant lots of herbs; then learn to cook with them. So I thought I should get a Flavour Shaker. Found it on Amazon.

Here's how it works. That thing that looks like a ping pong ball is actually a heavy piece of ceramic. It's resting in the spoon you use to empty the shaker. You unscrew the top from the bottom (top is longer) you place your herbs, garlic, peppercorns or anything else you want to "bash to bits" as Jamie says. Add the ball, screw the top and bottom together and shake vigorously. The shaking pummels the contents releasing all the oils and turns them into a paste mixture. I used it last night. Wonderful new toy. It's dishwasher safe on the top rack.

The other one is also something I saw on "Jamie at Home." He didn't invent this one, however. It's called a green bean slicer; it's made by Krisk. I bought it at Sur la Table. I've never liked green beans no matter who grows them. Jamie talked about how they squeak when you eat them; they do! He also said that they don't absorb flavors very easily. But...if you cut each green bean into thirds you expose a lot more area to take the flavors you are adding. That's pretty tedious work with a knife but not so with this little guy (5 inches long and one inch wide). Pass the green bean through the circle, which leads to some very sharp blades, and you have triple the surface area for seasoning. The hole through which the beans pass can also be enlarged; there are enough blades to enable you to slice a much thicker bean.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

We Are Officially Upsizing for Camping This Year

Last year we slept in a tent on Memorial Day weekend at our friends Steve and Janet's ranch up near Boonville. I've been camping there since 1984 in various types of tents. Kerry joined me about 9 years ago. We always have a great time with the 80-100 people who are there. It's referred to as The Bash. I wasn't around for the naming back in the mid-1970s.

Last year we agreed that an RV for that weekend was a nice thought. Kerry went to work to find one we could rent. I was envisioning something about 20 feet long where you sleep over the cab of the RV. Kerry went way beyond my expectations. The RV in the photo is the one we are renting. It's 38-ft. long. Our friends Steve and Janet have a 40-ft. RV. I've always thought their RV was enormous. Now we are going to be traveling in one that is only two feet shorter. Kerry was hoping to pick it up in Sacramento on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend and drive it to our property where we would load it up with our stuff. Talked with 40-ft. RVer Steve yesterday. He pointed out that we would not be able to get the RV in our driveway; way to sharp a turn. And even if you did you would not have space to turn it around to leave. So now we have to find somewhere close by where we can load it up and keep it there overnight.

The other challenge is the road to Steve and Janet's ranch. It's 2.5 miles of dirt and gravel that is steep and windy. Plus you have to navigate a narrow bridge to just get to the road. When we get there on Friday, Janet will drive Steve down to our RV, he and Kerry (Steve will be at the wheel) will negotiate the narrow bridge and drive it up to the ranch. I will get in the mule with Janet and ride up to the ranch where we will have a glass of wine while we wait for the arrival of the "castle." The RV is a diesel with a "pusher." That means that we won't have as many people giving us dirty looks on the twisty, hilly part of Highway 20.

So we are writing a new chapter in our Memorial Day weekend adventures. More to come. Harleen is going to love it.
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Meet Some of My Favorite Farmers

It's so nice to know the people who grow your food or raise your meat. I thought you might like to meet some of them. So I took pictures at today's farmer's market in Auburn, Ca. That's Bryan with his daughter Lauren. He's the farmer-in-chief and owner of the Natural Trading Company. That's where I get my CSA (community supported agriculture) box from May to mid-October. They are just down the road from us. Big news there is that their guard dog, BoAnn, just had ten puppies. You can see BoAnn and her babies on the Natural Trading Company Facebook page. She's guarding the puppies not the farm for a while. We get fruits, vegetables, eggs, chickens and turkeys from them. I pick up our box at the farm every Friday during CSA season. Today I bought red chard, carrots and spring onions.

Next we have Bob from Coffee Pot Ranch. He supplies pork, beef, lamb and soon will have chickens for sale. Every October he has a big party for all of his customers. He roasts a pig and has a great potluck to go with the pork. His daughter recently joined in the farming operation. She is going to be raising chickens. When was the last time your butcher invited you to his house for dinner. You get to see his entire operation while you are there. No secrets at his ranch. I got pork chops from him today.

Next we have Shaun from Melon Jolly Organics. I first met him when he was the farm manager at The Natural Trading Company. When the folks at Blossom Hill Farm decided to transition to retirement, Shaun and his partner Allison decided that this could be the opportunity for them. That's where they are now. Both are wonderful young people who I hope will be very successful. They are just getting started so we support them every time we are at the market. I recently bought a bunch of herbs to grow. Today we bought eggs. It's just wonderful to see their dream start to come true. No web site yet but they are working on it.
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