Thursday, April 4, 2013

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

So, in addition to my plot at the farm, there are big things happening in my very own backyard.  My awesome neighbor Dan built this fab redwood raised bed, so we can actually plant tomatoes in the ground.  

It's turned on its side till we can deal with the soil...

 Cut to me digging a giant hole in the backyard, which I thought would take a few days and clearly is going to take me a week or two.  Turns out digging in clay soil is the kind of hard work that cuts right through you.  There are no modern problems when it's just you and the dirt. 

I've been told to cocktail the soil with coffee grounds, manure, compost, and kitchen scraps.  Luckily, I found this convenient wheelbarrow for mixing.

I even found an earthworm in the ground -- one lowly worm-- and let him loose in the mixture.  I need to find some more worms for this project.

Meanwhile, the back yard smells like spring rain and coffee grounds.  Not bad!

Man, I can taste those Cherokee purple tomatoes now...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

All garden, all the time.

Gardening for Summer 2013 is already the most epic thing of my life.  
We're talking retaining walls, greenhouses, worms, and cow manure.  

Westmont is one of only two high schools in the county with an agriculture program (there is literally a farm across the street) and I've been lucky enough to be invited to have a garden plot in the new raised bed!

I've never grown seeds in a greenhouse before.  It's usually the windowsill in the laundry room.  

But the laundry room never looked like this.  This is going to be great!

Naturally, this led to making some new friends.  This steer is being raised by one of my seniors.  

By the way, Bay Area friends, come check our our annual plant sale at the Westmont High School Ag Farm. Next 5 Saturdays starting 3/30 from 9-1. Most plants are a total steal at $2 apiece and 100% of proceeds go to support the WHS Agriculture program.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Goodness

 Hey, remember the best fig jam of my life?  
I decided it would be perfect for sharing as a Thanksgiving appetizer.

Homemade treats taste better when you share, anyway.

Why not serve with sweet cheese and little baguette slices?

Jazzed up the cream cheese with tons of orange zest, a splash of OJ, 1 Tbsp sugar, & top secret ingredient 1-2 Tbsp Cointreau (do not skip this--it really makes it taste like orange!)


I am so thankful for everyone and everything in my life.

A sweet holiday to all.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I wanna jam it wid you.

You know it's going to be a good Sunday when you go out for coffee and come back reaping the neighborhood bounty.  

So, what to do with a bucketful of local apples 
...and neighborhood Kadota figs?

Vanilla-cinnamon apple sauce and this awesome golden fig jam.  I used port in place of brandy and tangerines for the lemon.  


Um, also, this makes the third type of jam in my freezer.  I'm out of control at this point.

Jam sampled here with chevre and whole grain ciabatta.  
Can't wait to try with a super sharp white cheddar!

Now, to tackle these glorious cherry tomatoes from my cousin's backyard
...who's hungry?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wanderlust: Germany 2012

Come, follow me through Germany.  
You're in for a pleasant surprise.

Because I found a country where the locals were eager to hear I was having a good time.  Where German moms offer bowls of white asparagus and dumpling soup on summer evenings, then sweet butter on brown bread with pumpkin seeds in the morning.

I found a place where each town boasts their own special blend of beer and sausage,

where you can lose yourself in apple orchards,

old-world streets,

or wooded footpaths

wheat fields,

or night festivals.

Come, wander with me the back roads of Bavaria,

retrace the footsteps of the resistance movement in Munich,

find beauty in the strangest places,

construction in Berlin

or ride the ultra-modern U-Bahn all night long.

Why visit Germany?  Because this is a place ripped straight from daydreams:
Lake Constance,

the famed Neuschwanstein castle,

secret cafés in Berlin,

and Munich's Viktualienmarkt
(my daydreams often involve markets)...

(You know I fully shlepped a bottle of this vinegar flavored with local honey back to California.  And it is delicious!)

I let everything go in an Alpine lake,

and awoke with the sun on my skin and an overwhelming sense of calm,
of quiet, of stillness.

Why visit Germany?  Because this is a place where you must remember to never forget,

Ina guides me through Berlin's Holocaust memorial, as people appear and disappear amongst the concrete pillars

Where you must remember that free thinking does not come for free,

and that with democracy comes great responsibility.

the Reichstag, Berlin

Because these lessons go beyond Germany or America, beyond the consciousness of the individual.  Because we must continue to look towards the future, aligning ourselves with the global community, with greater humanity.  Because it is the right thing to do.

East Side Gallery, site of former Berlin Wall

Because truly understanding people can be complicated.  Because people are complicated.

Because, despite our differences, we must rely on human connection, kinship, on empathy and understanding.  Life is too short to do otherwise. 

and this great world is much smaller than it seems.  

Jahre Deutschland, 
Vielen Dank für Alles!