Sunday, August 30, 2009

One Local Summer: Final Meal, Week 13

This is one of two meals that I cooked this week with local ingredients.

First, a pot roast in my crock pot. Last Tuesday I got beef bones from one of my favorite vendors at the farmer's market in Roseville, Chaffin Farms. I've been making chicken and vegetable stock all along but had not tried my hand at beef stock.

These bones provided a tasty step toward that stock. I added the bones, garlic, onions, a potato and a few carrots and cooked it all for about 12 hours.

I poured the stock over the chuck roast in my crock pot. Added my usual carrots, potatoes, more onions and seasoning and let it cook away for 8 hours. It was the best pot roast I've ever made; I really think the stock made all the difference.

Second, we had friends for dinner last night. Kerry barbecued tri-tip as usual (I had to make another batch of barbecue sauce). I made spinach, mushroom risotto using homemade chicken broth from Chaffin Farm chickens. I love risotto in any form; even though it was 107 outside I managed to keep stirring without melting away. I had the air conditioning turned down to 76.

I had planned to serve sliced tomatoes from our garden but all of a sudden our orchard had a bunch of ripe pears, and I had blue cheese and walnuts. So a salad of home grown pears, roasted walnuts leftover from last year's farmer's market and bleu cheese topped with a vinaigrette dressing.

I also made salsa for the first time to go with chips (not homemade) for an appetizer. We had cantaloupe for dessert. It was so sweet.

This week I want to try my hand at making sun dill pickles. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Harleen News

She has hip dysplasia, which is not good. CCI will be releasing her from the program. We will adopt her. No question there. I have not talked to the CCI vet yet to get anything more than the diagnosis.

So, how do I feel; very sad. I'm surprised at that. But after some soul-searching and talking with Kerry, I've realized that one of the reasons I wanted to be a puppy raiser is that I thought this would guarantee that I would not have to watch another old dog die. I would just keep getting puppies and turning them over for advanced training. Somebody else would witness their demise.

Prior to CCI, I rescued Golden Retrievers who had been abandoned or given up. I took the old ones because at the time I had a very small backyard in Alameda. Emily came into my life when she was abandoned in the night box at the Fremont pound in the Bay Area. She was sweet, docile and loving. I bought a dog handicap ramp for her to get into my SUV. She couldn't jump and I couldn't lift her. I fell in love and adopted her. Kerry and I moved her to the country with us. She developed epilepsy and died about a year later. That was so hard.

When I heard the news about Harleen, I relived the night we went to see Emily after she had died at the emergency vet clinic in Roseville. She just wouldn't stop seizing no matter what the vet did.

So now Harleen is categorized as "Change of Career" or COC in CCI jargon. She's not quite sure what to do with the new freedom she has now as a pet. We need to get her spayed. Then we will face whatever needs to be done for her hips. A part of me wants another puppy sometime in the future; maybe this time I won't have to watch it die. That's the news for today.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I recently found a Rufous-Sided Towhee dead on our front porch. As you can see, they are beautiful birds who visit us only in the summer when they come to the suet feeder. They like the peanut butter best.

I suspect he died when he flew into a window of our sitting room. My friend Rondi who lives in Chicago is going to nail me for this one. She's an advocate of lots of good causes. One of them is protecting birds from flying into windows and dying. Can you cut me a tiny bit of slack for this one?

I didn't see it's stiff body until Kerry told me it was there. I know that a predator would come along and carry it off, but it did not seem a fitting end for such a colorful bird. So I dug a shallow grave in our raised flower bed and buried it among the daffodil bulbs that will rise from the earth in the spring.

A week later my cat Nora was sitting in the window of my sitting room. All of a sudden a red-shouldered hawk smashed into that window. Nora jumped, I jumped and the hawk fell to the deck. He/she shook himself and took off into the big oak tree in front of the house. The hawk thought she was dinner. She never knew that she wasn't.

So death and near-death come in many forms. My former father-in-law and my son's grandfather died on June 22. He simply fell over after watching his favorite kind of movie (western) and having a scotch. He was 90.

A few days ago Ted Kennedy died after a 15-month battle with a terribly ferocious cancer. I feel sad about all of these deaths. Is any of these deaths better than the other? That's not for me to say.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Reason I Love Obama

He has this book with him to read on his vacation. Several other books make up the collection; they all tell you that this is a man of eclectic reading taste. Kent Haruf is a wonderful author that gets into the hearts and minds of ordinary people leading ordinary lives; we find out they are not so ordinary after all.

I love to read; it started when I was in grade school and ended up in the hospital a lot with pneumonia. My mother got me books from the library and thus began my lifelong love of books.
They introduce you to people you might never have known, take you to places both physical and psychological that you might not get to and fill your mind with images both sad and happy.

Here are some of the books I've read this year: Madonnas of Leningrad, Widow of the South, Three Cups of Tea, My Sister's Keeper, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, Saving Fish from Drowning, Edgar Sawtelle, The Space Between Us, and Friday Night Knitting Club.

In case you think I'm a reading snob, I love Stewart Woods (especially on CD), Janet Evanovich, and Diane Mott Davidson (her recipes are delicious). I'm also a big fan of Elizabeth George mysteries. I've read them all.

Reading has made my world a much better one. What have you read this year that you'd recommend?
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

One Local Summer: Week 12

I figured you all were tired of looking at my BBQed flank steak (we love flank steak) so I just took a picture of the dish that went with it. It's a tomato, potato, onion, zucchini gratin with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. The best part is it makes great leftovers for lunch. I used up the last of my BBQ sauce on the boneless pork loin that is in the crock pot for dinner tonight so I have to make more of that. I'm also dehydrating red and green peppers. I had so many that I knew they would go bad before I used them. Next time I do this I won't cut them so small. They will go into a Ziploc bag in the freezer. The freezer, you ask? Yes, I discovered the hard way that even though they seem dry to me, if there are any tiny droplets of moisture the bugs creep in. So anything I dehydrate goes into the freezer.

Also made two loaves of zucchini bread that used up five zucchini. I have a few more to go so I think we will have zucchini fritters this week.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Must Read Article in Time Magazine

America's food crisis and how to fix it is the subject of this great article. I hope you will read it. It's why Kerry and I eat the way we do.,8599,1917458,00.html

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

She's Back

Not quite herself yet; a bit subdued. Living in a kennel with lots of other dogs in heat would probably do that to you. I like to think of it as a sorority house for horny dogs. She lost some weight. Today I took her out today to run some errands. She sort of remembered the commands. Hopefully she will get her service dog mojo back soon. Right now we are just loving having her home. Even the cats are happy about it. She's also learned to eat a lot faster. Still not a vacuum cleaner but more a Dustbuster.
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Monday, August 17, 2009

On My Design Wall

It's another small quilt for my Stash Buster class. I like the way the colors turned out. That's really the whole point of the class; you get a pattern and then choose your colors. Understanding color is a basic part of quilting. Choosing the right colors can make the pattern pop out. Haven't done the batting, backing and quilting yet. That all comes next.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

One Local Summer: Week 11

Probably should have put the meat on a smaller plate; it looks sort of puny.

The meat is barbecued flank steak with the BBQ sauce I made earlier this summer. The salad consisted of cucumbers, tomatoes, lots of fresh basil, onions, garlic, toasted french bread chunks and a vinaigrette dressing.

Everything but the vinegar was locally produced.

Yesterday I made tomato sauce. I've used up all the tomatoes I currently have but there are more on the way. We ate some last night over pasta and leftover chicken. Still have two quarts in the refrigerator. I added some carrots to the sauce; I have a ton of them too so figured it wouldn't hurt and might make the sauce even healthier. For a bit of a kick I added red pepper flakes.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

The Joy, Today, Of Living With A Pack Rat!

Last night my friend Jean and I saw the movie "Julie and Julia." We came out of the theater starving after watching all that good food being made. We ate sushi; not sure how Julia Child would feel about that. The fish was fresh and we even had uni (sea urchin), which you don't often find at sushi bars.

But I digress. As soon as I got home I went on line to try to find a copy of her first cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." The county library system said all of her books were checked out; I could place a hold on one but it would be a while.

Amazon had just a few copies in hardback, which is what I wanted. Then Kerry came home from choir practice. I told him of my search and how I was getting nowhere.

As you may have read before on this blog, he is the king of pack rats. Something which ordinarily drives me nuts. But this morning he went somewhere on the property among his stash and came back with the two books pictured here (with our CSA box contents). The one on the right is her first book which came out in 1961. This one was printed in Dec. 1966 (I was in college). Volume Two is a first edition printed in 1970.

I feel like I have died and gone to Cordon Bleu heaven. The movie is about her getting the first book written and published and about Julie Powell cooking all the recipes in it during a year and blogging about it.

The foreword for the book says it all. "This is a book for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines (Meryl Streep gained 15 pounds during the making of the movie), time schedules, children's meals, the parent-chauffeur-den-mother syndrome, or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat. "

The first volume is going to be my night time reading for quite a while. I already cook a bit like Julia; fresh, local ingredients and butter, lots of butter. (She died one day short of her 94th birthday so butter didn't seem to hurt her.) But I have a lot to learn from her. Just reading the table of contents makes me hungry.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Applique And Turkeys

The two applique blocks are for the Baltimore Album Quilt I've been working on since January. Four more blocks to go. We are learning some wonderful techniques to make flowers. The little bluebells on the right are made from ribbon. Click to bigify.

The turkeys don't fit very well with the applique but decided to publish them together. This time of year the mom turkeys wander about the area with their babies looking for food. They come through here every afternoon about five. My cats want at them but run like crazy when the turkeys arrive. My bird feeders are getting lots of use right now, especially the ones for hummingbirds. I refill them once a day. I've counted as many as 8 hummers at a time. It's hard to count them because they move so quickly. Just read that they can reach 65 miles per hour.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In Durango, Colorado

My wonderful son, Mark and his beautiful wife, Julia, were in Durango for a few days to play in a music festival. I just had to share this photo. I am so proud of them. Next adventure takes them to St. Louis, MO.
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Sunday, August 09, 2009

One Local Summer: Week 10

No photos this week. We had eaten everything when we realized that I'd forgotten to take a picture; you are going to have to use your imagination.

First, imagine pork spare ribs from Coffee Pot Ranch. I slow-baked them covered in the oven with lots of my homemade BBQ sauce. After four hours at 225 degrees, the meat fell off the bone.

Second, it was almost time for a new CSA box so I knew I had to use up a lot of vegetables. When in doubt oven roasting does the trick. I chopped potatoes, carrots, peppers, kohlrabi, onion and garlic and put them in a Ziploc bag. I poured liberal amounts of Chaffin Farms EVOO over the veggies and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Added some salt and a liberal dose of cumin and then I tucked them into a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. I am lucky enough to have two ovens.

So that's it for this week. I'll try to remember the camera in the future.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

It's Awfully Busy Around Here

Sometimes I don't know where the time goes. I wake up Monday morning and somehow before I know it Friday is here. It's only Wednesday, but this week has been so jam packed that it feels like it should be Friday.

Monday I had a teeth cleaning (got another A+ from my dentist). Finished two quilting projects in the p.m. Tuesday a.m. quilting bee. Came home from that and discovered that Harleen had gone into heat. Luckily she was crated separately from Harry.

Called CCI about bringing her to the clinic where she will spend about three weeks. This makes sure that no other dogs sneak in and inseminate her. Drove three hours to Santa Rosa, brought her to the clinic, went back to the car to get her food, returned to the clinic to find that she had already been taken back to the girls' "spa" as it's called.

I never got to say good bye; to assure her this was only temporary. I was bummed all three hours home. Well, Harry is a bit confused. He looked for her last night when I got home. The cats think they have hit pay dirt although they still have Harry. He goes home Sunday a.m. so then we will go back to being a cat only house.

It's so quiet. I'm used to the rough and tumble dogs but one dog doesn't rough and tumble and make noise. Although his snoring could wake the dead.

My sister-in-law's mom came through her lung cancer surgery very well. They got the tumor and found no cancer in the lymph nodes. No chemo or radiation. Dodged a bullet there.

She has to blow into one of those breathing tubes to make sure she doesn't get pneumonia. Standard procedure after surgery. She calls hers Johnny Depp. That shows you how cool a lady she is.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

One Local Summer: Week 9

Had friends over for dinner Saturday night. Henry loves lamb and his wife hardly ever cooks it so I promised him a BBQ leg of lamb.

Our Friday CSA box pretty much determined the rest of the meal: beets, green beans, carrots, garlic, onions, lemon cucumbers and tomatoes. Thanks to Google I found a recipe for oven roasted beets (although you have to steam them first), green beans and carrots. Add some olive oil, thyme, hot pepper flakes, salt and garlic; roast until everything looks crispy. The recipe also called for chard but I didn't have any. The surprising thing about the dish is that you serve it at room temperature with a vinaigrette dressing; then you top it with chevre cheese.

I made a lemon cucumber and tomato dish topped with feta cheese, which I dressed in a sweeter vinaigrette. The Georgia streak tomatoes were from our garden.

Also served a rosemary bread from a local bakery with a dipping sauce of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Kerry BBQed the lamb to perfection.

Dessert was locally grown melons from the farmer's market. We don't get a fruit share from our CSA.

The only non-local items were the cheeses, wines and balsamic vinegar. Leftovers tonight.
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