The Turducken of fruit
Friday December 01st 2023, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

Andy’s Orchard sent out a note saying their holiday figs stuffed with dried peaches mixed with honey and candied orange peel and nuts were available.

I wait all year every year for those. Coming!!

The woman manning the register was the one I’d seen most often all year. About my age, quiet, and since my cane leaves me one-armed with the groceries she is always quick to help out.

She looked a little tired. She rang up my fresh-picked persimmons and Comice pears and stuffed figs, and it wasn’t till she was done and payment made that I reached into my purse again.

There was a dark dull purple and a much more vibrant purple, and I had more color choices waiting in the car if she’d rather. (Zoom hat knitting for the win!)

Her face lit up in surprise as she went for the lighter brighter one, and then so was she. It was a treat to see.

It’s wool, I told her.

That surprised her all over again: But it’s so soft! she told me. I have a wool hat (as she looked upwards as if to see it and patted her head) but it’s scratchy. Scratchy, she said again. This is soft!

I told her that it was machine washable but would fuzz out if it went through the laundry; her choice. But something not to have to worry about if it does.

She offered to carry my filled box out to the car, didn’t ask to see the other colors, loved the one she got, and I loved getting to see her so happy.

Richard and I each had one of those figs when I got home. Clearly, I need to go buy more before they close down for the winter. They are so good!

And they have more employees I’d love to say thank you to.

As one does
Monday November 20th 2023, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Food

All the baking, all the tidying up, the laundry, (the blocking the new cowl, too), the dishes, more baking, more dishes… And we’re not even being the hosts! But how can you not bake Thanksgiving week.

Now excuse me, I need to go put some second-batch pumpkin muffins in the freezer for future breakfasts because that’s enough food already for now.

She got me
Sunday November 19th 2023, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

A friend wished out loud for one of my chocolate tortes for Thanksgiving week and offered to pay for one.

I waved that away with I’m going to make you one because I want to. Because for that friend, always.

Her husband showed up at our door this afternoon to pick it up and he held out a box in return; I protested, You didn’t have to do that! He grinned and headed for his car–it was like a mutual doorbell ditch.

Inside were her homemade jams, with flavors like gold plum/cardamom/blackberry/lemon/honey (she really should open a business. Her stuff is exquisite.) Fig sauce. Tomato sauce. All from their garden, and honeys labeled by the season from his hives, seven jars in all. I kept unwrapping more and more in there.

It took much much much more work to make all those than any chocolate torte of mine ever did. Wow.

And I thought I was done writing this post but it wasn’t till I took this picture just now that I saw that there was a card tied to the box under those ribbons. It took some doing to pick them open to get at it.

Inside, she’d written a thank you note. With a $20 bill, too, the little stinker. I laughed. They totally win this round.

Another slice, please?
Saturday November 11th 2023, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

For when I try to remember later when it was: last night we went to listen to the local philharmonic orchestra playing and to meet our niece’s boyfriend, who plays in it. He loves his new hat. We really like him.

Tonight, we went to a potluck of about 20 people and to swap Thanksgiving stories.

Alice’s was that the part of her family assigned to bring pies one year decided that their relative’s kitchen was small and let’s just leave them in the truck till it’s time for dessert.

They were at a farm.

I almost asked if it was a pickup as I was just waiting for it: crows? The dog? But yes, as she continued it was clearly a pickup.

It was the horses, and they were having the time of their lives.

Well that explains it
Saturday October 21st 2023, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

Don’t know if you can read it, but the Washington Post had a fascinating article on how plants under attack communicate with each other and fight back, blocking germs, making things taste bad for bugs, etc.

Several people in the comments highly recommended the book, “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by a Native American who’s a botany professor. As someone who almost majored in botany, the descriptions were too compelling to pass up and a copy is now on its way here.

If any of you’ve already read it I’d love to hear your take on it.

Meantime, I can just picture the first brussels sprouts plant in the row shouting out to its peers as the harvester comes through, I’m a goner! Save yourselves! and the rest going, We’re on it!

If you don’t like them that must be why.

Friday October 13th 2023, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Lupus

Spoon Theory is the most brilliant description I’ve ever come across of what it’s like to live with chronic illness.

That said, it’s not an analogy I’ve needed to use in awhile. I still have lupus, but the fatigue is not what it was and the pain is mostly gone from me.

It was possibly wildfire smoke that caused my shortness of breath and got me in the cardiologist’s office July 18; this afternoon I finally had the stress EKG test for it. Covid has created many many new cardiology patients, the office is swamped, and I just didn’t seem to be an emergency. But he did want to follow up on that.

I made pumpkin almond muffins in the morning. Comfort food. Healthy. Ready.

The rare drycleaning order had to be picked up after 4:00. My daughter needed a package mailed to her. The post office was in the direction of the dry cleaner, oh, and I had to go to the grocery store afterwards because you can’t have the food sitting in the car.

Heart ultrasound, race uphill with your wires as fast as you can as long as you can hold out and then more ultrasound, while remembering the doctor’s surprise last time–he didn’t think I could do it anywhere near that long but I did so I was determined to do it again. I came a half minute short. I can live with that.

Got through rush hour, got to the post office, hoped the ultrasound gel I could feel (oops) didn’t show through my shirt, fought more traffic, got to the dry cleaner, dashed into the Safeway, got some groceries including some throw it in the oven and call it done for dinner, made it home.

Man. Spoons? More like that silverware drawer got ripped right off its rollers and out of the cabinet, flipped, and dumped on the floor with a crash.

Go eat a pumpkin muffin, Richard said, looking at my face as I walked in the door.

Dinner and time and rest and now I’m only having to remember how utterly wiped I felt: while so grateful that it’s not like that all day every day these days, not even any day, usually.

It was, once.

Planning ahead
Sunday September 24th 2023, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

So we have this standing understanding: friend Lee drives us to the airport, those times when that works out for him, and I bake him a chocolate torte. He always tells me I don’t have to, I always tell him thank you for the ride and that I’m going to, he always loves that I do and I always love that he’s always so ready to help.

Went to the grocery store right after we got home from our trip on Monday. Forgot the cream. Oh well, I had a big enough job to do that day as it was.

Wednesday. Went to the grocery store. Got the cream.

Wait. We were never out of Trader Joe’s dark Pound Plus bars, those are a staple in our house for baking–but we were out.

Thursday. Went to Trader Joe’s, got the bar.

Came home and–nope, not a one. Every last stick of butter had been in the freezer in the garage. The one where the door had bounced open the night before the trip. All we’d been able to do before our flight was close that door and be glad that at least it wouldn’t be five days’ worth of decay when we cleaned it out. Still, Monday, even the vegan cupcakes smelled like they’d gone bad. Out.

And you have to compost-bin the compostables and recycle the recyclables which means half-thawing stuff to get them to separate because the plastic wrap has to come off those chicken breasts and man oh man and glad it’s not a hot day and that the trash guys were coming so the neighbors wouldn’t have to smell that outside for days.

Finally went back last night to the store and this time I didn’t forget to buy new butter. Although by that point I was half-sure I would still be missing something else when I got home. Sugar, cocoa, vanilla, salt, eggs–nope, we’re good this time.

Tonight, at long last, I called ahead and then we drove over and handed Lee his newly-glazed chocolate torte with the extra thick ganache just for them and he was very very happy as he inhaled that deep dark sweet essence.

He was so happy for her
Friday September 22nd 2023, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Last Friday night we came from the airport, picked up Mom, and in a stab a finger on a Google search and do that one, picked Himalayan Kitchen in downtown Salt Lake for our dinner. Our youngest joined us once he got through traffic (it was bad.)

Halfway through the meal, I called the waiter over. He came right away, looking like he was hoping everything was okay but worrying that I thought it was not because our glasses were full and why else would we….

Me: There is (name of the restaurant) in (name of the town) near us that is in the Michelin Guide, and I’ve had their lamb saag many times.

Yours is better.

His face lit up and he motioned in excitement to I wasn’t sure who and said, I’ll go tell her! It is her recipe!

I was expecting some grandmotherly type, but no, it was the young woman busily busing the tables who came over, absolutely beaming, and I repeated what I’d said. She thanked me and about danced away from there.

I have now found my place to eat in that city. It’s noisy, but the food is great and so are the people.

Book that appointment
Wednesday September 06th 2023, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Food

My only reaction to the flu vaccine was being tired, and I ended up picking my copy of The Fruit Hunters, found my bookmark, and discovered the delight of Adam Leith Gollner’s writing all over again. So many fruits I’ve never heard of, much less tried.

He describes Andy Mariani as growing the best peaches in America! Okay, so this guy *does* know what he’s talking about. Grin.

Checking: here’s a prettier cover with cheaper used copies.

Mine had been caught in the rain at an airport and the pages are a distractingly curled mess, but I’m glad I finally got back to it. Thank you flu shot.

Highly recommended. Yes, I mean both–of course.

On a mission to get chocolate
Monday September 04th 2023, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

The map app took us through San Francisco on a novel route to Dandelion Chocolate, and I was marveling at this building that, This! This is how I remember the Mission District of years ago. I thought it had all long been gentrified out of existence–and for most of the area that’s true.

Post-pandemic there are a lot of closed store fronts in the city and that one building shows it, but this one down the block from Dandelion is beautiful and I wish I’d taken in more of the artwork; I was fascinated by the door at the end of the walkway (and stepping back far enough to frame the view to its left would have put me in the street.)

We got there early in the morning. The store had just changed their opening time and I’m not sure their customers knew it yet: we had the parking and the place mostly to ourselves. We could chat with the two employees without holding up a line. We could hear each other in the quiet. They weren’t yet done putting out the newly-baked pastries of the day but they assured us they had them, pick anything.

For the record, I tried the cacao fruit smoothie made from the pulp that surrounds the beans in the cacao pod, having no idea what a ‘lychee-like citrusy’ and whatever other words they used would actually come out tasting like.

The addiction was instant–man, that was good.

From there we ran the errands that needed to be run, our daughter went off to dinner with a friend, the friend dropped her off at the airport, and our weekend together flew past.

I feel like the toddler who exclaims in both delight and as a demand, Again!!!

Why it’s noisy here
Friday August 25th 2023, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Afton’s been making good use of her melanger of late and we got our Manoa bars from Hawaii and in two days we’re down nearly two of the four (my usual square a day limit went right out the window) and I’d almost forgotten just how good fresh chocolate can be and I can’t afford to munch theirs at the rate I want to and you can see where all this is heading, right?

Not that ours will ever taste quite like that volcanic-soil Hawaiian grown. My stars theirs are good. I wasn’t familiar with the one they’re selling for Maui relief but it turned out to be my favorite so far.

I’ll just have to make do with (pulling a bag out of the pantry.)

Cocoa butter is a remarkably stable fat, so no worries on the vintage.

And so a little bit of Wild snuck into today, too. It is cranking away over there. Picture taken right after the sugar-adding stage.

Roasting notes: 350F ten min with a stir at the halfway, didn’t seem enough, turned it down to 325 for another three and the nose says that really made a difference. This one’s going to have great flavor. (I was going to link to Dandelion‘s Wild Bolivian but they seem to be sold out at the moment.)

Now, a question: Chocolate Alchemy sells whole cacao beans or nibs but the default setting is the beans and I accidentally ended up with some. I could spend the time shelling each little one, but I just haven’t. Part of me thinks school kids would love experimenting with them, but you know they’d toss them because they’re not sweet.

What would you do?



Support’em while you’ve got’em
Saturday August 19th 2023, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

Andy’s Orchard.

The stone fruits were so delayed this year that I’ve learned I have to call ahead to see what they have; it was a long drive that one time for six peaches.

Today, for the first time all season, yes, I could come pick up a full box of Kit Donnells. Alright!

Trying not to be greedy but thinking of friends who know what those are, I asked after I got there if I could actually have two?

The clerk misheard me. He cheerfully brought out three, and all the sudden everybody on my list was going to be happy. Cool! The best week of the best peach!

As I passed the “New Homes Late 2023” sign alongside Andy’s farm, I thought for the millionth time, Hang in there, Andy, hang in there–we need you.

Sweet solace
Saturday August 12th 2023, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Food,History

Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco is where we learned about Manoa Chocolate in Hawaii: they were cheering on their friends at the new start-up and highly recommending what they were creating and the cacao farms they were helping get established there.

Manoa was in my inbox this afternoon. Like Dandelion, they email quite sparingly so it is notable when they do.

I’ve never tried their mango chocolate bar–but I’m going to now, because they are donating 100% of its proceeds to Maui relief. 

I ordered a few other bars to help with their shipping costs, particularly given that it’s August–I know how careful they are with that process. I’ll also just mention that, as someone who likes dark chocolate, their chocolate hazelnut spread is better than anybody else’s anywhere–we have done side-by-side, spoon-by-spoon taste tests to verify that, with calories and much mother/daughter glee and laughter–and it is always asked for for Christmas now.

I don’t know if it’s the volcanic soil or what, and granted, I normally only order the plain bars without additions so that’s the context to take this from, but man, their chocolate. It is the best.

(I wonder if the mango powder came from Haydens. Our Pearl Harbor survivor friend Jean is from Hawaii and misses her perfect Hayden mangoes, which grew there. I’ll have to ask.)

Fruit full
Sunday July 30th 2023, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

It was her birthday. The whole recent eye and heart scare thing, which is not quite over yet. There was a potluck dinner at her house.

And so the first of the frozen tart cherries got turned into a pie, and if the freezer dies and wrecks everything tomorrow, that bag of cherries and all that work from all those pounds from my tree did what they were most meant to be for, tonight.

We brought her peaches from Andy’s farm to top it off.

Saturday July 29th 2023, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit

I was poking around my archives looking for recipes for blueberry+almond flour for a potluck tomorrow  and stumbled across this post. With also a picture of what was originally this yarn right after I’d overdyed a cone of it.

2017. Huh. That long. Merino/silk 50/50, $15/150g. I kept meaning to dye up the rest of that and kicking myself that it just wasn’t happening even though that first attempt had looked so pretty, and every time I thought okay this is silly I need to go do that, it just…there was this inexplicable reluctance.

Okay, then, tell me what you DO want to be when you grow up.

It finally did. I would never have bought that color purely for its own sake–but it was an exact match for the siding on my sister’s new house. The slightly ropey texture, knitted up, makes the light play off it as if the wood had weathered a bit over the last hundred-something years.

Perfect perfect perfect.

They somehow still have 48 cones. I had no idea. Hey, and you could overdye it, too!

Meantime, here’s the other side of the afghan. Since the lighter green is named Leaf Bud, and the realtor’s photos were taken at early springtime, a tree just leafing out seemed the thing.

At least, that’s the justification for how that particular doodle is coming out. Either that or I’d have to admit that some part of my brain started a California Coast Oak for my sister in New England.