Oh honey
Tuesday August 20th 2019, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

An old Purlescence friend Facebooked yesterday about some honey she was considering at a farmer’s market, and that when she’d learned the source and sampled it she’d bought two. She described it as smokey, caramel-y, with a depth of flavor like nothing else.

I would have gone right past that display without a glance–actually I did at first–at Andy’s Orchard this afternoon but then that well-known picture of the vendors caught my eye and then the jars, familiar only because of Lynette’s post. Hey. Those!

The Honey Ladies’ name has long been passed around on the neighborhood sites as where to go when you have a bee swarm where you really don’t want it. They’ll happily come and put those honeybees to use in a better spot.

She’s the one who saw the guy first and yelled, Hey! You can’t bring that in here!

Which drew the attention of apparently the police thankfully nearby, and of the Gilroy shooter himself: she and her husband were his first targets.

The lady at Andy’s told me that they’d thought they were going to have to amputate her leg but right now it looks like they can save it after all. The woman’s husband took more bullets–but they both lived, their son was unharmed, and they are coming along bit by bit.

So Andy’s is one of the places now selling their honey. Of course it is. That’s what our Andy does. I bought three.

By far the best is the one Lynette raved over.

Checking me out, the lady said, her eyes on me, questioning how I felt about this, You know, a lot of people are afraid of that.

I told her it came highly recommended so I had to try it.

Now that I have, I wish I’d bought more, and I have an extra excuse to go back sooner rather than later before they’re all sold out.

Poison oak blossom honey. From rescued bees.

Who knew, right? Of all things. Even poison oak can leave in its wake something highly good and desirable.

(I’m thinking of my mom’s fierce poison ivy allergy and wanting to say, It’s okay, Mom, it’s okay, I’m fine…)

P.S. I gave Richard some and he called himself agnostic on the issue, that honey simply tastes like honey to him, so then I had him sample their blueberry. He was surprised: Oh! That IS different!



The best comes after the longest wait
Tuesday August 13th 2019, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

Looking around as things ripen and beckon, I got it half-right last summer: I did need two layers of bird netting for the figs. One to go over the small tree, yes, but the closer-meshed one heaped at the base to keep smaller critters from being able to squeeze in and climb up from below.

The over-netting is held down by old oven racks, a heavy doormat, and reinforced by some flower pots in front of that mass of mesh.

Those flower pots got shoved aside last night. Skunk? Raccoon?

Every fig was still there. I had another perfect one this morning. Soon I’ll have enough at once that I’ll need to stuff them or wrap them and roast them and make a supper out of them and still we’ll have some to share. At last.

To quote Andy Mariani: August is the Sunday of summer.



The first ripe Black Jack of the season
Monday August 12th 2019, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

Fresh figs: Nature’s fruit geodes.



I finally asked
Sunday August 11th 2019, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

Item 1. They replaced the carpeting at church last week. People were complaining about the smell. It was intense. (I did a mental grin upwards at the late Ski, who’d ordered the previous one ~25 years ago, thinking, at last they’d corrected his color choice. He was so proud of that mismatching green. Shhh.)

I spent much of the time holding very still with not one oxygen molecule to spare. Yow.

This week I was hoping the place would be aired out far better by now–but the answer was, um, some.

I got the doors propped open with a flower pot on one side and a chair on the other before the meeting, but during it found myself having to put my head between my knees. Hey I did better than this last week, what’s up with this. I made a break for it and went for that chair. Yes it was near noon on a summer day and in the sun, but you worry about paying for it re the lupus tomorrow after you make it through today–can’t get to the one without the other.

Jenni saw me and immediately followed me out and stayed by me and asked if I was okay. I searched through my purse I should have used last week but before that hadn’t had to use in years, even if I’ve periodically replaced it at expiration.

I found my inhaler. It helped. Not as much as I wanted, but it helped.

Item 2. I had to go back in to the one of the less aired-out parts to retrieve the Trader Joe’s chocolate goodies from the mother’s nursing lounge at the end.

A young mom was in there: Oh, are you the one that brings those? Thank you so much!

Me: Yes, it is the most fun job–and I take requests.

Her: You always bring my favorites!

I left with a big grin on my face.

Item 3. The upshot: the realization that there was no excuse not to ask. I needed to send out a message to both wards that use that building to make sure there are no serious peanut allergies in either one before I bring TJ’s chocolate peanut butter cups in there. Whether I ever know about it or not, I do not want to leave some poor kid fighting to breathe.

I’ve only brought them a few times but I never should have without making sure first. Checking with the leaders like I did was not enough.

So now I’ve asked.



And it’s the week the Kit Donnells are in. Woot!
Saturday August 10th 2019, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knit

Hey, Mom, wanna go to Andy’s Orchard with my friend and me?

YES!

I sat in the back as they caught up in the front seat (her dear friend just moved here a week ago) and just about finished the back of the baby sweater a mile from home.

Kit Donnells are some of the best peaches out there–and one of Andy’s creations.

On a total non sequitur, I was mentioning to Holly a few minutes ago about a message Richard got in the early days of DARPAnet, the precursor to the internet.

So I had to go find it: the fractured fairy tale Ladle Rat Rotten Hut. Enjoy.



Mass-delivery cherries
Tuesday August 06th 2019, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Our cherry season is over, so these weren’t local but when I saw them at Costco I fell for them.

Funny how you can tell yourself in the grocery store that it doesn’t really take that much time to make a fresh cherry pie when you really want one.

It does.

I overfilled the 10″ pan, wanting to use all three pounds and be done with them because (after tasting one) this was the best they could ever aspire to be. I pinched those edges shut, but the pie wasn’t having it. Five minutes before the buzzer went off (I’d set it at maximum time because of the size of the thing) the kitchen was suddenly smoking up big time, and I mean billowing.

I yanked the oven door open, fully expecting flames (nope, just a gray cloud and an escaped cherry and juices sizzling on the floor of it), turned on the fan, and opened windows skylight doors and got a nice quick chat with my neighbors out of the deal.

Richard came home from his errand a few minutes later and walked in going, Did you know something burned? You can smell it down the street.

Naaah. Never would have guessed!

It doesn’t taste smoked. It’s not an Andy’s cherries pie, but it is still definitely cherry pie. Yum.



Oranges and spinach
Sunday August 04th 2019, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Food

I knew about huanglongbing, ie, greening disease, first found in China about a hundred years ago and how it has been threatening to kill every citrus tree in the world–I have looked for signs of it in my lemons and mandarins. Supposedly, northern California is the last corner of the American citrus world that doesn’t have it.

What I did not know was how far anyone had gotten in fighting it nor by what means they were trying.

First, the horrifying article from May saying that the EPA had approved spraying 650,000 pounds of human antibiotics on commercial groves this year even though they don’t yet know if that will even work. You didn’t need your streptomycin to be effective on your infections or post-op, did you?

I wanted to know more.

I found a six-year-old article, also at the New York Times, that was far more hopeful.

A spinach gene. A grower who was as enraged at Monsanto’s business practices as the rest of us helped fund the research that discovered that a gene in spinach might make it so that orange juice still exists 20 years from now. 90% of the orange trees in Florida were already dead at the time.

His group even found a way to get that gene into living trees so that they could test it for safety sooner. The story needs an update whether their efforts got swept away in the anti-GMO fad and whether it worked as well as initial tests suggested. He understands that fad–but hoped he could make his case to the American public that he had chosen spinach and not pig genes for the same reasons they would have: to stick to a widely-used well-known plant source so as to cause the least potential disruption in the food chain. The gene had nothing to do with flavor or color.

Meantime, Trump’s administration is grossly contributing to antibiotic resistance.

Thanks, I’d rather say pass me the spinached.



I cobbled this post together from bites and pieces
Tuesday July 16th 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Food

Grocery-store Rainier cherries to supplement (while trying not to insult) the last of (I knew I should have bought more) Andy’s Black Republican ones.

It’s a good thing I couldn’t find my cherry pitter last week. I still haven’t found it, which makes no sense except for the fact that now I’m really glad I didn’t.

Because it made me go looking for a better version–there had to be a better version out there than what I had.

Let me tell you how much better Sur La Table’s $11.99-on-sale version was than the $10 cheapo from Amazon: I pitted all those cherries in almost no time WHILE (stupidly) WEARING A SILK BLOUSE. Pardon me while I shout. I was daring myself to stop being so lazy and just go change my clothes and I continued anyway and it was fine. No cherry juice squirting all over the kitchen, no having to place each one just exactly so, no worrying about which size cherry went where: roll’em in, make sure they’re all in an indentation, cover and stab seven at one go, repeat to about 70 pits before you have to empty them out of the bottom part–and they do not get in the way underneath, unlike my old gadget.

Roll cover push roll cover push roll cover push look up that Washington Post cobbler recipe, done!

(Edit: Having run to try it out after posting this, it works for the bigger pluerries (plum/cherry crosses) too, although it’s harder work.)



They did it!
Monday July 01st 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Life

A great big pot of applesauce with a very small blond boy standing over it, grin big and hand wide as if about to do an exuberant splashdown into that tasty goop: it’s not my kid so I’m not putting his face here, but it was a great photo and it made my day.

I passed Ellen’s recommendation on to the mom of the Victorio Strainer so she doesn’t have to cut the seeds out next time, and then promptly ordered one myself so we could both use it when the Fujis come on. My mom used to have something like that all my growing up, only big, metal, and heavy,  essential to her for getting tomatoes to the right texture for chili sauce; my tomatoes have started turning color (bird netting was applied today) and I was feeling nostalgic. Mom, what’s your recipe? I know you told me thirty years ago…

Plus, all those apple seeds.

So we will try out that new toy and hopefully it will last for generations like Mom’s. Thank you, Ellen!



Jenna
Sunday June 30th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

Yellow Transparent apples. I wrote a little note detailing how we’d come to have such a tree–a dwarfing rootstock grow-back after the main tree had died–and what the little things were like.

Great for applesauce. Terrible keepers–three days at the max but only in the fridge, one to two on the counter. Mushy. Small. Once a big commercial variety, now very rare (with good reason) but if you want a cooked apple, they taste good.

And then I posted that on the ward chat.

One person responded, and she said that as a matter of fact she’d been thinking of making some applesauce; she’d love to bring her little boys and come pick apples, what a cool idea!

They were all hers.

I think, when she and her husband laid eyes on the tree, that they were maybe wishing they had some competition, but hey.

And so this young couple and two adorable little toddlers ages 1 and 3 were here this afternoon with their padded bag and together we picked those apples. I added a few Meyer lemons and newly-ripe plums, because I could.

The one-year-old picked up a Santa Rosa plum, took a bite, and tossed it.

I laughed and explained that if you pit them and blenderize them, the skins are tart but the interior is sweet and it makes an effect like tart cherry jam.

As they were leaving and I was thinking of all. those. little. apples. she was going to have to core and peel (they asked if I use the skins in apple sauce, and I said I do in apple butter) I stopped her going by my front door and asked her to wait just a moment.

I dashed inside, pulled out the electric apple peeler and asked if she’d like to borrow it for a week?

The relief in her voice as she said YES! Thank you!

–Yeah, I should have offered that from the get-go.



And thanks for all the cheese
Saturday June 29th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus

Steve, owner of The Milk Pail, was offering raclette and other goodies and throwing a small impromptu party today at his much-loved shop, which closes forever tomorrow. There was the big bash with a band already, but he just wasn’t done saying goodbye to all the faces and stories he’d known for so many years, this place he’d put his life into.

Which meant these were hours when I knew he was going to be there.

I put on the sunblock and headed out. His wife and his daughters, too: they were all there.

And I only had the one. All this time I’ve been baby blanket knitting, ~90 hours’ worth of work so far, and I wanted to have four made. But I’m a do-one-project-till-it’s-done knitter, aside from the purse-friendly carry-arounds. Which this was, so at least my good intentions got that far: one would do when one was what I had.

And so, in memory of all that he’s given the community–Milk Pail has been an institution for 45 years–and of the good fight we fought together at City Hall, and most of all for the gift of his friendship and great example of how to be a truly decent human being, I gave him a handknit hat.

They loved it, all of them, because his happiness was theirs and I loved them for it.

Who now is going to put up a big sign in their grocery store saying this is their personal cost of a 25 pound bag of oats and if you put it on your bill, they will then deliver it to the local soup kitchen? Who is going to throw community cheese parties and melt that raclette right out of its rind onto your waiting bread? Where else can you order Thai Curry Cheddar (or even find out that it’s a thing?)

I could not let him retire without a bit of my knitting, I just couldn’t.



With a cherry on top
Friday June 28th 2019, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,LYS

Hung out at Fillory aka Green Planet Yarns and saw–Renee! We did a mutual double take in disbelief and then big hugs and it was great to see her and catch up a bit. We met when I was doing a book signing at Warren‘s yarn shop in Marin a dozen years ago, with a Stitches or two thrown in since.

Meantime, the pie is all gone and there are enough tart cherries for two more.

My my. Whatever shall we do.

(Burning the crust just meant we could skip the empty calories part, we figured. So: the new silicone crust-edge cover? Yeah no.)



For every spring forever after
Wednesday June 26th 2019, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

The friend who got a Blenheim apricot tree as a housewarming present sent me a picture of her tree with beautiful yellow fruit on it and told me she’d let her kids pick the first and ripest today and how joyful an experience it was for them all.

It completely, totally made my day.



Five pounds and more still on it
Monday June 24th 2019, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

I procrastinated picking them: I wanted my sister- and brother-in-law to see my little tree at its prettiest.

Which turned out to be a good thing, because I didn’t know just how deep a red those tart cherries could get to nor how big they could be nor just how good. After all, I’d only ever gotten a few in the tree’s young life and those had been picked early (it turns out) while trying to thwart the birds.

All I can guess is that putting sunflower seeds in the feeder for the first time in several years enticed them to eat that instead of my cherries; there were very few bites and the tree was loaded like it has never been before and it stayed loaded. Give it a few years’ growth and I’m going to have to ask friends to come help pick some for themselves. I don’t think they’ll mind. Fresh tart cherries are very rare in California–for a hundred years it was a given that there weren’t enough chill hours to grow them here.

Actually, some varieties, it turns out, you can. English Morello for the win.



Purple Wonders
Tuesday June 18th 2019, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

I have just a trio of strawberry plants in a planter as an experiment; they were a bit of a splurge and I wanted to see how they would do before I got more. Starting in January or February we get the occasional amuse-bouche from them: one for you, one for me. Or maybe we split an only. They aren’t terribly big.

June, though, is a strawberry’s favorite month.

My sister-in-law wanted to see how the yard looks like these days, so once the sun got low we did a little walk-around, her face lighting up again and again as I said our first pomegranates ever were beginning, our first good crop of tart cherries is about ready, we’ve got tomatoes kind of scattered around to test where the sun is best like the one hiding behind that sweet cherry over there.

She didn’t remember that we had a mango, and was intrigued.

Mandarin, cherry, peach, lemon, plum, fig, apple, pear…

“Is this where you fell?”

“Stepping over that, yes.”

Coming back she glanced at that pot, saw what I had not and exclaimed, “Oh! Strawberries!” A red one was peeking out from the leaves, and I lifted the netting tent off and handed it to her, looked around and found two more. That would make one for Richard, one for her, one for me.

I was going to take them inside and rinse them first (one pretends to be proper when one has company) but hers looked clean and she popped it right in her mouth, just like I do.

She stopped right there with a look on her face almost to pain. I was suddenly afraid she’d gotten a bad one–there’s a reason they call them straw berries and I don’t have any straw. I’ve lost a few to them sinking into the dirt and looking perfect on top while rotting out the bottom after a watering.

Quite unsure, I asked, “Is it good?”

She swooned. “Now THAT. Is a STRAWBERRY!!!”

Which is how she got the other two.