Peach sorbet
Monday August 22nd 2016, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

“Oh, you do it fancy,” said Michelle as I got out the wire basket to lower the peaches into the boiling water with; “I just use a ladle” at her house.

One one thousand two one thousand…  Sixty seconds, lift, and quick into the icewater.

And then the peels just kind of melted off. I squeezed one lemon from the tree, she added just a touch of sugar–not much–a taste test all around, just a spoonful more from the sugar container and then we food processored the heck out of those four or five pounds of perfect peaches.

Plug in and wait.

Direct side-by-side comparison between the plain pureed mixture and what came out of there and all I can say is it was magic. That electric ice cream maker is suddenly going to get used a whole lot more.

So we’ll see how it goes
Wednesday July 20th 2016, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Recipes

I think we can officially call it eighteen fruit trees now.

Last year’s volunteer fig seedling that I dug out on a whim from under a tomato plant got put in a small pot and paid only just enough attention to to keep it alive.

If that. But it wanted to survive. It didn’t grow much at all but no matter what I did or didn’t, it hung in there. It even added a third leaf when the weather started warming up again. It had demanded a chance, so I moved it to a #10 pot the end of this May.

Actually, some credit should go to the squirrels: they tried to stand on the flimsy #10 that I forget what had arrived in and dug holes and they’d pretty much knocked the fig half out of the pot. There wasn’t much root structure and I didn’t think it would make it but I couldn’t bear to just let it be destroyed for no reason–not when I didn’t even know yet…

I mentioned the large ceramic pot the other day that was given me by a friend moving away; there were two others as well (but they didn’t require the dolly.) One was this big, very lightweight, plastic gray one. I would never have bothered with the expense for a tree with no knowable payback and given that some fig varieties hit 40′ high in our climate I would never have planted it in the yard, but a free pot big enough for it to stay in, yeah, I can buy a bag of dirt and try and if it doesn’t work I’ll plant something else in there.

So tonight I filled it up (which took more than one big bag), soaked the soil, scooped out the center, and went to go get that little fig tree.

In just those two months after staying tiny for a year and despite having been partly exposed to the air till I rescued it that rootball had grown to fill that much space that fast. It was highly gratifying–and it took some doing to get it out. Who knew? And the tree, still only a foot tall or so, had grown thicker and happier and leafier, which is why I’d finally decided I really really did want to see what it could do. It was my first thought when Sheryl said she needed to give away large pots.

All we can do is wait now to see if the variety is any good, or if it produces at the exact time my Black Jack is going whole hog. If the figs are no good (how can a fig not have at least some goodness) then no great loss, it’s just fun to find out what life has randomly offered us. I’m assuming it’s the offspring of my neighbor’s, which means it may even be another Black Jack.

But from what I’ve learned so far, we probably won’t have long to find out. And if I’d given it this much room at the beginning of the spring we’d probably be seeing fruit on it by now.

Visions of rolling them in butter, roasting them, drizzling with honey, and serving them hot out of the oven…

The idea behind using the very lightweight pot for it (although the soil certainly isn’t) is that if it does turn out we’ve got a good one but it duplicates what we have, it’ll be much easier to wheel it away on the dolly to hand it down to someone else and spread the joy.

Call it my inner squirrel.

My chocolate hazelnut torte recipe
Thursday February 25th 2016, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Recipes

With thanks to Catherine B for prompting me to finally type this out. My one single written-out copy was getting pretty beat up and was the only place I had this with all its updates and notes. And so:

My personal version to add to all the other ones floating around out there. I promise you it is well worth the effort.

Take a 9″ springform pan and cover the bottom with parchment paper and butter the bottom and sides. Or just the sides, but then you’re going to have to peel it off really, really carefully. You can buy it in 9″ rounds or, I often just put the pan bottom against the paper and cut around it to fit. A little too big is better than a little too small. I do *not* just tuck a length of it between the pan and the sides and snap it in because I don’t want to damage how they fit together–learned that the hard way a goodly while ago.

Set the oven to 325 (my old oven) or 350 (my new oven, which by all evidence as well as expectation is far more accurate.) My pans are a bit on the dark side and are nonstick– a gift from my late friend Don, delivered by him and his son Cliff, and I think of them every time I use them.


10 oz really good dark chocolate. If you have a Trader Joe’s store handy, that would be 22 squares from one of their Pound Plus (500g) bars. I use their brown-label bittersweet but their red-label extra bittersweet would be really good, too.

6 eggs, separated

1/2 lb hazelnuts and

1/4 lb hazelnuts, roasted and the skins rubbed off as much as possible. Blessings on Trader Joe’s for selling toasted unsalted ones now with most of the skins off.

1 c sugar

1 c powdered sugar

2 tbl (or tsp, I won’t tell) sugar

1/4 good cocoa. I use Bergenfield Colonial Rosewood. Don’t use one that’s dutched. The dutching process generally speaking is a cover-up for inferior beans, according to a lecture my husband attended given by Mr. Scharffenberger of Scharffenberger Chocolate (which more recently has been bought out by Hershey) and it removes the flavinoids that justify the cocoa.

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 c butter or, if you prefer, coconut oil. For good or bad you will taste the coconut if you do, though, just be forewarned.

2 tsp bourbon vanilla, the best variety for using with chocolate.

And now you:

In the Cuisinart: pulse 1/2 lb hazelnuts. Once it’s at the nut meal stage add the 1/4 c cocoa and the 1/2 tsp salt. Whirr till almost nut butter, or less far along if you want a more rustic texture to the finished cake. Scoop this out of the Cuisinart and set aside.

Next in the Cuisinart: make the hazelnut paste. Pulse the other 1/4 lb hazelnuts till quite fine.  Important note: start ONLY with the hazelnuts, because if you try to grind whole hazelnuts with egg yolks you may well destroy your motor. Once the nuts are nearing the nut butter stage it’s not a problem. Okay, so: now add the 6 egg yolks and the 1 c confectioner’s sugar and whirr till it’s pretty smooth.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a container not much bigger than it; I do one minute, stir, then ten seconds more, sometimes twenty. Stir a lot to make it smooth. Chocolate burns very easily, better to stir more than heat more.

Meantime, in the KitchenAid or whatever mixer you may have, beat the six egg whites, adding the two tbl sugar gradually after it starts getting frothy. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the 3/4 c butter, 1 c sugar, and the 2 tsp bourbon vanilla till light. In my KitchenAid mixer I now change the beater from the wire whisk-type beater to the heavier white beater (not the bread dough hook). Spatula in the melted chocolate, beat some more. Then the hazelnut/cocoa mixture. Beat. Then the hazelnut paste with the egg yolks.

Then by hand carefully work in those egg whites, starting with a large spoon. If you squish some of the whites into those last stubborn hazelnut globs through your fingers you’ll be in good company. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 45 minutes, to as much as 50 minutes if you’re baking at the lower temperature.

Cool, unsnap the pan sides and remove, put a flat plate on top of the cake, flip it over, peel the parchment off, put another flat plate there and flip it over again so the top is back at the top and the cake is on a serving plate: tadaah!

Refrigerate, especially if the hazelnut-and-cocoa mixture was whirred only to the gritty stage–it’ll help hold it together as you slice.


Allergy notes: powdered sugar almost always comes with a bit of starch to keep it powdery, usually cornstarch but you can get it with tapioca starch instead at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and various health food stores if this is to be served to someone with a corn allergy. Coconut oil substitutes straight across very well for butter for the dairy allergic. This recipe is definitely gluten-free to the best of my knowledge, since wheat comes nowhere near it. Freezes beautifully, including in individual slices separated by two layers of wax paper if you so choose. Makes a great breakfast.

Wednesday November 25th 2015, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Recipes

Last night I made the spiced pecans and baked the chocolate tortes and bought the apple cider and was glad my part in Thanksgiving dinner was done.  All but the glaze on the tortes, no biggy.

Only, I hard-crack-staged the sugar syrup and those pecans were right at the edge of too caramelized. Crunchy, though, and I really liked them, but there was a bit of fussing while someone here was trying not to be unhappy but they just weren’t quite…

No problem, I can make more.

No I couldn’t. We didn’t have enough sugar. We always have sugar. (Can you make this with that grainy organic Trader Joe’s stuff? Better not experiment and mess any more with his family’s tradition.) You know what this means, don’t you? We had to go to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving.

I toasted more pecans, but that was the easy part. We put it off and put it off and finally headed to Costco about an hour before they closed.

It was actually less crowded than a typical Saturday, to my great surprise–but even better, people were being mellow. Clearly anticipating the next day’s meal and company, and people seemed to be picking up that one last thing they’d forgotten.

There was one mom with a crying one year old and a toddler and she–the mom–absolutely melted when I pulled out a Peruvian finger puppet for each of her little ones, an orange lion with a furry mane and a vivid green octopus with a hat. Handknit as always.

So. The tortes got glazed. The pecan coating got done to the soft ball stage only, the way Richard likes it: because after I got the 1/2 c water/1 c sugar/1 tsp cinnamon boiling, there could be gadgetry involved and there is no better way to get a geek to take over than putting electronics into the process. He put a glass thermometer on the side and with the laser thermometer in his hand pointing constantly at the center of the pot he compared temps and kept up a happy running chatter and soon announced, There! It’s 238!


Okay, so I put in the vanilla (one teaspoon) and stood back as hot steam burst forth, and then–hey, you have to put in the *pecans immediately now, honey, not just admire them.

Right, right, and he dumped them in and stirred hard and it takes some doing at that point. Finally, he poured them onto the cookie sheet the pecans had been toasted on.

See? To softball stage and it comes out like this!

I grinned. He preferred his and I liked mine and Aunt Mary Lynn will be quite happy to have both. Trust me.

(Meantime, it’s 9:50 pm and 33F already and the mandarins are covered, too, tonight. It is COLD out there.)


*Fanny Farmer says two cups. I put in closer to four. Stretch that sweetness across as many nuts as possible as far as I’m concerned.

Well, if you can’t have lobster…
Wednesday November 18th 2015, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

An old New England dish for cold nights: chopped onions and peeled chopped tart apples, sautéed awhile with some good sausage (fat drained). Take off the heat, pour a little maple syrup over it–grade B if you can find it has more flavor than A–and that’s it.

Except that the sausage had a bit too much sage to it. It needed…something. Hmm. I have tiny frozen cubes from Trader Joe’s that are a teaspoon each of pureed basil and I let one melt into the pot, trying not to let it actually cook since that can make basil bitter.

I had no idea how it would come out–basil and Granny Smiths and maple syrup? But just a bit, and it totally made the dish and I am definitely doing that again. Writing here to remember.

And then the other discovery: Trader Joe’s small chèvre cheese logs rolled in blueberries and vanilla. I put a slice on one of their crunchy little Triple Ginger Snap cookies on impulse rather than a cracker.






WOW that was good.

Lots of places sell such a goat cheese in various sizes; Trader Joe’s is just the right width for those small snaps with bits of candied ginger in them.

Thanksgiving table here we come. Definitely earned its spot.

Flour power
Friday August 28th 2015, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Recipes

Pansy cookies. Seriously. I have to try these. Only, would you trust a flat of pansies from the garden center to be pesticide-free? We seem to be quite out of homegrown this year… (With a shout-out to Margo Lynn for the link.)

Here, have some
Thursday August 06th 2015, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Knit,Life,LYS,Recipes

I dangled what I hoped would be happy anticipation: I put this picture on Facebook with how to make it and said I had a lot more of these zucchini/pattypan hybrid squashes to bring to knit night.

So. Cut cupcake squash in half and place cut side down on plate.  Add a spoonful of water; nuke for three to four minutes till soft. Turn right side up again and scoop out seeds. Fill each with a big spoonful of Alfredo sauce mixed with one egg, sharp cheddar (or blue cheese and/or parmesan as you choose) and cherry tomato halves. Bacon bits if desired. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Found one more squash this morning, but to be sure before heading out tonight I checked under those huge leaves one more time and found two more of a good size: how on earth had I missed those? (Well hey. Zucchini.) Seven went into a cloth bag.

All the way to Purlescence I was seeing the most unusual cloud formations–dalmation dog. Leopard print. Lots of little clouds against lots of blue.

Reactions when I put those green balls on the table ranged from oh cool! to oh okay to facial expressions of no no no please keep those far far away from me.

David came out of the back at the last and his face totally lit up when he saw those last two squash and I thought, okay, now I know who saw that post and was hoping. All yours, hon, please, take them–I have five more tiny ones and these have got to go. (I did not count the blossoms. I couldn’t bring myself to. I know you can stir fry those but an awful lot of them seemed to already have even tinier squashes already attached.)

He totally made my day as he made off with them in great delight.

Just before the shop closed down for the night, someone threw the doors open so we could hear the sounds and smell the ozone: it was RAINING! In August! And no it had not been in the forecast. A little, then more, then a good steady rain and lightning as I drove home. Rain rain actual rain, .04″ worth.

Those five tiny squash? With that extra water I’m guessing they’ll be full grown in time to try to ditch them at church.

Cherry-ots of fire
Monday August 03rd 2015, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

For the record: carrots well roasted in extra-virgin olive oil, then add a bit of cherry sauce that I picked up at Andy’s Orchard last week? (Andy’s grows cherries but they sell Cherry Republic’s bottled topping.)

A certain tall man is officially a fan. Pretty please with cherries on top and all that.

So I had to go looking for their website and now I really want my baby Montmorency tree to hurry and grow up!



The Grand Old Okra-y
Thursday June 25th 2015, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

My dad is someone who loves a good meal. He loves that Mom loves to cook a great meal.

And if you ever wanted to find that place where you discovered at sixteen what gumbo was, he’d be able to tell you not only the name of the restaurant you ordered it in but he would find the place forty years later. The seafood joint with the wavy floors on the wharf in Seattle, the barbecue joint in Florida where they’d sanded down picnic tables till they felt like velvet (and then trusted people with kids with barbecue sauce to sit at them!) I’ve seen him do it.

This one was somewhere in the deep South, a humble spot with fabulous food (there was an old jukebox, too, right, Dad? Or was that a different spot?) I remember blinking when he said traditional gumbo was made with squirrel meat as I looked at the chicken in mine, shrimp having been the other choice.

I confess to the occasional moment when my fruit has been stolen off my trees where I’ve thought at the bushytails, Just don’t you tempt me. I’ve always been curious to know.

My CSA delivered straight-off-the-farm okra today.

Now there are two responses to okra: there’s my Mom, serving it battered and fried and telling her squeamish kids, “It tastes just like” (or as my older sister would tease her later with a grin, Just! Like!) “popcorn!”

Maybe a better take on it might have been, This imposter thinks it’s just like popcorn but we know better–popcorn doesn’t taste better with ketchup, here, pass the Heinz, wouldja? (Then she would have had six kids asking for maple syrup instead and who knows, it might have won us over.)

Actually, my daughter reminded me that we had an okra dish in an Indian restaurant we took her to in Ann Arbor when she graduated with her Master’s there, and that it was very good. Alright, then, three.

So. Okra. It came. And me somehow fresh out of file’ (fee-LAY) powder. But all week I’d been remembering marveling over that gumbo soup of long ago, so I went over to Penzey’s spices where I absolutely knew I could find file’ powder. Gumbo File’, said the label for those not from the South; their Seafood Base, I already had that.

And I have finally, after all these years, actually made a gumbo. Bacon drippings, andouille sausage–there are a lot of variations out there; this one’s mine.


8 oz fresh okra, chopped

1 large chopped bell pepper (mine was orange)

1 small head of celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped (mine was purple)

the corn from one fresh cob but more would have been fine

32 oz chicken broth and 1 c water

1 tsp file’ (sassafras) powder (yes they make root beer out of sassafras. No this doesn’t taste like root beer.)

1 tbl Penzeys Seafood Base

chopped chicken and/or shrimp

about 1/3 c flour, and

about 1/3 c California organic extra virgin olive oil.

Note that all other types of EVOO are suspect: Federal law allows lesser varieties to be so named and even other oils to be in the bottle without their being labeled. Yes it’s a scandal. California’s law precedes the Federal one, has been challenged and has stood, so, only by buying EVOO labeled California organic EVOO can you know that it actually is extra virgin olive oil. Which is great if you’re a California grower, and I buy from these guys. Good stuff.

So. You put the flour and olive oil in your pot, stir hard, get it up to bubbling and keep bubbling stirring hard for fifteen minutes: you want it to turn brown, really brown, without letting it burn. Then the recipe I started from said to cook the veggies a few minutes in that but at that point my arms said no, so, I just threw everything in all at once–except for the chicken or shrimp.

Simmer for at least an hour, stirring often. Add whichever meat you want till it’s cooked. Serve.

It doesn’t taste like popcorn. But maybe kids would eat more bites if they were still looking for that root beer flavor in there somewhere.

Don’t lose its temper
Wednesday June 17th 2015, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Food,Life,Recipes,Wildlife

Post-it note in the most strategic spot: it worked. That and all I have to do is reach for the supersoaker and the scrub jay scrams.

Clerk at Trader Joe’s: “So–you making pies?”

“Got one in the oven right now. Cherry. Cherry with almond.”

He was clearly so wishing for a slice of that as he rang up the box of two pie crusts. I like making pies but I’m lazy when it comes to that part of the process–and theirs are good, only, I fingerpress each of them to cover two pie tins because really, to me a crust at its best is a bit of crunch on the side and just enough there to hold it all in long enough to get it onto your plate.

So if you ever need to know, one of those big bags of tart cherries from Costco makes two cherry pies. Mix 2/3 c flour, 1 to 1 1/2 c sugar depending on your sweet tooth, a tsp cinnamon, a tsp almond extract and 2 or 3 tbl butter, whirled till butter is cut in finely; mix in the cherries and fill the two pies. Bake till done. (425, 350, 35 min, 45 min, recipes vary all over the map, still working that part out. Some say start high and turn lower.)

On the drive home it hit me that the first pie I’d made this afternoon I’d used a glass pie pan with an oven that, per my 1952 Better Crocker, was at 425. I don’t think you’re supposed to use glass above 375. Oh well, it hasn’t broken yet.

And I was home again with a dozen minutes to spare. Bzzzzzzz!

(p.s. A hatchling rescue, a chipping sparrow–photo essay here.)

A little bit of sunshine
Sunday June 07th 2015, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family,Garden,Recipes

The day did not start off at its best and I admitted to a friend at church that the Crohn’s had been nagging at the edges since I’d come down with those germs. It had tamped down a lot but it wasn’t gone–I needed to finally make that doctor appointment. Part of it too was that it is June, and there is always more UV exposure this time of year.

Having said all that out loud, I almost sat down to knit after lunch but decided to be sensible and rest. I set an alarm and slept right through it. It did help. As does the happy anticipation of working with Karin’s yarn.

There was a wry moment of checking the UV rating and dinner time vs when it would be safe to walk outside to harvest. I threw on the sun jacket. Picking well after dinner and putting it in the fridge for the next day–no. My autoimmunity doesn’t get to make every decision. (I know…)

One fit-between-your-outstretched-thumb-and-fingertips round zucchini, halved, scooped out, nuked just a bit, filled with Alfredo sauce, bacon bits, and a good sharp cheddar and then baked for a half hour. Snap peas (I thought I picked–there are more? Yes!) in olive oil.

It still amazes me, this idea of trading seeds and water (not too much!) for real-life food. My spinach sprouted today–there will be more.

The peaches and apples are slowly, steadily growing, safe inside their clamshells. I picked a few raspberries and the first of the Top Hat blueberries and we shared a small handful each, red and blue warm from the last of the sun on a definitely-summer evening.

And they were very, very good.

In case you want a crack at it
Tuesday June 02nd 2015, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Food,Life,Recipes

Remember the crockpot and the signup for soup and cookies for the Ronald McDonald House near Children’s Hospital? That’s tomorrow.

And given a thousand different experiences, I said the usual, If I can do it today do it today and Richard echoed the thought. Besides, split pea tastes better the next day anyway. Michelle happened to drop by and then rescued me while I was stirring by dashing off to Milk Pail for the missing celery for me.

The cookies: last time I did this someone else made the cookies and I didn’t remember how many were going to be needed. Well so let’s make a lot, and I pulled out the–does anyone else remember the fake Mrs. Fields recipe that went the rounds twenty-five years ago? It seemed to be a pretty good reverse-engineering and definitely healthier than the standard chocolate chip. But in case you missed out, here goes:


Concussion Cookies

2 c butter

2 c sugar

2 c brown sugar (okay, forget the two different kinds, I just did 3 3/4 c white sugar and topped off that last cup with dark molasses and it was very good.)

Cut up the butter and cream thoroughly with the sugar. Add 4 eggs and 2 tsp good vanilla.

Meantime, put 5 c oats in a cuisinart and whirr till it’s as fine a flour as you can get. Add 1 tsp salt, whirr, 2 tsp baking powder, whirr, and the recipe said to also add 2 tsp baking soda. I didn’t. I don’t care for the taste of baking soda and the cookies don’t need it. Then mix in 4 c flour, but I find I like that last cup well on the scant side.

Mix into creamed mixture. Work in 24 oz chocolate chips, plus, if you want, toasted nuts,  raisins, craisins, whatever all else you want to throw in there. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min or till it smells and looks done to you. Let cool before removing from the cookie sheet.


Now, the name. This stuff is really good to have on hand when you want to be able to bake only as many cookies as you won’t feel guilty for eating: you freeze it, and the nubbliness in the oats makes it easy to dig a cookie’s worth out of the frozen batter.

I found out the recipe made five pounds’ worth the day I had a new batch at the top of the freezer and happened to stoop down to pull something out at the bottom of the freezer. Guess what shook loose in the process. And yes, I really did.


We had company for dinner
Tuesday January 20th 2015, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

An overflowing bowl (thank you Mel and Kris!) of strawberries to pass around: at this time of year they’re red and ripe but not overly juicy nor sweet; they are, however, locally grown.

A very small bowl of sour cream and one of brown sugar to each person.

Dip. Dip again.

And serve it as a side rather than dessert to make sure there’s no threat of guilt over quantities consumed.


To the harvest
Sunday January 18th 2015, 12:10 am
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Lupus,Recipes

It seems we will have room for yet more fruit trees, with a call in to Chris at Shady Tree for a bid on two more weed ones that are shading the solar panels (and my mandarin and mango. Richard stood by the Page with a UV meter and it read zero at 2 pm, thus the yellowing leaves and my willingness to let a little more bird habitat disappear for a few years till the new catches up.) Montmorency? Lorings at last? Let the plotting commence.

And then.

We were at Costco, looking at a monster package of cherries. Rainiers–I’d like to try them, but that was a month’s supply. Now it might have been different had they looked like they hadn’t just traveled a long way over a long time and then been left out unrefrigerated, but as he wondered how we could eat them all it yanked my thoughts to our Stella cherry, to all our fruit trees as they grow up. That box (which we did not buy) potentially represented only a few branches’ worth.

For a brief instant the sheer volume to come overwhelmed. Countered instantly by, but see the difference is that we’ll be eating and freezing however much we want and then giving just-picked totally ripe homegrown to all comers, and surely there will be no shortage of those. A sun-warmed, dripping-ripe full-flavor peach is hardly the proverbial and much-maligned foundling zucchinis abandoned on doorsteps in the dead of the night. ( A side note: make zucchini bread, using butter, brown sugar, baking powder not soda, and, the most important part, substituting ground pecans for a quarter to a third of the flour. That will justify any zucchini planting you might ever do.)

And the picking of that fruit means this necessarily sun-deprived lupus patient will have reason to be outside at dusk for many a day, getting some badly-coveted fresh air and the satisfaction of doing good in the process. It’s like you cast on and then the trees do all the knitting for you.

Cherry on, then.

Cold rain and good warm foods
Thursday December 11th 2014, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Recipes

I woke up this morning and grabbed my glasses. Through the clerestory windows I watched the tops of the trees duking it out with the near-hurricane winds.

We’re at 3.84″ of rain with another .5″ to go for the day, and then next week it will rain again. We just need snowpack in those Sierras, too. I’ve been watching my downspouts going crazy and wishing we had the means to capture our roofprint’s worth up there.

And so we stayed out of that and at home, grateful for power and heat, listening to it rain, rain, rain. The water came up a foot in our street. Not as bad as the happily boogie-boarding kids in ’98 and the homes across the street with water up to the electric sockets that we had then but threatening to be. The storm drains are old and long overloaded and one neighbor waded out into that water to see if he could save those homes from it and he quietly cleaned the leaves out of the way, here, here, here and if a fourth spot needed it he did that too. We would never have known except that another neighbor ratted him out online so that everybody could thank the guy.

One friend who did leave home said there was water sloshing right over the center divider on the freeway.

I’m fine with marveling over the photos rather than experiencing that sort of thing in person.

Our mail service has had issues, as I’ve occasionally mentioned, sometimes major issues, but today our guy was totally a hero: he came at about 7:30 pm despite the fact that most of the roads between the main post office and here were shut down by flooding and fallen trees, including the road it’s actually on. We heard him and I ran for a rain jacket and struggled to get it on fast enough and then called out into the night as I lifted the lid on the box, “Thank you!”

He answered from over next door, “You’re welcome!”

The CSA (community-supported agriculture) guy made it in, too, dropping off our farm-to-fridge veggies in the dark of the early morning, and in honor of his effort I had to use his greens at their peak. Fresh-picked red chard. Strip the hard thick lower parts of the stalks out of your way, saute the greens in a bit of very good *EV olive oil, that’s all it needs. A small amount of bacon bits topped it off in a perfect winter dish against the cold.

And who knew that slicing ripe Hachiya persimmons in half and roasting them at 450 for fifteen minutes would give them a texture and taste like Thanksgiving sweet potatoes with marshmallows melted in. Peel the skins off that were holding the stuff together and there you go.

It was a thought and a whim and something I will definitely do again.

They must have run out of the spinach that had been on this week’s checklist. They keep making me try out new things. Rapini greens? Looking at the bunch, I’ve never eaten…spikes…before. It’s just the smaller leaves acting all edgy like that, though, y’know, ’80’s punk style.

Not that I’ll mind breaking out that olive oil again.


*EV–extra virgin. By lax Federal law, an imported olive oil can be labeled as such no matter what its actual grade as long as it’s food grade, but California requires that if the olives are grown in this state, the bottle must contain what the label says it does. Buy Californian.