Wednesday, December 26, 2012


What a nice surprise! Susan & Chris' gift arrived today from Maisie Jane's in Chico. Lots of local Sacramento Valley goodness....packets of flavored almonds, local olives, Sierra Nevada IPA mustard, apricot jam from Gridley and beautiful organic rice from Hamilton City. And all in a nice antiqued copper tub that I can use in my kitchen to hold pots of herbs this year. Great stuff!


 Our Boxing Day tradition is a big pot of minestrone. The absolute required ingredients are good sweet Italian sausage, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, dried beans, pasta and collards!
Here is the pot of goodness. I've added carrots, celery, mushrooms, peppers, & eggplant from the garden. A combination of chicken stock and onion soup give a nice complexity to the mix.
Be sure to drain the collards as they always come in a very spicy broth. Don't even think about using fresh collards...they take forever to cook and do they stink up the house, according to my friends in North Carolina. Even there they used the canned! Of course you could use kale or mustard or chard...any tough green.
As for the seasoning, less is more because there is already seasoning in the sausage, the chicken stock and the onion soup. I just add a bay leaf, some cubes of basil & garlic and some sage. I just let it osmose for a few hours on low on the stove or in the crock pot. Serve with crusty french bread for a real hearty meal.


Nothing says holidays like an Irish coffee. All we needed was a good strong pot of Peet's dark roast, some Bushmills Irish whiskey, whipped cream and dark chocolate to grate over the top. And of course our regulation Irish coffee mugs (a gift from Chris & Susan).

Sunday, December 23, 2012


 Well, actually it's just deck the mantle this year as we opted out of the tree part. Chase likes to plop down in front of the fireplace when we have the gas log going. This fireplace is faced in "Eden rock" from a quarry up in the Cascades just a few miles from here. The painting above the mantle is of a winter scene that my mom got us years ago....who knew it would go so well at Angel Crest Manor?
 We used a magnolia leaf swag with some white lights, candles, the 1905 lamp from the Ashcraft farm on the left and a wire frame tree with little cones I got this year from Christian & Johnson in Chico on the right.
The owl is also from C & J in Chico. They had an entire tree decorated with various was hard to choose just one!
Have a nice holiday...we're expecting snow today, tomorrow and maybe even for Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


What does a cat do on a nice sunny December day? Climb up a trellis, of course!
                              Queen of all she surveys!
                       Don't try this at home!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


 Our first trip out of town since April 2010! We chose Chico of course for a quick weekend visit with the chillens! Our first stop was in Corning at the Mecca of olive oilness...Lucero where we posed as "extra virgins!" 
 The Lucero Co has a very nice tasting room with a mind boggling display of oils.
 Quality time with the "chillens" included seeing Chris' bike collection including this little beauty which he rides down to the grocery store. Mr. A helped Chris with some bike restoration while we girls went shopping in vibrant downtown Chico which is so much more alive than the downtown of Medford! We recharged with some coffee at Peets after a visit to Christian & Johnson florists which had all their Christmas decor on display. Too hard to resist! 
And we had a nice visit to Wine Time for tapas and wine/beer treat courtesy of Chris & Susan for our anniversary. Then it was on to the California Lake Pavilion for a senior dance event hosted by Chico Area Recreation. 

Friday, November 2, 2012


 I grabbed up a 5lb bag of Mayan sweet onions at Grocery Outlet the other day. Turns out they were grown in Peru (yeah Peru Peru not Peru Indiana). Onions do love a porous soil like the volcanic soil in Washington state courtesy of Mt. Ranier and Peru at the base of the Andes! So I sliced 'em up and slow cooked them in a bit 'o butter and some olive oil.
Carmelized onions should have a nice, well, caramel color. Now I just add chicken broth, white wine and some garlic and you have a great onion soup for a chilly fall day. Yummmmmm!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


sung to "It was facination, I know...."  We seem to sing this song most every week around here. With our combination of cheap shag carpeting and barfing pets, there is always something fun to step in for the unobservant or the sleepy! And of course there's always the shock of dog kibble between the toes if you dare to go bare!
So out comes Brenda Bissell for a nice run around the house, freaking out the pets and giving the whole house an "eau de wet carpet" for a few hours. We figure we now have the cost per use at about $1.00 so far and going down. It's been a good investment!   

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Okay, so it took 20 (YES TWENTY) years of letters, then emails and blogs to get a Traders here in Dreadford. The good news is that it is the LARGEST one I've ever shopped in....about 30% bigger than our favorite one in Chico! Tonite's treat will be some "2-Buck Chuck" which is $2.49 in Oregon & smoked trout on pita crackers. Yummm!
Some of the best things about Traders are the frozen foods. I had to remind myself that I didn't need to buy 6 of something...I could go back ANYTIME and get more and not have to plan a 3 HOUR TRIP  to Chico or Eugene! Our first shopping trip cost us $124.00, including 6 bottles of assorted wine ($24 for them) so I did buy plenty of items that I had run out of since Susan brought me stuff from Chico at Christmas!
The store is very well lit, has wide aisles and a bigger produce & prepared food section. I also think the wine/beer section is bigger.
Some folks camped outside the store overnight so they'd be the first ones inside last Friday when it opened. Me?...I forced myself to wait until today to shop. Can't wait to go back! 


Jack and Izzy enjoying some computer togetherness. Izzy likes to sit on the desk facing Jack whilst he types away, this time on a VW article for the "Vintage Voice" magazine for VW owners. He gets a trade out for a free ad for VDO speedo repair, which older VW's have as well as Saab, Volvo, Mercedes & BMW. All is good as long as Izzy's tail doesn't brush the screen...then everything goes wonky! We figure it must be the static when her tail rubs across the screen.

Friday, October 12, 2012


 Take lots of leeks! It's that time of year again when you can find tender leeks at the Grower's Market. At $2 a bunch, I bought 5 bunches. I sliced them up in the food processor after a thorough washing and trimming. I do shred up some of the dark green portion if it is small and tender.
Then I cook 'em down with some olive oil. I'll put them in freezer pouches and use them in soups all winter long. The smell of leeks was so strong when I got them into the pan that I had to open all the windows and doors it was so skunk-like! Probably drove the neighbors crazy, too!


Look! Fruit with no labels! How does this happen? Simple. Just buy your apples at a local farmer's market. These are REAL Red Delicious apples...the original tasty apple before the hybridizers got a hold of it and made it into THE "wooden apple." Sure, they made it an apple that stored well and didn't lose its "flavor"...that's because it didn't have any flavor when they got done with it.
So today you can find this original apple that is good sliced raw or makes a fine apple pie. It also goes by the name "Cameo" in the grocery stores.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012


 October is NATIONAL LIVERWURST MONTH here at Angel Crest Manor. That means a pilgrimage to Cave Junction, Oregon and Taylor Sausage. Yes, it's a 130 mile round trip but worth it for the best stuff you've ever tasted!
You can buy many of the Taylor sausages here in the valley at local specialty shops but not the liverwurst. The main ingredients are pork and pork liver. The binder is dry nonfat milk. And they add just the right amount of spices. You can buy a stick (24" long) or you can buy pieces. I buy about 36" of it in pre cut pieces already shrink wrapped and frozen. We try to make it last for at least 6 months but it never seems to last longer than 4 months! It's great fried up with eggs for breakfast and of course make wonderful sandwiches paired with good mustards and cheese. Eggs Benedict take on a new dimension with a slice of liverwurst instead of the usual ham.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Last night was the Harvest Moon. And it was a beauty...really bright and extra full! We got to enjoy it on our way to and from dancing. The night time temps are cooling off into the mid 40's by this week, so it does feel like fall, at least in the morning. Afternoon temps remain in the 80's with clear skys.
 It's time for the fall change-over from sunflowers to rosehips, cones and ferns. Makes for a nice change at the front door, don't you think?
These colors make me think of spiced cider and pumpkin bread. Yummm.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


 Pimento peppers ripen slowly so I only get a few at a time. Here I'm roasting them along with a few of my Golden Summer bells. The roasting chars the skin so I can peel it off after "sweating" them in a plastic bag.
After I peel and seed them, they get a good dose of regular Lucero  and a finish of my crushed Meyer lemon Lucero, I pack them up in a glass bowl if I'm planning to use them up fresh or I vacumn pack and freeze them for use later. Fabulous addition to almost anything!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Luckily we don't have to call in a crew to help us harvest the garden like these folks! And I don't have to spend hours in the kitchen over a wood-fired stove frying chicken and making lots of biscuits & gravy for the threshing crew! GOOD TIMES!
We're probably a good six weeks or so away from a real frost...the full moon at the end of October will probably be the time that does in the tomato plants. Meanwhile I'm picking lots of peppers, eggplant, butternut squash and of course tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Today is a very sad day for us. And for all of us as Americans. We learned that Chris Stevens, our US Ambassador to Libya was killed along with 4 career State Department officials in that country. We think of our friends Jeanine and Mark Jackson who have worked for the State Department for several decades, often putting themselves in harm's way. Jeanine is now the US Ambassador to Malawi where recent events put her in the center of keeping a government on the right track when their president died. Before that she was running the US Embassy in Bagdhad, where she couldn't go outside without wearing a helmet and flack jacket. She was also the Us Ambassador to Berkina Fasso, the poorest country in Africa. Before that she and Mark were kidnapped in Nigeria...and those are only the things that we know about! They've also been in Russia and Hong Kong and most of the Middle East at times of unrest. 
It's hard for those of us who don't have their calling to understand why they would continually put themselves in harm's way, but their service to our country truly shows a lifetime's devotion to the principles of Democracy and the USA! So think of them today and all those out there in foreign posts. And voice your opposition to ANY type of radical opinions you hear or's those hate mongerers on all sides that cause terrible consequences for all of us.   

Friday, September 7, 2012


Did I mention it's been a good year for tomatoes? It's also a good year for peppers....TOO GOOD! Even the local food banks can't take any more PEPPERS from gardeners this year! Here at Angel Crest Manor, we've had some help from the raccoons who have managed to get to about 25% of the crop...they only like the ripe ones, of course. Me too! Red, yellow or purple, they are nice and sweet. Where I've usually have two or three peppers per plant, I have up to 10 this year!
So time to get real and chop 'em up, along with summer squash, onions, green tomatoes, eggplant ( I have 16 on one bush!)  Saute them up with some nice Lucero (that's California olive oil from Corning) and you get a mirepoix, melange (pardon my hideous French spelling) or sludge of goodness. I'll freeze it in small amounts (1 cup per vac pack) to add to soups, stews or roasts in the crock pot for added flavour dimension this winter.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


We were motoring back home from a night of great dancing...going up our usual hillside route at about 10:30 pm when Jack spotted a doe crossing the road ahead. He slowed down and we figured there would be at least one more deer to watch for...there is never just a single deer...
Sure enough a fawn jumped out of the bushes from the center median right in front of us. We were going about 25-30 mph at the time and Jack stood on the brakes. Thank goodness for great Honda anti-locks! We probably stopped in one car length but we saw the deer's head looking up at us and then disappearing in front of our hood. I thought for sure we had hit him because the car seemed to shudder but it was the brakes doing their job. Luckily for the fawn, Jack's 75 year old reflexes were damned good and the fawn bounded away across the road. He was not touched by the car but it must have been just an inch or two from disaster!
That will get the adrenalin going and make you heart feel like it is going to jump out of your chest!

Monday, August 27, 2012


 I had imagined way back in March when I first planted my tomato vines that I would be gifting these luscious heirloom beauties on all my neighbors, relatives and friends...yes, I'd be the toast of the town! Not so much! It seems that this has been a fine year for tomatoes, so everyone has too many of their own. No one, it seems, appreciates these rare varieties as much as me. Their low acid chemistry and over the top sweet flavor don't appeal to all. What to do? Short of putting them on cereal, one can only eat so many tomato sandwiches! 
Some think that the Brandywine and Kelloggs Breakfast tomatoes' mild, sweet flavor is too bland for sauce but with a few tricks, you can have a fine marinara sauce. The trick is to get the seeds out. After a quick hot water bath and a plunge into ice water to get the skins off, I use a potato masher and a colander to squish out the seeds and extra juice.  
I saute onions in a big pot, add the 'matoes, a small can of tomato paste and my magic cubes of goodness...several garlic cubes and later some basil. I also add a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar to ramp up the acidity and give a flavor boost. Is this cheating? Yeah, but the "Marinara Police" haven't got me yet!
Then it is just a matter of letting it simmer and cook down into a nice sludge.
I freeze some in 3/4 cup portions to add to soups and stews this winter. It's sort of like apple butter without the apples!


It's that time to start the potato harvest. These are some of the earlier varieties...Bison (red potato) along with a few of the later white potato Carola...all from one half of one potato bag. I had intended to make a potato salad but changed my mind. I couldn't bring myself to mix them with mayo! So I celebrated their nutty and fresh taste by roasting them with garlic, summer savory, rosemary and my most buttery Lucero olive oil.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I sent this photo of a half eaten tomato to the OSU Master Gardener's hot line to see if they had any ideas about what is having a midnight snack in our garden. So we're down to raccoon, squirrel or fox, since most other varmints cannot get over a 6' fence. Short of camping out by the tomato plants, the only other option is to make sure all ripe and almost ripe fruit are picked each evening before the marauder invades our little piece of heaven.
I guess my motto applies: "When you garden, there's always something!"

Friday, August 10, 2012


This photo shows the true meaning of "All dressed up and no place to go!"

Next time we think we have it rough, remember these folks in 1910 out in the middle of nowhere on the prairie...20 miles from the nearest town. And yes, that is their house, where they spent the winter...Oye!

This is a few years later...they've added a real peaked roof house to the original homestead shanty.

And here is the big house built in the 1920's when wheat prices were good.
Interestingly, we got an email from a man in Rapid (City) and he asked our permission to use the photo of the folks pushing the car out of the gumbo! Don't know how he saw my blog!  

Sunday, August 5, 2012


This big boy is growing in a old short but wide enamel bucket that I got one year at the Master Gardener's Faire. The bucket has some nice rust holes in the bottom so I just added a quart of plastic packing peanuts and some good potting soil. I also planted an eggplant which has several fruit and it supported by the bale handle of the bucket.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


 I found a folder of photos in my computer...these are genuine South Dakota folks in the 1910. I think Jack's aunt may be in this photo of the Edna School (a one-room school) which was near Kennebec, out on the prairie. Jack also went to this school!
 Homesteading, 1909...neighbors of Jack's grandparents
Good old South Dakota better wear boots if you're gonna ride to town! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


No, I'm not talking about my daughter-in-law Susan, though she definitely fits that description! We're talking peppers here...
 I found an orphan pepper plant at Freddies and believed the label! It said "Sweet Heat." And it already had peppers on it. The big plant tag (almost as big as the plant) said, "Enjoy mildly spicy flavor fresh in salsa or grilled. 65% more vitamin C than average garden peppers." This plant was from the Burpee "Boost Collection."
This is the first pepper I have picked and the "sweet to spicy" promise is more like sweet and VERY spicy. About 1/10 of the pepper, chopped fine was plennnnty for the taco salad! The peppers are about 3" long by 1-1/2" wide. Plenty of heat for my gringo palate!