Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pesto Mi Amour ~ April 28, 2012

During the summer I do a fair amount of canning: apple sauce, blackberry jam, pears and pesto to name a few. Rod is the Pie Man, so the top of the hill gang benefits greatly from his expertise with crusts, blackberries and Gravenstein apples. 

For a month or so last fall the small micro greens company Rod occasionally drives for gave us the organic growing medium from the flats returned by their clients. We dug it into our raised beds to add a bit of new soil and compost, never considering it might sprout in the spring with the first taste of sunshine. The past several weeks we've been harvesting fresh greens daily of all shapes, sizes and flavors: peas, shiso, mitsuba, fennel, baby onions and cilantro to name a few. These additions to our crop of baby lettuce and spinach give new meaning to the word salad, you hardly need dressing. Here's a suggestion for creating your own salad chaos.

Seed Bombs

We have a bumper crop of cilantro, which will bolt as soon as it gets hot so I wanted to do something. Would it work for pesto? I've always made my pesto with basil and pine nuts, but have been looking for an alternative, especially since pine nuts are $30/lb and I don't like walnuts. Doing some "digging" on line, I found a basic recipe and tweaked it as I went (that's a given).
Ingredient quantities are all approximate ~ mandatory taste as you go. Each batch makes a little over 3 half pints and it freezes well.
  • 4 cups fresh picked, rinsed and packed cilantro (stems and all)
  • 6-9 garlic cloves (if you want it spicy lean towards the 9)
  • 1/2 cup or more of a sunflower seed & peppered cashew mix. You can find all kinds of nuts in bulk aisle in most organic groceries. This is my mix but go wild and create your own. 
  • 1/2 cup (+) virgin olive oil (I also float a little on top before closing jar)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Cotija cheese ~ crumbled
  • 2-5 tbls fresh lime juice
Place cilantro and nuts in food processor and pulse until finally chopped, add garlic and pulse to combine. Add oil and run processor until contents are smooth. Add cheese and lime juice and pulse until creamy. Scrape down sides with a rubber spatula now and then.

We added more peppered cashews to one batch, additional lime juice to another and created some really different flavors. I took a partial jar over to my neighbor Andrea to taste. She wouldn't let me bring the remainder home. She's going to try it on BBQ chicken this weekend. Our food conversation was off and running, next experiment ~ brushetta with garden fresh tomatoes this summer. Oh Baby!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tales of the City ~ April 22, 2012

We went down to San Francisco this weekend to meet up with some out of town friends and do some exploring. It was 90 at home in Sonoma County and a pleasant 75 around the bay, one of those magical, windless spring days you don't often see.

We checked into our hotel on Lombard about 4pm and walked down to the Marina to meet with our friends for dinner at Pompei's Grotto on Jefferson St. The food was fabulous. I was looking at some vintage photos on the hallway wall and was thrilled to see one of California Street after the 1906 earthquake that had been taken by my great grand uncle, RJ Waters. Some places like this delightful little restaurant never change, but the world around it does.

The flip side was that there were about 10 low riders (fabulously creative beasts from the 50's and 60's in pristine shape) parked on the street out front. At least four of them had the bass on their space age stereo systems cranked up to 11 (ala Spinal Tap) and the windows were rattling. Several herds of Harley's came through in full dress with dragster volume pipes. All fun to watch, but a bit of a damper on ambiance and conversation for some. We just took it in as part of the free entertainment.

After dinner we walked back on a path that takes you around to the back of the small park at Ft. Mason and saw some stunning views of the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands at dusk.

Sepia tones of a great view of the Golden Gate

However, the next thing that came into view was the aftermath of Earth Day in the park at Ft. Mason. The place had been wall to wall people in the late afternoon when we first walked by. By dusk all that was left was the garbage, tons of it everywhere. San Francisco is at the top of the green cities list, but apparently some of the citizens haven't gotten the message. A sad commentary.

Earth Day Aftermath at Ft. Mason

After a fair night's sleep (we live on a dead end lane in the country so it is a stark and loud contrast being on main street USA) we walked down to Chestnut Street to meet up for breakfast at the Squat and Gobble, a spur of the moment choice that turned out to be an excellent decision. Walking back on Chestnut we noticed a fire truck parked in the middle of Pierce St. A cadre of firemen abandon ship and walk in our direction. We laughed and Carol facetiously said they must be on their way to Starbucks for coffee. Imagine our surprise when that's exactly where they were headed.

Next stop the Exploratorium ~ a place that makes you realize you're always a kid ~ all touch, visual, sound, mind, play, science and make it. I grew up in Mill Valley, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, I'm 67 years old and this was my first trip. Holy Hands On Fun Bat Girl! Put it on your bucket list. They will be closing down next January and moving to their new location on Pier 15 and re-open in April. I don't think it will be as convenient (free parking now at Crissy Field) and the amazing Palace of Fine Arts no longer be next door. So I'd go before the new year.

Favorite I: Icy Bodies ~ thin shavings of dry ice are injected onto the surface of a shallow pool of water where they careen around like comets. 

Tiny jets of gas shoot out from the individual ice fragments causing them to spin and tumble as they drift about. Side-lighting brings out the detailed structure of the out-gassing jets, much like our solar system.

Favorite II: The Living Bacteria Exhibit ~ colors to delight the artisan in all of us.

This was an amazing adventure to say the least ~ we took a stroll through the Palace of Fine Arts and then called it a day and headed back to the north country. Cereal and bananas for dinner and early to bed, brain dead from all the sensory input. Next adventure will be to the Legion of Honor for the Cult of Beauty: the Victorian Avant Garde 1860-1900 (through June 17th) and the San Francisco Zoo. 

Martha, Carol, Rod and Me

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cha Cha Cha ~ Changes April 17, 2012

Everyone looks at time in a different way. Everyone looks different in time. It's always on the move, but I've never considered its passage as something to be feared. With age we gain perspective, wisdom and sense of self. 

Rod and I have travelled through three decades together, now waltzing blithely through our mid-sixties. Oh sure the hair is silver, we've cornered the market on wrinkles and age spots and the sound effects of moving around are getting louder and more frequent. Like everyone else, we have our share of ups and downs. But when we catch ourselves whining (to protest in a childlike fashion) we invoke the "There's a $5 Fine for Whining" rule immortalized by songwriter Chris LeDoux.

No Whining

Whining, complaining or dwelling on the negative accomplishes absolutely nothing. Attitude is everything, so get up in the morning and choose a good one. If you're having a crappy day, it's probably your own fault: clouds have silver linings, doors close windows open, plant a seed harvest food, call in well and take a time out. As a cancer survivor I know the power of staying positive. Life is too short to waste any of it on the dark side. You have choices and options Cupcake so make 'em count. I mean really: 

  • We no longer give a rat's patooty what others think
  • We get senior discounts
  • We are free to move about the cabin and not act our age
  • We are free to follow muses and dance with abandon
  • We know things that younger generations are still in the dark on
  • Live up to your expectations not those of others
  • Let people go who bring you down
  • Keep a journal (they're fun to read decades later)
  • Take a camera every time you go outside
  • Mentor a kid
  • Research your history
  • Volunteer some time ~ you'll be amazed at the returns
  • Commit random acts of kindness

Time Stream 

Life is a moveable feast and the memories will travel with you for the rest of your life. Build some good ones! Henry David Thoreau got it right:

"Time is but the stream I go a fishing' in"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just a Thought Series ~ May 12, 1970

All you have been and seen
And done and thought
Not You but I
Have seen and been and wrought

Pilgrim, Pilgrimage and Road
Was but Myself toward Myself
 And Your Arrival
But Myself
At my own Door

Come you lost Atoms
To your Centre draw
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw
Rays that have wander'd
Into Darkness wide return
And back into your Sun subside

I knew these words weren't my own so I did a little early morning research. The lines are from a poem called A Face in the Mirror by 12th Century Persian poet Attar.

My whole life has been a series of serendipitous connections and threads. In retrospect these words were a prescient prelude to my month long adventure of self discovery in the Northwest and Canada that began August 18th of that same year. At the time of this journal entry I had no inkling of what was ahead, but then again, perhaps I did ~ food for thought.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Neighborhood ~ April 6, 2012

Daylight savings and a change of season often bring minor league chaos for a week or two. The weather's been cold and wet and we've all been inside for far too long ~ cabin fever is afoot.

Cabin Fever

Not ones to squander time we got creative while awaiting the warm. We read and scheduled playdays that weren't weather dependent. I volunteered time at a local non profit and learned how to do collage. Rod got his shop cleaned up and gear organized for bass fishing. But be that as it may we were still chomping at the bit to get outside, get our hands dirty garden and open up the house to some fresh air.

We live near the end of a lane that's far enough in the country to be quiet, but close enough to town we can walk the mile or so to the theater, a park or a restaurant. We've lived on this little piece of paradise for 24 years, but the real magic is that we have the best neighbors in the world.

We watch out for each other, take turns feeding critters or watering when one is out of town. Over the proverbial back fence or on the driveway we often share home grown produce, conversation and goodies from fresh fish to cut flowers, from homemade pies to soup. We've known the resident kidlets since they were born. We share friends and laughter at BBQ's, birthday parties and spur of the moment gatherings.


Our four families hadn't seen each other for almost a week but today was the quintessential day to exhale winter and breathe in the spring. At the first hint of warmth the bears emerged from their lairs. We got the barn organized and talked dahlias over the back fence. We toured the garden with the moms and kids to harvest fresh greens and got caught up standing in the sun on the driveway. I suspect that all of us, at one time or another during the day, stretched out like lizards on a rock to soak up some warm. We are so lucky to live where we do and to share this bond of friendship.

Planet Shared

Do you know your neighbors? Have you ever spoken to them? Maybe it's time to go next door and say hello with some fresh baked cookies? Get to know the kindred spirits that share your little corner of the world. You might be surprised.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Random Musings April 5, 2012

I just had my annual physical. As I left his office my Doc said "You're the poster child for doing it right. I can't scold you about anything." Music to the ears of a certifiable member of the Silver Squadron. As you get older you realize no one's going to take of your body but you. It's the no excuses tour baby, time to get on board!

Sunrise Squadron

On that high note I headed over to the Apple Store to assess the cost of replacing my vintage Dell with an iMac (it's going to happen because I'm worth it and life is short). As I'm walking back to the car a literary bolt of lightning momentarily derails my train of thought.

"Keep a clear head and always carry a light bulb."

It's a line from  D.A. Pennebaker's documentary of Dylan's 1965 English tour Don't Look Back. Why it should surface now I have no idea, except that I walked past two dumpsters on the way to my car. Say what?

My friend Kelly and I saw the film in 1967 while we were at UCLA. The theater was in downtown LA. We ended up getting there a little early and decided to take a walk.

Bob Dylan ~ Warfield 1979

As we strolled down the boulevard something caught his eye. I didn't give a second thought to following him into an alley behind a retail store (the Sixties were a different time). There he liberated a couple of fluorescent tubes from a dumpster.  A new idea for a piece of conceptual art? Star Wars light sabers before there was Star Wars? No telling what sparked that moment, but when we heard Dylan say "Keep a clear head and always carry a light bulb" the meaning was obvious. 

You never know what's important until it is!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just a Thought Series ~ June 16, 1975

Aspen, Colorado ~ Curled up in a down filled nest at my friend's house sipping a cup of morning coffee ~ my thoughts wander to the very large boulder that occupies part of the space and then to home. I see contradictions in where I am there and where I could be. This isn't negative space, but the start of a learning phase. Things I want to change will take patience and time and it begins with me.

I need to be my own resource and expose myself a little more to the world. It's so easy to become complacent and caught up in the minutia of the every day. Practicality keeps one secure, but not always stimulated. Time to start thinking outside the box.

Outside the Box

Coming to the Rockies on this little adventure has awakened my mind from the stillness of a long winter's spell, literally and figuratively. The buds of spring are full to bursting, creativity and inspiration flow like a snowmelt river. I am aware of an unrestlessness I have not known for awhile. Time out and adventures need to occupy a larger percentage of my time.