It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet.... As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye... ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. ~Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Does anyone have a sharp mandoline?

This morning a friend and I went to this class on preserving food. It was very interesting and I learned a lot about canning , freezing and dehydrating food. Dorothy Smith, the county director for the University of Calif. Cooperative Extension was a great speaker and gave us a lot of information.
Canning is wonderful but time consumming. You have to really love canning food. It's very satisfying to "put up" your own vegetables and fruit. All those beautiful jars of produce are there later in the year when they are gone from your garden.
Dehydration is inexpensive and easy. It doesn't require a hot stove or a freezer to produce great results. Of all the ways that we can preserve food, I think I like drying the best. It's certainly the easiest and has the least chance of becoming toxic. It's the oldest form of preserving and there are many ways to do it. She talked about the two that she liked the best. You can sun dry outside which can take a couple of days, or you can buy a dehydrator that works off of electricity and is much faster. I would think that most people might want the dehydrator because it's faster and you can control the air-circulation and the heat. Drying time for most fruit or veggies in a dehydrator is only 1 to 4 hours. That's a plus for people who work or have busy schedules.
I'm going to try some "drying" soon because it's so easy and look at the beautiful, colorful assortment of veggies that Dorothy brought as examples. You can use these all year in soups and casseroles, etc. You can keep them in the cupboard or if you like , the refridgerator.
If you click on any of these photos you can see them closer. They are absolutely beautiful and some can be used in collages or on wreaths, if they are thin and dry enough. Just look at them. Some are like small works of art. I had no idea that preserving food could be so artistic. By the way, a Mandoline is a slicer that will give you thin even slices of food to dry.
Clockwise, from the upper left are: Crooked neck squash, Sweet potatos, mushrooms, squash, onions and bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatos, tomatoes and in the middle are onions and bell peppers. Yum! Don't you just want to make soup?...., and then there is all the fruit to think about: Dried apples, pears, apricots, peaches, pineapple, cherries, etc. ..., Oh my gosh, I think I need to go have a piece of fruit right this minute.
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Friday, August 15, 2008

Fragrance of sunlight


I hung my gown out in the sun.
Tonight I brought it in.
I cannot tell how sweet a scent,
the gown, from sun, 
my skin.

c.c. 2008

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Freckles Dilemma in the Pasture


"Hey, Brownie.....,look . We are in a different place. That's our house way up there."

"And look over there. That's a new fence. What happen? Why did they let us out here? I'm confused. Things are not the same."
" You guys keep calling this "greener pastures", but I think something is up. Why were the tall ones so happy and saying something about the goats finally earning their keep? Hey...., stop eating and think for a minute. This just doesn't settle right with me. I may be smaller than all of you ,but my brain is telling me something is just not right. You don't get oak and toyon bushes for free. Mark my words. Something is up!"
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Monday, August 11, 2008

Tenacious Life

My Mom has had ivy growing on the front porch as long as I can remember. Mom planted it at each porch post and over the years it has grown up across the whole length of the porch . The house is on a "slab" foundation and I always thought that the porch was just an extention of the slab. But, maybe not.....
A wonderful neighbor comes over every morning and brings the newpaper up onto the porch near the front door, so Mom won't have to walk out to the street to pick it up. This is the same person that takes her garbage cans in and out for her and calls to see if she needs help when someone stands too long at the front door. He is 72 years old and tells really corny jokes: But he has always been there for my parents. He is a truly good person.
So yesterday morning I went out to get the paper and underneath the Sunday Times was this.....
Right were the stucco meets the concrete was this one ivy leaf growing out of the space between the wall and the porch. This spot is at least 6 or 7 feet from the edge of the porch where the rest of the ivy is growing. That little slip of ivy had to wiggle it's way under at least 6ft of concrete and find a crack where it could finally grow up to the surface and find light.
So now I'm thinking that the slab and the concrete porch may have been two separate pieces and that there is a gap just wide enough to let a very small ivy root squeeze through because..., there it is, growing where nothing should be growing. I'm amazed that this ivy had the tenacity to search for and find the "light" that it so badly needed.
When I asked Mom to "Come and look at this, your not going to believe it." She said... "I know what you saw." She said she had seen it a few days before and wondered if I would see it too.

Maybe this is a lesson taught by example; of a life that has been worth living and included a great struggle for identity while always finding beauty in every corner. Mom and this small ivy leaf know what life is. I guess they know each other well.
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