Tuesday, August 30, 2011


 When my parents first moved to Northern California, there was tons of blackberry bushes growing on the hillside right near their neighborhood. We'd pick bushels of them every summer, and I would plan to make jam and pie, etc. but I never made jam and had mixed success with pie.
I think I redeemed myself this summer. I baked a delicious pie. It wasn't the most beautiful looking pie in the world, but it was wonderful tasting, especially considering that we picked the blackberries about an hour before I used them in the pie, and we topped it off with Humboldt Creamery Vanilla Ice Cream.
The blackberry patches in my parents' neighborhood have pretty much disappeared since the neighborhood has expanded quite a bit in twenty years, but we found a great patch about ten minutes away, along our running path down by the Eel River.

Why am I posting this? I'm finished with my Pettine shawlette, but I haven't blocked it, and I'm not completely happy with it, anyway.  Plus, it's been over 100 degrees for the last couple of days, with no relief in sight. I have no interest in even cooking on the stove top, much less baking anything;  and I can barely stand to run three miles at five in the morning because it's already hot. So, I thought I'd have a nice, little memory about a fun week in cool Northern California, and I'll try to remember that they'll have weeks of being stuck inside because of rain this winter, and I'll be out enjoying balmy weather in November.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Interweave Knits Sale!

Wow!  Zibeline Knits has a post about an unbelievable sale over at Interweave Knits. Their 2009 Edition of Knit Accessories is only 10 cents, as a download. I almost thought it was a joke, but it's not. I have my copy already. Hurry! It won't last long.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

So...Here We Go Again!

School starts tomorrow, and I'm not even in mourning. Of course, I would prefer to be independently wealthy and not work every day, but since I'm not, I feel lucky to have a job that I hardly ever hate and sometimes even love. Sorry folks who think that teachers only deserve respect if they sacrifice their health and family life for their job. I'm a hard worker, but I've been doing it long enough to understand the game and how to (usually) keep my sanity. Of course, some people might say I'm a poser because I've been getting and answering texts all summer from honors students who had questions about their summer work, and I spent all last Friday night getting some online learning modules ready for my high school students who are taking my college, composition class.
I can't knit quite as much once school starts...or at least, I shouldn't; and it's easier for me to pick up a project for brief knitting sessions if it's a simple one. Pettine fits that bill. I've been working on it for a while actually, but I played "chicken" with it and didn't begin my decreases for the second half of it early enough, so I got to within about four inches of being finished and realized that I wasn't going to make it with my one beautiful skein of Ellen Rae merino yarn that I bought at Heidi's in Ukiah, California two summers ago. Luckily I'm enjoying knitting it, so unravelling all that work wasn't too painful. I have also finally memorized the pattern, which isn't that big of an accomplishment since it's easy.

Whenever we're in Humboldt County, we go crazy over the food. There's so much fresh, good, orginal stuff everywhere, especially in my parents' backyard. My parents' grow tons of garlic, and they usually give us a huge bunch of it to take home. This year was no exception. The kids helped me pick out the very best heads--twenty-five of them to be exact.
We've already gone through two heads of garlic after being home for a little over a week. Yeah, we have no vampire problems here. Today, I thought I'd use up some of the eggplant that I'm growing in my backyard. I'm not a huge fan of eggplant, but I think some of varieties are really pretty. Of course, I'm having the best luck with the tried and true aubergine eggplant that you see in the grocery stores. I used several cloves of our garlic and four eggplants to make some babaganoush this morning.

I don't think babaganoush usually looks that appetizing, and my batch is no exception. It's kind of muddy looking. It tastes pretty good though. This is a picture of Paige's lunch, which she had with cactus chips we bought at the Bakersfield farmer's market yesterday from the Baba Foods guy.

  • 2 large  cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional)


Prick the skin of each eggplant several times with a fork, scorch skin until black and bubbly, then roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30 min. If you don't have a gas stove, just roast a little longer in the oven.
Allow to cool slightly, then scoop out inside of eggplant, leaving skin behind.

Pulse eggplant pulp in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients, and pulse until smooth.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Humboldt County Fair

We just got home last night from visiting my parents in Humboldt County, which is a grueling eleven hour drive. I'm trying not to be depressed by the string of 100 degree temps I see forecast for us this coming week because we had a great vacation up in foggy, Northern California. One of the highlights of our summer for years has been the Humboldt County Fair, which is held in the town of Ferndale, California, about ten minutes from my parents' home where we visit every summer. Two years ago, my school changed its schedule, starting school meetings the second Thursday of August, which ended our fair tradition since the fair also always begins the second Thursday of August. This year, because of a one-time alteration to our school schedule, we got one more chance to go to the fair. The picture above is from three years ago, the last time we went to the fair. Paige doesn't look too different, but Kai sure does!
This was probably our least expensive fair visit ever. We went on the first day, which happened to be one of three free-admission days, so we saved ourselves the regular six dollar apiece admission. The kids were also not interested in the midway, so we saved ourselves the ten dollar apiece, unlimited-ride tickets we always used to buy too. That meant that the bulk of our time was spent in the animal barns. We all loved it although no on wanted to spent quite as much time as I did.
There's always a newborn calf at the fair, but this was the youngest we've seen--two days old. Awwww. I could have seriously sat there an hour just enjoying his cute, little face.
There weren't a lot of sheep yet since it was the first day of the fair, and the sheep competition was later in the week, but there were some cool ones. Kai said these sheep looked like they had dreadlocks. I think I saw that they were Cotswolds

Of course, I also have to spend time in the home arts building, usually to admire all of the knitted items. I enjoyed it this year, but there wasn't anything that I just had to take a picture of, except for this little miniature display. I've been interested in dollhouses recently, and I think this would be a perfect craft room in a dollhouse.
The Humboldt County Woolgrowers Association always has had this cute, little "shack" every year, but it's gotten better over the years, at least to me. It used to be a celebration of lamb--as in eating it. I have to admit that I have problems with lamb. I really like how it tastes, like in a giro or other Greek cuisine, but they're so cute, I rarely, and I mean really rarely eat it. I don't have the same qualms over it that I have over veal, which I haven't eaten since I was a kid, and don't intend to. I even told that to the guy manning the booth, who obviously loves his sheep. He laughed and said it's no problem if you don't "know" them personally.
The reason that I say that the Bo-Peep Barn is better than ever is that they now sell yarn there. I bought the pink and tan skeins for $12 apiece, which was a bargain. They're from Romney sheep who graze on a hill about two miles from my parents' home. Right now, I'm just letting my bunnies admire them, but I'm thinking that I'll knit them into a bowl and felt it.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Easy Caprese Salad

 I used to love Shepherd's Garden Seeds, but one year I couldn't find them on the internet anymore. I'm not sure what happened but I'm pretty sure that Renee's Garden Seeds is the same company basically. I don't know if there seeds are any better than anyone else, because I buy her seeds for the packet pictures. I love them. This spring I bought a packet of mini pear tomatoes and a packet of larger variety tomatoes, and somehow all that came up were five mini pears, which made me a little sad since I was imagining endless BLTs and canned tomato sauce. This is my first year of having any success with tomatoes though, so I'm not complaining, and these little tomatoes are wonderful tasting.
I like traditional Caprese Salad, but I like this rendition, which I found on Mel's Kitchen Cafe.The basil is from my garden too, so I'm feeling very urban gardener-ish.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Another Beach Bunny

Russ, Paige, and I had a great day at the beach, eating out at the Bayside Cafe in Morro Bay, going for a walk on the beach, and stopping by the Los Osos Farmer's Market.
I love walking on the beach by Morro Rock in the early morning, collecting shells, but we didn't get to the beach until early afternoon, so I figured there wouldn't be any shells that hadn't been broken by all the people walking along. I found tons of tiny intact sand dollars though. How cute!
OK, I'm officially tired of knitting bunnies. I knit one more on a little trip to the beach on Monday. I'm pretty happy with him although I think his ears are too big. I'm not sure that I like him well enough to give as a gift though.
cold roasted beet and cauliflower salad
Russ bought some white beets at the Los Osos Farmer's Market, which he roasted this morning with a little olive oil and salt. I'm never that excited when he roasts beets during the sumer, which he loves to do, since it heats up the house, but these beets were really good. I thought that roastd beet salad sounded perfect, so I looked for a recipe. i ended up just improvising. To the roasted beets, I added some steamed cauliflower,  and basil, thyme, and cherry tomatoes from my garden. Then I poured a vinaigrette of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the mixture,  and finished off with some grated cheddar cheese and some Murray River salt,  Oh, and then I mixed that in with three cups of couscous. Pretty yummy!