Thursday, December 31, 2009


DSC_1313_2709 This morning I harvested a head of cabbage to make a pot of Basque soup.  De-stinkin’-licous!  Basque soup is the ultimate peasant food.  Cheap, healthful, and de-stinkin’-licous.  The soup has a broth base with cabbage, leeks, carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, and tomato sauce.  Basque soup is served with pink beans and salsa – all in the same bowl.  Don’t forget the sourdough.  To be fair, Mr. Maybelline took control of the soup making and demoted me to sous chef.

I don’t know if this is how the French Basque or Spanish Basque really eat; but this is how the Bakersfield Basque do it.  Those looking to improve their eating habits should try this method of cooking with fresh vegetables and sparse amounts of meat.  The grocery dollar can be stretched even further if you grow as much of the ingredients as possible.

Note:  A packet of seeds sells for less than $2.00.  I believe that every stinkin’ seed sprouted too.  When the seedlings were thinned, they began to flourish  in the space they were tossed.  Cabbage is a delight to grow.  There is hardly any work involved to grow this nutritious crop.  I need more cabbage recipes.

Friday, December 25, 2009

California Christmas


“M” took my camera while I was cranking out food in the kitchen and captured this image recording Christmas Day in Bakersfield, California.  I don’t ever recall anything but a sunshiny day on Christmas.   Although the air was a bit crisp, the sky was clear with nothing but sun.  I wonder what it’s like to have a snowy, white Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Daughters of the British Empire Enter the Garden

dbe_ctlogoThe Daughters of the British Empire – DBE  (Sir Edward Elgar Chapter) were invited to hold their Christmas gathering at my house this year.  It was my mother’s turn to host the meeting; so I offered to host the party.  Our house is usually decorated for Christmas and it would be fun to see all the ladies.  I couldn’t just have them show up for a gift exchange only.  A simple menu needed to be prepared for the ladies that were born in Scotland, Ireland, and England.

Split pea soup, salad, bread & butter, and a dessert followed by tea (of course) would be ideal for ladies that had birdlike appetites.

The hostess ( my mother) and Lyn arrived early to make sure everything was in order.  The soup was ready.  The salad was set to be tossed.  The rolls just needed to be warmed.  The caramel sauce for the chocolate cake was warm on the stove.  The tea kettle was on standby.  The hostess assembled the place cards for the 9 DBE members.  There was a 10th place card for Queen Elizabeth just in case her social calendar cleared for the event.  The Union Jack was posted in the front yard to alert the remaining daughters where to find the party.  After all, the British Empire once ruled the entire world.  Surely, these Brits could find their way across town.

In they came dressed in their holiday outfits.DSC_1160_2485Anna was full of Christmas cheer and even matched the holiday china used.  Very festive and always easy to photograph.  Thanks Anna.DSC_1161_2486Barbara migrated thousands of miles from Scotland to finally live in Bakersfield, California.  Bless her heart. DSC_1162_2487Kitty from England was more than willing to get her portrait snapped.  She’s such a “luv”.DSC_1164_2489

Norma, from England, was sporting her DBE pin with a flare of red, white, and blue ribbon.  Sweet .DSC_1165_2490Eileen was very glittery with her golden shimmering top.  She was clearly festive.  She’s also from England.  Sorry about getting the soup to you last, Eileen.  DSC_1167_2492 Joannie was sporting a sequined Christmas tree pin that reminded me of one from my childhood.  She was very kind.  Her English manners were appreciated by a fumbling wait staff (me).DSC_1168_2493 Connie was really showing her Scottish roots with her tartan vest.  Connie knows her way around a computer with her many emails.  I expect her to comment on this post.DSC_1169_2494Lyn is from England.  She had her make up done for the party.  Doesn’t she look pretty?

DSC_1170_2495Marjory enjoyed closing her eyes and listening to Vera Lynn sing about the White Cliffs of Dover.  Jimmy Shand also played to the delight of the Scottish lassies.

A gift exchange was underway while the split peas soup and rolls were laid out.  Sadly, the Queen didn’t make it so the meal got started.  Once all the bowls were in place, Marjory offered a Burns poem before the meal:

"Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit."

DSC_1174_2499All nine of the daughters were off to a great start.   If only the Queen would have made an appearance.

Now it was time for the salad.  Romaine, iceberg, red onion, cucumber, avocado, salami, provolone, vinegar, oil, and bleu cheese all tossed together.  Just as the salad course was finishing up, a knock came to the door. 

“Make way for the Queen.”  The Queen WAS at the front door.  It was a complete surprise to everyone (except Anna – cheeky wee bissom).  Seating arrangements were adjusted and the Queen settled in for a bowl of split pea soup.  There was no salad to offer.  Fortunately,  she was able to enjoy dessert and tea.

The afternoon was a roaring success with a table full of daughters gabbing and enjoying each others company.  The Queen was one of the last to leave.  With all the excitement, I almost forgot to snap her portrait.  Luckily, I scrambled out to her before she was whisked off by her driver.

DSC_1176_2501 Queenie is an Irish lass that lived for many years in Bakersfield.  She now lives in Visalia and made a special trip down to surprise everyone.  And she did.  She certainly did.

Merry Christmas

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas Mandarin

This year we planted quite a few trees.  Not shade trees.  Not pretty-to-look-at trees.  Fruit trees.  Trees that really earn their keep.  Stone fruit, apple, pear, and citrus.  I think citrus is my favorite.  Citrus ripens around Christmas time here and is delicious when it’s juicy and cold.  Of course, I’ll switch gears in the summer stating that the stone fruit is my favorite.  I’m fickle that way.

Today, I picked the 1st Satsuma Mandarin.

March 2009-DSC_0392_456 

November 2009-DSC_1070_2398

December 2009-DSC_1178_2503 DSC_1180_2505 Delicious. 

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fog Delay

I’m home sick today with seasonal junk.  I looked out the window this morning and was pleased to see fog.DSC_1148_2473 Tule fog forms around Christmas time.  When the fog is too thick, school is delayed (usually 2 hours).  Every child loves fog.  Not only is school delayed but Rudolph needs to make sure his nose is working properly.DSC_1153_2478This weather is delightful.  We get a break from dry heat and constant irrigation.  Now there is cool fog and dew everywhere.DSC_1156_2481A few plants didn’t survive the frost.  They were mostly summertime volunteers and weren’t expected to make it into December.  For the most part, the winter veggies are thriving.DSC_1130_2454I welcome the fog.  Today, I will stay inside wearing my “comfies”, embroidering, and watching movies.  Life is sweet.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chiot’s Run

I won something.

I won something beautiful.

I won something useful.

I won a calendar from Chiot’s Run.

It’s a big, beautiful gardening themed calendar.

The 13.5” x 19” calendar is perfect for jotting down garden notes.

The photos will inspire you to get out there and chronicle your garden.

You can buy one here.  If you have gardeners on your list, get one for each of them and you’re done. 

You’re welcome.

DSC_1145_2470Chiot’s Run is a garden based blog with tons of information.

Thanks Chiot’s Run.  I hope you sell out.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Weather is Here

DSC_1098_2432Yippee!  Hell has turned to heaven.  It’s raining with snow in the surrounding mountains.  Here’s the temperature during Monday Night Football.DSC_1095_2428 All the citrus has been covered in anticipation of freezing temperatures tonight.  Plastic garbage bags will do the trick.DSC_1109_2430 Breathable fabric is supposed to be best to use when protecting against freezing.  Here’s a use for old, worn out bed sheets.

I celebrate this salute to global warming.  PPPfffffft!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Bounty

Over at Chiot’s Run in Ohio,  a display of remaining garden color was posted along with a question posed:

Do you still have anything blooming if you live in a cold area? If you live in a more temperate climate, what blooms for you this time of year?

This inspired me to get out in the garden to record the blossoms that are exploding the day before Thanksgiving.  This was a quick tour before Labor Day in the kitchen began (& continues into Thursday night).  I’m in zone 8 or zone 9 depending on what you’re reading.  Here they are – straight out the camera. 

Happy Thanksgiving

DSC_1007_2338DSC_1008_2339DSC_1012_2343DSC_1013_2344 DSC_1016_2347DSC_1018_2349DSC_1019_2350 DSC_1020_2351 DSC_1024_2355 DSC_1025_2356 DSC_1026_2357 DSC_1030_2361 DSC_1037_2368 DSC_1041_2372 DSC_1044_2375 DSC_1051_2382

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I purchased a Black Beauty eggplant months and months ago at a local nursery.  I’ve never grown eggplant before; so I thought I would give it a try.  I didn’t expect much success.  Now, I can’t get the danged thing to shut down.  Eggplant.  Eggplant.  Eggplant!!!

I share them with friends and co-workers.  Even if many don’t know how to use them, I hope they take them to incorporate into their Thanksgiving table.  Their color is really really rich.

Here’s a look at old Black Beauty.

DSC_1008_2332 Start with an unusually lovely blossom.

DSC_1010_2334 After pollination, a swollen fruit begins to form.  Even though the leaves are soft and cushy like sage, these spike require gloves at harvest time.

DSC_1011_2335 The swollen fruit continues to swell.  Those thorns don’t look so ominous now; but I still recommend gloves.

DSC_1012_2336 Some prefer the smaller fruit.  These beauties can hide in the shadows and really get overgrown similar to zucchini. 

DSC_1006_2330 Along with gloves, pruning shears are recommended because the stem is pretty tough.  This morning’s harvest is going with me to work tomorrow.

DSC_1608_1787 The only pests I noticed were grasshoppers.  (Remember Eileen - I lean - from this summer?)  They really, really enjoyed munching on the leaves.  Sometimes earwigs invade fruit left on the bush too long. 

DSC_1009_2333Today, a few ladybugs were helping me out.

If you enjoy eggplant, Black Beauty can be highly recommended for zones 8 & 9.

Note:  The eggplant was dug up on December 26.  I had fruit on it but after a few nights of freezing weather, they joined the plant in the green waste.  This is one sturdy plant.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Citrus Christmas

Here in California citrus grows most everywhere.  I have 4 trees in my garden:  mandarin, lemon, orange, and grapefruit.  These are baby dwarf varieties.  Three out of four trees are producing.  The blossoms wouldn’t hold on to the grapefruit.

To me the taste of cold citrus fresh off of a tree tastes like Christmas to me.  When I was a kid, my parents would take us out to the orchards and have citrus shipped to friends and relatives that didn’t have access to fresh oranges.  Of course, there were samples for us to scarf down.  And who doesn’t love the scent of the blossoms?

Here’s how things are looking.

DSC_0995_2301 mandarin

DSC_0998_2306 navel orange (Not quite there yet.)

DSC_0997_2303 variegated lemon