About Me

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Baker. Cook. Gardener. Animal Lover.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Heart's Ease

Yesterday I rode with John back up to Cambria..and while he worked..I did a little side trip to my favorite shop...Heart's Ease. I wanted to share it with you, dear ones...and most especially I had my dear friend, Dawn from May All Seasons Be Sweet To Thee in mind. I really wanted her to see it and knew all of you would enjoy it as well.

As some of you know..it was started nearly 30 years ago by my friend, Sharon Lovejoy... I was Heart's Eases's first employee..and it is still my most favorite job I ever had...and it really did change my life. I have to give credit to Sharon for showing me the ways of a New England lifestyle. She taught me about gardening and herbs and decorating and always making time in you day for making small fresh flower and herb bouquets in your home...for all things New England really.

Sharon sold the shop several years ago, and it isn't the same as it was.You can tell Sharon is gone, but the building is so wonderful..it's an old home that sits on Burton Drive in the downtown of Cambria.It is filled with soaps and lotions and cards and potpourri, candles, books old and new and gardening supplies. Out in the back is a nursery section with herbs..many of them that are very hard to find....

It is a shop filled with charm...I have always loved Heart's Ease. But as I was telling my friend Julie Whitmore yesterday it makes me sad too. I remember the days when all of us would laugh and giggle and run across the street to Robins to share a bowl of soup for lunch on a rainy day..my mom would come to Cambria every Friday..we called it 'The Friday Loop'. We would all go to Robins for lunch then hit the Friday Cambria Farmers Market and then ...we saved the best for last. We would always go to Heart's Ease late in the afternoon to see what treasure we could bring with us back home. I looked down the street where we would all walk together. And I was alone. Sharon was no longer there. And I lost my mom 3 years ago to pancreatic cancer. And me too. I don't live there anymore. All memories of good times....that are no more. I told Julie last night about it and I told her it made me sad. She said, "yeah, it makes me sad too".

Friday, January 29, 2010

Is It Over Yet?

Only 2 more days to go till it's finally over. Why do i dislike January SO MUCH ! I try. Tell myself it's cozytime. Time to make hot chocolate and heart shaped cookies and get cozy by the fire. It doesn't work. I don't like it. So as I was hanging around the house ...John said ride with me to Cambria. So I did. And we took Buddy too. Cambria is about a half hour north of San Luis Obispo on the Senic Highway One. It runs along the Pacific ocean on one side and beautiful green pastures on the other. And with all the rain we have been having I thought we might see some wildflowers. And we did. The skies had cleared and all that was left were the big high puffy clouds. Somebody called them strawberry clouds.And when the sun hits them late in the afternoons..they sometimes do look the color of strawberries. We saw the yellow mustard coming up alongside the road. The story on that is when the priests were establishing the missions here in California, they would drop mustard seeds to form a path of yellow so that others following knew where to go...and now..in the spring it is all over...all over hillsides and vineyards....i just love it...i also saw a tree in bloom here in Cambria....and coming back down the coast we saw lovely views of Morro Rock sitting out in the sea....the ride was nice...actually it was a breath of spring air.....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Simple Things

Today is the day that we all share THE SIMPLE THINGS...which is being hosted by the lovely Christina from Soul Aperture. It is my pleasure to take part in such a wonderful event...and for such a worthy cause. You see...for each person that participates, Christina is donating a dollar to Doctors Without Borders to aid the people of Haiti.

The Simple Things

the hundred voices of a january wind * cream puffs

cinnamon sugar doughuts * wearing clean cotton * cherries

my warm bed * the love of my dog * pizza in my oven * books

the sound of footsteps on fallen leaves * the christmas tree

barnswallows * being barefoot in summer * candy canes
herbs in my garden * vermont maple syrup * quiet * pancakes on my griddle * woodsmoke * an unexpected phone call from a friend *

the beauty of Big Sur * fences in snow * olive green velvet *

good things coming your way * village church bells * twilight *

planting by the moon * warm tomatoes * foods that mean love

things that are quiet and simple and ordinary and old and real

all of you

praying for Haiti

Being Home

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I"m Done With January

I know....still one week to go before we can say good bye to this sorry month. I guess along with everyone else...I don't like January. Try to keep myself from going into a real bad slump after Summer, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and then this. Cold, dark, rainy.....BOOORING. So since we are close to leaving it behind..I decided to nudge things along and pep up my kitchen window. Got my kitchen curtains back out this morning..aren't they cute? Got them off ETSY. So I ironed them and got them back up for spring, the little cup in the window with the lady and the rosemary branch was a Christmas gift from my dear friend, Julie Whitmore at ETSY. Her work is just charming. I have collected it for years..and I love and treasure every piece. The napkin holder with the strawberry on it is also from Julie and the tiny little chicken in the easter bonnet sitting in the napkin ring is vintage. As is the vintage pancake flour box. I got it when Julie and I were antiquing one day in Los Gatos.....maybe antiquing and spring aren't that far off....we can only hope.

Speaking of hope...you might notice on my side bar is a button from the wonderful and beloved Christina at Soul Aperture...one of my most favorite people and blogs. If January is getting you down too...go over there on Wednesday, January 27th. Christina is hosting a day of posting THE SIMPLE THINGS in our lives.And for each one that participates...she is donating one dollar to Doctors Without Borders...We're still here Haiti..as Christina would say. Be sure and check it out. It makes everybody feel better.....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Outside Looking In

There she is. My homeless kitty. I named her Pixie cause she used to hide in and around my garden like a Garden Pixie.I have 2 others. All abandoned by people who moved. And it makes me sad. How can you adopt a pet..and then leave it behind . How could you sleep at night? I never stop thinking about my pets..Buddy and my kittys. They mean the world to me.

Pixie has been here since Labor Day of 2008. For one year she hissed at me everytime I went to feed her. I know she had to have been abused. After about one year..of feeding her every day..twice a day...slowly..she let me pet her. And now we are pretty good buddies. She is such a sweet little cat.We have been making it through the storms pretty well.I have kept the shed door open for her with a bed in it and feed her morning and night. The others still come too. But Pixie looked so cute there this afternoon. The picture is through the screen door.

The other thing that got my attention today was that heroic dog rescue down in L.A.

I very rarely watch t.v. in the day, but turned it on to see if I could get a weather report..and then I saw it. The Rescue Attempt...I just happened to be flipping by and saw it on Fox News. I stopped and stood right in front of the t.v. My heart in my throat. It didn't look good. And then some beloved L.A. firefighter was dropped from a helicopter into a raging river.....to save a dog. Some people were emailing in coments questioning if L.A. firefighters had better things to do. I think not.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

To Brighten Rainy Days

This has been incredible. It hasn't stopped raining since Monday.Day and night. As I write this Buddy and I look like 2 drowned rats. The sky cleared for a minute and I thought it was over. My poor little outdoor stray kittys came running when I walked in the gate from the grocery store. They were hungry.... been kinda watching them and trying to sneek out food between downpours.

I tried to take Buddy for a quick walk...and it was quick..we didn't make it very far and we were in a downpour. I didn't take an umbrella..good thing you can't see us.....

Yesterday at about 5 o' clock I thought the world was coming to an end. The sky turned this really weird orange sherbert color..almost transparent...have never seen anything like it..and then....a double rainbow. I thought I was going to see angels any minute coming down from heaven. It was strange...I was talking to my brother, Mark on the phone..and I said, Oh, let me call you right back...I've got to get a picture of this..so I grabbed the camera. Boom. Dead Batterey. Bummer.

The little tiny treasures are from my one minute walk with Buddy today. Love the red rose petal, found some more green pods, a grape leaf leftover from my zinfandel grapes stuck to the fence,a branch with red berries, a branch of rosemary with the blue flowers still on it,some flowers...I think it's called "Kiss-me-over-the-Fence"..well, that's what I've always called it...I'm sure that's not the name.And the pine is falling all over cause we have by the steps going up to our bedroom a HUGE pine tree. It kind of had me worried. If that went over Farmhouse would be toast.

I needed some spring color and found this kale..even though it is winter..i couldn't pass it up..the green looks springy..and it looks so cute on my drainboard in the kitchen. I have had the blue hyacinth for a while...Oh, it smells so good....and the bouguet was a filler bouquet but I loved it..so simple and green.No flowers. I added the big green pine branch that was on my doorstep when I got home today.

Our rowboats are packed and loaded. We're ready .....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wild West and Our Last Meal

This is a picture I just snapped while looking out the window at the hailstorm this morning.The camera was in my hand..and I said to myself....snap a picure! The pathways are rivers.My poor fruit trees that we just planted. When I wanted to get them in before the rain...I had no idea it was going to be a deluge.....the
garden is in the front of Farmhouse.... all those raised beds are ponds...it used to be an herb and flower garden... those bare white fences are where I grow sweet peas...last year in the spring you saw no fence..just sweet peas...when you walked in the gate on a warm day it smelled like bubble gum....I always wonder if I should put in something not so seasonal cause the fence is bare in winter...but I still love my sweet pea fences.I wonder what will be left after the water drains? I'm not complaining. I know...I don't dare complain...this is nothing....
I promise...this is the last chapter in the Mushroom saga. There it is. We had it last night...and it was worth the wait.Oh yeah, and that's boxed dried pasta. I overcooked the fresh pasta.Forgot how fast that cooks. That will teach me.

A Walk Before The Storm...January 20, 2010

Well, it finally happened. We got RAIN. And is it ever packing a wollop. Heavy winds, rain falling sideways,thunder, lightening,sirens going off all around.My daisy picking days are over for now.

I am taking part in Dawn's ....from the delightful blog COUNTRY GIRL ...."Collections from Nature." It is such a wonderful idea...when out walking...just look at what nature has to offer on each day. I take Buddy twice a day around the block..and it is amazing to find so many treasures from nature everyday. And each day is different. This was my walk yesterday before the storm slammed in.I really like the rose petals..even though they were tattered and damaged by raindrops. The pods are from trees out on the street...and little Dande just can't get enough of that dried piece of fern...

If you would like to take part...please join us. Just add the "tiny treasure collector" button to your sidebar and post your treasures. Makes taking a walk a double pleasure....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's Time To Let Them Go

To be perfectly honest with you, I still have the chanterelle mushrooms. When it came time to slice and saute them...I just could not do it. They were so beautiful I just couldn't say good bye. So I wrapped them up in paper towels, and gently placed them on a clean tea towel in the veggie bin. During the evening while we made the pizza, I would go and sneek a peek at them..say Hi to them, tell them it was just not their time yet. They were too special, too precious.They were gold.

So the pizza was missing the chanterelles...we put on olives instead. But it was good.

Today the rain hit hard..and so did the thunderstorms. Which is really unusual for around here.Poor little Dande made a break for the upstairs closet. She is still there. I'll just let her be.

With a dark rainy day looming, I knew I wanted to stay home. And deep down in my heart of hearts I knew it was also probably time to let the chanterelles go.It was time to say good bye. I know they won't last forever and I might as well enjoy them before they go bad. Actually, I like the idea of making a mushroom pasta sauce more than putting them on the pizza.

So this morning I decided to get out the pasta machine and crank out some fresh pasta.

The recipe is the one I will do tonight. You can use any mushrooms for this..unless you know Zipper...

Chanterelle Mushroom Pasta From The Hills Of Big Sur

Put on a large pot of water to boil. Make sure it has a fare amount of salt.

The mushroom sauce:

Saute a couple of shallots in butter and olive oil till soft.

Add diced carrot and a diced celery stalk to the shallot and cook till soft.

Add sliced mushrooms, about 2 cups.

Add about 2 cups chicken stock and cook till reduced to about 1/2 cup, 20 to 30 minutes.

Add 1 cup heavy cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer till sauce
is thick enough to coat a spoon,about 15 minutes. The sauce should be on the thick side.

Cook the pasta..Enough for 2.... till done, drain and add it to the mushroom sauce pan.Set aside about a cup of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce if it becomes to thick after adding the pasta.

Coat the pasta with the sauce, add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle the pasta with chopped fresh italian parsley and chives. Can add about 1/4 toasted pine nuts, if desired.
Top with grated parmesan cheese.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Charmed, I'm Sure

It's finally raining out here in bone dry California. Finally. We had such a downpour around lunchtime I had to don boots and coat and take a broom to the front porch. It was raining so hard and fast the garden looked like a lake. I thought Farmhouse was a goner. I thought for sure it would flood. But we made it o.k. We're all high and dry.For now at least.

So on this rainy Monday..my thoughts go to supper. Haven't been able to turn on the oven much. Just been too warm...but not anymore. So I got out one of my favorite cookbooks. "Fanny at Chez Panisse" by Alice Waters. It was first published in 1992. And the illustrations are adorable. The recipes are simple.It's about making good food easily with basic ingredients and simple techniques.And I wanted to make the gingersnaps for dessert tonight to serve with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream. My favorite gingersnap cookie recipe is in "Fanny". The book is just so charming I wanted to share it with you.

When we were little my mom would make Mark and I spareribs and potatoes in the oven on rainy days. She would just get out a big old baking pan, quarter the potatoes, pour a little olive oil over them, toss and sprinkle them with salt, throw them in the pan and place some seasoned spare ribs over the top. Bake at about 375 degrees for and hour or so and...supper. All you need is a salad. And on this stormy night, biscuits wouldn't be bad either.

Whiskey Sour has on his tweed sweater..the one with the leather buttons and is wearing his Christmas scarf. He has a nice spot in the red plaid chair here by "woodstove". And I made Dandelion a cozy bed in an old red wool blanket I brought back from Maine...she is on top of the farm dining table. Just don't tell anybody.She likes it there.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


So I am over at our local natural foods store this morning..waiting to pick up Buddy's cough syrup prescription at the pharmacy next door......and I am cruising in the produce isle and there they were. PURE GOLD ! Right there next to the lettuce. Chanterelle Mushrooms. I could hardly believe my eyes. There were only 3 of them. So I grabbed a bag and scooped them up. I could feel my heart race. I would rather have these than a bag of diamonds.

And what perfect timing. I was planning on pizza for Sunday night as the storm slams in from the Pacific Ocean. With El Nino out there...we are suppose to have a real downpour.

I saw the produce guy and asked where they came from...just as I thought...Big Sur.

When we lived in Cambria..which is about an hour and a half south of Big Sur on Highway One, a kid who worked for John knew where the "special secret spot" was in Big Sur. John went with him one time and he said they walked back into the woods for an hour... although no forager worth his salt would ever tell the truth about where to look....unless he's a really good friend.The kid would sell them to restaurants up in the bay area...he told me he used to sell them to Alice Water's restaurant Chez Panisse. The mothership..to be sure....

Julie and I have eaten there a few times...and it is all they say..and more.

To tell you the truth, the kid's name was Jim, but I called him Zipper. I have no idea where that came from either. But Zipper would show up at my back door when we lived in Cambria with bags of freshly picked chanterelles. I usually just kept it simple...I would make some fresh pasta...saute the mushrooms in butter, add a little cream or chicken stock, salt and pepper, add the pasta to the mushroom skillet, grate some parmesan over the top and serve. That was it. Simple. And it was GOOD !

For our Sunday pizza night....I will roast the sliced mushrooms in the oven with just a toss of olive oil and sea salt, then scatter them over the top of the pizza with just a simple tomato sauce ,gruyere cheese and a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley from the garden.

We'll build a fire in "woodstove",make our pizzas, light some candles..and wait...for RAIN !At Last !

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hot Toast and Jam

The Creative Tuesday Logo on my sidebar is from the wonderful blog Hot Toast and Jam.

goodteatoo.blogspot.com is his blog address. ( i don't know how to link to it...grrr )
He has a wonderful group of people who are participating in his Creative Tuesday's.

It is a great group of very talented people and it is alot of FUN !

I have made some amazing new friends through Mr. Toast....and thought maybe you would enjoy it too.....

have a great cozy winter weekend, dear ones


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Between Storms

It's hard to believe that we are in for a whole week of rain next week. But I guess we are. So I decided to head out to the nursery today and pick up some springtime flowers before the rains hit. It is in the 70's again here today, so planting outside in the garden seemed like a good way to spend the day.The sun was shining on my back as as I planted fragrant stock, sunny yellow violas and linaria.

I picked up this flat of stock at The Hide Tide Nursery in Shell Beach just cause the colors looked so spring like. To tell you the truth, it was all they had. It was pretty slim pickings there. I asked the guy where all the flowers were and he just looked at me and said, "It's January, lady".

And the sunny morning went over pretty well for Whiskey Sour and Dandelion too.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy 101 Award

Thank you, Morwenna of Bluebells and Butterflies for the Happy 101 Award ! So kind of you to think of me.....

I am kind of slow on the computer.....so tomorrow I will complete the rest.....

But I wanted you to know that I have received it and am so grateful for it.

Thanks again, dear friend.


Nothing Fancy

So yesterday afternoon I am watching Ellen and she has on her chef. This man named Tal and he has out a new cookbook called The Conscious Chef. All vegan. Ellen's vegan. And I am thinking maybe I could just try the vegetarian thing that I failed at twice last year...again. Not vegan..cause of my pizza love...just no meat.

Now the weatherman comes on for his update and he says RAIN. What? Rain? Are you kidding me? Does he really mean it? We have been bbqing out in the garden for weeks.You mean I could get my crockpot out? At last. Winter? Here? For me?

And what do I want to put in that crockpot? POT ROAST. How can I do a vegetarian pot roast. I can't. Why do I even consider it? I am thinking gravy and mashed potatoes.

So off I go to Scolaris and there it is. A beautiful pot roast. So I put it in my cart and head to the soup isle. I want the Lipton Onion Soup mix to make the pot roast like my mom made.And YES. You are seeing that right. Canned corn and gravy from a jar. Someone sometimes gives me a hard time about my Heinz gravy love.... (you know who you are.)

So this morning out came the crockpot....I browned the roast first, then put it in the crockpot with the soup mix, some water and a couple of splashes of red wine.

And it already smells good. So tonight, no Julia Child.No Alice Waters. Just old fashion and farmy.

And for dessert....did you see it...isn't it cute? We will each get two bites of that tiny berry pie...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fruit Tree Planting Before The Rain Starts

Here is our local Farm Supply out on Tank Farm Road in San Luis Obispo. They carry a real nice variety of fruit trees that are specifically for our area.Last year I got 2 apples trees from Apples of Antiquity. They are heirloom apple growers over the hill in Paso Robles. My Seek-No-Further Apple and my Pumpkin Russet apple really are suited for the east coast. It just doesn't get cold enough here. Not enough chill hours. I don't know why, but I actually got apples off those trees last Fall.So I guess I was just lucky.

This weekend John and I worked in the garden from sun up to sun down. We planted 2 cherry trees. One is called Royal Lee and and the other one is Minnie Lee. They need each other to polinate. The lady at the Farm Supply said they were a new variety and the people that planted them last year raved about them. Perfect for us here on the Central Coast of California. So I thought I would give them a try. I also got a peach tree. It is called Santa Barbara Peach.Again, ideally suited for our area.

We also planted a Liquid Amber tree by the french door going from the kitchen to the garden.I wanted it there so we can watch it through the seasons. I am really excited about having it there by the door and am looking for a lampost to go right next to it. The variety I got is called Palo Alto and it turns red in the Fall. There are several in our neighborhood, so I know it will do well here.

I also planted some red geraniums together with yellow violas going up the steps to our bedroom.

Yesterday I went one more time to Farm Supply to get some more climbing roses.I decided I needed a Cecil Bruner just cause it's so old fashioned. And when I got there I saw another climber called Night Owl. The flowers are a deep wine color and it is suppose to smell of spice.How could I pass that up?And btw...what is the deal with rose names.Lurking behind my Night Owl was Don Juan....and then came marliyn monroe, jackie kennedy, pope paul, betty boop, jimmy carter,julia child..wait...stop...did that say julia child? it did. now i have to have that one too...but lucille ball,donna reed,marcia brady..no thanks.

Our homeless kittys, Pixiegirl and Mumbie came later in the afternoon for their supper.Zacky Waffle was a no show for supper but was back for breakfast the next day.

So the heat wave is over...and the weatherman says rain is on the way. He says we are getting into an El Nino pattern here. Which means rains..and lots of it.Suppose to start tonight...and rain and rain and rain.....

So the flip flops are back in the closet, Buddy's fan is out in the shed...and we ate the last of the strawberries last night. Let it rain.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dusk in California One Week Past New Years

We had a beautiful dusk tonight.The stray cats came for supper at Farmhouse.We fed them all.This is the view from my garden looking north. 5 o'clock p.m.
And yes..it was warm today....took these pictures in my flip flops...again.

Have a great weekend dear ones....

Kary's Farmhouse Skillet Eggplant Parmesan

It was a lazy January afternoon around here and I had one big beautiful eggplant, no desire to leave the farm,a giant can of organic tomatoes and lots of leftover cheese from the New Years Eve fondue night. Ah Ha....eggplant parmesan. So I got busy making a nice simple tomato sauce,I cut up the eggplant, dipped it in some beaten up eggs and bread crumbs..got out my friend, cast iron skillet, and fried it all up.Then just layered it all together in another cast iron skillet. When John got home all I had to do was pop it in the oven to bake and make a salad. It is STILL warm outside ....I know...this has got to end sometime....so we just lit some candles and settled in for a cozy skillet supper.

Kary's Farmhouse Skillet Eggplant Parmesan

Slice one large eggplant into thick slices

Dip each slice into some beaten eggs and bread crumbs

Saute in olive oil till brown

Add some salt to taste

Drain on paper towels and set aside

Make a simple tomato sauce. I had some leftover leek and shallots so I just sauteed them, added a big can of organic whole tomatoes, some salt and a splash of white wine and let it all simmer on the stove slowly for an hour or so.

Then just layered the eggplant, sauce and cheese...covered it in foil and baked it at 350 degrees till hot and bubbly.

Sprinkle with parmesan before serving

Do you see the kitty in the first picture..that's Whiskey Sour