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The Big Chill

With the nighttime temps dropping to below 30 degrees, some of our plants are taking a hit. This Brugmansia or angel’s trumpet  worked all season to come back from last year’s freeze and had just started to flower.   I find the scent of the flower to be intoxicating.

Brugmansia comes originally from tropical areas of South America and doesn’t tolerate frost.  My friend, Pam, in Occidental has the plant and being closer to the ocean, they don’t get frost.  I guess we will have to give up on growing it on Pillow Road.


The Down of a Thistle

Dried Cardoon

This is a head of a cardoon, which is much like an artichoke. Both are from the thistle family. I have both cardoons and artichokes in the same bed so I’m not 100% sure which one this is. I’m guess cardoon because of the height of the plant.

This flower is about all dried out. I was struck by the beautiful earthy colors, and fur-like texture, suggesting that we are slowly approaching the end of summer.

I took this photo with a new camera, the Fujifilm X100S.

Low Hanging Fruit

The Santa Rosa Plums are ready to be picked and I was reminded of the cliche “low hanging fruit.” One reason the fruit is low hanging is that the branches are sagging under the weight of all the fruit. Pick it now before the birds come for it or it drops to the ground.



Green Pastures

With the February rains, the grass in the pastures is growing. Is it ever green? The sheep are happy to be eating it. The lambs are growing as well. All wonderful signs of spring at Pillow Road.


What a difference rain makes

The first photo of the pasture and sheep was taken January 26, just after the new lambs were born. The second photo was taken today, about two weeks later and following a heavy storm that dropped over ten inches of rain. Walking through the muck and mud today was kind of fun. With so many gopher holes, my feet often sank even deeper, as the ground gave way.

It’s been a while since we have a good storm like this one. We need more, but we had plenty this weekend.



Holiday Dish with Beets

This colorful salad combines various beets and a purple mizuna. The mizuna, like a mustard green, has a taste like horseradish. It is frost hardy, growing in the garden now. So is the broccolini that I placed around the edge of the salad. I tossed the beets in olive oil and lemon juice.

I like the colors and served it in a purple dish to highlight them even more.


The Dirty Snoball

For Christmas dinner, I served an appetizer that I named The Dirty Snoball. I doubt it would appear on a menu under that name but it was very good. The Dirty Snoball mixes north and south, light and dark. It is a Swedish meatball served with lingonberry sauce on a bed of southern grits. The Swedish meatballs were made of equal parts beef, pork and venison. I used lingonberry jam in the sauce, and the small red berries that taste similar to cranberries give a holiday color to the brown sauce. Southern-style grits provide a contrasting bed of white, suggestive of snow. After all, this is California and we have to do what we can to conjure up memories of snow.

I snapped a quick picture, not the best one, while I started to serve them.


New Meat

Ben and Sarah raised a herd of angus-cross cattle this year. The first two went to the butcher several weeks ago. I got half a steer and the meat came last weekend. Thanks to Sarah for making the delivery. I cooked up a pair of market steaks that looked great and tasted even better. I think these steaks were better than the meat from the two steers I raised a few years ago.


On The Gravito

I have to credit Milo Mitchel with the name and idea for this drink, The Gravito, which should become the official drink of Sebastopol. The Gravito or Gravenstein Mojito requires fresh-pressed cider from Gravenstein apples.

Milo used bourbon. I made mine with Occidental Road Gravenstein apple brandy. To the brandy, add mint leaves, lemon juice or sour mix, and then fill glass with cider and ice. This mix of apple brandy and apple cider is just terrific. It should be the toast of the town.


Snake on the Porch

A snake was basking in the late day sun on the front porch. I think it was a garter snake. For me, unexpectedly seeing a snake is a reminder of how much of life is hidden, out of view, not plainly visible. A snake made me take notice.