Sunday, March 30, 2008

Knitting projects

I love Saturdays. Saturday is the day I get to be with some of my favorite people, the Knotty Knitters. I was introduced to knitting, kicking and screaming. I am a crocheter. This confession in the knitting world is akin to admitting, while sitting in a synagogue, that you are a Jew for Jesus. Just imagine... A friend took me to the new yarn store in town and I fell in love with the place and one yarn in particular. I tried crocheting with this yarn and couldn't figure out how in world you could hook the knobby bumps. Sigh...Somewhat defeated but willing, I asked the owner of the store, now my friend, Laura, to show me how to knit. Well...I fell in love. This is the very first scarf I ever made. I am pleased to say I still love it and receive compliments every time I wear it.

I have bought yarn. I have bought drawers full of yarn at the yarn store, yarn in New York, yarn in Switzerland, yarn in Italy and yarn anywhere else that catches my eye. I have become quite the expert in one stitch, the basic garter stitch. One of my knitting friends has begged me to branch out from scarves and so I have knit hats. I have completed a grand total of 4 hats...and am working on a 5th hat. This hat has come so close to being tossed in the fire, I can't even tell you. I started it when a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer and was about to start chemo. I am still working on the hat...and she has finished with both chemo and radiation, her hair has grown back and she is in remission, thank God! She does keep her hair short now, so she will still be able to wear it. Sigh...

When in New York last year I stumbled upon a yarn store whose "hook" was that if you purchased enough yarn for a sweater, they would custom design the pattern for you. DEAL!!! I fell in love with this yarn, Noro Silk Garden with a color way of greens/purples and golds. YUMMY! (one of my criteria for loving yarn is the test of whether or not I want to put it in my mouth...once a chef always a chef...) Because the sweater was to be made with a garter stitch bottom and then was garter stitch mixed with purl (this is the second stitch I learned!), it seemed "do-able". This is the sweater so far. I have finished the back and am about at the point on the front where I need to start decreasing and I am scared to death!!! I have to get over the fear of making mistakes if I am going to become a full-fledged knitter. Sigh...

I am also working on another project, something easy. What you see is a 2007 Christmas gift for a friend in Florida. I love the colors! They remind me of the sun, sunsets and the ocean. Sigh...I am almost finished and will get it in the mail this week.
I am deeply in debt to all of my friends at Knotty Knitters. A special word of gratitude goes out to Romi. She has taught me to be patient, that the word for ripping out is "frogging" ('cause you ribbit out!) that backwards knitting is called "tinking", and that the world of knitting is not just limited to yarn, but by your imagination. She has also become a dear, sweet friend. I also have to mention another friend, Dana, who has taught me a lot, but especially when fretting over my lilac hat, she told me not to let a little ball of yarn get the best of me. Well said!

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Dogs!

Twice a day we give India her medication for epilepsy and Callebaut his medication for his sluggish thyroid. (yes, his weight really is a glandular problem!) Early on we discovered the best way for the pups to take their pills is in peanut butter. Tasso, of course, not to be outdone by the other dogs, loves to get his spoon or licks in of peanut butter. He is such a little ham!

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I love Easter. It is a day that, for me, symbolizes new beginnings, a celebration of Spring, one of good food, family, and ...more good food!

We started off our day with our wonderful farm fresh eggs from this morning! YUM!!! We also had my honey's housecured/smoked bacon and some yummy Apricot Panetone. What a treat!

After that we went to church to hear a friend of our sing. It was quite beautiful and inspirational on many levels.

Speaking of new beginnings, we went over to the greenhouse to visit the tomato babies. They are so big I am going to need to refer to them as toddlers!

We are now going to clean up what we can of the back yard and the outdoor kitchen in preparation of guests for Easter dinner. Chef Jeff is fixing his famous Crab and Mango Salad in Avocado halves, my mother's marinade is on the leg of lamb which will be roasted in the wood burning oven along with fingerling potatoes, I will be making a beet, tangerine and mint salad, steamed asparagus and fresh meyer lemon mayonnaise. For dessert...back to the panetone, but this time it will be the one with Moscato wine mixed in.

Wishing all of you a happy Sunday, happy Spring and happy new beginnings!

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Will the real Miss Beadle please stand up?

I am lucky enough to call Miss Beadle my friend, the REAL Miss Beadle.

Seventeen years ago my friendship with Ms. Charlotte Stewart was struck. She had already finished her role of Miss Beadle on Little House on the Prairie, and was now a famous Beverly Hills/Hollywood party planner. Charlotte was getting ready to celebrate a birthday with a party and asked me to supervise the food for it. Through the planning of her party we became friends.

It is hard to believe it has been so long. I am so lucky that Charlotte and her husband, David, are like family to me. I just got back from having dinner with them at their house in Napa. It really was like being!

Charlotte has had an incredible career. It started in 1959 when she was crowned Miss Yuba City, then she had parts on the tv shows: My Three Sons, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, then a movie with Elvis, Speedway, a few more tv shows and then...Eraserhead, the famous David Lynch movie. WOW!!! Check out her bio. You will also see that besides the tv shows and David Lynch movies, she was also in Tremors with Kevin Bacon. See how close you are? You can play the game, 6 degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon and score! (I am 1 degree away from Kevin Bacon, you are now 2!)

A couple years ago Charlotte set up a website, Liquid Butterfly. On that website she sells great memorabilia from her time on Little House, along with other periods. You should check it out!

I have to admit that my personal favorite is this poster:

Charlotte opened a store on Santa Monica Boulevard across the street from a recording studio, where, coincidentally, Jim Morrison/The Doors would record, among others. She would make clothes and embroidered jeans. To this day Charlotte is still sewing great things. Right now she is sewing and selling mini shoulder purses using "recycled" jeans and gives 10% to breast cancer research. Charlotte is a proud survivor of this nasty disease and does fund raising for the research.

I am currently in negotiations for some of these purses! I would like to sell them on my future website:
As you will see it is under construction...soon!

Happy Easter! Eat Farm Fresh Eggs!

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Callebaut doing his chores

Our oldest boy, Callebaut, is quite happy to do his chores on Saturday morning. As a matter of fact, he starts doing his chores before he has even had breakfast. Good Boy!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Day

Today was just beautiful. Not too hot, not too cold, just right. The dogs were playing outside in this nice weather. Callebaut found a water bottle to chew on and was having fun teasing the other dogs.

I did my normal Tuesday thing, that is, collected eggs for washing, packaging and delivery. Today was a record day for the whole process. Last week we ran out of our recycled/recyclable egg cartons so I couldn't package up all of the eggs. After sending out a call to my egg customers I was able to package up all that the girls could give me. I figured that this week was the most important egg week...and I had best get them out there. This is what 14 dozen eggs looks like.

Last spring Farmer Jeff and I made the decision to add more Ameraucanas to the flock. We love the green eggs they lay. Little did we know that we really ended up with Easter Egger hens until we started getting these delightful little blue eggs!!!

My little hen that I hand feed (scissor beak issue) is an Easter Egger Ameraucana. I have such a soft spot for her. More will be revealed...
Once I had all of the eggs packed, then I had to label and date them, then pack them up for delivery. Oh, and prepare the invoice. I am happy to do all of this in order to share our eggs. You will never get rich selling eggs. If lucky, you will make back your money...maybe...

After I did Egg Duty, I started on laundry. I was lucky to have an assistant. Well, maybe not an assistant, rather a supervisor. She decided that she needed to keep the already warm clothes in the basket. That is in her job description, or so she told me.

Everything before 4 pm was satisfying and made me happy and content. Since then...and I mean for the last 7 hours, I have been working on my laptop, trying to figure out why I could not send my emails. Yawn...Farmer Jeff brought me dinner, which I ate at the computer while "chatting" with 2 different folks. I would guess with names like Namrit and ...that they are in India. I made sure that I didn't use slang and even threw in a few of my "Englishisms"for fun. Both of the techs have been very nice and very thorough, but after 7 plus hours, I am ready for bed!!!

I have faith that this problem will all be worked out. If not...I won't rule out using it as a very expensive frisbee!!! (just kidding but so very tempted!!!)

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bragging Rights

I have to seize this moment to brag about my friend, Michele Gentile. Not only is she one of the coolest, prettiest, smartest, funniest...I could go on forever...she is also the most adventurous person I know. She has just left her last cooking assignment and has written an article published today in the Wall Street Journal. You need to take a look at it.

It is entitled: Cooking at the End of the World. As you will read, Michele has been cooking dishes adapted from the chef, Laurent Tourandel (NYC) while working as a sous chef at the U. S. research station on ...Antarctica. WOW...that girl is unbelievable!!!

Michele is the author of my favorite food blog, Harriett's Tomato. You also need to check that out. Now that her tour of Antarctica is over, she has traded in her parka and long underwear for shorts and a bathing suit. She is going to be cooking on Palmyra Atoll in the South Pacific. Talk about extremes!

Have a great time, Michele! You deserve it!

The picture above was taken just over a year ago in NYC when Zin Restaurant cooked at the James Beard House. Michele joined us in the kitchen for that event, making a special event even better! (Michele is the lovely one wearing the blue scarf!)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gentle Days

Today was a beautiful day. We can't believe it is late winter! How crazy is that with weather like this?

After feeding the masses for 2 long weekends in a row, Farmer Jeff and I are doing something a lot quieter. We are transplanting the 1,000 tomato babies! He has been very organized and written out planting maps for seedling trays. I have assisted by printing up labels for the transplant trays.

Once they have been moved to the trays, the trays are labeled, the labels are taped down to slow the water damage to the label, then they are numbered and moved to the truck. Why the truck? Once the tomatoes have been transplanted, they are moved over to the greenhouse at the other property we are farming.

I have never seen my honey so happy. He loves what he is doing. We are both grateful for the life we are leading. What more could we ask for?

(I just had to include a picture of our beautiful blooming camellia!)

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Quick Dip in the Creek

Oh Glorious Days! We are being teased by soft days, breezes and sunshine. Isn't that a perfect time for a little dip in the creek? think it might be too cold? Too early in the year?

As I discovered last Friday, the weather was ideal for the newest member of our family to take a little dip in the creek! Oh, yes, that little rascal! He saw a creek and just jumped in! was me...all me...that is what I get for driving Farmer Jeff's behemoth truck to the catering event and then forgot to pull forward. Instead I backed up and went RIGHT into the drink. Grrrrr....

Luckily there were wise folks who understood what was needed to get me out of there. See...I did figure out how to get the truck into 4 wheel drive. That only works, I discovered, when you have ALL 4 wheels on the ground, not one in the creek/mud and the other one off the ground flapping in the breeze.

Once we got some weight in the back of the truck, a chain onto another strong car, a little tug and out we came! I was mighty embarrassed. Sigh...

I guess I just wanted to be the first to get mud all over the truck!

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Roll out the Barrel!

It is a crazy time of year for us. Yes, smack dab in the middle of winter, it is Barrel Tasting Weekend.

In previous years this was just held on one weekend. Due to popular demand (and a recognition that even more money could be brought into the area) it is now being held on TWO consecutive weekends!

We (Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar) are lucky and proud to be selected to serve food at not one but two wineries.

I am manning the tables and stove at Acorn Winery, serving Italian style beef braised in Sangiovese with fresh rosemary served over creamy polenta. It was made with the fabulous Acorn Winery Sangiovese and, as you can imagine, pairs beautifully with it!

Farmer Chef Jeff is over at Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves. He is serving his famous Pulled Pork with Red Eye Gravy over Falls Mill Stone Ground Grits! It pairs perfectly with their Zinfandels!

Well...gotta run! This is such a fun event. You should really think about making a trip out here next year and taste incredible wines! Happy Sunday!

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