Saturday, March 18, 2017

Small Batches

The first day of spring arrives in two days and already we're seeing a change to the fruits and veggies offered in our Talley Farms Fresh Harvest produce box. Our winter citrus - blood oranges and pink Cara Cara oranges - are being replaced by blueberries, asparagus, and English peas.

The sweet Cara Cara gets eaten right away but the blood oranges seem to accumulate in the refrigerator's produce bin. The blood oranges have a surprisingly dark red color, very exotic, but too sour for our taste. I find them to be more ornamental than edible (though I've read they make a lovely cocktail).

I decided to sweeten things up by making Blood Orange Marmalade.

I read several different citrus marmalade recipes and tried to find the easiest one to process the fruit. I'm not sure I found the easiest way but in the end I used my favorite Kuhn Rikon vegetable peeler to nick off pieces of zest, cut away the bitter white pith, and then cut the fruit out of the membrane (supreme). Learning to supreme the fruit was a new-to-me cooking technique and it made me feel so Martha Stewart.

All the recipes called for collecting the seeds and white fibery pith, gathering it in cheesecloth, and making a pectin bag so you don't have to add commercial pectin. I took a pass on that process and instead used Pomona's Universal Pectin. The enclosed recipe in the box called for 3 cups of sugar. (In comparison, my Christmas Orange Marmalade required 9 cups of sugar with the box of Ball commercial pectin.)

The instructions for the Water Bath canning method are followed exactly as written.

Our friend Jerry brought over Meyer lemons so they got chopped up as well.

Unfortunately two Meyer Lemon jars broke in the Water Bath canning process.

It took me two full days to make the Blood Orange and Meyer Lemon Marmalade. The Man commented that I could probably buy the same type of jam at Trader Joe's.

Of course he's right. But.

Behold! A taste of our winter, captured in glass jars.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

On Rain Hiatus

The last two weeks have been clear and sunny - a welcome reprieve from the rain, wind, and toppling trees.

 Everyone has been enjoying the break in the weather.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Same, Same

It was another blustery and rainy weekend. The neighborhood lost power and road access again.

The power company assigned someone to watch the area and he spent the night in his truck.

Cars were not allowed to drive under the tree leaning on the power lines but we could walk beneath it. Go figure.

A few of the neighbors were forced to park their cars and walk in. Aimee and her boys passed us on the street with a big jar of dog treats and a Bingo game, planning for an Internet-free day indoors. Leah passed us too with her son and twin daughters, she wasn't smiling.

When we got back home The Man checked on his diesel generator humming along in the barn.

This time around the electricity went off Friday morning and stayed off till Saturday evening, just about 32 hours. No matter, we had electricity, groceries, Internet, chocolate covered marshmallows, and lots of quiet knitting time for The Man's Mom and me. We didn't have to do anything or be anywhere.

Yesterday we got The Man's Mom to the airport without incident. Just in time too.

Today is another blustery and rainy day.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Eyes to the Sky

A month ago, Saturday, January 14, 2017, under clear blue skies SpaceX launched their Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg AFB.

I almost missed it (I may have been closing my eyes to soak up some rays). We never heard the tell-tale rumble that forewarns us when a rocket will soon be appearing. It was just there.

The Falcon 9 rocket carried 10 Iridium Next satellites and was the initial launch to replace Iridium's original satellites with 70+ second-generation satellites over the next fourteen months. For the next year we will be able to see many more rocket launches from our driveway Vista view. That's the happy news.

The sad news is that Iridium flares will cease to exist. The new Iridium Next satellites do not have the unique design ("angular shiny things") which produce the satellite flare phenomenon.

We've been very lucky to have witnessed such an amazing sight countless times since our surprising discovery one night during the summer of 2015. You can be sure that when the rain stops, and the clouds move away, we'll be heading outdoors in the early evening with our eyes to the sky.

I'm afraid those who've been tracking that phenomenon over the past 20 years have another year or two to see it. As someone who's seen a couple myself, you can imagine what a thrill it is to be the CEO of a company like this and watch your satellite go overhead. But we weren't going to spend money just to make angular shiny things on our satellites, so that phenomenon will go away - but it's been fun.   Matt Desch, Iridium CEO

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rain Fall

Yeehaw, the first month of 2017 has been wet, wild, and crazy here on the Central Coast of California.

Sunday, January 8th, 7:08 pm ~


Although we welcome every single drop of rain, the severely drought-stressed trees are having a hard time staying upright during the stormy weather.

Thursday, January 5, neighbor Jim's tree ~

Sunday, January 8th, neighbor Deanne's tree blocking Leah's driveway ~

Wednesday, January 11th, our tree, our driveway ~

The worst of the storms occurred last weekend. Mattie and I listened to the wind howl and blow against the house through the night into the wee hours of Sunday morning. I finally fell asleep at 4:30 am when the electricity went off. We received just an inch or so of rain but the winds were damaging.

Everyone - aka The Whole Neighborhood - were without power or passage on our dead end street.
(The Man being The Man fired up his ex-military diesel generator and kept the lights and power on at our house.)

But wait, there's more, we found out the power pole had been brought down when a couple of trees fell onto the wires. The trees were now blocking ingress and access to the pole. It was going to be a quiet Sunday for our neighborhood.

By the end of the day progress had been made to clear the road so work could start on the power and cable lines.

We also lost more trees during this powerful storm but luckily no structures were damaged and cleaning up will be a work in progress.

 We've had a few days of sunny weather and have appreciated the time to dry out.

More rain is expected this week.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Pink and Orange

Our color scheme for the Holidays seemed to have been pink and orange rather than red and green as I worked on the baby blanket taking up residence across our dining room table. Not surprising to me, or The Man, I wasn't able to finish Becky's blanket before she left work on maternity leave just before Christmas (though I did have the foresight to ask for her mailing address).

Silly me, I thought it would be a quickie project.

This was my plan: A cute fabric panel for the top piece and soft cozy flannel for the backing. The top panel was printed with a black border that I could fold over and use as a self-binding edge. Easy-peasy.

But wouldn't it look so much nicer to hand-stitch a blind stitch binding and then do a machine top-stitch? A week went by. Yes, that looks nice. Now how about hand-quilting around each big block? I retrieved my small sharp quilting needles, pink thread, and a thimble from my sewing box. Another week or two flew by.

Okay, but now the four small blocks looked unfinished so they also required tiny quilting stitches around them. Another week.

Almost there, after a quick wash Becky's blanket will be ready to take up residence in it's new home. I'm holding off the temptation to just add a few more stitches to the cute animals. Don't you think that elephant tail needs an outline stitch with black embroidery thread?

And speaking of orange . . . .

Christmas Day was spent making Orange Marmalade with the home-grown citrus Jerry has been sharing with us. The yummy citrus preserves were processed using the Boiling Water Bath Canning method.

Welcome 2017.