Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner - 2012

 — noun
1.            the act of giving thanks
2.            a. an expression of thanks to God
                b. a public act of religious observance or a celebration inacknowledgment of divine favours

The dinner was a success - my parents, my sister and her family, my cousin and of course Nick and I had a great time and the food was good too.

The menu was - 

1.Little Smokies
2. Cheese Ball
3. Crab Cakes (Nick made these and they were amazing! See pictures..)
4. Butternut Squash soup 
5. Turkey
6. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
7. Green Salad
8. Root Vegetable Stuffing 
9. Pies

Here are some pictures from the day, mostly around food... 

My cousin Larry brought the ice cream and a bag of dry ice with it... so what do you do with a bag of dry ice? You put it in my bird bath/fountain of course!

Special Effects for the birds, thankfully they stayed away while this was going on.

Nick add water to the bucket with more dry ice.. Laine is supervising.
 Nick made crab cakes from scratch, including "picking" the meat from 4 Dungeness crabs. They were amazing!
Making the mayo for them.

Forming the crab cakes

1/2 the crab cakes, waiting to be fried.

Finished cakes with the piquillo pepper vinagrette.
I made butternut squash soup on Sunday and froze it. On Thursday, I just put it in a slow cooker on low until dinner... worked really well!
Butternut Squash soup frozen

In the slow cooker - that morning.
We had a "heirloom" turkey for dinner. Prior to eating it, I brined it for 24 hours and then let it "air-chill" until we were ready to cook it. I didn't have enough room in my refrigerator so it "chilled" in a cooler below. Next year, I think I want to hunt my own for dinner or find something a little cheaper than this!
There is a turkey in there just "chilling"

Before cooking, rubbed butter and herbs on it.

Sliced and ready to serve
The kids table... with Jacob, Nick, Mom, Laine and Dad
 I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!


Garden Update - 11/2012


I got to go to the house for a couple of days this Thanksgiving weekend and I am sad because I won't be getting back up there for at least 3 weeks to maybe a month. I am travelling a lot this month for work and family reasons. 

But this weekend, I did buy a "set" of red onions, called "Early Burger" and planted them in the raised bed with the garlic and lone rutabaga. The leaves are turning into the fall colors right now and I took some pictures from my deck.

Beautiful Fall Colors from my deck

"Set" of onions

Planted in the bed with the garlic

Rutabaga? Or Turnip?

Look at the size of this worm!
  Don't you love the size of that worm?! ( I don't have a small hand... in case you are wondering.)  It tells me the dirt in the veggie garden is starting to come along and will hopefully be full of worms and other good stuff soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Enjoy!

It is my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, because it allows all people to participate regardless of religion or ethnic heritage. AND you don't have to spend a fortune buying gifts for everyone. AND you are required to be thankful.. AND there is turkey.... AND football.

I am hosting this year but in Moraga... The Hill House is not in shape with the stinky frig and the floors. I have gone out and got a "free-range heirloom turkey" from Whole Foods. The thing cost a fortune but I want to try what these birds taste like so if I get a chance to raise (or hunt) one I will know if I like it.

The next couple of months are going to be a blur...I am travelling a lot so I might not get to go up to the house for a bit. The floor repair is scheduled though for  Jan 3rd and 4th... and hopefully my flooring will be in this weekend so I can pick it up.

Enjoy your family and friends - don't worry about Christmas until Friday!

Best Wishes!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

First Cold Weekend - Nov 2012

This weekend I celebrated the first fire in the wood stove! I love my wood stove for heating that house because it does a great job and it costs me so little money with all the firewood I have. It was really cold, down to 29 degrees on Saturday night and Friday overnight it poured rain. I am hoping for a wet winter this year.. like the first 2 winters I was there. Last winter was cold and dry which is a bad combo for my fruit trees. They can take the cold if they get enough water. 
I met with the flooring guy on Saturday and I am waiting for his quote on fixing the floor. I am crossing my fingers that the insurance payment will cover it all. I sure hope so! That floor has cost me so much time and money it is almost becoming comical. But I have to say that I really love it... isn't that just like love? :)

I started my second year of lasagna gardening, with my winter prep work. For those of you new to this blog, this is not about growing pasta. It is a method of gardening that works with layers of materials to block out weeds and build up the quality of the soil. The dirt in that garden was pretty poor and full of weeds that I just can't keep up withn and last year it did seem to a have a positive effect.  The first step was last week where I pulled out the old veggies and other plants and put them in a pile.
Next is a layer of newspaper- and I wet down each layer.

Newspaper over the plant material

Next was a layer of cardboard and water that down and poke some holes where you see water pooling

Last layer is another bunch of bags of potting mix
I liked the results last year especially in terms of the weeds being kept away, so we will see how this works out. I would like to get a couple bales of straw and put it on top but not sure if that will fit in my car. Since we sold the truck, I really miss it!

With the storm that passed through we had some fantastic clouds late in the day. 
Sunset Pink and Purple Clouds

This was just before sunset and the light is refracting through the clouds making these beams shoot out. You might need to save this on your computer to see them.
When things get overwhelming it is this kind of  beautiful nature events that just make you appreciate life.

I am hosting Thanksgiving for the family here in Moraga, and will be trying for the first time a "heritage" turkey. This is one that is not the standard commercially grown, white feather turkeys but one that is closer to a wild turkey. We will see how it turns out. My family is really traditional about Thanksgiving dinner, one year I wanted to not have mashed potatoes and gravy and you would have thought I suggested they eat eel!.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Water Damage Update 11/9/12

Just thought I would let everyone know where I am with the ruined floor and refrigerator issue.

My insurance company paid the whole claim including the frig replacement without any kind of negotiation or bickering at all. And it was only 2 weeks after my adjuster submitted all of his findings. I am really happy and amazed and would recommend them to anyone. They are called Tower Insurance and you can only buy them through an agent, mine was an Allstate agent. (Allstate covers my townhouse but didn't want to cover my hill house as well, so they sold me a Tower policy.)

The next step is to find someone who can repair the floor and I am going to meet a local flooring guy up there tomorrow to see what he would charge me to repair it. They have worked with this material before and know about it's "issues" with being so hard that you go through a lot of saw blades and drill bits. My challenge now is how to get the floor fixed with my schedule over the next 6 weeks. I have Thanksgiving here in Moraga and will run up that weekend but in December, I am going to Las Vegas and Washington DC and Fresno so that takes up 3 weekends in a row. I might need to take a day or two off from work, oh darn!

** Update on Anthony's Video**
That video was featured on some local media shows and he was interviewed all the way over in London. The pizza place knew nothing about it until the news station called them.. and then they loved it. They emailed ARM and told him any time he is in Stockton they will give him free pizza... isn't that hysterical?



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

First Weekend in Nov 2012


We finally had a bit of rain so I was interested in seeing how things held up, because the storms can get really bad up there. 

Well, Nick's hoop house that he built so that I can grow stuff over the winter had the sheeting ripped off. It looks like there was a tear and it must have been enough to just pull the whole thing off. You can see it below here.. we are going to have to figure out a better way to do that.

Torn and Tattered!      

Also in the veggie garden area, the garlic is going well in the raised beds we made. See below.
Garlic is doing great!

I am starting the 2nd year of my lasagna garden experiment. This is a pile of the squash and pumpkin plants along with some other plants from the yard. This weekend I will cover them with newspaper, cardboard and compost. I am hoping we get a lot more rain than last year to help break down everything. But I have to tell you the dirt is just so much better than when I started this thing..and way fewer weeds.
Lasagna garden - start of year 2
 Also - I had a giant flock of turkeys on my lawn one morning. They are the group that had all the little babies this summer that would come through my yard. I have a video of them in July hanging out with the peacock. I don't know if they realize that Thanksgiving is coming! Count them... 10!
I forgot my normal camera so that is why the pictures look like this... took them with my phone. yuck..


David's Pizza - Joke Ad by my Friend ARM


Are you ready for this?

This is my friend and serial employee Anthony who created a video advertisement for a pizza place. It was part of a film project but has gotten a lot of hits and lots of comments on Youtube. He had no idea it would be this popular and yes.. the pizza place does exist!

It is in Stockton and I can't wait to see what happens with this...