• Winter Never Came, But We Still Have Spring

    springWell, we never really got winter this year in Norcal. We did get some rain, and may get some more, but what we call “cold and wintry weather” (but really isn’t) never arrived. I guess it was sucked in by the polar vortex. Once the rains came, the plants came roaring back to life. The bees are working the wisteria, the roses are about to burst, hummingbirds are sprinting from flower to flower and the bluebirds flicker in the sun. We will take it.

    spring1spring2spring8Meanwhile, in the garden the greens look beautiful (taste good, too) and the blueberries are in flower. We have fennel everywhere and the artichokes are sending up canes. The herb garden seems to double in size every day (at least the mint). Excellent.

    spring3spring4spring5spring6In the orchard, this is our favorite time of year. The citrus is at its best, with Meyer and Eureka lemons and Cara-cara oranges all looking and tasting lovely. Some seem to make their way into a few cocktails. And the stone fruit trees are starting to flower. Nothing prettier in the world….So much for winter. We will gladly take the spring.

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  • Orange Sour Cream Pound Cake

    poundThere are few things easier to make than a pound cake. (Few things better to make, for that matter). And you can find pound cake just about anywhere. But that doesn’t mean pound cake isn’t blogworthy. Far from it. Like a blank canvas, the basic equal-proportion pound cake recipe is a worthwhile place for bakers to riff and create tasty new treats. And this recipe is a perfect example of how a few substitutions and/or additions to the traditional pound cake can make something entirely new (and good).

    pound8pound7This recipe uses most of the equal proportion of flour, sugar and egg, but then splits the fat between butter and sour cream. This adds more tang while keeping a rich flavor. Meanwhile, that tang is enhanced by a little orange zest. Topped with two different citrus-sugar glazes, you suddenly have a very rich cake, but with a tangy and slightly acidic core that keeps you coming back for another bite. If you find basic pound cake a bit cloying, this type of recipe is a good place to play.

    Pound5pound4Carolyn adapted the recipe from “Sweet” by Valerie Gordon. Sweet is a solid cookbook by a well-known pastry chef / confectioner. Beyond the recipes, the photos are beautiful. Our sons, drawn by the photos and the thought that “maybe Mom will make some of this for us” gave Carolyn the cookbook for Christmas. Smart kids.

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  • Backyard Kauai Flowers

    flower5Kauai is known as the “Garden Isle”, and for good reason. It rains. A lot. Over many consecutive weeks days. And then sometimes the sun comes out and all that rain seems worthwhile. Kauai is one of the greenest places on earth, but along with the green comes the flowers. And you don’t need to go far to find them.

    flower3flower8Some of the flowers of Kauai are hidden treasures that require special knowledge and long, treacherous secret hikes. But most are there for all to see, on the sides of the road or even in your back yard. A quiet stroll in Kauai might just give you some of the best colors you will see in your lifetime….or you might just get rained on. It’s worth the risk.

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  • The Winter That Wasn’t

    winter3We don’t take much to complaining here at the farm. Life is a blessing, and while things can (and do) go wrong all the time, we prefer to look at the positive. When its 75 degrees and sunny in late January, it’s hard to complain. When you still have mint in the garden, flowers, bees and hummingbirds, it’s hard to complain. And it is even harder to complain when we have tasty winter veggies and citrus thriving in the garden.

    winterwinter4winter5But this seemingly endless summer is a problem. Outside the fence line (and away from irrigation) California is brown and dry. Parched. We have a serious drought. And even for a state that always seems short on water, we are truly short right now. Usually California is green in winter and then brown in summer. It’s looking like a brown year.

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  • Fall “Fires” At The Farm

    fires9After a long summer and a few weeks of “second spring”, Autumn is here in Northern California. Fall is a curious season here. Just as some trees drop their leaves and show off fiery colors, colder weather flowers thrive and our “winter crops” start to take off and show some fire of their own. There is a whole other burst of color, and it is just coming to life. There is always a touch of spring here, and we are grateful for it.

    firesfires11fire13Our herbs and greens enjoy the milder weather and keep the salads coming. The fennel, Brussels sprouts, artichokes and chard all show promise. The citrus trees will yield fruit before thanksgiving and the colder weather strawberries are having a blast. The apple cider kit is in the mail…more fun on the way.

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  • Second Spring Into Fall

    second11While autumn is here in Norcal, we also have our own little “second spring”. Harvest is certainly here. Lots of apples and pears, and the fall crops of figs and artichokes are right on time. But as things cool down, some plants that get scorched during summer have another chance to flourish. So even as the trees change color (and we do get fall colors in California!), our garden gets a few new glimpses of green….and red.

    second4second3secondsecond1The greens are baby lettuces and vibrant herbs- a last blast of summer that is always welcome. The reds are tomatoes, peppers and strawberries. The peppers are just ripening, but the tomatoes and strawberries are enjoying our last stretch of constant warmth. These tomatoes are often the best of the year. Worth the wait and a fine farewell to our favorite crop.

    second5second8second10So even as we plant our chard and the ever-popular kale (enough already with the kale…its just a vegetable, jeez), we see new roses popping up around the garden. Hydrangea enjoy the cool and bloom again. Fall is here, but our second spring makes it a smooth transition….second7second2second13second9