Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dinner Tonight...

Droid pics (with a little help from Picasa!):

Twenty minutes from my garden to my stomach!  I just steamed 'em in water with a little lemon juice, then dipped the leaves in mayo...  Deeeeee-lish!

More info on artichokes (and links to ways to prepare/serve them) here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Enjoy your Memorial Day...

Pics from Golden Gate National Cemetery

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Recipe: Memorial Day BBQ

Okay...  In spite of the Crap-Tastic weather, I am sending hubs out into the (BRRRRR!) cold to fire up the grill and BBQ some pork short ribs...

"Can't you, like, smoke them in your smoker?!"

"Uhh, NO!"

Smoker's good for big slabs o' ribs, and big fat roasts.  Not so good for more "tender" cuts of meat like short ribs so "Suck it up, Buttercup!" ;-)

I did marinate the "Country Style" pork short ribs in a mixture of (appx) 1 cup of apple-juice, 1/8 cup of "Hickory" liquid smoke, 1/4 cup of "Sweet Baby Ray's" Sweet 'n Spicy BBQ sauce, and prob'ly about 4 TBS of BBQ Seasoning (No clue what brand - it was more-or-less "generic" from the local restaurant supply store).  

I let 'em marinate for appx 4 hours, in a zip-lock baggie in the fridge, and now I'll coat 'em with a dry-rub of McCormick's Grill-Mates Pork BBQ Rub, and have Hubs toss 'em on the grill - with some fresh rosemary sprigs:

(Smells positively freaking DIVINE!!!)

Sear 'em, then heat on "low" til they're fully cooked...  And then, maybe, schmear on some Sweet Baby Rays' BBQ sauce toward the end... (Yummmm!!!)

In the meantime, I have made my "Catalina Cole Slaw" and I am in the process, now, of cooking some "Jiffy" Corn Muffins (per package directions + 1 small [~8 oz can] of corn).

I'll also nuke a couple-three ears of corn per my earlier post here...

And I'll heat-up a big ol' can o' Bush's Baked Beans....................


And lastly, for dessert, we shall nosh on yesterday's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Yep.  Even if the weather *isn't* cooperating, I'm calling this a 'Most Delicious Memorial-Day Weekend!!!'

Recipe: Catalina Cole Slaw - with Cranberries

Ooh!  Another case of "Quick!  Write it down before you forget!"

Might have to embellish later!

QT's Catalina Cole Slaw - with Cranberries
Yield - a BIG bowl of slaw (appx 8 cups, total)

16 oz. Tri-color cole-slaw mix (pre-shredded green/red cabbage + carrots*)
12 oz. Broccoli Slaw mix (broccoli, carrots and red cabbage, again, pre-shredded)
Mayonnaise (I used Best Foods/Hellman's made with Olive Oil)
Catalina French Dressing**
Apple Cider Vinegar
Heavy Cream
Onion Powder
Celery Salt (would have preferred to use Celery Seed, but I didn't have any)
White pepper
Craisins (dried cranberries)
Honey Roasted Almond Slivers

Okay, here's the deal:  I am *not* the best recipe-writer in the world.  At best, my quantities are "guesstimates."  Although when I list the quantities up-front, chances are, they're pretty damn close (usually because I started by "borrowing" from someone else's recipe)!

But...  And I bring this up because a friend of mine called me, recently, while she was at the grocery store purchasing ingredients for one of my recipes which called for 16 oz. of beef broth (b/c, obviously, I had used *half* of a 32 oz "box" that must've been sitting in my fridge).

"But, beef broth only comes in 14 oz. cans!" she exclaimed

"Okay, so use a 14 oz. can!"

Anyway, what I'm saying is: My recipes are NOT "Gospel" - by all means, improvise!!!

Okay...  Got THAT disclaimer out of the way!  Today's recipe is a Complete "QTPi Original!"  And I was "makin' it up as I go!" so I really don't have exact measurements!

And Cole Slaw dressing is funny anyway...  First off, there's the viscosity (ahem!) which has to be "just right" - neither too thick (so it doesn't coat everything), nor too runny (so it ends up in a puddle on the bottom of the bowl)...  Plus, there's the whole flavor-melding factor: You need to make the initial dressing pretty "strong-flavored" because once it's melded-mellowed, it's gonna be a lot milder.  So what I'm sayin' is, you just kinda have to "wing it!"

That said, here is - "to the best of my recollection" - how I assembled the slaw:

First, dump appx 1/3 of both slaws into a large bowl (*and let's just forget about the fact that I have a ton of organic carrots + I harvested a cabbage from my garden, k?  'Cuz, obv, *I* did when I bought the damned pre-packaged slaw!).

Then, in a small bowl, start to combine the other ingredients.  For me, it was a "mix-as-you-go" proposition (I was using a coffee cup for mixing the dressing, so I kept having to add/remix more as I went...).

I *think* I ended up with approximately:

  • 1 cup of Mayo 
  • 1/2 cup of [Kraft] Catalina Dressing (**I want to figure out how to make a sugar-free version of this - someday!)
  • 1/3 cup of vinegar (More, if you like tangy.  Less, if you don't!)
  • 1/4 cup of cream 

Then mix in (to taste)
  • appx 1-2 TBS of Splenda (Splenda goes hand-in-hand with the vinegar.  More Vinegar=More Splenda.  Less=Less)
  • 1 TBS (+/- to taste) Onion Powder
  • (maybe) 1/2 tsp Celery Salt (woulda used Celery Seed instead - if I had any!)
  • 1/4 tsp dried Tarragon
  • pinch of white pepper (optional)
Mix the dressing thoroughly with a fork, then drizzle it onto the slaw veggies and mix it in.  Add more slaw veggies, drizzle more dressing.  Add more slaw (and if you're running out of dressing, make more), add more dressing.  You get the idea!

At the very end, dump in a couple of handfuls of Craisins and stir them in , as well.  For me, a handful is appx 1/4 cup so I'm guessing it was about 1/2 cup of Craisins ;-)

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour...  

Sprinkle with honey-roasted almond slivers just before serving...

* * * * *
It's been about an hour and I just tasted a sample (no almonds, yet).  So far, so good!  Although the color is a little weird (the dressing ended up looking kinda "Thousand-Island-y" which is not what you expect to see on slaw).  It tastes pretty damn good though!

I'll post pictures whenever we get around to eating dinner!


Okay, so it's a Crappy Droid Pic - but it shows the slaw, k?!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Recipe: Low-Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Oh Gawd yes!!!

So we are being "robbed" of a decent 3-day weekend with utterly Craptastic, overcast, chilly, windy weather.  And it's muggy to boot! (Yes kids, us Wimpy Californians consider 36% humidity to be "muggy!").

No swimming...  Possibly no BBQ-ing (but I think we can huddle up close to the grill long enough to char some pork short ribs!)...

I ended up putting on my June Cleaver heels and pinafore apron (NOTTT) and tackling wifely household duties (while hubbie went up to work on the boat).  Got the dishes up-to-date and started tackling the Metric Ton o' Laundry in the garage :::sigh:::

Somehow I don't think I am "Self Actualizing" today.

But then, there's this:

Hmmm...  What can I make???

So I had some rhubarb from the last Farm-Share delivery.  And I did pick up a couple of baskets of Strawberries...  Wasn't really in a Jamming Mood (we need to eat the jam that we've already got!), so I decided to make a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (or two!).

/sing-song-voice/ "Ohhhhh Google!!!" /end-sing-song-voice/

Grandma's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

"Thank you Google!"

I'm not even gonna bother re-posting the recipe because I pretty-much followed it to the letter (except I didn't make my own crust!).  I didn't have lemon zest either, so I just bumped-up the lemon juice to 1 tsp.  Oh, and instead of 1-1/2 cups sugar, I did 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup Splenda...

I'll also note that 3 stalks (appx 14" long) of rhubarb = 2-1/2 cups, as does 1 pint of strawberries.

Everything else is just the same as the original recipe.

Pie #1 is in the convection oven now and I'll post pics when it's all done!

Now.......... Onto QTPi "Tweakage"

When I was making "Grandma's" Pie, I chopped up too much fruit! (:::GASP:::)

So, dang-it-all, I was forced to make a SECOND Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  Yeah, what a shame, right?!

And - major suckage! - I am running out of granulated sugar and do NOT want to go to the grocery store on a Saturday of a major 3-day weekend!

I'm posting the ingredients now, so I don't forget!  Not sure how it's gonna taste - but I'll report back!

QT's Low-Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Yield: One deep-dish pie
  • 2-1/2 cups fresh red rhubarb, chopped into 1/2" slices (3 stalks)
  • 2-1/2 cups fresh quartered strawberries (1 pint)
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar
  • 3 TBS quick-cook tapioca
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1-1/4 cups Splenda Brown Sugar Blend (which is 50/50 Splenda and Brown Sugar)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TBS flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • sprinkling of salt
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 egg white
  • Crusts for 9" deep-dish pie
  1. Preheat oven to 400*
  2. Chop your fruit, add the granulated sugar and let it set and sweat for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients (except egg, butter and crusts).  Mix thoroughly.  Let it set for another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Spoon the fruit mixture into the bottom crust of a 9" deep-dish pie crust (mine was frozen, and I let it thaw while I was prepping the fruit). Don't be like me and cram the fruit on 'til it's a heaping pile (virtually guaranteed to leak out!) - just slightly above level is sufficient!
  5. Cut your butter into small chunks and blorp it all over the top of the fruit.
  6. Moisten the edges of the pie crust with a wet finger.  Add the top crust, trim the excess and pinch the crusts together.
  7. Cut a vent hole and/or slits in the top crust.
  8. Separate an egg, keeping the egg white.  Mix the egg white with appx 1/2 tsp water and whisk together with a fork.  Lightly brush the crust with the egg-white mixture and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  9. Lower oven temp to 375* and cook for appx 45-50 minutes, til golden brown. (Be smart and spread foil underneath it - just in case it oozes!!!)
  10. Allow to cool, then serve and ENJOY!
I don't think that's enough butter ;-)~

All sealed-up and ready for a brushing of egg-whites...

And I saved the best for last:

Can't wait for it to cool!

Addendum: And now a crappy Droid pic of Pie #2 (and the reason you don't want to pile too much fruit inside and what-the-hell, spread some foil underneath it just in case!):

Foil - it's a good thing!

May 27 Post-Script:  The first pie ("Grandma's Pie") was delicious.  Maybe just a tad runny, but I think that's just the nature of home-made pies (hubs is accustomed to the store-bought krep).  I also sampled a teeny sliver of "my" pie and it, too, is delicious.  Not a whole lot different from the "Grandma's" pie - to be honest (very slight flavor difference that you could only detect from sampling them side-by-side).  

My only criticism (of both pies) is that they seemed to be just a tad on the sweet side.  The strawberry flavor definitely "shined through" - but the tartness of the rhubarb seemed to be lacking (keep in mind, I *do* like my pies TART, and my taste-buds really aren't accustomed to very much "sweet" at all!).  I think, next time, I might bump-up the lemon to 2 tsp, and dial-back the sweetener by 1/4 cup (or maybe even 1/2 cup - dial-it back to just 1 cup, total), to see if that improves (lol - or worsens) things!  To be honest, I think for most "normal folks," the pies are perfect "As-Is" (hubs certainly didn't complain as he wolfed-down two HUGE slices!)  

I'm just weird and love-love-love tartness!

Okay, one FINAL "P.S." and I swear I'm done! I have to "take back" my recommendation for the Calorie-Counter/Nutrition Calculator that I'd mentioned a week or so ago.  It seems to work fine for "normal" recipes (soups, stews, whatevers), but it doesn't work fer sh*t on Low-Sugar/Sugar-Free Recipes.  Seems that it's "baseline" calorie-counts are based on teeny individual-packets of Splenda, so when you get up to the "1-Cup" range, it *totally* jacks up the calculations.  I've already confirmed that 1 cup of Granulated Splenda has 96 calories - but when I plug in 1 cup for 8 servings, it calculates out to 90 calories *per serving* which ain't right...  Somehow or other, the calculator kept *insisting* that this pie was, like, 700 calories PER SERVING.  Ummmm, NO! (Not *even* with all that butter!)

I'm not having any luck with finding a more accurate Calorie Calculator for my Low-Sugar "Sweets" so - for now - calorie/carb counts shall remain a mystery!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ferris Bueller Day! (QT's Big Adventure!)

Have you ever gotten all wistful and nostalgic and decided you wanted to head back to a place from your childhood to recapture some *really* nice memories...  And then gotten there - only to discover that EVERYTHING has changed and it's NOTHING like you remember, and it totally sullies ALL of your happy memories and you end up getting all depressed and deciding that "Life Sucks?"

Thankfully, today was NOT one of those times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

* * * * *
Well, I did it!

I cleared my calendar and cleared my head by taking a "Mental Health Day" off from work!

Of course, I did have to login for appx one hour this morning (to deal with some "pressing client issues") - but I wanted to wait for traffic to clear anyway...

So I headed out around 9:15-9:30-ish this morning and I *totally* lucked-out - traffic-wise.  I actually made it up to Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay by 10:30am.  I was Stunned and Amazed! (I was really anticipating 2 hours' worth of stop-n-go driving)...

Entry to Pillar Point Harbor

10:30 seems a little early for lunch (although Ketch Joanne's *does* serve breakfast - but...  NOT what I came for!).

I decided to kill a little time by wandering around Pillar Point Harbor and taking pictures of old fishing boats.  Pillar Point is, primarily, a commercial port.  I don't think there are very many recreational boats docked there - it's mostly Honest-to-Gawd fishing boats.  Some fishing charter boats, but lots of crabbing and salmon and commercial fishing.  The boats out there are SUPER cool.  Not your super-sleek, high-dollar sport-fishers.  Nope.  These are mostly "Custom" (read: hand-made, one-of-a-kind trawlers).  An old friend of mine once likened trawlers to "Old Harleys" - and I think he wasn't too far off the mark.

Anyway, I *did* bring my good camera, so here are a few pictures of COOL old boats:

I really like the classic lines on this boat...

Love the super-high bow on the Allaine.
The Stacey Joannne kinda reminds me of Tartan (my old Sportfisher)
(That is, if Tartan had a highly-modified flybridge and "after-market" pilot house!)

I'm guessing this one's a charterboat.
(BTW - the wind was howling and it was miserably cold, so I don't think ANY fishing charters went out today)

The Marauder has been "Rode hard and put away wet" as my dad used to say.  
Still, a REALLY cool lookin' boat.

I probably spent about 20 minutes wandering around and snapping pictures (and freezing my @$$ off - in spite of the fact that I *did* wear long pants and remembered to bring a jacket!).  By that time, I was getting pretty hungry, so I headed toward the restaurants/shops...

Maverick's Surf Shop and the charter boat office
Several dining options...

I just love this old guy!
(and yes, I remember him from past visits!)

(This guy is new)

Ooh!  We're getting there!
(this bar is affiliated with...)

Now, I have to be honest here...  I'm not generally one to dine alone...  I mean, hell, I'm married so 90% of the time I am with hubs, right?  And when I'm not, I generally go out with P...  And, even when I was single, I could *always* find SOMEONE to go out to lunch/dinner/whatever... 

Annnnnd....  With all my "Dad Memories" - well, I was scared I was gonna feel all awkward and get all teary-eyed and weird and sh*t, right???

:::GULP:::  "Suck it up!"  So in I went.

First impressions?  The place hasn't changed ONE BIT in all these years.  Well, take-it-back, the seats are now upholstered in burgundy-colored vinyl (they used to be blue)!  No, srsly, it is JUST the way I remembered it.  Annnnd...  I couldn't help but notice that there were a couple other "lone females" dining there (so I felt "less weird!").  I got seated at a table between two couples and everybody was SUPER friendly.  The couple to my left were "regulars" and the couple to my right were first-time-visitors, and we all got engaged in friendly conversation - which was freaking AWESOME (Totally kept me from getting "weird and tear-jerky!").  Most folks were eating breakfast (makes sense - given the time!), but when the waitress arrived to take my order I told her "I *have* to have the Seafood Combo Platter, fried."  No problem there!

No calories on this plate - No Sirree!!!

When I snapped the picture, the couple to the right laughed and said that *they* take pictures of their meals sometimes, too.  And I smiled and told them about how my Dad and I used to come here ALL the time - and this was the only dish I had ever ordered!

The other couple wanted to know how the prawns were - and actually WAITED for my plate to cool-down enough so I could sample and confirm that they were "Absolutely delicious - Just like I always remembered!"

So yeah.  It was freaking awesome - all around!  And, like I said, the place hasn't changed A BIT in all these years.  I even mentioned it to the waitress and she agreed...  "Yep.  Same owners and everything!"

Did I mention it was cold up on the coast?

They even had the wood-stove burning in the dining room!

Oh, and check this out:
This is the wood-stove in the bar (it wasn't cookin')
I think it's an old converted Sea Mine!

Anyhooooo...  I had a fantastic time and a most-delicious lunch (which - BTW - I was unable to finish!) at Ketch Joanne's.  And I stand by my earlier proclamation: "This is THE BEST Seafood Joint on the Coast!"

Now one stop I would have *liked* to have made, was a trek to Princeton-by-the-Sea, which is a stone's throw north of Pillar Point Harbor.  I have "my spot" on the coast where I like to go to "get my head together."  There's a kind of a hiking park/trail that leads up to Maverick's (Famous surf spot), and I like to hike up the hill and sit on a particular spot on the cliff, overlooking the surf and just kinda "be still" and meditate.  But, alas, I didn't think my feet were up for much hiking.  Plus, did I mention it was BLOODY-FREAKING-COLD-AND-WINDY???

Freezing my arse off was not part of my Master Plan for today..............

So, let's hit some Farm-Stands instead, shall we?

Okay, so back down hwy 1, and a left-turn onto hwy 92.  Sadly, Tom and Pete's is no more...  The crab/fish stand is still there and I debated buying a steaming-hot fresh crab and a loaf of sourdough bread, but I was so utterly-stuffed from lunch, I decided against it!

Heading East on Hwy 92, I *did* stop at Marsh and Sons.  That place is sooooo old, the Marsh and Sons sign has faded away to oblivion!  But I DO like the "rustic" signs they DO have!


I struck up a conversation with the Mexican Dude who was manning the stand...  Told him how I drove "all this way *just* for their fresh peas!" 

"Where ju coming from?" 

"South San Jose."

I told him how I grew-up in the area and how my dad and I used to come here every weekend for their fresh peas, and how it was "all your fault" I had to drive this long distance "because I love your peas so much!"

He smiled and asked "Why ju move to San Hozay then?"

"Welllll...  Because my husband lives there and he *insisted* that I had to live with him!"

He laughed.

I love how HMB has retained it's Small-Town friendliness - it is just so cool!

Sooooo...  How 'bout those FRESH PEAS???

Oh Gawd!  I think I've died and gone to heaven!!!

We talked about how Half Moon Bay is the ONLY place to get truly fresh peas!  I mentioned that I have peas planted in my garden and I'm LUCKY if I get 3 pea-pods at a time...  And how I belong to a CSA and they delivered peas to me, but they didn't "pop" open like theirs do.  He smiled and agreed - and told me about how people come from all over the Bay Area to buy their peas because, no, "Ju can't get them this fresh anywhere else."

They had other stuff, too!

We also talked about other fruits/veggies and I explained that I have a backyard garden/orchard and grow THE BEST peaches, ever.  He laughed and agreed when I talked about how cool it was to pick a fresh peach, still warm off the tree, and have the juice go running down your chin when you bite into it!

Yeah.  It was awesome!

So I bought two HUGE bags of fresh peas (just like we always did!).  I also picked up a "local" greenhouse tomato (they also had Mexican-grown/on-the-vine 'maters - but he said the "local" ones were a little bit better), and a couple-three cucumbers...

Then I continued on my journey...  All the while thinking to myself "How the HELL did we manage to eat all those peas on the way home after eating lunch at Ketch Joanne's?!!"  I couldn't imagine eating anything more at that point!!!

Some of that "verdant farmland" I was talking about earlier...

I drove past G. Berta's without stopping (although I'm glad it's still there).  And Pastorino's, and A. Repetto Nursery (again, glad they're all still there).  There are actually a couple of "new" businesses along hwy 92 that seem to specialize in HUGE rusty metal sculptures.  They looked pretty cool and I debated stopping - just to snap pictures - but I decided to sally forth...

Half Moon Bay Nursery!!!
Kinda non-descript, ain't it?!

This is, quite possibly, my FAVORITE PLACE on earth!  Once you walk thru the doors, you enter a completely different world...........

To be perfectly honest, I don't know if pictures can truly do it justice............

(I don't even *like* marigolds - but, when I'm here, I wanna buy them all!!!)

White impatiens hanging basket in the foreground
Pink bougainvilleas in the background

Everything is soooo gorgeous - And I am not much of a "flower person!"

Some kinda "pincushion flowers"
This, to me, just looks "Magical!"

Bromeliads (with Orchids behind the Bromes)

Look!  A bunny!!

Impatiens a-plenty!
(Again, not my favorite flower - but aren't they gorgeous here???)

Some new kinda mini-petunia
I ended up buying two of these plants to stick in pots on our front doorstep

I have *no* idea if this will work, but I took a "panoramic" shot with my camera.
Maybe (hopefully) you can click on it to see the full-sized version and scroll to get that whole "surround" effect!

Another panoramic shot...

My last (stunningly gorgeous) shot at HMB nursery.
No clue what these are - but I love 'em!

After my (relatively inexpensive) purchase at the nursery, I headed back up 92, towards home...

I did make a little side-trip to Golden Gate National Cemetery (I'll share those photos on Memorial Day - since it seems more appropo!).  I stopped off to say "Hi" to Mom and Dad.  Sounds kinda weird, but I left a pile of fresh peas on their grave.  I  think they appreciate that *more* than flowers!!!

Then, once I got closer to home, I hit Giordano's Farm Stand (AGAIN!), for more fresh corn (gotta BBQ this weekend - despite the crap-tastic weather!).  Thennnnn... When I was *almost* home, I ran across a gal who was selling bags of fresh cherries on the side of the road - so I bought some of those, too!!!

Annnnnd... Once I got home, I DID indulge in ONE of the bags of fresh peas..................

No dinner for me!!!

Anyway, all told, I had an AWESOME "Ferris Bueller Day" and, overall, I have to say I am feeling *much* better!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Random Ramblings... Upcoming Mental Health Day...

Warning: Rambling-a-Plenty ahead...  And some reminiscing which may, or may not, interest you (more likely to be "interesting" if you're from the San Francisco Bay Area!)...

K?  You have been warned!

* * * * *
Have you ever reached a point, in life, where you just kinda felt "Out of Kilter?"

I think I'm there.  And I think I need a mini Road-Trip, so I'm taking Friday off!

Oddly, what prompted all of this (aside from the stress-induced skin condition bullsh*t which - FINALLY - seems to be showing miniscule signs of improvement) was a delivery from the Farm Share, last week.

Part of the delivery was a bag of fresh(ish) English Peas - the kind you have to "shuck" before you eat 'em.  And I got ALL excited when I saw them.  But, alas, they were *not* as fresh as I like.  No, the shells were kinda soft, and none-too-easy to pop open.  The peas tasted fine, but not quite what I remembered...

See?  When I was a kid (Oh Gawd - yes - here comes the "rambling" part!), my dad used to take me on long drives - always in search of local Farm-Stands (of which there were NONE in our li'l corner of Suburbia on the San Francisco Peninsula).  In the early days, we'd drive down to San Jose (which is where I live now) - and this was "back in the day" BEFORE Silicon Valley even existed!  Yes, it used to be all orchards!  Anyhoo, San Jose was excellent for fresh fruit and "warm-season crops."

In later years, we discovered Half Moon Bay which was about 15-20 miles, due-west, from where we lived.  Hop in the car, go up hwy 92, and head for the coastline.  Drive straight up the hill, leaving civilization behind...  Then down toward Crystal Springs Reservoir (a truly picturesque lake), then a hilly, twisty, woodsy climb, up toward Skyline Blvd.  Once you cross-over Skyline, you head back down the (equally) twisty road and descend into verdant farm country!

Along hwy 92 (which was one of my first "Twisty Road" experiences when I first learned how to drive), there are several family-owned fruit and veggie stands where you can buy all sorts of fresh produce.  Mostly "cool-season" stuff:  Cabbages the size of basketballs (no exaggeration!), artichokes, fruits a-plenty and TRULY fresh peas!!!  We are talking *just* off the vine!

Anyway, we'd generally head out to the coast and have lunch first - at Ketch Joanne's at Pillar Point Harbor.  Only THE BEST fresh seafood "joint" on the coast.  I'm sure there are those who would beg to differ (as to the "BEST" designation - but I am entitled to my opinion, right?).  In looking at their fancy-schmantzy web-site, it looks like they're trying to be all up-scale and "gourmand" but, in my mind, it will always be a "joint!" (which is actually a good thing!  I don't *do* pretension!).  Dad and I were definitely "regulars" there, and he'd always flirt (innocently) with the waitresses.  I *always* ordered the same thing: A fried seafood platter with prawns, scallops and rock cod.  THE Best (cardiologists be damned!).

Then we'd turn around and head back towards home - with me BEGGING to stop and rent horses at one of the local riding stables! (LOL, I think we may have rented horses ONCE!).  All of the good fruit stands were on the right-hand side of the road, coming back (trust me - you do NOT want to attempt a left-turn on hwy 92!).

First stop would generally be Tom and Pete's - which is pretty close to downtown (near the intersection of hwys 92 and 1).  Good variety of produce, and there was a fresh seafood place right next door where you could buy a freshly boiled dungeness crab - we're talking "steaming hot" (which they would crack and wrap for you - on the spot).  You could buy the same thing at Pillar Point, but we usually waited 'til we stopped at Tom and Pete's.

Then we'd continue our drive back.  I think our favorite stop was Marsh and Sons (BTW - none of these places has a website!  I actually kinda like that, too!  But they are Yelp-able).  THAT was where we'd stop to buy peas.  Oh My GAWD were their peas good!!!  Seriously, these peas were mere *minutes* off the vine (oftentimes, we'd wait 'til one of the "pickers" showed up with a fresh box!).

A third stop we'd sometimes make was G. Berta's.  That's where we'd pick-up a basketball sized cabbage, assorted other fruits/veggies, and maybe a small bouquet of flowers...

We'd always buy two BIG paper bags full of peas (at Marsh and Sons).  The first bag rarely made it home because we'd be eating them (and tossing the shucks out the window :::gasp:::) on the drive home.  The second bag usually *did* make it, and we'd give it to my mom who would literally shriek with glee "Ooooh!  PEAS!!!"

We never, EVER cooked 'em.  They never lasted that long!

Another good stop, on the way back, is Half Moon Bay Nursery.  Dad was always big into gardening and he routinely grew tomatoes the size of boxing gloves - again, no exaggeration!  So, I'm pretty sure that's where I got my "Gardening Gene!"  I think we stopped there a couple-three times, over the years.  It wasn't a "regular" stop, but I definitely have fond memories of the times that we did.

I've gone to HMB nursery a few times, on my own, through the years and - no matter what time of year you go - it always seems like a truly Magical Place.  Even on the coldest, rainiest days (which, in HMB, it really doesn't get all THAT cold - since they're so close to the coast), they'll have a wood-stove burning to keep the main greenhouses warm, and they pump-in really nice classical music.  I could spend hours there, just wandering around and taking it all in!  Difficult to describe, actually, but they segregate their flowering-plants by color, and when everything is in bloom...???  Well, it just takes your breath away!

So Bottom Line:  I have decided (all because of the not-as-fresh-as-I'd-like peas from the Farm-Share), that I am WAAAAAY past-due for a drive out to the coast!

So I re-jiggered my schedule and am taking Friday off for a mini-Road Trip.

I checked with P, and it seems she's already got other obligations - so I will go by myself.  And that's okay!

Going to Ketch Joanne's might be a little weird, all alone, and I hope I don't get all verklempt - that might be embarrassing! (I've only been there, maybe three times since my dad passed away in '89).  But I am jonesin' for an artery-hardening fried seafood platter!  Followed by fresh peas! Ohhhh yeah!!!

But I am NOT buying ANY veggie plants at the nursery, k???  I might buy something ornamental for the front-porch by NO FRIGGIN' VEGGIES!!!  NO FRIGGIN' WAY!!!!!

Hopefully, I'll be able to snap some super nice photos...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quickie PSA: Corn - the easy way!

Made a quick trip over to Giordano Farms (our local farm-stand) and, Oh Goody-Goody-Goody!!!  They've got fresh corn on the cob!!!

Now, IMHO, I think Giordano has, hands-down, THE best corn in the valley...  Possibly the state.  Hell, possibly even ON THE PLANET! (It really is *that* good!).

(Gawd, I just hope it's not Monsanto GMO*/BT corn.  That would totally suck because then I'd have to stop buying it!)


Sadly, Giordanos' home-grown corn is still a couple weeks away, but they did have some other (local) farm's fresh corn and - given the dreadful wintertime "Corn Drought" - well, I bought some!  And it was almost as good!

My FAVORITE way to cook corn is, in the husk, on the grill.  Doing it that way tastes almost as good as "Fair Corn" (which I'm convinced, is made with some sorta Voodoo Magic or something!).

But, since it's lunchtime, and I'm working, I really don't have time to fire up the grill so I'm sharing this video:

Hopefully, by embedding this in the blog, you won't be subjected to YouTube's interpretation of "similar" videos (which appear to be pornographic in nature - Eww!).

Annnnnnywaaaayyyy...  I *just* tried this method and I'm here to tell you: IT WORKS!

Steamy hot and clean as a whistle!  Yummy too!

So there it is!  Back to work..................................

Post-Script: Big "Hooray" for Giordano Farms :-)  I emailed them and they confirmed that the corn that they grow is *not* GMO.  So I feel much better about buying it now....................... 

*BTW - GMO refers to Genetically Modified Organism.  And this is way beyond hybridization.  Just Label It  has more info.  I'm not a full-on nutcase activist or anything, so I'm not gonna rant about it here - but I do like to "choose" what I eat.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Quickie Garden Update (with minimal ramblings - HEY!!!)

Gonna keep it quick because it's breezy and a wee-bit COLD out here at the Tiki Bar, this evening...

You can tell I'm getting impatient and frustrated when I finally reach a point where I say "Screw it" and cram EVERYTHING into the upside down planters!!!

Upside Down Planter #1
aka "The HOT bed" (full, blazing sun)
located closest to the back door

This planter is mostly herbs.  Some leftover from last year (thyme and sage), and some new additions (2 kinds of chives, a french tarragon, and a stevia).  I didn't even make note of what got planted where - but I did jam the plant-tags into the soil in the "general vicinity" of what I planted!  

Oh, I also added an upside-down Ananas Noir tomato (the other one is a Sun Sugar cherry tom).  And in the very bottom, I crammed some of the leftover beans (no clue what I planted where - LOL!)

Upside Down Planter #2
Slightly cooler since it's closer to the back fence and huge Italian Cypresses
(and gets a fair amt of shade)

Still has some lettuce and spinach, and last year's stevia growing in it.  I also crammed in 3 strawberry plants (once of which actually has fruit on it - Yay!) (See it?!  See it?!).

Hell, I've never been a huge fan of "Strawberry Planters" anyway...........

And, again, more beans on the bottom.

Wouldnt'cha know it?  The *minute* I turned my back, Princess Annie (aka "Chief Sprinkler Eater" and "Destructo-Dog Extraordinaire") was ALREADY chomping on the greenery of my beans on the bottom!

B*tch!!!  I turned the hose on her and she got "mildly annoyed" :::sigh:::

I'm not overly optimistic about the beans in the bottom, nor the upside-down 'maters.  But "whaddya gonna do." Right???  Jeeezus!

I just got tired of watching the plants wilt on the outdoor dining table, and I really couldn't find the time to plant 'em properly.

Oh, BTW, I *still* have one 'mater plant - a Stupice - but I think I'll pot it up and pawn it off on my *other* neighbor!!!

As for the "already-planted-beds," well, they're doing okay.  Still have some "catching-up" to do, but the weather's been pretty decent, so I think it'll be all right.  My new "Bean Bed" is looking a little wilty, so I'm still dragging the hose out and giving it a supplemental "jolt."  I think it'll need it for the first week or so, but once everybody's established, I hope it'll be okay! (I do NOT want to drag a hose out, clear across the yard, every damned day!!!) (that's a LONG trek, and hoses are rather unwieldy - to say the least!).

Anyhoooooo...  I think I can safely say that ALL of my "Critical Planting" is done!  I still want to pot-up the Citrus trees, but that's not Life-and-Death (they're fine in their current pots).

NOW I can start concentrating on converting the yard back into "Summer Mode:" Get rid of all the crap strewn about; set-up the wet-bar and fridge behind the Tiki Bar; Drag out all of the Summer Furniture; etc.

And here's a Summer-Preparatory Pic:

Part of my vast "Big-Lots" Cheesy-Tiki Collection!
Currently residing on the steps to the hot tub.

So that's the Latest 'n Greatest from QT's Tiki Farm...  I'm glad I finally got the "Gardening Monkey" off my back, at least!


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