if you’re in a giving state of mind, this simply-packaged plant carrier is a really cute gift / promo idea. die-cut out of a single sheet of cardboard, wrap the plant gift of your choice and hand them out.
2 weekends ago, i took a weekend trip to paso robles, driving up with 1 girlfriend and meeting the other at our half-way point from her new digs in san francisco. we’re all wine-lovers and we take our wine tasting semi-seriously, in that we will go the extra mile to taste whatever we can, though we’ll informally chat and joke throughout the entire thing. i’d say it’s a professional attitude, though only insomuch as we’re there at opening and closing and treat it as our job to take every advantage of being in wine country. we’re committed: a comment about our dedication and sanity.
kari and i started out by tasting our way through santa ynez and santa maria, including our first visit to roblar winery, a repeat visit to beckmen and a spin through los olivos for lunch and an obligatory visit to global gardens, purveyors of exquisite olive and nut oils, among other condiments and preserves. we continued up foxen canyon road to try out kohler, foxen, and cambria on our way back to the 101. it’s so nice to have the freedom to continue north rather than speculate about when to turn back towards home.
the leslie-heather-kari triumvirate started their saturday on highway 46. i can’t even remember all the places we visited, but zenaida cellars, kenneth volk, lone madrone, cypher, peachy canyon were all part of the journey. how do we taste all that wine? we often split tastings so we can taste more and drink less [we are not spitters, apologies to the real professionals]. the property of kenneth volk and lone madrone had pens with animals out front, including these cute little goats, as well as some chickens and rabbits. i love visiting all the cute animals.
on our departing day, kari and i made the most of our tasting possiblities and decided to explore a part of paso we’ve never been to, up estrella road to the north. we found the fantastic and hidden graveyard winery, which has an actual cemetery of a few families with fascinating and endearing headstones. their wines were delicious and alive, and the owners who did the pouring and hospitality were wonderful to talk to. we found the landscape breathtaking [the top photo is right outside their tasting room], and noticed a wood pile for the fireplace, containing chopped logs and twisty dry trimmed grape vines. i decided to take a few small pieces to see how they smoke up on the barbecue.
we continued up to silver horse, which is host to tasting for a few wineries. the long-predicted rain for the weekend rolled in as we watched through giant picture-windows. the other patrons of this tasting room were chatty and made it a really nice end to our weekend. eventually though, we had to get back on the road and get home. timing worked it out so we could have dinner at the madonna inn, which was a fun time adorned in pink & copper.
overall i was really impressed with all the exciting white wines i tasted. i picked up some varietals and some blends, all of them really zingy and floral. i also bought more dessert wines than usual, because the late harvests have really grown on me [or maybe i was encouraged by kari, who is a big fan]. i did get 2 red wines, despite my voracious foray into loving white wine of late, an absolutely delicious syrah from beckmen, and this really bright, floral, stainless-steel-fermented zinfandel from lone madrone called zin of steel, which led to lots of devo singing.
for now, the wine is in the wine fridge. i’m afraid to dig into it, but will soon enough. so exciting!
last week, my friend seth and i took a day trip to oak glen above yucaipa for some apple & raspberry picking. i highly recommend this area for some good-time harvest season fun [but fair warning: the whole area is packed on weekends]. we were hoping to avoid the weekend crowds, but alas, there is no self-picking on weekdays save for raspberry picking at snow-line orchards. i had been looking forward to berry picking anyway, so we split a mini-pack of fresh cider donuts, bought our cartons [12 bucks will get you an empty 3-pack to fill yourself] and got to work.
there’s a lot more than raspberries going on in the raspberry patch though. it’s an entire microcosm of activity with grasshoppers jumping around, bright green leaf beetles going about their business, little brown frogs croaking from somewhere in the bramble, and not least of all, BEES! they’re everywhere! i thought they might be pollinating flowers, but upon inspection it seems that bees are little vampires when it comes to raspberries, gently puncturing each individual drupelet and drinking the juice. if you’re allergic to bee stings, you might want to steer clear of raspberry picking, but seth and i never got stung. the good old rule of don’t bother them & they won’t bother you still stands.
it took us about an hour to make our way through a few of the rows and fill our flats. picking raspberries is a pretty simple technique of searching out those of the deepest color, gently pinching the berry and pulling it away from the stem. if it doesn’t come off easily, chances are it’s not ripe. unlike stone fruits, raspberries do not continue to ripen once picked, so it’s best to only pick the ripest fruit. you can save time by searching out clusters of ripe fruit, cupping your hand and picking several berries one after the other, letting them drop into your palm as you go, rather than placing each one individually into your basket.
despite all the delicious-sounding baked goods i found starring raspberries, i have opted to eat most of them fresh, to get the most of the raw nutrients. i made up this raspberry parfait that uses more fruit than i’d ever normally use if i’d bought them locally [this recipe would easily use a whole small carton]. what a luxury to have this much fruit!
raspberry pepita parfaits
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup whole plain yogurt
2 tbs pepitas
1 tb vanilla extract
1 tb honey
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a splash of rosewater
place everything except the raspberries & pepitas in a small mixing bowl and mix until you reach a uniform consistency. taste and adjust flavors if necessary.
depending on the glass you use, you can choose how to layer your berries and yogurt. i chose these martini glasses, so i put a heaping tablespoon of yogurt on the bottom, then a layer of berries, then split the remaining yogurt, and sprinkled the remaining pepitas and berries on top.
walking up my street yesterday, with my eyes on the ground, i found my wandering thoughts interrupted by something familiar. hey, isn’t that purslane—growing right there in the gutter?
either purslane is everywhere suddenly, or i am finally aware of it enough to realize people everywhere are talking about this plant. a summer favorite at farmer’s markets, purslane is an edible succulent that only grows in warm summer soil [often thriving in poor quality soil, too] and full sunlight. it’s often been called a weed, since it is quite hardy and has a tendency to spread with a near-indestructible root system that stands up to breakage and root dividing. it’s also just an annual, so allowing it to have its summer season won’t ruin your garden for fall. in fact, it won’t ruin it at all—purslane is a great ground-cover that keeps soil moist, pulling deep water to the surface and hydrating companion plants.
moreover, though, purslane is good for you! i was just reading about its superfood qualities: Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Simopoulos states that Purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for land-based vegetable sources. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in fish, some algae, and flax seeds. It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves). Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies.read more on wikipedia or nutritiondata.com’s breakdown on purslane.
so, obviously i’m not going to eat it right out of the gutter, but reading about its copious seed production, i went down with an envelope to collect seeds. purslane produces little seed pods full of tiny black seeds, and you can shake or pinch them into an envelope for collection [there are 2 in the photo above, along the center horizon of the photo]. once that was done, i pulled up a healthy cluster, and took 5″ cuttings of new stems to plant in my herb garden and in little propagation pots. one way or another, i’m getting in on this plant. hopefully i can grow it from hanging pots right outside my front door. comment if you want some seeds!
last week i took a much-needed summer vacation in the bay area and big sur. though i’ve had the weekend to get back into the swing and ready to tackle the week, i’m still looking at these photos, smelling marine-layered pine needles and dreaming of a to-do list that only included preparing meals, hiking, lining up a bundle of firewood, and pairing a campfire dinner with camp-friendly wine. here’s a selection of my favorite photos from the trip, and with that, back to work!
my final post for LAist’s park-a-day project is a showcase of the LA river greenway project, beautifying green spaces along the LA river one pocket park at a time. here are my favorites from walking along the LA river. read more on LAist!