Posted in Food and Cooking

Orange Loaf from Fresh Orange Juice

Our orange tree has been beautiful with fruit for a couple of weeks now and we have enjoyed lots of oranges, orange juice, and spritzers. However my family’s favorite use for the harvest is an orange loaf bread from the Happy Foods Tube Website. It’s not too sweet for breakfast but I preferred a slice mid afternoon with tea. If you would like to try a fresh citrusy loaf, I’d recommend this one at

The only change I made to Julia’s recipe was substituting coconut sugar for granulated, which gave it a little more flavor and a deeper color.

It was a messy bowl but the results were so good.

I hope you enjoy the recipe and this slice of California sunshine. Blessings.

Posted in Food and Cooking, healthy eating

Herbicides on Wheat & Organic Self Rising Flour

My family loves warm banana nut muffins with blueberries, like the ones I made today and with self rising flour they come together in no time. These muffins used up the last of the plain white self rising flour bought for making quick breakfast breads over the busy holiday period. I really enjoy the convenience of having the baking powder and salt already added to my recipes, not having to pull out the measuring spoons seems to make baking exponentially easier.

But I can’t find an organic version in the stores and worry about the risk of herbicides and pesticides in flour today. I recently heard from a friend that non-organic farmers were spraying herbicides on their wheat crops to dry it out uniformly just before harvest. Wow, that was shocking so I had to do some research on the subject. I wish I could say it wasn’t true, but all I can say is the on-line information is contradictory and confusing. I’m sharing the link to a Snopes article which dispels part of the story as an exaggeration but states it is a practice some farmers use and the practice is not illegal or banned.

There are other articles defending non organic farmers which say that weed killers such as Roundup being sprayed on wheat before harvest is not routine and that only small amounts are applied.

I feel for the farmers today, from the little I know about their situation it’s a hard way of life without much in monetary rewards. The information about the risks of using a herbicide like glyphosate is muddled and the task of feeding their world is large. However, for myself even a rare case of herbicide in my flour is a problem. So for some good news finally, at Safeway the cost of generic organic flour is only about 30 cents more a pound and you can make a self rising mix yourself for those early morning biscuits (ironically it will probably be the butter that kills me).

To make your own self rising flour, in a large bowl (make it large or the flour can scatter when stirred ) mix very well 4 cups of flour, 6 teaspoons of baking soda and 2 teaspoons of salt. Store in an air tight container and remember the effectiveness of baking soda will decrease if not used within a couple of months or stored in the freezer. I made my batch with half organic whole wheat flour and half organic all purpose flout. I’ll let you know how my biscuits and pancakes turn out. Please let me know your results if you have tried a homemade flour mix. As always thanks for stopping by my site.

Posted in Food and Cooking, Travel, wine

Santa Cruz Wine tasting

We are taking a short virtual drive for “Travel Thursday” this week to two Santa Cruz foothills wineries. There are many wonderful wineries in the region for great Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. No secrets there, even Cond√© Nast Traveler called it one of the best wine regions to visit in 2019 (link ). However, limiting my tastings to keep my balance and sense of taste, (don’t even suggest spitting out good wine) I chose Testarossa and House Family Wineries two beautiful wineries close to home.

From San Jose we approach the area via the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos in the Santa Cruz foothills, which has a charming historic downtown of top notch restaurants and shops. We drive past a plethora of nice stand alone tasting rooms on the way but I like the ambiance of a working winery tasting room so up the hill we start.

Dramatic entrance to Testarossa Winery

Our first stop is at Testarossa Winery which is my favorite for Pinot Noirs. It also has great outdoor dining, music and special events. This time we just did a tasting in the main hall but we also enjoy having a glass of wine and snack outdoors, enjoying the mediteraen climate and listening to music.

These pictures of Testarossa are courtesy of Tamara at , since my Testarossa pictures disappeared, darn wine. Thanks Tamara, that was a fun day.

With my bottles of the 2016 Pinot tucked safely away, we head north on the Saratoga Los Gatos Road to the House Family Vineyard for some Cabs. This is wine tasting with a view of the San Jose Valley and surrounding vistas. Here is the pretty path through the vineyard from parking:

The view from the tasting room:

The 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon did not disappoint, a bit pricey but with club membership there is a discount and tasting is complimentary for four. We have also come up on a Friday night to hear music and just do a tasting so the experience is reasonable.

They have a small menu and we ordered a cheese plate and loaf of French bread, which is baked on-site and amazing. So, as I sit here thinking of the crusty french loaf and delicious glass of Cabernet, I leave you with this quote:

The gospel needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” Rachel Held Evans


Posted in Food and Cooking, Travel

Lake Tahoe Summer Vacation

It’s Travel Thursday so I’m sharing about our trip this summer to beautiful Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Forever, we had heard of magical summer trips to Tahoe where the water was gloriously cobalt blue, the beaches were warm, the water sports abundant, and the views were picture perfect.

View of Lake Tahoe from the west coast of lake.

Tahoe is only about four hours from the South Bay so we drove across and nestled our travel trailer among the towering pines in the Fallen Leaf Lake Campground. It’s in an alpine canyon between Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe, 1/4 mile from Fallen Leaf Beach where the water was warmer then Tahoe (though still invigoratingly chilly) and just a 10 minute drive to the views and activities of South Lake Tahoe. The campground was rustic with the feel of nature as we hoped. Here is a picture of one of our neighbors who was rough and a little grumpy but kept to himself.

Our Tahoe Neighbor

So this should be the travel blog where everything is lovely and we have a wonderful time (cue the menacing music). It looked like we were in for a great vacation until our trailer went all Cujo on us with toxic gas and all night alarms. The folks at Fallen Leaf were great to help us with our difficulties and we were still in a beautiful location but I was frazzled not relaxed. So instead of hiking or renting a boat we took a scenic drive then enjoyed the town of South Tahoe.

“The Pour House” in South Tahoe had a good food rating with live music on the patio, so we headed over for lunch and were happily surprised to find it was a self pour wine bar. This is the best idea ever! Once a tab is established you are given a card that activates the wall taps and you are only charged for the wine poured. The wines were labeled with descriptions and on the wall they ranged from crisp light whites to full bodied reds, which is the order to serve in a winery tasting room. So I tried just a mouthful of five wines without feeling tipsy and losing my sense of taste (for me the typical winery pour is a lot). Then I went back to the crisp Chenin Blanc for a full glass with my salad. By the way I have been looking for a self serve wine bar in the Bay Area without luck, so it you know of any pour houses here please let me know. This is a brilliant idea.

Well, this wasn’t the vacation I expected and I don’t have as may pictures as usual but I can say there is something for everyone in Tahoe whether you are there for the views, water sports or fresh mountain cookery with wine.


PS. Sorry that I haven’t posted since January. Our family lost it’s wonderful patriarch then and I needed to finish mourning before I started posting about my life again. My father-in -law was someone I had always respected but really grew close with over time. What helped me heal through this mourning was crying, sharing my feelings, doing small things to honor his values, and remembering his life. I’d love to hear the ways you have worked through loss to healing.

There is no shame in crying when the world loses a good person and I shed some even at Nordstrom before Father’s Day when I didn’t have a gift to buy this year. I enjoyed talking about my time with him and helping my husband talk about his feelings too. We sent a donation to the NRA in his name honoring his commitment to live in a free democratic society. It’s been eight months since he passed on to his next adventure but he will never be forgotten.

Posted in craft, Food and Cooking

Thank you Katie Cakes!

I’m so thankful today for the all wonderful friends and family in my life. This is a thank you card for one of those special people, my amazing friend Katie who shares her gift of baking so generously. I recently invited her to an Island Wedding Murder Mystery Party and she brought a drunken rum cake from her business Katie Cakes, and two pies as well. The night was extra special beause of her company, delicious deserts, and over the top crazy beauty queen costume. Katie do you want to share that picture in the commentsūüėÉ?

Card created with the Anna Griffin Lace Trimmings embossing folder and die collection, my Cricut Cuttlebug and Creative Memories Cherish paper.

Posted in Fast food, Food and Cooking

$10 dinner : Swordfish & Lobster


Today was I can’t catch my breath ¬†rushed, so on my way home from Natick I flew into Whole Foods for anything quick for dinner. ¬†Grilled fish, which can be on the table in twenty minutes, was my first thought. ¬†It’s healthy and especially easy as ¬†my ¬†husband is a grill genius ¬†and we can divide and conquer the cooking.

I’m thinking “fast food” while scanning the fish counter and I found ¬†both swordfish ($16.99/ lb) and big beautiful lobster tails ($7) on sale . ¬†I was good and waited my turn then had the Swordfish cut into one 1.2 lb piece and snagged a tail. ¬† Once home the fish was cut ¬†into three healthy 4 Oz portions and dusted with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

The raw lobster tail was cut in half to more easily pull the meat, which was diced into 1/4 ” pieces. ¬†I melted ¬†butter in a saute pan, lots of butter, ¬†added the ¬†lobster and cooked until white and firm ( less then 4 minutes over medium heat), ¬†then threw in a handful of parsley for just another minute .

I prefer a rustic look on our everyday service (picture above) but once plated this good looking meal tasted better then it looked. The guys even called it gourmet!

As I was cleaning up the bags and dishes I realized our meal ¬†was less then ten dollars a plate. ¬†Which is pretty darn good considering each bite of fish had buttery rich and ¬†slightly sweet lobster with the meaty swordfish. ¬†The polenta was under a quarter (with ¬†cornmeal from the pantry) ¬†and the small green salad was about two dollars. ¬†I didn’t even realize what a good deal this was at first, I was just rushing to get dinner on the table. ¬†So I shared this menu to encourage you to ¬†look for the sales and enjoy some gourmet meals of your own, even on the rushed days,

Posted in Food and Cooking, Uncategorized

Fresh Homemade Pasta on a Weeknight

1471445382711-2046569584Hello Friends and Family,

Today I want to share how we do homemade pasta in our home. ¬† First, for us it’s a family project. Not only because we enjoy creating ¬†a great meal together, but because its difficult rolling and cutting the delicate noodles on our old hand crank machine alone. ¬†Yes, I admit I’m challanged in shaping the pasta. ¬† Second, we ‘ll make a batch anytime, even on the weekdays. ¬†I love it too much ¬†to have it only on weekends or special occasions. ¬†So I needed ¬†a way to reduce the hands on time before dinner when life can get crazy with family errands ¬†or homework. ¬†Here’s how ¬†I do it.

My dough recipe is based on one from ” Lidia’s Italy”, an awesome cookbook by Lidia Bastianich, which also shares ¬†local color from all across the regions of Italy (I love it). I replaced the 3 eggs and 3 egg yolks in the recipe with 4 extra large eggs and 1 yolk. Also I added a pinch of salt to the recipe for flavor.

1471442066436184048261.jpgNow here’s the trick that lets me pull together fresh pasta on a weeknight. In the morning the dough is mixed, ¬†kneaded and shaped in a ball, then it can be wrapped in plastic and rest all day in the fridge. ¬†This cuts down on time in the evening and makes the dough silkier and even more elastic to work. ¬†It’s wonderful.¬†You could also make several batches of dough on a Sunday and freeze the disks double wrapped first in plastic ¬†then tin foil to stay fresh for the week. ¬† Just bring it to room temperature before shaping your pasta.


My pasta roller is a very basic machine, ¬†a low end unit bought years ago, but it keeps rolling and cutting the basic fettuccine we enjoy. ¬†If you’ve never made pasta and don’t have a machine I encourage you to still try the recipe. ¬†I’ve seen the dough shaped with a rolling pin (or even a wine bottle) and cut with a knife. ¬†There are tons videos on YouTube for inspiration. ¬†Try making fresh pasta once to compare, it’s an amazing flavor and so much better when you know what’s in your food.


Recipe for Fresh Pasta Dough for Fettuccine

3 cups “OO” flour ( or all purpose)

4 extra large eggs

1 egg yolk

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil ( any one with a taste you enjoy)

Pinch salt

Ice water as needed

Pulse flour and salt once or twice in food processor . ¬†Mix eggs and olive oil together then pour through the food tube with the processor running. If the dough doesn’t gather together add ice water a teaspoon at a time until it does. If the dough smears against the side of the bowl add a smalll amount of flour.

Knead the dough for 3 or 4 minutes on a floured surface, again if it’s sticky dust with more flour. ¬†When it’s silky and smooth wrap then leave to rest un-refrigerated for 1/2 hour, for a day in the fridge, ¬†or for a week in the freezer. ¬†Once it’s back at room temperature, roll and cut with the instructions for your pasta machine. ¬†I roll my dough twice through every setting down to number 4, where I can see my hand through the dough. For this thickness I cook the pasta in boiling water for 4 or 5 minutes, ¬†drain and sauce.

When I started making pasta it helped me to take a cooking class (Draeger’s in Danville, Ca.) to see and feel the dough. ¬†It might help you to watch an on-line video to know how the dough should look. ¬† Or just jump in and have fun. ¬†Either way I encourage you to try, it will taste great!