Monthly Archives: November 2008

Honey + Spice Cranberry Sauce

My favorite cranberry sauce
There isn’t anything local about cranberries for this California girl. But what Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without them? I never was too hot about cranberry sauce growing up. I just didn’t get it, was it a dip? Was it something you ate by the spoonful? What did you do with it?

Now I get it. You just put a little dob of it on your fork along with a little bit of turkey and a smudge of stuffing and your mouth is set for happiness. I discovered this cranberry sauce recipe a handful of years ago and haven’t turned back since. It’s so full of tangy, sweety, spicy goodness. I hope you try this.

Honey + Spice Cranberry Sauce
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1 – 12oz bag of cranberries
1 3/4 c. apple cider
3/4 c. honey
1 t. cinnamon
Grated orange peel from 1 orange
6 whole cloves (I put these into a metal tea strainer for easy removal)
Pinch of salt
1 whole bay leaf

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the tea strainer full of cloves. Thicken with a little cornstarch diluted in water. Enjoy!

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Filed under in the kitchen, recipes

Cabbage Worms and Aphids

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I know what you are saying to yourself right about now, “Oh, I wish Scott & Kendra would invite me over for some cabbage soon, it’s looks so delicious.” Or you might be wondering, “Is it National Gross-Out Week on A Sonoma Garden?” Isn’t this awful?

If you ever wanted to know how to improve as a gardener I would say the first thing to do is to take regular early morning walks out in your garden. As the saying goes, ‘The best fertilizer a gardener can use is his own footsteps.’ Those early morning walks is when you’ll catch all the creepy crawlies that are harming your crops. I had been wondering what was eating our cabbage. I knew about the aphids, but I didn’t know about what was taking those big bites.

The other morning I was looking for something more creative to do with the boys than watch early morning cartoons so I bundled us all up and sent us outside. And these cabbage worms are what we found. Cabbage worms can grow up to about two inches long and are green with a slim yellow line down them. Apparently some sort of white butterfly found our cabbage and laid her eggs on the underside of the leaves which then hatched into these pesky critters.

You can get rid of cabbage worms by:

  • Applying BT (Bacilulus thuringiensis), which is a naturally occuring bacteria that is harmless to us, but deadly to the cabbage worms.
  • Applying a hot pepper spray (which you can make yourself with ground up 1/2 cup of hot peppers into 1 pint of water) every four to five days
  • Applying insecticidal soap which is a plant derived concoction that dries up the worm. Try this one:
    Bon-Neem Insecticidal Soap – Quart RTU

  • Or you can simply hand pick them

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We opted for the hand picking method. Thank goodness for little boys who have no qualms about picking them up. Our oldest decided that they needed a new home so he promply brought them into his room. I thought maybe they would be best kept in a jar rather than crawling free for all on his bed.
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Now we need to work on those aphids. This isn’t our first problem with aphids. We normally haven’t had too much of a problem from them, but this year they seem to really like our yard, remember the kale carnage?. Oh the horrors!

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Filed under bad bugs, leafy greens

We Lost a Chicken

in the yard
Last Monday we lost Pearl. We noticed Sunday afternoon that there was a bunch of mud on her backside and by Monday morning when we went to go clean her off, she was walking slow and obviously bothered by something. When we inspected closer what we found was so horrific in our non-farmer eyes that we knew we would have to put her down. We think what happened is that she wasn’t somehow able to form a full egg (we had found a very gelatinous shelled egg in the coop the previous week) and that she wasn’t able to lay it, so it collapsed inside of her and well….. are you ready for this? Click away if you are eating or plan to eat anytime in the future. Anyway, her vent was teaming with maggots. It was disgusting. We did our best to clean her off without vomiting, but we realized that her problem was beyond our help.

Luckily the vet right down the road treats chickens so we took her to him and he told us what we had suspected, that we would have to put her down. Now a real farmer wouldn’t have been nearly as grossed out as we were and would have taken care of business right then and there, but we aren’t true farmers. Pearl had become a pet to us, so we took her to the vet and had him put her down. We were both sad. Sadder than we thought we would be about a silly old chicken dying.

That’s the thing about chickens, they are pea brained, they might be loud, they might bring unwanted flies into our house, they might eat all of our seedlings, but they are darling little pets and they grow on you. We’ve never laughed so much over any pet. So thanks Pearl for all of your eggs and for your antics!

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He Hunted Down a Few Porcinis

He went mushroom hunting
After those rains we had the other week Scott was itching to go mushroom hunting along the Sonoma coast. The first time I ever heard mention of this Scott fellow was from some mutual friends who said that their friend was going mushroom hunting that weekend. I was fascinated, who was this mysterious mushroom hunting guy? Well fast forward a year or so and there I was with him accompanying him after each first fall rain and every spring into the woods along the coast.

You have to put your mushroom eyes on to see them. They grow up under the grasses many times so you have to train your eyes to be able to see these slight bumps in the ground. I was never very good at spotting them, so I mostly went along for the scenery and the fresh ocean/mountain air. Now that we have a house full of chores and two young boys who put everything in their mouths, our mushroom hunting days have dwindled. I’m not quite ready to teach the boys that picking wild mushrooms and eating them is okay. They are too young to understand that some could kill them and some are just fine. We’ll wait a few more years for that.

But Scott went with a friend. They went a full week after the rains which was a little too long to wait. He found lots of cut off white porcini stumps from previous hunters and the ones that were left had many bug bites, but he did get a few. We haven’t eaten these yet, but we are looking forward to nice risotto and porcini dinner sometime soon. And if you don’t see a post from me in a while….well, then maybe you should call poison control for us, would you? Thanks.

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Filed under in the kitchen, our weekends

Something we haven’t seen since last March

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It’s been quiet around this here blog hasn’t it? Sorry about that. It’s been raining in this Sonoma Garden, and in every other Sonoma garden too, I’m sure. It’s been an incredibly long time since it rained last. In fact I think I’ll be so bold as to say that I really don’t think it’s rained here (beyond a few light sprinkles) since I’ve started this blog. Back in March! That’s a long time. It’s been a dry year and our water bill has shown for it too.
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All the plants look so green and alive after a good rain. You can water with a hose until you are blue in the face, but it never quite revives a garden like a good rain can. In fact I think this might inspire me to go back into the garden and write about it again. In the meantime, my rainboots are drying and I’m heading out to vote. Don’t forget to vote!

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Filed under our weekends