Northern California Fire Victims…Gifts of the Heart

I have many other writings that are in line and need to be posted here, but instead, I bypassed them today to send out my sincere condolences for all of the people that were affected by the recent, devastating fires in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.  The stories have been heartbreaking and I know that down the road houses may be rebuilt and some emotional wounds will heal, while others will not.

It has been a few weeks since the fires broke out, but still, I cannot go into town without hearing people talking about it.  “Were you affected by the fire?”  “Is everything OK at your place?”  People want to know and they want to show that they care.

Sadly, I know several people who’ve lost their homes and others who were severely injured, or have lost family members.  Of course, I immediately sent in money to the appropriate relief agencies, but I needed to do more, so I started making quilts for some of the victims that I know.  They’re not huge, just small throws made from colorful scraps of fabric…cheerful and bright.  I’m not out to decorate their new home for them, just give them a gift that shows that I care.

Now that those quilts are done, I wanted to continue with my quilt giving, so I searched online and found an organization that is accepting quilts and kid’s, homemade pillow cases to distribute to fire victims.  I thought that I would pass the word along to my readers…just in case there are other sewers and quilters out there.  Here is the information from them:

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Happiness Is A Warm Quilt

Contact: Meredith Johnson

We are working to partner with organizations in the fire zones for quilt distribution.  We are working to develop a master list of recipients and their needs for quilts.  Potential organizations for distribution include the local quilt guilds, shops, churches, and other non-profit agencies.  We will also be working with the local schools to distribute pillowcases.

Our website is being developed, but in the meantime, please register by e-mail at happinessisawarmquilt@gmail.com, and post on our facebook group page if you wish https://www.facebook.com/groups/happinesswarmquilt/

Our goal is to keep the flow of donations moving to recipients without overwhelming the local organizations –  we want to support our local guilds, shops, and other non-profits who are working so hard to fulfill so many needs at this time.

Help the victims of the Santa Rosa and Napa fires who have lost their homes.  Many victims have only the clothes they are wearing.  We would like to warm their future homes with a bed quilt made with love.  We are seeking donations of bed-sized quilts only.  Please no throw and crib-sized quilts.  Donations of children’s pillowcases also requested.


 

So, if you belong to a quilting guild,  or are a lone quilter that wants to contribute, or maybe you just want to help out in some other way, please contact Meredith at the email address provided.  Please note that they are not a 501c charity.  If individuals need donation receipts the hope is that their local guild will accept their donations and then send them on to HIAWQ.

 

Peace and Love,

C

 

Hidden Gardens

I recently took a trip to Great Britain, where I visited the Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens, which is nestled in a hidden valley on the Isle of Anglesey, in Northern Wales.  It was absolutely gorgeous and we spent a long, relaxing afternoon touring the grounds.  The gardens are nestled in a canyon and hidden from public view.  It’s only after you drive through some woods and around a few sheep dotted hills do you realize that such a beautiful garden exists.

We visited several other English and Welsh gardens on our trip, but this one completely inspired me.  After I came home, I started thinking about designing my own hidden garden, on a much smaller scale, of course.  I’m thinking of an area on the steep, wooded hillside, with a path that leads down to the creek.  There would be a hidden garden gate to mark the entrance.  In the center of the garden would be a treehouse with screened rooms, so that once we got down there, we could enjoy the surroundings without the mosquitos eating us alive.  There would also be a giant soaking tub with a small waterfall to fill it.  The garden would be filled with shade plants…giant ferns, hydrangeas, hostas, and paths meandering down to the rushing creek.  A pretty foot bridge across the water would be nice too.  Oh…It would be a wonderous place.  I can see it now.

Ahh…but what is in my mind and what I can do physically, are probably two, vastly different things.  Building the paths is going to take some serious muscle and the fact that it is all going down a steep hill, (some would call it a cliff,) only makes it all the more difficult.  It would also have to be fenced in to keep the deer and pigs out.  Large, earth moving equipment would be helpful, but I doubt that would be in the budget.  Still, it’s fun to design it in my mind.  Perhaps one day it will be created.

~C

 

First Pups, Now Kittens!

As I mentioned a few months ago, we were greeted with a mamma dog and her three pups.  We have since kept the mamma, “Honey Girl,” and one of the pups, “Buster.”  We found wonderful homes for the other two pups.

No sooner did we get settled in with the new crew, we discovered a family of kittens on our “in town” property.  They are living under the shed.  More strays in need of some help.  How do they find us?

We’ve been leaving food and water out for them and they have grown.  There’s the mamma, a pale calico, with patches of apricot, soft grey and white, two identical grey tabbies and one pumkin orange tabby.  The kittens are about half grown now.  They’re getting a little more friendly, but they’re still pretty scared of humans for the most part.  I really need to get a trap set for them and get them to the mobil vet clinic for spay and neutering.  I know, they’ll probably never trust me after that ordeal, but at least they won’t be having more litters of homless kitties.

I’ve been meaning to post pix, but these guys are pretty camera shy.  I’ll try to catch shots of them at mealtime and add them to this blog entry as soon as possible

~ C

Lizbby’s is Z Place to Go For Mexican Food in Boonville

Libby’s is now lizbby’s

For those of you who make regular treks to Philo, in hopes of eating those tasty enchiladas and chile rellenos at Libby’s, I have some sad news.  Libby and her gang recently hung up their aprons and closed the restaurant.  Good news is that they sold their place to a hard working family, who moved the establishment up the road to the old Boonville Saloon building and across from the Boonville post office.  They’ve changed the name slightly, to, “Lizbby’s,” but fear not, it is the very same menu and recipes as the old place.

As a rite of pilgrimage, our family dined at “Lizbby’s” the first night it opened and we have gone there several times since.  I can attest that the quality of the food is the just as good, if not better and the family members that run it are warm and welcoming.  The atmosphere, while different than the old, Philo place, is certainly friendly, homey and clean.  Their carnitas are still so tasty that they lure me out of my vegan habits and into that old omnivore world.

The Lizbby space is also bigger, with an attractive barroom…a cozy place to grab a cold, Negra Modelo.  It feels a little empty in the tavern area right now, but that’s only because the patrons have not yet discovered it.  It could make for a fabulous gathering spot for celebrations.

Take out is also available.  There have been a couple of times when I had been shopping and running errands in, “Big Town,” all day and was worn out.  So, instead of cooking dinner at home,  I stopped into Lizbby’s for some Burritos to go.  Quick, yummy, inexpensive and filling…the perfect ticket!

Stop by and grab a bite there.  They’re closed on Sundays, but open the rest of the week.

~ C

 

Mendo Pups are Getting Big! UPDATE

I just wanted to give you all a quick update on the Mendo Pups, who are now about 4 and a half months old.  The crew at Mendocino Shelter Pet Rescue have been so helpful and have already placed Aurora in her new home.  They could not have made a better choice for an adopter.  Aurora is doing great with Jackie.  Pup and “Mom” make the perfect team and they’ve already started her in puppy obedience classes.

Buster, the brutally handsome mendo pup

Buster, one of the Mendo Pups
Buster, you handsome devil, you!

Buster has been winning our hearts over and he may just have to stay and live with us.  :::sigh:::.  I’ll let him go, but only if we can find him an amazing home.  Until then, he’s living the life at the ranch.  He knows so many obedience commands now…”sit,” “stay,” “down,” “come.”  “Heel,” is not his favorite yet, nor is, “outside,” but he’s catching on quick.

Midge, the mendo pup that knows how to get the job done

Midge, working dog
Midge, looking like a true, working girl!

Midge has been the super shy pup of the group. We love her too, but we just can’t keep them all.  She really needs to find a forever home soon, so that she can adjust and get socialized with humans.  She’s very, very sweet with NO biting or aggression issues.  But, I think that someone may not have been so kind to her in the past, so she’s a little bit wary of strangers.  However, she’s coming out of her shell and is now starting to look like the serious, working dog that she is.  I know that we will find her just the right adopter that will appreciate her traits and give her the extra TLC that she needs.  Besides, who can say no to a face like that?

These pups are special…really special.  From the serendipitous arrival on my porch steps, to their incredible outlooks on both, humans and mother nature, they definitely deserve to find a unique home and humans that will both, care for them and understand where they are coming from.  These are not the kind of dogs that will be designated to someone’s small backyard, while the owners are at work all day.  They just wouldn’t make it in that environment.  They need lots and lots of outdoor space and one-on-one attention from a real, “dog person,” that will love and appreciate them.  If you know of someone who fits the bill, please contact me or the Mendocino Shelter Pets Rescue.

Thanks, (and the Mendo Pups thank you too.)

~ C

Mendocino Puppies…Lost…Then Found

Tw femail pups, MIdge and Aurora, resting on the porch.
Two, female puppies, resting on the porch.

You may have wondered why I have not posted recently. Well, here’s why. Two weeks ago, a beautiful mamma dog and her three, gorgeous puppies arrived on my porch one morning. I don’t know where they came from or how they got there. They just showed up, dirty, tired and bone thin.

They looked like they had been travelling awhile, all covered in mud and smelling like something dead. Now, our ranch is at least several miles from our nearest neighbor they certainly didn’t dump these pups, so I have to assume that these beautiful creatures were left on the main road and the dogs found their way down to our place from there.

Momma dog waiting for someone to help
Momma Dog waiting for someone to help.

Sadly, Our neck of the woods is a common drop off place for unwanted pets. People just shove them out of the car and drive on. These poor, domestic creatures have absolutely no way to feed, or fend for themselves out in our deep woods. If we didn’t rescue them, they would starve to death, or meet their fate at the jaws of a coyote, or mountain lion. I honestly don’t know how someone could do such a thing, but they do. We find strays at least several times a year, wondering down our road looking scared and tired. We’ve been able to find homes for most of them. A few would not stay around and disappeared back into the forest.

Puppies, Buster, aurora and Midge
The, “Three Amigos,” Buster, Aurora and Midge

I brought them in and fed them and gave them a place to sleep on our porch. Of course, we’ve named them all. Mamma’s name is, “Honey Girl,” a throwback to our Hawaiian roots. The females names are, “Aurora,” and, “Midge.” The male is named, “Buster,” a very fitting name for a friendly, rambunctious guy. Honey Girl looks like an Akita/Pit Bull cross and her three-month-old pups definitely have some Boarder Collie, or Australian Shepard in them. They’re mutts…they’re adorable…they’re exhausting.

Buster and Honey Girl
Buster and Honey Girl

Right away, I started spreading the word hoping that someone might be looking for them, but alas, no one responded. I checked Craig’s List searching for their owners…no luck. As soon as I told my daughter, she put the word out right away via her social media connections. We got instant responses from several, possible adopters and also from a wonderful rescue organization, MENDOCINO SHELTER PETS RESCUE. Their rep showed up at my place a day, or two later and gave them all shots, deworming medication, flea and tick preventative and made appointments to have them spayed and neutered. I agreed to “surrender” the pups to MSPR that they could help us, but decided that we would adopt the momma. So, the puppies are now, “owned,” by the rescue, but I’m still their foster parent for an indefinite period of time. Meanwhile, MSPR is busy finding the, “three amigos,” suitable homes. One pup, Aurora, has already been spoken for and as soon as she has her spay operation, she’ll be on her way to her forever home. I’m hoping the other two pups will have the same luck. If not, then my husband and I are prepared to adopt them too.

They are all very, sweet dogs and Honey Girl is an excellent mom She seems to be familiar with a kind, human touch. That being said, the pups could use some human socialization, as they are a little shy. Aurora has warmed up to us pretty quickly. Buster is great friends with me, but not my husband. Midge is very worried about all of us, humans and keeps a wary eye on everything we do. She’s slowly starting to warm up to us though.

We’ve started on simple, puppy obedience lessons along with lots of hugs, kisses and puppy treats all around. They’ve gone through about 100 pounds of dog food so far, so they’ve been putting on some much needed weight. They also continue to get their regular baths so that they smell, “puppy fresh,” and are flea and tick free. Oh…and good news…They are on their way to being totally house-trained.

So, I guess I’d better make the pitch. Buster will be adoptable after he is neutered this week. Midge will need a little more TLC before she can be placed, but I’m sure she’ll come around. If you live in the Mendocino area and are looking for an amazing puppy dog, with an interesting back story and lots of love to give, please contact the MSPR website about these pups, or any others that they offer. In the mean time, I’ll keep you posted as to their development and ultimate adoption.

Many thanks to Shanna at MSRP for helping us with everything.

~ C

 

Mendocino Rain…Enough Already

And the Mendocino rain came pouring down…

Mendocino rain drops on window
Mendocino rain drops on the window

Rest assured…the drought in Northern California is now just a distant memory.  We’ve had more than our fair share of rain this winter in Mendocino County.  We’ve had deluge, after deluge…serious storms with winds that have ripped off exterior doors, torn screens and windows from their frames and even blown over our old, heavy refrigerator.   Roads have washed away and chunks of earth have melted into flowing, mud flows.  As of this date, we’ve measured more than 100 inches on the ranch, since the rainy season started last fall and the season is not over yet.

Now, personally, I love the rain.  In fact, I moved here for the “Mendocino rain” experience.  But really, enough is enough.  I have had very few days where I could get out there in the gardens.  You would think that I would get all of those indoor projects done, but no.  I now understand what “cabin fever” is all about.  It’s been mostly days of binge watching Netflix until our bandwidth no longer obliged.  There’s been a lot of cooking, but not necessarily creating new and innovative recipes…popcorn mostly.  There’s also been naps…lots of naps.  Laziness has taken hold and like a sinking ship taking on water, my body is taking on pounds.  I plan to get out and walk with Lucy, my dog, just as soon as the sun comes out and the temperature raises above freezing.  Alas, we’ll have to blaze new trails, since the old ones were washed away.  Sadly, our favorite mushroom patch is located on the other side of the great crevasse that developed when the road caved in.

Between the rain storms, I have been able to dig up the cutting garden, throw on some compost and scatter some seeds.  The veggie garden has seen some a little attention too, but not nearly enough.  We are way behind in getting our seeds started and beds planted.  The fruit trees have been loving all of this moisture and are now budding out, so I guess that there’s some good to all of this water.

As for this blog; it could certainly use more attention.  The act of doing gets me inspired to do more. I need to get out there and take some photos and replace the generic ones that I currently have posted.  We are expecting a few days of sunshine later this week, so I’ll take advantage and shoot some frames.   Real pix, coming soon, I promise.

~ C

 

 

 

Demonstration Garden, Planning is in the Works

A Demonstration Garden For our Boonville Cottage

I’m planning the demonstration garden for the Boonville cottage as the rain comes pouring down.  I’m stuck inside once again, so why not do something constructive?  It’s been a long, wet winter this year, offering up very few days to get out there and work in the dirt…errr…I mean mud.  We are expecting a few days of sunshine, starting this weekend, so I’m getting prepared.  I’ve got the shovels sharpened and the rototiller primed and ready to go.  Now, I’m drawing up a garden plot, even though the actual cottage isn’t built yet.  No problem, I can work around that.  The time to start the garden is now.

Demonstration Garden Will Educate

Grow Your Own Food
Demonstration garden
Demonstration garden will offer lots of fresh vegetables for our guests.

So, the big question is: What do I want my demonstration garden to demonstrate?  What are the messages that I want to get across?  Well, first off, I want my cottage guests to know that you can plant a garden to feed a family on a small, town-size lot.  We already have a row of twenty, old, apple trees along one fence line and a pear and walnut tree in the back of the property.  We could add a couple more fruit trees, such as a plum, or apricot.  As for other fruits, were planning a mini-vineyard in the front and I hope to put in some thornless blackberries and raspberries somewhere; perhaps along the fence with our neighbor, so that he can enjoy the berries too.  Of course, there will be large, permanent, veggie plots.

Edible Gardens Can Be Beautiful

I also want them to know that a self sufficient, food garden can be beautiful.  Along with flowers and climbing roses, edible landscaping is a must.  Honeyberries, strawberries and aronia berries should go around the house.

strawberries growing in the landscape
Strawberries – part of the edible landscape

Elderberries will work well for a tall, informal hedge that will block off the neighboring fairgrounds along the back line of the property.  Artichokes make nice landscape plants near the house.  I feel strongly that there should be a spattering of medicinal herbs around the lot, either as landscape, or in the veggie plots.

herbs in teh garden
Herbs, both culinary and medicinal, are a nice edition to the garden landscape
Demonstrate Gardening Techniques

Besides the plants themselves, I do want to demonstrate a few of the various gardening techniques.  Organic gardening is a must, but there could be much more than that.  Perhaps one plot could show off Veganic gardening.  Permaculture practices will definitely be part of the landscape.  We could also compare a no-till plot to a double digging plot, or new varieties of veggies compared to ancient ones.  There is a spot in the front of the shed that is always damp and shady, so that would be a good place to show off ferns and other acid-loving plants.

ferns in shade
Fill in the shady spot with ferns and other acid loving plants.

Creating the Garden Plot

So, how on earth are we going to fit demonstration garden in?  It’s not as complicated as you might think.  It’s amazing  how much food one can grow on a tiny, city lot.  (OK…so Boonville isn’t exactly a “city,” but you get my drift.)  Our guests need to enjoy the garden and be right there in the middle of it.  So, I’m thinking of designing it in a semi-circle of veggie plots, radiating out from the house and patio.  There will to be an open area for horseshoe pits and BBQ, and a hammock hidden amongst the plots.  We have to have a table and seating, so that our guests and can relax and enjoy it all.  There also needs to be a sense of privacy…a secret garden hidden from view, so hedges and fences must be considered.

As for the existing shed, it desperately needs a makeover and we’ve already started on that.  We’ve been priming the new exterior walls that will be going up on the backside of the building.  The old ones are just too rotten to try to paint over.  The final color of the shed will be a salmony, “barn red,” with cream trim.  The yellow, Lady Banks roses will climb up the sunnier sides of the building.  This building sits near the front of the property, so it will be a nice, welcoming feature as our guests drive in.

My biggest worry is how I’m going to actually DO all of this.  I’ll definitely need some help.  Volunteers would be wonderful, but I can’t really expect that, since this is a for-profit venture.  I’m sure there are some young people in town that would be willing to work with me on the weekends for pay.  My kids may pitch in once in awhile, but they have jobs and need some days off.  Of course, my hubby is always there to lend a hand…thanks, Hon.

Why a Demonstration Garden?

You’re probably asking WHY I’m doing this.  First, for educational purposes.  The people that I expect will be staying at our cottage will probably be from the city.  I hope that they come away from their stay with us with some courage to try building an edible garden on their own properties.  Therefore, I plan to offer lots of books to read while they are there, as well as a notebook explaining the details of our own garden.  Our guests will also have the joy of eating fresh, wholesome food that is grown right out the back door.

I also wish to produce enough excess produce in the demonstration garden for our neighborhood food bank.  It always surprises me how many people just don’t have enough to eat, even in our little community, where everything appears to be so bountiful.  I could go out and buy canned and prepared foods for donating, but those just don’t hold a candle, nutritionally, to fresh fruits and vegetables.

So, let it rain.  While the storm is howling outside, I’m warm and safe inside, with my plans and promises.  Ahh…armchair gardening is so much fun!  Now, I just hope that I can follow through, roll up my sleeves and do what I say.  Wish me luck.  (Pix are coming soon.)

Garden on!

~ C

 

Veganic Gardening – How Do I Incorporate It In My Home Garden?

“Veganic Gardening”…a step up from “Organic Gardening.”

Veganic Farming and Gardening…why not?

As a life long organic gardener, I’ve always been on the lookout for better, environmental ways to do things.  Each season, as I learn and grow, I try to make at least one small change in my gardening practices that helps to make our food and flora healthier, or soil more fertile and the world a better place.

That being said, my gardening practices aren’t perfect.  I still rely on horse and chicken manure, a gas powered rototiller, some plastic tools and supplies, etc.  I also am not making best use of cover crops and grain production.  As you can see, there’s definitely some room for improvement.  That’s generally, my mode of operation…Set it up and then fix it up.  So, once again, this season I am taking stock of what I am doing now and what else can be done.  Veganic farming has piqued my interest.

Keeping healthy and fertile soil in the garden is my number one priority.  The first thing that I took a look at this year was the use of animal fertilizers.  How could I get rid of them, or at least reduce their necessity?

Chicken and the Garden
Chickens and the Garden, not veganic, but so cute!

Currently, we have a lovely flock of chickens.  Their used straw supplies us with the main source of nitrogen for the compost pile.  We only have about 25 birds, so the amount of nitrogen rich straw that we get is somewhat limited.  However, it does give the compost pile an occasional, nitrogen boost to keep it cooking and steaming, especially through the cold, winter months.  As for the chickens…they’re our pets and we wouldn’t dream if getting rid of them.  They’re old friends.  (Our little, Japanese Bantum, “Mrs. Banty” is going on 12 years old.)

Horse Manure
Horse manure…not veganic either, but it does help improve the nitrogen levels in the soil.

We also still use horse manure once in awhile.  For many years, we owned horses, mostly rescues, so we always had piles of horse sh*t.  The addition of the manure to our garden made a noticeable improvement.  Sadly, our last horse died about two years ago. We’re getting too old and too poor to take in any more horses.  I do miss the ponies, but I also miss that manure.  I guess that I’m not quite ready to give up its use.

This season, someone gave us a truckload of horse poop, which was very generous.  We gladly took it and layered it in the compost heap.  While I’m happy to have it, I always worry about bringing things like this in from the outside, for fear of introducing unwanted, noxious plants.  Hopefully, the pile will heat up enough to kill off any plant intruders.

We’ve already experienced the invasion of daikon, clover, thistle and bind weed that originated from our horse hay of past.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that we’ll ever get those out of the garden.

Thistle in Garden
Nasty Thistle can establish itself in the garden fairly quickly.

That being said, it would probably behoove us, no pun intended, to just get rid of horse manure entirely.  But what do we replace it with?  There’s bat guano…it’s expensive.  Cover crops don’t really do that well over the winter.  They also show up too late in the spring, thereby competing with new crops, and frankly, they’re a pain to dig under by hand.  Their are other commercially prepared meals, but I question their “organic” origin and once again, we have that problem of bringing in more invading plant species.

Grow Comfrey For Fertilizer
Common comfrey can be grown to use for a well-balanced fertilizer.

Comfrey Fertilizer…Totally Veganic

One idea that I’m looking into is growing comfrey for fertilizer.  I’ve read that the leaves, when composted, turn to a perfectly balanced, liquid, plant food.  I need to do some more research on that one.  I may try growing a few comfrey plants in the flower garden this season to test this idea.  It can’t hurt.   (Note: Comfrey should not be ingested by humans, or animals, as it has been shown to be a carcinogen to the liver.)  Supposedly, the large leaves break down pretty quickly, so we should have a steady supply throughout the growing months.

Cover Crops

I’ve found some other great ideas on the Go Veganic website.  One is to rethink the use of cover crops.  I know what I said above, but cover crops, if done right can greatly improve the soil, which is where it all starts.  For one, cover crops can prevent soil erosion and nutrient loss through exposure.  That’s major, right there.  Cover crops can help protect the eco-structure of the beneficial plants, fungi and small creatures, such as earthworms through the winter months.  Maybe, I just tried the wrong cover crops in the past.  I need something that comes up in the cold, wet winter months, dies out early and is easy to till under by hand.  Right now, I just let the native grasses grow over last season’s beds.  Any other suggestions are welcome.

Mulching

Mulching during the growing season is another good practice, which I try to do, but sometimes I just run out of steam.  It means gathering more leaves, grasses, etc. and spreading them out over the young plant beds.  Again, I have the problem of possibly introducing invasive species.  I could use newspaper, or cardboard instead.  I’m not crazy about the inks in the newspaper being added to the garden soil.  Also, newspaper and cardboard are not the most beautiful things to look at, albeit they are practical and in abundant supply.

Mulching and composting with chipped, small wood is a very good idea.  The smaller branches of trees and shrubs harbor the most nutrients.  I also have a huge, over-supply of plants and shrubs that grow in our surrounding forest.  Now…If only I had a chipper/shredder.  It’s on my list.  I suppose that I could rent one, but it would take me an hour to drive to the rental place, an hour to drive it back and then there’s the cost of renting it.  I do wish that I still had an neighbor close by that I could share tools and sage advice with.  Our only neighbor up here on the mountain moved away last month.  I’m missing them already.

mycorrhizal activity, mushrooms, veganics
Mushrooms are a good sign of mycorrhizal activity in the soil.

Inoculating the soil with micorrhizal fungi can boost the garden soil’s ability to take in phosphorus and potassium.  We are already doing this and I do believe it helps.  We also live in a rainy forestland that is full of various fungi growing naturally, so I do believe that our soil is already microrrhizal rich.

Veganic gardening isn’t just about putting things into the soil.  It’s also about carefully using crop rotation to minimize nutrient depletion is also a big help.  I do that…to a point.  I don’t have fifty acres of totally flat, river bottom land to work with.  My gardens are tucked into small, irregular spots of semi-flat, hillside benches.  I only have so much room to grow things and sometimes I have to plant the tomatoes, or kale right where they grew last year, although I try my best not to.  Of course, leaving a bed, or two fallow each year would be nice, but not always possible.

I know…it sounds like I’m just complaining.  Trust me, I just need to go through this doubting, excuse ridden, sad faced process in order to move forward. I mean, really?  Don’t we all?  It’s part of the many, thoughtful ways to finding solutions.  I’m just setting up my, “road blocks,” so I can find ways to knock them down.  I’d love to hear from my readers, so please post your constructive, non-commercial posts. (Trolls, don’t bother.  I’ll just delete your comments.)  In the mean time, I’ll continue to edit this post to give you more information on veganic growing.

Garden on!

~ C

A Second Look at Older, Vegan Cookbooks

I want to take a second look at older, vegan cookbooks. It’s all nice and wonderful to review those CBs fresh off the press, but there are those tried and true books that I always go back to. Let’s hope that we don’t so quickly forget about these gems.  Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

The Millennium Cookbook, by Eric Tucker & John Westerdahl, M.P.H., R.D., C.N.S., Dessert recipes by Sascha Weiss, Ten Speed Press,1998.

This is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time.  The recipes are taken from the well-known, Millennium Restaurant, (formerly in San Francisco and now located in Oakland, CA.)  Each dish is timeless, elegant as well as absolutely delicious.  These plant-based chefs were dreaming up recipes for Chickpea Flatbread and Quinoa Pilaf long before they were fashionable.

I can’t wait for mushroom season to start in earnest, so that I can attempt to make their Chanterelle Mushroom Sorbet recipe.  They have illustrated the book beautifully  and have made the recipes easy to follow.  I only wish that there was a hard-bound version.  Sadly, my paperback copy is getting tattered and torn from so much use.

Crossroads, by Tal Ronnen, Scot Jones and Serafina Magnussen, Photos by Lisa Romerein,  Artisan, (Workman Publishing Company, Inc.,) 2015

This is another great, (ok…not so old,) cookbook that comes from a renown, plant-based restaurant, Crossroads, in Los Angeles, CA.  (Tal Ronnen is also the creator of Kite Hill, plant-based cheeses, of which I am very fond of.)

I’ve loved every dish that I’ve tried in this book, although, I tend to gravitate toward the pasta recipes, such as Chive Fettuccine with Asparagus, Morels, Prosecco Sauce and Pappardelle Bolognese.

There is a lovely section of alcoholic cocktails that I go to when I need a special drink for special times.  There is also a section on, “the basics,” which are anything but common, such as Demi-Glace made with Roasted Vegetable Stock and Walnut Parmesan.

This book will definitely find a permanent place on your kitchen bookshelf.  I’m also happy to say, it has a sturdy, yet chic, hard cover…nice.

Veganomicon, The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, Da Capo Press (Perseus Books Group,) 2007.

For me, this is the all-star of the older, vegan cookbooks.  It got me started on my vegan venture and I am forever grateful to its authors.  I love the no-nonsense approach to vegan food that is combined with the fun, full-of-nonsense commentary.

Most of the meals are all down home goodness; easy to prepare and sure to make everyone at the dinner table is happy.  I’m always asked to make their Cauli-Pots recipe at holiday gatherings, along with their classic, Cheezy Sauce to go over the broccoli.

There’s great sections on casseroles and one-pot meals, as well as some really, yummy desserts, such as Vanilla-Yogurt Pound Cake.  (I was amazed at how good this recipe was the first time I tried it..no eggs, no dairy…unbelievable.)

Not every recipe is a, “just like Mom used to make,” kind of dish.  They’ve put some unusual things in there too and if you don’t have this vegan bible yet, you’ll just have to pick yourself up a copy to find out what else is in it.  All I can say is GOOD STUFF!

Stocking Up: How to Preserve the Foods You Grow Naturally, by the editors of Organic Gardening and Farming, Rodale Press, 1977

I know…this is an oldie…geesh 1977!  My owning of this book attests to the fact that I’ve been interested in organic gardening for a very, very long time.  I’ll have to admit that I don’t open this book very often, but there are times when the newer writers…well… they just don’t know.  Like how do you make real catsup, (not ketchup?)  Or what’s the best way to thresh your own grains? Or how do you build a sun dehydrator from scraps of  this and that lying around the homestead?

This book is near and dear to my heart.  The late J.I. Rodale and his son, the late Robert Rodale, founders of the organic foods movement, have always been heros of mine.  While this book is not just for vegans, since there are sections in the book on cheese making and teaching us how to dress and preserve meats and fish, it is still a worthy edition to your cookbook library.  I don’t know if this edition is still in print, but any good, used bookstore can probably find it for you.  If not, check out the latest, third edition.

Appetite For Reduction, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2011.

Everybody needs a low-cal, diet book for those Januarys and nervously anticipated, upcoming, social events.  This cookbook is great for those and any other day of the year, for that matter.  What’s really nice about this book is that every recipe is accompanied by its nutritional information, including calories.

I frequently use this cookbook because of this feature.  Now, has this cookbook made me any thinner?  Well…no.  But are the recipes absolutely delicious?  Yes, indeed!  If I made a commitment to only eat from this cookbook for a couple of months, then I probably would lose weight.  That would be no problem for me, with recipes such as Mango BBQ Beans, Curry Laksa, Portobello Pepper Steak Stew and Bhutanese Pineapple Rice.  Ya know…I DO have a special trip planned in May.  Maybe I’d better heed my own advice and start my weight loss program using Isa’s recipes…hummmm…food for thought.  If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, or just want to live the fullest of healthy lifestyles, then you really otta have this cookbook.

Do you have some favorite, older, vegan cookbooks.  If so, please share.

~ C