"Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage."
C. S. Lewis

Baking Bread

6 November 2010

Baking bread sounds simple - the staple of life, right? Even though I enjoy baking cakes and cookies - successful bread baking has always eluded me. In my many blog travels I stumbled on a book entitled, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day". The pictures were beautiful and I thought "why not give it a try". I should digress to explain that I absolutely love bread - white bread, rye bread, squaw bread , challah bread, wheat bread and rolls, popovers, biscuits, muffins - you name it. The explanations seemed easy enough and since I don't like fear to dictate my life I had to give it a try. Of course I first had to enlist the help of my sister C. - We carefully measured out our ingredients and checked the temperature for the water as not to "kill" our yeast - mixed our dough per instructions - then we served ourselves margaritas and waited to see it our dough rise.

And - it did - rise that is. The technique for the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is to make a large batch of a wet sticky dough, store it in the refrigerator and pull out enough to make a loaf as needed. Our first try certainly looked good and the smell of warm, yeasty aromas coming from the oven was certainly irresistable - we couldn't wait to try it. Because we are at a higher elevation (4400') we also have to adjust baking times and temperatures whenever we bake.

My two loaves actually morphed together as you can see. I'm still working on the temperatures - they were slightly uncooked inside. The texture was good - and after toasting - butter and jam, it tasted good.

If you feel the urge to try baking bread - here is the link that got us started: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

Errea House & Garden

16 October 2010

The Errea
House was built between 1870 and 1875 in what was then known as Williamsburg and what is now known as Tehachapi, California. When railroad tracks were being laid through this part of California, it was necessary to move some structures which would have been in its path. The house was relocated around 1900 to its present site on Green Street.

This post is about the Garden that is part of the Errea House Museum. The Garden is lovingly cared for by volunteers of the Tehachapi Heritage League. There is a vegetable garden with heirloom varieties you seldom see anymore. Herbs such as rosemary, lavender, and sage grace the section dedicated to culinary plants. There is a bit of whimsy and history scattered throughout the garden - a lovely place to visit.

Errea House & Garden
310 Green Street
Tehachapi, CA
Open Friday, Saturday & Sunday 12:00 to 4:00

Tangleweed Farm

29 August 2010

Driving along a beautiful country road you will discover this treasure. If you've never been - plan a trip to Tangleweed Farm in Tehachapi -

You will find fresh cut flowers in season - sunflowers, lilacs, peonies and lavender as well as abundant organic produce. Spinach, lettuces, tomatoes, basil and chard to name a few. Ollalieberries, strawberries and raspberries are absolutely delicious. Let the season linger a little while longer by taking some homemade jam home with you. Laurie makes each batch herself with her organic berries.

Tangleweed has selected artisans that supply them with various goat cheeses, local raw honey, pasture fed beef, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I love to walk around the farm and never get tired of seeing something new each time I am there. Bring your picnic with you and take in the smells and beauty.

Tangleweed Farm is located at: 21192 Old Town Road, Tehachapi, Ca 93561 661.822.8806

Balboa Park - San Diego, California

16 August 2010
This is a departure from country living - but I hope you will enjoy it. We recently took a trip to visit N. in Carlsbad. While we were there we all visited Balboa Park. We had been there a few times over the years - but always for a particular purpose.

A little background - Balboa Park is 1200 acres perched on a hill above downtown San Diego. It is home to 15 different museums - Museum of Art, Museum of Man, Model Railroad Museum, Photography Musuem, etc. There are hiking trails, bike paths, a dog park and a botanical garden. What captured me (on this revisit) was the beautiful architecture. The first of the museums was built in 1874 and is the Natural History Museum. In 1915-1916 the other buildings were built to house the Panama-California Exposition - sometimes known as the first World's Fair. The architecture is Spanish Renaissance and it is beautiful.

One of the more recent additions to the park is a re-creation of the Old Globe Theatre based on Shakespeare's Old Globe Theatre in Stratford, England. San Diego's Old Globe was built in 1935 and has year round productions of Shakespeare's plays as well as contemporary works. If you've never been to Balboa Park - I encourage you to visit. You can get passes for the day and visit multiple museums in the same day. Here is the link: http://www.balboapark.org/

Buffalo or Bison

10 August 2010

Driving down the road from our house we get the daily opportunity to see our neighbors collection of unusual farm animals. I fell in love with this particular farm when we first starting visiting here. It is a new scene every time you drive by. Morning and evenings, the animals are very active and during the day it seems everyone is "napping". They have alpaca (in various colors), long horn cattle and bison. Today I'll talk a little about the bison. There is a male, female and their calf. The parents stay very close to this little one - he (or she) is never out of their sight. One time I saw someone stop by the side of the road to take a picture and I saw the male bison charge the hapless photographer. They are beautiful, massive animals. When I stopped to take my pictures all three of the bison were resting in the tall grass - I realized how massive they really are when I saw them up close. Some facts about the American Bison from Wikipedia:

A bison has a shaggy, long, dark brown winter coat, and a lighter weight, lighter brown summer coat. Bison can reach up to 6 feet 6 inches (2 m) tall, 10 feet (3 m) long, and weigh 900 to 2,200 pounds. The biggest specimens on record have weighed as much as 2,500 pounds. pounds. The heads and forequarters are massive, and both sexes have short, curved horns, which they use in fighting for status within the herd and for defense.

Bison are herbivores, grazing on the grasses and sedges of the North American prairies. They eat in the morning and evening, and rest during the day. Bison mate in August and September; gestation is 285 days. A single reddish-brown calf, born the following spring, nurses for a year. Bison are mature at three years of age, and have a life expectancy of approximately 15 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity.

For the first three months of life, juveniles are lighter in color than mature bison. One very rare condition is the white buffalo, in which the calf turns entirely white. White bison are considered sacred by many Native Americans.


Bakersfield Berries, Tehachapi Jam - Canning With Your Sister. . . . Priceless

4 July 2010

Making jam is a lot of work - but not difficult - it is more fun when you have help. My sister C. and I spent four days making strawberry jam from two flats of berries. We used three different recipes - just to make it interesting. I've tasted one of the recipes and when I've tasted the other two - I'll publish the recipe from our favorite. We used locally grown (from Bakersfield) strawberries. They were delicious - not as large as what you might find in the market - but they were wonderful. I encourage everyone to try their hand and making jam -

Crotalus Atrox - Diamondback Rattlesnake

20 June 2010 Crotalus - a rattle - refers to the rattle on the tail
- fierce, savage - referring to the sometimes savage disposition of this species

I hadn't intended that my first post would be about snakes - but circumstances changed that. Two weeks ago on a Sunday (June 6th to be exact) we had our first rattlesnake visit. As I was looking out the kitchen window I noticed some squirrels behaving strangely - they were frozen in place and moving their tails from side to side. I took a second look and noticed a snake sliding by. He (the snake) didn't seem to notice them. I took a video of him and didn't think anything more about it. My snake philosophy was "live and let live". He wasn't bothering me - so why should I bother him? I didn't think anything more about it until about an hour later, I was outside walking the dogs on a leash - before I knew it Annie (our Terrier) and I practically walked on top of this "sleeping" snake. I yanked on her leash and she gave a small "yelp". I didn't see him strike her and brought her inside. I checked her over and she seemed find. I went outside to try to identify the snake. I still didn't know if it was a rattlesnake or not. He was still in the same spot, coiled up. About twenty minutes later, we checked on Annie, L. said she was acting strange and holding her tail between her legs. I felt her all over and I could now feel two bite marks on her hip. L. went to get the neighbors for help. I got on the phone looking for an emergency animal hospital. The nearest one was 45 minutes away. I got in the truck and rushed her there. As we drove, I prayed we would make it. Annie laid on the floor of the truck and looked at me with the most sorrowful eyes. Meanwhile, the neighbor killed the snake with a shovel while L. looked on. I arrived at the Vet's and they took her in immediately. I learned later that rattlesnakes choose to "envenom" their victims (or not) - that is what happened to Annie. For whatever reason that snake bit her without injecting his venom.

This morning, two weeks later we've had another snake "visit". We were sitting here enjoying our Sunday morning. I heard the birds "chattering" in an unusual way - not the normal bird noises. I went outside and looked around and noticed the squirrel's were running around and the bird's were chirping frantically - then I saw him - slithering across the drive. It was a rattlesnake - Diamondback. Dad went to get a shovel - he rattled to strike - Dad went and got the shotgun - 20 guage. It was over quickly - You might ask - about my snake philosophy - it is now "Live and Let Die".