"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


Certain foods have the ability to conjure up memories of family events - one of these is tamales. Because it is quite a process to make, it often involves help from other family members and a whole day set aside to accomplish.  My earliest memory of tamale making was with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Tubby - I must have been about 8 or 9 years old. My cousins, Aunt and Uncle as well as my family all worked on the different steps throughout the day - I am sure I probably was just getting in the way since I was so young.

The first steps - take two large roasts and cover with water. Add garlic, salt and pepper - bring to a boil and then simmer covered for several hours until the meat is tender. You will probably have to add water to keep the meat covered and to prevent it drying out.  Once the meat is cooked, drain off the liquid, let the meat cool and shred into bite sized pieces.

This is what the meat will look like

Next place a large bag of dried chile pods -( this is what the label on the bag we used looked like)

Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer covered for several hours (about two) until the chiles are tender. The chiles will begin to "cook down", just add hot water as needed so they don't dry out or burn.  There are many different kinds of dried chiles and I am sure their are personal preferences as to which you will choose to use - The ones we used are the "Chile California"

 When the chiles are tender, drain off the liquid (reserve the liquid)  and allow to cool. When they have cooled sufficiently to handle, pull off the stems and put the chiles in a blender with sufficient reserved liquid and blend thoroughly until you have a good thick consistency like tomato sauce.
This "chile rojo" (red chile) can be used for enchiladas, chile colorado and many other dishes.

Next is getting the corn masa ready to use. You can purchase "masa preparada" in the Mexican grocery.  We had 10 lbs of masa to work with. Let it come to room temperature before you begin to work with it.  After you have the consistency you want you will add the red chile little by little

Semana Santa

13 April 2014 - Palm Sunday in Spain

Celebrating the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem - the beginning of Semana Santa - Holy Week -
 Christians all over the world proclaimed Hosanna to the King of Kings and waved their palm fronds or in our case, we waved olive tree branches. Walking to church today in the town I am staying - Alcala de Henares we saw people carrying their branches.

Everywhere we go it is quite easy to get there by walking. I enjoy so much seeing the ordinary scenes of life as we go by.

We hear church bells all day long from churches that are three and four hundred years old - it is all very comforting and joyful.

But today is Palm Sunday - so we were able to catch glimpses of people returning home from church.

This looked like to me a little girl and her Grandfather going to church.

Revelation Song

30 March 2014

Revelation Song, by Kari Jobe

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven's mercy seat

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven's mercy seat

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You

Clothed in rainbows of living color
Flashes of lighting rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor strength and glory and power be
To You the only wise King

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You

Filled with wonder awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your name
Jesus Your name is power, breath and living water
Such a marvelous mystery

Oh, You're worthy, mystery
You are worthy

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You, I will adore You

Rest In Peace Muffin 1992 - 2013

December 9, 2013

Today we lost our dear sweet Muffin. She was with us 21 years. We found her on the soccer field when Natalie was in kindergarten. Someone had dumped this young kitten and how could we leave her there?  Muffin was a beautiful tortoise shell color with a long silky coat.  We brought her home and she never gave us any trouble. She adapted to all of our moves, from Ventura to Bakersfield finally to Tehachapi. Not to mention all the climate changes from the Coast to the heat of Bakersfield to snow - she experienced it all with aplomb.  Over the years she had several health scares but always bounced back.

And how about all the other pets that she accepted in to our family - Heidi, Bo, Lady, Annie, Stella, Sophia, Roman and Meri - did I forget anybody? Muffin accepted all the changes that came to her and never lost her sweet lovely spirit.  We are so thankful that Muffin passed peacefully in her sleep.  We will miss you Muffin - you were a lovely part of our family.

Beekeeping 101

19 May 2013

Our continuing adventure in Beekeeping . . . We picked up two nucs today - A nucleus consists of 3 to 6 frames of bees, including a Queen, workers, brood in all stages and honey stores.  This is the third
year we are attempting the art of beekeeping. They are wonderful, fascinating creatures - but as
we attempt to manage hives, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Some of those being disease,
starvation, extreme weather, swarming to name a few.

We picked up our bees today from Bill Lewis of Bill's Bees. Bill is a commercial beekeeper that
has a gift for teaching and mentoring those of us who want to take this challenge on. There were approximately 50 attendees at the class today, many of them picking up nucs.  We went through
our nucs locating the Queen (Italian), eggs, larvae, capped brood, nectar, capped honey, and pollen. Some of the nucs had more honey than others, some more brood - each colony is unique.

Italian bees are known for being very gentle - Bill is wearing only a veil and hat - most everyone had their full gear on.

Each year's Queen is marked with and international identification - the red dot you see below. When the Queen slows down her production - this makes it easier to spot your Queen and "cull" her if necessary.

You can also see nectar in the cells in the above picture. The bees will "fan" this nectar with their wings, causing dehydration. When that point of dehydration is reached, they will "cap" the cells with beeswax. Nectar is 80% water and honey is 14 to 18% water.  The bees know exactly when to "cap" the cells - thus providing and ideal storage system.

Bill's dog, trying to go for a ride with us.

Roe v. Wade at 40

26 January 2013

Every Child A Wanted Child

Every child a wanted child. That is the mantra I heard growing up in the 60’s. It sounded so noble. Even though birth control pills were readily available it wasn’t enough so we legalized abortion in 1973.  And what has that done for us?  Aside from the fact that approximately 55 million babies have been aborted - is every child a wanted child? How many of these babies are girls? These babies will not be “empowered” women able to be lawyers, doctors, scientists, teachers, mothers and wives. The news every day seems to have stories of battered, dead children - mother’s and father’s killing their children. I contend that abortion (and 55 million dead babies) hasn’t produced “every child a wanted child” - instead it has dehumanized life at it’s most innocent and vulnerable state. And what of the women who are the victims of abortion.  Many women experience depression, regret, nightmares for years after their abortions - did we "empower" them with this "choice"?  How noble are we?

Why Italian Garlic?

28 November 2012

I had ordered some garlic from a wonderful company  Seeds From Italy. This is the second year I have planted the variety Rossa di Sulmona.  Rossa di Sulmona is a variety of garlic known for it's pungency. You can use half the amount called for in any recipe. There is no bitterness which is also a plus. I can attest to all the claims - this garlic is delicious. The flavor is richer and fuller than any other garlic I have used before.  Although I am getting a later than recommended start, I did plant my garlic last December and was able to harvest in May successfully.  I'm planting double the amount I planted last year so I don't have to fear running out of my stores.

I'm trying a new variety also, Bianco Francese - a soft neck variety which produces large white bulbs. I can't find out any other information on this variety - but I will keep you posted.

We are expecting our first rains for the next several days and I wanted to get this garlic in the ground. I enlisted the help of my wonderful hubby. We worked really hard to finish up preparing the beds.

We finished up by covering the beds with 3 to 4 inches of straw as recommended. In addition I had to cover the beds with wire to keep the chickens away.  

When we were finishing up our work hubby asked what type of garlic we were planting and I told him "Italian Garlic". What's wrong with "American Garlic",  he wanted to know.  I explained to him that when I'm using our "Italian Garlic" it takes me back to "La Bella Italia".  

I have so many memories of our trip to Italy this past May.  Most of those memories involve food. So many delicious, simple meals - created around delicious ingredients.  Olive oil, pasta, garlic, tomatoes, basil and parmesan - nothing we have can match the flavors I found there. 

La Bella Italia