2008-12-26

Composting illegal?

An LA Times article, "Red tape ensnares L.A. flower grower's composting efforts"


Silver Lake Farms owner is cited by city agency for composting waste not generated in her home. Officials say she will be OK if they receive no more complaints.

By Mary MacVean
December 26, 2008

Composting fruit and vegetable scraps has become a darling of the sustainability movement, and government officials sing its praises, but drop the wrong carrot tops or lettuce leaves on a backyard compost pile and you could be breaking state law.

"Overall, composting is great. We love it," said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

However, to compost without a solid waste facility permit, you must meet certain requirements, including that the composting material must be generated onsite unless it is placed in a vessel that controls airborne emissions. That means a person who takes a neighbor's apple peels or wilted spinach and drops them on a compost pile, or into a homemade bin, could be cited.

It's pretty unlikely that will happen, Hughan said, explaining, "We have bigger fish to fry."

But it's not impossible.


Follow the link above for the complete story.

Native plant newsfeed added

I've added a California native plant newsfeed to my blog. It's located at the bottom of the right hand column.

Los Angeles area garden blogs via Blotanical

I've been a member of Blotanical since April. It's a garden blog networking site. The goal is to get garden bloggers talking to one another and to connect geographically similar garden bloggers. Perhaps my preferred browser (Firefox) was not fully supported because I've found the site hard to navigate. I'm not a computer neophyte, but I have limited time to puzzle out confusing and non-standard link trees. Consequently, I've spent little time there beyond an occasional visit to see if it (or I) have changed.

Today I found the true power of Blotanical when I went in search of the map applet that I knew had to be somewhere on the site - you know, the one that lets you put in a town or city and then see graphically where nearby bloggers are located. I found it, and with it I discovered almost a dozen blogs in and around Los Angeles that I was completely unaware of. Here's the link to the north America blog map. I don't know if you have to be logged in to make full use of it.

The Los Angeles local blogs that I found and plan to check back on are:
http://heirloomclub.blogspot.com/

http://www.bloomsandbees.com/ (looks like it's a cobweb, but the author may come back. There's a nice post on Brown Widow spiders too)

http://sbgardendesign.wordpress.com/ (design)

http://thegardenpages.blogspot.com/

http://onmygreenthumb.blogspot.com/ (infrequent posts)

http://rootsinthecity.wordpress.com/

http://chefinthegarden.blogspot.com/ (another cobweb, but might have some older material that's interesting)

The Southern California blogs that seem interesting are:

http://luxbotaniverse.blogspot.com/

http://gardensofpetersonville.blogspot.com/

http://earlysnowdrop.blogspot.com/

http://angelwithdirtyfingernails.blogspot.com/

http://growthis.blogspot.com/

2008-12-25

2008-12-24

Rain 0.25"; ~3.89" total

We have a series of storms moving through. This noon time we had accumulated 0.25" from the previous night and day bringing our season total to ~3.89"

We're running comfortably above the median rainfall for this time in an average season*, but we still have January and February to come which are typically our wettest months.



*The median (half above and half below) cumulative rainfall from Sept through December 31 is around 2.0". The 3rd quartile on Dec 31 (3/4 below, 1/4 above) is about 5".

2008-12-23

Hot Ralston

I was promised some Ralston, and then it was taken away.

I can buy a package of 12 from Amazon for $34.25 or three boxes from the Vermont Country Store for $12.90.

Malted milk mix seems to have gone the same route.

2008-12-22

Fruit tree arbor

Now is the time to plant bare root fruit trees and the LA Times Home and Garden section has an interesting article on a Santa Rosa plum arbor used on a home entryway. It's made me think that a stick-built arbor planned for my kitchen door could be made with fruit trees instead. Potential problems with fruit trees include the fact that it would get only morning sun and my heavy clay soil.

UC Davis has information on the cultural requirements for fruit trees. Specifically, they recommend 6H of sunlight (early morning light is best) during the growing season and 3' of well draining soil or raised beds.

From the LA Times article by Emily Green:

...Marin-based UC Cooperative Extension horticulturist Steven Swain has some tips.

First, he suggests plotting out the tunnel's shape using wire, then constructing a temporary frame.

"The nicest arbors I've seen were grown by people who came up with a small wire enclosure that they could take down as the trees grew," he says. "Then they could tie the branches to the wire enclosure. That will allow you to train things. It also gives you a reference point about where you want to prune."

Laissez faire gardeners could forgo the frame by allowing the trees to retain a natural shape and by pruning to keep the path clear. Whatever form you choose, naturalistic or sculpted, Swain has more tips.

When planting the trees, take off as many lateral branches as you need.

"You can even prune the tree down to a whip," he says.

As new growth comes in, he recommends pruning for shape and gently tying new growth in the shape you desire. But do this in late summer, he says. Cuts on main branches made in winter will stimulate only wild growth. Done at the right time, it will keep arbor maintenance to a minimum. Once the trees are where you want them and branches are growing in roughly the right directions, you will be on your way to what Rochlin describes as a year-round show.


In an accompanying article they suggest the following selection criteria and varieties of tree:

Varieties: Consider peaches, plums, apricots, apples, almonds, even the relatively newfangled pluots and apriums. A common mistake that limits fruit yield in the Los Angeles area: planting varieties that need temperatures to drop below 45 degrees for at least 300 hours annually. For gardeners in the relatively mild, non-mountainous areas of Southern California, look for "low-chill" varieties.

Low-chill apples include 'Anna,' 'Beverly Hills,' 'Dorsett Golden,' 'Tropical Beauty' and 'Ein Shemer.' Low-chill plum varieties include 'Santa Rosa,' 'Burgundy' and 'Beauty.' For apricots, UC Cooperative Extension horticulturist Steven Swain recommends 'Gold Kist,' 'Katy,' 'Early Golden' and 'Newcastle.'

Most bare-root trees take three years to fruit. Anna apples fruit the first year.


Spacing: Davida Rochlin's plum arbor covers a 29-foot-long walkway. It contains three trees on each side, planted at identical 8-foot intervals. Each tree is 6 feet away from its twin on the opposite side of the path, roughly a foot and a half from the walkway.


The photo on the LA Times is dismayingly small and not clickable for a larger image.

Sychronicity brought Anne from A Plant Slut's Garden to my blog in the post just before this one, and her most recent Weekly Design Recipe blog post is about making a fruit garden wall. Both she and the LA Times link to Dave Wilson Nursery for more information.

2008-12-21

Weekend gardening punchlist

I planted two 1 gal pots of Checkermallow (Sidalcea malvaeflora) purchased from the Payne Foundation in my front yard meadow today. I also found and moved the two Sidalcea that I planted last year, so now I have a group of four positioned around the Wild Rose (Rosa californica) that I positioned ever so carefully to block the neighbor's kids from running through the yard. The rose is looking a bit stressed. According to the nice native plant pruning calendar that I found at Yerba Buena Nursery, this is the time it ought to be pruned ("Can be selectively pruned to thin or control, or coppiced") so perhaps I'll do that soon.

It probably doesn't matter too much that there are four Sildalcea - they are low to the ground and go summer deciduous. However, groups of three are a better design grouping, so I moved and replanted one surviving Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) and freshly planted two more from 1 gallon containers along a stepping stone path in the front. Actually, I moved the stepping stones and then adjusted the plants in a lather-rinse-repeat cycle until it all looked copacetic. Here's a shot before the final "rinse" when I moved the nearest stepping stone leftward. The Muhlenbergia is at the right of the far stepping stones. The rose is atop the berm nearer the sidwalk. Also in this view is a prostrate Ceanothus (foreground and left), Encelia (behind garden stake at 11:00. I have another near enough to qualify for repetition,), citrus (leaves at left), Nasella pulchra (10:00), Verbena lilacina (12:00)

Muhlenbergia has a strong structural form when the seed stalks grow - they are 3-4' tall arching soft spikes, but I've been unable to get mine to do that. If I can, they ought to look great against the Italian Cypress. However, I think that the one survivor was too close to the Italian Cypress and the root competition was too much because it never sent up the expected stalks. Or perhaps it needs another year to get established.

I also picked up some potting soil and seed starting flats from the local nursery. They have piles and piles of throw-away and recyclable pots so they just gave me some. It's good to have a friendly working relationship with a nursery. I commented at checkout that they didn't have a web site, but it turns out that the parent corporation does. I go to South Bay Gardens which is the retail side of Performance Nursery.


Sunday brought more replanting in the front yard. Putting to use my understanding that massed plants make more of a statement than individuals, I consolidated an Erigeron glaucus (Seaside Daisy) from the meadow to a place near another Erigeron. I probably also saved the transplanted E. from certain death later this year. The yarrow which forms the bulk of the meadow area is really aggressive.

I have a sometime habit of burying the plant stake (the plastic stake which has identifying information) along with the plant. So today I also solved the mystery of which E. glaucus are in my garden, when I dug them up. I have E. glaucus "Arthur Menzies " and "Cape Sebastian". I can't tell them apart, but at least they are side by side now.

The Bouteloua gracilis (blue Gramma grass) got divided and moved, and a prostrate salvia with nice blue flowers (name long forgotten) got moved. Hope they survive.

I also demo'd both large buckwheat plants. I think that if a buckwheat has been planted for a year or less you can dig it up and hope to transplant it. After a second year of growth, the roots are very difficult dig out and there's little hope of transplant. I'll put a smaller species in their place. I also doubled down on the existing Artemisia (California sage brush), adding one that I'd propogated earlier in the year to provide repetition. I have a third in reserve, but they seem like aggressive spreaders, so I don't think I want too many even though I have a big open spot right now.

I was moaning just a couple posts ago about how my miner's lettuce has never germinated. It turns out that last year's seed looks like it's growing. The plants are a bit young for me to tell definitively, but it sure looks like miner's lettuce. This year's seed is showing no signs of life yet.

2008-12-19

Arugula and bacon quiche


I took this to a potluck. My attempt was not as outstanding as the reviews on epicurious had led me to believe. I've had a year long love affair with arugula, particularly when matched with bacon, but this didn't quite do it for me. I will make it or a similar recipe again, but I'll want to moderate the bacon more carefully (I over indulged in my version). When combined with the Gruyere, there's was a bit too much grease for my taste. The addition of balsamic vinegar to the sauteed arugula was inspired, however, so I'll steal that little bit of cooking wisdom for later use.

Seeds, seeds, seeds

I've been so busy that I didn't get many native seeds planted before the recent rains. Two flats of miner's lettuce were already planted (not germinating so far, just like last year. Maybe it's me?).

However, I think that December is not too late to start my other native plants from seed. So the other night I must have planted a dozen or more 4" pots, quite a feat in the dark. However, I still have many more seeds to go which is leading to feeling of impending native plant crisis.


I'll need quite a few more 4" pots which I ought to get tomorrow. My local independent nursery, South Bay Gardens, knows me, so it's probably just a matter of asking them.

The Phaecelia tenacetifolia in the front reseeded well even after I harvested pounds of seed and it's sprouting. I have three artichokes planted amongst them and I have to keep pulling the Phaecelia to make room for the artichokes. I've seen a few Clarkia poking their heads above the soil too.

2008-12-18

Rain 0.40"; ~3.63" for the season

The rain that fell yesterday and last night gave us 0.40".

Our rainfall total is up to 3.63"

California's wettest months are January and February.

My neighbors in Redondo Beach and my friends in Pasadena typically have heavier rainfall than I. BadMom explained this once - it has to do with nearby hills. Even the hills up from the beach in Redondo are enough to shed more rain. Out here on the coastal prairie plains of Hawthorne it's flat.

2008-12-17

Friday meal

I made this chicken dish tonight, along with arugula wilted on top of bacon bits and onion. They don't really go together, but so what? Note the festive seasonal-themed bowl.


The chicken recipe came from Recipezarr.com but you can find it in several other places on the web. If I didn't need to log in on recipezaar to rate this recipe I'd give it 3.5 out of 5, and with a few tweaks I could have it up to a regular 4 in my kitchen.

The origins on recipezaar are said to be from a Japanese exchange student's mother, but balsamic vinegar doesn't seem to be a very authentic Japanese ingredient. I figured that with the balsamic vinegar I wouldn't need sugar and I was right: I used about half a teaspoon of sugar and I could have done without entirely. I also bowed to a recently rebellious stomach and didn't add a hot pepper. If I had, perhaps a little sugar would have tasted better, but I still think I could have done without any sugar. Finally, I added four or five cloves of garlic and didn't discard after cooking - they tasted delicious!

I'm not sure why the recipe doesn't have you brown the chicken beforehand. Plain, boiled, chicken skin doesn't have an appealing texture to me. I did a little browning, but I might do away with the skin if I make this again. Dark meat chicken can handle some extended cooking, so thighs or legs work fine in this recipe.


Ingredients

* 8 chicken drumsticks, skin on (the skin is important for flavour, and is so tasty to eat!)
* 1 cup water
* 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1/3 cup soy sauce
* 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised
* 1 small hot chili pepper, slit open, seeds removed

Directions

1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over a high heat.
2. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
3. Remove any scum that rises to the surface.
4. Increase the heat, turning the drumsticks frequently in the sauce, and cook until the liquid has reduced to a sticky glaze.
5. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter, remove the garlic clove and chili from the liquid, and spoon the glaze over.
NOTE It's a glaze rather than a sauce, so there's not a whole lot of it.

Ca native plant themed gifts

"If you're looking for a gift for a native plant aficionado, check out our New California Garden Webshop: http://www.cafepress.com/newcagarden Proceeds from this webshop will go to support Project SOUND and our native plant gardening programs."

-email from Connie Vadheim

2008-12-15

Door repair

I've been weatherizing my house frantically. The salvaged French doors needed some repair along their bottom edges. Here's the tools I used. The wooden piece is nailed in place and provides a guide for when I cut the door. Square is difficult with salvaged doors which have been shaved. I looked to the hinge side to be straight and measured down off the muntins / molding to get an even cut across the bottom. The framing square checks for sanity. Measure twice cut twice, I always say.

In the category of everything old is new again, this is my favorite "new" tool which I received at a garage sale for free. It's an old folding rule. I thought for years that you'd use this tool just like a tape measure, and ignored it as too old and clunky. Little did I know that you unleash the real power of this tool when you use it as a story pole. Simply extend the brass slide out to fit inside dimensions and take it over to your work to mark the correct size right on it. This is FAR more accurate than transferring measurements made with a tape.

Grubs in my compost

I've long found these large grubs in my compost. I figure they're part of the regular compost ecosystem and I throw them back in when I fork them out along with the compost. Does anyone know what they are? I have my suspicions and I'll Google a bit and post what I find later this week if I get around to it.



That's a quarter next to it for scale. He's playing possum on his side with his mouth end at the left.


Update 17 December: I believe that the grubs I found in my compost are Cotinus mutabilis aka Green Fruit Beetle, Green Fig Beetle, June Beetle . These are the striking and large metallic green beetles that hover through the garden in summer.

Spiced nuts

Updated in Dec 2009 after realizing that I had typos in both recipes.  I don't have the originals handy, but I made educated guesses on water in the 1st (I used 1/4 C last night and it worked out, but 1/3 is probably OK too) and sugar in the second.

In 1932 my grandmother got a recipe for spiced walnuts from her neighbor, Rose Jones. I got it from my grandmother in 1989. Here it is.

Spiced Walnuts from Rose Jones
1/4 C water
~2C walnuts
1-1/2 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
optional: sprinkle of nutmeg and/or clove

Cook water, sugar and salt to soft ball. Add vanilla and spices. I usually add more than the recipe calls for by a large amount. Stir in nuts until sugar is hard. Put out on wax paper and pick apart with a fork.

This weekend I was at the farmers' market with Juli where she picked up a recipe for spiced walnuts.

Spiced Walnuts (Torrance Farmers' Market)
4 C walnuts
6 T water
1-1/2 C sugar
1/2 T cinnamon
1/2 T salt
1 T vanilla

Combine all ingredients but nuts and cook 4 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add walnuts. Stir until covered. Spread on wax paper to cool.

So do people now like 50% less sugar on their walnuts now than in 1930? I think yes, based on how I've made Rose's recipe for years - with a very healthy extra amount of nuts. They probably would have made one batch of nuts last a really long time in 1932, but we typically won't do that today. Additionally, sugar was surely less common in the everyday diet back then, so perhaps no one felt guilt about eating it in quantity.

The nuts are good, either way. And tasty with both walnuts and pecans.

The pecans look like they have less sugary flavor on them.

Pinquitos with lamb

I started out making bbq pinquitos* beans, but along the way I got diverted. I added a leftover lamb bone and pan juices from a leg I roasted a while back, crushed tomatoes, thyme, chopped onion and mushrooms sauteed in bacon grease, bay and rosemary from the back yard, garlic, salt and pepper, plus water and wine. Poured hot over frozen peas it all reached the perfect temperature, flavor and texture combination for a rainy Monday evening. There's a great lamb essence in the broth, the barely cooked peas burst with fresh sweetness when you bite them, and the beans have a firm texture and mellow taste that rounds it all out.

Perhaps I'm practicing for this summer when I hope that I'll be pulling in great harvests of beans from my garden.




Next up: Christmas lima beans (no really, they are variegated red and white like Christmas wrapping paper).



*What are pinquitos?

I'm buying the occasional bag of dried beans these days from a guy at the farmer's market who drives them down along with fabulous artichokes from Lompoc. I generally don't buy the artichokes these days because they seem so expensive and I have three plants of my own on the way, but I do buy the beans! Pinquitos are most similar to pinto beans, but they are smaller with a slightly more mellow flavor. They are the hallmark bean in the bbq beans that are traditionally served with Santa Maria style bbq (a roast of tri-tip). You used to be able to buy a can from S&W in the supermarket, but I haven't seen those in years.

1.52" of rain

Rainfall started last night about 10 PM and fell through at least half the day today. We ended up with 1.52" of rain from this storm, bringing the seasonal total to ~3.23".

1.52" over the course of ~12 hours is a nice rainfall for us in southern California. More is falling as I write. Hurray for rain!

edit: the "More is falling comment" was a short lived observation. The storm only brought us a little more. It was hard to measure, so I've adjusted the above rainfall figures up 0.01", the lower limit of my measuring ability.

2008-12-08

Lebkuchen or honey cake

Lebkuchen* is a German honey cake which I make as part of a family Christmas tradition.

Normally, I'll make some right after Thanksgiving and let it sit in a closed tin while the flavors meld. In my opinion, lebkuchen usually tastes best after Christmas which suggests that I could start even earlier.

The recipes that I use have candied fruit in them, the same as in the infamous fruitcake that is passed from one family to the next each year but never eaten. So, to the uninitiated it starts with a strike against it. Three actually, if you count the name and the fact that there's no chocolate in it. For those reasons it seems to be an acquired taste. Fortunately I have acquired the taste for it, or at least the tradition of it. At its best, lebkuchen is soft, chewy, fragrant, and sweet, with a little citrus bite that is a nice counterpoint to the sweet.

When I was little I enjoyed lebkuchen cookies at Christmas time that were made by Grandma (Oma). Family lore has it that Opa made her try many recipes before he found a recipe that reminded him of the cookies he'd had a child in Germany. The recipe that they settled on is from The Jewish Cookbook (it's actual name, so I am told).

I remember that many years I picked little bits of eggshell from the cookies. When I asked Oma about it, she told me that the recipe was difficult. I had visions of exotic yolk separation techniques or maybe even something wilder, but it turns out that the recipe is actually quite simple. It's just that Oma’s dedication and love exceeded her skill sometimes.

Lebkuchen from The Jewish Cookbook

Beat 4 eggs until light, add 2 cups brown sugar and beat well. Sift together 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Add 2 oz of finely cut citron, and 1/4 pound of chopped walnuts to the flour. Stir into the egg mixture, and blend well. Spread the dough 1 and 1/2 inches thick in greased pans. Bake in a moderate oven, 350 F, for about 30 minutes, or until done. Cool, spread with White Icing, and cut into bars. Lebkuchen and Honey Cakes should be stored a week before using.

I always use a lemon glaze (lemon juice with powdered sugar) in place of the white icing recommended above.

This recipe is a bit too subtle in flavor for my tastes, though according to Opa it was "just right". My notes from an earlier year say that when I adhered strictly to the recipe I found that I would have preferred a bit more spice flavor. That part about "until done" is a bit amusing too. It's often difficult to tell without close inspection whether lebkuchen is overcooked or not.

Because there's virtually no fat in the recipe, my normal calibration for doneness that is trained on cakes is not reliable for lebkuchen, as I've found to my chagrin in 2 out of 3 recent years. To me, lebkuchen appears slightly under done when it is actually ready to be removed from the oven. This year I overcooked it slightly (even though I was close to the suggested 30 minutes time in oven) and that contributed a poorer rendition of this recipe than I had anticipated. I would suggest 25 minutes in the oven at most. I've yet to try fixing an over cooked lebkuchen with a little kirshwasser, rose water, or other liquid.

A recipe more to my taste comes from the LA Times, who some years ago had a feature article on Lebkuchen in their food section.

Raisin Lebkuchen from the LA Times

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup blanched silvered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup chopped candied fruit peel
1/2 cup chopped citron
Lemon Glaze

Beat egg and sugar together until smooth and fluffy in large bowl. Add honey, lemon peel and juice. Beat well.
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Gradually add to egg-sugar mixture on low speed of electric mixer.
Stir in raisins, almonds, candied peel and citron. Spread batter in greased 15x10-inch baking pan.
Bake at 375F for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly, then brush with lemon glaze and cut into pieces.
Remove pieces when cool and store in sealed container for at least a week.


The LA Times recipe is very flexible and forgiving. I've used it with regular raisins and currants substituted for the golden raisins. I've eliminated the candied fruit peel, and I've used walnuts instead of almonds and both the recipes work well. The only crucial part of both recipes is not to overcook the lebkuchen. This point can't be emphasized enough - don't overcook the lebkuchen!

You'll be storing the cut pieces of lebkuchen in a sealed container for at least a week, preferably two or more, before the flavors start to meld, and it picks up a softer texture. In order make the pieces look best, you should apply the lemon glaze and then slice the pieces while the glaze is still liquid. Leave the glaze to solidify and then slice again along the same cuts and remove the pieces from the pan. Cutting the lebkuchen like this prevents big chunks of the white frosting from being pulled out by the knife.



Origin of the name

Lebkuchen has at least two interpretations of its name. In modern German it is literally "liver cake", perhaps a reference to its color (gray to brown from the honey or brown sugar which is perhaps reminiscent of cooked liver). But a historical perspective suggests that it really means “heart cake”. This quote, in Old High German, which I found on the web some time ago suggests that while today "leber" means liver, that "leb" once upon a time meant heart, perhaps a reference to the sustaining powers of the dish.

Interessant ist, wenn man die Parallele zum "Leb"kuchen zieht. "Leb" heißt "Herz". Der Lebkuchen ist also ein Kuchen in Herzform. Somit ist das "Lebkuchenherz" eigentlich eine Tautologie.

2008-12-04

2008-12-03

Bamboo trellis

I cut some bamboo from my parent's house in order to make trellises for sugar snap peas (now) and maybe pole beans (later).

I wasn't sure how to trellis the sweet peas but a little Googling assured me that almost anything would do.

2008-12-02

Custom concrete pavers III

Maybe you're wondering how the concrete pavers that I wrote about earlier turned out. Here's what the bottom (now the top) looks like.



I didn't wait long enough for the caulking to dry and consequently it stuck at the edges of the leaves. Experience has shown that it's not too hard to remove.

I think I'll add some red to the color mix.

Gophers love Lavatera assurgentiflora

I planted three Lavatera assurgentiflora (Tree Mallow) on my parent's hillside earlier this year. This was a real plant trial. They were planted with a fairly wide separation: one ended up in the midst of freshly dug gopher hole tailings (hey, the soil is nice and loose), one ended up near some other native plants, and one ended up between two black acacia trees in a spot that's a bit too shady for it.

The gophers thought that I had just given them a tasty treat. The Lavatera near their holes and near the native plants were chomped: to certain death in one case and to nearly certain death in the other. The gophers even stood on hind legs to nibble the above-ground branch ends and to girdle the bark above ground. I've never seen that sort of feasting before.

The Lavatera come from one of the channel islands from seed gathered years ago.

Here's a picture of the first to go. It didn't get very large - that's about a 1.5" to 2" trunk at its maximum. The dirty part is all that is left of the roots - as you can see they have all been nibbled back and the trunk is deeply knawed. Even the lowest branch at the right has been nibbled on top.

The second Lavatera to go lasted long enough to produce some immature seed but it is completely girdled, so I don't think it will survive. I don't know if it will self-sow or not.

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner in Santa Barbara was fantastic:

Clockwise from 6:00. Two types of cranberries, sweet potato mousseline, mashed potatoes and gravy, creamed spinach, two types of stuffing, wilted greens salad with pan roasted crabapple. Turkey and roasted Cipollini onion at center.

Later we went to see the tall ship Nina, a faithful recreation of Columbus' caravel of the same name made with hand tools and traditional boat building techniques. Columbus sailed with about 30 men aboard - all but the captain and one other slept and lived on deck which was often awash with water. The modern version doesn't have to carry cargo below decks, so that area is fitted with more modern conveniences and living quarters.


Life on board the Niña in 1492 was not for the light hearted. When the Niña left on any of her three voyages to the New World, her cargo hold was full of provisions, water, armaments. There were live animals ranging from horses, cows, pigs, and chickens. The four-legged animals were suspended in slings as the rolling motion of the vessel would have easily broken their legs.

Needless to say, there was little room below decks for the 27 or so crew to sleep or cook. Cooking was done in a fire box located on decks in the bow of the ship. Sleeping was on the deck and was always uncomfortable as the ship was so loaded with cargo, her decks were always awash. A lucky few could sleep on the poop deck or find a coil of rope to sleep on to keep them off the deck a foot or so.

2008-12-01

Braised red cabbage

I had been thinking of making braised red cabbage the way I'd tasted it in Thuringia, but I got side tracked by a recipe over on the Thinking Stomach and ended up making a variant of that recipe instead.

I served a leg of lamb roast, roasted potatoes, and braised chard along with it. The cabbage didn't really fit - it deserved a braised roast of venison or pork roast, but all the parts were good individually.