A new Bee in our hive

Waaay back in June, Carson and I decided to get a dog. After months of going to the pound and the Humane Society, we finally found the perfect pooch. Meet Beatrice, aka “Bee”:

Meeting Bee

She’s about 10 months old but close to fully grown at 40 lbs. She’s definitely black lab but beyond that is anyone’s guess; possibly boxer? She has short, soft hair, great teeth, and a happy-go-lucky attitude that is beyond endearing. She’s smart and eager to please. She sleeps in her kennel all night long without barking or even whining. She loves the car, and everyone is a friend (humans and dogs alike).

She also loves:

Bee persimmon

Persimmons (luckily we have the seedless kind because apparently the seeds make dogs sick)

Bee staredown

Playing (and only stares at you sadly for a few moments if you aren’t in a playful mood)

Bee lounging

Being on the couch (but she has to be invited)

nap time

Being on the couch with a friend (she will contort into any position if it means more snuggle time)

I promise I won’t be one of those people who is constantly writing about and posting pictures and videos of our dog, but she is pretty darn cute so it might slip in occasionally. If you are interested in seeing her in action, check out two of her “firsts,” both at Lake Mendocino: first time off-leash and first time in the water. (So glad she is a water dog!) The video doesn’t really show how funny she was in the water – she ran laps back and forth, back and forth in the shallow end, and didn’t want to leave when I finally pulled her out, dripping wet and grinning.

Many thanks to the Ukiah Animal Shelter for connecting us with our ideal dog, who was found “wandering on the streets.” Also thanks to whoever loved her for the first 10 months of her life (the pound guessed she was a “travelling dog” aka the pet of a homeless person). She shows no signs of trauma so we don’t think she was abused, and she also wasn’t significantly underfed or in bad shape in any way, truly a blessing for her and for us.

If you’re in the area and you haven’t already, come and meet Bee – she’ll be your best friend!

Bee-utiful

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A romantic gesture

In the long list of things I never blogged about, I realized that I didn’t tell the story of the best thing Carson has ever brought home.

A few weeks ago he pulled into the driveway. I was sitting at the kitchen table looking out, but I couldn’t see the back of his truck. His face appeared in the window with the biggest, goofiest grin I’d ever seen. I smiled back and kept working. He looked disappointed. I got up to greet him as he walked in the back door. “Did you see??” he asked expectantly. “See what?” I asked. “Come look.”

I rounded the corner to the driveway and stopped dead in my tracks.  There, in the back of his truck, was something I had been seeking for MONTHS.

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It was perfect: a used upright (most of what I’d found were chest freezers),  great brand (Kenmore), and looked and smelled BRAND NEW. Even better, he got a great deal on it.

Swoon.

I was able to undo the 3D puzzle that was our existing freezer and spread out in this roomy new addition to our home. We immediately bought 25 lbs of beef from Mendocino Organics to celebrate, and since then I’ve been freezing with abandon.

I have asked for a vacuum sealer for Christmas. If 2013 was the year of canning, then 2014 will be the year of freezing.

It was the most romantic thing Carson has ever done.

The squash season (pumpkin coconut curry soup)

I’m not sad at all that the fall/winter season is upon us, not only because it’s still in the high 60s/low 70s here in Ukiah, but because we’re flooded with squash. I’ve been buying it in bulk at the farmer’s market to store in our chilly back room, where it should keep for several months. I also harvested the seven “zebra” pumpkins we managed to grow from one plant at our community plot (which was somewhat neglected this summer).

I. love. squash. It’s so simple to cut one up and throw in the roasting pan with whatever protein we’re having, especially thin-skinned varieties like Delicata, whose skin is edible and tasty. Squash is sweet and filling and healthy. It tastes good with every single spice combination I’ve ever tried. Also, it’s relatively cheap.

Yesterday I processed four 5-lb pumpkins by roasting and blending them. I also separated out all the seeds which can be time-consuming because of the pesky flesh that clings to them, but totally worth it when you’re popping the crispy end-result in your mouth.

I froze about 2 quarts of plain pumpkin to be used for pies and probably a soup down the line, and I also made 2 quarts of a truly fantastic soup, one of which we ate for dinner and the other we put in the freezer for an easy dinner down the line.

Chicken Pumpkin Curry Coconut Soup

I adapted it roughly from this recipe, but instead of chicken broth I  used the drippings and leftover gravy from a chicken I roasted on Sunday night. I also added shredded chicken from the same bird, and left out the maple syrup since I  had blended in some roasted apples as well.

If you make this, do not skip the fish sauce! I also used lemon instead of lime (our Meyer lemon tree is finally producing beautiful yellow fruit!) but honestly, you could skip it entirely. I LOVE citrus but there are enough complex flavors in this soup without it.

 

pumpkin processing

The many stages of processing: compost; raw cubed pumpkin; whole pumpkin; seeds; and the end-result cooling in a colander.

A note on roasting 

I have no idea if this is a thing that other people do because I didn’t learn it from a recipe, but pretty much any time I roast something I add water to the bottom of the pan. Here’s why:

  1. It creates a sort of “steam” effect and cooks food faster
  2. It prevents the food from sticking
  3. It prevents the food from drying out
  4. It creates more drippings or a syrup
  5. It makes clean-up a lot easier

Does anyone else do this?

November 9: Eat dinner, drink wine, support gardens

I’ve been doing a lot of work in the garden community here. Did you know that Mendocino County is the only place in the whole country that has a garden at each public school?

Here are two articles I’ve written about the school gardens:

We’ve been brainstorming about how to fund these gardens, and after I shared one of these articles with my friend Sarah of Eat Mendocino, she was moved to dedicate the next farm-to-table dinner to supporting garden-enhanced nutrition education (GENE).

If you’re free next Saturday and in the Ukiah area, please join us! If you don’t have $50 but still want to participate, we need volunteers. Contact Sarah directly to get involved: eatmendocino[at]gmail.com.

Nov9_dinner copy

See you there!