Carson & Bees

If you’re still reading this… thanks for sticking with me. Now that I’m working a “real” job plus a few contract jobs, I haven’t found much time to write any personal blogs. The good news is, as Carson’s semi-official business and marketing manager, I have been writing over on his site: carsonandbees.com.

I’m not shutting My Ukiah down, but it has definitely taken a back seat for the time being. If you want to feel connected to what’s going on down here, please follow me over there!

Normally I would insert a cute picture of Carson and me here, but the last one we had taken together was months ago! I also didn’t write anything sweet to commemorate our second anniversary like I did on the first (though I think this qualifies). I’m making a mental note to have a picture taken of us, and also to remind Carson that I love the crap out of him.

Gazpacho – not just for tomatoes

The cucumber glut continues. I estimate that between our backyard and the community garden, I’ve harvested about 200 lbs of cucumbers (with signs of slowing but certainly not stopping anytime soon). I’ve done a lot with this bounty, and a new favorite is cucumber gazpacho.

Don’t get me wrong – I adore traditional tomato gazpacho, and I’ve made plenty of it this summer. But I have way more cukes than tomatoes! The great thing about gazpacho of any kind is how flexible it is. Here’s what I do, more or less.

Cucumber gazpacho

Ingredients:

  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Fresh dill, basil, or mint
  • Plain yogurt or sour cream
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Coarsely chop the cucumbers and throw into a food processor or blender. You don’t have to peel or de-seed them, but if you want a finer soup you can. I usually peel half of them, and de-seed only the really seedy ones.

Add a few slices of onion and a head of raw garlic. These are really strong flavors, so resist the urge to go overboard.

Add fresh dill, basil, or mint. I think dill is the absolute best flavor here.

Add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, a drizzle or a glug of olive oil depending on your tastes, salt and pepper, and blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. This keeps in the fridge up to a week. (I’m currently experimenting with whether or not this freezes well… I’ll update you when I thaw a jar!)

Optional: throw a few tomatoes in there and make cucumber-tomato gazpacho.

For texture and even more flavor, I serve this with any or all of the following: chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers; feta; slivered almonds or other nuts or seeds. For lunch I’ve been making grilled cheese sandwiches with a cup of this on the side.

How not to resist: living with (and loving) the heat

When I moved to Ukiah last year, a friend gave me an invaluable piece of advice: “Don’t resist the heat. Give in. Let it wash over you.” At first I didn’t really understand, until that first hot day smacked me upside the head. “Don’t resist!” I admonished myself. I endeavored not to complain and not to hate it, and it worked. These days I’m more or less a heat lover, until it hits 105 or so. On those days, the plants will wilt no matter how much you watered them that morning. Empty mason jars in our back room seal themselves, with the familiar “tink!” being heard all afternoon. The most energetic among us languish. Diet is based on standing in front of a frozen freezer, eating anything that doesn’t require cooking, or going to a restaurant with A/C. On these days I really, truly have to submit and live my life based on staying cool. Here’s how I do it.

1) Get up early. When Carson’s home and it’s hot out, we generally get up at 5 am. When he isn’t here to drag me out of bed, I tend to sleep in but try to get up by 7. That way I can get everything done early and laze about during the heat of the day.

2) Avoid electricity. Even  the heat from a lightbulb feels like searing heat when it’s 110 outside, so turning on the oven is out of the question. If we don’t already have a dinner plan I will probably make whatever it is first thing in the morning – boiling noodles for a pesto pasta salad, for instance. Even that heats up the kitchen, though.

3) Draw the blinds. We’re blessed with an attic fan and new windows, so we’re pretty well insulated. However, our central air is broken. Boo. During the day we keep all the windows and doors closed and all the blinds and shades drawn. Once it’s cooler outside than it is inside, we open everything up. This cools the house down beautifully if it’s under 100; once it breaks 100 degrees, nothing will cool the house down.

4) Go swimming. Pretty much every day I hit a friend’s pool, the river, the lake, the reservoirs at Cow Mountain, or at the very least the backyard sprinkler. As a result I have crazy swimming hair most of the time. Personal appearance has definitely tanked with the advent of summer – I wear the same running shorts and light tee just about every day. If Carson minds, he hasn’t complained yet!

5) Stay hydrated. Every morning I make several jars of iced tea, which is a more fun way to hydrate than drinking water. We also drink a lot of lemon water and fruit spritzers with sparkling water (and sometimes booze).

6) Give in. I lay on the floor a lot, and watch a lot of Netflix, and hang out with friends by the water. What I try not to do (and sometimes succeed) is complain. After all, what good will it do me?

7) When all else fails, head west. An hour and a half in the car rewards you with a 20-30 degree drop. Plus, the coast is beautiful.

What do you do to stay cool?

Pool

River

Everlasting Spring

I have never experienced such a long spring before. Every time I think the blooms will stop, something else bursts open. The roses are all about to pop, and in the meantime I’ve been enjoying the zillions of dogwoods, lilacs, and Lady Banksia that fill Ukiah’s streets. (Not to mention all the bright orange California poppies and about 20 other plants and trees currently in bloom.)

Jones St dogwoods

Jones street alone has more than a dozen dogwoods.

Gardens Dogwood

So poetic… a rose dogwood on the corner of Gardens and Mendocino.

Oak Park dogwoods

Dogwoods on Oak Park street

Lady Banksia

Ours are relatively small… some of these Lady Banksia cover entire oak trees.

cut Lady Banksia

They lasted surprisingly long inside, and filled the kitchen with a lovely scent.

lilac

Aren’t lilacs the most precious flowers? We have a white one in our yard.