Friday, June 27, 2008

Butte Blackberries

The berries at Webb Ranch are at their peak--at least the raspberries and Butte blackberries (a fairly new variety of blackberry that weighs twice as much as regular blackberries). We went down there on Thursday morning to do some picking. The parking lot was full of cars, and the rows of canes were filled with moms with sunhats and kids with berry baskets. My son and his friend headed with one of the wagons to the far end of the blackberries and worked their way up through the row, while me and my friend worked the raspberries. The raspberries are small and it takes a lot of work to fill a basket, but they are dark red and intensely flavored, nothing like those thumb-sized, bland raspberries that disappoint me at the supermarket. After half an hour I had only filled two baskets--and eaten many others, warm and soft from the sun. I love sitting on the ground and smelling the hot dried grass, watching the black tail of a lizard flick under a berry bush, and reaching deep into the bush for the bigger, redder berries dangling inside. We stopped when we got hungry for something more substantial than berries, and came home with around seven baskets each. This blackberry galette was the result. The hands holding the basket of berries above arranged the berries in the galette.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Carrot Harvest

Yesterday I had to harvest the remainder of the carrots. Aren't the purple ones great? I had to harvest the carrots because the ants were farming aphids on them. I hadn't noticed aphids on them, but did notice a lot of ant activity in that corner of the bed. When I inspected the carrots more closely, I saw a cluster of grayish aphids in the half inch of stem just above the root. All the carrots were that way. I caught it early enough so they don't really seem to have done much harm to the carrots. After I pulled all the carrots out, the ants rushed around frantically carrying a few rescued aphids. I hope they do not move their livestock into the parsley. Today I planted seeds for mesclun greens where the carrots were.
My new great garden discovery is bat guano. Apparently people shovel it out of caves where bats live and sell it to gardeners. The good thing is, the bat guano has lots of great soil nutrients and it's organic. The bad thing is, the shoveling disturbs the bats' nesting. Too bad, because you can make a "tea" out of it and water your garden with it. I'm doing that once a month now and really see a difference in growth. Organic fertilizer is better than synthetic fertilizer because the plants absorb it more slowly and there is a wider range of nutrients in it. After I get through the box I bought I guess I'll have to wrestle with my conscience about whether to buy a new one. I suppose the bat guano is aged because it doesn't smell bad or look like bat sh** in the box:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cactus Flowers

Pale cactus flowers
All facing south--that's where I
Would turn my face, too.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

This morning I made cinnamon rolls for the dad in our house, my husband. I made the dough the night before and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. Then this morning I rolled it out, sprinkled on the raisin/nut/cinnamon/sugar mixture, cut it into rolls, let them rise again, then baked them. They were heavenly, but we did have to wait an more than an hour for our rolls. Next time I will try making them ahead up to the cutting them into rolls part and let them do their last rise in the refrigerator overnight.
Last week I had been all preoccupied wondering what I was going to get my husband for Father's Day. then suddenly I had a realization: he's not MY dad, he's my kids' dad. I don't have to get him anything. I talked with my sons about what they were going to do for him. "Buy him a new combination charcoal and gas grill," suggested my younger son. That idea was reluctantly rejected due to the cost. They finally decided on taking him to buy a new plant at his favorite nursery, Flora Grubb. And so they did. That afternoon a new woolly bush (adenanthos) appeared in the yard, and my husband spent a half an hour happily trying it out in several different pots.
As far as my own daughterly duties, I reached my dad in the evening, between two of his trips. He sounded excited, packing to go to Colorado tomorrow.
"I'm glad you're my father," I told him.
"Well, you didn't have much choice in the matter," he said.
"I got lucky," I said.
It's all true.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Almost Summer Vacation

We've been having some of the best weather we get in San Francisco for the last few days--warm, sunny, less wind. And it just happens to be the last week of school for my sons. Today was graduation day for middle and high schools, but since I don't have anyone graduating I didn't have to get sad about it. My younger son told me tonight, "I feel like I don't have any duties anymore." My older son had his last final Tuesday. Today he went into school for a half day, went with some of his friends to get buzz cuts, then went out for pizza. When he got home he seemed lighter, and it wasn't just because he lost all that hair. The next two days of school are pretty pointless. I think they are watching Napoleon Dynamite in my younger son's English class. No parties, however, because that would take up "valuable instructional minutes." I think everyone is pretty much longing for that last day to be over.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Apricot Pie

This is the taste of summer. I recently discovered the farmers' market on Thursdays at Serramonte Mall in Daly City, and it's just right: not too big, not too small, not too crowded, plenty of parking, mix of organic and nonorganic stalls, bakery, fish, and even kettle corn! I bought 3-1/2 pounds of Castlebright apricots to make this pie. I'm not posting a recipe because it doesn't really matter what recipe you use, as long as the apricots are good and the crust is all butter. Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Playing the National Anthem

Last evening I was wrapped in a blanket at the ballpark, watching the N.Y. Mets whip the S.F. Giants on a cold and windy night. But the real reason I was there was to watch my son, my youngest this time, play the national anthem with his middle school band. Also I had coordinated the logistics of getting the instruments there and selling the 300 tickets we were required to sell for the privilege of playing the anthem. It was a lot of effort for 2 minutes of playing. was great to see the look on the kids' faces as they lined up with their instruments and the guard opened the gates, and they stepped out onto the field. And it was great to get stopped by two different Giants employees afterwards, on our way to our seats, who told us proudly that they had gone to my son's school, too, a long time ago.