Half a lifetime ago, I had an open obsession with the history of Route 66, America's Mother Road. And for just as long, I've yeeeaaarned for a retro trailer to call our own. For years I've vacillated between visions of someday owning a new Airstream to just throwing a couple hundred bucks at a junkyard Aristocrat trailer and fixing it up myself (like this pretty pink lady). This past weekend, our friends Dave and Ann (with baby Wynne) met us up in the mountains, towing their 19' Airstream trailer stocked full of eggs from their farmlet, and something Dave likes to call "hyper-local bacon". In other words, they are living the dream living my dream.
Lil' Wynne was captivating to all, big and small, and yet gracious enough to give me a tour of her home away from home. She showed me how bouncy the trailer bed was, where she likes to take her cereal while on the road, and the secret spot under the fridge where her toys are kept.
She also mentioned that her mom and dad had done all sorts of modifications to their silver bullet, like sewing new patterned curtains for the windows, adding lights and hooks to walls, and even repainting the face of the fridge with magnetic chalk paint so they could continue their collection of magnets from all their travels as a family. I was drooling!!!
You can follow The Adventures of Dave and Ann for great stories on both farmlet living and life on the road with family and Airstream in tow. Or you can just stare for hours at the picture featured below:
It's a tough call.
Whenever I'm in the Dry Creek Valley, I always make the usual stops - Big John's Market for chicken mango burgers, The Dry Creek General Store for coffee and a bite, and The Gardener, just to have a look around. I always seem to hit it big at one (or all three) of these places, I guess that's why I keep coming back.
This past weekend, my annual visit to The Gardener proved worthwhile once again, when I discovered the newly launched Modern Farmer Magazine. (In fact, it's still on its first issue of its quarterly release.) I was seduced by the Dwell Magazine-esque feel to the publication and so I picked one up for $7.99 and looked forward to sitting down with it and diving in. I finally got the chance to tonight, and if you read about my Sunday night shenanigans with a wild boar, you'll understand why I was so entranced with its article "Wild Pigs: It's a War, and We're Losing". I was so taken with the story that I started reading it out loud to the kids, poolside, and believe me, I had their undivided attention the entire time. When I got up, and came back from doing something, this was the scene I found:
The story of the world's exploding boar population might have put Mr. Noodle to sleep, but the eight-year-old and I are hooked on it and other global farming issues like organic farming in China, incredible farm stays around the world, and how to build a house out of straw bales.
Sign. Me. Up.
Women are wonderful. The world is full of them and I've often said that I am incredibly grateful for all the great women that move in and out of my days, around my community and through my thoughts and conversations. My women are strong, loving, mature and giving. I don't get to see any one of them enough, it can be months or even years, but I always feel connected, bound by a history and/or just their radient energy.
I turned 40 last week and the best way I could think to celebrate it is with old friends who I might not otherwise get the opportunity to pull together into one place for longer than a sit-down meal, interrupted seventeen times by three handfuls of kids. I looked at it as an opportunity to give back a little to some of the women who fill my life with love, laughter and friendship. We ate and drank, talked and laughed, took an awesome bike ride together through the wine country and into town, slept in, took walks, talked and ate some more, and narrowly escaped the attack of a wild boar while cherry picking at dusk. It was all I could have hoped for.
These are my women, and these are just a few of the reasons I happen to think they rock it so hard:
I have known her since the seventh grade and for 28 years she has had a constant presence in my life. She is loyal, tough, filled with passions and always the mother hen. If ever I'm lost in the woods, this is the girl I want to be with while seeking my way out.
She is strong, unstoppable, whip smart and absolutely hilarious. This former neighbor of mine is your go-to person for any bit of information you might seek. I am so grateful she could be here and have every finger crossed she moves back sometime soon.
We met in college under dubious circumstances and became instant friends. Our friendship evolved through handwritten letters when we were too poor to use the phone. Her colorful, confetti-filled cards were the absolute best! She is creative, HILARIOUS and filled with boundless energy and a never-ending willingness to help.
She is FUN, clever, interesting, energetic and generous with compliments. Always smiling, she has a beautiful way of asking you about you and making you feel like the center of attention. She warned me there is such a thing as *too much birthday* and she was right.
Former next door neighbor and World's Most Fun Mom. This woman makes very good choices across the board, and she wants to help people succeed. Creative,
gracious, generous, and unbelievably funny! You could not exist in a
dull moment with this woman if you tried.
We met our freshman year in high school. I once watched her from afar tell a guy off who had wronged me and I knew then that she was a keeper. She is a sweetheart and has an effortless way of asking you lots about you until you come to realize you just spent the last hour talking about nothing but yourself.
Former neighbor and smartest human I know. Incredible memory for anything and everything, too many talents and interests to list, but I should mention she is also a mind reader. She was, for a time, my rock, and I am forever grateful.
College roommates. She is loyal in a way that most West Coasters can't even begin to understand. She is East Coast, Mid-West and California all rolled up into one. She will hop on a plane and fly anywhere for anyone that means something to her. She is a magnet for interesting people and adventures and has a lifetime of fascinating stories to prove it.
We met in the early days of high school and I have such great memories of crazy adventures. She is real and alive, fueled with nothing but positive energy. She will power through tough times and always show-up, no matter what. She is gracious and sweet and blessed with one of the best laughs.
At the risk of sounding like a hipster-poser, I've been doing the gluten-free thing for almost a month now. I wasn't 100% right out the gate - that proved hard at the cabin when friends were arriving with things like homemade pies and the like, but I was pretty good. I'm operating at 100% gluten-free these days and it's no longer a struggle...although I plan to jump off the wagon this weekend with the excuse of *girly celebration*. It started when I read Wheat Belly. Packaged up as the key to excess weight loss, this book served me better as a real eye-opener to the negative side effects of wheat. I don't suffer from celiac, but for a whole host of reasons I'll just say, it seemed a great idea to me to eliminate wheat whenever possible.
That said, I've been playing around with gluten-free baking and trying to get my bearings down with the new vocabulary. I found this recipe from Dr. Oz and modified it to serve my fruit and portion needs (our neighbors blackberry bushes are dripping into our yard!). These were so easy to throw together quickly and I thought they turned out great, but even better - so did my kids!
Gluten-Free Blackberry Scones
Makes 12 muffins
4 large eggs, beaten until frothy
2 cups almond flour
2/3 cup bulk sugar substitute (I used unrefined coconut sugar)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blackberries
Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease a muffin tin.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except for the blackberries, and mix well to create a batter.
Gently fold the blackberries into the batter and scoop batter evenly into muffin pan (about 2 heaping tablespoons each).
Bake for about 15 minutes until muffins begin to lightly brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
I haven't done one of these in a while and because it's late, I won't go into too much detail. Here are all my dinners for the past week:
monday - filet mignon with a rosemary + sage butter, salad with beets, pistachios, avocado and feta
tuesday - I can't remember what I fed the kids but Daddy and I ate tuna tartar on rice crackers with salad
wednesday - date night at farm shop
thursday - an old friend for dinner, grilled flank steak and vegetables
friday - my mom is our guest, pork and asparagus with mustard sauce
saturday - guests for dinner (no photo), grilled shrimp with mango chutney, grilled vegetables, fiesta salad with avocado, tomatoes and black beans
sunday - Marinitas where I ordered the vegetable platter
Last week, the eight-year-old struck it lucky when he got to attend a day camp at Windrush Farm with three of his friends. It's opportunities like this that make me wish I had my kids summer schedules. I found out about Windrush accidentally really, I was on Facebook and just followed a trail of seeds - "David Z. likes Windrush Farm -> "I like farms. Let me check it out." -> Gorgeous pictures, summer camp offered -> Call friend, coordinate -> Drop one week into cart and check-out.
The trek out to West Marin was a lot for us - an hour each way, two times a day. But I split it with my friend and the scenes at drop-off and pick-up just made it all bearable. This place was so picture-perfect...bucolic. The Windrush family were all smiles and welcoming. My friend and I went to the first drop-off together and found ourselves lingering about (doop de doop) while the kids did their morning chores - shucking wheat for pizza dough, brushing the dogs and watering plants.
What those kids did the rest of the day, I may never know. It's like pulling teeth for me to get details out of my kids, but I'm going to assume it was all magic and farm love until they tell me anything different. I know what it was like for me and that was *a little slice of heaven*. My girl and I did not want to leave that first morning. We too wanted the opportunity to be farmers for a week...or maybe even a little longer. ;)
Nana is in the house cabin this weekend and Nana LOOOVES fruit desserts. Upon her arrival she was already talking about, and excited to make, a new recipe she'd just spotted in the latest addition of Sunset Magazine - Campfire-Glazed Peaches + Figs with Olive Oil Cake. Unable to find figs, a cast-iron skillet or a logical reason to build a campfire in 100 degree heat, she opted to macerate peaches and strawberries on stove-top instead.
This creation was incredible and so perfect for a hot summer night. The cake was similar to angel's food cake, but with a thicker and sweeter outer crust that offered just the right about of crunch to each bite.
This one is absolutely getting filed under *Favorites* - right after I eat a piece for breakfast.
Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Summer Fruit
Adapted from this recipe, Nana macerated 3-1/2 pounds of peach and strawberry with butter and sugar on the stovetop. It could NOT have worked better! Serve warm fruit on top of a slice of cake and with a giant dollop of freshly whipped cream.
Now what are you waiting for?!?
We jumped on the patriotic food bandwagon a little early this summer. With a full house this past weekend (seven kids and seven adults) I couldn't help but go to all the trouble of making Ina Garten's Flag (Ginormous) Flag Cake. When you have that many guests at the table, it's always fun to bring out the big guns. This cake is nothing short of insanity, and I love making it every summer. It helps to make a Costco run before as it uses lots of cream cheese, butter and fresh (organic!) berries.
And on a slightly less organic note, I threw these red, white and blue nachos together one night with veggie taco leftovers. I picked up the chips at Cost Plus for a holiday treat and have to admit, they were pretty fun in this instance...despite the neon food coloring. ;)
We've also been cooking up lots of the usual summer fare - bbq ribs, cheese burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches with pesto, and tacos. One vegetarian visitor cooked up the most incredible polenta-based veggie lasagna that had us all running for seconds. I hope you too are enjoying good food, great friends and hot summer heat this week!