Navajo chicken ornament from Taos, New Mexico
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. Every time we travel, my husband and I collect ornaments from places we love, whether it’s a town, a national park, or other interesting landmark. When we bring all the ornaments out to trim the tree, it’s like a trip through our travel scrapbook. Each year our tree gets fuller and fuller, and we adore all the memories it holds on its branches. This hand-painted Navajo chicken was a trinket we picked up in Taos, New Mexico, over the summer in one of the art galleries. It’s quirky, fun, and reminds us of our own girls!

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Sweet hot pickled feijoas
Fermenting & Pickling, Recipes

Sweet Hot Pickled Feijoas

At last, I can see the back of my refrigerator. It’s been several weeks of feijoas in salads, feijoas on oatmeal, feijoas on pancakes, feijoas in Dutch babies, feijoas in banana bread, and of course, feijoas in chutney and pickles.

I have no idea what this year’s harvest of feijoas weighed in at, but I can tell you it was a lot. After pecking away at the mountain of fruits in the fridge (where we had to keep them since they don’t store well at room temp), there were only a few handfuls left and I decided to try a new spin on the salty sweet pickles I’d made and loved.

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Salty sweet pickled feijoas
Fermenting & Pickling, Recipes

Salty Sweet Pickled Feijoas

At any given time, there’s at least a half-dozen jars of pickles in my fridge. You’ll find pickles of all kinds: roasted beets, green tomatoes, nasturtium pods, radish pods. Notice a theme here? They’re either vegetables or the seeds of vegetables.

Up until a few weeks ago, I’d never made fruit pickles but I’d always been intrigued with them. The interplay of tangy and sweet seems well suited for the bitter-greens salads I like to make in fall and winter. Toss a medley of radicchio, endive, arugula, or dandelions together with pickled fruits (and perhaps a sweeter element, like roasted pears or apples) and you can temper the initial bite of bitter greens without losing their wonderful flavor.

As I found out, feijoas are the perfect pickling fruit. Their sweet and tart profile plays well with warm spices like cinnamon and clove, and they hold their shape and texture for weeks. I haven’t tried processing the pickles in a water bath canner, but as refrigerator pickles, they turn out tender with a pleasant chew.

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Evolving holiday traditions, our first family Christmas card, and a Minted giveaway
House & Home

Evolving Holiday Traditions, Our First Family Christmas Card, and a Minted Giveaway!

For the last couple of years, Will and I have been cutting down our own Christmas tree at a Christmas tree farm in Orange County. It’s truly a novelty in Southern California: 70°F and sunny, palm trees swaying in the breeze, eager families in sneakers and T-shirts winding their way through acres of Monterey pines and Leyland cypresses.

Taking our Christmas tree home

We’ve always brought our whole family to the tree farm, which — until this year — was just us and our two pugs. (I wrote about our first time at the farm here.)

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Kayaking the Los Angeles River
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. It was a chilly 48°F at sunrise, but there I was, paddling the Los Angeles River like it was a balmy day! (Or pretend-paddling is more like it, since the river is closed to boating in winter.) Thank you to the awesome crew at Zoom-Zoom magazine (Mazda’s official publication) for asking me to be a part of their upcoming story about LA River restoration efforts, which will include an interview about my volunteer work at Rio de Los Angeles State Park. I’ll post more details when the issue is released! (If you missed my post on kayaking the river a couple of years ago, you can read it here.)

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So long, summer: a recap
Makings of a Book, Work

So Long, Summer: A Recap

As I sit down to write for the first time in weeks, the political noise on social media is taking a backseat to more important matters. An entire summer of pictures are downloaded and sorted, the first round of edits are back in my project manager’s hands, and my book cover is finalized. The house is clean, the baby is sleeping, and I’ve even squeezed in some long-overdue garden chores. (This picture, by the way, is an overgrown beet that had been sitting in soil for over a year!) In spite of emotions running rampant and the world reeling from the election this past week, my overarching feeling today is, “It’s good to be back.”

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Sriracha stem pickles on Freshly Preserved Ideas
Fermenting & Pickling, Recipes

Sriracha Stem Pickles on Freshly Preserved Ideas

Those of you who’ve cooked from The CSA Cookbook know that I love to use the odds and ends of vegetables in my recipes — in part because I try to waste as little as possible in the kitchen, and because these “scraps” are vegetables in their own right, full of flavor and texture.

Chard stems are one such scrap that’s sometimes discarded or composted when recipes only call for the tender leaves. The stems, however, have a mild flavor that plays well with other ingredients and a pleasant crispness similar to celery ribs. If you find yourself with a good handful of stems, don’t toss them — pickle them!

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