Here’s a nice article I was invited to do about my favorite comfort foods for the top5.com website. (I think they asked the right person) It was not easy deciding on the final five – I had five more that didn’t make it. They were: rice pudding, pepperoni pizza, meat loaf, pączki, and pierogi. Eliminating these was like deciding which one of my children I should leave behind. I don’t have children but I do have love for potatoes. Happy Labor Day, everyone!
Have you seen the pictures I posted of my beautiful home? It’s paradise. The day I saw it for the first time, seven years ago, I knew in less than five minutes that this was my dream home. It has the most beautiful backyard and beyond it is a huge hill that wraps around the yard. For someone like me who enjoys nature and the outdoors, it’s truly a dream place to live.
I remember the first time I saw a deer on the back hill, of course I grabbed my camera and have been taking deer pictures ever since. And when I saw my first coyote, I was a little anxious but still excited. Then came the bobcat…. okay, I kept my distance.
The first time I saw a rattlesnake, it was a shock but I knew they existed in Southern California. I just didn’t expect to see them every year. They come out in the morning to warm up on concrete or stone and we have a stone walkway so I stay away in the morning hours. Now this year, the skunks showed up. Yes, that’s plural. A family of skunks has been coming around, in fact last night I was outside after dinner and a skunk walked right past me! If my back had been turned I might not have seen him and could have walked right into him. And then what?
So I avoid going outside in the mornings for snakes, and in the early evening for skunks. But I do have a window of freedom from late morning into the afternoon (the hottest part of the day). Beyond that I’m a prisoner in paradise.
Here’s what the gardener found this week…
I regret it had to come to this. But here are the harsh details: I planted a white peach tree because white peaches are a delicacy and these were going to be organic, too. My tree was getting bigger and this year, it produced more peaches than ever. I was so excited to see all the blossoms in the spring and could hardly wait to pick my first peach. Imagine my dismay when the peaches finally came and I would walk out to see 5 or 10 peaches on the ground every day, most of them with just as bite taken out, and they were still hard and nowhere near ready to pick. But they were ready enough for the squirrels.
One day in particular, there were 24 unripe, damaged peaches on the ground. So of the 200 or so produced by the tree, we got to eat five. The other ones that I was forced to pick early finally softened but they weren’t sweet. And the ones I held out for until they were a bit soft, mostly had bruises and brown spots anyway.
I can’t say I didn’t try. I used a hot pepper spray, stuffed beach balls into the tree, tied dangling CDs from the branches, traps, plastic hawks, and a rubber snake. Nothing worked. And the tree became a source of stress and anxiety of what was coming next year. So it’s gone. The gardener dug it up today. Watching him carry it away was sad. You win, you mangy, rat-faced, no-good, low-life, beady-eyed, scum-sucking, peach-eating squirrel. But don’t be a stranger… my pomegranates are coming next.
I love to bake. And I love peach pie. So it’s a natural that I would make an awesome peach pie from the juicy peaches on my tree. I have fought off the mangy, rat-faced, no-good, low-life, beady-eyed, scum-sucking, peach-eating squirrel for weeks with my plastic snake, putting beach balls in the tree, tying cd’s to the branches to spin in the wind, I put my plastic hawk next to the tree, and a trap underneath with peach bait inside. All for nothing. The squirrel never gave up, finding new and inventive ways to steal my peaches.
Even though he had already taken most of the fruit off my tree, I was happy to get what I could. I managed to pick a few last week but it was too early and they weren’t sweet at all. So I decided to wait, watching them every day, squeezing to see if they were ready, happy that the squirrel was leaving some good ones for me. In fact there were a couple of branches with rows of peaches… just enough for my pie.
Besides the 15 peaches here, there were still a few on the rest of the tree. I checked them all on Saturday and decided my luck wouldn’t last forever so I would just pick them all on Sunday, ready or not, and make my pie. Sunday morning, I got a basket and headed for the tree ready to pick them all, starting with those long branches with 15 peaches. This is what I found…
WHAT!?! It can’t be! They were all here yesterday. I thought I had the wrong branch and pulled down the other branches – nothing. Every single peach was gone, even the other ones down below. There’s no way one squirrel could eat that much in one day. What did he do? Sound a battle horn to call every squirrel in the neighborhood to come to my house? “Hey, squirrel homies! The peaches are ready now! Let’s move!” Somebody give me a shovel. I’m digging up the tree. If I can’t have it, nobody else will either. I suppose it will leave a big hole in the ground and that could be a hazard. Gee, I hope nothing falls into the hole. What if he couldn’t get out? What if a net accidentally fell on top of him? Yes, I need a shovel… and some champagne.
It looks like we have another youngster in the family. But that means more mouths to feed. I just heard that some deer got into our next door neighbor’s backyard and ALL of their roses are gone, even the leaves! As cute as this little guy is… are those the biggest, cutest ears ever?! … oops, I got sidetracked with the cuteness… but I’m back. As cute as he is, if he gets inside my fence and eats all the flowers I will be very upset. But if he eats all my peaches, it’s payback time! I will lassoo him by the neck and drag his sorry ass back to his parents. How much is a lassoo anyway? I’ll use a rope – I don’t care. Aaaaaah, but look at that adorable, innocent face….. I take it all back. Here, have a peach.
All my future recipes and food-related posts can now be seen there.
For anyone who cooks or wants to cook healthier food, you’ll find lots of healthy printable recipes, food photos, and How-To videos.
Click here to visit “Jenny Can Cook!”
The flower fields in Lompoc were beautiful, although not what I expected. I thought they would all be in one huge valley all together but now I know they are farms and those farms are located all over the place. Some people gave us general directions where most of them were but then driving along the highway, you come around a bend and there’s one all by itself – a stunning carpet of orange and purple flowers. But more than the flowers, we saw acres and acres of grapes being grown. I forgot that we were in wine country. If I had known what was to come, I would have had a lot of wine before going in search of a Tilt-a-Whirl.
It was opening day at the Flower Festival so there were not a lot of people. And there was no Tilt-a-Whirl. But I found one that looked kind of like a tilt-a-whirl and the operator was just hanging around waiting for someone to ride. I bought the ticket, got on, and then two other kids got on, all about 8 years old. I was so excited! This would be my Tilt-a-Whirl. The music was loud and I was ready. It only took about 15 seconds for me to start screaming, “Stop! Stop!” I had no idea this thing would fly up into the air, start heaving down to the bottom, then up to the top… but that’s not all. The seats went vertical… but that’s not all. Then they started spinning!!! Got it? Loud music, flying up and down, seats VERTICAL and SPINNING! I was so scared and was screaming as loud as I could to stop. But the other kids were screaming for joy so he didn’t know the difference. Suddenly I remembered that someone died of a heart attack in an earthquake last year. You can die from fear!! Would I die up here? Would I pass out and fly out of the seat? I think I just peed on myself. He finally noticed me screaming and stopped the ride after about 4 hours (Denis says it was 30 seconds but he lies).
I had to be helped off the ride like an old person who can’t get out of a chair. My heart was pounding. My hands were shaking. I was crying and hyperventilating. I thanked the operator for stopping (I think I recognized him from the audience at the prison!). But all that’s not even the worst part. The operator had to start the ride back up for the other kids who seemed to have no problem with this death-trap called The Orbiter. The worst part was the looks I got from the kids for interrupting their ride. Can an 8-year-old girl be condescending? This bitch was.
The last time I was in Lompoc was in 1978 when my band played at the Lompoc Federal Prison. Don’t ask me how we got the gig – I have no idea. I remember going through all kinds of security as they searched us and our instruments. When we started playing, the prisoners’ cheering was so loud we could not hear our own music. We actually got out of sync and didn’t know it as we kept playing through the pandemonium. No one in the audience knew or cared that we were playing out of sync. They kept screaming for me to turn around and I thought maybe one of the prisoners got loose and was coming up behind me. Security guards were stationed at both sides of the stage but they didn’t move so I finally turned around and the crowd exploded. They just wanted to see my ass!
Fast forward to 2013… I’m gong back to Lompoc, but no prison this time. I always wanted to see the flower fields in Lompoc and we’re going tomorrow.
We had the most amazing thing happen yesterday. Denis and I were having tea in the backyard around 3:00, wondering if we might see the young deer again and all of a sudden a hawk swooped down and landed on a tree branch just 5 feet off the ground. He was right next to us! Maybe 25 feet away in a birch tree. The green leaves in the foreground are to top of a hydrangea bush. Before we saw him we heard his wings as he flew down. We sat motionless, afraid to even move an arm, knowing he’d fly away as fast as he landed. And I didn’t have my camera! “I have to try,” I said to Denis, “because the camera is just inside the door.” So I very slowly slid out of my chair and moved towards the door. I opened the door and it creaked a little and I was afraid to look back, knowing the noise would scare him away. But he stayed. I got my camera and slowly came back outside, in disbelief that he was still there and so close. I was so thrilled to get this photo. He stayed for about 5 minutes and then his giant wings opened up and he was gone.
Did you see my posting on May 16th when the baby deer got into the backyard? Well, mom and baby came around again today (not in the yard – just on the hill behind the house) and guess what? Its a boy! I wish I had a better picture but as soon as he saw me, he ran to momma! But you know I’ll be staking out the hill for more photos of this beautiful boy when his antlers start to grow. The way he was looking at me, I wonder what he was thinking… “Aren’t you the broad who was chasing me around the yard? Try and catch me now, lady!” Or maybe he was thinking, “What’s to eat? I ate all the flowers up here so… got any tomatoes?”