Basil Weary

September 30, 2021

I thought it was a nice day to harvest the remaining basil. I knew there’d be a lot, but I wasn’t prepared for a project that would last 6 1/2 hours!

It really just took about 10 minutes to cut most of it down. Some branches were so thick I needed pruning sheers .. but I didn’t want to go all the way into the garage to get them, so settled for whatever I could cut with kitchen sheers and left the rest. Unknown fact (unknown to me, that is, until this year): basil just grows back and back and back… and every time you harvest a good, long stem of it, it grows back a bit thicker. We had a TON of basil this year.

Note to self: next year, plant just one or two plants.

Here’s how much I harvested, on this, the last go-round for 2021!

Then plopped it into the sink to wash and de-stem:

A FULL two hours later, I had this many basil leaves:

I dried them and put them in a giant pile. Here is a wine bottle for scale…

I decided to make some more pesto… so gathered the ingredients and got to work. I quadrupled my usual recipe (8 cups of fresh basil, 8 cloves of garlic, 8 T of pinenuts, 2 cups of parmesan and 2 cups of olive oil).

Part one: finely mince basil, garlic and pine nuts.

Then added oil, and finally cheese. It smells like Italiian heaven.

(As you can see, I still have a giant mound of basil leaves left!!!)

I made 8 dinner’s worth of pesto or so… (I gave one jar to neighbor Mary when she dropped by in the middle of packing.)

Finally, I packed the raw leaves up into baggies for later use… and all of it went into the freezer (miraculously).

It’s worth noting, we enjoyed fresh basil all summer. The freezer already has a ton of surplus basil — in the form of both pesto and raw leaves.

Did I mention we’re only going to get one or two basil plants next year?

Oh.. To Be Five

September 29, 2021

Saw this picture today and it just brought up all manner of emotions. Way nostalgic for this very uncomplicated time.

Remember kindergarten and nap time? Isn’t this just the best? It isn’t, but that could be my kindergarten class (though that is NOT Mrs. Culp). I so remember the mat, the story time, the snack that preceded the nap… probably graham crackers and milk (the milk delivery, in the milk wagon, was managed by a couple of upper classmen — like… maybe 3rd or 4th graders?)…..

Oh man. Just wanna sack out on a mat and be read to. I wonder what she’s spinning on that record player?

A couple of me at approximately that vintage..

Every Day is Son’s Day

September 28, 2021

But, per Facebook anyway, today is National Son’s Day.

I’ll bite!!

Here is our pride ‘n joy..

I will never tell another person how to parent their child (I’ll pass my judgment .. but keep it to myself). And — and I mean this — I allow as how each kid is unique. A parent is the one who knows best that uniqueness and that kid’s needs, so it’s best if we outsiders just back off and let parents parent.

That said, here is what I learned while being a mom: love that kid to death. Love him. Support him. Make sure he knows you love and treasure him. Follow him. Let him plot the course and support that. Love him, whatever that course is. Respect him as a human being. Listen to what he says. Answer his questions. Be straight. That’s part of love.

Kids are meant to be loved. Wouldn’t we all be better if we grew up certain that we were loved and valued? Appreciated for exactly who we are?

We can all do this. Costs nada. Love them with everything we’ve got. They need it and deserve it. We brought them here (for which I’m sure they’ll be grateful one day), so our job is to parent them with love, attention and intention.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not a perfect mom. I’m sure I dropped the ball from time to time. But, for me, it’s been a ride of joy (didn’t want to call it a joy ride, because that sounds reckless!) from the get go.

I’ll never stop gushing. Parenting has been the highlight of my life.

Pure joy, pure love.

Tomatoes Every Whichway

September 27, 2021

So far this season, I’ve figured out roasting and sause-ing (thanks to friends who roast and sauce). Next stop on the tomato tour for this rookie tomato grower was dehydrating!

For this adventure, I took the advice of life long family friend, Lauren, who is truly the master of so, so many trades. She said, “get a dehydrator!,” so, of course, I did.

Here was the latest (and near last) batch of Early Girls, washed, cored and sliced…

…. into 3/4″ thick slices:

So red, juicy and flavorful!! Almost hated the idea of sucking all that goodness out. But.. proceeded gamely…

Next step was to place them on layered trays (I had enough for three full traysworth):

This thing is quite noisy, so I banished it to the laundry-pantry room (we still don’t have a name for this multipurpose heaven of a new space)…..

….where it motored (loudly) for about 11 hours.

I finally had to go to bed, so decided they were done and took them out and put them on a paper towel:

I just took a better pic of them:

These came out cruchy, well overdone, but FANTASTIC if you like tomato chips!

And the others were actually underdone, remaining a bit soft, so I decided those would be good stored in a jar with some olive oil and garlic…

Undoubtedly, there is a trick to this dehydrating business, but I’m sure I’ll get it down. I am totally ready for Tomato Season 2022! I am certain next year we will throw out not a SINGLE tomato.

Smile Worthy

September 26, 2021

A few things that made me smile today:

And finally this… which is a photo someone took and posted to one of my favorite FB groups: Crap Wildlife Photography (where folks celebrate the worst of our efforts in photographing wildlife).

I actually think it’s a wonderful photo!

Dog Tired

September 25, 2021

Too pooped to pop, so I’m not going to blog tonight. But if I did, I’d brag about the job I did cleaning up the garden this afternoon (read: 86’d a buncha veggies past their productive lives), or I’d really brag about an apple crisp I made… but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Speaking of dogs, if I were ever to get one, I think I might like one (or two) of these. This picture totally makes me want a dog (or two). It also makes me want to kayak in Alaska. Just saying.

(I’m pretty sure those are Rhodesian Ridgebacks.) (The photo is from a Facebook ad I’m getting a lot lately for a foldable kayak, which looks pretty cool, I must say.)

There’s Always a First Time

September 24, 2021

I have made a lot of things in my long kitchen life that contain tomatoes. Of course. But I don’t believe I’ve actually ever made tomato sauce.. mostly because I don’t really like tomato sauce.. mostly because I don’t really like the spices that most people put in tomato sauce. Tomato sauce has been on my lifelong list of things I don’t eat (that includes most beans, peas, and weird stuff).

But… if I’m honest, it’s not that I really dislike tomato sauce — because I actually do like most of the ingredients — it’s just that, to me, all tomato sauce tastes the same and, worse, most of them taste like they came out of a jar. I never want tomato sauce on my pizza, rarely like traditional tomato sauce on my pasta… etc.

I’ve always regretted that I don’t have a kitchen/recipe portfolio of family favorites, go-tos for certain staples of family dining, like mom’s lasagne, mom’s chocolate cake, mom’s Thanksgiving dressing, mom’s meatloaf.. you get the idea. Come to think of it, It might be less about the recipe and more about my failures as a mom! During most of Peter’s life, Jim was the cook in the family. This is, clearly, my biggest mom failing. I will take that regret to the grave.

But I’m cooking now.

And feel pretty righteous about it. (If a bit late to the party.)


Anyway. I made tomato sauce yesterday.

This is all part of the what the hell do we do with all these tomatoes?? phenomenon. The subject of many a facebook post seeking advice.

Last week, I roasted great gobs of cherry tomatoes and am quite pleased with the result (blogged already, don’t worry if you missed it). This week, it’s tomato sauce.

Went with Ann’s recipe!

Started with ten pounds of tomatoes. We are getting to the end of the early girls (the beef steaks completed their run a week ago, and it wasn’t much of a run). To get to the ten pounds called for in the recipe, I supplemented with a handful of cherries.

Cored and cut them (did not skin, but coulda) into large-ish pieces and placed them in the big, heavy calphalon pot. Added fresh rosemary and basil from the garden; added fresh thyme (which I could have picked from the garden, but for some reason asked Jim to get some at the Coop, and he did, so I used that); roughly chopped garlic; kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Mixed it well, covered it, and brought it to a simmer on low. This was supposed to take 20 minutes, but it took an hour and 15 minutes (prolly too thick a pot, and too low a temp).

Once it had a good simmer going, I removed the lid and let it rip (now on med-low to maintain the action), stirring fairly often (except when watching an episode of Offspring). This part of the sauce cooking went on for almost three hours. It still seemed a bit watery to me, but I wanted to go to bed, so called it done. Put it in the refrigerator for the night.

This is what it looked like this morning:

Pretty good, huh?

I decided to puree a portion of it, just to see how that would come out:

That too seems good, no?

Then I jarred everything (those are pint jars)….

… and found places for them all in the freezer (quite a feat). Between the six packets of roasted tomatoes and these six jars of tomato sauce, we’ll have taste-o-summer all winter!

Because I made it, it doesn’t taste like store-bought (to me). I can’t say I love it, but I love that I made it.

Coupla Top Dogs

September 23, 2021

Somebody had some pull (hint: it wasn’t me). I say this because on a very busy night in the US House of Representatives, when members were on the floor voting on some very high profile pieces of legislation, on their way to advancing key elements of President Biden’s legislative agenda, and maneuvering every which way on the huge infrastructure and reconciliation budget bills, the Speaker of the House herself, and our very own Congressman, were on a Zoom call with little ol’ us.. 100 of us Davis folks!

Hats off to the organizers (the VERBS, a small group of Davis friends, all of whom have pretty significant experience in the realms of politics and elections, oh.. and some great connections) who made all the arrangements for tonight’s fundraiser. I mean really! A Thursday evening online fundraiser for a race that is 13 months away.. with two very top dogs as guests on an otherwise very newsworthy night of legislative sausage making.

It’s not hard to get a congressman to show up for his own fundraiser (especially when it has been recently learned that he is one of four California congress members being targeted in 2022 by republican strategists who think, with newly drawn district lines, he may be vulnerable, and they’d love to take a seat from a very popular representative in a solid and safe blue district) because raising money is a huge part of the job. But tonight was tricky, and he had to excuse himself a couple of times to go vote.

Here he is standing outside the Capitol. When they needed him for a vote, he’d skidaddle off, but then he’d come back.

What surprised me, though, was that Nancy Pelosi was able to Zoom in. And she stayed on when John G. had to go vote so she could answer our questions. It’s not like she didn’t have a trillion things on her mind tonight as she’s been marshaling her members, or meeting with Biden, or strategizing next steps in a legislative session people are calling historic. I’d seen her on the news this afternoon, surrounded by reporters yelling questions at her about whether she could unite the seemingly intractable factions of congressional democrats. All day long, commentators have been in a tizzy about which wing might capitulate — the moderate dems or the progressive dems — or whether either would, rendering Biden’s entire agenda toast. She kept saying this is how the process works, stay calm, she was calm, they are where she wants them to be, all will be resolved by the Monday deadline. Everything rides on whatever solution she can guide her members toward, and everyone says she’s got this.

Does this look like a woman who is worried?

It’s not a great picture (a random screen shot), but I will say she was relaxed and told some funny stories about knowing John for 40 years and about a party they went to back when their kids were wee ones.

Well, it was fun to be a little part of their evening and hear about what’s currently on the docket, what’s at stake, their optimism for the outcome of votes in the days and weeks to come, the urgency to hang onto the House, etc.

Before the call, we’d already raised $35,000. The VERBS asked everyone to give a little more after the call. It will be interesting to see how much more we raised.

One Quarter Century Down..

September 21, 2021

That, above, was the logo on our wedding invitations 25 years ago. It’s a Maurice Sendak (maybe I didn’t need to say that) from the cutest little children’s book ever, “Open House for Butterflies.” We also put the logo on T-shirts we gave anyone who helped us throw our wedding party. I still smile at that.

Lucky me, being married to Jim. I can hardly imagine a person who could weather and sustain life with me so well. It is said that couples complement each other, that each seeks a person who balances them out. There are many, many ways in which Jim and I are different — which is to be expected and assumed — and as many ways in which we are a great, great match. But it’s the balancing act I appreciate the most, the ways in which he provides clarity to my muddle; focus to my scatter; principles to my inner devil; answers to my questions and solutions to my problems.

Super bonus for all the things we enjoy together — including each other’s company — and the many ways we’ve grown and become a well-oiled unit over the 25 years.

And an A+ for our best project ever, one Peter Keaton Frame. ‘Nuff said, right? Once we decided to have a kiddo, being great parents and creating a great family became our number one job. Sending Peter out into the world well-prepared and able to be a compassionate, thoughtful, contributing member of the global community is the highlight of my life. Jim’s too. I would not want to do that with anybody else, ever. As I said, lucky me. And lucky Peter, too.

It’s been a great way to spend 25 years of marriage.

Funnily enough, in our cards to one another, we both wrote (lengthily at that!) on similar themes. And that’s a good thing, too!

Here’s the stuff we gave each other to mark the day:

In keeping with tradition, we give each other gifts that reflect the material of the year…. this year silver (duh). Jim always makes his gifts … I do my best to find something that works. Jim found (bought) a quarter from 1956 that was 90% silver. Cool! He stamped it with a 2 and a 5 and bolted it onto that little bridge.

The bridge is an exact replica of the bridge we got married on in our backyard. He made it out of the wood used in making the original bridge, a bridge we had to tear down a couple of years ago when we extended the entire west edge of our house by twelve feet! It was very traumatic to see the bridge go down.. so much happened on that thing (which I wrote about). But Jim saved the wood. Two years ago he made a wooden box thing for our 23rd, and that was cool, but this year’s mini-bridge, using that old redwood, was inspired.

Here’s the original, on our wedding day:

I definitely have better wedding photos… but for some reason, I can’t find our wedding album at the moment. Did find, in the wedding box, a collage of tiny black and white photos shot by our friend Ruth .. so at least the bridge is shown. Also, looks like something out of the last century! (Which it was.)

My gift to Jim also went with the silver theme. It’s a crafty gift I found on Etsy, made by a fellow in merry olde England. Insofar as the family figures are silver (not solid) and sit on a box that says “25 years!,” I thought if fit the bill! (I customized the box’s inscription, but his whole art portfolio comprises anniversary gifts that celebrate family.)

And our cards. As I said above, we each wrote about the things we love about each other, our marriage, and how Peter’s our life’s joy.

So there!


And we went to dinner. Because: anniversary. No real pictures of that, but here’s one that Jim snapped and sent to Peter. I like it. We ate at Ella, in Sac. Deciding what to eat is serious, brow-furrowing, lip-pursing business (it appears).

Finally: I found these, when looking around on the Interwebs for 25th anniversary ideas…. and they’re kinda interesting! They provide a bit of a glimpse of the era..

Forget Me Not

September 20, 2021

I went to the freezer the other day to fetch some chocolate — I love frozen chocolate chips — and found this…

… which gave me a start.

Took me a moment to figure out what that gross thing was, but I did: A beer that’d been forgotten, exploded and then froze.

Jim, Jim, Jim.

Here’s another look after we fished it out (being careful not to cuts selves on the glass):

I blame this on aging. I mean, having a beer is a nightly routine for Jim: Workout; futz around in garage until 6:00; come into kitchen and place a beer in the freezer; take shower; retrieve beer and take it to office; mess around on computer drinking beer til 7:00; come into kitchen to work on dinner (or eat, if I cooked). Somehow he skipped that beer retrieval step.

[Note: on this particular night, we were going to pub quiz at DeVere’s. Therefore, we were skipping dinner at home and the whole first part of the routine was time-shifted to accommodate a 5:45 departure. Jim gets a slight break on forgetting the beer under those circumstances. But only slight, right? He left the beer in the freezer! No breaks for that.]