Monday, June 30, 2008 

Who knew my "tribe"

was into making wine?
...Dr. Slotte, a 29-year-old physician, is one of a growing number of people in Finland and some neighboring countries who, as global temperatures climb, are turning to winemaking. The grapes he plants are hardy, weather-resistant varieties, including a cross between a Latvian and a Siberian strain.

...To protect his vines from the cold, Dr. Slotte employs other tricks besides spraying them with water, as orange growers do in Florida to beat the occasional freeze. He lays insulation boards over the plants in winter and prunes the vines so that in summer the grapes lie close to the ground, where they can absorb warmth from the soil. One of his varieties, a Latvian vine, can survive temperatures as low as 22 below.

Life in the archipelago
Originally uploaded by apaar.

Glad to hear the vine can survive 22 below..don't think I could.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008 

Wine isn't just for drinking, ya know!

There was some fantastic winebased jellies at the Santa Barbara Wine Festival yesterday from Preferred Jams & Jellies (4123 Mayfield Street, Orcutt, CA / 805-310-4566.) They had several varietals they used in jams, Chardonnay, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, but I was particularly partial to the White Zinfandel jelly. Seems like it could be a great holiday gift giving item. I'm not a real "jam or jelly" maker myself, so I will probably put in some orders, but, I found a recipe for making your own on Recipezaar if you want to concoct your own!


3 cups white zinfandel wine
1 (1 3/4 ounce) box sure-jell fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine (optional)
4 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

Bring boiling water canner, half-full with water, to simmer.
Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water, rinse with warm water.
Pour boiling water over the flat lids in saucepan off the heat.
Let sand in hot water until ready to use.
Measure the wine into a 6 or 8 quart saucepan.
Stir pectin into wine in the saucepan.
Add butter (if desired) to reduce foaming.
Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that does not stop bubbling when stirred) on high leat, stirring constantly.
Stir in all sugar quickly.
Bring to full rolling boil and allow to boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8" of rim.
Wipe jar rims and threads.
Screw bands tightly.
Place jars on elevated rack in canner.
Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches, add boiling water if needed.
Cover, bring to a gentle boil and process for 5 minutes.
Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely.
After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger, if it springs back, it did not seal completely and refrigeration would be necessary.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008 

See you at the Santa Barbara Wine Festival!

2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara

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Friday, June 27, 2008 

Flickr Foto Friday

Straciatella Tortoni Cake with Espresso Fudge Sauce (1)
Originally uploaded by creampuffsinvenice.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 

My Beloved Big Sur

might just become a shadow of our tears instead of smiles....if the flames continue to move forward.

(Opening scene of the 1965 film, The Sandpiper, starring Liz & Dick....showcasing the amazing beauty of "the Sur.")

California officials closed a stretch of the state's scenic coastal highway around historic Big Sur on thursday as a wildfire threatened 500 homes in the remote area known for its contemplative retreats.

Firefighters have been battling hundreds of blazes across California sparked by lightning strikes over the past weekend, including two that merged into the single fire around Big Sur, an artists' haven that was once home to writer Henry Miller.

The Big Sur fire has burned more than 23,500 acres (9,510 hectares) and destroyed 16 homes and two other buildings.

Big Sur, on California's central coast, is heavily wooded, with steep slopes running down to the Pacific Ocean. The terrain creates one of California's most dramatic landscapes -- and slow going for almost 700 firefighters on the scene. -

Say a little prayer for those up in The Sur and hope that legendary spots like
Nepenthe, Esalen, Big Sur Lodge, The Campgrounds, The Post Ranch Inn and Bixby Bridge remain standing...uncharred.

Keep abreast of the fire via Xasauan Today

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I needed a laugh....

more cat pictures

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Monday, June 23, 2008 


California fires - northern & central coast. Jesus.
Originally uploaded by Gino.

We're on fire again...alot.

Sunday, June 22, 2008 


June 28, 2008.
The Santa Barbara Wine Festival is back for another year of deliciousness...are you ready?
Wine Festival central coast
60 wineries and 30 food booths await wine and food afficionados. Funds raised at this beloved community event benefit the museum's free children's programs. Over 40,000 children visit the museum free each year with guided tours by trained scientists, docents and educators.
And, this year, the festival is going "green and sustainable"

Reserve your tickets now by calling Meredith at (805) 682-4711 xt. 112. Tell her "cookie jill" sent you. You'll get a little delightful "surprise."

▪ Alexander and Wayne
▪ Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards
▪ Andrew Murray Vineyards
▪ Arthur Earl
▪ Au Bon Climat Winery
▪ Babcock Winery & Vineyards
▪ Beckmen Vineyards
▪ Bedford Thompson Winery & Vineyards
▪ Brander Vineyard
▪ Byron
▪ Calcareous Vineyard
▪ Cambria
▪ Carr Vineyards and Winery
▪ Cass Vineyards and Winery
▪ Chateau Margene
▪ Cottonwood Canyon Vineyards and Winery
▪ Demetria
▪ Donati Family Vineyard
▪ Eagle Castle Winery
▪ Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines
▪ Fiddlehead Cellars
▪ Flying Goat Cellars
▪ Foxen
▪ Guy Riedel Wines
▪ Huber Cellars ▪ Hunt Cellars
▪ IO
▪ Kalyra
▪ La Vie Vineyards
▪ Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
▪ Melville Vineyards and Winery
▪ Michael Grace Wines
▪ Midlife Crisis Winery
▪ Millesime Cellars
▪ Mosby Winery and Vineyards
▪ Opolo Vineyards
▪ Oreana
▪ Palmina Vineyards & Winery
▪ Presidio
▪ Prodigal Wines
▪ Qupé
▪ Rancho Sisquoc Winery
▪ RN Estate Vineyard
▪ Santa Barbara Cellars Wine Storage
▪ Stolpman
▪ Sunstone Vineyards & Winery
▪ Sylvester Vineyards and Winery
▪ Tablas Creek Vineyard
▪ Tolosa
▪ Westerly Vineyards
▪ Whitcraft Winery

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Friday, June 20, 2008 

Please subscribe today!

EDIBLE SAN FRANCISCO. It's a GREAT magazine. You won't be disappointed, really.

Here's a note from Bruce Cole, a great blogger and the terrific publisher of Edible San Francisco....

Farmers in Iowa and other midwestern states have been devastated by recent flooding. The following is a dispatch from Wendy Wasserman, publisher of Edible Iowa River Valley.

EIRV is proud to be part of an emerging coalition specifically dedicated to the plight of the smaller farmers/producers in Iowa who have been hit hard by our severe weather disasters this spring.We are hearing horrible stories from some of the farmers/producers we work with who have suffered catastrophic losses. Some have endured significant property, equipment, and crop losses. Some are weeks, if not months, behind in planting because the ground is too wet. Some are totally underwater. We’ve heard from CSA farmers who have had to suspend their operations, produce farmers who have lost 2-3 plantings of heritage crops, other farmers who can only get in/out of their property by boat, and yet others who have lost barns, greenhouses and crucial equipment to winds, rains and floods. For those who have survived unscathed, we know of several farmers markets that have been washed away or otherwise impacted, thereby preventing producers from getting their goods to market.

In light of this vast disaster, an emerging Iowa based coalition has partnered with Farm Aid to develop an emergency fund specifically for small and independent farmers. Willie Nelson is coming to Iowa this weekend to formally get things going, and Farm Aid has also launched an online campaign (
click here to donate).

If there is one thing I’ve been reminded of this season, it is that a natural disaster can come anytime and anywhere and wipe out entire networks in a blink. It could happen in any of our communities without rhyme, reason or warning. The producers that we all know and love - the same ones that are the anchors of the local food system - are the most vulnerable to such a catastrophe. Supporting these producers in their most critical time of need is a way we can make our local and regional food systems stronger for the long term.

Subscribe to Edible San Francisco today and we'll donate 100% of your subscription to the Iowa Farm Aid fund (valid 6/19/08 - 07/01/08).
I challenge all my fellow food bloggers to support, not only a great blogger, Bruce Cole (formerly of Saute Wednesday), but the cause of helping out those who produce our food and who were devastated by the flooding. You get a subscription to a wonderful magazine, too.

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flickr foto friday

Originally uploaded by Scott Hermann.

cookie baker in training! look at that smile! ;-)

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Thursday, June 19, 2008 

The Restaurant You Don't Want To Try

The Restaurant You Don't Want To Try
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 

Unfortunately...when we talk about offshore drilling

We're only thinking about easing automobile traffic. We're not thinking about the "traffic" passing by in the Santa Barbara Channel. Dolphins. Sharks. Fish. Lobsters. Crabs. Sea Lions. And, the most amazing of them all.....the whales!

Oil drilling and spills not only destroy the local economy and the various neighborhoods in town....they also harm our beloved neighbors in the sea.

Sorry to get a little "preachy"....but this is a hot button issue and not many consider the wider effects of our inability to conserve more, use less and go for "quick fixes" to our problems.

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No More Drilling Off Our Coast

Originally uploaded by dsearls.

We've already had one disasterous environmental catastrophe...we don't need another.

Let's try conserving our resources first.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 

God Speed

Cyd Charisse - mgm portrait
Originally uploaded by The Happy Wanderer.

Cyd Charisse.

I always thought she was the classiest lady in Hollywood. I just admired her dancing ability and what little girl really didn't want her fabulous name and dance partners?

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The Political Cookie Campaign

is getting kinda ugly, too. Seems that one "candidate" was caught with someone else's "dough."
Wonkette and the Huffington Post alert us to this culinary "cat fight"

A few months ago, John McCain’s second and current wife, Cindy, was caught stealing recipes from the Food Network and publishing them as her own material, a
simple lapse of ethics that you’re supposed to learn, and master, at age four. To atone for this, Cindy fired a hapless intern. But the
problem was systemic! Cindy has contributed another recipe, to Parents magazine. This recipe for Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies was, of course, directly cribbed from Hershey’s website.
Cookies have made Presidential Campaign chitterchatter before, too, when Hillary Clinton was chastised for declaring that she didn't want to stay home and bake cookies when campaigning for her husband.

Cookies have a long political history with Presidents (or is it vice versa?)...there is even a book on the history of the President's favorite cookies.....

But...can't we all just get along...and bake? Reach across the (hot ovens) aisles?

Speaking of Presidents, from Monticello, we find the following muffin recipe was enjoyed by Thomas Jefferson and his family.

Monticello Muffins

4 cups of flour
1 1/2 packets of yeast
1 1/2 cups water
cast iron griddle

Mix flour, yeast, and water. Dough will be very sticky. Coat your hands in flour before kneading the dough. While kneading, continue to add small amounts of flour to the dough until the stickiness disappears and the dough becomes more solid. You may find you add as much as 1/2 cup more flour during this process.

Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with a towel, and leave in a warm place overnight. The dough should more than double by morning. The underside of the dough may be a bit sticky -- if so, knead it a bit more. Using your hands, shape the muffins into small golf-ball sized balls. Set the muffins aside, cover with a towel, and let rise for an hour.

Preheat ungreased griddle over medium heat. Add shaped muffins to griddle and cook for about five minutes on each side.

The muffins will look like biscuits on the outside and English muffins on the inside. Serve immediately. Makes two dozen small muffins.

-- developed from the original recipe by Monticello staff members Susan McCrary and Katherine G. Revell

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Friday, June 13, 2008 

Flickr Foto Friday

Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

Jam at our local Farmer's Market

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 

Killer Tomatoes come to life!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008 

I "heart" tomatoes

Think Pasta Sauce
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

And this salmonella scare isn't California's fault.

Even though the government on Tuesday cleared fresh tomatoes grown in Florida and California of any responsibility in the outbreak, growers smell doom, predicting consumers will stay away from one of the joys of summer. - SFGate

The FDA has put California on the list of suppliers not linked to the outbreak. But some supermarkets still rejected tomatoes from that state, which is the No. 2 U.S. producer with $400 million in annual sales.

"The reality is that the entire tomato industry is being impacted," said Ed Beckman, president of the California Tomato Farmers. "It wasn't really clear that round and Romas from California are safe to eat. That's part of the problem." -
Fellow Californians (and, yes Floridians...)...go love up your local tomato grower...Show them some juicy love by buying their product.

It's Farmer's Market day here in Santa Barbara. I challenge my fellow local bloggers to support our local farmers by buying some tomatoes tonight at the market. I'll be watching out for y'all!

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Friday, June 06, 2008 

Happy National Donut Day

randy's donuts with boeing 747. inglewood, ca. 2006.
Originally uploaded by eyetwist.

Celebrated the first Friday in June, National Donut Day honors that sweet, deep-fried ball of joy known as the doughnut. (Probably) invented and brought to the Unites States of American by European immigrants in the late 1700s or early 1800s, doughnuts have achieved widespread appeal as a snack food for their unique marriage of starch, sugar and fat. Whether it's plain-raised, buttermilk, old fashioned, a maple bar, and apple fritter, ajelly donut, a French cruller, or Homer Simpson's iconic pink-iced, rainbow-sprinkled version, it's all good on National Donut Day - Latte Times

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Thursday, June 05, 2008 

Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say why not?


Tuesday, June 03, 2008 

I've been busy working at the Elections Office...

But I'm looking forward to time off and summer BBQ's. So, too, are the folks at Hearst Ranch. I received this Hearst Ranch email in my inbox the other day...and it's so good (as is the meat) I have to share it.

Hearst Ranch Summer Kickoff! 50% off Ribeyes until 6/21/08
Coupon Code: ribeyefifty offer expires 6/21/08
I was driving up Highway 101 last week between the Ranch and San Francisco on a
quintessential California Spring day, when I was overcome by the very sudden
and very tangible feeling of SUMMER. In an instant I found myself in
the grip an insatiable desire for a grilled Hearst Ranch Grass-Fed Ribeye. As I had a few hours of driving ahead of me, it took a herculean effort to suppress my appetite. However, I succeeded and I hastily lit up the grill immediately upon
returning home. When the fire was perfect, it grilled up a few medium-rare
steaks for my family.It was tremendous feast and as I sat in the fading
twilight after dinner I decided that all of our customers need a good reason
to celebrate the beginning of Summer.

Therefore we will be offering 50% off Ribeyes on until the official first day of summer 6/21/08.Simply put your ribeyes into the shopping cart and use the following coupon code: ribeyefifty in the coupon code box.

and speaking of Hearst, there is the beloved "Castle" celebrating 50 years of public tours....

The narrow road, flanked by endless open hills and towering trees, sharply darts from one bend to the next. It rises, as if without end, to the turrets only partially visible above the trees.

Even from a distance, it seems apropos that something so unimaginable a century ago, at least in America, would bear so many names: "The Ranch," an understatement given how much more the estate would become; "America's Castle," a moniker that has stood the test of time; and "La Cuesta Encantada," enchanted hill, indeed.

Nothing like this estate, in its entirety, exists anywhere else in the world, something the California State Parks must have realized when the Hearst family donated the property to the state in 1957. The retreat that once entertained Hollywood's elite opened its doors to the public a year later.

Now, 50 years later, more than half a million visitors annually ascend the hill for a peek into the home and life of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. To celebrate its 50 years of public tours, Hearst Castle will offer the "Experience Tour" for free on a first-come, first-served basis on June 2. This tour, recommended for first-time visitors, showcases the Esplanade, Casa del Sol guesthouse and five ground-floor rooms of Casa Grande, the 68,500-square-foot main house. - Inside
Bay Area

Hearst Ranch...Hearst Castle...both tastefully wonderful

Neptune Pool
Originally uploaded by santa barbarian.

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