Basil Jelly

20171029_070431When was the last time you saw something like basil jelly in the grocery store?  I never have, but I know it exists because my mom would make it from scratch.  That’s the wonderful thing about making your own goodies is that you get to have so many options available to you.

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Apple Pectin Jams & Jellies

Really, sometimes there’s no school like old school.  I’m pretty darned sure the settlers didn’t have a box of pectin in the back of the wagon.  They just used fruit, water, and sugar.  That’s it.  They relied on natural sources of pectin and just a slight bit of patience.  No food colors, no gelling enhancers.

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Fire Starter “Bombs”

18320441_10212687574287211_1463363137956079849_oWinter is on it’s way, for some of you sooner than others.  We are in the “others” category.  It’s almost Halloween and it was in the mid 80s today.  None-the-less, the night time temperatures are dropping, and the forecast shows that the inevitable is on it’s way…cold days.  I’m not complaining.

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Shrimp with Tomatoes & Feta (Garides Saganaki)

20171025_201709erdfWherever you are in Greece, some sort of body of water is likely to be near.  Unsurprisingly, seafood is a common ingredient in many dishes.  This particular one marries a few traditional Greek flavors into one hearty, tasty, lick-the-bowl-clean meal.

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Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)

20181126_195709Salvias (sages) are a wide-ranging group of plants native to a variety of habitats around the world.  What they seem to have in common are brightly colored, tubular shaped flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies just love.  This particular Sage is no exception, and has the added bonus of sweet smelling leaves that give off a pineapple scent (hence the name).  The leaves and flowers are both edible, and are usually used fresh.

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Feta & Dried Tomato Frittata

20171021_125218[1]Frittatas are a wonderfully easy way to whip up an any-time-of-the-day meal.  They can be very nutritiously balanced, all in one pan, and are one of those meals that can help you clean up leftovers in the refrigerator.  Technically this is an Italian dish, but I use feta cheese in mine, and I was taught how to make them by a Greek woman, so it’s close enough! Continue reading Feta & Dried Tomato Frittata

Home-Made Soil Acidifier

20171019_172357[1]The majority of plants can handle soil that is near a neutral pH, but some are really picky and they will let you know before long if you don’t give them the soil environment that they need.  Stunted growth and yellowing leaves are some of the more common signs that your soil pH is not where it should be.

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Baked Pears

20181020_164329Pears are fussy things.  Every fall you wait for them to get past the hard and tasteless stage and to move on to juicy tenderness, and just when you think you nailed that perfect moment, it turns out you completely missed it and you wind up with mushy or mealy blobs.  Ugh. Continue reading Baked Pears

Liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua)

20151121_154124We inherited these trees when we moved into this house roughly a decade ago.  We actually had nine, but a desire to completely change the landscaping on the entire property has whittled that number down to two.  No regrets.

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Greek Coffee

20171015_152235The weather is finally starting to cool down a bit.  I know what you’re thinking: it’s the middle of October, of course it’s cooling down!  Um, I live in the middle of California.  It’s going to be near 90 degrees tomorrow.  Things are relative, you know?  So what this all means is that it’s time to switch out from our refreshingly cool iced frappes to our hot and comforting Greek coffees for our mid-day caffeine fix.

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Friend or Foe? Ladybug (Coccinellidae)

20170925_175242Most definitely friend!!  Though this bizarre looking creature may give you the heebie-jeebies just looking at it, you will want to welcome them with open arms.  You are looking at the juvenile stage of everyone’s favorite aphid-eater: the ladybug!

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Eggs with Tomatoes and Feta (Strapatsada)

20180825_130055Imagine you’re living in a small Greek village.  It’s summer, the rising sun is warming the air, birds are starting their morning routine, and you are awoken by the braying of a donkey and the cackling of a proud hen that has just laid her egg for the day.  What do you do?  You go make breakfast, because with all that noise you aren’t falling back asleep anytime soon!

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California Fuchsia “Silver Select” (Epilobium canum ssp.)

It was by pure accident that I discovered California fuchsias.  The Old Man and I were in the process of transforming our dull, and rather dead (thank you drought), yard into a more water-wise and heat tolerant landscape.  An internet search for drought tolerant plants to use led us to the discovery of a nursery, not too terribly far away in the neighboring foothills, that specializes in California native plants, which by their nature are rather used to not getting much rain.

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Tuna Salad with a Greek Twist

20171004_173203I know what you’re thinking. Tuna salad? Really? Yes! I know it’s not sexy, but tuna salad sandwiches are one of my family’s favorites. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. Maybe it’s a Greek thing, but I have always been fond of this variety of seafood. Perhaps it’s stamped onto my “Greek DNA”, but I’m good with it!

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

20171002_174445There are a few herbs that are routinely featured in Greek cuisine, and rosemary is one of them.  Often paired with garlic (of course!), it adds a distinct flavor to stews and meats.  I prefer to use it fresh, but if you have home-dried rosemary it works just as well.  I have not been as impressed with commercial dried rosemary, so if you have the space to grow your own it is well worth the effort.

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