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  • a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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Good reads, grownups only

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I hope you are feeling better! Those blueberries really do look pornographically delicious!

aura carmi

Hi Sara,

Sorry, I am about to post out of chronological order.

First, though my blues are not nearly as good as New England blueberries, I am SOOO happy that I don't have to buy them any more. Yes, this year was the first time that I truly grew all of the blues that we desired. (Well, that we mostly desired... We would need an infinite number to truly satisfy ALL of the blueberry desires.) Additionally, even with about 16 producing bushes, I still do not make enough to make a pie. Alas, all of my pies are out of frozen blues since none of the fresh ones make it out of the orchard.

Why are your hairy dog muffins hairy? Why are they dogs? Oh, sorry, just went back and checked, they are "Hair of the ice-cream dog" but I still don't get the name. I am going to make them tomorrow as I do have fresh peaches in excess on the trees!

Lastly, you are still up there in google. Yes, you are number three for blueberry pie! WOW! That is so AWESOME! How did you find out? Why were you googling blueberry pie to begin with?

Finally, while we are talking about fruit pies... You probably know this, or have your own opinion on it at least, but it is really tasty to mix many varieties of stone fruit into one pie! I usually just take whatever is getting over-ripe, white and yellow nectarines, white and yellow peaches, apricots, plums and throw them all into one great big pie or cobbler. It is much more flavorful than a single fruit pie. I, too, use tapioca and mine also are runny as by the time the fruit sees the pie, it is running with tons of sweet, syrupy juice.

Thanks for calling me the queen of family cooking!

aura carmi

One more out of order comment...Below yu say, "Come on Sara, my family can't live on pie and summer salad alone..."My family does live on pie and summer salad. Protein, who needs it when we have an orchard full of yumminess? I guess we do have a handful of almonds, some eggs or a bit of tofu and a bowl of rice. (Not exactly protein, but at least not sugary fruit.)However, we truly do live, about70% - 80%, on what the orchard brings. (Especially this year with the cost of food!)

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso

Wow, can't even imagine what would've happened if they had opened LATE. Yikes!


Michelle of SmoochDog: Thank you! I feel much better. (I think the blueberries and the 20-hour nap helped.)

And yes, porn, true porn. Enormous, naked, wet, organically grown blueberries. Tell me you're not excited.

Aura! I'm so happy to see you here. I do not care about the order of comments; as I have remarked to others, commenting here is not a graded exercise.

Yes, you are the queen of meal planning. Everyone who knows you knows this, and we are all in awe of your power and skill. Also, re pies, I like to mix not just stone fruit but stone fruit with berries (like the white peach/white nectarine/raspberry pie I made Monday). It just depends on what I have on hand. Another local favorite is strawberry-rhubarb, which I have never made because I have no idea how to prepare rhubarb, but this is not an insurmountable problem, so someday...

The Google thing I found out because I can see what search strings bring people here and from which search engines. All of a sudden, most of my traffic was from queries on Google for "blueberry pie," so I hit one of the links out of curiosity, et voilà! There I was at #2. I have since dropped to #4, then bobbed back up to #3, but for me even to be on the first page is something I find quite hilarious. I do not claim it is the world's greatest or the world's easiest; I was only writing about it at all to distract myself from stress so I could write something else that I thought was actually pretty important.

Just so you know, I hold the #1 spot in Google searches for "Jesus toes" and #2 spot for "three-legged pig joke." Or, at least I did last time I checked. My true love is very, very proud of these "accomplishments." hahahaha

Thank you for pointing out eggs and tofu. I like to keep a bowl of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge, too, for easy-access protein. Tofu is trickier in my house because I am the only one who will ever choose it. My true love says he likes it but that he still feels hungry after eating a tofu-centric meal. So yes, you can have a block on hand, and it is very convenient and very inexpensive, but you have to live in a household of people who will be satisfied with a tofu-centric meal. Of course, it's another great addition to a salad, as are nuts in households where there are no nut allergies.

Michelle of Bleeding Espresso: I know. Some people sadly live in a state of the chronic half-empties. However, these organic blueberries -- which cost $6 a pint basket, BTW -- are only here for a very short time, and are often completely gone by 11:15 or 11:30. Or sometimes they don't show up 'til 12:00 or later. So it gets very difficult to hit right when they appear, and they appear so very briefly, that I do understand the crotchetiness!

I hope you know that I did not make this post to torture you. However, please note that my friend Aura, in a rare comment appearance at this blog further up the page, lives in Somis, CA, which is the northern part of southern California, and she grows her own blueberries. It has taken her some effort and careful attention to get them to grow there, but as you can see, she is thrilled with the results. Also, a lady in Florida visiting my blueberry pie post from Google (!) told me she had just moved to a plot of land, cleared it, and discovered blueberry plants! She is psyched, and I am happy for her.

So my point is, if Aura can grow blueberries in southern California, and if this other person can find them growing wild in Florida of all places, I'm thinking you can grow them in Calabria once you and P move to your future home. We just have to figure out how to get you the plants, and what species will be happiest in that very-much-like-SoCal climate and terrain.

It can be done. I know it. You will have your own blueberry heaven in your own backyard. If Aura can, you can. :)

Sugared Harpy

Oh YUM. Luscious blueberries!

I am also a mixer of stone fruit and berries in my pies. Who doesn't love a peach and raspberry pie?!


Who doesn't love peach with anything? Mmmmm...

Tonight, though, tonight it's going to be blueberry, just blueberry, unadulterated. I have a request from my stand-in shopper, you see.

(It's all I can do not to just gobble these up as they are right now, all of them, all by myself.)


Oh my. I knew there was something I was supposed to do on the way home from the movie tonight ("My Winnepeg" - a "docufantasia" that makes you glad you're not from Winnepeg). Alas, it won't be fabulous organic blueberries from the farm, but dammit I'm going out to the grocery store and buying more berries. (Must get back out to a good farm stand soon.)

Hope you're feeling better.


On second thought, grocery store produce sections on a Sunday night... hm, maybe not. Maybe I'll try tomorrow. (Dreams of blueberries dancing in my head tonight...)


You know, Leslee, I'll bet there's a farmers' market tomorrow somewhere near your job where you could stop by on your lunchhour... :)

aura carmi

Hi Sara and friends,
Michelle, I can tell you exactly the best nurseries and varieties to buy them from when you are ready. As I have twenty live ones, 16 producing, I have killed about 40 or 50 so I know very well what works and what doesn't by now.

However, I have a funny story to tell... since I grow 90% of our own fruit, I have a rule, no one buys at the store what I grow. ("Well, duh" you say. But this is a very tough one for the kids and my husband. They want what they see when they see it and cannot wait for it to be in season.) My kids get first pick at the berries, and so I never have enough raspberries or blueberries for me to enjoy my fill. (I do have enough luscious Blackberries though! They grow wild here. Yet another plus for growing natives or letting the natives grow where they will.) So back to the story...

One day I was in the market, a regular old market, not a natural food store. And I saw blueberries, Oregon Blueberries, sold by the quart for only $3!!! I couldn't stand it. I bought two quarts every day after I dropped the kids off at school and ate every solitary berry myself. (This, by the way, was in Sept when the berries on our bushes were just a sweet memory long gone.) I did this for about a week until after the sale on berries ended.

Finally, I broke down and had to confess this to my kids and husband. Not only did I buy something that I grow, I DIDN'T SHARE WITH THE KIDS, and they were not organic. OHHHH but they were so good!!!!! My ten year old daughter looked at me like the most pathetic human alive and said with extreme sorrow, "I understand..."

Since then, the kids actually pick and give me berries instead of eating them all. So, I guess the moral is that blueberries really are as tempting as porn.

aura carmi

Evolution of the "Scurvy Dog Muffins"

So, I saw your Hairy dog Ice Cream Muffins, Sara, from a previous day and decided to make them. However, the real name doesn't seem to stick in my head. WHY ARE THEY CALLED ICE CREAM HAIR DOGS ANYWAY? So, when the kids asked what I was making, I said, "hairy dogs" My little 7 year old, who reads EVERYTHING corrected me and kept reminding me of the name as I was making them.

As I am working way too hard and have no time to get to the store, we have a rolled oats shortage, so I used steel cut oats. Then, since I was using fresh peaches, go turn that into an estimate of 10oz of frozen. Well, you can't have enough peaches so I used about two heaping platefuls. (Heaping platefuls of cut fruit that is.) Then, just because I had it, I added about a tablespoon of vanilla bean in addition to the extract. Then my little boy said, "What about carob chips can't we have carob chips?" No, I said "Carob chips will not fit here."

Now, with all of those peaches, the muffin cups were exploding and there was barely any batter. I took a picture but alas, cannot upload to show you all. So, after filling all twelve cups, I still had a ton of batter left. By this time I had hungry kids and was out of time so I just scraped the rest into a small, pyrex bowl. Then my little one asked again, "Please can't we have carob chips." "Okay, I'll stick them in this big one." Now, by this time, we had spoken about the funny "hairy dog" name for about 10 minutes. I said that the name, "Hairy Dog" sounds like a pirate. My little one corrected me again and said, "That is 'Scurvy Dog'" I then proceeded to tell them what scurvy was because I never miss a teaching opportunity and by this time, the small pyrex bowl was up to the rim with batter and peaches. So, I just sprinkled a bunch of carob chips over the top and into the oven with it all.

THEY WERE TREMENDOUS THOSE HAIRY DOGS!!!! Even my daughter who said how horrible that they looked and that she was totally grossed out, (she is practicing for impending adolescence.)loved them. Naturally, we were all feasting on the muffins, the big pyrex bowl required more bake time. Finally it was ready...

I opened the oven and was taken aback by what I saw. The scurvy dog had poofed so much in it's already over filled state that it looked like a volcano erupting carob chip lava. And so... the evolution of the Scurvy dog as it will forever be called at my house. The kids loved it best, better than the muffins. I didn't get to try any, but the regular Ice Cream Hairy Dogs, (what is that name?)were so good that I was not in the least sorry.


Hahahaha -- ARRRR!

Aura, Michelle lives in southern Italy (Calabria, specifically) and although she can get fresh, locally grown apples all year 'round, I do not believe she has seen a fresh blueberry since she left the U.S. several years ago. She longs for them, and I think she'll be able to grow them since you were, but she and handsome P. have another house to move into first, and I don't believe that is slated to happen immediately. Meanwhile, I have suggested a trip to the Alps.

I surmise the reason why you can't remember the name of my muffins from a couple of weeks ago is because you may be unfamiliar with the expression "hair of the dog." When a person wakes with a hangover and decides to address the problem by drinking more alcohol, this is known as taking (and the inference is medicinal) some of the "hair of the dog that bit you" or simply "hair of the dog." If you go back to the post in question and read it, you will remember that I had overdosed on sugar via shameless, public, ice cream orgying (in very good company) the day before. The muffins I craved and eventually made were my hair of the dog -- the ice cream dog.

aura carmi


I get it! Like a homeopathic cure for a hangover :) Yes, I remember the ice cream orgy.


Mmmm...fresh fruit! Hope you're feeling better/feel better soon.

Ron Sullivan

OK, I'll be all out of order here too (never been very orderly anyhow) and carry on about how I envy your ramps because ramp-import season here is long gone. The Berkeley Bowl gets them from somewhere back East and sells them for $8—10/lb for a few weeks in spring.

Your spring, not our spring, which starts in early February. And $10/lb isn't so much really, as ramps don't weigh much.

I like to sliver a handful of the bottoms, the cylindrical parts, and throw them over fish or chicken being sauteed; then toss a chiffonade of the broad part of the leaves over it at the last minute, just to wilt it.

Nifty that somebody's farming them. I wonder if they grow from seed, or bulblets of some sort.


Emily, thanks. Today I am feeling sort of vomitrocious, but I was able to enjoy quite a number of these yummy berries (and quite a bit of the ensuing pie) before that started, so that's all right.

Ron, this farm grows my two favorite varieties of onion, garlic and shallots. I do not know whether they grow from seed or bulblet. I used to grow garlic myself at our previous domicile by putting whatever sprouted in the fridge into the ground, but I never harvested any of the ramps. They are very very beautiful, as you know, even more so when you leave them flower at will. Besides, I wasn't growing them to have garlic, but as companion plants to protect some other plants that may have tempted the bunnies and the squirrels otherwise, tomatoes and I cannot remember what else now. I stopped growing tomatoes in the ground when I found out that the soil was contaminated by all kinds of thrilling toxins, but the ramps came back every year, regardless, and I never did anything to curtail them. I don't remember the patch ever getting any bigger.

Ramps were over by the beginning of last week on this coast. I think I managed to buy two bunches of them this year, and I still have most of 'em. I can't imagine buying a whole pound! However, the farm did offer this recipe at the point of display, on little pieces of paper shoppers could take home:

"Garlic Top Pesto [from Hutchins Farm; author unknown]

"1 bunch garlic tops (about 1/3#)
"1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
"1/4 C finely grated parmesan cheese
"1/4 C shelled peanuts (or other oily nuts/seeds)

"Combine oil and peanuts in food processor bowl -- pulse until smooth. Coarsely chop garlic tops and add to oil/peanut mixture. Add cheese and process to desired consistency, adding extra oil if needed. Use pesto on its own as a dip, or add to salad dressings and marinades."

I didn't try it this year, but doesn't it sound delightful? Mmmm...garlic and peanuts...classic!

Ron Sullivan

Ya know, I wonder if we're talking about the same plant: Here's a bowl of ramps.


Aha! No! Here, "ramps" are garlic greens, and they grow all curly and squiggly with white onion-ish flower buds appearing about a third to halfway down the stalk. Oh, and they taste mildly of garlic. :)

I wouldn't say no to those other thingies, though, either!

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