FALL COLORS

The fall colors are vibrant in our garden this year. We have been planting drought tolerant flowers because of the water shortage in California. By choosing a coordinated color scheme, it was less obvious that they were chosen for drought tolerance. We chose yellow, red and orange colored flowers. Things with names like “Indian summer”. They have the added advantage of looking great with the fall leaves, since many are continuing to bloom into the fall.

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THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

“If the flap of a butterfly’s wings can be instrumental in generating a tornado, it can equally well be instrumental in preventing a tornado”

Edward Norton Lorenz, originator of the butterfly effect

Most people are familiar with “the butterfly effect” named from Edward Norton Lorenz’s theory of Chaos where he said “A butterfly flapping it’s wings in Brazil can produce a tornado in Texas”. But less well known is that he said the opposite can also be true. A little thing can snowball into a bigger effect. And something as small as a butterfly’s wings can be the instrument in preventing a tornado. This seems like a perfect analogy for reversing climate change. A series of little things can reverse the change that is happening to our climate and prevent the tornado in Texas.

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MAKING SOUR CREAM IN AN INSTANT POT

AN EASY METHOD FOR MAKING SOUR CREAM USING JUST REAL CREAM AND STARTER

Sour cream is really very easy to make. We use an Instant Pot Ultra, Horizon cream and a real sour cream starter culture from Cultures for Health. This creates incredible sour cream, and also saves money. By making it ourselves, we know exactly what is in it, since it’s just high quality cream cultured with a real sour cream starter culture. Even better, this is an eco-friendly swap because Horizon is taking action on climate change to be carbon positive in just 3 years, and an Instant Pot is a great way to use less energy and eat better.

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SUNFLOWER SEED BAGUETTE

We are celebrating the return of the Olympics with sunflowers by using sunflower seeds in our baking. This is the recipe for our sunflower seed baguette. Sunflowers from the Miyagi area of Japan are featured at the Olympics. The organizers said that after the earthquake and tsunami, the parents planted sunflowers on a hillside in Miyagi in memory of their children who died, and every year now the hill becomes covered with sunflowers.

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Finnish cookies

FINNISH COOKIES

These Finnish cookies are made with browned butter, toasted pecans and maple syrup, and then rolled in powdered sugar. There are a number of similar cookies, such as Snowballs, Mexican wedding cookies, and Russian Tea cakes. Tony’s mother is half Finnish and she remembers her Finnish Grandmother making them when she was a child, so she has always called them Finnish cookies. They are a family tradition, and we make them every year at celebrations. Over the years we have made a few changes to her Grandmother’s version, though. This version is made with pecans and maple syrup, ingredients that are native to America, so maybe we should probably call them American cookies at this point, but we are not going to mess with tradition that much.

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SANTA CRUZ FOREST FIRE

Last year, a forest fire in northern Santa Cruz county, the CZU lightning complex fire, burned 86,000 acres. It was stopped as it reached the University of California, Santa Cruz campus north of Santa Cruz, where we live. As we are again in fire season, we felt it would be a good time to post a few photos we took of the area that was devistated by the fire last year.

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EDIBLE FLOWERS

Many of the plants in our garden produce edible flowers. We espcially like the herbs that produce flowers, because they taste like the herb. The herbs with delicate white flowers look great in a salad or added to other dishes or even drinks. Herbs are also easy to grow, drought tolerant, and attract hummingbirds and butterflies as well as being beneficial to honey bees.

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FIG STAR BREAD IN ITALY

We love the look of this fig star bread. We first saw the star shaped bread in Italy. A soft sweet bread that looks very festive, but is actually very easy to make. The bread is made from a basic sweet bread dough, and for this version we used fig jam and fresh figs.

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FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM

French vanilla ice cream. Christmas came early and Santa just left me a Whynter ice cream maker. Wow! We made one batch of ice cream in it and I immediately got rid of all the previous ice cream makers we had hanging out in the garage never being used. No messing with ice and rock salt or freezing the inner container. But best of all, it made the most incredible French vanilla ice cream I have ever had. Better than anything we had found in France. I was stunned.

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THE BEST CINNAMON ROLLS EVER

We love cinnamon rolls, and are always searching for ways to improve on them. This recipe is both easy and OMG delicious! These are by far the best cinnamon rolls we have ever had. The secret is using all the best ingredients and letting them rest overnight, which improves the flavor. It also makes them really easy to make.

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walnut bread

WALNUT BREAD

This is our master recipe for whole wheat sandwich bread. It’s an easy, foolproof recipe that makes an incredibly good bread. The key is in using a whole kernel, stone ground, artisan flour for the whole wheat flour portion. It’s worth the trouble of seeking out something really special.

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CASSOULET IN PARIS

The cassoulet at Au Pied de Cochon – the perfect Parisian brasserie – was one of the highlights of visiting Paris. On this particular trip, we were there in the winter, so the restaurant was serving le Cassoulet Toulousain. This means it is in the style of the way it is made in Toulouse, which is a classic. It is made with pork shoulder, duck confit, garlic sausage and topped with bread crumbs. With some research, I was able to recreate the recipe at home.

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