Sunday, September 21, 2008

Onward to Cambodia

Our newfound neighbors and friends Jerry and Karen are leaving next weekend to return to work in Cambodia. We will miss them dearly, as we have spent the summer sharing wonderful meals, stories, and most of all great company. While we're on our way to their place again this evening to enjoy a simple meal to end the weekend, we enjoyed a deliciously experimental meal at their home last weekend as well.

They invited us over for this experimental meal for Karen's yet-unpublished test kitchen article. We can't divulge any details here, but suffice it to say that it's related to a fascinating topic she's mentioned before, the food was miraculous (as usual), and it made us feel like we were on top of the world (I really don't know how else to describe it, particularly the effects of the fiery red Thai chiles the morning after...).

While these are poor-quality photos taken with my Blackberry phone, you can get the idea of the spirit of our dinners, particularly the exercise of documenting the many out-of-context quotes we've blurted during the many meals we've shared this summer.

We'll miss you guys K & J! Don't worry about the weeds, and keep the blog posts coming!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We've been busy...

Sorry for the delay folks, but between Val's work travels, Jon's articles, our first vegetable/herb harvest, a local road trip, and travel to the Bay Area for a family reunion, we've been a little busy. Frankly, the last thing either of us wants to do is be on a computer! But blogging is fun, particularly when friends and family leave comments (hint hint...). So scroll below and enjoy the updates!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Article #5 in Our MatterNetwork Series - The Role of Community

Tune in for the fifth and latest article in our series on moving from an urban lifestyle to rural, sustainable farming!

Article #4 in Our MatterNetwork Series - Farming Ain't Cheap!

This installment goes into detail about the costs of setting up our rain catchment and rainwater irrigation system--which we haven't done yet due to lack of funds (donations accepted, of course! Wouldn't you love to help out your local farmer?!?) We also need the experience and a few good tips from experts before committing to laying down drip lines and installing gutters...

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Family Reunion HoDown!

Last weekend we returned to the Bay Area to attend a family reunion--Jon's extended family on his mom's side. It was great to see everyone, to be surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and brothers, but unfortunately Jon's mom, sister, brother-in-law, and nieces couldn't make it due to illness. We're really sorry we missed them, particularly since his mom is the main connection!

Jon's brother Joe, his wife Michele, and our niece Christina graciously hosted us in their gorgeous new home in San Ramon, where we arrived Friday night to feel the 4.0 earthquake whose epicenter was just 4 miles north of us! (It seems that everytime I'm back in the SF Bay Area these days, the earth moves under my feet.) Or maybe it was the wine we enjoyed at the local watering hole (The Brass Door--apparently an institution, like stepping back five decades into a 1950s supper club).

Saturday we spent the day on the coast in Half Moon Bay with Jon's dad, catching up and listening to his great stories (and marveling about how much he knows about jazz. Incredible!). Since we were on the peninsula, we stayed Saturday night at our friends Dario and Natasha's home in San Bruno. We finally had a chance to spend some time with their 1-year-old boy, Gabriel, and had a blast with him.

Sunday was back to the East Bay for the reunion picnic in Moraga. Jon's extended Italian family is so big, we had to wear nametags to identify many of the people there that I'd never met and that Jon hasn't seen since he was a kid. I love huge families--we had egg races, water balloon tosses, and the usual dose of family melodrama. Life wouldn't be complete without it!

As usual, we had a great time although we missed seeing Jon's mom, sister, Roger, and the girls, and friends like Daphne, the Tarzons, and the Nees (who were out of town anyway). We'll be back before you know it, guys. Watch out! xoxo

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our First Harvest!

On Labor Day, we enjoyed the first fruit of our labors from this summer (well, Jon's labors--I've been too busy traveling for work, unfortunately). The photo you see is a tiny sample of what we've harvested since--after the first harvest, the plants go on overdrive!

Jon chose to grow gorgeous purple bell peppers, five other varieties of sweet peppers, seven varieties of tomatoes (my favorites are the tiny, concentrated yellow pears and cherries--delicious!), string beans, and a few varieties of dark, leafy greens.

He planted pretty late in the season (mid-June, then again in late July), so we're having the latest harvest in the neighborhood. It's kinda living on the edge around here as the season's first frost will come any day now, so we are picking everything we can and saving seeds for next season.

So far from our daily harvests, we've made amazing fresh salads, roasted stuffed peppers, salsa, and gazpacho. The difference is like night and day between store-bought processed versions of these foods, and what has come from our garden. Maybe it's the knowledge of what it takes to grow these beautiful vegetables--or maybe it's the absence of pesticides, fertilizers, preservatives, and eating them fresh picked from the plant. Regardless, it's been heavenly.

And all of this is just from the small, 10x20 experimental area of our backyard. Imagine what we'll be able to grow on that back acre...can't wait til next season to expand and possibly get some chickens to help with fertilizer!

Labor Day: Bandelier National Monument

For Labor Day, we drove about 2 hours due north to visit the cave dwellings and ruins at Bandelier National Monument. I visited the monument when I was about 5 years old and my family first moved to New Mexico. To see it again as an adult was even more fascinating: understanding that an entire tribe of people carved their lives into volcanic tuff cliffs instilled new wonder in the place.

On our way to Bandelier, we passed through Santa Fe to brunch at Harry's Roadhouse Cafe. If you ever pass through Santa Fe, this is an experience you don't want to miss--but be prepared to wait at least 20 minutes for a table.