Just a Cup of Coffee – The Love Story of Princess Rosebud and her Captain – Part One

Today:  Sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not. That’s the life of a tugboat captain’s wife. Right now he’s not..

weddingpicture

Yup, the secret’s out. I’m married to Johnny Depp

The Wedding: February 21, 1994

Our song, our first dance as husband and wife. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
http://youtu.be/wkVuQGgx7d8

The Beginning…This is the love story of me, Princess Rosebud, and the tugboat captain.

We met when I was a year into my deal with myself to stay celibate until I met someone, uh, worthy…

Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010… At 3:40 this afternoon, I was in the threshold of our garage door that leads into the living room where I had dragged in a ladder to help with my latest project–painting the living room walls a divine shade of seafoam green–to stay busy when the captain’s out to sea. I mean, I can’t shop ALL the time. A girl has to take a break now and again, right? I set the ladder down and went back to close the garage door. At that precise moment, the glass vases on the shelves surrounding our fireplace began to vibrate and wobble. Here in SoCal, I’ve endured a handful of quakes, but never such intense shaking.

Through the open garage door I saw the bicycles that hang from the ceiling sway back and forth. As I attempted to process THAT information, the crystal lustres on my grandmother’s antique porcelain candelabras clashed and clinked. Terracotta tile flooring in the foyer seemed to roll back and forth as if I was on a sailboat in San Diego Bay, and I had a difficult time standing.

Feeling dizzy and unbalanced, I grasped the doorway for support.  My poor kitty gave me a dirty look like I had interrupted her nap on purpose. So much for the concept that animals can sense an earthquake–not this spoiled little brat.

I ran up our oak-planked steps into the family room and through the patio doors onto the deck and shouted out to the neighbors.

“Look at your pool!”

“I know, this is crazy! Are you OK? Any damage?”

“I don’t think so. A couple seashells fell off the shelf in the family room, but I was so freaked, I didn’t want to stay inside, so I ran out back. I don’t know if we should stay in the house or what we should do!”

“Us either! Let’s see what’s on the news.”

This quake was so violent that it caused the water in their pool to slosh over the sides like a mini-tsunami. We each went back in our respective homes and turned on CNN. We discovered that there had been a 7.2 earthquake in Mexico. The first reports that came in revealed a lot of damage near the epicenter in Mexicali, but no major problems in San Diego; only broken glass and falling cans at grocery stores, which seemed pretty miraculous considering the earthquake’s size.

Still spooked by the shaking and some pretty strong aftershocks, I surveyed the house, removing anything unsecured and potentially dangerous.

This is as good a time as any to confess something.

I’m a shell-aholic.

seashell mirrorI’ve got shelves and shelves of seashells in every room–including the bathroom. Everyone collects seashells, right? One here, one there, as a memory of a great beach or a fun vacation, right? Well…I’m a seashell hoarder. I want ALL seashells–there are never enough seashells to collect or buy. I make things out of some of them–picture frames, mirrors, boxes–they line the walls in our two bathrooms and even our front door, but mostly they just hang out–in bowls, on shelves, anywhere and everywhere. There is no empty space in our house, and if there is, it’s quickly filled with a shell–or a rock.

After a couple decades, we have come to an understanding, the captain and I. He thinks I’m crazy and obsessed with shells and rocks and driftwood, and I don’t destroy his surfboards if he doesn’t give me a hard time about it.

I anxiously emailed the captain who’s half a world away in the middle of an ocean. I figured that if anything would cause him to cut his four month assignment short, this might be it. The way that emailing works in deep ocean situations is through a pretty inefficient satellite; sometimes it takes hours to complete the process. If there’s a real emergency, I have a phone number to call, but this didn’t really fit the definition. I wasn’t hurt and the house wasn’t damaged or anything. When he finally read the email and wrote back, he told me to “standby” at the house phone because he would try to make a call from the boat’s sat phone. When he called, I used all my powers of persuasion to convince him to come home, but to no avail. He simply wasn’t going to call the United States Coast Guard to fly a rescue mission a thousand miles from land to bring  him home because the kitty and I were scared.

Well, I know where I stand in his list of priorities. Hmmm, I wonder if this is when I hatched my plot to get that Chanel. Hmmm, I wonder.

After that stressful event, and many aftershocks later, some pampering was definitely well deserved. That evening, I drew a bath in the upstairs bathroom we call the spa because it’s decorated in earthy tones with seashells and beach glass surrounding the mirrors and along the walls.

(I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t care.)

I lit a fragrant and calming lavender candle, eased my body into the almost too-hot-to-stand-it water, and trickled in ginger and lemongrass aromatherapy oils. Sipping from a glass of merlot, I leaned back, closed my eyes, and my thoughts wandered.

Experiencing an earthquake; the dizziness, the weightless feeling in a tub of warm water; it all reminded me of falling in love. It all felt the same… and it all started with a fifty cent cup of coffee.

Newly divorced in 1990, I speed dated a few guys, including one totally boring and slightly scary man who immediately wanted me to meet his parents after the first (and last) date, along with a couple of total idiots whose combined IQs prolly didn’t equal my Border Collie‘s. Those unsavory experiences became flashing red lights–STOP! NO! THINK!–impossible to ignore–that I seriously needed to take some time off the dating circuit.

It was the perfect time for a list.

I’m an inveterate list maker; I prioritize my errands and even list groceries in the order of where they’re located in the store– like my own custom board game–where I start at the entrance and finish at the cash register.

I wrote this particular list with the hope that if I documented the qualities desired in a significant other, the universe would deliver the right one when all the planets were aligned. Or so I dreamed.

At midnight on August 7th, 1990, with a bottle of wine to seal the deal, I made a promise to myself–I would not date (or do anything else) for a very long time, and the next one would be “the one”.

The List
1. Must call when he says he will. This is non-negotiable.
2. Must show up on time for dates.
3. Must love pets. Also non-negotiable.
4. No cigarettes. No smoking, and of course, no drugs.
5. Likes to exercise, work out, eat healthy, etc.
6. Must have gainful employment.
7. Must be nice and polite and honest and trustworthy.
8. Fidelity is of paramount importance.
9. When the time is right and he meets my son, my son has to like him. Also non-negotiable.

Fast forward to a year later, the following September 1991.

Tomorrow:
Part Two…Just a cup of coffee, the love story of Princess Rosebud and the tugboat captain

Best Christmas Decorations EVER-Haters, Line Up! Yoo Hoo, Pinterest, I’m Calling YOU!

 I hope you enjoy a repeat of one of my most clicked on posts of 2012 while I spend a little time with my tugboat man and my son, Angel Boy.
…..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     

It was last year that I was inspired by other topnotch decorators who so kindly blogged about their DIY Christmas tree masterpieces.

In fact, I was so inspired and so thrilled to be stuck here all alone for the millionth time during the holidays that I created a masterpiece of my own, just for you, my loving internet family.

As I looked around my house, the elliptical seemed like it had the best “bones” to adorn.

Plus, it had a ready-made beverage holder!

I didn’t have any Maxi-pads or other feminine hygiene products–’cos THAT ship has sailed–if you know what I mean. (Hey cool, a nautical reference jauntily tossed in. Damn, I’m good!)

I added a toilet paper garland, a couple of Sophie Kinsella novels, two glittery seashell ornaments, a bottle of wine in the beverage holder, a white plastic poinsettia, a few EMPTY gift bags, and a festive plush Hello Kitty toy.

You can’t really see it very good, but there’s a chocolate bar too, which I don’t have to share with anyone! I’m such a lucky girl! This is the best use I’ve found for the elliptical. Hanging freshly ironed shirts hanging on it is a close second.

Now you can carry on with your day; just take a moment to let it all sink in.

The moral of the story is that it might not be a good idea to leave Princes Rosebud alone for long periods of time.

Don’t HATE…Emulate.

Decorated for Christmas elliptical

Property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

decorated elliptical

Property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

Dear WordPress…What Am I, CHOPPED LIVER?

What am I, chopped liver?When I was little Princess Rosebud growing up in Detroit,  my mom used to be the Queen of chopped liver.

At Channukah and Sukkos and the High Holidays, our family would come from miles around to chow down on her spectacular cooking and baking, including that tasty, albeit ugly, liver-y creation. Even a sprinkling of chopped hardboiled egg and parsley couldn’t mask the grey/brown blob of mushed up, mashed up internal organ.

Oh, and gribones, which is an artery clogging mixture of fried chicken skins, onions, and schmaltz, which is chicken FAT. Rendered chicken fat. Jars of it in the back of the refrigerator. GAG.

According to Wiki: The word gribenes is related to Griebe (plural Grieben) in various German dialects (from Old High German griobo via Middle High German griebe),[2] where Griebenschmalz is lard from which the cracklings have not been removed. German “Geriebenes” is a matter which has been grated or ground, from German “reiben”, to grind.

No wonder I became a veg.

schroncefgsula.blogspot.com

schroncefgsula.blogspot.com

I’ve been a vegetarian since 1971, when I was still in high school. I haven’t had a taste or even a morsel of meat nor fowl since then, including the liver, chopped or otherwise, of any living creature.

Why the chopped liver memories?

For the longest time, I’ve felt like I’m the human embodiment of chopped liver, ‘cos it seems that I’m the ONLY blog in the entire family of WordPress blogs that hasn’t ever been chosen to be Freshly Pressed.

I’m very sad.

I read a lot of Freshly Pressed posts, and I ponder.

I scratch my head —  and it’s not that I begrudge the recipients who’re chosen, but I’ve held an objective mirror up to my writing and my subject matter and my unique voice, and I truly believe it’s GOOD. In some cases, way better than the lucky bloggers who can boast of being Freshly Pressed.

Lots of people tell me I’m good. Even my son tells me I’m a good writer and he’s pretty stingy with his compliments, which make them all the more valuable — plus he’s a Yale professor AND author, so I take his praise with more than a few grains of salt.

I’ve had readers wonder why they don’t see me in Freshly Pressed, when other bloggers have had multiple posts chosen.

In my not-really-humble opinion, It’s a travesty.

On a serious note, it reeks of favoritism and might as well be advertising and promotion for ONE blogger at the expense of many other worthy writers.

There. I’m finished now.

That’s my Friday rant.

Tonight I’ll light some shabbat candles and wish really hard that one day SOON, I can proudly display a Freshly Pressed badge on my blog.

Dreams CAN come true, ya know.

Hello? WordPress? Can you hear me??

Can you hear me NOW?

When Is A Friend Not A Friend?

Let me ask you a question about friendships…is there a line that can’t be crossed?

What would you do if a friend acted in manner so egregious, so counter to your own value system?

Have you ever said to yourself, I can’t be friends with someone like that, and end the friendship?

It happened to me.

I met her at the gym; she overheard me talking about my obsession with all things Chanel and we became friendly.

My tugboat man coined the phrase “friend not friend” because all we did was shop together. We never went out for dinner as couples and we never socialized together with our husbands. She had been to our house, but had never invited me to hers.

She was a “shopping friend.”

That means we’d meet every couple of weeks or so and drive in one car to a mall, either Fashion Valley in San Diego, or South Coast Plaza in Orange County.

Whoever didn’t drive bought lunch for two; that was a fair trade.

That was the only thing we had in common, even though we learned that our kids attended the same elementary school at the same time.

She’d been a working mom throughout their entire childhood; I’m an ardent advocate for the stay-at-home-mom situation.

She had a tough childhood: was unwanted, abused by a stepfather, and forced to travel around the country with her migrant worker family.

She managed to graduate from college and has been married to the same man for about forty years, the only man she’s ever slept with.

He just happens to be a millionaire, which is an amazing rags to riches tale.

Her inner fortitude and drive to extricate herself from poverty are admirable qualities and I’m sure that somewhere in there is an explanation for the way she acted the last time we spent the day together.

On this particular day, it was her turn to drive. Since she never had new clothes when she was growing up, she became a compulsive shopper, and always bought something, no matter what the cost. I’m more of a browser, and fairly thrifty except for that one (or two) Chanels.

After six hours at South Coast Plaza, we were on the highway heading home.

Looking out of the passenger window, I spotted a little puppy walking in the weeds parallel to the freeway.

I pointed and said, “Oh my gosh, do you see that? Pull over, pull over, there’s a puppy right there. You stop and I’ll run out and get it before something terrible happens.”

She wouldn’t stop.

She would not stop.

She flailed a hand about —  you know, in that way, that universal sign of blasé dismissal — and said, “Oh, someone will help. It’ll be fine.”

“No it won’t. We have to help. We HAVE to. Get off the next exit and let’s go back. “

She refused to stop the car, no matter what I said.

“How could you say you love animals but you won’t stop to help a creature in dire need of assistance?”

I was powerless. I hate feeling ineffectual, useless, helpless.

I’m sure she endured all that and more growing up with her dysfunctional family but it would seem that she might have felt more of a kinship toward another helpless creature, not apathetic indifference and total lack of compassion.

I was silent for the remainder of the ride.

By the time we got back, it was getting dark. I thought about jumping in my car and driving back to where I saw the puppy but I didn’t even know the exactly where we had been, which is the reason why I hadn’t called CHP or animal rescue. It would have been impossible to locate. All I know is that it was somewhere on the 405 South from Newport Beach.

That was the last time I saw this friend not friend. She went on a vacation soon after that and when she returned, I heard she started going to another gym.

I’m haunted by the vision of that puppy that I couldn’t help.

Of course I couldn’t be friends with someone like that.

Everything I needed to know about her true character was revealed, and for me, that’s a non-negotiable area.

A deal breaker. A heart breaker.

Have you ever had to end a friendship?

The Lonely Bitches Guide to Solo Cooking, Eating, and Drinking™

Welcome to the first installment of Princess Rosebud’s Lonely Bitches Guide to Solo Cooking, Eating, and Drinking™

Lots of us womenfolk are alone for some reason or another at certain times in our lives.

(Cowboys and Crossbones and I recently discussed this exact topic. Hey girl, enjoy your Skinny Pirates!)

Could be we’re between relationships, taking a break from the sturm und drang of life in close quarters with another human, or, like me, you have a sometimes-he’s-here-sometimes-he’s-not spouse.

And if you’re like me, you don’t cook a seven-course dinner for yourself and pair it with the proper aperatifs, wines, and brandies.

I save all that for the times when my tugboat man is home. I mean, I really save it ALL up for then, if ya know what I mean.

‘Cos when he’s gone, the oven mostly only gets used to hide the dark chocolate from myself.

Wait, hold on, I’ll be back. Ohemgee, DAMN, so that’s where I put it! It works every time. Out of sight, out of mind. I really do trick myself that way. Yum.

Okay. For those of my “one is the loneliest number” sisterbitches of mine, I’m doing us all a public service by jotting down a few of my tried and true tips.

I don’t normally eat breakfast, and even when I do eat in the morning, it’s never cereal, just a protein drink or few bites of toast with a couple cups of freshly ground French Roast.

Because it’s really hot out, I  wouldn’t even want to fire up the stove anyway; I like to eat cereal for dinner. I love Raisin Bran or Oat Flakes or shredded wheat from Trader Joe’s. I use nonfat milk, but you can certainly choose your own favorite — soy milk, rice milk, coconut–vodka, whatever.

As an aside, homemade granola with a splash of apple juice is beyond delicious. Try it! 

Just as you’d pair a fine wine with dinner, I’ve discovered that a chllled chardonnay is a delicious partner to cold cereal. Ripe and fruity Ghost Pines Chardonnay exposes the lavish textured flaky crunch.  After a few glasses, you’ll hardly know you’re eating cereal for dinner — solitary and alone.

When the weather changes in autumn and winter, I love a huge bowl of hot and steamy oatmeal for dinner. As you might expect, a full-bodied merlot brings out the nuance of the rustic oats.

And I certainly won’t tell anyone you’re sitting in front of the television watching old episodes of Bewitched and Gossip Girl. Oh Chuck… Oh Nate… Where are you now?

Try 2008 Sawyer Cellars Estate Merlot tracks earth, dust and red currants in its flavors; made for those who know wine, and for those of us who don’t clean house as compulsively when their tugboat man’s out to sea. Hee hee.

Bon appétit!

For those evenings when even pouring flakes in a bowl and topping it with milk is too much work — that’s when it’s time for popcorn. You can’t go wrong with a crisply dry champagne or sparkling prosecco, a lovely counterpoint to the crunchy, sligthtly salty popped kernals.

princesa champsOf course, my champs of choice is Princesa. Duh.

As a vegetarian (mostly vegan), I eat a lot of salads but sometimes I HATE the tedium of preparation for just little old me. I have two “go to” options: sometimes I make a veggie wrap and shove as many thinly sliced veggies I can find plus lettuce and feta cheese or even tuna fish in a tortilla.

That’s really easy, right?

But if I’m too lazy to do that, I’ll take some whole lettuce leaves, slice tomatoes and feta, and roll the lettuce right up, eating it standing up over the sink. No plate, no mess, and only a knife to clean up!

A win-win for sure.

That’s a marvelous time for a Cape Cod: cranberry juice, vodka, and a spritz of lime. Yum. Doesn’t it just sound delicious? AND healthy? We all know cranberry juice is good for our lady bladder, right? And if you add grapefruit juice, it’s called a Seabreeze.

Let’s all raise a glass and toast my ocean-going hub!

Bean and Cheese Burritos are sooo easy. Open a can of fat-free refried beans and for each burrito, spread a couple tablespoons of beans onto an organiic tortilla. Add a thin slice of cheese ( I use fat reduced cheese because of a tricky gallbladder). Roll it up and nuke it for about a minute or so til it’s piping hot and cheese is melty. While it’s “cooking”, there’s enough time to mix and pour a margarita. My recipe is the easiest!  Tequila, fresh lime juice, a floater of Grand Marnier and that’s it. Salt the glass if you wish; but that’s too much trouble for this lonely no-sodium gal!

For those rare evenings when I’m struck with the urge to eat real food, this is the BEST RECIPE ever. I could win an award for my brown rice, no kidding. It always comes out fluffy and perfect. I’ll share my secret with you. I bake it. Yup, that’s the secret to success.

Here’s the One Dish Brown Rice and Other Stuff recipe…
Add one cup brown rice to a 9×9 glass baking dish. Pour over the rice not quite two cups water. Lay gently on top of the rice large chunks of tofu or salmon, ahi, or albacore. (I don’t cook with meat, so I don’t know if the baking times would change.) Add roughly cut broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, thinly sliced carrots, peppers, mushrooms. I don’t like onions, but you can of course add thinly sliced or chopped onions. Sprinkle, pepper, chopped fresh herbs, freshly ground salt (if you must). Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Serve with my Special Sauce: One teaspoon (or more to taste) of Sriracha and one tablespoon mayonaisse. Super delish!

Once again, a chardonnay will dance a tango on your palate and lend a oaky counterpoint to the spicy sauce.

One-hundred-fifty calorie Skinny Cow ice cream (sandwich and drumstick are my personal faves) marries exquisitely with B&B brandy. Delicioso!

To recap, chardonnay pairs well with cold cereal, merlot (or cab) with hot cereal.
That’s all you need to know.

Here’s the perfect song to accompany all of our lonesome meals.

What are YOUR favorite eat alone meals?

A Wanted Child

I am of the opinion that the global interest (and/or disdain)  in the birth of Britain’s future king is really less about the trappings of wealth and royal life — the gene pool and history he’s born into –than our forlorn and seemingly irretrievable collective absence of moms and dads who devote their lives to their babies.

As happy as I am for the birth of George Alexander Louis, His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. this newborn who will be king, it makes me equally as sad for all the babies born that are NOT going to be as loved or wanted or properly cared for or parented.

All babies should be as loved as this one, all children deserve to feel like a prince or a princess, not like an unwanted nuisance or an accessory to be displayed when it’s convenient –and ignored when it’s not.

All children should be gazed upon with unconditional love, devotion, and dedication.

Over the years, I’ve observed enough parent/child interactions to believe that we may have forfeited the desire and commitment to raising a brand new human with lifelong dedication and passion–and love.

The bond between parent and child is one of the strongest connections in nature –or it should be.

I was again reminded how that’s not always the case when my tugboat man and I were at Barnes and Noble in Orange County a couple days ago.

He had most kindly driven me to Chanel because I lost a screw in the hardware of my Grand Shopper Tote and their only method of replacement involved bringing the bag to them, which was most def NOT a hardship. LOL. My sweet hubs drove me ‘cos of the limited use of my still only semi-functioning left arm — three more weeks of this stupid cast…

After going to Chanel and browsing through as many other stores as his patience would allow (he obvs does not share my same passion to discover the treasure of a perfect wedge) his sanctuary was the bookstore whilst I continued my search at the Nord Outlet.

Unfortunately though, my heart’s desire was not to be realized that day — no wedge for me…so I walked next door and I found my mariner among the stacks of maritime-related books–sooo predictable.

As we waited in line to pay for his books, there was a mom and a boy who looked to be about four-years-old. He was talking to her — trying to talk to her — about toys, books, whatever, just the adorable stream-of-consciousness conversation of a little one — and he was being ignored.

Mom was scrolling through her smart phone, reading a text, responding to a text, all the while she selfishly sacrificed this glorious opportunity to “be present in the moment” with her bright little boy.

Finally, after several minutes of trying to elicit a response, to be heard, to be acknowledged, to garner her oh-so-valuable attention, he put his hand up as if to physically block her from seeing the phone and said in a resigned tone that left me no doubt he’s said this before;

“No phone, Momma, no phone. Me, Momma, ME.

No phone.”

At that point, she looked up, turned away from him, and responded,

“Just a minute. Just a minute. Stop. I’m almost done.”

By the crestfallen look on his face, it was too late.

The spark of light had gone out of his eyes.

Poof, just like that.

It was a precious moment forever lost.

Hubs and I shook our heads. We felt so sad for this boy and disgusted with his clueless mom.

Ah well, I feel like a dinosaur.

My Angel Boy was wanted and cherished — from the time I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mom — I knew that for me, there would be nothing more fulfilling than the joy caring for a baby and helping that new life grow; nurturing his interests, curiosity, and imagination.

His Montessori Kindergarten teacher once said to me (in her adorable French accent):

“Jay-sohn seez ze world een heez own way.”

Jason sees the world in his own way.

He still does, and I can think of no better validation of my job as his mom.

Were there bad and neglectful parents before the invention of technology and social media?

Of course there were.

It just seems as if phones and video games have become an overwhelming distraction — and the focus of daily existence. Caring for a home and family is pushed way down the list.

Our values are skewed — in my (unpopular) opinion.

Prince-William-and-Kate-royal-baby-2082438The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, gazing upon their newborn with such unabashed love, reminds me of a playground song:

“First comes love, then comes marriage.
Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.”

People who don’t want the serious and lifelong responsibility of having children should not have them.

It’s that simple.

Let’s treat our children like they’re the most special people in the world, OK?

I’m shouting this to the world in general…

“Moms and Dads, get off your phones!
Please, PAY ATTENTION to your children.
They’re more important than TWITTER,  FACEBOOK, or any other inanimate object.”

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (Tree)

Bird droppings make great jam.

Perhaps generated by seeds embedded in bird poop; I’m not sure where this tree came from — I never planted it  – but one day there was a little sprout and a few years later it bore its first harvest.

We have two mulberry trees in our yard; the volunteer is fruit-bearing, the other that provides shade to the deck, is not.

silkwormcloseupSilkworms eat mulberry leaves; maybe I could raise a few silkworms and spin my own fabric — except worms are kinda gross, so I guess not.

mulberry tree3

Technically, the fruit of a mulberry is not a berry but a collective fruit, in appearance like a swollen loganberry. When the flowers are pollinated, they and their fleshy bases begin to swell. Ultimately, they become completely altered in texture and color, becoming succulent, fat and full of juice.

In appearance, each tiny swollen flower roughly resembles the individual drupe of a blackberry. Mulberries ripen over an extended period of time unlike many other fruits which seem to come all at once. {Wiki} They’re very sweet and mild.

mulberry tree2

mulberry tree

I learned from Martha Stewart to spread an old sheet on the ground and shake the tree. All the ripe fruit fall; I wash, dry, and freeze in quart bags. So far, I have about eight quarts and the tree’s not done. Raccoons come by at night and gorge themselves;  during the day, crows and other birds eat from the very highest branches.

mulberrysheetA bowl of mulberries.mulberrybowl

Three beautiful specimens. I add them right from the freezer to smoothies and cobblers and I’ll make a batch of jam, too. If I have enough, I’ll make a pie.

mulberry3

Mulberry Jam
(This recipe uses no pectin)

  • 2 1/2 cups mulberries, rinsed (the tiny green stems do not need to be removed)
  • Approximately one cup granulated sugar (I start with a very small amount of sugar and keep tasting. You can try agave, too.)
  • 3 tablespoons water
    Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Drop heat to medium-low and add jars and their lids. Simmer for 10 minutes to sterilize. Using tongs, remove jars and lids and place on a clean towel to let cool.
    In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat, combine mulberries, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, boil for one minute, then drop to a simmer. Cook fruit, stirring occasionally, until foam subsides and mixture thickens slightly, about 7 minutes.
    Using a ladle, carefully transfer hot jam to sterilized jars. Wipe mouths of jars clean and screw on lids very tightly. Let cool at room temperature for at least 8 hours before using.

Sunday Blues

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Baby Daddy Day

Happy Deadbeat Dad Day

Tugboat Man Update

There are only a few blues in my garden — I wish I could successfully grow hydrangeas, but I think the soil would need a major overhaul.

I found these blues on my morning tour (to see if any more sick squirrels came to visit.)

Lily of the Nile, also known as Agapanthus…
against a backdrop of neon-pink Sweetpea Bush.

LilyoftheNile2 LilyoftheNile

An artichoke that didn’t get picked in time to eat. 

artichoke2

Lots of unpicked artichokes…see what the captain missed?

artichoke1

The only other blue is the flower from Ajuga, a ground cover.

ajuga

 

The Lovely Luscious Loquat (Jam)

I wish all of you could taste a freshly picked juicy loquat. It’s not a kumquat or even a distant relation…

loquatsI posted a pic of our loquat tree on my Facebook page and was really surprised to learn how many have never tasted this juicy sweet fruit.

Thin velvety skin embraces yellowy orange flesh that tastes  like a cross between an apricot and a peach.

loquatseededIf you have a chance to try them, just remember, the seeds are extremely toxic! They contain many toxic alkaloids like cyanogen-glycosides.

The grow all over my neighborhood — everyone seems to have at least one or two trees and they’re very prolific producers — but no one knows what to do with them. A lot of fruit is wasted — birds love them and so do fruit rats…ick.

Of course, they’re very healthy, too.

  • Low in calorie,, rich in insoluble dietary fiber; pectin.
  •  Excellent source of vitamins A and C, rich in potassium and some B-complex vitamins such as folates, vitamin B-6, and niacin.

Plus, loquat jam is delicious.

Loquat treeA couple days ago, I made a batch of loquat jam with this simple recipe:

Loquat Jam
Twelve cups seeded loquats. Leave the skins on but cut off the blossom end. Five to six cups of sugar. I used white sugar, but I’m sure you could play around with the amounts and use agave nectar or honey. I’m a cinnamon lover and added a couple tablespoons. Loquats are slightly bland and really respond well to spices. Add enough water to cover the fruit. Cover with a lid, quickly bring to a boil, and allow to boil for five minutes. Turn down the flame to simmer, uncover, and cook for a couple of hours, stirring with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t burn.  After a couple hours or so, I used my immersion blender and pureed the jam (the skins disappear), and continued to cook for another hour. After tasting it, I added a bit more cinnamon and three tablespoons of lemon juice which really helped the flavors develop. I wanted to turn it more apple butter-like and thick, so I carefully poured it into a crockpot and let it cook on low all night.

Loquats in bowl

Just started the cooking process.
It was a real surprise to watch the cooked loquats turn a deep rich burgundy.

Cooking loquats

Use an immersion blender to puree.
Time to sleep in the crockpot all night and get nice and thick.

Crockpot loquat

I’m really happy with the results. It looks a lot like apple butter.

Loquat in bowl

Jars and jars of jam!
I’m refrigerating jars; didn’t feel like going through the hot bath canning process.

Jars of loquat jamMore ways to preserve the bountiful abundance of loquats:

  • I’m freezing some fruit whole to use in smoothies.
  • Drying the leaves to make loquat tea.
  • Loquat salsa, like mango salsa.
  • Loquat cobbler. YUM.
  • Chutney

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Lemoncupcakesingle

My version topped with a lush garden strawberry

A while back I read Our Growing Paynes post about Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. (Click here for their recipe.)

I love anything lemony and it looked so amazing and mouth-watering that I had to try it.

There’s a tangy sweet burst of lemon curd and fluffy meringue in every bite.

It brings out the Nigella Lawson in me to try and conjure up sensual adjectives to describe how they taste.

chocolate babkaMy tugboat man said it was the best thing I’ve ever made, and ranked it right up there with the Chocolate Babka I made a while back.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Lemon curd, cupcakes, and toasty meringue…how could it be anything but spectacular?

I made the Lemon Curd the day before.. the old school way with my mom’s vintage double boiler. There’s an easier microwave version that has great reviews; try that one if you’re short on time. This is the recipe I used:

3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Whisk eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a double boiler over simmering water until mixed well, then continue to stir until thick, 7 to 10 minutes.
Drain through a mesh sieve to get rid of lumps. Fold in butter until well incorporated. Mix in lemon zest. Cover curd and chill in the refrigerator until it’s thickened, about four hours. Very important to sieve it, don’t skip this step.

The finished product. So smooth. Like lemon velvet.lemon curd

The vanilla cupcakes ready and waiting for embellishment and a little sparkle.
vanilla lemon cupcakes

The meringue.
lemoncupcake4

It’s fun to core out a bit of the cupcake ‘cos you can eat the middle and pretend it doesn’t have any calories. I used a tomato stem end corer —
a weird but very useful tool. Works great for strawberries, too.
tomato stem end corer

Fill holes with lemon curd and spoon meringue on top in fluffy clouds of goodness.
Place in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. Don’t go too far away because it takes just a second to go from beautifully toasty brown to burnt.
Lemncupcakes3

Out of the oven, I topped each with a lush garden strawberry.lemonmerenguecupcake1

That first bite… Cake, lemon curd, meringue.
ABSOLUTE HEAVEN.
There are no other words necessary.
Thank you, Our Growing Paynes!lemonmerenguecupcake2

 I’ll make it again for the captain’s welcome home dessert.