Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring On The Central Coast

"Why we love it here so much", or -
"Why you should come and visit us", or -
"Another reason I consider myself a very spoiled person"

Did I mention that as I took this photo it was about 65 degrees and the air smelled salty and clean?
Or that I took this photo when I was on a hike at Montana de Oro State Park?
Did you know that they have a great campground there? And a beautiful old ranger station? And about a million raccoons?

Well, 'great campground' to us means no noise, no frills (i.e. toilets that flush, sinks, etc), but a nice flat spot and a big fire pit (we are rather into fire).

Just thought I would send out an invitation to come to our neck of the woods (or rub it in, depending on your viewpoint).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Spring!

My neighbor's pasture has once again become my favorite place, because of the baby lambs that are currently being born. And now that I have refilled my allergy medicine, I can once again run (or walk!) past them every day. There are still turkeys and deer wandering around the fields, but the sheep are by far my favorites. The babies are SO cute. They actually frolic - there aren't many creatures that do. Sometimes they butt heads for fun, and sometimes they run amok. I am easily entertained.
One of the reasons I love the lambs is because of a book I read, Phillip Keller's A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23. Keller really was a shepherd, and describes the incredible difficulties of keeping sheep. What a pain! Sheep apparently are scared of just about everything, and can't eat or drink well unless they are calm and relaxed (thus the need for green pastures and still waters). They will, though, eat stuff that kills them, and will run off of cliffs if so led. Yep, sounds like us. No wonder God has to be a Good Shepherd - and what an unending job! So as I hang out in my own green pastures (our yard, a baseball field, the rolling hills that are that crazy green color), I find myself being extra grateful for my Shepherd and His amazing and patient care of us all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More Farmgirl Adventures

We had our 'farmgirl' meeting yesterday, at farmgirl Sally's house, which is out among the oaks, and beautiful. The winter rains have made everything that crazy bright green color that I try to capture every year on film, to no avail. And Sally has a front porch swing that looks out over the landscape, which made me want to just bring a book and park there for a while. But we had to head inside, because we learned to make ricotta cheese yesterday. I thought it would be complex and stinky, but discovered that it is extremely easy, much to my joy. And it doesn't smell at all, because the cheese doesn't sit around. The whole process took about 20 minutes - I am not kidding! And it involved only milk (or half and half, or cream), lemon juice or vinegar, and salt. In fact, it was so easy that I made up another batch when I got home and we ate it for dinner with some pasta (I put the 'recipe' below). It is always exciting for me and my self-esteem to find out that I can indeed do something that previously seemed scary or intimidating. And if a dairy product is involved, well, then, all the better!
However, that was not even the most exciting part of the meeting - we got news that one of our farmgirls could not attend because she (this is so awesome....) got run down by a bull and actually tumbled down a hill and cracked a rib. This is possibly the 'farmiest' thing that's ever happened to someone in our group. And it wasn't even her bull...there is a rancher named Chet (how's that for a cowboy name?) who owns 700 acres that back up to everyone's property, and a few of his cattle broke through the fence and entered her yard, and she was simply trying to shoo them out. All I could say was, "Wow!"
Well - here's the pasta recipe that we happily ate last night for dinner:

3/4 lb whole wheat penne, cooked
2 cups grilled chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces and warmed through
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup torn fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
Toss all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and let sit in a warm oven until warmed through

To make homemade ricotta cheese:
We used 'recipes' and directions that we got online at allrecipes.com and epicurious.com
Ricotta cheese is also referred to sometimes as 'Farmers Cheese'