Tuesday, September 30, 2008

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

After seeing some great recipes for French onion soup, I decided to try my hand at the dish. The end product was a success!

The soup was actually very easy to make - it just took a while to cook the onions.

Anybody have experience with French onion soup?

Monday, September 29, 2008

The View from Bishop Pass

Back in July, we decided to head down to the Eastern Sierras for some hiking. Our first time in the area was rewarding and spectacular. I highly recommend visiting.

On day 2 of our trip, we drove up to South Lake (elevation 9768') to start a hike. After trekking 6 miles one way, we finally reached our destination: Bishop Pass. At 11,972 feet above sea level, it was the highest I've ever been on land. The view from the pass was incredible - the expansive lakes we'd been hiking along earlier looked like puddles you could splash in.

Then it was only 6 miles back on tired-out legs...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tranquil Pool

Tranquil Pool, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

While hiking along a stream in Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, I came upon this little cascade and pool. The creeks in Las Trampas are something else, descending from rugged canyons into the flat valleys below.

Anyone else have some waterfalls nearby?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning

New morning glory flowers on my 15-foot vines. These 'Heavenly Blue' plants just keep on growing, autumn or not. Sadly, a squirrel cut one of the vines down at the bottom, and now it's shriveling up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Donner Creek

Donner Creek, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Donner Creek in Mt. Diablo State Park. To get this photo, I got down into the rushing creek with my tripod in the water. It really is an amazing creek, exciting and interesting. Upstream, in the canyons, there are several large waterfalls.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Frozen Lemon Custard

Frozen Lemon Custard, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Here's a delicious dessert that I made earlier this summer. It's great for a hot day, when you just don't feel like you can stand the heat anymore. The graham cracker crust is tasty...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Morning Glory Tower

This is part of the tower of morning glories in my garden. I originally had them on a 15-foot pole, but they kept growing to the top, so I put in some bamboo extensions the other day. They are already twining up!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn Arrives

Well, it looks like fall has officially arrived. The leaves are changing color (on the poison oak), and there is dew in the morning. The nurseries are filling up with chrysanthemums, lettuce, and flowering cabbage...

...and today it was 92 degrees.

How has fall started for other gardeners out there?

French Tarragon

I finally managed to find some French tarragon. This fragrant herb is essential in many French recipes, which is what I'll be using it for.

Anyone have experience with tarragon?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cool-Season Vegetable Seeds

Fall starts tomorrow, and that means it's time for cool-season crops. I ordered a bunch of heirloom lettuces from the Seed Savers Exchange, and picked up some arugula, chervil, mâche, and Chioggia beet seeds at a local nursery.

I've already planted some of the 'Rouge d'Hiver' lettuce in a wooden wine crate.

Anyone else have some cool new vegetables to share?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall in Las Trampas

Fall in Las Trampas, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

The poison oak is getting some amazing color right now. Although fall doesn't officially start until Monday, the plants can tell that the seasons are changing.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The package from the Seed Savers Exchange came today. It was surprisingly early!

In the envelope were seed packets for 'Gold Rush', 'Rouge d'Hiver', 'Green Oakleaf', and 'Speckled' lettuces. Has anyone grown these before? Any tips would be appreciated!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cascade on Big Pine Creek

This cascade is on the North Fork of Big Pine Creek in the Eastern Sierras of California.

The creek, fed by glaciers high in the mountains, flows down through the camp of Glacier Lodge and continues into the town of Big Pine. It really is an amazing creek, rushing and cascading over waterfalls and boulders.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Glacial Water

Glacial Water, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Second Lake, near Big Pine, California.

This lake is fed by meltwater from one of the southernmost glaciers in the United States, the Palisade Glacier. The finely crushed rock washed downstream from the glacier gives the lake its milky, turquoise color.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sweet Basil

The basil is now doing pretty well. I originally bought it as a 4-inch pot at the grocery store. Now it is in a 3-gallon container and still growing. The leaves go wonderful on hamburgers, especially when covered in a thin layer of Swiss cheese.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Las Trampas Fern

Las Trampas Fern, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

A backlit fern in the hills of Las Trampas Regional Park. The sun was just setting through the California bay trees and it was illuminating this fern.

Anyone gone hiking lately?


Now this is interesting:


This was taken from the National Weather Service. It looks like we just might get our first rain of the season here in northern California.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

I just made this quiche lorraine from a recipe found in a 35-year-old French cookbook, La Cuisine Toute Simple.

The quiche was actually pretty good. Just make sure you use plenty of Gruyère cheese - that makes for the best flavor!

Foggy Day in the Garden

Heavenly Blue, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

It's foggy outside right now, but that hasn't stopped the morning glories from opening.

The fog probably has, though, stopped the tomatoes from ripening...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Castle Rock

Castle Rock in Mt. Diablo State Park. This huge rock formation dominates the view along trails in the area.

Mt. Diablo is an incredible wilderness oasis in the heavily-populated San Francisco Bay Area. There are several endemic plant species found on the mountain, as well as rare animals. Mt. Diablo is a jewel of a park, and worth stopping by if you're in the area.

Heavenly Blue

Open, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

The 'Heavenly Blue' morning glories are finally starting to bloom vigorously. What an amazing color for a flower...I have never seen anything like it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

'Cairo Apricot' Hibiscus

Some flowers on my 'Cairo Apricot' tropical hibiscus. This plant has been doing really well, with lots of healthy, green growth.

Plus, the plant hasn't had spider mites, a definite sign of success.

Has anyone grown this variety? It seems to be readily available, but I do not see many people growing it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Late Summer Glory

Late Summer, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

One of the many 'Grandpa Ott' morning glories this summer. They are actually experiencing a second bloom period, and the 'Heavenly Blue' vines are just getting started.

Does anyone else have some morning glories this year?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Light in the Forest

Sunlight penetrating the forest depths in Redwood Regional Park.

I highly recommend this park to anyone who lives in or visits the Bay Area. Definitely worth a side trip.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

First Cool Day in Months

Fall is definitely around the corner.

Today, we had the first actual chilly day here in the Bay Area. There was a marine layer (fog) that stayed around until about 10:00 A.M. Cool winds dominated the morning.

This evening, the marine layer returned, and it's brisk outside.

It's amazing to have clouds after going 6 months without them.

Anybody else seeing signs of autumn?

Zebra Longwings

Zebra Longwings, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Zebra longwing butterflies at the Golden Gate Park Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco.

They're hosting a live butterfly exhibit right now...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tomatoes...Almost Ripe

This cluster of 'Oregon Spring' tomatoes is almost ripe.

In my garden, 'Oregon Spring' has not proven to be a vigorous variety. The plant seems to be slow-growing, and the fruits take forever to ripen.

Next year I will try something else.


Orange Pepper

This 'California Wonder' bell pepper is almost ready to be picked. Anyone have some good recipes using bell peppers?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Redwood Forest

Redwood Regional Park, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Another photo from today's visit to Redwood Regional Park. This park is just minutes from Oakland, and a short drive from the inland East Bay.

It was 98 degrees inland today; at Redwood, it was 83. Talk about relief from the heat!

In the Woods

In the Woods, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Walking on the Stream Trail in Redwood Regional Park.

Although located a mile from Oakland, this park seems a world away. Huge, 150-foot+ redwoods stand majestically along the trails.

You will be craning your neck most of the time...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Trumpets of Color

Trumpets of Color, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

The 'Grandpa Ott' morning glories are going through a second bloom period. There were over 50 flowers on the plants today!

The 'Heavenly Blue' vines are not blooming much yet, but there are a lot of flower buds...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Earthquake Earlier Tonight

We had an earthquake here earlier tonight. Magnitude 4.0.

I was at a shopping center and I heard people screaming (seemed a little extreme for a 4.0).

Steel frames in buildings made a thundering sound, while the ground seemed to bounce up from underneath.

Ah, life in California. Always full of excitement.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ripening 'Oregon Spring' Tomatoes

After weeks of waiting, these tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen. In this photo, they are suspended above a bed of Thai basil.

How are your tomatoes doing?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Grandpa Ott

Morning Bokeh, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

These are 'Grandpa Ott' morning glories. They have been doing very well despite being confined to a container. The 'Heavenly Blue' vines are much taller though, and lusher.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Maple at Hemme

A bigleaf maple tree in the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness at Hemme Avenue in Alamo. This photo was taken back in April.

Right now, this area is dry and dusty, eagerly awaiting the first drops of winter rain...

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dessert at the Harbor View Cafe

Anyone traveling through Pepin, Wisconsin must stop at the Harbor View Cafe.

All the plates they serve up are delicious and creative. I was at this cafe back in July on a trip and was amazed by the superb food.

Definitely worth a stop if you're in the area and the cafe is open.

P.S. The one on the top is "Lake Pepin Lime Pie" and the one on the bottom is chocolate buttercream pie. Which slice would you like?

Temple Crag and Third Lake

I hiked to this lake back in July. The area around Big Pine and Bishop (California) is awesome. So many lakes and high mountains...

This body of water, Third Lake, is fed by meltwater from the Palisade Glacier, one of the southern-most glaciers in the United States.

Ready for Ignition

These 'Thai Hot Dragon' chile peppers are great. After turning from green to orange to red, they take on a heat that is 8 times more intense than a Jalapeno.

Some of the peppers are crinkly, and have almost no flavor or heat. They seem to die on the plant and dry before getting any flavor. Any suggestions as to why this is happening?