Monday, July 27, 2009

Parson Jones

Parson Jones, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Redwoods are tall trees. Really tall trees. Sometimes so incredibly tall that they dwarf anything nearby...including other redwoods.

This tree is named Parson Jones, and is found in Armstrong Redwoods State Park. At 310 feet tall, it's one of the biggest trees in the area...truly an amazing sight!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Suspended World

Suspended World, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

Taken back when the grass was green and the rain was falling. There will be no rain here for at least 2 more months, probably 3 months. Fortunately for California, the National Weather Service is predicting El Niño for the coming winter, which means above-average rainfall!


Across the country, farmers' markets are in full swing. These berries were a local market and looked incredibly good. Raspberries at the market were cheap, as well as tomatoes and pretty much all the vegetables. My best find was Fresno chile peppers, which are used in Indonesian cooking - score!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Foothill Sunset

Foothill Sunset, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

The hills are golden this time of the year, and while that means the wildflowers are gone too, it doesn't mean there are no scenes left to photograph.

The hills turn an ethereal pink just after the Sun sets behind the mountains. This photo shows the Sun about 30 seconds before it disappeared into the coastal hills.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thai Spring Rolls

Thai Spring Rolls, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

These tasty Thai spring rolls are easy to make and don't require any super-exotic ingredients. Filled with clear noodles, pork, cilantro, pepper, and carrot, they're an explosively flavorful snack that will be sure to please.

Thai Spring Rolls (Po Pia Thot)

- 1 frozen package of spring roll wrappers (8” × 8”)
- 1 lb lean ground pork
- 2 small packages of mung bean thread noodles (4 oz.)
- 2-3 cups shredded fresh carrots
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- few drops of sesame oil
- fresh ground pepper
- vegetable or canola oil for frying
- fresh chili paste (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and fresh ground pepper. Soak or boil the mung bean noodles until tender and cut them into shorter pieces. Add the noodles, carrots, garlic, ground pork, sesame oil, optional chili paste and cilantro to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

Peel the spring roll wrappers and store them under a damp cloth towel until use. Take about 2 tablespoons of the stuffing and place in each wrapper. Roll the wrappers up and seal them with a few drops of water.

Fry the spring rolls in vegetable oil on medium heat until they turn golden brown and are cooked through. Serve with a sweet and sour sauce, such as nuoc mam.

Recipe adapted from:

Thai Food Tonight


Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Cave

The Cave, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

A cool hidden cave in Las Trampas. It is only accessible if you hike off-trail. Many such caves dot the area, as the common sandstone outcroppings are easily weathered. Some of the largest caves to be found are in Diablo Foothills Regional Park...they are home to owls, hawks, and falcons.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Golden Grass

Golden Grass, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

The unusual thing about California is that the state turns green in the winter and become golden in the summer. Well, it would seem unusual to anyone from out of state, but we don't have summer rain that the rest of the nation enjoys. There's been no heavy rain since early April, and there won't be any storms on the horizon again until October.

Most of the grasses that become golden in the summer are actually not from California, but instead originated in Europe. Seeds of these grasses were transported to the state with early Spanish colonists. The result is the popular conception of "the golden hills of California".

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

July Sun

July Sun, originally uploaded by ParsecTraveller.

The sunrise above Mt. Diablo yesterday. It was absolutely freezing out, with thick fog only 1 ridge top away from us. Still, it was a beautiful morning!