Finca La Isla Botanical Gardens

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A highlight of our trip to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica was visiting a working tropical farm in the jungle. Here a father and son raise pepper, cacao, tropical fruits, and ornamental plants. We had a lesson and tasting of local fruits and learned how chocolate is made.

Continue reading “Finca La Isla Botanical Gardens”

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Wild oysters in Costa Rica

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As you may know about me, I love oysters! Not only do I like to eat them, but I use their shells extensively in my art work. They are a symbol of my father’s family and the time they farmed oysters in Washington. Continue reading “Wild oysters in Costa Rica”

Something so nice

There is something so nice about a red bowl, and a red bowl made by a friend. Holly Himes made this lovely vessel. She has the pottery studio near my Kitsune Community Art Studio.

I enjoyed eating my homemade lunch in my new bowl – quinoa with spinach, caramelized onions, yellow squash, and a few pomegranate seeds for accent. It held the meal like a special sacred feast!

Korean tacos?

We went down to the San Francisco Ferry Building to check the gourmet food carts I keep hearing about on Twitter. I was on a mission to try out the Korean tacos.

They were terrifically yummy with Korean BBQ beef, rice, sesame seeds, green onions, sauce, and nori. They reminded me of spicy sushi hand rolls.

Ander went for the Roli Roti Chicken Truck and had the Roli Special ($6): Chicken, juicy and tender, and potatoes topped with rosemary salt. He liked it!

There were plenty of other choices to try next time. The trucks or carts move around the city. You can find out more about them at Yelp.

Brazilian city makes food a basic right, ends hunger

I am very inspired by what this small town was able to do. Belo Horizonte, Brazil declared that food was a right of citizenship. What a novel yet obvious action!

At that time, the city of 2.5 million had 275,000 people living in absolute poverty, and close to 20 percent of its children were going hungry. Since the declaration the city has all but wiped out hunger and only spends 2% of the city budget to do so. It’s all about working with the local farmers and the community. Why not here in Half Moon Bay?

Read more about it at treehugger.com.

Some SF restaurant finds

I have been going into San Francisco every Friday to teach my elder art class in the mornings. I treat myself to lunch after and have been going around the City exploring for tasty delights.

I like Rose’s Cafe in Cow Hollow http://www.rosescafesf.com/. They are simple, snappy, and good. I had a roasted beet, fennel, radicchio, and avocado salad and then a very yummy dessert which was a special – warm fig and raspberry flaky tart with a big scoop of caramel ice cream which melted lovingly with each bite. I had to take a bite before I photographed it! I looked on their website and they make all their own breads and pasteries, so no wonder it was so special.

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pieSpeaking of sweet things, another place you have to try is Mission Pie in the “Mission” duh. I first went there with Janet and Susan a few months ago. Ander and I went again and it had opened up a wall and moved it’s entrance to Mission Street at 25th Street. Both times I went it was scrumptious! Great crust and not too sweet filling. We had a good cup of coffee to go with it. lucas-pumpkin

This not your ordinary pie shop. It has ties on the Coastside:

Mission Pie is a business venture that collaborates with the non-profit Pie Ranch, a diversified small-scale educational farm one hour south of San Francisco. Through hands-on work and collective reflection at Pie Ranch, San Francisco teenagers discover new competencies and insights that benefit them as individuals and in community.

The idea of Mission Pie is rooted in a conversation with Mission High School youth during their first visit to Pie Ranch in 2005. They remarked that many people in San Francisco don’t have the means to visit Pie Ranch to experience the personal connection with the farmland that sustains us. Mission Pie is an attempt to bridge that gap. Mission Pie is a tangible connection to Pie Ranch; a place, like the ranch, where people can gather with a sense of community purpose and belonging. Since our opening on January 3, 2007, Mission Pie has provided jobs and training for the youth Pie Ranch works with at the farm.

They are taking orders for Thanksgiving pies:

Apple Pie
The classic double-crust pie made with an assortment of apples from NanaMae Orchards and other California growers.
Pear Cranberry Pie
Sweet, ripe Bartlett pears and fresh cranberries are topped with a brown sugar crumb.
Walnut Pie
Craig McNamara’s walnuts have inspired our spin on the traditional pecan pie.
Pumpkin Pie
Our seasonal favorite is made with a mix of roasted pumpkins and winter squash from Pie Ranch, enriched with milk and cream and sweetened with brown sugar and apple juice.

Spicy, tasty, fresh Peruvian cuisine

Friday after I taught my elder art class, I went exploring on Filmore St in SF. I used to hang there when I was younger, but not in a loooong time. I came upon a really great restaurant I want to recommend called, Fresca. It said “nouveau Peruvian cuisine” on its sign. I thought that sounded kinda hoitty toitty, but thought, why not give it a try.

I had a large bowl of roasted mussels with chorizo and a zesty tomato broth full of garlic and onions, for $10. It came with 2 slices of toasted garlic bread. Though this was an appetizer it was very filling and satisfyingly wonderful. Many diners were going for the seafood ceviche which looked glisteningly fresh.

Here are some other appetizers on the menu:

camarones chicama « coconut crusted jumbo tiger prawns, black bean salad, lucuma-orange glaze.
crab croquetas « jumbo lump crab cakes, coconut cream, mango coulis, pickled papaya salad.
papa rellena « fried potato croquette, beef picadillo, pickled onions, aji panca miso.
ceviche 5 elementos « halibut, lime juice, rocoto aji, red onion, sea salt.
ceviche chino « big-eye tuna tartare, ponzu sauce, avocado, aji huacatay, butter lettuce, wonton chips.
ceviche mixto « squid, halibut, prawn, clam, cilantro, red onion, rocoto aji, lime juice, sea salt.
tiradito « kona kampachi sashimi, jalapeño, soy, white truffle oil, andean corn.

When I looked up their website I was surprised to see that they have two other restaurants in the SF – one on 24th St and the other on Portal Avenue.

I highly recommend Fresca – the one on Filmore anyway. It looks a little fancy for a quick lunch, but the staff is very friendly and the food is terrific!

“The work an unknown good man/woman has…”

“The work an unknown good man/woman has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.”

— Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish Writer

I had to update Carlyle’s quote to include “an unknown good woman”, but I like the sentiment of his saying.

Some days I feel hopeless, as if what we do does not make much of a difference. I mean how do we go up against those that make decisions based on making more money for the rich? Those that make decisions that hurt the earth and the other residents on the planet?

I just read a piece on “resilience” by Carissa Wieler, a Integral Psychology student at JFKU. Her writing really resonated with me and reminded me of this important word. She says resilience is “the ability to be present in ambiguous situations with no clear outcome by developing realistic faith and hope and tempering the need to control.”

I get this concept of resilience when we garden. When we plant the seeds and have no idea if they are going to like our soil or if it will be sunny this summer or if the salty wind is going to affect the growth. We water and wait to see what comes up and are delighted when we see the green shoots peeking through the dirt. We continue nurturing the seedling till we can harvest the lettuce, tomatoes, chard, or whatever. There is great delight in eating what you have help create.

We want to sustain this resilient spirit by recycling the kitchen and shower water for the garden instead of letting it go down the drain. Ander is setting up rain catch so we can harvest what falls from the skies this winter and use it for gardening when it is dry. We hope to continue eating from our garden and using little energy, by living our small footprint live style. It is our small attempt at doing what is right for us in the world.

Does any of this make a difference in the world? Is the effort worth it? I believe it is with the many gardening folks doing the same thing in their backyards and on their balconies. Our resilience can pay off. Just putting your hands in the soil can change your energy and that of the land you live on. Connecting to the earth and her goodness can only make one smile and that has to be good!

Beautiful San Francisco Birthday Tour

For our dear friend Charlene’s birthday, Ander and I took her for a San Francisco whirlwind tour of some of our favorite places. We did not tell her where we were going, so each stop was a surprise.

First we had a lovely lunch at Fog City Diner on Battery and The Embarcadero. I used to go here a lot when my friends were working around the corner. The food was still great after all these years. Luckily we made reservations ahead because it was pretty hopping. I had a crispy reddened snapper sandwich which was spicy and delish, and Ander had a 1/2 pound Niman Ranch burger. Charlene had the Chicken Schnitzel with broccolini and lemon caper butter. Everything was served promptly by a very responsive waitress and was terrific. The restaurant looks a bit garish on the outside, but the inside is all dark wood and there are booths or tables  and a busy liquor and oyster bar.

After our meal we moved on to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. I chose this because she and I both enjoy gardening and flowers. It turned out Charlene had always wanted to go here and so it was perfect!

The Conservatory is one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in San Francisco and the 12,000 square-foot greenhouse is the oldest existing glass and wood conservatory in the United States. i think it looks like the American version of the Taj Mahal!

The greenhouse is divided up into environments: lowland tropics, highland tropics, aquatic plants, potted plants, and a special exhibit area. The temperature changes as you move from one are to the next.

These tropical flowers brought a smile because they reminded me of my mother and grandmother who lived in Hawaii.

This little guy was fascinated by the fiddle heads. There were many kids there with their parents.

The special exhibit area featured info on pollinators of all kinds – bats, birds, wasps, bees, and butterflies. A few butterflies fluttered about to the delight of the many kids.

I love the aquatic area – check out the video:

Walking in this most wondrous place I really got a sense of peace and calm. Charlene’s comment was, “How can you not believe that there is a higher source after being here.”

Last on the tour was the De Young Museum. Here we stopped for coffee and shared a fruit tart and opened presents. We then went up the elevator to the 9th floor to see the view of Golden Gate Park and surrounding San Francisco area. It was a bit foggy, but that just added to the timeless, mysterious, landscape of The City.

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Here is the birthday beauty!

It was nice to be a tourist and have a play date with our dear friend. I recommend getting out there and enjoying our local venues to remember why you live in this terrific area.

Garden warrior makes a difference

Our garden is doing pretty well this year due to the diligent
efforts of Ander. The Gophers have been managed effectively. Here though, they put some muscle into moving some of the bricks outlining the flowerbed. I’m amazed at their strength!

Mostly we have been inundated by earwigs. Ander has been going out almost every night to pluck them from our veggies. Another route he took was to embed plastic yogurt containers with oil, soy sauce and brown sugar in them and put the id, punched with holes, back on top. The earwigs love the concoction!

We are getting an abundance of squash this year. Last summer the gophers got them because we had not secured the wire under the raised bed.

Favas are thriving also. They are a widely planted crop by the big farmers on the Coastside. Though they are labor intensive to peel to get the edible part, they are very nutritious and yummy.