Archive for the ‘community’ Category


This just in from WordPress. I had no idea WordPress did this sort of thing but I have to say I am just tickled pink.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when this review popped up in my email.  This blog is purely a labor of love. It is like giving birth once a week without any anesthesia.  So, this little summary review by WordPress served as, what I might have imagined a spinal block with a hint of an aphrodisiac added into the mix, might have felt like.  In other words, Really Good.

I would like to thank everyone very much for making this such a fun and rewarding endeavor.  Your visits and comments do make it all worthwhile. I hope to continue to touch on those areas I think might be important, fun, even engaging.

And to Samson, who when setting this blog up made it quite clear how often I had to post and how many words I was allowed to use, thank you my love. You are a tough task master and it was good advise that I hardly paid any attention to. Blogs were always, except for maybe the first one and I hope this one, over the allowed word count and sometimes once a week amounted to once every two or three weeks. But, I would never have done it or learned how to do it if it wasn’t for your encouragement and insistence. ♥♥  Kenny,the writer, is anxious to introduce me to commas.

So here are the results. Big Thanks Everybody.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 33 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 130 posts. There were 222 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 44mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 277 views. The most popular post that day was GMO part 2 of 5 The Big Bang.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were WordPress Dashboard, en.forums.wordpress.com, facebook.com, nongmoproject.org, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for black and yellow spider, simple plant cell diagram, animal cell, simple plant cell diagram with labels, and mugwort.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


GMO part 2 of 5 The Big Bang January 2010


GMO Story Continued: Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will be done on earth… part 3 of 5 January 2010


Black and Yellow Spider August 2009


GMO Story: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes part 4 of 5 February 2010


WILDCRAFTING: MUGWORT, (bonus plant Wormwood), YARROW AND RED CLOVER. And a little conversation with God and St. Francis on Lawns. August 2010
2 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

Looks like GMO’s and Wildcrafting take the cake. More on those things and I have some surprises up my sleeve. So, Samson that’s 500 words.

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This pictures says it all for me. This year is going to be all about Mother Nature, water, sky and everything in between.

In numerology, which is the study of numbers, such as the figures in a birth date, and of their supposed influence on human affairs, this year is a 4 or a 13. A little confusing because of the 11. Some say you can’t breakup the 11 and others say you can. I am going with the –you can break it up — So 4 is the number for this year.

“This is a practical year. A year of evaluating material things. A time to manage well. Stick to things and accomplish goals. A time to put ideas into concrete form. This is a year for building resources for future security. There will be more work than play this year. Avoid carelessness and accept responsibility. Not a time to trust to luck.” Numerology is also called arithmancy which I didn’t know.



Star Elders Calendar


What else is going on?  Native Americans are seeing  a lot of their prophecies taking shape. Interesting happenings occurring on Dec. 21  and Jan 4.  Dec 4, 2010 was a full  lunar eclipse on the winter solstice. Jan 4 will be a full solar eclipse on a New Moon.  Eclipses are viewed as opportunities in the great cosmos. A Stargate or portal of sorts.  Small window where change can occur. Here’s how  GRANDMOTHER SILVERSTAR describes it.

GRANDMOTHER SILVERSTAR,Wiċahpi Mazaska Waśté Wiŋ, No-qui-si A-de-lv U-ne-ga, Hee-do-ka sent the following to us:

O’śi-yo, Star Family Relatives,

“Brothers and Sisters, we are now in a sacred time between the eclipses, between the December 21, 2010, TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE and the January 4, 2011 SOLAR ECLIPSE.

Coming on Jan. 4, 2011 is New Year’s Day of The EarthStar Way Sacred 13-Moon Calendar.

All over Mother Earth, the Star Family will activate the Star Laws of the Day.  Thus, in “Ceremony of the Stars” the Star Family will pray together as ONE HEART. “

I kind of feel there is some ancient wisdom going on here and I really like the idea of everybody being together as One Heart.  So I will pass that on.

Here at Hole in the Fence I have 3 pet projects I am going to focus on:  One is water.


Miracle water


Water is a miracle and a mystery and so darn interesting we just have to get to know it better. Did you know that water has a memory? Oh Yea.

Two is GMO’s.




Monsanto is really doing the world a great disservice by contaminating the gene pool with GMO’s.  I really really don’t want my grand babies, or anyone’s children to have to deal with the wrath of a Women scorned, that would be Mother Nature, as she tries to sort out getting screwed over by profit pimps prostituting and raping all her children.

Three is Chemtrails.


Look Up

http://educate-yourself.org/ct/ aligncenter

There are streaks in the sky that linger for hours and hours. It changes the color of the sky and the weather. It blocks my sunlight. It blocks my gardens sunlight. I don’t like that. That is not good.  I want it to Stop until and when I find out what it is they are spraying, who is doing it, and why they are doing it?  If everything is fine I should be able to find the answers to those questions very quickly. If  the spraying is sinister and ill-conceived I have a feeling they will want to remain secret and keep what exactly it is they are doing up there a secret also. Sinister and secret is bad. Bad has to stop. That’s all.

That’s my three main things. If I have any time left over I will try to talk  Mr. Dalidio into planting timber bamboo on his 180 acres. Maybe take a yoga class or two and even a ceramics and videography class or get a degree in horticulture or botany. Plan a trip up the coast with my puppy dog to visit my kids and grand kids sounds like fun too.   Can’t forget to have fun. Fun needs to go at the top of the list. Still looking to get some Mount Shasta Water.

So, that is a preview folks. I am looking forward to making some real headway this year.  I am kicking off the New Year by heading to the refrigerator right now and pouring a glass of homemade eggnog with rum and bourbon in it.

“Stir the eggnog, lift the toddy, Happy New Year, everybody.”


click click

From mom with Love.






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You know the old adage, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?” I don’t know who said this but they sure knew what they were talking about.

When I  applied for a job at Brooks-Rent-A-Car in Waikiki and Patrick interviewed me it was love at first sight. I knew the moment I saw him he was the one. Winning him over was not going to be easy. This was Hawaii after all.  Hawaii is full of beautiful, gorgeous, sexy, woman and Patrick, being a gorgeous hunk himself,

A Happy Camper

was in paradise.

I was hired as his assistant dispatcher. I knew from nothing about dispatching. I had a lot to learn.  There was some strong competition going on with a little red-headed thing that worked as an agent in the front office.  She was always poking her flirty little self into our dispatchers office with some stupid question like “What time is it, ( wiggle, wiggle, giggle, giggle )” Shameless. Patrick was loving it. I needed a counter attack.

I asked him if he had ever had carrot cake. He laughed and said no. He laughed because he knew and I didn’t, that he hated anything that even remotely suggested vegetable.  I promised him he would love it and still I was getting this I-don’t-think-so-look.   Then to really sell it, I compared it to what was an all time favorite at the time, tomato cake. Oh yea, not good, that just made it real easy for him to made a yucky face and say No thanks.  Burn.  I am batting zero here. And little Miss perky, come and get it, was hot to trot.

So, I baked up the carrot cake anyway and brought it in.  I waited until the day before payday when everyone was broke and really hungry. I left it on the counter. He finally tried it. He loved it. He asked me out. I accepted. He asked me to marry him on our first date. I accepted.  No time to play hard to get, especially since the carrot cake was my ace in the hole.

Here’s the recipe that is sure to win hearts.


4 eggs
2 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon, a little nutmeg is nice too. (or more Cinnamon which has a great taste and is very sexy)
3 c. grated carrots
1 c. finely chopped up walnuts (or macadamia nuts if you can afford it)
Use Sunflower oil if you can. Good for you and high burn temp. Beat eggs. Add sugar and beat until well blended. Add oil, blend and then add all other dry ingredients, beat until mixed. Last of all add carrots and walnuts. You can fold these in at the end.
Grease and flour a bundt pan and pour cake batter into it. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 40 -60 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out dry. Don’t open the oven for the first 40 minutes. It will fall.
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 stick of  butter
3 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
You can do this frosting even though I don’t think it is necessary. I sift powered sugar over it. I don’t know what it is about this cake but you just can’t stop eating it. And the best part of this story, Patrick and I were married 6 months later. So it really works!!!
Now for Crazy cake. I looked all over the place for this recipe after I lost it. This is as close to the real thing as I have found. It is faster and oh so much better than a box cake. It’s called crazy cake because of the way you mix it up. It breaks all the rules and still turns out great!


  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (good chocolate makes the best cake)
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted room temp butter
  • 3/4 cup very strong hot coffee
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of milk with a tablespoon of vinegar in it (you just made buttermilk.)

O.k. here comes the tricky bit. Add all your dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Make a little hole in the center. Put the butter in the hole and pour the hot coffee over it, then add the remaining ingredients and mix. It may be a little thin. Not to worry.

Grease and flour a bundt pan. Pour batter into pan. Cook at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Don’t peek for the first 30 minutes.

I make a fudge like frosting by mixing 6 tablespoons of unsweetened chocolate, 1/2 cube of butter, tsp vanilla, about 2 cups of powered sugar and just enough 1/2 and 1/2 to make it spreadable. Or you can just put powered sugar on it. It’s all good.


Apple pancakes from the Pancake House

My mom worked at the original Pancake House on Lincoln Street in Anaheim. After Mass on Sunday morning everybody headed to the Pancake House. There was always a line.  Mom got me my first job there.  We worked for the Burkland’s in the early 60’s.  His name was Ray and kind of a stinker but the food was the best ever. Never got the original apple pancake recipe. This is my version. And I have to say it is pretty darn close.  So enjoy. The batter is a Yorkshire pudding recipe with sugar and vanilla added. Works great.

3-4 TBSP. sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2  teaspoon salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Additional butter, cinnamon and sugar.

Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. In another bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla and milk until light and foamy. Stir in the flour/salt mixture just until incorporated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and keep at room temp for a couple of hours. Can make up the night before, keep in frig. and then get it to room temp before using.  Whisk the batter before you pour to break down any lumps and add some air.

3 med. apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
freshly squeezed lemon juice sprinkled over apples to keep them from browning.
4 tbsp. butter
1/4 c.  brown sugar or just regular sugar works fine too.
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Saute apples in the butter, sugar and cinnamon until soft.

Place about 3 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch cast iron or stainless skillet, place skillet in oven to melt butter.  When skillet is hot and butter is melted remove from oven and carefully add batter, then spoon cooked apples on top. Immediately put skillet back in oven. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until puffed and brown. Serve dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

All these recipes are basic stuff.  Add more or less of anything and make it your own. Have fun. Hope you enjoyed these. I sure did. I had to test them all before I put them up here.  Oh the sacrifices I made for these blogs.

Happy New Year EveryoneFrom the Blackwell’s.



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1 of 2 secret ingredients

That’s Nutmeg and it is 1 of 2 secret ingredients in creamed spinach.  I am all about keeping things as simple as possible. Secret ingredients give a simple dish a taste sensation you never forget.  This recipe came from Mr. Stox in Anaheim. I was there 1974-76 when the Fahnestock’s owned it.

We had just returned from Northern Minnesota where we filmed a documentary about “Living off the Land.” We built a log cabin, planted a garden and Uncle Kenny, (who 6 years later would win an Emmy for writing Hallmarks Hall of Fame Promise, the most honored movie in television history), filmed everything for our future prosperity. Our Future is still in the can. Samson was 18 months at the time. How cute was he? Some things just never change.


Samson 18 months

Just a little history and an excuse to show off some baby pictures and brag about Kenny George.  After 6 months of living in the wild getting a job in a 5 star restaurant that paid actual wages as opposed to film credits and served food I didn’t have to hunt and fight the mosquitoes for was the dream job.  Here is where I segue way into one more of my favorite dreamy recipes.

Creamed spinach was a Mr. Stox specialty. It was a side dish served with the Wednesday Prime Rib luncheon special.  I liked the English cut (thinly sliced) with creamed horseradish sauce (recipe in Part 1).  I think what makes some dishes extra special are the portions. The Prime Rib with the creamed horseradish was the main event and just perfect. The O’Brien potatoes bite for bite just the right amount. Then the creamed spinach was the ever so subtle compliment to the Prime Rib and potatoes that left you wanting just one more bite. But alas, it never came. Instead you would think about it all week and show up the following Wednesday and the whole cycle would start all over again.

So, the other secret ingredient to this ever so rich recipe is to serve small portions and no seconds. Leave them longing for just one more bite. This will insure your reputation as a great cook which has more to do with some tricks of the trade then expertise. I am very good at learning the tricks of the trade.  Here’s creamed spinach ala Mr. Stox via mom.


  • 1 pound of fresh spinach, washed and tough stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup sweet yellow onions
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 finely chopped hard-boiled egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of chicken stock ( I only use organic BETTER THAN BOUILLON Chicken base)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Always, Always use fresh spinach. I have used the frozen in a pinch and it is not the same.  This will serve 4 and leave them wanting more.

Melt the butter in medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and chicken stock, cook, stirring until the broth reduces down. Add eggs, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, simmer, don’t boil, until the cream is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve immediately. You can adjust all of this to your own taste.  This is also a good base for anything Florentine.  I promise you will be wanting more even before you take your last bite.

Damn Yams-Yum

Damn yams have a very long history dating all the way back to the 5o’s when all the relatives and friends, neighbors and some homeless guy Dad found under a bridge would all meet up at our house early to start cooking the holiday feast.  There were green beans to string, corn to chuck, apples, potatoes and yams to peel and topping everything off, an apple strudel stretching contest. Mom and Dad put the Bird in the oven the night before so mom (dad always had something to add) held the distinct honor of making the best turkey dressing ever. Mom was a great cook. Grandma was Austrian so she came by it naturally.

Ten or more people in the kitchen cooking and preparing was always  hectic, frantic, and pure fun, with projects in every corner of the kitchen.  Someone was always in ‘charge’ of the mayhem. Aunt Mary, the youngest of mom’s 7  sisters, a 2nd grade teacher, very methodical,organized and who regarded spontaneity as 4 letter word, got the honors in this, the year of the yam.  To be fair this was her first time directing chaos.

Oven space was key to cooking the feast and timing critical. The routine in the past was when the Bird came out the yams went in.  So when the turkey came out and no yams were going in everyone looked to Aunt Mary. This was quite the faux pas. She kinda forgot to assign a yam crew.  It isn’t holiday dinner without yams. Forget the beans. Forget the corn. But don’t forget the candied yams.

Being a fun and creative group  we found a couple of cans of pumpkin (same color) and a bag of  left over marshmallows from 4th of July (it’s a wonder we all didn’t all die) threw it in a casserole, popped it in the oven and dubbed it damn yams. It was pathetic and we fooled no one. From that thanksgiving on, the battle cry was ” don’t forget the damn yams.”  Aunt Mary and marshmallows were forever banned from the kitchen. She was  grateful for the demotion though as she starting working on her celebrating skills instead.  She got pretty good at that cheering thing.

Yams are really Sweet Potatoes

And damn yams are really pumpkins.  Click on the link above and learn the nutritional content and difference between a yam and a sweet potato. I am going to call them yams because candied sweet potatoes just doesn’t sound right.


  • 4-5 fresh yams
  • 1  cup brown sugar (brown sugar is granulated sugar with molasses added,you can make your own)
  • 1/2 cup Maple syrup (the real thing is best)
  • 1/2  cup honey (orange blossom is you can get it)
  • 1 cube of butter
  • 1/2 cup of frozen orange juice mixed with 1/2 cup of water
  • a smidgen of nutmeg
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a dash of vanilla
  • orange zest

Peel yams and cut in cubes or half circles. Shape doesn’t matter you just want it all uniform so they cook evenly. Melt half a cube of butter in a large frying pan. Saute the  yams until heated through 15-20 minutes.

Add all the remaining ingredients in a bowl, mix and pour over the yams and heat up. Butter a casserole dish, best if it has a lid.  Add a little dusting of orange zest to the bottom of the casserole.

Transfer everything from the frying pan into the casserole dish. Dollop the remaining butter over the yams. Cover and bake at 350 degrees until  yams are cooked through. About 45 minutes. Cook last 10 minutes with the top off.

One year just for fun I made a crumb topping out of Nabisco’s nilla vanilla wafers and sprinkled it over the top. Very nice texture. Big Hit. Finely chopped pecans adds a nice flavor too. Have fun with this. Increase, decrease ingredients substitute maybe even a little almond extract instead of vanilla. I don’t think I have ever done the same recipe twice. I am thinking of adding Grand Marnier this year.  Over the years though, there is still one rule that stands firm,  NO Marshmallows in the damn yams. That’s the law.

Spice pot

On Dec. 1, to get us all in the holiday spirit and get our brains thinking about cooking and baking, I pull out the spice pot. It is  an old copper teakettle that lost its lid. I put cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, nutmeg and a little allspice, spicy teabags, in it and fill it up with water and let it simmer on the stove.  The whole house smells like apple strudel and pumpkin pie. Really gets me in the mood to start cooking. Don’t forget to turn it off when you leave the house. Oh oops.

O.K. people hope you give these recipes a try. Variety is the spice of life and a little spirit, as in Grand Marnier,  never hurt anything. See you next week.

Next week Desserts. Crazy cake, carrot cake and apple pancakes.


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For the foodies of the world you know there is a world of difference between real Hollandaise and a ‘reasonable facsimile’. Once you taste the real thing your life is changed forever.  I   learned very early that Eggs Benedict was all about the Hollandaise and anything less than perfect sauce and Eggs Benedict turn into Benedict Arnold. The important thing is after many failed and disastrous attempts with recipes involving double boilers, packaged and canned Hollandaise, I happened across an absolutely fool-proof, succulent, deliriously delicious blender recipe in Woman’s Day magazine. Eggs Benedict with broccoli or asparagus and O’Brien potatoes turned out to be a signature dish of mine and a great way to get the kids but mainly Patrick, who never met a vegetable he liked, to eat their broccoli. Picture this with all the trimmings on your table in less than an hour prep time.

Love at first Bite

Here’s what you need.


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 shake of white pepper or black pepper  is o.k. (it’s an aesthetic thing)
  • 1  cube of butter
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (vinegar goes in the water to keep the eggs from separating)
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce

Put egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce in blender. Heat butter in small pan until bubbly. Do not burn. Cover blender and whirl at high-speed for 2 or 3 seconds. Remove center section of cover or entire cover and at high-speed pour in hot butter in a thin, steady stream. It will take about 30 seconds. This will cover 4 servings. Plan on using all the sauce. It is a real pain to heat up.

That is all there is to the best darn Hollandaise you have ever tasted.  But first before you make the Hollandaise prepare everything else first.  It is all about the timing.  Once you do this a couple of times the timing will just be second nature. The fun thing is you get to eat all your mistakes. You will make subtle changes to fit your own taste, I usually add more lemon, and eventually create your own signature dish.

Heat up a cube of butter in a pan. Start water boiling in another pan with about 3 inches of water, a  little salt and the vinegar. This is for your poached eggs and the vinegar will keep the eggs from separating. In a skillet add a little butter and start cooking the ham. I use turkey ham, your choice. Cut up and butter both sides of an original English muffin and warm it up in a toaster oven, or put on top of the ham slices. I think warmed up muffins taste better than toasted one.

Now start you sauce. Use room temperature eggs. I prefer fertile eggs and as fresh as you can get them. Also, the lemon juice is  2.3 on the acid scale and will kill any salmonella or e-coli bacteria. I have been making this up for years and have never had any problem. If you are going to have asparagus or broccoli start steaming them now also.

When the sauce is done start to poach the eggs. Drop the eggs into simmering, not boiling water. Boiling will break them up.  Watch  them closely so they don’t get hard-boiled, this takes about 2 minutes. You can lap water on the top of the egg to give it a uniform color. While eggs are poaching  put the ham on the muffins and muffins on a plate. Use a slotted spoon and grab the eggs, one by one, and put on top of the ham.  Take a spoon and start scooping the Hollandaise onto the eggs. Save some for the Broccoli or asparagus. A little drop of Worcestershire or Tabasco on the Hollandaise, ask for a drum roll, present, say a prayer because the first bite you will think you died and went to heaven.

Admittedly, there are some people I would not allow to attempt this recipe because their forte is eating and not cooking, Hi Sandy Girl, ♥♥.  These are the friends you invite to share the love with during the Happy Hollandaise. Bon Appetite mon cher’s.

Here are 3 other very simple sauces. I am just putting these out there to show you how easy these are to make and what a delicious difference homemade makes.

Apple Sauce


  • 4 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar (raw is fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon ( to taste, I like a lot)


  1. In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher. I add a little lemon juice to the apples while I am peeling them to keep them from browning and it also adds a nice tang and brings out the flavor of the apples. You can add this sauce to muffin and cake recipes. Makes them extra moist.

Cranberry sauce


  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. You can mash and strain at this or not. It is entirely up to you. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. Spread on  left over turkey sandwich and watch it get gobbled up.

Horseradish sauce

It’s true you either love it or you hate it. I couldn’t eat roast beef, corn beef or pastrami without it. Guess that makes me a lover. I make fresh horseradish and  add a little sour cream or whipping cream for a more spreadable consistency. Add capers, sweet pickle relish to that mixture and you have an outlandish remoulade sauce for fish. I keep a fresh supply of horseradish on hand to take for colds, sore throat, coughs, sinuses infections. Horseradish contains potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as volatile oils, such as mustard oil (which has antibacterial properties due to the antibacterial mechanism of allyl isothiocyanate).[14] Fresh, the plant contains average 79.31 mg of vitamin C per 100 g of raw horseradish. Known to have diuretic properties, the roots have been used to treat various minor health problems, including urinary tract infections, bronchitis, sinus congestion, ingrowing toenails and coughs. Compounds found in horseradish have been found to kill some bacterial strains. If  you are not a lover but want the medicinal properties you can always smother it in honey, hold your nose, if you can’t smell it you can’t taste it, and swallow. Of course it may still cause your eyes to water because of its pungency but no pain.

If you can’t get it fresh plain prepared horseradish in the refrigerated section of the grocery store is the best. The less preservatives the better. Add your own sour cream.

O.K. folks that is it for this week. Enjoy. I talked myself into Eggs Benedict for dinner tonight.  Next week creamed spinach from Mr. Stox and candied yams from never-never land.

p.s. Left over egg whites what to do?

Here are some suggestions on what to do with left over egg whites. If I find more I will put them up. Meringue cookies and baked Alaskan.

  • Store Individually – Drop one egg white in each section of a ice cube tray and freeze.   Remove the egg white cubes and store  in a freezer style zip-lock bag.
  • Store in Quantity – If you have large quantities of egg whites pour them into an airtight container and freeze.  Make sure to measure the whites and mark the container appropriately.  To use, remove the container from the freezer and allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Facial – Beat one egg white until it is frothy. Spread it all over your face. Allow the egg white to dry.  You will feel your skin tighten as the egg white dries. Rinse it off. Your skin will have a nice tingly feeling.  Do not try this if you are allergic to eggs.


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There is a lot going on in the world and in our lives. This is the perfect time of year to take a break, recharge our batteries, have some fun and think about our happy place. For me, Food is a very happy place. I love eating it, making it, exploring it, experimenting with it, growing it, thinking about it, fighting over it, all of it.

I hitch hiked around Europe back in the 60’s. That’s what we hippies did. I worked 3 jobs for a year, saved every penny, invested in the hitchhike’s bible at the time which was Frommer’s Europe on $5 a day,  packed my backpack and headed off into the wild blue yonder. Needless to say in order to stay for a year I got the $5 a day down to .75 a day. Even at that I gained over 70 pounds. Did I mention I love food. And food loves me. It took me almost two years to lose all that weight once I got home but it was so worth every single morsel.

I have over the years acquired some very tasty recipes which I usually prepare for the holidays. This is one time when all good sense, counting calories, making healthy choices, goes right out the window. It is a no holds bar taste sensation.  Sharing the love just makes it all that much better.  So, I am going to do a little series here starting Monday on  family secret recipes. I will start out with sauces, fool proof to die for blender hollandaise, apple, horseradish and cranberry sauce.  Then some side dishes, creamed spinach (recipe from Mr.Stox where I worked for 2 years) candied yams, on to desserts like carrot cake, crazy cake, Mexican wedding cakes, apple pancakes recipe from the original Pancake House in Anaheim (my first job) and who knows what the creme de la creme will be.

Besides my family and friends I can’t think of anything I enjoy more than Food.  So, see you Monday. Now back to the drawing board and get out the mixer. ♥♥♥♥

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We don’t do a lot of recipes here but this one is just too good to pass up.

I love potatoes. All kinds of potatoes, boiled, baked, mashed, roasted, broasted, toasted, fried,  grilled, twice baked, skins on, skins off, creamed, scalloped, potato pancakes, potato soup, tots and balls, warmed up, cold, even raw with a little salt on them. So, when I tasted the grilled Romano potatoes,

30 years ago, at the Crab Cooker in Newport Beach I had to ask. “How are these made?”

Just to warn you though after 30 years of tinkering and playing around there is not much of the original recipe left. Here’s where it all started with the Crab Cooker.  They boil’em,  mash’em, bake’em and then grill’em. Mashing stage they add Romano cheese of course and here is what I thought was the secret ingredient, they put their dill pickle tartar sauce in it. I looked high and low for dill pickle tartar sauce. Dill pickle relish. No body ever hear of it. Do you think they were pulling my leg?  I couldn’t find it anywhere.  So that is as far as I got with the original Crab Cooker recipe. Instead, I used sweet pickle relish with extra mayo and Parmesan cheese instead of Romano.

Because of the high volume at the Crab Cooker they have trays and  trays of mashed potatoes that they keep warm in the oven and  throw on the grill for that hint of mesquite just before they serve it up. They are always delicious! My mouth is watering just writing about it.   I never got to the baking or the grilling stage either.  I don’t know why I am telling you all this except I don’t want the Crab Cooker suing me for trade secret violations.

This is what their recipe turned into. I use freshly harvested new potatoes from the garden. Yea, that is not always going to happen. I had about, count them, 23 tiny to medium tiny potatoes this year and ten people for dinner.

Ten people =10 pounds of potatoes. Buy what you need.

Cut up in quarters

Boil in chicken broth and save the broth for gravy


This year I added homemade Italian dressing which includes, oil vinegar, garlic, salt pepper, and Old Bay seasoning, (I use this on everything)  Wish Bone Italian Dressing is o.k.

About  half a cup of  homemade mayo (this is too easy to make and a shameless promotion of a video I made.) or Best Foods Mayo is o.k. too

Added some left over philly cheese (optional of course)


salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh grated parmesan cheese and not just any parmesan.  No skimping here.   I was watching a cooking show. The lady described this kind of  Parmesan as a cheese that if you had to pick one cheese to be stranded on a deserted island with it would be Parmesano.  Note the spelling. The authentic parmesan cheese ends in an O.

The only true Parmesan Cheese is authentic Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy. It takes about 8 Gallons of milk to make a pound of Parmigiano Reggiano! This cheese has a high protein and vitamin content and is praised for calcium as well.
It is not necessary to be an expert cheese maker to recognize real Parmigiano Reggiano, the markings are pressed into the whole side of the cheese wheels.  According to the ancient laws of Rome, this cheese can only be produced in a very limited areas of Italy. This is one of the key reasons that this cheese can not be copied.

Trader Joes sells is it for $13 a pound and I honestly can not live without. It is to die for.

Then if I am feeling particularly playful I will add a tablespoon of sweet relish just for the fun of it and for old time sake.

Because we are on the road Thanksgiving day, I make the potatoes the night before and put them  in a 9×13″ baking dish so I can just pop it in the oven to heat up when the turkey comes out. These are so good you don’t need gravy.

But if you must have gravy, save the broth from potatoes and add it to the turkey drippings. First, add 5 or 6 tablespoons of flour to the drippings.  Heat and stir until the flour has soaked up all the drippings then slowly add the broth, stirring all the while. At the end  add milk or half and half to make it really creamy.  Oh my god this is a little piece of heaven.The gravy recipe is from my sis Michelle a dear friend from Lake Arrowhead. It never lumps, is always perfect.

Now in case you need to feel guilty about all the calories in this dish let me just put your mind at ease with the nutritional benefits of potatoes.

Potatoes contain all 22 amino acids to form complete proteins after easy digesting. It makes for easier protein absorption than the digestive effort of breaking down the complete proteins in meat and dairy.

Potatoes are a high source of potassium, even more than bananas, and are rich in other minerals. They are also rich in Vitamin C and B6. More importantly, Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Roy Navarre has identified 60 different kinds of phytochemicals in the skins and flesh of a wide variety of potatoes. If you need more convincing click here and learn how Potatoes can save your life. It’s all good.

Food is one of the great joys in life.  Playing, inventing, experimenting, writing, reading, tasting, food is a wicked pleasure.  And even though parents always tell you to never play with your food I give you all permission to break this rule and Have Fun with your Food.

Happy Turkey Everyone!

The Blackwell’s

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This is a Cattail

A Cattail is regarded as one of the Fantastic 4.  One of 4 plants that could save your life. Know what the other three are? Here are the parts of the Cattail that we are going to be talking about starting with the roots and rhizomes. Rhizomes are underground stems. They turn into the shoots, stalks, seed heads with Male and Female parts and are all edible. There can be little corms at the base of the rhizome which are just young shoots. These are particularly tasty and can be eaten raw or cooked after the outer peel is removed.

From the rhizomes you get flour, starch, and sugar syrup. Edible anytime of the year, needs to be cooked or roasted and tough outer layer  removed to get to the soft, inner core.

A simple way to eat cattail rhizome in the field is to bury it for about five minutes in a bed of hot coals and then chew the sticky starch out of the outer rhizome and the strings that run through the center.

Next, the young stalks can be eaten raw or cooked after the outer leaf blades are peeled off like a leek. Here is where the rule of thumb saying came from. To get to the soft inner core you push on the stalk with your thumb and it separates the core from the stalk. Very nutritious. Taste like asparagus. Tends to be a little dry when cooked.  Butter or olive oil will fix that right up. The shoots provide beta carotene, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin C.

Everybody knows what a cattail looks like.  There is hardly a marsh, wetlands, or body of water, brackish or fresh, that does not play host to this hotdog-on-a-stick-looking plant.

If you only know Cattails from leafing through House Beautiful showing Cattail arrangements to grace a mantle or come eye to eye with them

confounding an ancient looking urn juggernauted on an endcap at Bed, Bath and Beyond

♪ Da DA ♪
♪ Da DA ♪

then I am going to tell you things about this plant you never knew and it may just blow your mind.

First, the bleeding obvious

Cattails, Typha latifolia, is a grass from the Gramineae family chiefly herbaceous but some woody plants including  bamboo; reeds, tules, bulrushes, sugar cane and cereals like wheat, oat, barley, rice, & rye. Difference here is that every part of the cattail, not just the seeds heads,  is usable.  Plant boasts eight food products, three medicinals, and at least 12 other functional uses.

Cattails are a 4 season plant which means you don’t have to wait for the right time of year to harvest it. It is always ready with something that is useful. So, lets start with spring Cattails and work through all the seasons. Easiest way to find Cattails is to go where you see last years stalks standing.  If you are starting from scratch then remember the look-a-like rule?   Cattails have 2

Look-A-Likes, oh my

One is an Iris which is poison and the other is the Calamus which is not. Let’s talk Iris first. Spring is the only time of year when there can be some confusion and for a very short period. Everything is green in spring and about the same size starting out. Iris and members of the Iris family only reach about 2 feet in height. Cattail’s get up to 8 feet and will tower over the Iris in very short order.  Just to be safe know your look-a-likes.


Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) and Yellow Flag (Iris pseudoacorus) and other members of the iris family all possess the cattail-like leaves. All members of the Iris family are poisonous.  Upon close inspection however, there is a very obvious difference. If you follow the  leaves which are flat and smooth with no ribbing to the flat fan arrangement at the base of the plant you have an iris. Cattails leaves have a midrib which form around a stalk and  they do not fan out. Iris’ are not edible but the roots are used as a fixative in dyeing materials.

The other look-alike which is not poisonous, but whose leaves look more like cattail than iris is the Sweet Flag or Calamus. (Acorus calumus).

Sweet Flag-Spring Cattail look-a-like.

Sweet Flag- Cattail look-a-like.

The leaves on a Sweet Flag are wavy and have parallel venation with a midrib. It has a seed pod growing out of the side of the stock.  Cattail seed pods are ALWAYS at the top of the stem. Sometimes the margins on the Sweet Flag are red. Cattail leaf margins are never red or wavy. The legendary Japanese sword Kusanagi got its name from the Calamus.  In some east Indian and Chinese cultures the roots of the Sweet Flag have many medicinal uses. Our American Indians used it quite extensively. So, if you find a Calamus make a note you may want to go back later.  If you are in doubt if the plant is a Cattail or a Calamus just bruise the leaf.  If it  has the sweet, spicy aroma it is a Sweet Flag. Cattails, if anything, smells like grass.

Second, a little less obvious

So, now you have a positive Cattail ID. It’s Spring. Now what? Make sure the water where the Cattails are growing is safe. No runoff, factories around, dumping, or contaminants in the water. Cattails are a super filtering systems. They will take up the pollutants, heavy metals, chemicals, and clean up the water.  However, all those chemicals and pollutants are now concentrated in the plant. If you eat from a plant in a polluted area you will be getting all the contaminates that plant took out of the water. So make sure your Cattails have a good clean water source.

In the spring the first thing you can harvest is the new shoots sometime called Cossack asparagus. You harvest it by running  your hands down the stalk to the base and pull. It pops off the rhizome and doesn’t hurt the plant at all. Peel all the outer leaves off until you get to the core

Peeled Cattail shoot
Peeled Cattail shoot

Cut the top tough part off. That is just immature leaf formation and the leaves are actually the only part you don’t eat. Leaves are used to make mats, shoes, hats, baskets very sturdy stuff if you know how to do it.  And if you burn the leaves and make an ash and apply it to cuts it will stop the bleeding. There is a mucilaginous gel between the leaf layers. Save this gel if you can.  It is used as a thickener in soups or spread it all over your body. It is an antiseptic.

A little later in the season but before the summer solstice the stalks will start to bulge out in spots. This is the seed head forming in the stalk. It’s edible.

Peel the covering away. The green flower heads can be steamed and eaten like corn-on-the-cob. Dip in butter. There is a core just like corn don’t eat that.

a steamed cattails

a steamed cattails

By mid-summer the yellow pollen will be falling from the spike atop the flower heads, and can be shaken into a paper bag to use in thickening soups or even mixed with flour for making bread or cattail pancakes.

The “fluff” of the mature flower heads was once used to stuff life jackets, and is still perfect as an emergency insulation. If you are lost and without sufficient clothing, you can fill your jacket with it. Use it to make a warm mattress as well with very tight weaved material so the fluff does not escape. Stuff it in your shoes to keep your feet warm. Keep the fluff contained.

Cattail flower head fluff is also very flammable. Break open a mature flower head (available almost any time of the year) and make a pile of it. Then strike a match to it, or even a good spark, and it will burst into flame. The tight heads are often dry inside even after a heavy rain, making this a great survival tinder.

Cattail Down
Cattail Down

There you have it. The Cats out of the bag now.  A real lifesaver in more ways than one.  My Hero.

Part 1 Wildcrafting: A Beginner’s Guild

Part 2 Wildcrafting: Mugwort, Wormwood, Yarrow, and Red Clover

Part 3 Wildcrafting Dandelions, Curly dock, Jewelweed & Making flower essences

Part 4: Wildcrafting: The CAT’S MEOW A  REAL LIFESAVER

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Life is a Cabaret

Prize in a Cracker Jack box, quite the cabaret for kids of all ages. Never know what you are going to get and always excited to find out.

I like a little cabaret with my Mongolian barbecue and for sure a couple of Velvet Hammers will get me dancing on a table top at the Lemon Tree.

What is not fun is Aspic, sometimes called cabaret, or eating fish sperm in my tomatoes, firefly larvae in my corn, or boobies in my rice. That is just weird and disgusting to me but apparently some people like it and that is why they make that stuff.

All I am saying is that Eating, Drinking and being Merry is what makes life worth living. So, the next time I go to buy some Cracker Jacks, tomatoes, corn,  rice, or pork chops, I want to see,  on the label,  if there is a disgusting surprise inside. If it says NON-GMO  on the label then no icky surprises.

Some people don’t care one way or the other about labeling the ingredients. That’s fine. The problem is I care a lot and need to know.

What is happening  is: There is a campaign to label all NON-GMO’s products for all those people, like myself, who don’t like disgusting, icky surprises in their food products.   That works for me. I know it would make a lot more sense to label the stuff  WITH GMO’s but that kind of labeling pissed off the “I don’t care what I eat.” people.  So, what we have are labels that tell us what we are  getting. We are getting a NON-GMO product.  If you care about labeling give these guys a look see.


Bon appetite

(Note: I endorse this project because I like it. It is not an advertisement and I get no kickbacks.)

Don’t know what a GMO is?  Here is a pretty simplified, somewhat entertaining version of what a GMO is.

Part 1 of the GMO story: Do Trees Sneeze?


Part 2 of the GMO Story: The Big Bang.


Part 3 of the  GMO Story- They Kingdom Come Thy will be Done


Part 4 of the GMO Story: Attack of the Killer Tomato


Part 5 of the GMO Story: End of the Line for GMO’s


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Find it – Dandelion – Id it


Taraxacum officinale

Know it

The name dandelion is a corruption of the French dent de lion meaning lions tooth which refers to the shape of the leaves. Dandelions are  little power houses.  You can use all parts, flowers, leaves, roots even the seed heads, which automatically prompts you to make a wish.  Also, ever notice that there are no dandelion puffs right before a rain? They all drop off so they are ready for a good drenching when the rain arrives.  This gets them a head start on reseeding themselves.  Leaves taste best when they are young. Like some older people I know they get bitter as they get older.  So leave them alone. However, in the fall after a hard frost the bitterness is dispersed and you can enjoy them once again. I wish this worked the same way on people.

The white stuff in the leaves and stems is natural latex.  In a pinch it will re-stick that stamp you pulled off and saved because it didn’t get cancelled by the Post Office.  It works.

One ounce of the fresh leaf  contains large amounts of  Vit A, calcium, sodium, potassium, and trace elements. The root of the plant is the part most often used for healing purposes. It is a blood cleanser. Good for cleansing the liver, kidney and gall bladder.  Collected in either the spring or fall, fresh dandelion roots can be peeled parboiled and sautéed to be served as a tasty vegetable.

Many European herbalist regard dandelion as one of the best herbs for building the blood and curing anemic conditions. I grab a leaf and pop it in my mouth when I am watering it.  It’s all good.

Because of the dandelion and its yellow flower that we see so often I am adding a feature so we can preserve the flowers for later. The new feature making Flower essences. It is very easy  to do,  packs a wallop medicinally and can be used with any flowers.  So, here is more about the dandelion and a feature on how to make flower essence.



That Learning Herbs  site above  is a very interesting site on wildcrafting.  It also offered a wildcrafting game for kids ages 4-adult that I had to have. It arrived yesterday. It is very clever. I particularly like the cooperation aspect of the game  (Nothing like monopoly, which I always hated). The idea is to  get to the huckleberry patch, pick 2 pails of huckleberries and then back to grandma’s before dark.  You have trouble along the way, scraped knees, bee sting, etc and the plants with pictures explaining which ones to use for the trouble.   What is really cool is you can share the plants you have collected, help players that are falling behind by picking berries for them or giving them your turn.  You win when everyone arrives safely back to grandma’s house.  It can be played in conjunction with an online webpage that enhances the story and details on the other plants on the board. I learned some stuff I didn’t know and that is always fun.  This is not a Milton Bradley production. This s a Family operation and it is very unique. Guess what the grand kids are getting for Christmas?

Flower Essences

You just have to try this. I have bought Bach’s flower essences before, Major (my puppy dog) and I are partial to Rescue Remedy. Couple drops under the tongue calms everything down, but they are  expensive, $11.95 for .25 ounce. I didn’t have a lot of dandelions so I used what I had, red clover, yarrow, honeysuckle violets and  borage.  Instructions said do flowers separately. As you can see I don’t always follow the directions. I put everything into one bowl.

Bowl of Flowers for essence

I am going to give you a quick rundown of what I did and then you check out the link below for more details.

Flower essence recipe: http://www.thedance.com/herbs/flhow.htm

  • Collect just the flower parts. Try not to touch the flowers. It’s an energy thing I think
  • Arrange them face up in a bowl of spring or filtered water
  • Put them in the sun for about 4 hours. Keep bugs out. Again, you don’t want any bug energy in this.
  • Remove flowers by straining into a clean bowl.
  • Put equal parts of brandy and the flower water into a dark glass container and cap it. Mix the contents by hitting the container sharply with the ball of your hand  30 times. ( I don’t have any idea why you do this 30 times. I did it because it sounded like there might be a curse attached if I didn’t.  I did it 30 times) Also, I didn’t have any brandy so I used Cherry Herring. After I did that I went to find out if it would still work with a liqueur. Silly me.  I learned that the difference between the  brandy which is  60 proof and Cherry Herring which is about 40-45 proof, oh and the taste, might be the reason for using the higher proofed brandy.  All I know is I sure like the taste of Cherry Herring better than Brandy but next time I will do Brandy. I think any distilled alcohol will do.
  • In essence you are done.  You have just made a tincture.  This is the mother. There are several other steps you do to extend the tincture but I ran out of Cherry Herring so I couldn’t do the next step.  Oh darn. I need to buy more Cherry Herring. There are many herbal remedies that call for tinctures. There is a lot of power in those little flowers and the power of the sun pulls it out and deposits it in the water. You now have the power. It’s Magic.  Go for it.

Find it – Curly Dock – Wild Yellow Dock – ID it

Know it

Curly dock in the fall

Curly dock is easy to spot in the late summer or early fall. It’s tall red seed stock is a head turner in open fields. Related to Buckwheat and rhubarb. The seeds are a great deep yellow dye source.  You use the root at this stage.  Dock root has a reputation among herbalists as an effective tonic and cleanser for the whole system.  They use it to  strengthen the circulatory system, the blood, liver, kidneys, and bladder. Dock has been identified  as a laxative. A tea made from the root of the plant is famous in Chinese medicine as a treatment for chronic constipation.  Good to know if you are on Vicodin. You don’t boil dock like other roots, you steep it. Place a teaspoon of chopped up dock in a cup and pour boiling water over it to the very top.   Cover it and let it steep for 30 minutes. Drain, reheat and drink.

Top pic is Curly dock in the fall.  The pic bottom left is curly dock in the middle of summer.  It’s a perennial so you could use the root at this point. Don’t eat the leaves now too bitter. Pic bottom right is Spring dock. Eat the leaves now. Nice lemony taste.

Curly dock mid summer

Curly dock in the spring

Here is more information on what to do with dock.  http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/cook/RUMEX_CRISPUS.htm

 Find it – Jewelweed – ID it

Know it

Jewel weed Impatiens species

This is a good one to find especially when you are out wildcrafting and come in contact with Poison Ivy/Oak. I just recently found this plant for the first time while I was collecting spring water.  There was poison oak everywhere and  right next to the poison oak was this little flower that looked like a baby orchid. I picked it and took it home to id it  and it was jewelweed.  The indians say that a cure is within arms reach.  I can attest to the power of this little plant.  Cassie gets poison oak really bad. We have tried a lot of things to relieve the itching. Jewelweed  is one of the best topical applications we found that really helped. Here is a video that gives a good closeup of the plant.

and here is a more detailed explanation of Jewelweed.


Wow, I am over my limit again. There is just so much to talk about.  More wildcrafting next week.

Wildcrafting part 1 Getting Started

Wildcrafting part 2 Mugwort, Wormwood, Yarrow and Red Clover And a conversation with God and St. Francis.

Wildcrafting part 4: The CAT’S MEOW A LIFESAVING PLANT

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