Friday, September 9, 2022
Friday, August 12, 2022
|Piles of boards and branches down hill from our house|
Fire season cleanup is in high gear in my North Berkeley hills neighborhood. Piles of dead branches can be seen in the front and back of many houses and every day we hear the loud whine of chainsaws and the whir of chippers in our neck of the woods. Because fires can sweep in from forested Tilden Park up the hill from us, this area is especially vulnerable and cleanup efforts are taken seriously.
|Complete Tree Service sent a skilled crew|
|Piles line Keeler, a few blocks above us|
Our next door neighbor's collection
|This one's on Shasta Road|
All these piles start to look alike. This one was hauled away a few days ago in a big truck. They didn't wait tor the city to come
|Our Westinghouse generator in it's wooden sound insulating box|
Like many of our neighbors, we installed a generator to prepare for preemptive PG&E power outages which could leave us without power for long (or short) periods. After experiencing some of these, we decided to find a generator. In 2020 during the Pandemic, it wasn't easy to find generators, much less parts to install them, but we persevered. Dean even built a sound deadening box to shield our household from the machine's excessive noise; he also converted the generator from gas to propane. Both of these were major projects which will pay off if the power goes out.
It's still cool and foggy up here, but we're not fooled. Sooner of later there will be heat waves with dangerously high winds and the smell of smoke from fires near and far. So we're checking items off our to-do list and making every effort to prepare for any emergency Mother Nature throws our way
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
|Ricki's house in San Francisco's Richmond district|
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
|She loved her set of 6 hand painted Norwegian bowls|
|Rügen's spectacular coastline|
|Villas south of the pier on Rügen as photographed by Élodie in her blog Memoirepleine|
Monday, May 30, 2022
|Here's the new Lomi Kitchen Composter|
Finally another blog on composting, but instead of my green bin I'm featuring a new, high-tech kitchen composter. An impressive Canadian company called Pela, known for their bio-degradable phone cases, has recently introduced a countertop machine that actually "minimizes food waste at the press of a button." Pela's goal is to create a waste-free future, so for a start they've created this futuristic, high-tech version of a green bin with many fewer steps. You simply fill it with food scraps, press the button and in a few hours you've turned your leftovers into nutrient-rich dirt. If you don't have your own compost pile and garden, or you live in a place that doesn't have a city-wide recycling program, this sounds like a great solution (all you need is $499.)
|Here's my green bin 10 years ago . It still stands in the same place on my kitchen counter|
Though Lomi's kitchen composter is awesome, I'm not planning on retiring my green bin any time soon. I praised it ten years ago when I started this blog and I'm still as enamored as ever. In the first "Me and My Green Bin" post on May 7th 2012, I described "MONDAY MORNING"--- the time when Berkeley recycle trucks pick up green waste in our neighborhood.
Exactly10 years later I still collect veggie and meat scraps in my green bin...
|92nd Street Greenmarket vegetation collection|
Monday, May 16, 2022
|The rock that Deb brought me after her trip in 2000|
My friend Deborah worked with me at the new Berkeley Sur La Table when it opened in 1996. Sur La Table was founded by Shirley Collins in 1972 and had a single retail location in Seattle's Pike Place Market until Seattle power COUPLE Renee and Carl Behnke bought it in 1995. We heard rumors that Ms. Collins had overextended the store's budget by buying too many pieces of French Copper and was forced to sell. In any case, the new owners wanted to expand and decided to open a second store in the developing 4th Street area of Berkeley. All the French copper cookware found its way to the Berkeley store, adding to its allure. I was hired to curate the extensive cookbook collection and Deb came along shortly after we opened. It was an exciting time to be working on booming 4th Street and in the energized Sur La Table spinoff. The company was later sold to an international corporation based in Bahrain and is no longer the fun store we opened.
Four years years after the Berkeley store opened, Deb decided to travel to Ladakh, the mountainous region in Indian-administered Kashmir which borders on China. It's known as "little Tibet" and is home to thousands of Tibetan Buddhist refugees. I thought the trip was a crazy idea, but I did enjoy following her altitude training and itinerary, which had her arriving and departing from New Delhi.
|Tibetan characters on a small rock that I keep on my dresser|
After she left there were of course no emails, no instagram posts or cellphone photo exchanges, and we didn't hear about the trip until she got home. I remember Deb looking fit, thin and tan when she returned to work, and she had many stories to relate in her inimitable fashion. One included the story behind the souvenir she so kindly brought back for me:
She had picked up several rocks in New Delhi en route to her trek in Ladakh and then when she arrived she told me, "she paid a Tibetan monk personally to engrave the mantra 'keep moving' on one side and the date, 8/5/00, on the other." Since the Buddhist monk spoke no english, we were never sure of the exact translation.
I have kept this prized possession on my dresser as she advised and have glanced at it now and then. The other day I picked it up and was shocked to see that 22 years had passed. Then I wondered what that scrawled blue message actually said; I had always thought it was in Hindi. Luckily Sherab, a close friend of my sister's in CT, got his PhD in Sanskrit at Berkeley, lived on the subcontinent for many years and is fluent in a number of its languages. I sent him a picture of the rock and waited for his reply.
Sherab came up with all the information we could possibly want! First, he confirmed the language as Tibetan. He said that Tibetans are famous for writing on rocks. All over Tibet one sees prayer stones and other messages scrawled on rocks, so these small souvenirs made sense.
Now for the translation: Sherab pointed out that Tibetans were not likely to say "keep moving" and without even consulting his dictionary he pieced together a poetic rendition true to the Tibetan spirit and a fitting memento of my friend's trip to Ladakh.
From the path, a beautiful way
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
As usual she seamlessly blended the two Spring holidays in one riotous setting
Before we left for San Francisco on April 15th, she texted me a preview of the table that awaited us, so I knew beforehand that this was another masterpiece
The last time we all met for this annual event was in 2019, before the pandemic forced us to cancel the next two. I recorded the details of that lovely party HERE. You can observe the very different table below set with French china and decorated with centerpieces of pastel roses and pink lilies
|One of the blooming centerpieces on the 2019 Seder. table|
This year she mixed Italian plates from Deruta with Provencal Pierre Deux napkins, charming paper placemats with lemons and dyed egg 'place cards' with names written on each one.
The centerpieces consisted of vases of hyacinths, daffodils and hydrangeas among other spring flowers
Here's Ricki's seat marked by a dyed aqua egg in front of the traditional Seder Plate. The bowl on the right is filled with her dynamite charoset along with symbolic maror (horseradish), a bitter herb (parsley,) and a lamb shank .
Our Seder meal was traditional but simplified to suit the guests' preferences. Our preference is to indulge in Ricki's awesome Matzo Ball Soup and her tasty apple and cinnamon Charoset spooned onto matzoh, and not have to save room for a main course that always follows. She makes her broth ahead of time with one chicken for every 2 people. This ratio results in a rich, tasty broth with plenty of chicken to add to the soup along with her masterful matzo balls. She learned the technique for light flavorful balls in her mother's kitchen in Walnut Creek.
Matzo ball soup isn't very photogenic, but boy is it good. This year we all ate our fill and then enjoyed side dishes that the hostess had assigned.
Sande prepared perfectly simmered asparagus that she bought at the Marin Farmers Market, from Fiddler's Green situated in Yolo County.
I brought my first noodle kugel, since that's what she requested. Some years ago a guest ordered one from Zabar's, the well known Jewish Deli in New York, but kugels are simple to put together so I made one from a recipe in Bon Appetit. It turned out really well, better than Zabar's, so I plan to make another one next year.
Lots of good red and white wine spurred bursts of hilarity during the often solemn reading of the Haggadah. We broke for dinner halfway through and thoroughly enjoyed our Passover meal. Then we finished the reading and drank more wine with Ricki's homemade Almond Macaroons and my Lemon Bars. We finally parted at midnight, looking forward, as always, to next years celebration at Ricki's.