Friday, October 9, 2009

Mini Vacations Rock!

I’m leaving for the weekend. No computers for me, or The Husband! We’re heading for San Diego. Here are some pictures off the Internet, this is where we’ll be staying. And I’ll try to take some pics of my own. I doubt I could capture a torrey pine better than what I've posted though. Hope you all have a great weekend. I know we will!!!

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Enough With the Pumpkins Already!

When autumn arrives all we hear about are pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins! Hey, I love pumpkins and squash and Indian corn as much as the next gal, but let's consider pomegranates.

I was inspired by Lauri Kubuitsile’s photo of her struggling pomegranate tree in her garden over at her blog, Thoughts From Botswana. If you haven’t yet read her blog, pop on over, she’s a terrific writer, and a fascinating woman living in an fascinating country.

You see, I’ve always wanted a pomegranate tree of my own. Did you know that California is the only state here in the U.S. where they grow outside of greenhouses? I didn’t, I just read that today. You will find pomegranates mentioned and depicted in literature and art since ancient times, from Greece to Persia, throughout the Middle East and Asia. Some claim this unusual fruit is capable of curing infections caused by tapeworms and dysentery. The high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals stave off many illnesses.

Let’s celebrate the fall harvest of this wonderful fruit with a couple of tasty recipes:

This salad is terrific, utilizing another fall fruit available in vast quantities here in Southern California—persimmons:

3 fuyu persimmons, peeled, chopped (1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces), seeds (if any) discarded
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 Granny Smith or Fuji apple, peeled, cored, chopped (1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces)
7-10 leaves fresh mint, thinly sliced crosswise (stack then, then roll them up like a cigar and take slices from the end)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey

Gently toss all of the ingredients together.
Serves 4.
Keeps for at least a couple of days in the refrigerator, but best eaten same day it is made.

So, now for a more decadent recipe featuring pomegranates:

Easy Pomegranate Cake

Preheat oven to 350, line 8” square pan with parchment paper

1 cup sifted cake flour
1tsp. Baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pomegranate juice

Whisk together cake flour and baking powder and set aside.
In large bowl beat eggs till foamy. Add sugar 1/4 at a time and beat well after each addition until light and fluffy and stiff. Add flour mixture to egg mixture 1/4 at a time, alternating with pomegranate juice. Beat until well combined.

Pour and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Until center springs back when lightly touched. Cool to room temperature. Pull out parchment paper to remove from pan. Frost with favorite cream cheese, or butter cream frosting. Or, simply sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Do you enjoy pomegranates? Were you aware of how good they are for you? Do you use them in cooking?

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fearless Author?

My mother was a difficult woman, to say the least. She was extremely religious, started out a Catholic, but switched over to an organization that would be considered a cult by some Christians. I won’t name her religion of choice; I’m not out to make any enemies. I was the middle child, but in a sense I was also the oldest. My sister is only two years younger than I am, but my brother is eight years older, and he was drafted into the military when I was ten years old. Dad took a job in California. Mom promised we would move south to join him when the school year ended. But, she wrote my father a Dear John letter, telling him that she intended to stay put. Dad didn’t buy into her newfound belief system, and he was put out. After that, it was just Mom and us two girls living in Oregon.

We moved out of our three-story house on a tree-lined street and into a crappy apartment in a complex full of single mom’s with troubled kids and teens. I started looking after kids and through the years became the babysitting queen of the complex. At one point, (try to understand, this was in the late sixties), I earned about ninety dollars a week. That was a lot of dough for a kid. I spent my loot on clothes and shoes. But, I did manage to save enough to fly down to see my dad in California.

When I was sixteen, Mom decided to move by her family, way up north in Canada. Once we were settled, not only did my sister and I have our religious mother breathing down our teenaged necks, we had our Aunt and Uncle, (we lived on their property), and the entire congregation of that one horse town breathing down our necks. My sister was strong and not a people pleaser. She had no problem standing up to my mother and refusing to go to the many meetings we were required to attend weekly. I tried my best to make Mom happy. I thought that if I complied with the strictness, she would finally accept me. Mom loved me, but I just grated on her nerves because she claimed I was just like my father. I guess I am like him. Born that way. Hopeless from the get go.

In the tenth grade, or grade ten, to use the Canadian term, I was chosen to enroll in a special program. My English teacher determined that I was a gifted writer. (I had been writing since the age of seven, in my mind I was going to be the next Jane Austen.) I ran home to tell Mom and met with undeniably vehement disapproval. I had to fight in order to participate in the program. My mother allowed me to enter the program, but made me take all the bookkeeping and business machine courses, because I would surely end up working in an office, just like her. My aspirations to be a writer were at best at pipe dream.

Right up until her death, her voice played in my head every time I sat down to write. What would she think about what I had written? Would she disapprove? And then she passed suddenly, in her chair, in her sleep, her beloved Bible in her lap.

Losing Mom was devastating. I know it wasn’t as heart wrenching for me as it was for my sister, (they were tied to one another emotionally and in proximity much closer), but I had no idea just how strongly I would miss her presence in my life. We talked on the phone, a lot. She would come to visit and we would go out to lunch after sightseeing. (I still get a pang when I see a daughter and her mother out to lunch.) But, I was free! I could write whatever I wanted. I know--when you get right down to it I was always free to write whatever I wanted. But somewhere deep inside I never gave up on trying to please her and would edit myself constantly. I'll go so far as to say that I couldn’t really write honestly at all, until after she was gone.

Do you worry about what others, or that certain someone will think of your material, should you write what’s in your heart? Do voices sound off in your head if you approach certain subjects, or matters that might ruffle feathers? Or, are you a fearless author? If you are one of the brave ones, did you start out that way, or did you learn to throw caution to the wind? Just curious.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley

Monday, October 5, 2009

San Juan Capistrano

This weekend The Husband decided to take a little detour, as we were speeding down the freeway on our way home after meeting the kids at the airport, he decided to take the Ortega Highway over to the coast. I was bare-knuckling it, I can tell you that much, as we climbed the windy road up and over.

We stopped in at San Juan Capistrano. The mission is Orange County's oldest community. We had an appetizer and a glass of wine at Sarducci's next to The Capistrano Depot, then made our way across the tracks to The Los Rios District. Forty homes remain, three are the original adobe structures that housed workers building the mission. Circa 1700-1800's. The houses are private residences, many house businesses open to the public. There's a museum, nursery, and petting zoo as well. I was intrigued by the giant pepper trees. And, naturally couldn't resist snapping pics of the quaint houses. We didn't visit the mission, as The Husband had visited before, and I've been many times. I am the official tour guide for friends and family, from, Canada, Florida, and Michigan, it seems.

I wanted to stop at the beach but we had to get home, as I'd left the dogs outside and it was getting chilly. Hope you enjoy the pictures I took.

A Little information about the Swallows:

They're on their way.

The famous cliff swallows leave town every year in a swirling mass near the Day of San Juan (October 23), are returning from their winter vacation spot 6,000 miles south in Goya, Corrientes, Argentina

They land at the mission in San Juan, California, on or around St. Joseph's Day, March 19, to the ringing bells of the old church and a crowd of visitors from all over the world who are in town awaiting their arrival and celebrating with a huge fiesta as well as a parade.

Legend has it that the swallows took refuge in the Mission San Juan Capistrano from an irate innkeeper who destroyed their muddy nests. The swallows return to the old ruined church each spring knowing they will be protected within the mission's walls. In fact, the city has taken their safety seriously passing an ordinance against destroying their nests.

So-called "scout swallows" precede the main flock each year by a few days but the majority of the small birds usually arrives on the 19th and begins rebuilding the mud nests that cling to the ruins of the old stone church and throughout the Capistrano Valley

The mission, originally built from 1776–1806, was seriously damaged in 1812 by a deadly earthquake and was never fully rebuilt. It is the seventh in a chain of 21 California Missions all supposedly separated by the distance of a day's walk. The adobe Serra Chapel section of the mission has been rebuilt and it is now the oldest building in California still in use today.

If you come to Southern California, you ought to visit Capistrano. So much to see. I'm adding this town to our list of towns we might consider retiring to!

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Yesterday we met our oldest daughter and her husband for breakfast at the airport near their house. They had heard that they served a good breakfast. The food sucked, (the coffee was dishwater), but we all had a good time anyway. How could we go wrong with grand daughter Brynn was in attendance? The Husband was checking out this Lamborghini, I told him to pose as if it were his. (Our Chrysler was nearby, feeling totally insulted.) We're off today as well. Hope you're all having a great weekend.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.