Category Archives: Articles

The Predicaments With Prickly Pears

For those of us who remember Star Trek, The Trouble With Tribbles provided figurative thorns in Captain Kirk’s side. Not to dissimilar is the predicament with prickly pears, except that they provide literal thorns.

Prickly pear cacti, a member of the opuntia genus, abound here in the Southwest. The cactus itself is a paddle with spines. In the summer, they first burst with beautiful flowers, and by mid-September, they are bearing the most fascinating fruit, aka Indian fig. When ripe, its skin is a vibrantly-rich maroon thick exterior ensconced with even more spines. These spines are hair-like prickles, the smaller ones almost invisible to the naked eye; and the more mature ones looking like barbs ready to strike. Touch one, and those almost invisible spines will not-so-politely remove themselves from the prickly pear and insert themselves into your penetrable skin. And that’s when the fun begins. Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself. Continue reading The Predicaments With Prickly Pears

Easy Entertaining — Dinner Party Soiree Made Easy

Charuterie Platter

 

 

 

I absolutely adore entertaining and feeding people. But I also want to enjoy their company when they arrive rather than being held captive in the kitchen, thus missing out on all the lively conversation.

If you’re like me, I have just the answer for you! A vegan charcuterie platter and a make-ahead entrée. Continue reading Easy Entertaining — Dinner Party Soiree Made Easy

Indigo Ruby Tomatoes

On the Vine

Last year, Richard and I built a raised bed garden structure out of pecky cedar. We choose that wood because it is untreated, and thus, was in alignment with our desire to have an organic garden. We built it ourselves and had some much fun in the process.

There are 36 3-foot rebar, some inside and others on the outside of the lumber, holding the structure together. Six ton of what was supposed to be organic garden soil was delivered and dumped into the raised bed, whose inside measures 8’x16’. We had irrigation lines put in to ensure adequate and consistent watering, even when we would be out-of-town.

Now, I’m sort of getting ahead of myself here. I should tell you that I am a Jersey Girl, born, raised, and lived the vast majority of my life approximately 12-20 miles outside of Manhattan. Richard, on the other hand, is from Washington State. And here we are now in Northern Arizona, where the climate is dry, the air is hotter, and there are pretty much two growing seasons. Geez, were we (and still are) on a huge gardening learning curve. Continue reading Indigo Ruby Tomatoes

Memories of a July 4 Weekend with a Dear Friend, Her Cake Pan, and Dark-Chocolate Black-Bean Fudgy Cake Squares

Terri’s Cake Pan
Time to Sample!

My friend, Terri, passed away more than several years ago. Like me, she had a love for vegan cooking and an equitable adoration for kitchen gadgets/equipment/tools. One of the beautiful items she left to me was this 9’x13’ metal cake pan with a green lid, with “Vegan Goodies” and pinecones/leaves etched into the top. It’s beautiful; and whenever I pull it out to bake in it, I am immediately brought back to fond memories of Terry.

As a sidenote, I’ll share one of my favorites with you. In 2010, we took the 7 hour drive up to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York for their July 4 Pignic. It was an idyllic weekend communing with all the beautiful farm animals that have been given a second chance and the ability to live out the remainder of their lives in peace, knowing love and compassion and no terror…a very different life from whence they came, factory farming. The weather was warm with a cooling breeze. We spent two full days on the farm and enjoyed their vegan barbeque and a couple of talks given by their more-than-adept staff. Continue reading Memories of a July 4 Weekend with a Dear Friend, Her Cake Pan, and Dark-Chocolate Black-Bean Fudgy Cake Squares

Eating Our Way Through Key West – Part 3 – The Final Chapter – Unexpected Delights

Walking up and down Duval Street, live music abounds, pouring out of restaurants, clubs, and dives onto the streets. The joint that we seemed most drawn to, however, was Willie T’s. It was an open-air, outdoor patio with some of the tables under an overhang. The genre seemed to be predominantly, if not exclusively, solo guitar rock / sometimes margaritaville-like male singers. Each evening, we’d stop and stand on the sidewalk, taking in the sights and sounds. We quickly came to a consensus regarding our favorite—John LaMere. His shtick was classic rock band covers. Geez, could he ever pull of a Mellencamp (as in John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp, now John Mellencamp)! It was not uncommon for me to break out in dance right there on the sidewalk! So, after our nightly sidewalk voyeuring, we decided that we would eat our final dinner at Willie T’s and arrive at the beginning of John LaMere’s set that evening. Continue reading Eating Our Way Through Key West – Part 3 – The Final Chapter – Unexpected Delights

Eating Our Way Through Key West – Part 2 – Hits & Misses

We awoke one morning, ravenous and deciding that we wanted to forego the vacation-standard, go-to, made in the room, smoothie. What to eat became the question. It was the only rainy day, at least it started out as such, so we decided to take a trek over to the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum, located in the Historic Seaport neighborhood. We fell into Two Friends Patio, one of the few remaining original Old Towne restaurants, established in 1967 and still family run. The place was hustling and bustling. Cutting straight down the middle of the restaurant, however, is an open walkway, so they had to close off some of the tables because of the rain. No one seemed to care, even those patrons who were graced with the occasional spray of rain. It really didn’t matter to us because, even though we had our all-weather jackets on, we were fairly damp already from the walk. We were hungry, that’s what mattered. And, they had a table with only about a 15 minute wait. Worked for us. Continue reading Eating Our Way Through Key West – Part 2 – Hits & Misses

Eating Our Way Through Key West – Part 1

Recently, my partner Richard and I had the exquisite joy of traipsing about Key West for a glorious nine days of fun and sun (and eating). Continue reading Eating Our Way Through Key West – Part 1

It’s A Wrap

With summer approaching, I love making quick and delicious wraps. They are so versatile, from what you put in them to what you choose to wrap them. They get in and out of the kitchen quickly, pack well for a hike or picnic, and are very nutritious and satisfying. Continue reading It’s A Wrap

Weeds! Aargh–no more! All Natural Weed Killer

When I bought my home just outside of Sedona, Arizona, I was thrilled that I had rocks instead of grass. Living in the desert, landscaping that required irrigation was of no interest to me, both environmentally and in terms of the time commitment. No grass! WoooHoo!

Ah, but I didn’t realize how little soil, if seemingly any, weeds need to grow here in this arid climate. It seems they pop up literally overnight! Go away for several days, and the property seems almost overrun with those pesky weeds.

‘NO’ to Roundup or anything else like it

I refuse to use chemicals, and I can tell you that the task of pulling weeds is excruciatingly daunting, to say the least. Well, considering the fact that it is more my partner, Richard, rather than me with whom this task befalls more frequently than not, I suppose I ought not to be whining quite so much.

So, regardless of who is performing the task, it is not sustainable, especially when we moved out here to be outdoors, but we were thinking more like hiking/walking, etc. Well, gardening, too; but that’s different, and another story for another day.

After last summer, we were both dreading the arrival of the weeds this season. And lo and behold, I got to talking to one of the local landscapers, who told me he refuses to use chemicals, not only because of the environment but also because of his own health and wellbeing. He was kind enough to share his recipe with me. Honest, it works! It might take a day or two for the stubborn, sturdy weeds to bow out; but they do and will. Never fails.

  • Pour one gallon of white vinegar into a bucket. Everyday 5-percent household white vinegar is fine for this weed killer. Costco trip proved fruitful…under $7 for two one-gallon bottles of white distilled vinegar. You won’t need higher, more expensive concentrations such as 10 or 20 percent. It may take two or three days longer to kill the weeds with the lower concentration, but they will die.
  • Add one cup of table salt. Costco again, for the mega-sized bag for under $3. It will last a couple of seasons. Stir the solution with a long-handled spoon until all the salt dissolves completely.
  • Stir in 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap. This will act as a surfactant and make the vinegar and salt solution adhere to the weeds more efficiently. Blend thoroughly.
  • Funnel the weed killer into a plastic spray bottle. We took the plunge here and actually purchased a pump sprayer that holds the entire gallon mixture and has a handle sprayer. Sure made this job easy to simply walk around the property, aim, and spray. No bending, no pulling, no carpal tunnel pain from pumping the hand-held spray bottles. Well worth the $15 investment.
  • Drench the weeds with the solution on a dry, sunny day. Coat all surfaces well with the spray. Any plants soaked with this solution will die within several days. They won’t be back and nothing else will ever grow there.
  • Store sprayer in a cool, dark spot indefinitely.
  • Depending on where you live and how wet/dry it is, do your walk-about on regular intervals to keep yard weed-free. Here is the Verde Valley since we have not approached the monsoon season yet, once weekly suffices. Once we hit the rainy season; however, I’m sure we’ll need to do it more frequently.
  • Don’t forget to admire how lovely your yard looks and remains.