Apples to apples.

I can vividly remember loving a Berenstain Bears book called Learn about Strangers when I was a kid.  I don’t remember the actual plot.  I just remember Mama teaching Sister about how things aren’t always what they seem by cutting into a misshapen, lumpy apple that was beautiful & juicy on the inside and then, a beautiful apple that was worm infested and brown in its center.  Highly likely the reference stuck because it was about food.  Very predictable, but regardless, it’s a good one.

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The quack shack.

We’ve got a new mobile coop at Apricot Lane.  Introducing… The Quack Shack!  Congratulations Dave Schrecengost (my dad!) for the clever name.  The duck house naming competition was fierce.  The winner beat out, “The Quack Pearl”, “The Jolly Quacker” led by Captain Quack Sparrow (of course), “The Quackmobile”, “Moby Duck” and more. In the photo above, can you see one of the ducks taking in the view?   Quacks me up.

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Different perspectives.

This shot was taken from a helicopter flying over Apricot Lane Farms.  Do you see the psychedelic-looking block towards the bottom of the photo?  That’s what we call Block M, or the “Fruit Basket.”  Seventy-four varieties of fruit call that space home, and the paths that wind throughout it are designed to offer horse drawn carriage-rides through the blooming trees, one day.  I love this photo because it gives me new perspective on this place we call home.

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My friend frivolous.

Nestled within many of the cracks and crevices of my past lies the need to be perfect. Not necessarily the kind of perfection designed to seek external approval, although we’ve all fought those battles every now and again. Haven’t we? Maybe. However, the most common battles of my past have involved wasted time or resources.

Before, when I brought home a pretty new sweater, I needed it to fit just right. I felt failure when it didn’t because I would then have to make the time to return it or feel the waste involved with not. Another example, I would feel uptight when a new kitchen gadget ultimately wasted space and then required the time for a drop-off to Goodwill. My perfectionism also trickled over into money. For example: Halloween costumes. I used to get stressed out while putting together a costume because of the money and time (double whammy) I was spending on something that would quickly be rendered useless.

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I could feel it.

My husband can take a picture. God love him. Organic Spark is one lucky little blog when John’s around during the perfect storm of a finished recipe and “magic hour” (5pm-ish – dusk, the hours of beautiful natural light). I actually took the photo below. I do my best, but it was John who captured the soft beauty in the granola parfait above. If I haven’t mentioned it before, his film Rock Prophecies is going to be airing on PBS nationally in September. And these days, he’s sifting through the world to choose his next subject. Lucky subject that will be. John captures raw, gritty and touching humanity through his lens. He shares the flaws, the heart and perhaps most importantly, the personal struggle. He uses a balance that manages to capture the heroic in the ordinary, which in turn allows us each to recognize our own heroism. John generously shares his soul and a beautiful soul it is.
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A clear white cone of nothing.

I set off in the direction of Carrot Popsicles for the Carrot Episode of Farm to Table. Carrots, raw cream and a simple popsicle mold is all I thought I needed. The texture was going to be smooth, with the raw cream taking the carrot into the flavor palate of a Creamsicle. Soft, subtly sweet and addictive. Convinced I’d nail it on the first go…

Nope.

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Resting insecurities.

I tried something new today. Not avocado toast. It’s a faithful friend, which we’ll get to later. Something completely new. I put myself out there in order to put a nagging cooking insecurity to rest.

A few weeks ago:
After stopping in for a solo steak at a delicious farm-to-table restaurant in Santa Monica called Rustic Canyon, I asked to speak to the Executive Chef, Evan Funke. During the dinner rush of course, which is a restaurant no-no I remembered a few seconds after I asked. But towards my last few bites of steak, he agreed and asked me back into the kitchen.

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Raining gratitude.

People are really nice. I can’t help but notice lately. I tend to be a quality, not quantity person when it comes to people. I have an introverted side, and my introvert usually chooses to reconnect with the familiar before engaging a small crowd, but a big crowd is nice because somehow it becomes one-on-one again. I once read an interview of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, where she mentioned a self-realization that she functions better with less on her schedule. Similarly, I like to travel, visit friends, go to the movies and a party, but I prefer a sample of each with lots of meandering Farmers’ Market visits, in between. Variety stimulates me or simple pleasures stimulate me. Too much of the same high energy, bores me a bit. Work hard and then take a great trip with John. Kinda like friends, I’m easily happy with one thing at a time. John likes it when I’m spontaneous. And day-to-day, I’m really not all that crazy spontaneous. I hear his kind voice, and it sounds a little exciting to think of future unexpected spontaneity. A spur-of-the-moment something every now and again. Variety. Spiked into life like lingerie.

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"Bowled" peanuts

While driving down small country roads towards the coast from Atlanta, boiled peanut signs pop up every hour or so. Typically sold at small vegetable stands, boiled peanuts are scooped out of a scalding pot of salty water into a large cup. Out of all the southern foods I came to appreciate after my family moved south in my 4th grade year, boiled peanuts sit closest to my heart. “Bowled” peanuts, as they are authentically pronounced, mean road trip, special occasion and vacation to me. If I see a sign, I have to stop. No longer living in the south and missing my peanuts, I tried to make them at home last week after finding some green nuts at a farmers’ market here in Santa Monica. They proved incredibly easy, and my husband, who grew up north of the mason dixon line, was kind enough to save me a couple…

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