Living Columns & Blogs

KOMB

Are You a Glitterbug?

Are you still cleaning up glitter from your holiday celebrations? Did anyone glitter bomb a friend for fun or revenge? That shiny, sparkly stuff which sticks in your hair, your car, your carpet for weeks and years is polluting our fresh water streams and rivers, as well as our oceans.

Cathie Campbell

Cuckoo for coconut

While pondering what to write about for this week’s column, I kept seeing a lot of recipes that featured coconut. I know there are more than a few people I’ve met who said they hated coconut, but most folks I know seem to like it. If the coconut haters will forgive me, I would like to share some of my favorite recipes that use the white shreds we see in many desserts. As a kid, it was always a treat when my mom would buy a fresh coconut at the grocery store and we’d have fun poking holes into it and draining off the coconut water. Then it would get cracked and we would enjoy the tender flesh. I did find the rind a bit challenging to remove, though. On to the coconut recipes, but keep in mind that coconut cream is not the same product as coconut milk or water.

Cathie Campbell

Dates for snacks and cooking

The reason I chose dates for this week’s column goes back to seeing a display in a Los Banos grocery store during recent travels. As soon as I walked in, I spotted the 2-pound clear plastic tubs full of sweet, sticky Deglet Noor (also Deglet Nour) dates, just begging to be placed in my shopping cart. Upon arriving at my mom’s house, I shared the tub of dates with family. We literally could not stop eating them, and everyone commented that they had never had such delicious dates as those. In just one day, those dates pretty much did a disappearing act, so I was very happy to find some more in a Gilroy grocery store. I left those with my mom, and on the way home stopped once again in Los Banos, where I bought two more tubs to take home. They were a lot more expensive in Gilroy, so that is why I didn’t load up there. Deglet Noor dates are called The Queen of Dates and appreciated for their soft texture, transparent light color and honey-like taste, which supposedly distinguish the Deglet Noor from other dates. I was happy to see that California has a very successful date growing climate. The origin of this particular date is said to be (according to old books on the subject) Algeria, but Tunisia also lays claim to the title of original producer. Wherever they came from, I am a huge fan of the Deglet Noor date.

Cathie Campbell

Nothin’ like muffins

This is the time of year I love to sink my teeth into some warm, oven-fresh muffins, and of course I use butter on them. If I am going to allow myself a treat like that, I am not going to skip the embellishments. The weather is chilly and I am scouring my wardrobe for sweaters, sweat shirts and long-sleeved tops. Several people are cranking up the heat, whether by thermostat or wood stove, in areas where that is allowed. (Plenty of firewood in the hills, due to all the dead trees.)

Sue Langley

Winter gardening in our foothills

It’s sunny and 70º as I write this and it’s a reminder that our December weather can be rainy, snowy or sunny with brilliant blue skies. It also means that we can still get out into the garden; we just need to don our flannel shirts and jackets in the early mornings. Here are some of the things I do in my garden in December and January:

Cathie Campbell

Some New Year’s snackies

A lot of people will be gathering for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, and one thing is for sure: people love to snack. Keep your guests full and happy with some tasty food, and don’t forget to save a few for yourself. Many times I have underestimated just how many snacks guests can devour, but that’s okay, as I love to see them enjoying what I have chosen to make and serve. May you all have a safe and Happy New Year.

Cathie Campbell

Fun with apple cider

Don’t you just love being able to enjoy comfort foods this time of year? Or foods and beverages that are seasonal? It gives us one more thing to anticipate when the seasons roll around. I enjoy being cozy when the weather turns cold, curling up with a good book, a homemade afghan and perhaps a hot (or cold) beverage. Something like apple cider, for instance. I missed out on getting some fresh-pressed cider this year and the same thing happened to me last year, but I can always hope for the future. Here are some recipes that feature apple cider that you and family or friends can enjoy as you go about your holiday preparations. As usual, stay warm and safe.

Cathie Campbell

Homemade holiday candy

Most of us don’t have a lot of time to spare around Christmas time, including myself, but there are a few things on my to-do list that have become so traditional that my family insists on having them every year. Homemade candies at our house are pretty much the same things every Christmas: English toffee (sometimes called butter crunch), various types of fudge, popcorn balls, peanut brittle and sugared walnuts. I used to always prepare candied orange peel, but it is getting so I find the mess to be a bit much. Still love the stuff, but I’m giving that a little break for a while and so far, nobody’s complained. Yet. If you would like to make some homemade candy for the holiday season, I am more than happy to share with you my family’s favorite recipes. Here’s wishing that you are all safe and warm and continue to be so all through this winter. The mixed-up weather has my garden plants doing some odd things. The rosemary is blooming, my fig trees are making new leaves and I have daffodils already at least three inches above the soil line. Well, let’s get on with the recipes; that candy isn’t going to make itself.

Cathie Campbell

It’s Christmas cookie time again

Hey bakers, it’s time to stop, drop and roll, and I am not referring to what you do when your apron catches on fire. There are so many cookie types to choose from, such as drop cookies and rolled ones. I think most of us like a variety of cookie types, and if you bake goodies to give away, often it is nice to present a nice array of different cookies.

Cathie Campbell

What to do with leftover turkey

A lot of people say they always have too much turkey left over from their Thanksgiving meal. Once in a while, I do too, but most of the time, after I give leftover packages to guests, that isn’t a problem. If you end up with more turkey than you expected, here are a few ideas for using it up. I am grateful for a lot of things, one being that I have all of you, my kitchen friends. Peace to each of you and all your families.

Cathie Campbell

Stuffings for Fall meals

Thanksgiving is getting closer and closer and many of us are looking forward to having our favorite traditional meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc. I am one of the folks already imaging a table laden with all those goodies. I also like to try something new or different, to see how well it goes over (hopefully, it doesn't go over the deck railing and onto the ground). I love all sorts of stuffings, and not just the ones that go along with the turkey. I am including a recipe for stuffed acorn squash that I thought was very good and I hope you like it too. I am also sharing a recipe that I have written about before, just because some folks have asked for it again. (I am glad to know that I am not the only one who clips recipes and then sometimes loses them.) Even my youngest son preferred that stuffing to the traditional one. I came up with it when I was doing the no-carb thing, or rather, cutting way back on carbs. I will post that one first in line. So, on with the show, and it is my hope you are all keeping warm and cozy. I have a feeling we are in for some extra-cold weather this season.

Cathie Campbell

Invite cranberries to the table

Every holiday season, I look forward to anything made with cranberries. They taste so good (when sweetened) and their ruby-red color is beautiful. When I was growing up, we got our cranberry sauce from cans, and placed both the whole berry and jellied types on the table, as everyone had their preference. I liked the jellied kind best, but later in life, I experienced how delicious homemade whole-berry cranberry sauce is. I like both kinds equally now and place a dish of each on the table for guests. But sauce isn’t the only way to enjoy cranberries, of course. We can bake many things with them, and a couple of favorite recipes for baked goods are included here. Let’s roll out that red carpet for cranberries. (That reminds me of the time at a local grocery store when the lid to a very large carton of blueberries popped open and I dropped the whole thing on the floor. It was a carpet of blue rather than red, as the berries rolled everywhere. I did help clean them up, but still felt so bad.)

Cathie Campbell

Here’s to your health appetizers

Holidays usually mean you can expect lots of great food. And the usual laments such as “Oh, I really shouldn’t eat this” or “Wow, I gained weight just looking at that.” That’s understandable, as many of us (myself included) have at least one sort of health issue. So I decided to browse around for some appetizer recipes that don’t come with a ticket to Guilt City. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to partake from the appetizer platters rather than look longingly but then pass them by? Granted, there is no shortage of recipes that are so good they make you want to do a double back flip but they are horrible health-wise. By the way, I was never one to even consider doing a single back flip let alone a double one, but just mentioned it for emphasis. My great athletic feat I perform every day is putting on my shoes and socks. Okay, here I go exaggerating again. I’d better get to those recipes before I get any sillier. Oh, and feel free to increase the recipes for as many dinner guests as necessary.

Cathie Campbell

Time to pick a pot

Fall is here and winter is right around the corner, so if you are looking for some cold-weather recipes, you may want to consider choosing an old-fashioned comfort food like pot pies for a dinner meal. They are also very good for a Halloween night meal, especially if you take your children out for school carnivals or for trick or treat adventures. You can make the pot pies ahead of time so making dinner can be crossed off your list of things to do. When my kids were little, they wanted to do the school carnival and door-to-door trick or treat, so I was very busy. Add to that helping them with their costumes and yeah, you know what I mean. That's when moms (and sometimes dads or grandparents) sort of wish they could duplicate themselves. One version in the kitchen and one helping the kids. Speaking of dinner, kids are probably way more interested in eating the candy they hope to get, rather than what's on the table, but health comes first, of course. Have fun and stay safe and warm.

KOMB

Organic Waste Recycling

Keep Our Mountains Beautiful (KOMB) applauds Emadco for being proactive implementing the Organics Recycling Laws for Commercial and Multifamily Dwellings, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

Cathie Campbell

Warm up with hot beverages

When the weather is warm, I don’t crave hot beverages of any kind. I never was a year-round morning coffee drinker and I can still see my former co-workers cringe as they poured their coffee in the office kitchen, and I popped open a can of cola and poured it into a glass of ice. That was back when I consumed caffeine. But now that the weather is changing and there is a chill in the air, especially in the mornings, I get those K-cups going. Of course, I must add some sugar and flavored coffee creamer, preferably pumpkin spice.

Cathie Campbell

Time for pumpkin recipes

Well, here we are in my favorite month of the year, October. One of my favorite things about this time of year is my collection of pumpkin recipes. Of course, one doesn’t need to wait until October to make such things, but the season gets me inspired to dig around in my fall recipes. Please do take care to purchase (or grow) the pumpkins that are called cooking or pie pumpkins, as the ones usually used to Jack-o-lanterns are stringy and tough. You can still make a pie out of one, but it won’t be as good as a pie made from the cooking type. I know some people are saying oh yes, I can, you just haven’t tasted one of my pies. I admit I have had a sampling of pumpkin pie made from a Jack-o-lantern pumpkin and I can’t say it was awful, but it wasn’t nearly as good as using puree from a pie pumpkin. This is just my opinion, and the following recipes call for canned pumpkin. I hope you are all looking forward to a cozy October. We sure do have a lot of firewood this year to keep warm with. Would rather have the live trees, though.

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