Pelicans Enjoying Bolsa Chica Wetlands Reserve

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Bolsa Chica Bird Sanctuary

A serene haven in the middle of the cities and just across the street from the ocean

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Volunteers planting

Community spirit coming together, Families, students and friends work together to pull invasive plants and to plant native trees and shrubs.

 

The clouds were awesome today! I’ve never seen so many types of amazing clouds all from one view point.

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Bolsa Chica Bird Sanctuary

See the cotton ball clouds in the upper left corner?

Below is what the clouds looked like when I turned 180 degrees to face into the sun..

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Sun behind clouds

And finally a trail view. Miles of walking trails with dedicated birders, walkers, runners and nature photographers arriving dawn to dusk.

Stir fry 3 ways

The best way to make a healthy dinner different and delicious every day of the week.

I would like to say fast, but the veggie, meat and sauce prep can take a little more time than making a hamburger. I have learned to enjoy the process of creating recipes, cutting and prepping the ingredients and perfecting the cook times and methods. Stir fry’s seem so simple, but they can take some practice to cook all the different ingredients just right for great flavor and texture.

A shortlist of my basic ingredients for a flavorful sauce starts with a fresh olive, grapeseed, or toasted sesame oil. I splash some sesame oil on at the end with toasted sesame seeds, cashews, raw sunflower, pumpkin or hemp seeds especially when I’m not adding any animal protein.

After browning the animal protein, shrimp, scallops, chicken, beef or pork I deglaze the pan with rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a pinch. I place delicate proteins, such as, shrimp and scallops, in a separate bowl so they won’t over cook.

Then I sauté the chopped onion with a dash of salt then clear a circle at the bottom of the pan to add in the minced garlic. After a few minutes, when the onions are a little translucent, I’ll toss in quartered mushrooms to give them plenty of time to release their juices. Then I add a root vegetable like burdock root, carrots, beets, (yellow as muddy red is not a good look for a stir fry).

Finally I layer the remainder of the ingredients, usually vegetables based on their hardness, therefore, cooking times. A quick list of my favorites and in order of adding to wow: kale, mustard greens, celery, peas green or snap, boc choy, bell peppers etc. I sauté each ingredient for a very short time before tossing in herbs and sometimes cubed tofu or another alternative proteins that just need to be heated.

At this point I’ll splash in some sesame oil, soy sauce or go in a different direction with dash of curry spice, plum paste, oyster or fish sauce, saracha or any other flavorings that are complementary to the mix of vegetables and proteins I’ve added. I would like to say I plan this before starting to sauté, but I often change my mind at the last minute, assuming I had a plan to begin with. I admit this is not a good practice. I have rarely discovered superb flavors combos using this method…

Put a little, or a lot, of spice in your life

Cooking is like swimming. Everyone should know how to do it.

Whether you’re a beginner or consider yourself to be an excellent cook, there is always more to learn. Cooking classes are for everyone from kids to seniors, couples, groups, extroverts and they are particularly good for introverts.

I love taking cooking classes. Chef Tech’s cooking classes  in Long Beach CA, range from Kides cupcake baking parties to their intensive Culinary Arts Program. They also offer everything from Pro Baking to sushi making and a variety of special occasion, seasonal and cultural meals. The classes are fun, relaxed and yet intense in a laid-back sort of way. More importantly I learned more precise cooking methods, and convinced my non-detail oriented side, that in cooking, details are the key to excellent results. Students ranged from a 16-year-old chef-in-training to a 70-year-old gentlemen with a keen eye for culinary perfection, a newly married couple, beginning and skilled foodies of all flavors. They even have kids classes and summer camps!

 

Chef Teri’s energy and humor makes for an upbeat, social learning experience.

Chef Tech cooking school in Long Beach CA is a great place to take your first cooking class or to embrace a more in-depth culinary experience with their Pro classes for baking and their advanced series of culinary skills. I’ve enjoyed many cooking classes. My first cooking class was with Richard Ruben in his Manhattan, NY cooking.  The recipes were based on his Farmer’s Market Cookbook. The class began at Manhattan’s Union Square open-air Greenmarket. What I loved was his ease in getting his group of students immediately involved in choosing produce. He simply said, “if you see any vegetables or herbs that you aren’t familiar with, let me know. Chef Ruben bought whatever anyone pointed out and made up recipes on the fly at his Tribecca flat. My take awy, butternut squash soup I’ve cooked many dozens of times in dozens of ways and never been disappointed.

Fast forward to Abby’s Table, Portland Oregon’s darling of healthy, vegan, gluten free, social cooking classes and catering. Abby Fammartino’s healthy culinary classes have a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with a classy group meal following high-lighting the delicious healthy recipes we learned to cook that day.

The Farmer’s Market Cookbook

by Chef Richard Ruben

Abby’s Table Essential Sauces + Sides: Naturally gluten, dairy, and soy-free recipes to please every palate

By Chef Abby Fammartino

Mary’s Garden

What is it about tending a garden: growing your own flowers or vegetables, picking fresh herbs and feeding neighborhood birds, that feeds a person’s soul?

it transcends gender, color, nationality, age, even knowledge, ability and opportunity. Even in the smallest apartments in the busiest cities a plant or two patiently sits near a window, basking in the sun waiting for their weekly watering and hoping for a dash of plant food.

Mary_Garden_peas_pot_snail_PhotoMatix1330-1-1Simple garden pleasures: textures, colors, light

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Mary’s Guard Garden

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A charming birdhouse decorates Mary’s garden acting as a perch for birds waiting their turn at the bird feeder. Nestled in the flowering tree just behind the birdhouse, the feeder sports 6 tiny perches for finches and other small birds. The doves, robins, infrequent pigeons and visiting migrators partake at the shallow clay bowl sitting on the garden wall

Spring Greens!

Spring Greens @ Beyond Bok Choy Farm

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This is my favorite time of year in SoCal. The farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh greens! This year I found a new favorite farm located in Fresno. It’s family owned and operated and they bring in a wide variety of very generous bunches of leafy greens and many other herbs and veggetables at great prices. Right now, all greens and herbs are $2/bunch.

I found Beyond Bok Choy produce at the Sunday, Long Beach farmers’ market, but I think they are at various markets. Their offerings are so varied it’s like alphabet soup using nearly every letter starting at the beginning: beats, carrots and daikon with green tops ready for a quick sauté in avocado oil with a shy splash of sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds to finish it off. Try starting by tossing in some onions, garlic, very thin carrot sticks and a fist-full of cashews and fresh cilantro to top it off for a complete vegetarian, vegan meal. Yes, yes, get the delicious fresh baked, whole grain bread at the vendor across the way and toast it. Now you have a complete meal.

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Beyond Bok Choy offerings:

HERBS: lemon basil, pepper basil, thai basil, cilantro, dill, mint, lemon grass…and more

GREENS: bitter melon, bok choy, chili leaf, dandelion leaves, mustard greens, Okra leaf, Malabar spinach, ong choy = water spinach, Sweet potato leaf … I think I missed a few.

VEGGIES:  green beans, chard, Chinese broccoli, cabbage, carrots + tops, cucumber, daikon + tops (very large white radish), curly kale, Lecanto kale, onions, zuccini…and much more

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baby bok choy

Bok choy is great for stir-frying. Very subtle flavor. Toss in at the very end of sauteing.