Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Apples

Coconut Apple Strips fall into the recipe category of favorite old family traditions that include Fig Swirl Cookies, Cinnamon Twists, and Ravioli.  Like the others, they are labor intensive, and only made for very special occasions.  This time it was Cousin J’s 75th birthday.

I picked up a basket of tart Granny Smith apples at The Red Apple ranch in Murphys.  (Before Granny Smiths, we used Pippins).

The original crust is rich with evaporated milk and sugar; I used the basic Betty Crocker pie crust instead.  The sliced the apples are dusted with lots of cinnamon.


The apples in the crust are baked for 20 minutes in a hot oven,  then the topping of coconut, eggs, and evaporated milk is poured over.


Back in a moderate oven until the coconut browns.


My Mom often made multiple recipes of these when we were kids.  I remember them covering every surface in the kitchen.  Just a double recipe filled my little kitchen with a heavenly aroma!


And the final step……cut into the strips.


Happy 75th Birthday J !!!!!!!


In California….


….and in Texas…….


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Before and After

The original bed in my Roadtrek was the three cushions that also serve as the seats for a dinette.  Finally the spirit moved me to dramatically upgrade the bed.



Because I had purchased the fabric several months ago, all I needed was a piece of memory foam.  I created a fitted sheet type cover for the original cushions covered with the 2” of new foam.  I also  sewed four pillows and the inset panels for the doors from the same fabric.  The brown pillows are stuffed with my down comforters, sheets, and a couple down coats.



Monday, October 18, 2010

The Buzz Saw

Sometime late in the 30s Grandpa Frank bought an old car for Grandma Stella to learn to drive on the ranch.  It’s sketchy now whether it was a Dodge or a Plymouth.  Unfortunately, while practicing driving ‘out back’ with Joe, the car caught on fire.  That was the end of Grandma’s driving and the beginning of the buzz saw.


The frame and wheels are the old car, while the shaft and the blade came from Joe Cavagnaro (Moccasin).


Joe Lemas (blacksmith in Sonora) built the table.


The Wisconsin V-4 engine was recycled from the old trammel (gold mining equipment).


The gas supple requires careful adjustment.  (That’s the gas tank on the right sitting on the boards).


A sharp, strong crank usually starts the engine on the second or third try.  (btw, that’s Grandpa and Grandma’s little red house in the background where I live now).


Tthe engine turns the belt (from Uncle Art in Chinese Camp) that spins the saw……



….that cuts the wood.


The old saw is put into service a couple times a year.  For the last month or so,  we’ve been cutting wood.  Dad feeds the logs into the saw while a helper catches the cut piece of fire wood and throws it into the bucket of the backhoe. (These pics were taken last spring when the grass was green). 


(And yes, it’s scary as hell to operate!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Big Trees Escape

The fall days are too beautiful to spend at home!  Today we escaped to Calaveras Big Trees for a hike and a picnic.  A few dog woods are  beginning to turn red. 


Afternoon sunshine created lovely back lighting for this red leaf.


I checked John Muir Laws “Sierra Nevada Guide” for the correct name of the these dog wood ‘fruit clusters’.  (btw,  the Guide is an excellent book for anyone interested in natural history of Sierra and Laws visits schools getting kids excited about nature, very cool!)


Big trees have big knots.


A mossy log is a nice back drop for red leaves.


Folks up and down the highway are collecting wood in anticipation of winter.  I wish this pile of cedar was in my backyard.  It’s not, but I do have a fire wood post for next time! (Try not to be too excited! :)


A Peaceful River

A few days ago I walked early in the Stanislaus River canyon.




Thursday, October 7, 2010

Apple Hill

We love to visit our local apple ranches….Cover’s, Sierra Glen, and the Red Apple….on a quiet fall afternoon for cider and apple donuts.  Wow!  That is NOT Apple Hill near Placerville.  I had no idea we would be there two days and still not see everything!

It all started years ago when 16 apple farms banded together to form the Apple Hills Growers Association.  Today there are more than 50 ranches participating.  They are along the twisty foothill back roads between Placerville, Camino, and Pollock Pines with big signs that correspond to the (necessary) Apple Hill map.


The orchards are beautiful!  It is early in the season so many varieties still have apples on the trees.


There are tons of apples for sale in the ‘barns’.  (But no Granny Smiths for a week to ten days).


My friend R has visited Apple Hill many times so knew all the best stops.  And first on her list was Rainbow Orchard for apple donuts.


All the ranches are really creative in their displays.  Here they are using old ladders for rose arbors.  This is a gorgeous 5 petal yellow rose,  but only a couple blossoms.


One thing I love besides the apples are the barns.  Every ranch has at least one big barn, most many decades old.  Too bad most of the apple processing equipment is not open to the public.  But often an apple peeler, cider press, or bakery is visible through big windows. 


These dried pears are so good.  I wish I had brought home more than one bag!


The Larsen ranch has a museum in a ‘new’ barn. 


I love the ‘royal blue’ color of this Royal Windsor cook stove.


Denver Dan’s apple shop is in an old quasant  hut.


Somehow I missed having an apple dumpling.  (What is that kid’s story about swampy animals that like apple dumplings? Uncle somebody?).


Needles to say you see apples doing crazy things all over Apple Hill.


Pigs Ears were another new to me treat.  Pie crust with lots of sugar and cinnamon!


Each ranch has a sign with their number from the Apple Hill map. 


I never did see the dolls and there were actually very few apples at this ranch,  but the flowers are amazing!



I liked the ‘layers’ on the hills….flowers, apples trees, and finally pine trees.


“Want an apple lady?”   I’m curious how many apples she peels in the course of a week-end!


Some of the ranches have fantastic vegetables for sale.  Boa Vista is one that is open all year round. 


White pumpkins.


The majority of Kids Inc. employees are high school students earning money for college. 


Carmel apples with gummy worms?!?


Most peaches are gone by now,  these September Suns are absolutely fabulous.


Oh, by the way, here is a bit of trivia I learned, apple cider and apple juice are exactly the SAME thing. 


So we visited Apple Hill  early in the season,  I’m thinking a trip back might be on the calendar, after all it’s only a short  1 1/2 hour drive……