Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pony Club Fall Festival

    The Cuddy Valley Pony Club Fall Festival was a blast! It was held at the beautiful Bonfield Farm. They gave away free horse/pony rides, which were not your usual short 15 foot diameter. They led you around a riding area that was about 1/4 mile long! First lap was free, additional laps $1 each.  The Pony Club also sold wonderful baked goods and pizza.
    Despite our first snowfall in Cuddy Valley the night before, the event was a big success. I hosted my monthly Michi's Magic Bookshelf storytime and craft. We read Molly the Pony, and Fritz and the Beautiful Horses. I held a free raffle, and a lucky young lady won a copy of Fritz.
    The monkey took his first ride on a horse, without a seatbelt. He was a little frightened at first, but with encouragement from Mrs. Bonfield, settled down and enjoyed his ride. That minx had better like horses, or I'll think my baby was switched at birth! Horses are in my blood...
This is the snow we woke up to in Cuddy Valley...Kosmo's first! Melted by midday, but was so pretty!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween/Fall Fun!

    We took the monkey to Lombardi Ranch on Bouquet Canyon, in Saugus, ( to get pumpkins. We had a blast!
    Although we love Underwood Family Farm, we weren't in the mood to deal with the huge crowds. This farm was busy, but on a smaller scale, closer to the mountain communities, & easier to access.
    The first thing we noticed when we arrived, were the beautiful sunflowers! Just gorgeous! Lombardi has paths through one of the sunflower sections, featuring scarecrows that community members made for a contest. There were some very clever ideas:
I really enjoyed this telephone lineman scarecrow, with telephone pole...
I plan to steal this idea for making crows wearing hats, using plastic cups...
Being the big Beatles fan that he is, this was the hub's favorite...Note the 'Pepper' heads on the band...
Here are some more clever scarecrow displays...
Here is the monkey during the hayride, showing off his awesome black widow face painting...the wagon was pulled by two nice Percheron horses...

During the hayride, you also see the vast cornfield, along with some neat old trucks & cars on the hill behind the farm...

Monkey had fun on the pony ride, eating shave ice & playing on the haystack pyramid...
    There were lots of creative decorations throughout, like this coach and horses. Great selection of pumpkins, with reasonable prices. In fact, the hub overheard someone saying they had paid too much at 'the other place.' Most were in the $5 range, larger pumpkins around $8 average.  The smaller ones were as low as $2. We bought 2 medium white pumpkins, 4 medium-large orange pumpkins, a bag of (delicious!) pre-shucked corn, 6 gourds, 3 mini-pumpkins, & some Indian corn for $47.
    There is happily, no entrance fee. You buy tickets for things like the pony ride, hay ride, etc. There was also a cute train ride through a sunflower field. They had a nice mix of their own concessions, plus charitable ones offering various food items to purchase. I would gladly return!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


  I wanted to share the dessert & Asian meatloaf recipes. First the cranberry/peach pie (easy!!). I use the Pillsbury pie crust. It is far superior to the crust I used the night before, & better than any crust I can make. Plus, you can have a delicious, homemade dessert in a snap. Note the beautiful Autumn gold & red colors in the pie. Please note: I am infamous for not measuring, so bear with me!
Cranberry Peach Pie
Slice up 5 fresh peaches into chunks & place in bowl with about 4-5 handfuls of fresh cranberries (I love this time of year!). Toss with about a 1/2 cup of sugar, and about 3-4 handfuls of flour (that makes the juices gel, otherwise you will have a very runny pie). Toss well so fruit is well covered with the sugar/flour. Place dough in pie dish, fill with fruit mixture, then place top crust on, crimping sides to seal. Be sure to cut some vent holes. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees approximately 1 hour. If edges begin to get too brown, cover edges with foil. Pie is done, when crust is golden brown, and the vents begin to bubble w/lovely pie juices...Serve with French vanilla ice cream.
    Now for the Asian Meatloaf. This recipe came from my friend, Christine. It is one of my hub's favorite dishes, & so easy!
Asian Meatloaf
  • 2 lbs. ground beef & pork (or just beef)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp hot mustard (or less if serving to kids)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
Combine ingredients & place in meatloaf pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (If you use an aluminum pan, you can freeze & bake at a later date after thawing). Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, pour glaze (ingredients below) & bake another 15 - 20 minutes. TIP: Make two batches, one to freeze & one to bake now.
  • 1/3 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (in Asian section of supermarket)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp sugar
Mix well & use to top meatloaf.
Let me know if you try this out & you like it!!

Streetscape Progress, and Yummy, Yum Yum!

Before the second layer of mulch...
After (much better in person!)

Our wonderful neighbor friend, brought us a load of free mulch, courtesy of the City of Los Angeles Recycling Program. One more load next weekend should do it, but already our parkway is looking SO much better!

Last night, we had a wonderful dinner: Asian Meatloaf (will post recipe in my next entry), rice, sauteed bok choy, and piping hot peach/cranberry pie a la mode!

Unfortunately, it ooks like peach picking season is over, & I would hurry to nab the last of the peaches in stock at M&M Peach Ranch. Call first to find out if/when they are open...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Monkey Business

The Monkey (aka 'Edward Scissorhands') is always busy concocting some kind of art project. He took some of my gloves, cotton balls & googly eyes to make these puppets...pretty cool, eh?
    He & the other Pine Mountain Learning Center students visited JPL on Wednesday...They had a blast, despite the bus breaking down on the way home. His little friend came over yesterday for rollicking fun, homemade pizza, peach/cranberry pie (even better than apple cranberry!) & they had even more fun making caramel apples.
    I'm making Asian meatloaf (recipe from my friend Christine) & more pie (with a better crust) tonight. Will post recipes tomorrow. I will also post the progress on our strip of land between the fence/street. Free mulch from our awesome neighbor friend today = much more attractive streetscape!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Peach Cobbler!!

The cobbler turned out yummy!! Note the beautiful fresh peaches strategically placed not only for aesthetics, but to hide my messy cooktop after making tempura for dinner! LOL
Vanilla would have been a better match, but the monkey really enjoyed his peach cobbler & ice cream!!

M&M Peaches!

   After I got off work at Mountain Properties today, we finally went to investigate M&M Peach Ranch, on Lake Hughes Road (3 Points), just south of the 138. Wow! We are sooo glad we did! The peach orchard is HUGE, & loaded with wonderful, organic peaches...You can fill that bucket up for $25 (it is a lot bigger than it looks in the photo), or for a small family like ours, the kind owner will adjust. Bill was very welcoming, & let us go look at the lovely pond with ducks & geese. Great setting for a wedding (which they used to host regularly), with an island that has a pretty arch and barbeque. I'll have to add the pond photos later, as I forgot my camera, & had to use the camera phone. With our spotty cell service, only managed to receive some of the photos.
     Hurry, hurry, hurry! There is probably just one more weekend to pick the aptly named, "Last Chance" peaches. I am baking a wonderful peach cobbler as I type, but they are yummy fresh, too. June is the cherry season (we will definitely be there!), then Ryan Sun peaches followed by the Last Chance peaches, which are in great demand & famous to gourmands in the San Francisco area. And here we have the source of these gourmet treats available to us fresh off the trees!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pine Nuts!!

I have to admit, life has been just as challenging in 2010, as in 2009. But, I am a 'joie de vivre' person, & seem to always find the pleasures in life, especially here in the mountains. A squirrel clued me in that this is pine nut season! We probably missed out on the bulk of the harvest, but wow, the nuts we have gleaned are fantastic!
Here is the monkey taking the pine nuts out of a pine cone. The tree you see has been the bane of our existence, dripping pine sap right on one of the dogs' main pathways, resulting in lovely tar balls in the house. However, this tree has had a good harvest this year, and is redeeming itself.

  Note that we wore gloves when finding pine cones & removing the seeds. The best ones will be dark brown in color. I have to jet to work, but will post photos of toasted nuts, & more info later! Including interesting history of this area & Chumash...
  So, back to the post. Apparently, the Chumash considered Mt. Pinos the center of the world (hence the name for our local "Center of the World" festival). Their prime gathering spots were between Mt. Pinos & what is now the town of Frazier Park. Our home in the Cuddy Valley is smack-dab in that area.
  Pinon pines have the tastiest nuts, but I believe other varieties are also edible (you may want to double-check). Anyway, it is definitely labor-intensive, but the results...aaaaahhhh!! A fun reason to go on a hike.
  You can go out in the national forest, & do not need a permit. You can gather up to 85 lbs of nuts for personal consumption, according to one web site I found.
  We are amateurs, but some nuts pop out when the ripe cone falls. Most we have had to pry from the cones, which is why the birds & squirrels didn't beat us. The cones with the best nuts are the freshest, with a bit of sap, yet opened at least partially.
  Once you extricate the nuts (dark brown are the best), wash them. They can be roasted in or out of the shell. I prefer out, as I can see for myself ahead of time whether it contains a viable nut. We are late in the season, so some were shriveled up. The good nuts are obvious; white & plump under the thin skin.
  Bake them gently, at a lower temperature than pumpkin seeds, like around 200 degrees or less. Toast until they look a little browned. Taste a few, if too moist, pop back in oven.
  Store in the refrigerator, or they will reportedly go rancid in a few days. You can also freeze them.
Yes, Mommy, I want some pine nuts!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rainbow Today

     Hello, All! My laptop has developed a taste for camera memory cards, hence the lack of new posts. We have had some very weird weather here lately. Big thunder/lightning/rain storms yesterday & today. Of course, 'mom of the year' forgot to send Griffin to school with a jacket, so when I picked him up today, it was pouring rain (despite the cloudless sky this am), and there were huge bolts of lightning hitting Mt. Abel. He said "At least my hair got washed by the rain." What a trooper!
     Snapped these photos from our front yard/steps when the hub got home with his camera...
Of course, no post is complete without a photo of a very spoiled weim puppy (AKA: El Diablo, Kosmo)...