Monthly Archives: November 2013

Dad’s Visit 11/23 – 11/29/2013



Happy Thanksgiving! We arranged for Dad to visit for several days leading up to Thanksgiving 2013, and we had a long list of things to do with him.

Sister Kathryn picked Dad up from his home in Simi Valley and drove down to a shopping center near the halfway point to San Diego. I met them about 1:30pm, and collected Dad and his travel kit, including tennis racket. We had a nice drive down, observing the trees, housing developments, and particularly the cloud formations. Luckily, the rain had passed, so clear sailing. We watched the UCLA football game that afternoon; unfortunately they lost. Bummer. I made a lemon pie that night to chill overnight.

Sunday 11/24. We sort of settled into a routine in the morning. Dad woke up and showered. Then we had a nice breakfast spread – healthy cereal topped with fruit, raisins, flaxseed meal, walnuts, and pumpin seeds with non-dairy milk. Also, coffee, water, and Dad’s medications. We didn’t exercise at that point, because Dad’s legs are a bit wobbly after a lot of inactivity. But we did a lot of walking during the visit, starting with a tour of the yard after breakfast. A lot has changed since his last visit. Even though his memory is inconsistent, he really appreciated the new pond system, yard signs, seating areas, steps, etc. We also walked around the neighborhood and collected dirt samples for brewing compost tea. About 11am, we settled in to watch the Chargers game and have lunch. The game was trilling, with the Chargers pulling it out at the last minute. Donna was at her minister’s meeting and potluck, so it was some good guy time. After the game, Dad helped me whip up some vegan meringue and apply it to the lemon pie. It was all sugar free, so fine for Dad’s diabetes. Yummy. See pictures in the slide show below. About 4:30pm, we met Donna and three of her girlfriends down at Vivantech in Mission Valley for an art tour. I had recently added more art to the 7th floor offices, and the ladies wanted a tour. Then it was home for dinner. I started the compost tea brewing that night, so that it would be ready to apply the next afternoon.

Monday 11/25. Donna had arranged for us to do a tour of Petco Park about 10am. We got a personalized tour and discussed various ticket packages. Decided not to buy at that time, but will definitely consider it next year. Dad got a lot of exercise as we tried out different seats all over the ballpark. The stadium is beautiful, and the light was great. See pictures. Then we took Dad to our favorite restaurant, Plumeria, on Park Boulevard. It is Thai style vegan fare, and it is excellent. Dad enjoyed it, of course. Donna took off for an appointment. Dad and I shopped a bit on the way home, then got busy with the yard. We spray the nutrient-dense compost tea all over the garden – on the leaves and the soil. Grow, plants, grow! Donna joined us for dinner. We had too many choices – spaghetti squash and “meatballs,” vegetable soup, steamed greens from the garden, potato salad, lettuce salad, and of course, lemon pie for dessert. Watched Dancing with the Stars that night; it’s something that Dad and Rachel watch regularly. Dad called Rachel to chat. He missed her, but she needs a break from taking care of him. So the visit was good for all.

Tuesday 11/26. Donna joined us for a vegan cooking class with a Thanksgiving theme. Our friends Drew and Therese were there as well, so it was nice to share with them. Dad, Donna, and I concentrated on making a vegetable appetizer display the looked like a turkey along with a roasted pepper hummus dip. It was loads of fun, and we all got to eat samples of all the dishes that were prepared, including pumpkin bread, seitan loaf, mashed potatoes, biscuits with vegan butter, etc. Donna took off again, and Dad and I returned home. Dad took a nap while I prepare a new terraced area in the yard for planting. Dad came out and helped me prepare the soil, plant some new ground cover (dymondia and corsican mint), and water. We had a full dinner again. Brother Steve made a surprise visit. He was down in the area on business, so stopped by. We looked through his new photo book on season at a fruit tree nursery. Great photography, and the change from season to season is spectacular. Steve was also thrilled with the yard signs I had made, and he intends to use sister Lora’s printing services to make signs for his High School horticulture program. We watched the finals of Dancing with the Stars.

Wednesday 11/27. Another busy day. After breakfast, we went shopping for food for  holiday fare. Donna joined us at first, but took off again. She had several treatments this week on her hip including acupuncture, massage, and chiropractor. It’s really slowing down her step, so need to take care of it. Dad and I ended up going to three stores to complete the shopping list. Came home and put the food away. Then a brief nap for both of us. We sat outside, enjoying the afternoon sun. I helped him with a little nail clipping, which is hard for him to do at this point in his life. Then we decided to hit the tennis court. We both love playing, but Dad hasn’t been able to play for some time and his leg’s have gotten weak. But we gave it a try, and it was great. We had quite a few good rallies. Dad reported that he was wobbly, but he still managed to move around the court pretty well. We didn’t play too long, but it we both felt great about getting out on the court. Then it was back home to prep for a Thanksgiving style dinner with guests Lynette, Dennis, and Paul Sable, and son Chris. Didn’t eat until after 7:30, so that gave us time to prepare. Had Gardein stuffed turk’y rolls, homemade stuffed acorn squash, soup, dinner rolls, and another turkey style vegetable appetizer plate with a few dips. Dennis played the guitar and the crowd sang. We celebrated Paul’s birthday with a special vegan chocolate cake and pumpkin pie. Dad really enjoyed the company and singing.

Thursday 11/28. Thanksgiving day! We packed up and drove Dad up to LA. Donna and I will spend a couple of days with family.


Creating Yard Signs

I’ve been looking around as I visit various gardens, somewhat envious of their plant ID signs. Question is, how do you create signs that will do your garden proud, not break the bank, and last a good long time. There is always the cheap plastic signs from the 99¢ store, but the writing fades pretty rapidly in the weather, even with a “permanent” marker.

Looking around for possible posts, I found both pvc pipe and EMT metal pipe left over from other projects as well as some unlabeled brown paint that was left over from the previous owner. Those items fit my budget perfectly – free. The pvc is easy to cut on a diagonal, but rigid only in short lengths; whereas the EMT is very sturdy in longer lengths. I decided to join the two together to make custom sign heights. Using a hand file, I could form the pvc pipe to fit snugly inside the 3/4″ EMT pipe, and using a rasp drill bit, I could core out the pvc to fit snugly over the 1/2″ EMT pipe.

Now for the sign part. My Sister-in-law, Lora, has been printing images on metal for my art business for quite some time, and her prices are very reasonable. She uses a dye sublimation process, so the image is chemically fused to the metal. It is not guaranteed to hold up forever in the direct sunlight, but I bought some Krylon UV protecting spray to give the signs the best chance for survival in the wild. I figured it is definitely worth a shot.

So, I sent her the images. She printed and cut the signs, and they were back in my shop within days.

In case you are interested in trying this, contact: Their base prices are $1.75 for 3.5″ x 2″, $4.75 for 10″ x 2.5″, and $12.50 for 8″ x 10″ You can contact Smart Charms at (623) 536-6960 discuss pricing or custom sizes.

While the signs were in production, I cut the pvc to 6″ lengths, cut a diagonal on one end, then fashioned the other end to fit either the large or small EMT pipes. I cut the EMT pipes to different lengths. Then I painted all the pipes.

Once the cut signs arrived, I glued the diagonal cut end of the 6″ pvc pipes to the signs and let them dry over night. to install, I pounded the EMT pipe into the soil until it was secure, then installed the pvc/sign into it. One last touch up of the paint. The final step was to spray each sign with Krylon UV resistant clear spray. The results are in the slide show below.




Useful Charities

My friend, Yolanda sent this list of charities and how the money donated is used. It’s some useful information, so I’m passing it on here.


  THINK BEFORE YOU DONATE!SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE YOU MAKE CONTRIBUTIONS:   As you open your pockets to do a good thing and make yourself feel good, please keep the following facts in mind:
The American Red Cross
President and CEO Marsha J. Evans’
salary for the year was $651,957 plus expenses
It is called the March of Dimes because
only a dime for every 1 dollar is given to the needy.
The United Way
President Brian Gallagher
receives a $375,000 base salary along with numerous expense benefits.
CEO Caryl M. Stern receives
$1,200,000 per year (100k per month) plus all expenses including a ROLLS ROYCE.
Less than 5 cents of your donated dollar goes to the cause.
CEO and owner Mark Curran profits $2.3 million a year.
Goodwill is a very catchy name for his business.
You donate to his business and then he sells the items for PROFIT. 
He pays nothing for his products and pays his workers minimum wage! Nice Guy. 
$0.00 goes to help anyone! 
Stop giving to this man.
Instead, give it to ANY OF THE FOLLOWING
The Salvation Army
Commissioner, Todd Bassett receives a small salary of only
$13,000 per year(plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization.
96 percent of donated dollars go to the cause.
The American Legion
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary
Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!
The Veterans of Foreign Wars
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.
Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!
The Disabled American Veterans
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.
Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!
The Military Order of PurpleHearts
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary

Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!
The Vietnam Veterans Association
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.
Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!
Make a Wish: For children’s last wishes.
100% goes to funding trips or special wishes for a dying child.
St. Jude Research Hospital
100% goes towards funding and helping Children with Cancer who have no insurance and cannot afford to pay.
Ronald McDonald Houses
All monies go to running the houses for parents who have critically ill Children in the hospital.
100% goes to housing, and feeding the families.
Lions Club International

Please share this with everyone you can.

Pumpkin/Sweet Potato Pie

From Rich Hosey   IMG_3649
Serves: 12-16
Yield: 2 pies   


1/3 cup granulated sugar   +    1/3 cup sugar substitute (e.g. erythritol & xylitol) [if its more potent than sugar, adjust accordingly]
[standard Libby recipe calls for 1.5 cups!! ]

1 teaspoon salt
3  teaspoon ground cinnamon (See note)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (See note)
1 teaspoon ground cloves (See note)
4  large eggs  substitutes [I used 2 “eggs worth” of  Ener-G Egg Replacer and 2 “eggs worth” of  silken tofu]
[maybe 4  “eggs worth” of  Egg Replacer would firm up more?]

1 (15 ounce) can  libby’s 100% pumpkin puree
1 (15 ounce) can “equivalent” fresh boiled, then “lazy-mashed” sweet potatoes [get the sweet kind, see below*] [I got lazy once, and didn’t mash fully,  and I liked the chunky flavor. Mash’em harder if you want a smoother pie.] 

 1 (12 ounce) can Coconut Milk

2    unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie pastry   [I cheated and used pre-made Keebler Ready-Crust-Graham Cracker–still Vegan!]
non-dairy whipped cream (optional)

[Note: the standard Libby recipe calls for 1.5 cups sugar and less spices – the above modifications are taken from my Momma’s recipe]



 Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix Egg Replacer, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in small bowl then Stir into pumpkin / sweet potato mixture.

[“Cool” note-lame pun intended–when I used eggs I had to wait for the sweet potatoes to cool, didn’t want the eggs to curdle/ cook premature.  Vegan style – you can just dump it all in one big pot and go!]

Gradually stir in Coconut Milk.

Pour mixture into pie shell.


Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.


Reduce temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean

[w/o real eggs it never came out clean-but oh well].

Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve or refrigerate.


*  Before you reach for the candied yams this Thanksgiving, there’s something you need to know. They’re not actually yams! All this time, many Americans have been making the mistake of calling sweet potatoes “yams.” But there’s actually a difference. It turns out sweet potatoes and yams are not even related. They are two different species of root vegetable with very different backgrounds and uses.

So why the confusion? The U.S. government has perpetuated the error of labeling sweet potatoes “yams.” In most cases sweet potatoes are labeled with both terms, which just adds to the confusion. Since there are two types of sweet potatoes, one with creamy white flesh and one with orange, the USDA labels the orange-fleshed ones “yams” to distinguish them from the paler variety. Ok, so that sort of makes sense. But why call the orange-fleshed ones “yams” in the first place? So to understand the difference between yams and sweet potatoes, we have to dig a little deeper (tuber pun intended).
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) come in two main varieties here in the States. One has a golden skin with creamy white flesh and a crumbly texture. The other has a copper skin with an orange flesh that is sweet and soft. All sweet potato varieties generally have the same shape and size — they are tapered at the ends and much smaller than the aforementioned yams.
Americans have been calling the orange-fleshed variety of sweet potatoes “yams” since colonial times when Africans saw familiarities in them to the tuberous variety. The USDA decided to label them as “yams” to differentiate the two varieties. Both varieties of sweet potato, including “yams” can be widely found in supermarket.
Yams (family Dioscoreaceae) are native to Africa and Asia and other tropical regions. Yams are starchy tubers that have an almost black bark-like skin and white, purple or reddish flesh and come in many varieties. The tubers can be as small as regular potatoes or grow upwards of five feet long.
The word yam comes from an African word, which means “to eat.” The yam holds great importance as a foodstuff because it keeps for a long time in storage and is very valuable during the wet season, when food is scarce. For eating, yams are typically peeled, boiled and mashed or dried and ground into a powder that can be cooked into a porridge. Yams can be found in international markets, such as those that specialize in Caribbean foods.
For more information on sweet potatoes, visit the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission.

Spaghetti Squash & “Meatballs”

From David Robertson.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the Spaghetti Squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Brush on a little olive oil. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool.


In a sauce pan, add one bag of Trader Joe’s frozen vegan “meatless” meatballs to one jar of Trader Joe’s organic marinara sauce and heat until simmering.


Once the squash is cool, hold half of the cooked squash over a large bowl. Use a fork to scrape with the grain of the squash, from one side to the other. Repeat this motion until you have scraped all the strands into the bowl.


Add to the bowl of squash the marinara sauce and “meatballs” and after mixing, pour into a large casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake in oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


Barley Salad

From Donna Jacobs
·     Ingredients
·             1 1/2 cups uncooked pearl barley
·             1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
·             1 cup diced seeded plum tomato (about 2 small)
·             1/2 cup chopped green onions
·             1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
·             20 kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
·             3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
·             2 tablespoons olive oil
·             1/4 teaspoon salt
·             1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·             1 garlic clove, minced
·             3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese (or vegan cheese substitute)
1.   Cook barley according to package directions, omitting salt. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Cool completely. Combine barley, corn, and next 4 ingredients (through kalamata olives) in a bowl. Combine juice and next 4 ingredients (through garlic), stirring well with a whisk; drizzle over barley mixture. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.
Nutritional Information
Amount per serving
·             Calories: 494
·             Fat: 18.5g
·             Saturated fat: 4.9g
·             Monounsaturated fat:9.8g
·             Polyunsaturated fat:1.9g
·             Protein: 13.5g
·             Carbohydrate: 73.8g
·             Fiber: 13.7g
·             Cholesterol: 19mg
·             Iron: 2.9mg
·             Sodium: 704mg
·             Calcium: 152mg

Third Plant-Strong Potluck – Sat 11/16

Our 11/16/13 plant-strong potluck was wonderful. Donna got sick at the last minute, so she stayed up stairs. She was missed, but the party must go on!

After most of the guests arrived, we did a yard tour en masse. The newest feature of the yard is  signs for individual plants and main areas. They are printed on metal, and really stand out. We also have a new wild edibles section.

After the tour, I put on the latest Dr. Gregor video – More than an Apple a day. It’s about the most common reasons that people visit their doctor and how to avoid or minimize these visits. I intended to show only 10 minutes or so to introduce everyone to Dr. Gregor’s great research work, but when I tried to pause it, they said “keep going!” People loved it. In fact some guests reported that they rewatched the video online at, and even forwarded the link to several friends. If you haven’t been to, make a point to visit. Greger posts a free video every week day containing the latest research results on nutritional topics. It is an amazing public service. Hat’s off to you Dr. Greger.

About half of the party ate dinner in the dining room, and the other half watched the remainder of the video as we ate.

The rest was a blur as I simultaneously played the host and attempted to eat as many dessert items as humanly possible. Fortunately, I took a few pictures to capture some of the action. See the slideshow below; click to view the next slide.

Donna and I will announce the next get together to those on out plant-strong mailing list.




12-Spice lentil salad

This lentil salad recipe was contributed by Therese Belanger.
Adapted from My New Roots and Food is the Frosting (MaggieMarshall)

2.25 cups (1 lb) dried lentils (red or tan) [2 packages of steamed lentils, refrigerated, from Trader Joe’s]
1 medium red onion, finely diced and soaked in water for at least 5 minutes (green onion works well, too)
1 cup dried currants (or other dried fruit)
1/3 cup capers (one 3.5 oz jar), chopped if large

Spiced Vinaigrette dressing:
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or to taste)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey or sugar substitute)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Kosher salt, or to taste
2 tsp fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

+Therese added tomatoes, cucumber, and kale to the recipe

1. Rinse lentils well and drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, for 4-6 minutes or until just tender. Don’t over cook. Rinse and drain well. Pat dry with a paper towel to absorb more of the moisture.

2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.

3. Finely dice red onion – the salad is best if all the ingredients are about the same size. If using raisins, chop them roughly to make them a bit smaller, and do the same with the capers if they are large.

4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled slightly but still a little warm, place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add drained onion, capers, and currants. Chill until serving, marinading at least overnight for the flavours to meld.

5. Prior to serving, consider adding in chopped apple and tossing with mixed greens.

Serves 25.
1 lbs dry lentils = 7 1/2 cups of cooked lentils
1 lbs dry lentils = 2 1/2 cups of dried lentils


Potato and purslane salad

Purslane is a wild food–or, as many a gardener would say, a weed–that often grows in great abundance where we least want it to be. (Isn’t that the definition of “weed,” anyway?) However, it is very nutritious.

Here’s one fine way to use purslane: in a potato salad.  I found a vinaigrette version online. It’s very tasty.

Don’t use all the salad dressing at first–pour a little on and see how much you’ll need. Any that’s left over will be good on pasta or tossed salad.

6 small to medium redskin potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled
2 cups washed purslane leaves
4 scallions, sliced thin


1/2 cup olive oil
2 T. lemon juice (or more, to taste)
2 T. red wine vinegar (or more,to taste)
garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. dry tarragon
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes with their skins on until just tender. Drain and plunge into cold water. Let cool. Peel and cut into slices, chunks, or dice, as you prefer.

Chop purslane coarsely. Add purslane and scallions to potatoes.

Mix dressing ingredients until emulsified (I like to shake them in a jar). Pour over salad until it looks and tastes right. Chill. If the salad sits around in the fridge for a while before serving, you may need to add a little more dressing just at serving time so it’s moist enough.

Curry chicken salad for tea sandwich


One package Gardein chick’n scallopini
3-4 Green onions
Two stalks of celery
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup vegenaise
1 tsp Curry powder, adjust to taste
Sauté chick’n  2 to 3 minutes on each side over medium heat until browned.
In a food processor, mince celery and green onions. Add chick’n, vegenaise, curry powder. Process on pulse until mixed. Stir in almonds and raisins.
Used Jewish rye bread (Von’s)