We're two sisters who are craft book publishers and found ourselves in the midst of an avocado grove. We bought this house where we planned to conduct our publishing business and in the deal got 4 acres of avocado trees thrown in. Now we're not only publishers but ranchers as well! This blog is all about avocados and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Friday, July 30, 2010

We Brake for Avocado Fudge!!

Whoa!! Stop the car. Did you see that sign? AVOCADO FUDGE? Stop the Car. Screeeeech. We came to a halt. We just had to get a taste of Avocado Fudge. That was yesterday as we were driving down Main Street in our cute little town of Fallbrook.

So we entered the door and felt like we were reeling back to our childhood in Chicago where we had Joe's Candy Store - packed full of penny candies. Well Swirlz might not have penny candy as we remember it, but they sure have everything else. Here's just a small selection.

There were several different rooms full of every kind of candy you could imagine. What fun for a kid. A veritable treasure trove of sweets.

We were greeted by Shawn who was manning the shop. He led us to the refrigerator that was stocked to the overflowing with every kind of avocado fudge you might want. There was plain, rocky road, chocolate walnut, chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate mocha and white chocolate. It was hard to choose, but we finally decided on the chocolate walnut.

Shawn was nice enough to give us a little sample of the fudge. It was quite delicious, but I sure couldn't taste any avocado. But the avocado replaces most of the butter in the recipe. So this fudge should be healthier than normal fudge.

After our taste, we took a tour of the shop. What fun. We especially liked the retro gums, candies and soft drinks. Here's a sample:

Our favorite soft drink was the one from Russia (maybe it's not really from Russia) called Leninade. Ha. Too funny. I'll certainly return and buy a bottle of that - just to taste it and then to keep the bottle for a cute vase. Love it.

I'm sure Swirlz has more Pez containers than any place outside of Rosie O'Donnel's house! There was a giant assortment - what a great place to start your own collection.

We bought our box of fudge, two ice cream sandwiches and had to tear ourselves away before we spent any more money. But I'm sure going to return to Swirlz - have to have that Russian bottle!!

You can order Avocado Fudge on line from Swirlz. Look under "Home Style Gourmet Chocolate".


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Retro Cookbooks

I really love old cookbooks. I don't know if it's the cover art, the unhealthy recipes, the musty smell, the kitchen stains, the horrible styling and photography. I'm just not sure why, but I have a bookshelf full and I'm always looking for more. I've selected some from Etsy that are pretty darned cute. See if you agree. Maybe one or two of them are familiar - from your very kitchen or your mothers.

Here's one from 1945 called Recipes for Good Eating.  Don't you just love the matching red gingham aprons on mother and daughter? And what about mom's hairdo - that's quite an upsweep, so 1940s. This book is from Cook Book Addict.

Who can forget this guy? (unless you were born after 1970). I remember his very entertaining TV cooking show - he was sure ahead of his time, wasn't he? This nostalgic book is from Ephemerista. It looks very well used, doesn't it?

I chose this book from Retro Cook Book because of the 1950s artwork on the cover. The little dancing meat and vegetables are just too cute for words. Why isn't the fish dancing? The vibrant pink and purple cover sure grabs your attention.

This book from Calloohcallay answers the ever popular question "What Shall I Cook Today". What a great title. The comic book style cover is wonderful, the recipes are so darn unhealthy all using Spry shortening and lots of frying.  But who would want this book for the recipes - you'd just want to take that cover and frame it!

Mmmmm. Dr. Price Phosphate Baking Powder. Sounds kind of lethal doesn't it? Like something you'd mix up in your chemistry lab. Somewhere along the line, the "phosphate" was removed from the brand and it's just called baking powder. But I bet those phosphate elements are still lurking in every box and can of baking powder (I'll have to check the label). This wonderful little book is from Kittredge Mercantile. It dates back to 1921 and has just an amazing cover, another one that would be perfect framed for some kitchen art.

This particular book is very nostalgic for me since I was a girl scout and wore a similar uniform. Although my uniform was from the 1950s and the one's in this 1972 edition have been a little updated.  I even received the cooking badge which I displayed proudly on my green sash. They've updated the uniform again and it sadly doesn't even resemble the one's we wore. Maybe not sadly for the current crop of girl scouts. Doesn't the girl in the middle look just like Valerie Bertinelli (although I doubt if she was even born yet)? This cookbook is from Dick and Janes Books.

And last but not least, here's another artery clogging bunch of recipes from Crisco - The New Recipes for Good Eating. Ha! This 1948 book is from Avante Jewelry. Mom is saying "Hey kids fill up on a massive plate full of yummy donuts."  Little Susie can't even keep her tongue in her mouth, she's absolutely drooling over her half eaten donut. Mom seems a little unconcerned about the amount of calories and cholesterol lurking in those deep fried confections.

Well that was sure a fun trip down cook book memory lane. Are you a cookbook collector? Do you have some of these old cuties lurking on your bookshelf?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More Peaches

Are you tired of peaches yet? I'm not. I picked some more and made the peach/blueberry cobbler. Here's the recipe:

About 5 - 6 medium peaches (or 2 16 oz cans sliced peaches)
1/2 cup baking mix (I used Jiffy)
1/3 cup sugar
ground cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries (optional)

2 1/4 cups baking mix
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
mixture of 1/4 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350º
2. Spray casserole dish with oil
3. Drain the peaches if using canned. Combine the peaches, including the juice from the can, the blueberries, baking mix, sugar and a little cinnamon. Place this mixture into the casserole.
4. Make the topping: combine the biscuit mix, sugar, butter and milk in a bowl. Mix until combined. Drop the dough using a tablespoon onto the peaches. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
5. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crusty.

One thing I had trouble with was peeling the peaches. So I checked Youtube to find a post on this subject. I'm always amazed at how many posts there are on any one subject. It sure makes it fun to choose because there are so many bad ones. I just can't figure out why people post those really bad, disgusting, boring, humiliating videos on youtube. But this one is a gem. I absolutely love the background music - how totally refreshing while you're peeling peaches. He's kind of cute too.


One thing he didn't do that the other youtubers did, was drop the peaches into a bowl of ice water. Maybe frenchmen don't use the ice cube method (his method seems to work just fine) This is to keep the peaches from cooking after taking out of the boiling water. So I guess you can decide what is the best method for you.

However, you peel your peaches, enjoy the finished product.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Peach Poacher or Poached Peaches?

I know, I know, this blog is supposed to be about avocados. But since it's called "Ladies of the Grove" I think it can be about anything in or near the grove.

Kathy, our neighbor across the road has a peach tree that is dripping with peaches. As you can see the branches are weighed down and almost touching the ground. So this morning I poached a big bagful. Actually I have to confess that Kathy said I could pick all that I wanted before the birds got to them. So I took her up on her offer. I really didn't steel them. Maybe she didn't think I would take as many as I did - but I'm going to make a peach pie and I'll give her a slice (if it turns out) and that will make her really happy and not mad at me for picking so many.

I'm going to make this lattice top peach pie that I made once before. Can't wait to try it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
If you have bunches of peaches, slice 'em up and bake a pie. Nothing's better than a fresh fruit pie in the summer.

Lattice-Top Peach Pie
1 package refrigerated pie crusts
6 cups thinly sliced, pared ripe peaches
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1. Roll out 1 pie crust to fit your pie plate.
2. Roll out the other pie crust into a 12" circle. With a sharp knife, cut fourteen 3/4"-inch wide strips. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Preheat oven to 425º.
4. Sprinkle the sliced peaches with lemon juice
5. Combine sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl and add to the peaches, tossing lightly to combine.
6. Turn the mixture into the pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with the butter pieces.
7. Moisten the edge of the pastry slightly with cold water. Arrange 7 pastry strips across the filling; press ends to the pastry edges.
8. Place the remaining 7 strips across the first ones, at right angles, to make the lattice. Press ends to the pastry edges.
9. Fold the overhang of the lower crust over the ends of the strips to make a rim.
10. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the peaches are tender and the crust is golden.

Then enjoy with a big, big scoop of ice cream melting over the pie. Mmmmmm. Can't wait to dig in.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mountain Lion spotted in grove

Wow. This is kind of scary. Our gardener had told us this week that he had heard something really big in the grove. He was sure it wasn't a coyote or a dog. He said the footprints sounded too big (can a footprint sound?) - way bigger than a coyotes (who supposedly have really small feet).

So yesterday my dog and I were having lunch on the patio and she started barking ferociously and I heard the really big footprints and ran to the fence just in time to see something light brownish running through the grove. It was bigger than a cat, about the same size as a coyote. It could also have been a bobcat which are smaller than mountain lions. But both are found in San Diego county. I think it was our mountain lion. Yikes.  (by-the-way - I did not take the above photo or the Youtube film below - that's not our mountain lion).  I never let my dog off her leash outside. Just too many predators. We have coyotes, hawks and now mountain lions (or bobcats). Ah, the beauty of living in the country! Kind of makes me want to move back to the big city.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Avocados or Grapes?

Will our avocado grove become a grape orchard?

It seems there is a big problem with the avocado crop in our area. We're getting way too much salt in our irrigation water. There was an article in the July 4 issue of the North County Times saying how bad the salinity in the water is for avocados.We used to get our water from Northern California but because of a drought restriction, the water now comes mostly from the Colorado River which is more salty. Grower Al Stehly says "We're putting salt on our trees every time we irrigate, and avocados are one of the most sensitive crops."

It seems that the extra salt causes smaller fruit and damage to the leaves. The leaves develop brown scorch marks at the tips and eventually die. When the new leaves regrow, it takes energy from the fruit which makes them smaller.

Nothern California water has about 250 parts per million of salt, Colorado River water has about 700 part per million. Avocado trees are harmed by exposure to 500 parts per million. So there's the rub. What's a grower to do? Grower Gary Winder says he's going to grow more grapes and fewer avocados. "Avocados are our most water-hungry crops," said Winder. "Grapes require less water...and aren't hurt so much by the salt."

There is a move by growers and grove managers to persuade the Metropolitan Water District to switch how it distributes water. We'll wait and see what happens. In the meantime we'll be researching grape growing. Oh, it would be such a shame to cut down those beautiful avocado trees! 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Corn on the Cob Mystery Embellishments

On my last post I had a list of several favorite ways to eat corn on the cob. Some of the ingredients were new to me and maybe to you too. So I've done a little research on those ingredients in the hopes of shedding some light on them.

Kerrygold Butter is from Ireland. The butter is golden and looks as though it has been colored. The color is actually natural, coming from the beta-carotene in the intense green Irish grass consumed by the cows. Made in the style of all premium European butters, Kerrygold's higher fat content gives its butter a distinctive richness. It can be purchased online from Igourmet.com.

Sriracha is made from sun ripened chilies which are ground into a smooth paste along with garlic and packaged in a convenient squeeze bottle. It is used in soups, sauces, pastas, pizzas, hot dogs, hamburgers, chow mein or anything else to give it a delicious, spicy taste. This condiment is available in most supermarkets but can also be ordered online from Huy Fong Foods.

Chaat masala is a spice mix used in Indian cuisine. It consists of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, Kala Namak, coriander, dried ginger, salt, black pepper, asafoetida and chili powder. It has a pungent almost eggy smell and tastes both sweet and sour. It is used to flavor all the popular fast foods of India like bhelpuri, golgappa, aaloo chaat and Dahi puri. It is something of an acquired taste, and can be added to all sorts of everyday foods and drinks or even eaten on its own.

Sambal is a condiment used in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines and Sri Lanka as well as the Netherlands through Indonesian influence. It is typically made from a variety of peppers, although chili peppers are the most common. Sambal is used as a condiment or side dish and is sometimes substituted for fresh chilis. It can be very hot for the uninitiated. It's available at exotic food markets or gourmet departments in some supermarkets. 

Cotija is a hard cow's milk cheese from Cotija, Michoacan, Mexico. It can be purchased in small rounds or large blocks and is often used crumbled or grated as a topping for soups, salads, beans, tostadas or tacos. Like Parmesan, it is often sold already grated. This cheese is available in most supermarkets or can be ordered on line from savory food.

Hope this clears up any questions about these embellishments. I'm willing to try some on my next corn on the cob - maybe starting with the Kerrygold butter. That one sounds delicious. I already had a bottle of sriracha in my cupboard and didn't realize it. I used it for a recipe with soba noodles and peanut butter that was really delicious and then forgot that I had it or what is was called. Do you have things like that in your cupboard?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Corn on the Cob Related Incident

I've been in a lot of pain this past week. It all had to do with some corn on the cob. I had a small cold sore on my bottom lip and a refrigerator full of fresh corn on the cob. What's a person to do? Could I resist that corn? No, of course not. So I cooked the corn, slathered it with butter and poured on the salt and took the first painful bite. And IT WAS PAINFUL. But did I stop eating the corn even though my lip was just about to burn off? NO. I just kept eating it and I ate it all. Every bit. And I was in pain. The heat from the corn, the salt in the wound. Ouch. I woke up the next morning with my lips sealed together. You know how that feels. I'm sure you've been there. I'm pretty much back to normal now. Just a small pain (no need to send a get well card). Nothing permanent. But I would advise against eating corn on the cob with a cold sore.

So that got me thinking about corn on the cob. It's almost the fourth of July, time for picnics and time for corn. I actually found a recipe for corn on the cob slathered with guacamole. Well, it's not actually a recipe, just a photo of someone slathering guacamole on the corn. Hmmmm. Wonder what that would taste like.

Then I thought since it's Thursday, I'd focus on all things corn on the cob. Here's what I found on Etsy this week.

Can you believe that this package has never been opened? And what good shape it's in. I love that it says "The Modern Way to Serve Corn on the Cob". Everything you need is included except the corn - the avocado green trays, salt and pepper shakers and 8 corn holders. This set is from  Zadoodle.

And here's how the other half lived. They used sterling silver corn holders!  Aren't these classy? They're from Hazel's House.

These are quite unusual. Bakelite was the precursor to plastic and you usually see it in jewelry or old radios. But I've never seen bakelite corn holders. These are from Vintage Jewels and More:

Here's some corn on the cob holders that will be sure to impress your dinner guests. They're from Spooner Z:

If you need trays for your corn, check out these from Dirty Birdies Vintage:

I also found a post on another blog with every kind of thing you should put on your corn. Here are some samples:

butter, lime, chili powder and super fine chopped cilantro
butter and fish sauce (or soy sauce)
a smear of mayonnaise
wrapped in bacon and grilled in the husk
wrapped in foil with zesty Italian dressing and grilled
Kerrigold Irish butter and garlic salt. (supposedly this type of butter doesn't run off the corn)
Spiracha and butter on grilled corn
grilled, rubbed with lime and sprinkled with chaat masala
grilled with lime, mayonnaise and rolled in parmesan cheese
Sambal mayonnaise, lime, cayenne pepper and shredded coconut
Hot off the grill with roasted jalapena butter and salt
Grilled and brushed with mayonnaise with cayenne, salt and cumin rolled in cotija and finished with a squeeze of lime.

I have no idea what some of these things are. Maybe you do. Kerrigold butter? Spiracha? Chaat masala? Sambal mayonnaise? I'll do some research and get back to you.

Several people on the blog I found, said they always ate corn on the cob after dinner as a sort of dessert. That must be a regional thing. It was new to me.

How do you eat your corn on the cob?