Posts tagged ‘Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens’
It’s beginning to look a lot like winter. First of all, we have quite a storm system blowing through Fort Bragg right now. It’s very wet and although we have sunny skies in between storms, the down pours and winds themselves are quite impressive. If you’re headed our way, be sure and check the roads for closures because there’s been some flooding. I’ve been lucky both here at Living Light and at home as far as power outages – I’ve been all powered up so far. Anyhow – it’s “between storms” right now and it’s a lovely day out. Far out for now!
And secondly, looking forward to the beginning of winter means, of course, the holidays. There’s so much to do every weekend this month! This weekend’s holiday cheer is a benefit concert by Willits Brass (featuring my sweet boyfriend) at the Company Bar (featuring sweet Amanda) for Project Sanctuary. All good fun for a good cause. The weekends coming up will have lighted truck parades and lighted botanical gardens and more parties and gosh – what a whirlwind! Sometimes…. I must admit…. I feel a bit overwhelmed by all of it and kind of wish I could just hide at home and read. But, I always have a good time once I get myself to these things and I have such wonderful friends with whom to do them. The holidays are all about connections – to your community, your family and your friends. I’m feeling so good about the connections in my life right now I just know this winter will be beautiful. As we near the solstice, let’s connect to all those things plus the planet. As we move through these dark days, let’s light our worlds.
I keep saying this to people who are tired of the rain. We all love flowers and in May the roses should start to bloom as well as the rhododendrons. And we might still have iris and perhaps the daffodils. Our dahlias are growing so soon we will have those as well. Yippee!
Then the fruits and veggies will start. Our peach, cherry, apple, and fig trees are all starting to blossom. Everytime we see a bee, whether one of our mason bees or honeybees, near the trees, Archie goes up to them and points out the other blossoms and gives them directions to the other flowers to pollinate. How cute is that? Next will come the squash, corn, pepper, cucumber and tomato plants. Archie will be a busy man!
Have any of you gone to Living Light’s salad bar lately? Man, it’s great! It starts with fresh mixed lettuce, then romaine, shredded carrots, shredded beets, cucumbers, shredded red cabbage, celery, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts. And then each day has different selections: cooked and sprouted black or garbanzo beans, steamed rice, sauerkraut, or something extra like a mixed marinated veggie salad. Three or four dressings are available: Dijon Mustard dressing, Ranch, Liquid Gold, or Tomato Basil. I truly gorge on Living Light’s salad bar!
The Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden has long been a favorite place for me and Archie to visit, even before we moved up here. We would take a picnic lunch and go to the cliff house and watch the whales go by. The rhododendrons are so beautiful and last longer at the coast. We have rhodies at our home, but we are inland by a mile so the time is not quite as long. The gardens have so many plants and show so many ways to decorate your yard. We rarely go without buying at least one. The botanical gardens had their annual spring plant sale this past weekend. Being members we were able to go the evening before for goodies, wine, and the real reason: plants. It was so much fun – cold, but fun.
Coming up soon is the Science of Raw Food Nutrition series. This series includes Level I, Level II, the Benefits of Raw Food Nutrition Educator Certification, Level III, and the Advanced Raw Food Nutrition Educator Certification. If you find nutrition interesting, and would like to learn the science behind a raw vegan diet, please contact me and ask for the descriptions of these stellar classes.
In March we at Living Light are having a “mini series”. We’re offering the first four classes of the Associate Chef and Instructor certification series. It begins with FUNdamentals of Raw Living Foods and our Knife Skills Intensive. The next five days are spent in Essentials of Raw Culinary Arts. After a much deserved Saturday off, students will spend the next two days in the Science of Raw Food Nutrition. This is a great opportunity for those who cannot spend three weeks away from home at one time, or for people who are mainly interested in learning raw culinary arts for their home kitchen. Check it out!
We received a great Christmas present this last year from our friends Joe & Sandi: a membership to FOG – Friends of the Gardens. We went to our first meeting last week. We did not know what to expect, except for appetizers and wine. (One of the enticements!) I discovered that they are preparing an “Adventure Walk” for children aged 4 to 8, but it sounds like so much fun that I think many adults will want to walk the path too. There will be a teepee to sit in, a large nest with concrete eggs to sit upon, and vegetables to pick from the garden and eat. Who wouldn’t want to go? Next month they are having a lecture series on “Victory Gardens”. I love our local botanical gardens!
Well, I voted for the Hot Raw Chef Sweet Valentine Video Recipe Contest, have you? It was fun looking at the videos: some were funny, some were serious and the food looks so very good – I will enjoy the eBook of recipes!
Even though the energy is supposedly still curled up tight in January, I always feel a little surge of Spring at this time of the year. Just enough to tease out that little bit of hope that might have lain dormant after the holidays. When I go out to visit the plants on my deck, I see some new fronds and shoots, and a tinge of fresh green, nature’s “hardest hue to hold” as Robert Frost says.
I love inspiration. We are starting to feel extra inspired this year, because we have our first group of students moving into “Chef” as we call it–when they really start using the skills they’ve aquired so far, and do their first public culinary demo at our school, besides learning (and eating!) a variety of truly scrumptious recipes. And we have extra reason to celebrate. Our chef Amber West has decided to follow her passion and complete our Living Light Associate Chef Internship Program.
This means that she’ll be here as a chef/instructor for every Associate Chef and Instructor Series we have throughout the year. We’ve decided that this will be a great opportunity for us to launch another blog, called “The Chef Experience.” Amber will chronicle each of the sessions with students in the Raw Culinary Arts Associate Chef and Instructor Training™ program, and share insights and photos from each group. This will prove to be inspiring to everyone working here, as well as to all the potential Living Light students out there who want to know the “skinny” on the day to day learning process. We’re really excited! We can hardly wait to share a bird’s eye view of our classes with all of you. And don’t forget the Hot Raw Chef Sweet Valentine Video Contest!
I have to say that Archie “ticked” me off recently. I received a bonus from Dan and Cherie to use in the Living Light Marketplace. We carry all of our instructors favorite knives carefully selected by Cherie Soria at our retail store. I asked Archie what he would like and he said a knife. He went and selected the knife – a Mac– and also looked at the knife sharpeners. He liked one – the Henckel’s Sharpening Steel – but said that we could get that later. Great! I went and got both with the thought of wrapping the sharpener up and putting it in his Christmas stocking.
We went out to dinner with friends before going to the Festival of Lights that night at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens and I put my stuff and Archie’s knife and present in the trunk of the car. Archie asked if I bought the knife earlier and I said, “Yes, it is in the trunk”.
The next morning I got up and poured myself a cup of coffee intending on taking a sip and then going to the car to bring in the stuff, (but I would leave the sharpener in the trunk–sneak sneak). That way I could sneak it in the house later. As I am pouring the coffee I notice my coffee carafe from work on the sink. Oh, no! “Honey, did you bring in my stuff from the car?” “Yes, I did. I see you decided to buy the sharpener after all.”
The Fort Bragg Food Bank means much more to our city than just giving food to those who are having an economic hard time. They also accept clothes to give to participants. The Cheshire Book Store aligns with the Food Bank and encourages their patrons to buy books and then gives them to the Food Bank to distribute to the children in line.
Some of our neighbors donate their extra fruits and veggies to the Food Bank, and some to the Senior Citizens Center. The great thing about Fort Bragg, California is the volunteers: there are so many organizations. It will be hard for me, once I retire, to decide for which program I will volunteer. Will it be hospice, the hospital, the Food Bank, Senior Citizens Center, the dog park, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens or other organizations that need help? I am looking forward to making some decisions in a few years!
Living Light often times goes to Big Brothers and Sisters and gives food demonstrations to the children as well as the 4H Club, Harvest (our local supermarket), and the Mendocino Coast District Hospital. We have also given the hospital staff tuition specials for our culinary courses. We particpated in the Salmon Restoration Association Barbecue one year. We got a few dirty looks at first as people thought we were trying to convert them – as if! I told them that we were offering vegan raw salmon cakes as an alternative to over fishing the ocean. I then offered a sample and they were surprised that it tasted so good! I was exhausted by the end of the day, but it was fun to watch people change their minds in a positive way. The children kept coming back for seconds and more! Yes, it was a good day.
Pre-holiday anxiety can set in pretty quickly, so it’s important to do everything you can to stay focused on the joy. Just because I went into the post office today to ship a birthday package to my son in Canada, and there was a long line already, doesn’t mean that I have to get all scrooged up about it. And just because I filled out the longish customs form and was told I had to go back over everything I’d written so that it would show up on the last page of the quadruplicate doesn’t mean that I should feel any anxiety (especially with a long line forming behind me already). It must mean that now is the time to breathe, relax, and enjoy. Hey, Fort Bragg doesn’t even have any traffic to speak of. No malls, no big box stores, no vast parking lots where you can’t find your car. We do have a tree lighting ceremony, a festival of lights in the Botanical Gardens, several craft and art fairs, and a performance of the Nutcracker every year at the groovy refurbished Cotton Auditorium.
Well, actually, we say there is traffic if it takes us 12 minutes to get to work in the morning instead of 10. And we have a holiday truck parade where practically the whole town turns out no matter what the weather, and the aforementioned tree lighting ceremony, and kids parties at the aquatic center and all kinds of fun, small town homey reasons to love the season. Here at Living Light, we’ve already had a meeting to plan the entertainment, food, and decor for our annual party, and we’ve agreed in the admin office to put off playing holiday music until after Thanksgiving. We’ve started to bring in little treats for each other, and take an extra minute to be kind and considerate of our coworkers. That’s how it starts to creep in…that holiday spirit that takes hold of your heart, brings a tear to your eye when you watch the season’s favorite movies for the umpteenth time, and helps you remember the spirit of the season: Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards men (and women, and children, and animals.) Yeah.
This weekend we harvested as many veggies as possible: pumpkins, green and yellow zucchinis, tomatoes, red bell peppers, jalapeños, and our dahlias. We still have lots of winter squash growing, garlic, green onions, chard, Red Russian Kale, lettuce, and cabbage. Though the pretty green worms got to the cabbages first, so we have decided to let them have a feast!
This year’s garden was not as good as we had hoped, due mostly to the extra rain we had. Usually the rain ends by mid April; this year it was the end of June. Even our greenhouse veggies did not do as well. That is all right, however, as each year brings different challenges and we learn from them.
Winter is a great time to dream about next year’s garden. We get out catalogs; look over the seeds we have left over; even look at recipes to see if we should grow certain kinds of veggies: will we really use that much chard? I love the dreaming part, but by February we start the seedlings and by March are ready to plant!
Another thing I am looking forward to is Pastry Arts – Unbaked! 2. This is a recipe development class and it will be so much fun to see what the students create. One year a student in RawFusion Spa Cuisine created a banana slug: it was beautiful, but not enticing to eat! Pastry Arts will be different!
Archie’s birdhouse sold for almost $200.00 this past weekend at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens . They served wine, fresh veggies and other delicious snack foods. Another birdhouse was bought out right – no bidding – for $1,000.00. Wonderful!
I went up to the woman who bought it and congratulated her not only on her good taste, but also on being so generous to the gardens. She smiled and was pleased. Later I found out that her husband was the artist. I thought of purchasing Archie’s as I know the grandchildren would love it, but Archie frowned. Oh well, he can always make another for the children!
Yes, Fort Bragg can produce (pardon the pun) beauty.
If you can not make the Chef Showcase this coming weekend, be sure to sign up for the Live Streaming of our event. Some people are doing both: that way they can see and taste the food in person, and then watch the video for two months afterwards to fine tune their own chef abilities with that of the Showcase chefs.