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On the Ranch

Sacramento, California: The smoke dissipated a bit overnight, but our phones kept sending us "bad air quality" alerts. The news from Paradise, California, is sadder and sadder with each passing hour, with hundreds still missing. The Camp fire is now the most destructive in California history - and don't forget, much of San Francisco burned down in 1851.

We were spending the day with Dave's Brother Steve, and our sister-in-law, Gina. They live outside Sacramento, and with a small change in elevation, the smoke was a little better at their ranch, but still awful.

Meanwhile, at the Motorcoach Country Club, Mary and Captain Jim have moved from our lot to their own campsite - and went to Tacos Gonzalez for lunch. They sent us a photo of their luncheon table, heaped with delicious tostadas and tacos. I thought they were our friends, but apparently not. Evil temptress.

We will be there soon!

But we had a feast of our own at Gina and Steve's today.

Brother Steve recently had knee-replacement surgery (too many trips down the ski slopes!), but is recovering quite well, with the help of an icing machine and full-time live-in help (Gina). They have the most beautiful piece of property, with a massive raised-bed garden, and rows of fruit trees. While Steve and Dave were watching football, Gina took me out to the veggie patch and she began gathering vegetables for our dinner - and for us to take to Indio.

Gina has over a dozen raised vegetable beds, and two are devoted to tomatoes (and a little basil). She filled the bottom of a huge colander with four varieties of tomatoes, then started picking rainbow chard and salad greens.

The vegetables are so perfect - they look fake!

The garden area is on their fence line, which is along their neighbor's pasture. Three little goats and a small cow live in the pasture. Every time Gina goes to her garden, the four critters trot over to her fence, as Gina is always feeding them greens and vegetables from her garden.

Next, Gina took me over to the orchard where she picked dozens of key limes and satsumas for us. Then she gave us a jar of her fig jam, Fuji apples, and a red kuri squash.

Never go to Gina's house without a cooler in the back of your car.

They truly live off the land, as she freezes, cans, dries, or otherwise preserves so much of their harvest. When she has an over-abundance of vegetables, she packs it up and takes to the local food bank. Everything is organic.

Gina prepared a lovely dinner for us and the only thing purchased was a chicken (only because they do not raise chickens). She served ravioli filled with red kuri squash - touched with nutmeg and a little maple syrup - sautéed in butter and sage. Her salad included three greens (romaine, endive, spinach), carrots, shaved asparagus, tomatoes, shallots, basil, and pea pods. The chicken was cooked on an upright roaster and had been marinated in herbs and orange juice (all grown on-site).

And since a theme of today's blog is people sitting in front of delicious tempting foods... here is Brother Steve and the glorious bird.

It was a delicious meal (as is every meal Gina has ever prepared for us). As I was sitting at the table, looking out over the property, the fact everything on my plate was grown within sight was so satisfying - and I didn't have to do any of the gardening. Imagine how Gina and Steve must feel every night at dinner. (Not to mention, they work so hard on their ranch, they are most-likely starving by dinner time.) So gratifying.

Another wonderful visit, and we are happy to see Brother Steve is recovering so well from his knee surgery. (What is it with the Taylor Boys and their knees?)

Until my next update, I remain, your well-fed correspondent.

RV Park: Cal-Expo RV Park - at the State Fairgrounds. We are in the back flat gravel area (just a huge parking lot) with 50 amp, full-service, pull-through sites. Not exciting, but very convenient for all the folks who pull horse trailers, etc., for the next-door race track. We are paying $45 per night.