First winter storm of the season is dropping some rain here in the southland.

I know many of you are curious to what our Thanksgiving meal consisted of. The past couple years we’ve been invited over to friends for a potluck style (we always brought our ever popular salad mix and other homemade goodies). For Thanksgiving this year our friends had other plans and, coincidentally, we did too. In fact, we were so busy working on Thanksgiving day we didn’t have the time nor energy to plan a big feast (besides didn’t feel like stuffing our faces), Instead, we had a simple meal at home of homegrown salad, homemade bread and, in addition, we did splurge on two items: organic sweet potatoes with an orange (from our tree) honey sauce with pecans and a natural mushroom patty.

Plants for the Future

Here on the urban homestead, among the diverse flora of 350-400 varieties ,we have a few unusual edible and useful plants. One  in particular is called the tropical sunflower or tree marigold. With its impressive height (ours is about 20 plus feet high), low maintenance and bright yellow flowers, it’s a fabulous focus point in the garden. The bright yellow flowers smell like chocolate (no kidding) and besides being a spectacular plant specimen, the plant has many attributes: used green manure for soil fertility and makes great goat fodder. In addition, the plant’s flowers are a favorite of bees and African farmers have many uses for the plant. The most popular use is as an organic fertilizer for vegetable crops in either compost or a tea form. With so much diversity, it would be easy to start a nursery, perhaps continue on with ourfamily heritage.   We feed our urban goats, and also chimps at the LA Zoo, the leaves, stalks and flowers.

Another eye catching plant growing here on the urban homestead is tamarillos- a very versatile, distinctively different, delicious fruit from South America. Also New Zealanders (my birthplace) love tamarillos and use them in many different ways.

Tamarillos can be eaten raw or used as the fresh fruit in all basic fruit recipes from cheescakes to apple crumble, from ice cream and sherbets to fruit sauces, chutneys, jams, jellies, and pickles. They can be even sliced for use on pizzas, toast and in sandwiches or added to casseroles and even lightly fried as as a steak accompaniment.

The fruits ripen in fall here in So Cal and look quite stunning (like little red ornaments) hanging from the tropical looking foliage. We like to use their fruit like an apple as it cooks in a similar way.


In order to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria, hospitals around the world are turning to an ancient remedy: honey. Laboratory attempts to create a honey-resistant bacteria have so far failed
Honey Remedy Could Save Limbs {Wired}

…Eddy is one of many doctors to recently rediscover honey as medicine. Abandoned with the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s and subsequently disregarded as folk quackery, a growing set of clinical literature and dozens of glowing anecdotes now recommend it.
read more

[ If we have a burn or serious cut (which, thankfully, we haven’t had in sometime, we would would turn to our honey jar for soothing and anti bacterial properties. Growing up around  bees and keeping bees we learned how to utilize all that honey!]
Gucci and Prada for the under-13 crowd {LATimes}

Dressed in pink Uggs, Seven jeans and a matching pink sweater and cap, Elizabeth Cohen looks the epitome of hip as she winds her way through the holiday crowds at the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles.
read more

[ What’s an Ugg? OK, I am not that ignorant.  Seriously, when it comes to brand names, but at 10? Sheesh.   How come I am getting the feeling now that such brand labeling is creeping into the green and sustainable fashion world. I’ll take second hand any day.]

Camp? Outside? Um, no thanks  {LATimes}

Fewer Americans are visiting national parks. Administrators ask why.As the National Park Service begins planning for its 100th birthday in 2016, the venerable agency has reason to wonder who will show up.
…”We’re talking about a generation that’s being raised under virtual house arrest,” said Louv, whose 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder,” is being used as a study guide at some national parks.”We scare them to death with signs and pamphlets warning them about bears, snakes, spiders, poison oak, drowning, driving on ice and in snow and all the other disclaimers we provide,” said Alexandra Picavet, the spokeswoman at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “Small wonder they are terrified.”
read more

‘Locavores’ Dine on Regional Chow {Wired}

When a group of Earth-conscious gastronomes gather for seasonal meals made only from ingredients produced within 100 miles of the home, the constraints of the task birth some creative results.
read more

No Comments

  1. James says:

    On the brand thing. I got my first pair of “Gap” jeans this year. They were second-hand from the Salvation Army Thrift Store!


  2. Danielle says:

    In Australia, Uggs or Ugg Boots were the very un-hip (“daggy”) footwear of the ’80s (fashionable in the ’70s). The US patenting of the brand name prompted several legal fights from small mum-and-dad business here in Australia, businesses that had been happily and sustainably producing these sheepskin boots for 30 years. Many families were bullied out of business, but the fight was finally one by a small family company in Western Australia. They remain one of our national symbols.

  3. Esther says:

    Last year I wrote an article about Louv’s book for our community college paper. I loved his message. Louv has a weekly column in the San Diego Tribune often environment related. It’s worth checking out: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/louv/