Tag Archive | Susan Martin

I made the best ‘quick’ black olive hummus today…



I love hummus. I can remember the first time I had it, and how I couldn’t stop eating it. Then I had to try each flavor, and found that the black olive was my favorite. Sort of. I mean I won’t turn any down, love it all. But from the time I was four or five, and sticking black olives on all my fingers and then eating them off, slowly, as I sat watching cartoons, until I grew up and did the same thing (okay, I don’t actually still put them on my fingers), they are one of my favorite snacks. And they blend perfectly with hummus.

Ok, so if you just read the word “tahini” and freaked out because you have never used it, and have absolutely no idea what it is, it’s just pureed sesame seeds. You can find it in most grocery stores, often in the ethnic food section. Now I have heard of folks trying to substitute peanut butter for tahini in making hummus. I have never tried that, and a purist would never think of trying that, but hey, if you’re just playing around with food, which I encourage, go for it.

This recipe is fairly basic, and easy to make changes to. For instance you can spice it up easily with cayenne, increase the garlic, etc. I personally love hummus with pita bread, but I think it’s quite nice with tortilla chips or crisp toast points too. So versatile, ya gotta love it. This recipe is a bit of a few others I’ve tried, with my own changes.



  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup black olives
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste. If it’s thicker than you like add water. When it’s to your liking, try drizzling olive oil over it and garnish with chopped black olives. So easy, so good. Tell me what you think!




Apple Peel Jelly


Yes, I made jelly from apple peels…

After making apple sauce a few days ago, I wondered if I could make jelly with the cores and peels. And guess what? Yes, I could and did! There is natural pectin to be had, I tell you! I didn’t need to add any at all. I just took those peels and cores, put them in a sauce pan and added enough water to cover, and let it simmer for about half an hour. Then I poured it all into a strainer over a medium bowl, and returned the liquid right back into the pot. I gave it a dash of lemon, sugar and cinnamon, stirred it again, put my candy thermometer into it and let it cook to the jelly temp of 220F.

It takes a while to get anything that hot, so while I was waiting I sterilized a few jars and rings and lids, and got everything ready. It reduced down about half, and I got a little more than two jars of the best jelly ever, from peels and cores!! Seriously, this was one of the better ideas I’ve had lately, so I just had to share.

So when you come back with your ginormous haul of apples from Julian’s “Apple Days”, now you know what to do with the scraps! Then you can compost (preferably) or toss.

~Susan (yes, this was posted earlier in the week, twice for some reason. When I tried to delete the 2nd one they both left)

Mango Salsa, yum!


A few years ago, while on a mango craze, I discovered mango salsa.

It’s not a dance, it’s food, and it can be sort of addicting. The first thing I discovered while on this craze, is that cutting the mangoes is not as much fun as eating them.

I mentioned this bit of trivia to a friend who is a garden reporter in Florida, Robert Bornstein, who happens to grow mangoes and knows all about cutting them. He made a YouTube about it, for heaven’s sake–boy, did I mention it to the right person!

Anyway, lest I bore you with all the details of that conversation, let me just get to the gist of what he told me: you need to cut the seed away before you begin to cut–or even peel–the mango.

Holding the mango, feel for the flat seed, which is huge and takes up much of the fruit, and insert a sharp knife into the top of the mango (not into your fingers, I might add). Do this on a cutting board and separate the seed by slicing it off. You now can scoop or cut the mango out of the peel. Do the same thing with the other half, and try really hard to save, not eat, the mango, since you can’t make this recipe if you eat it before you begin…

Here is yet another hot (ok, pun intended) tip: Wear rubber, not latex, gloves to cut the jalapeno. You cannot wash the capsaicin off your skin for days, so please trust me about this… I’d like to say someone just told me about how they burned their eyes later, and that I, in fact, would never do this silly thing, but I did. So wear rubber gloves, and do as I say, not as I did.

Here are the ingredients you will need to gather, wash, peel, cut, etc:

  • 1 mango, peeled and diced (see attached YouTube clip)
  • 1/2 cup peeled, diced cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno (ok, I add a little habanero, too)
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion (it doesn’t have to be red, but red is so pretty, eh?)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves (I use a lot more, but who’s counting?)
  • Sea Salt (regular salt works too) and pepper

Now it’s getting exciting.

  1. Go ahead and combine the mango, cucumber, jalapeno (and habanero if you’re brave), red onion, lime juice and cilantro leaves and mix well.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Yum, that’s amazing. Try to save some for the rest of the family. Or just double it, as I always do. Then try to save some for the rest of the family… same rule even when you double it. I’m telling you, this stuff is addicting!

Besides the typical tortilla chips, this works out great spooned onto grilled salmon, or any fish, and I’m going to make chicken tacos with it tomorrow.

I’m swooning just thinking about it.

Robert Bornstein on how to cut a mango the easy way!

Curry Butternut Squash Soup


Curry Butternut Squash Soup

(taken from Cooks.com, with minor changes)

Happy Autumn, Ramona readers! I am so excited by this season, with the cooler temps, Apple Days in Julian, fires in the fireplace, Halloween, all of it! Not quite cool enough to plant lettuces and broccoli yet, or other fall crops, but almost! One of my favorite things about cooler weather is soup. And this is a great time for butternut squash, my favorite soup in the world. After trying a few different recipes, this is the one I love the most, and the one I now make for my family. And so easy, once you realize what a simple soup this is, I’ll bet you’ll make it often too.

Ingredients List:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 onion, minced ( I am using 2 small ones today)
  • 1 tsp butter or oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (optional) cayenne- dash or 2

Peel and cut squash in half. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp (Wait! Don’t throw those seeds away, read note after recipe). Cut into chunks. In water, boil squash and onion about 25 minutes. I have a 2 ½ quart Pyrex bowl, that I now transfer it all into, then into the blender with a ladle, about 1/3 of it at a time or so, and puree. At this point I might add a tad of chicken broth to thin a bit, then back in the pot. The reason I transfer it first into a pyrex bowl, then the blender, is that I need to puree it in 3 batches, and as I finish each batch I return it to the pot. So now put it back on stove and add rest of ingredients. Simmer until heated through. Note on chicken broth/water: The amounts really depend on the size of the squash. I don’t measure anymore. Just add more broth or water if it seems too thick.

That’s it! This will make between 2-3 quarts depending on how thick you like it. I used to buy cartons of butternut soup at the grocery store, now I always make my own. It’s one of our favorite soups to have with sandwiches, besides homemade mushroom and homemade tomato- those recipes coming soon!

Note on seeds: I rinse the seeds free of pulp, in a small strainer, and spread them out on a plate to dry for a few days. If you use a paper plate, they will try to glue themselves onto it, so you will have to keep moving them around as they dry. I use a dinner plate after that one time I ended up with a paper plate with glued on seeds that looked like a preschool project. But I digress.

You can save these seeds for next year’s garden, OR you can bake the seeds and eat them. If you choose to bake them, after rinsing and removing pulp, place in a bowl with a small amount (1 tbsp or less) of olive oil and a little salt sprinkled in, and mix that up and spread them on a cookie sheet. Place in a 275 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes or so until they begin to pop. Let cool and enjoy!

Enjoy, and tell me what you think!


California Quail come to visit…


When we moved here, and all these critters came to visit, I was not expecting most of them. Definitely not quail. These show up in pairs, always in even numbers. I had been throwing cracked corn out for the turkeys, and the quail came too. I think California Quail are the coolest looking birds I’ve ever seen. The plume is way more pronounced on the males, as are the markings. Below is a female.


One of the funniest things to see is the way they sort of glide across the street when going from my neighbors’ house to my house. They seem to live in their yard more than mine, but are always back and forth. When crossing the street they don’t really bob up and down or fly, they run in a funny gliding movement.

Welcome to Ramona …

I had no idea I’d have so many critters come to visit before moving to Ramona last winter. This is great! One day my husband told me, shortly after we moved in, that he ran into a traffic jam a few blocks away. I was sort of surprised, till he added that it was a flock of turkeys crossing the road. He said it took a few minutes for the 2 dozen or so to cross, so he sat there in stunned silence. I think that’s a pretty cool kind of traffic jam…  ~Susan

These turkeys are common around Ramona

Can you tell which one is the real bunny?

Ok, just kidding, but seriously, I could not have set this photo up in a million years. There I was, as usual working at my desk in my home office/living room, when I looked out the window that just happens to be conveniently placed for daydreaming purposes, directly in front of me. I keep my camera on my desk, thank goodness, just in case. ~Susan

How cool is this? Ramona just rocks, love it here…