Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summertime Blues: Regression and Blueberry Muffins

When I was a kid in the ready-mix 1970s, blueberry muffins were a major treat, made from that Betty Crocker mix that came with a tiny can of "wild blueberries." The blueberries were tiny dark and mysterious orbs swimming in an inky pool of liquid, presumably from Maine or some other exotic locale far removed from Southern California, where the only crops we could boast of were citrus, concrete, and smog.

Years later, when access to large and flavorful fresh blueberries was possible, it never occurred to me to want blueberry muffins, mainly because as a yummy superfood, blueberries are so good on their own. However, this recipe from the Zabar's recipe blog got me with its superbly lit photo of blueberry muffins, bursting with fruit. This weekend, I decided that regression would be a good antidote after the rigors of a shortened work week after the July 4th holiday - and an unexpected flea infestation due to racoons having burrowed under the house.

I woke up today feeling as if I had been on a treadmill for nine hours - to be specific, a treadmill with a washer and dryer attached it it. I spent yesterday emptying my closet, bagging garments that potentially had fleas or eggs. I laundered everything that could be washed and have several piles of clothes for the dry cleaner. To bolster the efforts of the pest control company that sprayed inside and outside the house, I sprinkled the carpets and closets with salt, which is supposed to act as a desicant and dehydrate the fleas to extinction.

So far, it seems to be working. The itchy feeling is lessening and the fleas that I've found seem bloated and near death. It has been a terrible, unclean feeling, itching away after just having taken a shower, or even away from home, when I've found the odd flea, bloated and near death from gorging itself on my veins.

I realize these are first-world problems. But these days, even the first world doesn't seem all that safe, in the wake of evildoings and the snuffing out of lives here at home and across the globe. The Boomtown Rats' song, "I Don't Like Mondays," which was about a school shooting, seemed like a farce back in the day. Although based on real events, the idea that someone would do such a horrible thing was unthinkable. Today, flags being flown at half-mast is the new normal; I think we would stop in surprise if it was displayed aloft and proud again.

The most benign definition of regression that I could find on defines it as "reversion to an earlier mental or behavioral level." With all that happens today, a bit of regression probably wouldn't be such a bad thing. Maybe we could all go back to finding joy in things like the promise of unknown treasures like a can of tiny blueberries grown in a far-off place.


1) The "batter" will resemble more of a dough; don't be scared off, it bakes beautifully.
2) Eat with a fork - the abundance of blueberries makes these muffins impossible to handle, and wonderfully so!

Friday, July 8, 2016

GMS Heading to Foodista's International Food Blogger Conference

This month, I'm looking forward to the International Food Blogger Conference, to be presented by Foodista in Sacramento. Events include a "farm-to-fork" tour of the historic Sacramento Delta, with a look at California Endive Farms and an opportunity to watch the harvest of Bosc pears at Stillwater Orchards. Other events include talks on culinary travel writing, beverage trends, food waste, and "Putting Flavor Into Words"; a "Taste of Sacramento" fair presented by local restaurants and businesses; and a sidewalk "Farm-to-Fork Feast" near the State Capitol Building, prepared by Chef Jason Poole from Dawson's.

Sacramento was not the original capital of California; the first Constitutional Convention was held in 1849 in Monterey when the state was under Spanish and subsequently, Mexican rule. The capital was moved to Sacramento in 1854.

Despite this runner-up history, Sacramento has a rich history in its own right. Sutter's Fort, which was established by John Sutter in what is now downtown Sacramento, was used to distribute the fruits, vegetables and other resources that were found in the area to the city's earliest settlers; Sutter also built mills in the nearby foothills. It was at one of these mills - in what is now Coloma - where John Marshall, a Sutter employee, found gold in a stream in 1849. The city was incorporated that year.

In the interim between 1849 and 1854, several other cities served as California's capital for a short time, including San Jose, Vallejo and Benicia. Sacramento's proximity to rivers that led to San Francisco and other ports allowed access to the state's growing economy by both land and sea. And as the original site of the Gold Rush, the city had a certain cachet.

One can certainly strike gourmet gold in Sacramento, whose foodie town potential is bolstered by the local agricultural industry and the innovation of the skilled, imaginative, and ambitious farming and culinary community. Watch this blog for my adventures in the Capital City later this month!