The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Important Travel Advisory May 28, 2011

Filed under: kitties — Amanda @ 13:34
Tags: , ,

It is very important to make sure your luggage is properly inspected before traveling. It is highly recommended that this inspection be performed by cats.


CSA 2010 Collage December 31, 2010

Filed under: CSA,kitties,San Diego — Amanda @ 20:53
Tags: , ,

I didn’t do much blogging about our CSA and all of the other goodies I got at the Mercato this year, so I decided to make a photo collage to commemorate them instead:

collage of CSA goodies

Also: Zephyr loves vegetables.


Happy Kitten Adoption Anniversary! October 9, 2010

Filed under: animals,kitties,San Diego — Amanda @ 4:00
Tags: , , ,

October 9th, 2010 marks the second anniversary of our kitten adoption adventure! This was the year of the CSA, when the cats got to investigate all the new vegetables that we brought home – they’re very aware of their environment, and have to inspect everything new that comes into the house, as the pictures below show:

To adopt cats or kittens and support a great local shelter in San Diego, visit, the organization that brought Athena and Zephyr into our home!


Everything’s Coming Up Dill: Our First CSA Share May 13, 2010

Zephyr explores the veggies

Our neighborhood farmers market, the Little Italy Mercato, has been going strong for over a year now, tempting me every Saturday morning with just-harvested fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, cheeses, jams and even sea salts. Even though I don’t quite make it to the Mercato every weekend, I’ve tried quite a few new fruits and vegetables since the market began – pineapple guavas, rainbow chard, cherimoyas, several eggplant varieties, green garlic and Kalamansi limes to name a few. In the spirit of continuing to explore new flavors and add more veggies to our lives, Chuck and I recently joined the CSA program from Suzie’s Farm, one of the Mercato vendors.

Broccoli, dill, chard, lettuce, radishes

Every other week we’ll get a box of 8-15 items, depending on what’s ready for harvest at the farm. Our first box contained potatoes, strawberries, summer squash, broccoli, radishes, chard, micro-basil, red lettuce, wild arugula, chard, and a gigantic bunch of dill. That’s a lot of veggies!

Athena and Zephyr love our CSA!

Our first CSA box was definitely a success – for $25 we got enough vegetables for five nights of dinners for two people, three lunches plus some snacks for me, plus three nights of strawberry desserts, and we tried several new recipes and preparations. The Suzie’s Farm blog helpfully tells us what to expect in our CSA box, and local blogger Stacy at Little Blue Hen is also a CSA member and blogs about her box and great recipe ideas as well, so we had an idea of the items and amounts that we’d be receiving and planned a week’s worth of meals around them.

We also picked up a few supplementary items at the Mercato:

Tomatoes, butter, jam, Zephyr

Mini-tomatoes for my lunch salads, European-style butter to go with the radishes, and habanero jelly because Chuck wanted some. Did I mention that the cats really really liked our CSA box and everything else we brought home from the farmers market? They wanted to sniff everything! And Zeph liked chewing (and then spitting up, unfortunately) the ends of the Arugula. It was quite an enrichment activity for them.

Zephyr Loves Arugula

(Really, I didn’t mean for all of the CSA pictures to include Zephyr, he just wouldn’t leave them alone.)

As we put the veggies away, I did some sampling of the strawberries, basil, and dill. The bunch of dill that we got was big, and the freshness made me start dreaming of things to do with dill – I felt like everything we made should use some, since we had much! In the end that didn’t quite happen, but we found quite a few good ways to use it.

I mixed up some butter and chopped dill, to be enjoyed with some of the radishes.

Dill butter: serve with salt & radishes

And then I made what I’m calling a modified “Green Goddess” dressing, despite its tenuous resemblance to the original: mayonnaise, sour cream, dill, caraway seeds and vinegar, which I used in my lunch salads with the lettuce, arugula, basil, tomatoes, and some blue cheese. This dressing was SO good, I could eat it on just about everything! The caraway and dill flavors worked really well together.

Creamy dill-caraway "Green Goddess"-like dressing

I also made a batch of quick radish pickles by boiling some dill in a vinegar-water mixture and then simmering with sliced radishes. I used cider vinegar, but I think plain white or white-wine vinegar might have worked slightly better. I’d never actually cooked radishes before, and I wasn’t that fond of the smell as I was simmering them, but after a day in the refrigerator the pickles tasted OK. They’re my first-ever pickles and not a complete disaster, so I’ll try some again sometime!

Quick-pickled radish slices

When I think of dill, I also think of salmon, and so I tried a new-to-me salmon preparation on Saturday evening: salmon en papillote, or salmon cooked in parchment. I spread some butter on the parchment, then added salmon (seasoned with salt and pepper), dill, and lemon slices:

Preparing the salmon

I then sealed and tented the parchment, placed on a baking sheet and baked for about 12 minutes, while Chuck sauteed the squash with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Delicious salmon and squash dinner

We used our potatoes and chard in an Indian-style Aloo Sag spin-off – I sauteed onions, garlic and ginger, added turmeric, saffron and two sliced serrano chiles (although one would have been plenty!), then added the potatoes and covered until they were tender, and added coarsely chopped chard and sauteed until tender. We served this with chicken cooked in Penzeys Balti Seasoning and fried queso fresco (left over from chicken tacos and standing in for paneer).

Indian-style dinner using potatoes and chard

After two nights of our Indian-style dinner, Chuck made a beef and broccoli stir fry that lasted for two more nights – it was the first time in years that I’ve eaten broccoli voluntarily, and I was quite happy with the results – the broccoli was tender and mild, and soaked up the delicious stir-fry sauce. I still won’t be eating supermarket broccoli, but I’ll happily eat the stuff from Suzie’s Farm!

Chuck also made a strawberry dessert from our Nick Stellino cookbook: strawberries marinated in spiced rum (Nick Stellino’s version used marsala), served with a honey-sweetened vanilla-scented mascarpone/ricotta cheese mixture and topped with shaved chocolate. This preparation really let the flavor and natural sweetness of the strawberries shine!

Strawberry goodness!

We get the next box is on May 29th (a week late because we’ll be in LA watching the Tour of California next weekend), and I can’t wait to see what goodies we get next!


We have lights! September 3, 2009

Filed under: home,kitties — Amanda @ 20:51
Tags: , ,
Icicle Lights

Icicle Lights

Nearly a year and a half ago, I wrote that cooking in the dark was no fun, and that kitchen lights were a top purchasing priority…and now with summer’s long daylight hours fading into memory again, we finally got some lights! Despite his frustrations installing the light in our bedroom last year, Chuck bravely set forth to install our new kitchen and dining room lights.

The kitchen ceilings are only eight feet tall, so the first installation went fairly smoothly. It’s a small spiral with five adjustable spotlights that we’ve aimed at the counters:

Kitchen Light

Kitchen Light

The ceilings in the dining room are a bit higher, and installation there required a bit more…creativity:

Chuck's ladder-on-desk light installation method

Chuck's ladder-on-desk light installation method

Zephyr was fascinated by the light installation process; in this picture, I’m pretty sure he’s thinking about hor crazy Chuck is to be standing on top of a ladder on top of a desk…


Zephyr says "What's going on up there?"

The light fixture looks like a giant stainless steel spider…

the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the concrete ceiling...

the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the concrete ceiling...

A few lightbulbs and many glass icicles later, we have a light!

Icicle Lights

Icicle Lights

Another look at the kitchen light:


After installation was complete, Zephyr needed to do a close-up inspection:

Zephyr checks out the new light

Zephyr checks out the new light

Later we discovered that the icicles are sitting directly in the jetstream of the air conditioning vent, and thus sway lightly in the wind, but luckily they’re high enough to be safe from curious kitties who might try to jump from the table top. I think we’ll keep them (the lights AND the kitties, that is).




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 278 other followers