A Relaxing Weekend in Idyllwild


Idyllwild is a little mountain village in the San Jacinto Mountains, east to Los Angeles. The southern California mountain resort lies one mile in altitute. There are some rock formation that are very popular for rock climbing. It’s a whole year touristic place, yet it has no skiing facilities. But hiking is great!

We went there for a weekend only and enjoyed the short break away from the daily ‘madness’.


We stayed in a friends’ airb&b. A huge house surrounded my a huge yard in the middle of nature. Wonderful, super relaxing and really a place to get away from the busy normal life we have.

For the short time we had here, we explored the village and the mountains. We hiked one afternoon (read about it here) and we had a nice w3alk in the village center.


A little like today the place was once the summer home for Cahuilla Indians who wanted to escape the summer heat down at the coast.

It was once also known as the Strawberry Valley because of the many wild strawberries (how much I love them!) growing in this area. With white people shepherd came with their flocks. In the end of the 19th century there was built a summer camp and soon later with a toll road to Hemet it became open to tourism.

The resort was a remodeled sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. And with the cars the weekend destination was born.

There is an Art School in Idyllwild.


We had a stroll in the center of the village. It doesn’t seem very big, I think the nearly 12.000 inhabitants are living mainly in the surroundings. There are a lot of art shops, handcraft, paintings and interesting clothing, a lot of restaurants and some bars. The houses look great, mainly made of wood, some have stone-walls. Most of them a surrounded by many high trees (the Ponderosa Pine). In summer it must be wonderful here, a lot of shade everywhere. Even in winter maybe it is pretty protected by the high mountains around.

We had a look in several art shops, we sat in the evening sun enjoying a nice cappuccino (I had mine with almond milk!) and later we were in several restaurants to eat a little something. That was fun. A salad in one, a small soup in another one… restaurant hopping. Never did that before but I think it’s a fun idea.

The day we left we had a visit on the farmers’ market. Not too big, just a couple of stands with produce, one with flea market articles, I think for charity.

We had a wonderful time here and I think, I guess, I imagine.. we will return.

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Idyllwild, California/USA:

For further information:
Idyllwild Website
Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail
Trails around Idyllwild


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Ridiculously Yummy Italian Seasoned Breadsticks


The modern world is surrounded by bread – there is everywhere bread and if it happens you go to a restaurant, bread is always served. Sometimes even as homage of the house as starter. Something quick to eat on the go? Sandwich, burger, salad with croutons… OK, it doesn’t make it really easy for someone NOT to eat bread or to avoid it. And sometimes I confess I like some bread as a base for the prosciutto, some nice spread, to dip in some fresh made hummus or just with a little bit salt and olive oil on it. Or even a bruschetta.. so great in summer!


So every now and then I look up some bread recipes that work for me. And I found lately these really ridiculously super yummy breadsticks. I made them a second time as focaccia with olive oil and oregano on the top. Too good to put it in words!

I found the original recipe on Rebooted Mom. But like nearly all the time the original recipe never works right for me. So while preparing I re-invented it for me. And I used ghee instead of coconut oil, I had no garlic or onion powder, instead I just chopped 2 garlic gloves, my herbs were just oregano. And as the batter was too soft to work with, I added more tapioca and almond flour.

The outcome is.. well, I already used those words above: ridiculously yummy. The day after I brought them to a friend’s house for lunch, together with a big salad, and she just dived into the breadsticks. These are a must-have for every party or friends’ entertainment!

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Breadsticks with garlic and origano
Italian Grissini
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 breadsticks 10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Servings Prep Time
6 breadsticks 10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Breadsticks with garlic and origano
Italian Grissini
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 breadsticks 10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Servings Prep Time
6 breadsticks 10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
Servings: breadsticks
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  2. In a bowl mix the first 4 ingredients and add one after the other of the rest of the ingredients. Stir well until all is well combined.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form out of the bread dough 6 balls. Dip your hands in tapioca flour as the dough is very sticky.
  4. Roll the balls one by one into long sticks. Place them on the parchment paper and bake them for 10 minutes.
  5. Brush the finished grissini with butter and put some more origano on the top.
Recipe Notes

If the dough is too sticky or runny, add some more flax seed flour, just one tablespoon. The flax seed flour absorbs a lot of the liquid. So be careful.

You can make the bread sticks also without garlic and oregano, so they have a more neutral taste.

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Fresh Apple Pie Covered in White Chocolate


Birthday! My sweetheart’s mother had a birthday and that day she came over to visit me. It happened, she didn’t want any celebration or attention for it. That must be a family thing, her son doesn’t like it and me, too, we just believe it’s a day like every other day in the year.

But nevertheless I wanted to make it just that little bit special for her. I bought some nice flowers I thought she might like and I baked a little tiny cake. The very funny thing is that the day after her birthday, it’s the birthday of her son, my sweetie. So I had to bake a second one for the not-so-special-but-special-to-me-day of my love.

I decided to make a little apple pie with a white chocolate frosting on top for his mother. It is a simple cake with a short pastry, some cinnamon apple sauce inside and covered with the short pastry. When it cooled down I melted the white chocolate and covered the top, let the chocolate run down on the sides. We loved it! Fresh, perfect without any whipped cream (but possible, made of coconut milk cream) and ideal for guests who like a more moist cake.

The cake is very similar to my apple jalousie I made some time ago. I just changed a little the recipe for the short pastry, with an egg it is much less crumbly. 

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Apple pie with white chocolate coating
Apple Pie Covered in White Chocolate
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 1 hour
Apple pie with white chocolate coating
Apple Pie Covered in White Chocolate
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 1 hour
Ingredients
For the crust:
For the filling:
For the frosting:
Servings: slices
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and grease a cake pan (18 cm/7”).
  2. Add all the ingredients for the crust in a bowl, mix well and work them to a ball. Put this dough ball into a saran wrap and let it stay for one hour in a cool place.
  3. Peel and clean three apples of your choice, cut into pieces and together with the honey and cinnamon put all into a sauce pan. Cook until soft – around 15 to 20 minutes, depends by the apples. Put the apple sauce aside and let them cool.
  4. Take the short pastry out of the fridge and unwrap the dough. Roll it out into a thin sheet, 0.5/2” thick. Cover the bottom of the cake pan and put a margin around as the filling will get around 4 cm/1.4” high. Now pick the bottom with a fork, fill in the apple sauce and cover all with another sheet of dough. You don't need to 'fix' it really well, it will not open during baking time.
  5. Bake it for 30 minutes or until golden outside and the tooth pick proof remains clean.
  6. Let the cake cool out on a cake rack.
  7. Cover the cake with the melted white chocolate and let the chocolate run down the sides. It gives a nice, unequal design.
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Chocolate Donuts for a Girly Afternoon


For a girly afternoon – I had my sweetheart’s mom and his aunt coming to visit me – I needed some treats for them. I don’t like to have friends or relatives coming over and nothing to offer. I am from Italy and we always prepare coffee (or tea) and have some sweets.

So: what is fast, not too ‘crumbling’ and they would like for sure? Something with chocolate obviously. And as I have a new donut pan, I decided to do some chocolate donuts. I found a recipe to try on Mommy Potamus, one of the blogs I follow. They looked good and easy on the photos. Let’s try though!


Of course, I changed the recipe – like I always do – and omit the coconut extract. So the taste had no coconut in it, just chocolate. They came out super light, not too sweet and they were finished before the girls left. Next time maybe I will do them with real chocolate instead of cocoa.

For a finishing I covered the top with dark chocolate (at least 85 %) and dipped them in coconut sugar. Some I put some white chocolate on the top. They are light, yummy and are great for a last-minute treat to prepare.

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Chocolate Donuts, gf/df
Chocolate Donuts
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
11 donuts 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
11 donuts 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Chocolate Donuts, gf/df
Chocolate Donuts
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
11 donuts 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
11 donuts 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: donuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  2. In a bowl whisk all the dry ingredients.
  3. In a little pot mix the melted honey, the egg yolks and the ghee together with the vanilla paste. Stir until all is well combined.
  4. Add the honey-egg mixture to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth and soft.
  5. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fluffy. Fold the egg whites into the batter until all is well combined.
  6. Add the crushed nuts into the batter, stir to combine.
  7. Grease a donut pan, fill the batter in and bake for around 15 minutes. Let them cool out.
Recipe Notes

I added white and dark chocolate on the top to give them more color But also to 'bath' them in coconut sugar. Feel free to 'decorate' the donuts as you like.

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Peeking into Backyards on a Garden Tour in San Diego


I am such a lucky girl – I have been again in San Diego when they do the Clairemont Garden Tour on the first Saturday in May. This time there were just 10 gardens or yards to visit, two of them were in schools or community places.

What is the Clairemont Garden Tour? It’s a day on which mainly private homes open their yards to the public. So everybody interested can have a peek into people’s creativity, their private recreation places, where they to relax after a day out in the wild, wild city or work.

The gardens are sometimes designed by landscape architects but most of them are by the owners themselves. This time we had also a look into university and community yards which I found very interesting.

This year there were 10 gardens in Clairemont, two less than last year. We have been to 8 of them in the given time-frame from 10 am to 4 pm.

Here are the gardens/yards:

1. The first garden we visited was the most amazing in flowering. A kind of German farmer’s garden. Full of flowers, a wonderful and pretty big waterfall ending in a pond, a nice lawn and even a part with vegetables.


2. This one was a community garden with mainly vegetables. Wood-framed raised beds with a mixture of vegetables and healthy flowers. Every raised bed is ‘worked on’ by a community member.


After the second garden it was already lunchtime and we had a super healthy, fresh smoothie at Jamba Juice and while waiting for it we were eating our salad wraps with chicken salad I prepared in the morning before leaving.


3. Number three was a nice Mexican-like back yard with a wonderful sitting area under a Palo Verde tree. And again there was a little pond (we found them in nearly all gardens).


4. This one was a typical backyard with a big pool. But instead of all cement and a wooden wall, here was a wonderful luscious green ‘fence’ on the back with a nice variety of flowers.


5. This back yard was by far the most artistic one. The owner is an artist who recycles things and makes out of ‘one’s trash’ beautiful new things. Like out of windows a great room-divider. Or broken ceramic tiles for a table-top. Different colored wooden pieces find a now ‘home’ on a wall. So many ideas!


6. Here I liked the back deck and from there the way to go into a shady canyon. Very unexpected as location. As yard or garden there was not really much to see.


7. This yard was not our favorite one, too. It has a nice patio, the food was good, but the yard itself was not that ‘wow’.


8. The last one was not that great as back yard but the talk we had was worth it. A lady there told us that she is organizing every first Saturday a kind of food-exchange. That means I can bring a bag of vegetables out of the garden, can even bake something, put it in a bag, bring it over to her house and two hours later I get my bag with goodies. I think that is a genius idea! Maybe this weekend I will participate as we have a lot of lettuce in the garden, and I would not be really sad to bake, too.


We had some really good ideas. Like for example I thought raised beds are really great. The nutrients and especially the water stays inside where the plants grow. At home the water in the garden always goes everywhere but into the plants. The dirt is oftentimes too dry to let it sink. I adjusted already 🙂

I am looking forward for the next year tour, hopefully I will be here. If not, I will enjoy my garden at home in Italy! Which doesn’t hurt either 😀


Clairemont, San Diego, California/USA:

For further information:
Garden Tour Clairemont


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