Tag Archives: Mill Valley

Make a Honey Spice Cake for a Sweet New Year and Fall

depotpumpkin

Honey is one of the world’s oldest foods. Ancient Egyptian tomb reliefs from as far back as the 3rd millennium B.C. show bees being smoked from their hives to produce it. Nomads and traders helped honey’s popularity spread worldwide, while it remained a prevalent sweetener in the Middle East, where it still often, and wonderfully, appears in Mediterranean, Arab and Jewish dishes.

Jews around the world traditionally celebrate their new year (which this year begins at sundown tonight) by dipping apples in honey, and by eating honey and spice cakes, the better to usher in a “sweet new year.”

And lots of people ring in Fall by making honeyed cakes of wonderful harvest ingredients like pumpkin, and warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.

This terrific and tasty honeyed spice cake recipe is from the San Francisco Chronicle. The resulting cake is at once dense, moist, and extremely flavorful.

Of course, you don’t need a new year or season to make this cake. Its firmness and ease of slicing makes it a natural for school lunches and after-school treats. It’s loaded with healthy ingredients and happens to taste especially good.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman:
Pumpkin spice cake at the Mill Valley Book Depot


Mill Valley Paint-Off

A 20-year tradition in my town of Mill Valley, CA, the annual Paint-Off is open to anyone who wishes to create art in the town square over a Summer Saturday — the one rule being that you depict what you see within the time allotted. The Paint-Off is a lot of fun for both the artists, who plant themselves in various spots to create, and the spectators, who mingle and watch the art happen. It’s relaxed and filled with camaraderie and talent. When brushes and other implements stop, public and artist balloting begins, and a winner is declared. (And, yes, the original idea came from the Pillsbury Bake-Off!)

Lots of artists depict the Depot Bookstore, the focal point of the Square. It used to be a train, and then bus, depot.

There were plenty of other scenes.

Looking further up the same street:

These trees were made with fabric that was sewn on and then cut.

More images of the day:

Look closely at the painter, below, and the picture, above.

We all watched as the ultimate winner was announced.

My personal favorite, this beautiful ink and watercolor painting by David Savellano called “Mill Valley in the Round”, won both the People’s Choice and the Artists’ Choice awards. The execution is so clever. The drawings remind me of beautiful children’s book illustrations.

All in all, a very inspiring day!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Snapshot: Flight

Spotted this week .. in a very prolific butterfly season, a Painted Lady butterfly in repose (in San Francisco, city of “Painted Ladies“, the name for its colorful, ornate Victorian homes.) This video shows the lifecycle of the Painted Lady butterfly.

Also seen: a busy female Anna’s hummingbird, enjoying the nectar of a Meyer Lemon tree in Mill Valley. This is a good general hummingbird site.

Happy gathering!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Egg Dyeing Workshop

A few days ago, I posted about the tradition of dyeing, giving and celebrating with eggs for Easter and spring. Today I got to attend a lovely workshop, where we dyed eggs with plant dyes, in the Mill Valley store Maison Reve, under the guidance of Molly de Vries. It was a lot of fun and wonderful to gather with neighbors of all ages to enjoy a time-honored art. Egg dyeing is easy, inexpensive, creative and limitless. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s decorating ideas and techniques.

The plant dyes had been created in advance using onion skin, turmeric, cabbage, and beets.

Molly also provided tape, string, crayons, and beeswax, so people could create designs on their eggs, which would often show up white after the eggs absorbed the dye. (For complete dyeing instructions, see my earlier post.)

I used beeswax to make little dots, which I put all over the egg before soaking it in the onion skin dye for about 40 minutes.

I had help removing the wax, to reveal the white of the eggshell (and a little wax, which the group liked) underneath.

Happy Easter and Spring.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Read Part 1: Dye Eggs Like the Ancients with Plant Dyes

Flea Market-Inspired Spring

Inspiration and beauty are all around. For many, Spring is a season of sun-dappled sidewalks and flea-market weekends. Of exploring shapes and colors which take their cues from nature, history, and the whimsy of a flowing line. It’s the season of looking around with fresh eyes.

Mill Valley’s Life-Size Gingerbread House

I came upon this whimsical house, nestled in the forested Cascade Canyon section of Mill Valley, right behind the library. It’s so sweet and imaginative, and captures the playful aspect of the season. Plus, its setting couldn’t be more perfect.

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman

Make this Honey Spice Cake for a Sweet New Year and Fall

depotpumpkin

Honey is one of the world’s oldest foods. Ancient Egyptian tomb reliefs from as far back as the 3rd millennium B.C. show bees being smoked from their hives to produce it. Nomads and traders helped honey’s popularity spread worldwide, while it remained a prevalent sweetener in the Middle East, where it still often, and wonderfully, appears in Mediterranean, Arab and Jewish dishes.

Jews around the world traditionally celebrate their new year by dipping apples in honey, and by eating honey and spice cakes, the better to usher in a “sweet new year.”

And lots of people ring in the fall by making honeyed cakes of wonderful harvest ingredients like pumpkin, and warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.

This terrific and tasty honeyed spice cake recipe recently appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, just in time for our good friend and fabulous cook Sandy Waks to try it out for a Jewish New Year gathering last week. It was very meaningful to slow down and gather around her table, which brimmed with fresh, often biblical, foods — Sandy’s also a fantastic gardener — and warm, interesting company, and to stop and give thanks and blessings for the new year.

Of course, a year, or even a season, needn’t be starting to make this cake. I intend to make it many times this fall. Dense cakes like this one pack well for school lunches and other times, are loaded with healthy ingredients, and just taste yummy.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman: Pumpkin spice cake at the Mill Valley Book Depot

Why Can’t She Walk to School? in Today’s New York Times

Another disturbing sign of the times: This article in today’s Times about parents who are so afraid of stranger abduction that they drive a child 5 houses down (yes, you read that correctly) rather than let them walk, or even walk them themselves. Also in the article, a town in which people called 911 at the sight of a 10-year-old walking alone, resulting in a police reprimanding of the parent.

Something is extremely wrong with this picture! The areas of bizarreness and loss include: the dominance of an extreme and unfounded culture of fear, the complete absence of community, and the loss of independence for young people.

kidswalk

I wrote a comment on the New York Times site, which I’ll repost here. It goes to the heart of what Slow Family Online is really about:

“This article both saddened and outraged me. Something is deeply wrong with a society in which children walking or biking short distances to school and to play is not only not the norm, but is actively frowned upon and even criminalized. There are so many things wrong with this picture: Parents are living basically alone, completely car-dependent, with largely unfounded fears and guilt that they are passing on to their children. What is going to become of this generation of children when they go off to college and to jobs and are unable to navigate their surroundings or do anything for themselves?

Children should be given reasonable increments of responsibility, and adults should be there to participate with them and teach them. We biked with our child and taught her road safety. We walked with her to elementary school and taught her how to be aware, use her good judgment, and which neighbors and shopkeepers to call on for help if needed. She is now a relatively independent teen who can navigate our town, call on her own sense of self-reliance, and have a little well-earned space away from hovering parents.

I live in a very safe small town, as I suspect do most of the people quoted in the article. I think that speeding cars pose a much greater hazard than stranger abductions. To that end, our town has a very active Safe Routes to Schools program, which is a model for others, with bike lanes, crossing guards at hazardous intersections during school hours, community involvement and interest, and continuing efforts to make the roads safer for walking and biking. Each year, for the last several years, the amount of children walking or riding to schools here has risen, and many children do this in groups. (Perhaps some parents can channel the energy they spend fretting into organizing walking groups.)

When adults and older children are out on and using our streets, they also become safer for younger children, and we all reap the benefits that come with slowing down, spending quality time together, observing things, greeting neighbors, having fun, gaining independence, being outside, getting exercise, learning about our surroundings, and getting from place to place without a car, when possible.”

This page about Slow Family Online illustrates more of my family and scout troop’s adventures in walking and challenges getting people out of their cars.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Mill Valley’s Slow Food Eat-In a Bountiful Success

eatinflowers

Slow Food’s national Eat-In day was a huge success. According to the Slow Food Time for Lunch web site, there were more than 300 Eat-Ins in all 50 states, and more than 20,000 participants:

“From schoolyards to backyards, on farms and in gardens, we told Congress it’s time to fix school lunch.”

The event I attended in Mill Valley was exceedingly special. We joined thousands of others in signing a petition to Congress to improve the quality of school food. We also enjoyed the efforts and company of neighbors who are gardeners, chefs, food preservationists, terrific cooks, and really nice people, and we did so in a beautiful park at the end of a Labor Day weekend. I found it very inspiring and am grateful to Hilary Jeffris, Kathy Ziccardi and the other organizers of Mill Valley’s Eat-In.

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eatinchildren

There was an array of beautiful homemade food from people’s gardens, kitchens, dehydrators and juicers. Everything was bountiful and delicious and fun to share in community.

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>eatinsalad

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eatingrapes

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At the Operation C.H.E.F. station, we learned about ingredients in different foods, and enjoyed smoothies made from bike-pedal power. Operation C.H.E.F. is a fun camp that helps kids learn to cook and enjoy healthy meals.

eatinchef

eatinbike

The Marin Open Garden Project, which hosts wonderful local plant exchanges, harvesting and networking, had a display of seedlings. We chose a lettuce one from Open Garden’s Julie Hanft to give a new home.

eatinseedlings

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Other demonstrators included Wendy Johnson from Green Gulch Farm, whose “Plant-In” illustrated how to grow food in the smallest of spaces. Helge Hellberg, director of Marin Organic and Slow Food proponent, spoke, as did Carole Mills, representing State Senator Mark Leno, who was attending an Eat-In in San Francisco. Here are Hilary Jeffris and the organizers introducing the invited guests.

eatinspeakers

Our friend, Gaspar Hauzy, really enjoyed making butter from cream.

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The result:

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What a delicious day!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Snapshot 2

Clouds at dusk. Mill Valley. July 18, 2009.

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Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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