Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We Are Fine But So Many Are Not
California Wine Country Fires

The view from our back porch Monday morning.

Thanks for your concern
Monday morning I was lazily resting in bed when our neighbor called to warn us about the fire. One might have walked past the window thinking it was a beautiful red sunrise but instead the mountains behind our vineyard were ablaze from one end of the horizon to the other. Santa Rosa, a mere 7 miles away, was burning and 50 to 60 mile per hour gusts of wind were blowing in our direction. It turns out this was only one of the many fires across Sonoma county that simultaneously erupted in the early hours. 

This could be the worst disaster in California's history when all is said and done and it's not the least bit done. Fires remain uncontrolled in many places. As of Wednesday morning, 90,000 acres had burned. And these weren't just acres of trees and wooded areas. These were acres full of homes and businesses - in fact 28,000 people live in these affected areas - most of whom are now in evacuation centers. There isn't enough resource to do the counting yet, but estimates say more than 3,000 homes and structures were destroyed as of Wednesday morning and fires still threaten many neighborhoods. Sixteen are confirmed dead and more than 500 people are missing. There isn't a person living in this town that doesn't know someone who has lost their home.

The blaze was so intense and the winds so strong that our house and yard are deep in embers. The largest is an entire page from a magazine that was charred - Doug found it under our back deck. He also found a burnt credit card receipt hanging from one of the vines. 

This charred magazine page flew at least 7 miles to our house.

Entire neighborhoods in Santa Rosa have been destroyed like Coffey Park and Fountaingrove. Landmarks, wineries, restaurants, music venues, schools, hotels - destroyed. Doug's Kaiser hospital, my Sutter hospital - not damaged but closed. The local airport is closed because there is no electricity for the terminals. Many roads are closed.

And it's not over. I have friends minutes from active fires knowing that tonight the winds are going to pick back up.

Doug was just at the grocery store. A man, about 70, in the checkout line in front of him had just lost his home in Fountaingrove. He had 10 minutes to get out. He remarked that he was numb but said there is simply nothing you can do in that situation but get out. Seven years ago this man lost his previous home in a fire. 

We are fine and thanks for your many notes of concern. The winds have shifted and even though they are going to pick up again tonight, they are blowing the other way. So unless they shift again, we will remain fine. Masks are needed to go outside and although they may remove the toxic particles from the air, nothing can remove the blanket of sadness that hovers over our beloved wine country. 

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Mexican Sushi With Roasted Poblano Peppers

You can make homemade sushi with just about anything!
A great dairy and gluten free meal.

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What a month!
It's been a crazy busy month here on our farm. First we harvested 5 tons of Pinot Noir, then a little Sauvignon blanc for my private stash. We've also been harvesting lots of veggies, putting in a Zen garden, getting ready to paint the outside of our house, and enjoying visits from our son and daughter-in-law (Vaughn and Karina), as well as our daughter and her fiancé (Linda and Jim), and our nephew Cody. Later today, we look forward to a visit from my cousin Lisa and her husband Rob. On top of it all, I broke my toe last Thursday so I guess I'm going to slow down a bit whether I want to or not!

Part of our Pinot Noir harvest

Poblano Peppers
With the end of summer come lots of peppers. One of our most delicious and prolific is the poblano pepper so today we're going to mix two of our favorite cuisines - Mexican and Japanese by making sushi rolls with roasted poblano peppers and topping them with a spicy red sauce made from jalapeños and serrano peppers. 

See my post, "Make Your Own Hot Sauce" for the homemade hot sauce recipe.

Homemade hot sauce.

Sushi Rolls
Japanese sushi rolls are very versatile. You can roll just about anything in a sheet of Nori and call it a meal. Roasted vegetables are perfect, especially when paired with a creamy avocado and rice. If you enjoy fish, you can make a smoked salmon and avocado roll for breakfast instead of lox and bagels. The combinations are endless.

No need to use sushi rice as any short grain white rice can be sticky enough to be used in a roll. My favorite is Tamaki Haiga, which is white rice that still has the germ. Traditionally the rice is seasoned with rice vinegar and a bit of sugar.

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Roasted Poblano Sushi
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 4 rolls]

Sushi matt

For the rice
1 cup uncooked sushi or short-grain white rice
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the sushi rolls
3 or 4 large poblano peppers
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 sheets nori
1 avocado, cut into strips
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into strips
Hot sauce to taste

Cook rice according to directions on the stove, in your rice cooker, or in your Instant Pot. Make sure the rice is rinsed well before cooking.

While the rice is cooking, clean and cook the poblano peppers. Remove seeds and cut into slices. Heat the oil in a fry pan on medium heat. Add the peppers and sauté until they blister and soften, stirring occasionally. Set aside. 

The peppers tend to splatter so cover with a cooking screen.

Prepare the rice vinegar by warming the vinegar, sugar, and salt until all is dissolved. Stir this into the cooling rice.

To make the sushi rolls, place all of your ingredients nearby.

Place a sheet of Nori on the bamboo mat. Put one fourth of the prepared rice over the Nori starting one inch from the bottom. 

Place one fourth of the peppers, avocado, and a long strip of cucumber over the rice.

Using the sushi mat, roll from the bottom up. After the bottom edge is over the filling, squeeze it gently with the mat and then roll to the top. Wet the top of the Nori and complete the roll. The moisture will seal it. 

Cut the roll with a very sharp knife into 6 to 8 equal pieces. 

Dap a bit of hot sauce of each piece or serve with a tiny bowl of hot sauce.

Enjoy with a Mexican or Japanese beer!