Harvest Monday has rolled around once again and all I’ve done is work and watch TV. This new flat screen HDTV with home theater sound really has me spoiled. Can’t tear myself away from it.
You may wonder what I do for a living (such as it is). In addition to writing a weekly column on the environment for our local newspaper (Huntington Beach Independent), I work very parttime for the Orange County Conservation Corps.
Thanks to statewide budget cutbacks in California, I didn’t have much work from the corps in 2010. I only work with the new crews and they didn’t hire a lot of new workers last year. Things are picking up here at the first of the year and I had two orientation crews back to back last week and the week before.
I take the “kids” on some sort of nature adventure and then we do classroom work. Last week I took the crew to Crystal Cove State Park and the week before we went to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
I about died when I saw how large a crew they brought to Bolsa Chica, 23 corps members. My normal class size is 8-12. These kids are 18-24, almost all are high school dropouts, many have behavioral issues (ADD, etc.), many have been in trouble with the law and many have gang affiliations. In my past experience, class sizes of 17-18 have been impossible to handle. I was not looking forward to a group this large, but they were angels. Most were engaged in the learning activities and no one gave me even a spec of trouble.
As you can see, we do hands-on learning. I’ve found that corps members are more engaged and learn better if they have things to touch and handle. This was a great class.
The next week (last Thursday), I had only six corps members. We went to Crystal Cove State Park. Of the six, three had never been to a beach. They tend to stay in their own neighborhoods close to home. I expose them to as much biology and nature as I can in the short time that I’m with them. But I swear I have more fun than they do.
After the corps members went back to the corps for their afternoon classes, I hung out at the beach for a while taking photos. Here are the results.
OK, that’s enough nature. And enough making all you northerners feel bad. Yes, it’s beach weather here in southern California in January.
On to the week’s harvest.
19 oz. Lemons, Meyer
0.5 oz. herbs (thyme, parsley)
2 oz. onion, red
TOTAL 1 lb 5.5 oz. produce plus 5 eggs
I used a lemon, an orange from a neighbor, the herbs and onion in a French (whole) chicken recipe with a cup of chardonnay, carrots, and a bunch of the yams that I harvested last week. At the end, I thickened the gravy with sour cream and cornstarch and served it with rice-a-roni. Tonight we’re having the leftover chicken and vegetables with egg noodles.
I used some home-made watermelon pickles in some tuna salad when I ran out of pickles. It made a nice substitution. And I’ve used frozen spaghetti sauce for chicken caccitore (is that how it’s spelled? I doubt it.) and had some of my homemade canned tomato soup. Slowly my larder is going down, which is good, because one of these days I’m going to get out of my rocking chair and back to the garden.