The Vixens Play at Bray: Bray Vineyards

Earlier in September, the Vineyard Vixens toasted another year of wine tasting adventures, beginning with Bray Vineyards.

The Vineyard Vixens, the wine tasting group of the Mother Lode Newcomers, goes on hiatus for the summer. Earlier in September, we toasted another year of tasting adventures, beginning with Bray Vineyards. Some members of our group had been before but most had not, including me. We started our day with lunch at Villa Toscano as we often do. The buffet included a pasta dish that we all fell in love with. I asked Executive Chef Tim Benham for the recipe so he came out to our table and explained how he made it. It was so delicious and relatively easy. He didn’t give us any specific amounts of each ingredient so I will be working on replicating that recipe to include on the blog at a later date. After a leisurely lunch filled with laughter, food and a little Toscano wine, we headed for our tasting at Bray Vineyards.…

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Alternate Ways of Baking Pizza

Ever since I got to make pizza in a wood-fired oven I've been craving it. I didn't want to turn on the oven so I researched alternate ways of baking pizza.

Ever since the Saucy Sisters baked pizza in a wood-fired oven for one of our meetings, I’ve really been craving pizza. I hardly ever have pizza for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t the most low-calorie food. Second, as a single person, I always have so much left over. I do like leftover pizza but baking pizza fresh is so much better. I don’t have an outdoor oven yet, and probably won’t get one until next spring. It’s been so hot I haven’t wanted to turn on the oven so I experimented with a couple of other ways of baking pizza. The Pizza Dough To make this a really simple process, you could buy already made pizza dough or frozen dough but I like doing things from scratch — most of the time. Ever since I discovered the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day way of making bread, I…

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Best Amador County October Activities

With summer activities winding down, there is still so much to do that it is hard to choose. Here's my list of best Amador County October Activities.

With fall just around the corner, one week from today in fact, outdoor summer activities are starting to wind down in Amador County. Even the weather has given us a taste of fall the past few days, but just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean there will be any shortage of things to do! There will still be plenty of theater productions, festivals and fairs, art and craft shows, comedy nights, fundraisers, parties, parades, mine and cavern tours, and of course wine tasting. Some weekends it is difficult to choose what to do. Here are my thoughts on the best Amador County October activities. The Big Crush Harvest Festival The 45 member wineries of the Amador Vintners’ Association host two group events every year. The first weekend in March is Behind the Cellar Door. Coming up the first weekend in October is The Big Crush, the annual harvest festival. This is a very…

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Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent Review

I had the opportunity to try out a Kodiak Canvas truck tent on a recent horse camping trip. I share the pros and cons of the tent with you in this blog post.

Kelly and I just got back from a horse camping trip to Pt. Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco. Kelly usually stays in the back of her horse trailer when she camps, but for this trip, she decided to get a tent for her truck. I hadn’t heard of such a thing but it sounded like a great idea. She did some research and decided that the Kodiak Canvas truck tent had the best reviews and seemed like it had the features she wanted. The Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent The Kodiak Canvas truck tent comes in two sizes. The regular size fits 5.5 to 6.8 foot beds and the long bed size fits 8 to 8.5 foot beds, which is the size Kelly got for her dually with an 8-foot bed. The tent is made of Hydra-Shield 100% cotton duck canvas that is durable, watertight and breathable. Unlike tents treated with paraffin…

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Old West Music at Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire

View of crowd from stage at Scofield's Cowboy Campfire - Experience the old American West at Scofield's Cowboy Campfire in Fiddletown, CA, with a chuck wagon dinner and cowboy music from world-renowned performers.

Back in March I went to see Dave Stamey at The Call in Pine Grove. I had been wanting to see him for years but I kept missing him when I lived in Southern California and he performed there. The Call is just a few minutes drive from my house and a great venue for a concert. It’s intimate and has a terrific sound system. I was excited to hear that he would be performing so close to home and I definitely was not disappointed. I enjoyed his performance so much that when I learned he would be at Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire at Red Mule Ranch in August, I planned right then to see him again. I hadn’t been to Scofield’s so I would be getting two for one, so to speak. Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire In July, I saw Slade Rivers at a Roaring Camp Saturday Night Cookout so I had an inkling of…

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Anje Olmstead Collage Artist

Local artist Anje Olmstead brought her collage art class to a lunch meeting of our Saucy Sisters cooking group. Learn more about Anje Olmstead and her art.

Every month I am amazed at how creative the hostesses of the Saucy Sister’s cooking group are with the monthly meeting activities. At one meeting, we made two kinds of liqueur and everyone got to take home a bottle of each. One time we made fudge and had lots of samples to take home. We have made recipes from around the world and even had an elegant tea party. Last month, we made lavender wands then cooked pizza in an outdoor oven. I hear sourdough is in our future. Anje Olmstead, Fine Artist We are very lucky to have so many talented women in our group including local artist Anje Olmstead. Anje and her husband have lived in Pioneer for five years. Her husband, Dennis, wanted to move from the Fair Oaks/Sacramento area to above the snow level. He missed the cold, snowy winters of Duluth. Anje’s art career began at the age of 30 when she…

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Outdoor Pizza Oven — Fun and Practical

An outdoor pizza oven is fun and practical. Everyone can make their own pizza the way they want and you keep your kitchen cool while enjoying the outdoors.

When it’s hot out, who wants to turn on the oven and heat up the house? I don’t have air conditioning so I know I sure don’t! But there are lots of alternatives to cooking your meals in the oven. I lived in a ghost town in Nevada for five years. When we moved there, there was a gas (propane) stove and a propane tank that hadn’t been used since who knew when. I refused to have it filled and connected to the stove. So for three years, until we got an electric stove, I got to experiment a lot with many of those alternative methods. The microwave became my friend. I used it to cook a big portion of the majority of our meals, but I also had: a small electric skillet a large electric skillet/griddle that could “bake” things like meatloaf a Farberware electric rotisserie two electric sandwich makers two…

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Lavender Crafts and Camaraderie

Jan, our gracious hostess for the July meeting of our Saucy Sisters cooking group, has a beautiful home with lots of lavender beds. She orchestrated a Day of Lavender for us that included lavender crafts and some lavender infused food. When we arrived, Jan had tea, coffee and scrumptious lavender scones waiting for us. While we enjoyed our refreshments, Jan explained the craft we were going to make — lavender wands. The finished product she showed us looked and smelled amazing. Making Our Lavender Wands We had been told via email to bring pruning shears to the meeting. Once we were finished with our coffee and scones, we headed out into the gardens with our shears to cut lavender for our wands — 11 stems. You can use more than 11 stems as long as you use an uneven number. Jan had a basket filled with satin ribbon in almost every color, including several shades…

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