Murray Family Farms | #191

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I have gone up and down and down and up Highway 5 dozens of times. I always am in a hurry to get to my destination or to get home.

This day, I was traveling by myself and was in no hurry to get home. I decided that this day I would stop at a few places that I have never taken the time to stop at.

Murray Family Farms would be my first official unplanned stop along Highway 5.

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I was welcomed by this sign enticing me to come into the store.

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Need to take a break from the road? Kids need to stretch their legs?

This is a perfect place to stop! The tables are clean outside and the restrooms are clean inside!

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Do you need to take something home to the dogsitter? Or to the neighbors that kept an eye on your house?

Here is a vast selection of food to choose from!

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Need a cold drink or a healthy snack?

The fresh fruit is from the near-by farm.

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I bought some of these! They were great. I have no idea how many calories.

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Want to know if the strawberries are  sweet or the cherries are sour? They have samples out for you to test!

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Murray Family Farms bake all these wonderful items on location!

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Are you going to stay the night at some friends house? How about taking a homemade pie for a hostess gift?

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Who can’t resist homemade fudge?!

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Bribes for the kids!

 

I am grateful that I took the time to stop at Murray Family Farms. They have a great selection of fruits, drinks, and treats. The staff are very friendly and helpful, too!

 

I hear they have hay rides throughout the year for the kids and young at heart.

 

I also hear they will soon be serving coffee latte’s, mochas, etc.

 

Why not support the local farmers, use clean facilities and eat healthy on your next trip along Highway 5?!

 

365 Day Project: Gratitude Bucket | Day # 191

Eat Pray Love Luncheon in the Park with Girlfriends

Table set for Eat Pray Love Lunch at the park

I was just reminiscing about this luncheon I had for my girlfriends…

I absolutely loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love”. It was an inspiration to me full of eating, praying and love! Yeh, duh! My girlfriends had all read the book and most felt the same connection that I did to Elizabeth’s experience. I decided that I wanted to celebrate the book and the movie coming out with my girlfriends. So…I planned a Luncheon and Movie date with some of my closest friends.

Everything I did for the luncheon was inspired from my reading. I kept in mind the countries she had visited: Italy, India and Indonesia along with her adventures and the food she ate.

I wanted this to be a memorable experience for my girlfriends. It was important to have the food, decorations and the atmosphere depicting the book.

 

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Food was a big part of Liz’s Italy adventure including some wonderful fresh fruits. Here I served melon wrapped in prosciutto with grapes as the first course.

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In the book there was a very special bonding of the relationship between Elizabeth and her friend Ketut’s wife. When Ketut’s wife offered Elizabeth a cup of coffee the first time, she served it in a Mason jar. The second time she brought her coffee, she brought it in a Mason jar on a china saucer. Hence, I used a Mason jar to serve the ice tea on a saucer. The other interesing thing that Ketut’s wife did: she brought the sugar in a little bowl. Hence, I used these little crystal bowls for each one of my guest to serve the sugar in.

I loved this exchange in the book between Ketut’s wife and Elizabeth. It was hard for Ketut’s wife to accept Elizabeth at first. It took her some time before she trusted and allowed her into her heart and have a relationship with her. I can completely see where Ketut’s wife is coming from. Here is this lady from America coming into their life, asking lots of questions of Ketut, and spending a lot of time with him. I, too, would have my guard up!

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Sticking with the Italian food, I served an artichoke and tomato salad with olive oil!

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There is a wonderful scene in the book when Liz visits Rome. She is enjoying a pizza and practically has an orgasm while she is indulging in every single bite of this amazing pizza. (Reminds me of the movie “When Harry Meant Sally” remember Meg Ryan sitting in the coffee shop? hahah)

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Liz did a lot of praying and meditating during her journey so I thought the Buddha statue from Cost Plus was a perfect centerpiece.

The stargazer lily is my favorite flower. The fragrance is exquisite and represented the large fragrant flowers from the gardens of Bali.

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I wanted my friends to know how grateful I am for their friendship so I wrote a thank you note to each individual guest which also worked as a placecard.

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Heart sugar cookies reminded us of the love that Liz received at the end of the book.

The elephant sugar cookie represented the scene from the trailor of the movie where Julia Roberts has the encounter with the elephant in Bali.

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I got the India tablecloth from Cost Plus, too. It did such a good job at pulling all the decorations together and depicting India.

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No party is complete without party favors! I included elephant and heart sugar cookies, tea, and homemade berry jelly.

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A toast to good friends, love, peace, Italy (most of us are Italians hee hee), and spiritual growth.

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College Boy made these prayer beads for each of my guest. A heart replaced the 109th bead of the prayer necklace. The necklaces graced the table representing Liz’s spiritual journey. Each of my guest took a prayer necklace home to remind them of this beautiful day together.

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College Boy was so sweet to put these together for me on such short notice! Isn’t he cute with his prayer beads on?!

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“…it is wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” –Elizabeth Gilbert

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Tirimasu for dessert was the perfect ending to this Eat, Pray, Love themed luncheon in the park
My girlfriends and I left that park and headed to the movie theater where we cried, laughed, and cried some more. We each could relate to Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey. Each in our own way we could feel the love, the hurt, and the spiritual growth. We wanted to be Elizabeth Gilbert.

After two hours of being on the journey with Elizabeth, we wanted to continue our journey when the movie was over.

Which one of us friends would most likely leave everything and take that big leap of faith to visit three different countries? Could we take that leap of faith?

I would jump at it! Got a book deal you want to give me? I’ll pack my bags while you draw up the contract and wire me my first check. ok?

It will be a great journey!

 
pam

Michael’s Kitchen Coffee Shop and Bakery | Taos, New Mexico

Need a place to eat but have a lot of picky eaters?

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One person wants Mexican, one wants a burger and another wants breakfast? Michael’s kitchen is your place.

Want to grab dessert for after dinner tonight? Michael’s kitchen is your place.

Need a mid-morning coffee and pastry? Michael’s Kitchen is your place.

Don’t want to hassle meter parking in the Plaza? Michael’s Kitchen is your place. They have a parking lot right next door.

Want a sopapilla with your honey? Michael’s kitchen is your place.

Friendly, quick service? Michael’s Kitchen is your place.

Will you have to wait to be seated? Quite possibly! Michael’s kitchen has been around for over 30 years and they are known for their wide variety of delicious food. Many of the locals come here.

I have eaten here twice and both times the place was packed.

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When you walk into Michael’s, you get a glimpse of the bakery items.

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When you go to pay your bill, you get to walk right by the bakery counter, too! Say hi to Michael…that is him behind the counter. I took this picture on the way to the ladies room. I just happened to bring my camera along. I stopped at the bakery counter to take a few pictures when Michael offered me a glazed donut hole. I told him if I engaged in eating it that it might ruin my lunch after all I wasn’t suppose to be here…at the bakery counter….I was suppose to be using the facilities! But how can you tell this man no with that genuine smile and those eyes?! So I said, “Ok, thank you!” Thank you! Yum! Yum! I proceeded back to my table but did not share my encounter with the man behind the counter and the melt in my mouth glazed donut hole.

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A selection of breads are made fresh daily. Hello carbs!

 

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They have a full bakery down stairs where I am told they go through a ton of flour a week.

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I ordered one chicken enchilada a la carte. It had shredded white meat chicken and onions inside. The red sauce had a little kick to it which was perfectly offset with the lettuce and tomatoes.

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Mr. Rancher had biscuits and gravy. (You can see he wanted to dig in, I barely could sneak a picture.)

 

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Whenever you have Mexican food in New Mexico, you get a sopapilla. Oh my!

 

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Quite honestly sopapillas are an excuse to eat honey!

 

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Lots and

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lots and

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lots of honey!

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I shared one bite of my sopapilla with Mr. Rancher…only because I wanted to take a picture of the honey oozing out into the delectable pastry. You see he didn’t get a sopapilla with his meal because he didn’t order Mexican food!

While we were waiting for our lunch to be served, I watched Michael as he stopped to visit with customers, clear dishes and carry buckets of dirty dishes to the back. He smiled at customers and asked how they were doing.

Then the next encounter with Michael happened…

He stopped by our table. The three of us started some small talk. Found out we had all grown up near each other in Los Angeles. He has friends that live close to us in Northern California. We shared about Mr. Rancher’s place in New Mexico and how we had come here once before and were anxious to be back here again.

Michael left and we devoured our food. Michael walked by a few times awhile I was trying to get Mr. Rancher to take the perfect photo of my honey laden sopapilla. He only smiled and continued to his chores of greeting customers and cleaning up dirty dishes. I thought, “What a great manager, not afraid to work. What a great owner, engaging with customers!”

Then…

The waitress brought our check…

Then….

Oh my…

Michael came over to our table did a little tap on it with his fingers and said, “Wait here, I’ll be back in a minute.”

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And this…

This is what he came back with.

He said, “Enjoy! This is on me. This is what I always make for my granddaughter.” OMG it was so good! We enjoyed every bite. We enjoyed every single calorie!

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A sneak peak at the kitchen….

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Say hi to Michael…What did I tell you about his smile?! And those eyes! The goatee…just enough of ruggedness! I think men with a graying goatee are very attractive!

Woops sorry….Nothing wrong with us middle aged moms looking and admiring though…right?! Men have done if for years! Us women, we just do it without being caught…now you caught me!

Oh…back to Michael’s Kitchen.

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I know these pictures don’t do justice since they were taken behind a glass. Thank God for the glass between those pastries and me. They are just too tempting. Don’t you just want to take your finger and swoop through that cream cheese frosting?

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Or eat the top part of that donut with maple icing? I love maple icing! I love maple icing! My daddy always brought me home a donut with maple icing on it when I was a little girl!

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This is where you pay your bill for all the goodies you ate or are bringing home with you. Did I tell you that you have to walk past the bakery counter on your way to paying your bill?

Michael planned that, didn’t you Michael?!

You planned that we had to walk by all those yummy bakery items when we walked out of your restaurant.

You planned that, didn’t you?

Did you plan for me to meet with my trainer for extra sessions after patronizing your restaurant?

Did you plan for me to eat those cookies we bought for a friend on the way home?

Did you plan for us to tear into those apple fritters in the morning before we could get them to our friend who we bought them for?

Did you Michael?

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I almost missed these…

 

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These were in a counter around the corner.

 

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I didn’t see them until after we paid our bill. Guess it gives me an excuse to come back again. Did I tell you how much I love chocolate pie?

I think I will be dreaming of this place tonight!

Dreaming of sugar plums dancing in my head.
California City Slicker aka Pam

Mrs. A’s Lemon Bundt Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

How many of you ladies use a sifter for your flour? Raise your hand.

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I don’t. The only time I ever used a sifter was in 7th grade in Home Economics. That has been just a few years ago!

Mrs. A says she has always used a sifter. She is a fantastic cook…I guess I better get a sifter!

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It is interesting to watch how others cook. I always learn something new to make my cooking life easier. Today I learned to grate the peel of a lemon first, then cut it in half to use the juice. Much easier then juicing it first and then trying to grate the peel. Smart, Mrs. A, thank you for the lesson!

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Set aside the lemon juice and the grated lemon. I would do enough for the frosting at the same time to help keep the mess under control.

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Do you know how many pictures I took trying to catch the lemon juice coming out of the lemon while Mrs. A squeezed it? About 20! Thank goodness that I have a digital camera so I could delete the 19 pictures that didn’t turn out. Thank you, Mrs. A, for squeezing the extra lemons! What a great idea to freeze the extra juice in ice cube trays for another time!

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It is very important to grease and flour your Bundt pan so your cake will come out unblemished. Of course, that means there won’t be any little sections to taste out of the pan!

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Add the sugar….
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and the butter. Blend on low speed until mix.

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Then blend an additional 3 minutes on high speed.

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Beat in the eggs.

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Add the vanilla.

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Do you see we made a happy face for you in the flour mixture!

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Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.

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Fold in peel and juice.

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Spoon into pan.

Bake for about 60 minutes.

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Cool on wire rack.


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To make the frosting cream sugar, butter and cream cheese on low speed.

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Add juice and vanilla. Mix on high speed until fluffy.

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Spread on cake. And if you are like Mrs. A and me, you each get a beater!


Mrs. A’s Lemon Bundt Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lemons
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (Mrs. A suggests you sift the flour)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour Bundt pan.

Grate lemon peel to get approximately 2 tablespoons peel.

Squeeze juice to get 3 tablespoons.

Mix sifted flour, salt, and baking soda.

On low speed, blend sugar and butter. Continue blending for 3 minutes on high.

Beat in eggs one at a time on low speed.

Add vanilla.

Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk.

Fold in peel and juice.

Spoon into pan.

Bake about 60 minutes. Cool slightly in pan. Invert in wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2 cups powder sugar (may need additional 1/2 cup sugar)
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 4 to 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend sugar, butter and cream cheese on low speed.

Beat in juice and vanilla.

Beat on high speed until fluffy.
Spread frosting on cake and enjoy! May garnish lemon cake with raspberries to appear healthy!

Meadowlark Dairy Ice Cream Cones | #185

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Fourth of July celebrations

Headlines: Three middle age women walking down the street to Lions Wayside Park to enjoy the Fourth of July picnic and old-fashioned family fun!

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Yes, I was one of those middle aged moms.
Yes, I pointed out Meadowlark Dairy as we were walking by.
Yes, I saw people carrying soft serve ice cream cones.
Yes, I began plotting my plan to get one!

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Yes, I pointed out the line where you could buy soft serve ice cream.
Yes, I thought about soft serve ice cream the entire time we were watching the Fourth of July program at Lions Wayside Park.
Yes, I suggested after the program was over that we hurry over before the crowds to indulge in a soft serve ice cream.

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Yes, the rest of my possy agreed.
Yes, we enjoyed every lick of that ice cream.
Yes, we felt a little guilty for indulging in the calories knowing we were headed to a Fourth of July party which we knew would include lots of desserts including the lemon cake that my friend and I had made that morning.
Yes, we had big smiles on our faces as we walked back to the car thinking about how delicious that ice cream was as a perfect ending to the Fourth of July program.
Yes, I started planning when I may return for another ice cream!

365 Day Project: Girlfriends enjoy soft serve ice cream from Meadowlark Dairy in Pleasanton after enjoying the Fourth of July program at Lyons Wayside Park.

Day # 190 Happy 4th of July!

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