September 25, 2014
by Mimi Holtz

Mimi Avocado Goes to the Beach: Oceanside, California


Our avocado ranch is about 18 miles inland from the coast of California.  In fact, on a clear day we can actually see the Pacific Ocean from the ranch!  I have always wanted to go spend some time near the surf…open the windows at night and hear the crashing waves…get up early in the morning and enjoy the deserted beaches.  The best time to go to the coast is after school starts in September when the summer tourists are gone.  Now that my children are grown up and we don’t have school schedules to keep,   I decided it was time for me to get some time at the beach.


I was lucky enough to find a timeshare condo at the Southern California Beach Club.  Unfortunately, we had a  record-breaking heat wave that week, and the timeshare  has no air conditioning.  Usually  that would not be a problem, but the temperatures were way beyond reasonable (104 at home, 95 on the coast) so I decided to stay at the ranch where we do have air conditioning.  Later in the week I checked into a two-bedroom unit on the top level of the complex.  Open windows and ceiling fans were perfect for evenings, but during the hottest part of the day it was just too warm to be inside.

SoCalBeachClubcollageThe Southern California Beach Club has direct access to the beach, and offers all the equipment anyone would need to enjoy the beach:  chairs, umbrellas, towels, beach toys, bicycles, surf boards, and boogie boards.  Parking is underneath the building, but after a harrowing experience trying to get my Yukon in and out of that structure,   I was relieved to get a parking pass for the street.  (I still haven’t stopped was traumatic!)

Next time I’ll try to get a one-bedroom unit that has a balcony right over the beach. From my 2 bedroom unit  I had a nice panoramic view of the beach from the upstairs bedroom, but the main level of the condo opened to a rather bland deck.   There was an easy chair in the bedroom, so I stationed myself in front of the window to enjoy watching the surf.

window view

I loved waking up in the the middle of the night and looking out at the beach in the dark.   Except for the trains passing through, I could imagine what the coast of California must have been like before people built houses here.


Oceanside Beach has a one-way road called “The Strand” where bicyclists, walkers, and vehicles can drive right next to the crashing waves.  On Saturday morning it was busy with weekend warriors working out with their bootcamp instructors, but during the weekdays there was very little going on…so peaceful.  A few riding bicycles,  people walking their dogs,  beachcombers…

Mornings are usually overcast and cool.  The blazing sun tries to burn through the clouds, but usually it is mid to late morning before the clouds are gone.


The surfers and the fishermen arrive as the sun rises.  The pier is the perfect place to watch the surfers…it’s possible to stand just above where they are waiting for the waves and imagine the power of the water as it picks them up.


The smell of the ocean,  the fresh breeze,  and the sound of the water as the waves break near the shore….such a relaxing place to be early in the morning!

beach scenes collageI need to mention the food….there are lots of places to eat within walking distance.  I enjoy having breakfast out at the end of the pier at Ruby’s,  a diner that plays music from the 40’s and feels like a step back in time.  They have a cinnamon roll french toast combo that is enough for 2 to share, and the multigrain and nut pancakes were especially tasty.  During the day they serve great burgers and milkshakes.  The restaurant wasn’t busy just after 7 am, and the waiter would visit with me as I sipped my coffee, pointing out a school of dolphins playing in the waves.  It’s fun to watch as the fishermen pull up their catch on the pier just outside the windows of Ruby’s.


Just across the street from the Pier is 333 Pacific, an upscale eatery with a wonderful happy hour,  lunch and dinner. They had a special  for $15 that included 3 Kobe beef sliders and a flight of three craft beer samples.  On Thursday nights Oceanside hosts the Sunset Farmer’s Market in nearby downtown…just a stroll away.  There are cafes, bakeries, ice cream and yogurt shops,  and a large movie theater in the vicinity of the pier as well.   The train station is right there…easy to get on board for a trip to San Diego or even north to Los Angeles or Santa Barbara.


I’d love to get up early some morning and just drive over to the beach, but it’s so much nicer to have a place to stay for a few nights and get away from the routine of the ranch. Oceanside beach and pier is a great place to do that.   Who’s coming with me next time?


September 17, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
1 Comment

Cold Quinoa and Tuna Salad: Hot Weather, Cold Salad


I can’t remember having weather this crazy since I moved to Southern California in 1977.   There has been a hurricane off the coast of Mexico to the south,  and the weather here in San Diego has been very, very hot.   Not the normal hot of September, but a blistering hot that affects the coastal towns as well as the normally toasty inland areas.  Not a dry heat either, but humid and heavy.   105 degrees with high humidity is not much fun….and it’s only 10 degrees cooler at the beach 20 miles to our west.

We’ve been staying inside, grateful that we finally had air conditioning installed a few years ago.  When we do go outside we open the door and close it as quickly as we can…there is such a huge difference between the oven-like temperatures outside and comfortable coolness inside.  It reminds me of living in the northeast, especially during college, when the temperatures outside could be way below zero in the winter.   In a way, it feels “like home” to be sequestered inside.   The only problem is that I don’t want to cook anything, or turn on the oven and warm up the kitchen.

I cooked up a whole bag of Bob’s Red Mill Tricolor Quinoa a few days ago,and used it to improvise some cold salads this week. Continue Reading →

September 12, 2014
by Mimi Holtz

Tuna Salad with Lentils: Theme and Variations


Isn’t this a pretty salad?  Just looking at the photo makes me want to make and eat it all over again.   Our fresh avocados are especially buttery this time of year because they are high in oil content late in the season.  Creamy avocado and juicy red peppers in a tuna salad with lentils…that’s what I want for lunch!

It’s too hot to cook,  so I’ve been reinventing summer salads for our meals, adding colors and flavors to help us survive the blistering heat. Continue Reading →

September 9, 2014
by Mimi Holtz
1 Comment

Blueberry Tart: Gluten-Free and Cane Sugar-Free


Last weekend our family got together to celebrate a birthday and to celebrate our daughter’s completion of her masters degree.  It’s really special when we can all be together these days, since everyone has grown up and gone their own way.  I wanted to serve one of our family’s favorite desserts,   but it needed to be gluten-free and cane sugar-free for someone special who can’t eat regular flour and sugar.  I changed up the ingredients for our Blueberry Tart and the result was really good!  The coconut flour gives a slight coconut flavor to the crust,  creating a wonderful flavor opposite the blueberries. Continue Reading →

September 6, 2014
by Mimi Holtz

Almond and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


I used to bake cookies all the time when our four kids were growing up here on the ranch.   I still love to bake cookies, but I’m always tempted to eat too many so I just don’t bake very often.   Last weekend all four of our grown children were home at the same time.   We had a great time together…and that put me into a cookie-baking mood.

Bob’s Red Mill sent me some  finely ground almond meal to try out, and the instructions on the package stated that it could be used in place of regular flour for low-carb baking. Continue Reading →

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