California poppies

April 21, 2017
by Mimi Holtz

Avocado Blooms and Wildflowers: Super Blooms!

falling avocado flowers
I love this photo.  A brown, dead leaf that has fallen from the tree is wedged among the blossoms.   Some of the spent flowers have fallen on top of the dead leaf…as if resting in a cradle among the blooms that will soon become new fruit.  Avocado trees drop their leaves all year long, but during bloom season lots of leaves fall as the flowers come out.   Then the flowers begin to fall too,  covering the ground with tiny dried flowers.   Then the baby avocados begin to appear!

tiny avocado newborn

Tiny newborn avocado forms where the flower was pollinated.

And here is a newborn baby avocado!   The tiny fruits begin to grow right where the little flower used to be … after the bees and bugs have come to pollinate the flowers.

blooming avocado trees

So many flowers on each avocado tree!   It’s amazing that the flowers come out on spindly stalks … and the tree seems to explode with blooms.   From a distance the blooming trees look like they have yellow foam on them…. and then the new growth begins to appear….reddish new leaves that will provide shade for the fruit and eventually turn a deep dark green color.

avocado trees blooming

I have received several notes from avocado tree owners who are concerned that their trees might be dying.   The leaves do fall off the tree when the tree begins to bloom,  and some of the trees can even look like they’re naked exept for the flowers.   The new leaves begin to grow during the bloom period and eventually the trees will be full of foliage once more.

new growth on avocado trees

The new leaves are so colorful!   When the sun comes up in the morning,  there is a reddish hue … fresh and shiny!  These are the leaves that will help sustain the tree and protect the fruit as it grows during the coming year.

cactus blooming

And look what else is blooming!    I bought this cactus last year at Lowe’s … haven’t even taken it out of the pot yet!   I wanted to find a place where it would be happy, and hoped it would bloom again.  Well this year it has even more flowers than last year!    Best to admire it from a distance…those needles are sharp!

California poppies

It has been a glorious year here on the ranch after all the rains!   Wild flowers have been spectacular right here at home and all over California.

wildflower on the ranch

It’s amazing that the seeds are waiting  for years, but nothing grew because we were in a drought.  Once the rains begin,  everything grows and blooms!

succulents blooming

Succulents are blooming!

flowers from seeds I bought

These came from wildflower seed mixtures that I sprinkled before the rains.

colorful wildflowers near avocado groves

So much color this year!

Lizard in the sun

Our days are getting warmer now. The lizards are out sunning themselves and we have to watch out for snakes too.   We’ve started harvesting the largest avocados so that the trees can direct their energy to the baby avocados that are beginning to grow.   It is a glorious time of year!

Have you seen California avocados in your produce markets yet?  We’re shipping fresh California avocados from our family farm every week now!  Earlier this year we were comparing three varieties:  Fuerte, Bacon, and Hass avocados.   Now the California Hass avocados are in season and they are extra special now! Check out our website at California Avocados Direct.

Calfornia avocados sent direct from the farm

Celebrating Earth Day 2017 by sharing sunset from our family farm!


green hills after rains

January 14, 2017
by Mimi Holtz

Avocado Ranch Anniversary After Winter Rains

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Avocado

When I first moved to Southern California in 1977 I felt guilty.  How would we deserve the beauty of springtime if we hadn’t endured the long hard winters of snow shoveling and difficult driving that I grew up with in Vermont?  I don’t worry about winter-guilt anymore because I’ve seen what winter weather can do in California!   If we don’t get rains,  we have drought.  If we do get rains,  we have flooding.   But after the rains,  we have those crisp, clear days  when a big bowl of soup topped with sliced Fuerte avocados is well deserved!  This week I made Chicken Tortilla Soup — perfect for avocado slices–and today the sun is shining so I took a walk outside.  Continue Reading →

Fuerte avocados with smoked salmon and eggs on an English muffin

January 4, 2017
by Mimi Holtz

Fuerte Avocados – Festive Holiday Slices

avocado with smoked salmon and scrambled egg

It’s that time of year when Fuerte avocados are perfectly ripe and full of flavor.  Pear-shaped with a thinner skin than Hass avocados,   Fuertes have a unique nutty flavor,  and if you have enjoyed a Fuerte avocado you are nodding your head right now. Continue Reading →

Beer and Maple Beans

December 10, 2016
by Mimi Holtz

Potluck Beans with Maple and Beer

Beer and Maple Beans

I’m sharing my latest activities in the kitchen today:   Potluck Beans with Maple and Beer!  We’re invited to a holiday get-together with family and friends tomorrow,  and I needed a side dish to go with barbecue tritip sandwiches.  During the holiday season I don’t have much time, so I used a recipe that calls for canned Cannellini beans (white kidney beans).   This recipe couldn’t be easier!

The Big Book of Sides

I was inspired by a recipe in Rick Rodgers’  The Big Book of Sides, a cookbook that I reviewed when it was first published.  I keep going back to this book when I need something special to go with a meal. The recipe in the book makes 10-12 servings,  and I needed to make a lot more for the party.  I tweaked the recipe a bit,  and the beans are crazy good!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Potluck Beans with Maple and Beer
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Make a pot of these beans for a holiday potluck or a summer barbecue!
  • 1 lb. bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup dijon mustard
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 bottles dark beer ( I used Red Bridge Gluten-Free Sorghum Beer)
  • Ten 15-ounce cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup ham bits
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat, until the bacon is almost crisp. Using a slotten spoon, move the cooked bacon to a paper towel and leave the bacon fat in the pan.
  3. Over medium heat, cook the onions in the remaining bacon fat until they are golden brown.
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  5. Stir in the ketchup, mustard, maple syrup, and beer and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the the beans, bacon, and ham.
  7. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for one hour.
  8. Uncover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  9. If you aren't serving the beans immediately, cool the beans and refrigerate overnight. Stir in 1 cup of water and reheat covered in 350 degree oven, stirring occasionally.

Last weekend was the annual Meals On Wheels benefit concert.  As a member of the Coastal Communities Concert Band since 1998, I look forward to this event every year. Our band has been helping to raise funds to support the important work of Meals On Wheels for 22 years.  Here are a few photos from the 2016 Holiday Concert at the Carlsbad Community Church, in Carlsbad, Ca.!

Holiday Concert to Benefit Meals On Wheels

As a music director and teacher,  I start preparing for holiday performances months in advance.  It’s a little strange to be working on Christmas music in the heat of August and September,  but it’s so rewarding when we have our music prepared in time to inspire our families and friends during the holiday season.   I’m especially glad to have time in December to spend in the kitchen between concerts and church events.

What are you cooking up for the holidays?  I’d love to know about your family specialties or new recipes you are trying out!


November 22, 2016
by Mimi Holtz

Cheaters’ Thanksgiving Casserole

Cheaters' Thanksgiving Casserole

When the weather cools off in November, I’m ready to start eating turkey and stuffing.  Anyone else get that craving for Thanksgiving goodies early? Try my Cheaters’ Thanksgiving Casserole!   Here’s an easy 0ne-pot meal that you can do in a slow cooker or in a covered dish in the oven, or even on top of the stove.  All the flavors of Thanksgiving are here for a comforting supper,  or a party with friends – and it’s budget-friendly too!

Continue Reading →

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