baby avocados

May 19, 2017
by Mimi Holtz

How Do Avocados Grow?


Here are the freshest avocados you’ll ever see!  Just picked from our trees!  They were flowers just one year ago, and took all year to get to this size and maturity so we could harvest them for you!   They are rock hard and won’t soften at all until they leave the tree.

buds on an avocado tree before bloom

I took this photo in March,  before the trees were in full bloom.  These are the buds that appear on the trees.  Don’t they look a little bit like cauliflower?  It’s amazing how these buds unfold and eventully become flowers on long spikey stems, and later turn into tiny avocados.   In fact, it’s amazing how avocados grow!  Today I’m sharing photos and a spectacular video that was filmed right here on our ranch!

avocado trees blooming

When the trees are in full bloom,  they look from a distance like they are covered with yellow froth.  The new reddish  leaves begin to grow so they can cover the new baby avocados that appear after pollination.

baby avocados

I never get tired of looking for the tiny baby avocados that begin to grow where the flowers used to be.

flowers and babies fall

Dried flowers that have fallen from the trees are carpeting the ground,  and a few of the baby avocados are there too.  The trees usually set many more baby fruits than can actually grow throughout the season.  Some will fall when they are tiny, and others fall when they get bigger.  The avocados that remain on the tree and grow to maturity are survivors!

too many avocados

The tree just cannot sustain this many baby avocados.  Some of them must fall off so the tree can support the fruit that will grow for the next year until it is ready to harvest.

photographing avocado trees

My friend Kim Miller Kelly came out for a visit last week to photograph the baby avocados.  This time of year is one of my favorites,  with all the fruit trees blooming,  including the pomegranates!  Such fun to see the flowers become fruit right before your eyes!

pomegranate flowers

One of the most exciting things to happen lately was a visit from Nicole and Mark Jolly,  the creators of TRUE FOOD: How Does It Grow?    They spent a whole day on the ranch,  filming the trees, the flowers, the fruit and learned firsthand how to harvest avocados!   I was just recovering from knee surgery,  so I couldn’t do much hiking that day,  but it was lots of fun to ride around in the back of the pickup truck!

You’re going to love the video that Nicole and Mark created about how avocados grow!  Learn a little history,  inside tips about ripening and serving avocados,  and find out how to pick avocados yourself!  Check it out right here!




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! Continue Reading →

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 3 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!

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