Follow the Flowers! Now that spring has sprung, we’re really going to see a show! Early narcissus heralded the change from winter, and the fragrant daffodils and lilies trumpeted the glorious Passover and Easter season. The traditional Easter lilies originated in the Middle East, though the ubiquitous white callas which proliferate on our hillsides began their trek eons ago from the highlands of China.
This year the indigo and amethyst spires of the Pride of Madeira are in fine form, having arrived with immigrants from the Azores. And we all know from whence the lush cups of giant golden poppies originated — right here in our Golden State. Already we are enjoying the fragrance of their bright promise, as well as the lovely lupine which led the way into spring.
You may be anxiously awaiting the candy-stick colors of the wild sweet peas along Highway 1 near Cayucos, and especially along Highway 46 West, which were introduced on the then-Green Valley Road by the Barloggio family with high-pressure guns after they cracked the tough seed coats by driving over them with a truck. Sounds like a legend, doesn’t it? Because of the vagaries of weather, each year the show is different, depending on rainfall, as well as warmth from sunlight.
As I am presently experiencing gale-force winds for two days on Happy Hill, following the two days I was enveloped by cold fog, I console myself with the little clippings I saved on my fridge from The Trib’s weather page, with its little sunny icons and captions: January 14-17 — “Sunny and cool,” 56 degrees, to “Sunny and milder” at 62, “Sunny and nice” at 65, and finally “Just about perfect” at 65 degrees!
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Feb. 14-17 is much the same: “Sunny and nice” at 67, “Sunny and warm” at 71, “Sunny and warm” at 70, and “Sunshine prevails” — even at 60 degrees.
I am hoping for nice warm, clear weather for the annual Chamber of Commerce Chili Cook-Off and Car Show at the Pinedorado grounds on Saturday, April 20. I will again be in the Judges’ Seat, along with Olallieberry Inn’s Marjorie Ott, Soupabration’s Charmaine Coimbra, and special celebrity judges Cambria Citizen of the Year Marcelle Bakula and executive chef Dakota Weiss, Charmaine’s daughter, with whom I shared judging honors at the first-ever Soupabration.
Friends and family thanked me for bringing perfect “coastal weather” to Fresno and Clovis when I celebrated Easter with them, as well as these desserts I brought along:
Pumpkin Spice Cake
(adapted from Hungry Girl newsletter)
1 box Spice Cake Mix, such as Duncan Hines
1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/3 can water
1 12-oz. brick low-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup light butter
1/2 pkg. powdered sugar
2 cups walnuts, chopped
Believe it or not, no eggs or oil! In a medium bowl, beat the cake mix with the pumpkin and water (I used a spoon easily). Spray a 15- by 5-inch sheet pan and pour in the mix. (I did this for ease of transportation, but you may choose to make your cake in layers, or even ultimately split those for a charming tower.) Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes; ovens will vary. Allow to cool in the pan on a rack.
For the fewest calories, sift plain powdered sugar over the top; but I beat the cream cheese and butter with a fork and spread that on top and sprinkled it with the nuts. Perfect for your fall table; it proved the winner at Easter.
1 box lemon cake mix, such as Duncan Hines
1 pkg. lemon meringue pudding mix
1 tub nonfat Cool Whip
Prepare cake according to directions on box, using two prepared pans. Cook lemon pudding according to directions more easily in the microwave, pulsing and stirring every minute or so, for three to four minutes, until thick. (Reserve the egg whites by freezing for later use, or use soon in your egg-white omelette.) Allow cake to cool well, and spread the filling between layers. When serving, spread with Cool Whip or your favorite whipped cream.
This also would be fabulous using vanilla cake mix and Linn’s Olallieberry Curd! I confess that I made my cake using orange cake mix which is no longer available which I had stashed in my freezer; my filling was tangerine mix I had also reserved from Krusteaz cookie bar mix, all tucked away for a special occasion such as this.