Arlene Poma

Davis Ranch Corn Festival

In Places on July 16, 2014 at 8:30 am

Another form of California gold is corn.  Even in this severe California drought and with fire season in full force, people still flock to the Davis Corn Ranch Festival in Sloughhouse.  The extremely family-friendly and dog-friendly annual event is a chance for me and Mister Jack to take a drive into the country for our usual two grocery bags filled with white and yellow corn.  Using California State Route 16, tiny Sloughhouse is only 17 miles east of Downtown Sacramento.   Another plus?  The corn is GMO-free.  Their outdoor fruit and vegetable market is open most of the year.  It also sells goodies like jams, jellies, barbecue sauce, dried gourds and ornaments for your garden.

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Admission to the Davis Ranch Corn Festival is free of charge.  We stayed long enough to grab a quick, cheap meal,  sit on hay bales and listen to the Chris Gardner Band.  While children played in the “dried corn box” at the back of the makeshift concert location, Gardner explained to the audience that he came from the Sloughhouse area.  I approached him during a short break, and he explained that his band performed at the California State Fair the night before.  And they were headed to Lake Tahoe for another performance–as well as a way to escape the valley heat.  He mentioned more gigs over the summer.  Gardner and his band also perform at numerous locations in Sacramento and the surrounding areas.

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The Davis Ranch can accommodate crowds.  The parking lot has expanded since I first visited in the late 80s.  There is a picnic area next to the strawberry patch.  At the back of the parking lot, you’ll see the Christmas tree lot.  Besides the numerous food, drink and craft booths, there are hay rides, pony rides and other activities for children and their families.

If you missed the Davis Ranch Corn Festival in Sloughhouse this year, there’s always next year.  If you’re interested in gourd arts and crafts, entertainment and food, the upcoming 6th Annual Davis Ranch Gourd Festival will be held on September 27-28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The gourd artist has plenty of choices when it comes to buying gourds from the ranch.

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For more information, here’s a link:

Dried California Chiles Enchilada Sauce and Crock Pot Stacked Enchiladas

In Recipes on July 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

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For months, I’ve been making an effort to cook most of our meals at home.  I’m retired and don’t work outside the home.  Although I don’t mind shopping, I try not too spend to much time rushing to the supermarket for a specific (or missing) ingredient.  Instead, I use what I have on hand, make substitutions or completely do without.  Cooking at home has its perks:

1)  Since I’m the one who does most of the cooking at our home, I can keep our meals healthy because I choose the ingredients.

2)  Me and Mister Jack no longer want or need the larger portions served at restaurants.

3)  As long as I shop smart, we save money.

4)  When you save money by cooking your meals at home, then you can put aside funds to occasionally dine out at favorite restaurants.  That way, dining out becomes a special occasion for us.  And it’s even better when we can invite family and friends to join us at a favorite restaurant.  Cooking most of our meals at home allows us to splurge on lunch or dinner.  We very seldom get poor service at our favorite restaurants, so we also make a point to leave at least a 20% tip for our server.

Dried California Enchilada Sauce and Stacked Enchiladas in a Crock Pot


The Sauce

1 – 3 oz. package dried California chiles

2 cups chicken stock

3-4 tablespoons chile powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons oregano

4 tablespoons butter

2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch or flour



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  1. Fill a pot with water (halfway).
  2. Place California chiles in pot.
  3. Bring water to boil.
  4. When chiles soften, turn off the heat.
  5. Drain water and discard.  Remove chiles and place on a plate or cutting board.  Slit each chile.
  6. Remove stems.  Scoop out most seeds. Discard.
  7. Roughly chop chiles, then place in blender or food processor.  Blend chiles into a smooth texture.
  8. Add chile powder, cumin, garlic salt, oregano, 2 cups chicken stock to chile mixture.  Blend.
  9.  In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.
  10.  Whisk cornstarch into the butter until mixture is smooth.
  11. Slowly add enchilada sauce to butter and cornstarch mixture–stirring constantly.
  12. Simmer on low heat for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When sauce is slightly thickened, turn off heat and set the sauce aside.

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12 small corn tortillas or 6 large flour or corn tortillas

2 cups filling (shredded cheese, vegetable or meat mixture*)

1 cup chicken stock

Dried California Chiles Enchilada Sauce (above)

1-2 cups shredded cheese

Sliced olives for topping (optional)

Crock Pot Instructions

  1. Coat bottom of crock pot with about 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce.
  2. Place 4 small tortillas or 2-3 larger tortillas over sauce.
  3. Spread 1 cup of filling over the tortillas.
  4. Repeat steps #2 and #3.
  5. End stacking by topping tortillas and meat mixture with tortillas or tortillas strips.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese.  Top with sliced olives if desired.
  7. Cover and cook on “LOW” setting for about 6-8 hours.
  8. Serve immediately or freeze.

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Refrigerate the Dried California Chiles Enchilada Sauce.  Place the sauce in a sealed container and label with current date.  Use on eggs, chilaquiles, burritos, tacos, etc.  When refrigerated, the sauce will last approximately one week.

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Crock Pot Stacked Enchiladas makes an easy and inexpensive meal.  Like most crock pot and casserole dishes, it’s even better the next day as leftovers.  Here is how I packed Mister Jack’s work lunch for next day.

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*Meat Mixture for Enchilada Filling

To save time, I freeze leftover meat filling and use it later for burritos, tacos and casseroles.  I used pulled rabbit for these enchiladas since I already had that stored in my freezer.  The pulled rabbit filling already contained  sauce, spices, onions, garlic and celery–saving me even more time.

Choose shredded or diced:

  • chicken
  • beef
  • pork
  • turkey

If desired, add chopped garlic, onion, celery and spices to meat mixture.













How to Tame a Wild Rose

In Gardening on July 9, 2014 at 11:56 am

As a gardener, this year has hit me hard because I am still recovering from my kidney transplant surgery.  I’m doing well, but my doctors aren’t allowing me to play in the dirt.  If I do anything else, I have to wear a mask and gloves.  Anyway, since I’m not the type of person to indulge in self-pity parties, I took advantage of the recent cloud cover and took down a wild rose that has worked its way into the pomegranate tree in the backyard.

The ongoing California drought has taught me well. Since there seems to be no end to it right now, I still look on the bright side. With the drought and fire season in full force, I am still saving water. I only water my plants, shrubs and trees once a week. If anything dies, that’s all right with me. Now, I’m looking at my home landscaping as an “almost” blank canvas. When I get the doctors’ approval to dig in the dirt, I’m going to incorporate hardscape and drought resistant plants to my yards. Right now, me and Mister Jack have agreed not to have a garden this year. He has allowed the lawn to die.

For me, it’s all about saving water and electricity. Since I grew up on a pear orchard in the Sacramento River Delta, I appreciate what farmers do.  Farmers work so hard and take incredible risks because farming relies on the weather.  The lack of rain and snow has hit California agriculture hard, and many family farming businesses continue to suffer.

So this is my game plan this year, and I’m sticking to it:

1) No annual vegetable garden.
2) Buy produce from California farmers.

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The rose had been ignored for several years.  I have a collection of gloves.  The thorns on a wild rose are just plain nasty.  My worn rose gloves would not do because of the worn leather and holes in the gloves.  I ended up using another pair of gloves.  You cannot be careful enough when working with these thorns.  I can’t walk away from a wild rose without some kind of wound.  Although I admire its roses, there are times when you have to bleed for its beauty.

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This is what I have left.  The summer sun was getting to me, so I quit for the day.  Gardening is always a work in progress, and I’d rather be gardening than doing housework.  We agreed to take the rose down to ground level.  Although Mister Jack offered to move it to another place in the backyard, I have my doubts.  Since our yards have changed since we first moved in, we need to change our landscaping to something that suits our needs.  Although gardening has always been a part of my life, I’m looking at plants and shrubs that need less water and care.


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