This Was Going to Be About Artichokes

This was going to be a post about artichokes. Farm-fresh artichokes that we bought on our way down the California coast to Carmel. How I steamed them up on the little gas stove in our cabin in the mountains. How I melted the butter. How I prepared - to be amazed.

But to my (heartbreaking) disappointment - they weren't edible. The inside was full of prickliness. Pretty, but not so tasty. Alas.

So instead, this'll be a story about sunshine. And beaches. And redwoods. 'Cause I'm adaptable like that.

San Fran and Big Sur and the Monterey Peninsula have been a great end to our trip ... 

We met lovely people (Mike and Elizabeth, this means you!), had incredible sunshine and summer-like days, and even managed to squeak out a fire in the woodburning stove on our last night here. (Yes, I would have been slightly disappointed had this unseasonable heat prevented my fire ... ). We saw otters and kelp forests and sea cliffs and roads that were not only jaw-dropping but might just be car-dropping if you weren't careful ... 

And then (on this last leg of our trip), we'd return to our cozy little cabin for some wine and Scrabble and those last few rays of daylight ...

(and Shrek, for Nelle). Shrek, at least 4 times in the 4 nights we were here ... (but hey, it's a holiday.)

And today, our last day in California - we met Big Sur itself.

And though it lacked the tang of artichoke, I made a pretty awesome last-night salad out of all our leftovers. No photos, sorry. But I will tell you about it. Just in case you ever feel like throwing all that stuff out at the end of a trip ...

Last-Night Salad
The ingredients
Leftover lettuce (aka mixed greens)
Leftover eggs
Leftover bread and butter and garlic
Leftover onion
Leftover cheese
Leftover veggies (we used sweet potatoes and tomatoes)
The dregs of the balsamic dressing we bought upon arrival

The process
1. Boil whatever needs boiling (such as the potatoes, and the eggs). Chop and cool. Set aside.

2. Thinly slice the onion and caramelise it in copious amounts of butter. And by caramelise, I mean cook over low heat until nice and brown and bubbly and yum. If you happen to be packing (or writing blog posts) at the same time, try not to let the onions get (shall we say?) blackened. If so, remove the blackened onions and just use the brown ones.

3. Butter slices of bread and saute until golden. Remove the slices and rub each golden side with a clove of garlic you've sliced in half.

4. Now, assemble. First - the mixed greens. Go on - fill the plate! Top this bottom layer (as attractively as possible) with the veggies, eggs, and onions. Then, the garlic toasts (2 per plate is best). Stack them up nice and high. These? Think of them as your giant croutons. Grate cheese over them ... so it gets all melty. Oh, yeah. Then drizzle the whole thing with your leftover balsamic dressing.

5. Enjoy with the rest of the drinks you can't take home with you because they're too heavy (or at least that's what you tell yourself).

The cost
Well, considering you were going to throw all this stuff out ... this buys you major brownie points!

And ending on garlic? Well, they're no artichokes, I know. But, the garlic capital of the world isn't so far from here ...

Thanks California, for a great end to a great holiday.
Amanda xx

PS. Funny. I just realised last year we took our little family holiday to the Olympic peninsula (you know, that region of the States with hardly any sunshine and lots of fictional vampires?). And this year? Garlic-land. Just interesting. That's all.

NOTE: I'm having some issues with my comment form. I love hearing from you! So if you don't see where to leave a comment, just click on the individual post and it'll appear at the bottom. It just doesn't seem to behave on the front-page. Thanks!


  1. What a wonderful, dreamy, lovely post! Gorgeous photos and great memories. I love California too. x

  2. Thanks Steph! We're heading home now ... just 13 hrs on a plane to go ... :)

  3. Ah, you mean you're supposed to throw out the blackened onions? Hmm, maybe that's my problem. Well, I've got my family all adapted to it now (they think that's what caramelized onions are supposed to look like) so no going back now! I do think it's interesting that you're in the land of garlic immediately after visiting the land of vampires. I wonder where you'll go next? Maybe the vatican for some holy water?

    Loved this post. Sometimes a side journey can be much better than the intended destination. Don't you think?

  4. Somehow, didn't see where to leave comments for the artichoke post. Your photos are amazing. I love a night of wine and scrabble and also the concept of a last night salad.

  5. What a great idea. These look amazing. I haven't eaten breakfast yet and now my stomach is grumbling.

  6. @Lauren Thanks for the compliment! It was a great night :)

  7. too bad! the artichoke pics are so nice :)


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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx