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Kale – Nero Toscano

Cold-hardy and resilient, kale is an easy member of the cabbage family to grow. In Sunnyvale (USDA Zone 9) plant the seeds in November (right before the winter rains). You can set out plants quite early in spring as long as you protect the young plants from severe cold winds with a cover. They will grow steadily for months until …

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Coast Range Fence Lizard

Coast Range Western Lizard

Our Sunnyvale garden has a resident Coast Range Fence Lizard. He has been spotted near the parking strip in front, on the side yard, and in and around the back yard. Yeah, that’s only one hundred feet but to a 3-inch long lizard that is the back-40. Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii is a subspecies of the Western fence lizard. This taxon, …

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Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

If you’ve been hearing an endless string of 10 or 15 different birds singing outside your house, you might have a Northern Mockingbird in your yard. These slender-bodied gray birds pour all their color into their personalities. They sing almost endlessly, even sometimes at night, and they flagrantly harass birds that intrude on their territories, flying slowly around them or …

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Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus

Christmas cactus can be grown outdoors in Sunnyvale. Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) and Thanksgiving cactus are popular, fall- and winter-flowering houseplants native to Brazil, and are available in a wide variety of colors including red, rose, purple, lavender, peach, orange, cream, and white. These Schlumbergera species grow as epiphytes among tree branches in shady rain forests, and their pendulous stems …

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Caprese Salad

Caprese salad

Caprese salad (Italian: Insalata Caprese, meaning “Salad of Capri”) is a simple salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. Balsamic vinegar is a nice addition. It was made to resemble the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. In Italy, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a …

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American Crow

Crows

The Crow is a very common bird in the neighborhood but rarely appears in my backyard. The most likely reason is that the crow has decided there is not enough room to evaluate threats and escape. We often see crows in the cypress trees in a neighbor’s yard. American Crows are familiar over much of the continent: large, intelligent, all-black …

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Chile – Padron

Padrón peppers (Spanish: pimientos de Padrón) are a variety of peppers (Capsicum annuum) from the municipality of Padrón in the province of La Coruña, northwestern Spain. These are small peppers, with a color ranging from bright green to yellowish green. Their peculiarity lies on the fact that, while their taste is usually mild, a minority (10-25%) are particularly hot. Whether …

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Fried Padron Peppers

padron pepper, chile

Padron peppers are usually eaten fried in olive oil and with a sprinkle of coarse salt that not only enhances their flavor, but adds a nice crunch. No need for any other garnish, simplicity and quality food at its best. There’s a Spanish saying: Pimientos de Padrón, unos pican y otros no (Padron peppers, some are hot and some are …

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Cilantro

Cilantro plant

Coriander/cilantro is a fast-growing, aromatic herb that grows in the cooler weather of spring and fall. This herb is used to flavor many recipes and the entire plant is edible. The leaves are called cilantro and the seeds are called coriander. A common problem with cilantro is its fast growing cycle. When the weather warms up, many herbs want to …

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Pico de Gallo

pico de gallo, tomato, onion, chile, , cilantro,

Pico de gallo is used to describe a wide variety of Mexican regional salsas, which are always made with fresh cubed fruit and/or vegetables. The most common version is made with any red tomato, white onion and green chiles and is sometimes called “salsa mexicana” or “salsa bandera,” because the colors in the salsa represent the Mexican flag. Read more …

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