Chef Kate’s Blondies

First things first, I’m no food photographer, so there is not a photo to accompany this post.  Take my word for it (without a photo), these are the most ridiculous things you will ever put in your mouth.  Having a bad day?  Make these.  Feeling under the weather?  Blondies will fix you right up.  Need something sweet for no reason at all?  These will work.

I first found this recipe years ago on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, GOOP.  Thank you GOOP!   Chef Kate’s Blondies are the dirtiest thing you could ever eat.  If you are allergic to eggs, nuts, dairy, wheat, gluten, sugar, or whatever, just stop reading now.  But they are homemade and they are the real deal.  My girls ask me to make them quite frequently.  I just made a batch yesterday for my daughter’s bake sale at school.  I proceeded to eat nothing but coffee and blondies until 3 pm.  What a day!

Here is the recipe.

Chef Kate’s Blondies

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (4 sticks)

1.5 cups sugar

1.5 cups brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

4.5 cups all purpose flour

2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

1.5 cups peanut butter chips ( I use a whole bag)

1.5 cups miniature marshmallows (I use half of a 10 oz bag)

Mix butter and sugar in standing mixer until creamy and fluffy.  Add eggs, and mix well.  Then add the vanilla, sea salt, and baking soda and mix until well combined.  Add flour one cup at a time, mixing while adding.  Next add the coconut, peanut butter chips and marshmallows.  Use two pieces of parchment paper to cover a 12×17 cookie sheet, and pour the blondie dough on the parchment.  Spread it out evenly.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350, then cover loosely with foil and bake another 12 minutes.  I usually add a few minutes onto the end without the foil, but you want them to be removed from the oven when the middle looks a little bit undercooked.  Let cool and then cut into bars.  The recipe says you can get 60 bars from this, but I think 36 is more realistic.

Big Rain


We had a big rain last night: 2.2 inches here, which is more rain than we have had in one rain event in a really long time, maybe even in the last three and a half years.  Still some wind and dark skies out there but I think the bulk of the storm is over.  We are heading to the christmas tree farm after school today to choose our tree, a fun family tradition that the girls look forward to even as they are getting older.  Happy Friday!

Daily Dose of Cute

Baby pigs guys!  I had lots of ’em.  They have all left my care and gone to their “forever” homes, but here is a little idea of just how cute they are.

The whole process begins when one of my pregnant sows starts building a nest.  I supply her with clean straw for nesting material, and she begins gathering mouthfuls and building a nest in her house.  This is the first stage of labor.  When her nest is sufficiently fluffy and comfortable, she lies down and stays put until the babies are born.  In my experience, the girls have always begun building their nests in the morning and starting giving birth at dusk.

My pigs are pampered, so I am there with them through the whole process.  I believe that the outcome is better if I’m there to assist.

It’s walking away after they have all been born that is the hardest part.  You see, my sows are huge and the babies are tiny!  Nothing is more heartbreaking than finding a little baby that didn’t get out of the way in time and has suffocated.  But Gloucestershire Old Spot sows are known for being good mothers.  In their last two litters, both of my girls raised all of their babies without any casualties.

I sell the babies as meat pigs or breeders, which ever I have a market for.  My pigs are usually sold before they are born.  Right now I do have a couple of young boars available for purchase, and two gilts (a female that has not had a litter yet) that I purchased as breeders for me but am considering selling to save some pasture space.

If you ever want to visit my pigs I’d be happy to introduce you!  For more information about this fascinating heritage breed hog, visit

Marion is nest building

Marion is nest building

Nerve Wracking!  Tiny babies.

Nerve Wracking! Tiny babies.

Marion in labor in her house

Marion in labor in her house

Two heads snuggled down

Two heads snuggled down

IMG_0774 IMG_0777

Cute baby human holding cute baby pig

Cute baby human holding cute baby pig

The midwives catching baby pigs

The midwives catching baby pigs

A Pirate’s Life For Me…

Some scenes from my day on the Morro Bay Yacht Club “Safety Boat” in Morro Bay Harbor (photos taken with my iPhone):


IMG_1712 IMG_1714I know these photos look pretty chill, but it was a crazy day on the water.  We had two “rescues”: one boat with a ripped main sail, the other lost their rudder.  We also had one woman overboard but she climbed back on before we could get to her and sailed two more races in the cold and wind.  How did I end up on the safety boat, you ask?  Divine intervention.  I committed to crew for my husband, which isn’t saying much because I am no sailor.  When we arrived Simon was chatting with another guy whose wife was actually sane and said hell no she was not sailing in the rain and during a small craft advisory, so Simon offered to crew for him and I was off the hook.  An invitation to ride along on the safety boat sounded like fun so I hopped on.  Even with moments of sheer terror, it was a fun day and I must have done a good job because I’ve been invited back on the safety boat for the regatta on December 14th.

Happy Sunday!


Puffy Clouds

Puffy Clouds

I haven’t posted here in a while…haven’t felt inspired, which happens when I am overbooked and I don’t have the opportunity to sit down in one place long enough to gather my thoughts.  Taking care of three other humans is not an easy job!  But I am making an effort to not be so busy and I plan to write a few entries now and again over the next couple of weeks.  Happy Sunday!

Thank You Hoot n Annie!

Marion and Margaret

Marion and Margaret

My friends Annie and Matt Browne over at Hoot n Annie interviewed me for their blog.  It was published today.  Here is a link to it: “Interview: Hilary Graves of Mighty Nimble“.

This is a blog to follow my friends!  They do a great job of promoting Paso Robles as a whole, but also of educating visitors about this special place that we call home.

Thank you Matt and Annie for interviewing me for your blog!

Green With Farm Envy


I went to a party yesterday at the jaw-droppingly beautiful home of a friend of mine.  She and her husband were showing support for the local food movement here on the Central Coast.   They invited a couple of local breweries to serve beer and hard cider, someone made a few really great salads, and their wood burning pizza oven was churning out delicious pizzas at a fast clip.

At one point I was standing watching the band and a goldfinch landed on my hat!  I stayed super still and enjoyed the moment while everyone around me was jumping around saying “There’s a bird on your hat!”.  Because I didn’t shoo it away they thought I didn’t know it was there.

At the party I found myself surrounded by people who support small farmers, and even look at them with stars in their eyes.  Since I am a small farmer, it was a bit of a celebrity moment.  I didn’t want to ruin it by telling my new-found admirers how hard it is to do what I do.

What a coincidence when I woke up this morning and saw this opinion piece by Bren Smith titled “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers”  in the New York Times.   All of the things that I wanted to say to the party guests who felt Farm Envy are very well stated by Bren here.  Although she failed to point out the copious amounts of laundry this line of work creates.

I spoke to a young guy at the party who was excited to try farming and felt that he had a realistic plan to purchase a $3 million dollar ranch (300 acres) and pay for it by farming some crops, raising grass-fed beef (although he didn’t know what a steer was), and renting a barn on the property for $5k per weekend.  He thought he would make the purchase with a conventional 30 yr fixed rate mortgage loan from the bank.   Ok, I couldn’t let that one pass so I said something about the loan situation, but as for the rest of it?  It wasn’t the right time or place to point out the holes in the plan that this young man had been dreaming about.  And you have to respect that kind of enthusiasm, ambition, take-charge attitude, desire for hard work.  But Bren did a great job of pointing out the challenges for me.  Hopefully he sees her article.

Would I change what I do?  Never.  But don’t go getting all starry-eyed over it.

Farmer’s Market in Vienne

While I was in France I had the opportunity to visit one of the most amazing farmer’s markets I’ve ever seen.  It was beautiful and I was really surprised at how cheap the food was, in particular the cheese.  Feast your eyes on this!


DSCN0083 DSCN0084 DSCN0085 DSCN0086 DSCN0087 DSCN0088 DSCN0090 DSCN0091 DSCN0092 DSCN0093 DSCN0094 DSCN0095 DSCN0096 DSCN0097 DSCN0098AND cute dogs as well!  I bought three “rounds” of cheese, two yogurts and a baguette for 6 Euro.  My friend and I sat on a park bench and ate our breakfast.  (Because I ate cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner while I was in France!)  It was totally delicious and memorable.  If you find yourself in the Northern Rhone, this market is a must on the to-do list.