The Blessing of the Olives in Sonoma

Father Kelly Blesses the OlivesFather Kelly Blesses the Olives – Photo: Russell Johnson

There is a wee bit of Pat O’Brian, Bing Crosby and Spencer Tracy in Fr. Kelly, a cinema-ready Irish priest with a lilt in his voice and, if we are to believe his sermon last weekend, a fondness for olives and the gin Martinis into which they are dropped.

Certainly none of the evil Father Merrin, played by Max Von Sydow in The Exorcist.

Father Michael Kelly blessed the olives, exorcised them from bitterness, offered the cure Saturday at Mission San Francisco Solano in the town of Sonoma, the northernmost of California’s missions.

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A Town Called Wingo

Wingo, Ghost Town, California
Wingo, California (c)2014 Russell Johnson

First it is there, then it isn’t. I have seen it on some maps but not on others. It is a town, I think, in the middle of a swamp between the wine-logged valleys of Sonoma and Napa.

I love its name: Wingo. Sounds like a badass western town full of mean hombres.

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Shooting and Sipping: Photography Lessons in California Wine Country (Video)

Napa Valley Photo Workshop with Joe Baraban

Taking pictures is one thing: lazily lifting your mobile phone and snapping what strikes your fancy.  MAKING PICTURES is something quite different. Ace photographer Joe Baraban should know. He has been making pictures deliberately, carefully setting up each shot, waiting for the right light and capturing masterpieces since the 1970s. Remember film?

We helped organize a week of shooting and sipping, a photography workshop for Joe in California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys and Bodega, near the coast, which Alfred Hitchcock terrorized with “The Birds.” We also followed him and captured some of his tips (and antics) on video.

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Kitchen Memories: Antique kitchen gadgets as art (video)

Food writer Kathleen Thompson Hill with antique eggbeaters

My father held me up to the refrigerator and pointed to the letters.

“Fri-gid-aire,” He sounded it out.

“Fwi-gid-aiwre,” I repeated.

It was my first multi-syllable word. My father took guests into the kitchen to demonstrate how highly-advanced I was.

We all have memories of the kitchen. Licking dough off of a spoon. The first time you were allowed to handle a knife.

Food writer Kathleen Thompson Hill has been collecting kitchen gizmos since the 1980s. They range from a 1790s citrus squeezer to a modern green plastic model shaped like a frog. In between is an enormous variety of choppers, squeezers, beaters, grinders, pulverizers, toasters and other devices designed to torture our foods into edible form.

“Kitchen Memories: The Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection” features a large sampling of her vast collection. I asked Kathleen if she could be considered a hoarder, to which she replied, “Hoarders don’t catalog.”

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