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Use Zukes Now: Low Sugar Chocolate Zucchini Cake

SkypePhoto_20160731_17_14_22Its that time of year- too many zukes and patty pan squash – I made this Low Sugar Chocolate Zucchini Cake for my sons’ 21 B’day – remarkably like fudgy brownies and hugely delicious.   Not too sweet since I reduced the original King Arthur recipe’s sugar requirement

Uses 3 cups shredded Zucchini

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup  All-Purpose Baking Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons decaf coffee, optional but tasty
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini or patty pan squash


  1. Set oven to Preheat at 350degrees
  2. Spray a 9″ x 13″  or 12 in round pan  with PAM  cooking spray
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, buttermilk and salt until smooth.
  4. Beat in the eggs.
  5. Mix in the zucchini
  6. Stir together n the baking soda, baking powder, and the flour, then stir into the oil mixture above
  7. Add the cocoa and espresso powder, mixing until smooth.
  8. Then pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top springs back lightly when touched, and it seems set.
  10. or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Remove the cake from the oven, Cool on a rack.
  12. Yield: 24 servings.


  • 1 pint whipped cream plus  ¼ cup cocoa powder plus ¼ cup sugar and 3tablespoons hot water to dissolve cocoa – then chill prior to adding to whipped cream



Recipe compliments of Spring Hill Cottage   enjoy visiting our vacation rental cottage in Grass Valley CA



Support Local Grass Valley Businesses:

It’s a great little town in the foothills, with personality and punch. Small specialty shops line both sides of the main street and regular festive events draw crowds from all over the state ( maybe even all over the world!). We are coming up on summer time and though the rivers, forests, lakes and parks are often the driving factor in bringing  guests from the far boundaries of the state to our area, our fine dining, wineries and original shops  keep them well fed and happy.

Draft Horse Event

Draft Horse Event


Below are a few  photos of local scenes that add to the  charm of the Grass Valley area.

Grass Valley Lazy dog candy and licorice shop

Lazy Dog Candy, Ice Cream and Licorice Shop

Humpty Dumpty Sign

Humpty Dumpty Dining

lucchesi winery16

Inside Lucchesi Vinyard tasting room down town


lucchesi winery10Lucchesi vineyard tasting room downtown

Spring Hill Cottage says…

“We’ll be adding more businesses to our  Grass Valley business  section – feel free to let us know which businesses you’d like us to add first!”


You are invited to stay at Spring Hill Cottage, Grass Valley CA


water feature in garden park

Japanese Garden Great Peace, and Good Ideas for Water Features

Parks, Gardens, with ponds waterfalls and other water features bring out the best of spring time. Awhile ago we traveled to San Diego and walked through the Japanese friendship garden in Balboa Park. I was surprised to see the curators were planning a really grand expansion.  It was a lovely gray day, the plum blossoms were just starting and while coming from Grass Valley it seemed a little crowded, it was a peaceful walk with a gentle down slope to the “river” and a gentle up slope to the coy pond. Enjoy the photos below:



Bamboo “Fountain”IMG_0375

Notice the stepping stones and ” subtle seating”


meditative with a central focal point and varied texture


Indoors, relaxing and peaceful, warm tones, varied textures

IMG_0378The gray weather seemed to provide even deeper peace



notice the overlapping opaque screens and the framed view – which would be more balanced and clean without the visitors, but less interesting






directing water with multi-linked and overlapping chains is clever and elegant


even with crowds, the Balboa Park Japanese Garden feels peaceful


Symmetry, assymetry, a  focal point and peace


What is this and why is it here?

hint… where does the rain water from the chain land?



Bamboo, used for everything is neatly formed into a railing system at the Japanese Garden



Here you see the extended bamboo rail / garden barrier


and of course the coy pond, peaceful in the gentle rain….

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Midwinter Gardening to Grow Salad Greens. What seeds work?

IMG_3428 (1)I am ready to grow things in my garden. My seeds are calling me to action.

So the warm weather in our part of the California foothills, has reached springtime warms, but we still know that a cold front can drop temperatures down to the 20’s  even though this week it’s mid sixties.    The answer, for frustrated gardeners is growing micro-greens. Since I was looking it up for me, I thought I’d share it with you too!


The most common  and delicious food sprouts include the seeds from the following seed groups*:



  • Cabbage family (Brassica); broccoli, cabbage, watercress, mustard, mizuna, radish, and daikon (kaiware sprouts), rocket (arugula), tatsoi, turnip.
  • Cereals: wheat, maize (corn), rice, barley, and rye (oats are usually fermented or heat treated and have a really tough hull so skip oats
  • Legumes: pea family: alfalfa, clover, fenugreek, lentil, pea, chickpea, mung bean and soybeans
  • Oilseeds: sesame, sunflower, linseed, peanut.
  • onions (Allium) – cannot really distinguish between microgreens.onion, leek, green onion (me-negi in Japanese cuisine)
  • Other vegetables and herbs: spinach, lettuce, milk thistle, lemon grass
  • Parsley family (Umbelliferous) vegetables  – these may be used more as micro greens than sprouts. carrot, celery, fennel, parsley.
  • Pseudocereals: amaranth and buckwheat
    • 220px-Organic_mixed_beans_shoots

For sprouting especially, but also for growing micro- greens I suggest buying food grade seeds from the grocery store, food co-op, or specialty organic food store.
*sourced from wikipedia
What method do you use to sprout seeds or grow  micro-greens?

Stay in Grass ValleyIf you are looking for some place to stay while in the Grass valley area you may consider Spring Hill Cottage in Grass Valley. This quiet 3 bedroom 2 bath home comes with a private in-ground pool and lush perennial gardens and rents by the day or week and provides a vacation like experience for small groups or families.Spring Hill Cottage, flowers and Skies Like us on Facebook

Best Dutch Licorice Selection in California? Lazy Dog Ice cream shop – no kidding!

Lazy Dog Ice Cream Shop : Famous for Dutch Licorice: 20+ Kinds
Two years ago I posted on Lazy Dog’s dutch licorice selection as being the best in Grass Valley.  It seems that during the last two years they have expanded their offerings and now offer – on site over 20 types of dutch licorice. (In addition they also offer fresh chocolates, ice cream,  gelato etc). So in the interest of Displaced Dutch people that like salt licorice  – please find an update…

lazy dog candy shop small

Lazy Dog shop in Grass Valley (front window view) has more than ice cream to offer: Anise Bears, double salt coins, licorice cats, licorice trucks and those little sweet salty cubes are all on the shelves.

Yesterday,  (Halloween)  I stopped by and this is what i found:

IMG_2750 IMG_2751 IMG_2753

Licorice Bears at candy store in Grass Valley


Licorice photo in grass valley

Licorice lovers invited to Lazy dog in Grass Valley

Lazy dog hag has a wonderful selection of dutch licorice

Lazy dog has has a wonderful selection of dutch licorice

This selection ALSO features:

  • Honey Licorice,
  • Red licorice,
  • Australian licorice,
  • Swedish licorice

So if you are from the Netherlands originally, or for  any  licorice lover,  and IF you are driving through Northern California, stop by Lazy Dog Ice Cream Shop in Grass Valley. You can get the flush cheeked joy of a licorice fix with out any hassle – an you will be glad you did.

Stay in Grass Valley

If you are looking for some place to stay while in the Grass valley area you may consider Spring Hill Cottage in Grass Valley. This quiet 3 bedroom 2 bath home comes with a private in-ground pool and lush perennial gardens and rents by the day or week and provides a vacation like experience for small groups or families.

Spring Hill Cottage, flowers and Skies


 Like us on Facebook


Raspberries are Ripe and Prolific

This year is a raspberry wonder for us! Everywhere you look fresh raspberries abound. The fence, the trellis, random support poles, tomato cages and the outside gate are all fair game for the raspberries that have made their home at Spring Hill Cottage. (see photos below) Fragrant and lush, our variaties are primarily thornless and range in color from golden yellow, to salmon to blushing rose. As far as flavor, they are all most delicious, fresh from the stalk, with golden sunlight warming your shoulders.

See Spring Hill Cottage garden raspberry photos below:

rasp pic

fence rasp Green chemistry tips Green Plant with raspberry   red ras yellow raspberry

Favorite way to eat them?  With fresh unflavored yogurt, or if I’m feeling really decadent, I go for layered greek yogurt, raspberries and whipped cream.

We invite you to reserve Spring Hill Cottage today through our VRBO SITE reservation portal


Sierra Nevada Hospital Patient and Guest and Family Housing Offered

If you are coming in from out of town or have a family member staying at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and want to stay within walking distance to the hospital, consider  Spring Hill Cottage, which abuts the hospital grounds and provides a relaxing atmosphere with gardens, a large deep end pool, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen, living room, den and formal dining, gas fireplace and more.

We invite you to reserve Spring Hill Cottage today through our VRBO SITE reservation portal

Out by the pool, looking towards th house   Lilac Close up Rent a House with flowers

Wind Chimes in the Garden   Grass Valley Garden Wall

Enjoy a weekend at Spring Hill Cottage

Vacation gardening Beautiful garden plants

Living room is cozy and relaxing

Living room is cozy and relaxing

Lazy Boy chair is comfy in what ever room it ends up in
Lots of natural light and local view from the living room at Spring Hill Cottage

Lots of natural light and local view from the living room at Spring Hill Cottage

Clematis blooming in April


Like us  on facebook to be eligible to win a free 2 day stay at Spring Hill Cottage!

or go to our front page at


Lodging near Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital 3/2 House with Pool and Gardens

Families and small groups will be happy to know that there is comfortable lodging in a private rental house just steps away from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.  Spring Hill Cottage borders the wilder part of the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital  grounds and is a comfy 4 block walk  to the Main access areas of the hospital.  The light, bright property features a 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a fully appointed kitchen. Easily sleeps 6, with pull out beds and cots for an additional 4 people. There’s a sparkling pool, lots of natural gardens and fruit trees  in the back yard. In the garage, guests can play ping pong,  and there is room for 2-6 cars out front.

kids in pool at night

kids in pool at night

vacation cottage pool

Vacation rental Spring Hill Cottage

Vacation Rental Spring Hill Cottage

Casual Pool Gathering at Vacation Rental



Grass Valley Vacation Cottage living roomDiningHolidayTree_DSCN1117

We invite you to reserve Spring Hill Cottage today through our VRBO SITE reservation portal We offer special discounts for hospital physicians, staff, patients and technicians.

Welcome April, It Feels Like Summer, and the Pool is 70!

Clematis blooming in April

As you can see above the clematis

is already out and we expect lots of bloom by mid May!

Well for many it was a long winter, however it was mostly mild here in Grass Valley, and we are  feeling ready to plant. The Apricot tree out front has 37 little apricots that are 1 inch long, green, and fuzzy.  We like to roll out a warm welcome to our guests this  summer with an open house and free tomato seedling give- away. The date will be announced  by May 1, 2015. It will be held during the month of may and we expect to have 5,000  rainbow mix heirloom tomatoes available for any one that comes by the open house. At this point we are shooting for a May 9 date.

Photos - 4617

Come by and get your free tomato seedlings at our open house May 9, 2015


 The bees are wild about the lavender in full bloom at the cottage

So we are looking forward to showing off our simple, but abundant spring gardens, and you can come by and peek in the house too, to see if a vacation rental is right for you, your friends, your families and your business associates.

stop by and say hi!

Like us on facebook to reserve a free heirloom tomato seedling

Best Selection of Dutch Licorice at Lazy Dog in Grass Valley

Where else but Grass Valley  can you find an old pink car in a candy shop?

Known for gourmet candies,rich chocolates, and homemade ice cream, Lazy dog also has the Best Selection of Dutch Licorice that I have yet seen in Northern California.  This may be a biased viewpoint but seriously i come from good Dutch stock and for  me  double salted licorice is a pretty serious addiction in that once I start, its hard to stop.


If you hail from Northern Europe, Lazy Dog definitely puts Grass Valley on the map  of places to visit.  No  this is not a paid ad,  nor do i know the owner,   I view this as an educational piece for those who really go for salt licorice!lazy dog candy shop small

Lazy Dog in Grass Valley


dutch licorice anise blocks?

dutch licorice anise blocks?   we will take  some photos of their selection when we go agiain!

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 8.18.49 PM

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Lazy Dog is at  111 Mill St. Grass Valley, CA 95945


Spring Hill Cottage is a 3 bedroom vacation getaway in Grass Valley with a private  pool, outdoor grill, gardens, parking, mid century modern decor and a fully appointed kitchen

We invite you to reserve Spring Hill Cottage today through our VRBO SITE reservation portal
.Like us on Facebook for a chance to win a free stay at Spring Hill Cottage!