Pan-Fried Fish

Our family friend Wesley went fishing in Bodega Bay, California and caught this ling cod in the Pacific Ocean. I fried it up in a cast-iron skillet, using a recipe that my mother always used whenever our family caught fish during our frequent camping-and-fishing trips. I grew up in a boating family and we enjoyed catching fish and cooking them in a cast-iron skillet on our propane camp stove. We had a red fiberglass boat named the Red Snapper. We would launch our boat and go fishing (and water-skiing!) in various lakes throughout Northern California. My dad taught my sister Ann and me how to clean the fish, and my mom (a native of Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, The Musky Capital of the World) showed us how to cook it. It’s a simple recipe that tastes delicious. This is down-home cooking–even when you’re away from home!


Fish filets, 1 pound

Cornmeal, 1 2/3 cups

Flour, 1/3 cup

A dash of seasoning salt

2 Eggs, beaten (optional)


Oil (I used rice bran oil for this batch of fish, but any vegetable oil will do)

Mix flour, cornmeal and seasoning salt together in one bowl. In another bowl, mix eggs with water. Heat oil in a skillet. Dip each fish filet in the egg/water mixture (or just plain water), then dredge both sides of the filet in the cornmeal/flour/seasoning salt mixture. Place in skillet and cook until golden brown on each side; the fish should be opaque (not translucent like when it’s raw) when you nudge it with a spatula. Remove each filet from pan; place on paper-towel-covered platter that will absorb excess oil.

Serve with tartar sauce (made by mixing together mayonnaise and sweet pickle relish in a small bowl). Fried fish tastes great with sides of rice and steamed vegetables, crusty French bread and your favorite beverage.

Enhance Your Beauty During National Rice Month

September is National Rice Month. Rice is the most widely consumed food staple in the world, but it also fits into the global natural-beauty movement in the form of rice bran oil. Rice bran is a byproduct of the milling process. The bran layer is polished off the grain, resulting in white rice. The rice bran contains an oil that has beneficial health and beauty applications.

As a culinary ingredient, it’s well-documented that rice bran oil is an incredible source of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids and antioxidants that help fight disease and promote good health. Rice bran oil is a source of vitamin E and other micro-nutrients that can help fight free radicals and combat the effects of aging. It’s no wonder the healthy oil that comes from rice bran has become so popular among chefs and home cooks.

Rice bran oil can also be used to soften your skin and condition your hair. You can simply massage it into your skin for added protection against the elements. For shiny tresses, you can rub a couple drops in your hand and run it through your wet hair.

Teresa Scarborough of California Rice Oil Company, based in Fairfield, said she uses rice bran oil to create soaps and lotions, which she enjoys giving to her friends and family during the holidays.

So the next time you’re looking for a natural beauty product, pick up a bottle of rice bran oil. A little goes a long way, so it’s an affordable choice as well as a beautiful way to celebrate National Rice Month!

Thank you first responders!


CalFire firefighters and other first responders deserve heartfelt thanks for protecting the historic Yanci Ranch and other properties when they created a firebreak that prevented the Lightning Complex wildfires from spreading in western Yolo County and beyond. The Yanci Ranch is one of the properties managed by Rominger Brothers Farms. It’s a working ranch where horseback riders can enjoy the scenery amid the beautiful oak woodlands in California’s Coast Range. A historic home is nestled within the foothills on the ranch where the Nate Yanci family once lived. The house was built following a fire on Christmas Day 1935 that destroyed a landmark home that Charles W. Scott built on the site in the mid-19th Century. Last week a CalFire crew drove through the Yanci Ranch to access the wildfire as it burned out of control east of Lake Berryessa. Fortunately, the firebreak spared the historic house and barns, as well as the multitude of wildlife that inhabit the 800-acre ranch. We’re ever so grateful to the first responders who risk their lives to protect the rest of the us.

Stonewall Sporthorse Breeder Michael Muir Loses Home in Fire

This article published in today’s Daily Democrat is about Michael Muir, who bred his Stonewall Sporthorses on the Yanci Ranch near Winters, California in the 1990s. He is featured in my upcoming book about the history of the Yanci Ranch that is pending publication.

Descendant of John Muir loses home in fires

My Horse-Rescue Book

Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming non-fiction book:

Feral Horses

Two young, muscular stallions, driven by their undeniable reproductive instinct, suddenly reared up and violently struck each other with their front hooves. They were in a territorial fight to establish dominance over hundreds of acres of pasture and a band of fertile mares that were in heat. Situated in a remote meadow between two spring-grass-covered hills, amid the peacefulness of a gentle breeze, the big, black stallion and the black-leopard-spotted stallion tried to overpower the other, alternately kicking and biting. Despite their open wounds, they persisted for several minutes, completely focused on the other. It was a primal act of nature. They fought and whinnied as they tried to assert their authority, until the black stallion finally retreated, putting an end to the bloody battle.

While this scene evokes images of wild horses fighting for domination, it was actually an abandoned herd of domestic horses that were left behind on a ranch that our family acquired when we bought the property from our neighbors in 2013.

What had begun as a vision for a sporthorse breeding program devolved into a desperate situation when the business partners—friends since childhood–split up their operation. The horse breeder took some of the foundation horses with him and re-established his successful breeding program elsewhere. The partner who owned the 800-acre property kept the remaining horses and allowed them to free-breed there.

The landowner and his 15-years-younger wife  turned out the remaining horses–which included high-quality Appaloosas, Percherons, and warmbloods—and gradually introduced other breeds, including Mustangs, off-the-track Thoroughbreds, Paints, ponies and Quarter horses. During the 17 years the ranch supported horses, it is suspected that hundreds of foals were produced. There were all kinds of Appaloosas: leopard-spotted, Appys with snow blankets on their hindquarters, and few-spot Appys that looked solid-white from a distance. There were white, black, dark bay and light bay horses, buckskins, duns, chestnuts, pintos and palominos, and a number of equines with unusual patterns such as Pintaloosas. The majority of them were not handled, which resulted in feral horses of all sizes, shapes and colors, running free on the ranch.

The horses grazed the grass on the hilly property. But a drought paralleled some tough times for the landowners and in 2012, the county animal-control service got involved and required removal of the horses, a number thought to be about 200. The actual number was impossible to confirm as there were several different bands of horses living on various sections of the ranch, which was situated in the foothills of Northern California’s Coast Range. Since the horses were untamed and an economic recession was in full swing, it was difficult to find homes for them. At the time of the liquidation, there were some benevolent people in the community who adopted a few horses. The majority of the feral horses were hauled off by a buyer who specialized in challenging situations such as this. He allegedly took about 70 horses to an auction in the San Joaquin Valley, while the other 40 went to out-of-state auctions and undisclosed local brokers.

Twenty-three horses were left behind when our family and the Anderson family jointly purchased the property in March 2013. Seven mares quickly foaled, bringing the total to 30 horses. There was speculation that the remaining horses simply evaded capture and hid in the hills.

We planned to graze sheep on the property, which meant that we needed to remove all the horses. One horse consumes roughly the same amount of forage as 10 sheep, and our sheep production would provide the income we needed to pay for the land. It was not economically feasible for us to keep the horses.

My husband called the previous owner’s wife and told her they needed to remove the remaining horses. We gave them an extra week of access to the ranch so they could retrieve their horses. The week came and went, but no one showed up to get the remaining horses. Some of their friends stopped by the ranch, unaware that the owners had relocated elsewhere, but nobody arrived to take away any horses. We had no choice but to make immediate plans to take care of the remaining herd. Our plans included capturing the forsaken horses, several of which were bony and emaciated, and finding new homes for them, which turned out to be quite a challenge.

Award-winning show pig

My 14-year-old son recently showed his market hog at the Yolo County 4-H Spring Show at the Yolo County Fairgrounds in Woodland. He named his pig “Cow,” which is a reflection of my son’s dry sense of humor. His spotted pig won the title of “Reserve Champion of All Other Breeds.” My son was rather pleased at his first venture into the world of show pigs. He’s already thinking of new names for his next hog!

Our Guard is up for the Guinda Fire

There is wildfire burning nearby and we’re keeping a close eye on it from our farm north of Winters, Calif. It’s called the Guinda Fire, and it has thus far burned more than 2,000 acres of rangeland in the Capay Valley, according to our 27-year-old son Justin, who recently became a volunteer firefighter in Winters. Some of our friends who live in the area have been evacuated. The temperature reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit today with a gusty north wind. The fire is spreading south and southwest, toward Lake Berryessa.