Camping During COVID — Part 6 — The Lovely Walnut Grove

Dear Friends and Followers,

Gourmet Girl Gail here writing from windy Santa Barbara. We trust you are remaining safe and healthy. Boy, what a year 2020 was! And here we are, already six weeks or so into 2021 with a bit of hope on the horizon. Even though the vaccine rollout is slow and spotty in many states (like California), people are getting vaccinated, and COVID is apparently slowing. Let’s hope this continues and we can begin living a BRAND NEW, new normal, especially in the camping and RVing sense. Although I’ve always thought it fairly safe to camp and RV during COVID, there are a few important things to consider. Here are some tips from the folks at RV Lifestyle.

The Lovely Walnut Grove located in Ballard, California, in the Santa Ynez Valley, was a finalist in the nominations for the Best Hipcamps to Visit in 2021. Judges took a look at all bookings, reviews, and ratings to identify top-performing listings that qualify as nominees for the Hipcamp Awards. This grove has quite a history, which has been written about many times. Here’s a local article you might enjoy! And some surprising facts, including that walnuts are a nutritional powerhouse and prehistoric.

There are only two sites available at this Hipcamp, and we stayed in both because we wanted to extend our trip. Here we are setting up in site #1. There are no water or electric hookups (generators allowed), but it’s the tranquil setting, even in winter, that blew us away. Except in the morning when a hundred crows showed up cawing and scavenging walnuts on the ground for their breakfast. Can’t blame them for that!

The walnut grove has a farm stand on the edge of its property. Because of COVID, it was closed for most of our stay, but when it opened up for a few hours on a Saturday morning, we hightailed it over there and did some holiday shopping! They had hulled walnuts, candied ones, and walnuts in their shells, plus homemade ornaments made out of walnut tree wood. Walnuts are notoriously hard to crack. When growing up, my mother would always have a bowl of nuts with nutcrackers on the coffee table for our family and guests to enjoy. I remember the Brazil nut as being the hardest nut to crack, next to the walnut. I struggled to get that Brazil nut opened, but I loved a challenge and, more importantly, the taste of the meat inside.

Because we didn’t have shower facilities at the campsite, I called our dear friend and Gourmet-Girl-at-Large, Seyburn Zorthian, part owner of Buttonwood Farm and Winery, which is a stone’s throw away from the walnut grove, and she offered her mom’s house on the property for a much needed shower. It was a memorable afternoon, feeling squeaky clean, strolling up to the pond, and sharing a glass of great wine overlooking Buttonwood!

Of course, there’s lots one can do with walnuts in the culinary sense. One of my favorites is to add a few walnuts atop my pancakes. I’ve often made pesto with walnuts and it’s delicious.

Do you have any favorite recipes for walnuts or maybe a tale to tell about this versatile nut? If so, let us know here and we’ll share it in a future post.

In the meantime, we wish you the very best and look forward to keeping in touch with all things adventurous and tasty.

Bon appetit,

Gail, Denise and Lindsey



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