Monday, 22 July 2024


LAKEPORT – A Willits woman remains in the Lake County Jail after allegedly being found in possession of a stolen vehicle, endangering a child and attempting to evade arrest.

Rachel Elizabeth Gregg, 23, was arrested by Lake County Sheriff's deputies last Saturday night following an incident at Konocti Vista Casino outside of Lakeport.

Captain James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported Monday that two deputies were completing a security check at the casino at about 10:20 p.m. Jan. 31 when they observed Gregg driving slowly around the casino parking lot in the dark with only her parking lights on.

Suspecting Gregg may be driving while impaired, the deputies attempted to conduct an enforcement stop on the vehicle, said Bauman.

As Gregg continued to drive around the parking lot, allegedly ignoring the deputies emergency lights and siren, sheriff’s dispatch reported the 1992 Toyota Camry Gregg was driving was reported stolen earlier that day in Willits, Bauman reported.

With Gregg continuing to refuse to yield to the deputies’ lights, one of the patrol vehicles was maneuvered in front of the stolen vehicle to force it to stop, Bauman said.

Once stopped, deputies approached the stolen vehicle on foot and found there was an infant child in the front passenger seat, said Bauman. The deputies ordered Gregg out of the car but she just shook her head and drove off again.

Bauman said Gregg continued to evade the deputies as she exited the casino parking lot and led them onto Soda Bay Road, turning onto Yellow Hammer Lane, and then onto Red Feather Lane where she was forced to stop at the cul-de-sac. Gregg immediately took the infant, later identified to be her 11-month-old daughter, and exited the car.

After Gregg initially refused to surrender the child to deputies, they were able to safely take the child from her and after a brief attempt to resist their attempt to arrest her, she was taken into custody without further incident, said Bauman.

During a routine search incident to Gregg’s arrest, deputies located a purse and cell phone in the back of the car that had been reported stolen from a parked vehicle a very short distance away on Meadow Drive earlier that evening. Bauman said a credit card belonging to the owner of the stolen vehicle was also retrieved from Gregg’s pants pocket.

Gregg was booked at the Lake County Jail for felony possession of a stolen vehicle, felony possession of stolen property, felony child endangerment, felony evading a peace officer, and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

She remains in custody with bail set at $25,000. Bauman said her 11-month-infant daughter was turned over to Child Protective Services.


T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.


I received an email from a colleague this week that contained a job posting from Caltrans about an open exam for the position of toll collector. I chuckled a bit upon receiving the notice. You see, I was a toll collector on the SFOBB from for about eight years starting in 1984. Back when the toll was a whopping 75 cents!

For the superstitious and/or the faint of heart, you may take solace in the fact that on Oct. 17, 1989, your CyberSoulMan was ensconced inside Toll Booth number 13 when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit. As you can tell, I’ve lived a few seasons since then.

I’d like to share with you some memories I have of famous folks I’ve tolled. For those of you born since Loma Prieta, you may not recognize some of these names I’m about to drop. You may take notes from this soliloquy on celebrity nuances from a guy that had his hand out. It’s just a humorous look at how some past Bay Area notables, forked it over at the Bay Bridge.


Joe Alioto cruises up in a silver Volvo. We smile hello. A $100 bill is proffered.

“Nobody would break it in Oakland,” he sheepishly explains. He thanks me as he eases toward the metering lights, out of reach of my voice.

“Hush, Mr. Mayor, methinks,” chiding him telepathically, you’re still in Oakland!


Accomplished artist and poet Maya Angelou whizzed up to my booth well before midnight one New Year's Eve past. My literary jealousies flared up, then subsided when somehow my cerebral muse of logic informed me that I was graced with the presence greatness. I gladly pay her toll. She’s flattered. Now, I too know why the caged bird sings …


I became cordial with several Bay Area television news journalists who passed through my booth. Anybody remember Van Amburg? He was polite and tight. In the days of the 75 cents toll, he never said, as blue collar people frequent did, “Keep the change.”

Gary Radnich was cool. He’d sail through in his Jag, wearing those dark, dark Ray Bans. He’d always joke that he couldn’t talk to me if I was wearing shades …

Bob McKenzie from Channel 2 News has the distinction of being the only famous person I had in the lane with no funds. People sometimes ask, “Whaddya do when someone has no money?”

We’d write what were called No Fund slips which were agreements to pay within five days. While I was writing his, McKenzie told me a great Jamaican Blue Mountain story. It wasn’t about the coffee …


I had taken actor Danny Glover’s toll three times before I recognized him. He’d hide behind the sun visor. Didn’t want to be recognized. I got him though.

“Excuse me. Mr. Glover? Danny Glover the actor?”

He nods.

“Excuse me sir, but you don’t have to hide. I just want to tell you that I enjoy your work.”

He grins.

“Thanks. See you later …”


I’ll never forget the Sunday morning I was taking toll when, in the distance I spy a yellow Rolls Royce creeping cautiously up to my booth. Lo and behold – Richard Pryor, white knuckles and all. He was gripping that steering wheel so tightly that power steering fluid was oozing from his hands!

He nervously asked me for directions to Highway 1. I shook his hand twice. He had a very fine young lady, kind of semi reclined in the back seat. She was like, posing for a photo shoot. The camera was the back of Richard’s head.

RIP, Mr. Pryor ...


The great Rock drummer and vocalist “Machine Gun” Buddy Miles was so surprised that I recognized him that he almost lost control of his gold-packaged, white Benz for a moment.

I was so intrigued by the way he intoned the phrase, “HOWAREYA,” into one word that I inserted it into my toll collecting vocabulary and used it hundreds of times daily.


Jazz songstress Kitty Margolis has personalized plates that say, “Scat It.” When she drove up, some hard bop just happened to be on the radio in my booth. Noticing the plates, I said, “Can you scat to that?” She couldn’t hear it, though I turned up the volume. Too much noise. But she tried. She’s good …


Big El Dorado with a Southern California license plate frame. Middle-aged guy with a curl and receding hairline. Hey, it’s electric saxophonist Eddie Harris. I recognize him just as the toll transaction is complete. I call his name. His face lights up as he eases toward the city …


A tale of two beamers

MC Hammer’s beamer came through my lane once. He wasn’t driving, nor was he a passenger …

Mr. October Reggie Jackson’s beamer almost flew through my toll lane. I thought I was an air traffic controller for a moment. CyberSoulTower to Reggie, come in please. There’s a flashing red light here. You’ve got to stop. Thanks buddy.

Alas, the twisted portals through which we beam!

And speaking of baseball, All-Star second baseman Joe Morgan sat for hours one morning, stuck in the mud off the frontage road adjacent to the toll plaza. I think it was some kind of weird Hall of Fame ritual …


Car pooling is not conducive to everyone’s psyche. It should be, but some people have to ride solo.

One person who rode solo through my booth was the legendary New York Yankee, Joe DiMaggio. Do you recall the somber face the camera would pan to at major baseball events? Could you car pool with someone who deadpanned like that? What would you talk about? None of my business.


And finally ...

Powerful California politician Willie Brown would drive up in a hurry, frequently with a scowl on his face and literally try to seemingly take my hand off when he paid the toll. It was like a bad marriage. The more I tried to be polite, the ruder he acted.

Power is hard to fathom sometimes. I think he should have car pooled with Angela Davis. She was an excellent toll payer …


That’s it for now. The incidents just described were real once upon a time. As is the notice to apply for the toll collector job. The deadline is Feb. 3. Check with Caltrans. And if you get the job, try not to breathe the fumes. Pretty damn toxic.

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


Upcoming cool events:

Don’t forget Morris Day & The Time at Cache Creek Casino on Valentine's Day at 8 p.m.

The Teeny Tucker interview will be rebroadcast on on Tuesday, Feb. 3. Name of the Show? In Blues Spot. It airs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The interview airs at 3 p.m.

T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at


LAKE COUNTY – Super Bowl Sunday is another opportunity to get together and celebrate with friends and family. However, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) wants to make sure your game plan includes designating a non-drinking driver before the big game.

On Super Bowl Sunday 2008, 12 people were killed in alcohol-involved collisions – three times the daily average in California, the agency reported.

These deaths, CHP said, were in addition to the 167 people injured in alcohol-related crashes throughout the state.

“We're not discouraging the celebration,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “We're asking fans to make the right call, so they won't find themselves benched in a jail cell.”

CHP officers statewide arrested 403 motorists for driving under the influence (DUI) on Super Bowl Sunday last year.

This year the CHP, along with police and sheriff's departments, will be deploying special DUI patrols through the Avoid Campaign across the state to lower alcohol-involved deaths and injuries.

Law enforcement invites the public to help by calling 911 to report a suspected drunk driver. Callers should be prepared to provide dispatchers with a description of the vehicle, its location and direction of travel.

“A DUI is no 5-yard penalty,” Farrow warned. “It's something that will follow you around for years to come.“

In addition to designating a driver, the CHP encourages motorists to wear a seat belt and comply with the speed limit.


CLEARLAKE – A Clearlake man has been arrested for child endangerment following an incident late last week in which he allegedly left his children unattended in a potentially dangerous situation.

Lt. Mike Hermann reported that Clearlake Police officers were dispatched to the Lakeview Terrace Apartments at approximately 10:24 p.m. Jan. 29 after a caller reported hearing his neighbor’s children screaming and crying for the past hour.

When deputies arrived at the apartments, the neighbor advised that he had become concerned for the well-being of the children after he was unable to get an answer at the door, Hermann said.

Officers got to the residence and were able to hear children screaming inside the location but found that the front door had been chained and blocked with an item later determined to be a reclining chair. Hermann said officers made numerous attempts to get someone to come to the door but received no response.

Due to the circumstances, officers made the decision to force entry into the location, Hermann said.

While this was being done, a male subject – identified as 26-year-old Kevin Ray Stone 26 of Clearlake – emerged from the rear bedroom at the location, said Hermann.

During the contact, Stone was determined to be under the influence of marijuana. Hermann said officers also determined that Stone's two children, a 4-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl, had been left unsupervised while Stone “dozed off” in the rear bedroom.

While searching the apartment, officers found the bathroom door open with a bathtub filled with water and children's toys. Hermann said the floor also was wet, indicating that the children had been playing in and around the water.

Hermann said Stone was arrested on two counts of felony child endangerment, misdemeanor possession of an illegal weapon (a butterfly knife in his pocket) and possession of drug paraphernalia, in this case a glass smoking pipe commonly used for methamphetamine which also was located in the residence.

Stone was later booked into the Lake County Jail on the charges, Hermann said. The children were placed into protective custody by Child Protective Services pending their investigation.

He remained in the Lake County Jail early Tuesday.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and one-third of us are obese.

Some studies claim the obesity rate to be much higher, more like 60 to 65 percent. Obesity is defined as 20 percent over the ideal body weight.

Studies claim we are the fattest country on earth! If you’ve traveled overseas to Europe and Asia you would probably concur. Asians, Europeans, Africans and Latin Americans definitely seem to be more slender than the average American.

Studies also point out that Americans have some of the world’s highest rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. And yet many Americans, and certainly our “health care” industry, brag that we have the finest and most advanced medical care system in the world.

The problem is at once simple and complex. Any dietitian, nutritionist or naturopath like me would suggest that, for one thing, we simply eat less and exercise more. We’ve all heard that we need to eat far fewer simple and far more complex carbohydrates.

Another mantra is increasingly becoming, “Eat more organically grown foods (clean and more nutrient-rich) and less processed food.” That’s the “simple” part.

The hard parts are that we’ve grown up as an addictive society. The vast majority of us grew up eating foods laden with pesticides and grown in nutritionally poor or bankrupt agri-soils. Relatively inexpensive frozen and canned foods that typically contain sugars, and a host of additives, are not only our choice and for the most part what’s readily available to us, but due to the sugars ( including high fructose corn syrup) these food have become our addiction.

There are six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each taste has both a physiological and emotional response. Sweet taste is the most emotionally nurturing of all the tastes. Sweet taste is the taste of “I feel secure now.” It occurs, to some extent, in all grains, fruits and vegetables. It is the main taste in meats.

We need sugars to turn into glycogen to feed our 100 trillion cells. What we don’t need is refined, concentrated and processed sugars like cane and high fructose sugars. These sugars spike insulin levels and ultimately create enormous health problems. These sugars, more than anything else, create obesity. They’re almost ubiquitous in our supermarket food supply. And we’ve become addicted to them.

These refined sugars, along with excessive free-radical and homocystiene damage, create an almost unbridled internal inflammation. Studies all over the world are now in agreement that all of our deadly diseases are at least co-created by chronic subclinical inflammation. It’s not inflammation that we most often don’t feel, nor have any symptom of, and yet inflammation is a natural response in the body.

The immune system creates an inflammation whenever we suffer a cut or abrasion. It’s a natural part of the healing response. But internal inflammation often goes unchecked and out of control due, in part, to a cascade of events from consuming excessive amounts of refined sugars. Also, its internal scaring and ensuing inflammation in our veins and arteries that demand a build up of excessive cholesterol that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Finally, it doesn’t take a well-financed scientific study to conclude that Lake County has a very high rate of obesity. Something must be done to avert further landslides of suffering from an information vacuum on the causes and prevention of the obesity epidemic in Lake County.

As long as local residents purchase foods that contribute to the problem, the supermarkets and mom and pop stores will continue to carry sugar-laden foods. Demand creates supply. Informed Lake County residents will eventually make more intelligent food choices. Life is not so much a tragedy of nutrition – life is a tragedy of information.

Steven West, ND is a Kelseyville- based naturopath and nutritionist. He graduated form the Institute for Natural Health Studies and has been in practice in California for 18 years.


The cost of taking care of pets and livestock could go up if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to tax veterinary care goes through. On Tuesday, January 27, 2009, a cat rested in a cage at Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic in Lakeport. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LAKE COUNTY – Taking care of all creatures great and small could become a lot more expensive if the state Legislature approves a proposal by the governor.


In an effort to find additional revenue sources for California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to broaden the state's sales tax to include veterinary services.


The plan first arose late last year during special budget sessions, in which state legislators strongly opposed it. Now, Schwarzenegger has included it in his draft state budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.


Aaron McLear, a spokesman for the governor, told Lake County News that Schwarzenegger released his latest budget – and the seventh proposal of the year – on New Year's Eve.


He said it takes a “balanced approach” of seeking new revenue by adding veterinary care to taxed services.


The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that so far only three states – Hawaii, New Mexico and South Dakota – collect taxes on veterinary medical services, which include routine exams and vaccinations.


The new tax would be a nearly 10-percent additional cost to pet and animal owners, which is raising concerns for animal advocates and others fearing that the number of abandoned and neglected animals – already believed to be growing due to the economic climate – could get much worse.


The exact amount of sales tax added would vary from one area to the next, depending on local sales tax measures. In the unincorporated areas of the county, sales tax currently is 7.25 percent, while in Clearlake and Lakeport – where voter-approved sales tax measures support police and road projects, respectively – sales tax currently is 7.75 percent, according to city and county officials.


"It's obvious that 10 percent onto fees for people that are lower income is going to be devastating for them," said Dr. Debra Sally of Clearlake Veterinary Clinic.


"There's a potential that a lot more animals are going to go without care," Sally added, suggesting many more animals could end up in the pound, which itself is an expense for government.


Jennifer Fearing, chief economist for the Humane Society of the United States, said the organization is referring to the tax proposal as the "Fido fine," although it also will affect large animal and livestock care as well.


“We are absolutely opposed,” she said.


Fearing said animal shelters already are grappling with higher costs and more animals, and making it more expensive to care for animals may just mean more animals in the pound. “This is really just adding insult to injury,” said Fearing, who called the proposal “reckless on the governor's part.”


Because it also will impact livestock, said said it will raise the cost of doing business for farmers and ranchers.


Then there are impacts on government, said Fearing. Because local government agencies aren't immune from paying sales tax, animal shelters that contract for vet services would have to pay the tax along with everyone else.


An example, Fearing said Los Angeles County, which spends $2.5 million a year on contracted services, would have to pay $250,000 in taxes, funds which otherwise would go to animal care.


Fearing said the most absurd and strange aspect of the proposed tax is how it's lumped in with several completely unrelated services.


The budget proposal suggests that, beginning March 1, the sales tax would be extended to appliance and furniture repair, vehicle repair and veterinarian services. Then, on April 1, the sales and use tax rate

would be applied to amusement parks, sporting events and golf.


“Selection of these services was based on ease of implementation as these services are generally provided by entities that already have a relationship with the Board of Equalization,” the budget states.


The new taxes are estimated to generate $272 million in state general fund in 2008-09 and $1.154 billion in 2009-10.


"Ethically I don't see how you can put animals lives in the same category as car repair," Sally said.




Callie Dailey of Boonville comforts her dog, Beau Duke, on Tuesday, January 27, 2009, after he underwent surgery for a shattered leg due to being hit by a car. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




Pet owners could see big rises in costs


Dr. Susan Cannon of Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic in Lakeport said the big issue is the prospect of greater expenses for clinics and their patients.


"Obviously, most clinics are not going to afford to be able to absorb those costs," she said.


Cannon said pet owners can expect an increase in fees to compensate for the tax. "A lot of people are having a hard enough time as it is affording vet care," she said, adding that the proposal is "all very vague."


The tax seems very large, said Cannon, and most pet owners don't have insurance or other assistance in paying for care.


"Obviously the state's in trouble and they're trying to come up with as many ways as they can to make money," Cannon said.


On Tuesday, Callie Dailey of Boonville was at Wasson Memorial with her 1-year-old black lab mix, Beau Duke, who she adopted from a Lake County rescue group.


Beau had been hit by a car, and suffered a shattered left hind leg and a hip out of socket, said Dailey.


After being told by other vets that they could only amputate Beau's leg, Dailey connected with Dr. Chris Holmes of Wasson. On Tuesday Holmes operated on Beau in an effort to save his leg.


Dailey said the surgery is expensive enough without having to pay hundreds of dollars more in tax.


She said cost could force heartbreaking choices.


“I'm sure for some people it would mean the difference between saving their dog and having to put it to sleep,” said Dailey.


Vets group speaks out against tax


The California Veterinary Medical Association, which represents 6,000 veterinarians statewide, has come out against the proposal.


The association's president, Dr. William Grant II, told Lake County News that it's hard to say if the tax will become a law.


The association has good support from both Democrats and Republicans who agree it isn't a good tax, Grant said.


Grant said it's not fair to segregate one fraction of the health care profession and target it with this level of taxation. He had no idea why veterinarians were singled out.


"It's already difficult in today's economy for a lot of people to take care of their pets," he said.


Grant said the tax will get passed on from vets to pet owners, and essentially will result in penalizing people for doing the right thing by taking care of their pets.


He also noted that pet owners can be prosecuted for failing to provide veterinarian care. "We just think it's ridiculous."


Grant, who is a small animal vet in Southern California, has told many of his clients about the proposal, and they've responded by calling legislators.


The Humane Society also sent out an e-mail alert to 120,000 California members about a week and a half ago, Fearing said.


Schwarzenegger's office has a constituent affairs line where people can call in to register their opinions about various issues, said McLear.


To call in, dial 916-445-2841; press 5 to leave an opinion – hit 1 to show support for the sales tax and 2 if you oppose it.


As to response on the tax, McLear said "It's higher than most issues right now."


He added, "That changes daily, depending on what the hot issues of the day are."


Schwarzenegger receives a weekly report on constituent feedback on issues, McLear said.


"Obviously we are being heard," Grant said.




The 2009 California Humane Lobby Day, which will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, February 12, at the California State Capitol, also will offer animal advocates a chance to speak to elected officials and their staff about important legislation. To RSVP to take part in the event, visit


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..





The history of the world is written almost solely because of pepper. Arabic traders monopolized the distribution of pepper from India where they kept a tight control over its production. They concocted elaborate stories on how difficult pepper was to obtain in order to increase its value and monopolize the market.

Christopher Columbus went in search of a shorter route to ship pepper which landed him on the shores of the New World. When pepper was unavailable or not affordable, substitutions were made with great haste: grains of paradise, papaya seeds, long pepper, Szechwan peppercorns, mountain pepper, pepper grass and, of course, Christopher Columbus’s self-serving grand marketing plan, “Uh, sure, the voyage was a success, I found ‘pepper’!” – chili peppers.

It is said that peppercorns were brought from the east by Alexander the Great in 327 BCE. I don’t put much weight to that story since history tends to give credit to the famous entities rather than the real truth. Marco Polo introducing pasta to Italy is a good example. They had already had it for hundreds of years but it sounds better to credit the romantic heroes rather than Bob the shopkeeper.

Black peppercorns are the unripened berries of a tropical vine. They are picked and allowed to dry in the sun. White peppercorns are the very same berry but soaked in water until the skin disintegrates. Some producers just let the peppercorns sit in the same water until done while others use fresh water every day for a cleaner fresher flavor.

Green peppercorns are black peppercorns that are harvested early and instead of drying are either pickled or freeze dried. They are available dried or still in the brine at specialty markets. Making a Steak au Poivre (peppercorn steak) with brined green peppercorns is a dish fit for the gods!

While 99.99 percent of market peppercorns are under ripe peppercorns processed in various ways, truly ripe peppercorns are available in very limited quantities at preposterously high prices since they are so rare. The cultivation of peppercorns has been dated back more than 3,000 years so there has been plenty of time to experiment with their processing.

Pepper is one of the oldest known spices and had been used as money for centuries. Countries and kingdoms each had different forms of currency which made for difficulty in trade, but pepper was desired everywhere and simplified the exchange rates.

At many times through history peppercorns were more valuable than gold. Pepper was so valuable that in order to increase their profit unscrupulous British vendors fluffed their pepper with numerous fillers, such as charcoal, pencil shavings, papaya seeds, mustard husks and even floor sweepings. An 1875 law forbade the use of these fillers. Currently pepper is the third most used item in recipes, topped only by salt and water.

On occasion trade routes would get closed off and pepper became unavailable in Europe, so the African spice grains of paradise or pepper’s cousin, long pepper, became the replacement at the king’s table. Do YOU want to be the person to tell the king that the most valuable spice in the world isn’t available to HIM?!

If you have a tin of ground pepper on the back of your stovetop then you are cheating yourself. After years of experimenting with peppercorns I have blended my own six peppercorn combination with all of the characteristics that I love. You want to grind your pepper as close to the time of use in order to get the maximum flavor, and purchase your pepper in small quantities to get the utmost freshness. I purchase two ounces of each of my peppercorn favorites, then mix them and put them in my pepper grinder. This supplies me for over a year of heavy use.

My prediction is that someday everyone will have a pepper grinder and will grind their own pepper at home. Just as refrigerators and ovens were once only found in the houses of the very rich but now are commonplace, people who want truly good pepper will find a variety they like or even create their own signature blend and grind their own. Spice merchants even carry peppers that are blended with herbs and spices that can zest up your cooking. Varieties such as black peppercorns with slices of dried garlic, and black and white peppercorns with dried onion flakes are a couple of my favorites.

The flavor of freshly ground pepper is much more fiery and has subtle flavors that are missing in packaged ground pepper. With that said, I do have commercially ground pepper in my kitchen. My wife considers it “comfort food” because she is familiar with it and uses it instead of freshly ground in her cooking. She also prefers the uniform consistency more than the uneven grind that freshly ground gives. But even she will admit that freshly ground has more flavor.

Types of peppercorns

Black peppercorns: There are many locations that produce black pepper and each has its own aromas and flavors, but I’ve found that most of them are very hot with notes of licorice and asphalt. Some descriptions speak of “nuttiness,” “musty” and “earthy” tastes. From there you can find many popular varieties like Lampong, Malabar and Tellicherry (I use Tellicherry in my peppercorn blend).

Green peppercorns: Floral and licorice scented and the floral overtones continue in the flavor and are joined by an immediate, sustained, moderate burn with metallic undertones (as my wife said, “Like eating roses off a steel fork”).

Pink peppercorns: While not actually a member of the pepper family, these have a spicy and floral aroma with a sweet flavor that has a peppery essence with almost no heat, and the final taste has a hint of turpentine. My wife says that they smell like the yucca plant that grew in the yard of her childhood home, but I don’t know what that means. Maybe it will mean something to some of you.

White peppercorns: While not necessarily bad, the odor and flavor has a healthy manure scent and flavor. To be delicate, let’s say it has a fresh barnyard scent to it. The heat is sharp at first, then slowly tapers down but can still be felt minutes later. The manure essence may come from the process where the black peppercorns are actually soaked in water and allowed to rot to remove the skin to become white peppercorns.

Grains of Paradise: Smaller than a peppercorn with a medium brown exterior and a pure white interior, they look like tiny little coconuts when you crack them. In tasting them, the aroma of these grains even has a mild coconut essence. Their flavor is a straight hot fire with very little else. If you really concentrate you can notice a slight group of flavors in the back of your mouth but the burning of you tongue is what captures your attention.

Javanese Comet’s Tail peppercorns: They look just like a regular peppercorn but have a little bit of the stem still attached, giving them their name. They are all flavor with very little fire. Their aroma fills your nose with allspice, nutmeg and cloves, and tasting them brings all those flavors forward. There’s almost no heat, but after a minute a mild camphor-like flavor starts up.

Szechuan peppercorns: The seed of an Asian ash tree, Szechuan peppercorns were illegal in the US for a long time due to fear of spreading a canker virus. Now legal again, they are available at some merchants even here in Lake County. The outer husk of the peppercorn almost reeks of grapefruit, and the flavor of the husk is very citrus-like with a slight hint of mint but no heat. The inner bead of the peppercorn has no flavor and a sandy texture. Most people consider the husk the only usable part of the seed. The spelling of the Chinese province from which the peppercorns originate varies between Szchuan, Szechwan and Sichuan (maybe others, too). The spelling I use in this description is right off of the package I have, though I usually spell it Szechwan.

Tasmanian “mountain” pepper: Not actually related to true pepper, the berries come from a shrub native to Tasmania and the whole Micronesian area. The leaves from this group of plants are also used to add peppery flavors to local dishes where it is native. The leaves and peppercorns are both known to have antimicrobial properties. Due to their unique and heavily peppery flavor, essence of spice, sweetness, and mild tongue numbing sensation, they are increasing in popularity in the culinary community.

Long pepper: Not a peppercorn like the others, is a dried catkin (flower cluster) of a plant closely related to pepper. Hotter than regular peppercorns, it also contains a sweet aspect. Because the catkin is larger in size than average peppercorns, it can’t be used in a pepper blend in a grinder very well as it will separate out of the mixture. It can be ground up in the palm of your hands. It is a very inexpensive variety to begin branching out and experimenting with.

Even though I could go on for pages and pages about pepper, its history, future and all the different varieties, I’m going to end now so you can go out and try your own peppercorn tasting.

In the recipe below, you may have concerns about the amount of pepper on the steaks making them too hot to eat, but the act of cooking the peppercorns on the steaks actually makes the spiciness milder in the final product.

Steak au Poivre


2 steaks of your favorite cut, preferably lower fat and thick cut

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoon pickled green peppercorns (other peppercorns can be used but will taste different)

1/2 cup apple jack, brandy, or cognac, (your favorite dark hard liquor)

1 cup cream

3 tablespoon vegetable oil

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt. While some people think this will dry out the meat it actually can be called dry brining. The salt pulls the moisture out of the meat where it mixes with the salt, becomes a saltwater brine and then is reabsorbed into the meat. It also allows the meat to get a better sear to it.

While the meat is doing this necromancy, remove the peppercorns from the jar and drain them on some paper towels. In a mortar and pestle (or whatever your favorite way is) crush the peppercorns without completely pulverizing them. Spread the peppercorns on both sides of the steaks and press them in firmly.

Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan or cast iron skillet on high. Put the steaks in the pan and press them in for good contact and reduce the heat to medium. Cook to whatever degree of doneness you prefer, but try not to exceed five minutes per side or the meat will start to dry out. Gently remove the steaks from the pan and set aside to rest.

Add the alcohol to the pan and let heat for a moment and then shake the pan to agitate. The juices in the pan may ignite, so don’t attempt to stir with a spoon or whisk. Flaming the alcohol isn’t necessary to the process; it will dissipate on its own through the rest of the cooking. After the liquid has reduced slightly, add the cream and whisk until combined. Again reduce the mixture until slightly thickened. Season the sauce with salt to taste and serve over the steaks.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.


NORTH COAST – The State Water Resources Control Board will hold a new meeting for North Coast residents on proposed septic tank regulations after a Tuesday meeting was unexpectedly shut down.

The state is offering a new set of rules under AB 885 that would require inspections of septic systems at least once every five years, and also could require some people to replace their systems, costs which could run into the tens of thousands, according to opponents of the measure.

A meeting had been set for Tuesday evening at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa, as Lake County News reported earlier this week.

However, when hundreds of people showed up, with traffic backing up out onto Highway 101 and people standing in aisles and doorways, the meeting was shut down.

Chuck March, executive director of the Lake County Farm Bureau, attended the very short meeting, which he said only ran about 15 minutes before it was stopped.

“A lot of people were pretty upset,” said March, who noted that a water board official was about three pages into a PowerPoint presentation before the meeting was halted.

March noted that people “from all walks of life” had crowded into the meeting to hear what the state is proposing.

Ray Ruminski, director of Lake County Environmental Health, also attended with some of his staffers, and recounted the many people jammed into the auditorium and out into the hallway and lobby.

He said he didn't think the water board could have foreseen such a huge crowd turning out.

Both Ruminski and March said it was a fire official who ultimately stopped the proceedings.

Water board spokesperson Kathie Smith said in response to the cancellation two new meetings have been scheduled in Santa Rosa on Feb. 9, in the Ruth Finley Person Theater – which has a 1,500-person capacity – at the Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road.

The first session will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., the second from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Smith said both meetings will present identical information.

Feb. 9 was the original date for a public hearing in Sacramento that the State Water Resources Control Board had planned. That hearing has been postponed, Smith said.

The state also has extended the comment period on the regulations, from Feb. 9 to noon on Feb. 23.

Written comments may be sent to Todd Thompson, PE, Division of Water Quality, State Water Resources Control Board, 1001 I St., P.O. Box 2231, Sacramento, CA 95812; fax, 916-341-5463; e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Questions about the public comments also can be directed to Thompson at 916-341-5518 or to Gita Kapahi, director of public participation, at 916-341-5501.

To see the proposed regulations and other background information, visit

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Clearlake Oaks man wanted in connection to a November shooting has been arrested.

Patrick Dewin McDaniel, 44, was booked into the Lake County Jail shortly before 2:30 p.m. Thursday, according to Lake County Jail records. A Friday report said he had been apprehended in Nevada and then, because he is a parolee, was transported to San Quentin before returning to Lake County.

McDaniel and his 37-year-old brother, Cecil, of Clearlake Oaks, are alleged to been involved in a confrontation with Clearlake Oaks residents 42-year-old Patrick O'Conner and his 23-year-old son, James, at a neighbor's residence on the evening of Nov. 26, as Lake County News has reported.

The O'Conners heard Patrick McDaniel yelling at a female neighbor and went next door to intervene. Patrick O'Conner and Patrick McDaniel had had a confrontation earlier in the day, according to investigators.

An argument resulted, with Cecil McDaniel reportedly taking a swing at O’Conner and missing. Then Patrick McDaniel allegedly shot O'Conner in the chest.

The brothers – both of whom are convicted felons – are then alleged to have fled the scene, with deputies searching for them for several hours.

Cecil McDaniel was arrested on Dec. 3, and remains in the Lake County Jail on $500,000 bail for being an accessory to the shooting. He went before Judge Richard Martin on Jan. 21, and is scheduled to return to court on March 9 in Department 3.

Patrick McDaniel is charged with attempted murder, with bail set at $500,000, according to jail records.

McDaniel, who sheriff's officials reported had been paroled from prison not long before O'Conner's shooting, also has a felony bench warrant against him, with an additional $50,000 in bail for that charge.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


I wanted to put together in one spot all the food and wine events going on around the county so people could see that this is a happening place.

Print this calendar of events and stick in on your fridge so you’ll always have something to do. Thanks to those of you who let me know what’s coming up. I’ll be posting lists of events at the end of each month for the following month, and I encourage you all to get out there and have a good time.

Reservations may be required for some of these events so please call the contact number before making plans to attend any of these events. On this calendar the date is listed first followed by the name of the event, the location, time, special information, and contact number.

Feb. 1: Brunch in the Garden at the Blue wing, Upper Lake. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dan Meyer is performing Latin Jazz. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 2: Monday Blues at the Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Blues Farm is performing. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 6: Meet the Winemaker, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dennis Malbec and Kaj Ahlmann of Six Sigma. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 6: Fondue Fridays, Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake. 6 p.m. Cheese fondue available with wine. 707-275-8030.

Feb. 6: First Friday Fling, Main Street Gallery, Lakeport. Art, music, hors d’oeuvres, and wine. 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. 707-263-6658.

Feb. 7: Meet the Winemaker, The Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Matt Hughes of Zoom Wines. Dishes specifically designed to match with Zoom wines will be served. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 7: Crab Feed, Clearlake Oaks Moose Lodge. 5 p.m. Sixth annual crab dinner including pasta, salad and French bread, with no host bar. $35 per person. 707-998-3740.

Feb. 7: Young Chef’s Class, Chic Le Chef, Hidden Valley Lake, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Cooking class for children. Call for more details; 707-987-9664.

Feb. 8: Brunch in the Garden at the Blue wing, Upper Lake. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Will Siegel & Friends performing. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 9: Monday Blues at the Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Lake Blues All Stars will be performing. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 13: Fondue Fridays, Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake. 6 p.m. Cheese fondue available with wine. 707-275-8030.

Feb. 14: Third annual Lake County Wine and Chocolate Event, Kelseyville. Noon to 4 p.m. Chocolate and wine pairings, with the proceeds going to the Lake Family Resource Center. $35 in advance, $40 at the door. 707-262-1611.

Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day at the Blue Wing, Upper Lake. Tom Ganoung will be performing on the piano. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 15: Brunch in the Garden at the Blue wing, Upper Lake. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Elena Casanova and Tom Aiken will be performing. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 16: Monday Blues at the Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Twice As Good will be performing. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 20: Fondue Fridays, Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake. 6 p.m. Cheese fondue available with wine. 707-275-8030.

Feb. 21: Oyster and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing, Moore Family Winery, Kelseyville. $20 includes oysters, logo glass and wine. 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 707-738-0507.

Feb. 21: The second annual Venetian Carnival Masquerade Party, Rosa d’Oro Tasting Room, Kelseyville. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Best mask wins a prize. $5 includes food and wine. RSVP before Feb. 18. 707-279-0483.

Feb. 21: Ducks Unlimited Benefit Banquet, Middletown Lions Club. Opens at 6 p.m.. dinner at 7 p.m. and auction at 8 p.m. Advance ticket purchase is required. 707-994-3474.

Feb. 21: Clearlake Rotary Third Annual Seafood Boil and Auction, Clearlake Community Senior Center, 3245 Bowers Road. 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. All-you-can-eat dinner with salad, bread, tri-tip, lobster, crab, shrimp, fish, clams, mussels, crayfish, sausages, corn-on-the-cob, potatoes and dessert. Dinner includes two drink tickets. Auction to follow. Sponsored by and benefit for the Rotary Club of Clearlake. Admission $60 per person. Info: 707-994-5650.

Feb. 21: Wine Release Party, Tulip Hill Winery, 4900 Bartlett Springs Road (just off Highway 20), Nice. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. New wines paired with seasonal foods featured from cookbooks available in the tasting room. Admission fee $5 for the general public, free to wine club members. 707-274-9373.

Feb. 21: Young Chefs class, Chic Le Chef, Hidden Valley Lake, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Cooking class for children of all ages. Call for more details; 707-987-9664.

Feb. 22: Sauce making class at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake. 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Call 707-987-9664 for details.

Feb. 22: Brunch in the Garden at the Blue wing, Upper Lake. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jim Williams on guitar and vocals will be performing. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 23: Monday Blues at the Blue Wing, Upper Lake. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Memphis Exchange will be performing. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 27: Fondue Fridays, Lake County Wine Studio, Upper Lake. 6 p.m. Cheese fondue available with wine. 707-275-8030.

Feb. 27: Bob Culbertson performing on the Chapman Stick, Tallman Hotel, Upper Lake. Barney Fetzer will pour Ceago wines for the evening. Information and tickets to this event can be obtained by calling the Tallman Hotel reception desk. The cost for the reception and concert is $40. 707-275-2244.

Feb. 28: Young Chef’s Class, Chic Le Chef, Hidden Valley Lake, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Cooking class for children. Call for more details; 707-987-9664.

Ongoing activities

Langtry Estate and Vineyard Tours, Middletown

Langtry Estate and Vineyard is offering exciting and innovative tour programs. Guests ride in battery-operated Global Electric Motorcars. Tours are offered Tuesday through Saturday. The Tephra Vineyard Lunch Tours are offered at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. $40 per person includes lunch and wine tasting. 21000 Butts Canyon Road. Reservations required 24 hours in advance. Info: 707-987-2385.

Tuscan Village Friday Concert Series, Main Street, Lower Lake

Live music, food, wine tasting. Presented by 2Goombas and Terrill Cellars. 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Info: 707-994-3354.

Beer Master Dinner Series, Molly Brennan’s 175 N. Main St., Lakeport. Second Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Different brewery featured each month, with beers paired with each course of a five-course meal including dessert. Advance reservations required. Info: 707-262-1600

If you have a food or wine related event and would like to have it listed in the coming months, please feel free to call Ross at 707-998-9550.


LAKE COUNTY – A Clearlake Oaks man wanted for an attempted murder and brought into local custody this week was apprehended in Nevada after being on the run for several weeks, according to a Friday report from the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Patrick Dewin McDaniel, 44, of Clearlake Oaks was returned to Lake County on Thursday and booked into the Lake County Jail on an attempted murder charge, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

McDaniel was wanted for his alleged part in a Nov. 26 confrontation, in which he is alleged to have shot 42-year-old Patrick O'Conner of Clearlake Oaks, as Lake County News has reported.

His brother, Cecil McDaniel, 37, also of Clearlake Oaks, also was allegedly involved.

The two brothers allegedly fled from the scene that night. Cecil McDaniel was located and arrested by sheriff’s detectives in Clearlake Oaks on Dec. 3 and remains in the Lake County Jail on $500,000 bail, charged with being an accessory.

Bauman said Patrick McDaniel remained at large until Dec. 17, when he was located and arrested on fugitive warrant by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.

McDaniel, a recent parolee, was extradited by the U.S. Marshals Office from the Clark County Jail in Nevada to the San Quentin State Prison in early December where he was held on a related parole violation, Bauman said.

A removal order was signed by Lake County Superior Court Judge Stephen Hedstrom on Jan. 26, and McDaniel was transported back to Lake County on Thursday, according to Bauman.

McDaniel was booked at the Lake County Jail Thursday afternoon on charges which Bauman said include attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, felon in possession of a firearm and accessory to a crime.

Bauman said that McDaniel also is being held on a bench warrant for failure to appear on a prior felony narcotics offense and a CDC parole hold.


LAKE COUNTY – On Wednesday the Lake County Narcotic Task Force served two search warrants and made three arrests – including two at a local marijuana collective – for illegal marijuana cultivation and distribution.

The task force reported that the first warrant was served at 10 a.m. in the 21000 block of Highway 29 in Middletown.

Detectives found an indoor marijuana cultivation in the residence. The plants had been harvested and the marijuana was in the process of drying.

The task force found 48 pounds of processed marijuana and 80 pounds of unprocessed marijuana in the residence, which was prepared to grow more than 500 marijuana plants.

Detectives arrested Moeun Dam, 40, of Middletown for marijuana cultivation. Dam was booked into the Lake County Jail, where he later posted $10,000 bail.

The task force found evidence at the Middletown residence that led them to the Alternative Solutions Collective in the 12000 block of E. Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks.

Task force detectives obtained another search warrant for the marijuana collective, and with the assistance of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the task force served that search warrant at approximately 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Inside the Alternative Solutions Collective, detectives found a honey oil/hash laboratory and evidence that the collective was operating outside of state of California guidelines.

Detectives arrested Daniel Lee Clark, 22, a construction worker from Clearlake Oaks, and Caleb Stuart Hazard, 26, an unemployed Santa Rosa resident, for distribution of marijuana, conspiracy and possession of a clandestine honey oil laboratory.

Bail for Clark and Hazard was set at $40,000 each. Both have since posted bail and been released, according to jail records.

The task force seized 15 pounds of processed marijuana, $2,129 in cash, two pounds of hashish and dozens of food items containing marijuana.

The Lake County Narcotic Task Force is comprised of detectives from the Lakeport Police Department, Clearlake Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Lake County Probation Department, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the State of California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.

If a citizen in Lake County has any information on illegal marijuana grows, or any other narcotic violations, please call the task force at 263-9055.


Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



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