Photography 2015

Field and Flowers

Colorado Springs 2015

It’s been a very busy summer, with family trips to Florida, Aruba and Colorado. Here are a few misc. shots of our travels with grand babies, hospital visits, weddings and scenery.

Amber, Alexis, and Norah

Amber, Alexis, and Norah, Our Grand Girls

Cory and Hunter Evans 2015

Cory and Hunter Evans 2015

Dragon Fly

Colorado Springs 2015

Grape Leaf

Colorado Springs 2015

Lily, Chris and Shannon

Shannon, Lily and Chris

Pikes Peak Sunset

Pikes Peak Sunset Colorado Springs 2015

Marinated Herb Cheese Appetizer

This marinated herb cheese appetizer is the perfect recipe to make for any holiday party or special occasion.

Marinated Herb Cheese Appetizer

Marinated herb cheese appetizer is simple, yet elegant. The stunning presentation is backed by the luscious flavors of simple blocks of sharp cheddar and cream cheeses doused with summer fresh herbs, then combined with loads of fresh garlic and a mixture of balsamic and cider vinegars. The combination of creamy cheeses and tart-herb infused goodness, transforms the simple, into sublime.

A little prep work is in order when making the marinated herb cheese dish, but is well worth the chorus of o’s and ah’s from your guests.

A few borage or other edible flowers can be used to add further visual appeal and taste.  I used the purple flower from Society Garlic, which grows profusely in California; the flowers are spicy with a strong garlic flavor.

“IDENTIFICATION: Society Garlic is a fast-growing, bulbous plant about two feet tall. Leaves are long, narrow, strap-like, slightly fleshy and smell strongly of garlic when bruised. They grow from fat, tuberous roots which spread to form clumps of plants. The pinkish to mauve, tubular flowers, clustered into umbels of up to twenty flowers are on flower stalks above the leaves. They smell of garlic when picked. Triangular capsules replace the flowers and are grouped into a head. When ripe they split to release flattened, hard black seeds.” Source: 

I served the marinated herb cheese appetizer for my friend’s sons graduation party; it was a huge hit with the guests. I paired the appetizer with a soft whole grain bread. However, you may choose to toast the bread or serve the cheese with rustic crackers for a crisp accompaniment. I prefer bread to soak up all the delicious marinade. 

This marinated herb cheese appetizer is the perfect recipe to make for any holiday party or special occasion.

I hope you enjoy this marinated herb cheese appetizer recipe!

Marinated Herb Cheese Appetizer
Serves 6
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
  1. 8 ounce block sharp cheddar cheese
  2. 8 ounce block ream cheese
  3. 1 teaspoon sugar
  4. 1 6 ounce jar pimentos (red peppers)
  5. 4 cloves garlic
  6. 4 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley
  7. 1 bunch green onions (both green and white parts)
  8. 3 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  9. 2 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
  10. 1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  11. 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  12. 3/4 cups good quality olive oil
  13. Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut cheeses into 1/4 inch squares then in half again
  2. Arrange slices on their ends, alternating one piece cheddar then one piece cream cheese. Make sure cheese is very cold before slicing or it may be necessary to spread the cream cheese over the cheddar with a knife. (see photos in blog post)
  3. Mince garlic and dice pimentos (red peppers), finely chop fresh herbs.
  4. Combine herbs, and peppers in a small bowl, add all remaining ingredients, blend well to combine
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
  6. Pour marinade over arranged cheese, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  7. There will be a lot of liquid at first but it will absorb into the cheese during the marinating process.
  8. Serve with whole grain bread or crackers
  1. Adjust to your preference with flavored balsamic and olive oils. I've also used Meyer Lemon olive oil, and blueberry balsamic
Adapted from
Adapted from
At Home with Rebecka
Another delicious cheese appetizer to try is my Hot Artichoke and Pimento Cheese Dip.

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015 – The Great Garlic Cook-Off

The Great Garlic Cook-Off

The Great Garlic Cook-Off Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

The Gilroy Garlic Festival just celebrated its 37 year with the third annual Great Garlic Cook-Off.  I had the pleasure of attending the event where I met up with several of my foodie friends for the very first time. It was the most competitive garlic cook off  the event has ever seen.

Eight home cooks vied for the coveted title, Garlic Queen/King, cooking some very impressive dishes for the five celebrity judges; Jason Gronlund, Executive Chef, Smokey Bones BBQ, Jason Lavinsky, Executive Chef, Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf, Adam Sanchez – The Milias Restaurant, Bryan Martinez, Executive Chef, Raley’s, and Carl Stewart, Executive Chef, Raley’s. Master of Ceremonies: Dan Green, Kate Callaghan & Wendy Brodie, HAAC, Executive Chef.

Contestants, Jodi Taffel, Lauren Katz, Tresa Hargrove, Merry Graham, Sherri Williams, Gloria Bradley, Loanne Chiu and Margee Berry, wowed the audience and judges with their garlic infused recipes. The outdoor stage was set with two jumbo-trons giving spectators a birds-eye view of all the cooking action. The air was filled with mouthwatering aromas of charred meats and my favorite kitchen staple, garlic.  Once the smoke settled, the judges crowned Jodi Taffel, first place for her stunning breakfast dish, Shashuka with Deep Fried Garlic. Second place went to Lauren Katz with her Glazed Garlic-Buttermilk Fried chicken and Savory Waffled grits. Third Place went to Tresa Hargrove for her, Chipotle Cilantro Chimichurri Steak on Enchiladas with Roasted Salsa Verde.

I became friends with Tresa, Sherri and Merry, five years ago over our shared interest in food competitions, and Facebook groups. What a pleasure for me to finally meet them all in person as well as, the other competitors. Making new friends and sharing this special day with my fellow foodies was a true blessing.

The day was made more enjoyable hanging out with my dear friend Nancy Judd, winner of the 2013 World Food Championships, Dessert category, and contestant on Chopped Grandma’s.  She and I cooked together in my home during the Real Women of Philadelphia-Cooks Across America-Colorado Cooks video promotion. To see more from that event, watch our Youtube video HERE and HERE.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t chosen to compete with my Benedict Florentine with Roasted Garlic Hollandaise and Garlic Basil Oil this year, but I hope to be on stage at next years competition, cooking alongside my friends. 

Gilroy Garlic Festival Eggs Benedict



Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

Sherri and Nancy

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

Sherri Williams, Rebecka Evans, Nancy Judd, Jodi Taffel, Merry Graham and Lauren Katz

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

Lady Nann and her man


Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

THE WINNER! Jodi Taffel

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

The top THREE Jodi, Lauren and Tresa

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

Waiting for the big announcement

Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

Selfies with Nancy and Rebecka

Winner Circle

Gilroy Garlic Garlic Festival 2015

Sherri Williams and Merry Graham


Gilroy Garlic Festival 2015

Rebecka Evans, The Garlic Man, Nancy Judd



Ringless Honey Mushrooms-Edible Wild Varieties or Poisonous?

Ringless Honey Mushrooms-Edible Wild Varieties or Poisonous? Ringless Honey Mushrooms

After doing extensive research to learn the correct species of this mushroom, I’m still not 100% sure that the fungi pictured here are in fact, Ringless Honey Mushroom aka (Armarilla tabescens). I would love to know, if for no other reason that I want to create delicious dishes with them. Things like mushroom omelettes and Southwestern Posole Stew with Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Sticks.

I spotted this cluster in my backyard growing out from a buried tree stump about two weeks ago. I’m 98.9% certain they are the same, but the fear of hallucinations and possible death has kept me from cooking up the batch.  

Case and point: Grossly similar species include Pholiota spp. which also grow in cespitose clusters on wood and fruit in the fall. However Pholiota spp. have a yellowish to greenish yellow cast and a dark brown to grey-brown spore print. Mushroom hunters need to be especially wary of Galerina spp. which can grow side by side with Armillaria spp. also on wood. Galerina has a dark brown spore print and is deadly poisonous (alpha-amanitin) – see: mushroom poisoningSource: wikipedia

Upon first inspection, the cluster had all the hallmarks of the honey mushroom, but after more inspection, and several days growth with drastic visible changes, it became more unclear. 

I was unable to detect the fine hairs on the cap the first week of growth, so my first response was that they were poisonous mushrooms. To compact the issues of species detection, Northern California has been hit with a deluge of heavy rain rendering the more mature mushrooms, shiny and wet, making it difficult to get a good read on the species.

It’s clear that I am not a Mushroom Expert (Mycologist) and without years of experience, I’ve erred on the side of caution and refrained from consuming these beautiful fungi however, they are the perfect specimen for photography. 

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Many mushrooms are poisonous some are deadly poisonous. We have made every effort to ensure accuracy on this website but, in the end, the responsibility for eating any mushroom or fungus must rest with the individual; for instance there are people who are allergic to all species of mushrooms. If you collect any mushrooms to eat make sure that your identification checks out in every detail. Never eat any wild mushroom until an expert mycologist has checked your identification. Even when you know a mushroom well weather conditions or animal damage can cause differences in appearance that could lead to misidentification. 

Ringless Honey Mushrooms Northern California

Ringless Honey Mushroom Northern California

If you are a Mushroom Expert (Mycologist) with knowledge of the species photographed here, please feel free to leave a comment and link to your website. I’m eager to learn more about my cluster of fungi and the possibility of cooking the next batch I find. 

Are they or are they not Ringless Honey Mushrooms??


Kuo, M. (2004, October). Armillaria mellea. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com

Ecology: Pathogenic and parasitic on the wood of hardwoods (and occasionally on conifers); causing a white, pulpy rot in the wood; spreading through wood, and from tree to tree, by means of long black rhizomorphs; mushrooms typically appearing in large clusters on wood in the fall after rains, but found nearly year-round in warmer climates; eastern and southeastern North America.

Cap: 3-15 cm, convex to broadly convex or flat in age; the margin often arched in maturity; dry or tacky; color extremely variable, but typically honey yellow; smooth, or with a few tiny, dark scales concentrated near the center and vaguely radially arranged.

Gills: Attached or beginning to run down the stem; nearly distant; whitish, sometimes bruising or discoloring darker.

Stem: 5-20 cm long; .5-3.5 cm thick; tapering to base due to clustered growth pattern; tough and fibrous; smooth and pale near apex, darker and nearly hairy below; with a persistent ring at maturity and a white partial veil covering the gills when young.

Flesh: Whitish to watery tan.

Odor and Taste: Taste mild to bitter; odor sweet.

Spore Print: White.

Ringless Honey Mushroom Northern California


Ringless Honey Mushroom Northern California

Ringless Honey Mushroom Northern California

Wikipedia: Honey fungus, or Armillaria or оpenky (Ukrainian: опеньки), is a genus of parasitic fungi that live on trees and woody shrubs. It includes about 10 species formerly lumped together as A. mellea.Armillarias are long lived and form some of the largest living organisms in the world. The largest single organism (of the species Armillaria solidipes) covers more than 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2) and is thousands of years old.[1] Some species of Armillaria are bioluminescent and may be responsible for the phenomena known as foxfire and perhaps will o’ the wisp.

As a forest pathogen, Armillaria can be very destructive. It is responsible for the “white rot” root disease of forests and is distinguished from Tricholoma (mycorrhizal) by this parasitic nature. Its high destructiveness comes from the fact that, unlike most parasites, it doesn’t need to moderate its growth in order to avoid killing its host, since it will continue to thrive on the dead material.

In the Canadian Prairies (particularly Manitoba), the term “honey fungus” is unknown to many; due to the large presence of Ukrainian Canadians in this area, the fungus is often referred to as pidpenky(Ukrainian: підпеньки), from the Ukrainian term, “beneath the stump”.

The fruit bodies of the fungus are mushrooms that grow on wood, typically in small dense clumps or tufts. Their caps are typically yellow-brown, somewhat sticky to touch when moist, and, depending on age, may range in shape from conical to convex to depressed in the center. The stem may or may not have a ring. All Armillaria species have a white spore print and none have a volva (compare Amanita).[2]

Grossly similar species include Pholiota spp. which also grow in cespitose clusters on wood and fruit in the fall. However Pholiota spp. have a yellowish to greenish yellow cast and a dark brown to grey-brown spore print. Mushroom hunters need to be especially wary of Galerina spp. which can grow side by side with Armillaria spp. also on wood. Galerina has a dark brown spore print and is deadly poisonous (alpha-amanitin) – see: mushroom poisoning.


Edible – Choice. Honey Fungus or pidpenky (Ukrainian: підпеньки) are considered in Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Germany and other European countries to be one of the best wild mushrooms and highly prized. They are commonly ranked above morels and chanterelles and only the cep / porcini is more highly prized. However pidpenky must be thoroughly cooked as they are mildly poisonous raw. Additionally one of the four UK species identified can lead to sickness when ingested with alcohol. Therefore for the non expert mycologist it is advisable not to drink alcohol for 12 hours before and 24 after eating this mushroom to avoid any possible nausea and vomiting. However, if these rules are followed this variety of mushroom is a delicacy with a strong distinctive mushroomy and nutty flavour. Recommended reference text for identification are Collins Complete British Mushrooms and Toadstools for the variety of field pictures in it and Roger Philips Mushrooms for the quality of his out of field pictures and descriptions.


Ringless Honey Mushroom Northern California



Kuo, M. (2004, October). Armillaria mellea. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com

First Nature


Hunter Angler

Photography by At Home with Rebecka

Monterey Bay Aquarium Jelly Fish Photography

Spotted Jelly

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the bomb!! The Jellies Experience was my favorite exhibit.
Here are a few of my favorite Jellyfish photos from our day.

Crown Jelly Fish

Flame Jelly Fish

Upside-down Fish

Indonesian Flame Jelly

Indonesian Jelly