Archive for ‘Garden’

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Santa Monica Mountains

I’m loving Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi’s ranch in the latest edition of Elle Decor, especially swooning over the leather and wood chairs.








Saturday, March 16, 2013

kale chips, pickles, kimchi

I never thought too many organic vegetables could be a problem, it isn’t really and shouldn’t ever be but it’s kind of gotten out of hand lately. Our efforts to juice and munch through the CSA‘s weekly produce delivery as well as my neighbors sharing their extra veggies with us and we’ve barely put a dent in the fridge. Serious measures taken and I’ve had to put the CSA delivery on vacation hold, putting some serious time in the kitchen now to use up all the produce. Gonna preserve as much as I can cause there’s no way we’re eating everything before it goes bad. I about a non-problem, this is it.

Started with making kale chips as CSA’s love growing kale! I’m a big salt and vinegar fan so my favorite so far is olive oil, salt and vinegar. Toss everything and massage the kale before dehydrating.


I pickled organic Persian cucumbers, daikon and carrots. Normally I don’t do sweet pickles but I did this time for steamed buns and Vietnamese sandwiches. I used Momofoku‘s David Chang’s master pickle recipe, easy enough: 1cup hot water, 1/2c rice wine vinegar, 6Tbsp sugar, 2/14tsp kosher salt.


So many heads of organic cabbage too and I made kimchi. This time I mixed Momofuku’s recipe and David Liebovitz‘s recipe, it works. Korean pickles are kick ass, definitely flavor with a punch. Mostly eaten as a side dish with rice or put kimchi in soup broth to zing things up..uuumamiii.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

post Prop 37 blues

I guess you can’t win them all but every day we’ll still keep fighting the good fight, let our purchasing power do all the talking and choose produce and products from companies that are down with the cause and they’re bound to hear us sooner or later. Local Dr. Bonner’s is one of them organic leaders too, their lavender pure-castile soap, YES PLEASE!

And if you’re disturbed by the map below you can order non-GMO seeds from companies like SeedsNow. I think there’s some serious pressure looming for me to grow some green thumbs soon.

And check the stickers when purchasing produce at the supermarket.

Also signing up with a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and I get 2 bags full of what’s in season organic produce delivered weekly for $25. I chose to support Suzie’s Farm as their pick up dates in Encinitas work for me. Going with what they give ya and there’s no choosing this or that which forces me to cook with produce that I might not normally think of buying. I think I’ll be fine as I grew up in a household where we were encouraged to be open-minded to what was on our plate. I don’t ever recall my parents scolding us about being picky eaters or finishing our meal, it was a non-issue, we loved vegetables and herbs as well as everything else. How I see it now is life’s just too short for a bad meal period and this concept of “surprise produce” allows me to indulge in one of my favorite things, reading cookbooks and testing out recipes. This was last week’s CSA bounty.

And with 2 bunches of beets in the mix I immediately thought of making borscht. Inspired by my friend, Jane who lives all the way in Ireland recently sharing a photo of her soup making skills and I thought no further that’s what I had for lunch too. Having grown up in the north end of Winnipeg with a large community of Ukrainian/Polish immigrants there was no way I didn’t have a dear friend who had a mama or baba that was an amazing cook, mine was my friend, Marnie’s mom and she’d feed us amazing borscht and holopchi (cabbage rolls), pierogies and Kub rye bread, the best!

I started with a basic mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion), sautéing for flavor and aroma for the soup stock. Then I added roasted chopped red beets, shredded cabbage and lots of fresh dill, season to taste with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar and a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar to finish it off.

The tomatillos turned into a simple salsa verde I’d use as a condiment for eggs in the morning. I like to roast the tomatillos, onions and garlic first for more flavor before cooking them down in some boiling water with serrano chilis, fresh cilantro, sea salt and a tiny pinch of cumin.

The lettuce, tomatoes, tiny watermelon cucumbers and sunflower greens were used in salads, the escarole I sauteed in olive oil with some garlic, the eggplant I threw into a thai green curry, the carrots we ate raw, cilantro I used in guacamole, soups and omelettes and the red kuri squash was cut up and tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper, sprinkled with a bit of sugar  and roasted for a simple side. So far so good, I haven’t been stumped yet.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

tabbouleh and crab cakes

Massive car bomb last week in the streets of Lebanon and it reminded me how glad I was my other half’s trip to Beirut this month was postponed. So yeah, nay on taking photos in war zones, just stay put for now and we’ll eat a bunch of tabbouleh to make up for the lack of travel. Good thing ’cause I have tons of parsley and mint around, and I do like a lot of both in my tabbouleh, more so than the rest of the house so I always mix in more on my plate. Tabbouleh is the freshest tasting side you can make, it’s so easy to put together, just eyeball and season to taste.

I always use 3 spoons of Bob’s Redmill quick cooking bulgar wheat that I rinse a couple of times, drain  and set aside in a bowl for an hour, fluff up with a fork. Rinse and dry a handful of flat leaf parsley and a handful of mint and finely chop. Finely slice 2 spring green onions as well, and dice some ripe tomatoes, place them in a sieve and let the tomato juices drain off. Mix everything together, squeezing in half to 3/4 of a lemon (I used a lime cause I had no lemons), drizzle some good olive oil in, some black pepper and flaky sea salt to taste and add a tiny pinch of cinnamon and cumin (or allspice or Lebanese 7-spice mixture and when I don’t have either I’ll just toss in a Goan fish curry spice mixture I have in my pantry, with similar spices in the mix it works too). Easy and tasty.

And a nod to the frankenstorm that wreaked havoc on the east coast last night I whipped up some crab cakes for tonight’s dinner. Again no recipe really, just eyeball it and season to taste. Slice up a few shallots and fry in a bit of olive oil til soft and cooked through, set aside and let cool. In a mixing bowl toss together an egg, a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, 1 lb of crab meat, some chopped fresh parsley, a pinch of fresh lemon zest, a pinch of ground mustard, a few heaping spoons of vegenaise (or mayo), the fried shallots and some bread crumbs (I only had a bit left and so I added in some semolina flour to help it bind together). Form them into cakes and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Fry them up in some olive oil on both sides, serve them with a creamy remoulade (a mixture of vegenaise (or mayo), some finely chopped white onions and cornichons, a squeeze of lemon juice and freshly grated horseradish and hot sauce to taste). Stay safe and warm east coast family and friends, damn Sandy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

green thumbs

My dad’s green thumbs and there’s no lack of flowers or fruit in the yard.

The mango tree in the front yard is doing alright, as is the neighbor’s lychee tree.

A busy body family we are and the front yard becomes quite the operation, a constant rotation of drying pandan leaves, galanga root, thai red chilis and steamed bananas that I would bring back home with me.

My 100+ year old grandmother of course not left out of the day’s activities, here she is chopping pandan leaves to dry, preparing plants to pickle and shaking wilted flowers and leaves off a tree with a stick.

Friday, March 16, 2012

rodent boots

Birds chirp here 24/7, last night especially loud and chit chatty, very much like humans and still at it this morning too while I filled two garbage cans full of weeds. It’s like my morning ritual, after the morning’s packing and shipping is done it’s just me and weeds, slowly and surely 2 garbage cans full a day at least 5 days a week and they should disappear, containment is more like it. And this is just dealing with what’s left after Ritchie and his bobcat took care of most of the yard the other week, leaving me here with just the perimeter, nooks and crannies but of course it feels like a field-full still. Lesson learned, never let the weeds get out of control, the goal is not a forest, evict them immediately.

Indoors for something to munch on, trail chews from my friend’s family’s supermarket, Frazier Farms in Vista are so good. Definitely in the running for best cookie ever; dried coconut, apricot, papaya, cherries, cranberries, almonds, walnuts and pepitas, so good.

A quick look too at Isabel Marant’s F/W 2012 offerings and these 3 dresses, warning ya, don’t look at the pricetag and just imagine yes, please.

The print above is lovely and the dresses below, a nod western.

Runway pics via M’oda ‘Operandi

I also got a package in the mail and dude asks, “what is it?” Box unopened and my immediate reply was, “a box of awesome.” Yah, ya know it! Moving into my new closet has also meant a thorough edit and trades like this one on ebay make it all so sweet. “Trade ya my old stuff for new stuff” and spring cleaning’s far from a chore this season.

kick ass Pierre Hardy leather wedge booties, dead marmot?

or not? As it is a marmot I can fathom it was roadkill…and now on my feet. Never one to think of ever purchasing fur and this feels cruel, conflicted? yes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

macadamia trees

My neighbor, Stu has 3 macadamia trees on his property, macadamia nuts all year round here, who knew? Him and his wife like to roast them in the oven with a sprinkle of salt, I think they’re great just right out of the shell, no fuss. Freshly cracked macadamia nuts right off of the tree taste so good, like really good, the store bought stuff doesn’t even come close. Peel away the first layer which is a husk-like shell, then you’ll need a heavy duty nut cracker like the Krakanut to crack the hard shell, it cleanly cuts the shell of any nut in half, definitely gotta get me one of those, your typical nutcracker’s too flimsy, it won’t work. Agreed we’re planting a couple of trees in our yard, planning for when I’m an old lady I’ll be making dark chocolate covered macadamia nuts from mature macadamia trees in the backyard, I think it’s worth the wait.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


We’ve been invaded by an army of crows, not only are they chilling in the trees or flying through the sky, they land on our dead lawn turning it black, spooky like a Hitchcock movie. Everyday like clockwork in the late afternoon they roll in a dozen or two at a time til there are 200 or so of them, they fly and squawk between our pepper tree, the torrey pines and the neighbor’s eucalyptuses, they seem to be meeting up to discuss their day, “what did you do Fred?” “hung out, shit on the Toyota, the usual.” Like it or not, they’ve claimed the 3 houses on this side of the block their turf. Nature’s perfect Halloween/Fall decor, now if only they’d stay put.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

homemade sriracha

I saw this video recently on how to peel a whole head of garlic in 10 seconds. Yeah, there’s something out there faster than smashing a clove with the flat side of a knife, who knew? And am I the only one thinking that smashing a whole head of garlic with the palm of your hand could be a painful thing? Easy, peasy? maybe.

How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds from on Vimeo.

As I recently bought a large bag of fresh red jalepenos from Zion Korean Market, that along with my newfound garlic skills, it was time I test out Lee’s homemade sriracha recipe featured in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, My Father’s Daughter. The sauce turned out not bad, I liked the idea of blanching the garlic cloves twice and it made sense after seeing a full cup of garlic cloves that that alone instead of a cup plus a quarter cup would be garlicky enough, hands down the consensus was less is more. Try it, it keeps in the refrigerator really well and there’s no preservatives and unnecessary crap that you find in the store bought bottles, bonus!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ohio love

My friends, Joe and Elaine were recently in Ohio visiting with family and friends and they came back with some amazing dried blueberries and apples that their dear friends, Chad and Moni Leech grow and dry at their farm in Logan, Ohio. Hands down these are the best dried blueberries and apples we’ve tasted. Having spent the summer experimenting with drying fruit in the food dehydrator, I’m inspired! Gonna get this process down, fine tune what works, how long? what temp? and for which fruits. If only Chad and Moni’s farm was around here we’d have access to their amazing produce and fruit all year round, I hope the locals around Logan know how lucky they are. Perhaps the Leech’s should set up shop on Etsy selling their dried fruit ’cause we all agree they have this drying bit down.

My first run testing out drying pineapples. Thumbs up from everyone, crazy sweet pineapple flavor in a tiny pineapple chip. Success.