Harvest Monday. Enjoy.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
This week we had quite a few garden treats to enjoy in this little kitchen of ours. I started out the week making an absolutely delicious strawberry & rhubarb crisp. The rhubarb, I confess, is not a garden harvest, but rather store bought stalks. (while we do have a rhubarb plant in the garden, we just don't get near cold enough for it to produce). I originally set out to make this into a pie, but after considering the making of pie dough with my little man, we opted for a crisp instead. We combined 3 cups of strawberries & 2 1/2 cups rhubarb with a 1/2 cup of sugar & heaping tablespoon of cornstarch, 1 tbs of lemon juice and a pinch of salt (sugar cut in 1/2 from original recipe). The crispy topping is a combination of 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, 3/4 cups flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar & 5 tbs butter. Combine the fruit mixture and put in baking dish. Combine all other ingredients for the topping and sprinkle atop. Set in the oven for about a half hour in this small dish, and it's done.
Our artichokes are becoming a daily harvest, and we have begun grilling them rather than the traditional stove-top preparation. Though, we do steam them until 3/4 cooked, they are then tossed in a bag with a good amount of balsamic vinegar, touch of olive-oil, a pinch of salt and some herbs. After this, we put them on the grill for about 6 minutes, turning once. If there is any leftover vinegar we use this for dipping while eating, but they are just delicious cooked in this manner. And, it helps keep the good, healthy veggie, healthy. It's interesting how we take a perfectly healthy vegetable and quickly make it a not-so-good-for-you veggie by dipping it in butter or mayo. Oh, don't get me wrong, we do love them that way, but I if you've never tried a grilled artichoke, definitely give it a go.
We also got one of our most favorite surprises: freshly caught yellow-tail on our door-step. A good friend of ours caught this bounty of fish off the coast of Baja just the day before, and stopped by to share a few fillets with us. The sweet, freshness of this fish is like none-other. When the cooler lid is opened, there is not a even a scent of anything fishy. I will say this is my most absolute favorite type of filet-apologies, Mr. Cow. With fish this fresh the simplest of preparations is all that's called for. We did a nice pan fry in olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper. We tossed some asparagus into the pan, and once these were removed we tossed them in a bowl with a crushed red chili, fresh thyme & parsley, olive oil and lemon juice.
Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard to see what other harvest preparations people are fixin up.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
A great friend just recently lost her grandfather, and within a few day, her grandmother as well. So, some much needed sunshine in the way of garden-picked flowers were in store for her. After a quick walk around with Ezra to choose just the right mix (he's very particular), I came inside only to realize I did not have an extra vase. It was much to late to run out and grab one, as dinner and bedtime were impending, so I began to hunt.
Flower pot to the rescue! There is most always one or two extras of these lying around, and I had just the perfect size. I placed some floral foam inside a large zip-loc bag, as I wanted her to be able to give them fresh water in the days to come, and proceeded to arrange just like any other container.
I think they turned out just great, and what a great, inexpensive way in which to arrange flowers. Love it when things work out better than planned.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Harvest Monday, 4.23.12, and our spring garden is doing quite well. To be honest though, I am pretty tired of asparagus and artichokes, which would sound a bit loony to winter or fall me. But right now, ugh, I can't handle another round. We started giving away some asparagus, and preserving small artichokes in olive oil for use on pizzas later in the year.
I thought our asparagus patch was winding down, but it is still coming in strong. Please let me know if you have a favorite method of preparation besides grilled, steamed, in omelets, soups and stir-fry.
Our Valencia orange tree is full of fruit, and they are about as sweet as they are going to get. Being so close to the coast, we don't get the heat that really makes citrus sweet, but they still makes tasty orange juice. The passion fruit are still part of the 2011 season, and will be used to make passion fruit syrup, which we love on ice cream.
Young artichokes = preserved artichoke hearts in olive oil. We did a large batch already this week, and surprisingly we already need to do more. Stay tuned for the breakdown and results later this week.
This past week marked a significant anniversary for our son, so we brought some garden-cut flowers to his cardiologist and cardiac surgeon. We do this annually, and will continue forever, as a small gesture for these amazing people that dedicate themselves to medicine.
Yes, yes, yes... Our strawberry patch is starting to produce enough to cook with, and this batch went into a strawberry/rhubarb crisp. Unlike asparagus and artichokes, both of which I love, I will never get tired of strawberries.
Another batch of flowers; this one for a friend who recently lost her grandfather.
Do you see the green worm? The head of lettuce was beautiful, and this little guy wanted to share.
It is such fun to see what is happening, growing and thriving within each private yard. Some are grand, and some are not. But, the one thing they all have in common is the power of inspiration. There is always something to take and learn from each.
Every year we come home with new ideas, and a new, refreshed energy to get out and put some more love into our own home. It's our annual, kick-in-the-ass, if you will.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Though Spring is definitely in full swing in these parts, our kitchen is smelling of pumpkin these days. - That delicious, roasting, Fall pumpkin smell. We harvested these Musquee de Provence almost nine-months ago, and they have been resting ever-so-quietly beneath our kitchen benches in which we sit daily. This little California house of ours just happens to be built out of cement, cinder-blocks - not a very common building material in this neck-of-the-woods. This might not be the best structure for earthquake territory, but it sure does provide nice insulation for our harvested pumpkins. And, since it's been here since the 40s, we're not too worried about the earthquakes (insurance properly in place!).
One of our most favorite pumpkin recipes around here is, of course, the muffin, and its especially loved by our little man. This love of the pumpkin muffin is partially our fault, as we've been taking him to our most beloved bakery in San Diego, Bread & Cie, since he was an itty-bitty one. And, it is here he had his first. pumpkin. muffin.
In an effort to make an equally desired, home-made version I've done some tweaking and adjusting to this original recipe. I love this recipe below, as there is neither butter nor refined sugars.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup coconut oil (canola can be substituted, but not as delicious)
3/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
*1/2 cup walnuts and/or raisins if desired
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Combine wet ingredients, mix well. Fold in dry mixture. Divide batter among greased muffin tin, and bake. I use a smaller muffin tin, as they fit in our little hands better, but a regular size is good, too. If you use a small tin, bake for about 10 minutes, or 12-15 if larger.
And, if you're one of our friends that wanted seeds from this fabulous pumpkin please let us know. We've searched and searched for the previous folks, to no avail.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Homemade dirt, you ask? Isn't the good, old dirt in the garden naturally home-made? Oh, yes of course this is true, but sometimes the best activities with a little creature are the most simple.
Flour + Oil + Little Creature = great fun. And, there is something about containing it all in a box that makes it even more alluring.
Earlier this year, I used regular, white flour to create somewhat of a snow scene, but this time I used whole wheat flour for more of a dirt/sand effect. This, coupled with a few mini-trucks = loads of fun for the little man of our house.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
After being out of town for a bit last week we came back to a garden in full-swing; however, we did not come home empty-handed! Thirty years ago my parents moved our family to a little house in the middle of an avocado orchard. They were not farmers, had no interest in becoming such, but wanted my brother and I to grow up in an area in which we were free to roam. The two of us used to post-up on the corner and sell the avocados, 4 for $1, all summer long. My brother used his money earned to buy surfboards, and I saddles for my horse. Anything not within arms reach was professionally picked and sold. It was when I went away college at UCSD (my migration to San Diego), that I realized what I had lived with all those years. I about died the first time I went into the market to buy an avocado - holy moly - they did not fit into my college student budget! And, it was only then I realized why my parents were so upset with us the year we decided to pick all the baby avocados to use as ammunition in a battle with the neighborhood kids. Sorry, folks.
Merveille des quatre saisons lettuce, almost the size of Ezra's head.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
A few months ago I spotted these felted soaps at a local boutique here in San Diego. At $14 a piece, they are a bit out of our soap budget, so I began making our own. It is kind of like making a sweater for your soap. I've since spotted these in high-end stores like Anthropologie - they're all the rage, I tell you.
The felted wool on the exterior acts as a nice exfoliant come shower-time, and it is also a natural, anti-microbial agent. If you are at all familiar with felting, they are a breeze to make. (we have probably all pulled that dreaded sweater from the dyer that has just been felted - albeit, unintentionally - but the process is the same). Here, I am using some lovely, hand-made soap made by some family friends at this goat farm (their lavender soap & skin creams are a favorite), but any bar of soap will do. (I was lucky enough to get these at a generous discount).
:: completely wrap the soap with roving. The thinner the layers are, the better the final product, but be sure to cover entirely.
:: cover wrapped soap with an old nylon stocking. This keeps the roving tight against soap, which makes a cleaner-looking finished product. A thin sock will also work, but you can't see in.
:: run the soap under hot, hot water (the hotter the water the quicker the process), and begin to agitate. I use a wash-board, but you can use anything. You can even rub & massage between your hands if you don't have a board - it will work the same, but may take a bit longer.
:: continue to alternate hot water and agitation for about 5-8 minutes. I also tend to squeeze it a few times to get the roving really tight on the soap.
:: remove from nylons, and set to dry.
If you've never done any type of wet felting before, this is a perfect project with which to begin. If you do not have a local fiber/yarn store to purchase the wool roving, it can easily be ordered on-line via Etsy.