Food

Old-tech Irrigation with Ollas

Olla factory at Growing Awareness Urban Farm

The Southwest isn't wet in the best of times and during a drought, like Right Now, it is downright parched. How do you keep a garden growing when the rain doesn't fall? We have to irrigate, but how can we irrigate effectively with scarce water? Drip irrigation is one modern answer, but ancient people had a simpler version of the same idea.

Oh, have you seen our herb garden?...

a forest of Tarragon

Since it is Memorial Day, we had to grill. It's summer, man! I also had a strong urge to make potato salad. We left the mayonnaise in the refrigerator and went with an herb vinaigrette. However, here is where it gets hinky. The original recipe called for 4 pounds of potatoes to a vinaigrette that contained just 4 tablespoons of herbs (specifically parsley, chives, and basil). All I can say to that is: pikers.

Why I Garden #34

Asparagus - first harvest

Asparagus ~ Spring on your plate.

This may not be the most impressive harvest to come from our garden, but it is satisfying. Fresh asparagus is a sure sign of Spring and I was very happy to cut even a few spears from our garden. Asparagus plants (Asparagus officinalis) are perennial and take two years to establish before the spears can be harvested. This first harvest was a very long time in coming and even sweeter for the wait. We did "cheat" a bit and added store-bought asparagus to our own to make a more generous serving of roasted asparagus spears.

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Food Writers, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down...

Bent fork

Food writers, I love you sometimes but when your recipes fail you totally bum me out and leave me with a bad dinner debacle.

For example, hey you Smitten Kitchen, your recipe produced the greasiest carrot cake I've ever eaten. It made EcoBaby's birthday kind of lame. I even cut back on the listed amount of oil! For Pete's sake woman! But oh boy, your mulled spice cranberry bars were a total winner. More of that, less of the oil.

Let's Plant Some Sh!t

Ron Finley - TED talk

To quote Ron Finley, "Let's Plant Some Sh!t"! Ron is a guerrilla gardner in South Central Los Angeles where he has put shovel to soil and redesigned his neighborhood by planting gardens.

“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus, you get strawberries.”

It's time to get off my cushy chair and grow some change in my own neighborhood.

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A Fruitful Year, Part II

Apple - Platonic Ideal

I processed so many apples through this kitchen that it felt like an outpost of Motts on some days. People, it was a fruitful year and our pantry now overfloweth.

Our own apple tree did well this year and whatever EcoBaby didn't yank off the tree (mostly things on the lower branches) we thoroughly enjoyed. Ecobaby was the best consumer of our garden products. She is still yanking freeze dried little grapes off the vine and gnawing on them.

Why I Garden #33

Canyon Grape - Raisins on the Vine

Fall. Autumnal Equinox. The first hard freeze.

Frankly, the garden and I need a rest. I love a full season of planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. And I love the end of that season just as much. We had our first hard freeze several days ago and I'm happy to look out on a mostly dormant garden. I did expand the cold frame and will be planting hardy greens (Arugula, Mustard Greens and Spinach) to go with the Kale and Chard that have survived the freeze without complaint. I still need to mulch a few beds and will be turning the compost one last time this season.

A Fruitful Year!

Apricot Ratafia

It's been a fruitful year! This amazing feat requires some magical combination of weather, timing, pollination, and possibly prayer. I've seen apricots all over town and also pears, apples, plums, and cherries. I'm hoping to gather some apples for sauce soon. The kitchen is in high gear in years like this.

The apricots were a bonanza and their beautiful goldenness showed up in many of our kitchen productions. Here's what I made:

Why I Garden #30

Shishito Chile Peppers

As much as I love the herbs and native flowers in our garden I love the food we grow even more. This season we planted four Shishito Chile Pepper starts from a local nursery and they have been bearing quite well so far. We've harvested a few dozen peppers and have several more dozen peppers almost ready to pick. Shishito peppers are quite mild and with a little pan searing and salt make a great appetizer.

More Info:

Wikipedia - Shishito pepper

Made the Bread, Bought the Butter, pt. 6

Cornstarch

Many years ago I perked up upon reading an article in the New York Times food section about homemade butterscotch pudding. I would have been at my stove in a flash if not for the fact that the recipe called for two saucepans and I only owned one. Also, the pudding required that technique filled with kitchen terror: tempering beaten eggs with hot milk and then cooking the whole mess until it has thickened but not scrambled. So, that recipe was not going to happen.

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