Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

What I Did this Spring

Sometime back in February, I fell off the blogging grid. Where was I? What was I doing? Well, here’s a recap (with lots of photos):

I threw an epic Momofuku Dinner party with Bo Ssam, Sous Vide Hangar Steak Ssam, home-made Kimchi, Rice, Roasted Cauliflower and a whole mess of sauces. All from the Momofuku Cookbook by David Chang. Wow! Oh, and I created some specialty cocktails too, the Cucumber Bliss (cucumber infused vodka, ginger liqueur, lychee juice and meyer lemon bitters) and the Ginger Collins (ginger vodka, lime juice, orange bitters and club soda).

Since it just happened to be one of my good friend’s birthdays, I topped dinner off with the Apple Pie Layer Cake from Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tossi. One of my guests declared it the best cake he had ever eaten. I’m not sure he was wrong.

Just a couple of weeks later I upheld my tradition of cooking dinner as my gift for another set of my friend’s birthdays (they’re a couple and their birthdays are on two consecutive days). I made giant ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and an egg yolk, plain cheese ravioli for the kid’s, Caesar salad (my friend loves my version) and home-made foccacia bread.

I finished that dinner off with another cake from Milk, the Confetti Cake. Not quite as good as the Apple Pie Layer Cake, but still tasty (and fun, especially for their kids).

Next up in my trio of birthdays was my own. I wasn’t planning a celebration this year but my husband insisted. We hosted a small group of friends for a crab boil, Dungeness Crab, Spot Prawns, Mussels, corn, potatoes and some Andouille Sausage that I made, stuffed and smoked myself. I also made all the crab dipping sauces found in Becky Selengut’s cookbook Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast. While the avocado herb sauce and lemon panko sauces were both good, the soy caramel made me want to pick up the bowl and lick it out when the meal was done. I’m not even joking a little here. And of course there were custom drinks including the Arecibo Sidecar with pear-infused brandy, triple sec, home-made limon-limettachello and meyer lemon bitters in a sugar-rimmed martini glass (and in case you’re wondering, Arecibo is the name of our house).

One more birthday, one more excuse to cook from Milk. For my own birthday I decided to make the carrot layer cake. I really wanted to make the pistachio layer cake (because I love, LOVE pistachios) but just a couple of the ingredients totaled $80 and I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that. Happily, the carrot cake was really good (even though it didn’t set up very well because I undercooked the liquid cheesecake). Moist and not overly sweet.

Once we finished dessert I found out why my husband was so insistent that we have a party. He had been working for weeks (maybe months) on an edition of Trivial Pursuit personalized just for me (as in, all of the questions pertained to trivia about me). One of the sweetest things he’s ever done.

He also bought me a PlayStation with lots of video games. I lost a lot of March to Skyrim. Some people say video games are a waste of time but as my husband is fond of quoting “Time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted” -John Lennon

I managed to pull myself away from video games long enough to cater a couple of big parties.

We dog sat (that’s our dog Rupert on the left and the one we were dog-sitting, Penny, on the right).

I made some slap-yo-mama good Balsamic-Mint-Strawberry Jam

Somewhere around here I started feeling under the weather. Which for me means one thing, my (not so) secret shame, cup noodles. Something about them is magical when I don’t feel good.

While still not feeling 100% I co-hosted a baby shower. Since I was sick I had a lot of time on my hands to make some custom decorations. As for the food, we made pesto chicken salad, Mediterranean tuna salad, pasta salad with preserved zucchini and tomato confit, greens topped with strawberries, goat cheese and pecans, roasted asparagus with aioli and pinot noir syrup, confetti cookies (again from Milk) and cake balls and pops. I spent a lot of the party having coughing fits (and drinking shots of vodka to try to calm them, wheeee).

And since time marches on whether you feel good or not, we had this delivered, 27 cubic yards of dirt (for reference, there is a 16′ x 20′ tarp under there).

We dog sat again.

After three weeks I finally gave up and went to the doctor…

…twice. Thank the maker for modern medicine. Curse you asthma-riddled lungs.

Meanwhile my husband (and some friends and hired guns) were moving all of that dirt. I helped some by pulling weeds. A lot of weeds, actually. And I did some planting in the one area that now had all the dirt it needed.

Finally through the miracle of antibiotics (and the best cough syrup I’ve ever had) I started feeling better. We celebrated with a day away from the garden.

And some plant shopping.

Eventually, we got to the fun part of the gardening project, the planting. Made slightly less fun because it had to be done in the rain, but we’re troopers. And, lets face it, there are times in Seattle where if you wait for it to stop raining, you are never going to go outside.

We spent the night at a friend’s house and she made us Dutch Baby Pancake for breakfast.

We went to a BBQ where we ate brisket and drank bourbon.

We piled the dog into the car and drove to Boise to visit my mom and mom-in-law.

We spent the day at my mom’s cabin. What a view.

Back in Boise we ate some pretty great Basque food at Epi’s. Chorizo with pimentos, ham croquetas, Txerri Txuletax Pipperrakin (pork chops with pimentos) and gateau Basque for dessert.

We celebrated Rupert’s 6th Birthday with a ride back to Seattle.

I went to the BlogHer Food Conference in Seattle (meh), made some fun new friends and ate this (they called it potato salad). How about we all agree to stop “deconstructing” food, hmmm?

We went to a Dodgers vs. Mariners game and had a beer (or two) in memory of my Dad (the Dodger’s were his favorite). I’m pretty sure the grand slam hit by the Dodgers was just for him.

We dog sat. Again.

We finished the last of the gardening (except for the never-ending weeding) by planting a few vegetables in my new raised beds.

And last weekend, since we were rained out from camping, we took a drive to Mt. Vernon to retrieve our newest backyard decoration from our friends at Bistro San Martin who had wrangled him for us. We call him Chicken Boo (you’ll get the name if you ever watched the Animaniacs). I love him. Our dog is scared of him.

In between all this craziness, I still managed to work, teach classes, swim and even, occasionally, do house work.

I can’t wait to see what summer will bring…



Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

How does your garden grow?

I thought it might be time for an update on my (tiny) garden.

The Roma Tomatoes are pretty small, but tasty (this one topped a pizza moments after I took the picture).

I’ve got lots of jalapenos started, but they are all round and I’m not sure they are getting any bigger.

Beets and White Beets: Fail. I had a feeling these were not going to grow when the greens bolted when it got really hot.

I have hundreds of cherry tomatoes. They are sooo sweet and delicious. The vines are so heavy with tomatoes that I have had to add lots of extra stakes to keep them from breaking.

I have four stalks of corn and two of them have tiny ears of corn starting. Yay!

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

While in Kansas, it seemed like every time we turned around someone was trying to feed us. No light food either, there was nary a salad in sight. In one day we had a cheesy potato breakfast casserole with bacon, ribs with potato salad and beans for lunch, and supreme pizza for dinner (then beer, lots of beer). Now I’m not saying it wasn’t good (the ribs were some of the best I’ve had) there was just so darn much of it.

Since I’ve been home I’ve been craving really light food (and spicy Asian-style food, but that’s another story). Today I decided to make myself a light, but indulgent lunch. And, I decided my tomato was finally ready.

Here’s the ingredients (for one person):

A couple handfuls of campanelle pasta (I decided on this shape because I thought it would hold the diced tomatoes nicely)
1 Roma tomato
several leaves of basil (these are from my garden, too)
1 clove of garlic, mashed to a paste
olive oil (the good stuff)
a bit of really good Parmigiano-Regianno cheese

I started by cooking the pasta in well-salted water. While this cooked, I diced the tomato (into 1/4″ dice), julienned the basil and mashed the garlic. If you’ve never done this, here’s how.

Start by chopping the garlic.

Sprinkle it with kosher salt.

With the knife almost parallel to the cutting board, mash the salt and garlic together.

Keep going until you get a paste.

Once the pasta was cooked through, I drained it, returned it to the pan and added the garlic paste right away (just to take the edge off of it). I added a generous drizzle of olive oil, the diced tomatoes and the basil. The heat of the pasta warmed the tomato and made a nice light sauce. I topped the dish with a bit of cheese and a sprinkle of sea salt.

So good, and exactly what I had been craving. Light and summery and so flavorful. It was so exciting to take my first harvest from my garden and turn it into something so delicious.

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

My (Tiny) Garden Update

You may remember this tomato (it was there when I planted the garden).

Today, it looks like this. So close. Still a little firm, but in a few days…

My neighbor, who just moved here from Nebraska (so he knows corn), told me that if it is “knee high by the 4th of July” it should be good. Mine is, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

This is my first cherry tomato to show up. It is so tiny, maybe 1/4″. But I can tell from the blossoms, more are on the way.

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

My New (Tiny) Garden

Today I did some planting. In the herb garden I added rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme and basil (I already have sage, chives, garlic chives, mint and oregano growing). I wanted to plant some nasturtiums but the plant store did not have any.

In the back yard I added a very small container garden in an area where we are thinking about planting beds next year.

This is our shed (yep, the husband and I are pretty artsy), with the pots right in front.

On the left I’ve got roma tomatoes, jalapenos, corn (which I have doubts about) and red beets.

On the right I’ve got cherry tomatoes, “kung pao” peppers, white beets, and brussel sprouts.

I don’t know if any of it will produce produce, but it’ll be fun trying.

At the very least, this tomato should ripen up.

Sunday, May 17th, 2009


These are lilacs from my back yard. Lilacs are my favorite flower (with gerbera daisies running a close second).

My mom tells me that lilacs were my dad’s favorite too, so maybe it’s genetic.

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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