Friday, May 28, 2010

pesto pesto

basil harvest plus cat

It was definitely time to do a basil harvest - I didn't want to let that plant flower! (or it might make the basil bitter). Kitty helped.


Pesto (adapted from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life)

place two cups of tightly packed basil leaves in a plastic bag. remove air and seal well. pound with a rolling pin to bruise the leaves and release the flavors.

put basil, 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons pine nuts, 2 medium garlic cloves (minced or smashed) and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Process until smooth, using a spatula to scrape down the sides.

pour into a bowl, and add 1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.


Friday, May 21, 2010

the first beet harvest

beet harvest 1

I figured since 60 days had come to pass, I might as well harvest the beets, even though no large root ever grew.

beet harvest 2

This was the largest beet that I found. They say that the roots may not grow if the beets are over-crowded (and no, I never thinned mine), or if the dirt does not allow for the roots to expand easily.

beet greens salad

Though if it just the leaves you are going for, then no worries! This salad consists of beet greens, garlic cheese curds from the farmers market, and red onions and chives with a mixed vinegar, olive oil, and agave nectar dressing.

steamed beet greens

And these we'll enjoy with dinner. I cooked them as my sister does, with some red pepper flakes and garlic, as well as a little bit of vinegar and some salt.

Does anyone have any tips for me as I plant my second go around of beets? How thin, when to thin, etc?  Wishing you a pleasant and relaxing weekend!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

fried squash blossoms

fried squash blossoms

eating fried squash blossoms

Tonight I quickly fried up these two squash blossoms that were blooming on the balcony. And, man, were they good! I tried my hardest to save one for Jesse, but then somehow it went straight into my mouth and down, down to my stomach. I had nothing to do with it, I swear!

Fried squash blossoms are so fresh and light and yummy and delicious, I could eat a trillion of them. Hear that squash plant? I am counting on you to fulfill these needs of mine! (or else, I will see if perhaps a vendor is selling some tomorrow at the Michelle Obama's farmers' market that is so conveniently set-up right near my office every Thursday in the spring, summer, and fall.)

But in all seriousness - here is how I make them:

1. Gently open the squash blossoms to make sure there aren't any critters in there (you'd be surprised. I once found a slug in one!)
2. Cut soft cheese into a small chunk big enough to fit within the blossom (any soft cheese will do, or even hard cheese, no worries about that part.)
3. Place the cheese in the middle of the blossom, and wrap the petals around the cheese to hold it in place.
4. Heat oil in a small pan to perhaps a half an inch or less.
5. Mix equal parts flour and water.
6. Dip the flour blossoms into the batter to coat.
7. Fry the blossoms, flipping them over after just a few seconds. They take almost no time at all to cook.
8. Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


squash blossoms

The yellow squash is flowering.

cucumber blossoms

And so are the cucumbers. Findings these treasures makes me smile.


Friday, May 14, 2010

fresh salad

caprese salad

Pictured here is a tomato, mozarella, and basil salad, with black Hawaiian sea salt (from our vacation there in January).  I used the two types of basil growing in the garden, the big sweet kind, and the small kind (I am a super technical person, you can tell!)

Today it has been so nice here - we went on a long bike ride on the Mount Vernon Trail, where I smelled the sweet scent of honeysuckle so many times.  But, when I checked, there were no honey beads yet!  You know, the sweet nectar on the stamen when you pull it out of the flower?  Maybe later in the summer.

Tonight we will feast on the most awesomest lobster rolls at Hank's Oyster Bar (swoon) followed by some delicious frozen custard at the Dairy Godmother (roll me home please.)

Then tomorrow we'll play a game of miniature golf, and then see a play at the Little Theater of Alexandria

Oh, Old Town, Alexandria, I love you so!!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

mint ice cream

mint chocolate chip ice cream

With all of the crazy amounts of mint that's growing in the garden, I had to think fast - what other mint recipes could I make?  Then I found an ice cream recipe that required three packed cups of the stuff.  Perfect!  This is a fabulous recipe, super creamy.  And, it didn't turn rock hard in the freezer, which always seems to happen when I make ice cream. 

But wouldn't you know, in the past week, the mint has grown so much you would have never guessed that any had been picked! I guess another batch of ice cream is forthcoming.

Pictured here with homemade pistachio/cranberry nougat, courtesy of The Craft of Baking, a truly awesome cook book.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

in the garden

When I came back from San Antonio, I was greeted with a very different garden than I had left only a week ago. I mean, my lord things had sprouted up! I had asked Jesse to overly water everything before he stepped on the plane on Wednesday, and that might have had something to do with it. (although that also might have had something to do with why there were a number of mushrooms in the mint container. yuck!! That one is getting aired out in the sun for a few days.)

Here are a few tid-bits that stuck out to me:

cucumbers, pees, edamame

Can you sort out this mess? Because I don't think that I can. This is a tangle of cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and edamame. Well, it looks happy, so I'll let it do its thing.

summer squash

When I saw these little yellow squash buds, all I could think was - can't wait for squash blossoms! Oh, how I love to fry up those tender orange flowers, with a creamy white cheese wrapped inside ...

beets and carrots

Pretty soon, I will harvest these beets. How lovely it will be to serve a beet green salad and cooked beets for dinner. Yum!

purple beans

This bean vine was non-existent only one week ago. Goodness it is a determined little thing, isn't it?

strawberry and peppers

And the strawberry plant has sprouted this long vine, perhaps three feet long, intruding into the yellow pepper plant space.


And, lastly , my ... watermelon plant!! Yep, that is right. Only I am crazy enough to try and grow watermelons on my balcony. I hear you can train them up a tomato cage. We shall see!

More later. But I am so curious, what you are you guys growing in your gardens right now?

San Antonio

We just got back from a nice, relaxing trip to San Antonio (I was there for work). It was a great place to visit, and the riverwalk is super neat to walk along. Our favorite place to explore was the new Pearl district, which is a northern expansion of the riverwalk and includes live/work spaces, cute shops, and a wonderful weekend farmers' market.

We enjoyed some excellent Texan bbq, and dinner by the water, thanks to, my go-to message board for good food.

We also spent much of the time swimming in the hotel pool, and talking extensively about which house we want to purchase in a new development coming to our neighborhood (the floor plans were released on Friday.) Quite excited are we, to say the least!

Of course, I lugged my SLR with me everywhere we went, and so here are a few photos that I took of our trip:

We also try and purchase little pieces of art when we travel, and so we found a tin pig sculpture in La Villita, an artist village, that fit in my suitcase. Maybe it can go outside one day, in my garden? And so ... as always ...


and - OINK!!! -

tin pig

Monday, May 3, 2010


The Dark and Dank:

Umbrella Day

Today, I am stuck in transit. On my way to San Antonio last night for a work trip, my connecting flight was canceled due to a mechanical problem with the plane. So, three hours and lots of phone calls later, I was booked on a flight leaving tonight instead and am now in an airport hotel. And it is pouring rain outside. The funny thing is, this EXACT turn of events happened to me two months ago! I'm not kidding! I think I have bad airplane luck. Jesse says "stay away from me." (He is meeting me in San Antonio on Wednesday. Let's hope my luck leave him alone.)

image source: here

The Bright and Beautiful:

Desert Dandelion

Though, here is an idea that brightened my day. Have you ever tried dandelion sorbetHow neat! Just the other day I was picking dandelions with my niece. And just yesterday I made mint chocolate chip ice cream. How wonderful it would be to pick those dandelions with my niece, and then make such a seemingly delicious and refreshing treat!

image source: here


Saturday, May 1, 2010

mid-century modern

Today Jesse and I went on a House & Garden tour of Hollin Hills, (thank you to my awesome sister-in-law/blog reader for the idea).  Hollin Hills is a mid-century modern housing development outside of Old Town, Alexandria.  Like many modern homes, these encompass open floor plans, and a constant interplay between the inside and the outside - with a through and through respect for nature.

I grew up in a mid-century modern home, and I get so excited whenever I see furniture by such names as Knoll, Noguchi, Saarinen, or Bertoia.  I often find myself explaining to Jesse why these items are so very important to me to collect (despite the price tag.)  I really am not the most materialistic person - but when it comes to the home, I often spend hours thinking of exactly how to make each room "perfect."  (Or, very pleasing to my aesthetic.)  Lucky for us, this store is just two blocks from where we will be moving next year.  Or, maybe, unlucky for us...

 I took some photos along the way.  It was so so warm outside, it was quite a nice little stroll.  And, we bought lemonade from a cute little boy who had set up a stand.  I think that is one smart little capitalist, if I have ever seen one!

hollin hills 1
HH 2
HH 3
HH 4
Hollin Hills 5
Hollin Hills 6
Hollin Hills 7
HH 10