Saturday, May 02, 2009

Yard Goods - Saturday 5/2/2009

Why do I always forget to take a before photo? This is the middle photo.

Trust me, I spent about half of the 3 1/2 hours I spent on the yard was right here. I took out most of the rocks in order to get the neighbors' leaves out from between them. And then, yes, I put them back.

Tomorrow I want to replace the African daisies with fresh ones.

I enjoy digging, planting, even weeding. I am less enthusiastic about cleaning up afterward.

The whole thing of sweeping a sidewalk is kind of mystifying. I mean, isn't the whole point of the outdoors to have a place to keep your dirt?

I picked up 249 apricots from the back yard. The other day I picked up 118. There are maybe 3 dozen left on the branches.

Big winds in spring: boo! hiss!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti - Thursday 4/30/2009

I bought 3 pounds of fava beans for $4.00 at the farmer's market last weekend. I have no idea if that's a good price, but it sounded okay to me.

I've been hearing about the much-revered fava on Evan Kleiman's Good Food on KCRW. It's one of the culinary harbingers of spring.

The woman who grew these beauties opened one and let me have a taste. They have a unique pungency that I like.

Isn't that one of the most gorgeous things you've ever seen? I mean, look at the blend of colors! The pod is lined with nature's version of foam and velvet. These things must be special.

They are described as labor-intensive. The chefs I've heard extolling their virtues also admit to letting a kitchen assistant prep them. First you take them out of the pods.

Then you blanch them to make taking the soft inner shell off easier. I guess that's a redundant sentence, since the definition of blanching is the process of immersing food in boiling water and then cold water for the express purpose of removing the skin.

Ew! So then why do we say things like, "The very thought of it made her blanch"?

Or, maybe it's "The very thought of it made her Blanche." As in Blanche DuBois. Now, that I'd like to see.

Wait a minute. Where were we?

Pay attention, will you?

Apologies for the blurry photograph. It's not all that easy to peel fava beans with one hand and man the camera with the other.

It took me a while to find the way to do this. Getting that skin off is easier if you detach the skin by rolling it back and forth between thumb and finger while pinching. See how the skin is kind of loose there?

Then use your thumbnail to pierce the skin, and it will slip right out. I don't know how to make this easier if you don't have a thumbnail handy. As you may have noticed, I tried using a knife in the previous photo. But that didn't work terribly well and felt a little dangerous.

Not that "whee it's a roller coaster" type of danger. More the "I don't want to spend tonight in the emergency room with a bloody dishrag around my thumb" type of danger.

There are probably tons of recipes out there, but I wanted something simple after all that toiling away, so I made pasta with fava beans.

Sauteed garlic in olive oil, added tomatoes and cooked lightly. Added in fresh basil and the fava beans, just enough to heat them up. Tossed them on the pasta with Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper.

Ooh, good! Hydra made himself a hamburger, so there are leftovers for tomorrow.

I'll bet if you had a creative cook in the house, you'd eat what she prepared, wouldn't you?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yogalicious! - Monday 4/27/2009

The omelet kit I brought to work with me for lunch today. Farm fresh free range eggs from Acton, CA . As close as it gets without having chicken feathers all over the back yard.

Yes, you can make an omelet of sorts in the microwave. I sliced and cooked the mushrooms for a couple of minutes, then added the tomatoes for 30 seconds. Cooked the eggs in a separate (oiled) bowl. Put the sugar snap peas on top of the cooked eggs and poured the hot mushroom/tomato mix over them to heat them a little.

Yum. Really.

OneL thought I might like to put these cheese chicks crackers on my blog. She was right!

But mostly, I wanted to tell you that I finally got back to the gym after almost a month's absence. The first three weeks were due to a bout of bronchitis that left me coughing after I even walked fast. Then the last week was just procrastination and the fact that I had to renew my gym membership (which I got a great deal on through Costco).

But anyway, last night I went for a yoga class and it was fabulous. Of course I am not as limber as I was a month ago--and honestly, I am a bit flexibility-challenged at best--but it was terrific. I seriously became blissed out by the end of the class.

I wish I could get to yoga more often. It's a complete treat. I could feel the vertebrae in my upper back easing apart in the most necessary way.

I returned a block to the teacher after class and told her it was wonderful and that I was a little loopy. I really was. Just euphoric. She put her hands up in a sort of double-high-five gesture, and then almost knocked me over with her gentle palm-slap. I guess I really was floating.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Self-Watering Planters II + Herb Gardening - Sunday 4/26/2009

Went to the College of the Canyons Farmer's Market in the morning, but forgot my camera. Sigh. Bought some fresh free range eggs from a farm located in Acton! (Maybe they'll let me stop by and pick up from them directly without having to drive 20 miles to the market.) Also went a little nuts with fresh herbs and veggies.

Ready to load with dirt. The pipe is so you can add water to the reservoir after it's filled with dirt.

Layered in the potting mix, adding water as I went along.

Added the weed-proof plastic, which also helps reduce evaporation, which is a big problem out here in the heat of summer. (I'm talking 110+ degrees now and again.)

Getting the plants planted through the plastic was one of the more tricky parts of this project. The hardest part was cutting the tubs down and cutting out the lids, just because the material is not terribly stable and it kept binding up the jigsaw.

Four kinds of tomatoes! And that's an artichoke in the pot in the middle. Not sure how much the artichoke will like being in a pot, but I'm gonna give it a shot.

The rosemary got way out of hand while I wasn't paying attention! Also moved the savory (in the foreground) to another part of the yard, since I don't really use it much. The organo? There's no getting rid of it, even if we wanted to. Thank goodness Hydra uses it in his spaghetti sauce!


I know, it's not all that pretty and it needs more shaping, but after an hour with the hedge trimmers and hand clippers, this is where I needed to stop. Now there's room for more herbs!

I think I may have harvested almost enough rosemary to season the fingerling potatoes I bought at the farmer's market this morning!

Fresh sage, parsley and thyme. The first bunches of these I planted 8 years ago are either gone or too woody to be of much use.

Hey, I should write a song about my herb garden....

Hydra pointed out the way this ornament was catching the evening light as I finished up my day's work. Much to his credit, bum knee and all, he trimmed all the grass in the yard, which is a job I most sincerely do not enjoy.

End of day treat: watercress soup. Which is actually not all that great as it turns out--a bit of a bitterish aftertaste, but it's what's for lunch this week. I used some of that chicken stock from Friday. When else am I going to get enough watercress for soup with leftovers for salads for $1.50?

Also had an amazing salad with leaf lettuce, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, celery, Persian cucumbers, basil, dill (it's sooo good in a salad!), a little bleu cheese, tarragon vinegar and olive oil. Crunch!