When I moved to Los Angeles I anticipated a glitzy life of style, media and art. I never thought I’d find myself digging in the dirt. And yet here I am with dirt under my curtain call red mani on a quest to grow the perfect tomato.
I recently spent some vacation time on the waters of Hood Canal in Washington State. Hood Canal is a long, narrow fjord with a crook shaped end called The Great Bend. That’s where I was. In the land of oysters.
When I was small I spent a lot of time in the waters of the nearby Puget Sound where I grew up. Hours passed quickly in the salt water swimming with my sister. We should have gills. There was so much to do! We were slaves to a minus tide, which offered a sandbar for barefoot play. The giant rock adjacent to our bulkhead was treated as base camp for landing and leaping. And of course there was the time honored tradition of carefully adorning ourselves with seaweed to create monstrous medusa costumes that could be worn on the beaches and swing sets of Lowman Park. Continue reading Oysters, guilt-free food→
My basil went a little nuts while I was on vacation. Shrouded in the unruly tomato brush it grew unsupervised for 10 days. (Tomatoes and basil make good garden companion plants.) The basil became so tall I only harvested the top half of the stalks. Herbs, I should mention, like to be cut. If you see flowers growing on your basil give the plant a nice trim. If you’re not ready to use your basil right away you can just pinch off the tops and get rid of those pretty flowers. Do this so that your herb will continue producing.
Fresh basil is a delightful addition to green salads, eggs, tomato dishes, and sauces. It has many practical applications. My favorite? Pesto. Mmm. Basil pesto is an easily prepared, uncooked sauce with many decadent applications. Love eggs? Scramble them with a little basil pesto. Top a nice fillet of wild caught salmon with pesto. Dollop pesto over a baked potato, stir it into some brown rice, or toss it with fettuccini. Continue reading Please pass the pesto→
Did you ever have goldfish? If so, you probably received advice at some point about feeding them. You were told to take particular caution to not overfeed them. A goldfish will clean it’s plate (or bowl as the case may be) and whatever else you give it next. You may have been told that your goldfish could explode if it ate too much. Not a pretty picture.
Watching my chickens go about their day I sometimes wonder if they eat too much. It doesn’t seem to matter what time it is or how many snacks they’ve already had. Betty and Margot are always ready for more.
They are rambunctious in the morning. I open the coop to give them some yard time most days before I leave for work.
What do you do when your garden has blessed you with pounds and pounds…and pounds of tomatoes, more than you can possibly eat? Gazpacho is one answer. Or you can share. But let’s start with gazpacho so you don’t have to. Well, not yet anyway. Not until garden production gets so out of control you dream you are a tomato and you’re going bad.
There are as many ways to make gazpacho as there are varieties of tomatoes. My Garden Fresh Gazpacho recipe calls for fresh, in season tomatoes. I don’t like commercial tomato juice and I find it an unnecessary addition under ideal tomato circumstances. Can’t grow ‘em? Can you make it to a farmers’ market? During the summer I hope you are surrounded by tomatoes.
My gazpacho is on the mild side. I prefer a balance of spice and flavor and avoid palette-crushing volumes of peppers, onions and garlic. I want to taste my damn tomatoes. If you prefer things a little closer to hellfire, then by all means, increase your favorite ingredients. Be sure to have a tall, icy, alcoholic beverage on hand to quench your hot self.
I peel and seed my tomatoes. This is the most labor-intensive part of gazpacho preparation. It sounds psychotically difficult, but it isn’t. Wear an apron.
My Garden Fresh Gazpacho recipe yields 4 servings. It’s a great starter or side dish to your grilled shrimp or fish. Serve it topped with fresh cilantro, avocado, and a turn of the sea salt grinder. If you’re serving this to others (you know, sharing) set out the hot sauce and your lucky guests can customize their experience. Some like it hot.
If tomatoes are in season you may want to opt for fresh over canned in recipes. And if you love tomatoes this is a great excuse to spend quality time with them. Wear an apron to protect your pretty dress from flying tomato chunks. If this is the first time you’re doing this your kitchen may end up looking like something out of the last scenes of Django Unchained. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go on YouTube and search for Django Unchanged shootout. WARNING: this is super duper violent so grab a stiff drink and your blanky.)
To this day I cannot eat salsa, garden salad or marinara without pondering the storied existence of the hopeful tomato. My father was quite the storyteller when my sister and I were kids. This is one tale that I cannot shake. Just the mention of it makes my sister six years old again.