Monday, March 30, 2009

you mustn't cook!

making homemade tamales @ Dad's

I just finished reading the short story,
The Cottagette by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
(EDIT>FIND>'The Cottagette' until you see the full text of the story...)

Ms. Perkins Gilman always had such an interesting perspective on the topics she explored in her writing.

I love my time in the kitchen, but after reading this story I can't help but wonder, what would my life be like if I didn't cook?


We were off in ten minutes, light-footed and happy, and the day was all that could be asked. He brought a perfect lunch, too, and had made it all himself. I confess it tasted better to me than my own cooking; but perhaps that was the climb.
When we were nearly down we stopped by a spring on a broad ledge, and supped, making tea as he liked to do out-of-doors. We saw the round sun setting at one end of a world view, and the round moon rising at the other; calmly shining each on each.
And then he asked me to be his wife.--
We were very happy.
"But there's a condition!" said he all at once, sitting up straight and looking very fierce. "You mustn't cook!"

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Obama's are gardening!

they've planted all sorts of good stuff, shelling peas, fennel, carrots, kale, even hyssop (i had to look that one up!).

check it out here!

take a look at the garden layout and some photos here...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

urban gardening part II - herbs


My herbs are waiting for me to throw some pots for them and track down some gravel to cover the soil. I was told the little flies that hover around potted herbs will go away if I cover the soil in a thin layer of gravel. I've only spotted one of these little flies so far, but I better find some gravel before more decide to come to the party. For now, my herbs will remain topless and in their plastic containers. They have moved from the kitchen table to the bay window and are sunbathing for as many hours per day as possible.

ROSEMARY 'Barbeque'
So-called because the stems are long and hard, perfect for bbq skewers.
Full sun, low water when established, DEER PROOF.*

*I learned while in Point Reyes that one cannot guarantee that any plant is DEER PROOF.
WINTER SAVORY (Satureja montana)
Shrubby perennial herb used for flavoring, like sage.
Full sun, moderate water. To 1ft. tall, pretty flowers too!

THYME 'Big Leaf'
Vigorous, great tasting thyme to 1' x 1'.
Good in pots. Full sun, reg. water.

Selection from Franchi Sementi of Italy.
Milder Italian Oregano, very versatile! Perennial, full sun, great in pots.

BASIL (simply labeled 'Live Basil')

I made a mistake in my last post, 4 pots of herbs were bought from one gentleman and 1 pot from another. The basil was the 1 pot from another and it started slumping over and looking unhappy almost immediately (within hours of purchase!). Even the stems started turning brown. I decided to just pull all of the still perky leaves from the plant, made a neat
chiffonade, and sprinkled it atop our dinner of pasta with fresh English peas and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. We were not disappointed.

Finally, the last item on the table is a vase of bright yellow Ranunculus (Persian Buttercups).
wikipedia says:
The term sardonic (sardanios), "bitter or scornful laughter", is often cited as deriving from the name of the Sardinian plant Ranunculus sardous, known as either σαρδάνη (sardanē) or σαρδόνιον (sardonion). When eaten, it would cause the eater's face to contort in a look resembling scorn (generally followed by death). It might also be related to σαίρω (sairō) "I grin".
and they look so sweet and innocent...

carrots coming soon!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

urban gardening part I - succulents

a gift from joen

a gift from mary anne and an orphan succulent

Wikipedia tells us:
Succulent plants, also known as succulents or fat plants...Succulent plants store water...The storage of water often gives succulent plants a more swollen or fleshy appearance than other plants, also known as

We are slowly but surely making our transition back to urban life and as the sun begins to shine again and the spring season comes our way, we are finding that some changes require more effort than others. One such change is transitioning from living with a large outdoor space to our apartment with zero outdoor space, not even a fire escape. We were spoiled with our giant backyard and patio in Point Reyes. We aren't greedy people, not at all, we don't need all of that yard space here in the city, but a tiny little corner...just a little ledge where we could arrange some soil and sprout something green would be nice. For now, this is not an option, we are committed to making our current living situation work. We were determined to find a solution for making our outdoor space transition run a bit more smoothly, one that would make us happy. We didn't give up, we kept thinking.

Envisioning a garden in our bay window required a complete shift in mindset. It's not really outdoor, but the windows are large and they do let a lot of light into the space. I've read about the viability of gardening in city dwellings on small patios and on roof decks, but in a window...hmmm...would it be possible?

So I decided to start with some hardy and friendly looking succulents. While in Point Reyes, we grew our fair share of fruit, vegetables, and a few native wildflowers and such, but we've never owned a succulent. I perused a few books at the library for advice and checked one out to take home with me and help me get started. It's been about a month, and the succulents have been very well behaved and look beautiful. Recently I added a cutting from Mary Anne's succulent area at the Fort Mason Community Garden and just this week I added a cutting from Joen's gorgeous selection of succulents happily soaking up the sun on her back porch (gifts pictured above). The new cuttings seem to be adapting well.

Today we purchased 5 pots of herbs from a very nice gentleman at the farmers market. More on the herbs soon...stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

bored with breakfast?

Chris relaxing on the deck (ours for the weekend)

We just spent three beautiful days on the Inverness Ridge. Our climb to the top was pretty intense, so we tried to limit our trips into town for supplies and cooked most of our meals in the house.

One morning Chris decided to make savory oatmeal. Yes, savory - no brown sugar, no cream, no raisins.

He patiently prepared 2 servings of Bob's Red Mill 100% whole grain steel cut oats. Steel cut oats are worlds away from the oatmeal most of us grew up eating. They differ in taste (better), texture (better), and preparation (l o n g e r). Steel cut oats cook for 10-20 minutes over a low heat, nothing like those cute little sweetened pouches of just add hot water instant oatmeal.

Chris topped our savory steel cut oats with diced salametto (Fra'Mani handcrafted salumi from Berkeley) found at Tomales Bay Foods, finely grated Pecorino Romano from Palace Market (the one cheese we forgot to purchase at Cowgirl Creamery - love that place!), a drizzle of McEvoy Ranch extra virgin olive oil (McEvoy is a class act, but Stonehouse is still my favorite), and he completed the dish with coarse ground black pepper.

It was fantastic! I know we will be experimenting with many variations on this theme.

Thanks Chris!