Eggplant Ragu

eggplant_ragu_and_ricotta

When we planted the garden this year, along with the zucchini plant, the tomatoes, the basil and kale, we had a lone eggplant seedling.  I really didn’t think we’d have much luck with it, but our neighbor thought it would be fun to try.  Last year’s “fun to try” plant for the garden gave us more than 100 serrano peppers, so perhaps I should have been more optimistic about this little eggplant seedling. Our little seedling has given us nearly 12 small eggplants so far this season.  I’ve made eggplant parmesan and eggplant sauce with sweet corn polenta.  When I … Continue reading

Plum Jam

plums

When I first read the craigslist ad for our current apartment, I was seduced by all sorts of words and phrases, like “dishwasher,” “washer and drier,” and “backyard,” but the kicker was “fruit trees.”  Oh to live in a house with fruit trees in the backyard!  I was sold.  In reality, it was in our price range, conveniently located, and looked nice online.  But wouldn’t you love to rent a place just for the fruit trees? The plums come in one giant, speedy crop, dropping into our backyard over the course of a week.  That first year we missed the … Continue reading

Our Berkeley Winter Garden: Week Two

garden_long view

Here’s just a quick walk through of what we’re trying to grow this time around. I have a bunch of herbs in pots on the deck.  This mint plant looks like it wants to take over the world.  What else can I do with mint besides make drinks?  I have a LOT of mint.  Perhaps making my own mint chocolate chip ice cream is going to be in order… Here’s a little pot of thyme.  Perfect for winter soups, and perhaps for reinventing a vegetarian version of Stove Top Stuffing. Some tricolor sage.  I love the pink and purple tones. … Continue reading

Our Berkeley Winter Garden: Week Zero

summer_garden_final_process

A winter garden is a totally decadent concept to me.  In Boston, winter means fleece lined running tights, and YakTrax for your running shoes.  Do California runners even know what YakTrax are?  Think snow tires for your sneakers.  A blanket of snow inches deep doesn’t exactly scream “plant something here!”  Well it doesn’t snow in Berkeley, which is just one of many reasons to recommend the place.  Apparently, this allows us to plant a whole new garden now that our spring garden has worn itself out.  This is a foreign concept to me, but I’m embracing it wholeheartedly. Here is … Continue reading

Simple Tomato Sauce and Canning Tomatoes

cherry_tomato_serrano_pepper_san_marzano2

A few months ago J and I were hanging out at our neighbors’ house.  We’d all originally intended to go out for Ethiopian food, but as we sat around the table sharing a bottle of wine, our motivation to move from what had become very comfortable chairs quickly disappeared.  Our neighbors decided that they could very easily pull together food, and they made us pasta with Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with onion and butter.  I’d never heard of this before, which was kind of surprising considering my obsessive reading of food blogs.  This sauce has definitely made the rounds of … Continue reading

Gardening, Cooking, and Canning

cherry_tomato_serrano_pepper_san_marzano

This has been an absurdly busy afternoon.  We’re going on a trip back to Boston soon, and I didn’t want all this wonderful garden produce to go to waste. That’s just the beginning of what I got to work with this afternoon.  I picked three kinds of cherry tomatoes, plus some of our San Marzano tomatoes, plus tons more serrano peppers.  I’ve only ever seen green serranos at the grocery store, but some of our serrano peppers have started turning red on the plant.  Apparently most hot peppers can be picked and eaten when they’re green, but if left on … Continue reading

Pickled Serrano Peppers

serrano_pepper_plants

In Friday’s garden update, I showed you our serrano pepper plants.  We planted two of them three months ago, and for at least six weeks, the plants showed positively no sign of growing.  We even contemplated pulling them out to put in more lettuce, but luckily we didn’t (both because weeks later we were drowning in lettuce and because the peppers finally grew!)  What seemed like overnight, the plants grew a foot and started flowering.  When the first flower gave birth to a tiny serrano pepper, we were proud pepper parents.   Frankly, I wasn’t sure that it got hot enough … Continue reading

Our Berkeley Garden: Month Three Update

Garden_Week 1_Planning

Every time I post new pictures of the garden, I go right back to the Week One post.  It’s amazing to me that we actually managed to grow everything.  There must be some magic in this Northern California soil because there’s certainly no previous evidence that I had any gardening talent.  Here’s our planning shot from the day we planted everything. And here we are, three months later! Look at our zucchini monster!  This thing has seriously threatened to take over the backyard.  I’m just grateful that we only decided to plant a single zucchini plant.  This plant gave birth … Continue reading

Our Berkeley Garden: Week Eight

berkeley_garden_week_eight

Did you catch the most recent update in week six? Or see where we all started way back in week one. Our zucchini plant continues its efforts to take over the world, or at least the backyard.  Also, some of our lettuce has bolted, which I must admit doesn’t leave me heartbroken.  12 lettuce plants makes for a tremendous amount of lettuce, far more than even this salad loving girl can stand. This is our first hidden cucumber.  I wonder if we have to worry about this plant competing with the zucchini for world domination. Many of our plums are … Continue reading

Tomatoes and Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Zucchini and Pesto

kitten_zucchini

We’ve been over run with produce lately.  Between the bounty of our garden and our CSA deliveries, I’ve needed to come up with some creative, veggie heavy recipes.  A girl can only eat so many salads! This recipe used our kitten sized zucchini: Plus a full harvest from our crazy basil plants (which grew all the basil leaves we’d picked back by the next day) Our CSA box contributed tomatoes and some sweet gypsy peppers, and our pantry contributed the quinoa.  Every time I make quinoa I have to look up the ratio, so I’m writing it down here.  One … Continue reading