Posts from the ‘cooking’ Category


I got inspired over the weekend to do some clearing in the garden.  And I can learn most of life’s important lessons from my garden.  I was looking for a place to plant squash and cucumbers.  It’s time to make room for those summer veggies.  I was looking into the spot where nasturtiums have been growing, and then I realized it was time to clear the favas.  I had planted them to feed the soil, but didn’t get to turning them into the soil until too late.  And once they bloomed – beautifully – I was easily convinced to let them grow pods for eating.  I have been harvesting the favas for the last week, mostly eating them raw in the garden.  But now it was time for a grand clearing.  And it felt great to make room.  I left the roots in the soil with all those nitrogen globules (my highly scientific name) in place, and added some compost in each large hole I dug for my new veggies.

Then I had to do something with the favas.  Usually I make a puree similar to the one in Chez Panisse Vegetables, great with homemade ricotta, by the way.  But that was too demanding for me, tired from gardening.  So I found a great recipe on 101 Cookbooks (Heidi Swanson) for grilled favas.  And how delicious they are.  I LOVE being able to just toss with olive oil and salt and throw them on the grill (like I do to my asparagus).  Then once they are done, you can relax with friends at the dinner table and shell and eat them, pausing and chatting (and drinking rose, if you like).  A lovely Saturday dinner it was (so great I made them again tonight) relaxing in the garden with friends.  And there are still more favas in the fridge……….

using our grapefruits

We have a giant grapefruit tree.  It is one of the only things that stood in the lot when we bought our place – that and a lot of weeds and a funky old building.  The tree is huge, and the grapefruits are plentiful any time of year.  Only they are quite sour, bitter really, mouth-puckeringly bitter in fact.  They make the inside of your mouth feel fuzzy somehow.  We have tried various ways to use the grapefruits; my kids often have a grapefruit juice stand instead of a lemonade one.  But we have to add lots of sugar or agave or honey to make the stuff palatable.  And even then, it isn’t something I really enjoy.  And unfortunately I really DON’T like marmalade, no matter how much I try.  So when I saw the recipe for grapefruit ginger curd on Heidi Swanson’s 101 cookbooks blog several weeks ago, I took notice.  And today when the rain washed out our other plans, I knew what I wanted to do.  Out I went into the rain to pick some grapefruits, up I went to borrow an egg from our friend, and then got to making a delicious grapefruit curd.  Really lovely stuff, I love the taste and the texture.  I used only honey, and I think next time I will use a bit more, and definitely some sugar.  This time I won’t have to share with my kids; can’t wait for toast tomorrow morning, or maybe this afternoon……….


homemade ricotta

I finally got to one of K. Ruby Blume’s cheesemaking classes last week – offered by the Institute of Urban Homesteading, headquartered here in Oakland.  She is a great teacher and an inspiration for me.  Ever since I helped a friend make mozzarella many years back, I somehow knew making cheese was one of my callings.  And I have had many unfulfilled cheesemaking urges lately.  No longer!  This week I bought some cheesecloth from the Oak Barrel in Berkeley, and got to work making my first batch (well, second…) of lemon ricotta.  It is so simple to make: just heat up good whole milk and stir in lemon juice (in my case, giant ones from our friends’ tree – a wonderful part of living here in Oakland), wait for curds to form, strain off the whey, and you have cheese.  With garlic and some fresh herbs mixed in, it couldn’t be more delicious.  Mine was more dry, but you don’t have to strain it as long if you want more creamy cheese (or you can add some fresh cream – always makes everything creamier!). Here’s a similar recipe from Smitten Kitchen if you want to try it yourself.

community pot pie

It makes me feel so good to be living amongst friends.  I am never without a neighbor I can ask for an egg or cup of milk.  We have friends upstairs, next door, and across the street, and they always remind me why I like living in my community.  We had a spontaneous group dinner a short while ago; our upstairs neighbor wanted to make a pot pie.  I made the crust, he made the filling (which was scrumptious), and our neighbor Kristen came by with her kids, and turned out some lovely leaves for the top.

making yogurt

I gave my daughter a yogurt maker for her 4th birthday, and it has been well-used ever since.  I love the little glass jars.  She loves yogurt, perhaps even more than I do, and particularly loves the homemade maple vanilla variety we make at home.  It is so simple, and therefore even more wonderful, to make at night and then wake up and eat warm homemade yogurt in the morning.  With strawberries, ideally, but jam can sometimes be substituted.

kale salad

Kale salad is one of those foods that I could eat for days, even weeks. Especially after the winter holidays, when I have felt so gluttonous.  I find it hard to believe something so healthy can be so tasty.  I love the making of it: when I can pick the kale from the garden and then dunk the leaves in cold clear water, pick a lemon from our lemon tree, and then whisk up the dressing and massage it into the leaves.  If I have an avocado lying around I like to add that, as well as some toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.  I have learned other recipes, but I tend to always go back to the one that I learned from Charlie Cascio up at Wilbur Hot Springs.  It was so delicious then, and still rewards me now.  Thank you, Charlie.

kale salad recipe
1 part lemon juice
1 part tamari
2 parts olive oil
Kale, stripped off stems & finely sliced
Red onion

Thinly sliced red onion
Rub/massage dressing into kale & onion
Let sit 1-2 hours (ideally; I also eat it right away and have no complaints)
Add toasted pumpkin seeds and/or sunflower seeds
Add nutritional yeast
Add avocado (optional)

Will keep in refrigerator for several days–Make lots!

Adapted from recipe from Charlie Cascio, former chef of Esalen