Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Joyful 2013

We wish you a Merry Christmas and 
a joyful 2013 filled with well being.

In the event you are looking for a stocking stuffer,
this is a great album
featuring The Jordanaires and The Memphis Horns

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tzatziki Sauce with Zucchini Fritters

The last cucumber and what appears to be the last zucchini only mean one thing: Tzatziki Sauce and Zucchini Fritters. Serve this up with the few remaining tomatoes and you want for nothing more_ a great meal. Tzatziki Sauce is a perfect complement.

 Tzatziki Sauce from Diana's kitchen

2 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
pinch fresh ground pepper
2 garlic clove, minced
1 TB white or red wine vinegar
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 TB fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 teaspoon lemon zest

In a medium bowl combine the above ingredients. Refrigerate for about an hour prior to serving or make a day ahead in order for the flavors to meld.
Zucchini Fritters

2 lb Zucchini, coarsely grated
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley
fresh ground pepper, to taste
4 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup unbleached flour
olive oil, for frying

Grate the zucchini into a colander over the sink; sprinkle with Kosher salt, mix well and allow the excess moisture to drain for about 30 minutes. Squeeze any moisture from the zucchini, and place in a large bowl. Add the onion, garlic, dill, parsley, a little black pepper and mix well.
Add the beaten eggs, ricotta and feta, and stir until combined. Add the flour and thoroughly combine.

Pour about ¼ inch of olive oil into a saute pan over medium-high heat. Drop 2 tablespoons zucchini mixture into the oil for each fritter, leaving room between each, and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown; be careful not to disturb until it has browned. Carefully turn and brown the other side. Drain on paper towel, sprinkle with a touch of salt and hold in a warm oven_ about 200 degrees F_ until the remaining zucchini mixture is used. Plump and juicy they are.

Zucchini Fritters with Tzatziki Sauce

Freezing Shredded Zucchini
Ever yearn for fritters later in the year? Select any remaining fresh young zucchini/squash; rinse, dry, and cut off the ends. Shred in a large bowl, transfer to a colander and allow to drain for about 30 minutes. Squeeze excess liquid; then transfer to a freezer bag or freezer container. Label. In the winter, you'll be so pleased you did.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Full Harvest Moon

As we traveled south within dusk, 
the full Harvest moon gave chase.
with a setting sun west, 
the moon rose east.

setting sun west
rising moon east

Friday, September 21, 2012

Spicy Plum Sauce

After several years of anticipation, our Italian plum tree finally yielded one pound of fruit this year_ not enough to do much cooking, but happy to see it producing. Quite fortunate for us was that our neighbor's trees were overloaded with plums, and we were invited to help ourselves.

Italian plums
Dry them, freeze some, but thoughts were mainly of creating a plum sauce that might lend itself well with a roasted pork tenderloin. Holidays will soon be approaching and I envision this in the center of the dinner table. Chicken or fish would also be a good companion. 

Spicy Plum Sauce from Diana's kitchen

4 pounds plums, washed, halved, pitted (and chopped)
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 TB fresh ginger, minced
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2-3 TB finely chopped jalapeno or similar hot chili pepper
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB soy sauce

Chop plums in a food processor and transfer to a large heavy-bottomed pot. Chop onions in processor and add them to the plums, along with all remaining ingredients. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours until reduced by about one-third and/or reaches the desired thickness. Stir the mixture often to avoid it sticking to the bottom.

Ladle the sauce into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ½ inch head space. Adjust lids and rings and process 20 minutes in a hot water bath. Remove the jars of plum sauce from the water and place away from any draft; cover them gently with a clean towel until completely cool. Check to make sure all jars are sealed. Yield: 8 (8 ounce) jelly jars

Note: Since it takes time to cook this down, I suggest doubling the recipe for your effort. I am pleased I did.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Eggplant, Solanum melongena and Grilled Eggplant Tomato Stack

This year we tried several new heirloom eggplants, one of which is Solanum melongena 'Listada de Gandia'. Sources vary as to where this was first introduced: some indicate France, Italy and/or Spain around 1850. Its name may reflect Spain, as Listada means striped in Portuguese, Italian and Spanish, but de Gandia is a town on the Mediterranean in Spain. 

A medium-sized eggplant with stunning 6-8" long oval fruits of creamy-white with purple stripes grow on a relatively compact plant. It is a delicious thin-skinned specimen with excellent flavor and takes about 90 days to harvest.

Solanum melongena 'Listada de Gandia'
 S. melongena 'Rosa Bianca' is a repeat performer for us as we grew it for the first time last season and fell in love with not just its gorgeous light pink-lavender fruit with white shading, but the wonderful flavor and tender skin of this Italian heirloom. 80-90 days to harvest, and as with all eggplant, they love sun and heat. Both eggplants can be used in almost any dish.

S. melongena 'Rosa Bianca'
Grilled Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stack with Balsamic Reduction from Diana's kitchen

Heirloom tomato, thickly sliced (3/4 of an inch)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh basil, sliced
Rosa Bianco eggplant, unpeeled and thickly sliced, about 3/4 inch
1 egg, slightly beaten
Panko or bread crumbs
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
fresh mozzarella, sliced, about 1/2 inch
balsamic reduction (see below)

Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle each with a little kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and set aside on a platter. Slice the soft mozzarella cheese, sprinkle with basil and put it aside.

Dip each slice of eggplant into the egg, then into the panko, and transfer to a heated frying pan with olive oil. Sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper and saute until golden brown, several minutes on each side. Saute until slightly fork tender and maintains some firmness. Remove and transfer to a plate for assembly.

Assemble: grilled eggplant, slice of mozzarella with basil strips, tomato, mozzarella (with basil), and top with another grilled eggplant. Drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Note: The 'Listada de Gandia' was fairly comparable in flavor with 'Rosa Bianca', but the girth of the latter is more desirable with the fresh large garden tomatoes. That's dinner tonight, and I can already taste it... like a big thick portobello mushroom, but with enhanced flavor.

Balsamic Reduction

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Place the vinegar in a non-reactive saucepan. Heat on medium-high until it begins to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the vinegar becomes a syrupy consistency, 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

It will become slightly thicker when cool; if it is too thick, I add a touch more balsamic; if it is too thin, put it back on the stove for further reduction. 1/2 cup of vinegar should yield slightly over 1/4 cup. Keep it stored at room temperature.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Feature Garden Photo

Should you ever hear me bragging, it is generally about our family, our children, my husband... but in this instance I thought it was a fun thing and that you might enjoy seeing it.

The National Association of Realtors contacted me and asked if they could feature one of my photos from our garden on their site.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quesadilla and Our First Tomatoes

We came in from the morning garden as the temperature was fast approaching 80 °F, plus, my tummy was having a conversation of sorts.

I opened the fridge and what did I see but fresh, fresh, fresh: from the garden an assortment of fresh vegetables_ onions, peppers, asparagus, broccoli..., fresh eggs from our chicks, whole wheat tortillas, and on the counter lay our first fresh tomatoes.

Saute the chopped vegetables in a little extra virgin olive oil; add the slightly beaten eggs, salt and pepper to taste, combine and cook until done. Transfer the mixture to a tortilla, sprinkle with your favorite shredded cheese, top with a second tortilla, and carefully move it back to the skillet to brown, one side and then the other.

Carefully slide the quesadilla to a plate, gently lift the top tortilla shell and insert the sliced tomatoes. Score and serve with a side of homemade green tomato salsa. Simple and fresh is good.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Just released, video and song by George Johnson. Enjoy the artistry and have your family and friends take a listen. We appreciate your support.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brassica oleracea

Kale (Brassica oleracea)

Kale. Who loves you baby?

We all do! Worldwide, cruciferous vegetables have beautiful color, texture, and some even display their ruffled edges, and kale is a star among them. It is one of the easiest things to grow, nutritionally one of the best; high yielding, fast growing, and just like the energizer bunny she just keeps on giving. What’s not to love? And it is that time of year.

Brassica, a genus of plants (family Cruciferae aka Brassicaceae) includes a prolific family of Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Rutabaga, Turnips… It is said to have originated in Asia Minor, eaten by ancient Greeks and Romans, brought to Europe by the Celtics, and to the United States in the 17th century.

Kale prefers cooler temperature, and in our Pacific Northwest garden it has been a most reliable vegetable producing abundantly year round, winter, spring, summer or fall (I think I just broke out in song). And you know what else? After a frost, nature gives it a final brush of sweetness. With regular watering and full sun, it thrives in slightly enriched organic garden soil with good drainage. Organic heirloom seed varieties can produce beautiful deep green (Dwarf Siberian) to blue curled leaves (Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch) to the bright purple stems of Russian Red Kale and Red Winter, and these can be seen in our garden.
Nutrition: according to the American Heart Association, kale is rich in beneficial antioxidants, vitamins K, A, C, B6, along with many other cancer-preventing compounds, and is a good source of fiber and calcium.
Propagation: sow seeds outdoors in early spring, or as we do, start them indoors in a sterile starting mix; once germinated, they are transferred either to the garden hoop house or into the raised beds.
Harvest: snap off the outer leaves and allow the smallest, terminal growth to continue to produce. Rinse, dry and you’re ready to cook.
Versatility: combine younger leaves in your salad; sauté, steam, braise and serve as a side dish or entree; include in your omelets, casseroles, potatoes, pasta, soup and stews; and it freezes beautifully all by itself for addition to your meals at a later time.

As an added bonus here is a simple favorite recipe. Yesterday I picked the final 5 pounds from two of last year's kale. This year's plants are also beginning to produce.

Sautéed Kale (or Kohlrabi leaves, Spinach…) from Diana's kitchen

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
3 spring onions, chopped
1 to 2 lbs Kale or Kohlrabi leaves, tougher ribs removed, and leaves chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, diced
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 Tablespoons Red wine vinegar (cider or Balsamic)

Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven; add chopped onions, touch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and sauté for several minutes over medium heat. Add chopped Kale and cook on medium high heat for several minutes, tossing with two utensils until all is coated and bright green.

Reduce the heat to medium and push the leaves aside; add another tablespoon of olive oil to the empty side and add the diced garlic, a pinch of salt, crushed red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute. (Be careful not to burn the garlic.)

Add the broth and heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until desired tenderness. Add your choice of vinegar, stir and taste for any additional salt or pepper. No need to fret if you have cooked too much for it heats nicely the next day, or simply freeze it to enjoy at a later date.

Note: We do not remove all of the rib with kale since we like the crunch, but do so with kohlrabi since it is coarser. Sautéing spinach takes a minute, and in that case sauté the garlic with the onions. For any bacon lovers out there, you might consider frying up a slice of bacon (chopped) in the beginning process.
Grilled wild Alaskan salmon, baked sweet potato fries and a little kale. Oh, so good and so good for you.