Garden Arugula Salad - july 2, 2013

This July, as usual, we finished up the arugula growing in our garden. It is always gone by mid-summer. Arugula is a remarkably easy crop to grow - as long as it doesn't get too hot or too dry. I try to start it at the beginning of each new year, out in the garden under a cold frame. A cold frame is like a miniature greenhouse and is great for starting plants early, when the weather is still too cold for seeds to sprout on their own. 

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Love Your Mother: Lamb, Carrots and Fava Salad - may 11, 2011

This year I made my desires for Mother's Day known well in advance: no gifts, just a day at home in the garden and a big dinner, cooked as a family.  It was delicious, and I got gifts anyway - three of Andy Goldsworthy's books, much loved by my kids after we watched his Rivers and Tides together a week or two back.

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Pasta with Herbs - february 10, 2011

Last week's oregano was a beautiful thing, arriving dewy fresh in a dead-of-winter produce box. Like the emerald city in miniature, it sat on my counter next to a bowl of squash and oranges, exuding  a sunny summer herb garden sort of fragrance that prepped us for the unseasonal heat wave to come. There was a cold snap a few weeks back or so, but overall, spring seems to be coming early. Which, I am told, is making the roses bud out earlier than usual. So if you haven't pruned yours yet this year, get on it.
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A Bale of Straw and Some Sausage Salad - june 14, 2010

I finally figured out, after making a wrong turn on my way home from Berkeley last week, how to find Golden Gate Fields. This is where my friend Geoff, from the Edible School Yard, sent me to remedy my compost problems. My compost has been neglected for weeks now, growing slimy, stinky, and buggy, after running out of its only source of "browns" - a season's worth of dropped leaves from our ancient apple tree. 

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Gone to Seed - june 11, 2010

"It's just gone to seed", my mother would say, shaking her head and referring to areas of our town she no longer liked, when they had passed out of fashion or become unacceptable.  "Don't touch anything, its so seedy!" She would shout about an untouchable location, like the public bathroom at the playground. Now my lettuce and arugula plants are going to seed. They are bolting, shooting up and flowering. After dinner tonight I can tell you for sure that they are no longer good to eat. Tougher, less flavorful, a little more difficult to chew than I like my salads to be. But they make a nice bouquet.

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Pasta Pasta Pasta! - may 22, 2010

My preschool daughter recently spent an afternoon with some classmates making homemade pasta - fettuccine, spaghetti, a few ravioli. Her instructor said they made pasta for about an hour, then went off to play. Around five o'clock all the children's parents and siblings gathered to eat dinner. Dining together with other families from her preschool was really wonderful, especially since the kids had made our meal.  We vowed to do it again and all went home to sleep.

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Happy Mothers Day! - may 10, 2010

I know, its a day late, but I like to drag things on. It gives me more time to enjoy. My family gave me the greatest Mother's Day gifts yesterday. Naturally, they revolved around food, so I have to share them here.

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Rosemary White Bean Soup - april 30, 2010

I love rosemary because it is so ubiquitous. In San Francisco it grows, honestly, like a weed. It is a perennial, so you only need to plant it once and year after year it just keeps getting bigger and woodier, constantly producing fresh growth for cooking and reliably flowering with miniature blooms, some pink, some white, some a vibrant blue. It lives in my garden right between the lavender and the sage, and like the lavender, it needs no care at all - no water in our dry summers, no fertilizer in our sandy soil, no protection from our tenacious slugs.

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Pesto Magic or Grilled Fish with Arugula Salad - april 13, 2010

Today my three year old son and I visited Sunset Super - arguably our city's best known asian market. We went in search of lemongrass, which Rainbow did not have last week, and curry leaves, which no place I've ever shopped routinely has had any week.  I didn't find the leaves at Sunset Super, either, which is about what I expected because they are really more an indian item. I'm not sure where the best indian market is in San Francisco - maybe the Mission?

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Get your chard on!

Today was a second great day for my garden - I've eaten two salads from it. For lunch, I had some mixed lettuces with a hard boiled egg and vinaigrette along with an open faced mozzarella and avocado sandwich.  The kids ate peanut butter and honey roll-ups, on wheat tortillas. They sampled the salad while harvesting but weren't interested once it entered the house.

Now, for dinner, we're having my favorite arugula salad of all, along with the very last butternut squash in our kitchen. (Well, actually there is one more, but its humungous and moldy at the top and must be composted.)  Its officially spring, so I think that means we'll be done with the squash. (Except for an acorn squash still hanging around on the counter).  Hurray!  I'm always looking for new winter squash recipes, if you happen to have a good one.

The Stewy Roasted Root Veggies is adapted from Canal House Cooking volume 3, which is my goto cookbook for this week.  I'm celebrating its arrival, but promise to move on to other sources in a few days. Usually I'm not fond of cooking with wine, but thought I'd give it a try in order to rid the kitchen of any remaining winter veg.  In fact, I paired it up with the arugula to bring in a little spring- but really the two do well together.  

Speaking of the arugula, I planted it from seed on February 5, in one of our raised beds underneath the big cold frame I bought this year, in advisement from Nigel Slater.  What a great idea - I just grew salad in six weeks. In February. With no irrigation. And there's still more - today I just thinned the plants a little bit.

Today the kids and I planted two beds of carrots - in with some onions (to keep pests away), one in the sun and one in shade that will be sunny by the time summer rolls around.  I'm told that you should start carrots in cold soil and finish them in heat, so I'll see how that goes.  We also started weeding and sweeping the patio - its all very exciting.  And I'm trying to figure out how to trellis the kiwis - they've started leafing out, so I guess I'd better get on that one.  


Stewy Roasted Root Vegetables (adapted from Canal House Cooking volume 3):

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

4 large shallots, peeled

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into pieces

4 carrots, peeled and cut into pieces

4 parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces

2 cups white wine

3 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Heat half the olive oil with the onions, garlic and shallots in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Scrub and cut up the other vegetables while the onions cook.  For the squash - I recommend using half of a large one if you can't find a really small one.  To make prepping the butternut easy, cut it in half where the neck starts to round out into the bottom, so that you have one round piece and one long thin one.  slice off the top with the stem horizontally, and the bottom too.  Then peel each half with a vegetable peeler.  

Arrange the carrots, parsnips and squash in the pot with the onions, garlic and shallots, and stir them up. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in the wine and add the bay leaves.  Add the rest of the olive oil and roast, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, around an hour or so.

While the veggies are cooking you should make the lentils.



French Lentils:

1 cup french lentils


balsamic vinegar

Put one cup french lentils into a medium pot, cover by about an inch with water.  Bring the lentils to a boil, then cover partially and turn the heat down to simmer.  Check the lentils in about twenty minutes.  Add more water if the pot is getting dry.  The lentils will be done when they are soft, but not falling apart.  When they seem just about done, add a teaspoon of salt and let them simmer for five more minutes. Finish by mixing in a splash of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.



Arugula Salad:

1 bunch arugula

1/2 lemon

2 Tablespoons olive oil (or so)

3 Tablespoons pine nuts

a bit of parmesan cheese, shaved

salt and pepper

Wash the arugula and cut off all the long stems with no leaves.  Spin it dry and put it in a salad bowl.  In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts on medium heat.  They will burn very quickly, so you should devote all your attention to the skillet while they toast.  When they are brown and smell good, remove them from the heat and into a bowl. Right before you serve the salad, squeeze the lemon and toss it with the greens.  pour the olive oil into the bowl, salt and pepper and toss. Sprinkle the pine nuts and cheese over the top of the salad.


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