Saturday, January 28, 2012

Yummy Kale Chips

I'm addicted! This is such an easy snack to prepare. And for someone who loves salty, crunchy snacks...satisfying!

Take a whole bunch of Kale and tear it into bite size chunks. Remember that it will shrink when it cooks. Some people like to devein it but I love the veins.

Grab a giant ziploc bag and fill it about two-thirds full with Kale. Add 2 - 4 tbsps of olive oil and shake it up. You want to lightly coat the Kale with the oil. Its the oil that will keep the Kale moist while making it crunchy.

Spread it out on a baking sheet. Ideally, it shouldn't be piled on top of each other.

Sprinkle the Kale with salt and/or any other flavors you'd enjoy. I like to add a little cayenne pepper to mine.

Put in an oven that's been preheated at about 350 degrees. Bake for 10-15 minutes, length depends on how crunchy you want it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sun-Drying Tomatoes

We're drowning in tomatoes!  It's that awesome, frantic moment when they all come in at once.  If we were slightly better planners we'd stagger the planting times of our plants so they didn't all come in at once...but we're not!

We planted twelve different varieties of tomatoes this year.  One of them is Principe Borghese, the traditional Italian tomato for sun-drying.  We harvested a nice big bowl (with more to come) and are presently attempting to dry them.

We don't have the patience to actually lay them in the sun so into the oven they went, to roast at 200 degrees for many many hours.   We sliced them lengthwise, laid them out on a tray covered with parchment paper, drizzled a little olive oil on them, and shoved them in the oven.

After 5+ hours of roasting, they're getting nice and dry but could definitely use another hour.

Next post: we'll let you know how they taste!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Neighborhood Food Share

A quick post -- I was talking with a neighbor the other day about starting a bi-weekly fruit & veggie swap in our neighborhood.   I've noticed the abundance of beautiful fruit on trees around the neighborhood that goes mostly uneaten.   In trying to figure out how to organize it, I came across this article by Judith Gerber (@LAfarmgirl) on twitter.  It's loaded with info on food swapping and yard sharing.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

a little bragging

Ate the first tomato (an Early Girl) and the first radish from the garden.  Both thinly sliced & lightly salted.  Used the peppery radish as the "bread" and the tomato as the filling.  Yummmmmmy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spring Cleaning

After years of reading Real Simple Magazine's handy tips about organizing, scanning books about clutter, and watching TV shows like Clean House -- we've finally stopped philosophizing and taken action!  The first step was a garage sale in May followed by a small Good Will donation.  But the BIGGEST step (for us anyway) is addressing our enormous CD collection. 

It started with an email from that tipped me off to ipodmeister.  If you have hundreds of CDs, like we do, you can send them to ipodmeister and, in exchange, they'll send you some nifty gadgets (like ipods & ipads).  This led us to do a deep dive into our CD's.  We wanted to pull out 800 CD's so we could get an iPad.  We got to about 650 with very few hair-pulling decisions.  When we started doing the math, we realized that if we'd stop being lazy we could sell them on eBay and probably make a small fortune!  So that's what we've done. 

For the next four weeks or so we're going to list the 650+ CD's on ebay.  If you're interested in helping us slim our footprint and raise some $$ for our garden...or if you just want to pick up some inexpensive new music, click here

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Tomatoes Are In!

And with any luck at all we'll have our first harvest in June!   This is our second attempt to create a summer garden that we can (hopefully) live on.  We did LOTS of off-season research and I placed a special emphasis on tomatoes...because I love them so much.

I'll tell you about the other stuff we've got cooking later.  For now, here are some things I learned in the off-season about tomatoes that plenty of people already knew...
  • Plant your seedlings deep.  Leave just the tippy-tops showing and get those roots wayyy down there.  Tomatoes need deep roots!
  • Create a deep-root watering system.  Using up-ended Crystal Geyser water bottles (the same ones I used for the home-made cloche)  I buried them deep in the ground next to the seedlings, leaving about the top inch of the bottle showing.  Just fill that empty bottle with water and it will deposit the water deep in the soil, forcing the roots to work for it! 
  • How to make a tomato teepee.  I got my directions from a Sunset Magazine Special Edition but here's a great home gardener's blog post with some helpful tips.
  • Pull off those early flowers!
  • Topsy-Turvy Tomato Planter?  You bet!  I got one for a present so we're giving it a shot.  But if you're more DIY then that you make one! 
  • For the most concise rundown on how to grow tomatoes just click here.  If you don't know Margaret Roach's site you should check it out.  She used to be a big-wig at OmniMedia and has spent the past few years building her own little gardening empire.  Even though she's based in upstate NY and on a completely different growing cycle than us I find her info solid and she's available to answer questions, just send her an email.
In another post I'll give a rundown of the 15 varieties of tomatoes we've got in the ground. 

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010


    I was browsing garden websites this morning and discovered it's tomato time in Southern California!! As I clicked around from site to site I learned our last frost was 2/11 which means we can put our tomatoes in the ground! So if your favorite spring / summer harvest is the tomato I'll share with you the best guide I've found for all things tomato. My favorite starting place for garden questions is Margaret Roach's website Away to Garden. She used to be a big cheese at Martha Stewart's OmniMedia and the website has that same practical, handy-dandy, friendly sensibility. In the meantime, I'm going to get some tomato plants in the ground ASAP!

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    The Big Bust of Fall 2009

    Just because we haven't posted doesn't mean we haven't been gardening.

    The Fall 2009 garden was a bit of a bust. The area that produced such a prolific spring / summer garden last year seems to completely suck as a home for a fall /winter garden. As you can see in the photo nothing really took off. It all kind of got halfway there. The seeds for the beets & turnips were sooooo slow to sprout. The first batch of beets - planted in the middle of September - are just showing their shoulders. We'll probably pull on in the next few days to see if it's ready. Our broccoli plants have like one bite of broccoli on each stalk. The cauliflower is a decent size but has no flowers. And the brussell sprouts never matured. Our greens - Red Romaine, French Market Mix, Spinach, Iceberg Lettuce -- never thrived. And the mix of seeds I planted to replenish the greens just never sprouted. Seeds for salad greens are supposed to be like weeds. Supposedly, you toss them in the garden, give them a light dusting of dirt and they take care of the rest. Not so for us. Apparently, we have LOTS to learn about lettuces & greens. Perhaps the first lesson is that we should have used the sunny spot in the front of the house that we cleared & prepped.

    The one bright spot was our arugula, which we grew from a small plant in a container. It thrived. We've been eating off of that like crazy.

    Oh, those plastic Crystal Geyser bottles are not an odd choice for a garden decoration. They're homemade cloches. We read about them in the handy-dandy "You Grow Girl" gardening book we were given for Christmas. We put them over our struggling spinach plants and it actually helped. The bottles create a mini-greenhouse for your plant. Just be sure to remove the bottle cap otherwise you'll suffocate your plant.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Launching the Fall Garden

    We've mostly neglected the garden for the last month. The most attention we've paid to our little plot has been to eat everything it harvests and battle unsuccessfully with those danged sow bugs that are ravaging the squash plants. While we've managed to harvest 10 or so squash (a first for us) our track record of being able to kill squash plants remains. We lost 4 seemingly healthy plants, are coaxing the two on life support to flower, and continue to get vegetables from our Early Prolific.

    Today is the day that we begin sowing our seeds for the fall garden. According to our CA Garden Calendar here's what our fall garden will look like...assuming the Gods of the Green Thumbs are kind to us...
    • arugula
    • beets
    • broccoli
    • brussell sprouts
    • celery
    • endive
    • leaf lettuces
    • kale
    • onions (bunching)
    • pak choy
    • peas
    • radishes
    • rutabagas
    • spinach
    • swiss chard
    • turnips
    My plan to create the Sunset Magazine lettuce garden has morphed and is (at this very moment) being re-envisioned. Hopefully, I will post pretty photos in a few weeks...

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Salad Greens - This Weekend's Project

    I was browsing through the current issue of Sunset Magazine this morning over coffee and came across a gorgeous picture of a small but prodigious salad garden (above). It inspired me. This weekend, I'm going to use the create the perfect little raised bed in the front yard for our salad greens. And I'm even going to use our first batch of homemade compost!

    Everything I've been reading suggests that I can sow the seeds now for our winter greens. I know greens don't do well in the heat and it tends to be very hot in September and October in Los Angeles. I'm concerned I'm launching it all too early but, hey, I learn best from my mistakes!!

    Do you have any advice for a novice gardener?