I went to LA and met someone I have admired for years on instagram, not only for his beautiful photos of delicious food, but also his generosity and quickness to laugh and enjoy himself while he works. Donal and Sofie Skehan are even more delightful, funny and inviting in person than they appear on instagram, which is a nearly impossible statement. We chatted like old friends as their adorable son, Noah, smashed strawberry, after strawberry into his eager mouth. We then set out to create a Lemon Curd Fool with Summer Berry Salsa. First we went into his yard to pick the lemons off the tree, as one does in LA. I had so much fun and at the end we got to eat our delicious dessert together. Such a wonderful visit and you can watch Donal and I FOOLing around in the kitchen on his incredible YouTube channel (video below) and I’ve shared the recipe there as well.
The July issue of Saveur magazine was filled cover to cover with the foods of Texas. Everything from pecan pie to mesquite grilled steaks. But one recipe caught my eye, not only because it sounds delicious, but because the technique is unlike anything I’ve seen before. It is a tamale tart by the chef Stephan Pyles. His version has a soft masa tart shell, a roasted garlic custard and piled high with crab and hot peppers, it looks worthy of a trip to Dallas just to get a slice from his restaurant. Instead of baking the tart he cooks it in a bamboo steaming basket, just as you would for making tamales. It would seem that the crust might get soggy, but it was perfect. The custard was soft, silky and decadently rich.
Now that I am a backyard urban farmer I have an abundance of fresh kale. I thought it would go beautifully with the garlic custard and ancho spiced crust. So I gave up the crab and created a lovely quiche like dish that was perfect all on its own, but would be lovely served as a side.
I started my farm exactly 2 months ago. Not only have I had a rather comprehensive education, but also several very tasty salads. Twice a week Stefan, the urban farmer who makes it all grow, comes to my house and we garden. Actually, he gardens and I watch, learn and photograph his every move. Despite all that I have learned, if it weren’t for his dedication and vast knowledge, my garden would have gone the way of all my past efforts, to seed! We have had good days and bad, fighting the creatures that love to feast on organic produce and having to contend with lackluster soil. It seems that much of organic gardening is being on the defensive against these things. There are no chemicals to prevent them from happening so we just have to deal with it as it comes.
Here are some tricks I’ve learned from Stefan: (more…)
I should have been born with a green thumb! My grandmother is a natural in her flower garden and she passed the skill to my father. He has had gardens, really spectacular ones, for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories of my father are of him in the gardens he set up for the commune we lived on in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. We lived off of that garden. Dozens of people lived off of that garden. He went on to start the first co-op in that part of Vermont and eventually worked at both Organic Gardening and EatingWell magazines. It was his calling. Apparently the gardening gene skipped a generation. I inherited a deep appreciation for the food he was growing, but absolutely no abilities to create my own backyard garden.
This summer all of that is changing! My friend Barb told me about a program that would pair me and my tiny urban yard with a farmer, who would help me set up an organic backyard garden. I called the folks at the Backyard Harvest Program and asked them to come see if my rather pathetic yard was worthy of their project. Krista and Stefan came to the house and assured me that they could transform my space into an organic garden, full of over 30 varieties of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. The one thing my yard does have is sun, which is the one essential element. They also promised to teach me and my boys every step of the process. (more…)