Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fruits of our Yard

This morning we ate our first bananas from the banana tree in our yard. The tree has had bunches of green bananas on it since we moved in at the end of June, but they were nowhere near ripe enough until recently. Unfortunately the fruit from the tree hangs mostly into our back neighbor's yard, but fortunately the back neighbors are really cool and have always offered to send us over a bunch once the fruit was ready. Today was the day! Back neighbor Scotty hacked a bunch of bananas off and sent them over the fence - and one of them was yellow, soft and ready to be sampled. Here is the bunch:

It's a little hard to tell from this picture, but the bananas are small, only about 4-5 inches long. They are pretty good! Here I am peeling one of them:

A little later in the day we bought a fig tree to plant in our yard. We were inspired by the delicious figs that Michael Brown harvests from his yard and graces us with every now and then. The trick was finding the sunniest spot for it since a fig tree prefers as much sun as possible. We settled on a spot in the corner of the front yard, dug a big hole, roughed up the root ball a bit and then planted it. The tree is the Black Mission variety, and it fruits from May - October. We are at the tail end of the season this year, but the tree should be settled enough by next year to produce a nice crop.

Next, Dylan reseeded some spots in the front yard and the entire back yard. We are trying to fill in the spots that didn't grow grass earlier this summer:

I inspected the passion fruit vine for new fruit and flowers. The fruit is taking a long time to ripen, but we are in for a treat once it does:

Lasagna with Eliza

Last night we had Eliza over for lasagna, garlic bread and salad. The lasagna is Barefoot Contessa's tried and true recipe with hot Italian sausage and ricotta, goat and Parmesan cheeses. The goat cheese is a nice addition. This time around we had enough basil to use it all from our garden, which was fun! For the garlic bread, we bought a regular loaf of French bread at Albertsons, and then put some garlic spread that we buy at the farmer's market between the slices before heating in the oven. The garlic spread is the same stuff they use at Alladin (a favorite San Diego restuarant) and it's very good on garlic bread. This photo is before we baked the lasagna - so imagine it 400 degrees and 35 minutes later - all melty and golden brown and bubbly:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Garden Update

I haven't posted much progress on my various gardening endeavors here - it's been ups and downs. Let's start with the Square Foot Garden:

As you can see we've had some moderate success here. The failures were:

  • Spinach - never really worked - always looked sickly and recently just sunk back into the dirt
  • Onions - same - sprouted but never thrived
  • Radishes - this was my fault for not pulling them out in time. At one point they looked pretty good but I thought they would keep getting bigger and left them in the ground too long and they got really gross
Doing 'OK' are the carrots. The yellow pepper was very slow to get started and unfortunately got clobbered by an ill-placed wrench that fell from the deck railing. I don't think it's going to be able to bounch back from that. The basil, cabbage, and chard are doing pretty good.

So today or tomorrow I'm going to pull out the remains of the yellow pepper, spinach and onion and plant some more chard and some lettuce varieties.

Moving is a pic of our heirloom tomato plant and our passion-fruit vine:

The tomato plant has had some real issues. It grew really well at first but I wasn't looking at it very closely for bugs and it got infested with these green worms that ate all the fruit. After pruning a lot of the branches and getting rid of the bad fruit, it's doing a little better. The passion-fruit vine is the same - still growing and making fruit but none have yet ripened. We think we're about a month away on those.

I've also planted some basil, cilantro (just last weekend for this), and lavender - I'm going to make pesto tonight!

Here is a closer look at some of the heirloom's tomatoes - it's the 'Mortgage Lifter' variety - the fruit can be up to two pounds!

In the front yard, we've had a nice surprise. On the edge of our driveway a random tomato plant has grown out of the side of the yard - you can see it in the foreground below:

It's doing really well - I think mainly b/c it's in the reach of the sprinklers for the yard:

Here are some of its fruits:

There are tons on there!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cinnamon Buns

This weekend's baking adventure started last night, with the first steps for homemade cinnamon buns. We created the dough and rolled it out into a 12x14 inch rectangle. Then we sprinkled cinnamon sugar over the top, and then rolled the dough up to make a long cylinder. After that, we cut the cylinder into twelve equal pieces - each like a pinwheel of dough and cinnamon sugar.

This morning at 6:00am, I woke up to take the formed buns out of the refrigerator. I went back to sleep for a few hours after that. Then at 10:00am, we put the buns in the oven. Here is the result 30 minutes later (with yogurt and fruit salad in the background):

Dylan made the fondant (A sweet, creamy, sugar paste used in candies and icings), and here I am drizzling it over the warm cinnamon buns:

Hilary, Dave, Rosemary and Gabriel came over at 11:00 to sample our baking. Gabriel is too young to eat cinnamon buns, but here we have Dave, Rosemary and Gabriel - two out of three blissfully enjoying their sugar-high:

Dad's Carrot Soup

Yesterday I had a craving for my dad's carrot soup that he always used to make when I was growing up. I didn't have the recipe, so had to call my dad and jot down his adaptation of the classic Silver Palate Cookbook recipe. My dad tries to always use carrots with the tops on (sweeter), he cooks the onions very slowly over low heat and he adds orange juice and cumin before finishing the soup. Here are the carrots, onions and broth simmering:

And here is the soup after a few rounds of pureeing and the addition of ginger, cumin and orange juice:

Finally it is ready to be served, garnished with sour cream and cilantro from our garden - plus rosemary olive oil bread with butter:

We'll bring the leftovers over to Darin & Melissa's tonight for dinner. Hooray for Dad's carrot soup!

Scallop Dinner

This post is a picture of a recent scallop dinner that we made, with sauteed jumbo scallops over a lemon-dressed salad with fruit salad and some of Dylan's homemade French bread. It was really good:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Breakfast, Cookies, Burgers, Streak

We haven't been posting much lately, so this post will be a catch-up on some things from the past few weeks. First, Dylan and I have been eating breakfast together before work lately. This is something that can be hard to coordinate with the morning rush, but we've been trying to carve out the time because it's nice to sit together for a few minutes before the day starts. We've been getting awesome pink grapefruit at the farmers market for the past few weeks. Usually we'll have grapefruit with toast and melted cheddar or toast and fried egg and a cup of green tea. Here is what it looks like:

We are still hitting the farmers market with all our usual passion on Sundays. Even when Dylan has to work (most weekends these days) we still make sure to fit it in first. Our friend, Carter, works the peach stand and he is always giving us discounts or freebies on peaches, nectarines, pluots, grapes and other goodies. After a couple weeks of this special treatment, we started wanting to do something to repay him, so we woke up early and baked a large batch of killer oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, giving some to Carter when we stopped by his stand. He seemed to enjoy that!

We've also been doing some nice summer relaxing with friends. Tom (my roommate from college) came over last weekend for burgers, salad and grilled corn on the cob, enjoyed on our back deck. I guess summer is ending soon...but not really in San Diego! Here are some of our bbq preparations (note the white leaf dishes that Chelsea gave us - we love them and use them all the time - this time for individual portions of baked beans):

And finally, Streak has just been doing her usual thing. She is a wonderful pet and brings us little bits of happiness and laughs every single day. She's been doing that for me since I could count my age on two hands and it's so fun to be able to share her antics with someone I love (Dylan!):