We live in zone 6a and I have been gardening and cooking for years. This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my success and those failures that come about on occasion. Plus, I want to hear from all the gardeners and bakers and cooks out there and learn from you. Feel free to share your ideas.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas Eve

Just a few photos of our decorations. The tree is in our bedroom. This is the one that goes up every year in that room. It really would be out of place in the rest of the house, but this is the tree for us as Stephen Andrew Jones would say--"Do you decorate for yourself?" and the answer is "Yes"
 I made this wreath from shiney bright ornaments stored in a box in the basement. It was a piece of cake to put together with a hot glue gun and a greed foam form.

I really like this Santa, but my niece's husband thinks the reindeer looks like a chipmunk. He is right, but I still thought it was adorable.

More Santas. I really enjoy decorating the mantle with them. However, I have stopped collecting because we need to downsize. Or at least stop collecting in general. After cleaning out my MIL's condo of her personal items, it really hit home how difficult it can be to have to do such a clean out after someone dies. She was a collector and never tossed things. A couple weeks ago I packed up 28 medium moving boxes, 24 were just kitchen items. We had been going through her things over the past few years while she was ill. I calculated we tossed between 400- 500 13 gallon hefty bags over those years. What a chore. I thought, oh this is too much stuff.  However, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

By the way--One of my favorite Sanats I found at TJ Maxx a few years ago.
We are having family over for dinner this evening for ham, scalloped potatoes with Swiss cheese on top, fresh green beans and toasted almonds, and biscuits. Plus an assortment of candies and cookies--all homemade. Hope you have a wonderful evening.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Baking

I am on a roll with Christmas baking and candy making. Recently I took a Christmas cookie baking class and one of the favorites from the class is a ginger . It involves a lot of chopping of pecans and candied ginger, grating of ginger, but it is worth it.

I also mixed dough for gingersnaps. I love this recipe that comes from a Williams Sonoma cookbook that I bought years ago.

The final adventure was a chocolate bark that I make every year. Only use really good chocolate. otherwise it just is not worth it. I add toasted nuts and dried fruit and then a little sea salt.

Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Christmas Prep: Amaryllis Bulbs

Some may say it is a bit early to be preparing for Christmas, but not when it comes to Amaryllis bulbs. I have a collection of Red Lion and I put them outdoors around May and repot in September. For the next 4 weeks they will get very little water and in October I will bring them indoors to a cool dark place to settle in to start to rebloom. Hopefully around the Christmas season I will have beautiful flowers. We shall see.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

More Basil with Great Garlic, Makes Bunches of Pesto

Well this may not be the best photo of pesto that I just made and placed in the freezer, but it gives you an idea of what is going on. I had a bumper crop of basil this year. The garlic was the best crop ever. So I made more pesto. I have lost track of how many packets I have frozen, but I believe it is over 20.

I was lucky because where we live basil sometimes does not do well. I still have more in the raised beds that I could process into pesto. It is so wonderful to have this in the Winter over pasta or mixed in with vegetable soups. I cannot imagine how much this would cost fresh in the stores , but my guess is over $100. What a deal making your own from the garden.  I need to place my order for garlic soon to plant. It is the easiest crop ever.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Basil, Garlic, and .......?

What do you do when you have lots of basil? Make pesto. I just finished putting the food processor away. I cannot imagine making pesto without it. A couple of years ago our 30 year old food processor gave out while making pesto. What a chore to finish up the batch. I ran over to Costco and bought a Cuisinart. Fabulous piece of equipment when I have to make batches of pesto.

I have 7 large packets in the freezer now. This is the best pesto I have ever made. The basil and garlic have been terrific this year. So I planted more basil today. I should have basil by mid September for probably 12 batches of pesto. That should be enough to last until next summer. Yum!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Garlic--The Best Ever Harvest

The thing about garlic, it can be a bit of a guessing game when it comes to harvesting. So I dug up a couple of bulbs and was amazed at how large they were. I planted Music garlic last fall. It always does well for me in our zone. But this year's garlic was test harvested 2 weeks earlier than usual and they are the biggest bulbs I have ever seen. These are true beauties. Twice as big as usual. So hopefully the rest of the harvest will be at least this impressive. 

Also my winter squash so far is doing great. I decided to plant it far away from my raised beds. I have had trouble with squash vine borers. This year, planting in a different location may have made the difference.

The harvest for the week will be Swiss chard.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

First Harvest - Kale.

There is only one thing that I will make with kale from the garden and that is soup.
The below is a wonderful recipe from BonAppetie magazine. I did make revisions however. The pancetta was replaced with 12 ounces of mild Italian sausage. I did not drain the tomatoes, but used a cup of the juice and eliminated a cup of water. I also eliminated the bay leaves, leeks,  and the Pistou.




  • 3 sprigs oregano
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped (optional)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 Parmesan rind (about 2 ounces; optional)
  • 3 cups cooked cannellini beans, cooking liquid reserved if desired, or two 15-oz. cans, rinsed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces baby Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, cut into ½” pieces
  • ½ bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 1” pieces

Pistou And Assembly

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt
  • Preparation


    • Tie oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine.
    • Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Add pancetta, if using, and cook, stirring often, until browned around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add onion, leek, carrots, celery, garlic, and red pepper flakes; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and carrots are tender, 10–12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring to coat, until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes.
    • Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go, then herb bundle, Parmesan rind, if using, and 6 cups water or reserved bean cooking liquid, or a combination. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender and flavors have melded, 20–25 minutes. Add kale and beans; cook until kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Discard Parmesan rind and herb bundle.
    • Do Ahead: Soup can be made 2 days ahead (or 2 months if frozen). Let cool; transfer to airtight containers and chill.

    Pistou And Assembly

    • Pulse garlic and basil in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in oil, Parmesan, and lemon zest; season with salt. Serve soup topped with pistou.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

When Rhubarb Bolts

This is what you get when rhubarb bolts. Isn't this lovely?
It does not last more than several hours, but it was fun to see it in an arrangement.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes: Easy and Delicious

These are fabulous pancakes from Kevin Lee Jacobs who has a terrific blog and website at A Garden For The House at http://www.agardenforthehouse.com , but I did revise his version. I used ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese, and added the juice of a Meyer lemon from my tree. Yes I am still getting Meyer lemons indoors. In about a month I will be setting my Meyer lemon on the patio. By then it will no longer be snowing. Yes we had snow yesterday.

Sprinkle your pancakes with confectioners sugar or pour some real maple syrup on them.

You know you could even add blueberries to the batter or top your pancakes with them.

Low-Carb Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for about 20 4-inch diameter cakes
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (any fat content you like)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or, use 1/2 cup gluten-free pancake mix)
Optional: 2 teaspoons sugar
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Grease and preheat a skillet or griddle over a medium flame, or warm an electric skillet to 350°F.
Put all ingredients into the jar of a blender. Blend at high speed until perfectly smooth — about 15 seconds.
Ladle, by the quarter-cupful, the batter onto the hot surface. When air bubbles appear along the edge of the pancakes, flip them over, and brown the other side.
If you are not going to serve the pancakes right away, keep them warm on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven.
Serve with butter, pure maple syrup, honey, or whatever sweet substance makes your tail wag.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Way To Garden with Margaret Roach

As you well know, I am a fan of podcasts. Margaret Roach's website and podcasts are fun and informative. She used to be with  Martha Stewart and was the lead gardening expert. She is still spreading the word on great gardening tips and information. Click here for more info. She even posts the chores for the month. Although she seems to be ahead of me in that department.

Oh to have her garden. It is so lovely. Also it would be great to hear her speak in person. As many of you know, last year around this time, I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a luncheon with  gardeners and P. Allen Smith. He was the speaker and what fun that was!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spring Has Sprung

Here are a few photos of what is going on in the garden. Mostly tulips, grape hyacinths, rhubarb and my garlic at this point. I planted Music garlic which has always done well for me.The garlic is really ahead of schedule. I usually harvest it the second week of July. We shall see if it is early this year.

We had a relatively mild winter compared to other years. However, we have had plenty of rain over the past several months. Everything looks so lush and beautiful.

A couple of weeks ago I planted lettuce, chard and kale which is just starting to pop up. I love this time of year.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Farmer Fred Gardening Radio Program on KFBK

I am listening to Farmer Fred on KFBK right now. They are having a great discussion with experts on the best gardening tools. This program is on every Sunday out of central California. If you miss it, you can pick it up on the station's podcasts. Never miss listening to Fred.

Here is more info on today's program.

Sunday on the electric radio garden shows: Roses! Pruning, planting, choosing...all good topics for the January 3 shows. Rosarians Charlotte Owendyk and Baldo Villegas drop by, pruners in hand. Maybe not with pruners. They may not make it past security. KFBK Garden Show, 8-10 am on KFBK (93.1-FM, 1530-AM, kfbk.com and the IHeart Radio app); Get Growing, 10 am-noon, on KSTE (650-AM, kste.com and the iHeart Radio app). Podcasts available after the shows air at those two websites and the iHeart radio app.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

This and That

This first part of the  post has nothing to do with gardening nor cooking, but I was amazed at how crowded Target was today. Practically all the carts were being used. Gift wrap and Christmas cards were 70 % percent off. But all the departments were packed. I am not a big shopper, but I did grab a gorgeous roll of glitter foil gift wrap for a $1.50.

Now I need to get down to business looking over my seed catalogs. I think this year I will simplify the garden by planting only tomatoes, basil, kale and zinnias. Perhaps butternut squash. Of course, I may change my mind and add to the list. I already have a large bed of hard neck garlic planted. With this warmer weather, it is already 6 inches out of the ground. Very unusual.