Friday Fluff: Let’s play in my garden!

Hello everybody! We made it to Friday, wheee! Today will be a fluffy Friday, because I have a fluff post for you. We can’t be all detox and sad elephant stories and medical diagnoses all the time, right?! Each year, my husband and I take great pride in our backyard garden. Several years ago we built raised beds and have planted tomatoes, kale, hot peppers, tomatillos, cucumbers, chives and beets ever since. Take a look!

1) I love kitschy things, especially in my garden. My brother got me this set of fun vintage gnomes last year for Christmas. Doesn’t he look great next to my cucumbers?!

Hangin' with my gnomies.

Hangin’ with my gnomies.

There’s more after the jump! Click “continue reading” to move on.

Continue reading

2012’s Summer Garden

It’s that time of year – when I spend lots of time watering and digging in the dirt! Here’s this year’s vegetable garden:


Currently we have six types of tomatoes growing: San Marzano Roma, Tomatillos, Golden Peach, Black Krim, Beefsteak and Cherry. We also have four different types of peppers: bell peppers and a couple varieties of hot peppers. We have zuchinni, squash, cucumber, beans, basil, pumpkins and mint.

San Marzano Roma

We’re starting to get big clusters of tomatoes on all of our plants – these San Marzano Roma’s are an italian heirloom tomato that will be fantastic made into a sweet marinara sauce or dried in the sun.

Straight Eight Cucumbers

We have “Burpless” Straight Eight cucumbers, that I’m training to grow up a trellis rather than spread out on the ground. Does anyone know why cucumbers and some types of tomatoes are called burpless? It’s weird. I’ve never know cucumbers or tomatoes to make me burp but maybe I’m in the minority…? Strange.

Yellow Squash

I only planted ONE squash plant this year, because you know I’ll still be having to leave them on people’s porch at night to get rid of them. Last year I made the mistake of planting three zucchini plants, and I got so sick of them I let them grow until they were as big as baseball bats and could be used as battering rams. I’ll clip these little guys much sooner, and enjoy the sweet and light flavor in stir fries and on the grill.


Tomatillos are a new addition to my garden. I love tomatillo salsa, and when I saw a tomatillo plant at Home Depot, I jumped at the chance. Aren’t they weird looking?! They’re like alien seed pods, but the plant makes such pretty yellow flowers that eventually turn into the alien seed pod. I’ll be making a lot of salsa this year.

Gardening is one of my very favorite things because it’s relaxing, and rewarding! What other hard work rewards you with delicious, homegrown and organic food? A tiny red tomato plucked off the vibe is amazing on a sunny day, just like a slice of sweet, garden grown cucumber.

Are you growing any vegetables this year? What are they?

Tangy Tomatillo Salsa

I’m a fan of zero point recipes, and I’m also a fan of trying new things. On Saturday as I was cruising the farmer’s market, I noticed these beautiful purple tomatillos. I asked the vendor why they were purple and she told me purple tomatillos are very sweet. For $2, I was sold, and threw them into my bag to be made into a tangy salsa. (FUN FACT: Tomatillos are part of the GOOSEBERRY family and come from the family of nightshade plants, like tomatoes. (Have you heard of deadly nightshade? it’s what Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas slips into her vial. I love that movie.)


Here’s what you need:

1 Pound-ish of Tomatillos, purple or green
1/4 large onion, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves if you want to keep the vampires away (1 will do fine if not)
1 large handful of cilantro (the more the merrier if you’re feeling lean and green)
1 lime (lemon will do in a pinch)
Sea salt (a staple in every kitchen!)
Pepper (also a staple in every kitchen!)

No feet funk here!

1) Peel the paper husks off the tomatillos and rinse. Notice a strange aroma? Peeled tomatillos kind of smell like feet, in my humble opinion. A nice shower under the faucet fixes ’em up just fine. The paper skin is also kind of sticky. Like an artichoke, these aren’t the most glamorous vegetables, but they pack a tasty punch.



Mmm, tomatillo salsa thus far the color of vomit

2) Throw just the tomatillos into the food processor and press the button. Watch as you make salsa! Blend them up nice and smooth, and then stop the food processor and add your chunks of onion and garlic cloves. Squeeze in the lime juice. Press “GO” or “Blend” again and watch the chunks turn into puree. MAGIC!



3) Now, add your bunch of cilantro. I
love cilantro. This will help get rid of some of that gross barfy color, but if you’re using green tomatillos, yours won’t be so vomitous looking. Add in a few generous shakes of sea salt (like really generous, maybe more like 2 or 3 pinches), and lots of fresh cracked pepper.

And Voila! You’ve made tomatillo salsa! Easy, right? Despite my many comparisons to stinky feet and barf, tomatillo salsa is a wonderful accompaniment to tortilla chips, eggs, burritos, or even as a dip for veggies. It’s got a slightly sweeter and more tangy taste than tomatoes, and I think the little seeds are adorable… like polka dot salsa.


Are you a fan of tomatillos? Have you ever tried them? If not, will you? Or is their stinky feet skin stench too unappealing?




Five Food Favorites Friday

It’s Friday! Let’s celebrate with a fluffy post – like my five favorite foodie things.

Five Favorite Meals:

  • Matt’s Pseudo-Beef Bourignon (braised beef simmered in red wine and onions all day. It’s amazeballs)
  • A delicious salad packed with fresh veggies and grilled chicken
  • Spicy Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes
  • A homemade, juicy cheeseburger
  • Cajun Pork Chops, Apples and Onions
  • ok, I cheated – one more – my mom’s chicken noodle soup

    mmmmm popcorn

Five Favorite Snacks:

  • Popcorn
  • Pretzel stick with cheese or chocolate
  • Crudites with ranch dressing
  • Sour watermelon gummies, occasionally
  • Mango with lemon and chili

Five Favorite Vegetables:

  • Avocado (Dresses up salads and sandwiches in the most wonderful way)
  • Cauliflower (excellent for crunching raw)
  • Green Beans (mmm, especially the ones that snap when you bite into them!)
  • Cucumbers (sliced with a little salt – divine!)
  • Broccoli (always so good on its own)

    Last summer's harvest

Five Favorite Fruits:

  • Tomatoes (homegrown, always. Don’t give me any of that pink garbage)
  • Pears (Juicy and ripe)
  • Plums (the deep, deep purple kind that stain your lips when you bite into them)
  • Strawberries (best with a little whipped cream)
  • Pineapple (I’ve eaten a whole one before. Don’t judge)

Five Favorite Beverages

  • Good, Old Fashioned Brewed Iced Tea
  • Fresh Lemonade
  • Thai Iced Tea (splurge)
  • Sprite Zero
  • Melon Boba (only on a big splurge)

Five Favorite Restaurants

  • Los Toros Mexican (incredible bean dip and margaritas)
  • Temptation in St. Maarten (we had our fancy honeymoon meal here. SO good)
  • Sonny’s BBQ (BBQ chain in the South/Florida – yum)
  • Luchessi’s Deli (amazing sandwiches on fresh baguette)
  • Kuhn Dang Thai (they have an awesome garlic green bean dish)

    Sunburnt and buzzed at Temptation in St. Maarten

Five food-related things that sound good right now:

  • Another glass of wine (heh)
  • A frosty pina colada
  • …. That’s it. I’m *gasp* FULL!

Grown Your Own Marinara Sauce

It’s almost August and our garden looks like this: A big, sunburned, sprawling mess – but this is when all the best stuff comes out of it! (Can you spot my gnomey?)

Floppy Plants

I’ve been slowly collecting a massive harvest of roma tomatoes and have been meaning to make marinara all week. I don’t know if it’s really “marinara”, but I roughly chopped up all the tomatoes, added 2 tbsp olive oil, a couple of leaves of basil, 7 garlic cloves (Yes – it is shameful – I will never have a torrid love affair with vampire Erik Northman.), 1 cup of red wine, 1/2 a red onion and some coarse sea salt and pepper. I let it simmer down for awhile until it got really juicy and then added one can of tomato paste.

No Ragu Up in this Hizzy

I mixed it with the pasta I had on hand – mini rotini – some leftover garlic bread – and voila! A delicious, carbolicious dinner. (How many WW points? 7. (5 for pasta, 2 for sauce) But the garlic bread was 6.) Home made pasta sauce tastes so much more rich and has a delightful tang.

Nom Nom

Here I am enjoying my dinner – don’t judge on the frazzled “Almost the end of a crazy week” face.

Mmmmm dinner!

And because I think they are the coolest things on earth, here are my new hot dog boxers that I scored for only $7.95 from Old Navy. If I can’t eat Chicago hot dogs every day, at least I can wear ’em.


I weigh in on Saturday and am hoping to have better results this week. My pants are feeling loose and I was able to twirl my wedding band around my finger which usually tells me I’m not bloated like a water balloon, so I consider these good signs. I’m avoiding salt tomorrow and I’m heading to the gym right after I hit “publish”. Cross your fingers for me – hope you’re having a great week!

How does your garden grow?

I love my garden, and have been known to spend several hours digging in the dirt on weekends… emerging in the dusk hours with mud streaked all over my arms and plant pollen dotting my hands. I did today, in fact.

My Garden - and Yes, that is a mooning gnome.

I do this for the chance to grow my own food – which is the coolest thing ever. Last night, our dear friends Jason and Juan came over for an Italian feast, part of which was my homemade pesto tortellini. The pesto was superb – and made from 2 bunches of my own backyard basil. It’s such a neat feeling to eat something that you lovingly grew yourself – and it’s cool to know that you’ve essentially made a meal that cost only the price of the seed packet and occasional waterings.

Thanks basil, for making a delicious pesto!

Here’s a small sampling of some other things I hope to be harvesting soon, beginning with tomatoes. The ones shown here are a cherry variety, called “Matt’s Wild Cherry.”. I also have a Roma plant (that’s the biggest plant in the image above), an heirloom Brandywine, and a striped variety called Tigerella.

Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes

I have about 9 cucumber plants, from the “burpless” variety (that always makes me giggle – you’d never think cucumbers would be something that would make you burp), to a Persian, to a “tendergreen hybrid”. They’re just now starting to grow, about the size of a baby carrot and covered with the funny little spikes.

Baby "Burpless" Cucumber

My strawberries are hanging in there, and I was excited today to see one tiny little green berry. Strawberries don’t seem to do well in the San Fernando Valley, or maybe I’m just making that up, because I guess 40 minutes north in Ventura County is the strawberry growing capital of the world. Maybe I’m just not cut out for strawberry plants.

Little Green Strawberry

And last but not least, a favorite of mine… ARTICHOKES! This massive plant started from a tiny seedling I bought at the farmer’s market for $1. Now, it’s easily one of the biggest plants in the yard, and as you can see, loaded with artichokes.

Don't choke up over the beauty of my artichokes.

Some of the other goodies I have growing that aren’t shown include yellow squash, zucchini, green onions, green peppers, hot peppers, yellow corn and chocolate mint. I can’t wait for the days I spend digging into the vines and rummaging among the thickly-scented tomato leaves for ripe fruit. Should be about a month and a half and I’ll be posting pictures of my harvest. You better believe there will be some great food porn images then!