Veggies, Gnomes, and Fascism

I love summer! It’s the vegetables. So many, so colorful, so tasty. At every meal Stephen recites what on the table is from our garden.

At the same time I’m starting to be sad because I know it’s coming to an end. We had an early start this year. Probably has everything to do with the drought. Early start, earlier ending.

There is a wind at times and a little yellowing of the leaves that has nothing to do with nitrogen deficiency. The pile of tomatoes on the counter is getting smaller. We are getting caught up. Eventually there will not be enough.

I’m not a preserver. It’s just not my thing. And, I don’t have enough veggies in the garden to do that.

But I do cook and have a look at dinner the other night before the tomatoes were added.


On the Halloween gnome front, progress has been made. It’s becoming tedious. There must be a lesson in there somewhere.


The flash went off while taking the picture and it turned the purple into blue. I have a long way to go.

Last night we watched a movie on netflix that is still haunting me. The movie is called “Die Welle” or “The Wave” in English. It’s set in modern day Germany and adapted from a real life occurrence at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto in 1967.

Being born in Germany puts lots of history in the baggage I carry around. I want to believe that if by chance I end up in a social experiment I would act in a way that would make me proud. But that is hubris, right?

In the movie last night I could see myself for the first time not necessarily being a hero. The most chilling scene was the students marching in place and in step to disturb the students below. A lesson in how to create an enemy. I highly recommend watching it.


Journey to Riverhill Farm

Every Wednesday I’m looking forward to 2 o’clock. That’s when our farm-stand opens.

We pack plastic bags and shopping bags, decide if we want to run any other errands, today it was the library, and head to the farm about 5 miles from us.

It’s never a disappointment. I do get anxious a bit if I see too many cars parked outside the farm gate, but there is always an abundance of vegetables.

I immediately grabbed some basil. Our go-to recipe for basil is vegan pesto. Throw a bunch of basil into the food processor, add lots of garlic, a pinch of salt, some pine nuts and turn the machine on. Slowly add some extra virgin olive oil until it all has reached the right consistency.


Stephen went for the pluots, he loves his fruit. And so do I.


The peppers were exquisite and we bought three kinds. The nardellos are the red beauties below. I already bought some seeds to grow my own next year. Their colors are so vibrant, from a dark purple to a bright red.


Of course gypsy peppers are a must, a staple while the farm sells them. Ranging in color from mostly yellow to orange and a bit of red.


And then there were poblano/ancho peppers, and jalapeno peppers, and serrano peppers, and padron peppers. We grow our own Thai peppers so no need to add more spicy peppers. And one pepper we grow promises to be the hottest there is though I forgot its name. Padron is also growing in our garden, but this year I forgot about the ancho peppers. And with a prefect Chile Rellenos recipe I hardly can wait to taste them.


Though I’m not going to take pictures, my favorite are the lettuces. That’s also a staple for us and something we eat every day. They did sell kale but I already bought some at the store yesterday, grown by the same farmer.

Stephen wanted an eggplant and they were so plump and dense, I’m happy with the tactile experience alone. But it can’t hurt adding another sense to the mix, like taste.


A big part of the farm are tomatoes, but we have these in abundance this year in our garden. The same with zucchini. Of course our tomato plants don’t even come close to the size of theirs. I had Stephen stand in front of them to give you an idea. And can you see the huge tomatoes? I believe they are heirlooms.


My favorite tomatoes and I might as well not grow any others are the sungold tomatoes. I might have 7 or 8 plants growing. There are little cherry type tomatoes in yellow/orange. There is no better taste. I grow bigger red tomatoes for slicers on a caprese salad and such. I don’t have to worry about my plants giving up because they have had an early season, because I’m sure our farmer can keep me in sungolds.


A nice visual treat is the amaranth growing right next to the sungolds. Doesn’t it look like they are giving someone the finger?


This makes for very delicious Wednesdays I always look forward to.

Now on to cooking and processing. But most of it we eat raw in a salad.

But kale chips and pesto are in my near future. I have been a bit lazy after having hurt my back and have taken it easy. But all this wonderful food makes me want to get back into the swing of food. Hello stove, hello dehydrator, hello!



Chocolate and scones

It has been a while. Life has taken me various unexpected and expected places, but it was all way busier than I could have imagined.

There was Stephen’s dad’s 85th birthday. Cooking up a storm, I totally forgot to take pictures. Stephen’s sister and I jammed on the menu. I ended up making gazpacho, veggie sushi (did I mention we are vegetarians?), chocolate truffles (rosemary, lavender, and Chambord), 2 gluten free orange chocolate cakes, ginger apricot scones, and a huge fruit platter.

This scone recipe is my favorite. OK, I will admit right now that I have never even tried another scone recipe. These are too good. Not sweet at all. Just perfect. I stole the recipe online which is good for you because you can go and make them too. Click here. I use more ginger than the recipe asks for. I made the dough the evening before, by hand, because the in-laws did not have all the equipment that would have made making dough easier. When I realized that scones existed before kitchen-aids some confidence grew inside me. I just made a roundish shape and wrapped it in plastic, cut into 8 pieces the next morning, baked it and voila! If you want to read all about the Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, go here.

A word about the chocolate truffles. I have been making them for years and as I often say: I can make them in my sleep. It is true. After massive heart attack, quadruple bypass surgery, and pulmonary embolism, the first thing I did after a 20 day hospital stay was fill a 100+ truffle order. Perhaps a bit crazy now that I look back, but very important to my psychological well being at the time. I digress, I wanted to comment on the flavors. Chambord, a very expensive raspberry liqueur, makes the most wonderful truffle filling, makes great ganache, and rounds out and enhances chocolate like nothing else. But lavender or rosemary combined with chocolate is equally amazing. It’s surprising one can’t find this mix more often.

Here is my chocolate recipe suggestion: get a pre-made sweet chocolate crust ready to be filled. Or perhaps you have a recipe already and make your own. I assume that any good chocolate cookie recipe will do. Bake, cool, or unwrap if you bought yours. If using the Trader Joe’s pound plus chocolate, and I highly recommend that brand, break off 22 squares. I know they are not really squares mathematically, but that’s the name we call them. Break them apart individually. Melt in microwave set to 50% for 2.34 minutes. Stir a little and do this again. If still not melted, try another minute at 50%. You can repeat this, but don’t go too far or the chocolate will seize and the chocolate gods and goddesses will not look kindly on you. Take 1 cup of heavy cream and heat in microwave. I do this 30 seconds at a time, two times is usually good enough. Stir into melted chocolate. All that is left, is 2 ounces of Chambord. Mix that in and pour into cool crust. You can pour this chocolate sauce through a strainer if you are the obsessive type. Place in fridge and let set. You are in for a treat!

I’ve also been struggling with incredible back pain. Long story, short: I’m on heavy duty ibuprofen and other pain meds and doing better. But for a while I was wondering. I could not even knit, that shows how serious the pain hit me. I can always knit, but apparently not.

Now excuse me while I go take some pictures of the latest dishcloths.


Yes, there will be knitting today. But probably nothing photo worthy. Instead I’ll bring you chocolate today, another one of my obsessions.

I love my chocolate sweet, but resist the temptation most times and just add a little milk or white chocolate here and there. Staying mostly with dark or very dark. The project for today is some chocolate bark for my FIL’s birthday brunch.

We start out with an 11 pound slab of Callebaut dark. And right there you’ll notice that there is no way we can go wrong. We don’t even have to worry about using up all that chocolate because we have at least 5 more slabs like this. But, we will not be using it all, though FIL turns 85, there will not be that many people to feed chocolate to.


Take some organic dried cherries and chop them up, while melting the chocolate in a double boiler contraption. Most of the time I will melt my chocolate in the microwave, especially if I’m making chocolate truffles.


The microwave method goes like this. I break down a certain amount of chocolate with a hammer. Keep chocolate in a plastic bag for that. Put chocolate into a bowl and at 50% in microwave for 2.34 minutes. Yes, that number might be my little ocd thing, but who is a knitter and not a bit ocd? I mean we can do the same stitch over, and over, and over, right? If this did not melt your chocolate, go for another 2.34 minutes. But remember, to put the micro at 50% again! Learned that one fast.


But back to the double boiler method. Once chocolate is melted, I have a big decision to make. Alcohol or no alcohol? There will be kids at the event, but this is just a tiny amount of alcohol, so I went for it. Added the chopped cherries and then some Callebaut white chocolate chips, not letting them melt all the way. Poured everything on a parchment lined plate and off into the fridge to set.


You are probably wondering why I’m showing you slabs of chocolate. What sane person without a business buys chocolate in these quantities? Btw, I found that Costco actually carries this chocolate on their online store. Trader Joe’s actually has some pretty darn good chocolate to play with. The one pound slabs in milk, dark, and very dark. I did a taste test and am convinced that the chocolate comes from Callebaut.

To get caught up here I’ll show you a little red riding hood cape I made for a friend’s daughter who had a baby girl. It’s blocking right now and I hope will go in the mail tomorrow. It got a bit boring to knit, but is cute. Parents are theatre type people and this seemed the perfect gift, for their daughter’s first role.


Excuse me while I go make some more chocolate (almond bark) and knit.