Chamomile and Lavender

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Time for some flowers in the garden! I’m hoping flowers will attract good bugs and keep yucky bugs away from the veggies.

Lavender in the middle with chamomile all around (and a couple tulips, for color). Lately, I’ve been obsessed with lavender flavored things – try it with dark chocolate! Or in scones! Also, I have plans to make little sachets to put in drawers and cupboards to keep linens fresh.

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And chamomile for tea. My favorite kind of tea (No caffeine). So simple: just dry out out the flowers and steep in boiling water.

I recently purchased a cookbook from the Huntington Library called A Celebration of Herbs. This book is fantastic! It has a fantastic recipe for lavender ginger ice cream. I am so inspired to start growing herbs and actually using them. Plus there are beautiful color plates of these scientific plant drawings by Elizabeth Blackwell from 1737. Her story is crazy: her husband was sent to debtors prison, so she raised the money to bail him out by researching, illustrating and publishing an encyclopedia of herbs and plants used in cooking and medicine. Look her up!

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Grandma’s Best Lemon Bars

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I have made many many different lemon bar recipes and hands down this one is THE best. Thanks, Grandma!

First make the crust:

  • 1 cup cold butter (2 whole sticks)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • pinch of salt

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Whisk together dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, mix in butter until it is crumbly. If you are lucky to have one, you could also use a food processor to blend it all together.

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Push crumbs into a 9×13 pan. Bake 350 for 20 mins.

Now it’s time to make the gooey lemon filling!

Stir together:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • grated rind of lemons

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Pour lemon filling on top of baked crust. Put back in the oven for 25 minutes. IMG_2074

You’ll know it’s done when the edges turn golden.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar while hot. Cut into squares when cooled. Freezes well!

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1-2-3 Lemonade

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When life gives you lemons…

Make this lemony lemonade!

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Easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy:

1 cup sugar

2 cups lemon juice

3 cups water

Stir together in a pitcher and serve with ice. Adjust sugar and water to your taste preference.

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Also, try some fresh squeezed orange juice! No water or sugar – just straight liquid sunshine!

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the Bundt cake

Da Bundt

We call it “the bundt cake”, but it is so much more than that. My fiance, Tommy, has had this recipe since he was in high school. He did not do much in the kitchen as a teenage boy, but this recipe was the exception. He made it the first time as distraction while watching Saving Private Ryan. It was such a success, it became known as his specialty. This cake has been with us through the years and has evolved into the best version of itself.Our friends have requested it as birthday cakes, begging for it at potlucks. He developed a gluten-free version which our Celiac friends had dreams about. He even risked having his bundt pan confiscated by TSA because he was planning a surprise-Vegas-birthday-weekend-hotel-bundt-cake! Now, we pass it on to you. Enjoy!

  • 2 cups pumpkin (canned or fresh)
  • 2 cups flour (Gluten Free version: use a blend of tapioca and sorghum flour or Bob’s Red Mill GF Cake flour)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 2 tsp Baking soda
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 12 oz Ghiradelli chocolate chips (or semi-sweet/dark – be sure it is high quality!)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup veg. oil (or applesauce)

bundt batter

Combine ingredients well. Bake at 350 for one hour. Test it with a knife. If the knife comes out clean, it’s done.

Serve warm a la mode (omg) or room temp (for breakfast?). This will disappear fast!


Summer in the garden

Well, I think summer is officially winding down in SoCal, now that it’s mid-OCTOBER. I’m jealous of my friends in colder climates posting pictures of fall leaves and snowy roofs. I suppose the only indication of fall here is that it’s only 85 degrees (instead of 105). Time to clean up the garden…

Our poor plants really had hard time this summer with the thousands of heat waves we experienced. Next year, I’m investing in shade cloths. Here’s what we grew this past season.

Potatoes! These were SO much fun, but they don’t like it too hot.

Tomatoes. Nothing compares to a fresh tomato.

Kale: I’ve learned to like it – trying cooking it!

Well, this is a “volunteer” bean. I didn’t plant it. It showed up uninvited. Some would call that a weed. But look how cute it is!

Oh, the corn. Next time, we will not plant it all at once. Otherwise you’ll end up with all the ears ready at the same time!

Yes, my friends. That is ONE beet. About 25 lbs. This is what happens when you get lazy and leave a plant in the bed for a year. Don’t try this at home folks. It made a lovely spot for a giant black widow’s nest, which I did NOT take a picture of because I was too grossed out/hyperventilating about what to do. No thanks! Live and learn!

Such a cute pumpkin!! This was the only pumpkin to survive the Bagrada infestation. Unfortunately someone else wanted it for themselves and stole it- right out of our plot! How sad! There are some itty bitty ones on the vine that we are hoping to fatten up in time for Halloween.

And last but definitely not least:

I found a kitten in the backyard! She is awesome. We named her Penelope and she is now part of the family!


Pesto

Presto pesto!
This is a great thing to have in the freezer and SO easy to make. We planted basil in the garden (one of those window plants from TJ’s) and it just exploded! It’s 5 times its original size! What a great summer crop – it can stand the heat and doesn’t need much maintenance.

  • 4 peeled garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 pine nuts
  • 3 cups PACKED fresh basil leaves

Pick the leaves and look for bugs. You want a bug-free pesto!

Rinse in a salad spinner.

In a food processor (or blender), combine all the ingredients and pulse until smooth.

Wee!

Store single servings (2 tbsp) in ziploc bags to store in the freezer.

We’ve made this recipe 3x’s already and there’s still more basil to harvest in the garden.

Pesto all year long! Bon apetit…


Wild Alaskan Blueberry Pancakes

While visiting my grandparents in Alaska, my aunt inviting us to her house to pick the wild blueberries in her yard. We got here just in time: they started to ripen last week!

Picking wild berries is well worth the mosquitoes and the rain. With five people picking, we gathered at least a gallon of berries! I just feel sorry for the bears who will be missing their midnight snacks…

We went home and made a fresh batch of pancakes: fluffy and juicy!

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3 tbs of melted butter, COOLED

Sift the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. In a smaller bowl, beat the egg yolks and add the milk and COOLED butter. Don’t add warm butter or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs! Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Combine until smooth. Stir in berries. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff with an electric mixer on high. Fold the egg whites in to the batter.

Heat a griddle on high. You want the butter to bubble up when you grease the pan. Nice and hot! Pour about a 1/4 cup for each pancake and cook until the little bubbles start to to pop. Flip over and cook almost as long as the first side.

Serve with butter and maple syrup. WOW!


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