Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mexican Bush Sage Salvia Leucantha

My friend C and her husband stopped by the other day and her husband G, asked me what I would recommend him to grow behind a low garden wall he has. He wanted a plant that grew no higher than 3-4 ft. I smiled, and immediately recommended Salvia Leucantha, Mexican Bush Sage. I usher them out the back door into my garden and showed them my beautiful Mexican Bush Sage. My friend C and husband G, loved the plant, especially C who is partial to anything purple!! 

Banana, banana is a growing......

Bananas, are to me, the prefect snack. You will almost always find a comb of banana sitting on my kitchen counter. I find that they are filling without being too filling, and they provide the just a right amount of sweetness. I have a 12 year old grove of 'Ice Cream' banana in my garden. The label said "Texture and flavor similar to vanilla ice cream." Now, how could you resist that!! 

After growing up in Malaysia with so many varieties of bananas, the Ice Cream banana pales in comparison. I find that its flavor depends on when the comb of banana develops. If it has a long hot stretch to develop it can be nice. I suspect that it would taste much better grown in a more tropical climate like Florida versus San Diego. Yet, I keep hoping one day, I will get the perfect bunch from my grove. That one plant I bought is a grove of ever regenerating banana plants. I try to keep it to 6 or so plants at any one time. I keep it also for the beautiful banana leaves. It serves as my natural window dressing. I love looking out my tall windows and seeing the banana leaves swaying in the breeze. It reminds me of home. More importantly, I use the banana leaves for cooking- for making otak-otak, lining steamer basket for nasi kunyit, for kuihs and also table decorations at times.
My natural window covering

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oven Roasted Turkey-Beef Meatball

I am always, AND I mean ALWAYS experimenting and creating different meatball recipes. My family loves pasta and meatball. So very often, I would make a batch of meatball without thought that it would be the ONE and not note what I in put in it - this was one of those times! So, here I am quickly trying to remember what I put in them to get this delicious meatball I made today. I think I got it. For me, oven roasting is the way to go, easy, fast and clean.

1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1/4 cup bacon bits( if not using bacon, salt the meat with 1 teaspoon salt)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon italian herb mix
1 cup breadcrumbs Progresso Italian Herb
1/4 parmesan reggiano

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Put the ground turkey and ground beef in a big bowl. Sprinkle over all the other ingredients, with the exception of the 2 eggs and milk. With a light hand, mix the meats with ingredients so that the turkey and beef is evenly distributed. Beat the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl. Add to the meat mixture, quickly and lightly mix in to bind all ingredients.

Put 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl.

I use a 1/4 cup cookie or ice cream scoop for portioning the meatball mixture.  First, I dip the fingertips of my  right hand in the olive oil and dab the palm of my left hand with the olive fingers. Scoop one portion of meatball mixture with the cookie scoop to my left palm. I roll the meatball mixture between my palms to form the meatball and place shaped meatball on a baking sheet. There is no need to grease the whole sheet as the meatball is oiled when I rolled it between my oiled palm. Bake formed meatball in 425F oven for 20 minutes.

Slow- Roasted Tomatoes

I was not about to let the fact that my tomato plants failed miserably  to produce any significant quantity of fruits this summer, stop me from making Slow Roasted Tomatoes. I hit the Farmer Market for my supply of lovely tomatoes. I roasted and bottled the tomatoes. Now, I can look forward to delicious Slow Roasted Tomatoes in the fall and winter when only yucky tasteless tomatoes are in the market.

Besides I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE hearing the pop coming from the jars when the vacuum effect takes place which causes the seal pop down and seals. You know it is coming but you don't know exactly when. It is almost musical and magical :)

SAT and stocking the pantry and freezer

Last weekend when my son told me he was going to put in a full length SAT test practice the next morning, I decided to go ahead and hit the kitchen to make some items to stock my pantry and freezer. That way I could proctor the test and keep busy at the same time. My plan did not quite work out! My canning process was making too much noise for him to concentrate!! Those canning jars were rattling in the pot! Live and learn............

Here's a glimpse of what I made ( recipes will follow in another post)

Bolognese Meat Sauce 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It is Paper Bag Tree time again

Mr.Chow, the gardener was here today. With a big smile on his face, he told me about two birds who ate my very delicious persimmons, which were very soft and ripe. He could not help himself exalting the flavor of the persimmons. We chatted fully aware what had happened. Lol! He reminded me to net the tree before the birds ate all the fruits. I have been meaning to wrap the fruit ala Asian practice for awhile now. A quick peruse of the tree showed a number of fruits partially eaten by the birds. I got to work wrapping up the fruits.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekend in Flight

This weekend literally FLEW BY!!

During our first stay this week in our Temecula house, a hummingbird flew into the house and could not find its way out of the house. It finally landed on the curtain rails. I climb up on a ladder armed with a colander and a board. That is how I have always captured errant birds that fly into our various home. Lol! I put the colander over the bird, slide the board under the bird, capture and then release the bird in the open. This time the little hummingbird was so still I was afraid it was dead. Looking closely, its little heart was beating so fast but it was perfectly still- it was playing possum. I do not know if that it how it normally behaves.... In any case, it allowed me to pick it up in my hand even. I was a little afraid of it little sharp beak that was so long! Afraid it would poke my eyes out! As soon as I took it outside the house and lay it on the ground, it rolled over from its side and flew away. Both of us were happy :)

Also on that stay, we were visited by an Egret. My husband had seen it drinking form our pool. I only saw it in flight.

Fruits in hiding.....

It is that time of year when I start trimming down summer growth, clearing out dead leaves, and taking cuttings for the next season. This year the Dragon fruit plant had been flowering profusely all season long without setting any fruit. The plant had steadily spread and was growing into the neighbor's yard. I decided to cut that part off - as I pull it off the wall and cut it at joint, I was pleasantly surprised by a Dragon Fruit! The first ever Dragon Fruit in my garden. It was facing the inside of the leaf, right against the wall. Only when I pull the stem away from the wall, was it visible. My Mom who was here for a 6 month's visit had been checking the plant all season for fruits and now that she left- it fruited!!

We had taken some pictures of Mom in my garden before she left. In one picture, I notice a banana flower, which lead me to find it in the garden. Unfortunately for Mom, before I could show it to her, the gardener had cut off the whole stalk, flower and all, as it was leaning over the path. When I found the Dragon Fruit, I immediate turned to the banana grove. Wouldn't you know it - lo and behold, there was a huge flower high up, on one of the banana plant.

The only thing is the weather is already cooling down, I do not know successful this bunch of bananas will be. I am excited nevertheless.