Thursday, November 29, 2012

Persimmon - Fruits of the Gods

My beloved Fuyu Persimmon tree continues to reward me with delicious fruits despite my neglect. I cannot say that I have always attended to it well but this year, life has truly overwhelm me. Caring for two houses and gardens, an hour and half apart plus the stress of a teenage son applying to college.......

Before the Fuyu started taking color, the only time I paid attention to the tree this year was to take pictures of the Persimmon flowers for Autumn Belle- a promise I made when I was harvesting last years crop. It was the ruckus of wild chirping and flapping of wings that emanating  from the vicinity of the Fuyu Persimmon tree that woke me up from my stupor. Those birds were fighting each other to get at the fruits! I do not know what angered me more, the delicious ripe persimmon eaten by the birds or the beautiful green unripe persimmon needlessly pecked by the birds? Every gardener with a persimmon tree knows you have to share some fruits with the birds, the keyword here is SOME.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Year of the Dragon - Fruit!

For the last 3 years, my Pitaya /Dragon Fruit plant Hylocereus undatus had teased me with beautiful blossoms but never rewarding me with any fruit. It seems it was just waiting for Year of the Dragon to start fruiting! I was pleasantly surprised to see that the blossom did not just fall off but two dragon fruits had formed on the plant. One of them has develop a beautiful pinky red color and the other has just a blush of color. I am not sure if they are of the same plant. It am excited to taste the fruit finally!!

September - flower 

 This blossom will turn into the blush colored Pitaya

One of the blossom turned yellow and will not grow to be a Pitaya

 The remaining blossom has developed into a pinky red Pitaya

Just a touch of blush on this Pitaya

Mason Jar Salads

If you are a fan of Pinterest,  you would have seen the use of Mason Jars for everything from storage, planting, lighting to premixes. Recently, in an effort to eat more healthy, I made some Mason Jar Salads. Really easy! Just gather together mason jars, your favorite salad dressing, salad greens and tomatoes. You can also include beans, cucumber, olives and even fruits if you like. Essentially, whatever you normally use to make your favorite salad.

The main thing is to keep the salad green away from the salad dressing. The first layer in the jar is the salad dressing. I like adding the tomatoes, carrots or cucumbers next. For some jars, I added pears cut into cubes. The layer on top of the salad dressing should be firmer to `lift' the salad greens away from the dressing. Fill with salad greens. Top with nuts or fruits if you like. Mandarin orange segments, watermelon cubes, and berries are good choices. These Mason Jar salads last for about a week. I was addicted to these salads, sometimes I would have a jar for lunch and dinner!! A little shopping, a few minutes of assembly and you are set for the week. Delicious!!

 Layers- salad dressing, tomatoes, salad greens.

 Grab and go Mason Jar salads for work

 Shake the mason jar to distribute the salad dressing

Poppy seed dressing and the addition of chickpeas. Yum!

You can add grill chicken to make it a complete meal

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

My daughter L is sitting a little under the weather was wanting soup. We had bought a huge bag of broccoli from Costco with every intention of making Panera Bread wanna be Broccoli Cheddar Soup!! The Crusty No Knead Bread I made last night was begging to be dipped in the soup.

It was quite good although we lighten it up a bit since we were having not just one bowl of soup! Instead of the 2 cups of half and half, I use 1 cup each of whole milk and 1 cup of half and half. I have even use just whole milk and have been happy with it. Just nothing less than whole milk.

No Knead Crusty Bread

Like the rest of the world, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Pinterest, getting ideas and being inspired. A few days ago, I came across a Pin showing a No Knead Bread. It look so delicious and the recipe was too easy to be believed. I mean all you do is literally just combine all the ingredients together and let it proof! The unbelievable thing is, it only require 1/2 a teaspoon of yeast!! So make sure that yeast is active and fresh. I tested and threw out some doubtful yeast.

 I had been itching to make a crusty bread using my Le Creuset  Dutch Oven. I whipped out my little jewel that I had been hoarding for awhile - the silver the replacement knob that would allow my Le Creuset Dutch Oven to be used in a scorching 400-500 F oven ( the normal Le Creuset Knob is not rated for such a hot oven). Swap the knob and I was good to go.

I made the dough at 6 am on Sunday morning intending to bake the bread that evening. As it turned out, we spent the day watching "Lost" on Netflick and staying cool. In the end, it was too hot for me to think about turning the turning on the oven. So I pop the dough in the fridge to slow down the proofing. So instead of proofing the dough for 12-18 hours, it was more like 36 hours!!! It still came out beautifully crusty and delicious. So that was my adaption.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The search for perfect Madeleine

Madeleine have been on my mind lately...To be exact the delectable Lemon Madeleine I made a couple of year ago. It  was of those reader requested recipe of something they ate at a restaurant, in either Gourmet or Bona Appetit magazine. I remember closing my eyes in bliss, biting into the tender crumbed Madeleine deliciously perfume with lemon zest. You know what is coming right? Yes, you guess it!! I lost the recipe. I cannot remember if it contained honey, if I chilled the dough or did I add baking powder that is frown upon by the purist. So now begins my quest for the perfect Madeleine recipe.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Clean Dog

With all the travelling we did this summer, the garden was not all I neglected. Frasier has been looking pretty scruffy not to mention doggy. Two days ago I gave him a bath. Today, I finally shave and groomed him. Here are the before and after pictures.

Scruffy, stinky but oh so adorable. Most of the time, I prefer him looking this way but as his hair grows longer, he tends to "pick up" stuff from the garden. Frasier is an outside dog. He often gets mistaken for a Labradoodle when he looks like this.
Clean, still adorable but half the dog he was!!! Poodles are all hair if you can tell.

White Meatball

On Tuesday, I went to Sprouts Farmers Market in Eastlake to buy some corn for my son A. For the past 4 years he has had braces on his teeth and has not been able to eat corn on the cob easily. Imagine, not being able to eat jagung, the pasar malam favorite!! Long story short, that day, he finally had the braces removed and his first request was for corn and some apples.

While I was there I stopped by the meat department. Meatball came to mind!! I decided I would experiment and make a different kind of meatball, a healthier meatball. That how I came up with the White Meatball - Turkey and Pork, the other white meats. Even if I have to say so myself, they turned out pretty delicious. So delicious that I am blogging about it before I wash the dishes!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weed Fest!

What do you expect when you leave a vegetable garden unattended? All I can say is that the weeds look very healthy. In fact, a lot healthier than the few tomato and pepper plants I had in those beds! While, the beds looked chook full of seeds, it was actually fairly easy and fast to remove most of the weeds.

Kale, Culantro (mexican cilantro/ vietnamese ngo gai) with its purple flowers and... lots of weeds- clovers, spurge, dandelions, grass to name a few.

A dog just as neglected as my garden. Frasier desperately needs to be shave and bath!! My faithfully dog happily following me around the garden

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fruits in an neglected orchard

I cannot believe it is already August 2012. My real life outside Blog world has been beyond busy leaving me with very little time to blog. We have been travelling since the end of June through the end of July attending Lacrosse College Recruiting Showcases with my son. We crisscrossed the east and west coasts of the US, returning home to San Diego for a couple of days in between with barely enough time to wash dirty laundry and repack for the next trip. Having two gardens and hour apart, I resigned myself to the fact that there would be many casualties of neglect.

Finally, yesterday evening I ventured into my Chula Vista garden. It was overgrown with weeds as it had received multiple watering a day due to some glitch in the irrigation controller. We came home from the airport at midnight to find the irrigation on, then running again at 3 am when we went to bed  and at 8 am in morning!! What will my water bill be this month?? Irrigation is now turned off for the rest of the week to allow the ground to dry off.

The good new is the fruit trees are doing fine. I will let the pictures speak for themselves while I dine on some delicious Mission Figs :)

Black Mission Figs

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lamb Tagine with Potatoes and Chickpeas

One of my purchases from William Sonoma (my Christmas present to myself or it can be Christmas present my husband bought for me ) this past holiday season is this beautiful handpainted Tagine. I used it to make William Sonoma's  Lamb Tagine with Potatoes and Chickpeas. I have included the link above and the recipe below incase the link disappears in future!

Homemade Fresh Pasta

Looking for the perfect accompaniment to the Lamb Tagine with Potatoes and chickpeas , I excitedly pull out the pasta attachment of the KitchenAid. Today, we are making Fresh Fettucini. Finally, my "new" pasta attachment with came with my KitchenAid mixer will be used.

4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. water
4 eggs
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
2 cup semolina flour

Combine salt and semolina flour in mixing bowl. Attach bowl to mixer. Attach Flat beat to mixer. Pulse to mix.

Add eggs, water and oil. 

Mix with flat beater until combined.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fuyu Persimmon Flower

Until Autumn Belle asked me last year, I never thought to photograph the blossoms of the Japanese Fuyu Persimmon( Ebenaceae, Diospyros kaki ) tree. The flowers are inconspicuous. The time between bloom and fruit setting seem to happen in a blink of the eye. Normally, I would see the green flower buds and before I know it, watch the fruit fill out. The open bloom of the flower itself does not make an impression on me. In fact, truthfully in the early years, I believe that the persimmon blossoms were green!
Persimmon green blossom buds
The buds of the Persimmon tree are green in color. They look like a green buttercream icing formed by  a star shape icing tip. The 'swirly icing' are actually the sepal. At this stage, the buds reminds of those little biscuit we buy in bulk as little kids. A little round, flat top biscuit, top with a colorful swirly hard sugar icing. These days, I seen the biscuits being sold at pasar malam ( night markets) in Malaysia.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Living mulch and self seeding

Finally, I found some time to do a bit of spring cleaning of my upper garden. I was happy to note underneath all the debris, my deliberate action to let to let some herb go to seed and self seed has played off. A blanket of seedlings covered the planting beds. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Blog Namesake - Kumquat

I thought I would share some pictures of my fruit laden Kumquat plant ( Fortunella Japonica). The two kumquat plants are in two planter boxes next to the path that leads to my upper garden. I bought the two Fukushu Kumquat plants about 4 years ago and it has really taken off. Each year it has tons and tons of large delicious kumquat. But even before, those delightful fruits appear, the garden is filled with the most amazing fragrance of the kumquat flowers!! Heavenly.

The tree is laden with green kumquats that are just starting to turn a bit yellow

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mother of Millions

This time of year the cactus and succulent plants are flowering. Particularly beautiful are the flowers of Bryophyllum delagoense or commonly called Mother of Millions. Sometimes, it is also called the alligator plant. Its purplish pink leaves are speckled. Plantlets form at the end of the tubular leaves. This plant is deemed highly invasive as each of these plantlets drops and form a new plant.

I recently found out that in addition to being highly invasive ( which it has not been so far in my garden) it is also highly toxic. The whole plant especially beautiful flowers are extremely toxic. It is a problem in Australia where grazing cattle die from eating the the plants. I have not found any articles to suggest that it is toxic to other animal but it worries me. My dog Frasier has been known to `taste' plants especially after a rain, licking raindrops off plants. I will have to consider removing this plant from my garden. So, this might be the last year you see these beautiful flowers. Frasier triumphs over flowers!!

Notice the plantlets at the end of the tubular leaves. Each one falls and becomes a new plant. One mother plant will make hundreds of new plants. ( the Jade Plant in the background is full of white flowers).

Monday, January 30, 2012

A lack of focus

Again, I am thinking, I really should not be so hard on my children for their "lack of focus." Here, I am pottering around in the garden some 45 minutes later when I should be inside the house cleaning!! In all fairness ( sounds familiar?) I was taking out a potted plant that was looking a little under the weather from neglect (again- sound familiar?). I cleaned off dead dried leaves and gave it a good soak. Then, I remembered the Plumeria branch that had broken off and had been thrown out by my landscaper. I happened to pass by the yard waste bin on my curbside before the city pickup and rescued it. I set aside to be planted. I planted  it today!! 

Then, I remembered the Calla Lily bulbs that I was sent .....Pop the 3 bulbs into 3 pots.

BeansThen, I came across some seed pods of indian cluster beans ( I left out to dry)... then... then.... Needless to say, they all needed planting and cleaning was on hold. I bought them at an Indian grocery store. They have a slight bitter edge to them that I like. 
Cluster Beans (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba) originated in India and is now cultivated in California. It is used to make Guar gum, a thickening powder, said to have 7 times thickening power of corn starch. The beans are ground up to make the guar gum powder. 

Guess what I am doing now, blogging about lack of focus instead of cleaning. It is okay, I am allowing myself 20 minutes coffee, blogging break and then it is back to cleaning. FOCUS!!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Santa Monica Community Garden

Last weekend while my son A was at Lacrosse camp in LA, my husband and I went to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. The Farmer's Market was a disappointment maybe because it was winter and the selection of vegetable was limited. It was also way smaller in size than I expected. But all was not lost, I was so excited to see the Santa Monica Community Garden across the road. I have always read about community gardens in magazines and on blogs but never actually been to one until that day.

Chronological traits, things aliens and constant

I have been incredibly busy the weeks leading to the close of 2011 and these weeks of the new year of 2012. My mind wanders to topics I want to blog, my fingers itch to hit the keyboards but alas time is not to be found. But more then that, what holds me back more, is a stubborn streak in me. My need to do things in a chronological manner.

A smile is upon my face, even as my fingers hit the keyboard. A few minutes ago, I spoke to my daughter L who is in college and talked about this. I was telling her I realize that we are more alike then we previously thought. Dear daughter had been telling me this past semester how she struggled with her section discussions because they were not working chronologically. I admit I was less sympathetic then......I told her that I felt that my blogging has now come to a standstill because I could not blog more current events before earlier ones!! She burst out laughing and what like,"I know, right?" Looks like I pass on the Chronological trait! We had a good laugh about it. I told her I was making a change.

Which brings about this post. I am going to blog out of "sequence." Christmas will have to come after this 2012 post!! I am going to do something "alien" to me. Enjoy these pictures of an "alien encounters" I took on the road to Palm Desert to my son's lacrosse tournament.