Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Breaking News! Attention! The first tomato of the season has been picked!

It was June 30th, and the first ripe cherry tomato of the season was picked from our garden.
First tomato of the season

It was then eaten. Second ripe tomato, this one an orange cherry tomato, has been spotted and its days are numbered.
Second tomato of the season

Wink checked in on her carrots and they are growing well but are not yet ready for harvesting. In the meantime, she's quite happy with the wild abundance of sugar snap peas we have. So abundant they've fallen over the fence into the neighbors.
happy peas

More news will be posted as it becomes available. Good day, and good night.

Monday, June 28, 2010

For the love of asparagus

I love good asparagus. With our extended cool spring, it's been all over the farmers markets. I love cooking clean with it, or if we have guests, baking it into a tart with some tasty Gruyere. But the way I usually eat is simply roasted with a little olive oil, juice of a lemon, and some salt and pepper.

Here's how I usually eat it.
Here's a link to my asparagus tart.

And then came along this.
Bacon + asparagus = WIN
Yes, that's what you think it is. Little evening shawls of bacon wrapped around the asparagus spears. I sliced the bacon lengthwise in order to have thinner pieces, then in half, because really, I only wanted to use a few pieces. This was to be more about the asparagus than the bacon. I am not a bacon freak (you know what I'm talking about), but I do value the flavor a small bit of bacon can give to a dish.

Bacon shawls on the asparagus
Just wrap them around a bit, place on baking pan (with lipped edge), and roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Check on it periodically to make sure the bacon isn't burning. Remove from oven and rest spears on a plate with paper towels.

These make a great lunch with a salad, or with eggs for breakfast. But then again, fresh seasonal asparagus is always good. With a little bacon? Amazing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

How can you not be inspired by a view like this?

Woodley Garden - view across the yard
Woodley Garden - sweeping curves
And details like this?
Woodley Garden - detail of pot and wreath
Or perhaps you're needing inspiration for a new water feature. Perhaps like this?
Willis Garden - echo chamber water feature
I am very inspired by this and have plans to incorporate something like it into our garden...
Terhune garden - structure for bird house collection
You too can get inspired by images like this at this weekend's Seeding Our Future Garden Tour and Art Show in Tigard and Tualatin. I had the fortune of getting a sneak peek at the gardens this week, and you can listen to this week's show of Lelo Homemade (Friday at noon, or here online afterwards) where I interview Lisa Albert and chat about the great 8 gardens. She also tells us about the garden art fair happening Friday and Saturday.

The whole shebang is a fundraiser for The Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools and the gardens are chock full of inspiration and ideas. If you're seeking inspiration for your garden, whatever its size, this is a great tour.

For more information about the tour and show, visit the Seeding Our Future website.

See more photos from the inspired gardens here:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My love of strawberries, and my new love, roasted balsamic strawberries

so gorgeous these Oregon strawberries
I blame my love of strawberries on being born in the strawberry capital of the world. My birthplace is also the largest grower of strawberries in the state of California, and California supplies 85% of the nation’s strawberries. While it has the unfortunate name of Oxnard, it’s home to what’s known as the Oxnard Plain and one of the most agriculturally fertile areas of the world. So I guess you could say I was born with the best strawberries coursing through my veins, but that would be a bit dramatic, no?

Speaking of the best strawberries, I am not going to entertain the overdone banter of Oregon strawberries being better than California strawberries. Here’s the deal. If you pick a berry ripe from the plant, and eat it within a few hours of said picking, it’s going to be much better tasting than one that’s shipped long distances.

Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s just do a round up here on Lelo in Nopo’s blog history of writing about strawberries. We have…

Strawberry freezer jam
Strawberry vinegar
Strawberry smoothie
Strawberry cupcakes
Strawberry cobbler
Strawberry rhubarb cooler

But I’m adding this to the list:
roasted balsamic strawberries

That there, my friends, is my new favorite love. Roasted strawberries with balsamic vinegar. After making our year’s supply of strawberry freezer jam and freezing bags of berries, I was still staring at some fresh strawberries, beyond what we could eat this week. Intrigued with reading of roasting strawberries, I tossed 6 cups of berries with ¼ cup sugar and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. I spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet and into the 425 degree oven they went for 40 minutes. Once they were done and had cooled, I poured them into a container, making sure to get all of the juicy bits along with the berries.

Um, holy moly. The balsamic vinegar serves to deepen and strengthen the flavor of the strawberry, creating a really delicious sauce, perfect for shortcake or vanilla bean ice cream, or shortcake with ice cream if you’re feeling decadent. In the end? I opted to have it for breakfast with my plain greek yogurt. I’m thinking of stirring some into some homemade ice cream later this week.

And my love of strawberries continues.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I have this vision

Focal point
This vision I have in my head is all about capturing the magic light that floats through the side garden. As the sun begins to go down, it filters through, lighting up everything between the backyard and the front. It can make plants glow and in the evening, while the backyard is heady with the scent of jasmine and soon, lilies. I imagine gazing at the sun as it sets on a hot summer day and seeing the purple fountain grass light up and assure me that yes, indeed it is summer.

For now it is a vision because today it was 55 degrees out and I turned on the seat-heater in my car. The cats and dog are hovering in front of the floor heating vents, and the radiant floor heat upstairs is providing a very popular place for them to nap. Just like it was November or something.

But instead, I'm keeping focus on my vision described above. Let's close our eyes and breathe deeply, fellow Pacific Northwesterners. While our friends and family in other parts of the country may be complaining about the heat and their days spent at the pool, we can take comfort in the fleece we have not yet had to pack away for the season. I almost wore tights with boots the other day but I stopped myself before I committed that heinous crime.

I have this vision. The sun grows warm and lights up that purple fountain grass. And it better come true, dammit.

P.S. Happy Summer Solstice!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The sun came out and I took a photo of it so I'd remember it

There was a day of sunshine recently
In case you missed it, the sun did come out recently. It was a glorious day of sunshine. I took a photo of it so I'd remember it when it was away. It had been so long. I had missed it. I loved it so much I took its photo. It even smiled a little when I said CHEESE. Oh sunshine. My sunshine. Come back and stay awhile.

I go on a sunshine ramble on my latest show at Lelo Homemade. Lots of things I'm dreaming up, and lots of thoughts about what it feels like when the garden is awakening, the sun is awakening, and getting ready to live outside for the season.

You can listen to my ramble here.

And I wrote about rhubarb in my latest column over at Just Out. There's even a rhubarb limerick in there for you at the end. Oh rhubarb. It's such a funny plant/fruit/food/word. Take your pick. Rhubarb!

The lack of sunshine is making me loopy. Someone put out an Amber Alert for it, will you?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Proof of squirrels in our garden

Proof of squirrels in the garden
Looks like someone was having his lunch on the fence railing. Squirrels love our fences. They especially like how we've supplied them with a flat rail on the top so they can run faster.

The blue jays, Pride and Joy, have been swooping through the garden lately. They'll fly right underneath the tree and along the path, squawking to each other when they're apart. The hummingbirds are somewhere hiding out with lap blankets, wishing the sun would finally come out again. Boy, I wish it would, too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dear frustrated Pacific Northwest Gardeners,

The rain is killing things
Oh don't get me goin'. Because I will get goin' about this weather. It's cold, it's wet, and it's rainy. It's rough out there. Above photo? My bean plant died. Too much cold and too much wet. It's what beans can do when it's just too cold and wet.

Want some great insight from our local OSU Extension Horticulturist? I spoke with Weston Miller on my most recent LeLo Homemade show, and we chatted about what short and long term effects this chilly weather is having on our gardens. Read my lips: powdery mildew will be a problem.

You can listen to the show online here.

And then I rambled on all about rhubarb: where it came from, how to grow it, and my favorite things to do with rhubarb. Did you know "rhubarb" is the word they say on stage when actors are portraying a surly crowd? Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. I guess it is kind of surly sounding.

And bonus! You can subscribe to my show on iTunes now if you like, too.

How are other Pacific Northwest gardeners holding up with this weather? And for the rest of you, if you tell me you've been enjoying 90 degrees and days by the pool I'll about slap you upside the head.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New adventures beyond the garden gate

Two of my favorite girls
Two of my favorite girls right there in that photo. And it seems before Wink can be better, she's gotten worse. Tonight she's sleeping in the ICU behind a gate that's marked BLIND on it, under her name. I realized when I saw that, yes, that's my dog, and she's blind. But something else is wrong, and when she tried to jump today and fell backwards, and could barely get out of bed, we knew she needed more help. Lots of new tests, and blood draws and serious conversations.

I suppose my sweet gardening and cooking blog is a bit of a serious place these days, but thank you for all of the kind notes and messages you've sent our way. You guys are the best.

So here's a gardening photo to get you by, from our side garden. And there's Wink a few days ago, navigating with her nose, with her personal cheerleader cheering her on.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm learning a lot from my dog

Bravery comes from within, and with a little help
Bravery comes from within, and from using all of your senses. It's okay to take a moment, listen for voices, feel the breeze, and clearly make your decisions. It's okay to pause for a moment.

Look to others for guidance when you're unsure
Getting help from others for the things you can't do yourself is okay. See those stairs? They're really scary when you're newly blind. But I'm tapping a lot on them with my hand to show Wink she can go on to the next step. We're a team when it comes to those stairs. And if they're too scary some days, that's okay.

A little time, every day, in the garden is good therapy
A little time in the garden, every day, is wonderful therapy. Having a pal to do this together is even better. Wink sticks to me like chicle pegado (chewing gum) and goes where I go. That means when I thin the carrot seedlings, she's there to inspect. And sniff to see if they're ready to eat yet. No, not yet. That means we move onto the snap peas and yes, those are good to eat. For both of us.

A jaunty scarf can make an everyday outfit stylish
A jaunty scarf can elevate an everyday outfit to fresh and stylish.

We are taking small steps, every day. And the sun is coming out this weekend. So, so, so, happy.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

For Wink, and us, it's a whole new world

Don't mess with my golden lasso
There's no beating around it: it's been a rough time at the LeLo household. Our much beloved dog, Wink, was acting strangely last week and within two days, completely lost her vision, permanently. She's been diagnosed with SARDS,Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration, and there is no cure. Once such a happy-go-lucky dog, she's now rendered timid, staring into space, and very quiet. She's less than five years old.

That's the bad news.

The good news? She, and us, are slowly learning a new way to live together. A life of sound instead of hand signals, bells on our ankles, the use of scents to define spaces, and much trust and guidance. And thank god for bubble wrap. Stairs are tough to maneuver, and dangerous. They require much guidance, tapping and coaxing. And some such picking up and carrying. I could go on and on about more of these techniques, but really, I just wanted to let my blog readers know.

It's a whole new world.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Pretty Much Picasso Petunia has a Theme Song

Please listen to the soundtrack that goes along with this post by clicking here, then continue on:

Song and video here.
Okay, and now here's the image for you to gaze at while listening to the assigned above soundtrack:
Freakshow on the dance floor

I first saw this new "supertunia" kind of petunia last year in previews and trials. I had seen photos online prior to this, and each time I'm pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head while making a loud BOING sound. What was this wondrous freakshow of a plant?

Pretty Much Picasso was its name, and the color variation was strange and unusual, as I like to think of myself, strange and unusual (Quick: can you name the movie from which this line was inspired by?).

So when Proven Winners sent me a box of plants to test drive this season and report to you on (full disclosure here people), guess who was in the box? That's right. My little freakshow as seen here and I couldn't be happier with it.

I'm giving it a break right now because our weather has been so craptastic, but I have high hopes that it will do just fine in my garden, surrounded by fellow freaks and spectacular-spectaculars.

I shall report back, but in the meantime, how can you listen to this song and not be dancing?

My freaky petunia

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

An interview in which I cuss

I had the best chat yesterday with Devlyn of Savor PDX, and she recorded it for her very fun show. I love her description of the tentacles of her hops. And, I love that there are four letter words on her show. I throw in a few too. Especially in regards to this skanky weather. Yes, I said skanky. It's cold and wet and pretty miserable.

I am working hard on keeping my "glass half full" about this weather but it's not easy. You can listen in to our chat about slug control, hops, what I had for lunch yesterday, and my history of gardening and why. I get the sense that Devlyn and I could chat for hours. Lucky for you we kept it within a half hour.

Check out the show here:

And check out the show's website here to listen to all of Devlyn's past great shows.

This audio thing is getting fun! Super big thanks to Devlyn for having me: I bow to your bacon making prowess.