Summer Garden 2014-What’s Growing?

April 29, 2014
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Every year when I plant a garden I have grand hopes and dreams for all the sweet and juicy tomatoes, fragrant basil, earthy eggplant I envision will come from my labors. I see myself traipsing down to the perfectly tended raised beds with a sun hat on, lovely basket in hand, gathering my urban farm fresh produce and making delicious, healthy meals a la Martha Stewart.

Don’t you?

(cue the movie scratch-screech sound)

Reality is often somewhat different, isn’t it?

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This year when preparing the beds for planting I forgot the sun hat and got sunburned. Two of my big gardening tools broke apart in my hands as I was working, the hoe and the pitchfork, making the mixing of soils extremely back-breaking work. Often those lovely tomatoes I anticipate shrivel, blacken and die on the vine before harvest due to blossom end rot. Bugs and raccoons destroy plants before …

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Stocks 101-All About Home Made Meat, Fish and Vegetable Stocks and Broth

April 27, 2014
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Bones. Vegetables. Herbs. Water.

Combine them all, add fire, and you have a magic elixir which can breathe life into a sauce, become the base for a delicate soup or hearty stew, or poach a fish filet to perfection.

Many people don’t realize how easy it is to make a flavorful stock. Once you make stock at home, you may never buy those cans or boxes again. Homemade stock is usually healthier too because commercially made stocks tend to be very high in sodium, while stocks made at home can be tailored to the cook’s preference for salt and fat content. Consider not adding any salt at all. Instead, add salt to the recipe using the stock as needed. Let meat and chicken stocks chill and when the fat rises to the top it solidifies and can be easily skimmed off.

Besides being healthier, homemade stock is often one of …

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Turkey Chili with Kale and White Beans

April 5, 2014
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Is it chili?

Is it soup?

I really don’t know, but whatever it is, it’s so good that when I recently made an extra large batch for a dinner party hoping for leftovers for the next week’s lunches, I was left with nothing but a single bowl.

I came across this recipe at the beginning of the year while scouring Pinterest for “healthy” meals to make after the post holiday binge and used it as inspiration for this dish. While my version is different, and soupier (is that even a word?) than the original, it’s still incredibly healthy and delicious and it quickly became a family favorite.  I also chose to add kale to the recipe because frankly, most of us don’t get enough of the good stuff. Plus, I like the texture and the slightly bitter flavor it adds. This chili/soup is fresh, clean and flavorful and I hope

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Mise En Place- A Place For Everything and Everything in Its Place

March 29, 2014
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Mise en place~ A place for everything and everything in its place

Have you ever wondered how restaurants do it? How they can serve hundreds of people a night with a menu that has dozens of choices? In the end, it’s all about the mise en place.

Every day, cooks arrive hours before the restaurant opens to the public to prep for that day’s menu. They slice and dice, simmer and sear, and generally organize all the ingredients needed for every dish they are responsible for. In restaurant lingo, they “prep their mise en place”. Without it, they are lost.

Mise en place (pronounced meeze ehn plas) is a French term which loosely translates as “put in place”. This concept allows both professional and home cook alike, to prepare for one or a hundred in an efficient and seamless way, so that the dish or an entire …

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How To Make Salmon Gravlax

March 1, 2014
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One of my favorite things to do is to show people how simple it is to make things at home from scratch. Do not fear cooking (or in this case, curing). Love it and it will love you back. Gravlax is super easy to make at home, and yet at the same time, a delicious and impressive bit of culinary magic which will have your friends and family saying, “You made this?”

What is Gravlax? It’s is a salt and sugar cured salmon and is a wonderful addition to a brunch buffet, open faced sandwich or on canapes. There is often a bit of confusion surrounding gravlax, with many people assuming it is the same as smoked salmon or lox. In fact, gravlax is not smoked at all but instead cured by the process of covering it in salt and sugar which draws out the excess moisture (less moisture=slower spoilage).

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Pork Stew with Mushrooms and Artichokes

February 22, 2014
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Is it cold and snowing where you are? Are you swirling in the center of the Polar Vortex? Here in Southern California it’s a beautiful and sunny 72 degrees today. I say that not to brag, but with desperation. Can we have some of your snow and rain? Pleeeease…. In case you haven’t heard (being buried under all that snow and all), we are in the middle of the worst drought in recorded history here. There is NO snow in the mountains and the reservoirs are drying up.

Things are getting desperate here, yet it seems like most people where I live are completely unaware. My lawn is the color of old cardboard, while my neighbor’s lawn looks like a golf course watered three days a week. Local news talks about the unending forecast of “beautiful weather”, and moans if there is even a 20% chance of rain (which never …

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