30 June 2010

Jacky's new barn

Calling all you children of the 70s. Remember this barn? Classic Fisher-Price, with wooden parts and actual nails holding the thing together. Woah.

This well-loved toy is a hold-over from Toby's youth, when he was exactly the age you see below. His mom keeps everything, and she recently kicked down with Jacky's new favorite toy.

And... He. Loves. It.  Ohmygosh, roosters, tractors, cows, and doors that open and shut. open and shut. open and shut. 


fisher-price barn

fisher-price barn

24 June 2010

garden update: June

It's early Summer in the veg patch and all is in flower, tendril and hopeful little fruits. We had a wet, cool Spring so I'm relieved to get the Summer plants in finally, in place to soak up the sun. Optimistic, I know... but so far we've noticed that our backyard gets a good 15 degrees warmer than the "official" SF temps. Nighttime is a little cooler, but I'm hopeful for our first Summer growing food at this new home. And, really, what is gardening other than hope and dirty fingernails?

Here's what's doing these days:

garden update, June 2010
fuzzy, beautiful Blue Borage. As you may know, the flowers taste just like cucumbers. I need to make a big salad and throw some in.

garden update, June 2010
view of the vegetable garden, spilling over in flower, mostly purple-ish right now.

garden update, June 2010
sweet peas - 'Taffy Swirls' and 'North Shore' - what an amazing, delicate fragrance. I'm also growing 'April in Paris' which has a more subdued (but beautiful) appearance, but the BEST fragrance of them all. Just dreamy.

garden update, June 2010
the return of the chicken wire. Or shall we say toddler/kitty wire? Out with the favas, and in with all kinds of squashes, both summer and winter. Some will trail and some will climb up the arches or mesh walls.

garden update, June 2010
here's a holdover from Spring. These fennel bulbs are begging to be eaten NOW. I need to find the right recipe or maybe just pickle 'em. Anyone ever pickled fennel? Note the little babies re-growing from the site of earlier harvests. I love that.

garden update, June 2010
purple tomatillos, finally "doing something." They were flowering like crazy forever, and now the flowers are faded and the stem "petal things" (I never took botany) have elongated and inflated as you see here. Tiny little tomatillos are enlarging inside. Super interesting to watch this process unfold for the first time. If we get fruits on most of the flowers, we are going to be in SALSA HEAVEN. Which is the best type of heaven, if you ask me.

garden update, June 2010
yellow pear tomatoes. My bazillion tomato plants are jammin along, setting fruit like crazy. Whee! tomatoes in San Francisco!

garden update, June 2010
Thai chili plant - 'orange fogo'. I'm growing a couple different types, in various settings (in ground, potted, etc.). I admit this is kinda wishful thinking for San Francisco's unpredictable summers, especially this cool year. But, I would just totally pass out with happiness if I could grow some peppers. Even just moderate spiciness would make my day.

garden update, June 2010
mexican sour gherkins, off and running now. I started them from seeds WAY too early, so they limped along all Spring. But now! Now, they're climbing and setting tiny fruit all over. As I mentioned in every hopeful Garden Update, these will emerge as tiny fruits that look like watermelons but are really cucumbers. Got that?

garden update, June 2010
and now for something I literally have nothing to do with: the blackberry bramble. Well, I guess I could have ripped them out (heh. anyone who's tried knows how futile this is.) but I think I actually encouraged lots of fruiting by hacking the bramble back a bit in early Spring. You know, so I could walk back there. So much for that. The berry beast pounded its angry chest and pushed out 5 canes for each I cut back. But those canes are currently covered in flowers, baby berries and happy bees. Oh, OK. Twist my arm.

garden update, June 2010
...and, the artichoke patch, interplanted with three types of sunflowers, from short in front to tall in back. The artichokes are generally doing great, growing like mad. I'm a bit worried about the plant in front, though, which keeps curling one or two leaves inward versus out. The interweb mentions some curling disease accompanied by black spots, which we do not have. Not sure what's going on here -- anyone, anyone?

23 June 2010

pizza of the week: padrón peppers, baby artichokes & green garlic

pizza: padron peppers & baby artichokes

The other day, I left my desk and headed out to the Tuesday Ferry Building farmers market. This is the smaller weekday affair, rather than the famous Saturday extravaganza. It does in a pinch, though--both for food and for walking the office off yourself. Me, I was looking for spice.

I had just pulled a huge batch of carrots out of the garden and was planning to pickle them. I like my carrots really spicy, so I thought maybe I could scare up some early jalapeños or serranos from a valley farmer -- I know they're not quite in season yet, but I had hope. I love spicy pickled carrots.

pizza: padron peppers & baby artichokes

No dice. I scanned for anything pepper-ish and ended up spying a small basket of Padrón peppers from Happy Quail Farms, down in East Palo Alto. Some very nice, very young guys explained to me that, yes, it's too early for the hot peppers, but the mild Padrónes were excellent fried and salted. OK, sold. Kind of irrelevant to my carrots, but they were very nice, very helpful... and really? A farm in East Palo Alto?

Anyway, I fried up some peppers as a snack -- YUM -- and some others went on a pizza, my ingredient vehicle of choice. We had a batch of Mark Bittman's asparagus pesto on hand, some adorable baby artichokes and green garlic. Super Spring pizza.

pizza: padron peppers & baby artichokes

Padrón Pepper, Baby Artichoke & Green Garlic Pizza

basic pizza recipe + asparagus pesto + mozzarella & fontina cheeses + par-roasted baby artichokes, sliced padrón peppers. bake. garnish with red pepper flakes and lemon squeeze.

pizza: padron peppers & baby artichokes

22 June 2010

final fava bean harvest

fava bean harvest

Behold. Spring is both literally before you... and quite over. This past weekend, I practiced tough love and ripped out heaps of fading plants. You know, those that I'd be nurturing since seed in mid February. Right out. Replaced with all kinds of squashes.

Two patches of fava beans met with my garden shears--I cut off the tops and left the nitrogen-clad roots in the soil (to enrich it). But, as far as enriching our plates, I walked with 4.5 pounds of beans people! And this was just the final harvest. We had a few good round-ups of these wonderful beans. I would definitely plant them again, so I set aside some fat, perfect beans for drying and saving till next February.

But, as for the near term... hello delicious:

fava bean harvest

Grilled ciabatta + quick garlic rub + mash-up of favas, pecorino, lemon and olive oil.

21 June 2010

mission to craft: part I

Remember how I said I wanted to get crafty for the kid? You know, maybe extend a pipe cleaner across time and space, and reconnect with my own mom and childhood? Well, check it out. I actually made something...

Butterfly Mobile!

butterfly mobile

Taken from this book, this project was extremely easy and fun, with (I think) a pretty charming result. The frilly butterflies catch the wind and gracefully float over Jacky's diapering area. A little magic in the most un-magical of corners, you could say.

butterfly mobile

I'm pretty sure I made something like this as a kid. Many sheets of tissue paper and plenty of pipe cleaners lined my mom's craft closet (yeah, she had a whole closet for it). 

Now, what to make next?

butterfly mobile

I'm thinking something wearable. I bought a few plain lap Ts for Jacky and have been eyeing some nasturtium leaves and fabric paint... stay tuned.

butterfly mobile

Can't wait till we can get crafty together. 

butterfly mobile

16 June 2010

when laziness turns to beauty

So, can I just say "meant to do that?" Most gardeners snip away the first signs of a flower stalk, as a veggie or herb starts to bolt. Me? meh, sometimes.

This year, I'm growing so many new edibles that once they start to bolt, I kind of justify leaving them alone (unless I have something waiting in the wings, ready to replace the bolter) just to see what their flowers will look like. Mostly, it's been worth it.

You should have seen arugula. That monster bolted so fast, but man was it cool. Beautiful, wild-looking, black-flecked cream flowers that smelled JUST like honey. Why didn't I take a photo? I did add some to flower arrangements indoors. Special, secret flower source.

Anyway, some more recent flower stalks did meet with my camera. A few recent faves:

sorrel flower
Sorrel flower stalk. I think this is incredibly striking. Pink? Wow.

spinach flower
Spinach "flower"

cilantro flowers
Cilantro flowers. Delicate and pretty.

blackberry flowers
OK, so this isn't a bolting veg. It's my old pal, the enormous, sprawling blackberry bramble in the back of the yard. It's in beautiful, papery flower now, and we should have the first juicy, sweet berries next month. Yes, it does constantly try to invade my vegetable beds, but really... How can I be mad at it?

14 June 2010

portrait of a mama-gardener


Gloves? check.  Scissors, shears and twine? check.  Weed/compost bin? check.  2.5 lbs of pea harvest(!)? check ... 

Baby monitor, cranked up to full blast?? check.

I looked down and this just made me laugh. As soon as that kid goes down for his nap, I race outside and speed-garden. Go, go, go.

01 June 2010

look who's 18 (months!)

It feels like years sometimes. In a good way, you know. We've come a long way. It feels like years ago AND yesterday that I was coaxing him with a loony stuffed octopus to... just... lift... your.... head! I swear mama will stop torturing you -- soon! Tummy time and tears. Or, it feels like just yesterday that he pulled himself right up, beaming... that he first said "kitty" (first word. I suppose I can forgive it if we're raising an animal lover).

But, here we are: 18 big months. No longer a baby in my book. He's no longer obsessed with our cat -- rather, the neighbor's. He points next door and chants: "bella... doh" -- Bella's door! He demands that we "ree!" his favorite books (everything from Where is Baby's Belly Button and Curious George to Mercer Mayer's Nightmare series (hands down tops. confession: we sometimes hide it.) and Fox in Sox ("Fah! Sah!"). He begs to be let down to the "gah-gah" (garden), where he sorts gravel and rocks, drags around mama's hose and the too-big watering can. He pets plants and flowers softly ("fahhh"). And then he grabs and pulls. He announces "wee wee" and "poo poo" RIGHT before going... and sometimes after. (I'm shopping for a potty.) He absolutely LIVES for peek-a-boo, hands-only style as well as running around the crib style. He laughs so hard I think he's going to cry (that's my boy). He throws himself in my arms for reassurance and gives everyone sweet, soft kissies. He leans sweetly on Dada during story time. He strokes my hair softly while I hold him. He is our precious cuddler ("cuh-uh!").

Happy 1.5, little big boy Jacky.


photos by Toby ("Dada")
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