Saturday, April 24, 2010

Let The Fun Begin!

Don't forget to come to the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase tomorrow between 2-6pm! There are 79 water-wise gardens on the tour...and it's FREE!
Be sure and stop by to see our garden (we are 1F on the tour)!!

Your Daily Thread did a wonderful article about the tour last week.
Read it here.

And do not forget, the DWP is offering cash incentives to remove your lawn!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pea Brush

I WALKED down alone Sunday after church
To the place where John has been cutting trees
To see for myself about the birch
He said I could have to bush my peas.

The sun in the new-cut narrow gap
Was hot enough for the first of May,
And stifling hot with the odor of sap
From stumps still bleeding their life away.

The frogs that were peeping a thousand shrill
Wherever the ground was low and wet,
The minute they heard my step went still
To watch me and see what I came to get.

Birch boughs enough piled everywhere!—
All fresh and sound from the recent axe.
Time someone came with cart and pair
And got them off the wild flower’s backs.

They might be good for garden things
To curl a little finger round,
The same as you seize cat’s-cradle strings,
And lift themselves up off the ground.

Small good to anything growing wild,
They were crooking many a trillium
That had budded before the boughs were piled
And since it was coming up had to come.

- Robert Frost

There is probably just enough time to plant one more crop of snap peas. This spring has been pretty cold for So Cal...perfect! We're on our second planting for the year, but the little guys never even make it into the house...someone (ahem) is always eating them right off the vine.

We have 5' bamboo teepees for our pole pea vines to grow up, but bush peas don't really need to be trellised as they cling to each other by twining their little shoots together and only grow to be about 18 - 24" high. However, you can make a pea brush for them with beautiful black birch branches, which will provide additional structure for the plants:

It's so pretty, and it's free! Go make one and tell me all about it...


PS. Pea Brush photo courtesy of Margaret Roach's amazing blog: A Way To Garden. The Black birch pea brush revelation was from my Mom, who saw it on Martha Stewart, and is saving her birch twigs for me! Thanks Mom!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wai Day

My dear friend, chef Wai Hon Chu, co-author of this amazing new cookbook, was recently in town for a series of book signings, and my friend Amanda and I decided to host a dumpling / blog luncheon at my house!

Our guests were the amazing photographer and blogger, both of Apartment Therapy, and her own At Home, At Home blog, Laure Joliet; Chef Celeste of Meals At Home; and of course, Fred...

Wai, who was born in Hong Kong, but has lived in New York long enough to call himself a native, and his co-author, Connie Lovatt, who is a private chef, have created a fully realized culinary travelog, resulting in a virtual world tour of dumplings, which, like so many traditions that seem to transcend culture, time, distance, and geography, show up in practically every society around the globe. Dumplings, by definition, are "a portion of dough, batter or starchy plant fare, solid or filled, that's cooked through wet heat, and is not a strand or a ribbon". The book follows the seasons, and, to add to the learning experience, each season starts with the simplest recipe, and ends with the most difficult.

For our beautiful lunch, Wai taught us how to make Hungarian Root Vegetable Bread Dumplings…the recipe is included below! Be assured that many spring veggies from your gardens can be substituted for this wintery dumpling – your imagination is the only limitation (and these dumplings have melted butter poured onto them, and sour cream. All that is missing is the molten chocolate, and we’d be at Foodgasm Defcon 5).

Everyone loves dumplings. Filled with meat, with red bean paste, with pretty much anything you’d ever want to eat, they’re the ultimate classic. What’s not to like? Tiny bites of doughy goodness…I could eat 100 of them. OK 1 million.

And the book – over 400 pages of them, and pages and pages of beautifully illustrated instructions, folding techniques – everything to make your dumplings pretty and ensure that they won’t fall apart at their elegant little seams. Fun Fun Fun Fun. Buy this book and if you see Wai, tell him that Y100 says howdy.

Root Vegetable Bread Dumplings

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped fine
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4 cubes
1 large parsnip, peeled and cubed
1 small turnip or kohirabi peeled and cubed
4 large cremini mushrooms, chopped fine
1 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

For the dough:
4 cups 1/2 inch crustless white bread cubes
2/3 cup of milk
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 cup unbleached flour plus some for dusting
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup coarse dry crustless bread crumbs

For Serving:
6 Tablespoons melted butter
salt and pepper (and paprika!)
Sour Cream

1. Do all the chopping of bread and veggies so you're ready.
2. Heat up a small pot over medium heat and melt the butter, add the onion and stir until soft, add in the remaining vegetables and salt and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and make sure it doesn't dry out.
3. Once the mixture has browned, remove vegetables from heat and add in parsley and allow to cool slightly.
4. Mix breadcrumbs and milk in a bowl and mix until doughy. Do this with your hands, let it get squishy and gluteny and like paste.
5. Mix in the egg, flour and salt and finally add the slightly cooled vegetables. Refridgerate for about 20 minutes.
6. The fun part: using wet hands start molding the dough into little balls (th size of ping pongs), dust with flour and place on a tray.
7. In a large pot, boil salted water, when all the dough has been molded into balls, drop a few at a time into boiling water, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 8 minutes or until most are floating. Remove to platter with a slotted spoon.
8. Top serve, drizzle with melted butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little paprika if you want to spice it up and a generous portion of sour cream!.


PS. Check out this incredible review of Wai's book in the current issue of Edible Manhattan!