Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Officially Spring...

First Artichoke!

Artichokes are coming up in the garden...they are delicious and so easy to grow! They are practically no-care plants, and their beautiful green/grey leaves are gorgeous in perennial borders, which is where we have them. They are perfect for California climates and are very drought tolerant. If you don't grow them yourself, you can get beauties at the Farmer's Markets right now. I could live on them!

Try this incredible fritatta recipe from my pal Celeste's Blog, Meals At Home!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Tomatomania Is Back!

We interrupt Meyer Lemon Week to bring you this important message...
Tomatomania is here in LA, March 25-27! Find out where they'll be next weekend by clicking HERE! I went this morning and came back with a LOAD of seedlings!

Here's all the info (btw it was pretty muddy - wear your wellies!):

One of Los Angeles’ oldest garden traditions meets one of its newest sensations as Tapia Brothers Farm Stand hosts the largest of the TOMATOMANIA! seedling sales.

To get there drive north on the Ventura Freeway (101N), pass the 405 fwy and exit at HAYVENHURST. Turn right at the stop, then make a quick left into the very busy parking lot.

If you're driving south on the 101 exit at BALBOA, turn left at the stoplight, go under the freeway and then turn right on BURBANK BLVD. Turn right on HAYVENHURST and right again into the parking lot.

We’ll be open from open 9-5 all three days and there’s plenty of parking available. How many seedlings do you need? We’ll have almost 300 tomato varieties and everything you’ll need to have the most successful tomato season ever!

Wear your TOMATOMANIA! t-shirt and get 10% off your purchase!

March 25 - 27

Tapia Brothers' Farm Stand
5251 Hayvenhurst Ave.
Encino, CA 91436


PS. While you're there you can pick up a copy of Ivette Soler's fabulous new book, The Edible Front Yard!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Meyer Lemon Week #4 - Minted Lemonade...

It wouldn't be Meyer Lemon Week without this classic!

Minted Lemonade


2 cups sugar
6 cups water
2 cups fresh Meyer lemon juice
A large handful of mint leaves


To make simple syrup: Place 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water, and 1/2 of the mint in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved and simmer until the mixture takes on a minty taste. Let cool. Place lemon juice in a large pitcher, add remaining 4 cups water and 1 cup of the simple syrup or more to taste. Stir in the rest of the mint leaves and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve over ice.


PS. This lemonade+vodka+tonic, yes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Meyer Lemon Week #3 - Sorbet...

Even though it's wayyyy too cold to be craving frozen anything, we went ahead and made this recipe as a part our Quest For Using All The Lemons...
It's Delish!

Lemon Sorbet
Adapted From: The Perfect Scoop (this is by far the BEST dessert cookbook I own!) by David Lebovitz


2 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 lemons (preferably Meyer!)
1 cup freshly squeezed (Meyer) lemon juice (from about 6 regular sized lemons)


In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water. Zest the two lemons directly into the mixture, being careful not to add the pith. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the water. Refrigerate until completely chilled (several hours or overnight is best). Stir in the lemon juice and freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker, following your manufacturer's directions.

You'll thank me for this tastes just like Spring.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Meyer Lemon Week #2 - Preserved Lemons...

It rained and rained and rained and rained some more - 50 mile and hour winds, tree branches falling everywhere! 6" of water fell on us in one cycle! We were stuck in the house, and marmalade just wasn't enough. We went a little crazy, and as we had so many lemons from our tree - we just kept making things all day! This is, officially, Meyer Lemon Week on Beyond The Lawn...

Here are today's recipes. We discovered Preserved Lemons when we were in Morocco ten years ago and they are amazing! The first recipe is for preserving the lemons, and the second is an incredibly delicious way to use them...Bon Appetit!

Recipe #1: Preserved Meyer Lemons
adapted from Paula Wolfert's cookbook:
Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco

yield: Serves 6; makes about 1 1/2 cups
active time: 10 minutes
total time: 30 days

Notes: The lemon juice in this recipe cam be used over and over again. (Paula Wolfert says that she keeps a jar of used pickling juice in the kitchen, and when she makes Bloody Marys or salad dressings and have half a lemon left over, she tosses it into the jar and let it marinate with the rest.) Meyer lemons are far and away the most desirable and authentic variety for this recipe. Use wooden utensils to remove the lemons as needed.

Sometimes you will see a sort of lacy, white substance clinging to preserved lemons in their jar; it is perfectly harmless, but should be rinsed off for aesthetic reasons just before the lemons are used. Preserved lemons are rinsed, in any case, to rid them of their salty taste. Cook with both pulps and rinds, if desired.


* 5 lemons
* 1/4 cup kosher salt, more if desired


* Shallow bowl
* Sterile 1-pint mason jar
* Sharp knife


1. Quarter the lemons from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom, sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh, then reshape the fruit.

2. Place 2 tablespoons salt on the bottom of the mason jar. Pack in the lemons and push them down, adding more salt, and the optional spices between layers. Press the lemons down to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons. (If the juice released from the squashed fruit does not cover them, add freshly squeezed lemon juice — not chemically produced lemon juice and not water.*) Leave some air space before sealing the jar.

3. Let the lemons ripen in a warm place, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice. Let ripen for 30 days. To use, rinse the lemons, as needed, under running water, removing and discarding the pulp, if desired — and there is no need to refrigerate after opening. Preserved lemons will keep up to a year, and the pickling juice can be used two or three times over the course of a year.


•To sterilize a mason jar for the lemons, place it upside down in a steamer and steam for 10 minutes. Using tongs (wrap the ends in rubber bands for a better grip), remove the hot jar and dry it upside down on a paper towel-lined baking sheet in a warm oven. To sterilize the jar's top, boil it in water for 5 minutes, then remove with tongs. For more information on home canning, click HERE.

•When you're ready to use a lemon, remove it with clean utensils to avoid contaminating the inside of the jar with bacteria. This way, the remaining contents of the jar will not need to be refrigerated.

RECIPE #2: Chicken With Lemons And Olives Emshmel
adapted from Paula Wolfert's cookbook:
Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco

yield: Serves: 8
time: Working time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour (approximately)

Notes From Paula: I first ate this dish in a home in the city of Meknes, sometimes called the City of Olives. Djej Emshmel (pronounced meshmel or emsharmel) is a classic Moroccan dish—chicken served in an intricately spiced, creamy, lemony, and sublime sauce with a scattering of pale-hued olives.


* 2 to 3 free range, vegetarian chickens, whole or quartered, with their livers
* 6 cloves garlic, peeled
* Salt
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup salad oil
* 2 1/2 cups grated onion, drained
* 1/4 teaspoon pulverized saffron (mixed with turmeric, if desired)
* 1/2 cup mixed, chopped fresh herbs (green coriander and parsley)
* 1 1/2 cups ripe "green-brown" olives, such as Royal-Victorias
* 2 preserved lemon
* 2 to 3 fresh lemons


* Large bowl
* Paring knife
* 6-quart casserole with cover
* Strainer, if necessary
* Small mixing bowl


1. The day before, using 4 cloves of the garlic and 2 tablespoons of salt prepare the chickens as directed below under Basic Method For Preparing Poultry, then marinate both chickens and livers in 1 teaspoon of salt, the remaining 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin, the spices, and the oil. Refrigerate, covered.

2. The next day, place the chickens, livers, and marinade in the casserole. Add 1/2 cup of the grated onion, the saffron, herbs, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, turning the chickens often in the sauce.

3. While the chickens are cooking, rinse and pit the olives. (If they seem a little bitter, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and drain.) Set aside.

4. Remove the chicken livers from the casserole and mash them fine. Return to the casserole with the remaining grated, drained onions. (This will give a good deal of heftiness to the sauce.) Add water, if necessary. Continue cooking 20 minutes, partially covered.

5. Rinse the preserved lemons (discarding the pulp, if desired) and quarter. Add the olives and preserved lemon quarters to the sauce when the chickens are very tender and the flesh falls easily from the bone. Continue cooking 5 to 10 minutes, uncovered.

6. Transfer the chickens to a serving dish and spoon the olives and lemons around them. Cover and keep warm. By boiling rapidly, uncovered, reduce the sauce to 1 1/2 cups. Add the juice of 2 fresh lemons to the sauce in the pan. Add more salt (and more lemon juice, if desired) to taste. Pour the sauce over chickens and serve at once.

Basic Method for Preparing Poultry
The timing in the recipe includes these steps:

1. Wash the chickens or other poultry in salted water and drain. Pound 4 cloves garlic and 2 tablespoons salt into a paste. Rub the paste into the cavity and flesh of the poultry, at the same time pulling out excess fat from under the skin and from the neck and rump ends. Pull out the thin translucent membrane from under the skin of the breast. Rinse the poultry well under running water until it no longer smells of garlic. (The garlic is used to rid the poultry of any bitterness that might spoil a sauce; it also brings out its flavor, much like MSG.) Drain the poultry well.

2. If you are using whole poultry, it must be trussed. Trussing poultry is easy: clip off the wing tips and discard; slip the ends of the legs into a horizontal incision made just about the rump (turkeys often come this way), or slip the legs into incisions made on the lower sides of the breast.

Yum Yum Yum...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meyer Lemon Week #1 - Marmalade...

It's the Spring Equinox, and pouring rain. A perfect excuse to make marmalade! This recipe is so good that people have been known to forgo the toast and eat it from the jar with a spoon! Enjoy, and happy happy first day of Spring...

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Recipe
Adapted From Simply Recipes...

Note this recipe calls for Meyer lemons, a hybrid of a regular lemon and an orange, that is thinner skinned and sweeter than a regular lemon. You cannot substitute regular lemons for Meyer lemons in this recipe.


* 2 1/2 lbs of Meyer lemons (about 9 lemons)
* 6 cups water
* 6 cups granulated sugar

Note that the proportion of lemon segments to water to sugar is 1:1:1. So if you don't have a kitchen scale and don't weigh your lemons to begin with, as you proceed through this recipe keep in mind these proportions. Your 2 1/2 lbs of lemons should yield 6 cups of chopped lemon. 6 cups of chopped lemon will be cooked first with 6 cups of water, and then later 6 cups of sugar are added. You can also do this recipe with 4 cups of chopped lemons, 4 cups of water, and 4 cups of sugar. Do not double the recipe. Do not reduce the sugar (if you want a reduced sugar recipe, use a different recipe); the sugar is needed for the jelly to set.

Equipment needed:

* 1 wide 6 or 8-quart pan (Stainless steel or copper with stainless steel lining, not aluminum which will leach)
* A sharp chef's knife
* A candy thermometer
* 6 half-pint (8-oz) canning jars
* Cheesecloth, enough to double over and form a bag to hold the seeds for making pectin, or a Muslin jelly bag

Method - Preparing The Fruit:

1. Scrub the lemons clean. Discard any that are moldy or damaged.

2. Prepare the lemons. Cut 1/4 inch off from the ends of the lemons. Working one at a time, stand a lemon on end. Cut the lemon in half lengthwise. Cut each lemon half into several segments, lengthwise.

As you cut the lemons into segments, if you can, pull off any exposed membranes. Just get the ones that are easy to get to, ignore the rest. When you've cut down to the final segment, cut away the pithy core. Remove all seeds from the segments. Reserve the seeds and any removed membrane or pith. You will need them to make pectin.

Cut each lemon segment crosswise into even pieces to make little triangles of lemon peel and pulp.

3. Put all of the seeds, membranes and pith you removed from the lemons into a bag fashioned out of two layers of cheesecloth or a muslin jelly bag.

First stage of cooking

4. Place the lemon segments and water into a large, wide pot.

5. Place the pectin bag in the pot with the fruit pulp and secure to the pot handle.

6. Bring mixture to a medium boil on medium high heat. Let boil, uncovered, for about 25-35 minutes, until the peels are soft and cooked through. Test one of the lemon peel pieces by eating it. It should be soft. If it is still chewy, keep cooking until soft.
Remove from heat.

7. Remove the pectin bag, place the pectin bag in a bowl and let cool until it is comfortable to touch.
Add the pectin and sugar

8. Once your pectin bag has cooled to the point you can handle it, if you want, squeeze it like play-doh to extract any extra pectin. This is not necessary but will help ensure a good set. (I like to wear latex-type gloves for this part.) You should be able to get a tablespoon or two more from the bag. It has the consistency of sour cream. Return this pectin to the pan with the lemon mixture.

9. Measure out your sugar and add it to the pan with the lemon mixture.

Second stage of cooking:

10. Heat the jelly mixture on medium high and bring it to a rapid boil. Secure a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. The marmalade may take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes or so to be ready to pour out. After about 15 minutes, start checking it frequently.

11. There are two ways to test that the marmalade is ready to pour out into jars - the mixture reaching a temperature of 220-222°F (8-10°F above the boiling point at your altitude) and a bit of it put on a chilled plate "wrinkling up" when you push it with your finger tip. I do both.

For the wrinkle test, put several small plates into the freezer. As the jelly temperature reaches 218°F, start testing it by placing a small amount of the hot jelly on a chilled plate. If the jelly spreads out and thins immediately, it isn't ready. If it holds its shape a bit, like an egg yolk, that's a good sign. Push up against it with your finger tip. If the jelly sample wrinkles at all, it is time to take the jelly off the heat and pour it out into jars.

When you use a candy thermometer to test the temperature of your mixture, make sure the probe is NOT touching the bottom of the pan. Make sure that the indentation on the probe (with modern candy thermometers this is about an inch and a half from the bottom of the probe) is actually surrounded by the mixture. This may mean that you have to tilt the pan to one side, to cover the probe sufficiently to get a good reading.


12. While the marmalade is in its second cooking stage, rinse out your canning jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, in a 200°F oven. They should be in the oven at least 10 minutes before using them.

13. As the time approaches for the marmalade to be done, boil some water in a tea pot. Put the jar lids in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour the boiling water over them to sterilize.

14. Once the jelly has reached 220°F or its "wrinkly" stage, remove the jelly pot from the heat. Carefully ladle the jelly into the jars, one at a time, leaving 1/4 inch head space at the top of the jars for a vacuum seal. Wipe the rim clean with a clean, wet paper towel. Place the lid on the jar, securing with a jar ring. Work quickly.

15. Allow the jars to sit overnight. You will hear them make a popping sound as a vacuum seal is created.

Even if the jelly is not firm as it goes into the jar (it shouldn't be), it should firm up as it cools.

Usually makes 6-8 half-pint (8-ounce) jars...could be more depending on how quickly your jam sets up.

MMMMMMMMM Delicious.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

For Japan, With Love...

If you would like to participate in this incredible fundraising effort, please click HERE! XOXO

As a photographer, I am so lucky to be able to work in an industry that does so much to celebrate love and family. I am so lucky to have this job, and to be able to share such happiness.

Right now, in Japan, so many families are suffering tremendous loss, confusion, and pain. Not only have they lost friends and loved ones, but basic needs like food and shelter are now scarce for many. Many blogs, as well as my own, that celebrate the wedding industry have agreed to stop posting for one day, and to use that day to raise funds via their blogs.

The immediate need for help for those in Japan is the dire need for shelter. It is because of this need that the wonderful blogs, Utterly Engaged and Ever Ours, who have started this Blogger's Day Of Silence, have handpicked ShelterBox as the organization to donate to.

ShelterBox provide emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world who are affected by disasters at the time when they need it the most. Each large green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items. A whole box costs $1,000 (US), and initially, this effort's goal was to raise $5500. Because of the generosity of so many of you, they have, at the time I am writing this post, raised over $19,000, and counting...

Please join us.

If you would like to share this on your own blog, do not hesitate!