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Our Garden: Early Stages

Season Nine, Summer 2009

Our Garden: Early Stages

This summer we decided it was time to take local eating up a notch and learn how to grow food ourselves. The past few weeks have been spent planting a garden in Marcola, Oregon where we are filming our summer season.

Cooking Show Video

When we arrived in Marcola, the back field was so overgrown that it was hard to imagine we would ever get it under control. A garden emerged bit by bit as we persevered through the weeds.

So far we have planted: heirloom tomatoes, a huge variety of sweet and spicy peppers, eggplant and cucumbers (all kindly started by our friend Nancy), red russian kale, lacinato kale, baby bok choi, multi-colored carrots, lavender, epazote, shiso leaves oregano, tarragon, basil... to name a few.

June 25, 2009   |   1 comments
Tags: Farm, Food Production, Healthy, Local, Summer
Cooking Show Photo
baby heirloom tomatoes

We can't wait for these little baby heirloom tomatoes to ripen...

June 25, 2009   |   0 comments

This is an iced-adaptation of traditional Jordanian tea. It's easy to make and really hits the spot on hot afternoons.

3 black tea bags (or loose-leaf equivalent)
1 tea-ball full of dried oregano, or 3 generous sprigs of fresh oregano

Quart jar

Pour boiling water over the tea, let steep to taste. For strong tea (recommended), leave tea bags in until the tea is cool enough to be refrigerated.

In the countryside in Jordan strong black tea is frequently served with fresh sprigs of Oregano. This summer we have been drinking this as an iced tea. It's good sweetened with a little stevia. We try to make sure to have a jar of this iced tea in the fridge at all times.
June 30, 2009   |   4 comments

How you present this dish will depend on the type of queso fresco you buy, as well as the size of the watermelon. You can slice half moons of each the cheese and watermelon, and pair them together to form a circle. Another alternative is to slice the watermelon in wedges, and place on top of a full circle of cheese. If you get a local queso fresco, which tend to be smaller in size than the commercial brands, you can slice it in smaller rounds and place a few around the watermelon wedge. The idea is to make the dish beautiful and colorful.

Choco-Chipotle Salsa (recipe below)
1 watermelon (you will use very little)
1 12-ounce package queso fresco
1/4 cup toasted pepitas

Slice the end off the watermelon. Carefully slice a second round off the end in a perfect circle. Cut the round into 8 wedges.
Slice the cheese horizontally into 4 large circles.
Pour the sauce in the bottom of 4 dishes and smooth it out across the whole plate. Place the cheese on top of the salsa, then place a wedge of watermelon on top of the cheese. Garnish with the pepitas, and serve with an extra plate of watermelon.

Makes 4 appetizers.

For Choco-Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa:
Olive oil
½ cup white onion, medium dice
10-12 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and roughly chopped
2 cloves roasted garlic
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 chipotle in adobo + 1 teaspoon brine
3 pieces Mexican drinking chocolate bars
1 small handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat up 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sized sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and lightly browned. Add the tomatillos, along with a large pinch of salt, and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the tomatillos are soft and cooked through.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Blend the onion and tomatillo with the remaining ingredients until completely combined.
Pour back into the sauté pan to keep warm.

We made this Mexican appetizer the other day. Watermelon is so delicious and refreshing in the summer, and is often paired with salty cheese and/or olives. We enjoyed its crunchy bite in contrast to the spicy chocolate chipotle salsa that we think is a lighter version of mole.
June 27, 2009   |   5 comments
Tags: Appetizers, Latin America, Mexican, Summer