Trimming Artichokes

June 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

My artichoke plant has pretty much grown itself this year. After a productive summer last year, I cut it way back, and it has been gaining ground ever since. It’s  now almost 5 feet tall! Because of its star growing power, I’ve neglected it a bit, and was surprised last month when I saw around 30 artichokes budding. A few take-aways from my experience:

  • Artichokes are tall and wide. They are great if you have a lot of space, but not the ideal plant for small gardens. Their height also makes them vulnerable to wind. I’ve lost more than one stem to gusty weather this year!
  • Artichoke plants are low-maintenance. I completely ignored my plant all fall and winter, and most of the spring. But don’t forget to water it when the temperatures get higher…I was guilty of this over the past few months.
  • In many climates, you can leave them in the ground for several years. I think this is the final leg for my plant, but I’ll be planting a new one soon!

Once you have grown the artichoke, there are so many things you can do with it. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that when I’m preparing an artichoke just for myself, I keep things simple. I wash it, steam it, and eat it with some type of dipping sauce. This is easy and delicious, if a little messy to eat. If you are cooking for others, I can think of a few good reasons to trim your artichokes first, despite the bit of time involved:

  • People will be impressed!
  • You can help your guests avoid the messy (and sometimes awkward) stages of artichoke eating, including pealing away the inedible outer and inner leaves, avoiding prickly leaf tips, and scooping out the hairs in the center.
  • You can put dipping sauce in the center of the artichoke to serve, or prepare roasted stuffed artichokes.

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Balsamic Fruit Buttermilk Cake

June 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

Summer is here, and that means lots of fruit! I don’t grow a ton of summer fruit in my garden, but the farmers’ markets are quickly filling with strawberries, apricots, cherries and nectarines.

One of the first food blogs I ever read was Joy the Baker, and I’ve been addicted to her blog ever since.  So, I think it is only fitting that my first cake entry come from her.

This cake speaks for itself. It has roasted balsamic fruit, buttermilk, and is baked in a skillet…what could be better?! Normally, I have some small measure of self control when it comes to baked goods, but with this cake, all control went out the window. Don’t be fooled by the small slice in my photo. That slice was followed by another…and another…and then at least three more!

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Blueberries

June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of my favorite books as a child was Blueberries for Sal. I don’t remember the details of the story, just that it is about a little girl and a little bear cub who run into each other while picking blueberries. I also remember loving the illustrations.

Aside from these illustrations, I’m not sure I knew what a blueberry plant looked like until my Mom brought me two from the nursery a few months ago. Now, I have two small bushes!

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Mango Tostadas

June 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

If you are anything like me, you may be thinking: mango’s with cheese? Really?

Yes.

I know, you are skeptical. So was I. But I love mangos. I mean, I really love mangos. More than anyone I have ever met. And as a true mango lover, I felt I owed this recipe a chance. I also happened to have an Ataulfo mango sitting around the house.

Let me tell you, I was glad I gave it a shot. So were all of my less mango-fanatic eating companions, which gives this recipe even more credibility. I think every single one of them said the word “delicious” at some point. And really, it is delicious when you combine mangos with jalapeno, arugula and lime.

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Spring Pea Spread

June 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Wow! This is my first blog post ever. I contemplated whether I should make anything with the word “spread” for my first post, but this recipe is just so delicious, simple and beautiful that I couldn’t resit. Today is also the last official day of Spring, and peas won’t be around for much longer. I figured it was now or never.

I was inspired by a recipe using fava beans, but opted for fresh peas. You can also use garbanzo beans, but then you will end up with something more like hummus (which is not such a bad thing). I love pea season at the farmers market. I especially love when farmers have tables heaping with peas, rather than pre-filled bags. It is just so gratifying to scoop the peas up the handful, and fill my bag as full as I want!

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