I’ve always considered grapes to be a fall food. Maybe it’s their deep purple color, or that I was always used to concord grapes growing up. Those are a fall fruit, but table grapes are harvested in the summer here. As in right about now.
That’s one of the cool things that one gets to witness here in the Valley. Harvest of just about everything is an incredible operation to observe.
So I bought a few crisp, sweet red and purple grapes, which are really purple and almost black. Beautiful.
They are, of course, good fresh, but they are also excellent roasted. A half hour in the oven and they become even sweeter with caramelized notes. So if you can stand heating up the oven in the summer, roasted grapes are the way to go.
They go well in desserts, on pizzas, and in cocktails…
Pineapple sage was a new addition to the herb garden this year. What an amazing plant. First of all, the leaves taste like pineapple. And it smells like it, too. Mine hasn’t flowered yet, but it will also bloom with beautiful reddish pink flowers that attract humming birds.
It’s taken off well in the garden. Some of the older leaves are burning in the sun, but I was pleased to find some new, pretty growth in the inner part of the plant. It seems to be sticking around.
I had a purple basil plant back in our Kentucky garden. I love the deep purple color it adds to a landscape that is otherwise all green. When I found one here earlier this spring, I decided to give it a go.
After our first hot spell, I thought it had bit the dust. The strong sun here tends to turn the leaves a brownish gray, not the purple I was hoping for. But a couple weeks ago, it started coming back a bit. I’ve upped the watering and it now has new purple leaves peeking out.
Next year I think I’ll try it in more shade, but for now, I have enough purple basil for garnishes and cocktails.
I’m still working on cracking the code for successfully growing food here in the Central Valley. Blueberries and citrus are going well and I can pull off some kale through winter.
Peppers last year were a no go, and I’ve murdered a few tomato plants as well. As I continue to attend workshops and talk with others, I’m slowly gaining more knowledge. I do see a few tomatoes and maybe an eggplant in the near future.
I rarely have an occasion to make sangria, but last week we had a little Fourth of July party to break in the new kitchen.
It was a simple affair – charcuterie, salad, and sausages on the grill. I had a lot of fruit around so stepping things up in the drink department seemed like a good idea.
A fellow blogger and friend visited the Saturday prior and brought us some beautiful plums. I’ve also been trying to take advantage of the last few days of berry season around here so I’ve been buying up way more than we can eat. Sangria was a natural fit for all the fruit.
A couple months ago, I bought a bulb of fennel from the farmers market. It had the most gorgeous long stem, overflowing with feathery fronds.
This kind of fennel is harder and harder to come by. Not a chance at our local super markets. They like to chop off the beautiful tops to make the bulbs all tidy when stacked.
It always makes me feel like I’m getting ripped off when I have to purchase fennel like that. I do as much with the fronds as I do with the bulb. So whenever I spot it at the farmers market, I grab it.
Well, this time around I had loads of greenery left over after a project. I started to think about how its licorice-like flavors would pair with the Costco-size bottle of vodka sitting on the counter (don’t judge). I’d had fennel infused cocktails before, but it was as a flavor accent, in the syrup or as a garnish, versus the main attraction.
My Four Favorites series is back and I’m introducing a new theme to these monthly installments of my favorite finds.
The four Bs. A book, a blog, a brand and a break.
These are a few things I’ve come across this month that I’ve enjoyed so much that I must share.
Truth be told, I had no idea what a shim was.
A shrub? Yes. I’d actually made some shrubs at home.
So when I was invited to a shims and shrubs workshop, I jumped at the chance, assuming that the shrub I knew had to be somewhat related to a shim that I was unfamiliar with.
Plus, this workshop was at the Healdsburg SHED. I literally had just discovered this place no more than a month before this media workshop invitation arrived in my inbox. The moment I saw it in some of my travel research, it immediately went on my must-visit list. This seemed like the perfect excuse to take the short drive up to California wine country.
I wasn’t quick to jump on the nut milk bandwagon.
It’s not that I don’t like almond milk, but when everyone started going crazy for it, seeing it as the new health drink, all I really saw was another processed food. I’m not a fan of all the thickeners and fillers in the ingredient lists on most labels. That’s not to say, I haven’t found a few varieties I enjoy, it just never became a wonder drink for me.
It took a while for me to realize that I could make my own. And not only almond milk, but milk from just about any nut out there. Still, even with that knowledge, I’ve failed to give it a try, despite my DIY attitude in the kitchen.
This Meyer lemon bourbon cocktail is the best way to get through a cold winter night! It combines the fresh flavor of seasonal citrus with warming spices and Kentucky bourbon.
Let’s be clear. It’s not cold here. If I were to utter the phrase, “I’m cold,” I’m certain it would be met with a bless-her-heart chuckle and an eye roll from just about everyone Colorado and eastward. Those being pounded with snow would likely close the browser window, never to return.
So it’s not cold, but it does get cool and there are distinct differences between winter, spring, summer and fall here in the Bay Area. Thank goodness, because I do love the four seasons. They just aren’t nearly as extreme as other places I’ve lived.
That being said, I still love the comfort foods and drinks of winter — a steaming bowl of soup, rich pot pies, and a warm bourbon drink — just as much as a person digging out from the snow.
We might not have freezing temps, but one thing we do have in the winter is citrus! And you are probably well aware of my love for it.
When we moved into our apartment here in 2012, I immediately purchased a small dwarf Meyer lemon tree from the local farmers market. I read up a little on growing them in pots and this tree already had a few lemons on it when I bought it so I thought, this is going to be too easy.