In The Garden – Mixed Greens Blog Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest Thu, 14 Sep 2017 22:20:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Raw Apple Cake for Breakfast or Birthdays Sun, 28 Sep 2014 12:05:42 +0000  

Remnants of a gnarly, nearly century-old orchard on our property produces apples from August through mid-October. Three trees in the backyard, each a different variety, we have apples galore and we have our favorite recipes. Caramelized with brown sugar and cinnamon – great with ice cream, roasted applesauce, and this cake.

Raw Apple Cake has been a family birthday favorite for years now. On one of our first dates I asked my husband if he’d like a cake for his birthday, just a few days away. It was New Year’s day, the temperature hovered around 10 degrees and we were skiing at Stephens Pass. I guess I thought that talk of birthdays and baking would take my mind off the fact that my toes were FROZEN. Definitely, he said, raw apple cake. The cake has lasted and so have we – we more worn around the edges than the cake, but it’s all delicious.

raw apple cake 8

Raw Apple cake featuring lots of raw apples is one way to go. Even if you don’t have apples in the backyard, they’re in season right now and you can make this with any tart apple. A large, moist and fruity cake, it lasts for days, it gets better with age which is perfect for birthdays, and, it will serve a dozen people, maybe fifteen. It’s a delicious wake-up call in the morning with coffee, or it goes fancy with cream cheese frosting and birthday candles. Today the candles are for Roz. Happy Birthday sweetie – we’re glad you were born.

Raw Apple Cake Recipe

 Easy to make. Ingredients: 4 cups coarsely grated apples/ 2 eggs/ 2 cups sugar/ 1 cup oil/ 3 cups flour/ 2 tsp. soda/ 2 tsp. cinnamon/ 1 tsp. salt.

Directions: Beat eggs/ Add sugar & oil and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes/ Mix in dry ingredients & blend well, but briefly/ Finally, add apples and mix thoroughly, but, briefly/ Bake at 325º for about an hour in a greased & floured Bundt pan/ Let it cool for fifteen minutes/ Carefully remove from the pan, loosening it all around with a flexible knife or spatula if needed. After it’s cooled frost it with a cream cheese frosting if you like or leave it plain. Either way, delish.

I make cream cheese frosting by the seat of my pants: 2 cups of of cream cheese, give or take, a few tablespoons of cream or whole milk, powdered sugar, start with 1/2 cup, a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, a teaspoon of its zest, and a teaspoon of vanilla – mix until smooth, taste and adjust ingredients as needed.

I had this hair-brained idea about the cream cheese frosting. I’d just made a batch of applesauce and thought I’d experiment with a combination of cream cheese, a little cream, powdered sugar, and APPLESAUCE. It worked out , we loved it and I used more of our growing collection of apple product.

slice of cake

It’s autumn. Enjoy the benefits of a new season, apples among the best. Other apple postings: Roasted Applesauce, Applesauce, Apple Butter & Caramelized Apples, Apple Crisp.

Raw Apple Cake for Breakfast or Birthdays was originally posted in September, 2008.

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Green Beans & Julia’s Salad Niçoise Mon, 01 Sep 2014 00:00:02 +0000 The livin’ is pretty easy at the moment with mid-summer vegetables in full swing.  Green beans, for example, are like a pair of summer sandals, culinarily speaking – they’re laid back, slip easily into any meal, and, like a comfy sandal, they make you feel good (vitamin C, iron, protein and potassium). green-beens-w-tarragon

A couple of months ago, spur of the moment, I planted bush beans and am now reaping the rewards. Planted and watered them, that’s it, no other care required. They’ve become long, thin, green beauties. There are limits, literally, to bush beans – they produce a great round of beans and then it’s over. I’m harvesting a handful or two every day while they last, and preparing them simply, which by the way, is diametrically opposed to the fresh green beans I grew up with. Cooked for an hour, I swear, with onion, bacon and plenty of water, they were delicious I thought and still love them prepared in this way, though perhaps fifteen rather than fifty minutes.

Green beans lightly steamed and dressed: Cook for one minute, lid on, turn heat off and let sit for another minute, then pour water off. While still warm, dress with any variety of seasonings. My current favorite is to sprinkle the hot beans with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, tarragon vinegar and fresh tarragon. Toss together. Just that. Jerry Traunfeld suggests adding edible nasturtiums to the mix, not as a garnish, but as an integral part of the bean salad. At room temperature they’re terrific piled on a plate next to anything at all. They’re very friendly that way.

On top of lettuce, with a few tomatoes, these already dressed beans create instant salad.

Green beans are central to Julia Child’s supposedly favorite salad, Salad Niçoise.

Salad Niçoise Recipe

An entire meal or side salad with hard-boiled egg, lettuce greens, steamed potatoes, tuna fish, olives, anchovies, and tomatoes. Not to mention anything else you have that seems to fit the Niçoise character. Julia wouldn’t mind – she’d have done the same. The dressing pulls it together.

The Dressing: Use any dressing you like, or try this version which is very mustardy and perfect, I think. I used a crushed clove of garlic, 3/4 C olive oil & 1/4 C tarragon vinegar (3:1 ratio), a tablespoon of mustard. Dress the potatoes and beans while they’re still piping hot; drizzle more of the dressing over the assembled salad just before serving. Salt & pepper to taste and sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs – in this case tarragon and chives.

Another homage to Julia.  salad-nicoise-2 And she would appreciate that, except for the olives, all ingredients on this assembled salad plate are locally harvested/produced – the beans, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs right from the backyard. Eggs and tuna are local too. Check out Poppy’s previous post, Tuna Taste Test.

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Tabbouleh & Grilled Salmon, Summertime on a Plate Sun, 03 Aug 2014 22:00:14 +0000 Tabbouleh from the middle east meets salmon from the PNW and it’s a summer romance that tastes delicious.



This is the moment for herbs. In warm, dry conditions, they flourish. Actually, it’s false to characterize herbs as having a moment, or even a season – many will last well into fall and some far beyond that. I guess any time is a good time to make tabbouleh (or, tabouli), but especially now, summertime. Whether from the farmers market or in the backyard, Tabbouleh is about herbs, lots of them. We underestimate their nutritional value, especially parsley. It’s vigorous, reseeds itself, is hardy through most winters, and nutritionally-speaking, kicks butt.

Grilled Salmon with Fennel Recipe


Directions: Local salmon from Loki Fish. If you have fennel growing in the backyard or in the neighborhood  (fennel runs amok and you might find it anywhere) cook salmon directly on the grill for the top side, and then flip it over onto a bed of fennel to finish, imparting a subtle herbal essence, just a hint of anise and wonderful with fish. Serve the salmon (or prawns or halibut) right on top of the tabbouleh with lightly grilled pita bread on the side.

Tabbouleh Recipe


Ingredients & Directions: Makes 6 servings. Bring 2 cups plus 2 T water to a boil and turn off heat/ Immediately stir in 1 C bulgar, 1 t salt, cover and let stand for about 30 minutes (the best deal on bulgar is probably at PCC where you can buy it in bulk – enough for this salad, less than a dollar)/ After 25-30 minutes, drain any excess water, stir bulgar and set aside to cool slightly.

While the bulgar steams prepare dressing, chop herbs and vegetables: 1 – 2 C parsley, 1/4 C mint, 1/4 C fresh dill, 2 scallions/ Add other veggies that are in season – cucumber, tomato, carrots, red pepper/ Toss together and add the bulgar after it’s cooled a bit/ Salt & pepper to taste.

Dressing: 1/3 C lemon juice, 4 T olive oil, 1 – 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely/ Dressing is intended to be lemony – adjust with more or less oil to suit your own taste/ Whisk together, pour most of dressing over the tabbouleh, taste and add more as needed – bulgar absorbs a lot of dressing. Chill the salad or serve at room temperature. Can be made hours in advance – best served the same day that it’s dressed.


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Still Life with Blossoms Mon, 02 Jun 2014 00:00:53 +0000 Peony Flower arrangement

The big beautiful blossoms in my garden are begging to be photographed and the timing couldn’t be better. I’ve recently discovered the rich and wonderful world of photography e-courses, primarily those taught by Kim Klassen. Oh my goodness…. If I were to try to dream up my ideal course, hers would be it — she’s a master at giving generously of her vast knowledge in way that is so easy for me to receive and use. I’ve even switched over to a whole new photo-editing software under the guidance of one of her courses. No easy feat — especially when I have thousands of photos to organize and edit. The latest course I’ve been taking is on Still Life Photography and luckily I have subjects galore, free for the picking — irises, lilacs, peonies and of course, lots of poppies.

Iris Still Life  Peony Arrangement

No need for a studio, these were taken on my deck in the morning with indirect natural light using scarves as backdrops. For me, low tech is the best way to go when I’m learning something new and want to be creative and free.

Poppy Still Life  Poppy Still Life

I have lots of vases, some inherited, some art pottery collectibles and lots and lots of thrift shop finds.

Lilacs  Peony Still Life

I couldn’t stop playing around using an antique distressed mirror in our dining room, adding a whole different dimension to these poppy photos.

Reflection of Poppy  Reflection of Poppy

Reflection of Poppy  Reflection of Poppy

This summer give yourself the gift of setting aside some time to be creative. Taking an e-course is a great way to have inspiration available whenever you can get to it without adding one more thing to your busy schedule. If you don’t know what to do, start with anything you’re curious about. Check some books out of the library or start researching on line. Once you’re inspired, take a first step giving yourself permission to just play without any expectations for an end product or where you might end up. Take each step on your creative path as a clue to the next step. I find great inspiration in nature so sometimes I’ll just walk in a beautiful place until something speaks to me. It can be right outside your door if you just take the time to look. It’s almost summer so get yourself ready to play, explore, create and have fun!!





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Resurrecting Rhubarb-Thyme Jam, Pie, & Alice’s Soufflé Sun, 20 Apr 2014 18:46:04 +0000 Want something sassy and hot pink for supper? In a word, rhubarb: rhubarb-thyme jam (like a chutney), and rhubarb pie. Preceded by a light and airy, easy-to-make souffle. Aaaah, springtime.

stalks of fresh rhubarbrhubarb

We never think to smell the rhubarb, it has way too much competition right about now, but we should. It’s a robust and gorgeous big-boned gal (thank you K.D. Lang) whose hot pink underpinnings are the fruit of delicious culinary offerings. Our backyard rhubarb matures on the early side, has been around maybe twenty-five years now and provides abundant, deliciously sour stalks through most of June. By then it’s lost its fresh demeanor and is decidedly less appealing. I can assure any Pacific Northwesterner – including much of the northern hemisphere – that you’ll find rhubarb at Farmers Markets, in backyards, and in grocery stores starting about now. Whatever Easter may mean for you, let it include something with rhubarb, which is resurrecting itself at this very moment.

I’m making a birthday rhubarb pie for Poppy today (recipe below). If you’re not into pie-making there’s this rhubarb-thyme jam that’s quick and delicious with a nib of cheese on a cracker, with lamb or pork. Plus, it’s sassy and hot pink. Something rhubarb, along with Alice Water’s goat cheese souffle. Happy Spring.

Rhubarb-Thyme Jam Recipe

rhubarb thyme jam

Recipe created by Becky Selengut at Cornucopia.

rhubarb thyme jam

Ingredients: 3 C rhubarb, medium dice from about 3 large stalks/ 1 T ginger, grated/ 1 stick cinnamon/ 1 T fresh thyme, chopped/ 10 grinds black pepper/ 1/2 t salt/ 1/3 C champagne vinegar/ 1/4 C honey, or more to taste/ 1 t lemon zest.

Directions: Put all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes until thickened. Remove cinnamon stick and cool the jam in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with a selection of local cheese, lamb or pork.


Rhubarb Pie ‘Recipe’

rhubarb pie 3

rhubarb pie rhubarb pie 2

An anecdotal recipe: Make a two-crust pie dough of your choice. I often use Alice Waters’ recipe, which you can find via this link – scroll to mid-page. For the rhubarb filling: Combine 5 – 6 C rhubarb, cut into approximately 1/2-inch chunks, 1 1/2 C sugar (can be a mix of white and brown sugars), 1/4 C flour for thickener, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t cinnamon and 1 t lemon zest (both optional). Stir the rhubarb mixture together and let it stand while you roll out the dough. Put it all together, bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes (with a cookie sheet beneath for possible juice overflow), lower to 350 for another 35-50 minutes or until crust is browned and rhubarb is bubbling. Allow pie to cool at least partially, then enjoy a quintessential springtime dessert. Maybe wish somebody Happy Birthday.

Alice Water’s Goat Cheese Soufflé Recipe


From The Art of Simple Food. This recipe was quick and easy to follow, each batch was mixed and in the oven in under twenty minutes. I made the full recipe, then cut it in half, used various cheeses in addition to goat, added a pinch of this and that on a whim – it all worked. Make it local: Port Madison Farm goat cheese (, Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, Mt Townsend Cirrus or Trailhead, Rogue River Blue, each was delicious; Stoney Plains Organic Farm eggs, Organic Valley milk.

Ingredients & Directions: Goat Cheese Soufflé, 4 servings

Soufflé Base: Melt 5 T butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat/Stir in and cook 3 T flour for 2 minutes/ Whisk in 1 C milk, little by little, whisking thoroughly between addition/ Season with salt, black pepper, a pinch of cayenne, 1 thyme sprig, leaves only/ Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes/ Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Separate 4 eggs/ Stir the yolks into the cooled white sauce/ Add 4 ounces soft, mild goat cheese/ Stir in and taste for salt/ It should be ever so slightly too salty to make up for the unsalted whites, which will be added later/ Preheat the oven to 375ºF/ Butter 1-quart soufflé dish, or another baking dish such as a gratin dish, with 1 tablespoon soft butter.

Whip the egg whites into moist firm peaks/ Stir one third of the whites into the soufflé base/ Then gently fold the base into the rest of the egg whites, taking care not to deflate them/ Pour the mixture into the buttered dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden, but still soft in the center and jiggly when shaken gently.

Serve immediately and savor the beauty of a soufflé and its melting in your mouth.

Note: Fill baking dishes about ¾ full, bake large soufflés in a 375ºF oven for 35-40 minutes; bake individual smaller soufflés at 400ºF for 10 minutes. Resist the urge to peak while they bake.

I’m a little smitten over soufflé now that I’ve made these few. It took a long time for us to get together, but I think it’s going to work out. I happily share the infatuation.

Get Started: Plant Some Greens Mon, 31 Mar 2014 00:00:42 +0000 Vegetable Seedlings

Vegetable starts, I love you. For years, I was under the illusion that since planting seeds takes longer, I should garden the slow way. Now I know better. Don’t get me wrong, planting seeds is a great option, especially if you want a particular variety or if you plan to do successive planting. For my style of quick and dirty gardening, getting something in the ground is key to my ability to stick with it. When the weather is unpredictable, as our Northwest spring can often be, waiting for seeds to emerge and then going back and filling in the gaps, can be very discouraging. If you want a garden jump start, head over to the farmers market or your local nursery, buy some starts and voila, instant garden and gratification.

This time of year — actually, all year at our house — we’re all about the greens. Can’t get enough of them. Last weekend at the University Farmers Market, River Farm had beautiful, organic vegetable 6 pak starts, 3 for $8. They assured me that these plants were hardened off and I was sold. I bought arugula, romaine, spinach, chard, kale and mustard and could have easily spent the same $16 on seed packets that I may or may not end using completely. Oh, and by the way, each pack had way more than 6 plants, most had between 12 – 15, so they were a great value too.

But, first things first. Amend your soil. There again, it’s not cheating to buy some bags of compost if you don’t make your own.

Wheelbarrow with Compost

We have a compost “pit” that came with our house, along with my treasured wheelbarrow. We aren’t very scientific when is comes to compost. Just keep a container under the sink for vegetable scraps and dig it deep into the pile when the container gets full. Easy, peasy. For our large container garden, I used about 2 loads of compost to get raise the level and amend the soil. Last year in my vegetable garden I put down what I thought were straw bales as mulch. It turns out, it was hay instead and many of the grass seeds sprouted. Luckily, the roots are very shallow and are easily pulled out. This mulch cover has been composting down over the winter and so I just pulled it aside and added additional compost where I wanted to plant my new rows.

Spinach Vegetable Seedlings

Now comes the fun part. Make sure your starts are well watered and if not, soak them before planting. Put on your reading glasses and take off your gardening gloves because you’re going to be doing some delicate surgery. As I mentioned, each of the 6 sections of the pak may have several seedlings, usually growing together. I enjoy untangling these Siamese twins and planting them as separate little plants. It takes a gentle touch and you have to move quickly so that the roots aren’t exposed to air for long. Then, make sure they come in direct contact with soil and pat them in well. Finally, get your watering can and give them a very thorough shower. I planted my seedlings late on a warm sunny day with rain and mild temperatures predicted for the rest of the week. If this whole separation process doesn’t sound like fun to you, you can always go ahead and plant the intertwined seedlings as one and thin them out later once they get established.

Fenced Vegetable Starts

Once you’ve got your babies in the ground, you’ll need to give them a little added protection while they get established. Even though they aren’t quite as vulnerable as seeds, a whole row of starts can be quickly destroyed by a neighboring cat or even a raccoon looking for a convenient litter box. Charlie put up some temporary fencing using scraps from previous projects. The containers are more likely to be burial grounds for squirrel bounty or feed for birds — crows can be especially destructive. You can’t exactly blame them when you see all the big juicy worms in the soft compost.

Wire Fencing over Vegetable Starts

A roll of chicken wire over the top of the container held in place with bricks should do the trick to keep the squirrels and birds away. And then there are the ever present slugs to contend with. Slug patrol anyone??

Wintertime Backyard Foraging & Decorating Mon, 16 Dec 2013 18:13:01 +0000 You could call it foraging, or you could call it scavenging or poking around. You might call it crazy. Whatever, it’s what Poppy and I both love to do, at the beach, in the park, in the backyard, when we notice and save little bits of things. This time of year that means leaves and seed pods, bits of greenery that have fallen to the ground, rose hips, sage, bay leaves, pine needles, holly, and dried blossoms from last summer’s hydrangeas. To name a few.

foraged decorations foraged decorations

While I was foraging in my backyard, Poppy was on Orcas Island doing her foraging thing. One of the reasons we’re friends, colleagues and co-conspirators in a creative life, among other things, is that we both love the outdoors and its offerings. She made a gorgeous wreath with her finds. I decorated packages and filled bowls.

 foraged decorations 7 foraged decorations 6 foraged decorations foraged decorations 3 foraged decorations 2 foraged decorations 2 (2)  foraged decorations (5) foraged decorations foundmaterials1 of 2 foundmaterials2 of 2 foraged decorations (3) wreath making

The delicate lace of a decayed leaf, the bleached and dried blossoms of hydrangea, a gnarly  rose hip . . . I love this stuff, but there’s plenty of winter green and color that’s fresh and bright.

foraged decorations 8 foraged decorations 4  foraged decorations 2 (1) foraged decorations foraged decorations foraged decorations 1 (2) foraged decorations 1


wreath3 of 4  wreath making wreath2 of 4Shiny bows are nice, or you could use a leaf, a blossom or a bit of evergreen instead. Make a wreath from scratch, or buy one that’s basic, unadorned and finish it in your own style. Make a bouquet with foraged branches. Fill a bowl with fragrant bay leaves. A gift to yourself, make time to play and smell the pine needles.

foraged decorations 2 (3) foraged decorations 1 (3)

Visit our photography site, Poppy and Sally, to see more of what we’re playing around with.




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Botanical Alchemy with India Flint Mon, 30 Sep 2013 00:00:05 +0000 Naturally Dyed Fabric Samples

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking an awe-inspiring natural dye workshop with Australian textile artist, India Flint who describes herself as a “maker of marks, forest wanderer & tumbleweed, stargazer & stitcher, botanical alchemist & string twiner, working traveler, dreamer, writer.” That description alone was all the encouragement I needed to sign up and keep my fingers crossed that I would make it to the top of a long waiting list.

India has combined a deep respect for the environment with her unique art form. Every step of her dye process from start to finish is ecologically sustainable. This is no easy task considering the textile dyeing industry is considered among the worst polluters and water wasters. If you’d like to know more about her work and process, I can highly recommend her book, Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles.

Patsy's Garden Shed

I’d like to tell you about the major points India made throughout the three day workshop but first I wanted to show you the perfectly gorgeous location on Lopez Island. In my mind, it’s inseparable from the whole experience. Our instruction took place in and around this lovely building referred to as “Patsy’s garden shed” but to me it immediately became “Poppy’s dream studio.”  As a matter of fact, put a woodstove in and I could practically live here.

Patsy's Garden    Patsy's Garden Shed

The only reason I can think of to call it a garden shed is that it’s right in the center of the most amazing garden. Here you can see the group of 12 of us happily working around several long tables surrounded by every fall blossom you can imagine right outside the door. The garden, as well as the forest surrounding, provided much of the plant material we used for dyes.

India Flint's Principles

India gave us lots to ponder including her guidelines, the first of which was “know your plants.” She talked to us about the value of learning about the native plants from your area and which ones can safely be used for dyes. Windfall is far preferable to harvesting plants for many reasons. She obviously doesn’t want you out stripping leaves off plants in the arboretum. Surprisingly, plants that have turned colors (even brown!) and fallen can produce a better dye and impression than green ones can. Our native salal has such a tough umbrella-like upper surface that we had to “rough it up” with stones, sandpaper or wood to penetrate the surface and release the dye.

Salal leaves for dyeing

Every part of the Madrona tree ended up in a dye bath — leaves, fallen bark and berries. If you don’t happen to live near the forest, there are lists of noxious weeds in your county that are threatening to crowd out native plants. In the San Juan Islands, two of these — scotch broom and tansy ragwort have been used successfully as natural dyes. It’s almost your civil duty to pull out these plants wherever you see them and throw them into a dye pot.

Madrona Bark Dye Bath

Plant material is wrapped into natural fiber fabric and tied with string into bundles. Some are wrapped around stones, pieces of rusted metal or copper pipe. India reminded us that even though we’re not using nasty chemicals, go to the thrift store and buy some dedicated dye pots — if you’ve stopped cooking with aluminum, you may already have what you need.  If the odor given off by a plant smells toxic, trust your nose and don’t use that plant.

Madrona Dyed Fabric Bundles    India Flint's Hands over Dye Pot

“Time is your friend” means that the longer you let the fabric sit in the pot, the more interesting the dye and impression will be. Taking time to let the magic occur is a great lesson for all of us impatient types. The most exciting part of the workshop for me was unwrapping my bundles and hanging them on the line with all the rest, each one so unique and beautiful in it’s own way. (The string gets dyed too so be sure to save it for stitching or wrapping gifts).

India Flint    Natural Dyed Fabric Samples

Naturally Dyed Fabric Samples    India Flint Teaching

Speaking of impatience, somehow I got so excited about the forest wandering, etc. that I completely read over the hand-stitching part of the course description.  When I realized I was in a group of women, many of whom hand-stitch for fun, I was immediately filled with performance anxiety. Luckily India made the time go by quickly telling us her family stories and jokes while we stitched. My rustic running stitch became more natural as it fell into the rhythm of her voice and those chatting around me.

Plant dyed fabic squares

From what I’ve read on Facebook and in her blog, I think the Lopezians may have won India over and hopefully she’ll return again soon. Personally, I’d love to go back and do it all over again.





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Roasted Tomato Sauce, A Walk in the Park Mon, 02 Sep 2013 00:00:16 +0000  tomatoes-on-the-vine-2 tomatoes-on-the-vine-1

In the day or two before leaving on vacation I’m running around like crazy, and really, I wouldn’t mind a walk in the park. I’ll be in *Desolation Sound, maybe kayaking, maybe swimming or tide pooling as this post is published, but in the meantime I have all these tomatoes on the vine that need attention and a post to write before leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow.

tomatoes-on-the-vine-4 tomatoes-on-the-vine-3

I had a couple of those pull your hair out moments when you wonder if putting the vacation together is even worth it. (Oh, it so is.) A pile of tasks and I wanted to create an efficient – aka, get it done in a hurry – post that could be published in my absence, something that would be worthwhile, but take just a minute to write. Voilà. Roasted tomato sauce, since the sauce-making itself also meets the ‘get it done in a hurry’ criteria. I tripped upon this method and it may be the best sauce yet, both for its lusciousness and ease.

Tomatoes continue to flourish in the heat of late summer, and I don’t want to waste a single one. Pressed for time, I roasted a pile of tomatoes a few weeks ago, put them in empty yogurt containers and then the freezer. Quick and easy.  Next time I roasted tomatoes I wondered what I’d get if I pureed them with an immersion blender after roasting. Seeds and skin almost disappeared, and tomatoes were transformed into a smooth silky sauce with the richness of roasting at its heart. Just unbelievably delicious, this is about as easy as it gets if you want to preserve tomatoes as sauce.

This is a reposting of one of our Top Twenty seasonal recipes; the vacation too, from the past, but also worth repeating.

If you don’t have them in the backyard, buy a bunch of tomato ‘seconds’ at the farmers market.


Late Summer’s Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe

Fresh tomatoes, amount is variable, but not more than a single layer on the baking sheet, any color, slightly under- or over-ripe are OK too.

roasted-tomato-sauce-1 roasted-tomato-sauce-3 roasted-tomato-sauce-4 roasted-tomato-sauce-5

Ingredients: Cut tomatoes into large bite-sized chunks/ 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, chopped/ Olive oil, salt & pepper to taste/ Parchment paper to cover the baking sheet.

Juiciness develops during roasting so use a shallow pan with an edge.

Directions: Place tomatoes on parchment-lined shallow baking pan, sprinkle liberally with olive oil and chopped garlic, salt & pepper/ Roast at 425º for 30-40 minutes – tomatoes should begin to char, liquid reduce/ Remove from oven, and after a few minutes, carefully gather short edges of parchment (creating a sort of funnel), and pour tomatoes and all drippings into a large bowl.

Cool a bit and process in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth or to desired consistency/ It will be thick and gorgeous – liquid can be added later to thin sauce as needed/ Freeze, can, or use immediately. I roasted two batches, two baking pans full, which yielded a little more than 2 quarts of sauce that’s imbued with the flavors of garlic and olive oil, salt & pepper.

There’s just a hint of seed and skin in the background. See what you think. Run it through a sieve before freezing to eliminate all of that. I happen to like it and think the pureed seeds and skin are healthy background noise. * 8/2015 update: Run blended roasted tomatoes through a fine sieve as a final step. Takes just a few minutes and eliminates hundreds of seeds.

I added a 1/2 cup of milk to a cup of this sauce the other day, reheated it and had the most amazing bowl of tomato soup. I thought I’d died and gone to, well, Desolation Sound. How sweet it is.  From this base there’s pizza sauce, marinara, soup, pasta dishes every which way . . . Freeze in quart containers or process in canning jars and put them in the pantry.

Enjoy the waning days of summer – it will be autumn soon.


*Desolation Sound – if this is desolation then bring it on! Captain Vancouver, possibly manic depressive goes the story, was in a deep depression when he ‘discovered’ and named the Sound. On the coastline of British Columbia, about 210 miles north of Seattle, and maybe 100 miles north of Vancouver, B.C., it’s spectacular, somewhat isolated, certainly not desolate. We’re grateful to be here.

Oyster in the wild  Kayaking Desolation Sound  Mink, 2012  7359


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Poetry on the Vine Mon, 15 Jul 2013 00:10:49 +0000 blueberries cucumber on the vine

Oh Blueberry, oh Cucumber you refresh beyond measure,

Orbs of plump purple and crunchy green garden treasure.

You cluster and vine, produce with such skill,

If I don’t eat you somebody else will.

Salads, pickles and pies you define,

Oh Blueberry, oh Cucumber you are too sublime.

I’m a little bit smitten. Maybe you noticed. The romance of stepping outside to find ripened blueberries every morning for weeks on end, and now a couple of cucumbers each day, never gets old. For anyone thinking about planting either of these, neither are fussy and the cucumbers especially will bring almost instant gratification. The tiny green cucumber bulbs, nestled next to their yellow blossom, take form and within a week – in hot weather – are ready to harvest. Blueberry bushes take several years to take hold and bear abundant fruit, but when they do it’s a power fruit party.

Below are links for favorite blueberry and cucumber recipes these past few years, plus a quick, cold cucumber soup. But first, if you get them fresh, eat them just as they are, without pie crust or brine. Perfection.

Blueberry Recipes

bowl of blueberries

 The Real Blue Angels                          Blueberry Galette, Blueberry Smoothies

Nix the Mix, Blueberry Hotcakes       My grandma’s hotcakes

Baked Blueberry & Apple Pudding    Like a cobbler, maybe better

Blueberry Salsa

Instant Cold Cucumber & Avocado Soup Recipe

cold cucumber soup cucumbers

Ingredients & Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender: partly peel and, if large-seeded, scoop out seeds in the center of 3 medium-sized cucumbers/Leave some of the peel on the cucumber – it adds color to the soup/ Cut into 1-inch chunks/ Peel and dice 1 ripe avocado/ 1 small shallot, coarsely chopped/ Juice of 1 lemon or lime/ 2 T fresh dill, 1 tablespoon reserved/1 t salt or to taste, 1/2 t pepper/ 1 C + ice cubes/Blend together until smooth – to thin add more ice cubes or water and blend again/ Pour into 6 chilled glasses, garnish with a sprig of reserved dill or a thin slice of cucumber.

Optional: add a teaspoon of hot sauce to the mix, and/or 2 T of sour cream.

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