The holidays are always an exciting time around here, but I always hated the waste of the season—especially wrapping paper and bows. Now, each year we have our gifts under the tree without any wrapping paper, tape, or plastic ribbon: we use fabric! When my […]
Reviewing your seed catalogs in the (finally!) rainy autumn, you see the beautiful colors that dent corn can come in–blue, red, even rainbow “Gem”–and you don’t know why you’d want to grow corn you can’t eat fresh. What’s the point? Why colorful cornbread, of course! […]
If you go…Predatory Plants (The sign says Carnivorous Plants) 12511 San Mateo Rd Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 Hours: Fri-Sun, 10am – 5pm Predatory Plants Website Parking is free and plentiful, but be aware that making a left turn into the parking lot, or making ANY turn out of it can be tricky and requires patience. There is a lot of traffic on Fridays and the weekend on Route 92, and that’s the only times the store is open.
make a Charlotte Russe!*
Part of my yard has been going wild since my kids were born, and there is a thicket of Himalayan blackberry coming into season. I’m never content to make jam or jelly, and you can only have blackberry pancakes 3 or 4 days a week. I always want to do something spectacular with the berries, and this recipe definitely shows off their unique sweetness and tartness in a fabulous way. I may also have been watching a lot of the Great British Baking Show
This is not your typical dessert. It involves sponge cake, mousse, whipped cream, lady fingers, and preserves. It has many steps. You will need to plan ahead for each step. And you will impress everyone with both the looks and taste of the finished product.
I used this recipe, with just a few changes. I made my own lady fingers (recipe here), and, of course, used fresh blackberries instead of frozen. Because fresh berries are more intact then frozen ones, you do need to smash them a bit to extract juice from them. I used a cocktail muddler.
You use your extracted juice in the whipped cream mouse, and the juice turns the mousse a vibrant pink color. With the army of lady fingers on the outside, and that unexpected rosy interior, this is definitely a conversation starter of a dessert. Expect questions, admiration, and requests for some of those berries!
*The dessert, not the store at the mall.
Organic Gardening is incredibly rewarding, but there are those moments when you question the amount of work you put into it. Harvesting heads of cauliflower is one such moment. When to Harvest Cauliflower, when ready to harvest, are fully sized at about 6 to 8 […]
Slugs (and Snails) eat baby plants. They love tender infant beans and cucumbers and totally ruin all that hard work you did weeding and composting and planting. So many plants are just easier to direct-sow into the ground or pot, and starting beans inside seems so […]
Rat Tail RadishAKA: Aerial Radish, Spicy Bean Source: Botanical Interests This is my favorite Bay Area weed, for two reasons:
- It grows beautiful bunches of flowers in so many colorways, even in the same area. Just small patch of them in my yard can sport yellow, bright pink, white-and-pink, white, yellow-and-pink (my fave!), and purple.
- They are easy to pull up when you don’t want them any more–the roots are short and come out of the ground very easily.
Miner’s LettuceAKA: Winter Purslane Sources: Amazon, Territorial Seed These cute little lilypads, with their tiny cascade of white flowers, pop up in the wet winter of the Bay Area, and die away in the heat of summer. This means they really don’t crowd out summer vegetables, and I’ve even heard of them being used as a ground cover to form a mat of green to keep other winter weeds from popping up. As their name suggests, these plants were eaten by the gold miners in the Bay Area, and are actually quite nutritious, if a little bland. I recommend using their leaves in salads with a tasty dressing, and not as a spinach substitute in anything cooked (as I had seen suggested online), as the taste is too mild and the texture too tough for cooking.
California PoppySource: Amazon The orange poppy is the California State Flower, so I’m not surprised it’s easy to find sources for the seeds. They are beautiful, and, like the Rat Tail Radished and Miner’s Lettuce, thrive only in the wet winter, fading away in summer. Their roots are also shallow, so the plants come up whole when you need to remove them. There are many colors and varieties of poppies available for purchase. If you already have native poppies in your area, there are a few things you need to know before you plant those other varieties.
- Wild poppies have evolved to thrive where they grow. Adding new varieties that will cross-pollinate with the native, orange poppies can weaken their next generation. You could end up with no poppies.
- Wild poppies’ brilliant orange color is dominant, so even those blue, white, and red beauties you plant this year will be orange poppies next year.