Thursday, May 6, 2010

We are moving

At least temporarily, until BLOGSPOT issues with pictures are resolved.

You can find us HERE:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fredericksburg - strawberries and lavender

Becker Vineyards was a wonderful side excursion during a trip to pick fresh strawberries in Fredericksburg; there I found a wonderfully dry rosé made in the Provençal style, unique soaps and lavender products.

The biggest surprise for me was the artichokes growing next to the lavender.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garden discoveries

You can’t eat more locally than when you eat food grown in your own garden.  This year, I have a rather large vegetable and flower garden – my first real garden and a big experiment.  My backyard is long and narrow, and divided in three sections: one I call the lower garden is closest to the house, the second is reserved for a tool shed to be built over the summer and the third I call the upper garden, where tall hackberry, pecan and hickory trees will shelter fruits and vegetables from the summer sun.  Years of falling leaves from those trees have helped to create deep fertile soil.  From the back of the upper garden, the land slopes gently toward the house and some years ago someone built concrete retaining walls creating the three separate terraces that have become my three sections.

The winter of 2010 wasn’t a pleasant one in San Antonio - characterized by late freezes, many wet grey days with highs in the 40’s, and very little sunshine in-between.  First I planted small cauliflower and spinach plants toward the end of February, which is a little late in the season.  The unpleasant weather continued and on rare days of warm sunshine, I ventured out with seeds (lettuce, radishes, carrots, Swiss chard, and red beets), red onion transplants, and a variety or herbs.  As days went by, several varieties of peppers, squash, pickling cucumbers, cantaloupes, and green beans also went in the ground.  Of course a cold front blew in and stuck around for a while.  I ended up having to cover my young plants which, to my surprise, all survived.

The radishes came up first, followed by cilantro, carrots, beets, chard then lettuce.  The cauliflowers and spinach grew larger every day; the green beans came up through the soil.  It was mid-March, and by the end of the month, we were eating a variety of greens in delicious salads.  It was warm enough to eat outside and in doing so, we joined a variety of birds who visit the feeder I have hanged in a tree in a back corner of the lower garden.  I also noticed many birds on the ground.  They hide in a patch of tall weedy grass I left on the edge of the garden, right under the feeder, and I watch them as they catch insects.  So far I haven’t had any problems with bugs eating my greens, perhaps because the birds keep them in check.  I enjoy listening to my winged friends as they sing, eat, chase bugs and sometimes each other; two birdbaths provide plenty of entertainment and water for bathing or drinking.  What a pleasure it is to work or sit in the garden, with the anaqua and honeysuckle in full fragrant bloom...a feast for the senses.

My garden has offered many surprises, some culinary.  When the time came to cull the radishes, I looked at those gorgeous greens and thought, “what a shame to waste those, even if they’re going in the compost.”  That afternoon, I made the comment to my mother on the phone expecting some sympathetic response; I never thought radish greens were edible.  Instead of hearing “oui c’est domage de les jeter”, my mother exclaimed : “tu peux faire la soupe avec”.  It wasn’t a shame at all to have to throw them on the compost pile, I didn’t have to throw them away – I could make soup.  And I did.  Soon the carrot greens followed.  Here’s the recipe; it works for both:

Radish greens or carrot greens (about 3 cups), washed and chopped

1 potato, small to medium-ish, diced

1 carrot, sliced

1 onion, sliced

Salt and pepper


-          Melt the butter and slightly brown the onion, then add the greens

-          Cook for 5 minutes and use that time to heat up about 2 cups of water;

-          Add the potato and carrot to the greens and cover with the hot water;

-          Add salt and pepper to taste, cover with a lid, and cook for about 15 minutes (until the carrot and potatoes are cooked);

-          Set aside to cool then use a hand-held mixer to puree the vegetables.  If your soup is too thick you can add water.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Food Recalls and Alerts

Here's an interesting link for a site where you can keep up with safety issues.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rump (or chuck) roast (requires beef stock recipe)

Rump Roast Bordelaise Sauce (serves 4)

For the roast:

2 lb rump roast from grass-fed beef
2 TBSP of butter
½ cup of water

For the sauce:

2 TBSP of butter
1 tsp of flour
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
3 peppercorns
1 cup of red wine

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Melt the butter and sear the meat on all sides in a crock pot on the stove. Add the water, cover the dish with a lid and put it in the oven. Bake for 4 to 4 ½ hours. The meat should be very tender.

About 15 minutes before taking the meat out of the oven, melt the butter in a frying pan, add the shallots, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Cook until the shallot is tender then stir in the flour and add the red wine. Stir and add about 2 cups of beef stalk.

Take the meat out of the oven, out of the crock pot and set it aside; add the cooking juices from the meat to the sauce and keep warm. If you’re ready to serve, slice the meat.

Beef Stock

Beef Stock (about 2 smallish cups)

1.5 lbs of bones from grass-fed beef (I use Bandera Grassland)
1 onion, quartered
2 carrots, sliced
1 leek, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 quarts of water
1 tsp of tomato paste
4 peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and roast the ingredients (on a cookie sheet) for 30 minutes then add them to a crock pot and cover with the water. Add a bouquet garni, peppercorns, and the tomato paste. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Strain, collecting the liquid in a bowl. You’ll have to apply pressure with the back of a spoon to make sure all the liquid comes out. Refrigerate until a solid layer forms over the top; that will be the fat; remove it with the utensil of your choice, trying not to remove the gel-like substance that’s under the layer of fat.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

US food imports from China

On a different blog, I just posted links to a search engine that allows users to find out where in the world our food comes from and another to a list of agricultural imports from China. Click here to access the info.