Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Flea Street Café

I don't have a lot of time today, but I wanted to put up a quick post memoralizing a great meal at a wonderful restaurant, Flea Street Café, which embodies just about everything that seems important as a goal in food:

The best part of the meal, no kidding, was a tiny plate that was a bonus, "taste of the season": lightly cooked green beans with lemon, salt and chives.  The flavor was way too good to have just been beans!

Good Stuff indeed.

This also explains absence of posts as I was away on work-related travel to Palo Alto.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gardener's friends

Everyone knows that praying mantises are good news in the garden eating all manner of bad bugs.  I happened to catch this guy hanging out just outside of our back door.

Less commonly known is the ladybug larva, shown below as a black and orange smudge, due to focusing issues. ( :-) )

There were a whole bunch of them munching on the aphids that were covering and dessicating the dying leaves.  It's striking to me that both the aphids and larva seemed to show up out of nowhere to find some random dying melon leaves.  I was happy to let the leaves stay awhile in order to fatten up and become healthy ladybugs.

Originally uploaded by chris brandow

Apples -> applesauce

This is the first big batch of "compostables" that I had (I mean besides my children!).  It was worth a picture because they were the detritus from preparing a batch of homemade applesauce based on her grandma's recipe (secret ingredients: apples, water & sugar).  Of couse, my children still vastly prefer the jarred stuff, despite the incredible taste of the fresh stuff.  Also interesting is the economics of applesauce.  I haven't worked out the precise prices & volumes, but it seems clear that despite getting most of the apples at 50 cents/pound, jarred applesauce is still cheaper.  That sucks!

Originally uploaded by chris brandow

Friday, October 19, 2007

oohhhh... It's On!

I just found out about this and time is short, but this is the spark perhaps to get the veggie beds done pronto and get some love for the front yard garden.

It's time to rumble

send me your suggestions, the rules are here

The Basics - Composting

You might think that since I blog about front-yard kitchen gardening and because, you know, I actually have a kitchen garden in my front yard, that I am an accomplished composter and that it would be second nature to me. Well, the fact of the matter is that this is not the case. I have fooled around with composting a good bit, but I have never consistently dumped all my scraps and made lots of compost-y goodness. I'll explain the reasons later, but basically, I have always made it too much work.

Well, things are about to change!

We just got this composter from the City of Pasadena for $40:


I just don't understand why anyone would think that we are overboard about composting!


and just to be clear, we are not planning on composting in the living room.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gore. Again.

Lest I appear too earnest, this made me laugh:


h/t: terrapass blog


To the folks that have been working for TWO YEARS to get the New York City schools to take the seemingly obvious and simple step of getting carrots served in the school from New York, instead of California.  Sometimes local eating and sourcing doesn't make sense, but this is not one of those cases.  It is amazing how difficult it is to get institutions to move.


hmmm... maybe next year

I am not sure if this fits in with the "philosophy" of front yard gardening, but a pumpkin 5 times the weight of my entire family.  Cool:

big pumpkins

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Originally uploaded by chris brandow

This is a shot of my seed garlic being prepared for planting.  I just broke the cloves out from the heads.  It's hard to tell from the picture but there are three types in this pile: the pink, "rose du lautrec"; purple creole; and a porcelain type.  I am hoping to get the garlic planted this week.

I like to build things.

My friend adam says that I needed to add a post about the bike rack that I built. After some thought, since I want to keep my blog focused on front-yard kitchen gardening, I finally agreed that this would make a fine post. I think that it goes hand-in-hand with my interest in building things, a common impulse, I would imagine, among those that garden in general and especially among those gardening in the front yard.  Hmmm... it appears bigger problem with the post might be my wordiness...

So without further ado, the $20 4-bike rack:

My bike rack

Friday, October 12, 2007


Well done Al Gore!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I will get to gardening sometime...

but in the meantime, I am planning.  I look forward to preparing this with home-grown carrots, perhaps tangerine juice from our tree, and some wintery herb, since dill will not be growing at that time.  This recipe reminds me that I really. really. must get a proper crop of carrots this year for Pete's sake. Carrots have not gone terribly well for me. I'll explain more later, but for now, let's just enjoy thisbraised carrots
UPDATE: I went home for lumch and used some leftover carrots, lemon juice & basil. Tasty!

More Caltech Olives

Caltech Olive Festival Poster

Way to go Caltech! They are really running with this olive harvest festival thing. The graphics look great and they have really organized it well, it seems. This is a great blow for localism as well as eating what is grown. It is a little silly to think about these olive trees producing hundreds of pounds of olives that were simply disposed. I understand that they were actually sprayed to reduce fruiting. Regardless, it is cool of Caltech to go to the trouble, when from a facilities standpoint, I am sure that it was just easier to spray and ignore.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wild Asparagus?

I saw this spear shooting through a bush in Pasadena.  It seem to taste like asparagus, but it is from the same frondy material that is also growing through the bush, which does not strike me as aspargus-y.  So I don't know.

Saffron Crocus

Just in case you wondered where saffron comes from.  It is the pistil of the saffron crocus, pictured below.  I just got the above corms in the mail, though I am afraid that they are a little late, but I think that early October might qualify as late September.  This is a classic purchase for me.  Much of my learning about cooking has come from growing things that I thought were cool.  And then I grow things I want to eat.  It is a virtuous, tasty circle.

saffron croces

Tuesday, October 9, 2007



While these weren't grown in my front yard, these apples were growing in the mountains of Yosemite, where I spent the weekend with three very good friends. It snowed & we hiked, biked, and otherwise thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

And I ate a mess of fresh apples crisp and cold from the tree!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Front-Yarders Around the World

This is great: Front-Yard Up Front

Sardines!!! - the eco-foodie-sustaina-locavore delight

I have been slightly obsessed with trying to get my hands on some fresh sardines for the last ~5 months or so.

"WHY?!?" you might ask as do most people who hear of my quest.  Well, it has to do with my interest in simple foods, low-environmental impact, and local foods.   Mostly, I got hooked by reading this blog and being inspired a bit by his approach to food which mostly matched my growing sense of food preparation that was so compatible with growing my own tasty food.

Well, I finally came across some at Whole Foods yesterday.  They only get them once every couple of months and there is no set schedule.  Here they are awaiting their fate:


Here they are awaiting their final fate:


So, after all this waiting, how were they?  Well, they tasted a lot like trout.  They had a slightly stronger flavor.  As for preparation, I simply dredged them in thyme & flour and sauteed in hot oil with scattered sea salt.  I need to bone them next time as well.  I actually need to work a bit on their preparation beforehand.  However, it was a great first attempt, and of course they "paired" quite nicely with a cold Fat Tire.

My approach needs some work before I will convince Maggie to give them a go.  :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

i think i have moved

to http://frontyardveggies.wordpress.com

set your links, rss feeds, and bookmarks accordingly.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

local olive oil


That is a picture of some olives ripening on the tree at Caltech.

I will post more about this when the day gets closer, but Caltech has decided to put all of the olive trees on its famed "olive walk" to good use.  This year we will be harvesting all of the olives & sending them to a processor in Santa Barbara to be turned into olive oil.  It will be sold and proceeds going to charity.  Very local, very cool.

Lunch today...

Straight from the garden, and man(!) it was good.

I took this rosa bianca eggplant (yes it is October, and I am still harvesting a couple eggplants!)

rosa bianca eggplant

and I dipped in some flour and fried it in some oil, drizzled some lemon juice (from back yard) and sprinkled a little salt:

cooked eggplant

so good!!! crusty shell with creamy, eggplanty goodness inside.

Monday, October 1, 2007

plastic bags


this isn't an environmental blog, but this article brings to mind the post below about spoons.  It profiles in part a European transplant that was fully accustomed to using reusable grocery bags, but after a little while in America, gave up the practice, b/c ultimately plastic bags were just easier.

too. cool.

maybe when the front yard is finished, I'll open an underground restaurant.


This isn't a great picture, but I took it in a hurry and had to get going this morning:

New Lawn

but I have some grass now. I must say that this is the first time that I have used sod, and it sure is "easy". My whole body is exhausted and sore, but I have a complete lawn. I am conflicted from an environmental/sustainability standpoint about installing sod, versus seed (transporting hundreds of pounds of grass & dirt vs. 10 lb of seed), but decided that the area is small and so much of our yard will be low impact environmentally, that is it was a small impact overall. Frankly, I have done everything the hard way, we could stand to do something the easy way.

I celebrated the completion with a nice Fat Tire (Thank you Adam & Maggie!)