East Sac Edible


From Garden To Table: Bowl of Croutons and a side of Kale Caesar Salad

DSC_0702Right now I don’t have much to harvest in my garden other than kale. As my garden is in transition, I have to settle putting kale into everything which I don’t mind one bit. A couple of weekends ago we spent a beautiful day out in Point Reyes with some friends and picked up some Mt. Tam cheese, bread, olives and a kale salad from Cowgirl Creamery for a picnic. The kale salad was delicious, packed with cheesy goodness and I decided to recreate it for my lunch today.

My motto is that salad is basically an excuse to eat croutons. An all kale salad can be hard to pull off so dressing and extras are a must… and croutons are those extras…

DSC_0695I harvested about 100 grams of kale, which I thought looked like a pretty big bounty for one personal salad but I always forgot that the kale really reduces in size when you massage it with oil and lemon juice (an absolute must for a good kale salad). After washing the kale (aphids are always hiding in the folds), I cut out the ribs and chopped it up a bit. I put a drizzle of olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice over the kale and gave it a good massage for a few minutes. Recently I have been having all kale salads in restaurants around Sacramento and it horrifies me that they don’t massage the kale! Eating a bowl of unmassaged kale is really hard to handle… not even croutons can help. DSC_0696

DSC_0706For the dressing, I whirled 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of full-fat greek yogurt, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, the juice of half a lemon, a dab of mustard, a squirt of red wine vinegar, a shake of salt and a few grinds of pepper in my food processor. I added about a tablespoon of olive oil while whirling. I put the dressing into a jar and put it in the fridge. This made about a jam jar of dressing so I envision many more meals of Caesar salad in my future.DSC_0697

Croutons were made with day old bread on low heat with a drizzle of olive oil and shake of salt.

So in my defense, I had two little toddlers eyeing my salad and I knew I was going to have to share so I made double croutons… but my bowl of salad really was more of a bowl of croutons with a side of kale. I added a few shaves of parmesan to the top.

DSC_0701 DSC_0703Did I mention I like croutons?



From Garden to Table: Soondubu Jjigae, Korean Soft Tofu Stew

I have lots of recipes but in general I stick to meals that are easy to throw together and can pack as many of our homegrown veggies in as possible. I have about 5 go to recipes that meet this criteria but was getting in a bit of a rut when I decided to look to the internets to give me inspiration. The other day I went out to Korean food with my parents. I don’t eat Korean food all that often so when I do, it’s a treat. I had a fantastic vegetarian bi bim bap at the restaurant but after we left I started thinking about soondubu jjigae. Soondubu is a kimchi soft tofu stew. It is served bubbling hot in its cooking vessel at restaurants. I just couldn’t get soondubu out of my head. Then I thought… I probably can make that myself. So I did.

And to my surprise, it was so easy AND you could throw any veggies you have in the garden into it. This might not be the most traditional of recipes but it worked for me.DSC_2943

I adapted this recipe from Chow and you can find their recipe here. Here is my adaptation:

Soondubu Jjigae (Kimchi Soft Tofu Stew)

  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Korean chili paste (gochujang; This definitely makes it spicy so omit this if you can’t handle the heat!)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • Any other veggie you have in the garden!
  • 1 cup Nappa Cabbage Kimchi, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or any broth)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 (14-16 ounce) package soft tofu, drained
  • 2 large eggs (optional)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • Steamed white or brown rice for serving

DSC_2933First of all, you can basically throw anything into this pot so if you have veggies that you need to use up this is a great recipe to try. Second note, the kimchi I bought was pretty spicy on its own so I didn’t put any of the chili paste in. It was still delicious and just the right amount of heat. Adjust to your liking. Also the original recipe only calls for zucchini as the main veggie so if you do end up adding more vegetables to the dish, I recommend adding some extra broth for a more stew like consistency.DSC_2934

The veggies I grew in my garden that I decided to put in this dish were Trombetta di Albenga squash, Sweet Canary Bell Pepper, Hungarian Yellow Wax Pepper (for some reason these are supposed to be yellow but they are ripening as red… I saved these seeds from last year so maybe I mislabeled or they crossed!?), Orient long green beans and some Lacinato kale.

DSC_2938Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid on medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add salt. Add the chili paste, stir to combine, until fragrant about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and let cook for about 5 minutes if using Trombetta. This squash is harder than Black Beauty zucchini so I gave it a little more time in the pan. If you are using a softer zucchini just stir for about a minute. Add any other veggies at this time too.

DSC_2935DSC_2939Roughly chop the kimchi and add, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes. The kimchi should start to simmer. Don’t forget to add in those kimchi juices!

DSC_2940Add the broth and the soy sauce and bring to a boil. Taste and season with salt if needed. Cook until veggies are almost done.

Using a large serving spoon, add the drained tofu in very large spoonfuls careful not to break into smaller pieces. Gently press down into the soup until covered. Cover with lid and simmer for another 3 minutes.

DSC_2941 Crack eggs into the simmering stew. Cover and simmer until whites are set (about 2 minutes). Dish the stew into bowls careful not to break the tofu or the egg yolks. Garnish with scallions and serve immediately with a side of rice.DSC_2942

This stew is hearty, healthy and perfect for fall. Enjoy!

DSC_2944Next on my ever-growing list to do is: grow Nappa cabbage (I already have seed!) and learn how to make kimchi!



From Garden To Table: Roasted Tomato Sauce

During the summer months there is always a glut of tomatoes to harvest although this year my tomato harvest has been quite disappointing. Nevertheless, I love this roasted tomato sauce recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. The recipe is easy, and can be used many different ways. I was excited that I had all the ingredients on hand from my garden (minus the olive oil and salt and pepper)! It was really nice to know that everything in this particular batch of tomato sauce came straight from the garden.  DSC_2608

Roasted Tomato Sauce

from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg


  • 3 to 4 pounds of tomatoes, larger ones halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A few springs of thyme
  • A couple springs of marjoram (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lay the tomatoes, cut side up if halved, on a baking sheet. Scatter over the garlic and herbs and trickle over the oil. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Put the baking sheet in the oven for about an hour, maybe a bit longer, until the tomatoes are completely soft and pulpy, and starting to crinkle and caramelize on top. Set the tomatoes aside to cool for half an hour or so. Then tip them into a large sieve set over a bowl and rub the pulp through with a wooden spoon or use a food mill. Discard the skins and seeds. Your tomato sauce is now ready to use.
My notes:
I don’t use marjoram but replace it with a few springs of fresh rosemary. Also, after I pull the tomatoes out of the oven and they have cooled, I put the tomatoes in my food processor for a few whirls until I get a nice sauce-like texture. I don’t bother to food mill my sauce because I don’t mind skins in my sauce. I transfer my whirled sauce into a sauce pan and let it gently simmer on low heat for about a half hour. Then I season to taste.
If I am not going to use my sauce right away I put it in mason jars and freeze it. Because there is a bit of oil in this recipe, I don’t can it.



From Garden to Table: Pesto



The other day I harvested basil and made pesto so I have decided to do a post about my pesto. The first pesto recipe I used was a vegan recipe from Ida Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan with a Vengeance. Over the years, I have changed the recipe to meet my tastes. I love my pesto to be super lemony and garlicky. I never measure any of the ingredients because it usually depends on how much basil I harvest at the time. I’ve made it so many times that I can eyeball what I need  and then I always have a baguette around to taste test as I go along… sometimes I end up eating it straight out of the mixer. I also make huge batches of pesto at once usually a few quarts at a time since I harvest so much basil. DSC_2214

Pesto Recipe

  • 1 & 1/2 cups walnuts
  • About 6 cups of packed basil leaves (usually I fill my 9 cup food processor once, quickly blitz the leaves and fill it up a second time)
  • 3 to 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one or two lemons

Pick your basil straight from the garden (it is freshest this way and makes for better tasting pesto). Wash the leaves, put through a salad spinner or dry on a towel. Make sure the basil leaves are completely dry before making the pesto. Toast the walnuts in a toaster oven (or regular oven) at 350°F  for about 5 minutes on a baking sheet. Let the walnuts cool. If you make pesto with hot walnuts the nuts will wilt your fresh basil leaves.

Blitz the basil in a food processor (or blender) first. Then add walnuts, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Blend in the food processor until combined, scraping down the sides as you go. Continue to process while adding the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Sample at this point and add more ingredients to your taste.


DSC_2218DSC_2217You can add parmesan cheese to your pesto if you would like but honestly if you up the lemon and garlic you really don’t miss the cheese. I make my pesto without cheese and add it when I eat it. This is because I freeze pesto in quart Ziploc bags and it is better to add the cheese in right before you eat it. The pesto freezes really well in these bags. I lay the bag flat on a cookie sheet so it freezes flat, then I stack them in my freezer. When we want pesto I take a bag out of the freezer and open it up while still frozen. I transfer the pesto into a container to let it thaw (it is much easier this way and isn’t a mess trying to get the pesto out of a bag later). Making pesto fresh in the summer and freezing it allows you to enjoy pesto all winter long!

Many people make their pesto with pine nuts. I find that walnuts have a much bolder, darker flavor which I love about this recipe. Also walnuts are so much cheaper than pine nuts. When making pesto in bulk, walnuts are the way to go! I think one day I will need a walnut tree to match my field of basil. Once you make your own, you will never buy expensive, flavorless store-bought pesto again! We eat the pesto with pasta, on sandwiches, or slathered on a toasted baguette. Enjoy!