Well, it’s been about a year since we moved from the east coast to the west. In so many ways, moving across the country was easier than I anticipated. We went from living in a little house to an even smaller apartment. It turns out we needed even fewer things than we thought.
Food and flowers are so central to what makes me happy. I love my little herb garden on our patio, but I do miss having a real garden. Mostly, I miss the potential of having my own dirt and space. I loved romanticizing our plot of land. It was all very Gone With The Wind, at least in my mind.
Here, I do get to take pictures of other people’s flowers.
These gardenias were just hanging out in front of a bank like they weren’t anything special at all. I casually stalked them until they finally bloomed.
Of course, there are palm trees here.
There are oak trees and redwoods too, but the palm trees make me feel like we are really living someplace else.
I have become completely spoiled by year-round farmers’ markets, evening walks to Turkish cafes, and never really needing a winter coat.
Despite missing east coast family and friends, we are happy here. California is home for now, and it turns out moving isn’t so scary after all.
J: Are you going to stop and take a picture of this every single time?
I wish I could thank the person who had the foresight to plant crisp white camellias and a shock of the brightest pink rhododendrons in the cool shady corner of our nearby park. It was clearly the right choice and made me smile on my morning walk.
I have a weakness for roses and white picket fences, especially when the canes are so weighed down with blossoms they spill over onto the sidewalk. The combination is so classic and simply pretty it is almost cliche. However, it never fails to stop me in my tracks. This morning I had to snap a few pictures. Phoebe was confused as to why we were stopping again. She had places to be and other dogs to impress at the park.
I am fairly certain this rose is a variety called “Cherry Parfait”. It always struggled when I grew it on the east coast. When I bought it I loved the description of the “light apple scent.” Rose catalogs are an exercise in the highest forms of hyperbole.
It still amazes me that people can grow lemons in their yards here. I have been taking Phoebe for long walks around the neighborhood and every time, I see a citrus tree I feel the need to stop and casually check it out. If I ever do have a real garden here, I will definitely have to add one to my list. I can’t imagine ever having too many lemons.
When I knew we were definitely going to be moving to and apartment, I immediately began mourning the loss of my garden. I shed a tear when I closed over our vegetable bed that had been awesomely productive last year. Hey, I am a total sap when it comes to my plants. I consoled myself with the idea that I could still have a similar herb pot set up. Having access to fresh herb just outside the door is such a luxury. I don’t have a huge amount of sun on our new patio. However, it has been enough to sustain everything but my departed little dill plant. My mother-in-law helped me with this simple set up when they came out for a visit. I have my basics: basil, thyme, mint, parsley, chives, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram. It may not be a full garden, but as long as I have dirt and plants it will suffice… and no weeding!
These peonies are one of the signs that we are on the edge of summer weather. I have two clumps that were gifted to me last year and they were already heavy with pink blossoms this year. Amazingly, the deer don’t touch them, and until our last rainstorm, they were picture perfect. I am trying to drink up all of the flowers before we move to apartment living.
Since we will be moving in a fairly short amount of time, I was forced to forgo a vegetable garden this year. It literally pained me to cover it with weed block, but it just didn’t make sense to plant this year. However, not having pots of herbs on the deck was out of the question. Fresh herbs are a luxury worth having even if I will be giving the pots away mid-summer. My essential herbs are: basil, flat leaf parsley, rosemary, thyme, dill, chives, scallions (technically a bulb) and mint. It may sound like a lot of essentials, but all of these fit in 2 medium pots and one small pot. If you use them often, they can be packed quite tightly. Having too many fresh herbs has never been a problem for me. The thought that we will have a small porch for potted plants and herbs in our new place makes me incredibly happy. I have already thought about how I will maximize my limited space. What are your herb must haves?
These simple omelettes use parsley, basil and scallions. You could really use any combination of the aforementioned herbs. Only rosemary would be too strong to pair with eggs. Omelettes are, of course, the easiest and the hardest thing to make. Like all egg dishes there is no margin of error. If you watch Archer, you may remember the line where he shouts at his butler, “How hard is it to poach an egg?!” as he heaves his clothes over the balcony. Very overcooked (or undercooked) eggs are the worst. I cook my omelettes on medium low heat using either butter or oil in a little cast iron pan. I have a tiny spatula that I use to flip them.
Herb Omelettes for Two
2 tbsp chopped herbs (scallions, basil, parsley)
1 tablespoon of water
salt and pepper
Blend together all ingredients using a whisk and cook in two batches over medium low heat, flipping when they are each 3/4 of the way done. Top with extra salt, pepper and herbs.
When I pull into my driveway these allium are the first thing I see, and they couldn’t make me happier. I love that the simple row of purple globes have such a great geometric impact. Sometimes simple is best. For years, I resisted making roast chicken at home. It was fine when other people made it but never my favorite thing. It wasn’t until I used this ultra simple Thomas Keller method that I really appreciated it. I actually like his recipe best with just (Kosher) salt and (freshly ground) pepper. Of course, it is important to buy the best chicken available as it will make a tremendous difference in flavor. I use the pan drippings for the potatoes and they wind up crispy and soak up the chicken flavor. We have ever so creatively dubbed them ‘Chicken Potatoes’. This is about as simple a preparation as possible, and it comes out perfectly every time. Don’t be afraid of the high oven temperatures (450 degrees). I promise the chicken will not burn.
Roast Chicken Recipe by Thomas Keller available at Epicurious.
Crispy Chicken Potatoes
5-6 medium yukon gold potatoes
1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
Parsley (or other fresh herb)
Slice the potatoes into 1/2 inch think sticks and pat dry. Remove the roast chicken from the pan and allow to rest lightly covered with foil. If there is excess fat in the pan it make be skimmed off, but you will need enough to coat the potatoes. Use a spatula to fully coat them with the dripping and add salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes and use heat proof spatula to flip them bake for another 10-15 minutes. I like to turn the oven to broil for the last two minutes, but you will have to watch them carefully to be certain they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and add additional salt and pepper and a handful of chopped parsley.