Monday, February 25, 2013

Announcement! New name, new URL is moving to...

Every time I say "," people ask, "You keep bees?" And I don't. While I do welcome and encourage bees of all kinds in my garden, that's not really what the blog is about. It is about gardening and food culture, and the edible plants that I grow and the dishes that I make with them. So... has moved to

plant: (noun) A living organism of the kingdom Plantae; an herb, seedling, or other small vegetable growth. (verb) To place (a seed, bulb, or plant) in the ground so that it can grow. 

plate: (noun) A flat dish, typically circular, from which food is eaten or served. (verb) To serve or arrange (food) on a plate or plates before a meal.

Continue reading at

Thursday, February 21, 2013

FAQ: Where should I put my garden?

My garden covers the entire front and street-facing side yard of our corner lot, plus a little more of the back yard with each season. For those of you with actual restraint, deciding where to put your garden is mainly a matter of sunshine, followed by safety and convenience.

Maximum sunshine

Ideally, you want 6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day. If you have a lot of southern exposure, you're probably fine. If your tiny backyard is surrounded by buildings and fences and trees, this may be tough to find.

Remember that shadows move around, so a spot that's sunny in the morning may be in deep shade a few hours later. Likewise, areas that are shady now, when the sun is still fairly low in the south, might be sunny in summer, when it's more directly overhead.

It may help to look through photos you took last summer, and check the time-stamp. Or pick a day when you're around the house, and snap a digital photo of your yard every hour or two.

Tip: Raised beds can go anywhere, even over concrete. So if your back yard doesn't get enough sun, consider putting a small raised bed in your driveway or front yard.

Monday, February 18, 2013

BASIL Seed Swap

Friday night was the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library's 14th annual seed swap and potluck. While I did not win any raffle prizes, alas — I was especially hoping for the potted Cascade hops, though Oak Barrel has promised to call me when their rhizomes arrive — I did arrive home with a full belly and a bunch of new kinds of seeds to try.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Scientist's Valentine

It's Valentine's day, and you haven't planned anything. And — just so we're clear — this is not one of those foolproof last-minute Valentine's Day desserts that will distract your special someone from your failure to produce flowers / dinner reservations / bling on the day scheduled by the greeting card industry. 

But you know what? Anyone can make reservations and buy flowers. But can just anyone waltz into the kitchen and whip up a rich, creamy, decadent chocolate mousse? Can they do it using only chocolate and hot water? 

No, they can't.

Apparently, neither can I.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Garden update: Feb 11

The radishes have sprouted! Granted, this happens every year, five to ten days after I plant the radish seeds, but it still delights me.

It took this batch nine days, which is longer than I expected, but it is only February and the weather's been on the cool side. (In this area, that means mid-fifties daytime, forties nighttime). By the time you get around to planting yours, it will probably be warmer, and you'll have radishes popping up in a mere four or five days.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Event: White Labs tasting at SF Beer Week

Heads up, locals: Remember last month, when I wrote about our beer-tasting experience at White Labs? Well, they're having a similar tasting in San Francisco for SF Beer Week.

The tasting is tomorrow, Saturday, February 9th, at 3 pm.

It’s Alive!!: Sipping Session with White Labs, Kara Taylor, Analytical Laboratory Specialist

February 9 3:00pm – 5:00pm
City Beer Store
1168 Folsom Street, San Francisco

San Diego's White Labs, a leader in yeast production for the worldwide brewing community, brewed a hefeweizen specifically for this educational tasting session. The same recipe was brewed four times, each time using a different yeast strain.

The featured yeasts are: WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast, WLP320 American Hefeweizen Ale Yeast, WLP380 Hefeweizen IV Ale Yeast, and WLP400 Belgian Wit Ale Yeast.

Kara will be barside to break down the characteristics of each yeast strain; explaining the harmony between science + art, and how it applies to brewing.

Pencils and papers ready to go at 3pm.


Other SF Beer Week events:

(I'm not affiliated with White Labs, City Beer Store, or SF Beer Week; I just think they're pretty cool.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chicken stock

I have a confession to make: I mostly use chicken stock from a box. I buy the organic free range kind, and it's okay, but it's not great. Fine for deglazing a pan, or using as the base of a busy soup, but not something you want to sip hot with just a few slivers of green onion and a slice of ginger. 

There aren't many things I miss about working in restaurant kitchens, but chicken stock is one of them. The walk-in always had huge covered buckets of rich, delicious stock, made by someone who wasn't me. They got to deal with roasting pans full of bones and mirepoix, lifting the huge stockpots, simmering, skimming, straining, and reducing gallons of the stuff. I got an unlimited supply of intensely flavorful stock.