Tag Archives: Austin


Agora, Magdalena Abakanowicz Something struck me on a recent visit to Chicago ~ why are some cities meccas for cultural philanthropy and others are not? Everywhere I turned in Chicago it seemed, there was another outstanding example of civic leadership in support … Continue reading

green monster

The garden has morphed  into this huge mass of vines and leaves. It’s almost impossible to distinguish between the lemon cucumbers and the Roma tomatoes …or are those pear tomatoes?

While we were in Chicago at the end of June we had friends  – Elliott and Tom – water and harvest the garden to prevent it from dying under our blistering Texas sun. They did a marvelous job keeping the garden going as you can see. When we returned home I was able to harvest 3-1/2 cups of tomatoes, enough to make  the tomato sauce I posted under Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Roma’s were a bit small so I had to cheat a little and use a few pear tomatoes to achieve the 3-1/2 cups I needed. The pear tomatoes worked very well and added a tiny bit of sweetness to the sauce.

I harvested two Ananas heritage melons before we left for Chicago, and when we left it appeared the melon vine had produced all it could this year. On our return home we were pleasantly surprised to see not only a new melon growing, but the largest one to date!

2 days before harvest

day of harvest


I am not growing basil this season – In my past garden endeavors – in Eugene, Oregon and Seattle, Washington – I never had luck with herbs, and these are the places where everything grows lush and full. So I didn’t even consider growing herbs here in Austin. My guess is that it would take planting a big crop of any herb, cover them with shade cloth  and water them more than I water the veggies to be able to grow enough herbs to harvest. I could be wrong about the watering, but I definitely think shade cloth is necessary.  I did buy some beautiful basil at Whole Foods in order to make the tomato sauce, and used the remainder to make a big batch my famous walnut basil pesto – which can be frozen if we don’t eat it all first.

Walnut Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil (I start with 1/2 and add more if necessary)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

In a food processor add all the ingredients except the oil. Process for 2-3 minutes or until completely chopped. While processing add drizzle in oil until well mixed and moist enough to mix well with pasta.

Use the pesto with pasta or as a spread.

time to fiesta!

On April 30th,  cook with a view hosted its third cooking class ~ Healthy Mexican Food. It was a great success, and the food was out of the world if I do say so myself.  Below are a couple of recipes from that class that I hope you’ll enjoy. I would love to hear from you if you try one or both of these. What’s your favorite Mexican Food? Share it and let’s see if we can find a way to give it a healthy overhaul – beyond just using reduced fat cheese!

Chayote and Chile Poblano Soup

  • 2 poblano chiles roasted and cleaned
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white onion, chopped
  • 2 lbs. chayote peeled and chopped (shown in the photographs)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated
  • 1 cup Mexican cream or heavy cream
  • 1-2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes

peeled chayote squash

cubed chayote squash

  1. Cut poblano chiles into strips and set aside.
  2. Place the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and onion. Sauté for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the chayote, corn and broth, as well as the roasted poblano chiles, salt, white and red pepper. Let simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chayote is soft.
  4. Place the soup in a food processor in two parts and puree. Or use an immersion blender.
  5. Return to pot and add crème.

Low-Carb Option Omit the cup of corn and lower the carbs to 11 grams.

Low-Fat Option Use low-fat milk instead of the cream and lower the calories to 116 as well as shedding 10 grams of fat.


Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing Salad

  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and well drained
  • 2 cups chopped seeded tomato
  • 2 cups chopped peeled jicama
  • 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels, uncooked (or frozen or canned)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • Half a ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

Honey-Lime Dressing

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 large scallion bulb, finely minced

Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl. In separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over mixture and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Rome wasn’t built in a day …

… and neither was our garden.

The organic garden we just installed is not exactly as I had dreamed it would be when we bought our house, but its a work in progress. It has given me plenty of ideas of what would make gardening easier and ultimately more fun. I’ll have to wait a little while before I start adding major landscape elements though. For now I am happy to have just a little plot of land to dig in and put down roots.

Starting to take shape

Here’s a little recipe to get you dreaming about fresh Roma tomatoes.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp good olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 4 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 3 Tbsp red wine
  • 28 oz. of fresh Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat (do not use a non-stick pan). Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent about 5-7 minutes. Deglaze with red wine and add the tomatoes crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon or with your hands as you add them. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the basil leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for a bout 20 – 25 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Makes 3 cups. You can freeze this sauce for up to 6 months.

yoga moves ~ extended side angle

Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

One of my favorite asanas is this standing pose – extended side angle.  Standing poses are helpful in strength, alignment, agility and they help your circulatory and digestive systems function more effectively.  Standing poses help bring awareness to your posture.

Lisa Johnson from Energies Balanced

Catherine’s version of the pose. I need some work here, but it still is one of my favorite stretches.

yoga moves ~ warrior 2

Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana)

This asana has a number of important benefits. Warrior 2 strengthens and stretches the legs, ankles, groin, chest, shoulders and lungs. It stimulates the abdominal organs and increases stamina. And it is a said to be a good pose for osteoporosis. With all these benefits, why not add warrior 2 to your daily yoga practice? Below you can see the full expression of the pose by Lisa Johnson of Energies Balanced, and below that you can compare it to my pose.

My stance should be wider (my back leg should extend farther behind me, bringing my torso closer to the ground).  My right foot is turned inward too much, and should be at a right angle to my stance.  My gaze is proper and my arms are in pretty good alignment.  What I love about yoga is that even if my pose is not the full expression yet, I still reap great benefits. I hope you find these monthly yoga moves segments helpful. Let me know if you like them. If not, let me know how they can be improved.


spring has sprung

My favorite season has arrived in Austin and the birds, the buds and and the bees are in full swing, and I LOVE it.  I haven’t been in the kitchen for over two weeks – well that’s an exaggeration. I have been in the kitchen, just not cooking. With a recent lifestyle change I’m readjusting daily rituals, but things are starting to find their place so I hope to be back to cooking and back to the blog with more regularity.

Patrick and I bought our home in March of 2007, and from the first time I saw the front yard – in all its southernly sunshine glory – I began dreaming of putting in an organic vegetable garden.  Of course that meant we had to rip up the Asiatic Jasmine in the front of the yard. The Jasmine is like a 10″ shag carpet, and well that’s what has put us off this job for 4 years.  Until now! With the temperatures this week dipping back into the 70s (it’s been in the low 90s already) the iron is hot for striking.

Today we started by pulling up about a 3 foot swath of the menacing ground cover, but you can see how far we have to go. If we can just make it to this side of the Crape Myrtle I would be more than thrilled.  Once we pull up the mat of Jasmine, then we’ll till the soil to loosen the remaining vines and their roots. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and this process will be documented on the blog so you can follow along with us.  Feel free to send me tips, or the names of your favorite seeds as I look forward to sharing this experience with you.  And the most important thing about this garden is that is will supply Patrick and I with luscious organic food to transform into recipes to share with you. So in the end the garden is a benefit for you!

oh what fun we had!

Last Sunday I launched my first cooking class for Cook With a View in my home kitchen to a full house of seven students. We filled our heads with new recipes and cooking tips, filled our bellies with platefuls of beans and grains and filled the air with continuous laughter. I can’t thank all of these women enough for spending their Sunday with me and gracing my kitchen.

I felt like a comedian on stage trying out new material. It was less scary than I thought it would be, but I wasn’t staring into a black smoke filled room of people who were waiting to pounce if I didn’t meet their expectations. I learned so much about pacing, the necessity of practicing (a new phenomenon to me since I like the thrill of flying by the seat of my pants), the value of a sous chef, and how to sleep when its all over so I don’t take my tired thoughts too seriously.  I feel like the class was a huge success and I received the kind of feedback I really needed and wanted – honest praise and suggestions. Also a huge thank you goes to Paige Thurgood my sous chef and class photographer. Without her help this class could not have been possible.

So this leads me to invite any of you on the fence about taking a class to consider the next class on March 18 from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. I will help students learn how to build a whole foods pantry; one that can support healthy food preparation. Check out the information on the classes and events tab of the website.  More classes will be added soon. Look for a healthy Mexican food class in early April.

With the success of this first class I would like to introduce the following new offerings ~ frequent cooker cards and one-on-one classes. The frequent cooker card is available to students who take group classes. After taking 5 of my classes you receive the 6th class free.  In addition to this incentive card, I am offering one-on-one cooking classes for students who want more in depth instruction for general or specific cooking ~ we will work together to tailor this instruction to your needs.  Students who have taken group classes with me are offered a discounted rate for one-on-one classes. Please contact at me catherine@cookwithaview for pricing and other information.

~cheers, cat


yoga moves ~ triangle pose

For March’s yoga moves, Lisa Johnson of Energies Balanced makes this pose look easy. Lisa’s torso is active, moving upwards and sideways. It is not collapsing down on itself. Her arm is energetic and reaching skyward while she looks up at her hand. Her legs are straight and pushing down.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

In this photo I am using a block as a prop for my right hand to help me reach the ground. This prop helps my right side from collapsing. You can see between the photos of  Lisa and I that areas for me to to work on are extending my left arm, and torso.

A great way to understand your own body mechanics is to ask someone to take photos of you in different yoga poses, as we have done here, and compare them to the images of Lisa on this blog, or other yoga publications.

Either practice this pose by itself each day this month, or add it to a continued practice of down dog.


Hatch green chile biscuits

This gallery contains 3 photos.

These green chile biscuits were out of this world tasty, but I had to share them with neighbors so I wouldn’t eat the whole batch. The end of the summer marks an important time in the life of small town … Continue reading