Tag Archives: organic


my how you have grown

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Each day when I go out to our little garden square I am shocked by the changes. The green limbs, vines and leaves seem to double in size every night and it reminds me of the Incredible Hulk. The Hulk … Continue reading

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.

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!


blood orange, filbert, and beet salad

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2 large beets 2 blood oranges 3 cups spring salad mix 1/4 cup white wine vinegar 1/2 cup hazelnut oil 1/2 cup olive oil with organic blood orange 1/2 cup hazelnuts (filberts), roasted and chopped Pecorino cheese, grated salt and … Continue reading


my favorite white bean soup

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This soup has been a family favorite for years. Its one of the recipes people ask me to make as soon as the weather gets cold. This winter instead of cooking my old stand-by, I spent time trying out new … Continue reading


lucky food for the new year

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Happy New Year! Black eyed peas are a traditional New Year’s food eaten in the South, and I am sharing with you this delicious healthy bean dip that you can eat year around. Its great on chips or toast. 24 … Continue reading


red queen of the east

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As promised here are three more pomegranate recipes for the beginning of winter. Although pomegranates are a fall/winter fruit, they have a bright crisp flavor that reminds me of summer and helps me stay away from the heaviness of winter … Continue reading

christmas lasagna

Christmas 2010 Lasagna

I will begin this post by qualifying that I never cook the same lasagna twice. I am constantly trying new things, making minor adjustments here, adding a little something there – this is the beauty of lasagna. It is one of the meals I amend based on what I have on hand. Lasagna is also not a food people associate with healthy eating, but I’m here to say it can be made to be very healthy, and along with a salad is a well balanced meal.

Here’s my Christmas 2010 lasagna recipe…begin with the sauce.

1-1/2 lbs. washed raw spinach with the stems removed. Coarsely chop & set aside.
4 Tbls olive oil
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1- 32oz can diced tomatoes (I use organic)
1- 6oz can tomato paste (again I use organic)
1/2 cup red cooking wine
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

In a pot heat olive oil and sauté the onions 2-3 min. Add the chopped spinach one handful at a time stirring to coat all the leaves before adding the next handful. Repeat until all spinach is incorporated. Add the carrots and cook for another 2-3 minutes before adding the dried spices, wine and paste. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Let simmer on low for an hour, and then cool slightly before using in the recipe.

Next make the filling…
12+ lasagna noodles cooked and separated. Let cool (use organic whole wheat – whole wheat pasta provides you with many more nutrients and tastes great. It’s an easy way to make this meal healthier) .
1 lb. low fat (or fat free) ricotta cheese
3/4 lb skim mozzarella ball – sliced in 1/4″ slices
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine ricotta with nutmeg and pepper. Spray an 11″ x 15″ baking pan with an olive oil cooking spray (I use a Misto – one of my favorite tools – filled with a good olive oil).

Fill with 100% olive oil, and use in place of cooking sprays. Another way to reduce unwanted chemicals in your food.

Spread 2 cups of sauce on the bottom of the pan, followed by 3 noodles. Top this with 1/2 of the ricotta filing, more sauce and 1/2 the mozzarella. Add a layer of noodles and repeat the cheese and sauce combination until all the ingredients are in the pan.

Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Add friends. Serves 12.

From L-R: Marsha, Catherine, Anna, Stephanie. Photo by P. Pettit, 2010


before the first frost

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My friend Paige has a lovely organic garden, and I am blessed to receive some of its bounty. A couple nights ago Austin received it’s first frost warning of the year, and as a dutiful gardener Paige went outside to … Continue reading


kabocha squash ~ october 24, 2010

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For the inaugural dinner around the table (d.a.t.t.) meal we invited our good friends and neighbors Jay and Stephany.  Jay and Stephany are the kind of neighbors that your grandparents talked about having. We swap tools and cooking ingredients back … Continue reading