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Category: Gardening
July 29, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Picking the winners from our garden harvest photo contest

Northwesterners are proud of their tomatoes. That’s one thing we learned in our recent garden-photo contest, which drew nearly 400 entries from readers hoping to win an iPad Mini or one of the gift cards from Molbak’s Garden + Home. We also discovered that Northwest gardeners are incredibly resourceful, growing everything from apples to zucchini, from asters…

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August 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM

A fig tree grows in Seattle: the man, his mission, propagation

I adore figs. But (so far, anyway) I can’t grow them. Good thing, then, that I’ve befriended Seattle’s fig king, Bill Farhat, a retired Arabic professor who’s been growing figs in his backyard in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood for decades. I met him though his daughter, Sally, and when she told me her dad grew an astonishing amount of figs and I had to see it to believe it, she wasn’t kidding.

Bill was raised in Lebanon, where he grew up eating figs as if they were candy. (Aren’t they?) He shared a lot of information with me about growing up in the Middle East, about raising a family in the Pacific Northwest and about growing sweet figs (among other fruits, including loquats and green Persian plums) in the terraced yard he’s carefully built and tended over the years. He also told me about this great website, Figs 4 Fun, offering a wider world of info and insight for those of you who want to grow your own.

Perhaps you read about Bill in my recent Pacific Northwest profile. (If not, what are you waiting for?) But I also wanted to show you what he showed me when we took a tour of his garden in June, before his figs were ripe enough to eat. Here’s a video trio show-and-tell.

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Comments | Topics: Bill Farhat, fig propagation, fig trees

July 11, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Door County cherries make local pit stop after hairpin turn

I don’t have to do much to get my husband all misty-eyed. Say “Door County” and away he goes, waxing nostalgic about boyhood summers spent on Baileys Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin. There, far from the urban center that was his Chicago home, he fished Lake Michigan with his favorite aunts, picked the county’s famous sour Montmorency cherries and slept, sunburned and freckle-faced, on a cot in a screened-in porch.

Which is why, 16 years ago, he insisted we plant a pair of dwarf cherry trees in our backyard: edible nostalgia.

As I explained to my radio partner Dick Stein this week on Food for Thought (listen in here), this year I bore the brunt of the picking and pitting, though Mac took to the task for the last of them and — necessity being the mother of invention — shared with me for the first time his mother’s secret for pitting cherries: use a hairpin!

Who needs a fancy cherry pitter?

Who needs a fancy cherry pitter when a hairpin will do? No hairpin? A sturdy paper clip works, too.  (Photo by Nancy Leson)

When he asked if I had a bobby pin, I was skeptical, but when I rustled up the only hairpin I had, he showed me how it’s done. “No way!” I said, pulling out my iPhone camera so he could show you:

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Comments | Topics: cherries, Death's Door, Door County

August 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Basil’s sweet perfume: it hits me where I live

Forty-eight hours ago I was standing in my husband’s cousin’s garden near Chicago admiring her herbs and tomato plants. As I stood there “enjoying” the humidity and sweltering in the noonday sun, I thought about the state of my own garden (disastrous) and the fact that I’d just spent a week sleeping in an un-airconditioned apartment in the heat of a Chicago summer, so help me God.

Quietly chanting, “Aren’t you glad you use Dial? Don’t you wish everybody did?” I smiled broadly, knowing that in a very few hours, I’d be flying the not-so-friendly skies, heading home. Home! Where, according to the pilot who flew me there, “It’s 61 degrees in Seattle.” Home! Where my sunny kitchen awaits even when it’s foggy, perfumed by the sweet summer scent of fresh basil — courtesy of my good friend Trader Joe.

Wake up and smell the basil!

No offense to those of you who’ve found the time and the energy to fight the elements this summer and coddle your homegrown edibles outdoors, but I’ve long been a fan of TJ’s fresh basil plants, including the one you see above. It’s been on my kitchen counter providing me with fragrant herbs for months.

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August 26, 2009 at 8:33 AM

Time for tomatoes! And your favorite recipe is?

Yes, I tried to grow tomatoes again this year. With all that hot summer weather we had, I was excited to think I’d soon have enough sun-ripened tomatoes to make one of my favorite summer recipes: Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil, culled from that kitchen classic “The Silver Palate Cookbook.” And while I didn’t exactly fail, my “crop” — if you can call it that — was minimal. I harvested my first Black Krim a couple of nights ago and ate it with just a little salt. Impressive! And here’s what I came up with this morning:

The wee ones are Tumbling Toms and “patio” tomatoes.

Unfortunately, I only grew two edible Black Krims and the one left standing may be smiling, but I’m not.

Black (Krim) humor. So funny, I forgot to laugh.

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Comments | More in Gardening, Recipes | Topics: Kitchen Remodel

August 25, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Be fruitful and multiply: share the harvest

Mother Nature’s done her thing this summer, and those of us lucky enough to have fruit trees at our fingertips don’t have far to go to grab a bowlful of plums or a crisp rain-kissed apple. But what do you do when your trees are bearing more fruit than you can — or want — to eat? Well, you can always share with friends and neighbors, or bring a bag, box or bowlful into the office. Or, you can reach out to the broader community as Marc Ramirez explains in this story in the Seattle Times today profiling a new community resource: City Fruit.

Our alkmene apple tree got a much-needed drink this morning. Thanks, Mother Nature!

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April 28, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Big names in biz collaborate at Ballard’s Bastille Cafe & Bar

For months, people have been talking about the transformation of yet another historic Ballard building (sold last year) and the French restaurant set to open in it — after a couple of Seattle restaurant entrepreneurs shelled out $3.62 million to seal the deal. Now, with contractors hard at it, a liquor license application in the works and an opening date slated for “early summer,” it’s high time somebody dished the details. Here goes:

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December 19, 2008 at 11:43 AM

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme: A garden of frozen delights

As I’ve pointed out before: I’m no gardener. But I’m convinced that a garden can bring a world of pleasure to the table. Even a brown-thumbed, weed-no-whacking, way-too-busy-to-deal-with-a-garden troll like me can grow a few hearty must-haves. Like the potatoes I was carrying on about in my previous post:

Those were especially delicious because I cooked them in smoked-paprika flavored duck fat, rendered a few weeks ago when Mac was, once again, making paella. Next time, he says, he’s sticking to chicken thighs. Though I was mightily impressed by the quack-meat and glad I was smart enough to save the schmaltz from the duck (in a canning jar, in the fridge), which is far better for frying potatoes than chicken fat. Or even freshly rendered leaf lard. Of course, it didn’t hurt that those potatoes were the carolas I grew this summer.

Back in the spring, my potato plot looked like this:

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August 28, 2008 at 4:01 PM

Who needs lemonade?

I’m one of the gazillion parents looking forward to next week, when our darling children go back to school and we get to go back to the business of doing business — without wondering how we’re going to entertain the kids. Actually, Nate’s been pretty good this week, hanging with his homeboys (and girls), playing (a little too much) Mario Kart and behaving when I give him the evil-eye — the one that translates as “Don’t bug me! I’m on a work phone-call!” Then, about an hour ago, he told me he was going outside to pick blackberries. And a while later he came into my office and asked, “Mom, how do you spell produce?” Face in the computer, hard at work, I told him: P-R-O-D-U-C-E. And the next thing you know, I looked out the front window to find this:

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August 27, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Call me well-grounded: DIY burgers

After the latest go-round of ground-beef scares, and many years of thinking about doing so, I finally purchased a grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer (as I discussed this week on KPLU). I tried it out for the first time last weekend, when I decided to make some homemade burgers — a family favorite. When my husband makes burgers, our son calls them “Dadu Deluxe” — after a certain fast-food chain. But since Dadu was out of town on an extended business trip, and I’ve been pretty cranky and short-tempered in his absence, I figured I’d get on Nate’s good side (and one-up his dear-old-dad) with my own version, the Mamu Deluxe:

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