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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Red (as in Wine) for Valentine's Day Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Phillips Hill 2008 Oppenlander LabelWhile champagne is nice for celebrations,†in my mind nothing†says love like a good red wine - especially a good pinot noir. For Valentine's Day this year,†Jeff and I†will be enjoying†the Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir from my friend Toby Hill's†Phillips Hill Winery, which makes limited edition pinot noirs from the Anderson Valley and Comptche†up†in Mendocino. Artwork on the label for the Oppenlander (pictured right) is†also Toby's. For those looking for an excuse to make the trek to Mendocino, this summer Phillips Hill†will be holding a farm-to-table winemakers dinner, held in a field atop Mendocino Ridge overlooking the Anderson Valley. All the food will be sourced from local farms and ranches and prepared by a guest celebrity chef to match the wines.†Phillips Hill limited edition wine club members will be the first ones notified of the final details for the†dinner. For more information, call 707-877-1151 or visit†PhillipsHillEstates.com.

And with that, I bid you a very Happy Valentine's Day!

 
Keeping Pests at Bay Through Diversity Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Called the "eco-oracle" by Wine Spectator magazine, "Amigo Bob" Cantisano (below) was a legend in the organic gardening field. Sadly, he passed away at the end of 2020 but I had the opportunity to learn so much from him during the organic gardening workshops I took up at Esalen and wanted to share some of his wisdom.

Amigo Bob Cantisano

One of the most important things Amigo imparted was the critical role diversity plays in our gardens. He started by imparting this interesting fact: There are 70,000 different species of insects in the world and less than 100 are pests in the garden. The rest are our allies. That's pretty cool, huh? We have 69,900 allies! Yea!

So the question becomes: how do we get these allies into our gardens? The answer is through diversity. The greater the diversity, the more stability a garden has. So if you're growing mostly vegetables, you will want to add flowers and herbs and allium (onions, garlic, etc.) as they attract the beneficial insects (those allies we talked about) like ladybugs, which are predators and eat the pests, and wasps, which are parasites and love to lay their eggs within the little buggers.

The reason the pretty flowers attract the ladybug-style predators (and who doesn't love a ladybug? come on!) is that they are omnivores. They eat insects but they also feed on nectar and pollen. They need both so will be attracted to gardens with the diversity they crave.

 

 
Spring Cocktails Bloom in Downtown L.A. Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Klaus Puck at Ritz-Carlton cocktail garden

It's always good news when a garden opens up in an urban setting like downtown Los Angeles. It's even better news when that garden is filled with more than 15 varieties of fruits, herbs and flowers -- including basil, chervil, chives, fennel, lemon, lime, mint, orange, pansy and verbena -- to be used in a garden cocktail list that changes with the seasons. Situated 26 floors up at the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, the new cocktail garden, which is overseen by Beverage Director Klaus Puck, serves both the Ritz-Carlton's "BLUE" rooftop pool bar and Wolfgang Puck's WP24 Restaurant & Lounge. The summer cocktail list features drinks such as Verbena Lemonade, which includes Kalamansi lemons and verbena leaves straight from the garden. Even better, Klaus Puck (pictured in the garden, above) was kind enough to share the recipe. Enjoy!

Verbena Lemonade

WP24 cocktails1.5 oz. Ketel Citroen Vodka
.5 oz. Kalamansi puree
1.4 oz. verbena-infused simple syrup (see below)
Juice from half a lemon
Lemon-lime soda

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass while adding the lemon-lime soda; fill to top. Garnish with verbena leaves.

For Verbena Simple Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Generous handful of fresh lemon verbena leaves

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then let cool to room temperature. Remove lemon verbena leaves; the syrup should be a light yellow-green color and have the definite flavor and odor of lemon verbena.

 
Zucchini Bread with Pineapple and Pecans Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

A few years ago, the star in my garden was the zucchini. You know how it is -- suddenly you have dozens of giant zucchinis from one small seedling. Naturally, that has led to a need for zucchini recipes. Here is one I found for a zucchini bread that was handed down†from a friend's grandmother.†I made the bread today for a potluck at the community garden and it turned out great (very moist), so enjoy! You can find more (including a recipe for Sicilian stuffed zucchini) on the recipes tab.

Zucchini breadIngredients
3 eggs beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups zucchini, unpeeled and grated
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmug
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Add zucchini and crushed pineapple. Combine dry ingredients and add them to zucchini mixture. Mix well. Add pecans. Pour mixture into two greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool 10 minutes in pans. Very moist. Will last a week or two in refrigerator. Freeze well.

 
Oxbow Produce Market's Fuju Persimmon and Avocado Salad Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

oxbow marketOne of the most fun things for me to find in any city is the public market. The town of Napa, naturally, has a wonderful one. The Oxbow Public Market offers an array of goods -- from coffee to oysters to olive oil to spices. At the Oxbow Produce and Grocery, they not only offered fresh, local and organic produce that included currently-in-season persimmons and avocados and arugula but also a great recipe that brings them all together. Below is their recipe for Fuju Persimmon and Avocado Salad. Enjoy!

Ingredients
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp white miso
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil
3 firm ripe avocados, sliced
1 pound firm ripe Fuyu persimmons, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
2 bunches arugula

Dressing
Blend lemon juice, miso, salt and pepper until smooth. With motor running, add olive oil in a slow steady stream to create emulsion.

Toss gently the sliced avocados and persimmons with the miso dressing to coat evenly.

 
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