I bet you are wondering what the Beach Boys and vegetables have in common. Well, nothing really, except I was eating in a well known deli in Los Angeles, where Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys usually shows up every Saturday. I think the deli holds a table for him, whether he shows up or not, but most times he does. It so happened that he arrived the day I was there. I strolled over to the farmer’s market in their parking lot. If you have not been to a local California farmer’s market, I took some photos for you, and as your mother would say, “eat your fruits and vegetables”, or as my mother from England would say, “eat your fruit and vegetables, darling.”
“artichoke” water color by eileen tomson
snow pea watercolor by eileen tomson
What has happened to the large Hass avocados that we all know and love and make into our favorite guacamole dish? One of the main reasons for the shrinking sized fruits is the low winter rainfall, cool weather, and the dwindling bee activity. Did you know that the avocados spend more than a full year developing on a tree?
Trader Joe’s avocados-5 to a bag
In California, and elsewhere, the markets are selling avocados the size of a small peach, some weighing less than 3 oz. I was in Trader Joe’s the other day, and bought a bag of 5 small avocados nestled together like tiny lemons.
lemons the size of tiny avocados
avocado the size of a peach
avocado the size of a small teapot
three avocados in a row
- 6 avocados ( soft, but not mushy)
- 2 -4 garlic cloves, minced ( depends on how much you like garlic)
- 1 lime, cut in half
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- chopped cilantro (optional)
- 1 diced jalapeno peppers (optional) or 1 diced serrano pepper (optional)
- Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and spoon avocado into a mixing bowl.
- Add minced garlic and squeeze the juice from one-half of the lime into the bowl of avocado.
- Mash the ingredients together to desired consistency using the back of a large spoon or a potato masher (some like the avocado chunky, some like it smoother).
- Fold in diced tomato and diced onion, a couple pinches of salt, and the juice from the remaining lime half (Also add cilantro or peppers at this time).
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
- Uncover and taste.
- Add salt as needed.
- If you don’t give the resulting guacamole at least 4 stars, then you ain’t making it right.
- NOTE: The purpose of the lime is to allow any leftover guacamole to retain its “avocado” color as it sits in the fridge.
“This is a true Tex-Mex recipe concocted by a distant relative stationed at the Alamo nearly 160 years ago. According to family lore, he was out looking for some good tomatoes when Santa Ana attacked the now famous Texas landmark. Luckily, our relative kept this recipe in the lining of his coon-skin cap, and both he and his avocado dip lived to fight another day. Years later, near death from an infected Chihuahua bite, he looked deep into his son’s eyes, and with his last breath, uttered the familiar phrase “remember the…guacamole.””
“Truffles” watercolor+pastel pencil by eileen tomson
The French Laundry photos by eileen
GANACHE TRUFFLES~Thomas Keller French Laundry
This is Thomas Keller’s famous French Laundry dessert. The batter can be made up to 1 hour ahead and left at room temperature to be baked last minute. Or, make the batter well in advance, freeze it in the ramekins and put them straight into the oven when ready to bake. From the freezer, the baking time is 20 minutes.
- 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Slowly stir until smooth. Transfer the mixture into a shallow glass dish and let it cool slightly, about 10 minutes, then place it in the freezer to chill for 1 hour.
Scoop out balls using a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon and shape them so that they’re round. Chill until ready to use.
Fannie May’s Pear and Caramel Chocolate
” If dogs could talk, it would take a lot of fun out of owning one”
Dog art by eileen
Homemade Dog Biscuits
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1 tbls bouillon granules (beef or chicken)
3/4 cup powdered milk
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup hot water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- preheat oven to 325F.
- in a large bowl, pour hot water over oatmeal, bouillon granules and butter, allow to stand for about 5 minutes.
- mix in beaten egg, powdered milk and cornmeal ~ combine well.
- add yeast and flour, a little at a time while mixing. continue to stir thoroughly. add more flour if necessary to make the dough very stiff.
- roll dough into a 1/2 ” thickness to cut into shapes and place on lightly greased baking sheet (lightly grease the sheet with butter wrapper).
- bake at 325F for 45 minutes. turn off oven and crack oven door but leave biscuits in to slowly cool and throroughly dry out.
“I dreamed I was buying new shoes last night,” said Ron. “What d’ya think that’s gonna mean?”
“Probably that you’re going to be eaten by a giant marshmallow or something,” said Harry.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
It used to be that there was basically one type of marshmellow that we all remembered from childhood. We roasted “Smores” at the campfire site, and loved them between our graham crackers. Well, like everything else that has gone upscale, marshmellows have now made the gourmet leap.
I love to support local businesses, and Nashville has so many creative people that it is pretty easy to do so. The Bang Candy Company is an artisan marshmellow company started in 2010 by Sarah Souther .
In 2012 they opened up their first physical location in the wonderful Marathon Building (that is another blog in itself!)
The Bang Candy Company specializes in candy for the discerning palette. Their marshmellows are crafted in small batches using the finest ingredients, no preservatives, stabilizers, artificial colors or flavors.
The company also carries syrups, in the likes of Celery, Ginger Rosemary, Habanero Lime, Strawberry Rhubarb and Lavender Mint.
Here is another wonderful marshmellow company in Orlando, Fl.
Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Clark
Their company name is ‘Wondermade”. They only use cane sugar as the sweetner not corn syrup. They put 16 1″x1″ marshmallows in every box. After being cut to size, they are arranged in a tidy grid, sealed in a plastic bag and nestled into their signature “Wondermade” 4.5″x4.5″ boxes.
S’more Bar Base
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Vietnamese cinnamon
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1/3 cup honey
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and mix on low until it resembles course meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the liquids. Add to the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough barely comes together. Pour the dough out onto plastic wrap and form it into a one inch thick rectangle.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and semi firm to the touch. Cooking times will vary greatly depending on thickness, ovens, and pans used.