Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Garden Abundant!

It’s that time of year….the garden is beginning to show its first fruits (and veggies) and everything is ripening in the sun!  My green beans are abundant, and I pulled my first carrots, gathered some baby cucs, shallots, and squash!  The pattipans are especially prolific this year.  My apple tree is loaded down (although mine ripen late) and the bees are buzzing happily.  Life is good.

greentomatoesaboveprunedsucker  herbs

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But how to preserve all that abundance!      Pickles!

In my favorite home away from home (Italy) they make something called giardiniera….which just means pickled vegetables.  The Italians make it a hundred ways, but my favorite is veggies cut into bite size pieces and then pickled in spicy brine.


You can virtually use any semi hard raw veggie.  Cauliflower, sweet peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, carrots, onions, celery, hot peppers, fennel, asparagus, radishes, green beans, watermelon rind, green pea pods,  green tomatoes, even small red one as long as they are firm….the sky is the limit.

This is a no brainer for the kids to make as well because there’s no blanching of veggies, no processing, no special jars.  As a matter of fact….old pickle jars work just fine!







The kids use serrated picnic knives or some special plastic knives I bought for them to chop the veggies.  No need to worry if they get big pieces or small….it all works.  The brine is simple too and you can make it as spicy (or not) as you like!  There are as many ways to make giardiniera as there are Italian Mothers!  Here’s an easy version from “In My Kitchen” by Ted Allen.


Pickled Veggies

  • 4 cups water
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Several sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns (if you have them)
  • 6 pickling cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 handful green beans
  • A few cauliflower florets
  • 4 small hot red chilies or 2 jalapeños

*Or use whatever veggies you like best!


In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, reduce heat so the water simmers, and add garlic. (Simmering the garlic in water cooks out sulfur compounds that otherwise will cause the cloves to turn a harmless but very unappetizing blue-green color from the acid in the vinegar.) Cook garlic for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt, raise the heat, and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from heat.

In two sterile 1-quart canning jars, place a few sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Using tongs, remove the garlic from the brine and place 5 cloves in each jar. Then pack the jars full of the veggies and chilies (you want them to be tightly stuffed).

Bring the brine back to a boil, pour it over vegetables to cover completely, let cool and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good in just a few hours, better after a couple of days. And they’ll keep for about 3 months.

Note: Keep the chilies whole for a mild heat, or cut them in half for additional kick.

PER SERVING (2 pickles): calories: 17 (7% from fat); protein: 0.6 gram; total fat: 0.1 gram; saturated fat: 0; cholesterol: 0; sodium: 204 mg; carbohydrate: 4 grams; dietary fiber: 0.8 gram

Happy Gardening!


At The Beach

Just back from my beach vacation…boy was it great.  And a great opportunity to enjoy some light, refreshing meals, some new recipes from my “almost family” reunion!







I have a close friend who invites me to her beach time share every summer in San Clemente.  Having lived for many years in San Diego…it is a great way to connect with some old friends nearby and to enjoy the laid back Southern Cali lifestyle for a few weeks!  Along with all the sun soaked Vitamin D I absorbed, we enjoyed barbeque on the San Clemente Pier’s famous Oyster Bar at Happy Hour, Giant Shrimp Shooters and Beet/Goat Cheese Salad at the Newport Beach Yacht club, salmon  and grilled corn on the cob on our own patio grill, papaya and pineapple smoothies, turkey avocado Panini, watermelon lemonade, peaches to die for from the farmers’ market, strawberry banana frozen yogurt, and a lot of liquid sunshine! Swimming everyday and all that wonderful food was a true taste of luscious summer.







This year my friend had asked the members of her family living close by to come over for a big family barbeque at the beach!  They came from far and  near…two generations of them…all very healthy happy people.  They were kind enough to adopt me into their fold!  As with many reunions, everyone brought a dish to share, and, frankly, since it wasn’t MY family reunion…I didn’t experience the “same old” recipes.  So this was fun on many levels!

Several of Lucy’s family live on or near the beach, and many are life long surfers.  Healthy, fit, tanned and full of life.  There are several generations of surfers here from ones in their 60s to the youngest in their teens.  And they brought with them  healthy, mostly vegetarian dishes…except for our own BBQ ribs, and Shrimp on the Barbie. But the ubiquitous summer potato salad, hot dogs, and hamburgers was missing.  Instead they brought dishes like cous cous mango salad, black bean and corn salad, Chinese slaw with fresh ginger, lentil and celery salad, and my favorite….banana oatmeal cookies!


We were treated to this banana delight from one of the 20 something surfing couples who raved about them.  They are simple, delicious, and good for you….yet will fulfill that sweet tooth!  I have affectionately named them “surfer cookies” considering their source.  So simple, and something that I am definitely planning to make with the grandkids!

These cookies could also be made in large batches and frozen.  They’re great for breakfast, pack your own lunches, as energy bars, and definitely after surfing!…or just about any time!  You only need 3 ingredients!  


2 Ripe (brown speckled) bananas

1 cup quick oats (must be the instant kind)

1/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds…all good)

Optional Additions:

cinnamon, raisins, craisins, blue berries, chocolate chips (this is particularly good)

Preheat Oven to 350.  Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Mash the bananas with a fork (or a food processor), pour in oats and nuts.  Stir till well blended.  (Add any additions).  Scoop (I use a melon baller for small ones) by teaspoons onto cookie sheet.  Makes 8 cookies or 16 small ones.

Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly browned.

93 calories (for 2 small ones or one regular), fat 3.5 g, carbs 15 g., Protein 2 g, Sodium 0.4 mg.

Kowabunga, dude….surf’s up! Enjoy!