Lab lab, blah

After seeing an enchanting spray of this plant, previously unknown to me, at a garden club meeting several years ago, I immediately determined I needed to grow it for myself and draw it. Research revealed that the name of the plant, which had sounded at the time like a direction in the back court from a tennis partner: “Lob! lob!” was in actuality Lablab, or Hyacinth Bean Plant. Fast forward several failed horticultural attempts later and finally this season I managed to get the dratted thing to bloom but it’s a pale imitation of what I remember as a gently downward arcing blossom spray with several deep pink blossoms measuring 2 inches across set against deep green heart shaped leaves. All of the blossoms I have are borne on upright stems as you see and they are quite small, barely an inch across, with the admittedly heart-shaped leaves being a bit of a sickly looking green. Hm. Well, I am still going to draw this in my journal after all that work, but if I ever attempt to grow this again I will need to rethink the requirements of this plant and check to see if there are some cultivars with showier flowers. I’ll update this post when the journal drawing is done.


Tomato time has arrived and it’s time to process these beautiful tomatoes from Christine’s Garden and make some Pasta Sauce and some Salsa again this year.

The basic processing is the same whether the end game is Salsa or Pasta Sauce:

First, wash and cut off the stem end and any spots and place on a broiler pan.
Then toast them under the broiler until the skins blacken. Somehow, this deepens the flavor. I don’t remove the skins or seeds. That’s where the most
Lycopene is.
After making purée in the food processor and making either Salsa or Pasta Sauce, I freeze the result in these Souper Cubes, which really are super.
Here are some of the frozen cubes popped out of their Souper Cube cells, pooped in to a Food Saver bag, vacuum sealed and ready to stack in the freezer. It’s a lengthy process for sure, but come December, that Pasta Sauce and Salsa made from Christine’s lovely organic San Marzano Tomatoes comes in mighty handy and tastes summer-fresh.

Shut that box

Here’s a new dice game we’ve been enjoying over Google Meet or Zoom:

Shut the Box

Only instead of buying one of the admittedly lovely wooden versions of the game, I just created a pdf file to print out on standard paper in landscape format with large numbers from 1-12 across the top, printed it out and put it in a plastic page protector. As we use the numbers, we cross them off with a white board marker or children’s washable marker and erase after every round to reset for the next one. Between the actual play and toting up of the the scores after each round, the addition never stops in this game. It’s a sly way to get kids to practice their addition facts.

Have fun!

Inky Dinky Do

Sometimes when you drag out old art supplies you find you’ve moved on and nothing works, but once in a while you find a little magic happens, as it did recently when I pulled out some old Walnut Ink and some croquil nibs to draw this little Crassula ‘pagoda village’ plant purchased in Moss Landing. The paper is Stonehenge Fawn.

Here it is in progress
And all inked, signed and ready for a frame. There’s just something special about working with dip pens and ink.

Bocce beautification project

This is the view from my kitchen window. It’s a lot of unrelieved green and gravel and the roots of the shrubbery are so thick there is no planting anything under it, so I decided to add a little interest with pots. This project started last spring with bulbs. Ranunculus foliage is irresistible to whatever pests are lurking in those Cherry Laurels and the bulbs were mowed down as soon as they popped up. Next up: bacopa plants. They were not eaten alive, but neither did they thrive. Round 3: our one remaining helpful local nursery man says “I know just what you need.” And he may be right! Poppies, violas and Carex grass. That sparkle of white is just what I wanted. It makes me happy to look out and see this view.

Using the old noodle

Well, the folks at Golden Grain have upped the ante on sliced bread with their pot-sized spaghetti. Best idea I’ve come across in ages but why did we have to wait so long, always breaking spaghetti in half over the pot of boiling water and having little bits of it end up everywhere while risking a nasty steam burn?
What WILL they think of next?



It’s been a while since we had Tourshee, but I’ve been craving it lately. Last time I made it I burned my hands so severely while pouring the boiling brine over the vegetables that I had to go to the nearest urgent care center and they slathered the second degree burns with cream and wrapped my hands in gauze. What happened was that the brine sloshed over one hand and then my reaction caused it to splash back over the other hand. Then I dropped the pot. I was lucky it didn’t splash back into my face, really.

Next day when I went to my own doctor, he declared all the gauze wrappings to be overkill and introduced me to Aquaphor ointment which quickly became a staple in the household first aid kit. I was ready to get back on the pickle horse right away, but the family was too traumatized and begged me not to make Tourshee anymore and I haven’t until now.

But enough about that, let’s talk about the actual Tourshee, a life-saving Armenian staple. Basically Tourshee is any pickle, but the way we make it, it’s a brined or marinated pickle. It could be a fermented one, or a traditionally canned one, depending on your choice of recipe.

I say Tourshee is life-saving because I remember when there was a terrible earthquake in Armenia I read about a man who was dug out of the rubble that had been his home and rescued 3 or 4 weeks after the event when the hope of finding survivors was virtually gone. He explained that he had been making pickles and carrying them down to his basement when the earthquake struck. He survived all that time by eating the pickles and as I recall, was in pretty good shape when they found him.

I’ve been craving them because they are a perfect low carb food as long as you don’t eat the onions or carrots and I’m bored with my usual fare. Trust me, there is nothing boring about Tourshee! Oh my, the vinegar burn and the heady garlic and onion fumes will knock your socks off. Nothing subtle here. The only other Armenian food I’ve tried that comes close in assertiveness is Basturma, a preserved meat that shares a common linguistic heritage with Pastrami, but let’s just say I’ll never be ordering a Basturma sandwich even though a nice Pastrami on Rye used to be my standard deli order back in the sandwich days.

Recipes abound on the internet for mixed pickles. Nothing too special about this one I got out of an old Sunset book on Canning and Preserving, the vegetables do all the work. So I won’t post the recipe. If you have a hankering for pickles outside of the ordinary, pick the recipe that sounds best to you and get going, just be careful handling that hot brine!

How sweet it isn’t

My grandmother used to make coleslaw with this dressing and I remember loving it as a kid. Funny, my dad doesn’t remember her making it at all. He likes sweet coleslaw, which is about all you can get these days and every time I taste coleslaw, I think, “Ick, this is sweet, coleslaw shouldn’t be sweet, and where’s the horseradish?” So here it is:

3 oz. Sour Cream or Full-fat Greek-style Yogurt
3 oz. Mayonnaise
1 oz. prepared Horseradish (Too hot for you? Back off a bit. Needs more kick? Add more!)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt, or similar coarse salt (Adjust this according to taste)

10 oz. bag shredded green cabbage
8 oz. bag shredded red cabbage

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cabbage or other coleslaw mix. Of course you can shred your own. And if you are feeling really healthy, throw in some broccoli you’ve shredded or ground up in your food processor. Grandma added chopped bell pepper and shredded carrots to the base of shredded green cabbage instead of using the red cabbage, but I liked the all cabbage version best. Aim for just over a pound of vegetables, shredded or finely chopped. The dressing will stretch to cover a bit more, much less than a pound of vegetables and you’ll have coleslaw soup. Some vegetables weigh more, some less. You’ll have to keep experimenting and you’ll soon discover if you have to increase or decrease the amount of dressing proportionally. This is what I use for the amount of coleslaw I make and it’s just about right.

This coleslaw has attitude. Forget that sickly sweet stuff they offer in restaurants and go bold. More proof that low-carb doesn’t have to be boring!

Hello world!

Fall Color

Perversely, I always feel ready for new beginnings in the fall rather than the spring, probably because I am still in synch with the old standard academic calendar beginning in the fall more than the Gregorian calendar with January as the beginning of the year or nature’s cycle of beginnings in the spring and endings in the fall.  Many thanks to Christina for helping me to set up my blog and website. Now is as good a time as any, let’s begin!