Early last September, when the smoke was so thick that it was inadvisable to go outdoors without a gas mask, the Master Gardeners got together on my patio to make plans for the spring plant sale. The air was slightly clearer at our elevation, and the patio, surrounded by tall evergreens, seemed to be filtering the air.
When local tomatoes are at their peak, as they are right now, my favorite dishes to make with them are gazpacho and panzanella, the latter being an Italian bread and tomato salad studded with crisp onion and cooling cucumber.
LOS ANGELES — Jessica Koslow is rummaging around in her room-sized walk-in refrigerator at Sqirl, looking for fruit. There are several cases of tiny, intensely flavored Santa Rosa plums from farmer James Burch. Wait, no. How about some of these dry-farmed Blenheim apricots from Mike Cirone of See Canyon? She hoists a case onto her shoulder and hurries to her kitchen. It’s time to make jam.
September is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. It is cool enough to prevent heat stress on the plants, and the soil is warm enough to promote rapid root development before heavy frosts at the end of October.
There are lots of good recipes for preparing fresh corn. One of the best is grilling corn on the cob in its husk. Simply throw the ears on the grill in one layer and cover. The corn steams in its husk and picks up a mild smokiness from the grill.
Grilling books are getting a bit much these days, aren’t they? Either you’re commanded to build a veritable pyre to sear your steak, preferably on a Patagonian plain, or you must search out a whole hog whose bloodlines are bluer than yours, or you have to rassle almost to the death all those barbecue purists trying to slap that jarred sauce out of your hands.
I was giving one of my periodic talks at local libraries the other day, and someone asked if I knew a good way to prepare artichokes. It stopped me cold. “A” good way? Only one? Which one? Do you want artichokes by themselves? Do you want artichokes as an ingredient? Do you want them cooked or do you want them raw? Too many choices.
Pies always made me nervous. Didn’t matter if they were deep-dish or mile-high. And you could call them whatever: quiche, tart or galette. It’s the crust and the making of it that always stopped me cold. I would avoid recipes calling for pie dough, or I’d scurry shamed-faced to the frozen food aisle of the local supermarket to buy ready-made.