The garden of your mind

You can grow anything, in the garden of your mind. (Thanks Anneka, and Mr. Rogers, for that reminder). The garden of your actual yard, that’s another story … after a strong start our strawberry plants have fizzled out – this week we got only three berries. I think the birds might have gotten a couple more … but still. 

Luckily for us, our splendiferous CSA has berries to spare. We got two gorgeous baskets of Seascape strawberries this week, along with the most deeply colored and crisp-leaved baby lettuces I have seen in – maybe forever. It wasn’t a big stretch from there to a nice Balsamic reduction dressing … add some of the fresh thyme that was a CSA bonus this week, and a couple slices of hard cooked egg, a big grind of black pepper- and there’s lunch. Or dinner, if you want.

Because by golly you can grow anything, even dinner, in the garden of your mind backyard CSA.

** I am a bit preoccupied right now with two things: first, I get to go behind-the-scenes at Sunset magazine tomorrow (yes!!!). Second, I am deep in the throes of planning and prepping for a special-delivery dinner weekend for our dear friends F&S who just had their first baby. But I’ll be back once I’m done with both, to tell you all about it. In the meantime, join the talk about food revolution for a chance at your own copy of one of my favorite cookbooks  – comments close Sunday midnight :) 

Happy weekend everybody!

Strawberries and Baby Lettuce with Balsamic Reduction Drizzle, Black Pepper, and Thyme
Strawberries and balsamic are good together, and black pepper added to them is sort of like the third member of a holy trinity (try balsamic reduction and black pepper on vanilla ice cream if you haven’t already – holy cow!). Turns out that thyme and eggs are a really nice way to round out the plate for a meal. The salad is simple – slice strawberries, wash and tear lettuces – I added a couple of my new favorite salad turnips since I had them on hand. Depending on what I’ll be using it for, I sometimes will reduce a whole bottle of balsamic. It will keep for a few days no problem. Just remember that however much drizzle you want to finish with, start with twice that much vinegar. (Is there anyone else who cannot say drizzle without a brief but intense flashback involving Snoop Dogg? Fo shizzle.)

Balsamic Vinegar

Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
Herb or seasoning of choice: I like chopped fresh mint, a scant teaspoon of mustard, or a chopped scallion, depending on what I’m going for. But in this case, I used the fresh thyme over top, and that was wonderful.

Heat the balsamic vinegar in a skillet over high heat, whisking the entire time to prevent burning. (It will smell the way vinegar does when you heat it like this, so open windows and/or a fan might be wise). Let it reduce by half – it should become thicker and almost syrupy. Add the salt and sugar and whisk in, so they dissolve, then remove from heat and let cool.

Drizzle over salad, then add a big grind of black pepper and a handful of fresh thyme leaves. (Or seasoning of choice – if using mustard, whisk in to the cooled vinegar reduction). The thyme leaves from our CSA were so tender that I just put them straight over top without a single chop. If your thyme is more like my own home-grown version and less like my CSAs, you might want to run your knife through it once or twice.

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7 thoughts on “The garden of your mind

  1. We get our CSA box from Full Belly Farm. I love seeing what we get each time. Its made me learn how to cook so many different dishes that I normally wouldn’t cook. Are you vegetarian? We also get a meat box from Marin Sun Farms and my favorite thing is coming up with meals that use both veggies and meat from our boxes. Top it off with wine from our wine box and I’m in heaven!

    • A wine box!! I haven’t heard of a wine box – but what a good idea! Is it from one winery, or multiple ones? We do eat meat, although relatively infrequently and maybe not enough to warrant a box? I love the idea of a ‘three box meal’ though :)

      • We get our wine box from Vintage Berkeley. They have 6 or 12 bottle boxes every three months. They have great, inexpensive wine and its so fun seeing what we get each time. Love it!

  2. Hannah, I’m just aquainting myself with your blog. So healthy! Maybe some of your philosophy will rub off on me. I am basically your opposite. I don’t like cooking and very rarely do. (No, that does’t mean I cook once a week–try 5 or 6 times a year!) But I don’t eat at restaurants all the time, I just eat healthy “fast food” at home: Amy’s frozen organic/veggie dinners, cans of lima beans, frozen peas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cottage cheeze, yogurt, cereal. And junk once in while. But why do I hate cooking so much?? I think it’s because it takes time away from the things I really do love to do–and there’s precious little! (time, that is). ANyway, maybe if I keep reading your good blog it’ll be a positive influence on me…

    • I think you should work on one signature dish. Try making soda bread and see if you don’t get hooked! :) At least you are eating healthy, even if you’re not cooking. “Assembling” dinner is preferable to fast food take out, right? Right. I think you’d be surprised at how little time certain things take … and how much they can spruce up a meal of cherry tomatoes and frozen peas! A quick homemade vinaigrette, the afore mentioned soda bread, plus your tomatoes and cheese – and ok maybe some spinach or lettuce – and you have a salad worthy of a restaurant! :)

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