HOW TO :: Preserving & Canning Pears

Seckel pears are diminutive, with muddy, olive green skin and a firm texture. Their tiny proportions make them impossible to resist, and the perfect size for a light dessert after a rich meal. They ripen toward the end of September, so be on the lookout as the season is short. Pears are poached in a light caramel syrup – you can determine how dark you’d like to burn the sugar. I prefer mine deeply amber, imparting an almost burnt quality to the fruit. Of course, you can also infuse the syrup with any number of aromatics. Here, we use vanilla, but lavender buds, fresh thyme or even a bag of your favorite tea. When you crack open the jars, the pears’ exterior will have a gorgeous caramel hue, whereas the centers stay creamy. I like to serve the pears whole, with a dollop of cream and a drizzle of the syrup. … Continue reading

HOW TO :: Apple Pie Filling Canning Recipe

This simple recipe guarantees you’ll always have the best apples on hand for pie baking. Apples are available all year long, but they are certainly not in season all year long. New crop apples, those that are harvested and sold in the same season, are the best tasting—their juice just contained under firm, naturally shiny skins. Ditto for pears, which are best eaten soon after harvesting. To preserve the natural, raw integrity of fresh fruit, buy both in bulk when they come into the markets. Boxes of apples are infinitely less expensive than buying a pound at a time, so choose a favorite variety (most farmers offer samples) and load up. As for the little pears, keep your eyes open and buy the lot when you have a chance. Apple Pie Filling makes about 4 pints | start to finish: about 1 hour active time This simple recipe guarantees you’ll … Continue reading

HOW TO :: Grow Your Own Fig Tree | Propagating Figs

This is a great fall project as we move into winter. Be sure to position the cutting in a sunny spot so it can put on growth before winter really sets in. It will go dormant over winter (keep the soil moisture consistently JUST damp) and pick up growth as we turn into the new year. I think you’ll be surprised at how simple this is, but for anyone interested, here are the instructions if you want to DIY it: Find a fig tree! Maybe your neighbor has one or maybe you’re in a local park. Using pruning shears, cut a 4- to 10-inch long piece of soft wood new growth, just above a plant node. Fill a large pot with potting soil (a simple plastic pot that shrubs come in is perfect) and stick the fig cutting in, cut side down. Don’t worry about stripping the bark, spacing or … Continue reading

Five Container Plants For Fall

It’s hard to believe, but fall is on its way. Here, a quick guide on what to plant now for the perfect patio harvest come cold weather. It doesn’t necessarily feel like it, but sadly summer is waning. Our days are shorter and while temperatures may remain hot (you lucky ducks!), shorter days means less light for growing plants. In many states across the country this means it’s time to get the winter garden going, if you haven’t already. Late summer begs for cool loving crops that are quick to grow. For anyone starting now, smaller leafy greens are your friend. By nature, leafy greens require less direct sunlight, prefer it when it’s a bit cooler, and can be grown in both a proper garden bed and a smaller container. Most greens germinate quickly and many can be found as starts. Following is a list of five plants to grow … Continue reading

Cooking with Fish Sauce

 Ma‘ono’s Mark Fuller dishes on his go-to ingredient To the uninitiated, the mention of fish sauce might well result in wrinkled noses. However, the oft-misunderstood ingredient brings a welcome punch to a variety of dishes. Because fish sauce falls outside the flavor categories typically recognized by the American palate, the savory-salty taste is hard to define. The Japanese describe it as “umami”—roughly translated as “deliciousness.” At Ma‘ono, the mystery works. “People won’t know why the food tastes great, but it does and that’s what matters,” says Mark Fuller, chef and owner of Ma‘ono Fried Chicken & Whisky (West Seattle, 4437 California Ave. SW; 206.935.1075; maono.springhillnorthwest.com), a Hawaiian-influenced restaurant that also serves now-famous fried chicken dinners. “I’m looking for flavor in all of my dishes and fish sauce is a fermented product that’s a bit funky and offers subliminal and compelling flavor.” Fuller relies on fish sauce for his kimchi, adding … Continue reading

Why Tomatoes Crack & Split

split tomatoesIn late summer, I’m bound to receive texts from my friends and clients showcasing cracked and split tomatoes asking me what went wrong. In short, you can blame it on the rain.

When tomatoes (and all ripening fruits) have a sudden fluctuation in their water levels, they are bound to react. After a somewhat dry summer (and with a consistent watering schedule), a sudden downpour allows plants to drink up way more water than usual. As they take up water, the fruits expand, causing the skins of tomatoes to Continue reading

Homemade Plum Fruit Roll Ups

Plum Fruit Roll UpDehydrating fruit is an excellent preservation technique if you don’t have time to make jam and jar up whole fruits. Simply toss sliced or pureed fruit into the dehydrator of low oven and leave it be for hours. Dehyrdrating fruit is an awesome overnight project!

To make fruit puree, cut fruit of your choice into small pieces and add to a pot set over low heat. Depending on how juicy the fruit is, you may or may not need to add some water to the pot. Start small, adding only 1/2 cup of water at a time. As the fruit warms, it will release natural juices. Continue reading

Lemon & Olive Oil Preserved Asparagus Recipe

It’s full on asparagus season. Those verdant stalks are a dime a dozen these days, so while I full encourage GORGING on them any chance you get (morning omelet, shaved raw in salad, in my awesome lettuce + pasta dinner & of course grilled) I also highly encourage you to do some preserving this spring! True confession: before I moved to Washington as a 20-something, I had never eaten asparagus. I grew up in New York and while we ate vegetables at every meal, asparagus was never one of them. It wasn’t until I started working in the Seattle restaurant industry in the late ‘90s that I got into the swing of things and started looking forward to our local asparagus season. With such a versatile vegetable, the chefs would grill, sauté, steam and bake asparagus, creating a two-month parade of verdant and fresh-tasting dishes. Luckily for us, Washington is … Continue reading

Chia vs Hemp :: A Health Lovers Guide

Nutritious eating has always been my game – I like getting the proper proportion of fats, protein and healthy carbs in on a daily basis. Like most people, I’m also following food trends and hoping to anticipate them. Flax meal? On it – you can catch a recipe or two in Urban Pantry. Fermented foods? Eat them – I have several jars in my fridge and eat them with a soft-boiled eggs as a quick lunch when I’m in the gardens. Lately, it seems everyone is going ga-ga over hemp seeds and chia – me included. I wrote about hemp seeds in the February issue of Seattle Magazine and received a bag of ‘cereal’ at IFBC 2014 that included chia with hemp and buckwheat (and was delicious). Experimenting with healthy foods is fun, but I can’t help but wonder……why the fuss? What ARE these proclaimed super foods actually adding to our diet and do … Continue reading

Chamomile and Coconut Granola Recipe

Originally published in my book Apartment Gardening, this is one of my all time favorite recipes. This is also the recipe that was highlighted in this fun interview I did for the Wall Street Journal. (And YES, I still feel the same way about bacon.) With all that recipe sharing, I figured I should probably offer it here, too – right?! I often have a jar of this granola on the shelves of my pantry. It’s a nutritious and filling topping for non-fat yogurt, making it an excellent choice for anyone trying to eat healthy or commit to a morning routine. My friend Lynda worked as a cheese maker at a goat dairy. A few summers ago I got to spend a few days out in farm country with her, and every morning for breakfast I had a deep bowl of her perfect goat milk yogurt topped with spoonfuls of her homemade granola … Continue reading