50 shades of green…

just picked and chopped greens/herbs

just picked and chopped greens and herbs…

hello friends and relatives of colormykitchen…

well, maybe i exaggerated about the 50 shades of green just to get your attention!

seriously, following the recent rainstorm (thank goodness) all the colors of the garden, including the greens, are vibrant, welcoming and calming.  i’ve always been drawn to greens and blues, however since undertaking watercolor/pen/ink classes with the talented, popular and delightful instructor, lori mitchell (ATHENAEUM SCHOOL OF ARTS & MUSIC, la jolla) i am substantially more aware of color, composition, shadow, movement, light, structures of buildings, details of faces and eyes, negative shapes and attempting to capture the third dimension on paper.  all very daunting and challenging, yet exciting to become much more “aware” of everything i view.

i admire lori’s work and methods so much that i will be joining her and ten other artists for a sketching/walking tour of the cote d’azur, france, in a few days.  no doubt this trip will inspire art, food photos and inventive recipes for colormykitchen.com!

on the home front, the photo above is a combination of herbs and greens just picked and chopped for addition to our sunday morning frittatta.  if you have a small space, or not much time to spend in the garden, i highly recommend planting a few herbs and greens.  these edibles are fast growing and SO flavorful (and expensive at the market).  the above photo consists of:  arugula, tuscan kale, african blue basil, winter savory, flat leafed parsley, greek oregano and spearmint.

to conclude with some EXCITING news…domenica and our front yard “dining room” is featured in the MAY/JUNE 2015 issue of Mother Earth Magazine (page 9) for a piece entitled “healthy home-breathing room”.  please pick up a copy of the magazine which is loaded with ideas  to make our lives and homes healthier and more abundant.  we are proud to be featured once again in this publication.

best news of all…domenica will be home soon for summer vacation from CAL POLY/SLO. just in time for ripe plums, apples, tomatoes (tons), figs, eggplants, cucumbers, pole beans, herbs, dahlia bouquets, lunch in the garden… cooking with her mom and surfing with her dad.

merci beaucoup for reading and please keep in touch,

elena


one year ago today…

morning of the hike on the napali coast

morning of the hike on the NA PALI  coast

hiking the NA PALI coast...

dear friends and family,

they say your life can change in an instant.  let’s imagine one minute you are hiking with your family on a picturesque and somewhat treacherous trail and the next minute you are being flown by rescue helicopter to an ambulance en route to the local hospital… and scheduled for emergency hip fracture surgery.

unfortunately that was the case for me exactly one year ago today.  (see photo above of the lush kauai coastline and domenica and me on the first portion of the hike).   fortunately we had kept the NA PALI coast hike for the last day of our summer vacation in hanalei.  our days had been full of beach activities, healthy eating, mixed with relaxation and incredible sunsets.

surgery was successful and the flight home not too difficult.  it was so good to be back home and see domenica for two days before she left to SLO for her 2nd year at CAL POLY.  recuperation seemed slow at first and i tried my best not to get discouraged.  being confined to the couch ALL DAY was a huge adjustment!  luckily, i had an amazing team of compassionate caregivers and professional healers.  i owe my speedy recovery (back to “normal” in eight months) to my excellent surgeon on kauai, richelle takemoto, MD, the topnotch nursing staff at WILCOX hospital, my SCRIPPS physical therapist, nicole archambault, my friend and acupuncturist alan toyofuku, my friends and neighbors who kindly brought us nourishing lunches and dinners, and my siblings who checked in frequently with encouragement and love.  not to mention,  my dear neighbor julie thomas who visited nightly to make me comfortable, massage my swollen leg/foot, replenish my water jug and share stories and laughs.

though i am a fairly strong-willed person, i’m certain i would not have recovered so quickly had it not been for dave and domenica’s constant support—emotionally and practically.  domenica was at CAL POLY but contacted me multiple times per day and trekked home by train to visit.  her positive spirit kept me optimistic during the most difficult days.  the MOST consistent, patient,  and loving supporter of all, though, was my husband dave.  he adeptly and pleasantly took over all household chores — cooking, shopping, nursing duties, laundry, banking, wheelchair excursions… (even some cleaning!) — all while working full-time and keeping my spirits uplifted.  i was reminded of our marriage vows…
“in sickness and in health” and blessed to have him by my side.

i was thinking about dave and the rest of my caregivers recently when domenica and i hiked MADONNA mountain, a dormant volcano in SLO.  i was contemplating how fortunate i was to be back on the trail (albeit an easy hike compared to the NA PALI coast trail) with my daughter,  taking in the beautiful surrounding hills,  and breathing the invigorating fresh morning air.

all in all, the year flew by and perhaps i am a more appreciative person (of my body, of my family and friends, and of the earth)  due to this “minor setback” as i’d like to call it.  however, for future hikes, trekking poles are the way to go!

thanks for reading and stay tuned for simple, colorful, seasonal and creative food posts to come…

elena

 

 


blackberries, bordeaux (the city), basque country…and blessings

our favorite spring harvest!

our favorite spring harvest!

dear friends and relatives of colormykitchen.com…

yes, it’s been forever since my last blogpost.  MUCH has happened this spring and i will do my best to synopsize.

first of all, and most exciting:  domenica is returning this week from her escapades in europe.  during and after her semester abroad in pau/pyrenees, she traveled to: barcelona, bayonne, bordeaux, biarritz, toulouse, lourdes, paris (3 times!), budapest, vienna, san sebastian and dublin.  we cannot wait to hear of her many adventures, newfound friends and enjoy her smile and warm demeanor.

in late april dave and i had the pleasure of meeting domenica’s lovely and nurturing french host family, the duranteaus of PAU.  with domenica in tow, we spent a couple of weeks in beautiful pau and the surrounding lush basque countryside.  highlights were the jurancon valley, the grottoes of betharram, bayonne (especially the BASQUE museum), san sebastian and biarritz.  the biarritz “les alles” (farmers’ market) was the most bountiful and vibrant farmers’ market i’ve ever attended.  ALL of the crops/food products were of exceptional quality and the displays were impressive.  we concluded our visit of southwestern france with three nights in bordeaux, a beautiful UNESCO-recognized city.  i was blessed to spend my 60th birthday there with dave and domenica and it was the perfect “celebration of life”.  after a healthy breakfast at our apartment, we ventured to the GALERIE DES BEAUX-ARTS.  after taking in the art, we happened upon a small, yet well-stocked, farmers’ market.  we purchased picnic treats:  local fresh cheeses, salami, breadsticks, pesto, strawberries and a bottle of red wine, bien sur (of course!)!  our picnic in the sunny museum gardens, amidst the many blooms, is something that i will remember forever.  i didn’t think it could get any better, but then domenica pulled out the perfect birthday gift for (her) mom—a brightly colored and lettered tea towel from bordeaux.  she knows me well…

once sated from our flavorful picnic, we enjoyed a coffee and canele at BAILLARDRAN, the famous shop.  we strolled the cobbled streets and found a large bookstore, LIBRAIRIE MOLLAT and spent some time browsing.  little did i know, dave and domenica secretly purchased 3 small cookbooks (in french) to add to my collection. that afternoon we enjoyed an organized wine tasting with erik at WINE CELLAR & CO. erik was very personable and knowledgeable and his shop is well-stocked with wines of the bordeaux region.  after a respite and a walk along LA GARONNE (river) we had an authentic and delicious meal at a local “bordelaise’ bistro.  we started with a champagne toast to the birthday girl (me), to domenica for studying abroad in such a unique and lovely place, and to dave, for working so hard to make it all happen and taking the time off work to be with his “girls”.

may 4th (my 60th) seems ages ago and we’re back to our respective routines at work and home.  however, there is much to be happy about in cardiff as well.  we are blessed with daily baskets of ripe, juicy, antioxidant laden blackberries.  please see my FACEBOOK page for a representative photo of a blackberry, nectarine, walnut “crisp” that dave and i made last week.  the rest of the garden is doing well, too, with dahlias, cherry tomatoes and melons coming shortly.

soon domenica will arrive home for summer (or part thereof) and you can be sure we’ll be “playing in the kitchen”, posting recipes and photos and testing them first on dave, our resident (and happy) taste tester.

hope your spring has been blessed as well and thank you for reading…

elena

p.s.  a spécial merci beaucoup to adam louis troldahl (domenica’s cousin) who was the consummate host during her stay in vienna.


milestones and magazines…2014!

colormykitchen.com featured in MOTHER EARTH living magazine JAN/FEB 2014!

colormykitchen.com featured in MOTHER EARTH living magazine JAN/FEB 2014!

happy new year dear readers-

please join me in wishing my daughter domenica a VERY happy, healthy, memorable 20th birthday (12th january).  it will certainly be “memorable” this year since she is currently studying abroad in PAU, france.  she chose to stay with a host family and she’s been blessed with a lovely, charming, extremely helpful family.

rather than baking a favorite dessert together or sharing a special birthday dinner, her dad and i will be “skyping” our birthday wishes and enjoying her beautiful smile via the internet…with love.

other momentous news from www.colormykitchen.com is a feature article about domenica and me in MOTHER EARTH LIVING, natural home, healthy life, JAN/FEB. 2014 issue.  (see photo of cover above)

we are honored to be featured in this timely, inspirational, enlightening periodical about “genuine” people, their environments and their contributions to make the world a better place for all of us.  from the moment i read editor-in-chief jessica kellner’s first letter to readers, i was encouraged by her vision for the magazine, her choice to provide important information to the magazine’s subscribers and her desire to take on vital issues which affect many of us.

so, jump in your car (or on your bike) and pick up MOTHER EARTH LIVING at your local barnes & noble, wholefoods or sprouts market (or subscribe online at www.motherearthliving.com).  this JAN/FEB. 2014 issue is packed with pertinent lifestyle articles, not to mention a six page story about a mom named elena, her daughter, her supportive husband, her garden, food passions and hope for future generations.  a special thank you to california based photographer raya carlisle for her beautiful images. it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience to work with jessica and raya and we feel that they portrayed our story and home with simple honesty.

it is my hope that you will all read the piece (and the rest of the magazine!) and pass it along to friends, neighbors and family.

may 2014 bring you many blessings,

elena

p.s.  also a VERY happy birthday on 12th january to my baby brother, rob!


the tomato doesn’t fall far from the bush…

enjoying the flavors (and colors)  of summer!

enjoying the flavors (and colors) of summer!

hello everyone,

when my dad was growing up he lived and worked on a farm in los angeles.  he told us that he couldn’t “play with friends” because he and his siblings had to work on the farm when they weren’t in school.  amongst the many crops his family grew, were acres of cherry tomatoes.  the BURGENO & SONS farm was well-known and sought after for their flavorful cherry tomatoes. (see above photo for their packing label…circa 1940’s)

they say we inherit personality traits, physical resemblances and health issues (good and bad) from our parents and generations past.  well, not only did i inherit the desire to farm (albeit on a very small scale in our frontyard triangular beds), but the absolute need to grow, pick, eat and create summer dishes using a variety of cherry tomatoes.  some people crave sweets, others have shoe fetishes, but i am a self-admitted cherry tomato addict.  i don’t choose to eat them because they are filled with lycopene and healthy phytonutrients, though this is a bonus, i choose to grow and eat them simply because my entire sensory being craves the sweet/tart pop of the freshly picked fruit.

my husband likes to tell the story of a time a few years back i confided that i thought i might need to stop ingesting acidic foods.  tomatoes, being highly acidic would be banished from my diet.  he likes to end the story by relaying to listeners that i started crying at the thought of not eating one of my all time favorite foods.  he is not embellishing the story…i did cry, briefly.  faced with this difficult decision — alkaline v. acidic stomach, the tomatoes won out!  and, i am happy to report that my health seems perfectly fine.

there are SO many ways to use the colorful little orbs of sunshine in your kitchen. of course they are an excellent and lowfat snack, but can also be the focal point of a summer dish.  as mentioned above there are also many health benefits derived from eating fresh and cooked tomatoes.  one such benefit is skin protection and the reversing of wrinkles.  well, heck, who wouldn’t want to do that?!

my adorable papa turns 85 years old on tuesday, 23rd july 2013…coincidentally he has no wrinkles, his hair is thick and full, his mind and body are agile.  most importantly, though, he still enjoys his fruits and vegetables, amongst them the beloved cherry tomato.

happy birthday, papa… and thank you for sharing your life with me, rick, rob, margaret, your grandchildren, and mom (helen).   you are an impressive role model of what it means to be kind, gentle, bright, charismatic, appreciative, hardworking and generous to your fellow humans.

with much love,

elena

p.s.  i just picked this bowl of cherry tomatoes from my frontyard and tonight i will halve them, toss with pieces of ripe nectarine and cubed fresh mozzarella, add slivers of fresh mint and drizzle with a spicy olive oil—seasonal, local, organic and wholesome, not to mention “colorful” and healthy.  when we enjoy the dish, i will thank of my dad…


blackberries and beautiful daughters…

a favorite shot...domenica harvesting some blackberries!

a favorite shot…domenica harvesting some blackberries!

happy mother’s day to all you special women!

though my daughter is away at school and unable to celebrate the day with me (she did text first thing this morning!), today brought forth a powerful reminder of her presence in our lives.  this afternoon we harvested our first bowl of plump, juicy, sweet, perfectly ripened blackberries from our backyard vines.

domenica has grown up (see photo) harvesting the ready to eat blackberries since she was a toddler.  when she was born we planted three small vines which have mushroomed to maybe fifteen.  this isn’t counting the stray vines we’ve given away.  i have fond memories of her harvesting, eating as many as she put into the colander (the best part of picking!) and having deep purple stains on her hands, mouth and shirts.  when she was old enough to assist me with baking, we’d make muffins with blackberries as a focal point or cook up some refrigerator jam (for ice cream and yogurt).  recently, though, we’ve graduated to blackberry cobblers, claufoutis and galettes.  so easy, loaded with fresh fruit, colorful, flavorful and relatively healthy as desserts go.   we often add nectarines or tart apples to our dessert creations then bake until golden and bubbling.  yum…i can smell them now!  and don’t forget about adding them to your salads for a burst of sweet/tart goodness…more blackberry posts with recipes will be forthcoming, i suspect.

these simple pleasures and memories will remain in my heart/mind forever and remind me of the beautiful and fulfilling bliss it has been to have a child.

i hope your day has been filled with lovely memories as well.

elena

p.s.  domenica planted the sweetpeas (from seed) in the above photo when she was here for her recent winter break.  there are literally hundreds of blooms now, bringing loads of bees and adding a sweet scent to our front yard garden.  i suspect one of these days domenica will enjoy a garden of her own…that would make a mother (and dad) proud.


earth day planting…

can't wait for summer 2013 dahlias!

can’t wait for summer 2013 dahlias!

happy and healthy earth day everyone…

in “celebration” of earth day (which in my opinion should be celebrated everyday), we planted sixteen dahlia tubers yesterday.   the bouquet pictured above are a few of last year’s blooms.

this season i chose sixteen dahlias of varying shapes, sizes and plant heights…all extremely “colorful”.    sometime in july/august we will be cutting dahlias by the dozens to share with friends, neighbors, family, local businesses, co-workers.  maybe i’ll give away dahlia bouquets on the street corner?!

though there is a fair bit of prep on the day of planting (turning the soil, digging the holes and amending the soil, planting the tubers horizontally, staking them, deciding on placement) once they’ve popped through the ground we just stand back and are amazed and thrilled with their prolific growth.    ***see link below for our favorite dahlia source***

yesterday the elements conspired perfectly with our dahlia planting “mission”.   it was a beautiful spring day…sunny and warm with a slight breeze.  though we have a variety of plants growing in our yard:  flowers, fruit trees, vines, succulents, vegetables, herbs…the dahlias hold a special place in my heart.  you see, my italian nonna (grandmother) grew dahlias.   she would take me and my siblings out to her extensive garden and as she clipped the blooms, she would hand them to us for bouquets.  thinking about those days in her garden, i can hear her chatting in italian (animated!) and instilling in us a love for nature, food and the bountiful earth.    thankfully she and my nonno lived only one mile away and visiting was frequent and fun.

i hope you enjoy this bouquet of dahlias…and perhaps be inspired to plant a few yourself!

elena

www.dahlias.com(swan island dahlias)


gardens and girlfriends…

luscious lavender!

luscious lavender!

happy monday, dear readers,

yesterday was one of those lazy sundays.  lots to do in the garden, yet reading the sunday TIMES after lunch seemed more appealing…

the energy of the afternoon changed with a welcome phone call from my girlfriend, chacha.  though we’ve recently connected after being acquaintances for years, our newfound friendship is a blessing to me at this period in my life.  we are both empty nesters with our daughters off to college and we enjoy many of the same passions:  cooking, gardening, nature, pottery, photography, reading and traveling.  yesterday she called to ask if i would be home as she had picked a bouquet of lavender for me!  “would you like to trade for some greens?” she asked.

she and her husband jon rode over on their bikes for a visit with dave and i.   chacha and i chatted while clipping snowpeas, english peas, lettuces, chards, beets and beet tops, loads of kale, and guavas.  in her beautiful colombian accent she exclaimed that she didn’t have to go to the farmers’ market because she could find what she needed at my house…she felt fortunate that we could barter lavender for greens.

i thought to myself that this impromptu visit is the true meaning of friendship…sharing the abundance of what we have and enjoying an afternoon outdoors in the garden.

i wish you could smell the lavender…certainly a treat for the senses (and “colorful”).

enjoy,

elena


she knows me well…

showing off the prep bowls...

showing off the prep bowls…

hello friends and family,

in my opinion, you can’t have too many bowls in your colorful kitchen…prep bowls, mixing bowls, cereal/soup/pasta bowls, latte bowls, bowls with pour spouts, multiple sizes and colors…you get the picture.

my sister margaret (chach) recently visited and gifted me with this set of “colorful” and practical prep bowls.  her love and encouragement mean the world to me and time spent with her is ALWAYS too short.

when creating or preparing a dish, i will prep/chop ingredients and display them in order of their placement into the recipe in separate bowls.  for some of you this might sound like a lot of (extra) work, but for me, the simple routine is relaxing and visually appealing.  maybe i just like chopping things…?

so, if you don’t already have a variety of bowls in your kitchen, or find yourself in a rut using the same ones, why not add a few inexpensive colorful or patterned bowls to your repertoire?  if you’re lucky, maybe your dear sister (or brother) will surprise you with a set.

enjoy and please bookmark colormykitchen.com for upcoming recipes and posts.

elena

p.s.  L-R bowls contain:  chard, edible nasturtiums, peas, japanese cherry tomatoes (i’m seriously addicted!).  all from our garden except for the japanese tomatoes…


sweetpea bouquet for you…and clarification

elena's garden...spring sweetpeas

elena’s garden…spring sweetpeas

 

hello there, colormykitchen readers…

for all of you who have commented on my blog and those of you who have already signed up for weekly posts via email, i thank you!  all of the positive feedback has been wonderful and encouraging.  i am sending you a small sweetpea bouquet from my garden.  (by the way, sweetpeas are super easy to grow and the colors and perfume are intoxicating…)

however,  for those of you who are not as technologically savvy as me (i’m being 100% facetious here) i apologize for not clarifying exactly where the “subscribe to” button is located on the main page of colormykitchen.com.   when you are on the main page, on the righthand side under the logo there is a FACEBOOK button and an RSS (feed) button.  if you click on the FACEBOOK button you will be directed to my newly launched page.  if you click on the RSS button, you will be directed to another page with a subscription option on the righthand side.  you will be asked to enter the email address to which you’d like to receive my weekly blogpost “updates”.  so… for those of you who ran into difficulties signing up, i am sending you a sweetpea bouquet as well!

keep in touch for next week’s recipe/garden news:  “all kale’s broken loose!”  you guessed it, a kale recipe or two coming your way.

warm thanks for your support in my new endeavor…and a special thank you to my dear friend sandra who gifted me with this beautiful and “colorful” vase for my flower and herb bouquets!

enjoy,

elena