Every year, I always dread the arrival of summer because it gets so hot in Los Angeles. I am lucky enough to have air conditioning and a covered carport, which means my apartment stays comfy enough to cook inside with the oven on and my car doesn’t become an oven itself sitting out in the sun. It’s a good life.
When summer finally does roll around, I find that instead of lamenting how hot it is, I am totally and completely inspired because all of our California produce is so incredible. We have tomatoes in almost every color of the rainbow and stone fruit that outshines even the rarest of gems. While I love all stone fruit, peaches edge out cherries as my favorite. There is nothing better than a plump, juicy, sweet summer peach and there is nothing worse than a hard, dry, out of season peach. They are perfect for eating on their own, lend themselves beautifully to baking up sweet treats and are surprisingly complimentary to many savory dishes.
Here in Los Angeles, we can be looking at getting the first of the strawberries in late winter or early spring. The sun here shines brightly and warm. Because of this weather kindness, we have amazing produce here all throughout the year and in each season. Our farmer’s markets never go away. They stick around every week, bringing us some of the best fruits and vegetables in the country and arguably the world. Roaming the stalls and different stands at the Sunday Hollywood Farmer’s Market or the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market in any given season is almost a supernatural experience–for the lovers of food and the dreamers of dreams that is.
I buy my strawberries at the farmer’s market (I like Harry’s Berries) only when I cannot make it to a farm to pick them myself. I was lucky enough to get to pick twice this year. I made strawberry jam, wine, margaritas and a few desserts.
Last year, news broke that the beloved Yingst Ranch would be closing after the 2014 season. The news was a huge bummer, considering what a beautiful and wonderful farm Yingst was. They were a U-Pick operation in Littlerock, sorta out in the middle of nowhere near Palmdale. They grew the most gorgeous, juicy-delicious heirloom plums and peaches as well as apples and pears.
Before they closed, a friend and I drove up last summer to bid them farewell and pick/buy as much fruit as we could handle. It was bittersweet–we got some stunning 49er peaches and a large bounty of fresh heirloom plums and pluots to take home.
It’s been almost three months since my last post. I thought I’d come back with more biscuits.
Nasturtiums (or tropaelum) are a common garden plant with pretty flowering blossoms, which range in color from bright yellows to rich oranges and reds. The plants are beautiful and great for filling gardens–they are low maintenance, but they do spread some if you give them the space. Most of the plant is edible. The flowers have a kind of spiciness to them and are great on salads or minced and mixed into some Earth Balance buttery spread for a fancy and pretty vegan butter. The buds can be pickled and used in place of capers (there’s a jar in my fridge from the last canning swap I attended!!). The leaves taste like spinach to me. So when I saw this recipe from a favorite of mine, Joy the Baker, I thought I had to do a vegan version with this yummy plant.
Is Spring a busy and exciting time for everyone? I’d like to think so. Although I say the same about Summer….and the holidays. But back to Spring–the weather has been lovely, the produce equally as lovely. I’ve been inspired and working away in my kitchen and when I’m not there, you can likely find me in a tree or shrub of some kind, foraging the magical edible goodies that Spring has to offer–more on that later.
Today I wanted to bring you a recipe for this dang good biscuit. It’s a layered delight with little pockets of vegan cream cheesy goodness and spicy, sweet jalapeños mixed in.
Vegan Cream Cheese Biscuits w/ Candied Jalapeños
Last year I had the pleasure of acquiring some very sweet, very juicy peaches. My favorite variety ended up being a 49er peach that had a beautiful red starburst on the inside with a yellow-red blush on the outside. They were a revelation. I went a bit overboard and after making a delightful Peach-Vanilla Jam with Bourbon, I knew at least a few pies were also in order. As always, it’s a wonderful day for pie. 😉
First, inspired by one of my local favorite eateries, Good Girl Dinette, came this Licorice Peach Pie. I made this pie with cane sugar only, no brown sugar and then added licorice powder. Licorice powder is made from licorice root, dried and then pulverized into a fine powder. I wouldn’t say it was the best peach pie that I’ve made, but it was unusual and tasty. Plus, it gave me an opportunity to play with flavors and try something new, which I love doing.