Flower Ave Garden Project: Houston We Have A Greenhouse

I was able to get the irrigation lined up and the greenhouse erected today. It kinda feels like a new friend came to the party. So many fun projects will take place in here!

I found this “pop-up” greenhouse online. It was a good size for the space I have to use and not too priceyImage

My only fear was that it would be like trying to put Ikea furniture together; by the end of it you’re fighting with your partner, 3 screws are mysteriously leftover, and you now have a thing against Swedish people (but that doesn’t last long because then you realize where would you be without those delicious gummy fish [the red ones]).

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In the end, it came together relatively easyish-kinda. But it’s definitely a job for more than 1 person. The box said set-up takes about 30 min-1hr, we were on the latter side of that. If you could set this thing up in 30 min, then you my friend are a master Cub Scout…or a structural engineer.

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The next step is to get shelving set up and the drip system in. And then the fun really begins =}

I was also able to get some agretti starters planted. I re-purposed this hanging shoe organizer to grow the agretti vertically on the outside of this door

Agretti

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

~Carl Rogers

Butternut Squash Agnalotti with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Sabayon

agnalotti
Agnolotti Dough:
8oz AP Flour (1 3/4c)
6ea Large egg yolks
1ea Large egg
1.5T Olive oil
1T Milk

Nobody can explain it like Thomas Keller:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pasta-Dough-for-Agnolotti-105858

Butternut Squash Filling:
1ea Med butternut squash (aprox 2lbs)
1ea Large shallot, sliced
2-3C Chicken stock (not broth!)
1-2T Olive oil.5t Cinnamon
.25t Cayenne
1t Honey
Salt to taste

*Peel skin off squash, cut into 1” cubes, as similar size as possible
*Heat oil in a large saucepot, sweat shallots SLOWLY, add a dash of salt to draw out moisture
*Once shallots are translucent, add squash, sweat SLOWLY. Season with salt
*Gradually add chicken stock, .5c at a time, slowly softening squash
*Once squash is completely cooked through, blend with a stick blender. For a very smooth filling pass through sieve
*Add cinnamon, cayenne, and honey. Check seasoning. Chill and add to a pastry bag

Sabayon:
4ea Large egg yolks, room temp
.25c Champagne or white wine, slightly warmed
Dash of lemon
Salt to taste

*Just before service place wine and yolks in a metal bowl
*Hold over heat (The steam from the pot of water for the agnolotti is perfect for this)
*Whisk thoroughly until the mixture becomes frothy, do not let the eggs curdle
*Season

Chanterelle Mushrooms:
1Lb Chanterelles
4ea Thyme sprigs
1ea Garlic clove, slightly crushed
2T Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

*In a LARGE sauté pan, heat oil until oil shimmers
*Add mushrooms, then thyme and garlic
*Toss in pan, remove once slightly browned

Add chives and pomegranate seeds to finish…the pom seeds make all the difference!! And plate it purdy 😉

Mushroom Foraging in Mendocino County, CA

In late November of 2012 I had the fortune of attending a guided mushroom foraging expedition with Forage SF: http://foragesf.com/

DISCLAIMER:  If you have never foraged before, especially for something as potentially deadly as mushrooms, it is imperative that you go with a trained guide.

The location was about 3.5 hours north  of San Francisco, in Mendocino County. My good friend Clifton Su, also a cook, joined me. We stopped at Model Bakery in Saint Helena to grab a couple of coissants for the long drive ahead of us. I will say this, albeit totally delicious, coissants do NOT make the best road trip food. By the end of the crusty, buttery treat, my car looked like a coissant storm had rolled in and left a nice dusting of flakes behind.

coissant

After about 3 hours on the highway, we turned off into the hills. The paved road quickly melted into a gravel path, which turned in to a dirt trail winding its way in to the back country of Mendocino.

the drive in the hills

Our small group gathered at an old cabin in the woods to talk about our gameplan.

cabinbox shroom skull

Because Clifton and I were inexperienced mushroom foragers, we relied heavily on the knowledge of Kevin, our guide. His words to live by, “Little brown, put it down!” Meaning most little brown mushrooms with gills underneath are inedible and poisonous.

kevin magic

This was a truly magical experience. Spending hours trompsing around a forest, basket in hand, on the lookout for wild mushrooms!

me

SUCCESS! Porcinis and Chanterells

porcini perfect chantrelle

Oyster and Coral

oyster coral

Witches Butter and more Coral

witches butter more coral

Clifton and I had a day to remember!!

Big Daddy Porciniasian clif  Porcinis

We must have been good hunter-gatherers as cavemen because we came back with some serious bounty

Loot our bounty

As the sun began to sink low into the winter sky, we headed home. Exhausted and hungry, we stopped for dinner in Healdsburg at Scopa and had one of the BEST pizzas ever

the drive home pizza scopa

I can get use to this foraging thing 😉

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

~Albert Einstein

Flower Ave Garden Project: For Starters

I FINALLY got a free second to transplant some starters.

potted

Here are some tiny alpine strawberry plants. They produce a very small, sweet white strawberry:

White strawberry potting

alpine strawberry

I was also able to get some ice lettuce transplanted. This is not the best pic, but the crisp leaves have tiny cells full of water, delicious!

  ice lettuce

Looking forward to making some interesting dishes out of all of these!

Flower Ave Garden Project: Doing Work!

More progress was made on the greenhouse site. Step one was to remove the retaining rock wall from around the sides of the raised existing bed…check!

Rocks

Next, start digging like you were on a chain gang…check!

Progress

The GREAT perk to this whole thing is that the soil in this raised bed is epic, full of fat worms!! I’m going to repurpose the dirt for my raised beds going up in the near future.

soil

So thankful to have some helpers today, my dad and stepmom getting dirty =] They were a big help, but I had to crack the whip when they started slacking off…they also brought a MUCH better wheelbarrow with them as you can see here.

D and D

Next, set up irrigation for a timed watering system in the greenhouse…check-ish ( I need to finish up tomorrow

Irrigation

We were also able to add this raised bed. This will be the location of my edible flowers

Raised Bed

I wake up with the sun, I have MAJOR blisters, I am cray sore, I go to bed at 9pm exhausted (if I can stay up that late) and couldn’t be more excited about how things are shaping up!

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Flower Ave Garden Project

My mission (if I choose to accept it)…(I have)…to build a culinary garden in an urban setting with the purpose of supplying chefs in LA with specialty produce.

Step #1: Secure A Location

I was lucky enough to find a home in Venice, CA that was willing to let me design and run my culinary garden. I know it doesn’t look like much, but through the dirt lawn and futon frame I can see the potential!Image

Oh the irony of office furniture left out back…this is now my office :p

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I’ve got my work cut out for me, but the before/after pics should be epic!

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Step #2: Develop A Plan Of Attack

Initial measurements have been taken, as well as a (very) rudimentary draft

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The last few days have found me hunkered down at a coffee shop in Venice, reviewing seed catalogues, planning out a planting and seeding schedule, as well as budget ugh. I don’t have a Mac laptop so I know I am being privately shamed by all the hipsters…but I do have an iPad so maybe that will give me a little ‘street cred’ in my hood

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Step #3: Break Ground

January 3, 2013 I broke ground for the Flower Ave Garden Project. My first step is to remove the raised bed in the back to make room for the greenhouse. Since the fastest things for me to grow and bring to market will be micro greens, erecting the greenhouse is top on the ‘to-do’ list

This job is made easier by use of quality tools, like this ghetto wheelbarrow for instance

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I can’t complain too much, the speed wobbles that it gets is doing wonders for my core :p

Tomorrow is a new day of digging. I made slow and steady progress, and hope to have the greenhouse up soon!! More progress pics to come.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
~Confucius