Category: Gardening

My Kitchen is Getting Lots of Action

garden tomatoes and zuchinniWith summer comes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, carrots, herbs, and zucchini.  I love gardening, and reaping the benefits of having fresh veggies, yet at the same time, it can sometimes be overwhelming.  A few weeks back, I posted some of my favorite recipes that use both tomatoes and zucchini.  And again today I’ll be posting similar recipes.  Here’s what will be happening in my kitchen this weekend:

Ratatouille’s Ratatouille

This recipe calls for one cup of tomato puree.  To make fresh tomato puree, pass quartered tomatoes through a food mill.  If you do not have a food mill, blanch, peel, core, seed, and chop tomatoes.  Place in a colander and let drain.  Discard liquid and puree tomatoes in a food processor.

Shaved Summer Squash Salad

We top this salad with a yummy Asiago, Parmesan, or Pecorino cheese.  We just use what ever is around the house.  Also, the other day we made it with toasted cashews instead of toasted almonds, and it was delicious!

Carrot Cake Jam

This will be my first time making this recipe.  A neighbor and friend of mine highly recommends it.  We will harvest the carrots from our garden, and get the pears from farmer’s market.  Yum, I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Lastly, we will also be freezing peaches, making a Chiles Rellenos dish of some sort, making and freezing basil pesto ice cubes, and making some of my famous sugar verbena pesto which we use in margaritas.

Would you like to come over and help clean my kitchen after?

Recipes for an Abundance of Garden Zucchini and Tomatoes

garden tomatoes

Lately, tomatoes and zucchini have been overtaking our kitchen, as each day we bring a new batch in from the garden.  It’s been one of those situations where we don’t have quite enough to can, but we do have enough for them to be the focal point of dinner most nights.  I have tried a lot of recipes lately, and today I’m going to share my favorite four with you.  Enjoy!

Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas Recipe (I make my sauce with tomatoes from the garden –you can also use canned tomatoes.  Also, I highly suggest using fresh corn.)

Zucchini Patties Recipe (I put a little mayo and then sliced tomatoes on top of mine and it was yummy!)

Blueberry Zucchini Bread Recipe (I love this recipe since blueberries are fresh at the farmer’s market –or try substituting with fresh peaches.)

Zucchini Tomato Salsa Recipe (A great recipe if you are also growing peppers in your garden)

Give these a try, and let me know what you think!?

An Urban Garden with Egg Laying Chickens

Urban Garden Raised Garden Beds

Every morning, around 8 a.m., you can find me and my daughter outside, visiting our egg-laying chickens, and walking through our raised garden beds to check for ripe vegetables.  Our back yard is a haven, an escape from the city –I think that’s why urban gardens are so popular these days.

This morning, as we enjoyed the cool morning air and our morning routine, I took some photos that I thought you might enjoy.  If anything, maybe this can be your escape too!

urban gardenurban chicken coopurban chicken coop

urban chickens

urban chickensurban garden raised garden beds eggplanturban garden raised garden beds eggplant flowerurban garden raised garden beds green cherry tomatoesurban garden raised garden beds squash flowerurban garden raised garden beds purple cabbageurban garden raised garden beds  brussle sproutsurban garden raised garden beds jalepeno peppers

urban garden raised garden beds climbing beansurban garden raised garden beds squash vine latticeurban chickenurban chicken

Caring for Baby Chicks and an Urban Garden

caring for baby chicksMy family roots tie me to farmers, yet I find myself drawn to wanting to live in the city– I sometimes feel like I’m living a double life.  My backyard, while very small, is a garden haven in the summer.  Most of the yard is filled with raised beds where we grow various vegetables.  In the spring, we cover the raised beds with green house covers so that we can have a cold crop before we plant the summer crop around Mother’s Day.  We also compost.  And now, as thought our little city garden wasn’t enough, we have added chickens to the mix.

caring for baby chicks

caring for baby chicks

I can not tell you the joy these little chicks have brought to my home.  About 10 times a day, my little daughter says, “Mommy, lets go see the chickens”, and to be honest, I think I would visit them just as often, even without my daughters prompts.

cold crop plants and green houseAlong with that, my husband, daughter, and I have spent a ton of time in the garden.  Along with sewing, gardening is therapy to my soul.  So soothing and rewarding.  My moment for this week came when I realized that my daughter honestly loves gardening as much as I do.  Often, on nice days, we don’t even get out of our pajamas, instead we head straight outside to play in the dirt.  I wonder, is there a garden gene, do family roots run that deep?  Just like I use to sit with my grandmother and “help” in the garden, Monet now does the same with me.

Because people, smiles and laughter, more than anything else, is truly what makes a house a home, I hope you enjoyed this weeks “moment”…


om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

Random Fall Happenings

pumpkins on fire mantle

Signs of winter? Really! Already? I'm sad to report that we have had our first snow fall. Yes, the snow stayed in the mountains, but I have a feeling that when I wake tomorrow morning, that might not be the case. We striped the garden tonight, saving the edibles --I think we might get our first frost.

And in order to stay positive and fight my negative feelings concerning winter, I’ve been trying to be festive –pumpkins on the fire place mantle and I made some trick-or-treat candy bags last night.  What do you think?

halloween candy bags with screenprinthalloween candy bags with screenprint

I still have one more bag to finish before this weekend.  My friend Nicole from Elsa Bags did the screen-prints on these.  Aren’t they fabulous!?  She got the idea from The Graphics Fairy.

halloween candy bags with screenprint

Monet is ready for her first trick-or-treating experience –Daddy has already given her candy and now she’s “hungry” for it, like a vampire is hungry for blood

Do you recognize the fabric on the back of the bag?  It’s left over from the custom quilt I finished binding on Sunday.

machine applique quilt with embroidery

I'm pleased with how this quilt turned out, along with the message it conveys. I think it's perfect for a young girl's room.

My husband has also been busy creating beautiful things.  Look what he made…

This bowl is going to be perfect for holding Halloween candy this weekend.

Josh also brought home this ceramic box and I am absolutely in love with it.

ceramic box with letters

ceramic box with lettersceramic box with letters

What do you think?

I think I saved the best for last.

A happy fall, to you and your family!

Garden Salsa with Black Beans and Corn

It’s that time of year again, where the harvested vegetables from the garden are more than we can handle.  And lucky for me, my husband likes to can.  Lately, he has been canning garden salsa with black beans and corn.

(Note: If you don’t garden, check out your local farmer’s market, they will have everything you need for the two recipes below.)

Canning Salsa

Garden Salsa with Black Beans and Corn


20-25 tomatoes
8-10 peppers (we used about 4 small Bell peppers, 2-3 Anaheim, and 2-3 Jalapenos)
2 onions
1/2 cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons
6-8 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons cumin
2-3 tablespoons chili powder
2-3 teaspoons red pepper
3 cups corn (cooked and cut off the husks)
1 can black beans drained
salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons sugar


  1. Cut the tomatoes, peppers and onions in half, and roast them on the grill.
  2. When the vegetables are fully grilled, and lightly blackened, pull the vegetables from the grill.  Place the tomatoes in their own separate bowl to let the juices drain.
  3. When the vegetables from the grill have cooled, in batches, food process the drained tomatoes and grilled vegetables, along with the olive oil. Set aside.
  4. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the garlic until fragrant.  About 1 minute.
  5. Add the chili powder, red pepper and cumin and cook for another minute or until fragrant.
  6. Add the corn, drained black beans, and the food processed garden vegetable mixture from before.  Stir well.  Add the sugar and salt, and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

The salsa is now finished.  From here you can eat it fresh, can it, store it in the fridge, freeze it, or use it in your favorite Mexican recipe.  I’ve included our favorite veggie skillet burrito recipe below.

When canning I use the boiling-water method.  Basically you ladle the hot salsa into hot jars, leaving about 1/4 inch head space.  Put on the two-piece caps and boil for 15 minutes in a pot of boiling water, the jars should be totally immersed in water.

Here are some helpful links…

Leaning how to can

16 Homemade Salsa Recipes & Canning Tips

Making and Canning Homemade Salsa
.Veggie Burritos

Veggie Skillet Burritos


1 quart jar of garden salsa with black beans and corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 eggplants
2-3 squashes (yellow crock-neck and zucchini)
1 yellow onion
1-2 peppers
8 flour tortillas
1 bag shredded cheese


  1. Chop the veggies (eggplant, squash, peppers, and onions) into small bite-size pieces.  Heat a skillet with olive oil and butter.  Cook the veggies and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Mix in 3/4 of the quart jar of garden salsa with black beans and corn.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is hot.  Set aside and keep warm.
  3. Heat up a clean, non-stick skillet.  Throw in a handful of shredded cheese.  As the cheese starts to melt, put a warm tortilla on top and press the tortilla down into the melting cheese.  Keep spinning and pushing the tortilla into the cheese until the cheese is sticking to the tortilla instead of the pan.  Flip the tortilla over and cook briefly, warming it and toasting it lightly.  Repeat this process for all 8 tortillas, making just one at a time.  Set the tortillas aside and keep warm.
  4. Fold each tortilla in half and fill with the vegetable mixture.  Top with a tablespoon of left over salsa and a handful of cheese.  Toast in the oven and serve immediately.

You will not believe how good this recipe is.  Give it a try and let us know what you think!  Enjoy!

All the Things I Love

Yesterday was a day filled with all the things I love: playing in the garden with my daughter, a walk around the neighborhood, cooking, sewing, a glass of wine, and a nice dinner with my family.

On the outside it really doesn’t seem like anything extraordinary, but to me, it’s days like these that make me look down on my life and smile.

Garden eggplant, basil and tomatoes

This was my harvest for the day. Dinner? Eggplant Parmesan!

Overgrown garden

It seems things are growing right before my eyes. Everyday both the garden and my daughter are bigger than the day before.

Child getting into cabinets

Monet loves to "help" in the kitchen. While she occupied herself by playing in the drawers and cabinets, I made homemade tomato sauce.

Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe:

  • First, remove the skins from a large bowl full of tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to cook the tomatoes in a pot full of boiling water for 1-2 minute and then immediately submerge them in ice water. The skins should come right off.  Next you need to quarter the tomatoes, remove the seeds, and let them drain in a colander for about 15 minutes, pushing the juices out every few minutes.
  • Start cooking the skinned and pitted tomatoes in a big pot.
  • Meanwhile, in a fry pan, cook up one large onion, four cloves of garlic, olive oil, and 1/2 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (the kind packed in olive oil). Cook until onions are translucent.
  • Add salt, pepper, a little cayenne, a spoonful of sugar, and 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar to the fry pan. Cook for one more minute.
  • Add the onion mixture to the pot full of tomatoes and stew for 1-3 hours, until the sauce is to your desired thickness.
  • Add freshly chopped basil and Parmesan cheese before you serve over noodles.

Last night I used this sauce, along with the eggplants from my garden, to make  Martha Stewart’s Baked-Eggplant Parmesan. So good!

And then the three of us, my hubby, Monet and I, enjoyed a nice dinner together.

Because people, smiles and laughter, more than anything else, is truly what makes a house a home, I hope you enjoyed this weeks “moment”…

om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

To Market, To Market

We prefer quality over quantity here at The Artists’ House.   It’s something that I am always trying to be more aware of, as hard as it is. This motto goes beyond things, it’s also a motto we follow very strictly when dealing with what goes inside our bodies. We strive to buy quality foods that may cost more, but in the long run nourishes our bodies on a deeper level.

My grandfather grew up farming in Southern Illinois. In the late 70’s an article featuring his organic farm was published in the National Geographic magazine. Unfortunately, my grandfather was a bit ahead of his time and couldn’t make ends meet; as a result he lost the farm. While this was very difficult on my family, to this day, my grandparents garden, growing over 50% of their own food, as well as selling to the local grocery stores. Because I was so close with them, I too grew up with my hands in the dirt. I am genuinely passionate about the importance of supporting local farmers.

(Note:  If you haven’t read any of Michael Pollan’s books and you would like to learn more about the food you consume, I highly recommend giving them a read.  These two books changed my family’s eating habits and made us more aware of little changes that really go a long way.)

And so today I’m going to share just a few tips, recipes, and personal stories with you concerning “quality food”…

Great ways to get quality food:
1.  Grow your own food
2.  Buy from local farmers
3.  Shop organic when you can

Grow your own food…

Josh and I love gardening; watching a seed turn into a beautiful plant that produces food, that we can then make wonderful meals from. It’s been a bit rainy and cold here the past couple days and so Josh made this soup yesterday afternoon, and can I just say it was AMAZING!  The best Tom Ka Gai soup I’ve ever had!  The snow peas, cilantro, and green onions came from our garden; unfortunately our carrots aren’t big enough yet.

Thai Tom Ka Gai Soup Recipe:
– 3 cups chicken stock
– 3 cloves minced garlic
– 2 cans (13.5 oz. each) coconut milk
– 4 hand torn karrif lime leaves
– 3 tbs fish sauce
– 1-2 tbs hot chili sauce
– 1 tbs mirin (rice wine vinegar) substitute with white wine vinegar or omit if needed
– 2 tbs grated lemongrass (about 1/2 stalk)
– 1 can bamboo shoots
– 4-5 slices of ginger root (about 4 tbs) (traditional recipes use galangal root if you can find it)
– 1 lb organic diced chicken (tofu is a great substitute)
– 3 carrots sliced lengthwise in 2-3 inch lengths
– 4 green onions diced
– 2 cups snow peas
– juice of 2 limes
– 8-12 oz. thin rice noodles (optional)
– 4 tbs cilantro
(Note: we keep lemongrass, karrif lime leaves, and ginger in our freezer at all times)

Combine chicken stock and garlic in large sauce pan and heat until boiling.  Add next 8 ingredients, through ginger root, and return to a gentle boil for about 5 minutes.

Add chicken, carrots, green onions, and snow peas.  Return to a gentle boil and cook until the chicken is cooked thoroughly, about 7-10 minutes.  Add lime juice and rice noodles and cook until noodles become soft.  Garnish with fresh cilantro to taste.

Thai Tom Ka Gai Soup Recipe


Buy from local farmers…

Our favorite nightly read these days is “To Market, To Market” by Anne Miranda.  Going to the local farmer’s market is a great family activity.  Or why not consider signing up with CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  A lot of CSA programs even offer quality meats and cheeses.  And when eating out, support local restaurants that buy from local farmers.


Shop organic when you can…

Since organic food is expensive and sometimes hard to find, when in doubt I recommend following what’s called “The Dirty Dozen”.

Remember that is isn’t an all or nothing situation.  I encourage you to start small and do what you can, for the good of your taste-buds, your body, our farmers, and our mother-earth.

Working in the Garden

I took some garden pictures today while I was working outside.  Here is my favorite…
I can’t wait for it to bloom!

Bob Marley? Gollum? Which is he?

Josh brought home a little friend yesterday –to either welcome or scare away our guests.
He’s either very Bob Marley…
Or very Gollum…

What do you think?  Which is he?