Tag Archives: gardens

Food Gardening Travel

O’Henry Peaches from Frog Hollow Farm

I am going to publish a scientific paper about how time goes more quickly in the summer and when you’re shopping on eBay.

If you follow me on Facebook you know that I just got back a couple of weeks ago from another trip to England. I spent the first week in London for work, but weekends with the rest of the  family in the country. If you’re a garden lover and a runner like me, the English countryside in the summer is pretty much as good as it gets. Except, if you’re like me, you have to stop every few feet to snap photos of the gardens.

I know, it’s really bad.

I just.can’t.stop.


I even checked out the Queen’s gardens this time around. They weren’t too shabby either.

Aside from English gardens, summer is also really great for peaches. I can turn just about any fruit into a dessert, but sometimes, you’re best off leaving it the way it was made.

Such is the way with organic O’Henry peaches from Frog Hollow Farm. Frog Hollow is in Brentwood, California, and produces the most breathtaking fruit, lovingly packed and shipped.

I got to try this fruit because, as luck would have it, my colleague The Fruit Maven generously brought a box into the office. This is generous because, had I received this box, I would have eaten it by myself in front of the shipping container within three minutes of receipt.

My pictures, sadly, do not do these peaches justice, since they were taken with my iPhone under the romantic glow of fluorescent lights. Even so, note the beautiful read marbling on the peach slice, cut from the peach that was soft enough to be cut by a plastic knife found in the break room. The texture was soft but had the perfect amount of body, and the taste was sweet and, well, peachy…possibly the peachiest peach I’ve ever eaten. Sweet and peachy — all you could ever want in a peach.

Frog Hollow Farms ships too — you can order a box of peaches from this link. And while you’re eating your peach, I’ll tell you about the rest of my trip.

The second week was spent in the countryside.

My mother-in-law got the kids raincoats and wellies, so it promptly stopped raining.

Which meant that they could go on a ropes course.

I got to catch up with my neighbor Helen, who moved back to the UK two weeks earlier:

My sister-in-law took me shopping, where I fell in love with a dress that looked really sad on me:

Nevermind, though, because we hit Cath Kidston next where I got a tiered cake platter and a set of flowery napkins that my husband doesn’t like (but I love!).

We had a dinner celebration for my brother-in-law’s 40th:

and then headed over to spend a few days with our friends Simon and Laura.

And some time miming I guess.

The kids had a great time with their daughter, swimming:

hanging out:

and visiting her school:

Now I’m back at home, waiting for my flowers to be plentiful enough to place by my bedside table. Til then, this memory will have to do.


Cooking Food

Salmon Gravlax

Summer is officially here, and to me, summer is about garden parties, and more specifically, buying dresses and creating garden party situations so that you can wear them.

I’ve developed a maxi dress problem.

After shunning them for a few seasons, arguing that I’m not tall enough to pull it off and that my legs are some of the more reasonable parts of my body, I’ve taken to them like Usain Bolt to a track.

I recently bought this dress. Because I liked how she was walking through the fields. And I was sure I could find a field somewhere that I could walk through and look that young and skinny in.

Photo credit: Anthropologie

I haven’t found it yet. Also, I only recently realized that a shawl someone gave me years ago is actually a table runner.

But no matter, I have been to a garden party. This party was in my friend Marjie’s huge and beautiful garden, which was recently featured in a local garden walk. I met Marjie through my mother-in-law, who met her when she was living in Tokyo. Marjie is retired and designs jewelry, crafting, gardens and travels the world. She’s living the dream.

My kids love going to her house to pick fruit.  This time, it was kumquat season.

Marjie’s also a fantastic cook, and she whipped up a summery feast for us to enjoy outside.

Looking suspicious…

…where I did not wear said field dress.

Why yes, my hair is two different colors, thanks to my trip to Tokyo and lack of maintenance thereof.

One of the delicious dishes on the table was the gravlax. Flavorful, tender and placed atop a bagel it was delightful.

Here’s the recipe she used, which can be found on Epicurious:

GRAVLAX (Scandinavian Cured Salmon) from Epicurious:


3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons white peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon whole allspice or coriander, crushed
1 large bunch dill (about 3 ounces)
Two 1/2-pound center-cut salmon fillets, in 2 equal pieces
1 tablespoon cognac or vodka or aquavit (optional)
Black bread


In a small bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and allspice. Chop the stems and leaves of the dill. Lay a piece of the salmon, skin side down, on a piece of plastic wrap large enough to wrap both fillets. Sprinkle the fillet with half the spice mix, moisten with half of the cognac, if using, and cover with all the chopped dill. Cover the second fillet with the spice mix and cognac. Sandwich the 2 fillets together and tightly wrap in the plastic wrap. Make sure the fillets are held tightly closed with a good seal.

Place the wrapped salmon on a plate and weigh it down with a 1-pound can or weight. Place in the refrigerator. Every 12 hours or so, open the package and baste the fish with the liquid that has formed around it. Let the salmon cure for at least 24 or up to 36 hours.

When the salmon is ready, scrape the dill mixture off with a spoon and refrigerate the fish until ready to serve. To serve the gravlax; slice thin pieces at a 45-degree angle with a long, sharp narrow knife. Lay the gravlax out on a platter and serve it with black bread and a bit of mustard. The gravlax will stay fresh for a week wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator.

Serves 8.