Tag Archives: London

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 Travel

Whole Trout en Papillote

It’s finally the end of the week and I’m feeling like the fish above. He’s all, “Girl, my terrariums are all dessicated and don’t even talk to me about my hair, so I’m just going to lie down in a bed of butter and lemons now.” Am I projecting?

I got back from another business trip to London a couple of weeks ago. Every morning I ran in the mist like a gorilla, which is my favorite weather and method to run in.

Across the bridge:

along the River Thames:

past Big Ben:

and on the first day, accidentally across a finish line amidst a cheering crowd in #theonlyraceilleverwin. Not to worry, the glory didn’t last long because the very next day some piece of cobblestone tripped me into some major Crouching Tiger-style flying and rolling on the ground resulting in this (and yes, as a friend so generously pointed out, I managed to land on the tops of my knees. And don’t judge my skin.):

It wasn’t like I was very noticeable wearing hot pink running shoes, a purple running skirt and a fuschia jacket or anything. I always said that exercise was dangerous.

Later, I did manage to make it to a pop-up restaurant in SoHo called The Full English, and felt much better after stuffing myself with bacon, eggs, tomatoes and beans. Check it out if you’re in London.

So that was London. Now on to fish.

Trout is one of my favorite fish, and what  I love about fish (aside from the brain health benefits that I so desperately need) is the speed with which you can prepare it. I’m not terribly experienced with cooking whole fish, so I used this Whole Trout en Papilotte recipe from the Food Network. Place some chopped onion on a piece of parchment paper, lay the fish on top and cut slits into it. Season it inside and out with salt and pepper.

Stuff the fish with herbs, coat the top with shallot butter (see instructions below) and cover it with a layer of lemons.

I wrapped it in the parchment, grilled it for 20 minutes, and it was done! Moist, tender, and makes you smarter!



  • 2 whole trout, dressed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet yellow onion
  • 2 handfuls fresh herbs (thyme, parsley and rosemary)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon-shallot butter, recipe follows
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Parchment paper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees (I used a grill — either will work!). Cut 2 sheets of parchment paper large enough to completely cover the fish when folded. Wash and dry the trout. Using a knife, score the fish on 1 side by cutting slits into the flesh just until you feel the bone. Season the trout generously, inside and out with salt and pepper. Spread 1/4 cup of the onions on each sheet of parchment. Place fish on top, scored side up. Stuff the inside of the fish with herbs. (It’s ok if they stick out a bit). Top each fish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the shallot butter. Cover with the lemon slices. Drizzle 1 tablespoon white wine and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over each fish. Fold the parchment over the fish. Starting at 1 end, fold the paper on itself, making sure to completely seal it. At the end, fold it underneath itself. Repeat. Place fish on large baking sheet and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes. To serve, place trout en papillote on a platter. Cut the parchment at the table to ensure that all the aromas stay inside the package.

Lemon Shallot Butter


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lemon, zest finely minced
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper


In a food processor, combine all ingredients until mixed. Place whipped butter mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log. Freeze until ready to use. Butter will keep in the freezer for at least a month.

Cooking Food Travel

The Last of Summer Tomato Salad

Et tu, summer?

After my last post about being still, I have to confess that I have been anything but. I woke up one day found myself in London:

I was there for business, but I did manage to fit in dinner with some friends, a few runs in Green Park, a peek at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich:

a meal and a chocolatey porter at the Mean Time brewery:

and a glorious hour at Fortnum & Mason, where I had an internal debate on whether my life would be incomplete without a $700 tea pot:

You know, because I have so many tea parties.

But then I realized that this decision was headed for the same outcome as a purchase I made 10 years ago of pleather pants, so I made a quick jaunt over to Carnaby Street where I bought overpriced scented erasers as souvenirs for the kids.

It was a hectic but productive trip, and as soon as I got home I promptly fell ill. And then got on a plane again soon thereafter.

All this rushing around argues for a bit of simplicity.

One of my favorite things about summer is tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes, to be exact. Colorful, flavorful, deliciously simple. We still have time for that.

I made this salad as part of an dinner we had with friends outdoors on a warm summer night. Because when you are a friend just arriving from Germany, with another on her way to Europe and a third who is Canadian, it would only be logical to stop in for a meal prepared by a Chinese American married to a Brit.

It’s a simple one really — just some slicing and a vinaigrette. But perfectly colorful, tasty, and quick enough to allow you time to enjoy some pause amidst the busyness of everyday life.



  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 varied, fresh heirloom tomatoes
  • 3-4 leaves of basil


Slice the tomatoes into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place them in a single layer on a serving dish, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Mix the balsamic vinegar and salt together, until the salt dissolves. Add in olive oil and stir until combined. Grind in some fresh black pepper to taste. Pour over the tomatoes.

Julienne 3-4 leaves of basil and sprinkle over the salad.

Serves 4-6.



Cooking Food Popular

Rose Petal Jam

When we’re in England, we spend a lot of time at my in-laws’ house in the countryside. It’s an old oast house, and my husband says that judging by the plumbing it was built in 200 BC. It’s also rumored to be haunted, which freaks me out, because you know that some old 16th century English ghost is going to take a look at me and go, “Hey look! A Chinese person! I want to talk to her!”

At the oast house lives a dog, Musty. My kids beg me 382.7 times a day on average for a dog, and when we’re over they make it their personal mission to be Musty’s personal trainer, working with him for 90% of the day. They start with a morning run through the fields, during which Musty is required to fetch sticks through wheat, streams and over equestrian-type obstacles.

Here, my father-in-law Chris observes a never-ending game of fetch, shortly before Musty begged for mercy.

I write about Musty to offer these quality personal training services to your dogs. I’m not ready to commit to a pet, so it would be a great help if there are canine volunteers out there looking for some endurance training.

One thing you see a lot of in English gardens is roses.

And these flowers, whose name I forget, so I’m just going to call them St. Agnes Himmyhocks, because it just feels right.

My mother-in-law, Georgina, who is as famous as I am usually famished, had an idea that we should make rose petal jam with the roses in the garden. So she and the girls went around the garden and gathered petals.

They smelled soooo good.

Start by prepping a syrup of sugar, water and lemon juice and let it boil down until syrupy.

Throw in the rose petals — we had mostly pink but some blue (violet) roses which added some nice color — and let them boil 20 minutes.

Once we were done boiling we found that the petals were still rubbery, so Georgie ended up fishing them out of the jam.

I know, that’s not really the right picture for what I just said, but I didn’t get a picture of that.

The result? A brilliant violet-colored jam that tastes like it smells — a wonderful combination of the sweetness of roses and the brightness of lemon. Up top you can see that I had it drizzled over vanilla ice cream with raspberries on top…divine!

There are a number of different recipes online for rose petal jam, some of which involve soaking the petals in advance, or coating them with sugar overnight — they may result in softer petals and perhaps you would be able to leave them in. We haven’t yet experimented with those. But this one was lovely all the same. See how happy Georgina is with the jam?



  • 1/2 lb rose petals, rinsed, brown petals removed
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 1/2 TBSP pectin


Combine water, sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add in pectin and simmer for 2-3 minutes longer.

Add in rose petals and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Jam will begin to take on the color of the petals. With a slotted spoon, fish out petals, pour jam into jars allowing room for expansion, and cover with jar lid. Allow to cool and use or freeze (tip: if you freeze, use only jam jars with straight sides to avoid glass breakage from jam expansion).

Makes 2 1/2 – 3 jars.

Anyone else experiment with rose jam? Would love to hear your suggestions!