There was a time years ago when I was hooked on baking sourdough bread. I had the requisite starter you need to infuse the bread with flavor and leavening, and I baked it religiously every week. At some point it became too much for me and I gave up both baking the bread and keeping the starter. But then my friend Joanne Sherif, a baker who owns Cardamom Bakery & Cafe, gave me some of her discard starter and I was off and running to find ways to use the starter that didn’t tie me to baking just bread. Over the past year I’ve made chocolate cake and double chocolate banana bread—with my discarded starter. And I’ve made everything from English muffins to popovers to even granola. In my latest piece for The San Diego Union-Tribune I explain how to use discarded sourdough starter and offer a few recipes to start with.
We all know the drill. Indulge over the holidays with a New Year’s vow — OK, resolutions — to eat better, eat clean, lose weight, reduce carbs, cut out sugar and salt ... But as we head into February, how are you doing? If you need some inspiration by way of tips and recipes, read my new piece in The San Diego Union-Tribune featuring Ron Oliver, who's now executive chef at Luna Grill and co-founder Maria Pourteymour. You'll love Ron's recipes for Eggplant Tagine, Freekeh Lentil Pilaf, and Mediterranean Yogurt Cheese with Pears!
To get to the very top parcels of land in Rainbow owned by Ismael “Mel” Resendiz, you have to drive up a long, narrow road, much of it paved, some — oy — not, with more hairpin curves than the Grand Corniche above Monte Carlo. If Resendiz, who owns Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers and makes this drive up and down the mountain multiple times in the course of a day, is taking you up in his pickup truck, you’ll do it at a brisk speed that will swipe your breath away. Unconsciously, you’ll be clenching the seat and armrest while averting your eyes from the steep drop just below your window.
But it’s worth it. From that height not only are you surrounded by glorious bushes of Aurea Protea filled with giant swollen buds on rose-colored stems just starting to open, but on a clear day you can see across valleys and just make out some of his additional plots of land. Altogether, Resendiz owns 14 in Rainbow, totaling approximately 180 acres, and leases another three. About half are fully planted right now with exotic protea bushes and other plants grown to accompany them in bouquets and wreaths.
Resendiz has turned an unusual, obscure flower into a high-profile, high-demand designer product that is even in Rose Parade floats. Both he and his flowers have a fascinating story I was able to tap into for The San Diego Union-Tribune.
There are certain foods that, no matter how simple they actually are to make, they still have a mystique about them. Caramels and marshmallows, for me, have long fallen into this category. But thanks to Nancy Flint of Sugar Mamma I’m feeling more confident about making them myself—and, oh, is it worth the effort! In my latest story for The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Food section, Flint demonstrates how she makes these sweets and shares her recipes with readers. Being with her in the kitchen as she prepared them was a wonderful demonstration of the magic of science! Treat yourselves!
With the holidays coming up soon, I thought it would be fun to show readers how they can make their own cheese for the gatherings they’re holding or attending. Ricotta and mozzarella both are very accessible for home cooks. Who else to ask to teach these skills but Gina Frieze, owner of Venissimo Cheese. We met in her loft for a session that included cheesemaking and making a couple of dishes from these cheeses: Lemon Lavender Baked Ricotta and Mozzarella Provoleta. Both are divine and easy to make, not to mention big winners for a holiday party! All of this is included in my new story for The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Brijette Romstedt is a local treasure! If you don't know about her business, San Diego Seed Company, you're not growing the right seeds for our region! My new story about her in The San Diego Union-Tribune reveals how she does small-scale seed production on her acre property, along with her tips for home gardeners for starting seeds.