It’s good to be home

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From Family

My nephew and his new bride circumnavigate an amazingly green field right after the wedding ceremony. What a wonderful way to start their married life together!

You may have noticed a lull in my posting schedule. For the past week I have been in upstate NY, Massachusetts (near Providence) and Philadelphia, PA. It was a very, very green and wet family visit.

I think it rained at some time each day, though not enough to keep us from going out and doing things. The result of all the rain was a deep, dark, rich green that I truly miss living here in southern California. I also got to enjoy lightening bugs – another east coast phenomenon that is sadly lacking here. It was fun to see everyone’s veggie gardens also.

Still it is nice to be back to our cool, dry mornings, brilliant sunshine, and hot afternoons. My daughter did an excellent job of watering my container plants in my absence. Nothing died! The native gardens have slowed down for the summer and I have been cutting back dormant grasses and cleaning up a bit. (I received a brush clearance notice from the fire department, so I am working hard to come into compliance. The neighbor who doesn’t like my parkway garden has been very busy. After contacting the fire department, he went to city council to bring up the fact that my garden is still in violation of the parkway landscape ordinance. More on this when I am less upset.)

So for today’s post, I would like to focus on food. Tomatoes are looking great, though the only red ones are the cherries. They taste good, not great.

I harvested another meal’s worth of Blue Lake green beans.

From Veggie Garden

The basil is wonderful and made a great dinner of shell macaroni with basil pesto. My breath is still garlicky.

From Veggie Garden

I also made a large pot full of schav – a cold sour cream and French sorrel soup – for a 4th of July barbecue at my son’s house. The French sorrel (in the cage to the right of the tomato plant) is a perennial that has been in my garden for many years. Each summer I harvest the leaves for this cold soup that reminds me of my childhood summers as much as sweet corn and juicy, red watermelons.

From Veggie Garden

I’d love to give a recipe for this Jewish, eastern European dish, but I don’t have one. Here’s a brief description of how I make it.


  1. Clean leaves and stems of a bunch of French sorrel. Separate the stems from the leaves. This is especially important for older plants since the stems become very fibrous.
  2. Put the stems in a pot of water and cook for about 15 minutes. Strain the water and squeeze it out from the stems, leaving a sour broth with no fiber. I do this using a spoon and a coarse screen strainer.
  3. Cook the leaves in the sour water until they wilt and change color, just a few short minutes. Gently strain the sorrel leaves from the water. Reserve the sour water.
  4. Put a small amount of kosher salt in a bowl. Add chopped scallions (green onions). Rub the scallions with a spoon in the salt to release the oniony juices.
  5. Coarsely chop a peeled and seeded cucumber. Add this to the scallions.
  6. Add some of the sour water to the scallion and cucumber mix. Add sour cream and stir. Adjust the quantities of sour water and sour cream to taste (I told you I didn’t have a recipe!).
  7. Add the cooked sorrel leaves at the end. Adjust the salt and add white pepper if desired.
  8. Refrigerate. The soup gets better with time as the flavors blend together.

My mother used to add hot boiled potatoes to the cold soup when she was in a cooking mood. Others include chopped hard boiled eggs. I like it plain.

I realize this recipe will be difficult to follow for those who have never tasted schav. Guess you’ll just have to come visit some summer.

Last Modified on March 24, 2015
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7 thoughts on “It’s good to be home

  1. Hi Barbara – <br />Love the addition of food-talk and recipes to your blog. I&#39;m from the east coast and also miss the color green. And the magic of lightening bugs. <br /><br />Great series on grasses BTW, especially for a neophyte gardener like myself.<br /><br />Hope to see you sometime this summer. Happy Fourth!<br /><br />Pamela Burgess

  2. I was back east in New Hampshire a couple of weeks ago, and I was a bit shocked at how green everything was. I started to understand how other people&#39;s ideas of green and my idea of green are not always the same. The foliage seemed reckless and I had to remind myself I wasn&#39;t in California anymore.

  3. Thanks, Pamela. Hope we do see each other soon. <br /><br />Ryan, the green is definitely greener on the other coast, but I like to think of it as reversed seasons. Once the leaves fall they have months of cold weather with little color at all. Both have their beauty.

  4. One day I&#39;ll grow veggies maybe – but not for a while. Fun to see yours. And fun to see the GREEN of the rainy east coast! I come from a green place and when I return for a visit I swear my eyes will turn green from soaking up all that saturated color – having become so used to the California gold it&#39;s really a shock for the first while.

  5. Nothing says &quot;welcome home&quot; like fresh veggies in the garden. But I&#39;m sorry you had the upsetting notice from the fire department to spoil some of that welcome. I hope the unhappy neighbor eventually comes around.

  6. I&#39;m not a great veggie gardener, but nothing beats the way they taste – especially tomatoes! <br /><br />As far as my neighbor goes, it&#39;s rather complicated and unpleasant. I guess I need to just chalk it up as a learning experience. Luckily many, many others really appreciate the garden and have let me know.

  7. Hi Barbara,<br />Thanks for stopping by my blog. We haven&#39;t had a very hot season here in Northern CA so I haven&#39;t had many ripe tomatoes. I&#39;ve had a bunch of romas that I&#39;ve cooked with and a handful of cherry tomatoes. Sorry about your neighbor troubles…

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