Saturday, October 29, 2011

Farmer's Market: Saratoga

We've been doing some traveling to craft shows the past couple of months and one of my favorite things to check out are the area's farmer's markets.

If you're ever in Saratoga, California, be sure to stop in at the farmer's market on Saturdays at West Valley College on Allendale Avenue.

We got there early, before the market opened, on our way to the craft show across the street.

They've got all kinds of good looking produce.



I loved seeing it on the bush--it reminds me of my grandmother growing edamame in her backyard.

I wrote a little about it in my Seasoned Edamame post.

There seemed to be a good assortment of Asian vegetables.

Since we were traveling, I didn't get to buy much.


They had lots of fresh okra.

My mom loves okra.

When my kids were little, Mom & the kids had a special saying they'd tease each other with,

"I love okra more than you!"


Made me have a craving for Fig and Arugula Lavash Pizza.

Did you know that chestnuts grew like this?

The farmer's market had flowers and plants too.

The cyclamen were beautiful.

 So were the succulents.

And the orchids!

I think the orchid booth was the busiest.

There was also a fishmonger.

I'm not sure but...are these sardines?

I learned how to eat sardines when I worked at the Whittier Farmer's Market for Taguchi Farms.

My friend Bonnie Taguchi's dad, Mr. Ige, would buy fish from the fishmonger there and sometimes he would get some for me, too.

He said sardines are good for you, grill them and eat the tiny bones for a lot of calcium.

He said the fish at the bottom of the food chain are healthiest.

Sometimes at the market, Mr. Ige would buy a tamale from a street vendor.

He would keep it in his front shirt pocket and take a bite when Mrs. Ige was looking the other way.

He loved them but wasn't supposed to eat them because he had health issues.

When he'd take a bite, he'd look at me, smile, and say, 

"Shhhhh! Don't tell The Warden."

Years later, after Mr. Ige had passed, Mrs. Ige told me she always knew when he was sneaking food.

Mr. Ige had a lot of stories to tell of Japan, the War and growing up in Hawaii working the sugar cane fields.

Some stories were sad, most were funny, and I feel fortunate to have spent time with him listening.

One of the stories I'll always remember is about the time he went to visit his elderly mother in Japan. 

She may have been in her 90's, and Mr. Ige in his late 60's or 70's.

He said the first thing his mother would do when she saw him after a long time between visits is give him a scolding for not visiting sooner.

His words of wisdom were, 'It just goes to show you, you're never too old to get chewed out by your mother.'


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Curly Endive

My dad grows vegetables.

The other day he brought over a couple of bags with huge heads of lettuce in them.

Curly endive.

The heads of curly endive are so big and healthy-looking!

So delicious, too!

I'm so thankful my dad thinks of me and delivers fresh produce to my door.

Sometimes it's simply ding-dong-dash--he rings the doorbell and by the time I open the front door, he's already heading out the front gate with a wave, off to make his next delivery.

Thanks, Dad!

My dad grew up with farming as the family business, and even though he's worked in other businesses, I think in his heart he'll always be a farmer.

This old photograph had a clump of fuzzy purple fur stuck to it--thank you to my daughter Karen for the great restoration.

You did such a great job, Karen!

I think my dad is happiest on a tractor.

He loves tractors.

A long time ago, when he was convalescing from something--I can't remember what--I bought him a fancy scale 1950's model vintage Ford tractor, one of those fancy ones, from a mall store that used to carry really nice reproductions of old cars and stuff.

My mom later told me that my dad liked it so much--he took the tractor out of the box and while in bed, puttered that tractor around the bed just like a little kid.

Making the tractor noise and everything.

Turns out that tractor was the model he farmed with, back-in-the-day.

My dad's been growing vegetables at The Hurst Ranch in West Covina for about 40 years.

If you've been following along here, you might remember that's where my daughter got married--there are some photos here, after the recipe.

He's got something growing there almost year-round.

Now that my dad's got someone that helps with growing the vegetables at Hurst Ranch, he's been growing some different things, like the curly endive.

The last few photos were taken by my sisters-in-law.

Thanks, Lorraine and Amy for sharing your photos!

While visiting with my mom and dad the other day, they told me a nice story.

My mom's friend, the one in this picture--Jean, got in touch with my mom after years and years by email.

I always knew her name because she was in my parents' wedding album, and I knew she was Mom's good friend, but I didn't know her.

Mom simply said Jean was her friend that lives in New York.

(My cousins Karyn and Reiko are so cute and so little in this picture!)

Mom said she told Jean about, and that Jean's been following along, and has even tried some recipes.

She said that Jean feels like she's gotten to know our family from all the stories I've told here.

Someday, I hope to meet Jean and listen to her tell some stories about my mom when she was a young girl.

I have several friends that I sometimes have lost touch with for years, then when we see one another again we can pick up as if no time has passed since the last time we spoke.

It seems like Mom and Jean may have that kind of friendship.

When I get to meet Jean, I'll be sure to bring my camera to take a photo of the two of them together, so I can put it next to the one with the two of them together on Mom's wedding day.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Stew

Do you ever start out making one dish and then change your mind in the middle of preparations?

That's what happened to me.

I started out making Chicken Pot Pie and then thought about how I'm not a real fan of the crust--so the dish changed to Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Stew.

I made the stew with leftover chicken, but you could buy a rotisserie chicken to cut down on the prep time.

I don't have pictures of the preparation of this dish because another one of my camera memory cards became unreadable.

Thankfully, I finally figured out what I have been doing wrong after doing some research online.

I had a habit of snapping the camera 'off' after taking a series of photos, and apparently the camera didn't have enough time to write the photos to the memory card--and the memory card became damaged.

Now I am leaving the camera 'on' and letting it turn off by itself after a minute or so--hopefully I won't damage any more cards!


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped celery, leaves and all
2 carrots, chopped
1 package mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 russet potatoes, diced
2 bay leaves
a pinch of dried rosemary, thyme and oregano

3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine, if desired

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk, half & half or cream


2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water if the soup needs further thickening

Shred or dice the cooked chicken and set aside.

Heat a soup pot and add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the chopped onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, garlic potatoes and spices. Saute over medium high heat until the vegetables are wilted.

Add the chicken broth and white wine, if desired. Bring to boil and simmer gently until the vegetables are soft.

In another small pan, melt the 2 tablespoons butter, add 2 tablespoons flour and whisk together until evenly combined. Simmer for a few minutes, lower the heat if necessary, being careful not to let the mixture turn brown. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly so lumps don't form. Mixture should be thick since you're going to add it to the stew. After mixture thickens and the consistency is even, add it to the stew and combine well.

Simmer for 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings.

Add the 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water if the soup needs further thickening by bringing the pot to a gentle boil and adding the cornstarch mixture while stirring. Simmer gently for 5 more minutes.

Garnish with chopped parsley, chives or jalapeños.



This is my sister Margaret.

This photo was on my Tuna Poke post, if you've been following along, you may have seen it before.

That was when I began to add something personal after the recipes.

As you can see, Margaret is a lot of fun.

Margaret is about a month old in this photo.

That year, all I wanted for Christmas was my two front teeth.

Because I already had a baby sister.

And my brothers Gordon and Warren.

Margaret has had long hair her whole life.

This is one of my favorite photos of Margaret and Ken.

This one, too.

Margaret is an athlete.

In high school she won the Wilson Award to honor the outstanding senior girl for scholarship, athletics and leadership.

These days Margaret's a runner.

Margaret married her high school sweetheart, Andy, in my mother's wedding dress.

As I've said before, my mom and my sister have a lot in common. 

They are both gentle souls with a calm, reserved manner, fun, funny, talented, humble, thoughtful and patient.

I tend to be a little on the emotional side, and they are always such great sounding boards for me.

I don't know what I'd do without either of them.

It's funny that just recently, Margaret told me that she thinks I got all the talent.

I don't think so.

Margaret's very artistic--she can draw--and I can't.

She's crafty too.

Several years ago, her family moved to Hawaii.

I miss them.

I cherish their visits, they always seem so short!

When she was here visiting earlier this year, she got Warren and I to go to The Price Is Right with her.

Like I said before, 

She's a lot of fun!

Love you, Margaret!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bisquick Biscuits & The Brick Factory

The first thing I learned how to cook was biscuits.

I remember my mother letting me make them when I was about 9 or 10 years old and wanted to help in the kitchen.

Now that I look back on it, I greatly appreciate my mother's patience.

Even though she was busy getting dinner on the table for 7 hungry family members, she still let me help her in the kitchen by giving me the job of making the biscuits.

I remember her telling me not to play with the dough too much otherwise the biscuits will become tough.

I wanted them to look just right, so I took my time getting them to the right shape and size.

That must be why my brothers called them "bricks".

I played with the dough too much and the biscuits were hard.

As bricks.

My brothers Gordon and Warren used to pick up the biscuits and drop them on their plates so they could hear them "THUNK" on their plates.

My youngest siblings Margaret and Ken were too little to join in on the fun of teasing me.

The first biscuits I learned to make were made from Bisquick.


2 1/4 cup Bisquick
2/3 cup  to 1 cup milk

Pour the milk into the Bisquick and stir lightly with a fork to combine the ingredients just until moistened.

When the Bisquick is moistened, stir vigorously and count to 30.

2/3 cup milk will look like this--a stiffer dough.

I like a softer dough, so I use 1 cup milk.

Beat this vigorously and count to 30 too.

Then turn out onto a surface that you've sprinkled a little of the baking mix onto, gather into a ball and knead 3 times.

Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. 

The softer dough will be really soft, you'll be able to just pat it to 1/2 inch thickness.

Cut into desired shapes, you can even cut them square.

After you've cut the first biscuits, gently gather the scraps and lightly press them into a round biscuit shape, being careful not to handle them too much.

Put them on a baking sheet and bake in a 450ºF oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Bake until just lightly browned.

I am thankful my mother had the patience to allow me to learn by doing-- and gain experience, confidence and proficiency by repetition.

I still remember sitting down to dinner and my brothers saying,

"I can see The Brick Factory is open today!"

You could also put 2 tablespoons chopped chives and 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese in the dough, that makes a good biscuit too.

I think we'll have biscuits when everyone comes over for Thanksgiving dinner next month.



This is my family that had to suffer through The Brick Factory.

Now they all come to my house for holiday dinners.

I was about this age when I started to learn how to make biscuits.

My sister Margaret and my brother Ken were too little to tease me.

This is one of my favorite photos of Ken when he was little.

I used to carry this one in my wallet when I was in high school.

Ken's the youngest and was the most fun.

He was always happy and laughing.

He loved sports.




That's Ken on the top row, second from left.

He's an Angels fan.

Ken used to have a mullet.

He's musical, too.

He was the only one that got to take music lessons--he took accordion lessons from Milton Mann.

We see him on holidays--all the kids look forward to seeing Uncle Ken.

I wonder if he still has his accordion...

The time he brought it over for Christmas and played Christmas carols on it was such a treat!

His nieces and nephews liked to make Uncle Ken play Guitar Hero with them.

They liked to make him sing Michael Jackson songs.

This is a favorite photo of mine of Ken as an adult.

He'll always be my baby brother.

Love you, Ken!


Bisquick Biscuits


2 1/4 cup Bisquick
2/3 to 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Pour the milk into the Bisquick and stir lightly with a fork to combine the ingredients just until moistened.

When the Bisquick is moistened, stir vigorously and count to 30.

Then turn out onto a surface that you've sprinkled a little of the baking mix onto, gather into a ball and knead 3 times.

Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. Gently gather the scraps and lightly press them into a round biscuit shape, being careful not to handle them too much.

Bake in a 450ºF oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Variations: crumbled bacon bits, chopped chives, grated cheese, chopped olives or chopped jalapeños.