Liz Lemon becomes Lemon-Honey Tart

When R and I bought the house, I knew that I wanted to get a lemon tree. I stalked our local hardware store until they arrived in April and convinced R that it would be the perfect “housewarming gift” to ourselves. We painstakingly looked through all the lemon and lime trees in the store to find the perfect Meyer Lemon varietal, the tree had 5 established lemons already growing and looked promising. We spent the day transporting the tree, which I promptly named Liz Lemon, home and planted her in a beautiful pot. She spent the summer in our sunroom, where 2 out of 5 of the tiny lemons survived the traumatic move.  All summer, R and I doted on Liz Lemon like she was our child.  Slowly, but surely, the lemons grew larger, but stayed green. At one point, I expressed to R that it was taking so long maybe we had gotten a lime tree on accident instead.


Finally, about a month ago, the color started changing, and I knew I had lemons. They slowly turned totally yellow, and dropped off the tree.


I was ecstatic. That weekend we had some people over for game night and cut into one of the lemons to garnish our drinks. The inside was nearly orange and smelled very sweet. Oh my gosh, did I get a orange tree instead? All night, everyone discussed the great lemon tree mistake of 2012.  The next day, I googled meyer lemons and refreshed my memory to the fact that the meyer type is actually a cross between a mandarin and a lemon, it boasts all of the lemon flavor with much less tartness. Phew.


In hindsight, using one of my lemons to garnish vodka-sodas might not have been the best use of this quality ingredient. I knew that with my 2nd lemon, I needed to make something that would emphasize it’s best features.  This Lemon-Honey Tart with Salted Shortbread Crust highlighted Liz Lemon’s delicate flavor perfectly.


We brought Liz Lemon inside near our dining room window that gets lots of light for the winter. A lot of her leaves have fallen off, which I read can be normal when the tree goes dormant. Here’s to hoping Liz Lemon will grow lots this spring and double her production next year!



Kiambethu Tea Farm

A couple weeks ago I went to Kiambethu Tea Farm for a lunch in the garden and tour.  I found the rolling hills covered in tea really beautiful, and the lunch in the garden was delicious and scenic.  They also had several animals roaming the area including some adorable pups and cows who’s milk is used for homemade ice cream.

Lunch in the garden

Lunch in the garden


A tree that people used to come to for worship

Weiner dog

Weiner dog


Ice cream cows!



If you come to the Nairobi area, check out Kiambethu Tea Farm in Limuru for a fun afternoon.



Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

If there are 2 vegetables I do not particularly like they are carrots and brussels sprouts. When we were kids, our lunch consisted of sandwich or tortilla rollup, apple, carrots, juice box and fruit snacks. Do you know how hard it is to trade carrots for cheetos in the lunch room? Now, I thank my mom for instilling good eating habits in me, but due to the excess amount of carrots consumed at a young age. I can’t seem to munch them raw very often anymore. Until recently that is, I’ve ventured back to carrots after trying some of the newer varieties. We can thank the heirloom vegetable movement for that.

My mom forwarded her friend Jane’s photos of her solar yellow carrots that are from her garden in the Spokane, Washington area.

photo: JB

They truly look like tiny space ships.

She also sent a photo of  her brussels sprouts and cabbage.

photo: JB

And although I never cared for steamed brussels sprouts plopped on my plate as a child, while living in Park City, I had the opportunity to experience the Talisker on Main Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad. I am now singing a different tune. Could be the bacon….mmmm bacon.

Here is the TOM recipe via their FB page:


  • 20-30 brussels sprouts, petals only (discard the hearts)
  • 3 Tbsp. hickory or double-smoked bacon, large dice
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp. olive oil for sautéing
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: blueberries, dried cranberries, diced strawberries

Sautee and render out the fat of the bacon. Add brussels sprouts petals and shallots. Sautee for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add sherry vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste and finish with the pomegranates and any optional fruit. Serves 4.




Sweet Dahlia Memory

My colleague’s 94 year old father brought in 3 big bunches of dahlias the other day. He raises them on his 4 acres of property and delivers them to his remaining friends. He joked that most of his friends are gone now and that his stops include their kids and grandkids along with several “old people homes”.

His comments reminded me of a good friend in high school; his grandmother doted on her dahlias, bragging about them regularly and showing off her garden.

Which reminded me of a walk this time last year with my mom and grandmother (98 years old now).  We meandered through the gardens in the retirement area of the home she lives in. There were yellow dahlias as big as my head and she liked feeling the petals and talking about the colors. We reminded her of the house in Tacoma on Vassault, that grows the most gorgeous flowers every year and has a sign that reads, “Dahlias for Sale”.

Dahlias remind me of when I was volunteering at The Children’s Center in Salt Lake City and one of the girls in the class was the cutest, sassiest, little thing named Dahlia.



Modern Day Victory Garden!

In the 1940’s the Department of Agriculture created a huge campaign to fight food cost inflation called the Victory Garden. The concept was backed by the thoughts that gardeners would feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the fruits of their labors – literally.

I’m not sure if it is because I’m getting older, but it seems like more and more of my friends are planting their own gardens. In the same victory style concept but now, less to fight food cost inflation but more to support farm to table style dining. And more because of the fear of what the pesticides in our food could mean for our future generations. Organic farming is the new victory garden.

I think I mentioned before that I joined a CSA for the first time this year. Every week I pick up a small share from Terry’s Berries in Puyallup, WA. I’ve been getting so much produce, paired with the things from my own garden that I’ve had to split the small share with my parents. If you do have too much produce from your garden and you’re tired of freezing, canning, or prepping, most food banks are happy to take them as donation.

Think organic products can’t be as big as normal ones? Check out this spinach leaf.

Are you growing a garden this year? Organic or not? Involved in a CSA?