Tag Archives: garden

Radish Sesame Salad


Radish Sesame Salad

Every year, early in the spring I plant radishes from seed in my little garden.   Since my garden is so small, I tuck the radishes rows between some of the slower growing vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage in order to utilize precious garden space.  Radishes are amazingly fast and easy to grow.  All they need is water and warm spring days.  Within 3 weeks after sowing the seeds, I am able to harvest crunchy little radishes for salads and snacks.


Thin sliced crunchy red radishes…


My Radish and Sesame Seed Salad is one of my favorite ways to prepare fresh picked radishes from my garden.  It’s vibrant in color and has wonderful Asian inspired flavors.  Next time you plant a garden, try sowing a few radish seeds.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 3 cups thinly sliced red radishes
  • 2 Tbs Mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • fresh cilantro, green onion or chives for garnish

Thinly slice the radishes with a mandolin or sharp knife.  Set aside.  In a medium sized bowl whisk together the Mirin, sesame oil, rice vinegar, black sesame seeds, ginger, garlic and salt.  Add radishes and toss.  Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for about 45 minutes.  Garnish with fresh cilantro, green onions or chives.  Makes 4 servings.

Spring Green Salad with Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette


Spring Green Salad with Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

I’m so excited!  Spring has finally arrived in Southern Oregon!  According to the calendar, “technically” it’s still winter.  According to what is happening in my backyard, the calendar is way wrong :)…


A crocus blossom… One of the first flowers to make an appearance in our backyard early in the season.  I love the bright orange stamens and the purple and white streaked petals.  I have them planted in many places in our yard.  Some reside in pots, some are tucked under bushes and trees.  Crocuses grow only a few inches tall and come back every year during the month of March.


This is a shot of some pansies that I have planted in a hanging pot on my back patio.  Pansies are a regular staple to our yard in the spring and fall.  Every time I look at them they make me smile.  I enjoy the bright and cheerful colors outside my kitchen window.


A close-up shot of a pansy blossom.  I was thrilled to capture this image with my camera.  Through the lens of my camera, I was able to see this amazing amount of detail on the flower.  I can’t see this level of detail even with my reading glasses on.


A tulip poking its way through the soil.  I look forward to a big vase full of bright red blossoms on our dining room table in a short couple of weeks.


Purple crocus.  What’s not to like about that deep rich indigo color?


Even the koi fish in our pond are starting to surface for the first handfuls of feed of the year.  This is Pumpkin…  He’s one of the original fish to live in our pond.  He’s almost 2 feet long and about 10 years old.  I remember the day when Bruce and I purchased him.  He was about 4 inches in length and shared a plastic bag with four other fish on the trip home. Several years later, we now have a total of 8 koi fish happily living in our pond.


Whenever I think of spring, one of the first things that come to mind is fresh picked strawberries.  I purchased a couple of pints of strawberries the other day and one of the things that I wanted to do with them was to make a spring like strawberry vinaigrette.  My Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette is a wonderfully pink colored salad dressing made with fresh strawberries, red wine vinegar, local honey, Dijon Mustard, canola oil and poppy seeds.  It’s a delicious vinaigrette to serve drizzled over a plate of fresh picked greens and sliced strawberries.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound strawberries (cleaned and hulled)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs honey or to taste
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds or to taste

Add strawberries, red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and canola oil to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Splash more vinegar into the dressing if you want… Mix in the poppy seeds.  Makes 1 cup or 16 – 1 Tablespoon servings.  Store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days.

Green Salad (per serving)

  • 2 cups fresh lettuce
  • 1 thinly sliced radish
  • 2 strawberries (hulled and quartered)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced radicchio
  • 1 Tbs Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (or to taste)

Assemble by placing salad greens on a plate.  Arrange radishes, strawberries and radicchio on top of the greens.  Drizzle greens with the Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette.  Makes one serving.

How to make a Basil Flavor Bomb…

My summer garden is officially done for the year.  Finished.  Toast.  See ya.  Bye.   All due to our very first fall frost of the season…  However, I would like to point out that I gathered all that was edible the night before the inevitable freezing temperatures hit.  I always pay close attention to the local weather forecast, my outdoor digital thermometer and the sky.  The frost lasted only about 15 minutes on Sunday morning but by then my basil plants were stripped, tomatoes were harvested and the last of the red bell peppers were gathered in my bucket.  The only things that the frost was able to take were the fruitless plants that remained.  Now those wilted plants safely reside in my compost bin to be used as a soil amendment for my brand new garden next spring.

I am always sad to see my summer garden leave for the year.  However, I look at it this way.  I have learned many horticultural lessons that I can apply in the following growing season.  Not to mention, I can begin planning my new garden canvas…  I make it a point to make every year in my teensy little garden better than the last.

I just love fresh picked sweet basil.  I use it in my kitchen all the time.  I like to grow basil in my garden rather than buy it at the store for I make sure that it is organic and pesticide free.  This year I almost grew too much.  Almost…

Basil is so amazingly fragrant and has such bright beautiful green leaves.  Basil is used in a variety of Italian dishes and many dishes in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.  The variety shown above is sweet basil.  I was so fortunate that my sweet basil plants grew like a weeds this year.  On the other hand, I had limited luck with my Thai and purple basil this year.  I’m not one to give up that easily, so I will try again next year.  Maybe by planting them in a different location or in a large pot.

Basil Flavor Bombs…  This is what to make when you have a boat load of fresh basil to deal with all at one time.  Basically, they are easy to make frozen basil cubes that you can add to soups, stews, or sauces throughout the winter season.  It saves money, tastes fabulous and is less wasteful.  I got this amazingly delicious recipe from Hannah at Rise and Shine.  Thank you Hannah!  Be sure to stop by her site, say hello and check out some other wonderful recipes for preserving herbs in oi!  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • several or just a few cups of packed fresh picked basil (washed, dried, stems removed)
  • olive oil (as needed)
  • salt (to taste)

Add basil leaves to a food processor.  Pulse while adding olive oil.  Add oil until the basil turns to a thick paste.  Pulse until nearly pureed.  Scrap inside of food processor with a spatula.  Add salt, pulse lightly and spoon into ice cube trays. Cover with plastic wrap and toss into the freezer.  Once frozen, remove from ice cube trays and toss into a Ziploc plastic bag or tightly covered container.  Freeze again.  Each cube makes about a 2 tablespoon sized flavor bomb.  Keep frozen.

Note:  When using the frozen basil cubes be sure to add them near completion of your dish.  You want retain as much of the bright basil flavor as possible.

Nasturtium Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Honey Mustard Dressing

Nasturtium Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Honey Mustard Dressing

There’s only a few days of summer left but my garden still does not seem to know it yet… Before my family woke up this morning I was out watering the plants, trimming flowers and harvesting anything that will fit into my garden basket and bucket.  My bounty this morning was a bucketful of heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, chives, parsley, and nasturtiums.  Even before my first cup of coffee I was thinking about making a salad…

Orange nasturtium blossom.  Nasturtiums are edible flowers that have a wonderful peppery flavor.  You can even eat the leaves too!

Nasturtium leaf.  The leaves are circular shaped with the stalk near the center of the leaf.  Some of my nasturtium leaves are green, some are variegated.  I grow my nasturtiums from seed in the spring and plant them where ever I can fit them in my garden.  Some are tucked under tomato plants and some are in pots.  They are easy to grow and add lovely color to your yard and garden.  Not to mention they taste great in salads!

Fresh picked heirloom tomatoes.  Green Zebras, Caspian Pinks, Indigo Rose, Sweet 100’s, Chocolate Cherries, Medford Ace, and Yellow Pears.  I walked away with a gallon size bucket filled to the top…  I’m going to roast some of the larger ones later for a delicious roasted tomato sauce.

My Nasturtium and Heirloom Tomato Salad is made with fresh picked nasturtiums, basil, chives, curled parsley, crunchy green leaf lettuce and a variety of heirloom tomatoes.  I then drizzle the salad with a tangy homemade honey mustard dressing.  It’s flavorful, fresh and delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 4 cups green leaf lettuce (washed and torn into bite sized pieces)
  • handful of nasturtium blossoms
  • handful of nasturtium leaves (pick the smaller ones)
  • handful of basil leaves
  • handful of curled parsley (coarsely chopped)
  • a few stems of chives (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 cup or 2 of small heirloom tomatoes
  • honey mustard dressing to taste (see recipe below)

Assemble all of your ingredients on 4 salad plates.  Drizzle with honey mustard dressing.

Honey Mustard Dressing

Whisk together in a small bowl the following ingredients.  Refrigerate immediately.  Keeps for about a week.  Makes about a cup.

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 5 Tbs honey
  • 4 Tbs stone ground mustard
  • 2 Tbs prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar

Green Cauliflower Salad with Garlic Caper Vinaigrette

Green Cauliflower Salad

I finally picked the last of my winter vegetables from my little garden.  Earlier this spring I planted some green cauliflower starts and I was amazed at how well they did this year.  I’ve never really had good luck with cauliflower before but, those who know me know that I’m not one to give up that easily…  One of the cauliflower heads that I harvested this year was about 10″ in diameter.  It was just amazing. I could not believe that I was able to grow such beautiful cauliflower in my garden!

In addition to the cauliflower, other vegetables that I have planted are ready for harvest.  My tomato plants are beginning to produce bunches of ripe tomatoes.  I planted several heirloom varieties of tomatoes in my garden and in large pots.  Medford Ace, Green Zebra, Black, Sweet 100, Pineapple, Caspian Pink, Yellow Pear, and Roma are some of the varieties that I selected this year.  Even my zucchini, yellow squash and lemon cucumbers will be ready to pick in less than a week.  I can’t wait!

Fresh picked green cauliflower.  Do you notice that it is almost a lime green unlike the traditional white cauliflower?  What’s cool about green cauliflower is that it retains its pretty green color even when it is cooked.

Green Zebra tomato.  One of my favorite types of tomatoes.  They are mild in flavor with gorgeous green stripes.  I like to slice them, combine with fresh mozzarella from the local creamery, fresh picked basil and drizzle with a good quality olive oil for a delicious and easy caprese salad.

Black tomato.  I have not tasted this variety yet.  It’s not quite ready to pick.  It will be interesting to see what the interior of this tomato will look like when I slice it.

Rainier cherry from my tree.  Rainier cherries are sweet, juicy and perfect for snacking.

The last of the Rainier Cherries. These tasty little fruits never made it into the house :).  Fortunately, I got to them before the hungry birds did…

Green Cauliflower ready to be picked.  You have to know that everything I grow in my garden is organic.  I am one of those people who refuses to use pesticides or herbicides.  I also make it a point to compost my yard debris, lawn clippings and kitchen scraps.  Sometimes I have problems with pests such as snails and slugs but in my opinion, I’d rather deal with them on an individual basis and be confident that the produce that I grow for my family is chemical free.

My Green Cauliflower Salad is a simple dish with fresh picked green cauliflower and a tasty garlic caper vinaigrette.  White balsamic vinegar and lemon zest give the salad a bright hit of flavor.  It can be served hot, cold or even at room temperature.  Makes 4 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 head of green cauliflower or 1 pound of florets
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • water
  • 6 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbs capers
  • 1 Tbs lemon zest
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • garnish with fresh picked nasturtium blossoms

Begin by placing a steamer basket in a medium sized pot with a tight fitting lid.  Add about 1 inch of water to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Add cauliflower, lemon juice and salt.  Add lid.  Steam cauliflower for about 6  to 8 minutes or until tender.  Remove from cauliflower from pot and drain.  Meanwhile, make the garlic caper vinaigrette. Whisk together the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, garlic, capers, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Add garlic caper vinaigrette and chopped parsley to steamed cauliflower and lightly toss.  Place in serving dish.  Garnish with nasturtium blossoms.  Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.