A Couple of Master Recipes

I just heard from Maggie Vinnedge with 2 of her recipes that i am craving!

Here they are and enjoy! Thanks Maggie!

Hi Sarah, here are the 2 recipes you requested:



This recipe pairs well with fish, chicken and other seafood. Toss 3 tbsp. Pesto with 2 cups cooked rice for a zesty side dish.


2 cloves garlic

¼ cup almonds

2 cups fresh basil (more if you like a more basil flavor) ¼ cup fresh lemon balm ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. Lemon zest

2 tbsp. Fresh lemon juice

¼ to ½ cup olive oil (I used the whole ½ cup) Salt to taste


Combine garlic and almonds in blender. Process for 20 seconds or until chopped. Add basil, lemon balm, cheese and lemon zest. Process for 30 to 40 seconds or until chopped. With motor running, add lemon juice and olive oil in a steady stream, adding more olive oil until pesto has reached desired consistency. Taste and add salt as desired; process 3 seconds to blend. Store tightly covered for up to one week in the frig or up to 3 months in the freezer.

If I’m going to freeze it I don’t put the parmesan cheese in during this process. I add it when ready to use as it loses it’s effectiveness in freezing.



1 lb. Dried figs

½ bottle sweet, fruity white wine

2 tbsp. Dark orange marmalade

10 mint leaves, finely chopped

Juice of ½ lemon


Place the figs in a pan with the wine and bring to a boil, then simmer very gently for about 1 hour. Leave to cool and refrigerate overnight. Will be thick (I added a tiny bit of water at end of simmering to keep it going).

Take the marmalade and the mint leaves and lemon juice, and simmer for a few minutes. You may add salt to taste, but I added none. When the sauce is thick and shiny put into sterilized jars and lid them. I put mine in the freezer so I don’t water bath. Be sure and leave ½ inch space at top if freezing to allow for expansion.

Great with poultry.


Maggie Vinnedge


Herb Class in, um, Where Are We Again?

Last night My friend stacey and i went out to La Center Washington for an Herb Class. I had no idea what i was getting myself into and in the back of my mind i thought, sheesh am i really driving all the way out thereon a monday night in the rain blah blah blah. I went and of course it was incredible.


Stacey has been living in Washington now for almost a year and is systematically searching the whole of south west Washington for everything that makes it special and the transition from Portland, wonderful. The best part about this is that she is finding success! We went to a blue cheese making class that, in Portland would have cost us $100 and in Battleground cost us $15 and included a great lunch!

SO, back to last night. We took our final turn down a dirt road that wound itself through the trees and, I am completely serious, through the shade of the trees we could see the sun shining down into a clearing that was the Vinnedge farm. As we pulled onto the property we were greeted by Maggie’s husband and the biggest blueberry bushes ( i think they were trees). We had the opportunity to wander Maggie Vinnedge’s gardens. We are talking about 7 acres of wonderlands here. I have never seen such immaculate paths and beds in my life and at the same time, there was a wildness about it that i loved.

The Urban Farm School hosted a group of people to an evening of lecture about all variety of herbs, a tour of Maggie’s gardens, incredible snacks and an herbal bath project. Maggie has every kind of herb imaginable and if it wasnt growing in front of me, she had grown it in the past and knew all about it. I went home with a new sense of what my own garden’s potential is (and my brain is about to pop) all sorts of seeds for herbs i tasted, loved and had never heard of, and the wisdom of a generation of women who dont mess around with their callings to the sew from the earth.

And then there was the food. I was ravenous! i hadnt had dinner and i thought we were going to discuss the medicinal purposes of lavender for 5 hours. I was going to start chewing on some random leaves i found but didnt want to discover they were a mild sedative or diuretic.

At last, we got to get up, stretch and begin grazing. My god, Maggie went to no end. We had fresh sugar snap peas stuffed with roasted pepper hummus, apple cakes, Swiss chard frittata, fig port marmalade, bee balm pesto, fennel corn biscuits, mustards, honeys, anything that you could pull out of your garden and stick in a jar with fruit compote. We had fresh blueberry juice, lemonade with lavender, bee balm tea. Her ice cubes each had a flower embedded into it. Seriously, this was incredible. I also heard that Maggie loves to share her recipes so i am working on the pesto and the fig port marmalade right now. She also inspired me, again, to start canning and create my own combinations of magic.


What a treat. Urban Farm School has something going on here and i cant wait to find out what it is. I signed up to host my own class about winterizing the chicken coop and putting the garden to bed for the winter. Stay Tuned!

Dinner in Garden

Summer is such a perfect time to enjoy dinner in the garden. Living in the Northwest, it is a crap shoot whether it will drop to 60 as soon as the sun sets, if it will rain or just be too hot to move.

Fortunately for me, i had a little dinner party and the weather was perfect!! I was hosting a dinner for 4 of my favorite people, plus their little ones.

Carl and Darlene are my friend Kaatje’s parents and i adore them. Carl is from Belgium and LOVES Belgium and beyond that he LOVES everything french. Darlene, his beautiful wife, loves him and everything he loves. So, that being said, i decided to capture the essence of my recent trip to France and make a lovely fresh summer meal in the garden. Kaatje and Mike were able to join us and their 2 beautiful children came too..

 Here is the menu:

Foie Gras wrapped in porc pate (from my favorite spot in france)
fresh tomatoes from the garden ( i had 2 that were juicy ripe!)
frozen cantaloupe wedges (slice it and toss it in the freezer, it is a perfect summer treat)
Prosecco Rose

Grilled Tarragon Butter Chicken Breasts (recipe at the bottom)
Green Garlic and Leek Souffles (using my eggs!)
Fresh green beans

Arugula Salad with cucumbers (from the garden)
with roasted walnut oil
Mondiva Cheese

Treats from PIX(thank you Kaatje!)
Ponzi Late Harvest Ice wine

The weather was absolutely perfect and remained warm all night.
The chickens came over to visit us while we ate and were fed treats (god they are just like dogs!)
It was a really fantastic evening.

Here is the recipe for the chicken. It was AWESOME!

Grilled Boneless Chicken Breasts with Tarragon-Mustard Butter
Excerpted from Summer on a Plate: More Than 120 Delicious, No-Fuss Recipes for Memorable Meals from Loaves and Fishes. Copyright 2008 by Anna Pump and Gen LeRoy. Used by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, NY.

4 servings

The Tarragon-Mustard Butter should be made the day before, wrapped and refrigerated, giving the flavors time to blend. Grilled summer squash and grilled bread will round out this meal beautifully.

Tarragon-Mustard Butter:

  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon (i used more)

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 2 pounds

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice ( i used an entire lemon)

  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine (i used 2 cups)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Fresh tarragon sprigs, for garnish

1. To make the tarragon-mustard butter, combine the butter, lemon juice, mustard, hot sauce, salt, and tarragon in a small bowl and stir until smooth.

2. Place a piece of plastic wrap on your work surface. Scrape the butter onto it and roll to shape into a short roll. Twist each end of plastic wrap to seal it. Refrigerate overnight, if possible.

3. Butterfly the chicken breasts by slitting each horizontally down the center, but not all the way through, so that each piece opens like a book. Place the chicken pieces in a shallow casserole. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, wine, olive oil, honey, pepper flakes, and salt. Pour it over the chicken. Turn and rub the mixture into the chicken to coat. Let it stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the grill to very hot.

4. Lay the chicken on the hot grill. Cook covered for 5 minutes. Turn, cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes longer, or until just cooked through.

5. To serve, place the hot grilled chicken on a platter. Cut tarragon-mustard butter into 1/3-inch slices and lay these over the chicken, allowing the butter to melt into a flavorful sauce.

Note: Substitute basil or cilantro for the tarragon in the butter and take this chicken dish into a whole new flavor direction.

I then took the marinade and brought it to a boil to cook out the raw chicken business and whisked in some of the tarragon butter i had made.
this was an excellent sauce and with teh added wine, it make about a cup of sauce for bread, beans and more chicken sauce…in case you didnt get enough :)

Where Are the Treats, Seriously

This weekend i had a great pet moment. A friend stopped by and we sat outside on a sunny afternoon with a bag of cracked corn (chicken crack) and all the critters. We were feeding the chickens and Mr Big, who is ALWAYS a mooch, wanted some snacks too. What he couldnt figure out was where the snacks were coming from and how the chickens could be enjoying them when they were obviously invisible.

Whatcha got there?

Seriously, whatcha got

What exactly are we eating here ladies? I see nothing

Nice bum, but what are you eating exactly

I give up, Timmy what are they eating?

I’m too old for this but arent they pretty?

And if you still havent gotten enough of my sweet pug in total confusion,

i also have a video…of course

HOT Chickens


This weekend was HOT! It was one of those weekends that doesnt cool down at night and when you go outside at 11pm, the air is thick and still and there is no respite from the heat.  I also love it because it is Summer and if we didnt get this heat wave, it would be depressing. So I water my garden 3 times a day, keep the dogs and cats inside and try to remain cool myself.

The chickens, however, are another matter. I will not bring the girls inside and i will not set them up with air conditioning because that is just silly. But i also know that the girls get hot and they are covered in down jackets! To keep them as happy as possible, i let them out of their coop each morning so they can go find a quiet cool spot of dirt. They also loved to eat whatever i had just watered.

I heard that when chickens are hot they open their wings and pant like dogs. I also heard that they roll around in the dirt and fling it about. Come to find out, they do exactly that and it is charming and sweet. Or i just think it is because i love my chickens more and more each day.

And the mystery is solved, at 1045am, gladys began to follow me around the garden, literally right on my heels. The line up went; me, then gladys then Mr Big then Timmy. As i went back and forth through the garden watering this and plucking that, i had this little pet parade on my heels. Gladys was the loudest. Apparently she was telling me something important because at exactly 11am, she went back to the coop, into the nest and laid an egg. I was so excited i hovered outside the coop trying to listen. She is a silent layer. So i peeked in and fed her a handful of blueberries. about 45 minutes later she came out clucking and strutting and went right back to her shady dirt spot.

About 2 hours later Jennie disappeared and i went in and fed her blueberries too. I think they appreciated the extra sustenance: egg laying is hot work! Jennie came out and made such a fuss about her recent delivery that the neighborhood dogs STOPPED barking for a minute. GO JENNIE! Holding a warm freshly laid egg, is truly an amazing moment. My maternal instincts want to keep it warm and watch it hatch…sadly no rooster so no chickies.

That night i had some friends over for dinner and plucked several green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes with that day’s eggs. YUMMMMYYYYY!

The Egg Came Second

The other night i was exhausted! I could barely crawl into my bed early enough but before i did, i went out to the coop to check on the girls and lock them in for the night. They were still awake and a bit fussy while they prepared for the night and i opened the nest lid to peak in and watch them. They are so funny when they are getting organized for the night. When i opened the lid to peak in I gasped, which also scared the girls who all froze and stared at me but i was in shock.

This tiny perfect little egg was sitting in the nest box.

I had not expected this! I had heard that the layers would start rolling around 6 months old but then another lady i spoke to said hers were 9 months old and hadnt started yet. My girls are exactly to the day, 5 months old. I actually got teary. I know i am a sap, and every other thing makes me cry but this was amazing to me. I had raised these tiny fuzzy bitties and now they were doing what only comes naturally to them. And it is a perfect process. I could not be more proud of them if i had laid them myself. Does this make me a grandmother?

last night i blew out the insides so i could keep the shells. After i blew them out there was a teeny tiny dark solid spot. Did Harriet get busy before she was discovered and transferred?? Are my eggs fertilized? I have no idea what that process is at all. But the eggs were cold so i am not really worried about my hens being broody yet. I have a feeling they are just as stunned as i am.

So every day I get to come home from work and peak in the nest box for my new addition. At this point I have had 2 eggs that look completely different from each other. I have no idea who is laying them but I think they are from the same hen. This weekend i am setting up camp outside the coop until i  find out. I cant wait. I do have my suspicions. Gladys was in the nest the other night but i am not sure if she laid it or was looking at it with curiosity. Penelope is much less cautious all of the sudden and came up to me last night in the garden to say hello and then chased Kerouac after he tried to sniff her. Jennie is the same. which one is it???? stay tuned…

Arent they perfect?


The Pure Joy of It All

Getting to know each other

On Saturday my friends Molly and Nina came over with their little tators Juliet and Finola and Rubycakes. The idea was to run around in the garden and play with the chickens and then eat some lunch.

What’s over there?

 So while Juliet was fearlessly feeding the chickens her blueberries, Finola was fearlessly grazing the strawberry patch like a true champ. It did my heart good to see some fruit go into a human belly too.

the girls are learning to feed the ladies 

I just LOVE the wonder and awe of children in the garden. They love it all and could care less about bugs and weeds and such, they just want to eat what is there to eat, poke at what can be poked at and laugh at everything else. Arent they beautiful? Nina put more pictures on her blog here


no i am not karating chopping my chicken