De Ma Cuisine

Gardening Archive



July 2020



Beyond Arugula Salad

Written by , Posted in Dairy-Free, Fish, Fruit, Gardening, Gluten Free, Leftovers, Lunch, Main Dishes, Meat, Nuts, Quick and Easy, Vegetables

The heat of July can feel oppressive and overwhelming. I forget what it’s like to be cold. Even on the cooler days the humidity drenches us with sweat. July feels like a month to get through. But, we’re at the end of it. We did it.

August has always felt gentler, the breeze cooler and more refreshing. Less like hot breath, more like a cool caress.

The past two weekends have been hot hot hot. All fans on all the day, move as little as possible, ice cubes melt in minutes. The only good thing about it is that the tomatoes and basil like it. The arugula that I grew way too much of doesn’t seem to care either way. It survived winter, it’s thriving in summer, what doesn’t it like?!

I tried to grow Butter Lettuce. Not a single seed sprouted. What even am I doing wrong?! The thing I want to grow won’t, the thing I don’t is so abundant that it’s choking out other plants. That feels very 2020 of it.

Tim has declared that he hates arugula. I’m trying to trick myself into liking it. If I eat it often enough will I start to enjoy it? My friend, Madie, eats it from the garden while we stand six feet apart and chat in the sun.

Arugula is ok when it’s well balanced. As I was eating this salad the other day I could taste the earthiness of the beet greens, the spice from the arugula, and sharpness from the pickled onions. It was smoothed out by sweetness from raisins and balsamic vinegar, finished by smooth peppery olive oil and salty almonds. Some leftover salmon elevated it to a filling meal.

Some things are my best enjoyed on their own: chocolate ice cream, crispy bacon, cherry tomatoes still warm from the sun. They’re great as food pals, but they don’t need any help from anyone. Arugula isn’t there yet. But, Madie, I’ll always have some plain arugula growing in my garden just for you. You can have that while I enjoy my ice cream. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Arugula Salad with Raisins and Salmon


  • arugula, spinach, beet greens, and baby kale, torn into bite sized pieces
  • pickled onions
  • raisins
  • chopped roasted and salted almonds
  • cooked salmon (or crispy tofu)
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar


  1. Toss the greens. Top with pickled onions, raisins, almonds, and salmon. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Serve with crusty bread that’s been toasted and slathered with butter and jam and a glass of rosé if you’re feeling those summer vibes.



July 2020



Simple Garden Salad

Written by , Posted in Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gardening, Gluten Free, Herbs, Lunch, Main Dishes, Nuts, Quick and Easy, Salads, Thoughts, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

I have so much to say that I feel as though I might burst. My thoughts seem to tumble about and get muddied because there are too many to organize. I don’t know where to start.

I guess I’ll begin here. In the garden.

I feel like I should be talking about something other than plants and seeds and watering schedules. But, right now the world is showing me that there’s not a lot of joy out there. So, I’m going to share something that brings me a bit of happiness in the midst of turmoil.

I’ve been growing vegetables for years. My first garden was planted in hard-packed sandy dirt. It was at the top of the driveway of the second Central California house that Tim and I lived in during our second year of marriage. It resulted in five foot tall tomato plants with more fruit than we could eat. It was glorious.

The next garden was in raised beds set on a cement patio in our third house. That garden’s potato yield was incredible. A year or so later we moved again. This time to an apartment in Southern California. We brought a few of the garden boxes along with us and tried to grow herbs and tomatoes. They were always covered by a thin layer of soot from the nearby freeway. But, the real thwarmp that killed them was when the landlord renovated the unit above us and blew tiny paint droplets out the window and all over the garden. I was furious. I demanded to be compensated for the loss. I was. But, it didn’t fix the ruined garden. A couple of years later we moved into a house with a small front yard that served as our outdoor space. We put the garden boxes on the tiny cement patio. I was able to coax some tomatoes and basil to grow, but not much else. The next year I grew one acorn squash and some basil, but the tomatoes got blight.

We finally gave up on Burbank’s insane cost of living and moved to the East coast. Going from an almost year round growing season to one that’s about four months long has been a challenge. Last year I got three tomatoes. Total. And they were green when I picked them the day before the first frost. Green beans have grown well for me in this climate. My hope this summer is for jars and jars of dilly beans. I made some last year and they were delicious. I’d wanted to make pickles again too, but something has eaten all of my cucumber plants. Last year’s pickling cucumbers produced enough to can two quart sized jars. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that that probably won’t happen this year.

Of all the gardens we’ve had, this one is my favorite. Last summer Tim worked so hard to build it. He cemented eight foot posts to keep the fence strong and the deer out, buried the coated chicken wire a foot deep to deter pests, and made it as perfect as I could have hoped for. This summer we’ve added solar powered lights, an umbrella that Tim found at the dump, and mulch to cover the weed mat that lined our pathways. We’ve planted sunflowers, nasturtiums, and morning glories around the perimeter of the garden. Some hanging in pots, some in the ground. I had great hopes that the English peas would grow up the sunflowers. But, the sunflowers have had a rough spring. The same thing that’s eaten my cucumbers seems to like them too.

Whether or not the cucumbers survive, the sunflowers grow, or the tomatoes produce, in the garden is one of my favorite places to be. Nature is great, from a distance. I don’t like to hike or be outdoorsy. So this little space is just perfect for me.

I don’t know if this is where we will stay for years and years. It’s been a tough place to fit in and feel like we belong. That doesn’t mean we should leave. I love lots of things about where we are. The main thing being my home with Tim and Brando. They are not specific to this place. Home is where we are together. For now, this little piece of the East coast is it. And we’ve built a glorious garden to play in during the warm months.

Yesterday I picked some greens to use in a salad for lunch. It’s so simple that it doesn’t require a recipe. Here are the basics:

Simple Garden Salad


  • greens (arugula, spinach, beet, baby kale)
  • fresh herbs (basil) (parsley and chives could be great too)
  • seeds (pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds) (chopped nuts would be great too)
  • homemade dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a splash of maple syrup, dijon mustard, and salt)
  • fried eggs or crispy tofu
  • Burlap & Barrel Black Urfa Chili*
  • Maldon salt


  1. Wash the greens well. Tear into bite sized pieces.
  2. Sprinkle the greens with seeds and drizzle with dressing. Top with fried eggs or crispy tofu. I like my eggs over medium: whites cooked, yolks still runny so that they become a second dressing. Sprinkle some Black Urfa Chili* and Maldon salt on the eggs or tofu.
  3. Serve alongside last night’s reheated leftovers.

*Black Urfa Chili is an affiliate link, which means that I get a small commission for any sales generated from referrals.



April 2012



Dans Ma Jardin

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Thoughts

I discovered a love for gardening about 4 years ago. I find it fun, enjoyable, therapeutic, stress-relieving, rewarding. I’ve had many successes, and many failures. I’m not an expert. I don’t even know that I have a green thumb. I just try things, and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Apparently my philosophy when it comes to cooking translates to the garden too.

Dans Ma Jardin, means In My Garden

I love to spend time there. I grow a few flowers, but most of my time is spent trying to coax things to grow in my apartment garden. This year I have: mint, basil, rosemary, chives, oregano, parsley, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, carrots, kale, and spinach. I had success with some of these last year, so thought I’d give them a try again this year. I’ve also tried: squash, watermelon, red peppers, lettuce, sage, and a few other things, without success. I don’t know why.

We used to live in a house, and had room for a real garden. Not anymore. That’s OK. It just takes a little more planning and patience to grow things on the patio. A few years ago, Husband built me some garden boxes (with the help of my brother and sister-in-law). I love them. When we moved, we couldn’t bring all 5, so we just brought one. I miss the others, but am so happy to have a space for a garden at all here in L.A., so I’m not complaining. 🙂

I’ve harvested a few beans (and eaten them all pretty much out of the garden – I think they taste best this way), some kale, spinach, and a bit of each kind of herb. With the mint, I’ve made mint tea (the way my mom used to make it).

With things like basil, parsley, chives, rosemary, and oregano, I add them to Tomato Sauce, Lasagna, Ham and Corn Chowder… and many other things. These are some of my favorite herbs.


The tomatoes (if they produce – they didn’t last year) will go to Tomato Sauce (if there are lots), BLT Pizza, Sugar-Snap Pea Pasta, Tomato-Corn Salsa… this list could go on and on. 

The kale and spinach are great for Steak Salad, Wilted Spinach and Radicchio Salad, Lasagna,  a Mushroom Frittata

The carrots, besides being great raw, will be yummy in Pasta in a Pinch, or a Lentil, Quinoa and Carrot Supper!

Mint Iced Tea

Last modified on 2012-05-23 01:37:00 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Mint Iced Tea
Recipe Type: Drink
Author: Rachel Oberg – De Ma Cuisine
A refreshing drink that tastes like summer.
  • approx. 1/2 to 1 C fresh mint, stems removed, bruised or chopped
  • approx. 6-8 C boiling water
  1. Bruise mint using a mortar and pestle, the handle of a wooden spoon, or the back of a knife blade. Just smash it a little. You can also chop it if you’d like. If you’re in a rush, you can leave them whole.
  2. Place mint in a heat proof jug or tea kettle. Pour boiling water over.
  3. Let it cool.
  4. Place in the refrigerator, covered, so it doesn’t absorb refrigerator smells. (You can either strain leaves, or leave them, then strain when pouring into a glass.)

The quantities are not exact. I basically just take some mint and pour boiling water over it. If you like it strong, use more, for weaker tea, use less.
I don’t usually sweeten, but you could if you wanted, with honey or sugar. Just dissolve it when the water is still hot.
This tastes great with burgers and oven roasted fries. Mom used to make this all the time in the summer (without sweetening it). It tastes like my childhood.