I arrived home one fall day to the most wonderful neighborly surprise: Homegrown Pomegranates! These were no ordinary pomegranates, though. They were giant sized. One yielded more than a mason jar full of perfect little seeds. Oh the possibilities were endless… Such began my month of pom-spiration. Continue reading
On Saturday night, Alisha texted us and asked if we were interested in going to dinner downtown. We had all been curious about a new restaurant that offered creative cocktails and sharable plates. So we drove the mile or two down the road to Mix Mix. We each ordered a cocktail and set about passing them around the table so everyone could try them. Continue reading
When asked to join some friends for dinner, I offered to bring an appetizer. They were making curry, so I wanted some flavors that would blend with curry. Cumin is a central curry flavor, so I hoped that baba ganoush would be a nice match. I love baba ganoush, the Mediterranean roasted eggplant dish that is garlicy and citrusy. The problem is that Alex is allergic to eggplants, which puts my baba ganoush consumption well below the desired level.
So, what’s a girl to do? Continue reading
Floral Park loves our cocktail nights. You tell my neighbors there’s going to be cocktails and they come out in droves. Our most recent cocktail night was done in connection with our Garden Swap, and this one was themed Garden Cocktails on the Plantation. Sue & Ashley hosted a “spirit-ed” evening in their beautiful backyard and invited our neighborly mixologists to create cocktails inspired by their own gardens. Continue reading
Alex and I were working in our front yard one afternoon. Amy, who lives three doors down, and Erin a friend who lives in “the Castle” stopped by to ask if we wanted to join them for dinner. Amy was hosting, and her husband Tom was cooking. Upon arrival at Amy & Tom’s Mediterranean/Spanish Revival home, we were treated to a grand tour complete with historic details. Tom is Greek, and they recently replaced the awnings with bold, bright blue canvas, so if you remove the homes on either side, and imagine the home dangling on a cliff, you might think you are in Santorini, or maybe the south of Spain. You decide. The blue theme continues inside the home where the remodeled kitchen has stunning blue marble countertops with Grecian inspired curtains. Their home is filled with family antiques and unique finds from their travels. Out back, they have the oldest pool in Santa Ana on record. Don’t think that means it’s run down though, it’s not. Hearst would be proud to have this lap pool at his own Castle. It’s surrounded by fruit trees, and flowers. Perfect for relaxing in the sun.
Amy’s husband Tom loves to cook themed dinners. Apparently, their pomegranate tree was producing an abundance of fruit and Tom had devised a pomegranate themed dinner party to use it all up. Erin and Pete, Trish and Las, Rich and Tammy all joined in the pomegranate fun and every course featured a new use for the beautiful tiny red seeds. Amy’s pride in Tom’s cooking and creativity made the dinner even more satisfying. We left with some new friends, and new ideas on how to use the fruits of our garden’s labor.
How to be Neighborly: When life gives you pomegranates… share them.
Here’s how I use the fruits of other people’s gardens:
Wild Rice with Kale & Pomegranates
- 1 c wild rice
- 2 1/2 c chicken broth (or veggie broth if you are vegetarian)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 onion, diced
- 2 c kale, chopped
- 1/4 c pomegranate seeds (*)
In a sauce pan, combine rice, broth, salt, pepper, and onion. Bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the rice is cooked. Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat, and add the kale and mix until it wilts slightly. Add pomegranate seeds, mix and serve.
(*) If you don’t have pomegranates, dried cranberries work well too.
Three times per year, our neighborhood hosts a mixer for everyone to get to know each other- particularly those that have recently moved in. They are hosted in a volunteer’s backyard. Due to my work induced hibernation called busy season, Alex and I missed a couple when we first moved in. When late spring offered the opportunity to shut down the laptop and go meet the neighbors for the first time, we indulged. The mixer was held at Jeff & Nancy’s home, which was a beautifully restored ranch style home with a great big outdoor bar and barbeque with black tumbled marble countertops, and plenty of seating. They also had a tree house further back! Inside, the house was modern with a great cook’s kitchen. I didn’t get a full tour, but what I saw, was sleek and nicely updated. Mixers are generally confined to the backyard so to get to see the inside was quite a treat.
We met and spent time chatting with Karen and Ed, who told us the history of the infamous neighborhood horse (apparently a recently removed sculpture which was much beloved), Jeff (the homeowner), and another Ed who happened to have a HAM radio connection with Alex – that’s where I tuned out (pun intended). I instead turned my attention to the food.
Mixers are a wonderful thing. Everyone is supposed to bring a dish potluck style that feeds about 6 people, but they seem to feed much, much more. The neighborhood association provides the beverages. We had veggies, cheese, dips, cake, and cookies. We had a dinner plans with friends that night, so it was difficult not to over indulge. This was where I started to introduce myself to the neighbors, and it was important to make a good first impression.
How to be Neighborly: Always make a good first impression.
So, I brought my trusty zucchini salsa and pita chips. Everyone always loves this. This time was no different. As predicted, everyone loved it. It’s easy, flavorful, and relatively healthy. Take this to your next potluck and you’re sure to make a good impression too!
Zucchini Salsa with Pita Chips
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 Zucchini/Mexican squash diced into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 tsp dill
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ red onion, diced
- ¼ c pomegranate seeds (*)
- 2 avocados, diced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Pita chips
Combine oil, zucchini, dill, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl and coat the zucchini. Put the zucchini on a sheet pan and roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until just softened, but not mushy or brown. Let the zucchini cool to room temperature. Once cool, add zucchini, onion, pomegranate seeds, avocado, and lemon juice to a bowl. Stir to combine, but be gentle with the avocado.
Serve with Pita Chips.
(*) If you can’t find pomegranates, you can use pine nuts and chopped dried cranberries: ¼ c each.