Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Around Town: Summer garden

We started the garden on a whim. We dug up the grass, bought chicken wire to keep out the gophers, erected a small fence to keep out the wild rabbits, then bought fertilizer, water and seeds.

The plants came up willy-nilly, in no particular order. First, the radishes erupted, followed by two straight rows of zucchini (thanks to seed tape), interspersed with crooked rows of five kinds of peppers — Habanero, Jalapeño, Serrano, New Mexico and bell. Here and there a stalk of corn emerged to shade a head of lettuce at its base. Clumps of cilantro crowd the basil, the basil pushes against the thyme, and the tomatoes are everywhere. There are three kinds of tomatoes, including tomatillo.

For a few years we subscribed to the Tierra Miguel CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), but growing our own garden is a lot more fun. We planted exactly what we wanted.

There’s no bok choy, but we have all the ingredients for guacamole, except for avocados.

For a few months, I played Farmville on Facebook, but no more. (For the unitiated, Farmville is a farming social network game that focuses on farm management, including plowing, planting, waiting for stuff to grow and harvesting crops. Unlike real life, Farmville has unlimited chickens. Here in La Cañada Flintridge, there are laws regulating chickens. Call your local city councilperson if you have any questions.)

Chicken- and avocado-free, our house is now awash with zucchini. This is not a bad thing. So far, there are no city ordinances regulating zucchini, and for good reason. The zucchini — or courgette — is a member of the squash family and is a cousin of the pumpkin. Pumpkins like to be free and this has rubbed off on the zucchini. Plus, the zucchini is high in Vitamin A and low in calories.

As for our recipes, Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” has a recipe for corn, zucchini, tomato and basil soup. Paula Deen has a zucchini bread recipe. Julia Child had a grated zucchini shallot butter sauté. Meanwhile, on the Food Channel, Jaime Oliver makes courgette salads and fried stuffed zucchini flowers.

I think we’ll try them all.

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at

Around Town: Summer garden - LA Canada

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