Another thing that has distracted me from my blog recently is my garden. Man, it’s been great growing all sorts of produce! My favorite part has been going to the farmers market and saying to myself: “Oh, I don’t need that….that….or that. Got it at home.”
A little smug, maybe, but there’s nothing like pulling some fresh lettuce for a salad, kale for a smoothie or tomatoes for gazpacho. I’m pretty sure the second-best place to eat gazpacho is in California, as we’ve so many similarities to Spain. And, if I look out from my backyard and squint as the sun is setting, Santa Barbara’s downtown does look a lot like a Spanish town on a picturesque hillside. (Have I mentioned lately how much I freaking love this place?)
I’m a little distracted while writing this, as an aspiring John Bonham has moved in across the street. Isn’t there some sort of law that says people with drum kits have to have some sort of sound-proofed room to play them in? Does he think no-one can hear the drums he’s playing in the front room of his house? And he plays them intermittently, like half the time he forgets that he has a drum kit, and then upon wandering through the front room on his way to get a snack or a beer says “Holy crap! That’s a drum kit! I’ll sit down and play some random tune for ten minutes.”
And there’s nothing more boring than someone playing the drums without any accompaniment.
But at least they are not played at three in the morning. And Boone, the puppy, has started barking at mariachi music, which should make us popular with the Hispanics in our immediate area—about 80 percent of the population. Good boy, Boone. I knew you had taste.
Back to the garden, and food. Gazpacho is really easy. You literally throw a bunch of stuff in the blender, let it sit for a few hours and BANG. You’ve got a refreshing soup for a hot day. Serve with a delicious Rioja your partner has magicked up from his wine room, add a few croutons and you’ve got a meal.
By the way, next week I’m starting a nine-week kickboxing program that has me back on the Paleo diet. So expect more meaty dishes—vegetarians, I apologize. But I’ve got to get rid of this baby weight somehow….and I love hitting things in a controlled environment. This kickboxing thing will be right up my alley, for sure. Five days a week, plus fitting in my half-marathon training. No problem, right? If you need me, I’ll be whimpering in the bathroom applying all the ibuprofen gel my sister brought me back from the UK. That’s if I can move my arms after Wednesday.
12 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 pasilla chili
1 red bell pepper
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup Spanish sherry vinegar
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Fresno chili or 6 tsp. of your favorite hot sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (or sub tamari for vegetarian/vegan option)
Roast the pasilla chili and red bell pepper directly over a flame or under the broiler. Get them as black as you can on all sides without burning them. Wrap them in plastic wrap or throw them in a Ziploc bag for 20 minutes, then peel and seed them. Try not to put them under running water—this washes away all the flavor you just worked hard to get.
Throw everything in your blender from the tomatoes all the way down to the lemon juice. (And the Fresno chili if you’re using it.) Then taste and add the rest of the ingredients in to your liking. Place in a non-metal container and let sit for at least six hours or overnight for best flavors.
Top with seasoned croutons, chopped avocado, sour cream, pesto, poached shrimp, toasted pepitas or anything else that strikes your fancy.
And now, some photos of my garden at its peak!