– Hey guys. We are right in the middle of mid-summer here in southern California, and one of the things that
I thought would be fun is to share some of my
favorite summer recipes over the next couple of weeks. Many of these recipes have been inspired by my vegetable garden. A lot of you have asked me
questions about this garden and wanting to know more about it so I thought today would
be a great opportunity to actually take you out there and show you what I’m growing. If you wanna know the
story of this garden, ’cause there is a bit of a backstory with some dramatic before
and after pictures, you can click on the thumbnail above and there you will see my summer dinner party menu for kin. At the top of that episode is a really great backstory of how this garden actually came to be. Let’s head outdoors. For this vegetable garden, I was really inspired by
the vegetable gardens, or potagers of France. When you travel in Loire Valley, which is where my husband is from, you see a lot of these chateaus with beautiful vegetable gardens laid out in a very ornamental fashion. For me, I loved it because
it was neat and tidy and still looked pretty. I didn’t want a vegetable garden that looked overgrown and would become kind of a big eyesore because I do see this garden from my kitchen window. We divided the garden into 10 equal plots, or parterres as they’re called. The parterres basically
hold one type of vegetable. Sometimes I like to mix and
match but for the most part, I like to try to dedicate one specific vegetable to one parterre. We lined each parterre in boxwood. Boxwood is just a really beautiful hedge that likes to be clipped and makes the garden look a lot neater and tidier. It’s also great in the winter time when there isn’t much growing out there because then the garden
still will always look green. It was really important to me to be able to eat in this garden. I just love the idea of growing things and actually having a table where you can entertain and eat outdoors and enjoy all the fruits of your labor. As you can see, in the
center is a big table. I wanted to make sure that the table will be big enough to
seat at least 10 people, but we have put extensions on each of those tables to fit 20 and
that’s quite a party for sure. The first parterre I’m gonna show you has some beets growing in it. I love to grow beets because they just have so much more flavor than the ones that you can buy in the store and that’s the thing though
I love about gardening, that you will find that if
you grow your own vegetables, they’re so much more flavorful and fresh and if you like to cook, you always wanna make sure that you have the freshest
ingredients available. Because imagine, these vegetables have not been sitting on a truck
traveling somewhere, they then don’t sit in the store under fluorescent lights and
get manhandled by everybody. When you’re actually ready, you just pick them and you only have to walk a few steps into the kitchen. Then in my big planter under
my window, I grow mint. Here’s the thing about growing mint, it’s really aggressive and will completely take over anything that you put in. I didn’t realize this at first and the planter used to be an assortment of herbs until the mint just
completely took it over. I decided why fight it, I’ll just go with it and I pulled out all the other herbs and just
let the mint have at it. Mint does attract little bugs and aphids and one of the things that I’ve learned to try to control that is
by releasing some ladybugs. At your local nursery, you’ll see usually in
a refrigerated section, they’ll sell little ladybugs. You release those ladybugs
and by the morning, those aphids are all gobbled up. They’re the best pest control. Then in little planters, I
also have some kumquat trees. I love to keep a variety of citrus growing at all times because they fruit at different times of the year. I love kumquats because
they’re bitter on the inside and sweet on the outside,
the reverse of an orange so you actually do eat the rind. You just pop them in
your mouth all at once and it’s the most amazing
flavor combination. One of the things I really believe in growing my own vegetables
is to make it organic. I don’t like to buy produce
that has pesticides on it, so why grow it with the pesticides? As you’ll see as we go through, I’ll give you all of my tips for counteracting bugs and all kinds of pests, which is natural organic methods. Now the crowning glory of
this garden are my tomatoes. I really am greedy when
it comes to tomatoes. At the beginning of the season, I set out and I think I’m
gonna keep it under control. I’m gonna limit myself
to three or four plants, and it always ends up
being eight, nine, or 10. I end up having so many tomatoes that I have to actually
give them away to friends just because I love a
great homegrown tomato and so does everybody else. One of the things that
I’ve learned about tomatoes is that you have to really
put them in planters. They are weeds at the end of the day and they will also take over a garden. I love to put them in planters and then use what is called a tomato cage. It makes them really architectural and just gives some wonderful
height to your garden. It also gives them something
to train themselves up against. They really need the support and a tomato cage is the way to go. When it comes to tomatoes, I really love all of those sort of what they call ugly tomatoes. They’re all the heirloom varieties. An heirloom variety is a
tomato or any vegetable really that’s been around for over 100 years. Not the plant itself, the actual seed. The seed has been in constant
production for over 100 years and I love that. Imagine eating a tomato that somebody ate over 100 years ago. I just think it’s so terrific. If pests move in and they do strike, and one of the biggest
enemy to a tomato plant is the horn worm. It looks like a little green caterpillar. One of my tips for battling
this little creature is to use some cornmeal or some polenta. Just sprinkle it on the leaves and in and around the plant and
the horn worn will come, it’ll munch on it and it’ll kind of disturb its digestive system. I know, nature is not kind, but it does make it disappear
and they will not come back. Then I also love to grow a
selection of fresh herbs. I have some rosemary, some thyme, and then I love to grow
a selection of basils. Right now I have a purple ruffle
basil growing which I love. It has a beautiful licorice taste to it and it just looks so beautiful in a salad. Then I’ve got the traditional green basil, and then I also have some
wonderful lemon basil. The trick with basil is it
really loves to be pinched. In fact, the more you use
it, the more it’s gonna grow, but when you start to
see those little seeds, the little flowering pops up, that means that the plant is
at the end of its life cycle and you really wanna clip that off because you don’t want that
plant to go to seed on you. The other thing I have growing
there are some nasturtiums. Nasturtiums are actually an edible flower and as you know as the mom of two girls, when I told my daughters there were such a thing as edible
flowers, we just had to try it. I love to put them in
freshly tossed salads. They make for a beautiful garnish and they’re also delicious. They have a wonderful mustard,
almost peppery taste to them. They’re also wonderful to
drop into a cocktail as well. (upbeat violin music) Then on the other side of the garden, I have things that need a little bit more shade like lettuce. Lettuce, it likes a lot of sunlight, but it doesn’t like a lot of heat. In and among my lettuce, you can see that I have
some marigolds growing. This is another solution
for organic gardening to keep the aphids away. This is what’s known
as companion gardening. Companion gardening takes the principle of taking two plants that actually grow really well together and help fight off diseases and
pests for each other. When it comes to lettuce, a
marigold is its best friend. I tell my daughters that these are the bodyguards of the lettuce and my lettuce has never looked better. The one thing to know about
lettuce is when it gets hot, and it has been very hot here, it will have a tendency to bolt. Bolt means that the lettuce starts to actually grow all the way
upwards and you’ll see, I have left one plant so that you guys could see what that is. When it gets like that, you wanna actually cut it down. One of the things that’s
so great about lettuce is that it’s self-regenerating. As you can see, I have a few small plants and you can see the leaves
are starting to grow again and it’ll actually turn into
another head of lettuce. The other thing that I
have growing is eggplant. I love to grow eggplant. It’s so great to make fresh baba ganoush or eggplant Parmesan and it’s a really easy vegetable to grow. I actually don’t have
any fruit at the moment, but you can see my
plants are very healthy, they’re looking good, they
just started to flower, and probably in the next two weeks or so, I’ll start to see some fruit. Then I also love to grow garlic. You can actually just
go to the grocery store, buy some organic garlic, peel it, get the raw garlic and
then you’ll see at the end, you’ll see where the little root is, that’s the part that you actually wanna insert into the dirt. Cover it up and in a few weeks, it will sprout and will turn
in to a beautiful garlic plant. The other thing you
wanna know about garlic is to stagger the planting of it because if you plant it
all at the same time, it’s all gonna be ready at the same time and can you imagine? Then you’re gonna have to find
a use for 50 bulbs of garlic. I like to stagger it
about once every week. I’ll just keep planting new
cloves and then that way, I have a fresh supply of garlic
pretty much all year round. You’ll know that a garlic
plant is ready to be harvest when you see the leaves turn brown. Once that turns brown, you can pull it up out of the ground and you’ll have a little garlic bulb. You’re gonna snip off the plant and then you wanna let that
little garlic bulb dry out. I have a little one that I just picked a few days ago that’s actually
drying out on my window sill. It’s a small little guy and I think that I probably need to have my garlic stay in the ground for a bit longer to get it to be bigger, but I was pretty impressed by my first little garlic bulb of the season. The other thing that I
like to grow are peppers. I have what I call a little pepper patch and in the pepper patch
I have some bell peppers, then I also have all my spicy peppers. Right now I’ve got some serranos, jalapenos, and some spicy Thai peppers. I love to use these peppers
for salsas or for curries. It’s really great just to add a little bit of heat when you need it. The secret to gardening is also timing. If you think that you’re gonna want a pumpkin or a butternut
squash in October, you need to actually plant it now in July because some of these varieties can take upwards of 100 days
to actually bear fruit. In one parterre, I have some
butternut squash growing which I’m really excited about. I love butternut squash in the fall and into the winter time. It’s so delicious. In the other parterre, I’m growing some little
pumpkin pie pumpkins. My daughter is really excited about pumpkin pie and pumpkin
bread so I said this year, we’re gonna actually grow
the pumpkins ourselves. Then I also have two strawberry plants that are doing quite well this year. In the past, I’ve put
strawberries in the ground and they actually don’t do as well. Their fruit tends to get wet and you get a lot of critters that come up and nibble on the fruit. This year I took the advice of my nursery and put them in strawberry pots. Strawberry pots are just
terracotta pots that have little holes in and around the side and you basically buy
your strawberry plants and plant them in the holes and it has really worked out well. The plants have a lot of room to grow, they have space in and
around their leaves, and I’ve started to get
a few tiny strawberries so I think I’m getting success. There you have it, that’s the tour. That about sums up the
vegetable garden for this year. (upbeat jazz music) The appetizer recipe that I
wanna share with you today I love because most of the ingredients come right from my garden. When we have drop in guests, all I need to do is run
out and get some bread. It’s my cherry tomato bruschetta
with two types of basil. Here’s how you make it. You’re going to take
some red cherry tomatoes and some yellow cherry tomatoes. You’re then going to cut them in half. It just makes them easier to eat that way. You’re then gonna drizzle with
a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then I like to add my purple ruffle basil and
my traditional green basil. If you can’t find purple
basil at the store, sometimes that can be hard to
find in a large supermarket. You can sometimes find
it at farmer’s markets. I do see it there quite often, or you can just use all green basil. That would work too. In a small bowl, you’re going
to combine some olive oil, some garlic, salt and pepper, and some fresh flat leaf parsley. You’re then going to brush this olive oil onto your bread on both sides. Then on a grill pan or a
barbecue set on medium-high heat, you’re going to grill each
piece of bread on both sides. Gonna arrange your slices on a platter and then spoon those
beautiful tomatoes on top. You will see, you will
have one delicious looking summertime appetizer that I think goes quite well with a chilled rose. (upbeat jazz music) I hope you guys enjoyed
the tour of the garden. I hope you guys give this recipe and try, and if you don’t grow your
own vegetables, that is okay. You can find all of these ingredients at your local supermarket, but if you do wanna support
homegrown vegetables that are organic, definitely visit your local farmer’s market. Those farmers work so hard to grow such beautiful produce for all of us that I always like to make sure everybody’s supporting their local market. I hope you guys give it a try
and let me know what you think and I’ll see you back here next week when I’m gonna share with you one of my favorite summertime dinners, my grilled chicken brochettes
with grilled zucchini. I’ll see you then. (upbeat jazz music)