I’ll admit, it’s not easy to reimmerse in reality after a trip like El Salvador. Here it is, almost the weekend, and I still haven’t unpacked. I’ve been home a week, and all I could manage so far was laundry… because I was running out of underwear. What few things I did start to put away from my suitcase were dusted with the beautiful black sand from our beach, and that would send me off on a daydream about the waves, the food, and the people of that country.

While I sort through the pictures from my far-too-short seven days in El Salvador, here’s a peek from the trip.

The waves in El Zonte, El Salvador

1. The waves in front of our house… or out our backyard, depending on how you look at it. Just a hundred yards from my bedroom was this delicious right point break off a cobblestone rivermouth.


April 11 2014      15 comments     Linda Ly

Grow bigger and better tomatoes this summer

Tomato planting is something I look forward to every spring. I start counting the days from the time I sow my first seed to when I might have that first vine-ripened tomato in my hand, juices dripping down as I take a bite of the sweet, succulent flesh before it even makes it back to the kitchen.

If you’ve never tasted a homegrown tomato, you haven’t truly lived. And if you’ve never started your own tomato plants from seed, you’re definitely missing out — on the thousands and thousands of beautiful, colorful heirlooms that exist in this world. Take a look. My only advice for choosing tomato seeds is to go with ones you’ve never heard of before, and to simply start with your favorite color! (I personally love purple and black tomatoes… it might be a mental thing, but I feel the darker the flesh, the smokier and richer it tastes.)

Tomatoes are fairly fuss-free. They don’t require any special conditions to sprout and they grow relatively quickly. But once they start producing more foliage, they need a lot of love to perform their best — their best meaning lots of flowers and lots of fruit.


March 31 2014      37 comments     Linda Ly
Jardín   Verduras

Gone surfin'

Welcome to the weekend, friends! As you’re reading this, I’m on my way to El Salvador for the next seven days, working on my tan, riding warm-water waves, and drinking cheap beer like it’s going out of style.


March 29 2014      10 comments     Linda Ly
Aventuras   Diversión   Viajes   Vida

Small-batch grapefruitcello and orangecello

With lemon, orange, and grapefruit trees that are at least 10, 20, and 30 years old, respectively, this time of year is a citrus bonanza in my backyard.

Valencia orange tree

And though there’s no shortage of fruit in the kitchen, I hate letting any part of it go to waste. I zest, squeeze, and juice my way through baskets of citrus every week, but what can you really do with a few cupfuls of zest? (You can only freeze so much of it.)

The answer: citruscello. (Or in this case, grapefruitcello and orangecello.)


March 27 2014      2 comments     Linda Ly
En La Cocina   Frutas

How to harden off your seedlings

You’ve started your seeds indoors, witnessed the magic that is germination, and watched your sprouts grow into lean, green little seedlings. You think they’ll be ready to enter the world outside the confines of that warm, cozy bubble called your kitchen (or bathroom or greenhouse or wherever they’ve been shacking up) in a few weeks. But like a good parent, you don’t want to set them out before preparing them for what it’ll really be like out there.

You need to harden them off first.


March 24 2014      4 comments     Linda Ly

The five little things that made my week…

Purple of Romagna artichokes

1. These artichokes. That color.


March 21 2014      Leave a comment     Linda Ly

A new sprout

No matter how many times I’ve seen it, the magic of germination still awes me as if it was the first time. I still don’t understand how bushels of juicy tomatoes will come from a single seed smaller than the diameter of a pencil eraser, or how specks of basil seeds will turn into a forest of woody, fragrant herbs that grow over 3 feet tall.

From seed to sprout to seedling

It’s amazing what happens inside a seed before and after it sprouts, and being witness to such a process — something you can only experience by growing from seed — is truly one of the wonders of life.

Sometimes we simply bring home starter plants from the nursery, which have already been trained and nurtured from birth, and we don’t realize what it took to get them to that point. Then we think how hard it is just to keep those starter plants alive! Try raising them from seed, where it may take a few tries and a few rounds of natural selection before that perfect plant picks you.


March 19 2014      5 comments     Linda Ly
Jardín   Semillas