April in the Kitchen – Teriyaki Salmon with Spring Vegetables

April in the Kitchen – Teriyaki Salmon with Spring Vegetables

Did you ever think there could be a “healthy” teriyaki sauce? Certainly one without MSG is making progress. But, what about one without granulated sugar? Impossible! Well, I’m going to give you an alternative…dates, yes dates. This sauce consists of medjool dates as the sweetener. What a brilliant idea, don’t you think? Simply soak them in warm water for a few minutes, then dump them with some garlic, ginger, soy sauce and rice vinegar into the jar of your blender. Puree all of them together with some of the soaking water from the dates until smooth. That’s all there is to it. It goes together very quickly.

I’m sorry to say I didn’t invent the sauce. I saw it in a post on the blog “A Pinch of Yum” for 30-Minute Sesame Mango Chicken. It was too good to pass up. If you are not familiar with that blog, it’s worth a visit as she posts some great recipes, many of them healthy and vegetarian.

This is a thicker sauce than my own “old” favorite using maple syrup. You’ll find that recipe here from an earlier post in February of this year.

I marinated some wild caught salmon steaks (the first of the season) in the sauce, then sautéed them quickly. They were still slightly pink in the middle, just the way we like them. Served with a quick stir fry of asparagus and snap peas with a spoonful of roast garlic lemon butter it was a quick and delicious mid-week dinner. You’ll find the recipe for the roast garlic and lemon butter here.

Salmon Steaks in Teriyaki Sauce

Salmon Steaks in Teriyaki Sauce

 Teriyaki Sauce

  • 15 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in 1/2 cup of very warm water for 30 minutes
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce, regular or low sodium
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • Optional – pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Optional – 1/4 cup sesame oil 

Medjool Dates

  1.  Soak the pitted dates in the hot water
  2. Dump the dates and rest of the ingredients (including the soaking water) into your blender and blend until very smooth.
  3. Pour into a container until ready to use.
Teriyaki Sauce with Dates

Teriyaki Sauce with Dates

This will keep in the fridge for at least a week, we found it got “hotter” and spicier the longer it sat.

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Sauce

Grilled or Sautéed Salmon with Teriyaki Sauce

I sautéed the salmon steaks but they would be equally wonderful on the BBQ.

  1. Marinate salmon steaks or fillets in the sauce for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour in the fridge.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of peanut or other vegetable oil in your skillet on medium high heat.
  3. Add the salmon, skin side down.
  4. Saute on medium high heat for about approximately 10 minutes total for every inch of thickness. We like our salmon on the rare side and they weren’t quite so thick, so I started the steaks skin side down and turned them after 4 minutes.
Wild Caught Salmon

Wild Caught Salmon

Asparagus and Snap Peas with Roast Garlic and Lemon Butter

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ends snapped and cut into pieces about the length of the snap peas. I used a spiral diagonal cut, turning the stalk a half way round after each diagonal slice. That exposed more of the inner part of the stalk to the heat, cooking is a bit faster.



  • About 3-4 cups of snap peas, stringed if necessary and cut in half lengthwise

    Snap peas

    Snap peas

  • 4 scallions, cleaned and cut in half lengthwise, then into pieces the same size as the asparagus and peas.

    Snap Peas and Scallions

    Snap peas and scallions

  • 2 tablespoons of roast garlic and lemon butter, (or 2 garlic cloves, finally minced, plus the zest and juice of one lemon, and 1 tablespoon of butter)

    Roast garlic and lemon butter

    Roast Garlic and Lemon Butter

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium low heat.
  2. If not using the roast garlic butter, add the minced garlic to the pan and saute until softened but not brown.
  3. Add the asparagus to the pan and turn up the heat to medium high. Saute for about 4 to 5 minutes until bright green and beginning to soften.
  4. Add the snap peas to the pan and saute for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until everything is bright spring green and slightly softened but still crisp.

    Asparagus with Snap Peas

    Asparagus with Snap Peas

  5. Finish with the roast garlic butter or add the lemon zest and juice plus the tablespoon of butter. Continue to heat until everything is coated with sauce.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Asparagus and Snap Peas

Asparagus with Snap Peas and Roast Garlic/Lemon Butter

Salmon, asparagus, and fresh peas…this meal is the essence of spring. What are you serving to celebrate the season?

I’m taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #66 hosted by Angie. If you would like to see what is on the menu, come pay a visit to the party.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

March in the Kitchen – Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese and Spring Peas

March in the Kitchen – Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese and Spring Peas

Happy Spring! My thoughts lately have been turning to Easter and the foods that define it, primarily eggs.

My garden has been producing a few handfuls of snap and snow peas, not enough at any one time for a full vegetable side. However the quantity is adequate for a supporting role with another key player, such as stir fried rice, pasta, or eggs. If you have never eaten snap or snow peas on the same day they are picked, you are in for a treat. They are sweet and juicy, nothing like the starchy three-day old peas you find at the grocers. Grab a bag full if you see them at your local farmer’s market and be sure to cook then the same day. With older peas use a trick of my mother’s,  add a pinch of sugar to the pan while cooking them. You could also use frozen regular peas. This is the perfect dish to serve at a spring brunch.

If you are lucky enough to have your own chickens, this dish is star quality. For years we had backyard chickens and the eggs were amazing, with bright orange yolks. Unfortunately, to our great sadness, the last one died about six years ago. She was 12 which is a very advanced age for a chicken. Atlas (that was her name) was a pet and hadn’t laid an egg in years, but she would follow me around the garden happily eating any insects or slugs I discovered while gardening. One day I hope to have chickens again, we were the number one tourist stop in the neighborhood.

Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese and Spring Peas (serves 4)

  • 2 cups snap and/or snow peas, stringed, rinsed, and sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons sweet butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt plus more for the eggs
  • 9-10 eggs (preferably organic and pastured)
  • 1 tablespoon of water or heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup of fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • Additional salt and pepper as needed
  1.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. When it stops foaming, add the peas to the pan. Saute for 2 minutes or until bright green.
  3. Meanwhile, scramble the eggs in a bowl with a tablespoon of water or heavy cream. Add a pinch of salt.
  4. Add the eggs to the skillet with the peas, sprinkle with the goat cheese, and turn the heat down to medium.
  5. Gently cook the eggs, pushing the eggs around in the pan until large curds form. Don’t hurry this process or over stir the eggs. Cook to your liking (my family likes soft curds but your own might like the eggs cooked longer) this took about 5 minutes.

Serve with buttered sourdough toast.

Sam - son of Priscilla

Sam – son of Priscilla


Scrambled eggs with goat cheese and spring peas

Scrambled eggs with goat cheese and spring peas

October in the garden – what’s happening?

October in the garden – what’s happening?

I can’t believe it is almost Halloween and the beginning of November! Our days are still warm although nights are cooler. It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything about the garden. Things are growing but there’s not much to harvest yet. I have been able to pick some lettuce leaves to add to a salad, the heads themselves are still developing and I don’t want to stress them by picking too much. I take the biggest of the outer leaves and leave the rest of the head, more seedlings were planted today. Once the cold weather hits everything will slow down.

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The broccoli and cauliflower have almost reached the top of their protective wire cover. They’ll soon need to take their chances with the elements and critters.

Speaking of critters, something has been nibbling at the young lettuce plants. It doesn’t look like snails or slugs, they would have taken it roots and all! Got to be squirrels, mice, or the monster cat. I covered them again with a spare wire basket. My garden feeds the neighborhood!


Young lettuce, ready to be planted.

The peas are looking good and getting a head start before cold weather hits.


We are supposed to get rain tomorrow, fingers crossed for the garden. Not so good for the Halloween crowd. And, I do mean crowd. We get carloads of kids in the neighborhood from all over Oakland. I love the little ones, not so much the teenagers.

October in the garden – time to plant peas

October in the garden – time to plant peas

In my zone 9 garden it is time to plant peas. Freshly gathered sugar snap or snow peas are nothing like the ones you buy in the grocery store or find at the farmer’s market. Just pulled off the vine peas are sweet, juicy and snappy. The natural sugars start turning to starch immediately so they are best, like corn, eaten immediately after picking. There are short varieties of both the snap and snow peas; the shorter varieties don’t shade the other veggies as much. Sun is a valuable commodity in my garden. I grow them along a short pea fence (the same one I use for cucumbers in the summer).

I don’t have enough room to grow regular shelling peas, the vines are very tall and you need a lot of them to produce enough peas for a meal. Frozen baby peas are actually quite good, inexpensive, available year round, and easy!

Sweet pea flowers are a delight! With just a few plants you can gather a vase full of flowers each week, for months. They are expensive to purchase, if you can even find them at the farmer’s market or florist. They are worth every inch of space in the garden.

Peas, ready for planting

Peas, ready for planting

Although it isn’t generally recommended, I decided to start the pea seeds in flats then transplant them into the planting bed later. This has some advantages, as the birds (and the monster cat) love the seedlings. I started the seeds in the fall this year because last springs crop was a failure; I was only able to harvest a few. My mistake was planting transplants into the garden in early April; there wasn’t enough time for them to produce a crop before our unseasonal heat wave. They succumbed to powdery mildew before they developed any pods. I used some of the tips of the pea shoots in salads but had to pull out the plants. This year I will overwinter them for an earlier crop. Peas need some warm weather to sprout but then do fine in cooler weather, they are even ok with a light frost.

I seeded 3 types of bush snap and snow peas all from Cook’s Garden:

All of them are bush or dwarf varieties and only need a short support system. The entire plant of these is edible, so shoots can be gathered for salads even before they produce any pods.

  • Dwarf Grey Sugar – a snow pea with lovely purplish grey leaves and two toned pink and purple flowers. After reading an article on the blog Frugalista Gardener, I couldn’t resist them.
  • Cascadia – snap pea
  • Sugar Daddy – snap pea

I also seeded some flowering sweet peas. They will be tall and need strong support when planted into the garden. I’ll use the bean tower. I grow sweet peas each year, they are lovely in an arrangement with roses and remind me of my grandmother. Their delightful scent will permeate an entire room. Putting a vase in the entrance hallway gives visitors and family a special greeting as they come in the front door.

Flowering sweet peas:

All of the seeds had their outer shell nicked with a nail clipper to hasten germination and were planted in plastic flats (recycled plastic arugula and kale containers from the grocery store). I seeded 2 peas per hole, 1 inch deep, and about 1.5 inches apart. The plastic containers went onto a wet seed mat. The mat wicks from a well of water below to keep consistent moisture level for germination. The APS system came from Gardener’s Supply. This gives me the freedom to go away for a few days and know the seedlings are getting consistent and proper moisture for germination.


I planted them along a short pea fence last week. They are in one of four of my raised beds. As well into that bed went Watermelon radishes, arugula, and some spicy lettuce mixes. The cooler weather means I can start harvesting lettuce from the garden again. Hopefully they will get established before the really cold weather hits us, our first frost date is December 1.

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The sweet pea flowers were planted beside the bean tower, as they will get very tall. In the past I have planted way too many and been overwhelmed with picking flowers to keep the plants blooming. This year I was more restrained in the number of plants, and maybe more optimistic that they would do well. The Incense Peach variety was sold out last year, I’m pleased I was able to get some for this year.

It’s not too late to put in pea plants in zone 9, you will find a wide variety at your local nursery this month.