Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Inspired By Lotusland

March 2011 267

Ever wish you lived in a climate where it’s almost always sunny and warm? Where you don’t have to shovel snow in March? Where you can pick lemons from a tree instead of a supermarket bin? Where ginger root isn’t just something to buy at the Chinese grocery store but actually grows in the ground?

March 2011 259 OK, all you Southern California folks know what I’m talking about. For one week, I was able to bask in your near 80 degree temperatures and bright sunshine every day. For one week, I escaped the New Jersey sleet (and luckily came back to warm sunny weather too!).

For one week, I headed to Santa Barbara with a good friend from Princeton, to visit a mutual friend from another lifetime ago.  I don’t know what I would have done without their friendship and support during those early years of motherhood and they have remained close friends to this day – nearly 34 years later.

I’ve written about Santa Barbara before and you can find highlights of that trip and the beautiful seaside town here.

This trip however, was filled with different adventures that were just as much, if not more fun. I’ll fill you in on some of the other sights, sounds and tastes in later posts, but today is all about Lotusland, a 37-acre botanical garden in Santa Barbara.  The unusual gardens are home to extraordinary collections of various types, including rare cycads, cacti, palms and euphorbias.

March 2011 508 Lotusland was created by a beautiful and charismatic Polish woman named Madame Ganna Walska, who collected men almost as abundantly as she collected plants. 

image

Lucky for visitors to Lotusland that most of her six husbands were wealthy, leaving her with abundant resources to spend on creating the series of gardens that takes you from one enchanting environment to another, including a topiary garden:

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a cactus garden:

March 2011 523 an aloe garden:

March 2011 491 plus fern gardens, butterfly gardens, water gardens, succulent gardens, a Japanese garden and at least ten other types of gardens.

Lotusland gave me the itch not only to get working in the garden, but in the kitchen too, inspired by the ginger root I saw growing in the ground there.

March 2011 494 I thought I’d keep this really simple and it doesn’t get much simpler than this. After you’ve peeled and sliced the ginger root, peeled the garlic, sliced the scallions and lemons, you’re almost ready to sit down and eat – forget Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meals. This one takes five minutes. Here are the ingredients for one serving – it’s all very switchable – use more garlic or less ginger root or whatever amount of each ingredient you want, depending on your palate and how many servings you’re making.

March 2011 261

Place a piece of fish (in this case sole that’s been salted and peppered first) on a plate. Arrange the ingredients on top of the fish. Put the plate in a steamer. If you don’t own a steamer (and I don’t) I just put a plate upside down in a large skillet, add water and let it come to a boil. Then on top of the first plate, place the plate containing the fish. Cover and let it steam at a low simmer for five minutes. Some of the water from the pan will find its way onto the plate, and that’s fine because it dilutes the soy sauce a bit. If you’ve got a little sesame oil, it would be nice to add a drizzle at the very end.

March 2011 265

I hope you’ve cooked the rice and veggies beforehand, because after five minutes, the fish is ready to eat.

March 2011 269

Steamed Filet of Sole

printable recipe here

for one serving:

one-half pound piece of flounder (or sole)

1 T. soy sauce

1 scallion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

a few slices of peeled and sliced ginger

salt and pepper

one or two slices of lemon

sesame oil

Place a piece of fish (in this case sole that’s been salted and peppered first) on a plate. Arrange the rest of the ingredients (except sesame oil) on top of the fish. Put the plate in a steamer. If you don’t own a steamer (and I don’t) I just put a plate upside down in a large skillet, add water and let it come to a boil. Then on top of the first plate, place the plate containing the fish. Cover and let it steam at a low simmer for five minutes. Some of the water from the pan will find its way onto the plate, and that’s fine because it dilutes the soy sauce a bit. If you’ve got a little sesame oil, it would be nice to add a drizzle at the very end.

18 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a fragrant and delightful dish


Wow, 34 years that's long!

Cheers,

Rosa

LF said...

Beautiful pictures. I long for some sun now!

Mister Meatball said...

Rub it in, why don't you!

80 degrees. Please.

Peter M said...

Nice to see you go Asian with these flavours. These ingredients complement fish & seafood very well!

Stacey Snacks said...

So nice to have friends for 30 plus years. I love the seeing the before and after photos of the gals. No botox needed!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Simplicity often makes the best tasting food! I love the taste of ginger.

All of California is very alluring. My husband and I were quite taken with the wine country and had a strong desire to move there for a long time after we came home.

Claudia said...

Such gardens! I am grateful that my tulips are one inch long (amid snow mounds that remain). But the fish is as bright and sunny as L.A. Some people are extremely intelligent in their choice of where to live.

Proud Italian Cook said...

It's such a blessing to have friends for life like that, and all of you look beautiful today as you did when you were younger. I want to bask in the sun and pick lemons from a tree, today it's gloomy, windy and the heats still on! Love your healthy fish dish too.

Linda said...

Glad you got to have some fun in the sun! You were all beautiful then and now! There is nothing like old good friends...they are a treasure!
That fish look amazing! Love it prepared that way! So healthy!

Andrea said...

Love the post. Love the fish dish!

Elra's cooking and baking said...

Oh, I just love fish cook this way. I like all ingredients used in this recipe, especially lemon and ginger. Delicious!

I dream to have garden like this :)

Marcellina said...

Isn't it human nature that we always desire that we can't have. I live in that climate and have never seen it quite as you do. Yes, I pick lemons from my tree and dig up my patch of ginger but oh, how I would love to grow lavender and berries and drink hot chocolate by the fire! Ah...dreaming!

The Cooking Photographer said...

It sounds like you had a nice vacation from the cold. Beautiful fish!

Lucia from Madison said...

What a lovely place to visit. Love the recipe, perfect for Lent! Thanks for visiting my blog. I have been a fan of yours for some time. I will let you know when I try this recipe.
Still waiting for the warm weather to reach CT!

Daniela said...

Che belli quei giardini, ammiro le tue foto e mi sembra di essere li' vicino a voi. Adoro il pesce a vapore e questa ricetta è davvero squisita. Un abbraccio Daniela.

Mary said...

What a truly beautiful plate of food. It sounds like you had a fabulous trip. I love to get together with folks from my past - New friends are silver, old friends are gold. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

bellini valli said...

This looks like a beautiful place to visit, although wouldn't we all love to live in that climate!!!! The sole is indeed a treat as well.

lisa is cooking said...

The gardens are gorgeous. I'd love to visit. And, this steamed fish is so light and refreshing. I have to try this!