Previous month:
July 2009
Next month:
September 2009

August 2009

Vitis Vinifera 'Purpurea' Harvest


The grapes were so juicy and tasty–– all the images of grape stomping women I've ever seen began filling my head. How could I not juice our Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'? Surly I should try.

I didn't bother googling a grape juice how-to. I did think of borrowing a juicer – but no – what I really wanted was to squeeze them through my fingers.

T h e  P r o c e s s

The harvested grapes in two 5-gallon buckets

I filled the buckets with water to get rid of cobwebs and to allow critters to rise to the surface. One ladybug and many little white spiders appeared. Sometimes they'd be on a  grape floating island.

Mound-of-grapes The clean grapes glamming for the camera.

I probably should have worn gloves.

Fatigued after too much squeezing, I got out my potato masher. It wasn't much help though. The next stop for seeds and skins will be the compost heap.

Strained-grape-juice Fresh-squeezed homemade grape juice!

Grape-hand I didn't want to get grape juice all over everything, so I wore black and did all the work outside. I still ended up pouring boiling water through grape stains on two light colored shirts and one white bathrobe, over the course of 3  grape-centered days. As for the hands– gloves just didn't seem appropriate.

Wine-glass Of course it's not wine, but the juice is so rich and flavorful that small sips, as one would drink wine, are best for savoring and tasting. Our yield was 1.5 gallons.

Dear readers, if you have juicing tips or stories let me know. I'd love to hear from you in the comment box below.

Vitis Vinifera 'Purpurea'


There’s a vine in my garden that I’ve been too shy to photograph. It has the kind of beauty that intimidates me into thinking I can’t capture its essence. Googling around today, I found that the internet falls so short on images and info about Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’, it’s a good thing the beautiful creature finally lured me into submission.

It was twilight, a week ago, and I was outside the deer fence covering roses with netting when I thought to pick and eat a few grapes. Mind you, this is a so-called ornamental vine, and was purchased as such. Last summer, however, charming little grapes of some consequence appeared after about 7-years of not much fruit at all. And this year the vine is covered with stunning clusters.


Well, juice from 4 or 5 grapes in my mouth exploded into such rich flavor I was taken aback– it tasted like grape juice! Of all the grapes I’ve eaten from the market, none taste like grape juice. I lifted some of the large, bronzy leaves and found way more grapes than I thought we had. Next thought- this has to be a 2-part blog project.


The Vine

Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ or Red-Leafed Grape is one of my garden’s most valued ornamentals. Notice what a beautiful backdrop it provides for the rugosa rose, above. The top shot is how it looks from the street side of the fence, and the photo below that, is taken from the red rose bed on the other side. (There’s a fuschia between the roses and the grape.)

An exquisite color show begins with the new shoots of spring– they're silvery olive. Olive turns to green and bronze, and in the fall deep burgundy and bright red take their turns. When first planted, the grape was slow to get started. It took about three years for it to finally take off and grow. Now it's growth is vigorous, and I trim it back to the grape clusters when it gets out of hand.  

The Grapes


Internet info says the grapes are "small, bitter, inedible . . . even the birds don't like them." 


Do these look small and bitter??? Isn't that blue gorgeous?


Don't they beg to be harvested? Well . . .

The Wine


 No, I didn't make wine, it looks like it though doesn't it? Stay tuned . . .

Chicken and Asparagus Salad


After saying she had no food preferences, my sister Judy, who would soon be visiting from Oregon, asked, “ Do you still dump everything on top of salad?”

I laughed and didn’t say anything, while thinking–  I thought she liked my salads.

We eat so much salad at our house– at one time I wanted to do a blog titled “Lettuce Eat.”

I was a little shy about making dinner on the night of Judy’s arrival, but I went ahead with something simple that I hoped she’d like. Judy loved the dish and later told me her salad inquiry didn’t come out quite right.

MarinadeMy personal favorite marinade ingredients.




Chicken and Asparagus Salad

1 lb. of chicken tenders

1 red bell pepper

1 bunch of asparagus

Marinade– it could be bottled, or your favorite homemade concoction. I often use: Splashes (2 or 3 Tablespoons each) of olive oil, soy sauce, and sherry

½ t. red pepper flakes,

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

grated ginger (unpeeled)

Salt & pepper

Dressing– olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Marinate the chicken (I used a Ziploc bag) for a few hours in the fridge. Cut asparagus into 1½ inch pieces, place in a pan, cover with water, and boil for 1 minute. Drain asparagus and toss, in the pan, with a splash of olive oil and a shake of salt. Set pan aside. Lay chicken tenders on a baking sheet and cook at 500° for 5 minutes. Slice bell pepper and cooked chicken, and toss with asparagus. Sprinkle with about 1T each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add salt and crushed black pepper to taste. Serve on top of salad (your choice), which is also dressed with oo and balsamic. Shredded fresh basil is a welcome addition to the chicken or the salad.

SaladThese are the salad ingredients used on picture day. I love corn and often take a handful out of a package of frozen corn, defrost it in hot water, and squeeze out the excess moisture. It's perfect– no cooking necessary.