"To my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can't see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life."
- Nancy Reagan
My dearest friend Luke Anderson and new friend Jeanne Anderson were kind enough to introduce me to the magical gardens at the Virginia Robinson Estate. The summer of 2019 was a difficult time for my family with my father's passing and my mother feeling lost and a bit out of sorts. My parents were married over 50 years, my mother marrying my father at the youthful age of 20. Losing her life partner was devastating as many of you may know all too well.
Jeanne Anderson offered up a day of beauty and peaceful splendor giving my mother and me a tour of the gardens as we sipped homemade chilled hibiscus iced tea. The afternoon was just what my mother needed, and my most cherished memory of the gardens. I could never have imagined such a mystical sanctuary hidden in the heart of Beverly Hills.
Memories of the garden seem a lifetime ago, as we all have had to endure the challenges of being in isolation due to the COVID pandemic.
The simple beauty of the gardens and thoughtfulness of a new and longtime friend are treasured memories that continue to make me smile even in these unprecedented times.
I have found new passions during our quarantining. I now enjoy doing my Pilates practice online via zoom; I purchased a SoulCycle bike and now spin at home. My golf game has improved, though I could benefit from a few more lessons! I discovered that more time at home with my eight year old son and my husband has been both a blessing and a gift.
I realized something very profound during this pandemic. Spending time with the ones you love is priceless. The joy my son brings to me as I see him grow into an amazing young boy is something I would have missed had I still been working in my office 10 hours a day. Prior to the pandemic, I would see my son to feed him breakfast in the morning and an hour before he went to bed. Two hours a day was such little time to be with him, and I now see, this simply was not enough! I saw my husband even less, so these days we feel so blessed to have this extra time together.
Our eating habits have changed as we eat at home more often and enjoy the weekly delivery of a fresh fruits and vegetable farm box. My kitchen as well as my home is much more organized, though I still struggle with ideas of what to cook for dinner each night (I would love a few suggestions!).
I have become a better cook, teacher, wife, daughter, and mother during these eight months at home. I now know how important and "essential" my hairdresser, manicurist, medi spa, dermatologist, pediatrician, general practitioner, and BevMo are to my overall health and happiness!
I have become quite the mixologist as well. My favorite evening cocktail is a Grapefruit Amigo's: Casa Amigo's Blanco tequila, Fever Tree Grapefruit soda, strawberry Waterloo soda and a wedge of lime to finish it off. If I am feeling sluggish in the morning, my organic jasmine green tea gives me the reset and energy I need to start my day.
I do miss our gathering at the Garden and all the new friends I enjoyed getting to know. I hope we all get to sip champagne and enjoy the gardens together again real soon.
I am so grateful for my family and dear friends. Sending you all a virtual hug and warm wishes.
Post by Kennon Klein-McCarthy
(I finally changed my name, though I have been married for years!)
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member
Egg in a Puff
By Friends of Robinson Gardens Member
I'm always looking for ways to get my children to enjoy vegetables, especially ones that I grow in my garden.
With this in mind and with my children's love for Egg in a Hole, I came up with puff pastry filled with vegetables, ham, cheese or whatever leftovers we have, topped off with a poached egg or an "egg baked/placed in the hole."
1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets
1 to 3 tablespoons butter or oil
Nonstick Reynolds wrap or parchment paper
Sheet of regular tinfoil
One medium sized pan (I use nonstick)
Your choice of ingredients for
Any type of cheese you enjoy
(Filling ingredients can be endless -- whatever your tastes are or whatever you have left over in your refrigerator.)
Remove one sheet of frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry from the freezer, and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour. I usually do this the night before.
Preheat the oven to 350° and on a cookie sheet either place nonstick Reynolds wrap (what I use) or parchment paper.
Remove the defrosted pastry from the refrigerator and place it opened up on the nonstick sheet. Then, without cutting through the nonstick Reynolds wrap or parchment paper, cut the sheet of pastry into 4 even squares, and carefully separate them on the cookie sheet.
If you have a large simple cookie cutter, a large circle, square, heart, apple or house, you can use that to push down on the pastry in the center of each square, without going all the way through. You can make all four the same or you can use different shapes for each one. If you do not have a cookie cutter, you can simply make whatever shape you want, only going partially through the pastry -- a simple square is perfect.
Take whatever vegetables you have chosen; slice them or dice them. I dice my onions and bell peppers, and I slice the rest of the vegetables.
What I used to do when my children were little was to cook each one individually in the pan with a little bit of butter.
I would start with the mushrooms, and when they were finished, I would take them out and put them on a large plate in the warming drawer. If you don't have a warming drawer, simply put a piece of tinfoil over the ingredients to keep them warm as you keep going.
Then, in the same pot, I would caramelize my onions and add them to the same plate with the mushrooms.
By now the oven should be at 350°, and so I place my pastries in the oven with the timer set for 7 to 10 minutes, depending on how your oven works.
While the puff pastry is cooking, continue cooking the vegetables. Sauté the bell peppers and add them to the vegetable selection on the plate.
I slice the zucchini and the squash into thin slices, so that they are circles, and I sauté them each in the same pan with a little butter or oil. (With a nonstick pan, you really don't need anything.)
Finally, I like to sauté a little spinach, although I suppose I should say a lot of spinach because a lot of spinach only renders a little spinach.
With my vegetables ready to go, I pull out any other ingredient that I might want to add: diced ham, bacon, cheese, etc.
Normally, I use whatever cheese I happen to have handy: shredded mozzarella, Jarlsberg, cheddar (we are particularly fond of Trader Joe's caramelized onion cheddar cheese), goat cheese. All cheeses are really delicious in this dish.
When the puff pastries have just risen and are not fully cooked, I pull them out of the oven and remove the little cutout shape to leave the opening for the filling. I keep this little cutout on the side and only put it in the oven a minute or so before the filled pastry is ready, so that it does not overcook.
Stuffing the pastry requires clean and fast hands because the pastries can be a little warm. Make sure you stuff the fillings all the way into all four corners so that every bite is full of yumminess.
Finally you break an egg on top; create a tinfoil tent over it, and put it back into the oven for about 7 to 10 minutes. (This is where it gets tricky because the egg will cook at different rates depending on your oven.)
An option to cooking the egg on top of the filled pastry inside the oven is simply to poach it and then place the poached or even fried egg on top when the pastry has finished baking with the fillings inside.
When you remove the fully baked pastry with the piping hot filling inside and the egg on top, you can use the little cutout as decoration, and it is also excellent for dunking in the yolk.
This dish is delicious with fresh fruit or a little green arugula salad on the side.
As the days grow shorter, outdoor lighting becomes increasingly essential for people to enjoy their gardens. These images capture the immersive, sensual quality of the landscape revealed by the lighting we designed for the Hindry House in Pasadena, as photographed by Millicent Harvey.
The renovated landscape, completed in 2017, complements a 1910 Craftsman house by Heineman and Heineman and revitalizes its connection to a groundbreaking, naturalistic swimming pool designed by noted landscape architect Courtland Paul in the 1970s.
The goal of the lighting was to complement the warmth of the light coming from windows and Craftsman-era sconces and to invite use of the pool, spa, and fire feature in the evening. The sycamore grove around the pool is highlighted by ground-mounted lights that gently grace the tree trunks. Lights high in the tree canopies cast delicate leaf patterns onto the paving and lawn.
Local artist Stan Edmonson created the whimsical, organic ceramic lanterns that are nestled among the granite boulders.
Garden Design by Lisa Gimmy
Friends of Robinson Gardens member