The wonderful Lauri Kranz from Edible Gardens LA replanting some heirloom beans

Leanne Citrone is a true inspiration to us at The Chalkboard. She’s a top hairstylist and co-owner of the best salon in Los Angeles – the Andy LeCompte Salon– not to mention a mom of two who not only cooks for her family daily, but also happens to grow most of the beautiful vegetables her family eats. Leanne’s insanely gorgeous backyard edible garden yields harvests daily, which she turns into delicious meals, drinks and desserts for her young family. But what we love most about Leanne is her attitude towards food, family and entertaining – for her, it’s all about enjoying yourself and those you love, and connecting to your surroundings and your health. With the guidance of gardening guru Lauri from Edible Gardens LA (don’t miss her stunning blog), she’s created a beautiful and inspiring retreat. When you come to shoot photos, you can stay for a beautiful meal including homemade mint ice cream and blood orange spritzers and leave with freshly harvested carrots. You’ll know you’re dealing with a hostess in a league of her own.

The Chalkboard Mag: What was your experience gardening before you met Lauri and planted your first box?
Leanne Citrone: “I had attempted to do a very small garden, which was not successful at all. Then I found Lauri!”

TCM: Did you always have a green thumb? What inspired you to build an edible garden at your house?
LC: “No! I dream of having a green thumb, but in reality, I have a black thumb.”

TCM: What is the best part of having a home garden?
LC: “I love to cook; it is so nice to be able to go into your garden to pull things to make dinner.”

TCM: What lessons do you feel your kids have learned from gardening?
LC: “Patience. It’s also expanded their food choices.”

TCM: How has having an edible garden changed your attitude towards food and cooking?
LC: “I am a lot more open to experimenting and trying new things and tasting new things. Plus, the produce tastes amazing!”

TCM: What are some of your favorite things to make that include your edible garden ingredients?
LC: “There are so many, and they all chance seasonally. It’s always great for a green salad. I do find the produce is so fresh and good that it does not need a lot of work to taste amazing.”

TCM: You have big plans for your garden. Can you tell us a little bit about the green Teepee and the chicken coop?
LC: “Lauri had come up with the idea of making an edible teepee that the kids will be able to go in and out of that has different beans growing all over.”

TCM: What would you say to someone who is on the fence about getting into planting their first edible garden?
LC: “GROW ANYTHING. It’s great for your carbon footprint and even if its only some mint or something, it tastes great… It’s so fun to see nature at work.”

TCM: What’s the most surprising thing about having an edible garden?
LC: “How fast things grow – the climate in southern California is great for a garden.”

TCM: You honestly seem like you can do it all—what are you tips for balancing work, family, relationships, friendships, etc?
LC: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help… I am very lucky to be surrounded by amazing friends, co-workers and most of all, family.”

TCM: Can you share the recipe for the ice cream, pasta and spritzer with us?
LC: Rigatoni with Sauteed Beet Greens

Bring large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente (I used rigatoni, but penne is also a good choice ). In a sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Add 3 cloves of minced garlic and the cleaned beet greens. Saute until tender and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the sauté pan and combine. If it’s too dry, add 2 TB of the boiling water.

Plate the pasta and add a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese to the top of each portion.

Here’s the recipe for the Blood Orange Spritzer Leanne made us. Though Leanne made them alcohol-free, feel free to add gin, as the recipe suggests!

Blood Orange Gin Sparkler

You can keep the rosemary simple syrup in the refrigerator for a week or so. You can do this ahead of time. Also, if blood oranges are hard for you to come by – navel oranges are also delicious.

  • 2 cups / 480 ml water
  • 1 cup / 6.5 oz / 185 g sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (~2 sprigs-worth) fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • blood oranges
  • gin
  • ice cubes
  • tonic water (or sparkling water)

Combine the water, sugar, rosemary, and bay in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer for 3-5 minutes, or long enough for the sugar to dissolve, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let infuse for 10 minutes. Strain into a jar to cool completely.

In the meantime, juice and strain your oranges, you’ll need 3 tablespoons / 1.5 tablespoons of juice for each drink.

To make each drink combine you’re going to combine equal parts gin, juice, and tonic water with a bit of syrup and ice. So, its 3 tablespoons / 1 1/2 oz gin, 3 tablespoons / 1 1/2 oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice, and 1-2 teaspoons of the rosemary syrup in each tall glass (I used kolsch glasses here). Stir to combine, fill each glass 2/3 full with ice and top off with 3 tablespoons / 1 1/2 oz tonic water. Stir again and you’re set.

Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 10 min

Photos by Mike Rosenthal.

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