30 May 2010
28 May 2010
I know I sound a bit like the Wicked Witch of the West when I say 'these things must be done delicately', but I just love the first burst of peppery scent and flavor when you crunch into the little leaves. I have some cannelini beans, some slivers of pepper crusted dry salami, and a purple onion that I'll toss in with the greens. I think I'll top it with some shavings of Parmesan cheese and toss just a bit of olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar that I'll whisk up with the first snips of oregano from the herb garden.
Hmmm ... nothing finer for this evening! Hope your gardens are coming along too! If not, head to the farmer's market this weekend and see about some fresh greens for your own salad concoction!
25 May 2010
So ... I have a theory about we New Englanders ... we bitch and moan about the weather when it's cold and snowy and frosty and muddy and rainy and dry and hot and humid. The only time we DON'T complain is on those four or so days when Spring is really here. These four or so days are balmy, sunny, soft days that call us out into our yards and fields to contemplate all the wonderful things that we'll 'put in' so that late summer and autumn will yield plenty for the pantry. But wait ... those four days or so? Those are the days that the black flies and mosquitoes emerge and wreak havoc. So ... we bitch and moan about them! It never ends ... and while we're whalin' away, the glory of our flower gardens unfolds.
21 May 2010
18 May 2010
17 May 2010
I was listening to NPR this AM and heard a story that I found a bit upsetting. Apparently, 1 in 8 American families is eligible for food stamps, the government food aid vouchers affiliated with the SNAP federal program (supplemental nutrition assistance program). That's 12% of the American families ... heaven knows how many folks the final tally come to, but it's too many. To boot, to qualify for food stamps, the family food budget (by necessity) translates, when broken down by government wonks, to just over $68 dollars a week. Which leads me to this question - given the latest federal guidelines for fighting the nation's poor nutrition and obesity crisis, can one feed a family of four on $68/week?
15 May 2010
Okay, so this evening I'm having some friends in for dinner ... I've been planning a fun GF dessert all week. So, I'll start with a pretty plate. I love this plate. I found it at a yard sale a while back. It will be perfect for serving these little cornbread cassata cakes that I've been dying to make, but I get ahead of myself.
14 May 2010
Lunch with friends is one of my special pleasures these days. All the years that I worked, my lunch was always a rushed process. Food was microwaved leftovers or a sandwich and chips and whatever drink could be had. Conversation was perfunctory, managed around bites and slurps ... and then, it was a rushed clean-up and back to work.
Being retired allows me time to plan a nice light lunch menu, phone around and make plans with other folks who are 'in the same drifting boat' and spend a quiet morning putting together a nice table and cutting a bouquet to add to the atmosphere. Then, friends arrive, there's relaxed talk, a glass of wine or iced tea, and a leisurely lunch. When everyone has moved on after a couple hours, there's still time for me to move on to another activity before the day is gone. It's such a wonderful way to spend a day, now and then. I know ... you want to wretch. But ... if you're retired and reading this and you don't stop to create 'roses' for your friends to smell OR if you're still running the rat race and you begrudge me this simple pleasure ... tough cookies for you. I enjoy puttering and this is how I choose to spend my time ... you can call me a Martha Stewart wannabe. I don't care! So there!
That being ranted on ... and Shakespeare would say the lady protests too much (tough, again!) ... here's the easy lunch I made for Leah and Cathy today. Remember those curried chicken kabobs that I was craving? Done! They sat in a yogurt and spice slurry all morning and just about an hour before L&C arrived, I washed some basmati rice and steamed it with a generous pinch of caraway seed, chilled some mango chutney to have with the chicken skewers, and made a lovely creamed spinach that was mellower than the traditional Indian Saag Paneer spinach that I'm used to making. A nice dry Reisling and a pot of tea rounded things out ... yummy Indian!
13 May 2010
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup ... Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Put Away the Wool Sweaters ... Brrr!
'Soup and Self-Portrait'
I am all about being outside and gardening right now, but Mother Nature is pulling some tricks! Last night, we had a hard frost, and I spent some time after dark draping the perennials that have set blossoms with bath towels and bed linens to hold off the frost. Today, there's such a brisk breeze that I am back to making soup when I wanted to make curried chicken kabobs on the grill and slurp strawberry daquiris while they sizzled! What's that all about, Mother Nature?
Well, I stowed the extra chicken thighs for future curried kabobs and made a creamy chicken-y, mushroom-y soup that has a nice combination of wild rice and basmati rice. Good thing I have a nice loaf of garlic bread to 'go with' ! We're back to the wool sweaters, sweatshirts, and woodstove!
11 May 2010
on here... where there's a will, the consumer will find a way. To me it seems a bit foolish to limit buying clubs ...folks will just 'go underground' and then the state loses its ability to monitor any potential problems should they arise ... what do you think?
Green, green, green! I am always amazed at the number of shades of green that one sees in May. Every tree, plant, and flower has its own unique take on the color. Look at my back yard! It is such a beautiful scene right now. We have been putting in flowers and vegetables, digging up the first dandelions, and pulling the first clover and weeds from the beds. Cooking is fast and simple these days ... I've been looking for greens at the markets. Today, I found a welcome seasonal surprise!
10 May 2010
08 May 2010
07 May 2010
I have been doing a little reading on the milk industry of late. It all started when I spied a small ad for raw milk being sold at a small farm in our town. When I brought the place up in conversation at church one Sunday, one of my 'church lady' friends wondered aloud what all the fuss with raw millk was about. She'd been raised drinking milk straight from the cow and she was alive to tell the tale. I detected a healthy dose of Yankee cynicism in her tone when another woman commented on pasteurization being a public health response to dirty conditions in dairies. She sniffed and replied that her family's dairy was clean and that's why she never had problems. She doubted that other folks' dairies were cesspits. I changed the subject by asking about the flavor of raw milk as opposed to the pasteurized product. More flavor, richer, taste varied depending on the season were some of the comments. Hmmm...
I came away from that conversation wanting to find out more. Doing a bit more reading, I found it's difficult for the small farmer to get a market going for the real thing. Public health laws have governed closely the production, distribution, and sale of milk for a long time. Today's consumer demands for more natural foods , milk and dairy products being one of them, have placed small producers of raw milk in a bind. The laws say they can't produce more than a certain amount, but consumer demand is picking up dramatically for their product. What's a farmer to do? Push for new legislation ... and advocate through various farm and natural foods non-profits.
Which leads me to a book that I found ... The Untold Story of Milk is an excellent overview of milk. The author gives you a history of milk's importance as a cultural product, the science and chemistry of milk, the public health world's policy on milk pasteurization, the naturopaths' philosophy and rationalization for raw milk products consumption, and the history of the industrialization of milk and dairy production. Milk is BIG business! Check it out. Perhaps you'll think a bit deeper about what's in your milk, where it comes from, what you'd like in your milk and cheese that would benefit your body ... interesting stuff!
06 May 2010
Poor Eric! We left for Germany on his birthday and to boot, he got stuck taking care of the house and cats while we wiled away the time in a beautiful springtime German paradise! My son is a prince among men! He stepped up and took excellent care of the house, the kitties, the plants, and all! So tonight I'm making him a nice dinner and hoping that he likes salmon, pasta, and veggies ... with that combo, can I fail?
He has just moved into a house with his pretty girlfriend, so we have a pair of deck chairs and a couple tables waiting for him in the dooryard ... a nice belated birthday gift. And... I saved the Linzer Torte for dessert ... it should be a yummy evening!
05 May 2010
Every afternoon at around 4 PM, our German friends brew a nice pot of coffee and Gundel brings out a plate of little savory cakes or softly sweet breads. The table is laid with nice plates, cups and saucers and we sit down to a session of 'kaffeetrinken' ... the old concept of the kaffeklatsch is firmly established in German society.
Gundel has very interesting names for some of her sweet treats. For instance, the golden coffee cake in the foreground of the picture is called Bee Stinger Cake. The name comes from the blanched and slivered almonds that have sharp little points and the inclusion of a small amount of honey in the crispy crunch topping. All her treats are lower on sugar and honey because of Wichard's and her preference for more subtle dessert offerings. They are so tasty and simple.
02 May 2010
Yeah, so when you have a bazillion plants to set in the ground, a greenhouse that needs to be opened for the gardening season, flats of annuals to seed in, a sunporch to clean up and open for spring and summer lounging, wild turkeys to shoo out of your first outdoor plantings, and all the regular 'stuff', you tend to go for 'easy and fast' when it's dinner time.