Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Git 'Er Done

Ok, the goal of this post is to stop abusing the word 'awesome' - I know I can do it.

This weekend went by in a blur. The film was so good. Like many, I thought the contemporary storyline was a bit of a snooze, but I loved the Julia/Meryl bits so very, very much, even if I did wish that there was more food in the film. The peach sauce came out the best yet, and what we didn't freeze we enjoyed on the first waffles since summer hit. The eggplant/tomato/garlic/leek/pepper sauce came out tip top. The second to last enormous batch of pesto was made and put away for later. The tunes were way fun.

Hey, that's our friend Jenni up there who gives us all sorts of garden advice. And B picking enormous leeks for supper...

Oh, and I nearly forgot: we also sheet mulched the remainder of the front yard. No...more...grass. Note that I am able to be so flip about it because the husband pretty much kicked this project's ass single handedly. I did some mulch shoveling and loading and spreading, but B did all the edging and cardboarding and brick lining and bed making. I did, however, charm some free mulch out of the forestry guys here at work. Yay free.

Anyway, we are so happy to have this project done. We added a half circle bed under the bedroom windows, for mostly shade loving plants, and one more smaller bed that we'll try to use for things that go crazy like squash one year, then tomatoes, then beans, or whatever. The mulch still needs to settle some and get tromped down, but a good rain and our usual running around out there should fix that in no time. We dumped the last wheelbarrow of mulch and looked at each other and said "We are done out here for a while." For real. Now we just garden in it, which compared to desodding and fruit tree planting and bed making is a lovely breeze of effort.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Woot! Friday! These past two weeks have been zingers, between all the freakin’ food in the front yard and nine thousand oh-shit-the-semester-is-about-to-start kinds of meetings at work. I am ready; I love when all of our crazy intense students come back and ratchet things up around here.

This weekend we are planning to see Julie & Julia, the release of which has gotten me watching things like this or this – good grief I find her to be so completely awesome. In all honesty I was never that interested in Julia Child until Michael Pollan recently described her voice as “vaguely European, breathy and singsongy, and weirdly suggestive of a man doing a falsetto impression of a woman” so of course I had to go check that out and donate more of my workday to youtube. Also we plan to make more pesto (we made over five cups of it last night in our new food processor!), play some tunes with a banjo player rolling through town, and make more peach sauce. Also we need to relax, darn it.

Anyway. I keep forgetting to take a picture of my new shoes, but let it be known that I have some awesome new shoes. Just in case anyone here thought I was only into bugs and dirt.

Also, I read this and kind of lost steam for the crazy by the end. Too bad because I really liked all of his other books, maybe I am just lazy right now. I also just read this because the author is giving the commencement speech here this year and it was quite sweet in a very quaint way, which is to say completely formulaic while being totally charming. Speaking of formulaic and charming, The New Yorker had an awesome article about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose. Actually, I am not sure it was awesome, as much as a little painful to read. Sounds like Laura’s adulthood was perhaps a little bitter and unhappy, and that just about breaks my heart into a bazillion pieces. Anyway, Rose grew up to be something of a libertarian nut and evidently had quite a heavy hand in the writing of Laura’s books so there’s a whole genre of study devoted to arguing about what in those books is Laura and what is Rose and all that good stuff. Juicy!

Our beautiful dahlia and queen anne's lace that I started from seeds picked at my Grampa's farm are both blooming like crazy. Happy making.

Hope all the weekends are good out there.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Ok, a much prettier harvest picture by the husband. This is actually a small tomato haul for one day, and doesn't include the four pounds of cherry tomatoes we seem to pull out daily. After some fine sandwiches and such we have hit sauce mode (the slow roasted cherry tomatoes are a great addition). I know that heirlooms are not ideal for sauces, but actually we find that if you just cut them in half like an orange, squeeze out the seeds, stick them in the food processor, and then cook them down with tons of other veggies and a bit of tomato paste, you end up with a pretty kickass sauce. I think it helps to have eggplant coming out of your ears, those guys soak up all that yummy tomato juice. Next year: ONE sungold plant, ONE new heirloom variety (maybe one of those crazy green ones?) and two plum/paste tomato plants. Keep me to it.

Speaking of food processors, my $35 Black & Decker that I bought almost ten years ago finally bit the dust. Right after I turned to B and said "Hey you know, when our food processor dies we can get one that comes with handy cheese grating blades!" Needless to say, I was grating cheese at the time; one of my least favorite things to do, and of course we were right in the middle of a huge batch of pesto. So. Since we use our food processor about five times a week (and since I am not going to make the next twelve batches of pesto by hand, thankyouverymuch) we threw down for a sexy new toy, in red because I like red (sorry Gran). I am a little worried that it won't work out, because, well, I really liked my old one and they don't really make them like that anymore (literally - something about designing them to accommodate small bowls inside the larger bowl) and it runs in my family to get attached to designs that are no longer produced and then spend years resenting the undeniably inferior thing you just had to pay for. Awesome. Anyway, a huge shout out to my fabulous neighbor Sarah who loaned us her food processor on a dime - twice!

Ok, up there in that bowl is a seriously amazing bean salad - these beans, which I think are some of the best beans I have ever eaten, with feta, basil, roasted sungolds, and roasted delicata squash. I flipping love delicatta squash and I am mad as hell that I planted our squash too close together thus ensuring that the butternut would win the squash battle out there. Next year. Anyway, one of the reasons I love it is that you can just split it in half, slice it thin, and roast it. Eat up the whole thing, including the skins. So. Good.

Also. I had a dream about a particular kind of potato salad that we could make with our fingerlings. And then B made it, how awesome is that? He cut and tossed the potatoes in olive oil and roasted them in a hot, hot oven, and then he made a very modified version of this sauce - subbing out our pickles for capers, leaving out several herbs that we didn't grow, etc. Then he hard boiled a bunch of eggs, thinly sliced some celery, and had to listen to me go on and on about how exactly perfect it was. The gribiche gives you creamy with no mayo, which is fine with me. This picture is a typical shitty low light photo, so use your imagination.

Hope everyone is well out there and keeping up with their own veggies...

Friday, August 14, 2009


Oy, we are having a hard time keeping up around here. The rain is splitting tomatoes like crazy; they have to be picked early or they are chicken food in no time. Which is also fun, because you would not believe how quickly a chicken can decimate a huge tomato. I am headed home soon to make a tomato-eggplant affair and another huge batch of pesto.

P.S. The Blueberry Pie was quite possibly the best pie I have ever made or eaten. Make this pie soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Like Pie

Yesterday was one of the hottest days of the summer here. Sweaty muggy steamy greasy heat. So I baked a pie. What a nerd. I have been gunning to make the Cook's Illustrated Blueberry Pie for over a year now. Their shtick is that this recipe makes a non-runny pie but does not rely on ingredients that tend to cause a gelatinous situation (namely lots of cornstarch). They have you use a bit of finely ground tapioca and a granny smith apple, thus cashing in on the natural pectin in apples. Anyway, I've never had enough blueberries to feel like I can bake one of these, but now that we are extremely set in the blueberry department I figured it was time. It's a slightly fussy recipe, and I don't know if it's worth it because we haven't eaten this pie yet! Can you believe that? I baked it so late that it wasn't even close to cool when it was time to go to bed and I really wanted to let it cool to see if the texture promises were true. Fortunately there were ripe peaches on hand or I think B would have seriously mutinied. I will know more tonight. Crust note: I am a huge fan of this crust recipe, although I frequently use all butter and always do the whole damn thing in a food processor.

Also. The tomatoes. Not only are we still literally drowning in Sungolds, the Hillbilly tomatoes have started to kick in. Black Krims soon. We are doing this with our sungolds, and we are having gazpacho for dinner tonight, yum!

Here is a big tomato we grew:

Here is a huge tomato we grew:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Put it Up

Hoo boy. More fun this weekend than you can shake a stick at. More singing, this time with me singing the harmony part (mostly). More three part crooked tunes. Good grief I get squeaky about tricky tunes. More blueberry picking, which puts us at 12 gallons of blueberries. We are going to pick once more and then I believe we will be able to have a pie a week all winter long and then some. Like that's going to happen, but you know: just knowing it could is very happy making. We put up another four batches of pesto, two batches of peach sauce, and a batch of blueberry sauce. Ok so about the putting up of things: I don't know if I am a canner at heart. Last summer our house sitter made raspberry freezer jam (sauce) and B made plum freezer jam (sauce), and let me tell you, they were both insanely awesome. Key being, I suppose, that we ate them both up within six months. The other key being that we really like sauces over jams. The go-to treat around here is plain yogurt (Brown Cow) and whatever fruity sauce thing you can mix into it. Also we like fruit on waffles, which in the winter B makes just about every weekend. So we are punting big time on the fruit around here and either just freezing it straight up (cherries, raspberries, peaches, blueberries) or making a quick and dirty sauce (sugar, lemon juice, sometimes vanilla and oh man, put some nutmeg in your peach sauce) and freezing that. I am still really determined to can apple sauce, but beyond that I think we might be freezer dorks. For now anyway, maybe by next spring I will have realized that our freezer killed 50 gallons of fruit and we will reassess. Also I will admit that a defrosting pint jar of blueberry sauce is not nearly the gift that a lovely jar of jam is and it is fun to give this stuff away in seasons when most fresh fruit is from far away.

Right, that was a tangent. We also put in more of the fall garden, cleaned and moved the chicken coop, went to see Harry Potter (we left heretically sort of unimpressed even if we did enjoy ourselves and quite liked the fluttery imagery of memories and evil and such), and ate a bunch of cucumbers, tomatoes, and our first eggplant!! Here is how we ate the eggplant: thinly slice into rounds, lightly salt, let sweat, rinse and pat dry. Lightly sauté the eggplant in olive oil over high heat. Make some sort of ricotta, egg, garlic, chard, basil, walnut, parmesan kind of filling. Layer eggplant and filling, scatter halved sungolds, repeat. Bake until eggplant is tender. Yum!

Ok, so the zinnias have won me over. Mostly the red ones, they are such a bright and true red that they almost shock my eye, and this girl loves her some red. These were orphan seedlings, dumped at our house along with an inexcusable amount of eggplant, tomatillo, basil, and pepper starts. Seriously, I was spitting mad because it had already caused me great pain to cull my own starts into a manageable number, and there sitting on the porch from a friend were some "extra flower seedlings." I found spots for a few of the basils, but everything else went into the compost pile. Except for the zinnias. Which I have never liked and I have done a fair amount of smiling and nodding when other people wax poetic about how great they are. But these red zinnias are something. And the yellow ones are kind of something too. The pink ones can take a hike though. Maybe.

Hope the weekends were good out there.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Purple, Purpler, Purplest

To say that we are excited about these is a serious understatement. Like picking jewels, they are just shining out there in the tangle.

Have good weekends out there.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Red Redder Reddest

Grow it, eat it, that's what we do here. Yum.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August Peaches

Ooph. Tired here. Almost too tired to keep up with the fruit situation at our house, let alone the cucumber situation. Fortunately we have had a lot of house guests and no one leaves without some cucumbers. Like we will hide them in your backpack if you say no.

Also, we have our first really red pepper. It is going to be eaten on homemade pesto pizza. Which we actually just made last week but it was so good that I practically wanted it again right away. B made the Cook's Illustrated wet dough and it was so good and required no rolling out of things. I am not near our issue to check this for accuracy, but here is someone else's transcription of the recipe.

Also, the fall garden is (mostly) in and as usual with fall planting the germination was stellar and quick.

Also we finally cover cropped a bed with vetch.

Also, someone left an ice cream maker at our house and now I totally want one. It is the easy peasy electric kind and I made peach ice cream last night that was so flipping good. I think our wedding kitchenaid has some sort of similar attachment. Like we need another thing in our kitchen.

Also, I finished this book and although there were a few glaring character incongruities I liked a lot of the actual dialog which is notable because it is so easy for dialog to suck.

Also, we had our first blt of the summer last night. Although actually it was a bacon, cucumber, tomato sandwich. With basil. Yum.

Also, we think that squirrels are eating our chicken feed. Our super expensive organic chicken feed, thankyouverymuch. I have requested a firearm but my husband seems a little hesitant. Also, the squirrels ate the head off of the only sunflower to survive their earlier eating of my baby sunflowers. My squirrel wrath is pretty extreme right now. Like yesterday I was on the back porch throwing peach pits. Which just almost made me laugh because I pretty much pegged a squirrel and it didn't even seem to care. Probably because it has a generous layer of protective fat on it from hoovering chicken feed.