Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Using up the Tomatoes

Warmer temperatures have returned, but the chilly spell last week has made the Kitchen Garden seem definitely tired. On Sunday, while picking tomatoes, okra, and some tomatillos, I realized the two locust trees in the garden had turned yellow and their leaves were beginning to fall. Warmer temperatures or not, it is definitely time to think about putting the gardens to bed. In the vegetable garden that will include pulling the annual vegetable plants, putting in a few rows of radishes and mesclun for a fall harvest, and planting as many new tulip bulbs as we can fit.

In the meantime I'm making panzanella and using up the tomatoes. I need strength to do all these chores!

A nice little harvest.
Bought a loaf of nice, crusty bread.
Cubed and toasted it.
While that was toasting I thinly sliced half of a red onion, about two pounds of tomatoes, tore up some basil leaves, and mixed it all with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and three tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
Mixing it all up. You are supposed to serve it chilled or at room temperature, allowing the flavors to meld and the bread to soak up the liquid. However, I love it when the bread is warm, and always sneak a few pieces.

The recipe I use is, of course, Martha's. I didn't have any ricotta, but had a few helpings none the less. This is great at lunch or dinner in the height of summer, or at the end of the growing season when the warmth returns for a minute. Either way, it is one of my favorite things to make.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Revisiting a Flexi Foodie Favorite

This is a recipe I first made several years ago when I ran across it on Julie Montagu's, or Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, as the wife of the future Earl of Sandwich is formally known, Flexi Foodie website. It's such a fresh and flavorful meal (or side) that I thought it was worth a revisit. Plus I had more kale in the garden than I knew what to do with. Here is the recipe.

All of the ingredients ready to go. Buy three bags of frozen peas, organic, of course, and use about one and a half bags in a single recipe. I can't wait until my avocado tree begins to produce.

Sautee away!
In the meantime, prep your avocados and lemons. The "great grater" really is fantastic.

A handful of pepitas!
Cook everything a little longer, and then mash lightly with a potato masher. Add the lemon juice and zest and done!
So, so good.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Kitchen Garden Update

It seems like only a few weeks ago we had the last of the spring tulips and the first of the spring greens popping up in the Vegetable Garden. Now Summer has flown by and, though I know we will pay for it later, the recent chill in the air promises Fall is coming right around the corner. Soon it will be time to pull the spent vegetables, dig up last year's tulip bulbs, and plant fresh for the Spring.

For now, however, I'll enjoy what the garden is offering.

I divided up one giant, spreading lemon thyme plant and positioned the now two plants on either side of the gate. There is now so much more room in the raised bed where this monster was planted.

Four new oregano plants have also gone in next to the thyme plants. The oregano planted about ten years ago in the raised beds became more sparse the past few years. This year there was still quite a bit of it, but hopefully these new plants will give us a much more robust harvest.

Some of the sweet peas are beginning to fade. However, the cooler weather we are having makes me think I may have sweet peas to pick all the way up until October!

This small orange thyme plant has replaced the giant lemon thyme.

There is also room for one of the potted rosemary plants to get a little more sun. I think I will replant some mesclun in this open corner. It will be ready before frost and can share space with the peppers.
Hot little jalapenos.

Many more to come. And many weeds to pull.

A second sowing of cilantro is looking good.

Our tomato plants have been entirely hit and miss. They have stayed short, but have been somewhat productive.

Between each tomato cage I planted a different type of basil. Here some parsley popped up as well. And the ever present grassy weeds. I have so much work to do.

Lima beans will be ready to shell soon.

Cucumbers are coming along. They were planted pretty late.

I'm not sure why this one stopped growing.

A late crop of carrots are sprouted and need thinned.

The carrots are growing in rows between the okra.
Okra flowers are so pretty. Okra is a close relative of the hibiscus, and their flowers are very similar.


More basil.

Green tomatoes waiting to ripen...or be fried.

Some still green Yellow Pear cherry tomatoes.

The bell peppers are also not growing much but are being productive for their size. After moving all the compost last year I really did think we were in for a year of vegetables like none other. Time to go back to the original source of our Top/Black/Peat mix of soil to amend the garden this year.
 
The kale was looking great, although something was beginning to munch on it. I cut a lot to use in several recipes.

And boy do we have tomatoes. even on three foot tall plants. The tomatillos, which are growing quite well, are going into green rice puree.




Saturday, August 19, 2017

Green Vegetable Curry

In an effort to eat less meat, and be much more conscientious about where that meat comes from, I have been making vegetarian meals for the past few weeks. I may have slipped up on this recipe were I a strict vegetarian because I didn't check to see if the curry paste I bought had fish sauce in it. Since I'm a Conscientious Eater rather than a vegetarian, however, I'm not too concerned.

 I saw this recipe last month while flipping through old issues of Everyday Food and had set it aside, marked, because it offered up a great use for the seasonal abundance of green beans. It was quick and easy to make, and the leftovers were delicious as well.

I took the "green" theme a little more literally and used a green bell pepper rather than red. All of the ingredients look so fresh. I always "core" the bottom of the bok choy so there are no hard bites into the root end.
One of three tablespoons of green Thai curry paste.
The scent is amazing.
The pan, however, should have been bigger.
Everything eventually fit. I used button mushrooms instead of shiitake because, well, because I already had some in the fridge.
That little copper pot I bought last week ended up being the best pot to cook rice in that I have ever had. It made perfect rice!
The finished product. Light, fresh, and delicious.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cleaning Up Some New Finds

Last week I did a little thrifting and, stopping by a local antique and collectibles market, found some dirty items. It's been a while since I've had time to go on a hunt, so I was pretty happy with my small finds. Back at home I grabbed the Bar Keeper's Friend and went to town. In very little time they were almost back to their original, shining finishes.
The small sauteuse pan and square brass tray had certainly seen years of neglect. But at $12 for the pan and $3 for the tray I was more than willing to take the risk of them not coming clean.
Some Bar Keeper's Friend and a little elbow grease and the grime began to disappear instantly.
The brass tray came clean as well. The pan will clean up even more over time, use, and washing. I always clean the copper pots every time I use them, and never put them in the dishwasher.
I'm not sure where the tray will go, but the pot looks great joining the rest of my collection of copper. Even if I had to hang the lid on a different pot's handle.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happy 75th, Martha!

I know I've told this story before, but I'm going to tell it again...A long, long time ago on West Jefferson in one of those enormous apartments that cost next to nothing and no longer exist in West Central, I stuck some white peonies I had found in the alley into a jar. "Very 'Martha Stewart'," my dearest friend, Erin, commented upon seeing it. What? Martha who???

Of course my older sister was already a subscriber to Martha Stewart Living, and after a flip through one issue I was hooked. It all just clicked! Cooking, gardening, decorating, entertaining, even cleaning! This lady was teaching me how to do everything the fastest way and with the best results. It was a Good Thing, indeed!

Any reader of my blog already know how nuts I am about Martha and her aesthetic. The ideas she and her editors, designers, gardeners, chefs and house keepers have shared and continue to share for the past 35 years (if you go way back to the publication of Entertaining) has inspired me in countless ways.

Here's a look at an old post I put up 5 years ago to celebrate her 70th. It's a little amazing to look at this and see how my tastes have changed and my collections have grown. I should do an updated version of this entire post. I did add some newer photos of Cantitoe Corners from my drive-by in April.

I love this picture, and it hangs (rather tongue-in-cheek) in my kitchen. (Now, in 2017, it hangs on a large gallery wall.)




Where it all began-my collection of Fireking Jadeite. I loved the hunt (and still do) finding pieces in thrift stores and antique shops. I've backed off a bit, but still pick things up when it's a good deal. When I started collecting 12 or so years ago, the pieces were still pretty moderately priced...now they cost a bit more.
The Jadeite led me to Wedgwood drabware. My collection is tiny, and I say that it is now the only thing I will buy (to try and curb my Plate Collecting Disorder)...but everyone knows that is not true.
The first major purchase I ever made (by major I mean something that cost over $100) was this spice rack from the Martha by Mail catalog. It came complete with spices (don't worry...they have all been replaced many times) and I love it as much today as I did all those years ago.
The kitchen is where a lot of the "Good Things" come into play-like my pots taking the place of curtains, and hung on a simple rod.
Of course the legendary "original" Good Thing-decanting dish soap into a glass bottle. (Martha Stewart Clean products make my life easier, as well!)
Martha first taught me about faux bois...and my small but growing collection of concrete or terracotta vessels designed to look like wood is a new interest.
Of course color is a constant inspiration, and ever since her paint was available at K-Mart I have had a paint chip board above (or near) my desk.
And the books and magazines. Some think my keeping the magazines is ridiculous, but I promise you I still flip through them (usually pulling all of the past issues of the current month to go through) all the time.
So this post wouldn't be complete without some pics of two separate "Drive-Bys". My friend Christina's childhood home was pretty close to Turkey Hill ("where it all began") in Westport, Connecticut.



Driving to Connecticut last April, I tricked Contractor into driving by Martha's farm in Katonah, New York. Here is the approach of the Summer House.

It always surprises me when I am reminded of just how close to the road all of the buildings are. The Summer House is used for entertaining, as well as a repository for Martha's vast library.

The original owner of the property would move to the 18th Century Summer House in summer, and back to Martha's primary residence, the Winter House (which was presumably better insulated), in the colder months.

Passing the Winter House. Martha sort of re oriented the buildings along Girdle Ridge Road to face inward onto the 150 acre farm rather than face the road. Thus the "front", or road side, facade is actually the "back". The Winter House was built in the 1920's as a "fancy farmhouse".

Here you can clearly see the deer fencing that surrounds the property.

Next up is the little Tenant House built toward the end of the 19th Century.

The large glasshouse Martha commissioned for her extensive collections of tropical plants. In addition there are several hoop houses as well as a vegetable greenhouse where Martha grows vegetables in the ground year round.

I absolutely love the little pond house built into the wall and painted Bedford Gray like every other building on the property.

On the way out I made Contractor turn down Maple Avenue to catch a glimpse of the roof line of her stables. All of this is so familiar from The Martha Blog, it's almost surreal to see it in person.

I hope you enjoyed this little old/new post. Happy birthday, Martha!