Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pasta with Broccoli Pesto and Cannellini Beans

Once again I have what was supposed to be a Meatless Monday post being posted way late. I'm going to blame the weather. The bleak, cold, dreary weather has really made me lazy the past few weeks and I can't shake the funk. It looks like we have another snowstorm on the horizon for the weekend, so maybe another snow day and I will actually grab the camera and document what is going on.

In the meantime, here is a bright green recipe to remind us of spring!

One head of broccoli cut into florets. Get your pot of salted water boiling.

One bad thing about keeping pasta in large jars is that it's harder (for me at least) to eye-ball ounces. Oh well, a kitchen scale is easy enough to use.

Can you believe I could only find curly parsley? A little more that half a cup.

Lemon zest! Fresh! Bright! Wonderful! I love lemons in everything. I often will slice them and lay the slices on chicken when I bake it, in water and tea, and added to every dessert possible. Someday I hope my little lemon trees start to really produce! A teaspoon of zest and a tablespoon of juice.

Cooked until tender, about 4 minutes, and remove the florets. Don't drain! You cook the pasta in the same water. I started removing the smaller florets before that. I also tossed in a whole clove of garlic (rather than half) and removed it at the end. Everything went directly into the food processor and the pasta went into the pot of water.

So we have a head of broccoli, about half a cup of parsley, 5 teaspoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, and the tablespoon of lemon juice and teaspoon of zest. Season with salt. Yum!

GREEN!!!! I love it! Reserve a few cups of pasta water to loosen the sauce (I used about 1/2-3/4 of a cup) and mix the pesto, pasta, and cannellini beans together.
So wonderfully delicious. It looks like spring but is a total comfort food for these cold days!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cleaning Out the Closet

Continuing with the constant reorganization at my parent's house, and my desire to move the hall tree from it's present location to the dining room (thus freeing up some space to move the sofa in the living room), I decided to clean out the coat closet. When I mentioned moving the hall tree I was met with looks of despair and exclamations of "Where will we hang our coats?!?!"

How about in the closet?

I just rolled my eyes and went to work. Boy oh boy did we find some junk! I've never seen such a collection of good, sturdy boxes full of tissues paper in my life. Or random, unopened, Halloween and Christmas decorations from Frank's and Belmont's (two store that have been closed for decades). There was also a lot of old cards and invitations, which will find their way to a more suitable home, some Christmas items, and single, mate less gloves and mittens.

A few of the boxes, however, held wonderful discoveries.

I have a few blown out eggs from Great-aunt Mary with my Easter decorations. Now I've added to the collection! The little pullet egg ornament is tiny! The largest one in the top center is decorated like a bishop's hat.

Another box held a few vintage ornaments. Two of them were broken, but these four are moving in with my decorations. There were some other Christmas things I allowed (haha) my mom to keep.

Whoa!!!! This was a sculpture done by my mom in school. There was also a dinosaur-komodo dragon type thing I thought it would be nicer not to show. This dog is at least kind of charming.

An old Nippon creamer and sugar set with matching salt and pepper shakers. They need cleaned up a bit. That glass lid didn't go with anything.

Holy cow! These decoupaged wall plaques are a result of my Grandma and Great Aunts being busy, crafty ladies. I think these need to be handed out at the next family reunion.
This Japanese lusterware salt and pepper caddy is really rather pretty. The built-in condiment holder still has it's tiny spoon. My mom had been looking for this for quite some time. The lesson learned? Always look in the closet first!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Searching For the Garden Under the Snow

On Sunday my nephew and I took a little foray out into the arctic tundra that the Garden has become. I cannot believe how deep the snow is! I does make me happy, though, as all those inches of snow are protecting every sleeping plant from the sub-zero temperatures we've been dealing with.

Come take a little stroll with us!

Junior wanted to check out the Vegetable Garden. After a bit of a struggle actually walking out to it, we had to dig out the gate to get it open.

Or we could have walked around to the back where the weight of the snow had pulled the chicken wire fence down.

Really. The snow is deep.

Junior sort of dug out the snow "like a dog" as he walked from front to back of the Vegetable Garden.

And then walked right out over the fence. I new we needed to make some repairs to the fence, but now it looks like we will need to take it all off, straighten it out, and put it back up. It's obvious we need to add a few more uprights to strengthen the chicken wire.
The White Garden has never looked so white!

Took a little break and made a snow angel.

The end result was pretty perfect.

The Berry Patch is one big drift.

So. Much. Snow.

I'm hoping the currants don't get chewed up by rabbits. The more tender tops are about eye-high to a rabbit right now.

I'm glad I wrapped the boxwood!

Junior wasn't too concerned.

That slight mound to the left of the patio chair is the long border of boxwood, protected under the snow by the burlap.
The big American boxwood out front isn't so lucky. However, I have another Martha-inspired plan for this guy next year. My mom refuses to burlap this guy, so we might just wrap it in black bird netting. You can't see it, but it helps hold the boxwood together in heavy snow, rather than it splaying out and risking damaged or broken branches. Sigh, add that to next Winter's to-do list. For now we will just shake the snow off.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

More Winter Gardening to Fight the Cold

Sometimes it is rather amazing what can happen when you move everything out of a room to clean the floors. You get to see the space in a different light, change the furniture arrangement a bit, and discover a bag of amaryllis wasting away under a chair. 
I had brought them back from their cabinet in the garage where they always spend a few months going dormant and forgot all about them. Oops.
Sometimes, for a gardener, just getting your hands in dirt can help you feel like it's not quite as cold outside as it actually is. A few minutes of re potting can lead to daydreaming about the Spring and what changes you want to make to the beds, where you want to plant the tomatoes this year, and what all of the new tulips will look like once they are blooming. Then the news comes on and you hear about the windchill warning. Oh well. You can always dream.

There were five bulbs, but two of the smaller ones were soft and rotted. These three seemed solid, so I removed them from their pots, shook off the old soil, and cleaned them up a bit.

All snug again and watered. Now all I can do is wait.

This poor, poor, neglected Easter Lily has somehow persevered. It died back over the summer and then sent up this shoot as Fall was turning to Late Fall. I brought it home and have been treating it horribly ever since.

However, it is doing well enough to start making some babies.

The main bulb that the large stalk is coming out of. Lily bulbs never go dormant, and when you buy them in the Spring or Fall it is important to plant them as soon as possible so that they don't dry out. It is also important to keep them out of the sun while planting. It's amazing something that seems so delicate can really be so hardy.

Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum) should be hardy in our Zone 6a (formerly 5b) garden, so I just want to keep this guy happy until Spring. I'm sure I will buy some more this year, and if they make it they would be a rather lovely addition to the White Garden.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Day Chicken and Noodles

Ah, Winter. I love you, but the snow is beginning to be a bit much. Another storm overnight, and perhaps one headed our way on Sunday, and it's only February 5! I mean, I love watching it fall from the windows of the Penthouse, but I do not love shoveling my car out of a two foot drift.

This afternoon, to fuel the shoveling, I decided to make some chicken and noodles. It hit the spot.

I do love my view.
Noodles. What could be easier? Two eggs for every one cup of flour and a pinch of salt.

It is pretty sticky, so I mix it up in a bowl before flouring my hands and kneading it smooth. You can also just make a well in the flour and mix the eggs in right on your work surface, as long as you have a very level work surface.

Roll it out pretty thin. The noodles will expand during cooking. Unless you like a thick noodle.

Not perfect. Not even. Not caring. This makes enough noodles for two, so I guess one egg per serving is a good rule of thumb. After they are cut I let them dry for maybe 15 minutes. An offset or flat spatula makes lifting them off the board a bit easier. 

They cook in boiling salted water for about 2-3 minutes. I throw the pre-cooked (or leftover) chicken in after a minute to heat it up. Drain them and toss in a little butter and a little pepper.

Of course you have to have them with mashed potatoes. A perfect meal for a snow day.