Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another Visit To Blackrock

Fresh from the water jumbo, head on sweet prawns. Caught this morning, dinner tonight.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Espallied Apple Fence

Though this little tree could use a little trimming, I love the idea of training an apple tree into a low fence. This one is a feature of the Washington State University demonstration garden in Mt Vernon. I'd love to give this a try at home.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blackrock Seafood

Driving across Washington's route 20 towards Fidalgo Island a small black and white billboard advertised crabs, oysters, and prawns. Of course I followed the signs that led me through a residential neighborhood to a fisherman's house with a small storefront attached.
 Inside I found the fisherman's wife and daughter (and the man himself) presiding over a couple cold cases filled with crabs, mussels, oysters, shrimp, salmon and more.
I with local smoked oysters and a weighty dungeness crab. I'k be back tomorrow for fresh caught prawns.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Cheese I Couldn't Resist

Strolling through the tiny farmers market in Anacortes, WA I happened upon Gothberg Farms goat cheese from Bow. Now I always find cheese had to resist but with a name like "Woman of La Mancha" I was drawn right in. I'm such a cheese sucker. My choice turned out to be a sharp aged manchego style cheese bathed in smoked paprika and olive oil. I bought a small wedge and greedily walked back to my car

Turned out to have a delightful sharp flavor perfect on a cheese board with maybe honey and almonds and a tall glass of sherry.. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Neat Little App

I just found an app called Look Local that lists Mom and Pop businesses (ones that sign up to be listed -- which is free) including restaurants and bars and is searchable by location. A neat little tool to take traveling -- no need to give in to the arches or Olive Garden.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Everett, Washington Farmers Market

I love a farmer's market, even when I have no place to cook. So I trekked down the 5 to Everett, Washington, feeling a little silly for driving so far for a market. But I was rewarded with a beautiful water front location and a dizzying array of local cheeses, fresh cherries, seafood and positively hypnotic, riotous, alluringly fresh flowers. 

A great market and the makings of a great picnic lunch. Fresh, chewy whole wheat miche from local favorite bread farm, unusual young Ladysmith cheese flavored with peppery arugula from Samish Bay Cheese -- a chewy almost springy queso fresco style cheese, and sweet, bracingly fresh Puget Sound prawns.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Spaghetti With Bacon And Chard

I'm on my way out of town again. I scoured the fridge for bits that might not be at their prime by the time I get back and came up with the ends of a variety of fatty, porky, meats-- yum. Bacon, pancetta, Canadian bacon and even a little sausage. While the pasta water boiled I started the chopped bacons rendering in a hot pan and let them crisp up for about 10 minutes. I piled those into a waiting dish and then added sausage slices (it was a cooked Italian not fresh so it didn't really need more than to crisp up in the hot fat). I added the sausage to the dish and added a whole sliced onion (and a dash of chili peppers) to the fat remaining in the pan and let it sauté until just soft -- about 7 minutes. Meanwhile the spaghetti was in the pot and I added a good quantity of chopped chard (I cleared out the garden too) along with about 1/2 a cup of the pasta cooking water to the pan. While the chard wilted I drained the pasta and added it back into the pan along with the chard, bacons, sausage, about 3 TB of olive oil and a good splash (maybe 1- 1/2 TB) or balsamic vinegar. Everything got a good stir. I served James' garden fresh spaghetti topped with a heavy sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Marin-Sonoma County Fair

My favorite time of year, county fair season. I love it all. The midway (though I never get on a ride or play a game), the greasy snacks (though I never order one), the high flying dog shows and of course; the animal competitions.
A sweet Jersey heifer getting prettied up for her chance in the ring,
4H hopefuls waiting for the judge.
 Another little lady and her bovine.
Everyone loves a pony ride.
A first for my in all my fair going years -- a kid's pedal tractor pull. Who could resist 6 year solids pulling 170 pounds on a pedal John Deere? Riveting!
A happy day at the the fair for me. My first ribbon. A third prize win for my apple bourbon jelly. Next year I'm going for the blue.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Little Friend On My Watering Can

I've been traveling and when I got home I met a tiny new friend in the garden.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Something Simple

Burgers (organic grass fed meat of course) and oven roasted potatoes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Had To Use Up The Milk

We are not milk drinkers. Last week we had a guest for dinner and I asked James to pick up the smallest container of milk he could -- I needed a cup and a half for our dessert cobbler. James brought home a half gallon and I knew there'd be at least a couple milk based recipes in his dinner future.  I've whipped up cornbread and cookies and polenta so far.
I can't bare to waste ingredients. You'd think I was a child of the depression they way I take an MK Fisher-like delight in making leftovers new and palatable (pork roast empanadas anyone?) or creating dinners from fridge odds and ends. Today I had to face the milk. Looking around for other ingredients to add to my "don't let food spoil" dinner I spied a bunch of swiss chard (from our garden, even more precious than usual), the mustard greens I didn't use in the other night's sausage pan fry, and odds and ends of several kinds of cheese. Bingo! Macaroni and cheese with greens and mushrooms (while digging around I found a box close to it's last legs). Okay, it's not exactly Sunday church supper mac n' cheese and certainly far from the dreaded blue box but this slightly upscale baked pasta is just what my fridge extras ordered.
I started a pot of water to boil and added in the pasta (no elbows but these fusilli will soak up the cheese sauce nicely). Two minutes before the pasta was cooked (I let it cook for about 2/3 of the stated cooking time so it would finish cooking in the oven in the rich sauce) I added in the chopped greens and drained the whole pot in a colander. Meanwhile in a saucepan I started a white sauce by melting butter (4TB) and then whisking in a couple TB (4 or so) of flour. I just read a NY Times article about cooks in Provence making béchamel sauce with olive oil so I gave it a splash of olive oil too. I know you are supposed to use warm milk and add it little by little. I suppose that's fine when you have one pot going and all day to wash dishes. I added in the milk -- all at once -- right out of the fridge -- about 3 1/2 - 4 cups. I didn't bother to measure. I let the sauce simmer and thicken while I sautéed the mushrooms, grated the cheese and mixed the pasta and vegetables together. I tossed the cheese into the sauce along with S&P and a dash of nutmeg and poured the whole pot over the waiting pasta mixture. Once tossed together, I ladled the pasta mixture into buttered baking dishes (one for tonight and one for the freezer) and topped our mac n' cheese with breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and a drizzle of melted butter.
After 30 minutes at 375º James' dinner was gooey, cheesy and warm with crispy delicious edges -- and we were out of milk. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Flaky Spinach And Arugula Pie

Our garden is overflowing with greens. Tonight I chopped up some spinach and the overgrown arugula into a Greek style spinach pie. James loves flaky pastry (I am more of a muffin scone kind of girl) so I topped the savory filling -- a combo of cooked greens, feta cheese, sautéed onions, spring onions, fresh dill, S&P, and eggs -- with butter soaked, crisp, flaky phyllo dough.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Easy Homemade Cookies

The cookie jar has been empty for quite some time. I had to step up and whipped up a batch of whole wheat drop cookies with raisins. Nothing flashy. Simple, adapted from a recipe by King Arthur Flour. First combine 2 cups of white flour, 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda in a large bowl. Next cream two sticks of butter with 3/4 cup each white and brown sugar. Beat in two eggs and a splash of vanilla. Mix in half the flour mixture, then 1/4 cup of milk, and finish with the rest of the flour. Stir in the raisins. Drop by spoonfuls or a cookie scoop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 16 minutes at 375º. Let cool and fill your cookie jar just like it was nothing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer's Favorite Sauce

Stretching our backyard harvest into yet another meal I whipped up a batch of one of my favorite garden treats -- arugula pesto. I pulse together grated parmesan (1 cup -- or whatever sharp aged cheese I have in the fridge), arugula (4-5 cups), garlic (3-4 cloves), 3-4 TB lemon juice to taste, S&P, around a half cup of blanched almonds and about 3/4 cup olive oil into a hearty, still a bit chunky paste. An all purpose sauce that keeps well in the fridge or freezer, arugula pesto is great on sandwiches and stirred into soups . Tonight I topped a big bowl of spaghetti and broccoli (boiled with the pasta for the last 4 minutes of cooking time) with a good sized dollop of the piquant co cooking required sauce and a super fresh lightly olive oil fried egg (thanks Foggy).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Something New With Collard Greens

Still working on yesterday's harvest.
Tonight I stirred up a bean and greens soup topped off with turkey meatballs.
First the meatballs, I combined ground turkey with eggs, bread crumbs, grated cheese, chili peppers, thyme, S&P, and minced garlic. I formed the mixture into balls and baked them for about 20 minutes at 375º. Meanwhile I sautéed some onions and chopped garlic in hot olive oil along with thyme, dried basil and chiles. After about 6 minutes I poured in a good quantity of white wine and let that cook down until the pot was almost dry. Then I added in several cups of chopped collard greens and about 5 cups of chicken broth. I let the greens simmer in the broth for about 10 minutes and then added in cooked white beans and let the pot simmer for about 5 minutes more. Just before serving I popped the flavorful meatballs into the soup to heat through and then served our garden fresh soup supper sprinkled with grated cheese.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Afternoon's Harvest Evening's Dinner

 After being gone for just a fews day the garden is brimming over. Mustard greens are crowding arugula, cucumbers are being nudged over, collards are reaching out for chard. Time to harvest. I went out and cut armloads of greens picturing flaky Greek style stuffed pies, bean soups with savory collards and spicy arugula pesto.
Tonight I washed up a big bunch of mustard greens and sautéed them with onions, garlic, spices, and rounds of Italian sausage. Simple garden fresh supper served over creamy baked yukon gold potatoes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Looking For Greener Pastures

We're lucky to have a nice group of Western Pond Turtles that bask on a small wood float in our sadly a bit overgrown pond.
Walking down the driveway today I came across this little gal heading towards the front pasture.
I thought maybe she was lost (foolish helpful me) and carried her back to the edge of the pond. But, by the time I walked to the front gate and down the driveway again she was moving across the flat making good time crawling back into the grass. We're hoping this means turtle eggs and baby turtles sometime soon.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Never Fail Oven Baked Polenta

Stumped on dinner again. I started with a recipe that always delivers. Oven baked polenta: 2 cups of cornmeal, 7 cups of water, 1 cup of milk, salt, a splash of olive oil and a couple TB of butter. Whisk everything together (Just plop the butter on top -- it'll melt) and let bake uncovered for an hour and 20 minutes at 375º. Sprinkle in parmesan cheese, stir and return to the oven until a creamy polenta forms -- about another 10 minutes. While that cooked I had time to figure out what to put on top.
Simple. I sautéed Italian sausage with onions and peppers, deglazed the pan with a splash of beer I happened to have in the kitchen, and stirred in some cooked broccoli just because James loves it.