Sunday, June 30, 2013

Berries Of Another Color

Are they still blueberries if they aren't blue? These are perfectly ripe, perfectly sweet pink lemonade blueberries -- a fairly recent hybrid introduction I peppered through my berry field along with an assortment of expectedly blue varieties.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My First Blue Ribbon

Pickled green tomatoes. A new recipe I made quickly one afternoon when frost was threatening and tomatoes were still on the vine. I'm so proud!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making Room For Summer Vegetables

The last of our spring lettuce soon to become salads and pesto and soup. Homegrown leafy green goodness.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fried Eggs In The Garden

A silly, shining smile in the summer garden California native Matilija Poppy (Romneya Coulteri) boasts the largest flower of any poppy. A superbly drought tolerant plant these "fried eggs" are native to a small section of Southern and Baja California. It's frilly crepe white blooms have long been one of James' favorites so I was determined to pepper our Northern garden with the fluttering blossoms with no assurance of success. My efforts have started to pay off with this first frilly flower.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Getting Ready For The Fair

I love a fair. I always have. Tomorrow is drop off day for entries in the Sonoma-Marin Fair. The first of the season and my first time entering the baked good division, with my cream cheese frosted persimmon bundt cake. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Veggies For Dinner

Fried eggplant and bacon wrapped asparagus bundles. Not quite or usual weeknight fare but a tasty way to clear out the vegetable drawers before I leave our beloved ranchette and my beloved James for a few days.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Right From The Garden

Crisp, leafy, green. Less than half and hour from my garden to the table. It's almost too hot for lettuces these days so we have to eat our summer salads while we can.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Squash Carbonara

Squash from the neighbors. Squash from the farmer's market. Squash is piling up.
James wanted spaghetti for dinner so I decided to make a little twist on the usual carbonara, a traditional specialty of Rome. Instead of just sauteíng onions, garlic and pancetta with a sprinkle of chili flakes and lots of black pepper. I added in squash rounds after the pancetta was mostly crisp and covered the pan to let the squash cook through. I mixed the vegetables along with eggs beaten with shredded Romano cheese into the drained spaghetti and let the residual heat from the past combine the eggs and oils into a creamy sauce.
Summer carbonara.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Rose In Our Yard

 I don't know the variety. But this palest yellow ruffled rose tinged with pink is a welcome sight each day and after a hard pruning last year has come back more beautiful than ever. Summer in the garden.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Something New With Cube Steak

Cube steak seems to be a popular, semi regular addition to our meat CSA box. A mechanically tenderized slice of beef (usually round steak) cube is an economical cut. In fact when the economy was hardest hit around 2008, sales of cube steaks went up -- significantly. I usually whip up chicken fried steaks and gravy when I see that package. But tonight -- well I just didn't feel like making gravy. We didn't have much milk and the weather was a little warm. I wanted something just a bit lighter with less pans to scrub.
Milanese cutlets are one of James' favorite. Turkey or pork they are always a hit and so I decided the fate of my little cube steaks. I dipped each in an seasoned eggs beaten with a couple drops of hot sauce and then into a mixture of breadcrumbs, parsley, S&P, and parmesan cheese. I fried the cutlets in olive oil and butter until the coating was crisp (about 3 minutes on each side) and served each on a bed of arugula and potato salad (leftover potatoes no less).
Chicken fried steak -- Italian style.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Think Of Something Quick

After a whole day weeding and digging in the garden I was too tired to move much less think about dinner. But there dinnertime was, staring me in the face with no plan in sight.
I started with the rice cooker. We'd have something over rice.
I was moving kind of slowly so I decided on a slow dinner -- slow-cooked broccoli and pancetta over rice. I only had to get up every few minutes or so to stir.  It doesn't look like much, but with a drizzle of oregano vinaigrette James thought it was pretty special -- just like I had it planned.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chicken And Mushroom Sauce

Some early mornings I lie awake listening to James and the dogs snooze and flipping through cooking shows (or home improvement -- my two favorite genres) on TV. Recently I happened upon The Barefoot Contessa making a simple dish of braised chicken with wild mushrooms. Why not I thought. I have chicken, I have mushrooms, I have wine. I set out to make  this tender chicken in rich gravy.
For some reason the house felt a little warm today so James and I had dinner on the picnic table by the chicken coop. I don't think the "girls" noticed.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ground Beef Spaghetti

I don't think there is anything in the least bit authentic about this spaghetti. It's more Women's Day" than Mario Batali. But there is something homey and comforting about it and James requests the dish often.
All I do is sauté ground beef  in olive oil with onions, garlic, chile flakes, fennel seeds and oregano. From there I improvise. When I have tomato paste I use a bit. Sometimes I mix in chopped bacon or prosciutto. Tonight I deglazed the pan with wine (well okay it was champagne I had in the fridge from the other day's dinner). Since James loves broccoli and since I am trying to eat less pasta these days I cooked broccoli in the pasta cooking water and mixed it into the drained spaghetti along with the sauce, a good sized pat of butter and a handful of shredded parmesan.
Nothing fancy, but a popular dish around here.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Playoff Pizza

"Honey, The Heat need me," James declared as he settled in for the game. One more win will clinch the team's place in the NBA Finals or it could be the last game of the season for James, Wade and Bosh as they battle in Indiana.
Clearly a TV friendly, handheld dinner was in order. Pizza!
Tonight's version has crispy crust, arugula pesto, thinly sliced potatoes, prosciutto, red onions, fresh garlic, buffalo mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Go Heat!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Simple Salad and Southern Vegetables

On menus at little mom and pop lunch rooms and restaurants throughout the South customers are offered "meat and three." Their choice of a central protein (roast beef, fried chicken, pork chops) and 3 side dishes, generally a rotating list of salads, beans and soft cooked vegetables. Many eaters (me included) opt for just the three with a hearty piece of cornbread to soak up the juices. Squash casserole is a regular on many of those menus and on Thanksgiving tables throughout the region.
For some reason tonight, looking at a box of Ritz crackers on our kitchen shelf, I set out to turn out beautiful farmers market summer squash into this cheesy, buttery baked vegetable dish.
First I cooked the squash (about 4 cups) and sliced onions (1 medium) in a skillet with a small amount of water for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile I crushed 1 large sleeve (about 35 crackers) of Ritz crackers (okay they aren't classy or artisan but admit it they are delicious -- and James loves them) and mixed in 1 cup of grated cheese. Cheddar is more traditional but I used Gruyere. I mixed half of the cracker combo with the squash and stirred in 2 eggs, 3/4 cup of whole milk, and 1/4 cup of melted butter. After seasoning with S&P I turned the mixture into a prepared baking dish and topped with the remaining cracker mixture and dots of butter. The casserole bakes for 25 minutes at 375º until toasty and golden brown on top.
On the side, you won't find this crisp salad on any meat and three menu but our garden is brimming with fresh, beautiful lettuce. This was our first garden salad of the season and I dressed it simply with a light Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
California meets the South on a plate.