Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Diverse Duo

Sounds of clanging and banging and compressors running are emanating from the fab shop lately.  They've got several diverse jobs going at the moment.  A pump/filter cart, seedpress wrenches, a large sorghum pan, a gooseneck trailer hitch, a methoxide mixer for Piedmont Biofuels and more.  It's a wonderful sound!  They are a flexible and talented duo.  
The kale has been more abundant than ever this year, which is allowing me to try some new recipes.  J & I both really liked the flavor combination of this one, though J said it took a lot of work to eat, and I have to agree.  If it's good, I don't mind.  As with artichokes or corn on the cob. Some things are worth it.  No amounts were given for this recipe, so adjust quantities, depending on the flavors you like best.

Kale and Lemon Bruschetta with Ricotta and Fried Egg

chopped kale- several good handfuls (I'm guessing approx 4 cups raw)
crushed garlic- 3 large cloves
extra virgin olive oil
fresh lemon juice- approx 1 1/2 lemons
salt and pepper
ricotta- approx 6-8 ounces
4 eggs
toasted sourdough or other rustic bread

Saute kale with garlic in olive oil: add a little water and cook until tender.  Season with lemon, salt and pepper.  Spread toasted bread with ricotta cheese.  Top with kale and a fried or poached egg.  Serves 2.
Wishing you a most excellent Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday Link Love

There haven't been enough hours in the day to spend time in blogland lately.  The garden has needed weeding, harvesting and watering.  The last of the spring greens has needed freezing.  I've been helping J do a major remodel on my Mom's bathroom, even mudding and sanding sheetrock, which I prayed I'd never have to do again, after finishing my house.  She recently sent me this link, which I watched while enjoying my morning cup of tea. Just awesome.  Have a joyful Wednesday, friends.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Last of the Asparagus

Spring cleaning is going on in fits and starts around the homestead.  Together, J & I washed the windows a couple of weeks ago.  The bathroom is finished, except for resealing the cedar walls in the tub.  Some needed jobs have gotten mixed in with the cleaning, which has slowed down progress.  But it's all good. 

Last night, I fixed an asparagus recipe I cut from a magazine, though I can't tell which one.  It was simple, but good.  I may have gotten the last cutting of asparagus, which is always a sad day.

Fettuccine with Asparagus

1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 lb fettucine
4 tbs lightly salted butter
1/2 slivered almonds, toasted
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bring lightly salted water to boil.  Meanwhile, toast almonds & cut asparagus.  Place pasta & asparagus in water together. Return water to a boil, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until pasta is tender, but not soft.  Drain in colander. In the empty pot, melt butter over low heat; return pasta & asparagus to pot. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Mix Parmesan into hot buttered pasta & asparagus. Serve pasta onto plates, and sprinkle with almonds.

I didn't have slivered almonds, so chopped some whole almonds.  And used Romano Pecorino instead of Parmesan.  Served with homemade bread and salad, and Ravens Wood Zinfandel, it was a thoroughly enjoyable meal.  I'm off to gather the last ingredient to make a batch of shaving soap this morning.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Easy Peasy Fresh Pea Soup

One of the errands I ran after finishing up my massage work today was getting some unscented Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, so I can make this homemade toothpaste recipe.  I'll confess I still have not made the deodorant recipe I've been planning to do for several months.  But this seems pretty easy, and doable at the moment.  Plus, it helps that I'm running out of toothpaste... at present, Trader Joe's Fennel toothpaste, which I'm loving.  The closest Trader Joe's is about 2.5 hrs. roundtrip, so I'm not sure when I'll get there again.  I'll let you know the results of my toothpaste-making foray.

The weather has turned cool again.  I'm not sure if it's made it above the upper 50's today.  Cool temps always make me think of soup, so we're having fresh pea soup, which is totally different from dried pea soup.  The recipe is from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, a cookbook I've had since the mid-80's.  I look forward to this soup as much as I do the asparagus soup each spring.  The fresh herbs are what make the magic.

Fresh Green Pea Soup

1 tbs butter                                                                           
1 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups fresh, raw, sweet peas
1 1/2 cups water or stock
1 cup milk or half-and-half
freshly ground black pepper
Fresh herbs (choose all or some):  basil, dill, thyme, tarragon, parsley, chives

In a saucepan, cook the onions with salt in butter until soft.
Separately steam the peas until they are bright green and just tender.
Add steamed peas and stock or water to sauteed onions.  Cover and simmer about 10 minutes.
Puree about 1/3 (I like 1/2) of the soup in a blender or processor; return puree to saucepan.
Add milk or cream.  Do not cook any further.
Heat carefully just before serving, if needed. Snip in desired amounts of fresh herbs- kitchen scissors make this easy.  My favorite combination is dill and chives.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wild Days

We've been going a little wild here lately. I mean that literally.  I've gathered cat brier tips, and added them to our salads, a nice burst of sour. There's not a lot of good to say about these thorny native plants, but they are tasty. In fact, it can be hard to find tips, as the deer love to nibble them too.  Lamb's quarters were cooked with chard.  In researching a nice link for this plant, I found this site, with recipes I plan on trying. I made my first nettle soup.  More recipes will be tried, as this one was OK, but not wonderful.  There was a new salad dressing, which I found here.  This is my tweaked version.

Wild Goddess Dressing

1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c tahini
3 tbs tamari
2 1/2 tbs honey
pinch of salt
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 c olive oil
2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbs fresh chives, chopped

Combine all ingredients except oil in blender or food processor, & process until smooth, then add the oil in a thin stream.  Taste and adjust flavor as needed.  Keeps in the fridge for several days.

This tastes very close to Annie's Goddess dressing.  For a time, that was my favorite dressing, but I got tired of it and haven't had it in a long while.  I'm enjoying it again.  I will say I'll be doing a little more tweaking, as this makes a very thick dressing, and needs some thinning to pour nicely.  Wishing you wild times, in the best sense.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tropicana, Monarch Cats and Pond Plantings

The first of the Valentine roses, Tropicana, is blooming.  The roses have had some pests, small green caterpillars among them, so Joseph ended up spraying them with Pyganic, an organic, pyrethrum-based product, made from chrysanthemums.  This stuff is expensive, but it works.  There is a commercial strength, and a homeowner's strength, which is somewhat less expensive.

The garden is doing well.  The summer garden is basically planted, except for a few stragglers.  Several of the tomatoes and potatoes have buds, and one or two have open blooms.  I've been gathering green peas and asparagus, swiss chard and lamb's quarters, and strawberries.  There hasn't been a lot of any, but all of it has been enjoyed.

We've begun planting around the pond.  Along with grass, we've planted edibles and medicinals.  Peach, mulberry, tea camellia, elderberry, calendula and milkweed.  We've been finding Monarch caterpillars on a milkweed patch around the garden, which J has relocated to the new patch at the pond.  We're hoping they'll fare better there, away from the chickens.  Before I began this post, I took a walk and saw 3 of the caterpillars remaining.  McNibs thought it was a most opportune time to take a dip. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Double Dog Dare

While drinking some juice yesterday, this cup brought me smiles.  It's one I spied while visiting Anne at the Spring Kiln opening a few weeks ago, and just had to have. I love the two dogs and the heart on their dog dish.  We bartered soap for pottery, which works great for me.
Another friend shared this video yesterday.  A sweet dog, a silly person...  Well, you know that works for me.  I wish you a Mother's Day surrounded by those you love... mothers, adopted mothers and others.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Some that Fly & Some that Crawl

The periodical cicadas have appeared.  Their whirring sound is quite loud in the woods surrounding us.  J & I are seeing them, with their red eyes, and we're seeing many of their shed skins, which McNibs seems to relish eating.  While J was working in his shop yesterday, a hornet crash landed.  He saw McNibs eat it, I'm guessing because it looked pretty similar to the cicada skins.  Amazingly, he had no swelling or other effects, except for a bit of drool for a minute or so.  Silly dog!  We also noticed an odd formation of caterpillars, which came off an oak tree and was several feet in length.  They followed each other for a time, then started to disperse.  We haven't yet researched what they are.  Does anyone know? 

I've done a little bit of thrifting recently, and found some wonderful embroidery hoops, sewing notions and a great stash of old buttons, some of which are obviously made of shell.  I should be set for some crafty stitchery for a good while.

The garden is doing really well.  The potatoes are putting on lots of growth.  Beans, peas, carrots, beets and tomatoes are growing.  The asparagus are beginning to slow, but we've eaten our first strawberries.  We need to get the bird netting on them soon, or lose many, if previous years are any indication.  Something else for our to-do list.  The pond has more water in it, thanks to 2 1/2 inches of rain this week.  J said it was at 4 ft 4 inches.  How's your garden growing?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nourishing Traditions and a Couple of Pigs

Several weeks back, I read Nourishing Traditions.  I'd seen mention of it on several blogs, and waited for it to become available at the library.  Before I returned it to the library, the bits of paper hanging out of it made for quite a festive looking book.  I mentioned to Joseph that there were many recipes I'd like to try, and a few days later, he gifted me with a copy.  There are still many recipes I want to try, as all I've made is the breakfast oats. It's impressive that with the addition of some kefir and sometimes whey from my yogurt, water & salt, and left to sit overnight, it takes only about 5 minutes to cook, instead of the usual 25.  I really like how tender it is, with just a hint of sour from the kefir.  I've also been buying whole milk, instead of 2%, due to reading the book.  Does anyone have experience with other recipes from the book? 

Some new metal art was taken to a local shop yesterday.  It's great fun painting Joseph's creations.