RSS

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Back To Buckets

Summer is in full swing and that means lots of fruit and veggies at every meal, as well as lots of scraps in the compost bucket.

You know how some buckets are just a great mix of color and texture?  This is not one of them.  In fact, I put it on the deck, left it overnight and then photographed it this morning after the ants and slugs began to make a meal of it.  Not pretty, but authentic I guess.

Image

 

What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • ants on watermelon chunks, these were very pale and not very tasty
  • lots of banana skins, six to be exact
  • squishy grapes and grape stems
  • the curly stem on the watermelon rind, it was very cute and piggish
  • eggshells (for banana bread)
  • past-its-prime peach, turned inedible overnight
  • past-its prime apricot, turned inedible overnight
  • more eggshells (for waffles)
  • spent William Shakespeare rose

In addition to cheese waffles for breakfast and “leftovers” salad for lunch (arugula, chicken breast, garden tomatoes) I baked up two kinds of banana bread.  Yes, two kinds.  It was rainy, plus I had time AND inclination.  Here are the pans waiting for the oven to heat.

Image

I was thinking that the Double Chocolate Banana Bread (on the right obviously) would be my favorite, but surprisingly, Jacked Up Banana Bread with walnuts and bourbon was my top choice.  This might be because I increased the butter and doubled the bourbon, but it could also just be that my initial intentions were for banana goodness as opposed to chocolate goodness.  That said, the chocolate bread is nearly gone.  I’m not the only one in the house nibbling …

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Fruits of Our Labor

Since a picture is worth a thousand words here is a glimpse beyond my garden gate …

Image

Image

Today we are picking lots of green beans, Kirby cucumbers and Abraham Darby roses.

Image

The corn is definitely “knee high by the fourth of July”.

Image

The squash is a little too small to pick, but we have a dozen plants happily growing.  We should be overrun soon!  Of course I spot a tiny bit of powdery mildew so maybe not!

Image

 

I think eggplant is the most gorgeous veggie in the garden.

Image

 

These are the reasons we compost all year long … literally the fruits of our labors.  Happy gardening!  Happy summer!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Gardening, Musings

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Toss It Tuesday: Spinach

It’s been a long time since I’ve completely forgotten some produce but this was a spur-of-the-moment purchase from Costco.  I was positive I needed LOTS of spinach and I did, but I got some fresh

from my weekly farm share … and so this huge package was sent to the outside fridge where I permanently forgot about it.  Of course when I did pull it out, it was a week past its sell date.  Never, NEVER use pre-packaged greens past the sell by date!

So, salad for my compost pile!

Image

What did you have to toss this week?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Compost How To, Toss It Tuesday

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Toss It Tuesday: Cherries and Pie

The grocery store checkout racks are filled with magazines featuring pies on their covers this month so, succumbing to the subliminal marketing messages, I’ve been craving one.  Normally, I’m not a pie fan.  I’d much rather eat my fruit raw, swirl it into a smoothie or bake it into a pound cake, but the pie allure is strong.   When my farm share last week included local sour cherries I could see the writing on the wall.

But, and it’s a big but, LOCAL sour cherries?  Remember, I live in Georgia where cherries don’t just grow on trees.  You’ve got to get them from Michigan or Washington.  But somehow, thanks to the perseverance of my farmer, there they were.  Beautiful, local cherries.  Just making plans for them made me feel so virtuous.  I mean, when my grandmother got food from the store it was ALL local.  She would not have thought twice about the origin of her cherries.  She would probably have thought, “great, cherries are in season,” bought them and baked her pie.  But, in today’s weird food climate, find these beautiful local gems was kind of like winning a gold medal.  I bought two more pints and planned my pie.

Every single day for a week I woke up planning to make that pie and every single day something else took precedence.   Life is funny that way.  I kept the magazine with the recipe I wanted to try right on the kitchen counter to remind me.

Finally a stretch of spare hours….  I excitedly pulled the containers from the fridge and tipped all those beautiful bright jewels into the colander and alas, they were more delicate than I realized.  Many had not survived the week.  I had killed the local cherries from neglect.  My grandmother would never have kept her cherries waiting.  She knew the fragility of real produce.  In one week I went from proud locavore dropping hints of my virtue into any conversation I could, “Did I tell you I found love gorgeous local cherries?  Yes, local!”  to food heathen unworthy of nature’s bounty.  Shaking off the food guilt, I rolled up my sleeves to redeem this situation.   I set to work to pit the little beauties and would make it work.  No time to waste adding up the cost of this very expensive Toss It Tuesday.

toss it tues sour cherries 6.17.14

As an aside, have you ever pitted tart cherries?  They are TINY.  The fruit is hardly bigger than the pit, especially when you’ve got to pare away little bruised bits.  Especially when your cherry pitter broke last year, you never replaced it, and are now working with a paring knife.   But really, who cares?  Local.  Sour.  Cherries.  My virtuous stock was rising again.  I kept waiting for someone to call so I could say I was making a cherry pie with local sour cherries and an interesting almond crust.  The phone was silent.  I was being punished for wasting my treasure.

Look how pretty this fruit is!  That’s lime zest on top.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly.  By now you may have guessed I never do. You were supposed to infuse the sugar with the zest, but I got carried away with the colors and it was really zesty.

cherries & lime zest

Sadly, I was two pounds short of three pounds.  Even if every cherry was perfect I would have been short.  Throwing off the local medal of honor that no one but me knew or cared about anyway, I amended  my pie plan and hauled from the fridge an industrial size plastic container of sweet cherries purchased at my local Costco, shipped from the not so local state of Washington, onto the counter and continued pitting.  They were quite gorgeous too.  Giant, probably like the orchard them came from.

 

cherries sweet in bowl

Here they are, local and industrial, mixed together in a baptizing bath of organic sugar (i.e., evaporated cane juice) and organic cornstarch that balanced everything.

cherries mixed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the crust with made with butter and almond meal.  Doesn’t it match my countertop exactly?

Image

Limey cherries happily snuggled in the nutty crust.  The recipe does not call for butter but have you ever made a pie without it?  Not my personal favorite.  Plus, I’d already veered from recipe authenticity.  I added some chunks of grass-fed goodness.

 

cherries butter

Didn’t it turn out well?  It looked exactly like the magazine cover.

 cherry pie assembled

 

We ate it before I ever took another picture.  I promise it looked exactly like this.  Possibly prettier.  And it was delicious.

When the blueberries ripen I’m making this one too.  How about you?

P.S.  Full disclosure: I did not put all the pits into compost, only the cherries.  I just liked the “cherriness” of that “Toss It” photo.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Composting Right Along …

In the past two months we’ve survived an eighth grade graduation, a high school graduation, and a master’s degree graduation.  I didn’t plan a prolonged absence from the blog but all that studying, stressing, prepping, playing, traveling, and celebrating took a lot of time and energy.  At least during those busy days we’ve been composting and spring gardening right along.   Planning meals and gardens, eating together at the end of the day – these were necessary ways to connect and nourish mind and body at the end of every long day.

Instead of playing catch up I’ll share the buckets and bag from our great graduation celebration.  My husband was kind enough to compost (in my house it’s a noun AND a verb) in the early morning rain before guests arrived.

Image

Can you believe I did not take a single photo of this party?  It might have something to do with a hundred people convening in my house early on a Sunday afternoon but it remains in my memory as one of the most enjoyable, celebratory, crowded, RAINY parties we have ever thrown.  Nearly everyone came to share in the fun and, yes, we had a LOT of fun!  Of all the many, many parties they attended, my boys said theirs was the best, so I accept the compliment and I’ll share the brunch menu with you.  It was filled with some of my high school grad’s favorite foods.

It all started at the front door with drinks in the dining room …

  • Cucumber Water
  • Sweet Tea
  • Sweet Lemonade
  • Iced Vanilla Latte
  • Mimosas
  • Bloody Mary’s

Now that you have a drink in your hand, follow me to the kitchen where you’ll find silver chafing dishes, trays and crystal bowls filled with:

  • The most amazing shrimp & grits (truly, I could eat a bowl right now)
  • Brown sugar bacon
  • Butter-fried chicken tenders to top fresh waffles (more in a minute)
  • Mini quiches filled with raw milk cheddar & shallots
  • Lots of fresh melon, pineapple and berries
  • Tortellini skewers with cherry tomatoes, sugars snap peas in a dill-mustard vinaigrette

Since it was just after twelve on a Sunday morning, we set up the kitchen island as a make-your-own waffle bar with four irons, bowls of batter and lots of mix-ins and toppings.  I’m sorry but you might have to wait in line …

  • Mix-Ins: pecans, chocolate chips, grated sharp cheddar, blueberries
  • Toppings: whipped butter, whipped cream, real maple syrup, berries, bananas and that tasty fried chicken for my son’s favorite Chicken & Waffles

And what’s a party without dessert?  I could serve a twelve course dessert-only meal, but I showed restraint and kept it to three choices:

  • A giant graduation “cake” composed of ten dozen (yes, one hundred twenty) Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts stacked high.  The grads, especially my son, are HUGE KK fans.
  • With a nod to school colors, mini green velvet cupcakes with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting topped with mini fondant “parchment” diplomas and gold “cords”.
  • Espresso parsnip cookie thins filled sandwich style with dark chocolate ganache.  

Are you stuffed?  We were.  There was virtually nothing left to snack on at the end of the day (except cocktails, so we enjoyed them … and that’s an entirely different story)  When we woke up the next morning, we realized this punch bowl was left out all night and fit only for compost… Clearly cantaloupe is the least favored fruit.

punchbowl fruit

Next up: spring garden shots!  And back to the DAILY bucket!  Cheers!

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Musings, The Daily Bucket

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Father’s Day Weekend Fun

Perfect weather set the stage for a perfectly enjoyable Father’s Day Weekend … Saturday yard work, dinners on the deck, and … not much else.  Delightful.

I keep missing the perfect light in which to photograph the vegetable garden, but it’s coming along quite well.   I’m crossing my fingers and hope it’s not a curse to repeat that my neighbor mentioned the garden “looks better than it ever has.”  We might be able to harvest green beans and cucumbers this week.  All the afternoon rain showers have been a garden blessing.

Here’s a peek at the child-sized handful of ripening blueberries we greedily picked from our three recently planted bushes.  Although they are barely knee high now, local blueberry experts (i.e. friends and neighbors) assure me they are going to be producing more berries than we can possibly eat.  I dearly hope that is true.  I also dearly hope the neighborhood deer do not discover these delicacies planted in plain view.  Shhhh!

Image

Did you ever rush to plant something in the fall to give it a head start, prep the soil well, baby it against the cold, and rejoice in the spring to find it happily growing away?  Have you also done this and realized you left out a giant important step?  Why do you ask?  We carved out a new planting bed in the front yard (perfect full sun area for some as yet unplanted columnar apple trees) and put in some lovely foundation shrubs but utterly forgot to put down a weed barrier to prevent unsightly Bermuda grass from reclaiming the land.  What a mess!  Picture my lovingly tended front lawn (thanks to my devoted son), nicely shaped trees, tasteful annuals (pink pentas, blue salvia, and white vinca), and the new bed choked with quickly spreading Bermuda.  Acrgh!  With the help of a family friend, my husband tackled the thankless job of raking back the mulch, putting down weed barrier, and re-mulching.  Much better now.  Alas, no photos.  That is what your imagination is for.

All that work killed our appetite for cooking (besides, I had already whipped up cheese waffles for late breakfast).  Thanking my stars that my family loves a good carb-fest, I pulled out all the stops for this calorie laden extravaganza.

Image

Do you need a close up of that bread?

Image

It actually was as delicious as it looked.  I’ll share the recipe because I found it by accident while I was searching Pinterest for something I’ve now forgotten.  I was out of sun dried tomatoes so I added extra garlic, butter and cheese.  No one complained.

All we needed to round out the meal was a simple leaf lettuce salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette (a tablespoon of mustard, a whole lemon, juiced, and as much olive oil as you want to take out the pucker, about a third of a cup, salt & pepper),

Drinks were my new favorite, Palomas or grapefruit soda and tequila.  As you can guess I didn’t really measure, but if you’re one of those who do, here’s a recipe.  I didn’t bother with salt and I used a soda from Trader Joe’s.

Compost bucket?  Since it was a lazy weekend I just kept piling, so you can’t really see all the banana skins from the overripe bunch I broke into chunks and froze for smoothies.  Eggs were for waffles, lemon for vinaigrette, watemelon for snacking, and teabags for our summer staple.

Image

Oh, and for actual Father’s Day, we had a twist to our day, and hence a complication for dinner … but it was actually a gift and we ended up with luscious last-minute lobster roll sandwiches our way: challah hot dog rolls with the tops sliced, buttered, and gently broiled, then filled with chunks of butter-and-lemon laced sweet broiled lobster PLUS chunks of roasted wild Alaskan cod.  The cod makes the sandwich feel decadently full, while the lobster sweetens the cod and tricks the taste buds into thinking you’re eating double the crustacean.  Ours was a happy dad.

Hope your weekend was lovely too.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: