Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Snapshots from June

I've gotten behind in posting photos from my parents' visit and Chris' parents' visit... Here are a bunch of catch-up pics before we head off into July.
Don Jose Tequila's for paella on Atwells Avenue.
Chris' mom checks out Chris' office.
Surfers on Narragansett Beach.

Some girl.

Dad tossing shells at me & at some point, skipping rocks. Crazy craftiness in the office, while mom was here.

CSA Week 3

Another great pick up from Scratch Farm's CSA. This week includes Peas, Purplette mini bunching Onions, Garlic Scapes (love 'em!), Red Turnip Beets (a new one for me), mixed cooking greens (cabbage, kale & chard), and a soft, sweet head of (I think) Red Oakleaf lettuce.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

CSA Recipes: Slaw (Radishes and Cabbage)

These gorgeous radishes are from our CSA Week 2 share. The share also included chard (bottom recipe) and a huge head of cabbage - that screamed slaw, for me. I couldn't find our shredding blade for the processor, but the new chopping-blending thing that we recently received as a gift (Ashley & Anne - you spoil us!) worked perfectly. And so we have...the first attempt at slaw. For a slaw recipe, I headed to Joy of Cooking and combined the "Creamy Slaw Dressing" (or use balsamic & skip the horseradish) and a few of their basic slaw recipes.
My First Slaw
1 Giant head of Nappa Cabbage, shredded
10-12 small radishes, shredded
4 carrots, shredded
1 orange sweet pepper, shredded
1/4 C parsley, chopped
  • Dressing: light mayo + white wine vinegar + horseradish sauce + salt & pepper.
  • Mix well and then chill in the fridge.
To be fair, after prepping the veggies with great enthusiasm, and tasting the final product, Chris wouldn't eat the slaw (he has a 'thing' about texture...and fruit). After it was mixed, I strained batches of the slaw (to reduce the water) before chilling. Had it for dinner...and I thought it was perfect - bright, tangy, & peppery.

Templates Suck

Grrr. The video below is a widescreen video (I can't get enough of this song right now) and it doesn't fit into this stupid rigid template that I picked from Blogger. I don't need anything fancy, but a centered column for posts would be sooooo nice. For now, I'm leaving the video up, even though it overflows. Too bad ugly template.

It Doesn't have to be Beautiful

Today's Share: "It Doesn't Have To Be Beautiful" - by Slow Club.
Found through Unicorn Diaries.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Thyme Flowers

Thyme Flowers, taken 6/27/09.
I'm loving this good-weather day we're having. After a month or two of rain, I forgot what it feels like to sit outside in the middle of the day and enjoy the breeze.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Garden on the Deck: First Tomato

My first tomato (ever!) - smaller than a dime!
From the German Red Strawberry tomato plant.
Taken 6/26/09.

Craft day with Mom

Mom & I had a few craft days while she and my dad were visiting, including an evening event at Right at Home and a trip to Bella Art. I didn't accomplish much--only a photo cube (above) and a scrapbook page. Crafts with mom rocks. It's always a great way for us to catch up.
Holly, who we met at RAH.
Scrapbook page on the top played songs on my ipod (their artists). I'm such a pop music junkie.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CSA Recipes: Pac Choi (or Bok Choy)

In place of Recipe Rursdays, this week I thought I'd share a few recipes we tried as we plowed through our first week of veggies from the CSA. No one in this house had ever cooked with Pac Choi (or Bok Choy, which is a variation, I think?), until last week. One of the reasons why we signed up for our CSA share was to try cooking with veggies that we don't typically buy (or encounter).For our first stab at cooking with Pac Choi, we turned to the Joy of Cooking's recipe for Bok Choy sauteed with Mushrooms. A close variation on the recipe is located here. I loved the sweetness of it, but the veggie broth made the dish more soupy than I'd prefer. Next time: keep the crunch of the pac choi and be sure to cook off the water released by the mushrooms before adding the pac choi--cook both the stems and leaves, sliced in moons. (The fish is a wild cod baked with a parmesean & panko crust. We're trying to eat more fish.) Almost a week later, we used the second head of pac choi as we cleaned out our fridge, with 2 ears of grilled corn left over from a bbq, baby carrots, and pac choi, sauteed with garlic (using the recipe above as a guideline). With less broth, this side dish kept its crunch. Very tasty. (The fish: cod, again--baked with lime juice, salt & pepper.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Sweet Peas

First sweet pea flower, taken 6/14/09.
The sweet peas are climbing like crazy. I used string for a make-shift trellis, as soon as the peas started to climb, but added these cheap bamboo poles (below) a week or so ago. No peas as of yet, but lots of pink/maroon and white flower...flower mean peas are on their way!
Climbing sweet peas, taken 6/24/09.

Monday, June 22, 2009

CSA: Week Two

Once again, our local CSA share from Scratch Farm turned out to be some of the most gorgeous produce I've ever seen. This week included radishes (I braised radishes tonight to go on a salad), a huge head of napa cabbage, garlic scapes, a bag of mixed salad greens, a bunch of oregano, super plump peas, and a bag of bright red and yellow, rainbow and red rhubarb chard. After we picked up our share, I came home squealing about the chard.
Rhubarb Chard 6/22/09.
Garlic Scapes 6/22/09. (Reminds me of Men in Black II...)
(For more CSA pics, check out week #1)

Yard Sale Finds

I picked up this brown chair at a street-side yard sale while my parents were in town, and Chris brought the orange chair home from Salvation Army on Friday. Both are in great condition and were real bargains. Now if we can just keep cat from destroying them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Tomato Plant Jungle

Tomato Flower, taken 6/14/09.
This sweet little thing is one of the first flowers to pop out on the German Strawberry tomato plant. Very cool. (I feel like a little kid who got her science experiment to work.) Flowers mean fruit!!

Even more wild is the tomato plant jungle taking over the back porch (below). The Sungella is on the left (it's by far the biggest), and the German Red Strawberry & Pale Perfect Purple are on the right. The remaining 4 are mini, in comparison; but I'm planning to boost their growth with a layer or two of the kick-ass organic soil that sent these first three sky-high.
Back porch, taken 6/19/09.

Garden on the Deck: Bolted Spinach

What does it look like when spinach bolts, or goes to seed? Well, here ya go. First you start getting these little demonic leaves (see below), instead of the round luscious ones. Then, a few weeks later, the center of the plant shoots up 2 or 3 feet high to sprout seeds (see above). These plants gave us quite a bit of spinach, and I can still grab what's left, since spinach doesn't turn bitter after it bolts (unlike lettuce). Compared to our first harvest, it's pretty crazy looking. Goodbye spinach. Time to replace you with something else.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Recipe Rursday: Grilled Swordfish

Our friends Ben and Saida prepared a perfectly flaky and tasty grilled swordfish with pimenton for us last month. The flavors were incredible. I had never heard of pimenton (smoked paprika) or even cooked with much paprika. My parents were coming into town and I wanted to make something special for them. Our friends both shared the recipe and gifted us their grill (thank you!!), so Chris and I prepared it for ourselves (as practice) one night before my parents arrived. Why have I always shyed away from grills? 4 min. on each side. What could be easier?The recipe posted below is from the New York Times' Minimalist, Mark Bittman. You could also view the video of Bittman preparing this dish at his grill.

Grilled Fish with Pimenton Aioli
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons pimentón
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 swordfish or other fish steaks, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (way too much)
  • Lemon juice to taste.

1. Start a grill or preheat broiler. Mix together all but 1/2 teaspoon garlic, some salt and pepper, half the pimentón and olive oil. Brush one side of fish steaks with this mixture (if you are broiling, brush both sides). Put on grill, sauced side down, and brush other side. Grill or broil, turning once, until done, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise with remaining garlic and pimentón; add a little lemon juice and whisk; taste and adjust seasoning. Serve fish with a dollop of aioli. 4 servings.

Taken 6/10/09.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CSA: Week One

This year, Chris and I joined Scratch Farm's CSA (Community Supported Agricultural program) and have purchased a 1/2 share of their weekly crop, for 20 weeks. Each Monday we pick up our 1/2 share -- a load of fresh veggies and herbs (whatever has been harvested that week).

Our first pick-up included Pac Choi, Garlic Scapes, Radishes, and Parsley (above)....and lots of greens: a bag of Spinach, Kale, Arugula, and a salad mix.
Tomorrow I'll freeze the kale (directions on the how-to are at Not Martha), and finish pulling together the recipes for the rest. We broke into the salad mix immediately (as per many people's instructions). Even Chris, who wouldn't eat salad when I met him, remarked at how good the greens were. Mmmm. Salad: Mixed Salad greens with avocado, and toasted almond slivers. Dressing: Balsamic + spicy mustard + olive oil.
Update: With this week's CSA, we made a bok choy/pac choi & mushroom sautee, and pestos!! 1) a garlic scapes and spinach pesto & 2) a big batch of arugula pesto. We froze both the garlic scape pesto and 1/2 of the arugula pesto. Recipes to come.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wedding Invitations

My close friend Anne is getting married in August. My being so far away, and unable to fly back and forth, I haven't been able to do much to support her through the process. Sad. But, I was able to help her with the save the dates and set her up with Sarah Parrott who designed and hand-printed everything [save the dates (gocco printing) & invitations (letterpress)]. I also offered to hand-address the 140 invitations. And to be totally fair, while you may be impressed because it sounds difficult, it only took a few hours. Easy breezy.This past week, Chris and I stacked, stamped, and stuffed the final invites (he also licked the adhesive on every. single. envelope). The stamps I found through Sarah's website (you can order them online here) -- they matched the ink color perfectly. Final results: gorgeous.

Mom & Dad in Town

Narragansette Beach, RI - Dad and Mom. Too cute.
In the past few years, our visits with my parents have increasingly been down in Florida. No one is complaining, believe me. This means I see less of my extended family (which is regretful), but have more time with my parents in their mini-paradise. This week, they flew up to Providence and I am struck by how increasingly easy our visits together have become over the years. These are two, incredibly laid back, very silly people. In my late years, I hope that I have their attitude toward what life drops in your lap (I'm way to high strung now). Illness? ...no problem. Things breaking? ...forget about it. What do you want to do tonight? ...Just hang out and talk. Perfect.
Taken 6/14/09

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Garden on the Deck: The Death our Lime Basil

Not counting Cat's ripping up of the leeks, this sad Lime Basil is the first plant to up and die in the garden. It smelled amazing while it was around...and maybe it was finished and I simply hadn't picked and used its leaves. The plant on the left is the lime basil. This was its starting-to-wilt phase and now all the leaves have fallen off and it looks terrible. The other three (Thai basil, Lemon basil, and Red Basil) are doing great. The sweet basil (in a different pot) is doing better than all of them. This morning, we topped our spinach & goat cheese French omelettes (spinach was from the garden) with the sweet basil. Mmmm.

Note: I was reading Eggs on Sunday this morning (such a great food blog) and I saw that her first CSA share came in. Then I realized we pick up our first (ever!) CSA share on Monday. Exciting!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Recipe Rursday: Baked Penne & Cauliflower with Cheese

Is it possible to not like a good home-cooked macaroni and cheese? And I wonder why I don't fit into half the clothes in my closet.

The weather here has been crazy. One night its freezing and the next, we're baking on the back deck. This has been going on for the last month or so and on cold nights, when we light a fire (yes, in June), I crave comfort foods like Mac & Cheese. At the end of January (more appropriately timed) I made a Macaroni & Cheese with Cauliflower that gave me a new-found respect for that tasteless white veggie. We work it into recipes frequently these days.

This past weekend, Chris chose the Baked Penne & Cauliflower with Cheese from our new cookbook Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes (discovered here). It wasn't my first choice, since in my mind we had just made a more simple version in January. But this was different--creamier and many times more flavorful (key additions: cayenne pepper, nutmeg, & garlic). The recipe isn't very representative of the the cookbook, which is more interesting, but a serious dish, nonetheless.

Baked Penne & Cauliflower with Cheese - from Jeanne Kelley (our adaption)
1C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, mined
1/3C unbleached all-purpose flour
3 C cold milk
8 oz. Gruyere cheese & 8 oz. white cheddar, grated
Pepper & 1/2t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper (we used more)
1/8 t. nutmeg
3/4 lb. ziti pasta
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, then sliced
1/4 C panko
1/4 C freshly grated Parmesean
(We skipped a bay leaf, fresh parsley, and the melted butter for the panko.)

1. Preheat oven to 350F, butter or spray a baking dish. And get water boiling to cook the pasta.
2. In a touch of butter, saute onions (5 min), garlic, and flour (stir for 1 more min.). Then add the milk all at once -- cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture just boils and thickens (8 min.). Add the cheeses and simmer, stir until melted. Stir in salt, cayenne, pepper, and nutmeg.
3. Cook the pasta in heavily salted boiling water until almost tender. Add the cauliflower to the pasta and continue boiling until both are tender (about 4 more min). Drain and add the pasta/cauliflower to the cheese mixture and stir will.
4. Transfer to the baking dish. Combine panko with parmesan cheese, salt lightly, mix and sprinkle over the top of the pasta.
5. "Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the pasta bubble at the edges adn is heated through, about 30 min."

Our side dish: Roasted Brussels Sprouts & walnuts (tossed lightly in spicy mustard & olive oil). Salt & pepper. Find a similar recipe from a previous post, here.
Next up: Grilled Swordfish with Pimenton.
Last week's Recipe Rursday: French Onion Soup

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tongue 'o Cat

Cat. Mid-morning bath. Taken 6/8/09.Who knew that a cat tongue could look so ridiculous.

And a few more, for fun....(Taken 6/8/09).