Friday, July 30, 2010

On My Table

What would you like for dinner tonight?

One perfect tomato, please.

Slice it up, if you don't mind, so I can share it with my best friend.  We'll each have two quarters, I think. With just a little salt.

And can I get a delicious summer vegetable salad to go underneath it?  That would be perfect, Thank You :)

Summer Vegetable Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, made bite-sized
1 small yellow squash, sliced in coins
1 small zuccini, sliced in matchsticks
1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, sliced bite-sized
3/4 c grated cheese of choice
1 handful meaty bits (bacon bits, chopped salami, prosciutto slices, etc)
3 T garlic scape pesto
1/4 - 1/2 c olive oil
1-2 T red wine vinegar (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
One Perfect Tomato

Wash, dry, and chop vegetables and lettuce and put in salad bowl with grated cheese and meat pieces.

In a small jar, combine pesto, olive oil, vinegar.  Screw on lid and shake vigorously to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste, adding more vinegar if needed. Shake again to mix in spices.

Pour salad dressing in salad bowl and toss well to combine all ingredients.  

Top with one perfect tomato and serve.


I first met my husband spring semester my freshman year of college (2003) when he was a senior in high school (though actually, at that point, he'd "finished" his senior year and was in the midst of a 9-month summer vacation (no, his parents didn't make that mistake again)).  He and some of his friends (and a miscellaneous collection of their fathers) came over to the east side of WA to visit GU--just to see what it was like.  I introduced myself to him at a party, and we exchanged contact information.  We weren't interested in each other as more than friends--we both had other crushes, in fact.

We emailed back and forth a lot that summer. I was living with my sister-in-law, who was expecting her third kid and had a lot of baby stories :) The most memorable emails, though, were those we sent while I was on a retreat at a convent :) Oh, the dreams we shared that weekend. It was uplifting to meet a guy so excited about religious life.

I first met my husband's family while I was dating someone else.  My then-boyfriend was gone for the weekend so Taylor and a few of his friends invited me over to Seattle to get away from campus.  A timely invitation, just as fall semester (2003) was taking off!  We dropped T off at his house first. Their kitchen was being remodeled at the time, so "operations" were held in the basement.

Sebastian (now 9) was still a toddler, binky and all, and I think T's mum was just pregnant with Lydia.  I remember going down to the basement with everyone and simply being quiet, in the background, listening to T's friends chat with "Mrs. Black." T was cuddling Sebastian, who had run to him when T walked in the door, climbed into his arms, and stayed their the entire conversation.  Meanwhile, I spent the rest of the weekend with the girl Taylor liked.  I remember she and I talked about how she might marry Taylor someday.. if things panned out.

That was T's freshman year. We both maintained our other romantic interests, never guessing that in just one year, we'd be dating and on our way to marriage.  How funny to look back and see how things developed.  We lived in the same building on campus and would talk together about our relationships and friends.  I remember visiting T in his room one cold night toward the end of fall semester.  He had his heater on all the way and the window wide open.  I thought it was strange--what a waste of electricity, right?--but that it was also oddly refreshing to have the blazing warmth of the heater and the cold blasts of crisp air from outside swirling together all around me.

That summer, I broke up with my boyfriend, realizing the relationship had no future, and I made big plans to have a "single senior year" at college [I skipped a year, in case you were wondering where my junior year went].  I was going on to graduate school after I graduated, possibly all the way across the country, and I just didn't have time for any more silly relationships clouding up God's plans for me.  I had to be on track, and I had everything figured out.

Or so I thought.

I got back to GU, fall 2004 classes started, and I began to see Taylor more often around campus. We'd serendipitously eat together and sometimes walk to class together (his new dorm was on my way to campus).We went on the Pilgrimage retreat together--a long hike to the first Jesuit mission in ID.  I guess that's when we really started getting to know each other.

I was in a photography class that semester and he would accompany me on my photo walks.  To this day, some of my favorite pictures of him are ones that I took on hand-rolled 100 ISO black and white film, which I developed and made prints of myself.  Fun memories :)

Then Taylor proposed!  Wait--you want to know if I missed something? No. He did propose, but not like a real proposal.  We were chatting together, talking about all my sweet nieces and nephews, and T's wonderful younger siblings, and he said,
"Anne, why can't we just get married, start having babies, and have fun?"  
Naturally, I said,
"Ok! but you'd have to get me a ring."  
Without missing a beat, T pulled a rosary ring off his desk and handed it to me.  And there ya go :) for a whole week, we were "engaged."  Who says you can't make-believe as a grown-up?

But he went home to visit his family that weekend and, apparently, realized he really liked me enough to want to date me for real.  So when he came back to campus, he asked me,
"Anne, can I date you with the intention of discerning what God wants from our relationship?"  
Seriously! What more could I ask for!?

Two weeks later, he told me he was in love with me.  Three months after that, he told my father he wanted to marry me.  Five months after that, he asked to spend the rest of my life with me.  And 10 months after that, we were married.  Talk about whirlwind :)

The other day we were chatting with two of our dear friends about their pilgrimage/honeymoon.  Michaela was telling us about a slope they were laboring to climb.  At a certain point, they stopped for a breath and a drink of water and looked down the mountain.  And she told us,
"You can't see it, when you're walking, what it means to be where you are."
And that really struck me.  In fact, I wrote it down right there (I don't think they noticed) ;) and kept it.

I never knew, when I sat down in front of that "lonely little boy" at that party, that I was saying hello to the man who would come to know me better than anyone.  Looking back, I am in awe of the landscape of my past, the paths that led Taylor and me together, and the ways we've walked together.

I am so glad for memory.  It is true that we only have the present to live in, but to be able to look back and see how far we've come is a blessing. A tremendous blessing.  Because to see your past with the perspective of the present is revelatory and enlightening.  Michaela's right, you can't see it, when you're walking now, what it means to be where you are.  But that's a blessing too, really.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Friday Wanders

not all who wander are lost..

The past few Fridays have lent themselves to some quiet wandering time for my Love and me.  We usually have one or two errands in mind, but mostly we take time to spend time with each other.  And it's been lovely.

Sometimes we go visit cafes...

or beer shops..

And sometimes we just poke around the streets, stopping wherever we are fascinated.

It's a wonderful life we lead, that's certain :)

Happy wandering to you all!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Red :)

It's always been such a fun color. My mother-in-law loves it, and when we have family pictures, red is the color of choice.  I can't complain, really.  When I was in high school, I wore a red shirt to French once and my teacher (from Brooklyn, NY.. go figure) told me:
"Ooh, Anne! La couleur rouge va tu bien!"
and we didn't argue with our Mme Sacco..

Red is great for many things, though. It goes so well with black, and brown, and white. It fits perfectly on a pepper and on my mixer.  I can't think of anything better to dress my dutch oven with (especially when it's also sporting a fig chicken inside), and strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, and watermelon just wouldn't be the same in a different color.

And would you know it? I am getting red tomatoes, now too!

It started a week or two ago:

and now we're here:

I almost don't want to pick them, because it makes me happy to have ripening tomatoes on my vine..

But I suppose I have to harvest, even if it's only two little tomatoes.  What's the point of growing food, except to eat it?  When we get our farm someday, I'll hopefully have my hands (and buckets and pockets and apron front) full of food to harvest.


However, there is still hope for the rest of the summer! See? I have buds on one of my other plants!

There are, in fact, three buds, but I can't get close enough with my lens to show you all three. You'll just have to trust me :)

In the meantime, happy eating!

Another One

Another custom purse, for the awesome girlfriend of one of T's law buddies.

Here you go, D--some pictures to pine away the time until you receive it :)

This is one of the three-in-one purses.  Three materials, three outsides, (three straps--just tuck that middle one inside when you're not using it), all in one purse.

Not a bad deal, really :)

D wanted key-fobs, pockets for chapstick and tissues, pockets that close, a few pen slots, and matching front buttons.  Hope she likes it!

Want one? :)


by renidemus

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lemon Cutes

uh, I mean cukes.

That is to say, cucumbers!

but they are pretty cute, aren't they?  I don't know what to do with them!  Though I better figure it out soon, since cukes don't last forever in a 'fridge.

I'm thinking a short jar of pickle spears might be fun. And cute. Does anyone know any good dill pickle recipes?

I'll let you know what I do with them, though :) When I figure it out...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Nero Wolfe's Corn

My mother loved mysteries.
Especially murder mysteries.  I don't know why, specifically, but she loved to read (and re-read) her mystery books.  There were whole summers where I can only remember her sitting on the couch with two stacks of books nearby, one shrinking, one growing.  She loved to pick apart the mystery in her head as she read along.  My guess: she probably  knew who did it as soon as the author did.

She was a smart cookie :)

These weren't any mysteries either--she definitely had her favorite authors.  She loved the Judge Dee stories by Robert van Gulik.  She would check out the books-on-tape from the library and we would listen to them in the car on long drives.  Sometimes they were kind of intense for us kids, but they were still great stories.  And hey--they kept us quiet, mostly. 

I don't recall any books by Agatha Christie on her thickly populated paperback shelves, but I know she also loved the A&E Poirot series with David Suchet, and we would watch them while doing all sorts of things--Christmas baking, spring cleaning, painting, sewing, decorating for a party or baby shower or dinner.  Oftentimes, it would happen that those who hadn't seen the episode before, or hadn't seen it several times (i.e., most of us), would end up sitting down to watch the thing through while Momma worked.  It's hard to follow a detective story while doing something else if you don't know the ending, after all :) She didn't mind, I think.  Listening to the movies helped her work. 

Her other favorite detective was Nero Wolfe, an overweight eccentric who lives in mid-century Manhattan. With him in his 4-story brownstone live his cheeky, handsome, and rascally assistant, Archie Goodwin, a Swiss chef named Fritz ("Freetz"), an entire floor devoted to his orchids, and a full-time assistant orchid tender, Theodore.  Wolfe loves fabulous food, good beer, Iranian saffron, and great books, and hates onions, anchovies without heads, boiled corn, Spanish saffron, and women-in-general.  Eccentric is an understatement ;)

When I "got into" reading a bit more (sometime in high school), I decided to try one of her murder mystery books, just to see what it was like.  I picked Rex Stout's Some Buried Caesar.  For those of you who know Wolfe and Archie, Some Buried Caesar is the book where Archie meets Miss Lily Rowan :)  I was hooked. I love Stout's quick-moving writing style and the bits of himself that he cast into both Wolfe and Archie (mostly Archie).

As I read more and more books, I began to realize (to myself, of course) that Momma reminded me a lot of Nero Wolfe.  At least, she reminded me of him in some ways.  She hated onions, too, and she liked whole anchovies.  She didn't have a particular affinity to orchids, but she was very particular in other ways, and was never afraid to let you know exactly what she thought.  I miss her.

"But," you're thinking, "What does all this have to do with Wolfe's corn?"  And you are right to ask. I promise this post has a point.  A&E also made a series for the Wolfe mysteries and Momma and I both bought the full collection.  Just like Momma, when I need to get some good work done, I put on my mysteries to listen to as I putter around the house cleaning, cooking, tidying, and folding.  For some reason, they keep me on task.

In one of the episodes, centered around a delivery of not fresh summer corn, Wolfe rails against the evil of boiling corn on the cob in water on the stove.  While Inspector Cramer just wants to find the murderer, Wolfe goes on about the perfect way to prepare corn.

Here, then, is Wolfe's recipe as taken from the episode.  I have to admit, he's absolutely right.  This is the best way to prepare fresh summer corn on the cob:

"Boiled in water, sweet corn is.. edible, and nutritious.  But roasted in an oven, at the hottest possible temperature for 40 minutes. Shucked at the table. Buttered. Salted. Nothing else! Ambrosia."

Pretty simple, right? :)

First, though, I trim off all the corn-silk scragglies so they don't smoke up my oven too much (warning: your kitchen will smell like roasting corn husk).

I roast them at about 500 degrees, put 'em right on the rack, and set the timer for 40 minutes. That's it. No tending, no turning.  Just let them roast contentedly.

Unlike Wolfe, and probably because I just have a smaller dining space that he does, I don't shuck the corn at the table.  But I do shuck it in the kitchen, right before we all sit down to eat, and I let each diner butter and salt it for himself.

It's quite a treat, this summer corn thing :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Did YOU Do This Weekend?

We were busy.  We had four of our dear friend stay with us--the Camachos (who were married last year) and the van Versendaals (who were married last month).  It's true, in our one bedroom apartment, that things were a tad.. squished, but all the merrier with good friends, right? :)

They arrived Friday evening, which was a good thing because I've found it difficult to keep my house clean this summer!  It's in a fairly consistent state of tidy-ness, but the cleanliness is a variable factor.  I don't want my guests to have a clear but mucky floor to sleep on, after all. So when I got off work early on Friday it was the perfect opportunity to tidy and clean the house thoroughly enough for our friends.  It calms me, too, y'know, to know I've done a nice cleaning before people come over and that my house is just as ready as I am to welcome them with warm (or, this time of year, cool) arms.

We had home-made sushi for dinner that night--with (nearly) everyone jumping in to make a roll. And we wives were in a prime spot in the kitchen because (you see) when one is still learning how to properly roll up the sushi, there are always pieces that aren't.. presentable :) and must be disposed of! Also, I am happy to report that the sushi-grade tuna I got from my fish lady was a success!  It was tasty, perfect texture, plenty of it, and we're all still alive and healthy, which is really the deal-breaker. Exciting!

I made a spiced fig upside-down cake for dessert, which (seriously) was totally delicious.  I didn't even have anything planned for the figs when I bought them on Thursday, since I didn't have a chicken in my freezer, but they were there, all lonely and they seemed to be calling to me: Annie! bring us home! So I did. And they seemed quite happy in their cooked-soon-to-be-gobbled state :)

Saturday was another affair entirely.  The Camachos had brunch with their sister, but the van's stayed home with us for oatmeal, leftover fig cake (!), and Taylor-made coffee.  We had a lovely chat, hearing all about their (amazing!) pilgrimage-honeymoon on the Way of St. James, and leisurely made our way to Harvard square to meet up with the Camachos for the afternoon.  Strolling around Harvard was hot business, but (to make it feel cooler outside) I got a delicious dry cappuccino at Crema Cafe.  The theory is that if my insides are hotter than the outside temperature, stepping outside will feel cool.. ish.  Sort of :) Eh, it was a great capp regardless!

We stopped at Trader Joe's for some provisions for the evening and headed home.  T and I hosted a pizza party for our wonderful guests, so that lots of their Boston friends could see them all at once.  I made eight pizza crusts, set them all out on the counter to rise (it's very warm in my kitchen this time of year), and put my stone in the oven.  It was a bit of a rush to get the house straightened up and the pizza prepped, but T is a great helper and it was a screaming success.

Pizzas we made (two of each): 
Salami with chunky tomatoes and Parmesan cheese
Wilted arugula with crumbled sausage, olive oil, and fresh Parmesan cheese
Garlic Scape pesto with peppers, zuccini and onions
Onion pizza with prosciutto, fresh sage, pepper, and olive oil


Sunday... T and I headed to Plum Island beach with a big group of friends.  We brought bread from Clear Flour, truffle salami, fresh fruit, veggies and hummus, homemade pickles, and I made a tuna salad (with artichokes and capers) for sammiches.  We had lots of water, happy beach towels, and much fun with our friends.  I went in the water (all the way in!) three times!  You see, I grew up surrounded by swimming pools, where you can always see the bottom and where there are no large living things in the water.  I was quite impressed with myself.  I had loads of fun.  We're totally going again this summer. Maybe every weekend :)

Plum Tuckered Out

And that was our weekend.. Our guests left Monday morning and T and I went to work.  Now I'm spending the week recovering from all the fun I had :) It's a good exhaustion! 


I made this cake for dessert last Friday, because figs are in season, and I have to have them!

We had two dear couples over to stay with us for the weekend and we made sushi together.  This cake wasn't quite a traditional finish to a sushi dinner, but it sure was tasty :) I totally flipped for it!

Spiced Fig Upside Down Cake
adapted from this document

2 T coconut oil, melted
3 T brown sugar
10 medium fresh Black Mission figs, halved

1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c butter, softened
1/2 c brown sugar (not packed)
1/2 c light molasses
2 large eggs, white separated
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" round cake pan with cooking spray and coat bottom of pan with melted butter.  Sprinkle 3 T brown sugar evenly over butter.  Arrange fig halves, cut side down, in the pan. Set aside.

Batter  Sift dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. In separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add molasses and egg yolks and beat well.  Add milk and vanilla until incorporated.  Add wet to dry, gently mixing until just combined.

Beat egg whites in separate bowl until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold egg whites into batter. Spoon batter evenly over figs  in cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool cake for 15 minutes on wire rack (very important! If you don't let the cake cool, it will fall apart when you try to take it out.  But don't let it cool too long or the brown sugar on the bottom might stick too much).

Loosen cake from sides of pan with spatula.  Place serving plate upside down on top of cake pan.  Holding cake plan and plate together with both hands, flip it all upside down.  The cake pan might need some tapping to get the cake to come all the way out.

Serves 10.

Also, side note: this cake is really easy to make vegan!  I used Ener-G Egg Replacer no problem (following the instructions on the box for egg yolks and whites respectively) and I used shortening instead of butter--but a margarine substitute would work as well.  Super tasty!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

... (Wordless)

The saying goes: A picture's worth a thousand words.

But I've always been one of those pesky people who wants more than a thousand words.  I want the whole story behind a picture. I want to know who the people are; where they came from; what they're doing; why the photographer was struck by the scene and decided to shoot it.  I want to know what kind of animal it is or where the photo was taken or how long ago.  A thousand words just isn't enough.

And yet, I also recognize that certain photos are meant to speak for themselves, without additional explanation.  That the photographer doesn't always have anything in mind when composing and shooting the scene--perhaps he was simply (and wordlessly) struck by its beauty or tragedy.

When I encounter photos without explanation, it is an exercise in patience for me to look at them, to search them for the story and for details not readily apparent.  It is an exercise in going beyond the surface, out the photographer's lens and stepping into the scene.

So this will be my exercise--to post a picture every week without any explanation from me.  I will try to make it a new photo each week, but I reserve the right to tap into my archives! ;)

I have not decided if I will post a title or not.  Titles are important to me and I almost always "name" my photos that I share, and I find it frustrating when I see photos without anything, even a title. But perhaps it will be good for me to leave that blank too. I don't know.


if I were to add a title, this one would probably be "bucket stroll"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Adventures in Sushi

I love sushi. I mean, I really love sushi.  I could eat it every day for lunch and dinner without ever looking back.  It's fresh. It's simple. It's good for you. And it's so tasty!  For me, the simpler the better--no funny mayonnaises (I don't think they use mayo in Japan) or gloopy sauces on top.  I like the rice and nori best. Add in avocado (another non-traditional ingredient, admittedly) and some tasty fish and I'm one happy eater.

Clearly, on a limited (ahem--law student) budget, we can't afford to eat sushi nearly as often as I'd like.  If I could, I'd probably vote for sushi every time we did go out to eat.  Others are of a different mind (for some strange reason)... so my sushi-eating is at a relative minimum. Sadly.

Something had to be done!
and I did it :)

Two weekends ago, we were wandering around a kitchen store with a friend (who's setting up house) and I found a $6 sushi making kit ($4 on amazon).  T agreed to get it and I set myself to learning enough about sushi to try making it at home.  Fortunately the kit came with a good set of instructions on what ingredients are best, what methods work well, and a suggested list of filling ingredients.

We went to the Asian market last week and found the items we needed.  The total came to $40, and I also got about $15 of filling ingredients (most of which was the fresh crab I picked up at the farmer's market) :) but we definitely should be able to get several batches of sushi from the main ingredients, so that's good. Even though we've already spent $60 getting ingredients, that's equivalent to just two meals at a restaurant (for only T and me)--I'm hopeful about the return on our investment :)

So, to begin.  I had my sushi kit, and I had decided what to use for the maki: varying combinations of avocado, green onion, sliced cucumber, and fresh crab meat.  Of course I had a cup of tea handy for me to sip while rolling :) Tea makes everything better.

I also had Teahouse of the August Moon playing in the background.  My favorite Marlon Brando movie. Ever :)

Next, I had to make the rice.  This helpful FAQ page gives great instructions on how to make sushi rice (and they're the same as the instructions that came with my kit, so dig in, folks!).   I had gotten everything out and ready beforehand, making sure it was all within easy reach.  T volunteered to fan the rice for me while I mixed the seasoning in (it has to be cooled to room temperature relatively quickly to get a nice sheen on it).  We were a pretty good team :)

But I still had to assemble the rolls.  No matter how nice the ingredients are sliced and arranged and laid out, messy rolls just don't cut it for pretty sushi.

In picking a mat, I decided to go for the traditional bamboo slat mat. There are numerous "sushi made easy" kits, but if that "old" mat has worked for thousands of years in Japan, it's good enough for me. Besides, I love bamboo and Momma had a sushi mat in the kitchen for years--the smell of it is so nostalgic for me.  We never made sushi with it.  In fact, I don't remember what we did do with it, but I loved playing with it and the smell of the bamboo slats will always stay with me..

Recalling my first sushi-making experience, my rice was a tad starchy (maybe I added too much of the sushisu?), and some of the rolls were, um, ambitiously stuffed.  But those are things I can improve on.  If I get wracked with despair at never making pretty maki, I can always make temaki and go for a less-formal feel :)

I think the rice recipe made about 10 rolls.  We gobbled up every last piece of the sushi!  It was not the prettiest or most artfully presented sushi ever, but I wasn't expecting it to be.  I am completely happy with how my first-try turned out, and am excited to try again this week.

And did you know I've even managed to find a convenient source for sushi-grade tuna?

On the menu for this week:
makizushi with bluefin tuna, avocado, cucumber, and maybe green onions and carrots.  Are you as excited as I am? :)

Friday, July 9, 2010


We picked up our produce share yesterday.  This was a particularly exciting box, since Enterprise Farm just harvested their summer corn, and we were looking forward to it!

Sadly, though, our little box of fresh raspberries, inside the big box with all those heavier vegetables, got jostled too much :( Rather than shiny, plumb, pinkish-red berries, we ended up with:

Raspberries In Pieces

Not to be discouraged, since they were still very fresh, I made a tart :)

minted raspberry tart

Really, there are few things better than a berry tart. It's a little like a pie--with that lovely flaky crust--but without so much of that gooey overly-sweet filling (can you guess what part of the pie is my favorite?) :)

This is also a good time to share with you my favorite pie crust recipe.  There are probably thousands of pie crust recipes online these days, and most of them are fabulous. Some of them are perfection--if you have the time, patience, and skill to work with the recipe.

I do not possess such virtues.  Neither did my mother.

At least, not when pie dough is concerned.

So here is Merel William's pie crust recipe.  It's the one my grandmother used and the one Momma always used.  This is the crust she raved about whenever I made her a pie.  She always told me she ate pies for the crust, not the filling.  Like mother like daughter, they say :)

This is the dough I use when I need a crust that won't give me any trouble. It's great for pot pies and fruit pies and tarts and quiches and.. anything you need a super-quick-and-easy crust for :) It's even worked in my warm kitchen this summer--totally fool- (and humidity-) proof!

One more note: yes, it uses vegetable shortening.  This is why it's so easy--because you use hot water to melt the shortening into the flour and you don't have to worry about refrigerating it or freezing it or keeping it cool as you work with it. Take it or leave it, but it's still my favorite.

makes enough for one 8" pie pan with lattice top

2 c all purpose flour (I use white spelt flour and it comes out well every time)
1 tsp salt
3/4 c crisco
1/4 c hot water (nearly boiling is best)
1 T milk (or cream)

Combine flour and salt with fork.  If you want to add herbs or spices to the crust, incorporate them now.  Plop the crisco right on top of the flour and poor hot water directly over shortening.  Stir with a fork until combined, adding milk as necessary to reach pie-dough-ness.

On a floured surface (preferably unfinished wood/cutting board--formica counters and varnished tables don't work well at all), roll out half of dough to 1/8" thick (but not more than 1/4"--the thinner the flakier!).  Using a long spatula or cake froster, gently loosen dough from rolling surface and fold in quarters. Make sure there is enough flour on the top of the crust that it won't stick to itself when folded over.

Place folded dough in the pie pan (no need to grease the pan) so that dough lays properly in the pan when unfolded. Unfold. Presto pie crust!

Ease the crust into all the corners of the pan, leaving the overhang around the edges.  Add filling. Repeat process with other half of dough for the top of the crust. Lay the crust on top of the filling and pinch the top and bottom together. This woman knows what's she's talking about :) and she has more pictures.

Or, if you're super lazy (like I am), do a tart! Make half a recipe of crust, roll your rolling pin on top of the edges of the pie pan to cut the edges off the crust, add the filling, and bake.

Filling for Minted RIP Tart
1 1/2 c strawberry lemonade
2 T flour
1 c fresh raspberries
10-15 mint leaves, finely chopped
1 T honey

In small saucepan on the stove, combine lemonade and flour and whisk until combined. Heat until mixture begins to thicken (this is an improvised jam--if you have jam you want to use, do it!).  Add raspberries and mint and mash with fork or whisk until mixed into the gravy/jam/stuff.  Remove from heat.  Add honey.  Pour into crust.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  If desired, sprinkle about 1 T sugar on top of filling and broil to get a nice glaze on top.

Serve with ice cream :)

Summer's Roasted Vegetables

Someday, when I have my own garden, I want to carry heavy laden baskets full of fresh vegetables into my kitchen, to be prepared that night and gobbled up by eager mouths.  Someday, I want to know which foods go best for what season, which foods are most practical, so that I can eat in line with what the earth can give me.

We will have fresh fruit and ripe squash all summer and into the fall, and we will have hearty root soups and whole grain breads in the winter.  In the spring, we will enjoy the precious tidbits of little delicacies that only Spring in her perfect weather can provide.  Each season will have its own favorite dishes and menus, and each dish will conjure up memories of the seasons.  Hand in hand. They go together like sisters.

or cousins :) 

My sister Summer was named after my Daddy's first crush, Princess Summerfall Winterspring from the Howdy Doody show.  These weren't my sister's vegetables.  And it's not her recipe, either.  But all these veggies tend to make their appearance in my kitchen around summertime, especially the garlic scapes and zucchini, and it feels distinctly summer-ish to me. So, it seems fitting that the recipe belongs at least to the season, if not to my sister, and the Princess :)

In any case, it's also quite variable, and very simple.  I've written out what I used below, but you can substitute any of your own favorite vegetables and seasonings.

Serves 4

olive oil
1 medium onion
1/4 small red cabbage
about 8 whole basil leaves
4 medium to large whole beets
1 large zucchini
about 1 c garlic scape pesto
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium dutch oven (mine's 6 quarts and I had plenty of extra room), layer vegetables as follows:

sliced onions
cabbage, thinly sliced
basil leaves (laid evenly over the cabbage)
drizzle of olive oil
chopped beets (mine were big chunks--they don't have to be bite-sized--and I didn't even peel them)
pesto (spread as evenly as possible over the beets)
zucchini (halved and sliced)
another drizzle olive oil
sprinkle of thyme leaves
salt and pepper

Cover the vegetables and bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until the beets are tender. Serve it up as a side dish if you like, but we served it as an entree, with quinoa and a honey-dressed salad to go with it.


Substitution Ideas

Instead of red cabbage, basil, beets, and zucchini: green cabbage, potatoes, and/or turnipsmustard sauce, and carrots/parsnips on top (St. Patty's day in a pot!)

Instead of onions, substitute leeks, sliced in dollars, layered thickly on the bottom.

Rather than zucchini, use eggplant, sliced in rounds or chunked.

Instead of garlic scape pesto, use basil pesto. But make sure it's nice and garlicky! The acidic garlic is a nice complement to the beets and cabbage.

Use butter instead of olive oil.

Add Herbes de Provence instead of thyme and/or basil.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless :) Enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Latest Adventure

T and I got some herbs last week.  I've had herbs before and.. they lasted a little while, but I couldn't keep them going.  Is it possible to keep herbs in pots for several years?  Do you just have to invest each spring in new plants unless they're in the ground?  Ah well, we're trying it again this year :)  Right now, they look bright and sunny on our window sill in the kitchen, smiling in the afternoon sunshine.

Our other adventure, though, is that we got tomato plants.

I've never grown any of my own food before (I know, you're thinking "and you want a farm?!"), but we all have to begin somewhere, and I figure inside plants are "a very good place [for me] to start."  One of the three plants we bought has two green tomatoes on it, so if nothing else, we'll hopefully get those two :)  Though I think I see one little bud emerging on one of the other plants.  Does anyone have any tips on growing tomatoes?  Like how often I should water, etc? I'll be sure to keep you posted on our progress as container-tomate-er farmers :)

Also, I think I want to do a weekly pictures-only post.  I haven't decided what day will be best for it--maybe Monday? since that's usually a kick-start sort of day.  But know that it's in the works.  Isn't that exciting? :)

To the Full

We had a very full weekend.  Full of friends, good food, much laughter, lots of sunshine, and many, many memories.  It reminds me of Christ's words to His disciples: "I came that you might have life and have it to the full."  Truly the joy in Christ has animated our lives always, and especially when we can spend time with our fabulous companions on the way.

On Thursday night, since one really can't get an early enough start to any three-day weekend, T and I, plus Viv and Matt and Jen all went to see Toy Story 3.  [Great movie, by the way. Pixar has done it again... Pixar and that cute hopping lamp-guy.]  Matt got off work late so we went to the 9:45 showing.  We drove to the theatre and Viv and I (oh so sneakily) brought our own popcorn!  Y'know those huge, over-sized, ziploc bags? We filled one of those with popcorn.. and it was delicious (even though we didn't finish it).

Though, really, I guess theatres don't really care anymore.  I remember going to the theatre when I was a kid and they'd search your bag!  So it was a total stealth operation if you wanted to "smuggle" in your own candy, rather than paying (a whole $2!) for their candy.  And popcorn? C'mon, people--movie theatres could give away seats for free if everyone bought popcorn.  Such a racket..

Um, anyway :)

On Friday, we went over to Matt's house for a terribly delicious BBQ get-together.  I think there was a sporting event on in the living room, but I mostly stayed outside.  Friday was my idea of a perfect summer's day.  It was cool in the morning, delightful in the afternoon, and cool again in the evening--but not too cool.  Not the kind of cool where you want a long-sleeve shirt or a lightweight jacket, but the kind of cool that's the perfect relief from the heat of the day.  Though even the sunshine was great that day--there was a fresh breeze dissipating the heat, but the sunlight was plentiful enough to warm buildings and sidewalks, which residual heat balanced the cool of the evening.

We had fresh burgers, home made salmon burgers (so tasty!), with enough crisp vegetables to satisfy even the largest mouthed burger eaters! There was avocado salad, strawberry salad, grilled corn on the cob (with an entire stick of butter for rolling the corn in), and delicious, creamy, coffee-y ice cream for dessert (from my favorite creamery, too).  Tim was good enough to go get me brownie mix for my intense and un-reasoned craving.  What a guy :)

And there was music, and gin and tonics, and good beer, and lots of smiles.  I always love gathering to eat with friends and family.  What better way to nourish your body than along with your soul?  Our life is blessed.

M@'s BBQ


Saturday was mostly spent out.  At a friend's house and at the mall.  I gathered up the ingredients for oatmeal pancakes (my breakfast favorite, definitely) and some spicy Italian sausage, and we headed over to help him move his gigantic new TV.  All things considered (y'know, forgoing a breakfast en suite with my Love, lazing away the morning together..), it was a great morning.  While we ate, we watched part of Baraka, which was a stunning film.  It has led T and me to the conclusion that we definitely prefer the pace of life in "undeveloped" regions rather than life in the city :)

Big news for me is, while we were in the mall (outfitting Burke's new kitchen, etc), I got a sushi-making kit!  Now all I have to do is figure out how to make sushi rice and we're in business :D  Stay tuned for updates--I plan on attempting said feat tomorrow.. we'll see how it goes!

In the evening we made popcorn and watched MOON on Burke's new TV. Another good movie--thought provoking.


Ok--Sunday!  The whole purpose of the weekend, right? since it's the reason we had Monday off.  What did we do?  Well.. did you know that Boston's fireworks are the ones that are televised nationwide for the 4th?  So next year, if you want to join us in our revelry, tune it to "the hub's" fireworks :)

our view for the fireworks

We went to Mass in the morning, all our picnic gear in tow, and ate lunch at Pavement (best chicken salad ever).  It was hot on Sunday, and we only had salami from home, so we also stopped by the store for fruit and bread and hummus and cheese and water.  What more could you ask for, sitting on a blanket in the sunshine (with an umbrella)?  We also brought books--my pick was a book about my new camera.  Dorky? Yes. Do I care? Not particularly :)

A summary of our Sunday would go like this: Mass, Lunch, find a spot, sit (sit sit sit sit), cool off, sit some more, wait for the fireworks to start, take pictures, watch fireworks, more pictures, shuffle to the T with thousands of other watchers, decide to walk the whole way home (4 miles), crash into bed (which I thankfully thought to clear off before we left in the morning!).

That sounds worse that it really was--it really was a looong day--but we had a lot of fun and it was good to be down there, "in the throng" as it were.  We had a good time chatting with friends and it was nice to much on goodies all day, with nothing else to do.

And the fireworks--once they started--were really awesome.  I didn't bring my tripod, because I didn't want to carry it around the whole day, but I will definitely have it next time I watch fireworks. I learned a lot, and even got some decent shots. Hope your 4th was just as fun :)

4th on the Esplanade