Sunday, July 31, 2016


There ain't nothing better in life than true love and a homegrown tomato.                                                                                  
 My first batch of slow cooker sauce of the season.  It's the easiest ever.  Just chop up tomatoes, skin and all, and add them to your slow cooker.  Add a couple carrots for sweetness, a diced onion and a few garlic cloves.  Cover and cook on low for 12 hours or longer(depending on how many tomatoes you use).
 Puree with a stick blender and cook uncovered on high until it thickens.  Season as desired and can or place in jars in the fridge.  I also often freeze it in zip lock bags.  If you let it cook long enough, you can turn it into tomato paste.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Playing With My Food

Another killer busy day and no time for a proper blog post but I thought I would show you two more entries to John's flower show  veggies exhibition.  A zombie melon.
And me and my snowman.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Garlic Harvest

 My garlic is harvested, cleaned and trimmed.  The heads are not as large as I would like but I got some in my CSA this past week and they were smaller than mine.  I puffed out my garlic growing chest and strutted around the kitchen a few times.

I throw the smallest ones in a separate basket and use them whole in stocks and soups and stews.  How does your garlic grow?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pickled Fennel and Carrots

I am so busy with wedding things that I might be posting sporadically.  I'll try to throw something up as often as I can though.  I have a big party coming up which means another meat and cheese platter.  I'm making condiments and pickles to go on it and here is a new recipe I made this morning.  

In a heavy pot, combine 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of cider vinegar, 2 cups of sugar and 2 T. of sea salt.  Add 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns and 1 tsp. whole fennel seeds. Bring this to a boil and let it simmer until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Layer thinly sliced carrots and fennel in a  jar with some of the fennel fronds.  Boil a dozen eggs, peel and add them to another jar with more fennel fronds.  After the brine has cooled a while, ladle it over the vegetables and eggs and refrigerate for a week before eating. Shake the jar occasionally during that week.

PS....I was so busy today that I forgot to post this until very late.  Sorry!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Decorating for Fall

 It's started!  I know I am early, I'm always early.  But with the wedding looming on the horizon, I'm trying to check off as many things as I can before all out craziness begins. This is gong to be a HUGE wedding. I can't reveal things on the blog because this celebration is going to be one incredible surprise after another and I can't give them away. If you notice my lack of cooking posts, it's because my time is spent doing all wedding stuff, all the time now. As you can see, I was decorating in the dark. Decorating my Fall mantle checks off one of the tasks and gives me a meditative place to go when I need to lower my blood pressure. Plus, with the Summer from hell, I can gaze at the mantle and envision cool, crisp Fall days.

At least I can try. It's tough to do when you and your dog are melting.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pan Bagnat ( A French Tuna Salad Sandwich)

 This is simply one of the best tuna salad sandwiches you will ever eat.

You need to use a good sturdy bread like a ciabatta or a baguette.


 You can find the step by step directions here:

The crispier the lettuce, the better.

If you don't want to eat a sandwich, you can eat this plain on it's own.

I slice the tomatoes and place them on paper towels and sprinkle them with sea salt.

Then place them on top and add some anchovies if you are an anchovy fan.    I left them off because though The Blog Tech loves them, not everyone does.                                                                       
The Blog Tech is ready to take a bite.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Visting Amish Country

In the midst of this killer heatwave, we are trying to stay cool and distract ourselves any way we can.  A car trip with A/C makes for a good escape. We headed to Amish country.  This has been perfect weather for making hay.
We spy our first buggy.  I can't imagine how hot they are.  It's in the upper 90's.                                                                  
A trusty steed.
Pulling a buggy and trailer.                
                         It always cracks me up seeing last years corn growing through this years crop rotation, soy beans.                    

 Cows and calves on an Amish farm.  Click for a closer look.

 Fall planting.

 Why can I totally imagine living here?!

 A stop to chat with Andy and pick up some fresh veggies.  I bought honey and god forbid, more maple syrup.  I couldn't pass it up, his prices were the lowest I've seen all year.

And it's tough to find fresher honey, the hives sit about 30 feet away.  What are you doing to stay cool?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Black Beans and Rice

I sure make a lot of beans and rice around here.  Each time I try to make them a bit different by varying the type of beans and the spices.  Beans and rice are addictive.  You really miss them once you get used to eating them.

 For this recipe, I diced red and green peppers, 1 large sweet onion, a lot of garlic, some celery and sauteed it in a  bit of butter.  I added several bay leaves, 1 pound of soaked and drained black beans and enough chicken stock to cover it all. I missed a pic but add sliced sausage of your choice.  I like to use a smokey sausage like kielbasa or a good Spanish chorizo.  Do not use Mexican chorizo; they are two very different sausages.

 Now the important part, the seasoning.  I find too often than not, beans are under-seasoned. I add 3 T. cumin, s&p, 1 T. oregano and several pouches of Sazon Goya which can be found in the Latin section of your grocery store. I also add a few cubes of chicken bouillon.  Bring this to a boil then turn it down to a simmer and cover and let it cook for a couple hours, stirring occasionally until the beans soften.

Towards the end of the cooking time, make the rice.  Saute a small diced onion, a couple diced carrots, more garlic to taste and 2 stalks of celery in a few tablespoons of butter, then add rice, follow the package directions according to the amount you want to make.  Instead of using water, use chicken stock (homemade if available).  Using homemade chicken stock when making rice takes rice to a whole other level.  It is sublime. Bring it to a boil, lower to simmer and cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff it with a fork.

I like to ladle the beans into a soup bowl and then top them with rice.  You can mash some of the beans first to make a thicker, creamier bean dish.  Sprinkle with diced red onion.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My First Summer CSA Box Arrived

I picked up my first Summer CSA box yesterday and made this for John. It's nice to find your calling late in life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Italian Grocery Store

 I left early this morning to run to my favorite Italian grocery store to stock up on things I needed.  I bought some balsamic vinegar and some red wine.  When I am using it to make salad dressings, I buy Colavita.  It's a good quality at a good price.

 I buy olive oil by the gallon.

 I had to supplement my homegrown basil with theirs to make pesto.  Though I have planted 8 basil plants, they can't keep up with my cooking.  We eat a lot of basil in season.

 I bought some local fresh eggs and some good tuna packed in oil.  I'll show you soon what I am making with these.

 We eat a lot of these Queen Anne cherries when they are in season.

 An assortment of olives. My life revolves around olives and pickles.

 My favorite cheese is finally in season.  If you can find Graskaas cheese, give it a try.

Imported Provolone, freshly grated Parmesan and Bocco  in olive oil with basil and tomatoes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's Happening

 Stuff is ripening.  So what did I do with my first harvest?

I sent this entry into the novelty fruit and vegetable division of the flower show held in the small Welsh town where John from Going Gently lives.  If you have any creations that you would like to enter, visit him here:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Waiting for the Storms

 We have storms on the way and I hope we get lots of rain because we are bone dry.  With endless days in the 90's, the watering does very little.

 This is a nice shady area to sit on hot afternoons.  That's one of my mirror chains hanging on the right.

 A copper spider on her web.

 Side garden.

 A peek into where I cook.

 Teddy just couldn't decide whether she wanted to go out in the heat and humidity this morning.

 She looked at the patio and thought about it for a long time.

She finally decided to do some guarding. I would hate to be the person that walks up to that fence.