Harvesting

Again this year we put a fairly large garden in.  I love the tilling, planting part but my upkeep lacks.  I weed like mad in the beginning and then let it slip.  Oh well.  But, this year I was moseying around The Christmas Tree Store; who would think?  It’s not my type of place but I have to say I do find some cool stuff – oddly enough, real 100% 550 count cotton sheets – not sateen or any other weird stuff, $39. for a set.  Sound like a commercial I know but price those things and they are always three times that.  Anyway, there was this huge stand with all sorts of seed packages from Italy on it.  Gorgeous packaging and cool stuff so of course I bought quite a few.  Well….the beans are in and they happen to be THE BEST. 

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No kidding.  These are amazing.  We’ve been eating them just about every other night, quick boil, lots of butter, s&p.  Yummola.

The carrots are just coming in also.  I had hoped to be sauteeing them but we eat them raw so fast there is nothing left to cook.  Very sweet.  Again, an Italian product. 

Funny, I was reading in one of my food mags. that they are now (in Restaurants) serving tableside, no less, carrots run through a meat grinder – a wait staff serves you this way as though it’s salt and pepper grinding.  How weird is that?  Not to go off on a tirade but…..those meat grinders are ugly.  Can you imagine someone coming at you with one of those unattractive items and squeezing this stuff out on your plate?  I am amazed at the crap they are coming out with all to be one up….It’s all been done.  One item I read about which was interesting in the altering food arena was quick drying (in the microwave) herbs creating a dust then mixing with sugar to powder pastries.  Unique, no sure I’d do it but…..another one I just read about which I thought was way, way over the top…tiresome…cook corn, get rid of the corn kernals, take the cobs and cook them then make into a slurry which becomes a salad dressing.  Really?  Why?  Someone has a bit too much time on their hands.

So, just FYI, since I’m thinking of food.  I have decided with the help of my friends (mostly Marji) that I am done Catering.  This summer I’ve been turning down all catering jobs and happy to be doing so.  My back has been destroyed from the lifting aspect.  I went into melt down last August when I was in the middle of a large wedding that I was working.  I guess as it had always been bothering me more and more it just decided to stop so there I was in tears in pain.  The end.  Finally.  And, I find customers are more and more into micro-managing my job.  It’s a new phenonoma…hire someone to do the work and then do the job verbally yourself.  Time consuming and tiresome I mean isn’t the point of hiring someone professional; you pay the person to do it right and get it done.  Now everyone wants to butt in, let their friends participate, in my area of work that means they bring some of the food….hello, that is not what I would serve!  Some really bizarre stuff shows up and then it looks like it’s mine.  I don’t think so!  My husband has found this to be the problem in his work also.  Build me a boat or mast but let me tell you how to do it even though I have no clue.  Meanwhile I’ll waste your time with my blather!  Same thing.  So, I’m done and moving on.  I’m weeding out those stupid magazines – my purge.  I’ll still have a huge interest in food but fresh, seasonal, comfort food will be my arena.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned our Raspberry patch this year.  A few years ago we put a few bushes in.  Have we got bushes!!! We’re eating everything raspberry.  I made a tart (actually I’ve made quite a few recently) but I love this tart.  First, it’s our oldest sons favorite food – he doesn’t come home often (he’s a CALIFORNIA guy now, special) but when he does he asks for this tart.

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I make these pie crusts and keep them in the freezer for instant baking when we have guests.  The pastry cream is a zip to make….egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar, cream of any sort even half and half and vanilla.  The figs were at Trader Joe’s for el cheap.  I had some Arkansas honey that I dribble over.  Fab.  I don’t know what those bees in Arkansas eat but the honey from there is just amazing – it is the most flavorful of all that I have tasted.  Arkansas, go figure.

Yesterday we had pancakes.

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Sorry, Paul had already taken a big bite.  We also have blueberries in the yard, 12 plants which are finally producing.  We’ve had these plants for years but they never seem to be growing so this year we heaped seaweed compost on them, hit them with some 10/10/10 or some such and finally we’ve got berries.  I was told to leave the bushes alone, don’t fertilize or compost.  Who told me that? 

Last week-end I went down to New Jersey to my 45th. class Reunion with my best pal Patti.  Hysterical.  We had an incredible time.  We left here Friday morning – of course it was a trillion degrees hot, a mere 100.  It was lovely being in the air conditioned car and we didn’t care where we were going as long as the car didn’t stop.  We fantasized driving past our destination and landing in Alaska or something.  New Jersey was a trip.  First, the language barrier – did I ever speak that way?  I could barely understand people speaking.  It was so much fun as we hung on every word, watching the mouth move, the hands move and the F words continuously.  Just amazing.  It’s another world in itself.  The Reunion itself was actually fun.  We, as people, are genetically engineered when we’re born and the bitches in high school miraculously were still bitches.  Amazing.  I went over to a table to say Hi to a woman I thought I was sort of friendly with in High School, she actually slightly turned sideways and began to file her nails – at the dinner table!  GOT IT, SEE YA.  Can you imagine?  This man I was speaking with from a class or two above my brother who is 5 years older than me was concerned he was so much older than everyone else (I joked he graduated after the War, WWII, not funny,  I told him he looked great (which he did) he was the only guy there with HAIR.  Not everyone but quite a few had these spits of stuff above their ears, etc.  I really felt so bad for the guys because their faces were really the same, just boys, flirting, etc. but the lack of hair…..eeeek.  We wore these name tags, our year book pictures, which was a dam good thing cause you wouldn’t know.  The pictures were enlarged – great for people with bi focals.  It was interesting to see how although it was the 60’s and big hair was in most of us pretty much had the same hair styles.  Me personally, I know I was born with this goomba bob, bangs, cut to my chin, still straight, hello.  So, I was recognizable.  Patti, although her hair is no longer teased miles high it’s the same cause her hair is so thick and no grey.  The guys didn’t have a prayer, too bad.  We laughed our backs sore from joking around, new jersey style you just gotta be there.  It’s a different sense of humor – you know, like watching a total show off who thinks she’s sexy (ick) dancing away with toilet paper on her heel.  That kind of stuff.  On Saturday we went to a town wide, Pompton Lakes, yard sale.  I thought we were going to score some cool stuff.  James Patterson books anyone?  Everyone had the same really crappy junk and since Pompton got flooded with the Wanaque Dam it was all moldy.  So that didn’t work out.  But, the two evenings of classmates was not to be missed.  Eating hard rolls and a New Jersey bagel was a treat.  I had my carbs for the year while down there.  The Italians in Jersey spend the majority of home time at a table with plates and plates of antipasto – as Patti’s family is from Sicily and we were staying with her cousin Fran, we did the same.  We even had cold box cake, Pepperidge Farm.  It tasted good given the environment I suppose.  I suspect if I went and bought one now it wouldn’t be the same.  Speaking of….the buffet we had was an interesting mix, the usual suspects, beef, chicken, fish but then there were fat chunks of dough 2″ thick at least with sauce on it and hot cherry peppers, cannoli’s for dessert.  Interesting.  I went and sat in the Oakland Diner, while Patti was having her face waxed off – which is where I grew up – and drank coffee listening and watching the people around me.  There are now Mexicans in town which is kind of an interesting blend with the Italians….who’s speaking what?  Nothing at all like white bread York, Maine that’s for sure.  I loved it.  I may have to go back and buy a tiny (shit box is what we used to call our houses cause they were small, family of six, three bedroom) for retirement.  We laugh about that allot.  At least 50% of our class still live in Oakland, and they live in their parents home.  No wonder, the parents bought the house in the 50’s for probably 10/15 grand, they died the kids moved back in mortgage free.  I would too.  It’s 20 miles from Manhattan. 

Back to reality here…..tourist land at the moment but not so hot in fact a glorious 60 right now.  Dog walking time.  Ciao

Fiber Interests!

Gee, I’ve been so consumed with cooking this past spring you would think I never knitted.  I have finally finished a knitted project.  I belong to a group called Sweet Georgia Yarn – it’s online with Ravelry.  Each month I get a surprise skein of hand dyed yarn to do something with in sock weight.  I hate knitting socks so I made a small shawl/scarf. 

This yarn has been through lots of traveling with me, cars, planes, boats and many, many purses, plastic bags, etc.  It’s been rough on it.  It’s made of 50% wool and 50% Tencel so it has been a slippery bugger.  Slippery translates here to lots of mistakes; little holes here and there.  Not one to back track I filled in the holes while out at the pool the other day.  As I was sitting there mesmerized by the pool water I decided to just throw it in.  It had to be washed anyway so why not?

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How’s that for a Mermaid doing a back flip????

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A Sea Ray?  This was just as it was sinking…a last bit of buoyancy.

It was a hellish day…..so unbearably hot.  This was the temperature just outside the window of my kitchen, in the shade, as I was baking 417 scones!  I was dying.  P.S. we have no air-conditioning here.

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The event I baked for was a Wedding in York Harbor ….. a Groom/Groom Wedding.  I made scones, homemade jams, strawberries, drinks galore for 300 plus people.  I did not take a photo of the food, wish I had, but it was almost out of control with the amount of people descending on us!  But, this lovely food greeted the guests as they filed out of the church – I understand the place was an OVEN, it was 11 a.m. but, we had loads of iced sparkling waters, lemonade, apple juice, iced and hot coffee – loads, 8 giant bags of ice and 4 blocks.  We had four tables set up with the food and a huge round for the drinks.  Helpy selfy on the sparky water – people were putting their hands in the ice water tubs just to cool off.  It reminded me of our sons wedding eight years ago when we had a similar temperature, 102.  Jesse’s friends picked him up and dumped him head first into the canoe we had filled with ice and drinks.  Very funny.  Boys!!!!

My staff was AWESOME…..Thanks to Linda/Gina/Richard and Anne…..hardworking, great pals.  I may do all the cooking but these people pull it together in the end and it always comes off smoothly.

Off to the pool……..

 

 

 

Some more summertime food

I’ve been making quite a few scones of late.  Today I finally stopped 447 and done!  It seems endless as I make about 42 or 3 at a batch.  I’m catering a “tea” with scones, etc. for a wedding this Saturday in the heart of York Harbor…..Saturday, 4th of July Week-end, on the way to the beach….no parking is what it says to me and now it’s supposed to be terribly hot!  Come on Saturday at Noon when I am done.  Can’t wait.  I am tired of worrying about weather I have enough….always a worry for me and I usually have too much anyway.

I’ve completed the three jams I’m serving.  Blueberry/Rhubarb, Ginger Rhubarb and then this which is Lemon Verbena.  I love growing this as it smells just beautiful.  Usually when I’m not making jam from it I put it in my ice tea.

 

ImageHere’s the finished product.  I doubled the recipe I’m posting below this picture.

ImageLemon Verbena Jelly – Herb Companion July 2012, Page 17

1-1/2 C. chopped verbena leaves

2 C. Water

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

3.5 C. sugar

3 oz. pectin, liquid

Combine the chopped leaves and water, bring to a boil then let it steep, covered for 15 minutes.

Strain the leaves reserving 1.5 C. of the liquid.  Put the liquid in a pot along with the vinegar and sugar.  Stir quite a bit as you bring it to a boil, take off the heat, add the pectin and return to a full rolling boil for 1 minute.

Pour into jars and boil in water bath for 5 minutes.  Fini

The other night I made a really fresh dinner with a lot of great things from our garden.  It’s so cool to go out there now and get some great stuff.

ImagePaul was talking about wanting a key lime tart….it just so happened I had a crust in the freezer ready to bake.  How easy.  I have a great, fast recipe for the tart.  You can decide not even 2 hours before you want it.

Key Lime Tart from James McNair’s Pie Cookbook, Page 52

1 Baked crust

4 egg yolks

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 C. or more lime juice, lime zest

Cool the tart a bit after you bake it then in a small bowl beat the yolks, condensed milk and lime juice together.  I usually use a fresh lime, get the zest off it first and add to the yolks then get the juice either by more limes or using a fresh jarred product.  I like to mix half and half lemon & lime – it tastes more like Key Lime Pie to me.

So, after you have used your whisk to blend, pour it in the crust and bake again for about 15 minutes at 350.  Fini

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As some of you know I was in Florida the other day to check on our little boat.  Besides getting out of Dodge I like to let the neighbors (all liveaboards) that we still exist and as I hadn’t been there since April 4th. it’s was time.  Well, that was a mistake.  Too darn hot!  Due to inept airlines crap I left here at 7 a.m. and arrived to my destination at 9:30 p.m. – it’s only a 3 hr. flight but…..nightmare, as usual.  Most of the time I was at JFK in New York.  Bad scene.  I also was unaware that lots of people go south in July – really?  why?

But, anyhow it was very, very hot.  My neighbors could care less that I was there – they were safely ensconced in their boats with their air conditioners on.  I don’t have one and if I put one in the companionway I’m sure I would have to be committed as I hate cave type spaces.  My neighbor, about the only one who actually speaks to me when I’m there, I am invisible to the rest for some reason (Yankee? non gun toting? female alone, what a threat!?) anyhow, I digress, my neighbor came out of his cave at 10 p.m. and loaned me a fan for the night.  I was looking for a hotel on my way but there was nothing even remotely clean.  I was about ready to sleep on the air conditioned bathroom floor.  It actually is clean as it’s brand new, kinda nice.

So, my visit was for three days, all of it too long.  I went to my favorite book store in Vero and got quite a few books.  This one below was the most fabulous but I read it in a day and a morning….awesome book.

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The pool you see in the background…..not refreshing, hot water.

There was a lovely sunset from the stern of the boat one evening……I think it was the night I was bug bit to death while I was sleeping.  Bug bite medicine……witch hazel.  Works fabulous but I didn’t discover that idea till I got home a few days later.  Man, I look like I have the measels on my legs and arms.

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Isn’t that pretty?  I will miss that, that alone!  Paul is going to go down in a week or so and bring the little boat home to Maine.  It’s not practical where it is…..cheap enough for dockage but too far away and waaaaay too much of a nightmare of travel to get to.  We figure we’ll just leave it here in Maine where it belongs (it’s wooden), haul it for the winter so we can make modifications of which there are quite a few necessary.  This winter – we’ll go some place easy, non stop to get to when we just can’t deal with the cold.  There are a ton of airbnb’s out there and inexpensive.

Happy 4th. of July!