Saturday, July 31, 2010

Veggie challenge:Melons and 'maters!

Gathered at the market last weekend were melons, many;basil,bunches; onions, tomatoes, which have taken the place of beets in the onslaught; peppers, red and jalapeno. While there we picked up some NY strip steaks,eggs, and pasta from our friendly pasta dealer.

The temp was over a hundred Saturday , so we had the pasta , prosciutto, and melon salad that was such a hit earlier in the veg. challenge.I used an Ambrosia melon, one we cannot find in the grocery stores, as it is one of the frailer types :it does not travel well. The NY strip steaks were grilled on Sunday, accompanied by Swiss chard and a chimichurri sauce, a green sauce variant, utilizing previous purchases. Monday, we had more pasta. Tagliatelle with fresh corn pesto. A disaster, way too much starch and sugar. It was like a ball of school paste,nasty. Every once in a while, one gets away from me :).While rooting around in the veg bin the next day, always a veritable treasure hunt,I found leeks I had forgotten about.Someone at work had given the Missus a copy of J. Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking to give to me, so I made a leek quiche on Tuesday, with a wee green s'lad.

Wednesday was a bad day at work and both our schedules were out of whack, so no cooking that night. My rehab support group dinner was held Thursday , a potluck dinner. I was responsible for making a meat dish, so I made a version of my mother's recipe for barbecue beans, which usually has a pound or so of ground beef in them. This was a cardiac group, so I used ground turkey instead, and it seemed to go well. There over 150 people (patients plus spouses or pals). Eating like that is interesting. It reminds me of the "dime a dip" church dinners my grandmother used to take us to in those long ago Vermont summers. Everyone brings their bestest dish to these occasions so one eats well. I had some tasty bites that night, and look forward to similar events later this year. I whittled down the tomato backlog on Friday, when I made baked shrimp with tomato and feta, served over orzo. Oregano from the deck planter was used in the dish. A dry riesling,rather than the previous sweeter 'reserve' riesling enjoyed earlier in the veg. challenge, accompanied.

Today, at market, in addition to the CSA, I manage to score a bug eatin' free range whole chicken for roasting. And more melons and 'maters.
*Photo looted from a church lady's blog.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Once more unto the beets! Wait, where'd they go?

Our half CSA share consisted of a bunch of basil,4 onions, a parsley bunch,3 tomatoes, a jalapeno pepper, a red pepper, a cucumber, swiss chard, and a lovely melon. We supplemented the yield with the following items: pasta (fettucine), lamb sausages with sage, a store bought roasted chicken (a bargain @ $3.99, plus it is still too hot to cook much inside), corn,and some prosciutto.

It continues to be hothothot, bad even for a Southern summer. The grass crunches underfoot. Our tomatoes, ostensibly watered by the neighbor kids, were not, so now are compost. I have been trying to serve light or grilled dinners to keep the heat down inside. This is what we had this week:

Saturday: Grilled lamb sausages, grilled corn on the cob. I left the silks and husks on two of the four ears, and husked the other two .I wanted to experiment with the caramelization of the natural sugars in the corn. I still prefer cooking them with the husks on: makes the air smell great. One ear was left over; I used it for Sunday, when we used the store bought chicken for our chicken tostadas. I put a base of fresh made guacamole on the tostada, put some chicken on that, then topped it with the salsa which included CSA tomatoes,onion, jalapeno,and the corn scraped from the cob saved from the previous evening. I was bad and made refried beans as a side, using the America's Test Kitchen recipe. Bad because it is all based on rendering salt pork, a staple here, makes my cardiologist do backflips. He would have approved of Monday's meal:I used a kilo of mussels, farm raised, tinier and sweeter than their wild cousins, on the fettucine. This and the previous recipe came from the latest issue of Cooking Light.

On Tuesday , I used some of the sweet melon, a couple ounces of prosciutto, and some baby spinach (subbing for the suddenly rare arugula) on 'bowtie' pasta, a nice light dinner for a hot Richmond evening. Felt like a wild man, so accompanied it with a Riesling Reserve, juuuust right. Wednesday, alas omysistersandbrothers, RR did not cook much, the Missus handled dinner.It was beans and hot dog casserole, though she did utilize a CSA onion and the red pepper. I could not leave well enough alone; prior to her arrival from work I made some fresh corn and basil cornbread to accompany. It is a good time of year to make this , with the ingredients so fresh and available: the recipe may be found on here. Thursday, RR dined alone, as the Missus had a work function to attend. I ate leftovers, or as Julia C. put it, 'feasting on remains'. You know me, dangerous when bored, so I used the CSA cuke and some tomatoes I bought at Olympus Farm on the way home from work to make gazpacho,using Jamie Oliver's recipe.We'll have that with the cornbread tonight. Years ago, we ate at one of Jose Andres' restaurants in DC, and I had the gazpacho. One of the best soups I ever had, it was a nigh on religious experience. Fresh, and one could taste each ingredient, unlike my poor muddy attempt. Something to strive for. Sublimity.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Please try not to touch"

Missus RR and I have returned from too short a trip to England, a re-visit of some areas for me, a fresh view for the Missus. We had a very pleasant dinner in Stratford-upon-Avon with Mr. and Mrs. BB. I was concerned, as we hit the ground with feet running. I expected my jet lagged self to jabber or otherwise do damage to the 'special relationship'. With the exception of one addled detail about AB's home town, it went well, and we had an excellent dinner and conversation.

A trip is more than landing on a grid coordinate. People, mixups, smells. Yeah, the smells first. The smell o'London today is better than 1973 in memory: less diesel these days. The Tube smells much the same, less smoke . Pubs are less smoky, trysting with Madame Nicotine outside is a swell worldwide tendency. Food was better than the first visit; I will have more details later. Clothes, menswear, still has a lean and hungry look: suits use less material than here,armholes are cut higher,yielding a narrower silhouette. Did see some sweet silhouettes: from the bus, a Spitfire, all primer, outside a hangar at a museum--there was also a Concorde on the runway. A Euro-fighter; a Meteor Mk 11 nightfighter, I swear; and a current RAF turbo trainer, black and zipping, over Windermere in formation. I was tedious about the Shorts plant there, I am sure.The title of today's update was lifted froma label on an exhibit at Wordsworth's cottage, so understated, bless their hearts. Lotsa sheep and,further north, Highland cattle. 23C, 72ish for us Fahrenheit users; rain in the 'drafty parallelogram' of RLS, Edinburgh. The Scots have been busy. Cookin' ,writin' and being good culcha' vulchas. Charlotte Sq. at the McDonald Roxburghe, we had a lovely oblong room, the doors and trim were curved. Daylight 'til late, we had dinner at The Tower, with a view of the rooftops of Edinburgh, St. Giles' spire stabbing the sky. Hit the Scottish National Gallery to look at some pictures, a lovely museum,perfect scale, a way station on the trek back to Charlotte Square.

More soon.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Mixed bag

A mixed bag today, much going on.

Firstly,my employer has taken the library's bookmobile off the road.A necessity, I am sure, given these fiscal times. For pure library service, there is nothing like loading up a 27 foot vehicle with books and extrovert staff ( a rarity in the field) and sending them out to the boonies to connect people and books. Our core service. I will have more on this topic later.

The veg challenge continues;unfortunately,dispatches will not be forthcoming for the next couple weeks while RR works on a highly anticipated project. He will have sketchy web access ; it will give us all a rest. Ditto the movie house of memory. I owe a screed on one of my all time fav-o-rites, The Wild Bunch. It deserves better than I can give to it at this time.

So: The Shebeen will be quiet for 2 weeks, good news to some. I leave it in the capable paws of Mr Finn, who most certainly does not blog. Talk to you soon.