This little yellowjacket didn’t want to budge from the base of a chimayo pepper, so I let her stay, happy to share sustenance. She won’t eat much, the pepper will ripen and soon join the harvest basket. Just a handful of yellow beans, jalapeños and a few other peppers this morning, but enough new arugula to make another batch of pesto. There are still loads of green tomatoes and unripe peppers to come, but with this cool spell everything has slowed down. I’m grateful for a rainy day predicted tomorrow. I’m through teaching on Thursdays for awhile, and love the prospect of an empty day in front of me to catch up in the kitchen, and hopefully to start a pet project on the computer that I’ve been procrastinating on for years. We’ll know more later!
I’ve read about cabbage steaks and finally decided to try some. I had a couple old pieces of sourdough bread, and plenty of chickpeas on hand, so I made this, and wow! Next time I’ll use less salt, but otherwise this was a delicious and healthy dinner. I burned most of the croutons but that was just as well, who needs the carbs. Chickpeas roasted to perfection, and the mild seasoning with cumin and coriander went well with the lemony mayo dressing. I chopped up the leftover roasted cabbage, grated a carrot into it, and put in the fridge for coleslaw for the week.
I’m grateful for the first Boyz Lunch in a month yesterday. All is well and we are reunited on the patio. “Three is good,” said one, but it may as well have been the other. I tried out a zucchini lasagna on them, and even though I thought it was too salty they loved it. I’m grateful that almost every dish I cook for them they rate in the Top Five. This zucchini lasagna was a blend of three recipes I found online. I sliced a large zucchini thinly with a cheese slicer and layered it with a faux-ricotta blend (substituting cream cheese when I found the ricotta had turned pink), last year’s tomato sauce simmered with browned sausage, and shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Three layers deep in the baking dish, with the top layer latticed, a delightful frill.
Sprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs and grated parmesan, then baked for half an hour, it was sizzling delight.
Boyz Lunch on Saturday with sourdough biscuits, then double dessert. I’m grateful for zucchini lunch. I served chocolate zucchini cake with Bello’s frozen cappuccino on the side. “All you have to do is…” he says every time. So simple, so delicious!
I’m grateful for Paula’s raspberries: I’m grateful for her friendship, and that she’s invited me to come pick at my leisure in summers past from her gorgeous organic patch. I’ve had a batch in the freezer for a couple of summers that I have picked away at, doling them out judiciously. But it was time to use the last of them all up at once, partly so they wouldn’t go useless and icky and partly to make space in the freezer for the harvest of my own efforts this summer. It occurred to me overnight to make a quick batch of jam with them, so that’s what I did this afternoon. I boiled equal parts raspberries and sugar for about five minutes and scooped out a some to strain for syrup. Then kept boiling the rest for another five minutes, and scooped it into a jar for jam.
I happened to strain the syrup into the martini shaker, which was the most convenient vessel at hand. So once I poured it into a jar I rinsed the shaker with gin and stuck it in the freezer for later. I’m grateful for ‘breakfast for dinner’ tonight, which I haven’t done in a very long time: two pieces of sourdough toast with butter and still-warm raspberry jam, and a raspberry martini with port instead of vermouth. This will not win me any points in my weight-loss challenge. I’m grateful for support in that endeavor, and I swear this will be the last time I eat two pieces of toast and jam for dinner, at least for a long time.
I can probably count on one finger the number of stuffed sweet peppers I’ve eaten in my life til this point. It just never appealed to me. But having my own homegrown crop of gorgeous sweet peppers, and wanting to save some for later, I looked up a few recipes, mixed and matched, and made a batch to freeze.
I used half a package of ground lamb in an insanely delicious eggplant curry this morning, and used the other half this afternoon in the pepper stuffing, along with rice, spices, and some of last year’s tomato sauce. Based on more reading, I cut the peppers lengthwise instead of cutting out the top, filled them with the mixture, and baked under foil. All but one I let cool and wrapped individually for freezing for a quick meal down the line. I topped one with cheese and reheated it tonight. The pepper was tender but still crunchy, the filling full of savory flavor. So simple, so delicious!
I’m grateful for sweet peppers and all the experience of other people who guided me to use them wisely today.
I’m grateful for a day filled with loving connections with friends old and new, from down the road to Hawaii to the east coast. I’m grateful for Zoom Cooking with Amy, Instagram Edition. Tonight we opted for simple and quick, and prepared two recipes we’ve seen on Instagram. We started by halving and scoring some small potatoes as the butter melted in a sheetpan in the oven. We grated parmesan and tossed in spices of our choosing, mixed those with the butter in the pan, then pressed the potatoes cut side down onto the yummy goo, and cooked for about half an hour at 425℉.
While the potatoes cooked, we of course mixed our martinis, and then chopped leeks into one-inch lengths, and seared them in butter.
I’m grateful for the patio where I hang out some afternoons in the shade. It’s nothing fancy, but it cools off in the afternoon, and there’s a whole lot of world to participate in when I’m out there. Often I read, so there’s that whole universe opened up by books, right there on the patio. And always, I look up and around often, especially when Wren alerts me to someone else’s presence. She’s so gentle about it. I hear her little body jump up from wherever she’s relaxing nearby, and run a few quiet steps to stand near my chaise, and I look up and follow her gaze. Today she was slowly wagging her curly tail at the Old Doe, who stood looking up from grazing in the flower bed. Beyond her, one of her spotted fawns browsed in the shady grove. Sadly, I saw this same fawn in the yard with her yesterday, but only the one… I worry that the other twin may have fed a lion. Oh well. Everybody’s gotta eat.
My kitchen project today was to begin fermenting the first batch of peppers. Five Aji Crystals, four Chimayos, an orange jalapeño, and the one ripe scorpion. I touched the end cap of one of each flavor to my tongue as I cut them up (wearing gloves), and my tongue tingled for an hour. The scorpion was my favorite, with a very distinct tropically fruity flavor along with its searing heat. And yes, that’s a carrot at the bottom. The recipe calls for garlic and shallots also, but I wanted to use only plants from my garden so I just included this carrot. Maybe I’ll add some garlic into later fermenting jars, and maybe I’ll mix them all together when it comes time to blend the final sauce; or maybe I’ll just make a bunch of different batches. We’ll know more later!
I’m so grateful for gardening. It’s a dream come true for me to grow my own food. Even though I don’t grow enough to sustain me and mine for a whole year, I am coming closer each season to putting up enough vegetables to get me through winter into spring–some of them anyway. I’m grateful for the beauty of the garden: the colors, the birds and insects it attracts and nurtures, the shapes and textures, the fleeting fragrances that float on the breeze, the subtle sounds and rhythms. And I’m grateful for the meaning and direction it gives me, and the deep connection to the earth, sky, and seasons.
I had fun this morning laying out the peppers I’ve harvested in the past week to get an idea of what I need to do with which of them when. A couple went right into a stir-fry for lunch, some went into the fridge to wait others which need a few more days ripening before I can start fermenting for hot sauce. Almost all the paprikas got sliced up for the drying rack.
A hearty lunch with all vegetables from the garden except the ginger, sliced chopped and fried with a little Penzey’s Bangkok seasoning and finished with soy sauce and Hoisin sauce, served over Basmati rice and garnished with roasted peanuts. So simple, so delicious!
What happens when I get a burst of inspiration to tidy up or reorganize is that I always lose something. Awhile ago I did a kitchen project in which I bought a few new shelf and drawer accessories, and really got the pantry and cabinets in order. Not long after that I was searching for the J&M granulated garlic refill that my neighbors produce for their marvelous garlic grinder. I was sure that I had a packet somewhere, but scoured my spice racks and drawers and couldn’t find it. Some weeks after that, I was searching for the Chaat Masala that my cousin had sent me last winter, and I knew that I had done something sensible with it when I reorganized, but it had vanished. It was reminiscent of Breadgate, but I didn’t get quite so attached to finding it. And a week after that–this morning–I opened a little flat drawer in a lower cabinet looking for something else, and voila! There were the missing spices. I had quite logically put the flat spice bags in there instead of trying to cram them into the racks with the bottles and boxes. I’m grateful for finding lost things, and for being able to laugh about it.
In other food news, all the string beans are tapering off production, while the paprika peppers continue to ripen. Lunch was a simple BLT wrap. Wren and Biko each got a green bean, but Biko turned up his beak and Wren ate them both.
I’m grateful for the joy of canning the first batch of salsa this season. I don’t know where I got the recipe, but I think it’s going to be delicious. Everything worked out so perfectly that I didn’t even get a taste: When I scooped the finished product into hot jars there wasn’t a drop left over.
After the meeting I was hungry, and decided to try a quarter recipe of Creamed Leeks and Eggs. It’s intended to be served on thick toast, but I’m trying to cut down on carbs. Ha! Or at least saving them for dessert. And besides, I used the last sourdough sandwich bread yesterday and haven’t baked more yet. So I served it in a bowl. O.M.G. It was so simple, and so delicious!