Phew, it’s September 3rd and the garden is in full force! Corn is ready, swiss chard has been prolific, tomatoes are slowly coming along beets have been the sweetest ever and the green beans were fabulous and abundant! Not sure how to cook beets? Check out this recipe for roasted beets – d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s ! This year, Finn and I have been able to keep up with the squash bugs, so we have lots of buttercup squash growing! Yeah! And the flower beds have done well despite the japanese beetles trying their best… We’ve been enjoying swiss chard in just about everything and I’ve even found a great recipe for a home made puff pastry, so I’ve made a few of my swiss chard tarts this summer too. Recipe for pastry in a future post! Oh, I can’t forget my garlic! Wow. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to grow this simple and scrumptious bulb. Thank you Mim for giving me the garlic to plant and the encouragement! Store bought garlic pales in comparison to homegrown. Actually, there is no comparison. If you have space, at all, try planting garlic. While it’s not an expensive herb, it is a delicious and easy homegrown plant to try. Bonus, the scapes which come out in early summer… While school has begun, summer weather still abounds and there is still plenty to be harvested and enjoyed. Lettuce is growing again, spinach is planted and more beets and carrots are on their way…and some plants are also going to seed…gather, dry and save those seeds! Below are pansy seeds, which I started from store bought seeds, though this year will start from my own seeds. If you can’t or simply don’t garden, don’t forget to check out your local farmers markets – they are fabulous resources for fresh, organic fruits and veggies and they may cost a bit more than the supermaket, but not that much more and many accept food stamps too! What you may spend in dollars saves your health and supports your community. So do check them out! How does your garden grow? Anything exceptional this year? Anything troublesome? Happy gardening and eating! enjoy!
It’s time to make pesto!
What’s your favorite recipe for pesto?
So, as usual, I hadn’t really ‘planned’ dinner…I used to plan dinners, well, sort of… my idea of planning was and still is, to try and incorporate a new recipe every now and again – to help with the boringness of the ‘same old, same old’ – but now that I’m only home three nights a week, I tend to ‘wing it’ and simply use what I have on hand…sometimes it works, sometimes it’s still the ‘same old, same old’…but it’s always homemade, with love.
This night I was in need of a change, do you that know that feeling?
Our bodies need change, our minds need change, and our food prep habits need change…hence, how I ended up with this recipe…
I needed to use what I had (I live 25 minutes from the closest grocery store, one-way), and I wanted to utilize the abundance of fresh kale I had just picked from my backyard garden and I wanted comfort food.
So, guess what I came up with? Pasta with kale, dripping in alfredo sauce!
It was SO good.
I think all that cheese negated the health benefits of the kale, but such is life sometimes…
A few months ago (in the cold, dark of winter) I was wanting something rich, gooey, and comforting – I needed a recipe for an alfredo sauce. A simple sauce of cheese, milk/cream, roux and salt and pepper. Nothing else would do. I connected to the internet (yes, I still have dial-up and yes, it still exists, sadly…) and after awhile I came across this delicious and easy to make recipe. I made it, I loved it and I printed it to keep – and I’m so glad I did.
I hadn’t made it since the dark days of winter, but when your in the mood for a rich and decadent alfredo sauce and you live in the woods by the sea, well, you better know how to make it, or at least have a recipe to help you know how!
So, I looked in the fridge – yeah, all the ingredients were there! All I had to do was prep.
No simple feat as a mamma of a pre-schooler, but with a little help from Michael, my partner – he entertained our four year old, while I chopped, diced, whisked and then finally, assembled – dinner!
This recipe is so flexible, it’s ridiculous.
Here’s what you need and what to do;
Sautee any veggies you have – I used peppers, mushrooms and kale – in a bit of olive oil and set aside.
Boil water for pasta and begin cooking pasta just before you start making the alfredo sauce.
Prepare alfredo sauce.
Place cooked pasta on plate or bowl, top with alfredo, then veggies and voila, dinner is served! Finish with a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and serve alongside a salad of greens and a feast is served! Enjoy.
Slightly adapted from Jessica at Delicious Obsessions
1/2 tbsp. freshly minced garlic
1 -2 tbsp. flour of your choice (I used 1.5 tbsp. unbleached white)
3/4 cup whole milk*
3/4 cup heavy cream*
**(I substituted 1.5 cups half and half and 1/4 whole milk for heavy cream and milk measurements)
1.5 cups freshly shredded parmesan cheese
Kosher or sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
What to Do:
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.
Add garlic and saute until lightly browned.
Sprinkle the flour over the butter/garlic mixture and whisk around, quickly. You want to use enough flour to absorb the butter, without over doing it. You want to create a roux (which is a mixture of flour and a fat (usually butter) used to thicken sauces and soups), which is slightly thick, yet fluid, without being gloppy.
Whisk this mixture for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning…this helps remove the ‘raw’ taste the flour could have if undercooked. The flour should be very lightly browned.
After you’ve made your roux (cooked your flour), slowly add the milk and cream, all the while continuing to whisk. Keep whisking – or else your sauce will be clumpy – until it’s slightly thickened and gently bubbling…
While whisking, add the shredded parmesan, little by little, until all is incorporated.
Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Things to consider;
Don’t have kale? Use spinach or swiss chard.
Don’t have peppers? Use caramelized onions or summer squash.
What about garlic? Or garlic scapes? Or fresh basil? What about freshly chopped parsley?
Like meat? Add sausage or bacon.
Play around with what you have and keep it simple.
Veggies and cheese over pasta, how can you go wrong?
Time. It keeps moving forward…and here in Maine, it’s so obvious. Obvious because of the cycle of the seasons and the flowers (or lack of) each season brings.
After being here, year round these past six years, I’ve begun to notice the pattern of the flowers on this peninsula. First it’s the snow drops, then the tulips, followed by the daffodils, the apple blossoms, the ferns…the buttercups, forget me nots… and it goes on and on until the chill of fall begins putting things back to sleep…
I’ve been wanting to post since before the daffodils
and before the apple trees began to bud.
I then I tried before their blossoms appeared, though now those beautiful flowers are long gone…
I tried to write while the lilacs were still buds
and winter jackets were still needed, though while the jackets (thankfully) are finally packed away, the lilac flowers have come and gone too.
I can say the same about when the rosa rugosa started to bud; I wanted to post, but time escaped me, again…It was so exciting when their buds finally began to open and their greenery popped out in early spring,
though now they are even more intoxicating – their sweet scent being carried on the wind, into my (now) open kitchen windows…luxury, to say the least.
The lupines are here (though they are almost gone now too)
and the iris’s are blooming, though quickly passing.
Tiger lilies are beginning to bud and other types have already blossomed.
I look forward to my peonies, nasturtiums and morning glories…though realize they too will come and go. But, I’m not rushing, nor forgetting to appreciate the here and now! While spring may be ending, summer is just beginning!
So while the flowers, whichever they may be, are here, I will enjoy them. I will pick them, eat them (nasturtiums), give them away and decorate with them.
For me, late spring and all of summer is a time of freshly picked flowers in every room, freshly harvested vegetables from the backyard, and the hope that with the heat, comes a more slow pace, if only for a few weeks…
Flowers remind me just how fleeting life can be and how beautiful it is.
And don’t even get me started on all the loveliness in the vegetable garden, time goes quickly there too! If you don’t get your seeds/plants in on time, well, you miss out…
Here’s a sneak peek at what is happening back there!
I’ve never tried starting pansy’s from seed and this year I did! I’m so pleased that they are finally blooming!!
These sublime beauties are a cinch to prepare.
In years past I’ve grown and harvested many, many beets;
though last years erratic weather prevented an abundant crop, sadly, I had only a few…
so, off to the farmers market I go!
Wash, scrub (if necessary) and remove green tops. (Steam or saute greens with a bit of olive oil, don’t just throw those beauties away…)
I usually cut off the tops and tails of each beet. These beets I felt I needed to cut off a bit more than usual…if they are freshly harvested, I cut a much smaller area…
Dampen each beet slightly with a bit of water and then wrap in foil.
I prefer wrapping each beet individually, though you could also prepare a foil packet and roast a few together. The key to either preparation is to be sure the foil is sealed. You want to be sure to keep all those lovely juices in!
Length of time depends on the size and freshness of the beet. Smaller beets take less time, larger beets, more. Also, the fresher the beet, the less time is takes to roast…smaller beets can take up to 25 minutes, while larger ones, up to an hour.
A beet is roasted once it can be easily pierced with a fork or tip of a small knife.
Now, you ask, “At what temperature do you roast?” Well, this can also fluctuate…beets are flexible with temperature…so, feel free to roast your beets while the rest of dinner is baking away, or on their own…beets are happiest between between 325 degrees F. and 425 degrees F.
If it’s only beets your roasting, then place those lovelies in a 425 degree F pre-heated oven.
I usually roast them in my cast iron skillet, but any oven safe pan will do. The foil keeps all the steam in, thus, all the resulting juices too…making clean-up a snap!
Do be careful while opening each packet as juice may spill out…beautiful deep purple juice. Staining juice…
Once cooled enough to touch, peeling is so easy that the skins simply slip off. If you don’t mind having your hands stained a crimson red for awhile, then by all means, slide those skins off with your bare hands. If not, you may prefer using gloved hands or you can also use a paring knife. Granted, using a paring knife will not prevent staining, it’s just another method…
Regretfully, I do not have any photos depicting the ease of slipping off the skins…by the time each beet had cooled enough to hold, the sun had set. My natural light had disappeared…
But, the following day, the sun shone bright and I enjoyed these lovelies sliced and sprinkled with a smidgen of kosher salt as well as in a salad of fresh spinach, goat cheese and walnuts.
Simple. Easy. Delicious.
Why not roast a few today?
I’d never grown leeks before, but thought I’d try…and I’m so glad I did. Mass produced leeks lack, what all mass produced veggies lack, and that’s taste.
Backyard leeks are incredibly powerful,
Less is more with these beauties…
Not a gardener? Well then stop by your local farmers market and pick up a few…or your local health food store…or the organic produce aisle of your local supermarket.
The difference is incredible and well worth the expense…see for yourself.
Potato Leek Soup
1.5 lbs. potatoes
3/4 to 1 lb. leeks – chopped
1/2 onion – chopped
4-5 cups vegetable or chicken stock…whichever you prefer…
juice from 1-2 lemons
a couple tablespoons of butter
salt and pepper to taste
Here’s what to do;
First, wash and peel the potatoes, then chop.
Second, clean each leek, chop white parts only.
Peel and chop onion.
Splash enough olive oil to coat bottom of a heavy bottomed cook pot.
Heat over medium heat.
Add chopped onion and a bit of butter…
Saute until browned.
Add chopped leeks…
Toss in a bit more butter…don’t be afraid…
Saute for a few more minutes.
Add chopped potatoes.
Toss and coat with buttery, browned onions/leeks…
Add a bit more butter…
Pour in stock.
Add a good pinch of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir.
Finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice…
Cover and simmer for about an hour.
From here it’s up to you;
Do you prefer a pureed version of potato leek soup? If so, then mix potato and leeks in a blender, with a bit of stock…keep blending in small batches until desired consistency is met…add more salt and pepper to taste…
Or, if that’s not your style, why not enjoy it, as is…?
Utilize a hand mixer and puree only some…thus creating a smashed up soup, that’s what I did.
Whichever you choose…
Finish with ringlets of freshly chopped leeks (greenish part) and possibly even a splash of cream…
Serve with freshly baked bread.