Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week!


It's banned books week, yo! How are you sticking it to the man by reading a book? Lately I've (unintentionally) read a few books that are frequently banned - the entire work of JD Salinger and a lovely little book of prose poetry called What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones. For book club, we intentionally choose a banned book: The Satanic Diaries by Rushdie.

ABFFE's Banned and Challenged Book List

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No! It can't be! ... more tomatoes?

With the rest of our green tomatoes, we made Italian Farmhouse Green Tomato Pickle (recipe via The Splendid Table, an absolutely fabulous radio show with Lynne Rossetto Kasper. I highly recommend the pod cast.)

It's incredibly easy to make. One night you cut the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, then let it sweat it out in the fridge all night. The next night, dice up garlic, sun-dried tomatoes (which I made myself! OMG!), a few herbs and a pepper (from our own garden!), cover the whole mess with vinegar and then.... wait. The Splendid Table recipe is for canning, but we just put ours in a jar in the fridge. I know it'll be fine because it's covered in vinegar and we'll eat it soon. I have to wait four days for it to marinate, but... it looks pretty darn good. The whole thing took about a half hour's work!

Monday, September 27, 2010

More tomatoes?

It's starting to get cold in this area, so we pulled the rest of the tomatoes off the vines, including the green ones.

In previous years, we tried to follow our grandmothers' advice and wrap the green tomatoes in newspaper, snuggle in a box, and put in a cool, dark place. Supposedly the tomatoes will ripen, we were told, and we'd magically have red tomatoes when we expected them the least. What really happens is, you put the tomatoes in the basement, promptly forget about them, and then what you have is a box full of mold when you least expect it.

This year I decided to try a few recipes instead. I'm not a big fan of fried green tomatoes, so the first thing I made was Green Tomato Bread. It's kind of like zucchini bread, but tastes a little crisper. It was delicious! I took a loaf to my office and everyone raved. Very easy to make. Here's a pick of the green tomatoes all chopped up - you just squeeze the liquid out and mix in the dough. Nice and cinnamon-y - I'd highly suggest this if you have some green tomatoes to use up. Recipe via Cooking with Michele.

I also made slow-roasted tomatoes with the smallest tomatoes - you just cut them in half, throw them on a pan on parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and roast them in the oven at 275 for a loooooooong time. We had ours in there for about 6 hrs. Tasted one tonight - like pure heaven! Recipe via Smitten Kitchen (she has gorgeous photos so I didn't bother.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I am not a robot

I'm really into this song right now.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

12 years!

This weekend we went to Indiana for the funeral of a dear family friend. Like when my Grandpa died a few years ago, grief is also accompanied by joy (a birth), and celebration (our wedding anniversary.) Life, it's proved, is cyclical. I read this poem today by Thich Nhat Hanh that goes, in part:

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

I still need to contemplate that for a good long time.

Today M & I celebrate 12 years of marriage. Am luckiest girl in the world. You know me, I like to spread out my celebrating, so next month we'll be in France. Il n'y a qu'un bonheur dans la vie, c'est d'aimer et d'être aimé. Here's the view from our hotel:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekend in Review

Well, last week was a doozy, what with the surprise birth of C&D's baby (name: D.I.) and the beginning of our chaotic period at work. I made several trips to the hospital to admire baby and otherwise spent a lot of time trying to hold my head on straight. Weekend came non-too-soon. Friday night - book club - very fun; Sat.: shopping for a bathroom vanity, which we did NOT buy but had a pretty good time looking around. I kind of want this

But I also like this:

(Upstairs bathroom for those in the know.) What do you think?

M & I have been listening to Coffee Break French podcast to pick up some lang. skills in advance of our trip next month. We can ask each other how we are and introduce ourselves to each other as our own husband and wife. V. handy. Last night we watched Tell No One, a rather interesting and amusing French film from 2006 (despite ridick convoluted plot.)

Today we went to Renegade Craft Fair, which was fun but INSANELY crowded, and I got kind of creeped out by the crowd (as I'm wont to do) and had to split. But, not before I got some super-cute stuff, like:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

for mom

Friday, September 10, 2010

Canning!

Quite overwhelmed by the output from our tomato garden, we finally took the plunge to give canning a try! We did twelve half-pint jars (mostly because we don't have a gigantic pot big enough for pint jars), and it was really fun, and our cans are beautiful. When we crack open those jars in the middle of winter and taste the tomatoes from our own garden, I can tell you... we are going to be extremely SMUG.

Tales of long hours spent over the stove, I can tell you, are overdone. We did all the work in about 2 hrs, and then waiting patiently while the jars boil in the pot. Basically, you just boil the jars to make sure they're squeaky-clean, then you blanche the tomatoes to slip off the skins, then you stuff the tomatoes in the jars, then you put the lids on and boil them again.

If you're interested in trying it, I mostly used these two sites:
Martha Stewart, which is kind of basic, and this one, which had more details.

One of the most exciting aspects of canning was discovering just why one of our heirloom varieties was called Amish Pink and Yellow. Here you can see an average haul from our garden, where the orange Amish Pink and Yellow are virtually indistinguishable fro Betty's Orange (an orange tomato from M's Gran's friend Betty, you see.)

When canned, we saw this lovely (wait for it) pink and yellow emerge!

Anyone else canning? I'd be interested to hear what you've made!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Pesto

We had two big bushes of basil in the garden and used it liberally all summer in our bruschetta and other meals, but there's PLENTY left over for lots of pesto.

I think pesto comes down to personal taste, I like mine fairly course with lots of olive oil, but you might like yours smooth with less pine nuts or what have you. Anywho, the key is, first grind the pine nuts, then toss in the basil leaves and absolutely smother in olive oil, then toss it in little containers and put the whole mess in the freezer and be smug all winter. Note: don't include Parmesan at this stage (because it doesn't freeze well), but do put some in when you thaw it out.




I like to put it on crostini!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Freezer Pickles

M's Gran gave us her recipe for Freezer Pickles several years ago after observing us gobble them down on many occasions. They're sweet pickles (not quite like Bread and Butter) and I LOVE putting a pile of them (or an extravagant bowlful) out at parties.

They're very easy to make, except for this one bit where you put the pickles in a big pot and pour bowling water over them for three days. That's kind of a pain, and we're giving some thought to NOT doing that bit next year (what's the worst that could happen???) Other than that, it honestly doesn't take that long and they're soooooooo good.

Wash about 6 cucumbers, 6-8 inches long and put them in a big pan. Boil water and pour over cucumbers, next day, drain and repeat Xs three.

4th day, rinse and thinly slice. Mix the following and bring to a boil:
1 1/2 C Cider Vineger
2 1/2 C Water
6 C Sugar
1 T Salt
1 T Pickling Spice

Add cucumber spices and bring to a full rolling boil for 20-25 mins. Let stand and cool and then pack in containers. Put in fridge, then freezer when cold.



I made this label for the pickles - *I* think it's really cute...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

This week! More adventures in Food Stuffs

This week: Adventures in Food Stuffs - stay tuned for "Freezer Pickles", Pesto, and Canned Tomatoes!