I spent a good part of my morning yesterday with the Twinkle.  A few weeks ago as I was on my walk with Luna I came across some stuff a woman was throwing out.  A great scoop and two pots.  I was concerned about the pots as they were really nice so I knocked on the door and inquired as to whether she really wanted to throw them away.  Yes indeed.  Off I went.  She came to my door the other day with more and the lids.  She thought it was nice that I asked first.  SCORE.  I love these pots.  They cook quickly though, it’s a learning curve for me.  So, I thought I would clean them up. 

They are beautiful (they could use more work but I got really bored, like about two seconds into it, Sally Housewife I’m not).  But, I have to say, I liked them the tarnished way better….more me.  These are kinda brite and actually remind me of my mother in law who was obsessed with cleanliness and had a cleaning lady doing this sort of stuff all the time.  Something I just did not understand.  Paul tells me they will get back to their original patina soon.  Whew.  Otherwise I’d be putting them out by the road.  Funny how we all are, the neighbor person couldn’t stand the tarnish and I don’t like the shine. 

In the morning I took these pictures of the work Paul is doing.  He’s such a smarty pants and I constantly marvel at the words for these various pieces of wood.  And, I am fascinated, still, at how this massive stuff goes together.

Here’s the technical part:  They thought these pieces of wood – which did come from the ponds in Boston where the trees were thrown from the Constitution and other boats being built, 200+ years ago.  Anyhow they said it was live oak, Quercus Alba, which is normally from Georgia.  Paul thinks they are Hackmatack, i.e. Eastern Larch, i.e. Larix Laricina (now really, who has those names rattling around in their head?)  He says they are tamarack, a deciduous conifer from Nova Scotia.  “The grain doesn’t seem like live oak.  Live oak is a darker color and more interlocked with a cross hatching.  Hackmatack is totally rot resistant which is just about right for the use.”

And now these little beauties are little knees that will tie the intermediate frames into the bottom of the boat.  “It’s going to be a wall of oak by the time they’re done”.  I think they will continue to call it oak as it’s easier to say than all that other stuff.

Moving along to dinner time.  We had one of our easy chicken things.  I know the picture looks like peas but if you knew me…..no way!  They are capers. 

This is super fast, easy and yummy.  Pan saute chicken thighs in a small amount of olive oil, hit with some bread crumbs and salt & pepper as you flip them.  After a few minutes of browning squeeze lemon juice all over them, cook down a second or two, squeeze chicken stock over them, add a hefty amount of capers and cook a few minutes, adding more stock if you want more “sauce”.  Because of the crumbs you get a nice thick gravy.  It’s awesome, tender, lemony, flavor.  You can adjust the flavor by adding white wine instead of chicken stock.  Forget using red wine, it turns all purpley, the color is gross. 

I use this exact same method for fish.  Which, today happens to be fish day for us.  4 lbs. of whatever.  I have been saving some of it each week and popping it in the freezer for a most awesome fish pie.  I’m not sure what that is going to be like as I have never made one but I have a vision in my head of what I think it should look like so I think I can figure it out.  You will see.

The newspaper under the chicken was delivered yesterday afternoon.  The owner of the paper drives it all over the Seacoast.  He was so excited about the lobster boat races he came at me spewing the BIG STORY.  I don’t get it…..all that fuel just for a bunch of racing around.  It’s a different world up here!  And, the stories that go with it….I won’t be attending.

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Fini….both catering jobs are finished.  I feel good!  It’s amazing how much work that is – a ton of it is in my head but still it’s work.  The evening one was an eclectic mix of things.  It was for noshing from 7-11 p.m. a young group.  The hostess loves stuffed eggs, me too!  I forget how much fun they are to eat, not your everyday fare.  Spicy quesadillas too, weird combo but tasty.

Had to have cake balls.

I wish this picture had come out better.  It was the color I was trying to capture.  The melon was the prettiest tangerine color, very subtle but really stunning.  It’s supposed to be watermelon but it must have been pretty darn close to something else.

My morning today started out with driving Paul to work so I took this shot while I was there.  6:30 a.m. Love that morning sunshine and the stillness.

Luna and I got off for a really early walk when we got back home…perfect time of day!  I tried to tape the bird sounds with my phone.  Actually, I did tape them I just haven’t figured out how to transfer them here.  Wicked peaceful.  This view up the York River and is tidal so always changing; always takes my breath away.  Those woods to the left of the river are where we walk.

More cobblers this afternoon and some madeleines with the leftover cake.  I traded fresh eggs for cobblers this afternoon with my neighbor. We are both delighted with this bartering situation. It’s a win/win. This cake is a lemon cake with the lemon balm.  I love that green fleck in it.  It seems so fresh.

I could not resist posting this picture:

These are the girls I have been sewing for, my grand-babies.  This is such a classic!  My son & family are off camping in Oregon for a week.  They couldn’t get the girls to nap so they rode out with their baby bike trailer towed on back.  Jesse says it’s a “sure thing”.  Well, apparently Miss Colbie (the awake one), discovered when she awoke that her sister was leaning on her.  She did not appreciate that a bit.  What a major insult…icky, eeewww, get her the heck off me.  Ah, it starts so young.  You know they do spend so much time together….give me some space, man!

My friend Patti came over last night for dinner and a sleep over on her way to Boston.  We have known each other and been best buds since we were around 12.  She is the person I always travel with on these holidays….so much fun.  We had a typical Jersey Fest with dinner last night:

An appetizer – Green Sicilian olives and sweet pizza, cold!

We had more of the fresh flounder….we didn’t even plate it, just sat at the counter and ate off the same plate as it came out of the pan.  How many people do you know you would eat dinner with that way?  Saves on dishes.  I did indulge in each having our own forks.  An hour later my husband came home and finished off the plate with one of our forks…oh well, a wanabe New Jerseyite.

I bought some great butternut squash ravioli’s; after boiling I put them in the new copper saute pan I acquired by the side of the road, poured in some ½ & ½ & fresh sage from my garden.

Yesterday I started the cheesy gooey apps. for this Saturday:  It’s a fondue in a pot, you roll some french bread cubes around it and freeze.

So deadly, comprised of: cream cheese, butter, cheddar, shallots, garlic and a squeeze of hot sauce.

This is prior to freezing.  After a few hours of freezing you lift them off the sheets & put in ziplocs….off you go to the party, pop them in the oven kinda spaced like this till they are crispy and bubbly.  Eat them all and hope no one realizes you were supposed to serve them! 

Son Paul was over today working so I whipped up this smokey/chili rubbed corn:

I used the corn in a fresh flour tortilla w/cheese & jalapenos and some chicken I had roasted the other night.  Folded the top over and WALLAH, yummy lunch.  (I’m making these for tomorrow nights party also, minus the chicken).

I was so bummed about the corn thing.  I lugged the tank of my grill off to be loaded yesterday at that big box store – you know, the one you have to wait a million years for anyone to fill it and then it’s a big friggin deal to pay for it separate from your groceries.  It’s such an ordeal.  I hate it.  Well, today after soaking the corn, husks & all in a tub in the sink for an hour; I tried to start up the grill.  No go.  So disappointed.  I love the corn grilled like that – you just pop the whole thing on, turn, turn, turn then peel back the husk and you have absolutely perfectly cooked corn.  Could not be easier.  The trick is to make sure you soak it in cold water at least one hour.  So, I peeled off the wet stuff and popped it under the broiler with olive oil and chili powder.  It’s good but not like outside good.

Gag me, I have to go downstairs now and make Chicken Salad w/Mango Chutney for a friends funeral tomorrow.  The gag me part is we made 20 pounds at least of this stuff daily at the cafe.  We made two gallons of Chutney a week.  A huge seller.  But, the smell of simmering chicken and the act of cutting, mixing in the mayo., rolling in those grapes…wholly mackerel it’s all I can do to muster myself into action.  I’ve made waaaaay too much of this stuff in my life.  Why you may ask am I doing it….a request from my friends husband who said she loved it!  Darn.

Interesting day.  The box left and as I was wrapping it in a wine case “Cigar Box Malbec” check out the bottom – what is this about?  Doesn’t seem friendly to me!

I scored on my walk.  A neighbor was throwing out all sorts of stuff – everyone is trying to move around here.  Besides the copper pans with stainless steel cook-top part there was this:  I love these, I use them for scooping doughs, etc.  But none are as beautiful as this one or as perfectly functional.

The details are amazing, so well constructed.  The instrumentation of this small tool is really cool.

A clevis pin no less!

So is this the 31st. one or is #31 the size?  A beauty: this one goes in the flower pot with my grandmothers wooden potato masher.

A bit of baking in the a.m. As my sons father-in-law, Bob would say, “that’s what I’m talking about”, chocolate.  See those little black specs….that’s ground Italian coffee.

Late afternoon I went to pick up our weekly share of fresh fish.  This week it is Flounder, 4 pounds.  Yum.  I pick up the fish from a van in a parking lot and while there I decided to scope out the farm stand.  Glad I did.

These were first of the season for us…how incredible.  Each year I forget how phenomenal these taste just off the vine.  There is nothing like it. 

When I got home I popped these out of the freezer – another cool find.  These are at Trader Joe’s, just as you see them, cooked then frozen.  Are those stripes fake?   A caterer’s dream.  I thaw them and serve with a curried yogurt dip.  But, last night I slightly pan sauteed them to go with the fish and fresh strawberries.

As I was preparing dinner Mr. Paul, that famous guy I live with, whose head is getting waaaaay too big these days was being interviewed yet again for a few Newspapers.  Cripes.  I ask you, what is the big deal?  A boatbuilder, so what.  But anyhow the reporter asked him if I grew Orchids for a living.  What?

We never really notice these until someone points them out.  They are beautiful.  I particularly love this last one, white.  It is so creamy up close and has a crispness to it.  A customer of Paul’s, Sid Imes, gave it to me for my birthday one year – or rather his secretary had it sent and it just keeps on giving.  I don’t know how many times a year they bloom but they seem to do it quite frequently.  We never seem to be without blossoms.  And, everybody does it at the same time.  Even when they are in bud state they are beautiful.

They remind me of a terrific book I read years ago – The Orchid Thief.  Great true story about the bromeliads and florida history.  Fun book.

I should have some cool pictures for tomorrow as today I’m hitting a food store, a fabric store, an old cookbook store and my big time FAV the Italian market for some Sicilian pizza!  yea!  (a real fatso situation approaching).

Yesterday was a pretty darn relaxing day…I loved it.  I either work really hard or relax really hard, doesn’t seem to be that middle point of flow anymore.  But, the things I see:

This is the field Luna and I usually walk, every single day.  But, we’ve been confined to the road right now…back and forth, back and forth, 12 laps makes three miles.  I’m o.k. with that as my mind completely drifts and there are lots of birds to see and hear, frogs and as you may have seen a bit back – snappers!  But, this field is ripe with ticks right now so we don’t go there.  The wildflowers are remarkable.  There are so many different kinds going on all over the place.  I suppose it just depends on who is flying over and what they drop from where.  It’s pretty terrific to see this new each year.  I have been walking here for 33 years now, just about every day and I never get bored with it.  When my mother was alive I used to bring her down here and park her wheelchair while I walked – she didn’t get bored and she was a grumpy person.  She’d mellow right out and have a look of “two glasses of wine” on her face when I’d wheel her back.  It’s magical. 

After futzing at home for a bit I went up to Wells Beach to walk with a long time “away” friend.  Lovely, entirely different type of beach than here and it’s only 10 miles difference.  We saw this jelly fish.

I wish I had taken some pictures of the rocks….the tide was so strong that it pulled the rocks (the size you see here) all into rows leading to the water.  It was pretty amazing; like strings of beads heading into the water.  I wonder what made them get in line, why didn’t they just bubble down to the water all scattered?  Another marvel of nature I suppose.  I’m grateful I get to see this stuff or take the time to see it.

O.K. this is it….last picture of dresses.  I made this one yesterday and I swear they are going into a box and shipping out to the girls today, I promise.  I had told Colbie (the 3.5 year old) I was shipping it on Wednesday and she said “why not Tuesday” what a smart little bugger.  But, they are off RV camping for the week and won’t be home to get the BOX so Wednesday it is. 

Back to the food thing today…shopping for ingredients, trying not to make the same old thing for these various parties I am scheduled for.  It’s a dilema; people ask for the same thing they had at a function somewhere else and have no regard for the fact that I am sick to death of most of it.  Just kidding.  My wait staff now grill me on what we’re serving at which party and tell me their favorites and dreams of what I’ll make for “their function”.  They remind me of kids wondering if mom is going to make chocolate chip cookies when they get home from school.  Speaking of:  I’m making dream bars today Marj.  cookie dough!

Catering, continued

Here we are, a continuation of the previous post.  I’m a bit dysfunctional with the computer today.

This beef is a tenderloin.  I made a horseradish cream for spreading on the bread.  The cream is usually made from sour cream & yogurt then I add a ton of horseradish.  We garnished with some of the pesto torta I had brought.  That recipe was back a few.  I like this meat as it’s substantial yet the bite is like butter….very tender.  And, for once I looked up the temperature that it should cook at (135 for medium rare) and I pulled it, perfect!

Yesterday I was reading my friend Marj’s post, Cowgirl Goods.  She just loves iced coffee so she sent us to Pioneer Woman’s post…boy, this posting stuff can take you everywhere now.  Anyhow, I love ice coffee too.  I suggest going to Pioneer Woman and check out her drinks section.  She’s waaay ahead of me and posts really nice format recipes, etc.  I made coffee her way – yum.

In a nutshell you take a pound of ground coffee, cover it with 8 qts. of COLD water, let it sit overnight, strain through cheesecloth and keep in fridge.  I’m drinking one now.  I like this method better than brewing it hot and letting it cool.  I made a half batch and have what you see in my photo.

Now I have to deal with this icky stuff.  The grounds are good, they will go in my compost pile but the cheesecloth I’m going to have to do magic with as I use it for my cheesemaking.

Yesterday afternoon I was speaking with my daughter Ruth and she told me about a fabulous salad her husband Matt had made for company this past week-end.  Had to have it!  I then spoke with him about it.  He grilled some olive oil spread baguette slices then tossed with fresh tomatoes, haloumi (feta here in Maine, but they live in New York so they have the real thing, haloumi) basil, vinaigrette and I don’t know what else.  I made pretty much the same thing but I also had a ton of fresh arugula growing in the garden so I added that with the basil.  We put it together just as dinner was happening….fresh, crunchy, slightly charred.  IT WAS AWESOME.

My good friend Carol was here who has a Doctorate in Nutrition and teaches at LSU so I was excited to come up healthy food groups for dinner last night.  Although when our kids were little together she used to suggest hot dogs occasionally and I’d think….wait a minute….

catering

It’s been awhile since I’ve been here and believe me it was a major struggle to get here today.  Sometimes this computer knowledge is so far beyond me.  I usually use Firefox to get into my bookmarks but today it kept telling me I was in offline mode – dammed if I could find out how to click that off.  Now I’m so frustrated with trying to find that…..oh well.  I found another way in and I guess that’s about all that matters at this point.  Hackers, how do they find the patience????

I am finally on “the other side” of a catering gig I had been planning for a few weeks, whew!  It went off beautifully with the most amazingly beautiful day.  The party was on a one home small island off Portsmouth so everyone was brought in by a very small boat.  It was fun seeing and hearing all this laughter coming across the waterway.  The boat only carries 8 at a time so it was a slow process as the party was for 50.  But, I was working in a beautiful kitchen overlooking the whole deal – very neat.  This home had lots of trees, flowers, etc. so the view of the city was obscured but you could see the waterway through the leaves, etc.  Very nice.  A huge squall came up but somehow went around the island.  Tremendous wind yet we had sun and crazy clouds all around but just for a moment.  I had forgotten my camera so Gina had taken photos for me….

First up:  Lobster dressed with cider vinegar instead of the usual suspect of mayonnaise.  I had read in Maine Magazine that the Islanders never had dairy yet everyone had cider vinegar because most people canned for the winter.  Sounded good to me, weird, but good.  I liked it.  It’s different; it really does bring out the flavor of lobster instead of that sweetness of mayonnaise.  I did spread the french bread with soft butter just to make the lobster stick.

Another usual suspect: crab cakes.  We served these with tamari/ginger sauce.  For the crab cakes I use just a few eggs, bread crumbs and my spicy seasoning mix.  These are nice but I forgot to take canola oil for frying.  I only had olive oil and I think it makes for a greasier fry….note to self: try and remember the canola oil next time!

o.k. now this downloading photos has crapped out.  I’ll start over with a new post for the rest of the story…….