Verbena Blues

These colors are just beautiful!

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I needed to make a quick pie this morning as we were headed out to visit with my sons grandparents….ancient, I always take them a treat.  So, I did a one crust, fold over the top pie for them (and one for us….picnic along the way).  I made the 2/3 C. rye flour and 1/3 C. beer plus the normal stuff crust.  Blueberries & fresh lemon verbena.  Delicious.  Such a nice pie.  I used a one pie amount of ingredients and divided into two pies.  Perfect, not too large, we could eat half at one sitting and not feel terribly guilty – just a taste.

The visit was lovely.  I took a huge bouquet of fresh mint (those nursing homes totally stink).  The first thing they did was stick their noses way down in the greenery and just plain smell it up.  Poor things, stuck in that place with zip fresh air – it was like an oven in there.  As we walked down the hall absolutely everyone was asleep sitting up in their chairs or still in bed or whatever.  Sad.  We did have a lovely visit though – laughing, talking about their great grandchildren, our grandchildren….the generations just keep going.

Anyhow, after the visit we traveled north in New Hampshire (we were in Concord) to the Kangamangus Highway then crossed mountains.  It was a perfect day.  At the end we found a very sleepy town with an abandoned, wrecked gazebo which suited us for our picnic.  It was in the shade on a quiet street, lots of lawn around, breezes and really a cool, old wooden structure.  I could imagine the music it has heard!  Well, we left our memory of a Maine Blueberry pie being totally enjoyed by two people and a chocolate lab.  Heaven.

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Open House & Summery Foods

How about that!  I have a “fairy” that realizes “copy” is not my thing.  Yesterday I sent a very boring Invite to the above via e-mail and this is what she sent back to me.  Thank you Marlene.  Again.

So, come one, come all……I have so many food ideas in my head.  I’ve been catering three jobs in the past week – go figure, it’s been the hottest of the year also.  93 degrees the day before yesterday.  I took Luna off to be shaved at the dog store.  Funny, they have never shaved a Lab before – #7 blade, that’s all it is.  This is the third or fourth time she’s been shaved; once a year about now.  I started doing it because she is just so darn hot and I’m so bad about brushing she has this nappiness to her hair and seems wicked hot to me.

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she’s a happier camper now!  She will not go in the pool though (I know she wants to and I’ve encouraged her).  A visitor threw her in one night and freaked her out – that was all it took – no way will she go in.  Poor thing.  I’ve been really happy to have the pool.  All week I’ve been working on food in my bathing suit, jumping in, working in the kitchen, jumping in, back in the kitchen, on and on.  It’s been great.  I’ve gotten over the whole suit thing and don’t care who sees me now – I’m cool.  Although, it has been quiet and no one has been around.  Perhaps that’s the confidence builder.

Too hot to eat….I made what is called a Blueberry Colada Smoothie the other morning – taken from July Herb Companion:

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It was just so delicious I had to quick snap this picture of the remains we were drinking it down so fast.  Was it just too hot out?  Or was this just one fabulous flavor?  Amazing.

Pop in your blender:

1 C. Ice

2 Cups Strawberries with a squeeze of Agave

Large hand full of blueberries

1/2 C. coconut milk

1/2 C. orange juice

1 Banana

I changed the original recipe – they called for just blueberries & used pineapple juice, etc. but I went with what I had.  Very refreshing and cold, cold, cold.  The coconut milk adds a creaminess to it, very nice, good fat for you, etc.

Yesterday, in between baking cake and making Gazpacho I made a potato salad.  I was disappointed at first as the potatoes were organic yellow ones that seemed grainy, mushy.  The texture was “off” when I put it together but after sitting all afternoon chilling it sucked up the flavors and became awesome. Not mealy at all.

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The part that is, to me, unique is I used Lemon Verbena in it.  Lots!!!  It has the usual suspects…..boiled eggs, celery, wine vinegar, red onion, s&p, parsley, mayo. but then tossing in all that verbena took it to new heights.  The best yet, I would say.  So, thank you Ann Beattie for finding the Verbena for me.  I was searching everywhere with no luck – Ann popped in a couple of days after my lament with three or four plants she found at the Portsmouth Farmers Market.  Nice.

Not to bore you too much (with my Sally/Housewife tips) but while cruising through the Herb Companion I came across a cleaning liquid you make with lavender – perfect, I had all the ingredients and was getting tired of my Lemon/Vinegar cleaner.  This stuff is awesome and smells great.  Makes the sinks shiny, clean.

In a 16 oz. spray bottle:

2 Tbs. white vinegar

1 tsp. borax

Fill the bottle 3/4 full with hot water and shake well, add:

1/4 C. Lavender Castile soap (Dr. Bronners)

10 drops lavender essential oil

1 tsp. lemon juice

That’s it.  Borax you ask….I finally found it at the hardware store, Annie’s at York Corner.  I was looking for something non-toxic, industrial strength to add to my cosmic laundry detergent.  It works – I dump a scoop in to all the laundry now as a booster rather than use that Tide or whatever that stinks anyway.

O.K. off to cook a ton of shrimp and marinate in a wonderful herby, olive oil, red & yellow peppers  concoction I use from the Silver Palate to go with crusty french bread rounds for tonights event.  Geech I’m tired already.

Summer Lasagna

Cool days here!  It feels like Fall now….crisp air, breezy, etc. Summer salads just aren’t in my radar.  I decided to stock up on some red peppers & mushrooms and make a Lasagna (or two).  My lasagna is so simple:  grill whatever vegetables you like.

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If using spinach, as I did, just a quick dry grilling.  I also had two boxes of mushrooms.  Everything got dusted with olive oil, salt and pepper before grilling.

I spray my baking sheets, lay down some sauce, a few sheets of raw dry lasagna, all the veges and then more sauce, lasagna, sauce & cheese all over the top.  No eggs or ricotta.  I did use quite a bit of really nice oregano I got at the Italian Market in Portland a while back.  That’s it.  One for us and company – Rebbecca my herbalist friend and the other for the freezer for yet another freaky cold day.

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I love this dinner with a nice big green salad!  Just enough.

My friend Marcia just sent me this recipe.  Very cool.  Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 90.  I have the fruit.  I think I’ll make this in preparation for the HOT DAY.

 

Strawberry-Basil Lemonade Recipe

 

 

For the strawberry-basil syrup:

•1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

•1 cup water

•1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced 1/2 inch thick

•3/4 cup tightly packed basil leaves

For the lemonade:

•8 cups cold water

•2 cups lemon juice, chilled

•Ice

•1/2 pound strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced 1/2 inch thick, for garnish

•1/4 cup tightly packed, blemish-free basil leaves, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

For the strawberry-basil syrup:

 

Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Add the strawberries, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the strawberries have softened, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the basil leaves, and stir to incorporate. Cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl; discard the solids. Cover the syrup and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the lemonade:

 

Pour the water, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups of the strawberry-basil syrup into a 3-quart pitcher or punch bowl and stir to combine. Taste and add additional strawberry-basil syrup as needed. Add ice and garnish with the sliced strawberries and basil leaves.

 

Blueberry Goat Cheese Pie

Interesting!  I am still on the fence about this one but it’s growing on me.  I saw this online through so many links I can’t seem to get where it came from originally but – it was intriguing and I happened to have some goat cheese in the freezer and of course tons of blueberries.  We stock up on those every August while traveling back and forth to our boat in Blue Hill.  Really stock!

We had some friends over last night – really long time friends.  It’s amazing how all our old buddies just click.  So much fun.  I broke my alcohol fast for the evening and really enjoyed those two glasses of white wine also!  Yesterday I was up town talking with my friends at the Town Hall and in our discussion of alcohol abstention one of them said she stopped also about the same time as me but she gives herself permission to drink one night a week…..sounded good but then she said “I may have 7 glasses of wine on that night but it’s only once a week”.  Pretty funny.  I had two and after that fitful sleep I’m off again.  Bad stuff for my sleep patterns.  Anyhow, I wanted to make the pie so we could come back here and have dessert after the restaurant.  There is no way in hell I’ll pay from $8-14.00 for some crappy piece of dessert that I can do much better.  Desserts are horrible in restaurants these days.  It seems like everyone is buying those frozen deals….cakes, pies, tarts, even cream brulee.  Nasty.

Here’s the pie; in various stages from raw mix (see the basil?) to ready to go in the oven and then all that is left this morning, sliced!

 

My my isn’t that a rather LARGE picture.  I’ll have to work on that.

A bit blackened in the almond arena but I got busy and “missed it” on pulling it out before that happened.  Oooops.

The recipe:  the crust is a normal crust – whichever you prefer.

The insides: Mix in a bowl, as you see in the first photo:

5 Cups Blueberries

1/2 C. Brown sugar

1/4 C. flour

pinch of salt

1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil

1/2 C. Heavy Cream (I used 1/2 & 1/2)

1 egg

Crumble in 1/2 C. of goat cheese

That’s it….toss well, load in pie.

Topping:

1 C. sliced almonds

1/2 C. sugar

1/3 C. melted butter

Cover the top of the pie, bake at 400 for about 30-45 minutes.  I wait till I see the blueberries bubbling (could explain those burned almonds).

All four of us approached this tentatively – you know how that goat cheese kinda smells funny sometimes….well we persevered and it actually got better with each bite and everyone decided it is a dam good pie.  Final words:  Great!  I’d make that again.

I did find the name of the person who this originated from Moira Sommers.  So thanks Moira.

Next learning curve….figure out how to get that do jiggy up so you can just print the recipe.

 

 

Dream Bars

What smells!  Ramping up for catering around here.  Yesterday on a cold, blustery, icky, rainy day I decided to get the jump on things and make the dream bars for an Event coming up.  It takes a bunch of steps, all done by hand so the kitchen is always a big mess after this one.  But, well worth it.  This combo is nice.  I believe I told this story last year but here you go again……an employee of mine, Amanda, came into work and told me about a dream of hers; plopping chocolate chip cookie dough on top of brown dough.  Hence, Amanda’s Dream Bars were invented.  I’m sure not the first but the memorable part for me is she didn’t want the customers (especially guys) to know this is what she dreams about when she felt she probably ought to be dreaming about sex.  She was 24 or 5 at the time, maybe younger.

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Marj loves this stuff raw.  I gave Marj the best birthday present ever last year – a container of raw chocolate chip cookie dough.  Go figure.  It’s the small stuff.  Lovely day out – later if I have time I hope to make a blueberry & goats cheese pie w/crumb topping.  I saw it on the web the other day and thought, hummmmmmm.

Reblogged post

I wanted to share this one as it’s an old favorite. 

Roasted Tomatoes & Garlic

We love this stuff.  I’m not sure if the reason is because when I make this I also make tons of french bread (James Beard of course) to soak it up and then we invite friends over to share all this food and that’s fun too.  It kinda all goes together.  Tonight is the night.  I woke up this morning to a snow squall.  I thought “all is lost”, what can we do?  So, looking at my tomatoes & garlic on the kitchen counter that I had roasted yesterday…thinking blues….ah, we can have a “winter blues” party….blues music, blueberry pies.  o.k. we’ve got music, dessert, appetizers what’s in between?  Not sure on that one yet – a few possibilities; homemade fish tacos are always the way to go but then Rancho Gordo had a baked bean recipe (haven’t had those in years) and I do have assorted chicken sausages on hand and a ton of kale which could become either a salad or something sauteed.  Hummmm…. These pictures will show you pre roasted tomatoes & garlic then the most fabulous way to eat them – sitting there on top of an egg salad sandwich.  I’ve been buying fresh eggs from The Three G Farm in York – Our knit shop; The Yarn Sellar; is owned by Carrie McKie who has another life as a farm girl with goats, chickens, pets and family and great fresh eggs 3 bucks! Nothing like them.  Garlic/basil/olive oil; little of this and that.  Incredible taste.  Barefoot Contessa; Back to Basics is the place to find this recipe or write me.  Have a nice week-end.

Chicken Chili & Georgeous Blues Warp

I was writing about those goofy things that inspire me (but, I lost the post)…..never know where it’s coming from but then, you get an idea, and wham….we’re off.  For me it was Chicken Chili which happened out of buying a dollar bag of pintos from the Dollar Store.  I have only been in one once before but I was on the hunt for Shooter cups for some Gazpacho I’m serving at a catering event this week-end.  I found them and all sorts of other cool things – to the tune of $27.00 – who would think?  $27. is a fortune for that type of store – a regular shopper, I was.  I brought those pintos home, soaked them overnight, and cooked them in the a.m.

This was fun.  I had some thawed boneless, skinless chicken thighs – just three.  I chunked those and started sauteing with some flour, salt & pepper.  When almost done I added that to the cooked pinto beans that I placed in my crockpot.  Then while the saute pan was hot I cooked up a bag of frozen peppers and onions from Trader Joe’s (they advertise it as grilled), added some chicken stock, lots of chili powder, a can of green chilis and the chipolte hot sauce.  Cooked on low for about 6 hrs.  Fini, delish.

Oh, yes, I can see I also added some whole plum tomatoes & juice from a previously opened can in the fridge.  I love making stuff this way – tweaking it here and there and the love of having it all ready at dinner time.  I’m so used to being busy with kitchen stuff from 4:00 on; it’s a treat to be able to do other things until we decide it’s time to eat…..there is a vast amount of useful time between 4 & 7.

My useful time was spent winding some warp.  More blues, 100% bamboo this time.  Dish towels probably – again an 8 yard warp.

These posts are a bit choppy, I do apologize but I am learning this whole new space.  It will work eventually. What a stupid spell check on this program – it suggested a hyphen between love and making when I was talking about enjoying making food this way.  Hello?

Okay now this will be a reach.  I have a number of friends who are really interested in birds.  While reading the paper this morning I came across a very interesting article on Dousing Lights to Save Birds.  We loose 6.8 million birds a year from Communication Towers when that number could be cut to pretty much zip if they would just shut off the constant red light – keep the blinking one for planes, etc. but the red tower light is what is killing the birds.  Apparently they fly to it and go around and round until they die of exhaustion.  Weird.  But, lets turn off the darn light.  The article says it would not be a hazard at all to shut it off.  You can read the whole thing here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303296604577454570627297882.html?KEYWORDS=Dousing+Lights+to+Save+Birds