Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thank You, Burpee

You know, one of the great problems with spring planting is how little and harmless plants look, so it's terribly easy to over-plant.  Luckily, Burpee has solved this problem.
Rather than foolishly allowing gardeners to plant an entire row of flowers, Burpee's "Signature Series" seeds keep gardeners in moderation by providing no more than NINE seeds per packet.  Nine.  I counted, just to make sure.  Whew, just overwhelmed by this one......

Friday, May 23, 2014

'Tis the Season...........

It's a little-known fact, but Memorial weekend is also the traditional start of "Weird Vegetable Season."

Monday, May 19, 2014

I Made A Bloomer!

A poppy-seed one, to be exact:
And what makes this a "bloomer" seems to be the shape and that there are several trying-to-be parallel slashes across the top. 

I have to say, this recipe experiment has a lot of perks.  Fresh bread anyone?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Spreadable Sandwich Project......

So with 365 recipes, not everything is going to be elaborate. After the Brown Butter Avocado Scramble, I got out this:
It's a reproduction of the original Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer.  Joy of Cooking has been repeatedly updated, and I have a couple versions, but the original is hard to come by, and is a real period piece in America.  Published in 1931, it reflects the period of American food before the post-war processed food movement exploded, and also reflects a budget-consciousness that one doesn't often see in American cookbooks.  1931 is, of course, during the Great Depression, but there were many recessions before and after that, and the Gilded Age didn't touch all Americans--especially those who were immigrants or non-whites--so working within a budget seems to have been just a fact of life for most people.  1931 also predates the widespread acceptance of ethnic food in America, so it answers the question "How on earth does one cook without garlic?" which is something hard for me to even imagine. My grandmother was a wonderful cook, but I'm not even sure she would have seen a garlic bulb or fresh basil.  Personally, without herbs and garlic, I'm not sure I would know how to cook anything, so I think I can learn a few things from this book.  First up:
ham sandwich appetizers.  I am not a big fan of mayonnaise, so I was thrilled to find a sandwich recipe that didn't use it.  Putting meat in a food processor is sort of a new experience for me,
and including 4 hard-boiled eggs made it even stranger.  Luckily,
it calls for mustard, pickles, and enough vinegar to achieve a "spreadable consistency,"
which I'm guessing might be this.  I'm not exactly sure, as "spreadable meat" is a new experience.  It worked,
and actually makes a really good sandwich.  I might still prefer my ham in solid form, but this did make a nice, easy lunch for us, and could be a great way to use up leftovers. 

I wasn't exactly aiming for a sandwich spread theme for the week, but I had an extra avocado in the refrigerator, so today for lunch I fixed Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Salad Sandwiches,
which is ugly, but a keeper.  Dinner is a split pea and parsnip soup that isn't half as ugly, but isn't very good either.  Edible, but not repeatable. 

Tonight I'm working on the menu for the rest of the week.  I'm thinking I'll be looking for a few things that require teeth for a change..............

Friday, May 2, 2014

365 in 365

It would not be an exaggeration to say that my entire life has been swallowed up by the back problems, and it isn't quite as easy to move past that as one would think.  For one thing, I'm still required to rest my back periodically throughout the day, and have to use timers when doing things like gardening, cleaning, or yard work so I don't overdo and give myself a set-back.  In over 3 years now, this is the closest I have come to getting back to a normal life, but I still get very frustrated by the occasional set-backs.  I decided I needed a project to focus on that is independent of my back and won't be affected by good or bad days, so Wednesday I kicked off my latest project:  365 recipes in 365 days.

Thanks to the New Recipe Dinner club we're doing, I've been experimenting with food more, and learned how to braise cabbage last month.  I don't think I've braised anything in my entire life, and have only cooked cabbage in stir-fries, but it was really good and made me curious.  Obviously, not everything can involve a new technique, but thanks to the pain medication, I've had more chicken noodle soup in the last 3 years than I care to contemplate, and I need to move on.  

I kicked things off last night with two new recipes:  Fennel-Crusted Pork Tenderloin and Balsamic Roasted Asparagus.  The asparagus was marginal, but the pork was wonderful, and has already been added to our "favorites" list.  Not a bad way to start things off..........

This morning was a Brown-Butter Scramble with Avocado on toast, which was okay.  I'm not a really big egg person--nor that fond of avocados--but I was curious about the browned butter.  It was interesting, though the avocado was a bit bland.  They had some variations listed, so I might go back and try one with other vegetables in the future, but I've now browned butter.  And it broke the monotony of our "hot cereal or peanut butter on toast" breakfast routine. 

Three recipes down, 362 to go..................

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I Can Swim!!!!

Well, sort of.  Several months ago, I had been told that I probably wouldn't be able to do the breast stroke with my hip problem, but I talked with the physical therapist last week and she thought I was strong enough to try it--but no more than two laps.  I waited until this week because Andy and I were going with my mother to see "Wicked" on Sunday, and I needed to be able to sit for 3 hours.  Wednesday was the big day, and I could do it!  Really, really slowly, and since I haven't swum AT ALL for at least 2 years and had already lifted weights, those two laps were really, really challenging, but I made it!  And I'll be trying again Friday afternoon.  Fingers crossed!

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...