Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back from the North Woods

I was somewhere in North Central Minnesota. I'm not entirely sure where, and really the links I find aren't all that great, so you'll just have to trust me.

I spent just under a week in Minnesota, surrounded by guys named Steve. It was an odd lot, and really I don't think they have a whole lot in common other than the fact that they were all born around 1960, and named Steve. They went to junior high & high school together and ran wild in suburban Minneapolis and at their places "up north" on the lakes.
And for a few short long days, I was experiencing their "formative years" all over again.

So what do these guys do when they get together almost 30 years later? Well, some of it is the same. They got together and drank too much, and smoked too much, and ate too much. Only now, they had to cook and clean up after themselves and waking up the morning after too much to drink was not nearly as easy. And their toys are better too.

We had a good time. We built a fire along the shore, we took the pontoon boat out for the cocktail cruise and we cooked dinner outside. I tried to relive my own youth a little by water skiing (yes, I have pictures somewhere) That was a lot of fun--I'll let you know when I recover! We wondered over to another lake so we could check out the cabin that HP used to call his summer quarters. That still belongs to his mother's cousin's family so we sat for a visit. We wandered around Antique JUNK shops on a rainy Monday in hopes of finding a birthday present for me. We didn't. I really shouldn't have surprised HP with my birthday. I suppose I should have told him that I have one every year. Followed directly by our Anniversary. (We've been married 3 years. Certainly seems longer than that.)

I will let my internet audience know that it is not advised to spend your Birthday & Anniversary stuck in the middle of the woods with a couple guys named Steve (We lost 2 of them by Monday--they couldn't hack it and returned to being semi-responsible adults). I can only entertain one Steve at a time, and the other Steve doesn't like to read, doesn't really play cards (except the occasional game of poker, with other guys named Steve)and didn't like the movies that were at the house. At this point I would like to say, NOT MY PROBLEM. But the boys decided to have one more escapade and go over to another friend's cabin (this one belongs to a guy named Chris, who did make a brief appearance in an otherwise all Steve weekend.) So they went to Chris's cabin and snuck into his back yard (Chris went home after the weekend also. He still hasn't recovered from water skiing either). They fired up Chris's "hillbilly hot-tub" so we could have a good soak after dinner. When I say "fired up" I do mean that literally, it was a wood fired hot tub. No bubbles or jets or anything fancy. I think if you added some carrots and celery, you could have made people soup. It would have been a much better idea if they hadn't come up with it while it was POURING down rain. But the evening sky did clear somewhat and we had a nice soak. Not quite as idyllic as this, but not far from it. Image Hosted by


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Feelin' Saucy

Yes, I have some tomatoes. And peppers. And tomatillos.
So listening with one ear to the wise Miss Holly,I decided to make sauce. Tomatoes, check. Hmmm, plenty of Poblano & Serrano peppers as well. What else is lurking in my larder? Onions, check; garlic, check. What is growing in my garden? Cuban Oregano, Hmmmm. Let's check the spice rack: tasty, a little cumin; perhaps a little chili powder.
Ok, now that I have my 'meez,' it's time to get cookin'.

First off, get the grill going, preferably with some smoky wood chips in there, then I slowly roasted my tomatoes along with a couple onions, some garlic cloves, and my pairs of poblanos and serranos (and only lost one serrano through the grill grate). While they are roasting a way, I turned on the crockpot and added a little olive oil. When the oil was warm, I added a couple teaspoons of whole cumin seed and a little more garlic. After I peeled the roasted veggies and added them to the pot, I added my oregano, along with a little ground cumin (ok, I like cumin, what of it?) and some chili powder with the obligatory salt & pepper. Then I gave it a whirl with the stick blender and left it for the night. This morning I woke up and look, I have enchilada sauce. Fantastic! Now to get some chicken, or some beans & make enchiladas...

This weekend was the last weekend that we had The Boy over to visit before he goes off to college. (I guess I should call him The College Man now, but I'll have to ease into that). We celebrated with family activities such as him showing his Father how to load an Ipod with music. Also, as we know, no College Man is ready for school without new clothes for school. We got socks and a baseball cap. They started out white, then a short time later they looked like this:

And then, finally like this:

Well, the family that tie-dyes together, ummm I'm not sure how to finish that one.

Back to the family activities. We also ATE. I know that will come as a shock to some, but that is considered a family activity around here.
Friday night was Fish Taco night. I know that sounds gross, but really they are quite flavory. The fish were fried in a beer batter and served with HP's homemade salsa (fresh from the garden), Kiki's guacamole with roasted garlic, and plenty of queso fresco. Fish Tacos, who knew?

Saturday was our annualish Crab-Fest. I love Maryland crabs, and look forward to eating them every summer. Unfortunately, as they need to be imported they are a little pricey, so I only get them once a year. This year's fest was served up with the freshest corn-on-the-cob I could find and a loaf of Homemade Pesto Bread. (I love The Herbfarm Cookbook and all the wonderful recipes I've found there!)

Somehow, we did end up with a few left over crabs at the end of crabfest, so Sunday's brunch was this: Image Hosted by

Crab & Thyme Souffle adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook. Now that is TASTY!

The other thing I love about The Herbfarm Cookbook, is that after having it from the library for about a month-and-a-half, I decided to splurge and buy it (after all, I'm worth it & besides, I was worried about spilling something on the book!) Unfortunately my splurge budget is not what it once was, so my solution? EBAY!
That's right, winner bidder kitchenkiki at $4.99. Now that's TASTY!

And a final image, Sunday's dinner (I didn't want it to feel left out)Pizza on the grill! (ok, I had some dough challenges, so one of the pizzas was cooked in the oven)
A perennial favorite: Pizza with caramelized onions, shrimp and alfredo sauce.
Image Hosted by


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

elbow deep in tomatoes-post finished if you looked at it earlier

At the beginning of gardening season the following conversation was heard by our magnolia bush:

HP: Ya know I was thinking of signing up for the garden tour.
Me: I love our garden & I love the tour, but we really can't afford to spruce up the yard for people to come through.
HP: We can do it on the cheap, I'll plant that herb & salsa garden I promised you for your birthday last year.
Me: The birthday that you didn't even get me a card for? NOW you want to start on that? We are even more broke now than we were then and that was your excuse for not getting me anything.
HP: Umm, yeah, sorry about that. But think how much we'll save if we only spend a few dollars now on herbs instead of $2 a pop when you buy them for recipes. I'll even start with the seeds you bought for the garden last year.
Me: Ok, we'll start the herb garden, if we can do it cheap. But I don't think we can afford to do all the fluffing for the garden tour.
HP: uh huh. I hope I can grow tomatoes, I've never had any luck with them before.
Me: Umm, isn't it hard to have a salsa garden without tomatoes?
HP: What are you making for dinner? I'm hungry
So after smuggling free bricks out of York in the trunk of a convertible, a few at a time (funny how he could do it when he wanted to). HP started planning out the herb garden. It began a little like this:
Image Hosted by

Now, it is looking much more like this:

Image Hosted by So, where he had failed in the past, he is more than making up for now. We have tomatoes, and tomatoes and tomatoes. And we are eating them. I have made something resembling this (and mostly using this recipe)
but it didn't really look that pretty. It sure tastes good though!

In a fit of too many tomato paranoia, my husband asked me to so something with the green tomatoes. So I found a soup recipe, and changed it to include fresh herbs, vegetable broth* and creamy goat cheese. The original said it was good hot or cold, but mine was kind of unexciting warm, yet rich and velvety cold, it was smooth & refreshing, and much better cold! HP thought it would be extra-tasty with a red pepper & chipotle mousse I once made, (ok it was supposed to be just red-pepper, but I didn't have enough and thought a little zip would enhance. I was right!) but not having enough time to make said mousse before packing the soup in his lunch box I did a quick chipotle crema that added just enough heat to contrast the cool. His suggestion really made that soup a stand-out!

We also had plenty of ripe tomatoes this week so I made some of my semi-famous gazpacho. It features both fresh and roasted tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions along with fresh herbs and cucumbers and what ever else I managed to put in there.

Well along comes Sunday dinner and I was tired.
I spent the majority of my day volunteering here. Which included some demos on the wheel, some cleaning up and a kiln unloading & sale of works from the gas kiln reduction firing (as opposed to the "neutral" electric kiln we normally use. I had only a few pieces in the kiln, but I donated one to the ceramic shop (proceeds of the sale were benefiting the shop) gave a plate and bowl as a very late birthday present to my husband, gave another bowl to a friend I don't see often enough and kept a bowl for myself. I am very proud to say that the bowl I donated sold within hours of being put up for sale. WooHoo, my first sale. Even though I didn't get any of the $13.50 selling price, I was thrilled and hopefully we are on our way to more exciting toys for the ceramic shop!

Anyway, back to Sunday dinner that I was too tired to cook. (But if I don't, who will?) So I pulled out a chicken, smothered it in garlic and a little rosemary and some lemon. Shoved the old beer can up it's end and put it on the grill. That is pretty easy, but HP does not live on chicken alone. So I had to have something to go with it.
Out came the green tomato soup. Out came the chipotle crema. Out came the gazpacho. Put them all together and it looks like this: Image Hosted by

And boy-howdy was it tasty!

Although, it probably would have tasted better in this bowl...


Friday, August 10, 2007

I should be posting instead of reading other peoples blogs so I found a Meme to do

Two Names You Go By
1. Kiki
2. Mrs. Kiki

Two Things You Are Wearing
1. Slippers
2. Deodorant

Two Things You Want Badly
1. A job
2. An aquittal

Two Pets You Have
1. My husband
2. His kids

Two Things You Did Last Night
1. Have a big beer
2. Go to bed early

Two Things You Will Do Tonight
1. Go to a Jewish “starlight service” (what is the service called if you aren’t going to a synagogue?)

2. Make dinner. Maybe

Two Favorite Holidays
1. Any holiday that I get to see my niece & nephew.
2. They are really cute & sweet. (I know they didn’t get that from their mother—must be from their grandmothers)

Two Things You Can't Live Without
1. Girl Scout Cookies
2. Thin Mints & Samoas

Two Favorite Numbers
1. π

Two Favorite Sports
1. canoeing
2. Lying on a raft with a cold drink

Two Good Drinks
1. Makers Mark + Ice
2. Dark Rum, Triple Sec, Mango Juice, Champagne

Two TV Shows You Like Guilty Pleasures
1. Top Chef - Hung needs to go!
2. My Name is Earl

I wish I had tv so I could watch these every once and a while. I saw Top Chef on vacation & now I am only following the re-caps. I'm glad Tre won, I like him & CJ, who is too tall not to like

Two Favorite Foods
1. Anything cooked by someone else
2. Anything with Ice Cream in the name

Two Favorite Passions in Your Life
1. I seem to have left my passions in my other life.
2. I’ll get back to you on that


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Summertime learning

The library is a wonderful thing. I'm sure thatmost both of my readers would agree to that. What I think is over-the top wonderful is that our public library system has a new program that encourages library card holders to learn a language
See a brand-name highly esteemed company that allows you to learn at your pace and best of all it is FREE costs nothing, nada, is complimentary. All you need is a library card. Whee!
Now the license only allows the library to choose 5 languages to be taught, and one of them is English(U.S.) (we have a large English as a second language population around here), but hey it will take me a while to get through the other 4. Ok, I can get through German pretty quickly if I can recall what I learned 15-20 years ago. But Italian and Spanish and French will probably take me a little while.
My father-in-law has planned a cruise that goes from Venice to Rome (or is it Rome to Venice?) so I am brushing up on my Italian. I can already let someone know if there is a boy under a ball (Un bambino sotto una palla). I have also looked at some of the Spanish lessons--I was curious how similar they are (eh, a little, but I think if I tried to learn both simultaneously I would get confused).
But I think that I need to not ignore my other hobbies, so I will try to go play in the clay!



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