Friday, August 15, 2014

Heaping Scoops

It has been a difficult summer for me. Packing up the old house and going through a renovation, and the subsequent cleaning that it generated. Finally, the kitchen is complete and the boxes have been broken down and discarded (we are never moving again). Now, I can get back to the business at hand – playing in the kitchen. I have missed almost two months of garden and farmer’s market offerings due to the fact I only had my grill functioning, and the counter adjacent to the sink in the mudroom was all work area the new house had to offer. I have done very little puttn’ up, which means I am in overdrive to try and catch up.

I have sorely missed making ice cream, not that I am saying I have spent half the summer season without the creamy, frozen concoction. No stove to make the custard base, a single freezer crammed with the items that were accommodating the temporary loss of my back-up unit; and, the general mess and debris floating through the air just did not make it conducive to have ice cream churning away – Rocky Road is not a favorite flavor. But, now, life has been dusted, vacuumed and repeated numerous times I felt it was safe breakout the ice cream maker – enough with comforting myself with a pint of someone else’s.  I may have also failed to mentioned, that my husband has a nightly requirement of three scoops and he has become accustomed to requesting a flavor or inquiring what combination I was working with – I hate to let him down, and only be able to dole out a commercial bowlful. So, with my yearning to score some love points and satisfy my need to freeze a summer moment I let it rip. I don’t think this quart will last more than a few days.   

Rose scented Geranium and Cinnamon Ice Cream - yields approx. 1-quart
2-cups heavy cream
2-cups half-and-half
2-cups sugar
5-rose geranium leaves
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
6-egg yolks

In a 1½-quart saucepan add the cream, half-and-half, sugar, rose geranium, and cinnamon sticks, and over a low flame allow the sugar to completely dissolve.

In a work bowl beat the egg yolks until thickened and a pale yellow. Add to the warmed cream mixture, and cook over a low flame for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean work bowl, and refrigerator for a few hours for up to 24-hours. Then pour the chilled ice cream base into the freezer compartment of an ice cream, and proceed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the ice has set up transfer into a freezer container, and place in the freezer for an hour or two before serving.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Right from my own backyard

It has been a whirlwind for the past 6 weeks. Closing on a new home and starting a renovation – of course the kitchen had to be blown out. We spent the month of July shuttling from the old place to the new one, while juggling the day in day out commitments that actually allow us to buy the bills. There still is some rehab work to be completed. So, while we have fully moved in, it is more like glamping. The new kitchen is a tad incomplete – the range is en-route (fingers crossed a few more days). And, because of the size and location of the range in the kitchen, the refrigerator is safely encapsulated in its packing material in the garage until the behemoth arrives and can be maneuvered in. The pool is in fine working order, so there is plenty of refreshing cool water to take the edge off a summer’s day. And, my grill is all hooked up and has supplied at least a piece of nightly charred flesh.

I did not realize I would miss cooking beans, grains, and the simple act of boiling water. I have suffered, stress suffered, K-cup coffee for the past few weeks, and all I can say, at least it staves off a 3pm caffeine headache. I hope my French press does not think I have abandoned it. Frustrating to have this wonderful new cooking space, and I don’t even have the ability to boil water. Then there was the discovery made over the weekend. We had a few days of rain, and a quick summer cool down, and this house is tucked away on 15 plus acres of old growth pine, maple, and oak trees. Needless to say, there are fallen leaves and failed branches all over the property. Driving in there looked to be a cluster of chanterelle mushrooms. I was apprehensive to collect them for fear of a missed diagnosis, but my husband insisted they were the ones he foraged as a boy. So we did. At the house, I put on my Wellies and set out into the woods to make sure we had more then just three. Within a half hour I was home with a small basket-full -- prefect amount for the two of us. Even though I was only half convinced these were edible I planned to cook them. I figured we would have a lovely surprise on our plates that night, or travel on some woodland inspired trip, or rush to find the nearest hospital.

Without a stove I pulled out my cast iron skillet, and heated on the grill. I wilted those meaty fungi with garlic, onions and summer savory, which smothered the pork tenderloin we were having that night. We awoke the following morning alive without having suffering any bizarre dreams. I learned have to forage my first mushroom. This glamping this is not so bad, but I really miss my morning java jolt.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What I've Collected

A basket spills over
Embarrassed by my riches
     Everyone gets fed

Cold Creamy Zucchini Soup –yields 4½ quarts
1-large onion – roughly chopped
3-garlic cloves – chopped
4-pounds zucchini – chopped
2-teaspoons salt
1-cup whole almonds
3-pounds tomatoes – chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½-cup lemon basil leaves
1-packed tablespoon fresh mint leaves

In a 6-quart pot place the onions, garlic, zucchini, salt and almonds, and pour in ½-cup of water. Over a medium flame cook for about 25 to 30, covered.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the tomatoes, and allow the mixture to cool on the stove top. Once cooled add the pepper, basil and mint, and then process in a blender or food processor until smooth, correct the seasoning with salt. Serve cold.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

what to do with all this bounty

From nascent seedlings sprouting two, three, four leaves before they found the earth. Initially sitting there, being kept moist, almost lost in the expanse of unoccupied land around them. I am always of dubious belief that I what have planted will fill the space I gave it – even with enough experience to know better.

Now, almost three months into this year’s growing season and I am once again revealed of any apprehensions. My tomatoes have completely over grown their cages requiring additional support in order to prevent their weight from toppling over. The pinto and black eyed-peas are climbing the ropes I strung so I can easily harvest their pods. And, I am still a few weeks away, boy I am going to be melon for I counted nine ripening ones and numerous little, fussy orbs just starting to develop. I am so glad to see that plenty of bees have found the garden, and are getting drunk on a cocktail of different nectars. Without their thirst I would be eating just greens. Cucumbers always start one or two as a tease then bam – six, seven, eight per day. So, hard to keep up with eating them all, and you can have any so many jars of pickles. Any gardener who has put in a cucumber, or two, freely offers them to any and everyone. Still, you plant them for the garden would not be complete without that creeping vine.   

Cucumber-Lemon Basil Smoothie – yeilds 8 cups
2½ pounds cucumbers – peeled
⅓-cup fresh lemon jice
⅓-cup lemon basil lemons
¼-cup mint leaves
⅛-teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in the blender, and process until smooth. Refrigerate to chill thorough.