Sunday, July 31, 2011

Corn Fed

It was a couple weeks ago the first ears of local corn appeared at the farm stands.

17 July

This time of year I'll eat corn just about every day until it's gone. I'm crazy for fresh corn. A summer treat that never gets tired. Here. Look at this.

Buy Fresh. Buy Local.

Almost every community has a Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign of some sort. Find your nearest one and support your local farmer!

Tangerini's Farm 30 July

I call these "tomato towers" because I stack slices of tomato and onion with some herbs between each layer.

Field Fresh

Everything on the plate, except for the vinegar, is fresh from the field. Perfect with a glass of Chianti or Merlot.

Sometimes I use red onion, sometimes yellow. Sometimes I have cheese with it. Grated fresh Parmesan or maybe crumbled goat cheese. With a little splash of vinegar. Try it with a beefsteak tomato. Try it with an heirloom tomato.

Sometimes I leave the stack intact and scatter some sliced cherry tomatoes around the plate. Other times I make a criss cross cut with a sharp knife and just let it all collapse.

One can enjoy this who knows how many different ways.

Saturday. Sunny. Hot. Dry. Breezy. The most perfect summer day.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Remember She started it?

April 1982 - July 2011

Cassie was a real good girl. Just about as nice a ride as there ever was.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


The miracle of groundwork.

17 July

I admit it. I tend to be lazy by nature. And truth be told L and I haven't worked very hard on anything lately. But there was a time we worked our butts off building our basics. And when we had them down cold we went back over them again. And again. I wanted two things. I didn't want either one of us to have to think about our moves and I wanted it to be a huge surprise if we missed a mark.

And with a horse like L you *have* to get it right. As sweet as she can be she'll eat you for breakfast if you let her. There is no downside in having a solid foundation. The time you spend building your foundation is time with your horse. And that's really what it's all about isn't it?

So last Saturday I go out and do groundwork with L for about 15 minutes. I know when I've made my point. She glares at me like she thinks I have a lot of nerve. She's spot on every move but she doesn't like it. It's hilarious. She's a very funny horse and I've said this before, the funniest thing is she doesn't know she's funny. I insist on her being well behaved but I don't insist she like it. I make sure she has all the time she needs to be a horse so she can behave while she's with people.

Oh. And our last ride? She didn't even so much as turn a disagreeable ear in my direction.

I need to be more disciplined in my habits. Something else I try to work on all the time.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Over indulgent?

Yes. Well. I guess I have some work to do! I've been a little lazy and over indulgent lately. I get like that sometimes. I know. Shocking.

The chiropractor visited yesterday and L was out in a couple of places. So, knowing we've been a little sloppy lately, I thought it would be a good idea to do a little ground work in the ring. Just some leading and showmanship.

Things started off swimmingly.

And then. For whatever reason. L flatly refused to continue along the rail. Now, sometimes on the trail she'll refuse something and I'll think about it. She's sometimes better tuned in to the hazards on a trail than I am or maybe there's something about the footing I didn't notice.

But not this time. Not here. Not now. This was so far out of line I thought I was imagining it. Hands down completely unacceptable.

So I had to get ugly about it and I really hate it when then happens. And the hell of it is she not only knows this stuff but she's very good at this stuff.

Of course it's not her fault she's acting like a horse.

It took a couple of minutes to get her "yes sir!" back in order and we'll have to do this again today.

Whether you know it or not it's all training all the time.

Edited to add:

Looking at some pictures I came across this. I fixed this a month or so ago. One of the reasons I take pictures of my food is to recall the things I enjoy the most. And this is one of my most favorite of all dishes. Pasta and black pepper. Or cacio e pepe.

I like minimalism in general but this is a model for less is more. There are recipes for this all over the web and it's more about technique than ingredients. I don't recall exactly where I saw this technique but it results in a truly beautiful thing.

Fix your spaghetti as you normally do. Heat a large lightweight skillet. About 4 minutes or so before the pasta is ready add a couple of tablespoons of olive to the skillet and add two teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper. Cook this for a minute or two until it gets really fragrant. Ladle a cup of pasta water into the skillet and bring to a boil. Let it mostly boil off. Add the pasta, turn the heat off, stir and flip and add some finely grated Pecorino Romano. A 3rd of a cup maybe.

Plate the pasta, add some more pepper, as much as you like, add some more Pecorino Romano, as much as you like. Be mindful of that "little is more" thing.

Have some chianti or a merlot with it. The flavor will amaze.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Noteworthy days

The local corn is in!

15 July. Roasted.

Like the first snow and the first daisies, the first local corn is one of the ways we mark the passage of time around here. At least I do anyway. The first ears showed up in the farmer's markets a week ago yesterday.

As much as I hate the wintertime, and I *really* hate the wintertime, the other 3 seasons here in New England are usually quite nice. When the local produce comes in there is no place I'd rather be.

And I a ... corn snob. If it was picked more than 3 or 4 hours ago I'll wait for something fresher.

I like to either roast or steam fresh picked corn. To roast corn I pre heat the oven to 350 and just put the whole ears in for about 30 minutes. To steam corn I get about an inch and a half of water going at a rolling boil and I put the clean ears in for 3 minutes.

Remember this? Watching the seasons change never gets old here.

25 June

It's hard to believe this weekend marks mid summer. Another day or two and we'll be closer to the end of summer than the beginning.

Product review!

OMG These are awesome.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

From the archive

This picture reminds me of something we always had going for us.

May 2004

We had lots of issues in the early days. Mostly dominance issues and while I learned a lot, I've said it a hundred times, I thought I'd never get it. But look at the picture and look at her ear. We were *always* engaged. Never ever not once did L "disengage". And that was just about the only thing I had going for me for a long time.

Training with L made me think hard about the business of dominance. Most people think it's about being a bully, but it isn't, not at all. And it's clear I'm not faster than L and I'm not stronger than L. It finally dawned on me. L has to believe I'm smarter than she is. The concept really is that simple. But she's a very smart horse and convincing her I'm smarter than she is continues to be a challenge. Sometimes I think she just humors me. It's good that she's a good horse.

Not long after that picture was taken I recall one of our very first milestones. And no, it wasn't our first show.

June 2004. L's very first show.

Very funny story. I was free lungeing L with her herdmate M. She was messing with me. She'd give me the "look" and allow her hip to drift in my direction by just a couple of inches. I was encouraging them with a lunge line in my hand. Things would quickly deteriorate if I allowed this to continue. So. I decide the next time she does it I'm going to let the line pay out and I'm going to just touch her hip with the end of the line.

I'm clumsy sometimes and I don't always get things right. She made her move and I went to let the line out and.. I just let go of it. And here this rolled up 30 ft. lunge hit her square in the flank.

It was more timing than anything else. It provoked an immediate "oh crap" reaction from her. It was the very first time she realized maybe she hadn't ought to be messing with me!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer in a bottle

If I had a basement I'd buy a couple of cases of this.

2010 Spanish AlbariƱo

My opinions are mostly along the lines of "it's good (shrug)" or, "it's crap". This stuff...this stuff is outstanding. It's light. It's bright. It's dry. Refreshing.

I'm not a critic. I'm not a connoisseur. And while it's more expensive than I'd normally have...

Bay scallops in brown butter with garlic and dill

It is just superb with scallops. Maybe even sensational?

You see the orange colored scallop there, on the left? And the two slightly off white ones? Those are females. They're the best!

I finally learned how to fix bay scallops last year. Rinse and thoroughly dry your scallops. Get some brown butter going in a light skillet with some chopped garlic. Throw in your scallops, shake and flip the skillet every few seconds while you count to 30. Remove from heat, toss in some dill, flip the skillet a couple of times to distribute the dill and serve.

Most memorable

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More summer fun

I'm on vacation and I went to the beach!


Second Beach, Newport, Rhode Island

Middletown, actually

That, there, in the distance, is St. George's School. A really fancy pants private boarding school.

Technically Second Beach is in Middletown. I think Middletown has always had an identity problem of sorts with Newport. Newport International Polo is in Middletown. Right on rte. 138. If you're ever in the area you have to see a polo match. Tons of fun!

Second beach is known for its fine sand and surf.

Listening to the surf can be hypnotic

And the Sachuset Bay water is really very nice. Like a bathtub, as they say. The Newport beaches are expensive and one really needs a season pass if they're going to spend any amount of time there. I would if I could bring my horse!

I probably should have taken this picture before I ate them!

Had delicious oysters for lunch!

We had lunch at the SpeakEasy Bar and Grill on Thames St. down by the wharf.

They took over the old Rhode Island Quahog Company not too long ago and they've had good reviews. They're insanely expensive. One expects that on Thames St. The raw bar wasn't too bad. We split a really nice house salad. The balsamic dressing was forgettable though.

The food was just fine but the service was abysmal. I wanted more oysters but I didn't want to wait a half an hour for them.

It was a hot hot summer day and waiting at home is a bottle of Spanish wine.

I've had this wine for months and then I realized - a bottle of Spanish wine on a hot day needs...Spanish food!

Gazpacho is one of my most favorite things. My recipe varies with my mood. I always use San Marzano tomatoes and I like red pepper flakes. This time I used red wine vinegar, green bell pepper, yellow onion, some garlic and marjoram, some nice olive oil and the basil came from my little garden!

I finished the wine with some Spanish rice and spicy hot shrimp. I mixed up shrimp with some paprika and chili pepper flakes, garlic, olive oil and a splash of sherry and I put them in a 475 degree oven for about 4 minutes.

I was very disappointed with the pictures of my shrimp. Sometimes I just can't get it right.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recipes for a summer day

There are so many things that go perfectly with a summer day. I'll just never run out.

A real Daiquiri. Not the thing with the strawberries.

Make mine a double

Mix the juice from half a lime with a shot of white rum and a teaspoon of sugar syrup. Hey wait just a minute! That sounds an awful lot like a Havana Martini! Basically it is. A Havana Martini is a Bacardi Cocktail in a martini glass. A Daiquiri is basically a Bacardi Cocktail in a rocks glass. And a Bacardi Cocktail is a Daiquiri made with Bacardi. I like mine on ice.

I have a story behind my crab cake recipe. Several years ago, just for the fun of it, I decided I'd devote myself to making the best crab cakes ever. So I researched and experimented for maybe...a year and a half.

This recipe is loosely based on the J. W. Faidley recipe in Baltimore and frankly I don't remember exactly where I got the recipe. This is one my first original recipes.

The ingredients. This makes 4 crab cakes.

For the crab cakes:
  • 12 oz. of lump crab meat
  • 1 cup Carr's table water cracker crumbs. I like the cracker with cracked black pepper.
  • 1/2 cup Hellman's Light mayonnaise
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 or 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons Old Bay
  • Tabasco sauce, as much as you like
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, as much as you like
For the tartar sauce:
  • 2 parts Hellman's Light mayonnaise
  • 1 part sweet relish
  • Some lemon juice
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, as much as you like

Spread the crab meat out on some wax paper on baking sheet, dust in your Old Bay and cover with the cracker crumbs and mix them up a little.

Combine the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Work that mixture into the crab on the baking sheet with your hands. Don't overdo it. Let it rest for 2 or 3 minutes.

After 2 or 3 minutes form the crab into loose cakes. Just firm enough to not fall apart. About the size of quarter pound hamburgers. It's more important to have them be a uniform thickness than uniform diameters. They'll be easier to cook evenly.

Pack them away in some wax paper and refrigerate them. I typically refrigerate them all day.

You can fry your crab cakes or grill them. I like to broil them. I give each side 3 or 4 minutes under a pre heated broiler. The only thing that really needs to be cooked is the egg. You want them to be a nice golden brown and heated through.

Best crab cakes ever

Serve them with tartar sauce and Pinot Grigio. Or a nice Sauvignon Blanc.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mulberry season

The 4th of July is mulberry season. We have mulberry bushes all over the property.

I mark the occasion with...

Mulberry pancakes!

Beating the horses to the mulberries can be challenging.

Very becoming

But we've all been doing this for a long time now and we have a lot of practice.

July 2004

I'm getting too old for this

It's one of the ways I mark the passage of time. Mulberry season is one of those high points in the year. I'll make some mulberry jam in the next few weeks. I'll make mulberry parfaits and mulberry yogurt. I'll have more pancakes and I'll have them plain in a bowl.

The stems stay with the mulberries when you pick them. They're edible and harmless but I don't like them.

I just trim all the stems off with little scissors before I prepare them. It's kind of a pain but these are such a treat!

Speaking of treats. We have raspberries around the property too. It's really hard to get to these before the birds!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Recession's over then?

Corporate profits rise 88%. Income and wages rise 1%. I can't even think up a snarky comment. I'm just appalled.

Mother Jones story highlighting the findings of a Northeastern University Center for Labor Market Studies report here.

If you think about what these numbers really mean maybe the recovery is worse than the recession? If prosperity doesn't find its way into wages what's the point.
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