Monday, October 21, 2019

Last Corn

Corn was off to rough start this season. Spring was cold and wet and our first local corn was late to appear.

But it turned out to be a good season! I love and I swear I'll have an ear of corn almost every day through the last half of summer. Oh there might be a few ears around for the most part the seasoon is over for 2019.

Last ear. 20 October.

Of course it's comfort food and soup season! As much as I hate the wintertime soups, stews, squash and roast chickens takes out some of the sting.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Dead trees...

I've noticed a lot of dead trees this year. Just this last May, after the leaves came out in the spring, I was shocked by the sheer number of dead trees.








Pretty much everywhere. I swear you can't walk two blocks without passing dead trees.

So. Interestingly enough. A local news station did a report on all the dead trees. A certified arborist explained the consecutive droughts of 2015 and 2016 weakened many trees and left them vulnerable to disease and catastrophic damage from gypsy moth caterpillars in 2017.

So there really is an unusual number of dead trees. Not just something I hadn't noticed before.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

This time they mean it!

Jane and Paul's farm is a local institution.

Many of us have enjoyed their produce for more years than I can remember. And they pretty much always had the very best corn.

Six years ago they missed a step. I don't know the whole story but I know there were some promising negotiations going on to acquire the property with community funds. That didn't work out. But they came back the following year!

But ...now, this year...

1 September. They're done. Forever.

Much Sadness

They plan to continue farming. But they're closing the farm stand. The second year in a row it just hasn't been worth keeping open. Last year hundreds hundreds of bushels of apples remained unpicked.

And Paul told me this year they hadn't had a single busy day. Not a single one. And at least half the blueberry crop rotted on the ground.

31 August. My very last ear of Jane and Paul's corn.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Beef Tataki

It was maybe a year or so ago, maybe longer, I'd had Beef Tataki. Loved it! But. Like sashimi and beef carpaccio, I leave raw dishes to professionals. What with all the food safety warnings regarding raw animal proteins.

Truth is I don't get out all that often and almost nobody serves carpaccio anymore. So I did some research and finally decided to try making Beef Tataki!

Sauce: Mix maybe 1/2 cup soy sauce, juice from a half a lime, a teaspoon or two of honey, a chopped garlic clove, and a generous splash of sesame oil.

Procedure:
  • 4 oz. strip steak
  • Freeze it
  • Thaw in the refrigerator for 90 minutes
  • Bath it in vodka
  • Sear each side one minute each in a screeching hot cast iron skillet
  • Finish thawing in the refrigerator overnight
  • Slice thinly (almost see through)
  • Marinate two hours in sauce
The idea behind the short thaw in the refrigerator is to have the surfaces soft enough to take a good sear while the interior is frozen thereby reducing the risk of cooking it. The vodka bath is a home cook's carpaccio trick to minimize the impact of bacteria. I'm not an expert but it's my understanding bacteria is found on the surface of the beef and not within the muscle itself.

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.

Beef Tataki

Hands down the best thing I've had to eat this year. Best thing I've had to eat in a very long time. Will do it again!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Poor bunny!

I went over to cut some flowers in my garden yesterday. I have a condo and on the downside of that I don't have any place to plant a garden. But! The community farm in the town where I live leases garden plots! I don't know if that's common or not.

So I have a garden plot for the season that I can keep the lease for as long as I want. I've had all kinds of different lettuces, radishes, beets, turnips and my fennel is doing really well. And I planted all kinds of flowers. I've really enjoyed my garden. Mostly. For whatever reason my tomatoes aren't doing very well. I've never had much luck with tomatoes. I've learned some lessons for next year.

So. As I'm picking flowers yesterday a Red-tailed Hawk swooped down and snatched a bunny hardly 6 feet away!

Up close and personal!

Poor bunny. Of course I felt kind of bad about it but...well, Hawk has to eat!

Edited to add: At least it was quick. Very quick.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

It's hot!

Not record hot, but hot! A hundred degrees. Feels like 107. Yesterday, 20 July, was the hottest day in 8 years.

And...my air conditioning is broken! Which is normally no big deal. I like the heat. I live over a river. It's typically 10 or 12 degrees cooler over the river than it is just a quarter mile away. And I figure if I have to close my windows it might as well be winter time. I've been here 29 years and I don't think I've used the air conditioning more than 5 times.

But that doesn't mean I want to sit and sweat like a pig either.

So. I have a most awesome industrial strength ceiling fan!


I actually got it for the winter time to keep the heat from rising and collecting under my 12 foot ceiling. But it's nice in the summer heat. So. I get out of the shower and find...my ceiling fan failed! Story of my life!

So. I get dressed and head for the dollar store. Luckily enough they still had some fans!

Not very decorative...
But at the least my cat was happy with it!

I went over during the afternoon and hosed down L and stood her in front of a 4 foot fan for a half an hour. She didn't mind!

I like to prepare food seasonally. More than that I like to prepare food that suits the day. And what could be better than....

Of course! A Margarita!

Well. To be fair, a gin and tonic is the quintessential summer drink. Or a bourbon rickey. Or a daiquiri. Or sangria! Even a pińa colada. I'm not a big fan of fruity cocktails but ya, that works on a tropical day. And there's always the (Bermuda)rum swizzle. Edited to add: How could I have possibly forgotten to include the Mojito in my list?!

And the *best* thing for dinner on a day like this? The very *first* thing that comes to mind?

Gazpacho! Of course!

Oh, and Home Depot has references to local electricians that service Hunter ceiling fans. It's not like I'm going to replace a $650 fan because the power switch broke!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Corn - 2019

Behold!

15 July

First "Our Own" corn of the season! This ear came from Dick Kelly's Family Farm in Upton, MA. This was very good. The early corn isn't the best. But of course I'm always excited about fresh local corn. It's late this year. After such a cold wet spring pretty much everything is a week behind.

I haven't been blogging much. I retired almost 2 years ago now. I've never been happier in all my life! But...while I have my (satisfying) routine I really don't do anything interesting. It's nice to have time to keep a clean house but is that anything to blog about?

I fully board L at a farm barely 2 miles away. We don't train anymore. Well. Of course it's all training all the time and I try to make sure she knows she's the horse. But we don't vigorously train and we don't compete anymore. Mostly we just do ground work and pony ride. Fully boarding her was a huge adjustment!

With more time on my hands I'm trying to do an occasional road trip. Tour old favorites and discover some new places.

I'm thrilled with retirement although it's sad in a way. There was a time I thought what I did was just the greatest thing in the world. And then...I think it was along about the time 50 hour work weeks became expected of professionals I started becoming unhappy. Then when being connected 24/7 became normal, conference calls at 11:00 at night and reading email in bed got brushed off as nothing I'd had enough.

You know, it wasn't supposed to be like this. Back in the 1960s we well and truly believed technology would make us so productive full time jobs would be 30 hour work weeks. That our greatest challenge would be fulfilling our free time with recreational pursuits. Of course we also thought cars would fly by now. And electricity would be free. And nobody would go hungry.

I'm very happy I'm not a young professional trying to build a career today! I haven't missed my work for not even a single minute!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Winter 2018 - 2019

We had barely 10 inches of snow, grand total, most of the season. There were a couple of bitterly cold days in January. Below 0. Maybe 2 or 3 days. I don't mind the snow so much but I really hate the cold!

It wasn't all that bad overall. I never did get out my quilted Carhartt overalls. Or my sheepskin hat. That's my real measure of how bad the winter was!

We had barely any plowable snow until 12 February.

12 February

Oh. Pretty enough. Not much of it. It does have a certain cozy charm. Nice day for hot chocolate!

And then, interestingly, on 3 March, 5 inches of snow was forecast. The snow hadn't even started at 11:00 pm and then, by 6:00 am, 4 March, we had this!

4 March


It really must have been snowing to beat the band! I'd guessed it was maybe 12 to 15 inches of snow fell in what was, at the most, 7 hours. That's a pretty good steady rate.

Turned out to be 18 inches

Of course it's not over yet. We have plenty of severe wintry weather in March and April but the worst of it is over. And it never ever goes below 0 after the first week of March!

And I did manage to make lots of soup this season. That was a goal!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mushroom Soup

I'm not crazy about the wintertime. I don't mind snow so much but I *really* hate the cold.

The only two redeeming things about wintertime are rich hot soups and all kinds of comfort food. Last year I was off my soup game. I'm not sure why really. I was distracted sure. Between farm work and the ice I just hadn't fixed soup like I'd wanted to.

This year I was determined not to have that happen again and have made soup frequently. Lentil and cabbage soup are probably my favorites. Tortellini soup is right up there and of course there's always chicken soup. And here in New England there are all kinds of chowders.

And then there's this.

Wild Rice and Mushroom soup

I made this a week or so ago and I swear it's just about the best soup ever. I'd made a vegetarian Bolognese with mushroom duxelles and I had some leftover mushrooms. Here, loosely adapted from a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman appearing in the NY Times:

Ingredients (serves 2):
  • 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Half a medium onion, chopped
  • One carrot, sliced
  • One celery rib, sliced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Minnesota wild rice
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth (no salt added, I used homemade)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 t thyme, 1/2 t parsley, 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • Cider vinegar, to taste, a t or two
It looks like a long list of ingredients but this is easy. I don't do anything that's hard.

Procedure:
  • Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 1/3 cup boiling water from a kettle for 30 minutes or so. Strain and reserve the liquid for later. Some people run the liquid through some cheesecloth or a coffee filter. I don't bother.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, carrots and celery and sauté until they soften, maybe 5 minutes.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms to the saucepan. With a pinch of salt. Cook them over high heat until they start to soften, maybe 3 minutes or so. Reduce the heat and add the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, after a minute or two, add the thyme and the parsley. Stir to combine.
  • Add the wine and reduce to at least half over high heat. Add the reserved porcini mushroom water. Add the chicken stock, water, and bay leaf, bring to a boil.
  • Add the re-hydrated porcini mushrooms, wild rice, bring back to a boil reduce to a simmer. Simmer for an hour, covered.
  • Add the peas.
Season the soup to your liking. I splash in the cider vinegar at serving time. Best soup I've had in a very long time!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Boring winter!

This has been a *very* boring winter.

I fell off my horse in December just before Christmas and broke a rib. Oh that hurt like hell! I'm getting a little too old for that and I don't heal as fast as I used to. I've been way off my game. I think I'm just going to have to start using a saddle...as much as that disappoints me.

Of *course* it was my fault. We'd had a good ride and we were cooling off just shuffling around and...*boom* she's off and running for her life. Leaving me in a heap. I got caught off guard and yes I know better. Ain't that always the case. I used to be pretty good at falling off a horse but now? Not so much.

We've had a couple of *really* cold days but not hardly any snow. Sloppy ice storm a week or so ago. As much as I hate the wintertime a blizzard would be exciting right about now. At least...this time of year...it has a certain charm that's hard to describe.

Speaking of which. I pack in Chef Boyardee ravioli and Beefaroni for my "storm" food. In case we lose power for any length of time. At least I'll have a lantern, a book and my Chef Boyardee for the duration. But. It came to my attention some time ago that Chef Boyardee ravioli and Beefaroni use HFCS! And no. I do *not* knowingly eat HFCS.

But...thanks to FoodTalkCentral this also came to my attention! Throwback recipe!

Yes, it uses sugar and no, it's not like I eat a lot of this stuff. I don't think added sugar is good for you either. But hey, with this stuff in the pantry I might just look forward to a power failure!

A childhood favorite! And still a guilty pleasure.
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