Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I figured out photos

Here are the peach eaters. Emmett (brown) and Chessie (a.k.a asshat).

Up to my ears in basil

So tonight will be Pesto night. Thanks to my friend Pete and his yummy sounding Pesto recipe (posted on eatingforbrooklyn), I will be making Pesto this evening. And possibly making enough to freeze. You can freeze it can't you? I have veritable shrubs of sweet basil and purple basil (can't remember the name) and pine nuts were on sale at the store. If I were feeling super energetic (which I don't anticipate), I would make summer squash gnocchi. Also making enough to freeze. Along with the Pesto I will be baking a peach cobbler. Thats the one thing about growing fruit. It all ripens at once and apparently picks the week we leave for vacation. I guess I can just slice them and throw them in the freezer, whatever I don't take on vacation. The dogs eat peaches so I will bring some for them and for me. Chessie loves fruit and some vegetables, especially red peppers. Emmett eats them too, but I don't sense the same joy with him. I thinks he eats fruits and veggies just cause she is. BTW, the water temperature at Hatteras was 87.5 degrees F yesterday. Woohoo. I won't be able to sit still tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

One cheesesteak away

So I got to hang out with Governor Rendell last night at the Etown fair. It was interesting. I've never seen anyone eat that much crap. Every stand holder that served food was giving him stuff, and most things he left for other people. But if it was greasy, he ate it. Our democrat stand was right next to one of those Butterfly Potato stands. If you've never seen them, they are thinly sliced potatoes, deep fried, and slathered with cheese. They are served in enormous, teetering piles. They look good although I have never tried them. Being fat makes you reticent to be seen in public with an enormous, teetering pile of deep-fried anything. One of the members of the Democratic club brought their little girl and at approx. 6pm they bought her a teetering pile as her dinner. She didn't finish it and it sat on the edge of the table for the next two and a half hours. Greasy, cheesey, nasty, cold potatoes exposed to fair germs for two and a half hours. So Rendell shows up at 8:30. He chats, takes photgraphs with all of us and then moves on, but as he is moving from behind our booth I see his hand shoot out towards the greasy, cheesey, nasty, cold, formerly teetering pile and take a big old handful and cram it in his mouth. For a split second I thought of grabbing his hand, preventing him from making this mistake. But I decided against it. I wish I could know exactly what he was thinking when that food hit his mouth and he realized how gross it was. But then maybe he didn't care.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Four more days

Well three really since today is underway. We leave Friday morning. Just as I predicted, I sat down last night to make my lists and the significant other scoffed. I even called my sister to inquire about how well equipped the kitchen is (she has stayed there before). She said to bring a frying pan cause the one at the house has "hot spots". I suspect that some people reading this might wonder about the mental state of someone that takes a frying pan on vacation. See, we don't go out to restaurants. Well, maybe once the whole vacation, but usually I cook. There's just something about eating fresh seafood on a screened porch, watching the sun slide down the sky into the sound all under the haze of too many glasses of zinfandel (or Rolling Rock) that no restaurant can compete with. Every afternoon we go to Hatteras when the boats come in, buy fresh seafood and take it home and cook it. We buy flounder, clams, lots of shrimp, crabs, soft shell crabs (although those are frozen), and whatever other fish there is. Our favorite is Red Drum. It is a thick, flaky, whitefish and has a tremendous flavor. A few times, Bob will marinate filets and we'll cook those, but mostly it is seafood. So that is why a good pan without hot spots is so very vital and must be lugged on vacation.

Speaking of Pimientos

I have an embarassing passion. It is for something called pimiento cheese. Northerners are not familiar with this amazing concoction from down south, but having vacationed in North Carolina every summer since I was 11 and deeply loving all things southern, I was exposed to it at an early age and have come to love its zesty cheesey goodness. It is basically a mixture of cheese, mayonaise, and pimientoes, mixed to a spread. Every grocery store down south offers at least 3 different varieties and often a homemade store brand. It is offered at delis, as appetizers at upscale restaurants, and as a burger topping at most burger places. Every southern mother has her own recipe and the best combination is always a source of controversy. Pimiento cheese sandwhiches are the peanut butter and jelly of the south. I try to eat it only once a year, when we go on vacation. It is soooo good on an everything bagel. Or simply spread on toast as a sandwhich is divine. But this year I couln't contain myself and decided to make my own. There is a variation on pimiento cheese sold at grocery stores in Central PA, but it is pretty unpalatable. Through an internet search I found the winning entry in the Southern Foodways Alliance Pimento Cheese Invitational 2003 (I swear to God). It was the best ever. New York Extra Sharp and Vermont sharp white mixed with 2/3 cup mayonaise, 7 oz. pimientos (I don't drain), a dash of cayenne pepper, a dash of hot sauce, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. The cheese must be grated and the mixture is best if it is left in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to combine. Mmmmmm. I recently read a review of a restaurant called Rib in New York City. And the cosmopolitan reviewer singled out pimiento cheese (served as an appetizer with sesame crackers) as one of the best things on the menu. I felt a little less embarassed about my passion.

The great Elizabethtown Fair

So the Elizabethtown Fair offically starts today. I had grand plans about all the things I was going to enter into the competitions. All kinds of vegetables (there is even a pimiento category), jams, jellies, my fabulous green tomato/sour cream quickbread (it actually is very good), a cake, even dog biscuits, but time has a way of getting away from me. So I am entering my very good blueberry/wineberry jam and two kinds of tomatoes (grape and Genovese). We'll see what happens. I also am manning (womanning?) the E-town Democrats stand today and tomorrow. Governor Rendell will be at the fair to kick things off this evening and has graciously agreed to take pictures with us Democrats (I think there are 6. Etown is pretty conservative.) It will be interesting to see the reaction we get. Last year someone urinated on the stand, thereby expressing his political leanings. Hopefully we don't go there again this year.

Friday, August 19, 2005

One week

Only one more week. I can barely stand it. I got up early today. It was raining lightly and still kind of dark out. The fields across the road were kind of bluish-grayish and a light wind made the 100's of acres of corn move like water. I squinted my eyes a little bit and imagined it was the Pamlico Sound, off the back of the house in North Carolina. One week from now, I will get up early and make coffee, and walk in bare feet over gritty, weathered boards to an Adirondack chair, also weathered, to sit in the morning stillness and watch Great Blue Herons stalk their tiny quiksilver prey, and watch Pelicans fly low over the still water, and listen to Osprey call out as they hover and plummet into the water for their breakfast. Fish will jump and the line dividing water and sky, if I squint my eyes just a little bit, will be undiscernible. The dogs will sit quietly next to me, taking it all in too, breathlessly waiting for the walk to the end of the dock for their first swim of the day. I gave a little shiver and smiled. One more week.

The peach trees

This is my second year of having peaches, on trees I planted the first spring we were in the house. Over that winter (2003) I read Epitaph for a Peach, by David Masumoto. He mourned the loss of the Suncrest peach from modern agriculture. The Suncrest peach was perishable and did not ship well, but had a superior taste and the messy, running down your face kind of juiciness. He still grows them and funnels them through local organic food channels in California, doing his part to save this peach from extinction. So I tracked down Suncrest peach trees and planted two of them. Most trees don't produce for several years after they are planted, but I got peaches the very next year. Only about 6 on each tree after the squirrels were done robbing me of unripe ones. This year I was loaded. Almost every blossom produced a tiny little peach. I dutifully waited for the June drop and then thinned as many as I could bear to. I think I should have thinned more. The branches are heavily weighed down now. I crafted props for the branches from boards that I cut notches in, wedging them underneath the ridiculously bent- over limbs. I thinned more. But the peaches are now so heavy, I'd have to take all of them off to make a difference. Every time there is a thunderstorm now, I sit at the dining room table and watch the props and the heavy limbs sway back and forth with every gust, just praying that they hold and the entire branch doesn't snap off, taking all the fruit with it. I was greedy and I hope I don't lose my trees because of it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The dog changed her name

Apparently my dog Chessie was not satisifed with her name. She is our first dog, picked up from the pound with the name of Jasmine. This sounded like a seedy stripper's name to me so I drew up a list of names from which my husband and I could choose. I liked Sadie and Violet, but Bob liked Chessie, based on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad car design, the one with the sleeping kitten. He does work for the railroad after all. And this name appeared to be okay for the past 31/2 years, but on Sunday she chose another one. Occasionally, (okay, constantly) my husband and I make up stupid names for one another. Sometimes they are obscene, and sometimes they are just stupid. So on Sunday, as I was walking past said husband lying on the couch watching NASCAR (?), I said "what's up, asshat?" He gave me the finger..... and the dog came running. We laughed. What a funny coincidence. A little later, I called him that again. I could hear the dog jump off the bed upstairs and come running, staring at me expectantly as if I had just summoned "the sweetest, bestest foofie to ever walk on four paws". This apparently is what 'asshat' means to her. Oh well. It makes her happy. I just have to remember not to call her that in public. And by next week, a new name for my husband will have materialized and asshat will be forgotten. I just hope the next one she picks isn't worse.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Only 9 more days

I can barely contain myself. I have to cover up the desk blotter with the calendar on it. Nine more days til we go on vacation. I have lists to make, things to buy, all this build-up for one week at the beach with Stribble and the kids (4-legged kind). Stribble won't make a list and will pack the morning we leave while he warms up the car. As such, he will arrive at the beach house with three pairs of shorts, two t-shirts, the shoes he has on and no toiletries other than a toothbrush. And I will be forced to begrudgingly share all of my thoughtfully packed towels, shampoo, toothpaste, comb, dental floss, conditioner, face wash, scrubby thing, q-tips, and razor. Every year. And this sets vacation off on a bad note, every year. What if I acted like that. What if I just hopped in the car the morning of and slapped the car door a few times and yelled "daylights wastin" to him as he eyed the small grocery bag of personal items thrown in the otherwise empty trunk. What would he do? Just once, one year, I wish I had the guts to do it. But no. I pack cards, and cameras, and film, empty notebooks, binoculars, bird books, shell books, scrabble, card game rule books, suntan lotion (2 different spfs), sunburn lotion, floppy hats, flip flops, beach towels, bath towels, outside shower towels, dish towels, etc, etc. And he packs himself and 1.5 changes of clothes. Perhaps this will be the year.

There's always next year

I was out in the garden weeding last night. Some of the weeds were way tall, especially in those corners of the garden that I don't pay much attention to. I've given up weeding in the pumpkins. They've spread over everything and I can no longer walk through them. A few clumps of foxtail here and there shouldn't bother them. The pumpkins have invaded the farmer's field behind us and I hope that I can harvest the pumpkins growing there and pull down the vines before he harvests this fall. Not sure how he'd feel about the pumpkin encroachment. There are more Cinderella pumpkins every time I turn around, and the Jack Be Littles are zooming everywhere. I've only seen one really good Musquee de Provence, the other ones were pollinated with Long Island Cheese pollen and didn't form true to type. I think I'll only end up with a few Long Island Cheese also. The young rind is tender and the cucumber beetles must think it tasty. I'm sick of tomatoes. The tomato stand was fun this year and I made over $30, so I paid for most of the plants and seeds that went in the garden. But now its speed ripening time and I can't keep up. I made tomato preserves on Sunday (actually tastes more like BBQ sauce) and used 5 pounds, not even making a dent in the current backlog.

So as I'm standing there in the rapidly advancing twilight and surveying the overgrown wildness that was (is) my garden and I think, Well there's always next year. And that made me sad. How did it get to be the middle of August so fast? It was only the other day that I was pouring through heirloom seed catalogs, and making lists, and envisioning this Martha Stewart-esque, neatly groomed, incredible garden, and here I am at the tail-end of summer, staring at a riot of weeds, and rotting zucchini the size of volkswagens, and yellow-legs vaulting from tomato cage to tomato cage, and already making grand plans for next year.