Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm still here

I haven't disappeared. I just have been very busy with work and garden stuff and when I stop for a minute to catch my breath, I find I don't really have much to say.

I put the tomato stand up over the weekend. This is a photo from last year, but same stand....just different tomatoes. I've almost made enough that the tomatoes have paid for themselves, so that is nice.

I'm embarassed that I missed OLS again, but I keep waiting to make these wonderful meals, and it just isn't happening. I'm pretty much existing on the following: either cantelope (from Nissley farms, 5 miles) or blackberries (my yard) for breakfast, my own cucumbers in that Basic Su dressing I blogged about a while back and tomatoes and a peach (Masonic Homes) for lunch, and tomatoes with basil and fresh mozzarella and olive oily croutons with balsamic for dinner. We're talking almost every day. It doesn't make for good reading.

I seriously could eat a bucket of those cukes in that Su dressing. Really refreshing in the heat and humidity if they are really chilled. But at the rate I'm going I won't have any pickles to put up. Not that I have the time right now to do any canning anyway.

I can't believe it is august already. Summer is rapidly winding down and I think I'm also getting a little sad about that. Maybe that is why I don't have that much to say right now. Anyway, I'm still here and will read and comment on your blogs as I find time.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Catching up

Oh, I missed OLS 4. I ate mostly local last week, but I kept thinking that later in the week I would make this really great meal of roasted veggies (from the garden) and friend polenta (with corn meal from Manheim, PA) and some fabulous fruit dessert......and well, that never happened. And I should have taken some pictures of our more plebian fare earlier in the week . Oh well.

Back to the mushrooms..through a business relationship, a coworker came in on Monday afternoon with some fresh baby portabella mushrooms for me from Kennett Square. I had discussed the whole chinese mushroom thing with him and he happened that day to be around an owner of a mushroom house, so he asked him about it. Turns out most canned mushrooms come from China. And China is allowed to use formaldehyde in its mushroom growing process. We aren't allowed to use it in the United States. China also uses human waste in the compost that they grown their mushrooms on....another thing that is a no-no in the United States. So check those labels and use fresh when possible, most of which are grown in the United States. I didn't use those canned mushrooms in a local meal, but now I'm tempted to throw them out and not use them ever. Formaldehyde? Human Waste? ewwww.

Those fresh mushrooms were grilled that evening in an aluminum foil packet with local butter and I ate them on one of those grass-fed burgers from Masonic Homes with a side of sweet corn and the best white peaches I have ever had in my entire life. Plebian maybe, and the pretty much the same as I meal I already used in OLS, but darn good all the same.

And on Saturday I hit a milestone. I have never been a tomato person. I hated them for years, only tolerating them cooked, or really diced up small in a salsa. Then after college, I started to get the gardening bug a little and planted a cherry tomato or two every summer. I ate them on salads and enjoyed them. But I still could not tolerate a giant slice of tomato on a sandwhich. Yuck. Since we've moved to our house, I've planted a lot of tomatoes every year. Too many. And I gradually started to enjoy bigger tomatoes, especailly in a caprese salad. Of course anything with mozarella cheese and basil will taste good I suppose. I'd look at a big old heirloom tomato and really, really want to enjoy just biting into it. But I just wasn't there yet. I mostly sold them or gave them away.

But Saturday I decided to make a BLT. I had goregeous garlic clove studded bread from Central Market and pepper bacon and lettuce left over from Masonic Homes the week before and my Brandywines had ripened (pictured unripe here cause I am lazy and didn't take a picture before I sliced into them). So I whipped up some homemade mayo, toasted that bread and stared into that sandwich with those big huge slices of tomato. And I took a bite. And I loved it. And all my tomatoes issues just disappeared.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I heart orange

Maybe it is age. I'm not sure. As I get older I am drawn to more vibrant colors. My current favorite is orange. I love it. I love orange flowers, orange clothes, orange food, everything orange. Everyday when I get home I changed clothes and put on a pair of orange Crocs. Yesterday I had a matching orange shirt on. And I wore an orange hat during field work. On Tuesday I ordered a flaming orange halter swim top from Lands End which I will wear on vacation while kayaking in my orange Crocs. I hope they have an orange kayak.

After years of wearing a lot of black and brown, it feels strange to me to be drawn to these vibrant colors. I even have started liking bright spring green. How cool will my orange halter swimsuit look with a pair of lime green swim shorts? Or a poppy red swim bottom? I keep thinking of that Sandra Martz book about being an old woman and wearing purple. I can totally see it happening.

Monday, July 16, 2007


The trip to Masonic Homes farm market this week was extra special. They had their first peaches in!!!! And plums! And still some cherries! And while I contemplate some fabulous desert combining all of them, I'm really just very happy eating a peach just as it is. Although last night I sliced one and ate it with my Black Raspberry sorbet on top. Very good. And look at all my veggies! See my adorable little lemon cucumber? Anyone have any cool recipes for lemon cucumbers? They will probably be made into pickles anyway.

This time of year is awesome. I buy hardly anything at the grocery store. Basically kitty food and husband food like soda and frozen pizza. Can you imagine having all these fresh things and prefering to eat frozen pizza? Neither can I.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Recipe Request

Pennie asked for the pimiento cheese recipe previously. Note that you can spell it pimento and pimiento. I've written about Pimento Cheese before but I never tire of it. My recipe is an amalgamation of two of the finalists in the Southern Foodways Alliance 2003 Pimento Cheese Invitational. That is right. There was a Pimento Cheese Invitational. SFA is an awesome website if you like reading about southern food and the relationship people in the south have with their food. I wish I had been born in the south sometimes. I dream about taking long drives to visit eccentric relatives with a picnic lunch of cold fried chicken, deviled eggs, and thick slices of devil's food cake. All of you who actually live in the south are probably like "uh, yeah, that never happens" but I can dream. The best pimiento cheese sandwich I have ever had was from the Fig Tree Bakery in Ocracoke, North Carolina. When we used to vacation there, we'd stop at this bakery on the way to the beach to get sandwiches for lunch. I'd tuck my wax paper wrapped treasure into the basket of my big old beachbike next to a few old-timey Cokes in glass bottles and off we'd go. Munching on pimento cheese with your feet dug into the sand on Ocracoke Island is pretty close to pure bliss. I know, I'm weird.

Many of the recipes I have seen recommend homemade mayonnaise. I second this recommendation. It makes a big difference. In lieu of homemade, Dukes (you lucky southerners you!) is probably the best and then Hellman's. And bonus points if you eat it on toasted slices of homemade bread with the crusts cut off. I also like to eat it with those really thin sesame crackers you can get at the grocery store.

These were the three finalists in the SFA competition and this is basically Nana's recipe with amounts tailored to my taste:

One pound extra sharp cheddar (preferably yellow. I just think Pimiento cheese should be yellow)

1 4 oz. jar pimientos, undrained

onion powder

cayenne pepper

worcestershire sauce

pinch sugar

2/3 cup mayo

Hand grate the cheddar with a box grater. Dice up pimientos a little but not so much that they completely disappear. Combine all rest of ingredients together, adding spices to taste. I think I add a little salt and pepper too. Yummy.

I have yet to try it grilled though. The photo is from the website Road Food and was taken at the Henpeck Market in Frankline Tennessee. All reviewers agreed that the grilled pimiento cheese sandwich was the standout at the eatery. How good does that look?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I'm not sure what I did this year to the garden. I think it may have been dumping chicken manure on it all winter long. Or maybe the stars just lined up this year for produce at my particular parallel. People, I have a scary amount of produce. I planted a ton of squash and zucchini. Because I usually am besieged by squash bugs and am lucky to harvest two or three before the plants are chewed to oblivion or wilt. This year I planted all the squash seeds I had. Two different yellow squash and two different zucchini. Something like 20 plants. Not a squash bug in sight. I have full size bell peppers already. I planted a ton of tomatoes. The scariest of all are the San Marzanos. Tough tomatoes to grow many people said. No disease resistance. So I planted five. Each of these plants must have 50 green tomatoes on it. And they will all ripen at once. I eye them with fear in my heart as I pass them by. One day soon, with little warning, they will be ready and I will be rushing to can them on some hot sticky day in August.

For now, I enjoy the Sungolds and the Juliets, which do not overwhelm, but deal out a steady trickle of sun ripened fruit. They figure into my 3rd OLS meal which was brunch on Sunday. Eggs are mine, tomatoes are mine, strawberry jam is mine (made with strawberries from Masonic Homes). Butter is from Shady Acres, bacon was from Hummer's Meats in Mount Joy (made from Lancaster County pigs) and toast was made from Martin's Potato Bread, made in Chambersburg, PA.

An interesting note. I was going to make a mushroom omelet, since we live approx. 60 miles or so from Kennet Square, Pennsylvania, otherwise known as the mushroom capital of the world, growers of 50% of the mushrooms consumed in this country. There are mushroom houses everywhere and many, many different growers. So I got my can of mushrooms out. The one called Pennsylvania Dutchman, with the little outline of the United States on it. And just as I was about to open the can, I saw the most peculiar thing on the back of the label. Product of China.

So then I grabbed the Giorgio Mushrooms. I have done work for the Giorgio company at a previous job. I have delivered wetland reports to their offices and have been given boxes of pure white button mushrooms as a thank you. I know that they grow tons of mushrooms in Chester County. I've seen them. Same thing on that can. Product of China. Very, very strange.


Pretty view, isn't it? It is the Susquehanna up around Wilkes Barre/Scranton area. It was what I got to look at while I stood in various parking lots and examined subsurface soil borings for petroleum contamination for 12 hours yesterday. In jeans and workboots and a safety vest. Did I mention it was 97 degrees yesterday? Have you ever sweated so much that when you finally dry off, your skin feels like sandpaper from all the salt accumulated on it? I have. Yesterday.

I have said before that I do not care for air conditioning. Let me clarify that. I do not care for air conditioning when it is under....let's say....93 degrees.....and I can be in shorts and a tank-top. When it is 97 degrees and I have to peel my jeans off my body to use the bathroom and I keep getting that weird tingling sensation at the back of head (signalling that I am minutes away from heat stroke) I looooooooovvvvvve air conditioning and wish the whole world was icy and cool.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


We had a very wet fourth, how 'bout you? I don't mind the rain though. It's been really dry. Not that you can tell by the corn across the street. I think we're well past "knee high by the fourth of July", don't you?

This was Monday's meal. The husband was home and eating so I have be totally honest and admit the use of......gulp.....Shake n' Bake. Don't hate me. The pork is from our local Darrenkamp's Market which the butcher assured me came from one of several pig farmers in Lancaster County that they buy from. Corn and squash are from Masonic Homes in Elizabethtown. Squash is local and the corn is from Delaware, most of which is within my 100-mile range. The tomato
and basil salad came from the garden.
For dessert, there was the black raspberry sorbet that I made with my new ice cream maker, which I love, love, love. Black raspberries came from my garden. I made more sorbet yesterday which I will savor and ration out, as the black raspberries are over for the year. Part of the joy of eating seasonally is the anticipation of beloved fruits and vegetables coming into season, and eating as much of something as possible before the season fades away into another. Would this sorbet taste as good if I could get black raspberries all year round? I'm pretty sure it wouldn't.