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Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

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It’s gonna be a good summer.

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I couldn’t help myself, and started summer seeds today.  January, right before a huge storm – brilliant.  But, I figure, it’s San Diego – how much colder could it get?  My neighbor and I have decided that the garden is ready for a massive expansion, so we’re taking out another big patch of lawn.  I’m hoping these will be ready to take center stage in a couple of months…

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Plus, how cute is this IKEA greenhouse?  I’m summer-smitten.

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Pie Off Pics, originally uploaded by cremarie.

The Pie Off was a total success – good friends, beautiful weather, delicious pies – what else could you ask for on a labor day weekend? I haven’t quite figured flickr out yet, so to see the Pie Off pictures (with comments), click on “Pie Off Pics” above and scroll through…

I gave this one my all, but failed to bring home the blue ribbon.  As you can see from the pics, it was a killer competition!

There’s always next year!

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This and bowls like it have been the impetus for me getting back in the kitchen:

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It’s a little hazy, but you can see that the tomatoes, peppers, squash and eggplant are coming at us en masse.  Somebody better cook ’em up!  Our meal last night used up just two of our wonderfully fresh ingredients – a massive squash from a friend’s garden and a huge handful of purple bush beans.

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These beauties were delicious, just sauteed in a splash of olive oil and sprinkled with salt.  They cook to green, so it’s like nature’s cooking timer.  Perfect cheat sheet.

I had this gargantuan squash that had been mocking me for days – I knew it had grown to an unreasonable size, so it wouldn’t be the best thing to eat plain.  I decided to roast it (scoop out the seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Roast at 350° until soft, about 20 minutes), stuff it with cooked rice, top with cheese and pop it back in the oven for that yummy browning.  I think I’m re-inspired.  Bring on the harvest – I can take it!

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Tea(light) time

We stood outside, looking up at the house.  Our string of solar lights outlining the eaves was glowing blue with a harshness that didn’t do anything for the house.  At the same time, the beautiful covered tea lights that my lovely sister gave me were hanging between our houses, unlit due to a lack of extension cords.  I credit the ingenious solving of this problem to our neighbor Adam, after he and Chris discussed it at length.  Simply disassemble the tea lights to remove the pretty reflectors, triple up the strand of solar lights, climb up on the roof to plant the solar panel and voila – powerless beauty. 

I stayed out of it, because these two are perfectionists in the best sense of the word, and I’m a slap-it-together-until-it-sort-of-works kind of a girl.  I spent my time in the garden, ruthlessly seeking out and destroying tomato hornworms while the fellas went to work.

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The result is beautiful, and truly simple.  There’s a light sensor built into the solar panel, so once the sun goes down, these glowing orbs light our path until morning with the power they’ve collected during the day.  Just as soon as I’m home at dusk, I’ll try to capture it in a picture.

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After flipping on the oven and stove to prepare last night’s meal and dessert, I knew that drastic measures needed to be taken – namely, we needed to vacate the hot sticky premises.  A quick search of the property yielded some serving tables, and we were all set for a summer meal outdoors.

This meal is the perfect way to use up the abundance of summer veggies – a big kitchen sink salad (with carrots, goat cheese, apricots and avocado), Corn and Squash Simmered in Coconut Milk with Thai Basil on top of brown rice, and biscuits from the can.  I swear, I don’t know why I ever try to make biscuits – the Pillsbury ones are baked crack.

From Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets:

Corn and Squash Simmered in Coconut Milk with Thai Basil

1 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil

1 package fresh, firm tofu, drained and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

2 medium zucchini (I tripled this), diced into 1/2-inch cubes

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

4 large ears sweet corn

1 serrano chile (I used 2)

1 heaping Tbsp cilantro

1 heaping Tbsp Thai basil leaves

1 bunch scallions, including half of the firm greens, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

1 (15-oz) can coconut milk

1 tsp mushroom soy sauce

3 cups cooked basmati rice (I used brown)

cilantro and basil for garnish

Heat the oil in a wide nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the tofu and zucchini and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to brown all the sides of the tofu.

While the tofu is cooking, slice the corn off the cob, then, reversing your knife, press out the milk.  Set aside on the cutting board.  Finely chop the chile(s) with the cilantro and basil.

Add the scallions, chile-herb mixture, and corn to the pan.  Add the coconut milk to the pan, then rinse out the can with a little water and add that as well.  Stir in the soy sauce, an additional 1/2 tsp salt, and a few twists of black pepper.  Simmer until the corn is heated through, 3-5 minutes.  Taste for salt.  Serve over rice garnished with the additional herbs.

Hey, somebody took a layer off that biscuit!

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About a year ago, Chris and I found a great old garden swing bench at a yard sale.  We couldn’t figure out why it was so cheap, until we took it home and it promptly fell apart.  Doh!

Never one to give up on a failing item (seriously, I’ve nursed our basil plant back from near compost food so many times), I somehow convinced Chris that it’d be worth our (ahem, mostly his) time to fix it, rather than looking for another.  Easy for me to say.

We spent about $30 on wood, and crafted a sturdier bench that looks fabulous, is more comfortable than the originals, and that brings us a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.  Not bad!  Now, adding in the time spent on getting this puppy just right might not pencil out quite as well, but we won’t talk about that.

I love that the one picture we have of the process is of me doing my very small part (Look, Ma, black hair!):

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Yeah, tracing a line.  I’m a real carpenter over here.

Chris was the hero of the day with this one, and this is our reward:

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The first leisurely moment of my week – a lazy Friday morning with some good books, good coffee and fresh fruit with some garden basil.  And my cat Norman staring at me from the neighbor’s porch.  All is well with the world.

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