Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Refreshingly Redundant: Watermelon Melon Water

tall and cool by the pool
For the second year in a row, we have had an unseasonably cold summer. The fog creeps in each evening with its damp chilly mists, thickly blanketing the whole valley and daring the sun to burn it off the next day before noon. Elsewhere there are chart-busting heatwaves... but not here... not in Brigadoon.

Because warm sunny days are so few and far between, when we are gifted with one, I try to make the most of it by doing something super summer-y. Something best experienced only in the summer. Like drinking aguas frescas and dancing in the craggy heathered foothills with Gene Kelly... before the mists return.

Watermelon agua fresca is one of my favorites. It's especially refreshing when sparked with peppermint and lime...

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Freezer Is Trying To Tell Me Something

Is it... Banana bread? Maybe muffins? Or a smoothie? Decisions, decisions...
(Uh-oh... smoothies aren't baked... will I get in trouble for not following directions if I make one?)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Strawberry Pots Forever

We grew strawberries this year for the first time and I am hooked. 100% loving it. Of all the new things we tried to grow this season, the strawberries are far and away my favorites. They are sweet like only perfectly ripe strawberries can be, and red, red, red all the way through. Not like those grocery store impostors with their  superficial, only-skin-deep, thinnest-of-thin red veneers. No sir, these are the real deal.

Garden Notes (for next summer): 
  1. Six strawberry plants are NOT enough. Not even close. 
  2. Strawberries will grow great in pots. 
  3. Copper tape around the outside of the pots will keep snails and slugs from eating the berries. Pest-free and pesticide-free. That makes me happy.
  4. They're called straw-berries because you're supposed to lay straw around the plants so the berries don't sit in the dirt and get muddy. That's important because otherwise you have to stop and wash the dirt off before you can eat them. Which means it will take longer to get them into your mouth. Get straw. Or use a special strawberry pot. Straw is probably cheaper.
With only six plants, there are just a few ripe berries every few days. Not enough of a yield to actually make anything with... just enough to grow 'em and eat 'em. Which is actually fine by me. Though more would, of course, be more than welcome.

Maybe I'll go pick some up instead at the farmer's market. You know, so I can make one of these sweet and scrumptious strawberry recipes... 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Homemade Tortilla Chips with Faux Hummus

chip & dip
A couple weeks ago my friend told me about an appetizer she'd had at a local restaurant... she told me it would be super simple to recreate at home and that it was, in fact, incredibly delicious. Then she proceeded to make it for me. (Yea!)

This is what she did... she mixed some local lime-infused olive oil and good balsamic vinegar into plain store-bought hummus. And that was all there was to it. Except for the eating part. We started dipping cubes of Ciabatta bread in it and I almost couldn't stop. Let me tell you... I fell for that stuff in a bad way. Who needs dinner when you've got a bowl of that in front of you?

Not too long after, I found myself staring at all the tubs of prepared hummus at Trader Joe's. Why not just make my own? After a quick glance at the ingredients, I grabbed some tahini and headed home to research recipes. It wasn't until a day or two later that I noticed the container was labeled Tahini "Sauce". Harrumph. So much for following the recipe for real honest-to-goodness hummus.* Time to just wing it.  The tahini sauce was made from olive oil, salt, and lemon juice, in addition to you know, actual tahini. Well with all that, I was half-way to hummus already...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August Wish List and the Letter "S"...

Sun... Not too much. Just enough warmth to remind me that it's summer, but not so much that it makes me long for it to be over. If not for me, then for all our gorgeous green tomatoes just waiting to turn vibrant vitamin-packed shades of red, orange, and burgundy.

Sea... I want to go to the ocean. La Mer. I want to sit and stare at it, and listen to it, and breathe its air. Maybe I'll take a kite. Maybe I won't. I want to come home at the end of the day with that pleasant tiredness that I get just from spending the day near it.

Stone Fruit... Fresh, ripe, deeply scented. Perfumed, even. Fruit with pits. In season. Eaten out of hand. Baked, broiled, grilled. I want to over-indulge in stone-fruits. Eat them with every meal. Before they're gone for the year.*

These recipes are the stuff some of my summer dreams are made of...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

All Dressed In Romano

So, as you may know, I've been plinking around on a ukulele lately and have consequently discovered where all the olde-timey songs have gone... they're in ukulele instruction books. Gems such as Buffalo Gals, My Darlin' Clementine, and Polly Wolly Doodle... just to name but a few.

Depressing doesn't fly on a ukulele
Many of the old songs are of the folksy "bad-dudes on their death-bed" genre, lamenting the imminent final reward for someone who's lived a less-than-law-abiding life. Songs like Tom Dooley: depressing enough lyrics until you delve into the history (at which point you'll probably want a hot bath and some penicillin). And then there's The Streets Of Laredo, about a nameless young cowboy's last dying moments, apparently already dressed for his coffin. What's his story? Who knows. He no doubt "done wrong" though... and again, it's a real downer. 

The Streets Of Laredo was good for practicing certain chords and chord-changes* though, so I reluctantly added it to my notebook. It wasn't long before I found this version of it tucked at the end of a YouTube video. After I stopped laughing, I added the "new" lyrics to my notebook. Now I smile each and every time I practice it.

The Territory Ahead
When I recently put my uke down for a few moments, I decided to make farrotto. It's a risotto... but with farro instead of ris (rice). Totally experimental for me. Completely new territory. I've never even made a traditional risotto before. What was I thinking?