Saturday, May 29, 2010

The "Challenge" of Fresh Produce

I picked up my first bag of fresh produce from my farm share today.  It's early in the season, and judging by my own garden, I was expecting neither an abundance nor a lot of variety.  That is the way of in season and local produce.

Available today were green beans, radishes (the spiciest I've ever had!), spring onions, sage, mint, garlic, a few small serrano peppers and eggs.

The challenge now lies in using all this wonderful goodness every week.

I will make a salad tonight that has fresh greens from my own garden, augmented with some from the store, I must admit.  I don't have enough yet and awesome gardener lady down the road says hers are too sad to share.  Bridget picked and washed the greens, then  I taught her how to par-boil and slice the greenbeans, and how to make the perfect hard-cooked eggs.  Of course the radishes will be sliced (thin!) for the salad as well.

The sage has been hung in my pantry to dry.  The garlic needs to cure another few weeks.  The mint awaits this evening's mojito.

I took a bunch of the onions.  Onions are usually treated as a background ingredient, starting a dish as the mire poix.  I just love onions and often grill, sautee, or roast them as a side dish.  Today I made an onion tart.

I blind baked a sheet of puff pastry.  Chopped and sauteed most of the onions (and snuck those shy serrano peppers in there as well) in butter, oil and sherry. 

I saved some of the onions to braise (in butter and sherry) to top the tart with.

Once the tart filling was cool, I mixed in some grated manchego.  Goat cheese would have been a good complement to the onions as well, but manchego was what I had.

Spread it on the tart shell, top with the braised onions and back into the oven.  It'll make a nice appetizer to bring to the neighbor's BBQ tonight.

I can't wait to pick up next week's bag!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Time for Change

I am so ready. 

I am so ready to be done packing lunches every day.  To be done spending 3-5 hours every single night driving from one activity to another.  I am so ready to be done studying for Spanish tests. To be done with having my dining room look like a one-room school house.  To be done with flinging together dinner in 15 minutes at 7:45 at night.  I am so ready to be done with signing planners and ICARE sheets every single day

I am ready.  Ready for a bit more unstructured time.  Kids in the pool.  I even think I am ready for arising daily at 5:30 for swim practice.  That time slot doesn't conflict with anything, after all.  I am ready for trips to water parks and movies.  Sleepovers in the clubhouse.

Check back with me mid-August.  I'm sure I'll be done with wet towels, 6 meals a day, OPK, the early mornings, the heat.  And be pining away for the structure of the school year.

But for now - I say bring it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Random Musings

Nothing major going on here.... just lots of life's little joys and challenges.  Knock on wood, but I kinda like it that way.

So, in no particular order, I give you:

The Junior Girl Scout troop working on their Bronze Award.  Bridget is 2nd from the left in this photo. 

The Bronze Award is the highest award they can get at this age and these girls are doing something amazing!  They chose a local charity, Spirit Horse, for their community service project.  Spirit Horse is quite an operation and gives riding lessons to children who are physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged.  So, our girls started off by baking home-made horse treats.  They then took these to a horse show and sold them.  With the cash they earned, they bought a trailerload of stall shavings which they donated to Spirit Horse.  They also are spending their May meetings on site at Spirit Horse doing chores.  Last week, they stained the stalls of a recently constructed barn.  Yep, a crew of 11-yr old girls stained an entire barn full of horse stalls.  In 2 hours.  They were a mess, but the stalls looked beauitful.  This week, they're painting fences. 

This next picture is just plain funny.  It's Aidan after a swim meet.

He's pretty tired, eh?

Speaking of Aidan.....  not to be outdone by his smartie pants sister, he recently surprised himself by qualifying for the National Junior Honor Society.
Pssst, Aidan!  The secret is out!  You ARE smart, and you CAN get good grades!
We're proud of you, son!

And now for another photo of Bridget!  This was taken at a recent riding lesson by someone with a much better camera (and photography skills) than I.

Pssst!  Bridget, the secret is out!  You CAN jump a horse!

We are finally beginning to get some fresh local produce around here.  My own garden got in late due to running a B and B and L and D for much of March and April, but I have neighbors with mad skillz in the gardening department.  They gave me these cute 8-ball zuchinnis and I stuffed 'em w/ turkey sausage.  Yummy!
They also gave me a bunch of cucumbers.  Which I promptly stuffed in the blender along with some parsley, mint, argula, scallion, chili oil, cayenne and sour cream.....  Soup's on!  It was delish and I can't wait to make it again.  I could LIVE on that kind of stuff!

And now for something completely different....  a photo of Ray!  As you may know, his company is in NY, so when he's not on the road, he works from home.  While he has a very nice home office where he is sequestered for much of the day, sometimes a change of scenery is nice.

I wonder if the other conference call participants can hear the waterfall?

And now for something completely different - a photo of Pam's brain!  Well, not really - but what is occupying a large chunck of my brain lately......

It's a very bad photo of my calendar.  The good news is I've recently discovered Cozi, which is an online calendar perfect for families.  You can track everyone's separate schedules all on one calendar and have regular emails sent to each family member with the week's activities.  The bad news is just like this time last year, it's getting a little bit Out Of Control.  The hairy scary details include multiple swim practice changes to accomodate wildly out of synch schedules of 2 different school districts, talent show rehearsals and performances, choir rehearsals and performances, field trips and money and forms needed for all manner of things.  End of year pool parties, sleepover parties, water park parties, paint ball parties, and one much needed Mommy Luncheon which may (hopefully) include wine.

Speaking of wine.....  we hosted our neighborhood Wine Club this past weekend and had a lot of wine fun.  We have a lot of really fun neighbors and we gather on a regular basis to enjoy wine and each other's company.  These four were the only ones who allowed me to photograph them.  The names have been withheld to protect the innocent. 

 We drank explored blended wines and then experimented with blending our own.
Ray found these really cool wine blending kits on  They come with several splits of a variety of "pure" wines (cab, syrah, merlot, etc.), tasting notes on each, some "recipe" ideas and measuring devices.  We divided our party into 3 groups and each group had to come up with a blend.  We then had a blind tasting.

In addition to the splits of pure wines, there was also a bottle of a blend that won a wine competition using these very same ingredients.  Two of our groups took a lot of time to explore the various qualities of each bottle and discussed the type of blend they wanted to achieve.  They considered bouquet, finish, mouth feel, etc. and were very into it.  One of our groups CHEATED and just dumped the "winner" bottle into their decanter.  And you will never guess which blend was the resounding winner, getting about twice as many votes as the other two blends combined.  That's right, the CHEATER's blend!  And they still took the prizes!  Harumph!  You know who you are! :-)

And finally, I give you.....  Dixie.  No, you can't HAVE her.  She's OURS.  All ours, as she seems to be settling in quite well.  We're all a little disappointed in Scamp though, as he doesn't deign to play with her, he just walks away aloofly whenever she tries to get him to romp with her.  Hopefully he'll come around.

She's learned our house rules, and where the perimeter of the shock fence is.  She chases a ball, but hasn't learned to bring it back.  Any clues on how to train a dog to do this?  She's getting better on my 3 mile walk but still a little nervous when I take her out into the world.  And she recently climbed into Ray's lap and spent the better part of an evening there.

We are in the downslope of another school year.  8 years done for Aidan, and 7 more to go for Bridget, so we are more than half way done.  It seems strange that I'll be way less involved with school now that we're done with elementary school, but I have to take heart in small things like the fact that my middle schooler still seems to want me to chaperone on field trips, even though he has banned me from coming in to have lunch with him.

Which reminds me.  I must go have lunch with Bridget at least one more time before she leaves elementary school.  You take what you can, when you can.  You never know when those opportunities will no longer be there.