Sunday, August 29, 2010

To Market ...To Market

Nothing invigorates me more than a trip to a Farmer's Market. Whenever we are near a Market on Saturday AM, it is part of the plan. I love the spirit and vib..lots of the time there is music, food to taste and plenty of colorful fresh food. Here in Shelbyville, I can even buy a bottle of wine from my favorite local winery

So yesterday after meeting my wonderful neighbor and a great hour walk and talk...I made my way to the Local Farmers Market. I arm myself with my cloth bags,of course I use the one bearing the name of BLITZ BUILDERS on it, and some small bills.

The result the freshest eggs, the brightest peppers, some freshly dug spuds and a weeks worth of meal ideas. I love it!!!! Oh not to mention that great bottle of wine, calling us for a great Sunday feast.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

In and Out Tasks

Today it is 100 Degrees, it will be an in and out day! I have already been to the Farmer's Market so I am set for the week, so I am searching for tasks in the garden that draw me in and out of the house.

#1 Make Opal Basil Vinegar.( I will post recipe below)

I have noticed that the Opal Basil or Purple Basil was crying to be cut. So it was done!! Into the pot it goes!

#2 Ever since the storm several weeks ago the Potager Garden has been a disaster. The Cherry Tree fell right into the middle of the tomatoes, all the tall sunflowers collapsed on the lillies and the trellis fell over onto the roses. I think you get the general idea. It has been 100 degrees everyday since the storms, so clean up has been a struggle. So today despite the heat, I am moving forward. I have sweated, pulled and yanked, but I was continually encouraged by the Hummingbirds and Butterflys. As the day draws to a close, I am sore, chigger bitten and tired but invigorated by the progress. Time to go in and fix dinner. I am excited I am making Turkey Meatballs with my homemade Garden Tomato Sauce....I will let you know how this turns out! Enjoy the evening.

Opal Basil Vinegar

Take a big bunch of Opal Basil, rinsed clean and dried.
1 large jug of White Vinegar

I put the vinegar is a pot and heat it just until boiling. Then I stuff the basil into the jug. I proceed by pouring the heated vinegar over the basil and pop the lid back on the vinegar. I let it sit for about 2 weeks then I pour it into individual fun jars each with a special sprig of Opal Basil.

I love doing this tasks...the vinegar turns a wonderful light red color! So cool.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cutting Down the BeeBalm

Cutting down the Bee Balm and Coneflowers

Under the welcomed shade of the Crepe Mrytle Trees, I am taking on the task of cutting down the Coneflowers and Bee Balm. There is a slight wind and cooler temps, so even Dixie is out here to help me.

I love this task because it refreshes my mind of memories of years ago.

When my now 28 year old son, was very small, he refused to take naps. So most afternoons I would pop him in the car and we would drive the back country Indiana roads in search of Bee Balm. He would hold his head up high and eagerly look about..until he spied the Bee Balm....his little voice would chime out Bee Balm Bee Balm Bee Balm.....then as if it were magic..he would fall into slumber.

I would race home and cautiously carry the car seat and Jake into the house and on top of the dryer....which I ran on a low cycle . Crazy but it worked!!! So my garden must always have BEE BALM!

Goodnight my baby Jake!

P.S. #1 Bee Balm was Jake's 2nd love.....he adored turtles and would search relentlessly for a turtle crossing the road.(which we promptly stopped and saved by moving across the road.) Why does the turtle cross the road? So Jake can save it!

So I have a special stepping stone for Jake in the Bee Balm Garden! The turtle stepping stone!

P.S. #2 I stepped inside to check the jam, I was cooking and noticed that I had several finches clinging to the Coneflower seed heads. I was reminded by their sweet chirps that I should wait to cut the coneflowers until the feasting was done!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Still Stewing Over The Tomatoes

We are taking a long weekend trip down to see our daughter in Carrollton Georgia. I am excited because we are going to visit some gardens and make a trip to my favorite restaurant in Villa Rica Georgia, “The Blue Brick”.

I despise the fast food we normally get along the way, so I decided to finalize the meals made from the Stewed Tomatoes/Chicken dish. I took the delicious chicken breast and cut them into nice chunks. A quick trip to the garden gave me some fresh basil, some sweet young carrots, and a few more chigger bites.

I added all the ingredients together plus some of the sauce from the stewed tomatoes, plus enough mayo to bind it together. Voila! A wonderful chicken salad, the bits of stewed tomatoes, celery, onions and pepper added a unique depth to each bite. I packed a cooler with the Chicken salad, some fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes, and fresh cheese.

We stopped at on of my favorite stops, The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.

This is a perfect stop as it offers all the traveler services, including a small cafe, and a wonderful store highlighting the works of over 650 Kentucky Artisans. There are exhibits, demonstrations, and Kentucky Cuisine.

Under a nice shade tree, we enjoyed our chicken salad and officially put the stewed tomatoes to bed or in reality in our stomachs. Then a nice walk through the center and we are again rolling down the road.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stewing over Tomatoes

Stewing over Tomatoes

In an effort to use all the “gifts” from my garden, Tuesday I made a big pot of Stewed Tomatoes. I used a recipe from Paula Deen (see attached recipe), substituting Splenda for sugar and using the fresh peppers I had in the garden instead of canned ones. It was so yummy!! I had it over wild rice and Randy had it on a grilled rib-eye, left over from Sunday’s dinner. The stewed tomatoes continued to feed us on Wednesday night as well. I took several organic chicken breasts and lightly fried them in olive oil and thyme, garlic and onion. I submerged them in the wonderful stewed tomatoes and baked the mixture in the oven. The result of my experiment was mouth watering.

I had a couple slices of fresh tomatoes and dinner was good to go! I love using leftovers to make creative meals. But the rush that I love the most is going out to the garden and finding dinner pickins! I stand by that statement in spite of the constant 100 degree heat index’s and constant attack of chiggers.

" Sweet Stewed Tomatoes"

5 large fresh tomatoes
4 Tablespoons bacon drippings or butter
1 cup diced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon The Lady's House Seasoning
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
3 Tablespoons milk
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese

Peel and dice the tomatoes. Heat the drippings in a skillet and saute the onions and garlic, stirring to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the House Seasoning and the tomatoes, cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 35b minutes. Add the sugar and parsley. Mix the cornstarch and milk until smooth. Bring the tomatoes to a boil and pour in the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly. Add the Parmesan and stir well.

Recipe from "The Lady and Sons, Too"
Paula Deen

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sundays tend to be a work day at our household. At the end of the day, we love to have a wind down dinner on the backporch. I love to grill out so we tend to make this a Sunday tradition.

Early Sunday morning,I had been in Louisville and stopped at Paul’s to buy some pancetta, when I spied some wonderful organic rib-eye steaks. Next to the steaks were some Vidalia Onions, setting off in my mind a plan for dinner.

I recalled a recipe from “Down Home with the Neeley’s” for grilling Vidalia Onions, so they became part of the grilling meal along with grilled asparagus, rib-eyes and fresh sliced tomatoes with basil and mozzarella cheese.. I ended up even grilling the tomatoes, so we ended up eating right off the grill!

With the aid of several citronella candles, Skin So Soft, and my mosquito eating bats, we were able to enjoy a pleasant evening under the stars. To me it is very romantic to eat and observe the bats as they came out from under the shutters and swooped their way into the night to eat! It is fun to be on my porch at dusk.

Grilled Vidalia Onions with Bacon Butter
I brought the steaks to room temperature and then put seasoned them with Olive Oil and course Sea Salt. The asparagus and tomatoes all received the same treatment, the recipe for the Onions from the Neeley’s is written below.

The addition of a nice Red Wine topped off the evening and the meal.

4 Large Vidalia Onions
Kosher salt and freshly grounded pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 slice cooked bacon, crumbled (My husband loves bacon so I doubled this number)
2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves.
Preheat grill to medium heat

Cut onion top and “backtail” so the onion can sit flat. Peel the onion. Using a paring knife cut a hollow cone-like shape into the center of the onion making sure not to go all the way to the bottom. Salt and Pepper to the cavity. Place onions on individual squares of heavy duty aluminum foil

Add the bacon, butter, blue cheese, and thyme to a bowl and mix until well combined. Add large dollops of the butter mixture to the cavities of each of the onions.

Fold the aluminum foil all around the onion, gathering at the top and sealing to create a tent. Place on the grill over direct heat and cover the grill.. Cook for 30 minutes until the onions are soft. Let cool for 5 minutes before opening the packets and serving.

Recipe from the Food Network 2010.
“Down Home with the Neeley’s”


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