Summer Firsts

June 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

I thought I’d pace myself on England posts and take a moment to note that summer is finally here and so far, it has been delightful…

firstcuttinggardenblooms

I came out last night to find that this year’s cutting garden was planted! So today I snipped a few buds that were more than ready to hit the stage. I know I post a LOT of flowers here, but I just love them and they make me happy. (I hope they make you happy, too.)

Also making me very happy this weekend is our herb garden (that also contains lettuces and small tomatoes). Mr. H and I planted it in the rain a few weeks ago and it is already taking off. And this evening we’ll be having our first summer salad containing only Mr. & Mrs. H greens*…

firstherbgarengreens

Along with some of our first tomatoes that must be eaten by us before the birds get to them…

firsttomatoesandstrawberriesAnd yes, we are trying those teeny strawberries again (they just grew back and I didn’t have the heart to tear them out), and so far, they are actually tasty!

Also worth noting is that last weekend we enjoyed our first  grilled summer steaks and hamburgers, with beef from our favorite butcher in Brooklyn: Fleisher’s

fleishers

Originally located in Kingston, New York, their second location opened about two years ago and what can I say?  All their meats are fantastically delicious and “happy”. (And it is a touch easier to pop into this place than store 60 pounds of beef from a share once a year.) Even their ground chicken is tasty. Yay.

And that is all I have for today. I think we are off to a good start!

xx

* I am not a hero, so we buy plants and lettuce plugs every year from The Green Thumb, which is a bit of an institution and one of the best places out by the beach for organic produce.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

The Perfect Excuse

January 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Happy Saturday! I stumbled out of bed after a 36-hour bug to find this outside my window:

“Did it snow?” I asked myself. I checked again. Yes, it had. Even though the weather report had not indicated that we would be getting more than an inch or two and I was not convinced we would get any. For the record, we definitely got more than and inch or two.

I surveyed my options and while the thought of building a snowman crossed my mind, after assessing the accumulation a little more closely while out with A+O, I decided my best course of action was a day indoors. A perfect excuse to catch up on some reading…

I have been meaning to get to this Jansen book for well over a year. And it is fascinating. (As is Know Your Rodent, but that is a much quicker read.) While reading about the many amazing homes this venerated design firm decorated well into the later part of the 20th century, I began to get The Craving to order a few more books on some of the more infamous and glamourous figures who made up much of Jansen’s clientele and their circle, including the Mitford sisters and Nancy Lancaster. It seems to me that these topics could take me through a number of other snowy days and it is totally possible that this weather is here for a spell:

Really, who wants to go out in that, which isn’t even as bad as it could get. Much better to be curled up with a book and a dog, I say.

So, I fixed the fire…

Which enabled Mr. H to build upon said fire…

Leaving me with nothing to do but order my books, keep reading and then make dinner for friends*, starring a fresh bolognese from Marcella Hazan, who is pretty much that last word in these matters.

So, it will have been basically a day of loafing and pasta-eating, which we all need from time to time. So, thank you very much Surprise Snowfall.

xx

*Although even that might be a Mr. H production. At least I set the table. And pulled out the necessary ingredients.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night, who left her good camera in the city.)

Awesome Wife Production

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

So, I went a little nuts yesterday and spent the day cooking and freezing to make at-home dinners a little more within our grasp. The goal was to make several soups, a few things with our beef*, and a number of sides and sauces that will enable me to cook up a chop or two, make a salad or get some nice cheese and call it a meal.

When I began at noon, I didn’t really think about the end game exactly. I just bought a ton of stuff and got down to cooking. Here is some of the fruit of my labor:

Please note that it is very hard to make edible food look nice in a photo. But this was my “cooling” center where prepared food was left to get cool enough to freeze and avoid freezer burn.

A recent Development Area that I decided to work on in earnest this year was to begin labeling the things I make and freeze. No matter how certain I am that “I’ll remember”, I do not. And it is silly to pretend that I will. So, here are my very casual labels.

And here is the end result, with everything in the freezer.** Again, not pretty pictures, but I am still pretty proud. In fact, it was around this time, either in a fit of delirium or just too much dancing around the kitchen to the Scissor Sisters, that I proclaimed myself “An Awesome Wife” for doing all this stuff.

So, what did I make? I’ll tell you:

– Three containers of Roasted Veggie Soup with Spelt Pasta
– Three containers of Escarole, Bean and Sausage Soup
– Two Sautéed Broccoli and Pine Nuts for use over pasta or as a side
– Two Sautéed Brocoli Rabe with Garlic and Red Pepper as a side
– Two Sautéed Bok Choy, Ginger and Mushrooms to be combined with thin chicken slices at dinner time
– Two Sautéed Kale with Onions and Red Pepper as a side
– Five mini-meat loaves
– Thirty meat balls
– Five containers of Tomato, Basil and Garlic sauce, for use with said meat balls

I finished at around 7PM, just in time to have a little dinner, wash all the food off of me and settle in for my reward: the season premier of Downton Abbey. A very good end to an Awesome Wife Production indeed.

xx

* Have I mentioned that Mr. H and I do a beef share every year with about ten friends? It sounds nuts but it is excellent.

** And there’s the beef. And some lamb from our CSA. And other important items like ice cream. (You have to have priorities.)

(Photos: Mr. H, who also put everything into the freezer for me. That was an Awesome Husband Production.)

My Chili Type

January 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

I like the idea of chili, but rarely do I enjoy what actually winds up in my bowl when out in The World. It is often greasy, with too many ingredients and sugar, and meat of unknown provenance. That said, it has never occurred to me to whip up a big pot of chili. I am really not that type of girl. However, since The Husband  — “Mr. H” from here on, as it is easier for me, and what I call him anyway — and I have probably over 25 pounds of our own grass-fed ground beef from a cow share that we do with some equally enthusiastic, food-focused friends, I began to reconsider my position. So this weekend Mr. H and I decided it was time: we were making our own chili.

A simple goal, yes?

Well, “yes” and “no”.

The “no” part comes with finding a recipe that suits your needs and  sensibilities. Yes, there are Chili Sensibilities. These  include your feelings about beans, ground beef versus chuck, how many vegetables, if any, you wish to include, how spicy you like it (no, not like that…), etc., etc. And it turns out that there are actually a few distinct Chili Types: Cincinnati, Texas, New Mexico and Midwest. I suppose there is also the “Canned” type, and I fear that if I walked down the supermarket aisle where they keep all the “just add water” products, there may even be another type or two, but let’s just leave it at that.

Mr. H really took the reigns here, reviewing several cookbooks until he determined that we are the Cincinnati Chili Types (CCTs). CCTs go in for ground beef, a complex mix of spices with moderate-to-high heat and beans, but little other hooey. (No judgement!) The only part of the CCT that we do not abide by is the notion that the chili be served over spaghetti (!??!), but I am pretty sure that this must be some kind of misprint. Corn bread or rice: The only way to go.

On to the “yes” part:  the marvelous simplicity of making chili. I do see why it is a popular thing to cook, as once you know your Chili Type, it is fairly simple to assemble the required ingredients, get them into a pot and call it a meal. And even faster when you are using grass-fed beef, since it takes far less time — maybe half the suggested time — to cook. And don’t mess around with cook times on grass-fed, or you will have some very rubbery meat on your hands.

I worked from the basic recipe for Cincinnati Chili in the 1997 Joy of Cooking, improvising here and there as I often do.  Essentially, you put the meat, spices, liquid (water, vinegar and worcestershire sauce), along with onions and garlic into a pot bigger than the one I decided to use and just let it simmer until you feel that you have achieved chili. The chili meat is then refrigerated for several hours so that it can absorb all those spices you dug out of the pantry when you started the affair. Once it has cooled you can remove any fat that has accumulated on the top and get on with things. Those things include reheating the chili with the beans while you maybe take down some holiday decorations, feed your dogs and do some laundry.

Once it is heated through and somehow corn bread or rice has magically appeared, scoop into some cozy-looking bowls, add a dollop of sour cream on top, grate some good cheddar over that and you are done. Except for walking the dogs. And folding the laundry. But who’s complaining?

xx

Ms. CCT

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