Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Garden Inspiration

So, other than the very kind, encouraging comments here (thank you!), the inspiration for my garden-preparation is stuff like this: lettuce I picked from Husband's coworker's garden just hours before we ate it all up. I mean, really, to go and pick gorgeous greens like these in November -- who wouldn't want that? I want it, and I'm willing to do the work to get it. Fresh greens make such a difference in a salad. In this case, it was a full-meal salad with red pepper, avocado, toasted walnuts, and my newly arrived Maytag blue cheese. Delicious!

In other news, we had our first winter rains! Two nights of heavy rain, followed by grey, damp, cool days. Good, soaking rains, too, without a lot of run-off. It was great!

And in still other news, I love Marcella Hazan's comments today in the NYTimes. I'm a cook. I was a cook when I cooked professionally for someone else and I was a cook when I ran my own kitchen for a living. I'm not a chef and I don't pretend to be one. I haven't run into the phenomenon of home cooks calling themselves (or being called) chefs, but I love that Marcella Hazan makes the distinction, even among professionals. I don't have anything particularly profound to say; I just enjoyed the article and the sentiment behind it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Garden Of The Future

This photo is a) probably not the kind of photo you're missing, Mimi, and b) not all that current, but it is the one I have of my garden space. I took this during the fencing-in process, which is still not completely done because I haven't decided what I'm doing about a gate yet. We have serious rodent issues, which is why the fence is buried. There's an additional layer of (also buried) hardware cloth. I worry sometimes that I'm just providing an elaborate ladder for the climbing variety of local fur ball. If that proves to be the case, I'm prepared to add a layer of roof flashing for a slippery first several inches. In the meantime, I'm concentrating on keeping out the crawling/hopping/digging fur balls.

It's not a huge space, but my plan for next year is herbs, greens, tomatoes, and a couple other things yet to be decided. I don't need tons of space for such moderate goals. If it goes well AND it looks like we'll be here for another year after next summer, I'll work on an expansion. The space this time around was determined by two things: the space the previous occupants had leveled for their above-ground swimming pool and the length of the fencing that was sitting here waiting to be around my garden.

Over the next few months, I'll be pounding sun-baked free-range cattle poop and trying to score used coffee grounds and spent grain from a brew-pub to get the soil ready for spring. And, with luck, I'll make one very small corner of Desertville bloom.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Which Recipes Are Followed Left and Right

I seem to be on a recipe-following streak these days. New recipes, mostly, too. I'm pretty proud.

The most recent recipes were for Baby Girl's Happy Birthday cake. She's now two, so maybe not quite a baby anymore. She had some very specific ideas about what should be present at a birthday: cake, candles, balloons, hats, song. Anything else was just gravy, but those were repeated frequently. After the actual event, where the presents were all opened by an older cousin (four-ish) because my Girl didn't quite get the point, presents will always be a part of the list for future birthdays.

I wanted to make sure the cake was sufficiently cake-like that it wouldn't be confused for the favorite muffin, but not completely unhealthy for a very low-sugar-consuming small one. I decided on an applesauce spice cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. The recipes came from the classic Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that was on my M-I-L's shelf when I went looking. I followed them ALMOST to the letter. I increased the apple sauce quantity a little and the lemon was an addition to the frosting, which also went short by about a cup and a half of sugar to keep it a little less cloying. It was a hit with both kids and adults, which was the goal.

I've recently followed a couple other recipes, but I can't quite think of what they were. I swear that I did it, though. Husband and I have both put on a little weight since the shorter days set in, preventing late evening exercise time. So I'm thinking that I might try to make super-healthy soups twice a week to provide some vegetable-rich, filling, but lower-cal dinners and leftover lunches for the winter. I happen to have six or seven quarts of home made stock in the freezer right now, so that will provide some good inspiration. I have plenty of soup-rich cookbooks, so more recipes will probably follow.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen...

...the next President of the United States.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote! Vote! Vote!

Yes, this is my get-out-the-vote post. Please, no matter how long the lines are, no matter the weather, go vote tomorrow!

What does a Jack o' Lantern themed cake have to do with voting, you ask? I made it for Husband's work event last week and it was voted best dessert. Besides, you don't want to make that face the day after tomorrow if your candidate loses by only a few votes and YOU didn't make it to the polls. The cake, by the way, is a flourless mocha fudge cake from the Frog Commissary cookbook. Well worth a try; it is easy and delicious.

So get out there and vote! Eat good food while watching the returns come in! Be a good citizen!

(I recently followed another new recipe for a cauliflower bread pudding...I'll try to be a good blogger and share details soon! I really do try to keep up with my blog. I've got garden-to-be pictures somewhere, too.)