Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kitchen Garden

It's hard to believe that June is almost over. The garden is definitely in full summer mode. Edward is watering almost every morning before work. The lettuces and spinach all started going to seed, and I pulled out the spindly remains of the spinach a few days ago. The later developing cauliflower aren't going to do much more than start to flower and will be pulled out soon too. In their places I am planning to seed swiss chard, the young tender leaves can be used in salad and mature ones eaten sauteed and sliced up and added to soups and stews, to replace all the wonderful lettuces and spinach that I hate to see go when the weather gets hot. I will also transplant a couple of the Asian eggplant seedlings that I have started in a protected planter box against the house into the garden.
I have two lush patches of overgrown arugula. They are really too big, that is strong and spicy, to eat raw at this point (alas, we love a simple arugula salad with a lemon and olive oil or red wine vinagrette), but I am going to try to salvage some of it by making arugula pesto. I plan to quickly blanch it first to tone down some of the heat and sharpness. I read about arugula pesto a couple of months ago on In My Kitchen Garden, the alternate blog of Susan of Farmgirl Fare, also a great find for fresh recipes and pictures of very cute baby lambs. Susan raves not only about the yummy pesto but about the instant gratification of growing arugula from seed in your garden. I definitely agree! She also offers a great idea and a scrumptious picture for arugula pesto pizza.

From our front yard garden.
The tomatoes don't last very long in our house,
but I've been saving up these first okra to sautee with cumin.

Edward pulled the first carrot.

Hmm, it's awfully dirty!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sea World

We spent last weekend tent camping and going to Sea World with our Girl Scout troop.
We braved the heat, walked for miles, got splashed by Shamu (phew), laughed at the sea lions, screamed on the Atlantis, relaxed by the wave pool and shopped for overpriced souvenirs.

The Shamu/orca show was pretty amazing and actually quite moving.

We thoroughly enjoyed it, and I heard rumors on the way home that the girls want to go back next year...but in an RV!

Reaching to pet the dolphins

Fairy swirl face paint

Face paint after the Rio Loco water ride
Now she's ready for Halloween.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Hair Cut

On the first Monday of vacation, R got her summer hair cut.

Hair damp from the shower and ready to go to the salon. The sticker on her shoulder has a line and says, Cut here.

Nine inches later, or lighter.

I think she likes it!

Mosaic Pots

I'm finally getting around to posting pics of the grouted garden pots. The first one was grouted in charcoal. The shiny, white pieces are mirror.

This one in a slate blue:

And then it was time to grout the bigger pot. But what color? I thought about sandstone.

Then I asked for advice and got a lot of ideas. After considering dark green, I settled on terracotta. Unfortunately, the bag of grout I got that was labeled terracotta turned out to be more of a dark, dull brick red, certainly fine for some project...well, I hope I will be able to use it again...but this really needed a warmer, more earth tone.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Baking bread

Last weekend in the midst of kids in tents, visits to area farmers' markets and a surprise water heater emergency (as if there's a such thing as a planned water heater emergency) I decided to bake bread. Not throw the ingredients in the machine and push a button bread, but three different risings and kneading bread. Bread that matured and became more complex and interesting through its longer, cooler rising times and over night stays in the fridge. I started the bread just after noon on Saturday as a half whole wheat and half unbleached white all purpose poolish (a watery starter that sits out and develops), and we ate it at dinner Monday night. Bread is a deceptively simple thing: flour, water, yeast, a little salt (unless you're in Tuscany, but that's a different story, and you can always just throw a few grains on a slice when your host or waiter isn't looking.) Serious bread makers usually have brands and types of flour they prefer, and some recipes very definitely specify bottled or spring water. This time, just by accident (water heater, remember?) I used bottled water in the poolish and in the dough itself. After the first rising of the dough, it was so big I didn't know if it would fit on my pizza stone.

Dough ready to go on hot stone

This is basically the America's Test Kitchen Rustic Country Bread with a little rye flour. The loaf was gorgeous.
Rustic country bread in the oven

However, while the bread was yummy, and made great toast for our artichoke-crab dip later in the week, the crumb was a little dense; it didn't have those big holes I thought it should have. I think I'd add a little more water next time.

To go with the bread...because after 3 days in the making, the bread was really the focus of the meal...I made a very fresh and light lentil and basmati rice soup with diced carrot, cumin and fennel seed, and diced yellow squash, shredded spinach and arugula from the garden. It was even well accepted by the 10 year old, and the cup of it that was left over was even better for lunch the next day.

Lentil spring vegetable soup

And yes, I finally got a hot shower.