Friday, June 20, 2003

Reading: I am not reading anything new/different so I will write about some books I have read in the past that stuck with me. Gap Creek was an Oprah book but don't hold that against it. It takes place at the turn of the last century (weird to have to specifiy which century was turning) in Appalachia and is the story of Julie's first year of marriage. The descriptions of Julie's daily life in the hills and all the work she has are very vivid. I found myself tired just reading about slaughtering pigs and chopping wood and hauling and cooking and... You get the picture. I was also talking like I was from the hills when I got done. "There is snakes dancing! I ain't seen no snakes dancing." Anyway, I liked the book a lot and thought it well written.

Eating: A couple of quick summer recipes from Pampered Chef! I will leave out the references to which PC tools you should be using. Perfect for lunch after a trip to the Farmer's Market for fresh produce: Strawberry Spinach Salad The dressing: 2 T. lemon juice, 2 T. white wine vinegar (or whatever kind of vinegar you have), 1/3 C. sugar, 1 T. vegetable oil, 1 t. poppy seeds. Whisk all together, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The salad: 1/4 C. toasted sliced almonds, 8 oz. strawberries, hulled and quartered, 1/2 of a cucumber, sliced and cut in half, 1/4 small red onion (I don't add this because I don't like raw onion in this salad), 6oz baby spinach (or shredded regular spinach). Combine all salad ingredients (except almonds) in a large bowl. Whisk dressing and pour over. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with almonds and serve immediately. Very tasty and refreshing.

Picnic Sausage and Potato Kebabs 3/4 pound petite new (red) potatoes, cut in half. Cook in microwave with 1/4 C. water for 5-7 minutes, until fork-tender. Drizzle with 1 t. olive oil. Add 1 clove garlic, pressed, 3/4 t. dried dill weed, salt and pepper (actually add the salt to the water when cooking potatoes) and gently stir together. Cut 6 large green onions into 2" pieces. Cut 1lb of bratwurst or Polish sausage into 1" pieces. Using six 12" skewers, alternately thread bratwurst, potatoes, onions and cherry tomatoes. Grill uncovered 6-8 minutes until brats are browned, turning frequently. Can be served with a mustard sauce made with 1/4 C. mayo and 2 T stone-ground mustard. I don't like mustard so I have never made the sauce. This is an easy grill recipe but nice enough to serve guests.

And for dessert, Candy Bar Parfaits. Coarsely chop 1 (1.55 oz) chocolate candy bar, 1 C. mini pretzels, 1/4 C. peanuts and mix together (freeze the candy bar for 5 minutes for easier chopping). Whisk together 1/3 C. chocolate syrup and 2 T. peanut butter. Place 1 scoop vanilla ice cream in each of 4 parfait dishes. Top each with one fourth of the candy bar/pretzel/peanut mixture and then another scoop of ice cream. Drizzle with chocolate/peanut butter sauce and sprinkle with additional pretzels and peanuts. This is SO GOOD! And I do have to say it is perfect for PMS cravings. I keep a sealed dish of the crunchy topping and one of the sauce on hand to have these whenever I need one.

Gardening: The cosmos are blooming their heads off. The coreopsis is growing like a weed. Speaking of weeds, that is what I will be doing this weekend.

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