Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eating: The ratatouille was good.  I ate a bunch of it and froze 3 quart bags of it for later when I am craving summer veggies in the fall or winter.  I have another 1/2 an eggplant this week from the CSA (the other 1/2 goes to my in-laws) so am looking for another good eggplant recipe.
This is the recipe I used last week.  The chopping took a while but I like to chop, so that was okay.  Left out the 'shrooms because I am not a huge fan and also because they didn't speak "summer" to me.  And I used fresh parsley instead of dried because I have some growing on the deck.

We are on a pizza kick this month.  I have made home-made pizza (or 'Ho-made' as we call it, after a sign we saw in Door County advertising ho-made jams) for a number of years.  Simple Betty Crocker crust and sauce recipe, to which we usually add Canadian bacon and sometimes peppers if we have some.  Bake on the pizza stone from Pampered Chef (of course!) until the cheese is brown and bubbly.  A couple weeks ago, we made the pizza and E added red pepper slices from the pepper he grew, harvested and sliced thin (he has mad knife skilz).  It was perfection.  The next week (happened to be a Thursday again), we decided to try a BBQ chicken 'za since we had some leftover rotisserie chicken.  I made the BBQ sauce (with a little help from Pampered Chef for recipe and the BBQ rub) while E shredded the chicken.  A little green pepper, some red onion (on my half) and then fresh cilantro (added after it came out of the oven - otherwise it is just little burnt leaves - ask me how I know).  So tasty!  The best one yet.  This week was a Mexican pizza - instead of the red sauce we used E's fresh blender salsa, topped it with leftover taco meat, "Mexican-blend" cheese, and peppers. Fresh cilantro and crushed tortilla chips on top after baking.  Also very tasty, but not quite up there with the BBQ chicken.  Thinking of more creative ideas for the next pizza - suggestions??

Reading: I finished A Wrinkle in Time. I didn't like it as much as I remembered liking it before.  I need to think about it a little more before I discuss it.  Good thing bookclub isn't coming up real soon. 
Now I am reading Rhoda: A Life in Stories by Ellen Gilchrist.  It is a good sized volume of short stories, some of which are autobiographical, starting when Rhoda is about 7 or 8, in the '40s.  Love Rhoda's attitude and spunk.  And Gilchrist's writing style is engaging and descriptive.  I really feel like I am getting to know this character and her family.
I still need to pick a book for the Saturday bookclub.  What shall I pick for a bookclub that doesn't usually read the selection? Hmmmm....

Weeding: Date for the plant swap has been set.  I am very excited for this!  Swapping plants with my friends, snacks and beverages (of course! Can there be a gathering with out food??), tours of my garden.  I am enjoying the planning stages for that.  Also in the planning stages: E and I are hoping to build the second raised veggie garden bed on Labor Day weekend, get it filled with compost and then leaves to "cook" over the winter and be ready for spring planting.  And the gi-normous stump will hopefully be getting removed soon so we can get going on that area behing the house (plans percolating in my brain, not yet on paper though - a hedge for privacy, a fire pit, seating in the secluded area in addition to the half-log bench E made from the trunk of the tree, expanding the plants to all sides of the area, maybe a small water feature like one of those fountains that bubbles up out of a large rock, etc., etc.).  I have dubbed this "stump garden". 

Time to go cut back some of those tall flower stems on the daylilies and tie back some flopping plants. 

Until next time, happy reading, eating and weeding!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Eating:  I hope I like ratatouille.  I am at this moment baking a big casserole full of it.  We got a large eggplant in our CSA last week and the only thing I could think of to do with it was ratatouille.  I have not been a fan of the eggplant dishes I have eaten in the past.  Ratatouille seems like a good way to use up a bunch of veggies at once, if nothing else, and I have read that I can freeze it.  Freezing a few smaller portions sounds appealing to me, since E will not eat it and I might have rata-overload if I eat the entire 3 qts. myself. 
When I mention to Chef Kevin at our favorite restaurant that I was thinking of trying to make this, his helpful suggestion was to rent the movie "Ratatouille" and do exactly what the mouse told me to do.  He may have been a little tipsy when offering this advice...

Reading: Sunday bookclub is reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle this month.  We are almost done with our year of classics.  So far I have enjoyed all we have read.  We started with The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, which I had never read.  I would read it again - it reminded me in some ways to Giants in the Earth by Ole Rolvaag.  When the next person picked To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, she said it seemed like we were on a roll with classics.  Informally we decided that would be kind of fun.  We unanimously loved Mockingbird - how can you not love Scout? Next up was Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, which I enjoyed more now than I had when I read it when younger.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was lovely read for spring and made me want to get out in the garden.  When it was time for Beth to pick, she had been deciding between horse books (The Red Pony or Black Beauty) but settled instead on the unsettling Lord of the Flies by William Golding - so many levels to read that one on and discuss. We then read another unsettling choice: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, which provided another opportunity for great discussion.  The next book was one I had never read but had been on my "list": My Antonia by Willa Cather - I really liked this one a lot.  I look forward to reading O Pioneers someday as well.  (I am missing one of the selections in there between Mockingbird and Huckleberry - can't remember - will probably come to me at 3AM.)  I am up to pick next and am having a bit of angst about it.  I can't decide between something I have never read but probably should at some time (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) or something I have read and remember loving, to see if I still like it (A Separate Peace by John Knowles).  Part of the fun of the year of classics has been reading things I have never read and part of it has been rediscovering things I had to read before and seeing if they struck me differently as an adult than than had when I was in high school.  What classics have you read and re-read as a child/teen and then again as a grown-up?

Weeding:  The garden is transitioning to the late summer blooms, some of the fall blooms coming early.  I am wandering the garden, deciding what needs to be divided and what is going up for the plant swap I am coordinating next month.  Looks like I have plenty of rudbekia, monarda and balloon flowers, as well as a hosta or two to divide.  Or give away completely.  I have decided I am not a fan of hosta.  They are boring to me.

That's all for today.  Need to take my ratatouille out of the oven.  It is smelling pretty tasty.
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