Weeding: First frost was Friday morning. I discovered this Friday afternoon. On Thursday I had the thought "I should take a picture of the compost tomato plants" because they were so huge and so heavy with fruits. I also figured I needed to harvest a few more cherry tomatoes, if not more Lemon Boys. So Friday I went out with my camera and harvest basket (really a shallow vinyl bag), only to discover the plants were kaput and the tomatoes not looking so good (oozing a bit). That afternoon, I battled the gnats (which apparently did NOT die with the frost) and wrestled the huge plants out and into the tarp bag to haul to the yard waste site. Fifteen plants in there. FIFTEEN! And I tried to clean up as many fallen fruits as I could, but they are small and got squished. So I fully expect more volunteers next year, not that I am complaining. Those were truly the best tomatoes we grew this year. They did not suffer blossom end rot or whatever it is called. They were beautiful fruits. And so tasty.
Now that corner of the yard just looks empty. No more 4'x4' tomato shrub. The end of the season is so sad. I do still have the mums and asters lighting up the sides of the house with Viking spirit, though. Gotta love late season blooms!
Eating: We went to Nectar last night, just for happy hour. If you don't know us, you may not know about Nectar though I am 99% positive everyone who reads this blog knows me and knows of our obsession for this fantastic wine bar/bistro with the chef-driven menu that changes every 2 weeks. Anyway, it is the shrimp cakes I wanted to write about. We have had the crab cakes in the past and they were very good. But the shrimp cakes are even better. I don't know how Chef Kevin makes them (will need to ask when we are there for dinner next week), but they are so full of meat and have very little filler (crumbs, etc.). They taste absolutely divine, better than I imagined shrimp cakes could taste. And the chili-lime cream sauce they were served with (a small amount drizzled on the plate, not an overpowering puddle of it) SO good. A little heat, very finely chopped onions and peppers (so small and unobtrusive that E actually ate them), added just the right zip and flavor. If you ever find yourself in or near Osseo, MN, for any reason, stop by Nectar. Tell Justin, the bartender, that you know E and order any one of the starters or entrees. You will not be disappointed. We never have been.
We signed up to take a cooking class. E found a Groupon and we are going to learn 5 sauces, including Hollandaise, bechamel, and vinagrette (can't think of the other 2 right off the top of my head), and make dishes to go with them. We are really looking forward to this class. Sadly, it is not until December. E swears he is not a foodie. But he really is. I at least admit it.
The roast chicken of last week later became chicken noodle soup. I simmered the carcass in water (with chicken base, herbs, carrots, celery and onion) for a while until the meat literally fell off the bones. Then chopped the chicken into bite-size pieces, added corn (which had been frozen shortly after roasting the fresh corn from the CSA), green and wax beans (also from CSA by way of the freezer) and some thick "home-style" frozen noodles (cooked according to package directions). I could have made by own noodles with my grandma's recipe but since I was cooking while also working, I opted for the easier method. The pot of soup made several meals (we had soup 2 nights, 2 bowls each person, each night, then I had soup for lunches 3 times). It seemed to get better each time we ate it. Is there anything better than homemade soup when the temperature outside starts to drop?
Yesterday I mixed up some applesauce muffin batter and we had fresh-from-the-oven muffins each morning this weekend. Here is my recipe, tweaked from a couple recipes I found on-line in various places (not giving credit for the recipes because, really, a muffin recipe is a muffin recipe and I took parts of different recipes to make this one). A couple weeks ago I had made a small batch of applesauce with the assistance of a 4-almost-5-year-old. I used this for the muffins. We added streusel because we like streusel.
Applesauce Streusel Muffins
Combine: 1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Mix together: 2 eggs
2/3 C brown sugar
Add eggs/sugar mixture to the dry ingredients.
Stir in: 6 Tbls butter, melted
1 1/2 C applesauce
Mix just until combined.
Divide batter into 12 muffin cups (or as we did, 6 muffin cups and then store the rest of the batter in the fridge until the next day).
To make streusel topping combine these ingredients and cut butter into dry ingredients until resembles crumbs: 1/4 C brown sugar
3 Tbls flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbls butter
Top muffins with streusel and bake for 20 minutes.
Reading: Treasure Island is the most recent classic. I love it. I am all caught up in the adventure and can't wait to keep reading to find out what happens. It is the quintessential pirate adventure book. And who doesn't love pirates?!?
The Saturday morning bookclub (which is now going to meet Friday evenings for dinner - can we still call it "Breakfast club" just for fun?) has chosen Haunted Ground by Erin Hart for our next read. I read this one a few years ago for the other bookclub. It is a mystery but I actually liked it more than I thought I would. Maybe because it takes place in Ireland and starts with finding a perfectly preserved head in a peat bog. And who doesn't like Ireland or heads in bogs?!?
Creating: E won tickets to an upcoming Vikings game. So naturally he will need purple hat with braids. We went to the store last night to pick out the right yarn colors for said hat and knitting will begin shortly. I will try to take pictures of it as it goes. I have no pattern but he found pictures of similar hats that he likes so we will tweak and pattern as we go. First to measure his big head...
Sorry for the long post. I had a lot of words, apparently.
Until we read/eat again,