Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Little Comic Relief

Just about the time I begin to take life too seriously, Zen, our Irish Jack Russell does something...well, silly. This is my little comedian yesterday after he ran around doing a crazy dance, rubbing his head all over the carpet (static electricity is a plague in 5% humidity). How do they know?!!

But seriously folks....the tiling continues...
 Rick "buttering" tiles with great seriousness

 Michael setting the last tiles on the large patio, Yay!

Getting ready to set tiles on the small patio. Note the crack in the cement...keep watching that space, we are going to try something creative avoid having to pour another slab. Fingers crossed

Why doesn't that smile comfort me?

Dinner at Camp Copeland
 Fried Rice Prep

4-cups cooked rice, 1 cup diced carrots, 1/2 cup scallions, 1/2 cup frozen peas, salt, pepper, tamari sauce, fresh diced ginger and red pepper flakes, one egg, peanut oil. Seriously EASy! and so yummy. Check out this great "how to" fried rice cooking lesson at thekitchn

Teriyaki Salmon with cucumber salad and easy fried rice...and a new favorite Pale Ale, Red Chair brewed by Deschutes out of Bend, Oregon. Gotta keep the crew fueled!

Tomorrow...all tile setting completed....pretty pleeeeese!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tile Respect

I have a new found respect for those who lay tile, much like roofers, this is a job nobody wants. It is a body buster. I was thinking...since I am currently working with mosaic as an artistic medium, this little patio job would be a piece of cake. Well, that is some stinking thinking! I had conveniently managed to forget just how long it took me to set the powder room mosaic!

This is day five and the hard work continues (despite the wretched smoke-filled air from the terrible Gila fires, nearly 152,000 acres are burning and the morning wind fills the Tularosa basin with air so dense with smoke we cannot see the Sandia's....feeling bad for the folks in and around Silver City).
Our goal is to grout both patios by Friday, fingers crossed! Again, thanking our lucky stars for the help of friend and tile guru Rick. Left to our own devices, Cope and I would have been tiling well into fall!!

Good friend and Nija ~ Rick tiling himself into a corner...

  Puppy inspectors

Keeping the meals coming!! Dinner fit for a tiler:  Roasted Poblanos stuffed with chicken, rice and white cheddar, yum. Click here for the recipe!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Working and Eating with Gusto!

This is our dear friend Rick, doing what only a dear friend would do; helping us tile two outdoor patio spaces on Memorial weekend! When we planned this DIY, no one noticed we scheduled it for a holiday weekend. So, we will all have our holiday BBQ upon completion! In the meantime, it's my job to keep the men happily fed. A task I feel must be met with the same gusto as lifting 18" tiles! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend full of friends, family and fun!

 Tedious and tough on the knees!!

 No road is long with good company.  ~Turkish Proverb
Rick, making work in the hot sun fun! Thank you friend!!

Michael's knees in the shot...his job, mixing mortar and lifting...ugh...18" tiles.

Feeding the work crew has been great fun. They are game for whatever I feel like fixing! My white bean salad is full of gusto and was a big hit last night! I served it with pan-friend, chipotle rubbed chicken thighs and oven roasted cauliflower.
The dressing is killer good.

Cannelini with Garlicky Dressing
serves four to six

The Beans
2-15. ounce cans of Cannelini Beans drained and rinsed (if you like, you can plan ahead and cook the dried version...I am never that will need about 3 cups cooked)

In a small saucepan, place:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
You are making an infusion of the garlic and rosemary, so bring the oil to a low sizzle
then turn off the heat and let it cool for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, in your Food Processor place:
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Add the garlic cloves from the oil (reserve the oil)
Processes to a smooth mixture

1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley coarsely chopped
The beans absorb the dressing better if they are warm, so I pop my Cannelini beans in the micro for 15 seconds, you could also warm them on the stove top. Using a rubber spatula gently fold the dressing into the beans, wait a few minutes for the dressing to absorb a bit and stir a few times, then add the reserved, infused olive oil, the tomatoes, and the parsley. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve at room temperature. Taste test along the way for the anchovies are salty. This salad pairs well with grilled meats, burgers, even a hearty sandwich. The smoldering garlic infused olive oil, salty anchovies and fragrant Parmigiano make the beans sing! Enjoy!

Garlicky Cannelini beans, a cool customer on a hot summer evening

More patio pics soon!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Garlic Scapes...Say Whaaa?

Garlic Scapes, aren't they lovely? Graceful, curling like sea plants moving with the currents. But what the heck are they?? Imagine a garlic bulb growing nicely below the surface of the soil, then sending out a lovely green shoot to make a flower. That is a garlic scape, the flower stem of hard neck garlic plants (read more here). I read about them recently in the Spring issue of fine Cooking magazine, but figured I would never see them in person...not in this girl's desert! What a happy surprise when I spotted them last week at our local farmer's market!  I impressed the vendor with my garlic scape knowledge (conveniently choosing not to tell him I had just read the article!). I scooped them up and proceeded to make this creamy potato salad from the fine Cooking issue. The aroma of these babies cooking is enough to win you over, but the flavor boost to the salad was amazing. As a scallion is to an onion, the garlic scape is to the garlic bulb, a mild and aromatic infusion of garlic flavor. I plan to buy as many as I can this Saturday and freeze them, as they have a short Spring season. The flavor of this salad is worth the little extra prep! Enjoy!
Surprise! Garlic Scapes!! Saturday's Farmer's Market Spring bounty!

Potato Salad with Garlic Scapes, Snap Peas and Scallions
Jennifer Armentrout for fine Cooking Magazine Issue 117

3 lb small to medium yellow potatoes such as Yukon Gold, scrubbed
   Kosher Salt
1/4 lb. garlic scapes, pods and tips removed
6-1/2oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Large lemon, finely grated to yield 2 tsp. zest, squeezed to yield 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. plain rice vinegar
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint

Put the potatoes in a 6-quart pot; add 2 Tbs. salt and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Put the scapes on the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and simmer vigorously until the scapes are just tender, about 5 minutes after the water boils. With tongs, transfer the scapes to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Continue to simmer the potatoes until just tender when pierced about 15 minutes more. Add the peas and simmer until crisp-tender, 1-2 minutes. Drain the potatoes and peas in a colander. With tongs, transfer the potatoes to a cutting board. Rinse the peas under cold water to stop the cooking, and let drain.
While the potatoes cool, whisk the mayonnaise, oil, lemon zest and juice and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper in a small bowl, set aside. In a large bowl, mix the vinegar with 2 tsp. salt and stir to dissolve.
When the potatoes are just cool enough to handle, scrape their skins off with a pairing knife and cut them into 3/4-to-1-inch pieces. Toss them in the vinegar-salt mixture, and then stir in about half of the dressing. Add the scapes, peas, scallions, herbs, the remaining dressing and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

 Trim off the bulb and tip and most "woody" ends of the garlic scapes

 Gently simmer with the potatoes remove when tender, then do the same with the pea pods. I found I had to cut off the woody ends of the garlic scapes again after simmering.

 Remember to dress the warm potatoes in the vinegar and salt before adding the mayonnaise dressing so your potatoes are well-seasoned.  Mix in the chopped parsley, scallions, scapes and pea pods

Serve at room temperature if possible, then chill the leftovers...if there are any! Discover and conquer garlic scapes! I would love to know what you think of them and how you used them. I loved this salad and will make this again, but the next batch of scapes is heading for pesto!!
Have a fun and safe weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Green Beans are Back!

Welcome back plump, bright, snappy green beans of summer!  This weekend I made a "welcome back" green bean salad with the best beans I could get my hands on, so easy!...served it with spicy pan-seared chops, polenta and a sassy mango salsa...yummy!

Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives
gently borrowed from fine Cooking, Issue no.117

3/4 lb. fresh green beans trimmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
1-1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs shallots, minced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives halved
1/2 tsp fresh thyme finely chopped
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the green beans until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes, drain and cool under cold running water.
In a large bowl, combine drained beans with cherry tomatoes
In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, red wine vinegar and the shallots together. Stir in Kalamata olives, fresh thyme and add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette, adjust the seasoning and serve.

The mango salsa may have been the real star of this show! Here's the recipe:

Mango-Tango Salsa

1 ripe mango peeled, pitted and cut into small dice
1 plum or 4 cherry tomatoes cut into small dice
2 scallions, use white and light green part, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
Squeeze of 1 lime
Tabasco sauce to taste ~ I use about three gentle shakes
Kosher salt to taste (but add at least a pinch!)
Gently mix together is a small bowl
Drizzle with 1 Tbs. canola oil before serving

This was so delicious with the chipotle spice-rubbed pork chops, but it would be great as a straight-up salsa with chips (but double the recipe!). Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Scalloped Potatoes ~ Midwest Classic

If you grew up in the Midwest, your momma made scalloped potatoes. I remember loving the scent of these creamy potatoes cooking away in my mother's oven, along side the typical Sunday roast. I have tried for years to replicate the creamy flavor of my mother's recipe (she can't remember how she made them!) without success, until now. Heavy cream and whole milk infused with garlic and thyme result in that authentic, fragrance, and creamy, tender texture that I remember as a girl. Enjoy, but not too often!!

Classic Scalloped Potatoes
slightly modified; original recipe by Tony Rosenfeld 

2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces; more for the baking dish
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
2  cups whole milk
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes (8-10 large), peeled and
sliced 1/8 inch thick

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°. Butter a 9x13x2-inch baking dish

In a 3-4 qt sauce pan, whisk the cream, milk, garlic, thyme, nutmeg, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. ground pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let cool in the pan at room temperature. Strain through a fine sieve into a large liquid measuring cup.
Slice potatoes and arrange in an overlapping layer in the baking dish. Give the cream mixture a quick whisk and pour about one third over the potatoes. Repeat twice more. Dot the butter over the top and cover with aluminum foil
Bake until the potatoes are completely tender when pierced with a paring knife, 45 min. to 1 hour.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and heat the broiler on high. Uncover the potatoes and gently press them down with a flat spatula so the cream mixture mostly covers them. Broil until nicely browned on top, 5 to 8 minutes
Let the potatoes rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Make ahead: You can assemble this dish up to 4 hours ahead, covered and refrigerate. Let sit at room temperature while the oven heats. You can keep the cooked scalloped potatoes, tightly covered, in a warm oven for up to 1 hour before serving.
 Use your mandolin (with your finger guard on!) for beautifully thin slices

 I like to strain using a medium sieve so that some of the thyme is left in the dish

Nicely browned, a few minutes under the broiler gives the scalloped potatoes another level of flavor and a picture perfect finish!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Annular Eclipse on Us

These amazing shadows were created by the eclipse filtering through the leaves of our trees yesterday evening. Incredible.

 Eclipse on me

 Annular eclipse reflection in motion ~ God's performance art!

Eclipse on Michael 

Where were you yesterday during the eclipse?? What did you experience??

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday Morning Walk

 The Sentry

 Desert Willow, Bird of Paradise and Sage, Oh My!

 The Sleeping Lady in the Mountains ~ Do You See Her?

 Giant Piñon Tree and Salt Cedar

Home Again!
What are you up to this morning?? Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kale Harvest

How best to prepare the highly anticipated kale harvested from my flowerpot garden?? I found a terrific looking, simple but tasty (a bit like a lighter version of a frittata) recipe online from the Kitchn. Enjoy! I did!!

Artichoke, Kale & Ricotta Pie
from the Kitchn
Serves 4-6

Olive oil
4 eggs, beaten
8 oz ricotta cheese
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1 cup canned artichokes, chopped
1 bunch (3 to 4 large stalks) nero cavola kale, rib removed and leaves roughly chopped (I used my curly kale, so sautéed it in a little olive oil for 3 minutes to soften)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan lightly with olive oil (I used a 8-1/2"spring form pan and my pie was ready in 35 minutes)

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta cheese and Parmesan. Roughly chop the artichokes and thinly slice the kale leaves and add to the cheese and egg mixture. Season lightly with salt and generously with black pepper. Stir until combined.

Pour contents of bowl into the greased cake pan and drizzle with olive oil. Cook until custard is set, about 40-50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 5-10 minutes and serve.

You could easily substitute veggies. I made this dish with lunch in mind, but paired with a green salad, this would make a nice light summer supper. A fitting finale for my first ever kale harvest!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Weekend with a Cosmic Daughter

Weekend with a Cosmic Daughter and her Beau ~ Joy Joy Joy!

Kendra, reflecting the New Mexico sunset...or is it t'other way 'round?
I am blessed by the love and friendship of this brilliant young women.

Together, enjoying the peace and the beauty of New Mexico

Part of the pack, pup Guinness, in a happy place

          Beau Jason, doing what he does best! Creating! Me, loving being "cooked for" on M's Day!!

Grilled Thyme-rubbed Lamb Chops on a bed of Sautéed Lemon-Asparagus with a side of J's famous mouth-watering Crunchy Potato Salad! Amazing!

Kendra, creating! I love watching her work.

So many loving gestures, so many blessings. Thank you Kendra and Jason for a wonderful weekend. We miss you already.

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