Mother’s Day, a week late!

I had scheduled to be away over Mother’s Day, so I had to reschedule making the annual special menu!  Last year, I’d made a small plates menu and what did I learn? I made too many courses but it was DELICIOUS!  I don’t even remember if I got to blog about it, but maybe I should.  I loved my menu.  If I were to do small plates again, I’d figure out how to pre-plate or get more help in plating.  This year, I wanted to keep it a little bit more simple; instead of ten plates, I wanted to do more like three courses.

The background: We have family dinner nearly every Sunday.  My “family” consists of my dad, mom, adult sister and my mother’s parents and father’s father.  I live next door to my grandfather, two miles from my parents and my other grandparents are just twenty minutes away.  My family’s reaction to my food ideas are often “Don’t make anything weird for us” because they’re pretty much typical tuned into Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine with a menu on rotation.  Granted, we do go out to eat as a family once a month or so where we can all select our own interests–but you can assume the men always pick fried food and the women pick pasta or salads.  My sister has even more peculiar tastes which do not include meat other than McDonald’s hamburgers.  And come on, is that really meat?  The other part of the back story is that high blood pressure and diabetes is present in at least half of the family.

So, the original menu included a beef brisket with carrots and jasmine rice as the main entrée, but I didn’t like how the beef came out. So I’m going to use it for something else!

I now present to you…

The Official Mother’s-Day-A-Week-Late Menu

Wedge Salad
Iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, spring onions, blue cheese and blue cheese dressing, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, fresh-ground black pepper

Spaghetti with Pancetta and Chicken
with Broccoli, Onion and Cannellini Beans

Panna Cotta
with Strawberry Coulis

I’m merely an hour away from serving this!  Pray for me.  I don’t anticipate that the Wedge Salad is going to go over well. After all, they are comfortable with making their own and smothering with their own salad dressing!  We’ll see!

The spaghetti will be fine. It’s tasty! To me, anyway.

The panna cotta is made with a mix of light cream and milk and no-sugar strawberry sauce. I personally love panna cotta, but my last reviewer wasn’t too impressed.  It’s a texture thing, I guess!

Wish me luck!

Just a quick note…

It is somehow a busy week.

1. It is a new fiscal year!
2. I am excited to make mozzarella cheese! I want to blog the experience for Slow Food Baltimore.
3. Ahhh! Work!
4. Boordy’s Farmers’ Market tonight. Maybe.
5. I need more coffee.
6. Forgot I had a standing lunch date today.
7. Going to miss the lunch options at Irvine Nature Center’s Farmers’ Market today. Grr.
8. Time to go home yet?

Garden Version 1.01 – My front is bush free!

Haha, think about that one!

So, a few years ago, my parents moved out into a new, bigger house/farm and pretty much left me the old one.  It is not really a big secret that my permanent address has always been this one!  I have always hated the ugly cypress bushes that look like lumpy meatballs in front of the house.  Okay, I totally understand that they are an integral wind break and weather protection.  But they are ugly.  And I can’t just plant something else there without taking those up.

So I took them up.  Rather, I let the snow last winter break them.  I started chopping away over a few weeks and then my grandpa volunteered to come down and chop them off at the base.  So he did!  He came over one night last week and it was done!  My mother surely hates me and I need to get my rear in gear to plant the new bushes I have planned for that space.  But now that I’m thinking of it…I want different bushes.  Like a nice, layered look.

I bought the golden cypress bushes and was ready to put them in because they will have a different, more modern look.  And then my guy decided that he wanted to put some plants in at his house because he just dug out his cedar trees and other random bushes he never really cared about.  So, he decided on some boxwood, purple knights and two holly trees.  They came in a week or so ago and the more I look at the boxwood, the more I love it.  I think I am either going to steal some of his or buy some as well as two or three bayberry bushes.  I think that will complete my look!  I am definitely going to put some evergreen type in at the bottom of my sidewalk, too because the creeping evergreen that I have there is almost 30 years old and its all dead at the bottom.

Here’s the front of the house.  It is soooo bare.

 I know, I know.  It is a cell phone photo.  Get over it. 

Go ahead, admonish me for showing the front of my house, but let’s just be real and friendly and promise not to stalk me or something. Love you, readers!  Now, would you mind grabbing a shovel?  We have holes to dig and planting to do!

Garden 2010 Edition Version 1.0

I feel like I’m behind on my garden.  I felt the same last year, too, but I was actually late with some things and just didn’t care that much about it.

So, welcome to Garden 2010 Edition.  Version 1.0.

Photos to be featured in an upcoming post.

From the top, I’ve got:

Horseradish (Annual) – I am dying to dig into the horseradish, but everything I read tells me to wait two full years!  My mom got hers at the same time and hers has a flower on it about 4 feet tall.  Mine has no flowers, but it looks big, green and healthy!

Mixed Greens – Arugula, Mesculin Mix, etc. – Eeks, there are ants all through my mixed greens.  What do I do?  I can’t really spray anything! It doesn’t look like they are eating the greens, but it just seems….ew.

Spinach, Curly – I planted seeds later then I wanted, but they are cute little buds, an inch high.  I can wait for this because my parents are yielding 2-3 gallon sized ziploc bags full per 3-4 days!

Heirloom Rhubarb (Annual) – I probably should have sheltered my three babies for a better winter last year, but they did get some good cow manure.  Like my horseradish, I really want to wait for these babies to have at least another half a growing season.  They seem short, but well rooted.  I’m excited for rhubarb!  I want to get some red in there, though. 

Peppers – Pepperocini, Mixed Bell – I think. – Ahh, I didn’t buy plants or start any of these this year.  I just put the seeds in the ground.  Well, it has been a week and a half and I’ve got nothing poking up.  Its a pretty big bummer, but I’m holding out that they will poke up amongst the beginning of weeds before too long. 

Sugar Snap Peas – These pups never make it into the house.  When I take my dog out in the morning, I stand in the garden and eat them right off the vine.  Ohhhh so good.  I’m going to do better this year by replanting so that I get a continuous crop this year.  I’d love to put some in the freezer, but I’m not sure if they’d get eaten.

Yellow Pear Tomato – I have 5 1/2 of these plants.  I say a half because one is small and although I had it out to get hardy before planting, I don’t think it is going to make it!  I’m really looking forward to these because they are a bit sweeter and milder than the juicy beefsteaks and cherry tomatoes that I’ll have.

Beefsteak Tomato – Six of these plans are in the ground!  They are looking good after three weeks in.  I can’t wait!

Cabbage – My parents and I were driving through the Buck over in Lancaster one day last year and there was a sign on the hardware store “free plants.”  We stopped and picked up tomatoes, cabbage and some other random things.  I put the cabbage in a window box and kept them through the winter.  The tomato didn’t make it, but I’ve got two green and one red cabbage. I had to mulch grass clippings around them because they were frying in my garden.  They look good now!

Various Squash – mostly yellow – When I planted these, it was in the beginning of a thunder shower and I was loving the weather.  I am pretty sure I intentionally mixed up the seeds.  I had some seeds on hand from two years ago and I planted them thinking they’d be a bit more selective in germinating.  Wow, I was wrong.  Squash anyone?

A half a row of something – reference previously mentioned thunderstorm.  I really thought I planted after the squash, but nothing is coming up.  I guess we will see?

White Sweet Corn – 3 1/2 rows.  Like the old squash seeds, I had old corn on hand.  It went in the ground and it looks like everything is coming up!  I should  probably thin them out as I wasn’t very uniform in my planting because of the mix of old and new seed.  I swear I planted four full rows, but I’ve only got 3 1/2!

Marigold – My mom has some old seeds she found in a ziploc bag, and who knows how old they are!  Looks like they were taken right off the dead plant.  I can’t tell if some are coming up or not!  Cross your fingers, I would love it if my garden were edged in this!

Cherry Tomato – These little guys are volunteers every year.  My parents planted them ages ago under one end of the porch and well, they come back.  Two years ago I let them go wild and really didn’t do anything with them.  Last year, I pulled A LOT out.  I kinda regret it now!  I ended up making some sun-dried (err…oven-dried) tomatoes and they were DELICIOUS.  I want more more more!  These little guys don’t come up until later in the season, but I’m content to wait as the season is long.  Anyone want to buy some sun-dried tomatoes?

In other garden news….My dad had some big sheets of plastic recycled from somewhere.  I think building materials probably came packaged in it.  He put in two big pieces for me.  It doesn’t cover the whole garden, but it covers up to my peas, and my tomatoes and cabbage.  There is a space where I have squash, unknown, and corn and then another piece.  I have about a third of garden left to plant!  I can’t decide what I want to put in there! I know that I don’t want to plant onions.  I should probably plant pumpkins for fun.

Herbs – I bought a bunch that need to go into the ground or pots, soon.  I hesitate to put them in the garden because I think they will fry or get to weedy.  Maybe I should buy some mulch and put them in somewhere.

Thursday Finds

Its Thursday!  That means an all new Dear Prudence!  Get your fix here.

Food find of the day.  Can we say “I *HEART* Pioneer Woman” and “Who can possibly resist beer battered cheese curds?”

(links directly to PW recipe!)
2 cups Vegetable Oil
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
2 whole Eggs Beaten
12 ounces, fluid Light Beer
2 cups Cheese Curds, Room Temperature

Add the oil to a medium pot, and bring to a medium-high heat. In the meantime, you can prepare the batter. In one bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add in the beer. Mix. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture to form your batter. Make sure you mix well to get any lumps out of the flour.

Once your oil is heated through, dip a handful of the curds into your batter. I use a slotted spoon to scoop a few at a time, letting some excess batter strain, then carefully place them in the hot oil.
Fry them for only a minute or so, just until they turn a light golden brown. If they go too long, the cheese will begin to come out, and that is ok, but it’s better to keep the cheese in. You will figure this out immediately. If the oil is too hot, reduce the heat a bit.

Remove again with your slotted spoon, or cooking spider if you have one, and let them rest on some paper towels. Repeat with your remaining curds, as many as you want to serve.
Serve them warm with your favorite sauce. In my case, I went with a chipotle mayo sauce which was 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with one tablespoon of chipotle adobo sauce.

Cheese curds are a perfect example of the true beauty of Wisconsin, its cows, and its farmers. Enjoy.

Words – The Moutain – My Mountain

Mother’s Day – In action!

So, the menu was changed a little bit due to unavailability of some things at my local grocery.
Set up
Ready to serve

Italian bread with dill-garlic dipping oil

Cucumber Cups with Vegetable Dip

Creamy Italian White Bean Soup with Beef and Spinach

Beets, Oranges and Mozzarella over Field Greens with Balsamic Vinegar

Beef Sliders with Cheddar and Garlic-Avocado Mayonaise served with Fried Potato “Chips”

Cake Pops – Cream Cheese Pound Cake in a Candy Coating

Some chose seconds on soup, but most of the reviews were “I’m too full” and “that was an adventure!” Overall, a great success!  A lot of work, but very yummy!

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