Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things in common

I spent a wonderful few hours at one of Kate's favourite places in this city, the other day.
Chicago Botanic Gardens.
From my short visit, I got the impression they were doing some pretty interesting things.

I was reminded of another Kate and her soil fella. I live with a soil fella too.  I saw these things at the garden and they made me smile and think fondly of my soil fella and home.

Bee boxes in the apple orchard area.

Some things are the same the world over, people are growing vegies and caring for their soil.

Some things are very, very different though...

Friday, November 19, 2010

I didn't come to Chicago to blog but...

I really have been doing some crafting lately, I just haven't blogged about it because it was a surprise for Kate.
This is my god daughter, Angie sitting on the quilt I made for Kate and gave to her when I arrived last night- the beginnings did feature on this blog a long while ago.
Hooray for a finished project!
This is Angie and her twin sister, Grace in the pj bottoms I made for them. I don't always understand what the girls and their brother, Dante are saying just yet- getting my head around the accent and excitedly fast kid speak but they thought it was pretty cool that I made them some pj's and Gracie said 'can you teach me to sew?'. It was nice- so I am thinking of quick beginner hand sewing project for a 7 year old. Any ideas are welcome. I thought maybe a little bag.

I tell you, 28 hours in transit may have been fun when I was 19 but I am not as young as I used to be! My trip involved a run at LA airport to catch my connecting flight and an injured calf muscle, which may have looked amusing to any onlookers but didn't feel amusing to me. I am not really having a big whinge, I am really thankful to have travelled safe and appreciate the priveldge of being here.
Look at this very cute little dude I saw on my walk this morning

Apparently, even the skip bins are patriotic over here...
I found out today that some people deep fry their Thanksgiving turkey.
That cracks me up- pretty massive thing to be deep frying, don't you reckon?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Up and coming Kitchen King

I came home from work today and found this
Highly impressive. Mr. A explained to me that is wasn't just any chocolate cake/ brownie recipe- it involved two different types of flour, several bowls, whipping egg whites, melting chocolate- and he adapted a non gluten free recipe to be gluten free. I was very surprised!

He's practicing for being Head Chef when I am away in Chicago (I leave next week).
I think they will be well feed...

I also think he will be very popular...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hooray for that time of the year again.

That time of the year when my trips to the supermarket are reduced, I don't have to spend too much time thinking about what the kids can have for 'fruit break' because I can just send them out to the garden.
These are the early cherries and the ladder is a permanent fixture there at the moment.

The strawberries have just started and are loaded this year.

Mulberry time as well.
And the apricots, peaches and apples are coming along nicely- still abit of a way off.
The veggie department isn't too bad either:

The rows are: potatoes, quince trees (for next years fruit tree season), onions, cherry trees (likewise) and broccoli. 
That's the paddock where business and pleasure meet!

I love artichokes to eat, and think they are beautiful ornamentals in the garden. Preparing them though, still is a major challenge for me- seems like a lot of faffing around needed- I sit outside with a bucket with either lemon juice or vinegar and cut them and trim them- put them straight in the bucket (because that's what I read to do- I think it must stop them going black), then steam them and serve with olive oil, balsamic and salt. I don't do it very often and am open to suggestions about artichoke preparation.
Asparagus, on the other hand, which I don't have a photo of- well, it doesn't get much simpler- minimal effort- big result. I am biased- asparagus is my favourite veggie.
I should add- Mr. Apple has full credit for all this amazing produce we are now enjoying. I do nothing except herbs, and 'leafy greens', the occasional pick and a lot of food preparation.
We really do appreciate it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Decison made, oven installed, food prepared.

Awhile ago our oven died.
As a result, we have been using this
and this

for about 3 months.
That's nuts.
If only I knew it would take about an hour to choose a new one and (the next day) 10 minutes for an electrician (friendly neighbour- who really is an electrician) to install- we would have done it 3 months ago!
We didn't and this arrived out our house on Saturday

It has been running hot since then.
I do love a bit of a bake off.
An oven and stove, combined with garden fresh produce-  it's amazing what great food can be cooked.
Take our dinner tonight. A two pot dish.

I made pasta, I used a recipe from Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden cookbook-
it was sort of like gnocchi

250 grams plain flour (I used gluten free)
100grams ricottoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg (mine happened to be a double yolker- thanks clever chook)
2 tablespoons water.
Knead it together, let it rest for about 10 minutes, roll it into the shape of a snake, cut small pieces and then press your thumb in so it's the shape of a turtles shell (without the turtle in it).
Cook it in salted boiling water until it floats and serve immediately with your favourite sauce.

Broccoli and Asparagus  'sauce' (not very saucey...)
I made up a 'sauce' based on the vegies available in our garden, this is vaguely what I used
2 quite small heads of broccoli (first of the season)
About 8 spears asparagus
Steam both these vegies and set aside for a tick!
Dice two rashers bacon and fry, add about half a cup of chicken stock or white wine and using a wooden spoon stir any 'cooked on' bits of bacon so the bottom of the pan is cleaner than it was. Add it broccoli and asparagus, 2 cloves chopped garlic, about 2 tablespoons sour cream, handful of sage and parsley.
I then added the pasta into the pot with about 1/2 tablespoon of excellent olive oil and mixed through.
Yuu could serve it with parmesan. Or include fetta. Pancetta instead of bacon. Then world is your oyster.
If only I had a photo. Or better, if only I could give you a taste through the screen- in true Jetson style!
It was fantastic and everyone was pretty happy with it.
Hooray for fresh veggies and the new stove.