Monday, May 30, 2011

A Recipe for Curing a Bad Mood

(This is Julia's first post!)

Matthew does LOTS of work outside. I help.  I do most of the cooking inside. Sometimes, cooking is more about the act of putting something delicious together--thinking of the recipe, cutting the ingredients, tasting the progress, and watching the ingredients change before your eyes.

And sometimes, I come home from work grumpy.  In my world, there is a recipe for that.   Allow me to share:

First, gather what you need.
Two adorable assistants:

(Rowdy loves to help cook!  By "help" I mean wag his tail, wave, make cute faces, and scavenge for delicious bits that fall from the counter.)

One delicious craft brewed beer.  (Amount of beer required is directly related to grumpiness.) Onions.
 Oh, and farmer's market butter.... MMmmmmmmmm..... butter.

Start by turning on your iPod.  Play something you like.  This recipe goes really well with the newest Iron and Wine album. 

Cut your onions, heat up a skillet.  Add a drizzle of olive oil, a hunk of fresh butter, throw in the previously chopped onions, turn the heat to low....

Salt and pepper, add the tiniest pinch of cayenne pepper, if you're feeling crazy.  And  wait, stir, wait, sip your beer and sing along.... watch what happens:

Caramelizing onions is a spiritual experience for me.  I like them super sweet, I never add sugar, and I'm willing to wait up a long time over low heat for them to be absolutely perfect.  Dark brown, almost jellylike, sweet as candy and a little smoky.  Absolutely perfect. 

Once you are finished caramelizing, ask Matthew to wash spinach from the garden.  Meanwhile roll out some whole wheat pizza dough and preheat the oven and pizza stone

 Use your onion pan to cook some mushrooms.

This is process is an homage to Ross and Calley-- who have a pretty serious aversion to canned mushrooms you often find on restaurant pizza.  Can't wait to make pizza and drink beer with you guys in July!

Then, throw all the things you've been working onto the crust, on the hot pizza stone.  Put it in the oven and wait a bit...

By the time your pizza looks like this, you really shouldn't be grumpy any more.  If you're still grumpy, crack another beer and see if Rowdy wants to snuggle.

More eats from the garden coming soon!  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Working through Spring 2011

I never did show the kitchen redone....

 The Shed built, painted, and stocked...

 The awful red shag carpet removed from the stairs,

Or the termite damage and repair...

But believe me, we did all that in the last year.  The point is, if I spend to much time trying to catch up, I never will.  So, moving forward...

Lets talk about vegetables.  Last year, we realized that all the cool kids, including our neighbors on both sides, and our yard challenged friends in Baltimore, are growing vegetables in little plots.  Julia loves veggies, and I like them, so we planted some. This year, we wanted more, and we learned some lessons after planting last year.  The biggest lesson was we wanted more, earlier.  Since I only had built one 4x8 box last year, I wanted to get that planted as soon as possible. 

Julia and I planted (from the top) beets, Romaine, Spinach, Chard, Kale, and (slightly later on) carrots, tomatoes (x3) jalapenos, and peas.  Garden Jesus (Julia points out, not Jesus, but probably St. Francis of Assisi) watching over all of them as they start to come up.  The fence is an absolute must.  The deer, groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels and cats (litterbox!!) have taken to loving our garden.  This lets us love it more.  We planted early march this year, as soon as there was a thaw long enough to scrape a cut to plant the seeds, unlike last year when I planted a bit into May. Other lessons learned?  Water the crap out of it.  Plant from shortest to tallest from the suns point of view, so the sun can get to them all.  You can probably leave a bit less room than the package calls for.

And since we planted much earlier this year, well before we stopped getting frost in the mornings, this is what it looks like now...

The second box to the right now has extra rows of spinach (since we seem to want ever more of that) squash, melons, tomatos, onions, beans, and some flowers.  The sprinkler (still in it's packaging) is hooked up to a pump on the rain barrel (PRO TIP, don't leave a in tact loop from the inlet to the sprinkler through the pump, you will siphon out all the water from your rain barrel), and the fence expanded to cover both gardens now.  You can also see some hanging strawberries on the shed, a black berry/raspberry bush (I forget which), and the new motion light on the shed.

We've already gotten some pretty good salads by poaching the spinach and onions, so hopefully everything will take off, and we'll be set for the rest of the spring.