Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wednesday Workdays

How can you beat fall crocus?  They just seem to pop up out of nowhere.  [Well, you could say that about the whole garden, but fall crocus give no prior notice.]
And the zinnias are still going strong and providing at least enough flowers for a weekly bunch on the dining room table.
Now, that it's cooler, I'm back in the mood to work on a couple of projects.  Turning the compost pile has been a permanent resident at the top of the list for at least two years, and I am promising to get it done this year.  Recently we've realized that all of the landscaping timbers that are supposed to provide the border around the back garden have rotten or gotten broken up by the lawn mower guy, so they need to be replaced. 
And, my new project is removing this very overgrown and oversize shrub - Loropetalum 'Pizazz' TM - and re-doing this little corner of the garden. 

I have a ton of PTO built up, so am planning to take the Fridays off in October to get some of these jobs - and hopefully more - done.  You'll be the first to see the progress.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Must be Fall ... I'm Cooking Again

You know that I am not a good creative cook.  Truly.  I have good intentions, but I grew up in a meat and potatoes family, so tend to throw something formerly-alive on the grill [like 200 nights a year], add two warm veggies or one and a salad, and call that dinner. 

It's not that I don't want to be more creative ... but, it's really all I know.  On my "What to Do in Retirement" list is "take some cooking classes".  My newest success, tho, is eggplant parm.  It's always been the thing on which I judge Italian restaurants, but I never even tried it until a couple of weeks ago.

Thanks to Rachel Ray [I am taking her her daily one-hour cooking class ... you know, 2:00 Monday thru Friday] I've learned some techniques.  This one is breading:  dry, wet, dry.  So Mr. Eggplant went into flour, then egg, and then crumbs.  [I used a combo of Panko and Italian flavored.]  Then it baked for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.  Turn once midway.
And then I assembled.  Eggplant, fresh mozzarella, basil from the garden, bottled Barilla sauce and my secret ingredient - roasted yellow plum tomatoes from last summer.   Shredded parm on the top and back into the over for 30 more minutes.
I thought the roasted tomatoes added a  lot of flavor, altho Mitchell* ate around them.   
Add a salad and some garlic bread and voila!  a gourmet [at least for me] meal.
 *  For the most part Mitchell is very supportive about my cooking, and generally he is adventurous in trying new cuisines.  We eat all sorts of Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese) and Mexican, Ethiopian, Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Armenian - you name it, and he will like it - especially if there is a bit of heat involved. 

But when it comes to "Amurican" food, he has standards.  Beets are purple, lettuce is iceberg, peppers are green, kale is curly and tomatoes .... are definitely red (and preferably round).
With all those rules, I need a little refreshment when I cook!