Author: platefodder

All that Lemony Goodness ~ #10

The other day while Jane was doing a bit of research, she came across the little jewel of information that hazelnuts aren’t the same thing as other tree nuts. Meaning – supposedly, she should be able to eat them and not have to hop on the train to Crazytown. I bought a small (1 cup) pack of dry-roasted chopped nuts, gave her a teaspoon to eat… and waited…. Nada.. Encouraged..Elated…Excited… I decided to make her up a batch of Trisha Yearwood’s Pecan Pie Muffins (you know… using hazelnuts). Because you all know that with her particular food triggers, anything I can do to make her life suck a little less – I’m going to do. Well…. we were a bit premature in our assessment. Hazelnuts didn’t effect her cognitive functions, the problem was much further down the pike (if you get what I mean)…. I had to toss them out. So why am I talking nuts when this is about lemony goodness? Because lemon is my go to for her. She loves lemon almost as much as …

Garden Project 2015 – Celer-y… Celer-Ra!

We go through a lot of celery. That’s nearly 2 bunches a week. It goes in salads, soups, stews… the occasional ants on a log…and sometimes, just to munch. I mean, it’s like negative calories. The amount of jaw muscle work and digestive hoo haas going on far over-reach the measly 7 calories per stalk. But that leaves me with a bounty of these little celery stalk butts. Yes, I know it’s still celery… but the color is all wrong and to be completely honest, it doesn’t really taste like much of anything. You remember back in grade school when you stuck toothpicks in potatoes and suspended them over water to watch them grow leggy, useless plants? Or the carrot tops left rotting in jelly jar lids? I found out you can do pretty much the same thing with celery butts…. only instead of a pile of non-producing potato stems – you can get actual – edible – celery! And it only takes about 4 weeks. To do this, you have to understand a couple …

Wine Country Chicken

With Memorial Weekend fully upon us. it’s time to pull off that expensive grill cover, check your fire supplies, and give it a good ol’ cleaning… because you know you’re going to be spending a lot of time out there flipping burgers, rolling dogs, and gettin’ experimental. To be perfectly honest – I’ve never cooked “Beer Can Chicken“. Shoving a shiny can of Pabst up the southern-most end of a bird and grilling the bejeezus out of it, just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m dubious that it adds any real moisture, and even more doubtful that an unadulterated warm beer enema is suitable flavoring for…well, anything.   That being said… I watch a lot of PBS cooking shows. You always learn something new and you don’t have to contend with a lot of flappy patter from personalities trying to be …well, charming…. they just cook. I catch episodes of Steven Raichlen’s Primal Grill periodically. I find it to be one of the best grill-specific instructionals out there. I say instructional, because he is kinda hard to listen to. Stilted, monotone …

Wildflower Walkabout ~ Venus’ Looking Glass

Say hello to Triodanis perfoliata, Clasping Bellwort, or Venus’ Looking Glass. A wild member of the Campanula family which contains the more cultivated Bellflower. A mere 18″ tall, the Looking Glass is an extremely showy native with single stems tilting in the breeze adorned with clasping, shell-shaped leaves and a violet 5-petaled flower emerging from the center of the leaf. Looking Glasses bloom May through August and are found in more open and sunny locations. Our are growing among the gravel and rocks in the front walkways. Considered invasive in some parts of the country, the Triodanis perfoliata are self fertilizing (not really needing to be pollinated), but are huge attractants for moths, flying beetles, and other pollinators. Each seed pod produces multitudes of miniscule seeds which germinate in the fall and winter over as small leaf clusters close to the ground. Beginning in early Spring, the single ribbed stem emerges and begins flowering within a few short weeks. Bloom Time: May through August Description: Single ribbed stem with opposing single, rounded leaves clasping the stem at intervals Sun: Full sun …

Garden Project 2015 ~ Ebb & Flow

I’m taking a step back from the fervent gardening of the past. As with most living things, gardens need to grow, change, and evolve.   And while I’ve had immeasurable enjoyment experimenting with the hay bales, the potato cages and hanging beds, and all the different varieties of vegetables here at Turtle Creek,  I’ve decided it’s time for a change. Don’t worry, there will still be some unique vegetables, but I’m allowing the garden to slowly morph into what we intended for the space –  a restful spot and  flower garden for Jane. The wild strawberries I uncovered as part of the front forest clearing will be relocated to a permanent home in the garden, and the asparagus I planted last season are maturing nicely and will remain. However the bulk of the vegetable garden will move over to the Lodge property where there is more even / fully accessible ground for a workable Hay Bale garden. (The ground there is in the same condition as the rest of the property and will need several years of conditioning …

As Thick As Pea Soup

Our 3 year-old back up chest freezer gave up the ghost and died today. It’s an irritation. Not entirely because the thing stopped working… things happen. It is because A.) It wasn’t that old. and, B.) I have to replace it with another like kind of inexpensive machinery. and, C.) I have to go through all the stored bits and bags of veg, meat, stock bones, Parmesan rind, citrus zest, extra egg whites – and the like… and decide what I’m going to keep and what to trash. and then, D.) Do the same thing in the Main Freezer to make room for everything I can’t live without. I had 6 packages of frozen Green Peas in the freezer….. I don’t know why. Since I wasn’t going to throw them away… and I really needed that real estate in the working freezer for a large hen I bought on special (I wasn’t about to trash perfectly good protein, either), I figured it was time for some Spring Pea Soup When I was a kid, The Magic Pan …

Wildflower Walk-about ~ Ranunculus acris

Say hello to Ranunculus Acris, or Meadow Buttercup. Typically,  if an odd leaf sprout shows up on the grounds here at the cottage, I’ll mark it and allow it to mature. Sometimes you get a horrible, horrible thing (reference the Creeping Charlie), but more times than not I get rewarded with something pretty. I did just that with the buttercup. Around the 1st of March, a little hand shaped leaf poked up between the native yarrow and asters I had transplanted to the garden. It was unique enough to give it a little time to see what it would do….. and to give me the chance to identify it before I yanked it up by the roots. Granted – I lot of what I allow and encourage to grow here at the cottage are weeds – the kind that send most people shrieking in horror that I give them a purchase and a chance to seed. But weeds or not, some of the plants have actual attractive blooms.   Meadow buttercup is an invasive pasture weed, …

Fifteen Steps

Some years ago I read a study where a group of fluid physicists determined the number of steps it would take before you sloshed coffee out of a cup…. that number – depends on length of your leg / width of your gait … the rhythm, if you will, of a standard walk. And for most people – that number is somewhere between 7 and 10. Mine is 15…. how do I know? Well, I counted… years before that study was ever published.    And, I didn’t even need a special grant or a college sanctioned study to come to that. I’ve counted crap all my life. The number of trees lining the driveway; the number of steps in a particular marching band routine; the number (and ratio) of off-colored tiles in a backsplash – and subsequently, the number of broken tiles in a box; the number of stories in a building. Over and over, from every angle and direction. Suffice to say, I loved physical china, glass, silverware inventory time in the hotel – stacks …

On the road to Persia – with Raw Spice Bar©

To be all legit & legal  – We were offered a free sample of the Rawspicebar.com March Spice Blend to try out. Any insights, opinions, and general impressions are all our own. You all know I don’t dance for just any company out there. I have standards… and rules. So, for some company to approach me (even after reading my disclosure) and ask me to review their product… well, it’s a big thing in my book. Rawspicebar.com is a limited, small batch production spice outfit. For a nominal fee, they will ship a monthly selection of three to four unique spices and blends from a geographic area on the map. The monthly selections aren’t pre-listed on their site so it is always a mystery until the pack arrives.   Some months ago, I received a message to check out their website and get back to them if I would like a free sample of their spice blends. After some serious reviewing, I agreed  – and received their March Shipment which consisted of:  Saffron Threads Mast – O – Khiar Herbs …

No Buns for You

Historically speaking – since this isn’t even Good Friday, I really shouldn’t be making them at all. that is… if I were English… and lived in Elizabethan England, where they considered the buns were too special and sacred to be consumed any other time of the year… … and, if I cared a great deal about goofy superstitions (I don’t, by the way). And if you get right down to it – these really aren’t Hot Cross Buns, because the recipe isn’t traditional – the fruits are all wrong – and the bun isn’t dry like a powder keg. No, these are soft, lush, pillow-y, enriched brioche-style buns… with an “X” on top – and they’re delicious any time of the year. But – if you still feel hinkey about flapping in the face of superstitious traditions – then share one with a compadre, so that your friendship will grow stronger and you’ll both enjoy excellent luck throughout the year. . [amd-yrecipe-recipe:4]