Sunday, September 26, 2010

10 Good Things About This Week...

1. We camped at Montana de Oro with some friends last weekend. Good times.
2. Rosie joined Tulip and laid some eggs. Yay!
3. I went to work for a regular 24 hours. Regular. Yesssss.
4. The chickens dismembered a lizard and ate it. Ok, maybe this one doesn't qualify as good, but we had a good laugh talking about lizard flavored eggs. Ewwww.
5. Sofia and Maia spent a couple afternoons with their "manny", Justin. All is well.
6. Chris' Swedish cousins arrived in California for a two-week tour. They stayed with us for two nights and will be back at the end of their trip. So nice to visit with them - their girls are 14 and 18, last time we saw them they were 1 and 5. We're hoping to take the girls to Sweden sometime - they've got horses.
7. We are having a heat wave. The good part is that maybe those million tomatoes and tomatillos I bragged about will actually ripen.
8. Chris and I went for a 6 mile hike on Friday in the heat. Good company, good exercise.
9. Sofia is making banana bread this morning, almost by herself. Yum, can't wait to try some.
10. We are having some friends over for wine this evening. More good times.

Hope you're having a good week, too.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our Lady Tulip

Imagine my shock on Tuesday when I opened the sleeping quarters in the coop (to do some periodic cleaning) and discovered 4 little brown eggs. A little clutch. It appears that our Tulip is all grown up now.
So I immediately ran and got the camera of course. Then I brought them in to take some more photos. (The big one in the back is a large egg from the store for scale.) They are smallish because she still has some growing to do.
Then I took them back outside and placed two in each of the nesting boxes. Egg #5 was in the "wrong" place but she laid Egg #6 in a nesting box. Smart cookie, that Tulip.

Yes, we ate them. Yes, they were delicious.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


That's Maia's silly name for ratatouille. Gotta love 5-year old humor.
Ratatouille was a hit - now I just need a movie called "Broccoli Soup" and "Turkey Sandwich". I used a combination of several recipes but started mostly with this one from epicurious making some significant changes based on the comments. I also looked at Julia Child's ratatouille recipe and a version that was supposed to be like the one in the movie. Here's my summary:

2.5 lbs tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
thyme* and herbes de provence*
1 T sugar*
tomato paste*
1 cup chopped parsley
olive oil (I used significantly less than what was called for in the recipe)
2 small eggplant (I think they were the Japanese variety)
2 large onions
3 bell peppers (I used 2 green and one red)
2 medium zucchini (I sliced mine thin, instead of in chunks)
1 other squash (it was green and round, quartered and sliced thin)
black pepper
* added based on comments in recipe

- I made the sauce per the directions in a 5 quart oven safe sauce pan, adding a few different ingredients, and leaving out the basil. My understanding is that basil is not a traditional ingredient in ratatouille.
- Then I tossed the cubed eggplant in salt as directed.
- I cooked the vegetables as directed but with much less oil and only sauteed the squashes briefly. I added the onions, eggplant, and bell peppers to the sauce as each was cooked.
- Instead of cooking longer on the stove, I layered the zucchini and other squash on top of the other vegetables and put a buttered piece of parchment paper (cut to size) on top of it all and put it in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

I could imagine using individual ramekins to cook in the oven and serve and it would look prettier on the plate. I could imagine more eggplant too. I think mine were a little too small.

I'm supposed to start working next week a regular 24-hour per week schedule. I still haven't worked out all the child care details but hopefully it will all come together. I am looking forward to the regular paycheck but I am a little (hehe, understatement) anxious about how "it will all get done". I don't want to give up my cooking adventures, my garden adventures, my trips to the farmer's market. I'd gladly give up some of the more mundane tasks of the week but of course I can't abandon that stuff either. So I decided to start a painting. I know, there's no logic but it will all work itself out. Hopefully. More the on the painting soon. Hopefully. There's that word again.

I have a new name that bird - can't believe we've lived here 6 years and we've never seen this little one. Any guesses out there?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Garden Fun

When we got back from vacation last weekend, we found that our garden had exploded. In a good way, not literally. Tomatoes took off, tomatillos too, spinach grew, basil, cilantro, parsley, pumpkins - oh my goodness - I think the pumpkins may try to take over the entire yard. It's been fun. Maybe it's the cool summer we've had, but things take longer to grow and mature than I expected. Growing some of my own organic food has made me appreciate what organic farmers are doing even more.

The other night I made a frittata using zucchini, tomatoes, and basil from the garden. This time next year, I'll be able to make it with eggs from the chickens, too! It was delicious. It also had goat milk cheddar and came from an egg recipe book I purchased recently. I'm getting really excited about the eggs (hence the egg recipe book)... none yet, hopefully sometime in October. Chickens are doing great, looking mostly mature but their combs and wattles are not fully grown or bright red yet.

Ok people, this is really good. It's my very own recipe for tomatillo sauce. Here's what you need:

30 tomatillos, without husks
1 shallot, chopped coarse
2 cloves garlic, chopped coarse
1/2 t salt
handful cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1 "Italian Roaster" pepper (I'm growing these in the garden, they're long and green, smallish, not spicy but of course you could substitute to your spiciness liking)

First you roast the tomatillos under the broiler for about 5 minutes on each side, so they start to blister but not blacken too much. Try to save the juice that inevitably spills out on the pan. Put the tomatillos and the juice in the food processor, along with all the other ingredients and process until smooth. I put the cilantro in last so you can still see some green flecks. If you find it's too thick, add some water. That's it. Super yummy. We had some on trout last night and I plan to use the rest on some roasted poblanos this weekend.
Here we are on vacation last week. We visited Chimney Rock Winery, where we married 15 years ago. Sofia and Maia enjoyed seeing our wedding place and had fun pretending to marry and then not quite as much fun while we tasted some wine. Afterward, we had a wonderful lunch in Yountville at a French bistro that served all kinds of "frenchie" things like rabbit and duck and other somewhat unusual choices. Among other things that weren't rabbit, we ordered their ratatouille, which was a big hit with everyone. Who would think that Maia would love ratatouille? I'm positive that the movie had something to do with that. That's fine. We need all the help we can get to broaden her narrow palette. Ratatouille is on my menu this week - let's see if the movie can help me too.

One final note, and hopefully won't sound too preachy. While we were on vacation, three of Chris' cycling teammates were struck by a car while on one of their regular morning training rides. Two were injured seriously, one requiring knee surgery, and one with multiple pelvic fractures, also requiring surgeries. He may be out of commission for the better part of a year. The third rider required stitches on his face. A fourth rider was able to avoid the collision. It was truly frightening for Chris (and for me). One of the riders is one of his best buddies. The good news is that they will recover. What struck me is the response I got from several people when I mentioned the accident. They said things like, "What are they doing riding on that road?" and "That's a dangerous road for cars even!"

Chris' friends were riding single file and obeying all traffic laws. The driver turned left in front of them. She said she didn't see them. I feel for her because I know we all make mistakes while driving. What I would like to point out is that cyclists have every right to be on the road and are protected by our traffic laws. We need to be looking for them. I love a cyclist. If you're reading my blog, you probably do, too. Let's keep our eyes out for them. So here's a new public service announcement slogan:

Share the Road. It's not just about kindness, it's the law.

Peace to one and all.