Archive for July, 2009

Farmer’s Market

O joy, O happy day!

We have a new farmer’s market, and I finally got to visit it this morning.
Compared with larger communities, I’m sure it’s small; for my neck of the woods, it’s fabulous.

There were only a few stands with veggies. Other offerings included fresh flowers, fresh baked goods, fresh fish and seafood, fresh *pet* food, and artisan cheeses.

I bought a log of Westfield Farm classic blue chevre.

My favorite vendor by far was Hmong Farms.

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beautiful green and purple-red amaranth for “Click ~ Bi-colour” at Jugalbandi

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and beautiful baby green pea tendrils for me!

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produce from Hmong Farms

Closer to home, it begins to look more like summer in the deck-garden…

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tomatoes on the deck

and the beans and ridge gourd are starting to climb.

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long beans and ridge gourd

This is one of my favorite parts of the garden — watching the little climbing vines reach out and take hold!

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miraculous!

And now it’s time to find something to do with the pea tendrils πŸ™‚

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Best Friends ~ For MM and mm

My best friend lost a best friend.

I was so sad that I didn’t, and still don’t know quite what to do,
to comfort my best friend.

Then I decided, the thing to do, is to be myself.

So, although I am still not sure that *this* is what to do, I will do it anyway…

hoping it’s received with all the love it carries.

Best Friend
— Queen

Ooh… you make me live…
Whatever this world can give to me
It’s you, you’re all I see…
Ooh… you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live…

You’re the best friend…that I ever had
I’ve been with you such a long time…
You’re my sunshine… and I want you to know
That my feelings are true…
I really love you…

Oh… you’re my best friend…

Ooh… you make me live…

I’ve been wandering round
I still come back to you…
(still come back to you…)

In rain or shine…
You’ve stood by me, girl…
I’m happy… happy at home
You’re my best friend…

Ooh… you make me live
Whenever this world is cruel to me
I got you… to help me forgive
Ooh… you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live

You’re the first one…
When things turn out bad…
You know I’ll never be lonely
You’re my only one…
And I love the things…
I really love the things that you do…
You’re my best friend…

Ooh… you make me live…
(bop bop bop)

With love to mm and mm… best friends, forever…

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Not Exactly a Traditional Combo ~ Featuring Kohlrabi

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finally!

Summer has arrived at long last, and the garden is beginning to come along. Eggplants have yet to blossom, but the tomatoes are catching up quickly.

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omar’s lebanese tomato ~ July 12 ~ note the rungs on the cage, and the window…

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omar’s lebanese tomato ~ July 19 ~ what a difference the sun makes!

Cucumbers are growing like crazy…

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burpee’s sugar crunch cucumber ~ masses of yellow blossoms

various chili peppers are setting fruit as well…

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serrano peppers growing in long-awaited sunshine

I actually planted summer squash from seed today — with only 50 days to harvest, what have I got to lose? Dear Mom reminds me often that my Papa liked to say: “best garden he ever had, he planted on the 4th of July”!

Patience is not my strong suit. While waiting for my little garden to produce,
I find myself almost daily in one store or another, searching out fresh veggies. Yesterday I found some tiny kohlrabi with gorgeous greens attached. I went googling for recipes and came to Anita’s monjji haak.

It looked so good. It looked so GREEN! I had to have it πŸ™‚

I don’t have cold-pressed mustard oil, so I used a smidge of extra-virgin olive oil (from Greece, my *flavorite* — no pun intended — I do believe the best-tasting olive oil comes from Greece. There is a little shop in Cambridge where you can go and have an olive oil tasting — but that’s another story!).

Other than that oil-sub, I followed Anita’s instructions exactly. My greens were young and tender, so I omitted the hing and special Kashmiri masala.

I was happy to be reminded of the old trick for preserving color in greens — baking soda. And what a delightful treat these greens are!!

Rather than break out the pressure cooker, I simmered the greens. I plan to take them to work tomorrow, so I drained off all the liquid to prevent further cooking.

Earlier this morning, I had mixed up a batch of ISG’s easy-breezy oats’n grits dosa. This time the batter was so thick that I think I unwittingly made uttapam.

As usual, I wanted sambhar — especially to go with the uttapam/dosai.
I decided to make some with the reserved haak broth.

Hmm….

Subtley-spiced Kashmiri haak and fiery sambhar?? Not exactly a traditional combo — but I eat at my desk and nobody’s watching πŸ˜‰

It hardly seems necessary to set down a recipe for sambhar, but here’s how I made it tonight.

Kohlrabi-Haak Sambhar

4-5 small kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced

1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp urad dal
2 tsp chana dal
2-3 dried red chillies
1 sprig curry leaves

cooking water reserved from Anita’s haak mixed with
1 TB tamarind pulp (or to taste)

1 TB ISG’s magic sambhar podi

1/2 c cooked toor dal

salt to taste
~~~~~

In a medium saucepan, heat oil and add mustard. When it pops, add cumin, urad and chana dals, red chillies and curry leaves. Cook for a few minutes, then add onion and cook until translucent. Add diced kholrabi and saute for a few minutes, then add the reserved haak water and tamarind. Stir well, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes over med-low heat.

Now add sambhar podi and mix well. Cover and cook an additional 10-15 minutes.

By this time the kohlrabi should be tender-crisp. Add the cooked toor dal and mix well. Simmer another 5-10 minutes. Add salt to taste, and turn off the heat.

Let cool slightly before packing for lunch. Did I mention I can’t wait for lunch?? πŸ˜‰

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lunch tomorrow ~ ISG’s oats ‘n grits dosa, uttapam-style, and Anita’s shaak

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and kohlrabi sambhar to go with!

A few things I want to make with kohlrabi:

Pavani’s kohlrabi greens curry!

Shivapriya’s noolkol kalan

Shilpa’s navalkola sukke (which I said I was going to make way back in 2006!)

Dear Lera’s kholrabi masala — come on back Lera, I miss you! πŸ™‚

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Hope Springs Eternal

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I had big plans to cook and post an actual recipe this weekend, but the sad tomatoes on the deck are depressing me.

Nineteen days of rain in June alone, coupled with cooler than usual temps, has made slow growing and foliage problems for many of my poor little tomatoes — some of them the heirlooms I ordered all the way from California.

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couldn’t you just cry!

If you plant a garden in the north, you know. All winter as you snuggle under your blanket, you pour over the catalogues, cosily dreaming of summer’s joy and bounty while the earth lies dormant beneath her blanket of snow. Come spring, you pour all your tender loving care into the little seedlings, planted with such high hopes. To watch them shrivel and darken and die is something akin to losing a dear friend.

Of course that’s somewhat dramatic, but this year I can almost imagine the plight of the pioneers, moving west and breaking their backs to clear wild, virgin land and plant crops, crops upon which they depended for their very sustenance, only to watch Mother Nature dash all hopes in a freak hailstorm or cloud of grasshoppers.

Last year at this time my eggplants and tomatoes were covered with fruit.
Today on over a dozen plants, I have two, count ’em two tiny tomatoes, and this only after two days of much-needed sun and warm temps.
No eggplants. No peppers. No beautiful beans or gourd vines reaching toward the trellis I carefully placed in anticipation of their climbing to the sky via my deck railing.

Moan, groan, complain… but the tomatoes in the ground seem to be growing…

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marianna’s peace ~ a ‘potato-leaf’ tomato

And then I happened upon a few cucumber babies… that pleased me no end!

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baby sugar crunch cucumber

Now… I wish to welcome dear Nupur back to regular blogging!! I missed you, Nupur! They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; if that’s so, I am here to flatter you most sincerely! Better than being a copycat, anyway πŸ˜‰

Over July 4th weekend I was inspired by Nupur’s lovely pasta salad. Rather than pesto I used a low-fat artichoke tapenade I found at the new Market Basket grocery store. Bright flavors and colors made this a huge hit.

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whole-grain pasta salad with fresh veggies and artichoke tapenade dressing — so tasty!

I saw some small eggplants on the breakdown lane and wanted to try my hand at baba ghanouj using real *smoked* eggplant. I collected some maple sticks from the backyard and built a little smouldering fire over which I charred these beauties. I didn’t have aleppo pepper, so used a bit of chipotle instead. No pics of the finished dish because I am taking it all to work tomorrow!

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eggplants roasting on an open fire… la la la…

Finally, my little curry leaf twig OOPS I mean plant (which looks nothing like this amazing specimen!) decided to sprout new leaves — proving that hope does indeed spring eternal… even in the middle of what should be summer.

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hope springs eternal…

Now Nupur, I am hoping you’ll favor me with some advice for my reborn curry plant… which in its heart of hearts, wishes to become a beautiful tree like yours πŸ™‚

Also, please do go visit Rakhee in Dubai who has a yummy veg stew recipe I am waiting to try!

Always, and in spite of it all… Lake Superior beckons…

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calling me home…

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