Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Summer So Far...Soup Plants, Very "Attractive" Towels, and Beating the Fruit Flies
So since it's been so long since I've posted that, of course, I've forgotten about all the great recipes that I've tried since February. But a few neat kitchen additions to share. The first as you might see in this picture, I found what I call my "asian soup planting" at my local farmer's looks like one plant but it's actually not, it's two. Purple thai basil and spicy hot peppers. I hope it lasts into the cold weather because I can't wait to make my own asian veggie noodle soup. These peppers actually dry well..just tie some string about the stems and hang them together in a dry, dark place and they'll be ready to use whenever you want.

A second great find this summer is the Casabella magnetic dish cloth that I have been using in my kitchen. I also bought the glass cloth and the bathroom cloth for the mirrors in our apartment and our bathroom. Wow. These guys suck up water from just about anywhere. If you cook with veggies a lot you know that your counters can get wet pretty easily especially when you are washing and cutting up a lot of produce. One wipe literally of my Casabella kitchen cloth and the counter is dry. No waiting for it to be *almost*'s literally dry to the touch. I don't know what I did before these guys! Since I first purchased my Casabella carpet sweeper years ago (I love non-electric devices that replace electric ones), I've loved Casabella's products but this is just way beyond my expectations of how helpful a kitchen towel can be!! I don't quite know how it works but supposedly it's magnetic.

Finally, the fruit flies are at it again. Okay, it's my fault. I was lazy and didn't take my compost crock outside everyday to the compost bin. In late July and August it's essential that I don't leave the crock unemptied for more than 48 hours or else we have a ton of little winged visitors taking up residence. And man are they hard to get rid of. We've tried the hanging fly strips with mixed success. When a fruit fly lands on them, yes, they work great but they appear to work better with larger flies as the fruit flies don't really seem to be attracted to it. So you catch 'em by chance which isn't very successful. We've tried those yellow sticky-backed tabs that you put in plants. Those are great for an infestation in a potted plant. But for a compost crock there is simply nowhere to put them. So by mistake I found what apparently many people have known for years: vinegar and sugar are ambrosia to fruit flies. It does mimic what rotting fruit turns into so yeah, it makes total sense. So a little dish of apple cider vinegar (I found it works better as a lure than regular vinegar, probably because it's fruity) diluted with water and add a little sugar..perfect fruit fly trap. They'll come from all over and drown themselves in it. Unfortunately a necessary gross-ness that my kitchen must endure this summer so we don't have the epidemic that we had last year (fruit flies until christmas! ugh!).
Gettin' Saucy in the Kitchen...

I haven't blogged in a while but today, home on a rainy saturday morning with some farmshare produce to use up, I decided it was time!

I hope that you've had a great summer. I was away for most of June in Germany with my mom, husband and grandpa (we celebrated his 92nd birthday there! Go Gramps!). While we were away, we appeared to have missed the only really hot weather New England got this summer. How did I know? Well, the first thing I noticed after checking on my plants and goldfish is that the candles in our wall-mounted candle holder were completely inverted--literally melted! Since then, it's been a strange summer with all the rain in July and early August. Thankfully (with the exception of today) that has cleared but I am reminded of the rain each thursday when we go to pick up our weekly farm share. Our farmer tells us in our weekly newsletter that things were looking pretty precarious for a while. We're barely getting any lettuce. We had just two weeks of zucchini and summer squash. And the tomatoes. My neighbor said to me yesterday, "aren't the tomatoes just terrible this year?" and unfortunately I had to agree. The farmer has to pick them before they rot in the field but due to so many cloudy days, they aren't really ripe. So I have to keep a difficult balance of keeping them out on the counter for a few days to ripen up but catch them and put them in the fridge before they start to rot. But there's still hope. We have several warm weeks left to get these guys ripening. So I had a plate of them in the kitchen today that were ripening, as you can see in a rainbow of colors, and I figured, okay, now that I've got ripe tomatoes, now I've got to do something with them! So I decided it's going to be a sauce making day.

I had looked at the post this week for a creamy tomato sauce and I decided to give it a try. The result: pretty good! I've never been much into cream sauces but this will be nice in the middle of the winter when I'm craving fresh tomatoes. didn't mention that it freezes well but I don't see any reason why it won't.

I didn't add the oil as it is already higher in fat than I'd like with the cashews. I also variated by just adding the fresh garlic to the blender so none of the sauce actually was cooked. I can do that when I go to use it up, hopefully on a cold winter's day! The few spoonfuls that I got before I put it in the freezer were very tasty.

We also have a ton of fresh basil. Every summer I like to make my own pesto and freeze it for use in the winter. It's a wonderful feeling in February to be making something for dinner with something you made from fresh local veggies the summer before. This year after buying Veganomicon, I decided to try the Basil Cilantro Pesto recipe. The result? Hold on to your tupperware! I'm serious..I sent some to my parents via my sister and the two days before I was up there myself, they ate it all. We can't keep it in our fridge long enough to last a week so I am planning to order extra basil from the farm next week so that I can have enough to stock pile some pesto for the freezer. I've tried variations of the pesto, removing the olive oil to cut down on the fat and it still tastes great. Without the oil as a natural preservative, I'll keep this non-oil variation frozen at all times to preserve it. Sorry--I would love to post the recipe but since the author hasn't posted it online herself, I have to just say, go buy the book--you'll love it! Promise!