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Archive for June, 2009

pestoandsalad

Two meals

One was a bit of a disappointment considering how much thought and work went into it. The menu was

  • Salad (lettuce, carrots, radishes, goat cheese, and toasted pecans with raspberry vinaigrette dressing)
  • Garlic scape pesto and shrimp pasta (I cooked the shrimp to almost done in a little olive oil and then turned the heat to low, added the pesto, and let it simmer for ten minutes or so.)

The salad didn’t mix up right. The leaf lettuce didn’t go as well with the goat cheese and toasted pecans as I imagined; I should have saved those for some of our romaine or field greens and just served the leaf lettuce with carrots and radishes.

And I wish I had served the salad separately and early rather than on the same plate as the pasta. The flavors weren’t well-matched, and the pesto cooled down too quickly. It’s not nearly as good when it’s not hot. It would have been better to eat the salad and leave the pasta on the stove. I’ve shied away from doing serving courses in the past because it seemed too fancy (and my husband would grumble about extra dishes). But I guess some things are really better eaten in succession rather than on one plate.

Yesterday’s much simpler – but still delicious – lunch finished off most of our produce. We had yummy sweet potatoes baked in the microwave, steamed pea pods from our garden topped with goat cheese and dill, carrot sticks, leftover coleslaw, and some dried apples for dessert.

Leftovers

  • Napa cabbage: will use in fried rice dishes and also as a cooked cabbage side dish.
  • Dill: combine it with goat cheese on vegetables. I ordered beets from the online store this week just for this purpose.
  • Dried apples: continue to eat as a snack. Mmmm….

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Ah, summer! Fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, and oodles and oodles of crawly things.

I’m relatively tolerant of bugs. Most bugs I try to escort outside. Ants I have learned to kill on sight in the house – not because I want to but because I’ve learned the hard way what happens if you don’t kill the scouts immediately. I kind of like big ants when they’re not in the house. They’re big enough to be interesting individually, and the colony organization is amazing. Little ants I don’t like at all because we have a history. One day years ago, I found a trail of them leading to the pantry where they had swarmed a bag of chips. You could hear them chomping on the chips. I had nightmares about that for days.

Chiggers may be the worst. I can’t go outside in our (admittedly overgrown and woodsy) yard without getting bit by chiggers. Skin So Soft lotion prevents them from biting sometimes, and Liquid Bandage makes them stop itching sometimes. But what a nuisance! The mosquitoes have been bad this year, too, with all the rain. At least, these mosquito bites only itch for a few minutes.

Ticks

And the ticks are out in force this year! I’ve only seen a couple of ticks over the past several years here, but we’ve already found four of what I think were male deer ticks on us – thankfully still walking around!

ticksI killed these ticks by dumping them in an old pill bottle, adding some acetone, shaking it up, and leaving them there. Rubbing alcohol is what people usually recommend, but I didn’t have any of that at the time.  I saw a vet doing this with a jar that was slop full of dead ticks. It seems safer and easier than trying to destroy them physically. If the tick bit you, it’s also a good way to keep the tick around for identification purposes if you get some symptoms later. Here’s more info on what to do if you find a tick already firmly attached. Above all, I recommend not doing Internet searches about ticks. It’s given me a bad case of the willies!

So remember to check for ticks after being outside in tall grass or woodsy areas even if you’ve never had a problem before.

Fruit flies

But what I really want to write about today is fruit flies.

fruitfly

In the past summers, we’ve had serious problems with fruit flies in the house. They don’t carry disease, but they’re very annoying. We assume they come in with food through the kitchen, but they wind up all over the house. They seem to like computer screens.

Last year, we finally found a solution that really works. Fill a bowl near where the flies are with a tablespoon of natural apple cider vinegar (the kind with the mother), a tablespoon of sugar, a couple drops of dish soap, and a cup of water. The flies cannot resist the smell, and they drown in the bowl. Yellow bowls seemed to work best and dark bowls the worst.

I think the necessary ingredients to attract the flies are sweet (= fruit) and fermenting (= decaying) liquids. So you could also try fruit juice and some kind of alcoholic beverage. Just don’t forget the detergent! This year, we’re going to try trub, a yeasty byproduct of brewing beer, instead of the relatively expensive apple cider vinegar

We got rid of a bad infestation in a week or so using this bowl method. We had a bowl in the kitchen, a bowl in the bathroom, and a bowl at both  of our desks. After we cleared out most of flies, we just left a bowl in the kitchen for the rest of the summer. It caught the newcomers quickly so they never spread to other parts of the house. Hooray!

This year, we haven’t had any problems yet, but if (when?) they arrive, we’ll know what to do!

And, tomorrow, I promise to return to more appetizing blog fare.

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Goats are great!

Here are some things I’ve learned about goats while visiting Jacque and Nancy Garry at Red Hott Tomatoes in Bowdon, GA.

1. Goats make great stuff.

At Red Hott Tomatoes, I got to meet some goats and sample some of their wares. I had goat milk, goat cheese, and goat kefir. I’d had goat milk before and hadn’t liked it too much. So when Nancy handed me a big glass, I was prepared to sip and smile. Wow, was I surprised! It was really good! The goat milk I had on the farm wasn’t pasteurized, and Nancy and Jacque said that makes a big difference. Having met the goats and their milkers, I had no qualms about downing unpasteurized milk, but anything I had from the store would have been. Sadly, raw milk can’t be sold for human consumption in Georgia.

But goat cheese can! The goat cheese was terrific and not only because I had it on Nancy’s homemade biscuits. It’s wonderfully tasty and useful stuff. It’s got a mild but intensely fresh flavor! After using it in a few recipes, I think you could pair it with any vegetable or herb. The creamy, fresh taste enhances other flavors without overwhelming them. It’s great on roasted beets, on steamed peapods, in salads with toasted pecans, or just in hunks wrapped in sorrel leaves. Mmmm…. It’s like whipped cream for vegetables!

I donate to Heifer International which provides families with goats for milk to drink and sell (and other livestock, too). And they send around wonderful catalogs with happy pictures of the families. Before drinking Nancy’s goat milk, I felt a little bad for these smiling kids with milk moustaches. I’d think “If only they could have real, good-tasting milk from a cow.” Now that I know what their goat’s milk really tastes like, I smile along with them.

2. Goats have character

The lady goats were sociable creatures browsing and hanging out together with Rosie, their guard dog. Like the rest of the animals at the farm, they seemed faintly curious about me but didn’t seem to mind my presence.

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Except for Pixie. Pixie is the largest of the farm’s dairy goats. We probably weigh in about the same. So I saw a big goat, and she saw another female threatening her place in line next to Jacque. She never charged, butted, or bit me, but the threat of all three was in the air. She put herself in my way again and again maintaining eye contact the whole time. If she’d been a dog, I would have ignored her displays of dominance until they turned overtly aggressive. Was this overtly aggressive for a dairy goat? I didn’t know. I didn’t want to back down and look like a wuss in front of Jacque (or Pixie), but I surely didn’t want to mix it up either. Thankfully, Jacque was there to keep all this chick drama in check. He’d grab Pixie’s collar or swat her to distract her or keep her in line.

Pixie's on the right.

Pixie's on the right.

I appreciate divas of all species, so, to be clear, I have no problem with Pixie, and I’m sure we would have come to an understanding in time.

Divas aside, the buck pen held the most charisma. This bachelor pad is across the farm from the dairy goats and is home to three billy goats, a young bull (or maybe a steer), and a burro named Eeyore. Check out this adorable pair.

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And then there’s the billy goat who posed for me like a dog at Westminster.CIMG1334

And then it was Eeyore’s turn.

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3. Goats have good friends

Rosie is a dog with a job who was born knowing her business: keeping her herd safe. That’s a full time job with coyotes and roaming gangs of domestic dogs in search of thrills. Jacque says the local dogs are the worst threat because they’re badly behaved in groups and not scared of people smells. But Rosie’s a big girl, and I can imagine a couple of dogs out on a lark would think twice before going a round with her. She has different barks for different critters, and Jacque says he never sleeps as well as when Rosie barks through the night.

Rosie on break

Nancy had the best Rosie story, though. For the past few days, Rosie had not been letting the goats deep into the woods to browse. Nancy even saw them one morning where “Rosie had them lined up for a staff meeting telling them not to go into the woods.” Later, Nancy and Jacque heard from a neighbor that a bobcat had taken up residence in the area. See what I mean about this dog? Rosie sensed a new threat, decided she couldn’t ward it off on her own, and took preventative steps to keep the herd away from danger. Can we vote Anatolian shepherds into public office?

In the buck pen, Eeyore is the guard. He’s a rescue burro from Colorado, and I didn’t get his whole story, but it’s clear he’s wary of people. Eeyore loves his goat buddies, though.

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He once killed a fox that got into the pen, and Jacque said he could take on a dog.

4. Baby goats are cute.

The baby goats were fun, too. They’re not quite babies any more, more like, well, little kids. They followed Jacque around their pen falling over themselves to find out what he was up to. (He was putting up fencing around the apple and pear trees so the growing goats wouldn’t eat the bark).

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And then they had a quick chat with Nancy.

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These goats are bottle fed three times a day and have been from birth. Sadly, unlike me and the happy kids from Heifer, the baby goats get pasteurized milk.

Jacque’s a pro and can feed two kids at once.

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I was content with my one.

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So that’s just some of what I learned about goats. Thanks to Nancy and Jacque for letting me butt in on the farm, and I’ll write more about other animals later!

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Wow, what a catch this week! I listed everything in yesterday’s post, but here’s another look.

6-3

While laying out this food for the picture, I realized spreading the food out and then putting it away is vital to my planning and prepping for the week. Having my hands on the food seems to inspire meal ideas better than anything else.

For instance, I saw the ground beef, the potatoes, and the cutest little onions but didn’t put them together until I was separating the chives and chamomile. Then I thought, “Chives! A beef, onion, and potato skillet dish would be tasty, and I could add chives at the end.” That’s what I made last night along with some leftover Portobello mushrooms, winter savory, half a bay leaf, garlic powder, salt and pepper. And we had salad with sliced radishes and carrots on the side.

beefskillet

Every week I get excited opening up my box and seeing what’s in there. (I know, I’m a total goob). But I try to ride that momentum into prepping stuff for the coming week. Sometimes it works. Usually I stall out somewhere in the middle.

But I got a lot done yesterday. I picked through the outside leaves of the lettuce, washed some for supper, and put the rest away. I trimmed the root veggies and chopped up the Asian turnips. The turnips will be part of today’s fried rice. Everything’s ready and I get to use up some leftovers: watermelon radish, turnips, kohlrabi stems, onion, cabbage, and watermelon radish greens. I’m not going to add shrimp this time but instead use at least four eggs.

menp

I also made candied pecans to send to a friend. I have to get them out today or tomorrow or I’ll break down and tear into them. Or I could just shell more pecans, I suppose. What a treat to get shelled pecans! I’ve shelled a bunch lately and still have more to go. I use this hand cracker that relies on some sort of ratcheting system that I don’t fully understand. (My husband doesn’t get how it works either, so it’s not just my girl genes.)

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In the same package, I’m also sending some lavender hand cream. I put the dried lavender from last week in a jar and poured warm sweet almond oil over it. In a few more days, I’ll strain the lavender flowers out and combine the oil with some shaved beeswax and vitamin E. Hopefully, it will smell really nice.

lavender

I also made a pound and a half of garlic scape pesto with all the scapes. Chopping garlic scapes is kind of frustrating. They have all these unwieldy curves and never stay where you put them. I’m glad only to have to chop them into inch pieces or so for pesto.

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Then I grind some cheese (Romano and Asiago this time) and some pine nuts, add the scape pieces and some olive oil, and grind it some more. I add enough olive oil to keep the mixture sticky. I made 5 4-oz. containers of pesto for the freezer and one larger one for this weekend. I’m going to cook shrimp in some of it and then toss it with pasta.

It's the leaning tower of pesto!

It's the leaning tower of pesto!

I also hope to get around to the 5 pounds of cooking apples today. Cooking apples are apples that have been around awhile. They have some wrinkles, spots, or bulges, and aren’t as pretty or firm as maybe they once were. But they’re still good at – I mean, for – lots of things. (I’m starting to suspect that I bought these apples more out of sympathy than anything else.)

Good lighting always helps.

Good lighting always helps.

I’m thinking about making Patricia’s Quick Apple Betty from the Farmers’ Fresh Cookbook. Or I may just slice and dry them all for now. Nancy Garry (of recent celebrity here and here) taught me about rehydrating dried apples for baking. The problem is it’s too easy to eat dried apples plain. I can sit down with a bag and munch through ten or twelve apples worth. That can’t be good.

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This post just lists what came from the CSA this week. Tomorrow I’ll write up my plans for the week and what I’ve already done. I’ve been so busy playing with all this great stuff that I’ve run out of time today.

6-3

  • pecans
  • fingerling potatoes
  • Chinese cabbage
  • lettuce
  • rice grits
  • Sea Island red peas
  • eggs
  • garlic scapes
  • peanut butter bars
  • carrots
  • radishes and Asian turnips
  • onions
  • chamomile and chives
  • blueberry muffins
  • sweet potatoes

I also bought a few things from the online store: garlic scapes, cooking apples, and a pound of ground beef.

scapesapplesbeef

Until tomorrow!

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