Friday, May 27, 2011

Buttermilk (Ranch) Dressing

Start with a couple of cloves fresh garlic -I like a lot of garlic, but if you are a bit shy in this area, you can start with just one.  Smash the garlic by pounding your fist against the flat blade of the knife (yeah, that's how real chefs do it, no garlic press needed!).  Sprinkle the garlic with some sea salt - the sea salt has a nice big grain which helps.  Using the flat of the knife and the palm of your hand, mash the garlic and salt until it forms a paste.  It takes a few minutes.  Have patience.  Enjoy the smell.  Do NOT be tempted to resort to chopping the garlic at this point - it will wreak havoc on a knife blade with all that salt.  When you have a good paste, transfer the garlic to a bowl.  Spoon in equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream and stir to combine.

Now, slowly whisk buttermilk into the mixture until you reach your desired consistency.  Do a taste test to determine if you want more sour cream - I usually do.  Grind some pepper and add more salt if needed.  Now, you can stop here, or you can finish it off with some chopped herbs - preferrably a nice helping of dill and maybe some parsley as well?

Stored in a jar in the frig, it will keep for a couple of weeks. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another use for all those greens....

For me, a really good salad needs several key elements.  First, really great greens.  Swiss chard, spinach and boston leaf are at the top of my list - but really I am happy with anything but iceberg (which is the equivalent of eating crunchy water :)  Second, fruit.  Take your pick, strawberries, raspberries, apple, pear, the always popular tomato - I do draw the line at mandarin oranges though - because any fruit that has lived in a can just makes me sad.  Third, a nut.  Now I realize some of you can't indulge here, and I am sorry, but for me a salad needs a nut - my top pick is usually almonds, today I went with pecans.  Fourth element - the cheese.  Here is where a salad really can go over the top.  My pick - goat or blue cheese, but I also love chunks of swiss cheese, or freshly shredded parmesan.  Final element - really good salad dressing.  If you want inspiration for a great easy one - stop over at Pleasantview Schoolhouse for her take on salad and a nice vinagrette.  Today I went for ranch - homemade and absolutely full of garlic deliciousness and a bit of fresh dill to top it off.   Tomorrow I'll post my favorite ranch dressing recipe, and if you have any good dressing recipes to share, do tell!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Walk Down Memory Lane

Went back to a familiar city for a few days, husband attended a conference and we enjoyed a late anniversary trip without kids.

Top pick for dinner...

...and the best ribs you will ever eat!

Too late for the ducks :(   but I always marvel at the flowers - still can't figure out how they manage to sneak in and change them out without anyone seeing!

....a little music in the park.....

 You know you have been homeschooling too long when your idea of a great trip is spending 2 days in a hotel room with curriculum and a lap top, planning the next school year.  Definitely need to do that again sometime!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Seasonal Cooking, or what do I do with all these greens?

If you shop seasonally, locally or belong to a CSA, chances are this time of year you are getting lots of greens - swiss chard, lettuce, kale.  Thought I would share a few of my favorite ways to serve these greens.  My top pick, boil a pot of pasta (here I used fettuccine) with a bit of salt.  Rough chop swiss chard.  Heat a saute pan with a little bit of olive oil, then throw the chard in with a clove of minced garlic.  You want it to sizzle good, but not burn.  It only needs to cook a few minutes, just enough to heat the greens through.  Since I had fresh broccoli, I threw a bit of that in as well.  Throw your drained (not rinsed) pasta in a bowl, add the chard then top it off with some grated parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts (get these in bulk and store in the freezer to save money and always have some on hand).  A little freshly ground pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt and you are good to go!    I make this for lunch often in the spring, and it can be served as a side dish with or without the pasta.  Next week I will share another few of my favorites.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Share of the Year

Picked up our first CSA share of the year last night - broccoli, swiss chard, kale, green and red leaf lettuces, onions, garlic, and strawberries!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not many words right now....

...not much time for blogging these past few weeks, hands are very busy..... hundreds of tiny blooms are formed.....

.......soon layers will be covered and stacked....
.....branches of cheery yellow will burst into bloom....

..... to celebrate the wedding of a friend's youngest daughter,
who just happens to be getting married on my anniversary.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fairy Tales and Dragons

"Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist.  Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed."
G. K. Chesterton

Monday, May 9, 2011

Busy Monday, but still giving thanks

173. little feet stomping packing bubbles up and down the hall

174. water droplet, enjoying a moment frozen in time

175. bouquets of roses cut from the front yard

176. perennials!  the joy of seeing herbs return in abundance year after year

177. the promise of sweetness from little white flowers

178. candlit dinner, just because

179. lying on your back and watching clouds pass overhead
180. hand made cards of love from little ones

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Conversation at Checkout

Clerk: Oh, fun, oyster shooters, huh?
Me: um, no, they are for our Sunday School program.
Clerk:  Uh, interesting.  I bet you get some looks from the parents in your church!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Blessings

164. protection from deadly storms, praying for those who have lost so much
165. abundance of rain, things growing greener every day

166. 16 quarts of just picked berries, early harvest from a local farm, sweet and delicious

167. popping sound of canned strawberry jam as the lids seal
168. homemade strawberry ice cream!
169. celebrating Pascha in the atrium
 170. newest little member of the family being brought into the faith

171. sleeping baby wrapped in a blanket bearing the name of her saint
172. the sacrament of baptism