Saturday, June 29, 2013

June's gardens and other fun stuff

 This is a view of the bush beans, the bean trellises and the wild  landscaping that is my back yard.  (Ha. I say landscaping like it was planned like this)  The beans have been flowering, and now have little tiny 1.5 inch beans growing on them.  The weather has been so crazy this year, it's a miracle anything is growing period.  2 days ago, it was 95.  Yesterday it was 86. Today might have gotten up to 74. And tonight it is about 65 right now. They're forecasting rain the next 3 days.  But the hot days in between have been good for the garden, so we won't complain.  

The cucumbers are growing like crazy, over in the salad bed. And the lettuces are amazing.

 This is the edamame in the forefront, and the potatoes behind them. 2 separate garden beds, but so big and growing that they're starting to kinda melt together, lol. Looks like a sea of green. The edamame still have a ways to go, but the potatoes are flowering like crazy.

Isn't my bee balm delightful ? I love the bright colors.

Beautiful, fragrant elderflowers.  I'm going to harvest some this week and make elderflower cordial, which you can make a soda type drink with.  I may also make a few jars of elderflower and vanilla jam, if I can find the recipe. 

 I have a lot of lilies in my yard, and these are one of my favorites. They're big and thick and sunshine yellow. I have them planted i the front yard, around the bird bath and around the post of a bird feeder too.

 Lots of joyful daylilies around. Beautiful colors...

 And then this guy--all by its lonesome. An almost salmon colored lily.

 Cheery pink geraniums on the back deck.

 And Miss Junko Taibei, my right hand cat, resting after a hard morning of gardening.

  I made a pan of cranberry almond granola bars today. I over cooked them a little. (Ok, a lot compared to the ones I made last week that were undercooked).  I took them to the Solstice Celebration last Saturday and they were all gobbled up.  I wanted to cook them a little more than that batch, but I went overboard. They are still very good, just crunchier and less chewy, so more crumbly. I'll come back tomorrow and post pictures and recipes for them--they are really good.

  Bon Apetit and happy gardens...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pasta lovers--this one's for you ! Aglio y Olio

Assuming of course, that you're a garlic lover too. If you're not, you might as well skip this post.  lol

The first time I had this dish, at a little Italian restaurant in southern Oregon called...Mama's...I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was loaded with fresh garlic and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and fresh parsley, which I love. Since then, I have made it for special occasions and for everyday fare. It is quick and easy and will leave you breathless. (Well...your friends might wish it did, anyway) lol  Actually, one of the things I love about this recipe is that the garlic becomes very mild and sweet, but still definitely garlicky. We had a Valentine's Day/Irishman's Birthday party one year and I made a BIG batch of Spaghetti Marinara, with or without home made meatballs or Italian sausages, and a smaller batch of this. It's always hard to tell how people are going to react to dishes that are a little out of their comfort zones. They gobbled this up so fast, I had to make a second batch!  Luckily it's great for that...

 It's called Aglio y Olio. That's just Italian for Garlic and Oil. I like it best with a tender organic angel hair pasta.  Here's the list of ingredients:

  About 1/2 cup of good EVOO
  At least one full head of garlic (I use more)
  Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  Cracked black pepper
  Shredded Parmesan cheese
  Finely chopped fresh parsley, at least a third of a cup

  Half a pound of  a good organic angel hair pasta

   Peel the garlic and slice each clove into thin slices. 

   Over low heat, put the EVOO in a large pan (big enough to hold the pasta too, once it's cooked). I just use my large cast iron skillet for this because it heats so evenly and I can. lol  Throw in the garlic. I have a gas stove and I always use a diffuser on the burner for dishes like this, because you absolutely DO NOT want that garlic to burn. It needs to be softly sauteed in the oil until it turns a light golden brown around the edges. It will take about 10-15 minutes on low heat.

  In a saucepan, cook the angel hair pasta and set it aside. If you start it after the garlic, it won't have to sit long. Angel hair pasta cooks quickly, so be sure to watch it and don't over cook. 

  Once the garlic is about done, sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and cook about 5 minutes more and then turn the heat off.  Reserve about a cup of water out of the pasta pan when you drain that pasta, and slowly and carefully, add it to the skillet of garlic and oil. I have never had a problem burning myself while doing this, as long as you pour it in slowly (especially at first).  Then turn the heat back on while you stir, and cook until it reduces by about 1/3.  

**Note:  I don't always do this step. But when I do, the oil is a little less oily and almost more creamy. You can do it or not. If I have time, I do it. But it's delicioso either way. **

OKAY.  Once that is done, you're going to pour your drained (not rinsed) pasta into the big skillet of oil and garlic,  and remove it from heat. Since I cook with gas, I just turn the fire off.  I add the cracked black pepper,  throw in a good sized handful of shredded Parm,  and then the chopped parsley. Toss it all together and put it on a plate, with a little freshly shredded Parmesan on top. VOILA!

 Add a nice salad of greens from your garden and a piece or two of garlic bread or breadsticks and you've got yourself a satisfying meal and a beautiful plate that you could proudly serve to anyone  !!

Bon Apetit!