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    Entries in fresh is best (23)


    Extreme DIY

    I'm not cooking.

    Well, I am. Last night we grilled crooknecks, reduced some wine, added butter, and tossed it all with pasta, chicken breast, basil, and cheese. Tonight, pork filling for tacos. I do like pork in tacos.

    I also made date muffins again (turns out the recipe actually works and wasn't a total fluke), and sauteed chard to go into biscuit pastry for lunchy spanikopita-type things.

    But I didn't take a single picture.

    But I did take pics of food. It's just that it's food in a somewhat less familiar format.

    The garden.

    Yes, food comes from dirt.

    And while Taneasha and I are fans of DIY cooking, Recipe Guy has gone one step further and is DIYing his own food.

    I've had gardens in the past, but right now I'm trapped in my student apartment without even a balcony on which to grill things. Man, I love food cooked on fire.

    So, as I said, we grilled crooknecks last night. But first we had to harvest them. Squashes are fuzzy, and the fuzz is sharp and sticks in your fingers like fibreglass.

    Tasty things always have ways of protecting themselves. Note that the broccoli has no thorns, no fuzz, no dangerous parts to navigate around. That's because it's not edible. Contrary to what his housemates seem to think.

    Behind the broccoli is the remnants of the iceburg lettuces. There was romaine too. There's red leaf on the way. There's also chard.

    A lot of chard. I'd already taken 2-4 leaves off each of those plants. That got me about 4 grocery store sized bundles of chard. Sautee that shit in bacon fat with a bit of browned onion... goes perfectly with fried chicken. Holy yum.

    I need to make fried chicken.

    Some would recommend frying these little green tomatoes,

    but I think I'll wait until the sun turns them red (better them than me) and then eat them warm off the vine.

    TIP: As soon as your tomato plant starts fruiting, defoliate it. Pervert, it means take the leaves off. If you remove the leaves around the fruits, the sun will ripen them faster and the plant will put more energy into fruiting since it no longer has leaves to feed.

    And, if you let your cilantro go to seed, you'll attract all kinds of flying insects that will help pollinate the rest of the garden,

    and those little green burrs in the bottom left are actually corriander seed, a component of garum masala. Let them dry, harvest them by putting a paper bag over the seed head, turn it upside down and shake; all the seeds fall into the bag. This works for dill seed too.

    If you're lucky, you'll have a neighbour with honey bees

    (can you see the bee butt in the flower?) who shares the hibiscus scented honey that results from his bees spending all their time in your bushes.

    Of course, if you have a garden you need a compost heap.


    (still don't know how to embed vids)

    Now, you may not end up with a blues-singing, advice-giving heap, but what you might get are a few volunteers. I don't think I've ever seen a compost heap that didn't have things growing in it.

    We're pretty sure this is a butternut squash.

    There are onions just to the left out of the frame too. Which is good because Mowing Man keeps mowing down the wild onions in the horse pature.

    Speaking of wild things, remember the wild beans that appeared last year during the drought? Well, if you let wild beans go to seed in your garden, they will happily come back and demand trellises the next year.

    How does your garden grow?


    A Little Somethin' Froggy on the Side

    When I mentioned to Seeley that I was thinking about making frog eye salad, she made it quite clear that she wouldn’t be eating anything with frog eyes in it.  Perhaps she’ll come around when she sees that the ‘frog eyes’ in this recipe are actually just pasta.  Traditionally, it’s made with canned fruit and marshmallows and coconut, but as you know by now, we don’t really do traditional around here.  I decided to use the basic recipe, but to put in my favorite fruits.  You can put whatever you want in it, and it’ll be sure to make a fabulous side to go with your Easter ham.  And speaking of Easter ham, be sure you save the liquid that cooks off and the bone and extra meat, and next week, I’ll show you a fabulous way to use them.  Now, onto fruity, creamy, delicious frog eye salad. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    1 cup acini de pepe, uncooked
    ¾ cups sugar
    ½ teaspoon salt
    3 Tablespoons flour
    1 ¼ cups pineapple juice, drained from canned pineapple
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    2 eggs

    Whatever fruit you want to put in.  I used strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, and mango.

    Drain your pineapple.  I used all of the juice from a big can of tidbits and a small can of crushed, but used only about half of the actual tidbits.  If you don’t have quite enough juice, you can add another kind of juice or even water to get you to 1 ¼ cups.  Put the pineapple into a container or bag and into the fridge until you need it later. 

    Cook your pasta for the least amount of time on the package directions. 

    Drain it, and stir in a tablespoon of butter.

    In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.

    Whisk the eggs and lemon juice into the pineapple juice. 

    Pour that into the dry ingredients and whisk them together over medium heat. 

    Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick.  If you run your finger through it on the back of the spoon, it will not run back together.

    Pour that over the cooked acini de pepe and stir them together. 

    Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate overnight. 

    The next day, it’s time for the fruit.  This is how I like to cube a mango.  Cut both sides off, avoiding the pit. 

    Then run a knife along the inside, not going through the skin, making little cubes. 

    Turn the whole thing inside out, and then you can just scrape them off with a spoon, or even your fingers, into a bowl. 

    Dice up the strawberries. 

    Blueberries just have to be rinsed.

    And last, but not least, is the kiwi. 

    Cut off both ends and stand it upright.

    Cut down the sides, removing the peel in strips.

    Quarter it and dice it.  (I used 2 kiwis)

    Look how pretty that is!  Lovely colors for springtime. 

    Add your pineapple to the bowl and stir all the fruit together. 

    Pull your pasta mixture out of the fridge.  It should be quite solid. 

    To 2 cups cream, add 2 teaspoons vanilla and 3 Tablespoons sugar. 

    Whip until… voilá!

    With a spatula, loosen up the pasta mixture a bit.  It’s pretty solid, so you’ll kind of have to chop and smoosh. 

    Fold in the whipped cream in batches.  At first it will be more stirring/smashing than actual folding. 

    But eventually, the mixture will start to come together, and you’ll be able to fold properly. 

    Now, add your fruit.  Oh dear.  Do you see the same problem I do?  Obviously my bowl isn’t big enough.  Oh well, I have confidence in my abilities! 

    Fold in your fruit until everything is incorporated.  And there you have it!  Frog Eye Salad.  It’s sweet, creamy, fruity, and delicious. 

    Don’t you just love all the beautiful colors? 

    What’s your favorite springtime side dish?