Friday, July 27, 2007

Farmstand Recipes

Check out this link to the Food Network's farmstand page.

Tomatoes, peppers, melon, squash, corn, peaches, eggplant - they have recipes for all kinds of fresh produce. For those of us in the midst of a vegetable garden explosion, this is good news.

I've also included the Food Network in my links. And yes, I'll say it first: "Why would you include this when you don't have television?" Because it's a great resource, silly.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Maraschino liqueur update

My local liquor store didn't have it, but BevMo did. Here's the link to purchase Luxardo maraschino liqueur.

Real maraschino liqueur is semi-dry; don't confuse it with maraschino cherry juice.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sour cherry update

I looked everywhere: Publix, Garden Cove, internet sites. No sour cherries in Alabama; no sour cherries to be delivered to Alabama.

What's a girl to do? Buy cherry trees (Charlie doesn't know yet).

Here's a link to Nature Hills Nursery cherry trees.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Roma madness

And there's more where these came from.

I love dried tomatoes (they're expensive if you buy them) so I halve them and dry them in the oven at 200 overnight. Of course, you can use a dehydrator, but I prefer the oven; more of a roasted quality.

See that cute little watermelon in the upper right-hand corner? He's mine, too; but more about melons later.

Some people take baby pictures; I show off my vegetables and fruits.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Roma VF

Two plants, that's all. Two Roma tomato plants produced 40 pounds of fruit! Yes, I'm glad - I love this tomato - but when 40 pounds of fruit come in at the same time, one has to be ready to move!

Roma's a beautiful tomato; great for sauce, great for canning whole, great for drying.

It's an easy plant, too. Though the seed has been improved, it's not a hybrid. It's an open-pollinated variety, so it will re-seed. What does VF mean? It means that it's resistant to verticillium and Fusarium wilt.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cherries Garish Glory Revealed

Have you ever had a real maraschino cherry? Let me answer for you: no.

Melissa Clark of the NYT writes on the lost art of maraschino cherries and turns to cherry-making. She includes recipes for both Maraschino Cherries and Spiced Brandied Cherries.

She concludes, of course, "that the best things are worth the bother." Amen.

Read the entire article - I'm busy trying to find sour cherries and maraschino liqueur - in Alabama!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Birthday present #2

The Reach of a Chef: Professional Cooks in the Age of Celebrity by Michael Ruhlman.

From the back cover:
"It's a new world: chefs are stars, Julia Child is no longer with us, and the Food Network is a nonstop, televised beacon to the food-obsessed. In The Reach of a Chef, writer Michael Ruhlman examines the profound shift in American culture that has raised restaurant cooking to the level of performance art and status of the chef to celebrity CEO. With extended forays into the country's most famous, expensive, and exclusive restaurants, Ruhlman seeks out and explains the latest trends and phenomena, including the rise of Las Vegas as the country's food Gomorrah and the explosion of culinary school courses. Get in the trenches with Thomas Keller and Masa Takayama, Grant Achatz and Melissa Kelly, Emeril Lagasse and Rachel Ray, and savor this intimate meeting with some of the most famous chefs in the kitchens of the hottest restaurants in the world."

Boy; kind of makes you tired just to read the back cover, doesn't it? Reviews as soon as I finish the books.

Birthday present #1

and a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis.

I can't wait to read this one. Pardon me while I work my way through the ten cocktails...

Chapter 1: Kill-Devil
Chapter 2: Grog
Chapter 3: Flip
Chapter 4: Medford Rum
Chapter 5: Planter's Punch
Chapter 6: Demon Rum
Chapter 7: Daiquiri
Chapter 8: Rum and Coca-Cola
Chapter 9: Mai Tai
Chapter 10: Mojito

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This Day in History

Today is my birthday, which I share with one of my favorite painters, Edgar Degas. He, by the way, is 125 years older than I.

Anyhoo, I went to "This Day in History" to look at some interesting facts, and found it was the same day that:

Lady Jane Grey was deposed.
The Rosetta Stone was found.
Morgan's Raiders were defeated at Buffington Island (Charlie, that one's for you).

Happy July 19th! And happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mr. Stripey

Meet Mr. Stripey, one of my favorite tomatoes. I plant lots of different tomatoes every year, but this is the first time in 10 years that I have been able to find a Mr. Stripey.

I was vegetable plant shopping with my boys (who were 12 and 15 at the time) when we spotted this plant, and knew we had to give it a try.

There are two different kinds - the one I grow is a beefsteak. The fruit in the photo is 6 inches across. They're sweet and beautiful! Big, yellow tomatoes with red vertical stripes on the outside. When you cut them, they look like they've been tie-dyed.

What a delicious 'mater! I was so happy to spot them at Home Depot, and believe I bought the last one. If you'd like to try them, stop by the house and I'll pick a few for you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Those Zellner Girls

Olivia (left) and Emma (right) Zellner are on a mission. They are trying to raise money for their WPC Sunday School project - a fund-raising effort for Jim and Marianna Peipon of Ukraine Medical Outreach.

They will sell you a glass of lemonade and a chocolate chip cookie for 25 cents - a great deal! All of the money will benefit the AIDS Orphanage where Marianna volunteers.

Liv and Em had information and pictures to show folks as they stopped by. The girls explained to me that the babies in the pictures were sick, and they wanted to help them and tell them about Jesus.

They waved and flagged down every car and truck driving through the subdivision. At last count they had raised $40 - I know that's a lot of lemonade money, but their mom Susan explained that they had some heavy tippers.

Monday, July 16, 2007

More green thoughts - about corn prices

Read this article about the rising costs of dairy products. And I must admit that my concern is this: what will happen to ice cream?

It seems that the demand for ethanol has in turn spiked demand for corn, which in turn is bringing the cost of an ice cream cone to $3.50 at Ivanna Cone in Lincoln, Nebraska.

"The squeeze on ice-cream makers, chocolate manufacturers and pizza companies – all of whom use dairy produce as a raw material – is set to tighten as the price of a gallon of milk in the US – up 55 per cent in the past 12 months in some American states – is now the same as a gallon of petrol, with dairy prices accelerating faster than the cost of fuel.

Prices for dairy products have also risen because of increasing demand from China and the Middle East along with the drought in Australia, reduced subsidies in the European Union and the rocketing cost of corn."

So we're on the ethanol bandwagon, but it doesn't sound like we've counted all the costs. What kind of energy does an ethanol plant use? Does it still use petroleum products? Water? What is the effect on the cost of all food prices (not just dairy)? How will this affect poor people, specifically, children?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Remy my hero!

YES! A funny, warm and delightful movie about family, giftedness and making your dreams come true.

Remy the rat is the true talent in this Cyrano-esque tale. He's a rodent with a dream: to create beautiful, delicious food that transports the diner into the Proustian realm of love and memory.

Okay, it's about a rat that cooks. But he's not just any cook -- he's an artist with a handicap (that vermin in the kitchen thing) -- yet he finds his way to greatness through talentless kitchen help. Linguine the garbage boy is a disaster in the restaurant, but circumstances make them friends, and consequently, a great team. Remy has to work around the fact that he's a rodent, and Linguine has to work around his lack of ability.

Throw in a dead chef, an evil chef, a jaded food critic, a spunky love interest and a family that just doesn't understand, and you have a great cast of characters who make it work and hit all the right notes. Oh, and the folks at Pixar have managed to make Remy absolutely adorable.

Don't miss Lifted, the great short film, either. One of the funniest I've seen!

Bon Appetit!

Brian May finishes dissertation

Hmmmm, Brian May - astrophysicist? I had no idea that he set aside his studies because his group Queen had hit the bigtime.

"After the ceremony he said: “I worked on my thesis at Imperial from 1971 to 1974 when I had to give it up because Queen became a full-time thing. I kept all my notes and I was able to find them in my loft and start working on them again.”

Using a giant telescope in the Canary Islands, May was able to show for the first time that dust clouds in the solar system are moving in the same direction as the planets. He will receive his PhD next May, provided that his thesis is approved by assessors."

Party on, Brian! Read the article here.

Ratatouille tonight!

My days of waiting are over! I'm finally going to see Ratatouille tonight! I'll write about it as soon as I get home.

Who else but Pixar could make me long to see a french rat fulfill his dreams to become a famous chef?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Distillery Tour

We live about an hour from the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. When folks visit us from out of town, we like to take them up for a tour. You can take a virtual tour online if you're too far away to make the trip.

Lynchburg is beautiful, and the distillery tour is excellent. The tour guides really know their stuff - and they're hilarious! You'll learn lots about sour mash, charcoal mellowing and oak barrel aging. There's also fun facts, too. Outside the distillery, the trees and buildings are black. The process throws lots of yeast in the air that covers everything with black growth. That's why moonshiners had to keep moving their stills, because the revenuers could locate the stills by the black trees.

Above is our group tour photo. They're generally taken outside in the rickyard, but the rain was heavy so they shot us inside the information center - made it easy to find the photo at least.

Dusty, our tour guide, is kneeling at the bottom left. Marianna Peipon is easy to spot in the pink raincoat, with her husband Jim in the white shirt behind her. I'm partially visible right behind them, and Charlie is the smiling guy to my right.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blood, Gore and global warming

Damien is trying to make me think again. Click here to read an interesting op-ed he sent me regarding the Live Earth/Climate change situation (Blood, Gore and global warming is the name of the editorial).

I struggle to comment but will say this: the way human beings treat the earth is a problem. How that relates to global warming I'm not sure. I am sure, however, about the real problem. We misuse the earth for the same reason we misuse every good thing. Our human nature is so completely corrupt and without hope that we will not properly care for the planet -- or anything else.

It is so much easier to talk about improving our stewardship of the earth. I would rather talk about God's plan to recreate this splendid, fallen mess. What's Al's number?

Happy Birthday Etch-A-Sketch!

Born: July 12, 1962; view the birthday article here.

Take a look at how they work here.

Have fun doing on-line etch-a-sketch here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cookout, anyone?

Our missionary friends the Peipons - check out their website here - are in the states for a few weeks. They decide to spend a few days with us in Huntsville, and I have the brilliant idea of hosting a cookout at our home. It hasn't really rained in two years, so picking a day for the party was easy.

It rained all day; it really did - until it was time for the cookout!

Jim and Marianna were able to introduce their work with Ukraine Medical Outreach to about 40 new friends. Westminster Presbyterian Church is excited about partnering with them!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Girl, 11, Charged With DUI After Chase

Of course I leave out the obvious in the headline: it happened in Alabama!

Police knew the driver in the high-speed chase was "impaired," but they didn't know they were chasing an 11-year-old girl driving 100 mph.

Here's the article.

"Octosquid" found off Hawaiian coast

Wow, what a beautiful sea creature!

From the Star Bulletin in Honolulu:

"The specimen was found caught in a filter in one of Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority's deep-sea water pipelines last week. The pipeline, which runs 3,000 feet deep, sucks up cold, deep-sea water for the tenants of the natural energy lab...

...termed the specimen "octosquid" for the way it looked, said it was about a foot long, with white suction cups, eight tentacles and an octopus head with a squidlike mantle."

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Flaming Alabama

Fireworks are legal here - though some communities banned setting them off because of the drought. Severe drought - and I know I'm given to hyperbole - but North Alabama is right now extra-crispy. Brown grass, stunted corn stalks, cracked earth.

Did that stop anyone from shooting fireworks? Oh no.

I never lived in a place where individuals set off displays that would have sufficed for an entire town. At least six homes in our neighborhood had elaborate fireworks. FYI, it is not easy to walk dachshunds with all the boom, boom, boom, flash, flash, flash. Very distracting. I was convinced that our subdivision would burn to the ground by midnight - didn't happen, thankfully.

Happy fourth!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Madison County in the NYT

Reading about your hometown in the NYT should be exciting - unless the news is depressing.

Drought in the deep south (Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia) is the worst in decades.

Read Adam Nossiter's article here. The farmers profiled live in our county - Madison. The governor has called for prayer - still every day we drive by baked red fields with deep cracks and shriveled plants.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

No Men on the beach

It seems that women seeking sun and relaxation on Adriatic beaches are fed up. No more prowling, leering men - at least not on "Pink Beach."

The only man allowed is, of course, the lifeguard. Read the ABC article here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

No Fireworks

From USA Today:
"Dozens of communities in drought-stricken areas are scrapping public fireworks displays and cracking down on backyard pyrotechnics to reduce the risk of fires."

It's really dry here - I think we're in our 2nd year of drought. Fireworks are prohibited in Ardmore (just north of Harvest), but they still sell them!

Last New Year's Eve, our neighbor set off fireworks and almost burned his house down. His bermuda grass, however, never looked better.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The six stages of e-mail

Please read Nora Ephron's funny/true Op-Ed piece in the NYT. Click here to read.