Monday, August 28, 2017

Everything is just Peachy!


I had lunch today with a friend of many years and she mentioned to me that I was remiss in my blog postings....that she enjoyed them so much, she re-read them!  What a kind and wonderful thing to say!

As some of you may know (who follow me on Facebook) this has been a busy busy time, both with family events and produce events!!!!

With family, we had a delightful visit in Spring Lake, New Jersey with our daughter Barbara's lovely in-laws, Diane and Steve; we had a wonderful celebration of the B O B's birthday, followed by our granddaughter Katie's seventh birthday, our Tina's graduation from Nursing School (a major, major accomplishment!!), my Mother's 90th Birthday, and our youngest grandchild's fourth birthday (sweet Baby James!).  It was a wonderful summer with all the family gatherings!

With produce from our local farmers, it has been a mad dash to acquire all the Summer Rambo apples to make the much-beloved applesauce for the family.    I also garner all the peppers (3/$2.00) I can so I can roast them and freeze them for the winter antipasti, plus the wonderful eggplant, which I fry and freeze for Eggplant Parmesan, to be used all winter, in a snap!!!!

And then there are the magnificent peaches!!!!!  Is there anything more wonderful than a fresh,
juicy, ripe peach!?????

I have been making peach cobblers, peach breads, peach pies!!!!!

The Peach Bread was posted in August of 2012 if you would like the recipe.

I don't think I posted the Peach Cobbler so here is that recipe:

Ingredients:

1 stick (4 oz.) sweet butter, melted
1 cups plus 3 T. granulated sugar, divided
1 cup all purpose flour (low protein)
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 cup milk
1 t. vanilla
3-4 ripe large peaches, peeled, pitted, thinly sliced
1/2 t. cinnamon

Method:

Heat oven to 375*.

Pour melted butter into a 2 quart baking dish (11 x 7 or 8 inch square).  In a mixing
bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder and salt; stir to blend.
Stir in the milk and vanilla until blended.  Pour the batter over the melted butter.
Toss the peaches with the remaining 3 T. sugar and 1/2 t. of cinnamon.  Arrange the
peach slices over the batter (careful not to stir).  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until
a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  The top will be browned and the
cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Serve warm with a little heavy cream
or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.   Serves 6.   Yum!!!




Hope you have an opportunity to prepare this easy, wonderful tasting dish!!!!








Monday, July 24, 2017

Acts of Kindness

Today someone performed a most extraordinary act of kindness to me.

I was totally surprised, touched and very grateful.

Most of us never realize to the extent that what we may say or do could (and does) impact
others in many ways.

Just a random smile could lighten the burden of someone who is having a really bad day.

From now on, I am going to make a concerted effort to carry through with any thoughts I
have of doing something nice for someone, sending a card to cheer someone up, or perhaps
taking the time to visit with someone, rather than meaning to but not doing so.

I know how appreciative I am of being on the receiving end so I am certainly going to
"Pay It Forward" from now on.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Panzanella, a Classic Summer Salad

Our local Farmer's Markets are in full swing now!
The Corn is so sweet, the tomatoes bursting with flavor, and in another week we will have
delightful cling-free peaches!  (nothing better than a juicy fresh peach!)

I am having school chums and their spouses to dinner next week and was giving our menu
some thought.

One of my favorite summer salads is Panzanella, a Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad.  It
originated as a way to use up stale bread with the tomatoes.  However, you can add cucumbers,
peppers, onion, even mozzarella!

I use ciabatta bread and cut it into large cubes and then toast it in a 375* oven for about
20 minutes, til crisp and firm.  (this will prevent it from getting totally mushy when mixed
with the tomatoes, their juices and the vinaigrette)

Panzanella Salad

2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 t. kosher salt
6 c.  bread cubes, toasted and cooled
1/2 red onion, cut into chunks
1 c. cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (optional)
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into chunks (optional)
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded, cut into chunks (optional)
5-6 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size chunks (optional)
fresh basil leaves

(You can also use grape tomatoes, or a combination)

            Vinaigrette (My Addiction!)

             1 c. fresh parsley, chopped
             10 large fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
             3 garlic cloves, crushed
             1/4 c. good quality red wine vinegar
              3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
             salt and pepper to taste
             drizzle of honey if too acidic

Salt the tomatoes in a bowl and let rest to create juice.  In bowl, put all other ingredients and
then add tomatoes, tomato juices and vinaigrette, tossing well.  Allow to rest about 45 minutes
before serving, tossing again to distribute juices.



I hope you have an opportunity to prepare and enjoy this wonderful salad (almost a
meal!)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Into the Middle of Summer!

It has been quite a while since my last post........I have been having such a good time!

Entertaining Friends for Luncheons and Dinners, spending time with the Grands, a lovely
visit to Spring Lake, New Jersey with #2 Daughter and Family and Lovely In-Laws, planning
many near-future Family Events.....just delightful!

Just recently we had Beer and Burgers with Friends.  Our Menu was Burgers with Brioche Buns,
Lettuce, Sliced Farmers Market Tomatoes, Sliced Onions, My Potato Salad, My Deviled Eggs, White
Farmers Market Corn on Cob, Grilled Zucchini, Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler (see previous post for
recipe).

Last night we entertained a childhood friend and her husband who are in the process of moving to
a newly constructed home and we had Red and Yellow Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella, Fresh Basil. Drizzle of Olive Oil and Splash of Kosher Salt, White Farmers Market Corn on Cob, Grilled Italian
Sausage with Peppers and Onions, Cheese Ravioli with My Parsley Basil Vinaigrette with Grilled
Asparagus, and Cherry Pie.

 The Cherry Pie!!!! It was to die for!  (I had two slices!!!!)

Here is the recipe:

Pie Crust Dough:  (from Ina Garten.....the very best)
12 T. very cold unsalted butter - grate or dice and chill or freeze
3 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. kosher salt
1 T. sugar
1/3 c. very cold vegetable shortening (I measure it and put in freezer til ready to assemble)
6-8 T. (about 1/2 c.) ice water

Mix the flour, salt and sugar and put into processor and mix til blended.  Then add the shortening
and butter and process 8-12 times, til butter is the size of peas.  With the machine running pour
the ice water into the feed tube and pulse the machine til the dough begins to form a ball.  Dump
onto a floured ball and roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

I find this dough actually yields 3.  I just freeze the third and am that far ahead of the game for
the next go-round.

I hate to state the obvious,  but you do know to roll from the center out and just turn the dough,
right?  You don't beat the dough to death and keep rolling all over the place.  The more you
handle dough, the tougher it will become. Center out, center out....move dough, center out....
sort of a mantra!

A fun lattice approach is to create your round and then put it onto parchment.  Place the parchment
into the freezer for just a few minutes.  Then, with your ruler and roller, mark off your strips.
Again, into the freezer for just a few minutes.  It is amazing how easy it becomes to create the
lattice!  Just takes a few moments and with such ease!  Back into the freezer and you have the
perfect lattice!  Invert onto your pie filling and then crimp your edges!

Cherry Pie Filling:

Balaton Cherries (from Farmers Market, season is a two week period!!!), 1 quart, pitted (4 c.)
1/8 t. table salt
1 cup sugar
4 T. Quick-Cooking Tapioca
1 t.  Mexican Vanilla
1-1/2 T. unsalted Butter

Preheat oven to 425*.  Place bottom crust in pie pan and brush with egg white (creates barrier to help prevent soggy crust with fruit pies).  Place in fridge to keep cold.

Mix Cherries and let rest for 15 minutes while you roll top crust or lattice.

Spoon Cherry filling into pie pan.  Top with Crust or Lattice.  Brush with Egg White.  Sprinkle with
Baker's Sugar. Place pie pan on baking sheet to catch and drips.
 
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.  Turn oven down to 350* and bake additional 45-50 minutes.  Filling should be bubbling over and crust should be golden brown.

Baker's Tip:  Glass Pie Pans bake the best pies!!!!










  


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Spring into Summer!



This  has been a most enjoyable Spring!

Having our beautiful Family all together for the Easter Holiday was a wonderful start!

Two weeks after Easter I flew to Florida for five days to visit a gal pal and that was delightful!  The Gulf is gorgeous and they have a boat so I had the immense pleasure of sailing in Sarasota Bay!

Two weeks later I was in New York with the Grands, having a ball!
While in New York I took a Croissant class at Sur la Table (gift from Barby and Sean) and it was such fun!! I will post regarding that in the near future.

Now Memorial Day is here and the start of Summer!!

My daughter, Katie, recently said, "Mom, can you give me some quick meals...I need some new
ideas."

Summer is the very best time to keep it clean and lean!

Tonight we are having Gulf Garlic Shrimp over Rice with Steamed Fresh Green Beans.  Total time?
28 minutes!



I prefer Gulf Shrimp and wait til they go on sale.  These 16/20 shrimp were purchased yesterday at
A cost of $14.99/lb.  I only bought twelve of them.  (6 for each of us is plenty!)  After peeling and deveining the shrimp, I place them in a baking dish with  2 tablespoons of melted butter and healthy drizzles of olive oil.  I throw in 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves, dash of salt and pepper and sprinkles of Spanish Paprika plus a shake of red pepper.  Into a 425 degree oven for just  enough time for the shrimp to turn opaque.



Meanwhile I sauteed the rice in a tad of butter, turned it to simmer and steamed the green beans and, voila, a tasty dinner in just a few minutes.

(Yes, it is white rice and I know, I know, not good BUT every once in a while, we indulge.)

Katie  is fortunate in that her sweet James has a very educated palate at not even four years!

More quick menus to come.




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother's Day Reflections

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.

To women with children, this is a very important day.

Nearing my 7th decade, I suppose one would say I am "old school".

You know what I mean.....respectful, being courteous, diligent work ethic, yada yada.....

As a woman who is one of the very few in my circle who still has a parent living ...my Mother.....
I feel dutie-bound to provide my Mother with whatever she needs.  At times, I experience extreme
frustration.  She is sharp as a tack and remembers every little thing that ever happened to me!  That said, she also will say one thing and then when I attempt to accommodate her, she will say something
else!
As she is approaching her 90th year, I cannot help but feel that our days with her are surely "numbered".
However, since her health is wonderful, she just may outlive all of us!!

Nonetheless, I have moments of reflection when I think back how I thought my Mother knew everything, was the most wonderful woman and could do anything. As an adult now, I see that not all of that is true.  However, rather than being disappointed in her.....I continue to value her and remember all those times she was there for me.

This brings me to Motherhood in general in my thoughts.

We Mothers spend so much of our lives in Guilt and Fear.

We constantly worry and stress from the moment we are aware of that wonder growing within us.
We worry that the Baby will be "all right".  We worry about their safety.  We worry about their
health.  This continues into their adulthood and does not abate.  (My own girls accuse me of being
a "helicopter" Mother even at their middle age!)

Then there is the Guilt.  Every Mother on this planet has made mistakes.  Almost all Mothers are
well-intentioned but many  have made mis-steps or perhaps a lapse in judgment.  Then when their children have problems, most Mothers shoulder that burden as their own personal fault.  (It can be
such a  "no win situation"!)

Speaking personally as a Mother, there is nothing greater in this life.  When you have an extension of yourself .....it is awe-inspiring!  (despite my many mistakes!) When I look at my three daughters who are each beautiful, brilliant, caring, loving, dedicated women!  When I look at them with their Children and see what wonderful Mothers they are!  Oh my, and then the grandchildren!  Talk about a Life Complete!

I am sure most in my circle of Friends and Acquaintances feel the same!



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spring Planting!

It is finally, officially SPRING!
We all thought it would never arrive!
Now that it is here, we are scampering to collect all the flowers and herbs we can get our hands
on!
Usually in this area, we wait until Mother's Day to plant our precious gems.
However, since we seem not in danger of frost, I am heading out tomorrow to the nursery so
I can "transform" our courtyard.
When we purchased this home, the former owner never attended to the courtyard.
It looked like this:



Pretty dismal, right?  I set about finding hardscape companies to rework this area.
Our former home had a huge deck, under roof with skylights, with an adjacent  open deck with an
arbor of wisteria......oh, I loved that space!  Bob had cable television out there for me and I would
enjoy and savor every moment I could spend there!

This courtyard was somewhat daunting!!

I interviewed five various companies.

Some of the companies suggested stamped concrete. I found that cold and boring.
Some suggested tek decking. That proved cost prohibitive and would not work with our existing
exhaust systems with the water heater, furnace, etc. which, unfortunately, vent out onto the courtyard!
Others suggested pavers.  Boring!!!
I chose Details Landscape in Hummelstown, PA.
The owners' son, Michael, dealt with me and he was so accommodating.  He re-purposed the existing
bricks, supplementing what was needed after flower (weed) beds were removed and created steps (where we had rotted wood not in anyone's code enforcement!)
with more bricks and rustic stones.  He really worked magic in that courtyard!
I was able to utilize some of our deck furniture.  I had purchased the Victoria set from Martha Stewart at KMart (remember when she hooked up with them?) and had everything.....the table, 5 chairs,
the umbrella, the chaise lounge, two rockers, the sofa, the glass coffee table.....all with cushions in
a taupe design.
Since the courtyard space is smaller than our previous decks, I gave a childhood friend of one of my daughter's (Hi, Megan!) the chaise and the rockers.
Michael was so very diligent.  I enjoyed watching his process.
Weather intervened and also a trip to Europe was in the offing (mine!!)  so the process took much longer than originally anticipated.  Michael was unflappable....always calm!  It was near October
that we finally were completed!
Here is the transformation:






Many years ago, my oldest daughter, Christina, gave me a strawberry pot she had filled with
fresh herbs for Mother's Day .....such a wonderful, creative idea!
I tried to replicate that last year and had some success. (yay!)
This year I am going to attempt to grow wisteria in a pot!  (don't tell Bob!  He always thought
the wisteria was the most invasive thing he ever encountered!)  I am hoping to have it entwine
itself on our privacy fence....although I don't know if that is in accordance with HOA rules.
Surely the next post will be about my great finds at the nursery!!!