A few more garden critters

We're finding a lot of critters in the few minutes we spend outside each week. It's so hot I have a hard time motivating Mabel to play out there and should admit that I'm pretty happy to sink into the couch for a while each afternoon, too.

We found another batch of swallowtail caterpillars, both of which are now chrysalis. Saturday night I made a sorrel tart. The sorrel, straight from the garden to the kitchen, had lots and lots of little snails which I collected in a jar. I told M we weren't going to keep them, but they're still in the jar on her work table (aka the den coffee table). I'm thinking we could become Matthews, NC's first escargot farmers.  

Pastariffic without the pasta

I'm still on the them of food, when I said our fridge was packed with freshness, I wasn't kidding. We currently have tomato salad, carrot salad and fruit salad at arm's length; tasty veggie packed goodness ready to grab whenever someone has the hankering for a snack.

Last year I posted some ideas for using up the summer rush of zucchini, and to this day zucchini "noodles" are my favorite. They hold the right texture of an al dente noodle, but no bloated gut from wheat overload. None of that crazy blood sugar roller coaster from carb overload either.

How do you make zucchini noodles? Find a baseball bat sized zucchini (or a bunch of reasonable sized ones) and wash and peel it. Run the vegetable peeler lengthwise down the zucchini, creating ribbons of the fleshy part. Stop when you get to the seedy core. Now you have a giant heaping of zucchini ready to lightly saute in olive oil. Do a bit at a time so you don't break or chop the ribbons into small pieces. You want them sturdy and as spaghetti-like as possible; only saute until the ribbons get just tender. Season as you go, I use salt and garlic but season according to your tastes.

Last night we used up a particularly large zucchini, topped it with tomato sauce and homemade meat balls. The meatballs did have a handful of oats in them, but generally the meal was veggie-heavy, meat-light, and very easy on the body.

Okay, so I've been posting a lot of shopping things, mostly because this 90+ degree Fahrenheit weather has me on the sluggish, you-can't-make-me-do-anything side.
I've been doing a little, though:
* Drawing up a storm, getting ready to release a whole new selection of work for the shop.
* Did I mention all of the limited edition pieces currently in the shop will be retired after the
sale ends? That's my subtle way of saying, if you're eying something the time is now to
grab it up!
* Helping the mister clean out the old carport area that has been without a roof for over 15
years (since Hurricane Hugo!) and roofing it in. He started on Monday doing the actual
framing and roof trusses, and once I thought a little about it, I decided I really wanted to help, so I jumped on the circular saw and cut the 2 x 4s like a pro. (Almost?)
Once the roof is done, he's gonna build a sail boat! That guy never ceases to surprise!
And then, of course, the usual suspects: planting, picking, blanching, canning.
Coming soon:
Tomato tasting, updates on roofing, and achy arms.

closer to home

Oh Summer. Between the heat and the thunderstorms you make it so hard to get outside to put my purchases from Plant Delights (approx. travel: 190 miles) in the ground.

What is it that so desperately needs to stretch its toes out into a greater expanse of dirt? A fernleaf, noninvasive bamboo, Mexican Petunias, and a Voodoo Lily of delicate visual appeal, and hopefully, if it blooms, a difficult stench.

The thunderstorms come every other day, and while the mister has been working through the heat to roof in the carport, I've been resting through the heat. When the rain starts, he is ready for a break, but I head to the kitchen to watch the storm through the dusty old windows and cook up my own storm.

Already added to the rotation of meals is the Grits Soufflés with Tomato Coulis recipe from Vegetarian Times. Having never tried a soufflé before, I resisted the urge to make it vegan. Plus we had a gorgeous dozen pale blue and taupe colored fresh eggs given to us from some friends. Nearly to beautiful to use, but knowing full well the flavor of fresh eggs far exceeds the flavor of the grocery store variety (yes, even the free range ones we normally buy), in they went. And out from the oven came a delicious grits soufflé. Of course, rather than using canned tomatoes for the coulis I used garden fresh ones with a bit of fresh basil and oregano from the front garden.

And for dessert?
In an effort to use our resources better, I pulled out a zucchini that was way too big to eat on its own but too beautiful to sacrifice to the compost. . .when squash get of a certain size they loose the sweetness to an unsavory bitterness that works just fine with unsweetened dark chocolate. Chocolate Zucchini bread from Scotto's Sunday Suppers. My own rendition of their recipe, sans eggs and white sugar, baked into nearly softball sized muffins.

Why am I waxing poetic about food lately? The garden is partly to blame, my taste buds have reawakened to the flavor of truly fresh foods. The rest of the blame can be attributed to Barbara Kingsolver and my newest nightly read.

Life in the slow lane. . .

Ahhh, the garden is coming along, with very little need for doting or attention, aside from the occasional weeding spree. We've got a cantaloupe bigger than a softball and two golf ball sized ones (don't let the sports references fool you, I use them in the most elementary, non-jockish way.)
Tomatoes are ripening, squash is growing, eggplants are blooming and all the right bugs are abuzz.
So in the AC I stay, leaving the fingering to others, while kneading a bit of my own. There has been an undeniable spirit of baking at home, though only when time allows. First the banana nut muffins, a couple yeasty pizza crusts, beer bread, and yesterday I made a dozen blueberry muffins. I used Allrecipe's To Die For Blueberry Muffin recipe without the strudel topping, which I've decided must be the instigator for the desire to die. Without the strudel there is no sugar-overload crappy feeling to follow. Of course, I changed the recipe. Interested?

Renee's Not Ready for Sugar Coma Blueberry Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
7/8 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer (do not add the water as described on the package directions)
1/3 cup orange juice
1 pint fresh blueberries

Follow Allrecipe's directions, which is to basically preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, grease your muffin tin, mix everything all up (mix this one by hand to keep the blueberries intact), fill up the muffin tin and bake 20 to 25 minutes.