Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pork, It's What For Dinner ( And Dinner and Dinner)

I have no idea why I am such a prolific blogger this week. Don't you wish I'd just give it a rest?

But, it's time to talk pork, pork loin to be exact. Marinated on Monday morning in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, crushed red peppers and fresh herbs. Roasted Monday night with fingerling potatoes, 450 for 10 minutes, 350 for another 60, thinly sliced and served with a green salad.

Tuesday night, the pork had a starring roll in Cuban Sandwiches. Crusty rolls spread with butter and dijon mustard, more of that thinly sliced pork layered with slices of cheese, ham and pickles. Grilled on the trusty George Foreman grill. I gave the Lab nada, as we say in Cuba, not one bite.

Wednesday, ginger/ garlic fried rice with pork and broccoli. Oh, my. Riffing on a fantastic recipe at SmittenKitchen, I cooked the minced garlic and ginger in a 1/4 cup of oil, after it turned golden brown I removed it from pan and added finely diced onion and carrot to the fragrant oil, cooked them till soft, added previously steamed floretes of broccoli and the leftover pork now cut in small cubes, then 2 cups of cold cooked jasmine rice, I salted and peppered rice then cooked it slowly so a fine crust formed on bottom. I fried 2 eggs in a separate pan, and when whites were firm and yolks still runny, I assembled my dish. Into 2 blue and white bowls went heaping spoonfuls of the rice mixture, these were each sprinkled with 1/2 tsp. of sesame oil and 1 tsp. of soy sauce. Then I topped each with an egg and a scattering of the crunchy garlic/ ginger mix. If any bits of rice fell from my chopsticks, trust me they were gobbled up by that Lab before they hit the floor.

This concludes this weeks unsolicited push for pork and of course more home cooking.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

True Or False

The lovely Sara Louise over at LaPetite Village has awarded SmallButCharming the StylishBlogger Award for my stylish garden. If she could see it now....

And the challenge is to write 5 things about yourself no one knows, then to pass it on to a ( in my case) truly stylish blog.

I've decided to shake it up a little and I will post 10 things and you can, if you so choose, decide which 5 are true.

1. I have been married 3 times.

2. I'm a natural blonde.

3. I was the reason my girl scout troop disbanded.

4. When I moved off the island of Nantucket I left behind a pink and turquoise 1956 Chevy named China Doll.

5. I was stolen away from my palace as an infant and adopted by an American military couple.

6. I love to fly.

7. I lived in a ghost town in Arizona and was the town bread baker.

8. I'm always well manicured.

9. I attended Catholic all girls schools and was expelled from 2 of them.

10. I hate dogs.

Since every blog I read is beyond chic I offer this award to all of you and if you choose to reveal some hitherto unknown facts about yourselves I for one would love to read them.

I will now stop pestering you with posts and go and file my impeccably clean nails.

Monday, September 27, 2010

After Midnight

First a big thank you all who read and commented on my last post. I was a touch reluctant to write such a personal piece but then I thought what the hell, why am I doing this if not to share my life.

And frankly after one more 94degree day (Saturday) there wasn't much more to talk about. My good friend Gwen gave me a ride home from work and asked to do a garden walk. It was filled with pregnant silences from both of us. Then she sweetly said she had seen it looking better. I know she had, she's a reader of this very blog where only the highlights are shown. But in person, the peach tree afflicted with leaf curl is not an inspiring sight, the weeds, er rather lawn have not been mown in weeks and everything was gasping for water.

The heavens must have seen my blushing face because we've gotten a little rain, and I've tromped around in the wet grass and found a bit of color we may have missed on Saturday.

The chokecherry is full of bright red berries, the pineapple sage is just starting to open and the leaves are worth a rub. The Japanese anemones have survived another desert like summer and the eupatorium rugosum is lighting up a far corner of the berm.

Luckily I'm the queen of denial, so I'm going to continue to enjoy the beautiful garden moments close up, cropped so to speak and until spring the only garden tours I will conduct are right here.
The food's always good though, you're welcome for dinner if you come after dark.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cheers, Prost, Salud, Slainte

On Tuesday the 21st, I celebrated the fact I haven't had a drink in over 20 years.

Drinking was fun for years, then it stopped being fun so I stopped drinking. Clearly a bit more of a story here, but that's for another day when we're sitting around having a coffee and a long chat.

The point is the garden. My last summer of drinking I lived in D.C. in a beautiful old house in Dupont Circle. And I had a lovely garden full of roses and lavender and other plants I can't recall. My then husband was in med school and was going to New Orleans for a summer program. Would I be able to water the garden he wondered. Of course I would I assured him, I had just opened a flower shop that spring, I had a cat to feed, a business to run, why would the garden pose a problem? Cat lived, garden died, slowly, not all of it , but it looked unloved. And I felt badly and always planned to get out there and water, but it didn't happen.

By September the husband had returned, the shop was popping and I still wasn't feeling it. But I had a friend, who had a friend and calls were made and I found myself with a new batch of non drinking friends who fit in perfectly with all my former drinking buddies. My circle was wider , my eyes were brighter and my fingernails had garden dirt under them again.

Now I have lived more years not drinking that I did drinking, if that makes sense. And though my garden is suffering from a lack of rain and severe summer temps, it is clearly loved and cherished as is every other corner of my life.

So cheers to that day in September when I put down the cocktail and picked up the hose and all the other details of my life. And thank you for letting me write about this here, it's a pretty big piece of the woman you know today.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumn Equinox?

May I say I am trying to honor the upcoming fall equinox. I have the requisite bowls of apples and plums ( no good pears yet) artfully arranged. Well, they were artfully arranged before I started eating them.

The garden is glowing with black eyes susans and bright purple callicarpa berries. Even the leaves on the still fruiting strawberries are turning a beautiful red.

But, and this is a big but, it is back in the 90's again.

I have just hung up the light but cozy hoodie I wore for the final dog walk last night. Luckily my neighbor was over this morning to borrow the lawnmower and suggested I might want to take off the straight legged blue jeans and 3/4 length sleeve shirt I had on. " Have you checked out today's weather", she queried? I had not, when I heard the news I changed it up. I'm still in today's shorts, tank top and flip flops and I'm still hot.

So the pizza will be grilled tonight and the drinks will be iced. But soon the moon will be full and and we'll be celebrating autumn with a run under the sprinkler.

P.S. I was fooling around with some edits on the blog and appear to either have erased some followers or several of you jumped ship, all at once. I blame it on blogger because it's been a wee bit crazy lately.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sweet, Sweet, Sweet

Many thanks for all the birthday loving. It truly made my day more special.

I'm still dazed from late nights and too much sugar. What's up with the sugar, was I turning five? Friday was the cake at work and after dinner at a friends we had delicious cannolis for dessert. Mine had 2 candles.

Saturday night was dinner at Tini and Nirmal's with chocolate and coconut cupcakes to finish. More candles. 10 this time.

Another friend gave me a small nectarine crumble from the farmers market. I haven't had the heart to eat it yet. It's too cute, I'm too full.

After a late night out dancing in Baltimore we found ourselves in a diner at 2:40 eating eggs and hash browns. There were 12 of us on the dancefloor at all times. The music was house, our ages covered decades and our hearts were pumping.

Sunday morning I had to do a 1/2 hour of yoga in order to get moving, or rather move at all. We had a lovely Sunday with a trip to the farmers market , lunch in the garden ,a fantastic 40 minute power nap and an exciting but ultimately disappointing football game.

So here I am on Monday morning, still tired and slightly sore, left alone with the nectarine crumble. What do you think, one little bite? Or back to bed?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'll Cry If I Want to

It's my birthday. Sometimes I think I like the days right before and after the big day the best. Yesterday included a trip to the hairdressers to get properly blonded, a birthday lunch at work with a delicious mango/coconut cake to finish and some fabulous presents.

When you work with people around the same table day after day, year after year, they know you the best. They see you happy and sad and tired and stressed. And if you're lucky they love you anyway. I'm lucky.

My good friend Alicia went back to Bolivia this summer and brought me back a hearts desire of mine. A vintage hand dyed hand woven blanket. It's heavy, it was one more suitcase for her to carry, their tickets got messed up and it took 3 days and many trips to the airport for her and her family to get out of the country. And there she was with that blanket. I opened it and I cried.

I best get moving, GG's up, there's a stack of oddly shaped boxes wrapped in construction paper for me to open and then we're off to work.

More later!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Pizza For Puppies

I'm all about the food this week. Tuesday night I made a sweet little soup with the chicken stock. I finely diced an onion, a carrot, some garlic and a zucchini, sauteed them in olive oil then added the stock, salt, pepper, the inevitable crushed red pepper and let it simmer. I cooked some little cheese tortellinis on the side, when they were ready I added finely shredded chicken, chopped parsley and basil and to the soup and tasted for seasoning. I filled low bowls with the soup then added the tortellinis and covered all with some freshly grated parmesan. Then we ate, slowly and happily. First soup of the season is always a glorious moment.

Last night was pizza. It's easy to make pizza dough but if time is of the essence and people are as hungry as a Lab, you can use a ready made dough from Trader Joe's for example. I made a simple pizza sauce with a can of organic tomato sauce, a bit of sauteed garlic, S&P and red pepper and a generous handful of oregano. When the house smelled like an Italian restaurant it was ready. Rolled out the dough, covered it with the sauce, covered that in turn with mozzarrela, parmesan and fresh ricotta cheeses. Popped in into a preheated 425 oven and let it bake for about 12 minutes. While it baked I made a vinaigrette and cleaned lettuce for the salad. When the timer pinged we were good to go. Just before serving I covered it all with rough cut garden basil.

Call Domino's? Not in this house.

P.S. We ate the whole pizza and there was not even one tiny scrap left over the poor pup.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Warning: This Post May Contain Chicken

When the temperature falls into the 70's we turn our oven on to 450 and roast a chicken.

How about you?

Yesterday morning I made a fast marinade with olive oil, a lemon, salt, pepper, a few shakes of crushed red pepper, 3 minced cloves of garlic and a handful of basil and parsley from the garden. I removed the backbone from the bird and flattened it out then threw it in the fridge and forgot about it.

After a day out with The Crazies, as my Monday afternoon peeps are known, I came home ready to cook. I turned on the oven to preheat, took the dog for a walk, popped the chicken in the oven for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. When the smell was enough to make you cry I turned it down to 425 and went about my business. Forty minutes later I had a moist, golden brown chicken, that was super easy to slice. I served it with a salad and some toasted naan bread.

Nectarines to follow. What's up with fast food? Wasn't this fast enough?

P.S. And I made a stock from the backbone and we're having soup tonight.

P.S.S. I posted the fruit picture first so my vegan blogging buddy wouldn't have a pic of chicken on her blog list. xo

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back In Business

The lost weekend. Don't ever send me home from work on Saturday with a 548 page book, I'm an addict. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton was the drug. Part fairy tale, part mystery, total enchantment. But I finished it this morning and I'm back.

There were also two football games to watch, a friend for dinner on Saturday, granola baking and food shopping on a lovely rainy Sunday. I know I washed a floor and did laundry, we ate and dog walked but mostly I read.

Today the sun in shining, my own forgotten garden is showing off it's freshly washed charms, GG is off to school, our roommate HeMan is off to work and it's just me. Well, me and a million birds and bees and butterflies. The lab is sleeping , the cat is attacking the end of her tail as if an enemy is residing there and the autumn blooming clematis is overtaking the garden.

Clematis vs bindweed, it's a war zone out there. I'm off to do battle.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Ok, so I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I hadn't planned to read it, I'm not a big NY Times bestseller list reader, even though several of my friends had loved it.

Then, a friend gave it to me to read. And I finished it in a puddle of tears. I'm the same person who never saw Titanic because I hate to weep on cue. But I'm all for life affirming tales and this was one. Has anyone out there read it? What did you think?

On an entirely different note, I'm jonesing for curried vegetables. Guess it's the seasons changing, but I want to see a big bowl of beautifully colored and seasoned vegetables on the table. Does anyone have a good recipe for me to use? Do I want them with coconut milk added? I prefer to make my own curry powder but if there is a good ready made one out there I'll try it.

Enough questions, you all have your own dinners to prepare and books to write, I mean read.

But one more thing ( blog advice I've read: stick to one topic) a surprise from the garden today. One perfect iris. September, yesterday's temps 94degrees and I have one perfect iris open and more buds to go. La dolce vita. No?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Life Is Short ( Show Dessert First)

Early Tuesday evening. Busy day at work and I should be putting dinner together.

But I wanted to post a few photos from our farewell to summer dinner on Sunday.

We did a shrimp boil again, but this time we cooked the full monty: new potatoes, sausage from the farmers market, chunks of onion and bell peppers, white corn and pounds and pounds of shrimp. Tini brought one of her beautifully composed salads, bread from a Mexican bakery in Maryland and her new beau, Nirmal. He brought a great sense of humor, an eagerness to do dishes and a mocha cake, with the faintest hint of cinnamon from the same bakery. Nirmal is very popular in our house.

We also welcomed the French Lieutenant"s Woman, or the Major's partner, whatever you prefer. Annika moved here from California this weekend. It's gotta be love to leave that climate for Virginia. Now we all await the Major's return together.

So welcome to the new faces and love to absent friends and hoping you all had a fabulous weekend.

P.S. In case you didn't read my former shrimp boil post ( the lesser monty) paper towels, not napkins are a tradition, as is a newspaper tablecloth. We are not savages, just traditionalists.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Isn't It Ironic?

Don't you think?

Not to belabor the pun, I mean point, but after my last post title here is the fantastical sight that greeted us at 9:30 this morning in the hotel parking lot by our house.

A beautiful sunshiny day, fantastic music, a tall white horse bearing a turbaned groom. Amidst people dancing, saris shining, drums beating and a garland maker was a sleep rumpled blonde darting among the glamour, trying to get a few good shots for your viewing enjoyment.

I will stop pestering you now and go work in the garden.

Oh, I almost forgot the tiny dancer!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thank You India, Thank You Clarity, Thank You Thank You Silence

There's a winged ballet in my yard this morning. Birds, butterflies and bees are humming and twittering and swooping and buzzing. I don't twitter but the birds do.

I love that South Ode street seems to be on everyone's migratory map.

The hurricane has passed us by, but we we awoke to cooler weather for the weekend. Heaven. Saturday will be spent at work (lucky bride with temps in the high 70's) Sunday and Monday will be spent outside as much as possible.

Today, September 4th marks the 1 year anniversary of this blog. I should be doing a give away but I can't think of anything clever enough to give away. So until inspiration strikes I'll give you all a big thank you. Thank you for making time to come and visit me in my inner world. Thank you for relating to and commenting on my posts. Thanks you for the emails and the snail mails and the constant inspiration your own blogs provide. Thank you for the recipes and the gardening tips and decorating ideas, the book suggestions, the laughs and occasionally the tears. Thanks for welcoming me into your life and sharing in mine.

And of course a big thank you to Marie who casually responded to a comment I left on her blog and told me it sounded like I should write my own, blog that is. So I did, I'm easy that way. Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Of Meat And Men

Hmmm, how to keep this post brief. Just the facts...

Ok, my ex came to visit and help us out on Monday. He and I bought the house together in 2001. By 2004 he was tired of city living and wanted to hit the trail. Not so much me, so I stayed, he went; there was of course paperwork.

He's hiked and worked on the Appalachian Trail, lived and worked on farms, Christmas tree and otherwise, skied and snowshoed in Oregon. He came back and ran the Marine Corp Marathon. I believe he's living the life he wanted. I'm still here, now with GG and our back door frame was rotting. Tony to the rescue. Unfortunately it was more than just the frame. Many hours later, and a mild heat stroke, we have a whole new back wall, complete with siding and he sweetly gifted us a new back door. Not to mention hours of travel and labor.

So we thanked him profusely and fed him.

I knew it would be hot on Monday and I had to work, so on Sunday I oven braised 2 beef round roasts slowly at 300 degrees for 5 hours. They sat in their juices all night and all day till I arrived home. After some time spent annoying Tony and taking pictures, I steamed some potatoes, made a vinaigrette with a touch of dijon, finely chopped garlic and both balsamic vinegar and fresh lemon. I sliced the beef, peppers and little red onions from the garden and tossed it all with the dressing. After the potatoes cooled and were sliced I added them, some more vinaigrette, salt and pepper and we covered it all with a mound of freshly picked and chopped parsley and basil. Oh, and some finely diced cornichons. GG ran to the store for a baguette and some cheese, she brought back a triple cream cheese and outrageously ripe raspberries. The beef salad was served on a mound of greens.

The appetites were large, this post is not short but the gratitude is endless. It's impossible to encapsulate love and thanks. Food always helps though.

Thank you Tony, happy trails in Vermont and have fun on the 2 month bike tour of the south. We'll see you in January. Love always, Jane