Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Major Event

It is with a full heart that I report we have just had a comment from our very favorite and sorely missed neighbor, the Major.

We met 3 years ago on a cold spring day. GG was in Connecticut visiting her father and I was bundled into an unusual assortment of clothes working in the garden. The house across the street was for sale and a man had gotten out to take a look, he asked me if I knew anything about the house. Did I? A 1/2 hour of animated chatter later I told him to buy the house. He did and returned to take possession in June. It's been that easy between us ever since.

He retired from the Marines and has been in Afghanistan for 6 months working as a contractor. We want him home and according to his comment this will happen in 55 days and a wake up call.

I think he's in it for the food, so I'm posting a few pics of dinner from the other night. A grilled chicken in a Thai marinade served with a salad and grilled tortillas ( we are very cross cultural here). I found this recipe on a post by How To Cook A Wolf. I use my Quick And Easy Thai cookbook frequently but had never tried this dish. The dipping sauce that accompanied it was sticky, sweet and spicy perfection

Now that I know he's found the blog I'm going to pepper my posts with more and more enticing dishes till we get him back home.

We love you buddy, the 925 just isn't the same. You keep looking at the food pictures and we'll keep a watch on the house and the days till you're back where you belong, with us!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's Getting Better All The Time

Big thanks from the Lab and GG ( or German girl) for all the welcome homes and get well soons.

Everyone here is getting better, one day at a time. It's hard on the heart to have to hold down a dog while she is being swabbed with a disinfectant and then sprayed with a solution containing alcohol.

Ouchy. But as soon as the torture is over, even before the peanut butter coated pills are offered, her tail is wagging and we're instantly forgiven. I wish I had such a forgiving heart.

But cone or no cone ( the pup), cold or no cold ( both GG and the pup) the house is full of flowers, we had a dinner party last night with a delicious garden tomato salad, the power is on and I'm off to finish reading Excellent Women written by Barbara Pym and suggested by Chez Danise.

It's the little things, like the comments and the suggestions and the recipes and the pictures that make me jump out of bed in the morning excited to start a new day. Well those and an iced skim latte of course.

Thank you again.
xo jane

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Good The Bad And The Puppy

After a big gust of wind and an intense storm on Sunday we lost our power. From 3:30 to midnight the pup and I wandered around in a new world: a world without air conditioning. Luckily the temperature dropped about 20 degrees and we were able to stroll around the hood with 2 buddies visiting neighbor after neighbor. A milk bone here, a chunk of ripe cantaloupe and a home grown edamame there made the hours fly by. By the light of an almost full moon we all returned to our hot dark houses for sleeping. I made one last attempt to get on line then went to bed.

The sad part of the story is that the Lab had a hot spot starting on her throat and after hours of heat and humidity and intense scratching ( while i was sleeping)by Monday morning it had blossomed into a large sunflower size spot on her chest.

As I cleaned and fluffed and filled the house with garden flowers for German girls return, the pup got sicker and sicker. Our vet had no appointments open so after a welcome back to the USA, we threw the dog in the truck and headed off for a 24 hour animal hospital in DC. By midnight we were out the door. The pup's chest was shaven and she was sporting the cone of shame, 2 different medications to take and many flushes and sprays. To add insult to injury she also has a cold complete with explosive sneezes.

By the time we returned home, fed the dog, fed the cat, accepted German girl's lost suitcase delivery it was 1:00am, she had been up for 24 hours and had a cold herself.

Welcome home.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Very Long Walk Down Memory Lane ( Reader Advisory)

9:12 am. Watered the 2 gardens early, walked the dog, early, but there is no early any more.

At 10:30 last night the heat index still registered 110 degrees. I always hope when I burst out the door at 6:30am, I will enter the summer temperatures of my childhood. I grew up in a little town on the St. Clair River in Michigan. The river is part of the International Great Lakes Waterways. There was boating and fishing for pickerel and perch . Our garden grew peacefully, no brown twisted leaves on the tomato plants, there was a pear tree in the back yard and honey bees were always buzzing around the overripe fruit on the ground. We could pick cherries and grapes from the neighbors yards.

My only beef was I was an only child and was expected to help my mother with her projects. My mother was Martha Stewart before there was a Martha. We went out in the country and picked bunches of wild berries and grapes then made jar after jar of jams and jellies. We pickled cukes, chopped vegetables for relishes, and made tons of fruit pies ready to pop in the freezer and be baked in the winter months. We had a compost pile before there was compost. I never tasted a store bought English muffin until I went to boarding school. Isn't it odd I can't make pie crust?

In the summer I would sleep on the big screened in porch listening to the mournful sound of the freighters foghorns. And I would dream of the day I would move away from the little town and make an exciting life for myself elsewhere.

How ironic I've recreated that so much of that childhood right here in my little house with the garden and the fruit trees and the compost and the reading and the cooking.

It's probably hotter then hell there now too, but in my memory I'm riding my bike to go swimming. And it's a beautiful summer day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Some Like It Hot

This would not be me, nor the Lab. Good reason why I haven't published any food porn , as a coworker calls it, this week.
Too hot to turn on a stove. But I have a craving for some carbs so I'm cooking up a little fusilli and will toss it with some garden tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed red pepper and mozzarella cheese.

While the water boils ( I shudder even as I write the word boil) I'm out in the garden picking basil and admiring the few plants that are thriving in this heat.

The limelight hydrangea is just beginning to open and and already living up to its name. I have succulents everywhere, in the window boxes, in pots and in hard to water corners of the garden. All beauty, no maintenance, like us, no? Agastache, verbena bonariensis, African foxglove, nicotiana , everyone happy as clams.

Our next door neighbor is also gone this week so I am the water bearer for two gardens. As I believe blogging can be a synonym for procrastination, I'll be off to do my best imitation of an Aquarian
Even though I'm actually a Virgo.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

#3 ( Disclaimer: These Are Not My Poppies)

Here I am again. I was going to wait until tomorrow to post, but then I thought who am I kidding? Just did shopping and dinner with a girlfriend. She's off to England next week for her engagement party at her future MIL"s house. Another woman with a current passport and 3 new pairs of shoes. German girl got 2 pairs before she left. I need to travel more. Travel= new shoes.

I'm doing my traveling online this week. I have a crush on a new blog I just started reading, and the British author Belinda just started writing, Wild Acre. Not only did she start a blog, but she has started a cutting garden by the old black barn she lives in. She's making bouquets and selling them to nearby stores. They're lovely. She had me at poppies, post after post of incredible poppies. I might have to go and steal a picture for this post, then you'll all want to run over and visit. Every florist I know would love to get their hands on these babies.

I've lifted the lovelies, now I must go leave a note.

Thanks to all who have been keeping me company this week both in A-town and in cybertown.

xo Jane

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Meaningless Post #2.

I've been itching to write that.

2 and 1/2 days home alone. The Lab is sad and thinks she deserves more treats. Thank God she doesn't have a credit card.

I'm back on the bus for the week. When did they change the schedule and the route? Comes later, takes longer. This is not gonna work for me.

Too hot to cook. Last night's dinner as pictured. I ate the first ripe Green Zebra tomato and a Big Beef , sliced on toasted bread with salt, pepper, basil and mozzarella and olive oil. It was so delicious I might have to do it again tonight. Do I need more? Cherries to finish last night and watermelon tonight.

I urge you all to continue posting. The more of you I have to read, the less you'll hear from me.

One more thing, not to be the new nerd on the block, but I continue to be thrilled by the feed meter. Moscow! Hanoi! Portugal! Washington, D.C.! Maputo! Fairfax!

Welcome to each and every reader, old and new, and please leave a comment sometime, I'd like to visit you too.
xoxo Jane

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Home Alone

Well , we got German girl packed up and packed off, to Germany actually. I didn't go for several reasons, pick any one: no money, I let my passport expire, I'm a claustrophobic flier and always upgrade (review no money) and I'm in the middle of a house refinance . That's enough reasons right? Though, I was informed, you could upgrade to business for only $98.00 at the airport. Damn.

So I'll probably be flooding the computer with meaningless posts, though I expect the level of food intensity will plummet. There will be no grilling for 8 days. Double damn. I'll have to head over to 66Square Feet and review Marie's older posts under " Food For Me".

I have a stack of books, a dog and cat for company and friends who keep earnestly telling me "Call if you need anything". Like money? Like my passport to arrive in the mail, now? Like all the papers faxed to the underwriter?

There's lemon syrup chilling in the refrigerator, clean linens on the bed, chicken to cook for chicken salad maybe? And tho' hotter than hell outside it's not humid . I have a freshly made iced latte in hand and am about to embark on a leisurely watering tour.

I'll be back soon, this is only meaningless post #1.

P.S. Meals for Me can be found at the original 66 Square Foot blog. Sorry Marie.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hot Town

Friday at 5:00pm. My living room window air conditioning unit is struggling to maintain a level of coolness : 83 degrees and breathing heavy. Shade is an illusion. Blinds drawn on the back side of the house are no match for the sunlight streaming through. The dog is collapsed in a heap on the living room floor. While she sleeps I have a fan blowing on her. It appears to be a dreamless sleep. And the cat is on the front stoop in such a heat induced coma I can't coax her to come into the house. And nobody, but nobody, picks that cat up.

Are you feeling it? Or am I preaching to the choir? Is this what your town/ city/ beach house/monastery feels like? Do tell.

Oh, and we had an earthquake this morning, at 5:00am. 3.5 on the Richter. We all slept through it.

Now I'm off to a cool bath and the smallest dress I own. We're invited to dinner at a centrally airconditioned house and are expected to arrive feeling pretty and witty and gay.

I hope to manage one out of three.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You Say Tomato And I Say Tornado

Was that a tornado? The skies were green.

Now that I've installed a Feedjit on the blog I am blown away ( in a true tornado sense) by the visitors who travel to SmallButCharming from all over the world and locally. So if you're a local reader, let me know, was that a tornado?

And welcome to all of you. I had no idea. It would be cool if we all added our links so we could visit back and forth, but hey, this is only my second day of the feed meter. Maybe we're all too shy.

Anyhoo, tonights dinner (not cooked on the grill needless to say) is so simple but so delicious I have to write about it...

Tada!: our first homegrown tomato, sliced and layered with mozzarella, splashed with olive oil, covered with salt and pepper and strewn with basil. We have waited a year for this moment. It did not disappoint.

Accompanied by a house fave: turkey burgers. A pound or so of turkey breast, a cup of ricotta cheese, a dollop of dijon, a tiny bit of worchestershire sauce, a handful of bread crumbs, 3 chopped scallions and a lavish handful of garden herbs. I grabbed basil and parsley before the rain poured down. Add salt and pepper, mix well with a fork and shape first into a ball and then into a patty. Chill in fridge for an hour or less if you're really hungry.

Grill. In or out. Top with favorite cheese. We used jalapeno jack. Sometimes we serve on a focaccia roll, tonight we grilled bread and rubbed it with garlic and olive oil. That salad plate deserved to be wiped clean.

The storm has passed. Dishes await. Hope you all will be enjoying your first homegrown tomato soon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Home Again

We're back! Back from the beach, back to blogging. Though we dragged the computer 6 hours in the car, 30 minutes on a boat and 20 minutes bumping over boardwalks in a cart to get to the house, there was no internet access. Several people sweetly offered up their wifi but I never seemed to make it to their houses for anything other than dinner, drinks or conversations.

We were forced to spend hours on the beach reading and napping. We walked into town every morning to select something delicious for dinner. We had dance parties on the deck after these dinners and more starlit walks on the beach. No matter how much sunscreen I applied, how many umbrellas I sat under and how much I lived in a hat, I am tanned and my hair is very blonde. I will be in big trouble with my hairdresser.

We left the island at 5:00pm Saturday, shouted out a "Hey Brooklyn" to Denise and Marie as we drove through and arrived home at 11:00. We could have stayed another day, but we missed our garden. We took a flashlight stroll around the grounds and chanted thank you, thank you to the 3 friends and neighbors who watered for us while we were gone. It was 105 degrees here. Everything is alive and healthy except for the cucumber. And that was looking suspiciously diseased before we left.

I am happy to be home. As Joni Mitchell sang, " I miss my clean white linens and my fancy French cologne". And I missed my blogging buddies. I'm off to check in and see what each and everyone of you were up to this week. And how the East Coast girls survived the heat wave.

xoxo Jane


Friday, July 2, 2010

Sum Sum Summertime

Is pesto passe? Possibly.

But when you're hanging around outside, chatting with a friend and German girl asks "what's for dinner", and you have nothing in the kitchen but parmesan cheese and olive oil and pasta, and your garden is bursting with basil and home grown garlic, what's a girl to do?

Salad? You have a cucumber. A neighbor drops by, right at that moment, with another cucumber, and you have a few ripe sungolds. A snippet of garden dill, a pinch of finely chopped red onion, salt, pepper, touch of olive oil, splash of red wine vinegar.

Summer is in the house.