30 July 2010


I'm not going to lie.  By three o'clock this afternoon, I'd already decided that we were having leftovers for dinner.  I was tired, it was hot, and I just didn't feel like cooking anything.

But then, I came home and looked in the fridge.  With our CSA box showing up every week, it doesn't take much dinnertime slacking to leave us with a crowded refrigerator and more than a few pounds of vegetables to eat.  So I figured I'd throw something together after all.

My man and I have developed a fall-back dinner option that we've resorted to countless times over our years of cooking together.  It originated as a MSL recipe that called for green beans, potatoes, and basil pesto, but over the seasons, it's turned into this:

1. Roast some vegetables:  Maybe it's potatoes, but we've tried just about everything.  Carrots and beets are common.  We've also done turnips, rutabagas, fennel, broccoli, garlic, onions, shallots, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting right now.  Just chunk them up into something approximately bite-sized, throw the chunks on a baking sheet, toss them in olive oil, flavor with salt and pepper and any other spices that grab you, and roast them at 385 or 400 degrees.  (My man goes higher, but that's up to you...)

You'll probably want to open up the oven and scoot things around once or twice.  If you're me, the veggies are done when they're making lovely sizzling sounds and they cut easily with the tip of a spatula.  If you're my partner-in-crime, the veggies are done when they've turned into little fried cubes of crunchy goodness.  My way takes about thirty or forty minutes.

Tonight, it's carrots and beets, because that's what we have.

2. Steam something green:  I like green beans or peas for this, but you could use broccoli or chard or kale.  Again, bite-sized pieces are a good idea.  Steam things until they are just done, maybe even a little under.

It's snow peas for us today.

3. Make some pesto:  If it's basil season--like it is right now--you can make fresh pesto by throwing a clove or three of garlic, a few handfuls of basil leaves, and about half a cup of pine nuts in a food processor.  Puree until things look pretty mashed up, then, while the food processor is running, add about a quarter cup of olive oil and run the processor until your pesto looks like--um, pesto.  Add some salt and maybe pepper, too.

I got this basil at the farmers' market the other night.  I paid two dollars for a giant bouquet of it and it smells amazing.  When we're not lucky enough to have cornucopias full of fresh basil, we use pesto from the freezer.  My man makes a huge batch of it every summer and it almost always seems to last from one summer to the next.

You can make any kind of pesto you want.  Arugula is good for this.  You can use walnuts or pumpkin seeds instead of pricey pine nuts.

4. Make some pasta: Tonight, I'm combining the dregs of three different bags of pasta.  We'll see how that goes.  I like fusilli for this, but anything that holds a little sauce should work.

5. Toss everything together: It will be green and gooey and if you're using fresh pesto, it will smell freaking amazing.  I usually do this with the stove turned off, but sometimes, my man likes to warm things up a little bit.

This is the point where you add extra things.   Like cheese.  We usually grate some hard cheese on top.  We also add a can of chopped olives, because we add a can of olives to about 75% of the things we make.  Sometimes, we sprinkle some more pine nuts in, just for crunch.  And usually a little more salt and pepper is a good idea, too.

6. Serve it and eat: If you're lucky, you'll have leftovers for later in the week.  This reheats well.  If it's a little dry the second time around, drizzle a little olive oil on top.

This might not be a traditional recipe format, but I think it just might work.  If you decide to try making our pesto-veggie-pasta thing, let me know how it goes...

Have a great weekend, everyone.  I'll see you on Monday!

28 July 2010


Remember that block party I was cooking for last weekend?  It turned out to be an even bigger celebration that I was initially anticipating...

Along with the usual "kiddie parade," yummy potluck, and neighborhood chit-chat we've come to expect from this annual event, our dear neighbors had an extra surprise in store for us.

After most of us had finished eating, at some secret signal, there was an explosion of party poppers and my man and I were presented with a mini-wedding reception!  There was a cake, of course, complete with bride and groom toppers borrowed from the toy box of our 6 year-old next-door neighbor.  There were calls for a "wedding kiss," which we were more than happy to indulge.

And there was a fantastic wedding gift and a custom-drawn card, signed by all our neighbors.

It was amazing.  I cried.

The gift turned out to be something amazing, too.  Maybe one of the most exciting things we've received.

We would never buy anything this fancy for ourselves, but I'm pretty sure that we'll keep this baby forever.

The card was drawn by one of our neighbors, a talented cartoonist.

I love it almost as much as the gorgeous casserole.

Gifts aside, it was really the celebration that melted my heart last weekend.  We're so fortunate to live surrounded by people who genuinely care about their neighbors, who take the time to build connections and community.  We posted a big thank you note right on our front door, so that everyone passing by on a morning run or a dog-walking wander can see how grateful--and lucky--we are.

26 July 2010


I harvested my garlic this afternoon.  You can't tell from the photos, maybe, but these garlic bulbs are ginormous.  They're practically the size of baseballs.

If you're a gardener, then you know that this is not necessarily a good thing.  It certainly wasn't intentional on my part.  Remember a few weeks ago, when I was delighting in how capable my garden was of looking after itself?  Well, that might be true, for the most part, but I probably should have kept slightly better tabs on the garlic.

It might be fine.  We'll have to wait and see.  Before we store the garlic for eating, I'll bundle the heads together with some twine and hang them somewhere with shade and decent ventilation--the back corner of our kitchen, probably.  Hopefully, this extra step will help the garlic avoid mold (ick!) and maybe make it last a bit longer in the storage bin.

Not that it will be lying around for long.  We are garlic people, my man and I.  It tends to wander into most of the dinners I cook--and sometimes breakfast, too...

I've mentioned that my partner-in-crime is not a soup-lover, but I'm hoping that when we're flush with garlic from our CSA along with this little batch from the community garden, I'll be able to trick him into trying a bowlful of this.   I'll have to let you know how that one goes...

23 July 2010


After a long, crazy week, we have a long, crazy weekend coming up.  A little travel, lots of family and friends, and to top it all off, our annual block party.  There's a potluck, a kiddie "parade" up and down the street, and after dark, we sit in someone's driveway and watch a movie.  If it sounds like I'm excited, it's because I am.

I really want to bring a dessert to the potluck.  People will always eat a dessert.  If all goes well, I'll be baking a plum cake in our cast-iron skillet tomorrow morning.  I've got a recipe already, but I'm starting to lean towards something a little more like this.

I'm definitely in a party mood right now.  If you are, too, you might enjoy this.  Or that.  Or maybe this is more your speed.  In any case, I hope your weekend brings you whatever you're hoping for.  See you next week!

21 July 2010


We are having soup for dinner tonight.  This is kind of a big deal.  My man does not like soup.  It's not something I can begin to explain, and I certainly can't identify with it, but that's just how thing are.  Which is why I get excited when we stumble across a soup he actually enjoys.

The recipe is adapted from one our CSA farm sent along with a box of produce a few years ago.  I like that it isn't fussy.  You just chop everything up and throw it in a pot.  The ingredients are pretty straight-forward, too, unless you're someone who's still afraid of a pine nut.  Oh, and there's pesto--one of my favorite, non-fussy ways to really fancy up a meal.

I've never really posted a recipe before, so I hope you'll trust me and give this one a try.

Carrot-Fennel Soup with Dill Pesto

For the soup:
2 tablespoons butter
1 bunch thinly sliced carrots
2 bulbs of fennel with some of the green, ferny tops, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons dill seed
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

For the pesto:
1 cup fresh dill, chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil

heavy cream or creme fraiche

Melt the butter in a big soup pot over medium heat.  Add the carrots, dill, onion, and dill seed and saute for 10 minutes, or until things begin to soften a bit.  Add the stock, bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and let things simmer for half an hour.  Transfer to a blender and puree in batches. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the pesto, either rinse out the blender or drag out a food processor and add the dill and pine nuts.  Blend until smooth and then, with the machine still running, add the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

To serve it up, ladle the soup into bowls and plop some pesto into the center of each one.  Splash a little cream or creme fraiche in, as well, and use a spoon to swirl the pesto and cream into the soup.

And then you eat it all up.  Enjoy!

19 July 2010


It seems that life has gotten a lot busier in the last week or so.  While I find my balance with a new job, wrapping up the old job, the peak of garden season, and oh, yes, that whole marriage thing, I hope you'll find it in your hearts to be patient with me.

For today, I'll just beg your forgiveness.  I have a desperate need, after an eleven hour work day, to just sit. In the meantime, I'd like to invite you to have a peek at this.  Or this.  Or this and that...

See you on Wednesday!

16 July 2010

the proof, part 3

Here it is--Part Three.  Have I mentioned lately what a lovely photographer we had?  He travelled a long way to shoot our wedding, and we hope he doesn't regret it.  We certainly don't.  Andrew made us look like rockstars...

And that's the show, folks.  I don't have much to say about the photos, except that I love them all.  I'm glad we took the time for the "fancy" pictures.  It will be fun to share them with the grandkids...

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

14 July 2010

the proof, part 2

As promised, here's the second installment of our post-wedding recap.  Today's feature: the party.  Of course, after the vows were said and the family pictures were taken, our next priority was getting everyone fed.  Remember all that potato salad and cole slaw?  We laid it out, along with the corn muffins and the pig that had been cooking since six that morning, and everybody filled a plate...

and grabbed a drink...

After a lot of chatting, some dang good eating, and a few lovely toasts, we moved to the front yard for some much-anticipated pinata excitement.  The papier-mache pig didn't last nearly as long as we thought it might, but it certainly got its moment in the spotlight.

We slipped away with our rockstar photographer while the candy got distributed and took some gorgeous photos I'll share with you on Friday.  Fortunately, we made it back in time for dessert:

And for dancing...

And then there were sparklers, and fireworks, and dance lessons led by a six year-old.  There was lots of laughing and our two big families mingling, and there was a show-stopping sunset.  And there were fireflies.

When I say it was magical, I hope you won't laugh at me.  If it helps, I'll confess that it all seemed to happen in the blink of an eye and that the evening seemed to end just as it was starting.  Everyone warns you that the day will fly by and you think you understand what they mean, but then it actually happens to you and you understand...

I'll be back on Friday with one last dose of wedding photo bliss.  See you then!

12 July 2010

the proof

It's hard to believe, but we really did get married a few weeks ago.  Now that we have the photos from our ridiculously talented photographer, Andrew, I can prove to you that the wedding actually happened. Today, here are a few photos of the ceremony itself.

I can't decide how much or how little to say about it all.  The truth is I'm still kind of processing.  So maybe for now, I'll just set the scene and then share the pictures:

In spite of weeks and weeks of rain, the wedding day was inexplicably lovely.  We had the ceremony in the shade of the giant osage orange tree that's standing in my parents' backyard.  My brother, Phil, was our officiant, and aside from the vows, the wedding mostly consisted of readings by my youngest brother, my man's nieces and nephew, and my dear Aunt Kathy.  I wrote most of the ceremony and was still putting the finishing touches at the last minute.  Fortunately, I managed to get things wrapped up before the first guests arrived...

Coming up in Part 2: photos of our pig-roast-and-pinata reception.  See you on Wednesday!

07 July 2010

a little break

No real post today.  I'm getting a few things in order before tomorrow, when I--gulp--get a few teeth yanked out of my mouth.  I'll be taking Friday off, too, and posting again on Monday.  (And yes, there will finally be some wedding photos.)

In the meantime, if you're bored, might I suggest you visit this sweet little blog?

05 July 2010

in the meantime

After catching up on the boring stuff like dishes and laundry, I finally spent some time yesterday in our community garden.  I'd been a little worried about how things would go during my three week absence, but it was immediately clear that my little plot had gotten along just fine without me.  Funny thing about gardens.  Plants just do whatever it is they need to, whether you're around to watch them do it or not.

I actually don't have a whole lot planted right now.  There's the garlic I put in last fall that's not quite ready for harvest yet.  The raspberry canes are doing well, and the little squash and pumpkin plants have been busy, too.  Everything else, though, the calendula and nigella and borage have all just kind of happened.  Even the sunflowers that are growing--they're about four feet tall now--are volunteers.  It's all making me feel kind of lucky, like I haven't done the work to deserve these plants, but I get to enjoy them, anyway.

Before I left town in June, I did ask a few people to keep an eye on my garden, in case things started looking thirsty.  June in Seattle, though, was--well--June in Seattle.  It rained a lot.  It was cold.  That's how we roll here.

Rumor has it, though, Seattle's going to get a bit of a heat wave this week, and for the people who shivered through last night's fireworks in a chilly mist, warmer temperatures probably sound a little more, um, summery.  If you're like the folks around here, wondering where summer's been, you should read today's post over at Orangette.  Molly's blogging has been a little spotty for the past year or so while life happened to her, but I can't help feeling like she's making a comeback.  I, for one, am happy to see her.

And if Molly's summer list-making doesn't get you in the mood for popsicles and picnic blankets, there's always this...

Happy summer, friends!

02 July 2010


It's true.  I've been in a little bit of a funk these past few days.  I can't help thinking of the phrase a friend of mine mentioned recently: "post event dullness disorder."  That pretty much sums up how I feel.  The fireworks are over, the party's been packed away, and now it's just daily life again.  I've been wandering around the house, unable to decide what to do with myself.

And yet.  My man asked this morning, "Is this still the honeymoon?" And yes, husband.  Yes, it is.  There are still new things, small and sweet things for us to discover and enjoy together.  And there is a marriage now, which is a big, slow thing that will take me a long, long time to really wrap my brain around.  In short, the party isn't really over.  In some ways, the fun's just getting started.  It's a different kind of fun, though, and harder to sum up in punctuations of confetti and pinatas.

In the meantime, I guess I just need to recognize that I'm feeling the way I'm feeling, that there are some perfectly understandable reasons for it, and that my dark little mood will pass soon enough.  I'm trying to calm myself with good things, like the socks I finally finished:

And the extra time I have to catch up on recent posts at Souris Mariage and A Practical Wedding.

And the fact that the little bean plants on our back porch are blossoming:

Oh, and the fact that we're having pizza for dinner tonight.

Because is there anything better than pizza and a beer to remind a girl to sit back, relax, and enjoy the waning days of her honeymoon?

No, I didn't think so.

I'll be back on Monday, friends.  I promise I'll try to work out my kinks and cranks before then.  In the meantime, happy weekend!