Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Millions of Peaches

Gotta eat me a lot of peaches.

A 24 lb box of peaches appeared in my house last week. I don't know if you can conceptualize how many peaches that is. It's A LOT. Enough that I have eaten a peach a day since them, and still had some to make Peach Crisp for the girls last week, two loaves of Peach Bread for eating and freezing, to give away two bags to friends, throw three out due to mold, bring a bowl-full to work, and still have about 12 of them in my fridge.  It's insanity.

Oh the joys of EWa produce.  Only $10 for the box. 

Last night decided I wanted to store 5 in the fridge for eating and get rid of the rest.  They're on their way to being over ripe and need to be eaten or processed YESTERDAY.  The easiest way to save them for later is, of course, to freeze them.  But I already have a bag of frozen peaches, so the next best thing is..... ICE CREAM!!!

I picked the the five ripest in the bin and found a recipe I could butcher to my liking. It had to be super peachy, and it had to technically be a sorbet - no dairy allowed in this "creamy" concoction.  Here's what I came up with:

Peach Sorbet
Butchered by Robyn

5 ripe peaches
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp Frangelico (or other booze - but no kirsh, I HATE kirsh)

Remove pits from peaches and dice, do not remove skin.  Heath peaches and water over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until peaches are cooked.  Stir in sugar.  Use blender, food processor, or immersion blender to puree peaches.  Add lemon juice and booze.  Refrigerate until cool.  Process in ice cream maker following manufacturer's directions.  Try not to eat it all before freezing for 3 hours.

I ate mine over a brownie, fresh out of the oven.  The hot brownie melted the soft peach sorbet and made magic in my mouth.  I plan on repeating the experience tonight with fully hardened ice cream.  The tiny taste I had this morning was very telling - this sorbet has retained its creamy texture and is not grainy at all after a full 8 hours of freezing. Success!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Granite Mountain OF DOOM

I need to get in shape for my trip to the Enchantments at the end of the month.  I know I'm out of shape, but the hike I did on Sunday solidified it.  It's Tuesday and I'm still hobbling around the office.

My quads are killing me.  The hike was almost 4000 feet elevation gain in 4 miles to the summit.

It started out mellow for the first half mile.  Then it was all up from there.

Steep switchback after steep switchback. 

It was hard.

And the decent was just as bad.  It made my knees ache.

But it was totally worth it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer Growth Spurt

This weekend felt like summer and I have the sunburn to prove it.  I spent Saturday at Bowman Bay for my company picnic and apparently forgot to reapply sunscreen on a few choice areas, namely my chest and the right side of my left ankle.  How that one happened is anyone's guess.

In my burn-induced house arrest on Sunday (ha! the world conspires against me in puns) I spent most of the day sitting on the couch, either reading, knitting, or watching Anthony Bourdain. And, of course, it was the latter that got me out of the house.

Tony was in Naples, and at the end of the show he had dinner at someone's mother's house.  She made a "simple" Sunday dinner of pasta in meat sauce that made me drool. Once the craving took hold, there was no changing what was on our dinner menu for the evening. We winged it, but the result was really fabulous.

"Homemade" Ragu

1 onion, diced
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Italian sausages, casings removed
1 lb flank steak, sliced 1 inch thick
2 lbs beef roast, any cut, cubed
1/2 -1  cup of good red wine (to taste)
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp thyme
2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp basil
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Heat large sauce pan (I used a 7 quart dutch oven) over medium-high heat.  Add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.  Brown mean in small portions, makign sure to never cover the entire bottom of pan. Remove meat once browned and set aside.  Add onions to drippings in pan, adding more oil if necessary.  Cook until onions are brown, then add mushrooms and garlic.  Once mushrooms have "sweated" add wine to deglaze the pan. After wine starts to reduce, return meat to pan and add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 2 hours, more if you can wait.  The longer it simmers, the better it will be.

To serve, remove meat from sauce.  Ladle sauce over your favorite pasta (penne or rigatoni work great for this) and serve meat as a side. Leftovers are even better than the first time around!

While the sauce was a-simmering, I went for a walk around the garden and was impressed at what the recent heat has done for my plants.

My peas have only a few pods left on them and will soon be pulled to make way for something else.  Romaine maybe?

I have a handful of small green tomatoes.  It's supposed to hit 80 this week, so maybe I'll get a few more to pop out, and a little growth on these guys.

Most impressive, I think, are my cucumbers.  I have two plants, and they both have several inch - inch and a half long baby cucumbers.  And one even has a monster 3 incher!

My zucchini and bottleneck squash are toddling along slowly.  They have perked up quite a bit and have some new growth, but nothing impressive.  A couple of blossoms and the leaves have gotten a bit bigger than they used to be, but no fruit yet.  The zucchini transplanted from a friend's yard has recovered from the move and seems to be thriving.  It dropped a leaf or two, but there are some new ones growing and a few blossoms about to pop. These leaves put mine to shame! We'll have to wait and see which one produces before judging them too harshly.

Living right next to this guy are my two tomatoes I started from seed.  They're both looking healthy, but I fear they'll be too small to produce anything this season.  But I'm going to remember that this actually worked and try again next year.  A single dollar for a packet of seeds vs $5 for a start - what savings!

What I've found most disappointing so far, aside from my radishes and carrots that haven't done SQUAT, are my beans.  I think I have a combination of bad soil (maybe an excuse for the radishes), late planting, and squirrels. I think those fluffy buggers have found my seeds after I planted them, dug them up and ate them. That or I got a bad packet of pole beans. I planted both bush and pole, and I think maybe 2 out of 35 of the poles have sprouted vs almost all of the bushes. I've heard that you can keep planting bush beans up until August, but the ones I have in the ground now are all pretty dang small. 

The first batch planted, back in early June. Seeds were soaked for 24 hours before planting.

The second batch, planted in late June/early July.  Seeds were soaked, and organic fertilizer was used in the hole before planting.

The last batch of bush beans, planted in mid July.  Some beans were soaked, some were not. All were planted with some osmocote fertilizer.  Soaked beans are slightly larger than non-soaked beans.

They haven't quite caught up with the second batch, but have already surpassed the first. I haven't decided if it's a sun or a water thing, or the different fertilizer.  I decided to try Osmocote because cats love the organic stuff (proven by Ollie breaking into the storage closet on several occasions) and I didn't want to encourage the neighborhood felines to hang out in my yard or dig up my plants.  The squirrels do enough of that.  If only we could get the cats to actually scare the squirrels away...

I'm anxious to produce something I can eat other than peas.  I keep walking through the local P-Patch and getting really jealous of the amazing produce. It's something to aspire to.  I think I'll do serious planning this fall and winter, peruse the local seed manufacturers catalogs, and do some soil improvements and maybe next year I can bump up the yield to P-Patch levels.

Library finds

Several things to update today.  First of all, the promised pictures of the wash cloths.

Very plain, but ridiculously quick to knit.  Just cast on with two strands and garter stitch til you’re done.  They will get some good use at this new house of mine.
Also, I’m about halfway done with one sleeve of my sweater.  Sleeves are so fast!  If I could actually just sit down and work on it, it would be done in no time.  But alas, it’s finally summer in Seattle and I’d rather be thinking about knitting than actually knitting.  I’ve been trying to find appropriate baby patterns for “Peanut,” my soon-to-arrive nephew, while getting distracted by other quick, and therefore sexy, knits.  I found myself in the knitting section of the library yesterday and came home with two fun books:

I have seen some really ugly knitted toy patterns.  And some that are cute, but I’d never really want to make them.  This book, however, had several that I’m itching to get on the needles for Peanut.  Hope he likes dinosaurs.  Rar!

It’s hard to find a good knitwear pattern for a man.  Seriously.  There are hats aplenty, but most of the sweaters out there are too textured or there is too much color work, or they have things that we think are cute, but really men don’t want to wear.  Or they’re plain ugly (see this book I left at the library - Yikes).  All in all, they’re too fussy.  The author of this book totally gets that.  He’s a man and knows what he wants to wear, therefore designs sweaters that are both simple enough for even Alan to like, yet have enough small details to keep a knitter thinking. 

And, more impressively, every pattern is provided in multiple sizes with multiple gauges.  Which is awesome!  I never get the exact gauge patterns call for because I just use yarn that I have on hand.  This totally take the guess work out of it so you can end up with something that not only looks good, but FITS.  WOOHOO!

It's a good thing I'm on a yarn diet or else I'd be surfing the web to find yarn to make one of these.  Instead I"ll just keep doing research to find something I can make for Peanut out of stash yarn. Maybe I have dinosaur colors?