It started raining again today. After ominous clouds loomed for most of the day, they finally broke as I left work.
Orchestra rehearsal tonight, and while Tuesdays are usually a strictly enforced no cook day, the weekend’s events resulted in a decided lack if no cook meals in the house.
I started the soup as soon as I got home from work, and we ate steaming bowls of it as the rain fell outside.
Pictures: my guys ❤

20121205-124218.jpg

20121205-124232.jpg

It’s really hard to find magic on a payroll day, but while work did little to enchant me, the time spent with Diane and Steve after work had a glimmer.
After days of rain, we were finally able to wander Old Sacramento. Most of the stores were closed for the night, but they had coordinated Christmas lights that were entertaining to watch.
After, we went for delicious Indian food around the corner from our house, and finished with wine in our living before saying our goodbyes. Diane leaves the next day.
Here’s the big shot of magic: my husband who drove Diane back and forth from her hotel, took pictures of us, and sat through dinners listening as we chattered endlessly about events that occurred long before him. As always, he made my friend feel welcome simply because she was my friend. I know that this is not a trait all guys share, and I feel so lucky to have found one of the ones who do.
Picture: Diane and I amid the holiday lights.

20121204-114427.jpg

Today felt like it should have been a lazy Sunday as we snuggled together on the couch watching the rain over our coffee. I did the normal Sunday chore activities: baked bread, finished the laundry, and managed to finish another part of a crochet project which will someday be someone’s holiday present. While Goblin has learned to ignore yarn, he still finds the tape measure incredibly fascinating.
Today, though, could not be a lazy Sunday, for today was the Festival of Trees. This is always my favorite Christmas Festival, though the attendance was much lower than in years past due to the weather.
We finished the evening with dinner with Diane.
Pictures: rainy Sunday, Goblin vs tape measure, Festival of Trees

20121202-173801.jpg

20121202-173819.jpg

20121202-173828.jpg

We are in the middle of a wet patch of weather. At times, the rain came down so hard that it obscured the street. Steve had to work today, so I spent the day catching up on my holiday baking in preparation for shipping holiday boxes. Three cookie types crossed off of the ambitious ten varietals I’d like to complete. The house smells of baking: butter, vanilla, spices.
Diane Austin is here and we all went out for dinner. Every year I mourn the fact that our families will once again not be spending Christmas Eve together, and every year I vow that NEXT YEAR it will happen, even though I realize that hope has become a bit of a “Next year in Jerusalem” promise to my heart. Even now as I promise myself, I know it won’t happen next year either.
Pictures: images from today’s baking extravaganza

20121201-223334.jpg

20121201-223346.jpg

December Daily Eve

November 30, 2012

Inspired by reading a dear friend’s December Daily’s for several years now, I have decided that I will attempt it this year. I’m a bit rusty at this blogging thing, so please bear with me.
Here’s to a magical season!

20121130-215350.jpg

The bodice is mostly finished, with the exception of sleeve hems and some clean up. The addition of sleeves and lining have made it quite tight. EB, however, is great. Rather than saying go lose weight, she just shrugged and said “It happens with sewing. Maybe we’ll have to open those side seams a bit; maybe we’ll add a decoritive panel along the back. We can do whatever we want.” Man, that woman is awesome. Pics below. Have to say, I had my misgivings with how the straps would look once the sleeves were on, but I am LOVING the way it looks.

Productive sewing weekend. Finished putting the lining in the bodice, (hand) sewed on the added straps, and got the sleeves almost finished (just need to seam, hem, and insert). By some miracle, I actually managed to cut the straps so that the pattern matched up – almost perfectly on the left side. That was a very gratifying discovery. Pics below.

Box contents: Yellow Corn (3), Nantes Carrots (2 bunches), Romaine Hearts (2), Flame Seedless Grapes (1 lb), Ambrosia Melon (1), Bing Cherries (1 lb), Gold Chard (1 bunch), Yellow Nectarine (1 lb), Heirloom Tomatoes (1 lb), Slicing Tomatoes (1 lb), Gypsy Peppers (.5 lb)

Oh boy! Heirloom Tomatoes!!

The long-awaited heirloom tomatoes are here…that means one thing: Caprese salad.  Slice tomatoes over a bed of lettuce with slices of fresh mozzarella.  Top with some sliced fresh basil (from our window boxes), sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  The ultimate summer supper!

I am also planning on making a menu from Vegetarian Express.  This is another go-to cook book for me.  The thyme in our window boxes is getting out of control, so I have been asked to make something with it so it can get trimmed.  I found a recipe for black-eyed peas with garlic and thyme.  The recommended sides are a tomato and pepper salad (I’ll use the slicing tomatoes and gypsy peppers from the box), corn on the cob, and whole grain bread.  This should be plenty of food to round out the rest of the week.

Box contents: Nectarine, Yellow (1.5 lb), Blueberries (1 container), Plums (1 lb), Cantaloupe (1), Peach, Yellow (1 lb), Broccoli (1 bunch), Nantes Carrots (1 bunch), Lettuce, Red Leaf (1 head), Persian Cucumber (1 lb), Bing cherries (.75 lb), Strawberries (.5 lb)

We are officially in stone fruit season.  A bout with what was either stomach flu or food poisoning pushed most of my menus into this week, so there really isn’t much to talk about.

Except…

The nectarines in the box are TINY…about two bites worth each.  When I opened the brown paper bag they were packed in as I was doing box inventory (like Christmas every week!), I was immediately reminded of the nectarines my paternal grandfather used to pull off his tree in Santee.  My grandmother would cut them up and turn them into sort of a loose preserve.  We would eat it on toast, stirred into oatmeal or cornmeal mush, or over ice cream.  I don’t have a recipe, but here’s what I expect was in it: stone fruit, sugar, and a little lemon juice.  Both grandparents are gone now (grandma three years and grandpa coming on the one year anniversary).  When I saw those tiny little fruits, I was instantly bombarded by hundreds of  childhood memories: baking cookies with my grandmother, puttering in the garden with my grandfather (well, he puttered while I usually picked flowers or snuck a snack off a nearby tomato plant), my grandmother’s determination to get her pond and waterfall to work…she never really got a satisfactory fountain until they moved to Arizona.

At the moment that Steve proposed last July, as my grandfather was dying, I was heartsick for a split second.  This amazing memory would forever be tainted with my feelings of helplessness and loss, I thought.  Somehow, though, my heart has managed to separate the two…perhaps because it understands that his intentions were amazingly sweet.  I am deeply sad that neither grandparent survived long enough to meet him properly or to see us married.  So this weekend, I will attempt to reproduce my grandmother’s preserve with the nectarines so like my grandfather’s to feed to my love, and know that they will forever be in my heart.  My past will be feeding my future.

Box contents: Yellow Peaches (1lb), Honeydew (1), Strawberries (.5 lb), Blueberries (1 container), Red Plums (4), Baby Broccoli (1), Cauliflower (1), Nantes Carrots (1), Gypsy Peppers (.5 lb), Romaine Hearts (2), Dandelion Greens (1), Jewel Sweet Potatoes (1.5 lb).

Okay, I know I skipped last week, but we didn’t eat at home that much, and when we did it was SALAD…yes, we’ve officially entered summer full of yummy salad foods! Another note: we have dandelion greens on our permanent exclude list, so I will NOT be doing anything with these greens.  After trying through the season last year, we decided that we could not find anyway to make them edible; we got 2 golden delicious apples instead, which I consider more than a fair trade.

Sunday I totally blew it.  Thinking we still had plenty of salad fixings in the fridge, I didn’t bother to get to the store.  When I reached into the fridge to start prepping, I discovered that we were woefully low on lettuce.  Not wanting to run to the store, we opted for quesadillas served with steamed broccoli and carrots that I tossed with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Most of this week, we will be munching salads for dinner – we chop up peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli, toss it with lettuce, and add various accessories, if you will.  Some nights, marinated mushrooms, some nights chopped turkey.  Just depends on what we feel like, and it helps to make the salads different.  We also always have something crunchy, usually in the form of chow mein noodles, but toasted nuts, sunflower seeds, or croutons work too.

Steve requested veggie tacos this week, so I’ll be making that filling.  I saute an onion and a couple cloves of garlic in a little oil.  Then I add veggies.  This week it will be the gypsy peppers (which look like the sweet Italian peppers but have just a bit of a kick to them), carrots, celery, and cauliflower.  I spice it with cumin, chili powder, and coriander.  Then I toss in a couple cans of pinto beans.  When everything’s heated through, I add some lime juice and salt if needed.  We eat this as a soft taco filling on corn tortillas topped with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and salsa.  I use tacos to help clean out the fridge, because you can pretty much put any kind of vegetation in it and it works great.

I’ve not addressed what we do with the fruit.  For the most part, we eat it for breakfast.  The berries are usually the most fragile and sun-tired, so I chop those up first.  The next day, I usually attack the melon and stone fruits and make a quick fruit salad with whatever looks like it’s going to go first.  Steve eats this plain, or if I’ve made granola, with granola.  I always add yogurt and a banana (if it’s not too overripe).  Oranges and apples either get eaten out of hand or added to our dinner salads.

On our own growing front, I’m pleased to announce that we have lots of baby tomatoes and one baby bell pepper.  The herb baskets have taken off – particularly my “Italian” one with oregano, basil, and thyme.  I’ll be making some great sauce once the tomatoes come in! I may even make some sooner with canned tomatoes and summer squash.  Who knows what next week will bring?