Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Watching the garden grow

Watching our garden grow is so rewarding. The tomatoes have totally grown out of their cages and my husband has strung twine all around to keep them tucked in their beds. We have small green tomatoes now on all of the plants. We are harvesting the first of our squash and cucumbers. We find much pleasure just sitting at the end of the garden space, soaking up the heat and gazing at our garden. It seems it does not take much to amuse us. Ahhh the simple life!

Tonight for dinner we are having red and black beans with rice and cheese tucked into burritos. It is simple but completely filling. I am making a side dish of sliced cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes with a sweet/tangy vinaigrette. I grew up on this side dish. When the veggies came on in our garden my Mother would make this several times a week.

Marinated cukes, onions and tomatoes.
I cucumber sliced
1/2 sweet onion sliced
2 tomatoes sliced

1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 /4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste.

You can adjust the vinegar and sugar to your own taste. We like it tangy with a hint of sweetness. It will leave you with a bit of a pucker in your mouth.
Pour over the veggies in a bowl so they are completely covered, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for several hours to meld the flavors.
Serve in a individual dishes along side your main course.

I have much to do today as I am leaving on another little jaunt Friday to see my family. I am attending my youngest grandsons grad party from high school. As a family we have not all been together in the same place in quite a few years. It will be wonderful to be in the presence of those I love so dearly.
My daughter and I will be celebrating our birthdays also with a little gift exchange on this trip. We always do this but not past this late date. Both of our birthdays have passed long ago. Well in a way it has worked out. I have kept finding items over the months, tucking in this and that. It will be fun for her to unwrap all these little treasures. So I best get them wrapped. That will be one thing I can check off my list of to-do's today.

Have a nice Monday. The start of the week I know but I find I like to get back to a routine after a busy weekend.
Till tomorrow.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

King Estate winery

This is not the winery we went to on Saturday. This is the big daddy winery here in Lane County, King Estate. We go every year and there are many wineries in the area to stop at along the way. This is grand winery with world renown wine. I forgot the camera on Saturday and I so wished I had not. The countryside was so beautiful with the rolling hills and acres of grapevines and the groves of timber rimming the valleys.
We enjoyed our little outing very much. And we so enjoyed High Pass winery. We each had a glass of their 2005 pinot noir a mouthful of pleasure believe me. We bought a bottle to bring home also. We sat outside there under a covered patio watching a Gold Finch twitter about our heads while playing in a lattice laced with flowers. We will go again. We decided there are quite a few wineries we have yet to visit. So we are going to try to get to one or two on the weekends if hubby is not working. Most are small affairs and very home spun. Talking with the owners and growers is a friendly experience like visiting old friends.

We grilled burgers last evening. I have already shared how we do our burgers on a previous blog. So nothing new to add there.
However I did create a waffle breakfast panini this morning. I had it loaded so it was rather messy to eat but tasty.
This is what I did.
I toasted a square frozen waffle.
Cutting the waffle into four portions to make two panini' sanwiches.
On the inside of each piece I drizzled a little honey.
Then added three slices of smoked Gouda cheese to one side
Atop the cheese I added three crisp strips of bacon
Atop the bacon I added three thin slices of pear
Atop the pear I scattered a tablespoon of toasted chopped walnuts
then three more slices of cheese before adding the top piece.
Repeat for the other panini.
Put in hot panini maker and toast until the cheese melts and there are grid marks on the waffle.
Grab at least two napkins, maybe three!

Well that is all for the day. I must get outdoors and take care of a few things. It is a beautiful day here in the valley. Such a sweet place to live.
Till later.
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Garlic and basil linguine with grilled shrimp

Dinner last night was colorful and a yummy mouthful. This plate I photographed was my dinner. However I took a good portion off this plate before I ate my dinner.

Here is the recipe:
Garlic basil linguine with grilled shrimp
1 eight oz package of basil and garlic linguine. I used Trader Joe's brand.
1 dozen or more medium shrimp, cleaned and deveined with tails removed
1/4 cup Italian dressing for marinating the shrimp
salt and pepper to taste.
1 bunch scallions sliced thin
3 Roma tomatoes chopped
1/2 shallot sliced
1 large clove garlic minced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Marinate the cleaned shrimp in the Italian dressing coating well and put in fridge for at least an hour.
In a small sauce pan add the olive oil, the scallions, garlic and shallots heat slowly until hot. Do not scorch.
Grill shrimp in a grill basket on high heat, toss them with the marinade, keep it hot so they get a little blackened. Do this as quickly as shrimp cooks in a few minutes. Remove from the grill and set aside.
Chop the tomatoes and add them to the hot olive oil mixture you just want to heat the tomatoes you do not want to cook them.
When the pasta is el dente, strain but reserve a little pasta water. Add the pasta to a large flat bottom pasta serving bowl. Pour the olive oil tomato mixture over the pasta and mix well to moisten all of the pasta. If you need a little extra moisture you can add a bit of the pasta water. Add the shrimp.
Serve in individual bowls or on plates with grated good quality Parmesan cheese. Add a salad or good bread for a side.

This is really a simple tasty meal. This is the kind of meal I liked to prepare when I was a working gal. My feet would not cross our threshold until almost seven. So fixing a quick meal was a must. By the time I sipped a glass of wine the meal was done.
Note. If you use plain linguine you would want to add another clove of garlic and a little chopped basil to the olive oil

I went out to the mall early this morning. I do not like to shop but sometimes I must force myself. I needed to buy a few personal things for myself and I needed a few items for my kitchen. I love to shop for kitchen things. I have been wanting a instant read thermometer. They are so easy to use and then you know for sure that your meat is done to your liking and more importantly safe to consume. I did enjoy myself browsing and picking up little things. Amazing!

We are looking forward to our weekend. The weather will be perfect though we expect a healthy breeze. That is usually not the pattern here in July. That wind keeps the pollen stirred up which upsets a lot of folks in this area, as we are the grass pollen capitol of the world. True.

Do have a lovely weekend. We are grilling this weekend so I may not blog about that as it is old hat but enjoyable this time of year. However next week there will be new things being prepared in this household.
Till then.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010


I am always in awe when I drive through our beautiful Willamette Valley. The lush greenery grabs your eye and then explodes in a plethora of greens that never fails to grab my heart.
On Saturday my husband and I are taking a drive through some country we have not seen before. Of course the camera is going along and perhaps a picnic lunch. I love going for drives. When I was a young girl my Dad always took the family on Sunday drives. We would drive for miles on back country roads as he pointed out this and that. I learned about the different kinds of trees and wildlife. He was a joker so he always teased us and told funny little stories as he drove along. My Mom always packed us a wonderful picnic lunch and we would find a lovely spot somewhere usually near a creek or a lake and Mom would spread an old quilt down and then we would devour the basket of food. It was so much fun and I have been addicted to taking drives throughout my lifetime. Thanks Dad.

Tonight for dinner I am making a shrimp and pasta dish. We thought shrimp sounded yummy for tonight. The only side we will have is a husky wheat Tuscan bread. Believe me this is a hunk of bread. I could eat way too much of this kind of bread. My downfall I know. I love to start my day with a piece lightly toasted smeared with honey butter. I know, I know, a fat fix, but I will say on the few occasions I have done that, that piece of bread has stayed with me for hours.
So tomorrow Iwill post my recipe for the shrimp pasta dish and perhaps have a picture too. You have to remember I am eating the meal so I cannot take to long with the photo's as my food will get cold. So I snap a couple of shots and hope for the best.

Well I have been waiting for the sun to leave the driveway. I decoded I am going to wash my car today. I normally run it through the car wash. But it is hot out there and being out in the heat with the breeze blowing the water back at you, well it just sounds like fun. Besides I will have saved seven dollars and will also get a little exercise.
So I am off to fill the bucket and hook up the hose. Yahoo.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

vegetable casserole with fried polenta

The veggies were roasted to perfection and the polenta was crispy with a coating of panko and parmesan.
The recipe follows:
Roasted veggie casserole with polenta.
1 med potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 med yam, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 green or red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 carrots, peeled, cut into into 1/2 inch pieces
approximately 5 tablespoons olive oil
1 red or sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 small or one large zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4 slices
1 shallot sliced
2 large tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried Italian-style bread crumbs
fresh basil or Italian parsley for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degree F.
Using a 9x13 glass casserole add all the vegetables except the tomatoes
toss the veggies with the olive oil add salt and pepper and spread evenly in the dish then lay on the sliced tomatoes. Stir the parmesan and bread crumbs together and sprinkle over the casserole and drizzle with a little olive oil
Bake uncovered until the veggies are tender and the topping is golden brown about 40 minutes. Garnish with basil leaves or Italian parsley.

Crunchy parmesan polenta.
1 roll of organic original polenta chilled
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
1 cup panko crumbs (you may need a little more panko)
canola oil for frying
1 large egg

In a flat bottom bowl whip the egg with two tablespoons of water
In a flat bottom bowl combine the parmesan and panko crumbs
Slice the chilled polenta in 1/2 inch slices
Dip the slices of polenta in the egg mixture to coat
Pat and roll the slices in the panko mixture
Fry in hot oil turning once after they are golden brown on the bottom
Make sure the oil is hot. If you do not have a deep fry thermometer you can dip the tip of a wooden spoon in the oil if it sizzles the oil is ready.
Remove to parchment paper

In flat bottom individual serving bowls, put one slice of polenta, add the veggies over the top and add another polenta round to the top and dig in.

It is so easy and so good for you. We have some left over for tonight so I will grill chops to go with. So I have an easy night in my kitchen this evening.

The day is windy here, I lowered the patio umbrella it was ready to sail away.
The sky is of the deepest blue and the air smells of summer.
I am working in the back yard area today it needs some attention. Seems there is always something that needs weeded, pruned, raked or watered.
I have not walked yet and the day is going fast. I needed to run an errand for hubby this morning and there is so much I want to accomplish today so must get to it.

Eat your veggies and have a good day.
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Monday, July 12, 2010

What do the farms, pizza and ironing have in common? They make me happy!

First the pizzeria we went to the other evening was amazing. There are only thirty of these pizza ovens in the U.S. the pizza is done in ninety seconds, yes ninety seconds. All the ingredients are made by hand everything is fresh, fresh. The crust was sumptuous I do not know how else to describe it. It was so delicate and crusty. Little burnt spots on the bottom and along the edge of the crust. I could have just ordered the crust and been happy. My husband loved the pomodoro sauce, we were both humming while munching.

This morning I once again went to the farms. Seems every couple of days I make that little trip. However I bought two big bags full today. Everything looked so bright and fresh. The cherries are so sweet I could barely stop eating them. I am sure they are from neighboring Washington state. There was a huge selection today and all looked so wonderful. I enjoy it out there so much, it just smells like farmland and the big sky looms above. As you know I grew up on a farm so it brings back welcomed childhood memories.

Now as to the ironing. I never iron and I had mentioned that to my friend that visited recently. She said, well I love to iron it is so relaxing. So I thought well I will iron today as some items were hanging wrinkled in the closets which I knew the dryer could not remedy. So I set up the ironing board in the kitchen. The kitchen screen door was open and I could hear the jays in the trees. The radio in the nook was on low playing the blues. I started ironing and humming along and I felt so happy in my kitchen where I feel so at home. When I finished the clothing items I actually went looking for more to iron. I did feel so content and it was therapeutic after a morning of running and chores. My friend was right.

We are having roasted vegetable casserole with tomatoes this evening. This is a food network recipe and it is so good. I have made it many times with different variations. The veggies roast in a casserole dish with olive oil and fresh herbs, tomatoes lay perfectly on top and then bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese is crumbled over the top. The tomatoes help keep it all juicy and roasting the vegetables intensifies their flavor. My twist on the recipe is that I always place crispy slices of polenta rounds in a flat bottom bowl and smother them with the roasted veggies.
In my blog tomorrow I will include the recipe for both the casserole and the polenta. Also I hope to include a photo.

I am just running out of time at this point and I must go now and get water on my flowers. It was cooler today but they still need their drink at the end of the day.
Till tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010


This was our first zucchini blossom. However now we actually have many baby zucchini's in the squash patch. We will harvest a few in a day or two. We love the babies best. I will share many recipes for squash as the weeks go by. We will be overrun but hope not to waste a bite.

Today is our wedding anniversary. So we are going out to celebrate. We will have a early evening dinner downtown Eugene. Now mind you this is not an elegant dinner. What we decided we truly wanted to do was to try the Neapolitan style pizza at one of our newer establishments. The owners have Italian heritage and also have an amazing Italian restaurant here in Eugene that is always getting the latest accolades.
The pizza crust is made fresh daily as well as the tomato sauce and their own mozzarella cheese. They also grow their own herbs. There is a nice patio for outdoor dining but we may eat indoors due to the heat.
We will share a bottle of Italian red wine. I am so ready for this little adventure on our special day. A night out in Italy... well that may be pushing the envelope a bit but still.........

Tomorrow evening my hubby's Mother is making him a belated birthday dinner. So I will not be cooking in my kitchen for a couple of evenings.

I must head out the door now and go once again to the farm. Their strawberries are just amazing. So sweet and plump and they use no sprays. We cannot get enough of these berries when they are in season.
We are not having shortcake everyday, though it is tempting. But the pounds come on quickly if one is not watchful. I have a creamy yogurt in the fridge and granola clusters with almonds and cashews in the pantry, add the berries and it is a mouthful of goodness. Of course this not low cal either so we only hope to maintain some sort of portion control at this point.

Where ever you are enjoy a berry!
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The festive salsa that I made yesterday was very tasty. I say was as it is almost gone. It was very mild and fresh tasting with the hints or cilantro and lime. It is also healthy when you have it with organic chips. Salsa's are so easy to make and really take no time at all. What is better than putting your own fresh salsa together with what you like? When our tomatoes are on we have fresh salsa in the fridge everyday.

I will not be sharing our dinner recipe tonight as we are just having various fresh farm veggies and rice. We have had quite a bit of meat lately and that is something we try to limit. It seems in summer we love to grill and of course we grill vegetables but it seems we grill meat and sea food more frequently. I am sure this weekend there will be steaks, chops or fish on the grill.

Can you believe it is to be 96 degrees today? Well now it seems it went from cooler than normal to hotter than normal. Well that is Oregon. I tended the garden and flowers late last evening so they went to sleep in damp beds. So they will endure the heat until I repeat the process tonight. Of course we do not water the tomatoes as much as the other veggies as the tomatoes really do better with dry feet.
I took an amazing photo of a squash blossom yesterday. I was kneeling down into the raised beds with my head under the huge zucchini leaves and my camera zooming in on this bright yellow blossom. Snapping away I felt like I was on assignment for Nat Geo.

I walked very early this morning to beat the heat. But I must say I was quite overheated when I returned to the air conditioned house. Today is the first day we have turned the air on. We try to hold off as long as possible. We prefer getting our air via the fans and screen doors.

Today is a work day for me as there is much to do in the office, so best get at it.
Enjoy your day and stay cool.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What a long weekend for us. The 4th of July weekend then my husbands birthday on the 5th. Seems we munched and grazed ourselves through the weekend. It was good to get on the walking shoes this morning and walk briskly for 45 minutes or so.

It is breezy here today and according to the local paper the heat is on our doorstep. So a little breeze is surely welcome.

Today I am catching my breath and catching up. Much needed attended to in the house this morning. The washing machine is spinning out it's third load and the dryer has been beeping at me all morning. I really did nothing this past four days, except play and cook and eat.

Today I am going to share my festive salsa with you. Now mind you my hubby is the salsa king in this family. However he likes his hot and spicy and I like mine mild. So today I am making it the way I prefer it. Of course you can take this recipe and add more heat by adding more jalapenos. Hubby's recipe and mine are different in other ways also. He likes his straightforward and simple I like more veggies in mine.
I have a small food processor that I use when making salsa with canned tomatoes. When I use our fresh tomatoes I just chop all the ingredients by hand and mix together.
Our tomatoes are just at bloom stage now and tumbling out of their cage tops. Our mouths water just thinking of the sweet juicy taste of home grown tomatoes. But for now we must have patience and be content with watching them grow.

Zo's Festive Salsa
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice
1 jalapeno cleaned, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 bunch of cilantro cleaned and chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
1 medium carrot peeled and chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels thawed
Juice of one lime
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients but the canned tomatoes and corn in the food processor and process to small dice.
Add the tomatoes to the processor and pulse to incorporate in, do this several times. The tomatoes will get foamy if you do not take your time here and pulse.
Remove to a container and add in the thawed the corn and mix well.

Serve with corn chips, I prefer the blue corn my husband likes yellow corn, you can also serve with toasted pita bites. It is also amazing used as a topper on toasted artisan bread.

I just returned from outdoors. I lowered the patio umbrella as the wind is starting to gust. The wind is so warm and it is armed with grass pollen that I am sure of.

Till later, I must tie on the apron and get on with the salsa.

Friday, July 2, 2010

This is the salad I made for my long time friend the other evening.
Just fresh greens, edamame, corn, cucumber, tomatoes, onions and marinated grilled shrimp, garnished with a lemon wedge and chives and one scallion.
The actual recipe is on a previous blog.
This is my first try at posting a photo. Believe me I am barely functional on the computer. I am much better in my kitchen.

For tonight's dinner I am making reuben panini's.
marble rye
swiss cheese
jack cheese
deli corn beef
thousand island dressing
dill pickle spears to the side

We love these panini's they are so creamy with the cheese and tart from the sauerkraut. Sometimes we use pastrami instead of corn beef. You do not need much for sides, a pickle suffices. These are big fat sandwiches.
Stuff them full of meat and coat the outsides of the bread with olive oil and put in your hot panni maker till deep grill marks appear and the cheese is starting to ooze out.
I have a tip for the sauerkraut. Instead right out of the jar put your kraut in a saucepan and add a couple squirts of ketchup and a spoon of brown sugar and heat. This method really cuts the acidity of the sauerkraut but it is still tangy enough.

We are having this easy dinner tonight as my husbands brother is coming for a visit and we are not quite sure when will be eating, it could be late. So I can make these up ahead and put in the panini maker whenever.

Have a nice Friday evening. The fireworks have already started in this neighborhood. Oh yeah........not!
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

It has been a week since I last blogged.
What can I say? I have been having too much fun and have been so busy.

I do sit at times though and watch my garden grow. The tomatoes are over the tops of their cages now. The cukes and squash leaves look like rain forest foliage. The best thing is the snails are gone so the flowers are safe and have big smiles! Now though I notice garden spiders. Last year they built their webs about the patio faster than I could broom them down. Oh well I will take them any day over snails, not meaning to complain. I am a happy woman.

My friend was here and what a great gal time we had. I do not need to go in to what we did but let me just say our mouths and throats were sore from so much laughter and chatter. How two people can talk non stop for days and never run out of things to talk about amazes me.

My hubby has not been working this past week so he was here underfoot........not that I mind at all. When he does not have jobs scheduled we have a good time together. I try not to structure my days to tight as we always wind up going somewhere or playing games, cooking together and enjoying good food and wine. So I have had a week of pleasure and self indulgence.
He is back on a job site today so I must get all my to-do's done this next couple of days so I can enjoy the weekend.

Today I grocery shop. The fridge and pantry are all but bare. Last nights dinner was uninspiring but we survived it (barely). I made our menu out last night for the coming week and I am looking forward to making some creative meals this coming week.

The 4th of July is on Sunday. We are invited as always to my sister-in-laws home for their annual 4th of July party. Lots of food, lots of people and lots of fireworks. This year we will pop in for a short while and then come home and make our own 4th fare on the grill. Hubby has to be on the job site early Monday morning, which by the way his birthday. He thinks it is quite the let down having a birthday on the 5th of July. He always contends that his mother should have made more of an effort for his timely arrival. She was in labor in her hospital bed while listening to the fireworks but he did not appear until after midnight. Do not think it works that way!
We went to his fave restaurant the other day to celebrate early. I drove so he could indulge in a couple of margarita's. We shopped after a late lunch at World Market. We have a good time in that store. We poke around the food section and toss in this and that that we have not tried before. We always pick up a bottle or two of nice wine and some special beers.

Even though his birthday is the 5th and he will be working I will have a nice dinner for him when he arrives home. I was thinking of fresh deep fried halibut and coleslaw and fresh strawberry shortcake made with biscuits for desert. I have so many biscuit recipes no favorite really but I like them light and buttery. I do know the key is not to handle the dough to much just be very gentle with it. Actually I usually just pat my biscuits into shape rather than roll them. Strawberries are everywhere now at the farms and road side stands. Love this time of year!

Tonight we are having a big green salad with Cesar dressing and topped with Traders Joe's albacore tuna in olive oil. I am making cheese toasts to go with. We were both craving lighter fare this evening.

I must get out the door now and on to the grocery shopping marathon.
I will have a good recipe for you tomorrow.
Till then.