We FINALLY made it out to pick strawberries today! With Kevin being in Boston half the time, my weird work schedule, and limited hours of operation at the strawberry farm, it's been a bit hard to do. But today, the Berry Fairy smiled down on us. We got in just under the wire -- today was the last day the farm was to be open for picking. Pickings were, in fact, quite slim. It took about twice as long as it should have to pick 8 1/2 quarts, but we did it. We took my nephew Kyle along with us. He's a "city boy" from San Diego, visiting for the next three weeks. He told my dad he'd "never picked anything off a tree or bush before," so he thought he would quite enjoy the excursion. He did:
That's is actually quite a rare action shot. He spent a lot more time telling Kevin stories than actually picking berries...
They were very cute. Between the two of them, I think they picked about a quart and a half of berries to my seven! OK, maybe they got 2 1/2 and I got 6... =) The important thing is that we all had fun, Kyle enjoyed a new experience, and I have seven and a half quarts of fresh berries on my kitchen counter (one quart went to my parents)! There is definitely strawberry shortcake in our near future, as well as strawberry bread, smoothies (of course!), and frozen berries for future use. And rest assured that plenty will be eaten as is over the next few days. There's not much on this planet better than a sun-warmed, freshly picked strawberry.
I thought I'd show off a bit today and introduce you to my purple blender...
Ta daaaaaa!!! Isn't it cool? It's an Oster brand 14-speed 450-watt "Osterizer." I think all Oster blenders are "Osterizers..." but not all of them are purple! I got it for Christmas a few years ago, and it serves me very well. The highest, fastest, heaviest-dutiest speed is "ice crush." Boy, does it ever! It rips right through frozen fruit, ice, and lime ice cubes (some of my favorite things to crush!). Am I a little too attached to it? Probably. But who wouldn't be, when together as a team, we make the greatest soups, shakes, sauces, and of course, smoothies! Hmmm... it seems to like to make foods that start with "s."
In the blender jar, waiting to be whizzed around, are the following ingredients: one cup of frozen (organic) raspberries, one and a quarter cups of (organic) milk (cow, not soy), half a cup of (organic) raspberry frozen yogurt, and a drizzle of some absolutely fabulous local honey (probably not officially organic, but I bought it last fall at a local apple orchard, and it's the best honey I've ever had). Can you stand the organic-ness of it all? I barely can myself.
Let me tell you, this turned out to be one thick, sweet-tart, girly-girly pink shake:
It made a great supper on this not-too-hot but still humid and sticky summery evening. Protein, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, calcium, and only about 300 calories... take that, Slim-Fast (and see ya, Whoopi!)!
With IMBB? IV just a few days away, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about what I want to grill. As I mentioned a few days ago, I'm not exactly the most experienced griller in the world. I've been poring over my new copy of "The Vegetarian Grill"and browsing the internet for ideas. I'm toying with ideas like a pizza dinner, something Mediterranean (think eggplant!), and this recipe from this website I discovered the other day (very cool site, BTW!). I, of course, would make the latter with Boca Italian Sausage. You'll just have to look up the recipe to find out what I'm talking about. =) I want to make an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert. I have dessert all figured out, regardless of what I decide on for the main dish. If I make pizzas, I have a plan for some kind of kabob for an appetizer... herein lies the epiphany in progress. I'm thinking some kind of bruschetta-style kabob. How weird does that sound? I think chunks of good, crusty bread, along with maybe some kalamata olives and onions, could be really good. It would be almost like croutons on a skewer, I guess, with bruschetta topping ingredients in between. I'm still ironing out the details, thinking about ingredients. Little tomatoes are always a possibility, along with basil leaves and slices of garlic. It all depends on what the entree turns out to be. The trick will be to choose things that would cook in a fairly short amount of time so the bread doesn't completely incinerate.
Like this whole IMBB? thing isn't exciting enough, my 7-year-old nephew is flying in from San Diego tomorrow to spend three weeks here!! Well, he'll stay with my parents, but I plan to spend as much time with him as possible. He's such a neat kid. Yes, he's coming all by himself. He did this last year, too. He's amazing -- three weeks away from his home, his parents, his life, in a completely different environment, and it doesn't faze him a bit. I get homesick when I go away for a weekend! He just goes about his business and does whatever we plan for him. I don't have any recent pictures of him in the computer, but you can bet my new digital camera will be put to good use while he's here! I'll be sure to post a picture or two once in a while. He's the cutest little boy in the world, of course. Just wait 'til you see him! I really wish my brother and sister-in-law were coming, too, but Rick's in the Navy, so it's really hard for him to get time off, let alone coordinate with Joelle's vacation schedule. Plus, I think they enjoy some time to themselves when Kyle's here. =)
Sorry I don't have any exciting pictures to post about food today, either. It's hard to photograph an epiphany. You'll just have to be patient for a couple more days, until I finally put this whole plan into action and document it.
It's one of those words that can be spelled a thousand different ways because there's not actually an English word for it. I'm all for simplicity, so I use "tabouli." However you spell it, here's its story...
Tabouli is a Middle Eastern salad based on bulgur (another word with many spellings!), which is dried cracked wheat berries. Its main seasonings are usually parsley, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice. There are, of course, as many variations on it as there are spellings. Traditionally, it also has chopped tomatoes in it. I don't like raw tomatoes. I also rarely make tabouli the same way twice...
I start out by cheating a bit, and use pre-packaged tabouli mix. I like both Fantastic and Near East brands, which are the two my grocery store carries. I'm sure there are others out there, too. Today I used Fantastic brand. All it takes is to empty the contents of the carton into a bowl, add water, olive oil, lemon juice, and chopped tomato (which I leave out!), and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. It's pretty good just like that, but I like to make it more of a meal. Things I have added in the past include (but are not limited to) cucumbers, chickpeas, kalamata olives, green peppers, onions, lentils, and feta cheese. I chose cucumbers, kalamata olives, and three beans (pinto, red kidney, and black -- all in one can!) for tonight's salad. It's cool and refreshing, and is one of my favorite summertime meals.
I'm not sure just where I've been all my life, but somehow I've been missing the Gouda cheese boat for thirty(something) years. I think I was afraid of it when I was a kid -- if it wasn't cheddar, mozzarella, or American, I wouldn't touch it. Now that I'm older and wiser, my cheese horizons have expanded a bit. I love, love, LOVE many varieties now -- brie (especially herbed), feta, fresh mozzarella, Jarlsberg, provolone... the list goes on. Kevin and I even have a little mantra: "cheese is good, but melted cheese is better." That doesn't exactly apply to this post, but I thought I'd share it anyway. Yes, we're weird.
The Gouda pictured at the top of the page is good old grocery store brand deli sliced cheese. Please don't be disappointed -- I thought I'd start small (and cheap) before I knew if this was really the cheese for me. It seemed like it should be... we were at the Bearbrew again a couple of weeks ago, and I opted for the Garden Burger and potato salad (a very intriguing and very good potato salda, might I add!). When asked if I wanted cheese on my burger, I panicked, looked at the choices, and blurted out "I'll try the Gouda, please!" It was a tense moment. My tension was alleviated, however, with the first bite of my burger. The Gouda, which was only slightly melted on the burger, completely melted in my mouth. It was the creamiest cheese I'd ever tasted. I'm very into food textures, you know, so this was very exciting for me. The smokiness was another pleasant surprise. It made my Garden Burger taste like it had been cooked on Smoky Joe (our little kettle grill -- you'll meet him when I post for "IMBB?").
A few days later, I had to have more. I went to the deli section of my grocery store and bought the shamefully pre-sliced, pre-packaged Gouda. It is, at least, imported! It's really quite good. For a quick snack, I love a piece of good multi-grain bread with a slice of Gouda and a bit of Raye's "Downeast Schooner" mustard. I'm sure it makes a great grilled cheese sandwich, too, but it's been warm here lately, so I've been happy with cold sandwiches.
The next time I'm at the gorcery store (which could very well be tomorrow -- we tend to shop daily, like Europeans) I will peruse the fancy cheese section and look for some higher quality Gouda... not that I'm disappointed with what I have now, mind you! I just feel like I should further expand my cheese horizons!