July 25, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto...it'll knock your socks off!

Garlic scapes!
I just love 'em!
What are they, you say??

Well, garlic scapes are the stalks of the hard neck variety garlic plant. 
They grow straight up and then form one or two loops.

After the stalk has formed one or two loops, you snip it off so the garlic bulbs will grow strong.
They are edible and when harvested young, 
they are tender and a lot more milder than the garlic cloves. 
They can be chopped up and  used in a stir fry or pesto...or really used any creative way you like in cooking.

Here's the pesto I made!

When I received garlic scapes in my CSA, 
I hadn't a clue what I was going to make with them. 
A little searching on the web....
and I was good to go!

This pesto is absolutely fantastic!!
Now,  let me tell you....this is for garlic lovers!  
This is some serious garlic intensity here people.
However, you can control the intensity by the amount you use on your pasta.
My hubs can't take a lot of garlic like I can,
and he totally loved it with the small amount I put on his serving of pasta.

This made a lot considering you only need about a Tbsp. per serving. 
I froze the rest in a couple of  ziploc bags. 
I scooped out heaping tablespoons, one at a time, and placed them in the ziplocs, just far enough away from each other so it will be easy for me to break them off to use as needed.
I also used a bit of this pesto in a recipe that called for chopped garlic. 
I just threw it in and it was fantastic!

Recipe:  Garlic Scape Pesto

approx.12 garlic scapes,  rough chopped
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2  cup almonds
approx. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Throw chopped garlic scapes, parmesan cheese and almonds into food processor. 
Grind almost to a puree while adding olive oil through the feed tube.
Adjust olive oil as needed for consistency and taste.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

July 20, 2012

July 18, 2012

tid bits of the past few days

my favorite drink on a hot summer day
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

To Kill A Mockingbird, a book I was forced to read in 7th grade English, but didn't remember a single thing about because I was only 12 years old and not interested in the least...at 12 years old, I could barely make myself read this...why do they make 12 year olds read American classic literature???  I was way too young to even appreciate this story....I think you've gotta experience life a lot more than 12 years to be able to appreciate the social and cultural aspects in this story.  It is not a difficult read at all, it's quite pleasurable...but not for a 12 year old. As an adult, I loved this story!! Especially now that I can look back on my childhood and laugh at the hilarious antics of Scout, Jem and Dill.....and now that I know what it's like to be a parent, I can appreciate the character of Atticus as well as Calpurnia...and now that I have been around racial and social issues, I have so much more sympathy and empathy for the characters in this book. There is no way I was going to get that kind of emotion and understanding when I was 12 years old. Especially thinking about  the part  in the story ~  the  morning after Tom  Robinson's trial,  Atticus awoke  to a  table filled with food, all  brought to his house by Tom Robinson's friends and family and Calpurnia was making chicken for breakfast!!! I just cried  when I read that part...that was beautiful and so powerful. Ain't no way a 7th grader would experience those emotions after reading that. Anyhow, my point...if  you read this in high school, and you are much older now, and you've been through the ringer a time or two, and you've experienced  love and blessings as well as pain and loss and suffering, please give this book a second chance....don't just go by your feelings about it when you were forced to read it in middle school.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And then, last but not least,
I've done a little quilting!

I had so much fun making this block!!  I used fabrics from  my stash. What I really wanted to do was  go out   and buy more fabric...but I've gotta stop that! Use what I have!!!!!!  Anyhow, I'm going to make another one with reds and whites! I think that will be very pretty!! This square is going to be made into a kitchen table mat. Something to put in the middle of  table for your salt and pepper and butter dish to sit on. I still have to make the binding and quilt it.

Well, there's my little tid bits of life these past few days.
What have you been up to??

July 13, 2012

Summer Activities with the kids, Episode 2, Handmade Journals

I am in love with journals...{and scrapbook supplies}.  Actually I just love journals....period! I love the journal section at the book store!  I usually wish I could have all of them! What is it that attracts me to these pretty books with blank pages? I'm not sure...maybe it's the possibility of what is yet to be written or created. 

Since I cannot afford to buy every adorable journal at the book store, I thought I'd try my hand at making some. They are completely made from scratch...hand sewn, the whole nine yards. I up-cycled thin cardboard from another project for the front and back of the journals, used scrapbook paper to decorate, and embroidery floss to sew the pages together. The blank pages are made from plain white card stock. When needed, I used Elmer's clear school glue. 

Just a quick note here: this started out as a project with my youngest son. He was totally into it until something went wrong and he got a little frustrated. He's 10 years old and completely capable of making one of these journals...but I just don't think he was in the mood for pressing on, this particular day. However, I still wanted to keep the title to my post as "summer activities with the kids" for any of you out there who have kids that would be interested in making a journal. It is such a great summertime activity! They could make a bird journal, or a sketch pad....or just a writing journal for poems and such. Anyhow, I just thought you might be wondering where the photos of my kids were in this post....so now you know! :)

* * * * 

So, you're wondering how I put it all together, aren't ya? Well, here's my secret...I watched this great tutorial
on Youtube...she does a great job of explaining and showing every detail of how to make a simple, basic, journal. Once, you get the basic idea, you can just run with it!

* * * * 

I customized the inside front of this journal. Polly is my mother-in-law...I made this for her for her birthday which is coming up next week.  I used my giant foam alphabet stamps and brushed them with creamy white, acrylic craft paint. I am loving the look of it!

* * * * 

And...I'm just plain 'ole in love with the cover on this tiny doodle journal I made for myself. I cut this cute little sewing machine from some scrapbook paper. It's just adorable!

* * * *

Now I'm in the mode, I've been dreaming up all sizes and styles of journals I could make. I have so many pieces of gorgeous scrapbook paper just begging to be used. Now, I must get to work...so many ideas, so little time!

* * * * 

Do you like journals? 
Do you keep a journal?
I have several journals that I have been writing in since I was about 25 years old. Not to mention my diary that I still have from when I was a child and a pre-teen. Oh brother, the things I used to write! Hilarious! I intend to give all of my journals to my children when I am old and gray. I hope they will be interested in them. I try to write about daily things, but also, my thoughts on things get intertwined along the way. Hopefully they will get that it is a piece of history to their past.
Anyhow....happy journal making!!

* * * *

July 9, 2012

Giveaway Winner..and Blackberry Crumble Pie

Congratulations to Kathy 
You are the winner of my 
Summer Reading Giveaway!
I'm so happy for you!

Thank you to everyone who participated!
Kathy, please send me an email with your address!
* * * *

And now...let's talk pie.
homemade pie...
blackberry crumble pie!
A good friend of ours, brought us a bunch of freshly picked blackberries from his back yard!

*recipe inspired and adapted from Soul Food blog.

I was so excited to bake something and found a great recipe that fit the bill!
Oh yes, this was quite delicious and I wish there were some left...
but it has been gobbled up!
This pie was even better on day 2.
I don't know how that's possible,
but I swear it's true!
It's like the sugars and the juices from the berries
just got sweeter and more flavorful!

 I never refrigerate my fruit pies.
I feel like it changes the taste.
Cold pie is for pudding and pumpkin...
not apple, cherry and berry!
I just cover them and leave them on the counter
for no more than 3 or 4 days...
if they last that long!!

Recipe for Blackberry Crumble Pie

One, 9 inch pie crust,  partially baked, in an 8 inch pie pan or tart pan
2 heaping cups fresh blackberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse berries gently and toss with the white sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. 
Set aside for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the flour, brown sugar and butter.
It should be a crumbly consistency.
Dump the berries into the partially baked pie crust.
Sprinkle with the crumbly topping mixture.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for approx. 25 minutes.
until topping is a nice golden brown.
Let cool and enjoy!

July 3, 2012

Summer Reading Giveaway !

Oh yes...I've got that itch for summertime reading again!
When it comes to imagination and far off lands, there is nothing quite like the old classics. 
I absolutely love finding these old vintage reads at my local, used book store.
I can pick them up for less than a dollar a piece.
What a deal!
And what great stories!
I especially love these quick reads, no more than half an inch thick, these books!

The writing style of way-back-when, really intrigues me.
It's nothing like today.
The language, it's so proper and charming!
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of these titles pictured above . . . 
and I would love to share them with one of my readers!

* Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson
*written in 1886,  first copyright 1958
A young man trying to claim his inheritance finds himself at the mercy of his wicked Uncle who wants the inheritance for himself. When he fails at trying to murder the boy, he sells him to pirates. The young man eventually manages to escape and finds himself on a very long adventure trying to seek his fortune.

Seventeen, by Booth Tarkington 
*first copyright 1915
A 17 year old named Willie falls desperately in love with a young lady named Miss Pratt. She is his first crush and he tries so desperately to do the right thing, say the right thing and wear the right thing, all in attempts to charm the young lady right into his arms. This story has many moments of hilarity and I think we can all remember back when we wanted so much to impress someone. It was especially interesting reading the point of view of a young man...definitely entertaining!

* The Light In The Forest, by Conrad Richter
*first copyright 1953
A young boy of 2 years old was taken captive by Native American Indians. He was raised by them, just like a son, until he was 15 years old. Suddenly the white man has made a deal with Indians to turn over all of their white captives. When the young white boy is returned to his family, it is not the happy homecoming that everyone expected. Find out how this boy fares being forced back into his white family he has no memory of.

Also included in this giveaway is this set of 3 bookmarks, handmade by me!
I had so much fun making them, and I hope you will enjoy them!

To enter my Summertime Reading Giveaway, 
leave a comment below, 
I will choose one of you at random. 
Drawing will be held on 
Monday, July 9, 2012.
Good Luck!
Happy Reading!

July 1, 2012

F r i e d * * Z u c c h i n i * * B l o s s o m s

Zucchini blossoms.
They are completely edible.
I've only recently learned they were such a delicacy to the palate. 
Of course, I have always admired the glorious, gigantic blooms amongst my bountiful squash plants, but I  never anticipated they would show up on my dinner plate . . . let alone, be battered and fried. 

Fried zucchini blossoms . . . what a wonderful concept . . . yet so foreign a concept to me . . . as I have never been tempted by the eating of flora. Somehow, someway, I had the courage to try such a thing, and I am oh-so-glad I did. Is it NOT fun to step out of our comfort zone once in a while? 
I say yes!

I am ever so grateful that Kretchmann's Farm put these tender, young blossoms in our little wooden crate, as I would have never ventured forward to trying this if not given a little push! Such an easy thing really. Searching the net, I found a simple recipe for batter . . . laden with beer, that is . . . well, just a 1/2 cup of beer . . . not so much laden . . . just enough to give a magnificent, yet subtle infused flavor. 

Well, it was now or never. Another day contemplating the eating of flowers would have surely been the demise of the blossoms! I gently wiped each with a lightly dampened towel . . . careful to not tear. I whipped up the creamy batter, scooped many a dollop of Crisco into my cast iron skillet over a medium high  flame....melting it down and rising it to temperature. I plucked the stamen from the center of each flower,  then dunked each into the batter. Gently, one at a time, placing each coated blossom into the sizzling oil . . . cooking a minute or two on each side.  Once they were light golden and crisp, I plucked each blossom from the hot oil and let them rest and drain on a torn piece of paper grocery bag. A sprinkling of salt and pepper and wa-laa, they were ready for devouring. 

Wow, don't they look delicious!! 
I let them cool a couple minutes and then bravely . . . well, brave for me . . . took a bite.
And . . .
I really liked it!
I found most of the flavor to be at the base of the flower.
It tasted just like zucchini!

I will  definitely make these again!
I am hooked now!

If you find yourself eager to fry a few of these babies . . . you may find them at  farmer's markets or your own garden, of course. There are male and female flowers and both are edible. You'll want to pick them when they are tender and young and have barely blossomed. Just be careful you aren't picking female flowers before they've had the chance to bear fruit. The male flowers are safe to pick because they will not bear fruit. They will have a thinner, longer stem. The female flowers will have a thick stem and a tiny bulb at the bottom of the flower . . . which then grows into a zucchini. I have read that once the zucchini is sufficiently growing, it is safe to pick the blossom without worry of halting it's growth. 

I hope I have inspired you to give this summer-time delicacy a go! 
Some of you may be old pros at cooking zucchini blossoms.
Some of you may even have fond memories of your grandmother cooking these.
Whatever the case, let me know.
I am very interested to hear about it!

Recipe for batter:
1/2  cup water
1/2  cup beer
2  beaten eggs
1  cup flour
Mix well and dunk blossoms in batter and fry in oil.
Drain and sprinkle with salt and pepper.