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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Lots of Pretty and Delicious with Recipes!


 I'm always amazed at how quickly gardens grow especially when you look at pictures from a month prior and think how pretty everything is and then you compare the difference in a few weeks and the absolute lushness - it's brand new to me every year no matter how long I've been a gardener.  For example, look at June below; the long border, and then a few weeks later below that.


 And two more - June, then late July

 And again - June, then late July

And then these lovely combos below:



 Tonight Dan and I took a walk and we could smell those Casa Blanca lilies you see above from across the street and down aways - exquisite!
 Color right outside the kitchen door above and below:

More combos below:





 Chartreuse aralia and fuschia sunpatiens
 Stone wall and moss
 Lily and orange million bells
 Heuchera with Creeping Jenny
And sister combo Leslie and me - she came to Boston on business a couple weeks ago and took us out to dinner - thank you Leslie!
And finally - lobster bacon combo - lunch at the Pilot House in Kennebunkport ME a couple days ago - so delicious!

Now for two really really good recipes that are also super super easy!  The first is a spectacularly flavored chicken dish where I had the recipe on my phone, the ingredients in the fridge and garden, I'm on my way home from the Kingston house and I call Dan and tell him to preheat the oven and throw these ingredients together in this order.  I get home 1/2 hour later, the house smells so incredible and 1 hour later dinner is on the table - 5 minutes to prepare, 1 1/2 hours to roast and a one pot dinner is on the table - you have to try this!  I could eat this once a week and the leftovers the second day were even better if that's possible.  The recipe is chef Jamie Oliver's and it's called Crazy Genius One-Pot Chicken.  Here is what you do:
 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large oven proof pot place 4 chicken leg quarters with skin on.  Throw on a huge handful of fresh basil, stems and all - just rip them up a bit and throw them in - no chopping necessary.  Throw on 2 large handfuls of whole cherry tomatoes or 4-5 medium tomatoes cut in quarters.  Then toss in a bulb's worth of whole peeled garlic - just separate the cloves.  Then pour in one can of drained and rinsed white cannelini beans, 2 handfuls of unpeeled tiny potatoes, 2 tsp chili powder or a large pinch of red pepper flakes (we used chili powder), drizzle some olive oil over it all and place in the oven, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.  You won't believe the flavor of roasted basil!  Here is a picture of Dan's cooked dish below - I took the pic after we had already dished ours up so it's not as pretty.  Enjoy!


Now for the best Apricot jam (my favorite jam flavor) you will ever eat and so easy!  This is a recipe from Provence and there's a secret to it.  Here goes:

5 pounds of apricots - rinse, halve and pit - no peeling!  Save 12-15 of the pits - this is critical!  Now, crack each pit open with a nut cracker to reveal the almond like nut inside - set those aside and throw all the other pits and shells away.
In a large, heavy bottomed pot toss in the apricots, the nuts and 3 3/4 cups of sugar.  Turn heat up to medium and then stand at the stove stirring constantly for about 45 minutes to one hour while you read a book standing up (or sitting if you can pull up a tall stool).  That's what I did and it was fun.  The sugar will dissolve and the apricots will melt into a puree.  Do not let mixture ever burn or stick to bottom of pot.  It will thicken dramatically.  Once it does, transfer the jam into a large bowl and let it sit over night.  I covered it with plastic once it was cool.  24 hours later put the jam back into a pot and heat it until it is hot and starts to bubble (this takes just minutes), it will remain really thick.  Pour or spoon hot jam in to half pint jars and process 10 minutes in boiling water.  The nuts soften and break up as you cook the jam and their flavor is delicious when you get a bite of one but they do not alter the flavor of the apricots but they do enhance it somehow.  You will notice there is no pectin or lemon juice added to this recipe.  In the 2 pics below you can see the apricot nut meats.
 It gets really thick!  Now, pour it into a bowl as you see below and give it a 24 hour rest on the counter.

 Reheat until it starts to bubble and then pour in to jars and process 10 minutes.
I made raspberry jam from my Kingston harvest the same day I processed the apricot.

A couple more pretty things - I bought two sun dresses at the St. Remy market and they hit a couple inches above my knee and I wanted them a little longer so as I have been doing a lot to dresses that I prefer to be longer, I embellish the hems with trimming and give them a customized look.  Here is what I did to a red one you see me wearing below and then the green one on the ironing board.


They both look so cute and the lengths are perfect!  Joanne's has tons of great trimmings.

You know I have 7 stock tanks in our yard that we grow veggies in right?  Well, here is another use (wheel turning in my head) for one that we found at the coolest nursery in Kennebunk - Snug Harbor Farm - such a wonderful nursery and little animal farm that specializes in topiary (of herbs and annuals) and succulents - I adore both.  Here are some examples of their nursery stock:
 You can see the lavender and rosemary topiary on the left side above.



 Look at what they have done to Coleus!

 I highly recommend a field trip for you New Englanders to this nursery/farm in Kennebunk ME!

And lastly, just for fun, I opened up one of the the blue bird houses in my long border after the bird family had vacated to see what their apartment looked like.  Pretty cool huh?

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