The Summer Sunami Begins


The sunami of garden produce has begun!  While zucchini has not arrived, we are getting at least two yellow summer squash per day.  Doesn’t sound like much?  There are only two of us…

We enjoy summer squash simply sautéed in butter but that can only happen so often.  So I tried a new recipe today.  Summer Squash Gratin from  Very nice and so very different.

Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde and Gruyere
By Amanda Hesser

Serves 4
Salsa Verde
• 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
• 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 small clove garlic
• 1 anchovy
• 1 tablespoon capers, drained (rinsed if salt-packed)
• 1/2 lemon, for juicing
• Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds summer squash
1 1/2 cup fresh coarse breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cups sliced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 New Mexico chile or jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (I did not have Gruyere so I used some chipotle cheddar and some feta)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Make the salsa verde. Using a mortar and pestle (or a food processor, I won’t tell anyone), pound the herbs to a paste. You may have to do this in batches. Work in some of the olive oil, and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Pound the garlic and anchovy, and add them to the herbs.
2. Gently pound the capers until they’re partially crushed, and add them to the herbs. Stir in the remaining oil, a pinch of black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste for balance and seasoning.
3. Make the gratin. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Toss the slices in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and let sit 10 minutes.
4. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the butter and cook for a few minutes, until it browns and smells nutty. Pour the brown butter over the breadcrumbs (being sure to scrape all the brown bits into the bowl with a rubber spatula). Wait a minute or so for the butter to cool, and toss well.
5. Drain the squash and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the shallots, minced garlic, thyme, chile, 1/2 cup salsa verde, and some pepper. Toss to combine, and add the cheese and half the butter-coated breadcrumbs. Toss again, and taste for seasoning. (The raw garlic will taste strong at this point but will be delicious when cooked.)
6. Place the squash in a pretty 9-by-9-inch (or equivalent) gratin dish (I used a skillet). Scatter the remaining breadcrumbs over the top, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the squash is tender and the top is crisp.

Really good.

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The Still Life Progresses

I continue to make progress on the still life painting.  There is no one area that is completely finished, still layers to go but I am pleased with it.

The painting when you last saw it.

The painting when you last saw it.

The painting today.

The painting today.

A long way to go.  I hope to have it finished in three weeks when my class ends.  It is harder to work on large projects in the summer when we are changing living locations often.

At the insistence of my instructor, I entered an art show this week for the first time.  It was a juried show, so not all entries are accepted.  One of my submissions was accepted and is hanging on display for a month.  Kind of fun.  I did not win an award but did not expect to with this particular painting.  I have gifted most of my paintings over the years so need to work on a few good ones for myself.  Maybe the still life will fit that bill!

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The New Colored Pencil Project – A Still Life


I am not quite finished with the cat portraits but found I was not loving the process so I started a new project.  After all, if there is one benefit of retirement, it is that I can generally CHOOSE what I want to do.  Life is good.

So.  I started the new project.  The light was exceptionally fine one morning so I scooped up some items from my kitchen and dining room and created a vignette.

This is the photo of the still life with the background eliminated in Photoshop.

This is the photo of the still life with the background eliminated in Photoshop.

Here is the colored pencil painting so far, with much to do, after many hours on the worktable.

still life 2

Enjoying the process but far to go.

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Roasted Vegetable Pasta

The last few weeks I have been finding red or yellow peppers in the “about to go bad” section of the produce isle at deep discounts.  I have used them in various ways but have found that roasting them right away and storing them coated in olive oil makes them available for cooking for a couple of weeks.

This makes me look for more ways to use them.

I wanted to use a new pasta I had found, Barilla White Fiber Mini Rotini.  I am trying to increase the amount of fiber in our diet.  I often use whole wheat pasta but find it overpowering to some recipes.  So, this was worth a try.

Since I had the roasted peppers (in this case yellow), I planned a roasted vegetable pasta dinner.  I could not find a recipe that fit my vision, so I decided to adapt a number of ideas into my own.

It was delicious.


Roasted Vegetable Pasta (2 servings)

6 oz your choice of pasta (I used Barilla White Fiber Mini Rotini)

Twice the amount of pasta in vegetables (I used four Roma tomatoes in large chunks, five large mushrooms in large chunks, one small onion in long slim wedges, five stalks of asparagus ((it is Spring and we put asparagus from the garden in everything)), and one yellow pepper) but you could use anything (eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, winter squash, sweet potato…).

One head of garlic.

Roast the head of garlic in a 400 degree oven.  Place the head of garlic on a sheet of foil, douse it with olive oil, seal the foil packet and put it in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Cut the garlic head in half horizontally and squeeze the goodness into a bowl with some olive oil added.

In the meantime, cut up the vegetables.  Cover each with olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper.  About 30 minutes after the garlic has started to roast, put the firmer vegetables (onion, pepper, winter squash, sweet potato for example) onto a cookie sheet and begin roasting in the 400 degree oven.  Stir occasionally.  About 20 minutes later, add the softer vegetables (tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, etc.)   and roast and additional 20 to 30 minutes, stirring the whole mixture occasionally.

While the veg are roasting, cook the pasta.  Drain, reserving a bit of the cooking water.

Combine the cooked vegetables and the pasta.  Add a bit of olive oil and a bit of cooking water.  Stir it together.

I planned on adding some good balsamic vinegar but forgot.  I still think it would have been great but this was still a terrific recipe.  I recommend it highly.

We peeled shards of parmesan cheese on each serving.  Yum.



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Thinking of Mom

I heard a poem that brought thoughts of my Mom to me.  She and Dad were married for 60 years, the last decades dealing with my Dad’s MS diagnosis.

Old Wives

E. J. Mudd


What did we think when we promised

to love and cherish those barely known men

till death did us part – and all that?


I think what we heard was the first set of terms-

for richer, for better, in health.

Who bothered to look through the mist of tulle

at the contrary side of the vows –

for poorer, in sickness, for worse?


Who ventured a question?

How poor? In what sense poor?

How sick? Where sick? For how long?

For worse? Were there limits to worse?


Well, never mind now after all these years.

We’ve seen it from both sides now.

The point is that all of us promised we would,

And some of us actually did.

Mom on Dads Lap

Yep.  They did it.


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A New Medium in Art

I have not updated you for some time on my art (or much else for that matter).  Sigh.  I talk to you in my head often but do not let it flow to the keyboard as often as I want. But, today, here I am. I have almost finished the paintings of the cats.  I have gotten a bit burned out on them so have not finished.  I have started a still life that has captured my attention.  I will let you see it on another day. Today, I attended the Colored Pencil Society meeting in Cincinnati.  As part of the meeting, there was a demonstration of Scratch Board art paired with colored pencil.  We all started a Scratch Board project.  I was not sure I would enjoy the process but was feeling that I am ready to try something new.  (Maybe it is the burn out from the cat paintings…).  Anyway I brought the needed materials and began a project. Since I did not put a lot of effort into finding a reference photo but wanted it to be one of my own photos, I chose another cat picture.  duh.  You would think that being burned out would be a hint to me but I seem to be a slow learner.  I just knew that it needed to be a reference with a lot of lines.  Fur is line, isn’t it? Okay.  So here is the progress on the projects. allie final edit  This one is finished.  I think. vg3 edit This one is not finished.  Getting closer but work to do. And, today, after my first try at Scratch Board… scratchboard allie 1 edit

Interesting, huh?  Gonna finish it.

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Control…or not.

I have been trying to give up my controlling nature.  I have made great progress.  Meditation really helps.

BUT, some habits of control are SO comforting.  For example, LISTS!  Lists are wonderful.  Lists make all things possible.  At least as long as you have multiple short lists and only look at the pertinent ones (after referring to your list of lists).

Several apps/software packages feed into this list fetish.  I am playing with several and have not yet found the perfect one.  I started with Springpad on my Kindle Fire but there is no app for it on my Windows 8 machine.  I like One Note on the Windows 8 computer but pages cannot be copied or printed.  Nor is there a Kindle Fire app for it.  I want to be able to sync between all my electronics since I am putting my favorite recipes on it and want to be able to access it wherever I am, whether there is internet access or not.

I just downloaded Evernote.  I will let you know how that works out.

Other than recipes, the biggest thing I have put into a notes program is a Spring Cleaning task list broken down by room.  I can check off each task as I accomplish it.  I only have to look at the list for that particular room so do no get overwhelmed by the huge picture of the whole house and yard.  I even have separate lists for nice days and rainy days. Nice days list yard work tasks, rainy days have paperwork tasks.

I have started on the Living Room task list.  I am working away at washing painted wood and windows.  I also checked off the whole list for Rainy days (2 in a row) and today took down the picket fence panels on my Sunny day list.  Check, check, check.


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