Friday, May 29, 2009

Just Do It!

"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun."
~Mary Lou Clark~

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mosquito Bite Remedy

My favorite mosquito bite remedy is Hens and Chicks, Sempervivum tectorum.It is easily grown in a well drained, sunny area and survives our harsh winters without a problem. Simply break off a nice fleshy leaf, give it a squeeze to release the soothing, cooling juice inside and dab on the mosquito bite. You may have to do this a couple of times depending on how potent the mosquito happens to be. Avoid scratching the bite while the hens and chicks works its magic and the bite will disappear!
It is safe to use on most anyone. (The plant is eaten in salads in the Netherlands, I hear.)
I have it planted throughout my garden so I always have a leaf handy.Mosquitoes love me! You can also use the soothing juice on minor burns, cuts and nettle stings.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Twisted Tetrazzini

This is a very forgiving and adaptable recipe. The original calls for 2 cups of cooked turkey or chicken and a 10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed, but you can substitute most any veggie or meat and you don't have to use half and half. Use whatever milk you have on hand. It is equally good without meat as a main or side dish.
This version was inspired by what I bought at the Cooperstown Farmers market and the fact that I forgot to take meat out to thaw!
The asparagus is from Lucky Dog Farm, Hamden, NY
The egg is from Hare and Feather Farm, Laurens, NY.
The Asiago cheese came from Raindance Farm in Schenevus,NY. Siobhan only makes this rich, mellow cheese during the summer when her "girls" are eating fresh grass. That is her cheese in the opening photo. Yummy!

Rice Tetrazzini
  • 8 small mushrooms, quartered
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg yolk slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup grated Asiago or parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz pouch of tuna packed in water
  • 1/2 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
-Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole

-Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sized saucepan for about 2 minutes. Remove mushrooms to a bowl .

-Saute the asparagus until tender firm and remove to the same bowl

-Melt the rest of the butter in your saucepan and stir in the flour. Gradually whisk in the half and half, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook, stirring, for about 2-3 minutes or until thickened.

-Add a little of the hot mixture to the egg yolk while stirring (this will keep the egg from cooking up into lumps) then whisk into the sauce.

-Combine the rice and half the cheese in a medium sized bowl. Add the veggies and tuna. Toss to mix.

-Put the rice mixture into your prepared casserole and pour the sauce evenly over the rice. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

-Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

-Serve with a salad of fresh greens you got at the farmers market.

I hope yor family enjoys this dish as much as mine does! Look for more recipes made with seasonal items from the farmers market throughout the summer.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The View From My Office

Every now and then I think I should get a real job with regular hours and a steady paycheck. Then I have the priveledge of doing my work on the porch with my furry friend Heidi Bear while the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the warm breeze is blowing. This is when I realize the rewards of my chosen occupation include something way more important and elusive than than money- freedom and peace.

My wish for you is to find the beauty wherever your work takes you this week!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Beauty of Preference

"To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying "Amen" to what this world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive."
~Henri Matisse~

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May Wine Made Easy

The poet Gerard wrote when the delicate sweet woodruff is added to a cup of wine it will "make a man merry"
Galium odoratum ,or sweet woodruff is a hardy perennial plant that prefers semi shade and moist, porous loam. Provided these conditions, it will happily grow and spread to m
ake a pretty spring ground cover.
When dr
ied it has a delicate hay-like scent that isn't present when it is fresh.
To make an "exhilarating drink to lift the spirits and create a carefree atmosphere" do the following-

May Wine
  • dry a small handful of sweet woodruff in a warm dry place for 3-4 hours
  • place the dried leaves in a glass pitcher and add the juice of one lemon and half a bottle of good Rhine wine
  • let set in a warm place for 3-4 hours
  • add 4-6 tablespoons of sugar and the other half bottle of Rhine wine
  • Chill
  • add a bottle of sparkling white wine just before serving.
  • Enjoy with the best of friends!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Garden Therapy

OK, I confess, my garden is a mess!
When I first created it I had summers off and spent the greater part of every day weeding, planting, pruning, manicuring and pampering the plants that live there. It was beautiful! The work was my greatest joy.
Now I work my longest hours during the summer and have little time to "play" in the little patch of Earth I have the honor of caring for.
Gardening had become one more chore I just didn't really have enough time to do. Until yesterday, that is!
It was cold and windy and my arthritis was flaring. I made a deal with myself that if I just cleaned up the miscanthus by the pond that would be enough. I bundled up and dragged my aching bones out to the pond to cut back the old grass from the bed by the wall. As I was clipping away and cursing my old back, this handsome fellow was revealed!

Obviously, he was perfectly content with the old grass. It was his home. It offered protection from those that might have him for dinner and the biting wind. It was a pretty little home complete with a wild violet.
He watched me, making sure I didn't get carried away with taking what Mother Nature had so generously provided him.
I started to look at that messy bed through the eyes of this toad. It was a perfect place. It provides food and shelter. There is water near by. I'm so honored he chose my yard to live in! I began to wonder if it would be quite so inviting if it was manicured.
I looked around at what my garden had done when I was busy doing other things, and realized it was more beautiful from my neglect. All these scenes happened with little or no help from me.

The birds were singing, the waterfall was gently splashing. The lilacs smelled amazing and there was a beautiful hummingbird perched on a dead branch that I should have pruned long ago.I went back into the house several hours later smiling and content and realized my bones no longer ached and that my garden doesn't need me as much as I need it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lemon Balm- Melissa Officinalis

"Balm, given every morning, will renew youth, strengthen the brain and relieve languishing nature." so claimed the London Dispensary in 1696.
The is quite a tall order for this pretty little plant!
Lemon balm is an easily grown perennial with lemon scented somewhat hairy leaves. It likes a moist soil in a sunny spot with a bit of midday shade. The leaves are the most commonly used part of the plant and are best used fresh as they lose most of their scent when dried. Harvest before the plant flowers for the best flavor.
Lemon balm is good finely chopped in salads, added to white sauces and makes an excellent tea.
To make a simple tea, steep 2 tablespoons of lemon balm leaves in a cup of boiled water for 10-15 minutes. It is an especially refreshing and cooling iced tea when blended with a little fresh peppermint. Add some honey if you like a sweeter tea.
Traditionally, lemon balm was used to treat heart problems, insomnia and gas.Charlemagne insisted it be planted in every monastery garden because they held it in such great esteem!
The essential oils of the plant contain terpenes which produce the relaxing and gas relieving effects. It is generally a safe plant to use as no significant side effects have been reported. While relaxing, it is still safe to use when driving and the effects are not intensified by alcohol. Persons with glaucoma should avoid using lemon balm because it has been shown to raise pressures in the eyes of animals.
I grow it because I like the tea! There is something very satisfying about walking through my garden and snipping bits of herbs to make a tea. Smelling the herbs, listening to the birds sing and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face is therapy that can not be gotten in any other way!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rhubarb Torte Recipe

This recipe was given to me by my friend Celeste many, many years ago. It came from a Wisconsin church cookbook and is to die for! Almost literally to die for, as it has a half pound of butter in it! We indulge once a year during rhubarb season and pretend it is a spring tonic in a cookie crust. The rhubarb measurement is vague- that is the way it was written. Just use however much you have on hand. It will be delicious!

by Mary Geurts

  • 3/4 CUP OF SUGAR
Put these ingredients in a bowl and cut into a crumbly mixture with a pastry blender or two forks. Press into the bottom of a greased 13X9 pan.
Cut up however much rhubarb you have on hand into 1/2 inch pieces and distibute evenly on top of the crust.
Sprinkle one 3 ounce package of strawberry gelatin mix over the top.

  • 1/2 CUP OF FLOUR
Mix these three ingredients into a coarse crumble. Use your fingers- it's messy but easiest. Sprinkle evenly over the top.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25- 35 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender and the top is golden brown.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pure Beauty

Why do the most beautiful of the Universe's creations have to be the most fleeting?
Rene Eve Kirk

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Endings

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending"
Maria Robinson