Post #647 Fresh From The Ground

May 29, 2019 at 5:37 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve read many books on survival skills, and I’ve taken many classes on the same subject.  I’ve even spent time in the forest (supervised, of course) using those same survival skills.  I’ve got one friend who often commented during hikes that going into the wilds with me was more a trip to the grocery store than a hike.  I’ll never forget one Spring hike with my ex-wife and the look on her face when I reached out to pine tree with new growth at the end of its branches and pinched one off and ate it.  I’d read they were good; I wanted to try it; it was good.  She thought I was crazy.

I was walking the dog the other day and I noticed in one area of the path there were a couple of hostas growing lushly through the other plants.  Normally, you don’t see them outside of garden beds.  My mind went to a friend who grows them and a discussion we had a few years ago about how the new shoots were supposed to be edible.  He hadn’t tried it yet, and I never had them growing anywhere near me so I never had, either.  No idea what they taste like, but they’re supposed to be a delicacy.  I was sorry I didn’t notice these guys on the path before so I could have tried them.

But it set my brain to thinking for a few minutes about things you can eat in the wilderness.

First thing that comes to mind is berries.  I love berries.  I love walking along a path in the woods and grabbing a handful.  On one survival weekend, an instructor cautioned me to only eat things I recognized and knew to be safe.  My reply: Duh!

Some of the more exotic are bugs.  I’ve eaten far more than my fair share of bugs in my lifetime, but only regretted eating two.  Two deep fried crickets given to me by my hosts in Laos which I didn’t believe I could reasonably turn down.  I don’t recommend them.

But another bug that’s prevalent in my areas I’ve lived is the cicada.  Depending on the variety, they appear every 4, or 7, or 15, or 20 years.  And they appear by the thousands.  They lay their eggs underground and appear when they’ve reached maturity.  When they first come out of the ground is when they are most edible.  Bears, deer, even dogs find them to be a treat.  When they emerge from the ground, they’re emerald green with orange eyes and I’m told they taste like asparagus.  I don’t think I could eat more than one.  Even with hollandaise sauce.

When I was a kid in upperstate New York, the pack of us would wander through the woods like little savages and lay waste to any berries or wild veggies we found.  That’s where I discovered wild rhubarb, huckleberry trees, wild asparagus, apples, grapes, and the like.  Never a mushroom, though.  We all knew wild mushrooms would kill you.  Even cans of mushroom soup were suspect.

One thing I’ve wanted to try for years, but was never in a place where they grew, is fiddleheads.  I’ve been reading about them all my life, and in all the survival guides they’re talked about like they’re going to be the thing to save your life if you’re lost in the woods.  But only for three or four weeks in the spring because if you leave them too late, and they mature, they lose their delectability, and some varieties may even be harmful.

This is what the most common variety looks like in full growth:

And this is the part you eat:

You can see that the only time to eat them is when they first poke their heads above ground, before they uncurl into their fronds.  Like any fern, they grow fast, so the curled fronds are only available for a short time.  I have since learned that you can prep them by blanching and shocking, and either freeze them or pickle them.  Either way sounds nice to me.

Eating fiddleheads was a “something I want to do someday”, but not a driving force in my life.  Like I said, I seldom lived where they were available, and during those times when I did, it wasn’t a priority.  So imagine my delight when I was walking into the hospital for my interview and there they were, several dozen growing along the walkway.  I was sorely tempted to pick one but held off.

Then, a couple of days later, we were driving passed our current favorite diner and saw a sign “Fiddleheads Available”.   I commented that I’d always wanted to try them.  So, the next time we decided to eat out, we went there.

I had the fish and chips, and he had steak tips in teriyaki.  I told the waitress to please bring me some fiddleheads because I’d never had them before but always wanted to try them.  She got into the spirit of the thing so when she said my plate down, she set a separate bowl of fiddleheads down with a flourish and a “Ta dah!”

They were prepared simply, steamed then salted lightly.  She explained that most people liked to let a little butter melt over them, so I did.  They tasted like a wonderfully crunchy grass.  Not so much like asparagus as I’d suspected they might.  Halfway through the meal, she came back to see how I’d like them and wanted to know I wanted more.

For a couple of weeks, they were everywhere; in the markets, in the convenience stores, in the roadside stands.  I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them at the dry cleaners.

So, I’ll be prepared for next year.  I’ve already found an interesting recipe that could actually work for any fresh crunchy veggie:

Fiddlehead Ferns

  • 2 cups fiddleheads, cleaned
  • vegetable spray or 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 medium onion, medium chop
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup crushed nuts of choice

Steam cleaned fiddleheads for five minutes, then rinse under cold water.  Spray skillet or use oil and heat until shimmering.  Add onions and cook for about five minutes until they start to go translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes.  Add the nuts and shake to coat, then add the fiddleheads.  Stir and shake and sauté for five minutes until heated through.  Add lemon juice and mix and serve.

So, what dish have you waited a whole lifetime to try?  Tell us about it.  Feel free to share this post with anyone you like.

As always,

 

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Post #646 What the H*** Was That?!

May 26, 2019 at 12:18 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ever have those moments in the kitchen where something that sounded like it should be great just wasn’t?  It happens all too frequently to me.  I’m always on the lookout for a new recipe for an old favorite, or a new recipe for a new favorite.  Sometimes, those recipes don’t turn out as good as they’re made out to be.  Usually it’s because my tastes differ from the author’s tastes so what tastes good to them will taste like garbage to me.

For instance, I like chocolate.  I like cooking with chocolate.  I like brownies.  Brownies are easy, no fuss, and usually they are fool proof.  Good chocolatey flavor, and easy to mix-it-up with the flavors to create the good stand by with a twist.  So when I saw a new (to me) recipe for brownies I thought I’d try it.  I wanted to use up some Baker’s chocolate squares we had in the cupboard which was why I was looking in the first place.  This recipe looked like it would make a pan about 9×13 of gooey rich brownies and the people who tried raved about it.  I had all the ingredients on hand so it was easy to just dive in.

The recipe was odd.  Instead of butter, it called for 2/3 cup of oil.  That’s a lot of oil.  Trust me, that’s a lot of oil.  Over very low heat, you melt 4oz of baking chocolate into the oil.  I had six and I figured more chocolate never hurt anything, so it all went in.  It was odd, and took a long time to melt, nearly fifteen minutes.  But it all blended well so I wasn’t concerned, except the physical amount of oil.  Then you whisk 2 cups of sugar, a cup and a half of flour, and 1 tsp of baking powder together.  When that’s ready, you add 4 large eggs, the melted chocolate and oil, and a tsp of vanilla.  Stir all that together and spread into a pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350.

So when I added the chocolate and eggs to the dry ingredients, it turned into a grainy mess.  I kept stirring it trying to get a cohesive mixture, but it was oily and grainy, and just not appetizing at all.  The recipe never specified what size pan, and based on the amount of batter, I chose an 8×8 rather than a 9×13.  The mixture came out in one glop, and left a thick film of unincorporated oil and chocolate.  Still not appetizing.  Then, as I patted the dough down to an level throughout the pan, the oil rose to the surface, leaving a shiny film on top of this playdough stuff.  So, into the oven it went.

The result was mixed.  It was . . . okay, ish.  You know how when brownies bake they rise really well, then as they cool they settle in the middle creating the lovely gooey center with crisp edges?  This kind of did that, except the top layer never settled.  As I cut them after they’d cooled, the knife cut through this crispy top layer, then into the gooey center.  Everything held together the way it was supposed to, though.  I mentally shrugged and put a couple of plates for us.  Then I bit into mine.  It was like candy, but not in a good way; at least, not for me.  It tasted like sugar, very little chocolate.  I was expecting a blast of chocolate flavor because of the extra chocolate I’d added, but it came out more like sugar candy, not even a caramel, just sweet.

I didn’t like it.  I’m going to try another one today just to see if my impression yesterday was right.

But things do go right in my kitchen.  While I was at work, I texted Partner/Spouse about dinner.  He was home, under the weather for a few days, but had energy to cook.  I had taken out a pork roast with a great fat cap on it.  I suggested a slow cook, then shred it, and cover with a package lettuce wrap sauce we like.  What he did, was cut into small pieces, slow roast with the sauce, some onions, and some pineapple, to serve over rice.  It was so good.  That’s a leftover I’d eat any day but there wasn’t any.

One time, a long while ago, I tried an experiment with disastrous results.  I made up spaghetti sauce, a big ol’ pot full.  It was very Italian and very tasty, the kind you want to spread over anything and eat.  As Guy Fieri says, “I’d eat an old flip flop covered in that.”  As I was getting the pasta ready to boil, I looked at the sauce and wondered if I could cook the pasta in that, hopefully getting the flavor of the sauce throughout the pasta.  I had some angel hair pasta which is fast cooking.  I got the sauce bubbling hot and put the pasta into it.  Not a great idea.  As the pasta cooked, the sauce absorbed the starches being released and turned into a pink, gloopy, mess.  And it lost all its flavor.  We tossed it.  And ordered pizza.  Not a happy time.

When I was first learning about spices and their combos, I made some goofy errors.  Pepper flakes were my worst.  I was following a recipe that called for a half teaspoon of them in whatever Chinese dish I was making.  Completely inedible.  It was so blazing hot, our mouths couldn’t handle it.  And we both grew up on the Mexican border in Arizona and California (him in California.)  We know hot.  I’ve been to China several times, so I should have figured it, but I’ve eaten hot spices before that were easy to eat and never had this result.  So another pizza order.

So, I guess the moral of the lesson is to stick to the tried-and-true.  If I’d made my standard batch of brownies, it would have been alright.  If I’d followed centuries of practice and boiled my pasta separately, it would have been alright.  Not sure what I could have done about the red pepper flakes, but now I know.  When I used them now, it’s a scant (and I do mean scant) seven or eight pieces of pepper flakes.  I count them.

So I’ll finish up with some good news and a giggle.  The good news is as I was walking by my cherry tomato plant, I noticed it has some blossoms on it!  Yay!!  Home grown tomatoes soon!  Can’t wait.  The San Marzano that I put in the topsy turvy grower has decided to be stubborn and is growing up past the planter rather than down.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

And the giggle is below.  As I wander through the ‘net doing research, reading new stories, ranting at political follies, I stumble across some oddities that have to be shared.  This is one:

It’s just scary.

Feel free to share the post, or your own stumbles in the kitchen.  And as always,

 

Post #645 The Shortest Ways – A Dozen Short Cuts in the Kitchen

May 23, 2019 at 8:03 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Since starting work full time, dinnertime has taken on a slightly frantic, but creative flair.  We get home fairly late at the best of times, and if we need to stop on the way home, it’s nearly bedtime by the time we finish eating.  We’ve never been ones to eat leftovers, so we cook only what we’re going to eat at that time.  Occasionally we cook in army portions, but that’s with the specific plan to freeze it for later.  Things like soup, and spaghetti.

Over time, though, we have developed some short cuts.  I’m not a big fan of cooking loads of food on the weekend and freezing meals for the week.  It smacks of leftovers, and doesn’t taste fresh.  At least, to me.  So we cook fresh, but we cook quick.  And it’s usually tasty and good for us.  Usually.  So here’s some of our short cuts that work for us.  Try them or not, it’s up to you.

  1. Salad and grilled animal flesh – How many times have I chatted about this one?This one is a full meal start to finish in less than 30 minutes.  It relies on small cuts of meat, and a salad kit.  Usually, we use either a chopped Asian salad, or a Cesar salad.  Our favorite meat is steak, rib eye to be exact, although we don’t turn our noses up at sirloin or New York strip.
  2. Breakfast for Dinner – Again, under thirty minutes, but it relies on doing two or more things at once.  If you can’t multitask, it will take longer.  Usually, we bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs, and toast or biscuits.  Everything is done at the same time, and is hot and tasty.  But there’s a secret to this one in short cut number three.
  3. Frozen Biscuits – Biscuits are the success story of frozen foods.  So much better than the old standard of refrigerator tube biscuits.  In my younger days, I once tried to open a tube and use half and save the others.  It was a disaster.  Once they’re cooked, they never have the fresh baked taste.  Although it’s a stretch to call them fresh baked.  Frozen biscuit, though, can be used in whatever increment you want at the moment.  I never follow the directions though.  I set the oven to 400 or 425 and bake them for 18-22 minutes.  They rise in an explosion, and the flavor is wonderful.  And I didn’t have to make them from scratch.  They can be used as the basis for any number of meals, or as a side, or as breakfast.
  4. Another frozen breakfast item we use a lot is the shredded potato patty.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan until it shimmers and throw two of them in for a few minutes on each side.  Drain and sprinkle with a little salt and they are tasteeee!  We usually enjoy these as a side, but I’ve also used them to hold sauces.  Sloppy Joes, chili and cheese, pizza sauce, all of them on top of these guys make a great crunch dinner.
  5. Frozen berries (I usually use blueberries) in a tossed green salad with pecans and bacon turn the salad into a whole meal.  I got the idea from a commercial on television.
  6. There’s another frozen product that can be made into dozens of different things, limited by your imagination.  It’s called puff pastry.  Ever use it?  You can get it in sheets or cups.  Thaw them out before cooking.  Once they cook, they live up to their name and puff up into gigantic things.  We’ve made bread sticks, Danish, small tarts, appetizers, pizza, all kinds of things.  Cut and shape the sheets, or use the cups.
  7. Tacos, but nuff said right?  Tacos are fast and easy.  We use pre-shredded cheese and lettuce a lot of times.  We don’t use taco shells because we don’t like the flavor, but they are certainly another short cut that you can use.  Sometimes, when I don’t feel like putting them together, we have taco salad and for the corn tortilla effect, we use Fritos!  So good.
  8. Chili dogs are way good and way fast.  Sometimes we use brats or other sausages, but mostly it’s Ball Park franks, cuz you know, they plump when you cook ’em.
  9. Pasta and butter/olive oil.  Hard to beat it.  My mom used to make butter noodles for us as kids all the time.  As I got older, I started playing with it, adding and taking away.  Then I found out that Italian cuisine has been doing this for centuries and found hundreds of perfect combos.  Doesn’t matter.  Play with it and find what works for you.  My ex-wife used to but seeds and nuts on it.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see her put peanut butter on it.  I like it with lemon and parmesan.  Sometimes I use butter; sometimes I use olive oil; and sometimes I use both.  You can even make this healthy by cutting back on the amount of fats, and using whole wheat noodles.
  10. One of my favorite short cuts is the rice kits.  But not all of them.  Most of them go way overboard on the salt.  Through trial and error, I found the Near East brand tastes really good.  Really good.  We’ve tried nearly all of the different varieties and haven’t found one yet that we didn’t like.  You can make them with either butter or olive oil, but I haven’t decided which I prefer.  BUT, the big short cut that I like so much is one I sort of invented.  I take left over beef roast and cut it into small bite-sized pieces and add it to the pot at the beginning.  Then I just follow the instructions on the package.  The roast becomes so tender it melts in your mouth and the rice takes on added richness.  So good.
  11. Okay, so I’ll admit it, cake mixes.  Once in a while, when there’s a time crunch, a cake mix does it, and it’s easy.  And they taste good.  And they’re foolproof.  So stop smirking.
  12. The star of shortcuts has got to be instant mashed potatoes.  Way back in the day, they were flakes or buds and the process to make them was long and involved and seldom resulted in tasty potatoes.  Now though, the pouch makes two cups in the time it takes to boil two cups of water and whisk the powder into it.  And the flavors are good, too.  They even have one with lumps in it for a more homestyle effect.  And they keep the price way down on these guys, too.  We keep four or five pouches around all the time.

So, yeah, we use short cuts when we need to.  I’ve been snobbish in the past about how good cooking is done from scratch and is really a matter of scheduling.  But there are times in busy lives when that just isn’t reality.  Short cuts are.

So, what short cuts do you guys use?  Share with everyone.  And always feel free to share the post if you like.

As always,

Post #644 Best Laid Plans

May 19, 2019 at 3:07 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So, this weekend was chock full of fun things to do.  We were going to get the front flower bed re-dug and unpoisoned.  We were going to plant colorful and good scented flowers to attract bees and butterflies.  I was going to bake cookies, tons of cookies, enough to take to work and give to the neighbor who cuts the grass.  We were going to replant and/or repot a bunch of herbs and flowers for the front porch.  There were other things we were going to do on Saturday to keep it filled and domestic from start of day to end of day.  A grilled steak, salad, and wine figured in there at some point, too.  Had to make up for last weekend’s steak debacle.  Then today it was supposed to be full of thunderstorms so the plan was to finish anything from yesterday, do laundry, sit on the porch as it rained, and write a ton of words.

So some of that happened, and a some of it didn’t.

Saturday started great at 7am with a stop at our current favorite diner.  One bagel with cream cheese and a side of bacon later (he had scrambled eggs, sausage, home fries, and rye toast) we were driving back roads over mountains and through forests alongside one of the most picturesque rivers in the world.  We went through small towns, villages, and even a hamlet.  We were aimed for the closest Home Depot, about 40 minutes from home.  During the drive, we discussed not only the plan for the day, because we knew were going to be tired by the end of it, but also why we couldn’t find our local bakery even though we’d seen it a couple of times.  Whenever we looked for it, it disappeared, so we were supposing it was most likely related to the Room of Requirements at Hogwarts and only appeared when you needed a cupcake most.

So, I turned into the long upward drive to HDepot and felt the car lurch, then heard a flap-flap-flap-flap and we both groaned.  A flat tire!  Out of nowhere.  But it was odd because the car didn’t act like it had a flat.  We got out and looked, and lo and behold, there was a piece of wood with a spike embedded in our tire.  Luckily, there was a tire place less than two block away and we got there while the tire was still inflated.  We were also lucky in that we only needed to replace one tire, and they were on sale, etc. etc.   With two hours to kill, we wandered to a nearby garden center and had a pleasant time looking at stuff, but not buying.  They were good, but overpriced.  Then we walked up to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, a hike of three-quarters of a mile, uphill, to spend another pleasant half-hour or so, except my left knee starting bothering me, and by the time we got to the store, it hurt.  A lot.  And we had no ibuprofen.

But I got a replacement Whirley Pop!  You may remember a post I did a few years ago about popcorn, and the Whirley Pop featured in that post.  It’s a popcorn popper with a handle containing a crank.  When you turn it, a small wire in the pan turns keeping the popcorn kernels in motion so they don’t ever burn and get an even coating of oil, etc.  I lost mine in Tucson, and have been wanting one ever since.  They aren’t expensive, only $20, but it hadn’t been a priority.  Yesterday, it was a whim, but a happy one.

The car took its time, but finally we were on the road home, without any of the garden supplies we had intended to get.  The car blew that budget, so it’s going to wait until next payday.  On the way home, we were supposed to stop at two places, a ham and bacon store we’d seen several times and looked intriguing, and an outdoor flea market that had just opened for the year.  The ham and bacon store was only open during the week during working hours, so we’ll never get there.  And we opted to drive by the flea market since my knee hurt.  We did stop at another farmer’s market, but since it’s still so early in the season (for us in the North) there wasn’t much besides root vegetables, carrots and potatoes and turnips.  They did have things from their farm like frozen animal flesh, but I chose not to partake.  They had free samples of their cookies which were good and I’m going to try to emulate them.

We stopped at the store on the way home to get the basics, and when we pulled into our street, we saw our neighbor had cut the grass.  Always a pleasant thing since the scent of freshly killed green things is so nice.  So, it was just after noon, and we were glad the car was fixed, but a little sad that our front flower bed isn’t.  We had lunch, did a couple of things in the house, then sat on the porch in wonderful weather listening to music.  I trimmed back the lilac monster and it rose up again with less weight.

Today, we got started on stuff.  We went to the local box store, and I found a couple of reasonably priced trousers for work.  Partner/Spouse found a shirt which he’d been needing.  Then we found some more plants to put in pots.  Cheap and effective.  And we found a wind chime we like.  That’s the lilac monster behind it.

So now our porch is done as far as decorations are concerned.  We thought.  Once we got those pots replanted, Partner/Spouse got an idea for a woebegone pot the previous tenants had left at the side of the house, and that turned into a stacked/tier set up for his rose bush.

So, back to the box store for a couple more things, and we’re done.  We finished with the plants about 11am.  So now we sat for lunch, then I started cookies for the neighbor.  Chocolate chip, of course, because . . . well, just because.  Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies?

So they’re done, the dishes are cleaned, and I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to save three pounds of fresh cherries.  Cherries are back in season and will be around for only a few weeks.  I was thinking of drying them, but the thought of pitting all those things is daunting.  I really just wanted to make cherry pie filling and freeze it.  One of my favorite childhood snacks was eating cans of cherry pie filling (and others, too).  I reasoned in my ten year old mind that eating fruit was good for you.  I still do it, once in a while.  I’ve included my go-to recipe below.

So, you can see from the pictures that I’ve included below that the rain storms have yet to materialize.  I’ve heard they’re still coming, but much later.  We’ll see.  Partner/Spouse is doing dinner tonight and he’s following a recipe we watched on television yesterday.  I’ll be blogging it mid-week.  It’s an Asian recipe of noodles, meat sauce, and thin-sliced veggies.  Looked good, so we’re up for it.

For now, here’s the pie filling recipe:

  • 4 cups pitted cherries (about one pound)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch

Place cherries in a heavy pan with a lid over medium heat.  Allow cherries to cook until they release their juices, about 10-15 minutes, but make sure to stir often so they don’t scorch.  During the early stage of this, whisk the sugar and corn starch together until completely combined and there are no lumps.  When cherries are ready, remove them from the heat and add the sugar and corn starch.  Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Return to low heat and bring to a simmer.  Cook until thickened, about 2-4 minutes.  Use immediately, or freeze for later.  If freezing, cool completely and place into airtight containers.

So, it was unexpected, but largely a successful weekend.  We had fun; went for a drive; were able to relax; and got things done that we wanted to do.  How are your weekends going?  Holler at me, let me know.  Or ask any questions you might have and I’ll see what I can find out.  And feel free to share this post any time you like.

As always,

So here are the pics I promised:

This is the yellow Fuchsia

And this is a red one we got yesterday

This is a Hearty Cherry Tomato plant.  Can’t wait for this to bear fruit.

This is a San Marzano Tomato plant in my Topsy Turvy.

 

And this is a decoration we found somewhere.  There are two of them hanging on the porch.

I didn’t take pictures of all the herbs, but they’re on the porch looking happy.  We also are trying to grow stuff from seeds.  We’ll see how that goes.

 

 

 

Post #643 What A Fun Weekend!

May 12, 2019 at 12:41 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So this was a fun weekend.  We got so much done this weekend, so I’m touching on things done without a lot of detail, but more later one, if that makes sense?  I start the new job tomorrow, so doing things during the week won’t be happening.  Our weekends are going to be very full.  We intended to make this weekend a relaxing one, and we did manage to do that, sort of.  It’s relaxing when everything you’re doing is fun, right?

So, I stayed up late Friday night, writing on a novel, rough draft stuff.  A glass of wine helps the juices flow and before I knew it, it was midnight thirty and we wanted to be on the road early.  Ooops.  But we still managed to be up when we wanted to, and bacon and biscuits were eaten, and dog attended to, and on the road to be at the first farmer’s market of two we were visiting.

This farmer’s market was about an hour south of us in a town called Norwich.  I hope that sounds familiar because it plays into what happened next.  The farmer’s market was what I was hoping for.  Lots of vendors, lots of product, and lots of produce that’s available right now.  Sadly, no tomatoes, but whaddaya gonna do?  We’ve been told that cherry tomatoes are very popular here, so we’re just waiting.

We wandered through and ended up getting some huge scallions, some radishes that were the size of ping pong balls and as red as rubies, and a couple of ceramic things.  We also got some bagels and a couple of “pain au chocolat” which are chocolate filled croissants.  When I was in Paris, I used to get two of these every morning for breakfast.  They were fresh and crispy and gooey with melted chocolate.  These weren’t so much, but good nonetheless.  Partner/Spouse was on the lookout for a nice hanging plant for the porch and we saw some beautiful Fuchsias.  But we didn’t get one because we didn’t want to spend that much and we were only just starting our errands for the day.  And, we taste tested some fresh made dill pickles that were so good we bought a quart jar.  The flavor was brilliantly dill and spicy and the pickles were so crisp they were like they grew on the vine that way.

As you can see, I had several with lunch later on.  Before we left, we took Buddy out of the car to walk around and pee, and a tiny little boy who was only just learning to walk fell in love with him.  When they parted, Buddy started following him so he assumed Buddy was his dog now.  You can imagine how disappointed he was for about fifteen seconds until his attention was diverted by a butterfly.

From there, we decided to make a quick stop at the High Holy Place for all bakers:

King Arthur Flour!  I knew that they were based here in Vermont, but I guess I just didn’t realize exactly how close they were.  We walked in and ignored the café completely (except it smelled so good!)  The store was larger than I thought it would be, and packed with fun stuff everywhere.  We wanted to buy everything to restock our kitchen, but budget and space said No!  We did get a few things though.

The multi-colored macrons at the top is the schedule of classes which we’ve already read through and marked with what we want to take.  The flour is Self Rising Flour which is difficult to find in the U.S. if you don’t live in the right place.  The cookbook was on clearance so it didn’t cost thousands of dollars.  There’s a bread mix in the upper right, on top of the current mail order catalog.  It’s a French herb bread.  The pan on the bottom left is snowflake designs for mini cakes or whatever.  The bowl is earthenware and medium sized, a size we need but don’t have.  We got a fridge magnet and a pie cutter, too.  Let me tell you, though, pie cutters cut fingers too.  I’m wearing the bandage still.  And finally, From Our Bakery we bought a loaf of rustic bread that became the star of dinner that night.

The farmer’s market and King Arthur shopping trip only took about 45 minutes, not including the drive time.  We don’t mess about when we’re in a store.  So we took off to another farmer’s market, much closer to home.  Six minutes from home actually.  We didn’t start there because after that market, we were going for another drive.

The Montpelier farmer’s market is known throughout New England and is one of the premier outdoor markets.  It opened last weekend, but we didn’t want to go because it was the first weekend and would be hectic.  So unlike when we did go, because it was the second week and hectic.  Parking was a challenge so we parked illegally for about thirty minutes.

It was one of those markets where they close off the streets and there are nooks and crannies to explore, businesses opening their doors to us, and tons of people.  Surprisingly, I only got annoyed once.  When we first got there and were exploring, I was waiting patiently to look at something and an older man had parked himself in front of what I wanted to see, eating something messy.  I finally just moved on with an annoyed expression, figuring I’d see it on the way back.  So we moved a few steps on to another booth; I looked for a moment and took a step back; I back right onto this same old guy.  I apologized profusely since I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.  Partner/Spouse asked what was up and I said loud enough but not confrontationally, “That same old guy who was in the way back there was behind me and I bumped into him.  Still in the way.”  I’m the master at passive aggression.  We didn’t see him the rest of the time we were there.

We did see a ton of other things.  There were turned bowls that were stunning.  There were loads of produce so we got some salad greens, two heads of lettuce, and an English cucumber.  When we were getting the lettuce, the lady took our small head of lettuce and was embarrassed she was selling that skimpy head for whatever price it was and gave us a second head for free.  There were tons of crafts, and plants, and seeds.  We saw some hanging baskets and the Fuchsias were spectacular!  And exceedingly highly priced.  We didn’t get one but they were gorgeous.  We decided to have steak and salad for dinner with the bread we got at KAF, so we looked around and chose a vendor at random.  The price was kind of high, but we decided to splurge for one meal that week.  We bought two bone-in rib eye steak, and a large brisket.  Partner/Spouse is cooking the brisket now so we can use it for dinner later in the week.  All the meat was frozen and vacuum packed so we felt safe with it.  Partner/Spouse also found a ceramic tea mug and a sponge holder that he’s going to use to hold business cards in a clearance section of one booth.

When we got home, and put everything on the table (but before I sliced my finger open with the pie cutter (it’s good to live with an ER nurse)), I saw something on the table.

We got home about 12:30 and the mail probably hadn’t been by yet.  On a day when we spent bucks indulging ourselves, I was hoping we were going to be able to fill the bag and get it out for the mailman to pick up.  You may recall a few years ago I wrote about this.  I few times a year, the USPS sponsors a drive for No Kid Hungry and leaves the grocery bag for you to fill with non-perishable food items.  This is the first time we’ve lived anywhere that does the program.  I put a bag of rice in, a box of pasta, a bag of lentils, a jar of peanut butter, a couple of cans of tomatoes, a bottle of salad dressing, and something else I don’t remember.  I put it out on the porch hoping the mailman would pick it up since I didn’t know if he’d been by yet.  But I also figured if I left it there and he grabbed it on Monday, that would be okay too.  A few hours later, I noticed it was gone, so yay.

Dinner was a success, sort of.  The bread was phenomenal.  Thick sliced and slathered with butter, it had a toasty flavor to it and a chew that was like eating meat.  The salad was cucumber, radish, scallions, green leaf lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes with a vinaigrette and I just wanted to graze.  The steak, though, left a LOT to be desired.  Neither of us finished more than a third.  It was tough, and tasted off.  Since it was grass fed beef we figured that might have something to do with the tasted.  But as soon as I ate some of mine, I started feel bloated and full, and not happy.

Then I woke up this morning but literally running to the bathroom.  My stomach is finally starting to feel better now, but I couldn’t even finish the chocolate croissant I put aside for breakfast this morning.  So we won’t be buying beef from that place again.  The brisket is cooking and so far doesn’t smell different so we’re hopeful on that one.

We did go to the store this morning to pick up some non food stuff and I picked up some herbs:  my beloved peppermint, some thyme, and a jalapeno plant.  I also picked up a cherry tomato plant.  And Partner/Spouse found his Fuchsia!  It’s a yellow one but when the blossoms open the edges are tinged in red.  There will be pictures later.  So this afternoon, I’ll be doing the gardening thing and repotting the herbs to their permanents homes.

So it was a fun weekend!  And underlying it all is the excitement of starting a new job and being gainfully employed again.

So how was your weekend?  Share and let us all know.  Feel free to share the post anywhere you want to.

And as always,

 

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