Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Being There

E's been wanting to catch minnows. So, when Monday came around, and it was pick up time at the bus stop, I had an idea waiting, "How about we go to Lake Minnewashta right now?" "Yes ...!!" excited as if it was a trip to the moon. A quick drive home and lots of gear later we were ready to go for a fall picnic and a couple of hours of beach play before dark. Being there made me even more grateful for all the days E and I had been swimming, playing in the sand and catching critters this summer. We're both still adjusting to life apart and here and there. I'm so happy that I'm available to bring E to-and-from the bus each day. Just being there means so much.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September Salad

One thing I've missed about June in Minnesota is the fresh lettuce. Nothing quite compares to leafy greens straight from the garden patch, so tender and flavorful early in the season. Our CSA had surprise lettuce in the box this week. Can you see my cartwheels? 
Here's my idea of a "fall harvest" salad; lettuce, white turnips, cabbage, pickled beets, tomato, red pepper, homemade garlic vinaigrette dressing and parmesean cheese. Pair this up with an Oktoberfest Bratwurst slathered with German mustard and there's no need for a bun.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Oktober" in September

Mill City Farmer's Market with a splash of Oktoberfest is the perfect way to spend a beautiful fall Saturday; looking at organic foods, baked goods, homemade caramels and smores, Sassy Knitwear organic and recycled clothing ... and the list goes on. Most everything was very local and wonderful, especially the Tibetan Mo Mo (as in more more!) that my husband and I shared, but couldn't get enough of. 
Free micro-brewed beer samples from local breweries, fresh air, lots of music from a three-piece polka band and get this, an entire German band complete with tuba, trumpets, French horns, clarinets and a singer. I had peace coffee. This event is definitely going on our list of fall traditions right up there with several trips to the apple orchard

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tomatoes Still Coming!

More tomatoes! I've patiently waited for these to ripen on the vine, although I was very skeptical. Would the weather be warm and sunny enough to ripen these big boys? Yes. It's the perfect fall day in Minneapolis and I can't wait to get back outside. It's been so worth it to plant my tomatoes in varied locations amid different soil conditions. Which would grow a better crop? Clay wins again for producing some of the best tomatoes. Of course it's my special clay recipe; mix with black top soil, mushroom compost and mulch - water and sun. What a surprise that my spot with the darkest soil and the most sun has yielded the least fruit so far. I better go now ... outside awaits. More canning tales to follow. (Kerr Canning Booklet, circa 1964)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beauty and the Beet

Pickled beet brine is one of the most beautiful colors around. In a way, the beet color and the pickled flavor don't really go together, but then some of life's most surprising combinations are the best. I pulled these beets from my garden during the rain and canned them in the same day! I looked all over for a recipe that sounded good to me. Last year, an experiment with a Martha Stewart recipe left me wondering. I had to wash the pickling spice off of the beets each time I served them, and the brine was way too strong. It's always good to learn something new from a canned experience, so I officially have a few changes to make for next year.

But before I tell you what those changes are, I bet you're wondering how these pickled pretties fared? The recipe stays. It's the perfect blend of vinegar, sweetness and pickled. Minnesota State Fair Entry? Possibly. I can see the blue ribbon now. 

As for the changes; let's start in the garden. I'll need more rows of beets. Six pints aren't nearly enough to share. I'm not saying that I won't share, but do I have to? I found out that my clay-like soil mixed with mulch, black top soil and mushroom compost will produce delicious beets. Who knew? Secondly, thinning out the beets at least once should give them room to grow! My beets crowded each other out this year, which makes for a lot of small ones. Next, I'll need to consider recipes for the "greens" ahead of time. Sadly, I tossed these out instead of "in" something - like a salad. The thought of washing off the layers of sand and dirt from so many leaves was more than I was willing to try. I did however save the red liquid from the boiling stage (pre-brine) and funnel it into an empty gallon jug. It actually turns in to a murky brown sludge. I don't think my son, 5-years, will eat the beets yet, but as a self-proclaimed "scientist" he was very happy to have more liquid for his "potions". Maybe he'll be entering the State Fair along with me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Notice of Lotus

It reaches for the sun, or does
the light reach it?
Its roots are deep.
And finally one day
it breathes the air and not the water.
How many times in our lives
do we do make the journey
of a lotus?
And you have been wearing
this lotus necklace so long.
I never noticed that 
it was a lotus until today.
And yesterday 
I saw the lotus floating 
on the water 
for the first time.
 I understood you more.
The lotus finally
reached me or 
did I reach it?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Gypsies, Tramps and Theives ..."

... or is it .... "tomatoes, ramps and beets?" Having a good blast of music while canning is essential. Today I've been pulling up old songs on Playlist and singing so loudly that I'm sure it still isn't loud enough to conquer my rickety stove hood fan. Next off beets -- and while I don't actually have any ramps they sure made a great addition to my canning jingle. (ramps are wild onions!). Twelve quarts total and counting. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Scones Glorious Scones

Last week I whipped up a batch of scones with my handy pastry blender - one of my favorite kitchen tools. I used this recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini and of course, made a few changes. I substituted whole wheat flour for half of the white flour and used vanilla yogurt instead of the plain. Also, I skipped the sugar and mashed in a ripened banana half. I also had to bake the scones for longer than the recipe had mentioned. The results are some of the best scones I've ever tasted. Deep flavor. Dense, yet light and flakey. I sold them to my 5-year old son as "chocolate chip breakfast bread" ... so that he wouldn't hesitate to try one. "Mmm" he mumbled between bites. Oh yeah, the recipe from C & Z doesn't call for chocolate chips either. Chef Clotilde says to add whatever seasoning you like -- and I love chocolate. Nothing like pain au chocolat -- I mean a scone with chocolate chips. 

Here's another scone recipe that looks oh so good -- especially since I've got raspberries waiting to be picked.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

4 Beautiful and Spacious Quarts

The training wheels came off and I canned these four beauties all by myself! It was really fun and I have more picked tomatoes ripening inside. Last night we covered our entire garden due to a frost scare. Six blankets later, it looks like more tomatoes are on the way. It's been really nice to can in small batches.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

edible Twin Cities, a Robust Read

The cover of, edible Twin Cities stopped me in my grocery shopping tracks! It said, "Hey co-op shopper, you need to make a pie!" More so the cover just got me excited about fall, pies, photography, colors, design and made me consider getting a cooler apron. The cover of this foodie magazine always features fantastic food photography and the stories inside are just as fulfilling. This Fall issue hits on a topic I recently mentioned in My Good Earth entry, canning. eTC discusses a new generation of food savers in its New Preservationists article. The writer, Zach Hawkins, starts out by sharing his experience of pitting cherries and freezing them for later use in a pie. He juxtaposes the reasons people use to can against its revival. As always eTC's writers are passionate about each topic and personally connected to the writing. 

Another attract for me is the ever-present vintage photograph on the back-inside cover. This time, it's a 1935-Jefferson Junior High School, Minneapolis, "canning project". The four young ladies, clad in full-body white aprons and matching hats, proudly prop-up a select jar of their canned goods along with big smiles. I always appreciate the connection of past and present and the simple credence of an old photograph.

As the story goes, print magazines are losing ground to on-line versions, but I wouldn't even consider reading eTC off of a monitor. I love holding this printed paradise in my hands over a good cup of coffee, slowly turning the pages and dreaming away. I like the way the pages feel and I like the way the photographs lend themselves to the printing and finishing process. I'm guessing that this pub is printed on an 80-pound matte coated stock that makes it more like a special little booklet than a cheap slick. 

Okay, and here's the icing on the cake, I paid nothing for this. I often pick up a copy at Lakewinds Natural Foods or at Gale Woods Farm. Subscriptions are available though - and I certainly won't discourage you from supporting a great publication. In fact, different cities across the country publish their own version. Time to make .. a pie? Instead, how about scones this morning? I'm afraid to be alone with a whole fruit pie today. 

(And one more thing, either this pie is really big, or this woman has a really small waist. If you want to look really thin, I guess ... just make a big pie!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Red's Flyin', Mom's Cryin'

Today is E's first day of kindergarten. Time for Mom to move on to the next space. Yes, lots of tears from me, but more that have paved the way for today than actually shed by the time of this posting. I am taking it easy for the rest of the day. Coffee'd up and ready to ingest some of this cool fresh air that has come with September. Time for Morning Pages and a walk for lunch.

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