Cooking + Baking

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Our girl looking VERY serious!

fennel + spinach soup

ground cherries

green chile pork burger

neighborhood crab apple

socca + whipped yogurt and feta + homegrown cayenne & tomatoes (the color!)

Grandma’s rosehips

kung pao chicken + vegetables

Mid-September! It creeped so stealthily in, a sudden call for blankets in the inky black of night and sweatshirts and light jackets in the low slant of morning light. Cool, cool. Days are all over the place, pleasant or blasting heat, the patter of rain on concrete. All beautiful.

As is often the case, I canned three batches of deliciousness over the course of twenty-four hours, Grandma’s rosehip + apple jelly, apple butter, and rhubarb jam. My legs were wobbly from all the standing and stirring, stirring, with the house a heady terrarium of sweet scented steam. The results are glorious and delicious, especially the rhubarb. I used the last stringy stalks, macerating them overnight in sugar in hopes of softening them up. There was a LOT of green, so I added a handful of frozen cherries to pretty them up, and boy, what a fabulous jam. But alas, no pictures! Gotta turn up the imagination dial.

We are still enjoying our Weight Watchers adventure, losing weight, learning, and questioning. Greg comments on how much more he is laughing. Me? How much less I am belching. All good. I keep adapting recipes to match points and do what I can to add MORE vegetables to our life. Steady as she goes….

Farmer Greg + tomato + kohlrabi
pork shoulder steak + spiralized zucchini & carrot + veg galore + peanut dressing
Uncle Lyle + Aunt Bev, with L O V E

The front garden gives and gives

Who goes there?
Raccoon methinks
B a l l o o n s ! !

Mud! Juniper’s toes! My Maine Coone socks! Hello Paris…

blue tepary
scarlet runner beans: one and all
S I X pounds of prickly pears wild harvested and processed!

Home grown tiny canteloupe…flip fantasia
With a sincere nod to US3’s FAB song!

poblano
fennel + chicory + ground cherry + kohlrabi + tomato
tomato
big + little
harvest
Breakfast “Ramen” – zoodles + egg + bacon + jack cheese + green chile + chicken broth
pico de gallo with our own tomatoes and cayenne pepper – huzzah!

Good Tuesday to you, dear reader! What eye candy here today, and what luck to find it all in front of my lens.

From the top: the garden is going like gangbusters, with super delicious ripening tomatoes, of a variety we cannot remember, drat. The kohlrabi hollering go big or go home!

After struggling a bit with the middle age S P R E A D, Greg and I joined Weight Watchers. It’s been a few weeks, and though the pounds aren’t exactly flying off (damn slowing metabolism!), we are losing weight and feeling truly great. It is actually FUN, and we are enjoying the challenge. I am spiralizing like a mad woman: zucchini, carrots, butternut squash!

We visited Bev + Lyle’s graves weekend before last for the very first time. Her colorful personality called for a rainbow of roses. We’ve had more death in the family, and I’ve felt a little heavy about it, truth be told. I pore over pictures and replay Super-8 style memories while pondering the gossamer connections of blood kin and my chosen family, each binding me to the wider world. Like planting small seeds of comfort that will one day bear beautiful fruit.

In a super cookbook from the library, Living Within the Wild, I found the recipe for Breakfast Ramen. Theirs uses actual ramen, which is NOT worth my points on WW, so of course I zoodled! It also calls for nori rather than green chile, but come on, green chile was made for this dish! I will definitely be making it again.

This past weekend was the Balloon Festival, and we awoke early Saturday to wade through giant puddles and trudge the mud of two evening’s blessed rains: all to watch the launch from our favorite perch on high. The mist veiled hills a bonus gift for our labors. Every year we expect a crowd in our viewing spot, and every year we are gratefully spared, reveling in our own good luck AND company to watch each wonder of gravity rise and rise and rise.

It is prickly pear season, at last, at last. I cannot believe my good luck at finding the local patches of beautiful fruit, waiting to be turned into wonderful juice. The spiny jabs worth it in the end.

More glory in the garden as the harvest gets to go, go, going. We experimented with cantaloupe! While it is among the best we’ve ever tasted, it is not nearly worth the water or labor for the three adorable fruits produced. The ground cherries, peppers, beans, zucchini, and tomatoes are quite a different story. The blue tepary and scarlet runners an excellent introduction to beans for drying, so we will plant much more next year, taking out the strawberry plants that do so very little. How life presents a body with ample opportunities to learn!

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We celebrated my Mom’s 72nd birthday with a weekend of fun at our house. Pizza, waffles, prickly pear margaritas to accompany a Tex-Mex BBQ of epic proportions, four varieties of homemade ice cream (peanut butter & chocolate, mixed berry, walnut {the most popular!}, and coffee), and a wicked good triple-decker strawberry frosted birthday cake, modeled by my fabulous nephew Tyler.

The Grandma Tess celebration rose is festooned with hundreds of blossoms and smells divine!
horehound
potentilla
budding goldenrod & wild bee house

As promised, our newly mulched and planted garden. The rain came right after Greg got all of the meat off the grill, with some wild torrents and furious waves of baby hail (no damage, woot!) before turning rather lovely and Portland-like for the better part of the next two days. Heavenly.

Juniper squeezing in amongst the columbine.

Our first official butterfly sighting in the garden. Here’s hoping it is a banner year!

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P.S.

A sincere note of gratitude to the best man I know (GREG!!) for replacing my computer’s power supply. You make this blog possible, and I super appreciate it.

It is now the blessed season that, when the sun rises on weekends, we are out in the garden, sipping coffee on our favorite chairs. There are too many and too few words at once: leaves glowing, birds chirping, Juniper darting. The quiet joy of being in the right place, embraced by light and nature. Home.

I have taken to buying clothes on etsy, mostly bespoke linen dresses from Lithuania. This one, freshly off and tossed onto the bed, just so, no fussing over it, and begging for a photo. I obliged.

columbine
scarlet runner bean
snowball
choke cherry

I am on The Lost Kitchen mail list, and this dazzler of a dessert, Spoon Cake, came with their last missive. Theirs was made with a straight rhubarb compote, but since mine is booger-green, which is not a failing, just the color of this particular variety, I mixed in some berries to pretty it up. It did not disappoint, in look or flavor. Huzzah!

Last year’s onions, which did barely anything during their proper season, came to life over winter and spring. How about that?

One of the wonders of living in an Air Force town is to be summoned by the roar of high flying technology and dash into the garden to gaze upon it. This is a Stealth Bomber.

Not since I was a teenager have I owned white footwear. The last, an unfortunate pair of K-Swiss, which I saved for ages to buy, only to have hurt my feet. Wah. I am happy to report these are quite the opposite. And how about the flowers? 100% why I bought them. They sparkle!

royston turquoise

The first iris bloom and Juniper on her very best behavior. Everything good at once….

Hello friends! How excited I am to say Spring has well and truly arrived. I am wearing dresses and sandals and my new favorite hat in great celebration. What a long, cold winter. Coupled with wretched COVID, it felt like years rather than months.

We’ve been doing more normal activities, like going to cherished restaurants, and eating in-person at our favorite food cart, which feels like such a treat after so much home cooking.

The garden is really coming to life, too. I’m doing a ton of planting and mulching (we had 10 yards deliverd!), an hour or two a day. This is both to replace plants killed by the horrible deep freeze and slowly fill in brown gaps in need of green and flower. I’ll show you pictures once it is all done. Maybe this weekend, as I’ll have Greg’s hands, as well as my own to finish. Juniper just lolls about and occasionally digs holes where she ought not. She is a dog, after all.

One of my favorite person’s tasks at his new job was to write a bio to accompany a photo, so we did a proper photo shoot. Isn’t he just so handsome? Greg Cooper, you are a looker!

Green mertensia and Juniper giving her best sniff.

The lamb’s ears are really starting to spread their wings.

The daphne bloomed! Hot diggity dog! This will always be the scent of Portland for me. Kinda like Froot Loops, only better.

blueberry scone goodness

Pike’s Peak peek…

Muskrat sighting!

Indian chicken – I combined a Patak’s Vindaloo curry paste with some mango chutney and water, and let the drumsticks braise in the liquid until done. I love it when something SO easy tastes SO wonderful!

I am rather sad to report that this is not my lilac in bloom here. Ours seems to be the only one in the neighborhood that got ravaged by the deep freeze. Luckily, it still has a bit of green on it, so I will prune the heck out of it and hope for it to flower next year.

She sure loves her Pops!

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