Thursday, July 26, 2012

A day in the life of a night shift widow

Fact of life, when you choose to spend your life with a chef, you will be spending alot of evenings and weekends entertaining yourself without your partner. That's the story of our life.

Last night when my chef got home from work, and we were catching up on eachother's  days, he asked what I made for dinner. for just myself just doesn't happen very often. So my answer was "toast". The reality is my dinner was 4 slices of toast with that homemade peach jam !! I think he felt a little bad.......even though I didn't.

So today he sent me a message before he left for work: "Prepped dinner for you, tilapia filets, garlic, sweet and hot peppers, lemon, thyme, capers and tomatoes- just pop it in the oven". How adorable is that ???

My workday ends and I drive home trying to decide if I want to make another batch of jam or if I want to sit on the couch and catch up on mindless tv..... and eventually my tummy starts telling me it's time to take a peek at that tilapia. It looked fantastic !! So into the oven at 425 for about 15-20 minutes while I made a little bowl of whole wheat couscous, and the easiest dinner ever was done.

Now about this mindless tv..... I have been DVRing episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras so I thought I could catch up on a few of them. Wow.....biggest laugh of the night- one of the moms was talking about Cirque du Soleil and she called it Circka dee Solay. I had to giggle......

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Repurposing With a Purpose

Repurposing means different things to different people. Crafters make old plates into cool yard art. Artists use some unusual things to create art.

Around here, we repurpose hot dog buns. Yes, that's right- hot dog buns !!

It's another one of those "too hot to cook" days meant the Chef and I needed something for dinner that wouldn't overheat the kitchen, not the pizza I've been daydreaming about for 3 days. So armed with a pound of ground beef and a package of hot dog, not hamburger buns, the Chef began his repurposing project and the result was fun and yummy.

Joe's Sliders

1 lb ground beef- use whatever kind you like, we use 80/20 for burgers
minced onion, garlic, hot or mild peppers to taste (dry versions are fine)
salt and pepper

Mix all and shape into small patties. Cook as desired, grill, George Foreman, broil, however you like your burgers. Joe cooked these in a skillet until medium/medium-well.

Serve burgers on hot dog buns cut in half, topped with your choice of toppings. We had cheese, k&m, chopped onion and sliced ghost chili dill pickles.

Joe served fresh Iowa sweet corn and a ghost chili dill on the side.

Fast and yummy dinner, and easy to change up according to your likes and dislikes.

Now that dinner is done, it's time to go outside in the oppressive heat and see how our garden is surviving in the 105 degree heat.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wow......summer is halfway over and I haven't even had time to THINK about an update in a while. What a whirlwind of stuff going on at the lake. New job for The Chef. Increased workload for me. Some amazing news and some devastating news. The summer has been crazy.

Our gardening style changed but with this bizarre weather we've had, it's been a roller coaster of "yay" and "oh crap" !! We had such an early last frost and warm spring, lots of plants went in the soil much much earlier. But now, we're in the middle of one of the worst dry seasons since the dust bowl. We did switch to container gardening and only have green beans in the ground but containers require alot of attention and monitoring so they don't dry out or get overly hot in the baking sun. Not sure if this was the best decision but hey, at least we're not weeding. I have developed a little network of "gardening (and canning) enablers" and we just keep each other encouraged through these tough times :)

First on the agenda- sweet corn season. It's Iowa. It's summer. It's sweet corn season.  Time for me to hit the corn stands, buy dozen after dozen and spend a day shucking, blanching and freezing. So much work but it was so worth it all winter having a freezer full of summer.

It's also time to drag out the canning equipment. My neighbor has a peach tree, meaning peaches by the laundry basket-full, pear trees meaning Cinnamon Pear Jam in a few weeks, and other fruits such as grapes and mulberries. I haven't even mentioned all the tomatoes  I will be canning this year. Blueberries and cherries are in the freezer waiting for Jam Marathon Day. The berry farm up the road has an order of fall raspberries lined up for me. Not sure what to expect from our bean crop this year with the excessive heat and lack of rain but time will tell. If all else fails, The Chef's new position gives him access to local food distributors and we can purchase produce such as beans by the bushel/case if we need to. All this on top of a full time job, wow...... life has taken a sudden turn for the BUSY !

I have been terrible about keeping up on my wine posts. Not to worry, that doesn't mean I haven't been keeping up on wine DRINKING though- plenty of corks have been popped over the summer so far. I think I'm going to expand that category a little bit and include a few spirits. Iowa just happens to have some pretty upscale distilleries, one in particular I absolutely love. More on that later.

So....that is my preview of coming attractions! Stay tuned for lots of pictures and recipes and hey, if you have a great jam recipe you'd like to share- please do !!