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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ready For Her Close-up, Mr. DeMille

I love to cook, and I especially love to cook without opening any of my shitload vast array of cookbooks. Sometimes I just get the urge to forget Martha Stewart et al and go for it in hopes that inspiration will be the name of the game; and today's attempt at innovation will be...ta dah!...a rustic marinara sauce.

It all begins with a going-soft collection of grape and cherry tomatoes that really need to be used and my urgent craving for a hit of pasta. Though I was aiming for 2 cup's worth of these colorful beauties, I didn't quite make it, but I am close.

The next dilemma is to determine what ingredients I have on hand to turn my tomato medley into a little piece of heaven. So, out to the garden I go to gather delicious smelling Italian parsley, basil, thyme and oregano. Olive oil, chicken stock, tomato paste, and a ton (note the technical term) of garlic next appear on the counter.

And here's where the fun begins: just throwing stuff (another technical term) into the pan, beginning with the olive oil and garlic, all added using the eye-ball method. After a short cook for the garlic, in go the tomatoes and, a bit later, the chicken stock. Reduction is now the name of this game, stirring and smashing tomatoes, as I watch the once round tomatoes break down into juice, skin, seeds and pulp. At this point salt, lots of it,  joins the mixture.

My next task is to play with the consistency and taste of my developing creation, adding a little more of this and a pinch of that until it looks like the picture in my mind and tastes like I have imagined it might. All that is left is to cook/drain the pasta and put it all together in one big, glorious heap. Add a little garnish, and she's ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille.

Yes, a winner! Please pass the Parmigiano-Reggiano and get the garlic bread out of the oven.  Works for me...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another Year Bites the Dust

The birthday hurly-burly is no more, and serenity has once again taken its rightful place in my life. The overabundance of fun and food is a thing of the past for this year, and I enjoyed every minute of it. However, I am not going to step on the scale for a few days.

Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
~Jack Benny~

And I don't mind at all.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bye-Bye, Love!

Mother Nature's summer sun gold bounty was quite wonderful this year, but I fear the end approaches. Today, as I ventured out into the garden, I knew this would be my final gathering of these luscious cherry tomatoes that I have been enjoying all summer.

The lettuce was delicious, the cucumbers were plentiful, the early girl tomatoes were delightful; but it was the sun golds that, once again, knocked my socks off. Because they are so sweet and flavorful, I find that much of my harvest is eaten before I even get them into my kitchen. Now the leaves of the forlorn plant are withered and brown; and, though a few desperate hangers-on are still trying to ripen, this is just about the end of the line.

So, thank you and farewell. Until next year...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Farm Fresh

The local farm market never disappoints me, and I am always delighted with the produce that I bring home, mostly because there is so much more flavor happening in whatever I select to put into my trusty market basket.

The nectarines called to me...

As did the string beans...

But it was the carrots that really caught my eye this time, and into my basket they jumped. Once home, I didn't do anything fancy with them: I just gave them a good wash, sliced them up into bite-sized pieces, and blanched them just a wee bit so that their crispiness remained. The final step was a quick toss with a favorite vinaigrette and a sprinkle of fresh herbs on top.