Saturday, June 27, 2015

Red Velvet Leaf Basil Vinaigrette

I trimmed down the Red Velvet Leaf Basil and made some wonderful vinaigrette.  The recipe I found said to chop your basil in the blender to mix with a store-bought vinaigrette (is that cheating?) Ha! Not for me!
I used Paul Newman's Oil and Vinegar.  I'm sure a homemade vinaigrette would be even better. I pulled the washed leaves and popped them into the food processor, then drizzled the entire bottle over them as it spun.
I will say, if you feel like basil is too pungent, then this reddish purple variety is the one for you.  It's very mild, and the leaves are much smaller, too. There's still plenty of basil taste, but not so over-powering as some basil can get.

Of course, I had to try it out right away -- over some of the Snow White tomatoes.  So, so so so good!  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day Six - Germany Week

Field trip day!!  We spent the day in Fredericksburg, Texas, a wonderful town settled by German immigrants in 1846.  Shopping, sight-seeing, great food....this little town has it all.  We started our day with a walk downtown along Main street, and then stopped for lunch at Auslander's German Restaurant.
 While we were waiting to eat, KT posed for a photo under the big German flag they have flying in the courtyard.
 KT had chicken strips, but Grumpy had the full German meal, including sausage and beer.  I had their famous Reuben Sandwich and potato pancakes.  Delicious!
 After lunch we wandered some more downtown -- stopping at the candy store, too!  Here's a couple of colorful lollypops!
 We also stopped at Dooley's 5 & Dime -- are you old enough to remember the old 5 & Dime stores?  This place is a step back in time, I have so much fun just wandering through this place every time we go.  KT tried on some funny hats and we got her a small American flag -- that's what she wanted!
 Pizza head!
 All American Girl, sitting on a tractor seat!

We visited the little museum that is in the middle of the town square.  KT had some questions about this saddle, she wanted to know what each part of it was.  Good questions, KT!
 Then while we waited for Grumpy to bring the car down to us, KT had a great time playing in the children's playground.  I was content to sit and watch her from the covered pavilion.
Once we got home it was time to jump in the pool and cool off.  KT showed me a new jump she invented -- this is the Angel Fall.  She's a character.

"Hi!" KT!

Next week we're off to Australia!  Auf Wiedersehen, ya'll!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keeping Up With the Produce...

The tomatoes have slowed down some, but I've been buried in cherry tomatoes, so this morning I put two trays of cherries in the oven to slow dry all day on the "Warm" setting.  I do have a great dehydrator, but where is the darn thing...? I'm too impatient to go out and find the darn thing right now.
Here are the beautiful Snow White cherry tomatoes.  Don't they look lovely in the sunlight?  I love the light lemon color...these have become my favorite tomato of all time.  They have earned a place in my garden from now on.
Cut in half, cut side up, sprayed lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with dried Italian herbs - basil, oregano, sea salt and pepper.
 The second tray has the Yellow Cherry tomatoes with just a light sprinkle of sea salt.
I finally got to make the pesto today!  I made 7 half pints, and froze 6 of them.  Such a simple recipe, for such a delicious treat.  We love this stuff on sandwiches, on pasta, and I could eat a whole jar of it with a spoon! (No, I didn't....but I could!)
2 generous cups of basil leaves
1/2 c grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/3 c walnuts
3 cloves garlic
salt & pepper (about 1/2 tsp each, or to taste)

Pop into your food processor and drizzle in the olive oil as it whirls.  I don't really measure the oil, just add until the consistency feels right.

Then try that on a will fall in love! Make yourself put the spoon down....really.....
Spoon into clean jars and pop into the freezer.  

I'm clipping my purple Red Velvet basil on Friday -- that thing has gotten so huge!  It's destined for a vinaigrette and I'll dry some for the spice cabinet.  Meanwhile, the house smells fantastic.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day Five - Germany Week

Today we started learning all about Germany!  We found Germany on the big globe, then KT painted the flag of Germany.  She's getting real good at staying in the lines -- a skill that she'll need in Kindergarten this year.
Next she decorated a gingerbread man -- they originated in Germany and are a specialty there at Christmas time.
 Afterwards we read the fairy tale, Hansel & Gretel, and found out about how they found their way home after being lost in the forest.  Then KT went on a scavenger hunt to find the kids!  There were 10 clues, and KT had to follow the colored paper "crumbs" to find each clue.  She also had to use her powers of deduction to figure out where the clues were.  She actually read every clue herself...this girl can read!
 She found this clue in the chicken layer!

This was lots of fun!  She got a little prize at the end when she found the kids!

Then we were off to the library -- we found a good book about Germany and a couple of other books that KT can read.  She got her own library card today, too.
 When we got home, Grumpy had made the hot dogs -- so we had a great lunch!  We decided that we weren't going to swim today since the sun wasn't out that much and the water was very cold!
So we moved on to the next thing on our agenda -- we made a German dessert -- Apple Strudel Bites.  KT is becoming quite a good cook and catches on to every task in the kitchen pretty well.  When these were done, she and Grumpy used the left over pastry and apples to create another Strudel roll that also turned out really good!

 To end the day, we popped some popcorn and put in a movie that KT has never seen and was a favorite of her mother when she was a little girl, The Neverending Story.  Turns out this movie was based on a favorite German story, "Die unendliche Geschichte" (original title).

We had another fun day!  On Thursday, we're taking a field trip to Fredericksburg, Texas, settled by German immigrants many years ago.  KT should really enjoy it, and I know I will.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!


We had planned a pool party and hamburger cookout today with Jeff/Colleen & family for Father's Day, but all of the rain changed our plans, but good!  John had the burgers on outside when the rain came down HARD.
We still enjoyed our day, and we managed to get the hamburgers finished in the broiler inside, so all was not lost.
Jeff -- He's such a great dad! 

John has been wanting to get a small BBQ for when it's just the two of us, or a small get together, and when he doesn't need to fire up his big smoker/BBQ for a small get-together, so I got him this park grill for Father's Day!  He loved it!  Since I took this photo, he's put a gravel base around the bottom, so it's nice and secure.
He's just about the best Dad and Grumpy (Grandpa) around, so he deserves it for sure.

Thinking about my dad today, too.  He's been gone since 2007, it will be 8 years this Christmas, but he's left an amazing lasting many of his children and grandchildren have followed in his gardening footsteps -- so happy when I see pictures of the grandchildren's gardens.  I think he would be so proud of them.
Herbert Russell Schwencke

Summer Garden Notes, June 21, 2015

Today is the first day of SUMMER!!  

We're getting rain, rain, rain and more rain.  I'm not complaining, but in some parts of Texas, they are getting WAY too much rain -- I feel so sorry for those who have experienced flooding.  We are high and don't worry about it much where we are, thank God.  We've gotten over 6-1/2" of rain in the past three day.  Our seasonal creek at the bottom of our property is running and it is beautiful.  I know we'll be hot and dry soon, but it's been a fantastic spring so far.

Today I gave one of the Italian Large Leaf Basil plants a BIG haircut.  I've got about 1 full pound of basil leaves here -- destined for pesto tomorrow.  I'll be freezing some of it for later.  There are two more pots of basil out there, one is a purple variety that I'm planning a vinegrette with later this week.  The whole house smells husband came down a few minutes ago (he's been glued to the golf game this weekend) and said he could smell it all the way upstairs.  
All three varieties of okra have now started to produce, I'm picking a few from each type every couple of days (when I can dodge the rain!)  Pretty soon I'll have enough to start making some fried okra -- our favorite way to eat it.

Hoping for a little sun tomorrow!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Spring Garden Notes, June 20, 2015

The cow peas have started drying, so I'm bringing them in a handful at a time.  Growing up we called these things black-eyed peas. I think it's a southern thing!
UPDATE: Tonight on a cooking show I heard them called "field peas." Same thing.

It's been raining for two days straight, we've had about 5-1/2" of rain, so it's a bit of a mush pit out there.  I'm only going out in the morning and night, just to let the chickens and turkey in and out.

Here are the Grey Speckled Palapye Cow peas, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  These are almost blue!
 These are the Shanty Pea Cow peas, also from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds,
 and here are the Holstein Cow peas, again from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Aren't these pretty!?
Just a handful of each so far, so I have lots of shelling peas in my future!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day Four - England Week

Today was the last day of England Week, so we decided to take a trip to have lunch at The English Tea Shoppe in San Antonio.  A little hole in the wall place that has several tables, all set very formally with china and silver...fancy!
 KT standing outside the tea room with the Palace Guard!
The menu was pretty varied, from a Ploughman's lunch to Bangers & Mash, and a bunch of tea sandwiches.
 The silver tray and sugar set up for our tea.  We drank the PG Tips tea, which the waitress recommended as the common tea used in England (compares to our Lipton's, I'm guessing) KT was impressed with the sugar cubes!
 I didn't think we'd get her to try the "hot" tea, since she told me 10 times on the way there that she wasn't going to drink the hot tea.  But when she saw her dad drink it with the sugar cubes and milk, she decided to try that herself! She liked it!
 I had the cucumber sandwiches with "crisps" (potato chips).  I've never had them before, but I figured anything with cream cheese had to be good -- and it was!
 These two guys went with the club sandwiches, and John had chicken & rice soup, and KT opted for the P&J.  At least it was something that she would eat.  They had a baked bean sandwich -- funny!  I guess that's something they eat in England, and a Spaghetti Sandwich....ewwww......glad she didn't want that one!
 KT served the tea!
This was the Chocolate Chip scone that KT and I shared -- it came with butter, strawberry jam, and Devon creme.  Very dense scone...I guess that's the way they make them.
 When we got home it was time for a swim -- and we had some surprise visitors!!  We had a very fun rest of the day swimming and enjoying watching the girls in the pool.

 Can you see KT's loose tooth sticking out there?  That thing is SO ready to come out!

We had a great week in England -- next week we're "visiting" (KT told me that we were going to England in our brains this week...she's so smart!) Germany. so Cheerio for now!