Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Birth of the Fuzzy Devil!

Also known as: Where is the drink in this shot? Oh shoot! Quick! Photograph this before it's all gone!

It's lots of fun trying to come up with drinks! I don't know if the reason the final concoction tastes so good is because by the time you've figured out the recipe you've had 2, or 3 or 4... Yikes! We were over at a good friend's place this Sunday killing time before a wedding reception and thought we would have a drink or two. Seemed like as good a time as any to experiment. This is the result. The combination of the pear and the floral aroma of the elderberry (it also edges on being musky) combines into a not too fruity, perfumed delight!

Fuzzy Devil

1/2 oz Elderberry Flower Syrup (this stuff came from Ikea and definitely deserves more investigation!)
1/2 oz Organic Pear Juice
1 1/2 oz Vodka

Combine everything into a martini shaker with ice and shake and serve! Next time, we will remember that a garnish makes a nice accompaniment, but really isn't needed, is it? Well, maybe a pretty pear slice...

I have to thank Vanda for the pretty photo of the half empty glass and for getting me drunk before a wedding reception! She has a nice little blog called Suscito and a great section on films called Moviegrump.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Corn Salad

So what do you do when you have a party and you make too much corn? Corn Salad! After all the cooking from the previous day, I usually get burned out. The only problem is I start to get tired of eating the same meal over and over. I am not a big fan of leftovers... Back to the issue of too much corn:

I had some cucumber and Thai Basil from the garden and just diced everything up. Cut some cold boiled corn off of the cob and toss with the cucumber and basil to combine. Add some good quality olive oil, fresh lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

That's it! Refreshing and so easy. It has the possibility of endless variations. Different types of herbs will change the flavors. You could add tomatoes, avocado, peppers and so forth. I would suggest keeping it simple so you can clearly taste the individual ingredients. Maybe too much of something is a good thing.

Southern Fare

We celebrated Frank's birthday this last weekend. I usually like to kick off Birthdays with some kind of fun and unusual feast. For example, my last birthday, we celebrated with a champagne tasting and dishes that would compliment the different varieties. It gets to be a little time consuming and pricey, but I like doing something memorable and food events are fun! I usually pick a theme to organize the menu around. This year's birthday theme was "Southern Fare". I posted a while ago that I wanted to have a traditional Maryland-style crab feast, but for the number of guests it would have been astronomical! So a shrimp boil seemed to be the closest thing. The local Asian grocery, 99 Ranch Market, had some gorgeous looking shrimp, with heads attached, for an unbelievable price. Problem solved! I just followed the recipe that Old Bay has on their web site. Except I omitted the potatoes and cooked the corn separately, oh and definitely use the beer! We also had Corn Bread (Didn't make that! Not enough time!), collard greens made with smoked turkey legs instead of ham hocks, boiled corn (as mentioned before), Garden Salad (from the garden of course!), Watermelon and Yummy Cupcakes Red Velvet Cupcakes! To drink I offered hibiscus juice from a 101 cookbooks recipe and optional tequila. We ate outside on the picnic tables Frank and I made a year ago with the food piled in metal trays and just relaxed. I think everyone had a good time!

Fresh shrimp with heads are a must! I know it grosses some people out but sucking the shrimp heads is the best part!

Finished pile of shrimp and sausage. Don't forget the hot sauce!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Washington DC!

I am a DC girl at heart. We were fortunate enough to fly back for a few days recently. I love being back there! I don't miss the snow or the humidity (well maybe a little!) but I miss everything else! I lived in a small town just outside of DC in Maryland called, Cabin John. We were within biking distance of Georgetown, via the C&O Canal. Nearby, in Glen Echo, was an emerging art community, thanks largely in part to my high school art teacher, Walter Bartman. I can confidently say that I wouldn't have the career I have today without his instruction. He has opened up the Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery now that he's retired from the public school system. It's located in Old Glen Echo Park, which looks like it's being restored to its original glory! Wonderful place to visit. Everything is green and lush and there are things on the East Coast, I just can't get anywhere else! A few items are Blue Crab, Yuengling Beer, and Utz's Crab Potato Chips!

One of the first things I wanted to do was have some soft shell crabs, since we happened to be there at the right season. I unfortunately don't have a picture of the ones we had at dinner, but they were every bit delicious. They were prepared in the usual Italian way, coated in a light batter, pan-fried and served with a lemon caper butter sauce. I'm drooling again! I do have a great picture of what Frank's Aunt had waiting for us the next day. A big pile of steamed crabs!!! A dream come true! This trip was off to a great start!

Frank's mission was to obtain some of Utz's famous crab chips, which you can see we did! He talked about filling a suitcase with them but I just couldn't imagine bringing back a bag full of potato chips! A little salty, but every bit of the classic Old Bay type flavor you would expect from a crab chip. Delicious with an ice cold beer! Preferably Yuengling! They say that they are the oldest American brewery. I don't know if age has anything to do with it, but their beer, is rich and flavorful and immensely refreshing.

The other wonderful thing about DC is the Smithsonian Mall. I love it there! It's free and there are amazing exhibits. We had to do a whirlwind tour of the museums since we didn't have a whole lot of time and the rush through was killing me, but we did get to see some extraordinary things. I won't go into detail but if you want to see a fantastic range of art check out the following museums if you ever get there. Hirshhorn, National Gallery of Art East and West, National Portrait Gallery, and the American Art Museum to name a few. One special note is that we had a fabulous lunch at the Garden Cafe, in the West building. I was surprised to stumble upon this. The food at the museums in the past had been mediocre, but this was fantastic! We had Mimosas, Bouillabaisse, and a assortment of artisinal cheeses, as well as a few other delicacies. One dish that was quite interesting was the grilled asparagus with a Passion fruit sauce. Interesting and unique combination of flavors. The cafe was in a serene setting, in the museum, situated around on of their indoor fountains and was off the beaten path so it was quite peaceful. Service was excellent!

Here are a few other photos that Frank took on our trip...

The National Gallery has a very impressive permanent Calder exhibit.

One of the gorgeous marble hallways of the National Gallery West building.

Not Rothko's! Not sure who painted these, but the room glowed from them!

The best and only way to travel in DC, the Metro! I love the interior architecture as well!

Oh, how our garden grows! 3

Frank's been taking more lovely pics of our garden. I must say, that because of his photography, this site has come out much better than I could have hoped for. I try taking the pictures, but I never use them, his just have more "soul" than the ones I take.

This is a Christmas Cactus flower that just bloomed a few days ago. They only last for a day or two, so I watch them with anticipation for when they will open. The flower is quite big, about the span of my hand outstretched. Frank's Mom, Mali planted it and it seems to be doing well, but I think I will move it to a sunnier location.

Beautiful Onion Blossom. Probably a common yellow onion that Frank planted. Whenever I compost an old onion, Frank saves them and tries to grow them. One of our many "orphans" around the garden that we decided to keep. I love the big pom-pom type flower. It reminds me of how artichokes have those big, beautiful blooms from such a thorny start. I need to grow some, next season!

Young zucchini and blossoms. I need to try cooking the blossoms some time!

I plant a lot of lettuce in the garden for two reasons. First, we eat a lot of lettuce, and second, as a living mulch. They keep the ground cooler for our other plants and make the garden look very lush. Only problem is we can't eat them fast enough so they get kind of big. This one reminds me of a green fireworks explosion! Boom!