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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Summer in a Bowl

We moved last week to Carson City, Nevada. Moving is always stressful but we tried to do it in easy stages. I started packing up as much as possible about 3 months ago when we decided that we were going to move by October 1. Each week I bought some boxes, washed and dusted everything and packed by seasons.
This is one of the reasons we moved...can you see the snow on the Sierras in the background? 
Anyhow, the move is the main reason I've neglected my blog- although I have been harvesting a ton of beautiful vegetables from our Klamath Falls garden and cooking up a storm! 

When we moved, I knew there would be a hard freeze shortly after the move and I didn't want to sacrifice all of the beautiful tomatoes that were just about to I picked all the green tomatoes I could gently pack between newspaper in a couple of huge boxes and stuffed them into some space in my car. 

Needless to say, I now have an overabundance of ripe beautiful tomatoes...and I already have pints of canned tomatoes! So, I decided to go to a tried and trusted recipe for dinner tonight....Ina Garten's Fresh Cream of Tomato Soup

It's very easy to make, delicious and perfect on a cool Fall night! 

I started with a chopped red onion, 3 chopped and peeled cloves of garlic and 2 peeled and chopped carrots in a little olive oil in my beautiful red Lodge Dutch Oven...
 After 10 minutes, I added 5 German Giant tomatoes from my garden, chopped, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 1/5 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1/4 cup of packed fresh basil leaves and 1 teaspoonful of black pepper. 

I let this cook for a few minutes, and added 2 cups of chicken stock...
I brought this to a boil, then turned it to a simmer; I covered it and cooked it for about 30 minutes. 
I blended it with a stick blender and added 3/4 cup of heavy cream and re-heated the soup. 

Then, the best part: I made a grilled cheese sandwich with parmesan and cheddar cheese on sourdough, cut it into crispy 'croutons' and topped the soup with the grilled cheese croutons and some chiffonade fresh basil. 
Summer in a bowl! 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Reno and Bridget the Yorkie

We made a trip to the Reno area this past week. We usually board the dogs, but since we are now down to one dog, Bridget the Yorkie, we decided to find a pet-friendly casino/hotel so we could bring her with us on this trip. She's only 3 lbs. and she is portable! She is so perfect when we take her camping in the trailer and is a real trooper- how could a casino/hotel be different?? We found a terrific deal on for the Grand Sierra in Reno. It's a pet-friendly hotel with a small pet fee and if you book on (or Expedia) you get some nice perks like $25 worth of food and drink credits at the Grand Sierra Restaurants or $25 in play credit in the casino. You also get an amazing rate, compared to the Grand Sierra rates.
Bridget loved the room.

As a matter of fact, she loved all the attention she got from EVERYONE in the hotel- security, guests, drunk Burners, (more on that later) housekeepers...everyone wanted to pet her, hold her, give her olives (drunk Burners) tell her what a cute puppy she is...(she's 10 for God's sake!) And they always wanted to stop me when I was enroute to take her out for an emergency potty break. Awesome. She pee'd on the carpet and floor twice in the casino, but everyone thought it was sooo cute (she would have made it outside if you hadn't insisted on stopping me in my pajamas to tell me how cute she is at 11PM or 6AM, you idiot!) but the staff didn't seem to mind, even though I was embarrassed as all hell. Oh, well.
We did learn a couple of things on this trip.
I don't care how AWESOME the Burning Man thingee is, I will probably NEVER go. The Burners (Burning Man attendees are called 'burners') who decided to hang around for the whole week -after Burning Man ended- in the Grand Sierra Resort STILL refused to bathe, even while staying in a nice hotel, and STILL insisted on acting like they were on the playa in the dust...playing bongos all hours of the day and night in the bar, begging for change in the pool area, asking EVERYONE if they could give them a ride to Denver, Colorado and wearing the strangest combination of clothing (or lack thereof) I've ever seen. Sorry, It's not any kind of ART that I've ever appreciated....and that's a stretch.  Escher or Warhol would have been uncomfortable with the drugged and drunk, black skirt and squirrel-coat top hat with pink flower dangling earring wearing, silver spangled high heel wearing old dude(probably about 70) with half shaved head, half long dyed pink pony tail that tried to give Bridget a green olive from his martini  at 6AM (I so wish I had my camera)  with his equally fully tattooed nearly naked probably just turned 21 green shaved headed female companion who was wearing a bathing suit top with a black thong and black fishnet stockings and doc marten boots....oh yah, still covered in DUST on Thursday. (Burning Man ended on Monday) And, they both smelled like they hadn't bathed in a couple of weeks. Or the guy dressed like a pirate in the bar....covered in dust for three days running...ARGH.
The other thing we learned is that Bridget the Yorkie prefers the fresh burger patties from In N Out instead of the frozen and cooked burger patties from McDonald's or Burger King. She also really likes filet mignon cooked medium rare....but well done is not to her taste.
Another thing we learned is that we need to leave Bridget the Yorkie at the Double C Spa when we go to Reno. She was a total pain when we wanted to go down stairs to get a drink, or to gamble or to EAT DINNER at Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse on our 33rd Anniversary! She yelped and cried LOUDLY if we tried to leave the room, so we had to cancel those plans....hence the reason we know all about fast food burgers and her preference.
At least we were able to have a couple of very lovely meals from Room Service...sigh.
Anyhow, I did send Kevin downstairs with our $25 coupon and he won $ at least we didn't lose gambling...and we are pretty sure we have found a nice place to stay for the Fall/Winter in Carson Valley to see if we really like it. Hopefully it will work out- it's 20 minutes away from Heavenly Ski Area. I can't wait for lots of SNOW!!!
We spent a lovely afternoon touring the Mormon Station in Genoa (It's pronounced Gen OH AH) which was the first settlement in Nevada back in the 1850s and they had an antique car/motorcycle parade going on...

and today, on our way home, we saw the beginning of a beautiful hot air balloon festival in Reno...
I think we are going to really enjoy this area!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 & out of control garden produce!

You all probably know that Trace Adkins is one of my favorite musical artists...and I love his song, "Chrome." Yah, look up the lyrics. If you know me, it's all about me...' hell, I wanna drive'. Ha ha! I do love pure country music...

So I recently faced the decision to replace my laptop since it was...old....slow...and painfully frustrating to use. Kevin was sick of listening to me complain about its limitations- well, it was a 6 year old I kind of expected to get a newer one during the past couple of years, but I kept using it and waiting until I HAD to switch.

Anyhow, back to 'Chrome'. So, I decided that a cool new laptop/tablet would be the perfect thing for me. I researched the Surface and finally bought one...and I hated it. Fortunately, I had a 14 day return policy (thanks, Staples!) and traded it after MORE research for a Chromebook. And I still love 'Chrome'.

It is very easy to use; has all the features I need; and best of all, is totally a Google product! So- Drive, Calendar, Gmail, Google + and Blogger all work wonderfully well with it!

So, I've been loading all of my pictures from my iphone into the Google+ photo feature....I'm still figuring it out, but I am sure I'll get the hang of it eventually.

Our garden has been EXPLODING lately. I've been donating 25-35 lbs. of produce a week (well, mostly zucchini, yellow squash and pattypan squash) since July but now it's really taking off!

I'm keeping all the corn, green beans, pickling cucumbers, jalepenos and cayenne peppers since we eat every bit of those veggies and we are also keeping all of the large tomatoes for canning and just slicing and making a meal out of this dinner last night...

but today, I started my favorite type of cooking of all time...
I can't tell you how much I love to can home grown produce!
Today, I canned 4 pints of Kosher Dill pickles and 5 pints of crushed tomatoes. Today, I used the Cherokee Purple tomatoes (nice and meaty and beautifully purple-y color) but I still have a stock pile for this weekend.

I know you are all jealous. I'll use these tomatoes for soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, maque choux sauce, Mexican dishes, Italian dishes, Moroccan dishes and more throughout the winter! Pat & Melissa gave me a pressure canner for my birthday and boy, did it get a workout today! I am anticipating using it at least twice a week for the next few weeks!

I'm thinking that I'll be canning spicy green beans this use as a crunchy spicy stir stick in a Bloody Mary...along with some cayenne peppers in there!

Raspberries and Cherry tomatoes (sweet one millions) are also bursting at the seams- we have been eating raspberry sauce on homemade waffles and cherry tomatoes...pretty much every day at most meals!