Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to make stuffed pumpkin blossoms & tempura green beans

I love summer when I don't have to work every day and can just while away the hours picking, stuffing, frying, and savoring decadent little treats like these herb cheese stuffed pumpkin blossoms.  

While I could sit and be despondent that my Seminole pumpkin plant keeps blossoming but not fruiting, I decided I would not wait around for the pumpkins and eat the blossoms instead.  I'd not done this before and thought about using these open flowers, but I'd have to fight the bees first.  There were two nestled in the flower below. I decided the just-spent blossoms were the way to go.  I chose the male flowers in case the females decided to ever fruit.  The females have their little female bumps at the base of the flower and the males have the penises inside.  Just kidding.  Well, not really - they have little flower penises.  Or I guess I should call them pistils and not be so ignorant and crude.

Below, I carefully rinsed the insides of the blossoms, stuck a finger in there and broke the pistil off, and pulled the slightly prickly green sepals off.  I shook them as dry as possible because they'll be deep fried in oil, and I'm not trying to be splattered by burning oil.

I decided to make a cheese stuffed blossom.  It's a busy day, so I cheated a bit by cutting some ricotta with some Boursin shallot and chive cheese rather than creating my own filling from scratch.  All kinds of filling recipes are out there so create something you like.  When this little one heard "filling" she insisted on piping.  A good idea.  I turn around and she's got a bag in a cup and is filling it up.  This kid's watched too many cooking shows.

She has carefully piped the filling in, and we've gently twisted the tops.  I used a light tempura batter - 1 cup flour and 1 cup club soda.  The blossoms were dipped in the batter, excess dripped off, and then deep fried in vegetable oil on medium-high until lightly browned.  Since we don't fry too much, I looked for other things to fry- I made some latkes (my kids' favorite) and found some beans in the garden.  The tempura beans were also amazing!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Introducing...the hens and rooster

I've shared photos of my father's adored ducks and geese.  This year, he's added chickens to his brood.  He never needs to add more tasks to his long (retired) "work day", but he's pretty tickled about all the fresh eggs - many of them double-yolked.  Plus, these ladies are so friendly - more so than the adorable but usually frightened-by-me ducks, and MUCH more so than the  beautiful and stately but ultimately nasty-to-me geese.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Green tomato chutney

This fall, pick all those green tomatoes and do something with them.  Put them in a box or bag with an apple to hasten ripening, dredge in cornmeal and fry, or make a green tomato chutney!  I tried to recreate this recipe with waning fond memories of a delicious condiment to the black bean patties I had at The Mustard Seed restaurant in the Low Country of South Carolina.  I get to be there again in a couple of weeks and see how close I came to the inspiration.  The chutney I made below is a sweet concoction spiced up with cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.  The recipe will be in the fall issue of Heirloom Gardener magazine.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Quick pickled beets recipe

My friend Grace's recipe for quick pickled beets - been in her family since forever.  And will be in my family since July 2013.  

A bunch of beets
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 stick cinnamon
4 whole cloves

Cook beets in skins until barely tender.  Cool, skin, and cut into shape.  Put remaining ingredients in saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved.  Allow to cool.  Pack beets in glass jar.  Cover with vinegar solution.  Store in fridge.  Best after a couple weeks.  

Below: my adorable nephew Fisher is checking out what I'm doing.  He's thinking "Wow, cousin Lyric's beets sure are purty.  Ima make finger foods out of those and rub them in my hair and down the back of my neck".  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

More pies and pineapple upside-down cake

It's a good thing pie season is coming to a close for us.  You'd think the 15 indicates the number of pounds put on this spring/summer, but it's the age of my oldest.  The age when I started dating her dad.  Ack!  This is her birthday pie.  Not so purty, but I can assure you this apple and mixed berry pie tasted good!

One thing this kid enjoys as much as eating baked goods - making baked goods.  This is the pineapple upside-down cake she made for her dad's birthday.  It was delicious!!!  I think we need a revival of the pineapple upside-down cake.  Is there a more decadent, moist, sweet, and attractive treat?  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mulberry picking and the treats that followed

We were really sad because a few years ago, someone from the city came around with a gigantic commercial vertical lawnmower and destroyed our secret spot that was full of mulberry trees.  A little while back, I was running and happened to encounter a spot where hundreds of perfectly sweet and ripe mulberries had rained down.  I ran home and came back with the reinforcements.  The rest of the day went to making delicious treats...

First I made a mulberry apple pie.  That was gobbled up.  

Next, I made a streusel topping... 

Then I made a mulberry syrup...

Then I made a cooked custard ice cream and folded the streusel and syrup in.  Oh my freaking yum.  So good.  But so labor intensive.  That might have been a one time deal.  

I also made a mulberry cobbler for the next morning's breakfast.  

 Finally, I made myself a little concoction of mulberry syrup, sparkling water, Tanqueray, and lime. Twas a fine day.

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