Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Memorial Day Meal

I was gong to default to brats and sauerkraut for our Memorial Day cook out, but as much as I love brats and sauerkraut...I decided to do something a little bit healthier this year...

I marinated a couple chicken breasts in low fat plain yogurt with salt, pepper and 6-8 chopped up cloves of garlic for 5-6 hours in the frige...

Making and reserving some extra marinade on the side to use as a sauce with dinner.

After a bit on the grill, the chicken was very moist and flavorful.

Then, I had been intrigued by a recipe I saw for a watermelon & tomato salad, 
so I decided to make that as well...

Very simple...sliced up heirloom tomatoes, and slices of watermelon.  Drizzled with a vinaigrette of 3 T olive oil and 2 T red wine vinegar.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and torn basil leaves.

Something very nice and refreshing about the 
sweetness of the watermelon and tartness of the vinegar.

Love that!

And then my go-to  French potato salad recipe from the Barefoot Contessa.

Boil 2 lbs. red potatoes until fork tender...dress with a combination of:

  • 2 tablespoons good dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons good olive oil
Toss with 6 Tablespoons of fresh, mixed, chopped herbs...
I like thyme, dill, rosemary, parsley, chives, rosemary, sage and basil.  
But any combo will do...

Add 1/4 cup chopped scallions.  Give  a couple big stirs.

Serve warm or at room temp.  So delicious and more light and flavorful than the old standby.

All this healthy eating so we could indulge in this...
Home-made brownies with pecans and vanilla ice cream!

We can't be ALL good!!  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Life on the Farm

Ever since we moved to the East Coast, almost 3 years ago, I have wanted to do a farm stay--pack up the kids for a weekend and stay on an actual working farm with animals, a big garden--the whole thing.  Greg diligently researched all sorts of options but ultimately he found and liked this place the best:

...a bed and breakfast very close to the heart of Amish country in Lancaster County and about a 2 hour drive for us.  Greg had come across an article on the place in The New York Times.  And even though the article was written in 2004, our experience was pretty close to the writer's...not much has changed...the place is celebrating 45 year in business.  Pretty amazing.  We were the only first-timers out of the 8 families who were there this weekend; this was the 6th annual visit for one of the families.

Eileen and Galen Brenner, 75 & 78 are the owners...parts of the house date back to the Revolutionary War and the property is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.  Now, its an 130 acre dairy farm with 550 cows and since 1965 its been a thriving bed and breakfast....they are pretty much booked solid with reservations because people make them a year in advance (upon checking out for the next year!)  The only reason we got in is because Greg checked the website and their was a last-minute cancellation that we grabbed...

This is Rocky, the 2 month old baby pet goat.  A totally awesome, adorable little creature that followed us around like a puppy....At dusk, he would do little twists and kicks and run around having fun, feeling its oats, I guess(?).  So sweet and I nearly tucked him away in our car when we left--this little guy has so much personality, we all fell hard for him!

After breakfast, there were all sorts of rides for all the kids: Pony rides on Cookie--the miniature horse.  A sort of home-made train ride--with each kid in their own 50-gallon drum converted to a little train car. And a hay ride that took us around the gorgeous country-side and thru an old covered bridge.

After this we headed for Lancaster County and went to the touristy town of Intercourse--which (besides having a name that is hard to say with a straight face) is the heart of Amish County...We found it to be pretty commercialized but we got some really good home-made pretzels...

(Immergut--always good!)

The best part about the town, to us, was the Amish Quilt Museum we came across...these photos do not do it justice but the quilts were all made by Amish women and were truly spectacular.  The pattern for top photo is called Cathedral Windows and over 30 yards of muslin were used to make it. The one below is a Queen-sized quilt that is all entirely hand stitched across one single piece of fabric...I can't even really wrap my brain around that kind of craftsmanship...it was beyond beautiful.

After seeing the town, we did some back-country touring; we came across Lapp Vally Farm and stopped there for ice cream...I am not exaggerating when I say that this was probably the best ice cream I have ever had in my entire life.  It probably also had the highest fat content of any ice cream I have ever had in my entire life, but at $2 a cone, how could we not try it..

This is a busy time of year in the country and we saw many men and horses plowing fields--getting ready to plant.  We saw horse-drawn buggies racing along, a horse-drawn wagon full of little boys with straw hats and Amish-style haircuts.  We saw little girls making their way down long country roads on a sort of push scooter.  It is all so gorgeous to me and we felt sort of odd intruding...I certainly did not take any photos.  Just tried to smile and say hi when appropriate.  I can't help feel like they have it right and if I could,  I would give up all this modern mumbo jumbo, in a heart beat, to live like them--simply and close to the land; making everything that is needed...I know it is not an easy life (I think "easy" can be a bit over-rated), but their lifestyle of community, hard-work, and making things by hand does seem, to me, more closely to how we humans are supposed to be living...

but, oh,  anyway, back to the farm...
(The Amish just make me wistful...)

When we got back from our outing, some new friends that we met over breakfast were headed to the creek to go fishing...we asked if we could tag along and pretty soon Magda and Luca were getting their first fishing lessons.  

Crazy enough, Magda caught her very first fish!
 After some help in getting it free, 
she set it back in the water and watched it swim away...

The worms were HUGE, by the way...biggest ones I have ever seen.  Our new friends bought them from a couple Amish boys: $2 for a dozen; dug up fresh to order!

The kids fell in love with all the animals but Luca had a special affection for a little lamb and Magda, as you can guess, wanted to take one the kittens home. 

(I could have been convinced, but Greg wasn't having it...)

Rocky Acre Farm is a very special place and the kids had such a great time.  
It just seemed kind of natural fit, the way it should be: kids on a farm...
It was like they were right at home.

Made me want to pack up the city living and head out to the country for good!!

One of these days, we just might do that...

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Happy Mother's Day

 I had a very lovely Mother's Day...it was filled with all good things:

lots of beautiful flowers

a delicious, home-cooked breakfast....

and lots of heart-felt, loving notions on wonderfully hand-made cards.

plus there was coffee and croissants...

from Luca

from Magda

from Whole Foods...

Really, a wonderful, lovely day. 

Sometimes I cannot believe I am a mother...

Such an awe-inspiring thing--to care for little ones; its almost heart-breaking in the 
scope of reality and the responsibility one takes on to care for fledglings--to know that you hold such a little life (or lives) in your hand...it's a lot.

Sometimes, I  can't believe I am actually doing it...I keep thinking I am going 
to screw something up--or maybe I already have...

But so far, so good--I think.   

I will continue to keep on doing what I am doing, as a mother--hoping that I am getting it right.  

And, if the croissants keep coming, I think I can pretty much assume that I am on the right track...

: )

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Garden of 2012

For the last couple weeks, 
I have been working on getting our garden plot ready:
 getting the soil amended and our brand new, baby plants in the ground...

This weekend was the final push to getting it all done.  

A couple weekends ago, I made these planter beds.  
Very easy...I went to Home Depot with the kids and we asked the nice lumber guy for help. 
He cut the wood down to size and showed me what brackets and screws to get.

Greg widened the walk ways he put in last year
with one more row of bricks to make for a bit more room.

I wanted to just be simple this year...herbs and flowers; 
tomatoes, summer squash & cucumbers...
lettuce, strawberries and red peppers. 

 Magda LOVES red peppers.

We'll do the tomatoes like last year...
twisting heirloom indeterminate varieties around a string trellis.

Watching them grow up, up, up.

Magda planted some nasturtium seeds in a pot...

and our pretty violet pansies left over from Easter...

and I think all I have to do now, for a little while anyway... is water, weed and watch.

Occasionally, we stopped to take a break from all the planting and gardening.
Magda found these breaks the perfect opportunity to practice her signature move:

Jump roping, backwards...with her eyes closed...on one leg...

Luca thinks it's pretty awesome.

Made for a pretty great weekend...