Sunday, June 28, 2009

Being productive

It's peach time in South Carolina!

We had a wonderfully productive weekend. Both of us took Friday off and used it as our regular Saturday - relaxing, some yardwork, catching up etc. So when Saturday and Sunday actually came along, we got lots done. Here's a rundown:

1. Went for a hike with Kane at Crowder's Mountain State Park

2. Picked the first tomatoes in the garden. Yes, that is a penny - aren't the maters cute???? :-) These are sweet currant tomatoes that I grew from seed with seeds from Seed Savers Exchange.

3. Picked the first cucumbers. Yum!

4. Sean made a giant teabag from jute and suede cord to make manure tea for the garden. Here he is sewing it together. Sean actually once took first place in craftsman skills at his local 4H by sewing a dress for one of his sisters! :-)

5. Shopp
ed at the local farmstand and got fresh blueberries, rhubarb (not local!), white corn and strawberries.

Blueberry Breakfast Bars

6. Made these Blueberry Breakfast Bars with the fresh local blueberries. This photo was taken 5 minutes after it came out of the oven. Haha. Just kidding. But we're chowing it down pretty quickly! If you like bluberries, please, please try this Foodie Farmgirl recipe. You won't be sorry!

7. Felt very sad at the news of my friend's 6 month old puppy drowning in a freak accident. Little Davey Crockett will be missed. I will miss your snapping kisses and your boundless energy. We love you lots, J. Sometimes, life just doesn't seem fair. Love with all you have.

8. Went to Greensboro to meet my dog training girls for an obedience training session which was great. More on that in my other blog. Here is Bronco and Jackie working on the jumps.

9. Sean weed-whacked the entire garden. Love you, honey!

10. Sean installed a drip-irrigation system in the veggie garden. The tomatoes love you, honey!

11. Celebrated my neighbor Gaye's birthday with a giant bouquet of kitchen garden herbs, coneflowers and black-eyed Susans. Happy double nickel, neighbor!

12. Almost finished cleaning the green bedroom! Yeay - I can see the floor!

13. Canned peaches. (9pm on Sunday night....). I used TennZen's recipe and canning instructions over here. She has excellent recommendations for safe canning practices which can also be found here. She has also written this post on various unsafe methods (which I have in several of my (recently published) cookbooks.

Sean made me a funnel! Nice...

14. Blogged about it.

I hope you all had wonderful either productive or relaxing weekends, or perhaps they were one and the same. Despite the productiveness, my thoughts are with everyone that lost someone this weekend, which seems to be many, both public figures and friends. May everyone eventually find some peace after all this sadness.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Midsommar!

It may not have escaped your notice that I grew up outside the boundaries of the US of A. :-)
I was born and raised in Sweden, and came over here when I was 18 years old with my family. Yup, I'm Swedish through and through - here legally though, no worries.

Many Swedes favorite holiday is Midsommar, or Midsummer. It is a celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and traditionally a large maypole is raised, decorated with birch-branches and flower wreaths. People wear traditional folk costumes and there is good food, plenty to drink and lots of good cheer. Midsummer used to be the time when people thought magic was at it's strongest and so it was a good time to perform rituals. One such ritual was for young girls to pick seven different kinds of wildflowers, place them under their pillow before going to sleep and they were then supposed to dream about the future husband. I'm all set in that area, so no sleeping on wildflowers for me anymore. :-)

The Spread.

The traditional food is the freshest, first harvest from the garden: new potatoes, fresh strawberries and the like. My mom and I like to put on a very Swedish menu so this year we made gravlax (marinated salmon) with dill-mustard sauce, new potatoes out of our garden, some fresh bread and a yummy cake with strawberries and our own blueberries. My grandmother also serves "kassler" or Canadian bacon sliced thick with a pineapple-mayo-peas and whipped cream kind of sauce. Sounds weird but it's delicious. We also had some home-made bread and some cucumbers.

Here is the recipe for Swedish Gravlax:

For 1 kilo of gravlax (2.2 pounds, for 6-8 people)

I freeze my salmon before marinating it to make sure it is safe, and then I take it out of the freezer so that it is just about defrosted when I add the marinade.

4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp salt
2 white pepper corns - smashed
lots of chopped dill (1-2 cups)

Leave the skin on the salmon. Cut out or pull out all large bones. Cut the salmon in half on the short end.
Rub the sugar,salt and pepper mix on the meat side, pat it into the fish (don't wipe off) and put 2 pieces meaty side together with the chopped dill in between.
Put the thick side against the thin side of each half.
Put all of this into double plastic bags and put in the fridge for 1-2 days. Turn the bags about once a day.
Once done - scrape away the spice mix and throw away the salt fluids.
Cut in thin, thin strips and eat with gravlaxsas. (see recipe below)
You can freeze gravlax, or you can put it on the grill and quick-grill it for a more finished flavor.
I prefer mine raw!
It will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days!


Almost one cup of chopped dill
1 tsp salt + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup sweet swedish mustard (or 1-2 tsp dark french mustard, I've used Grey poupon in the past as well)
1 1/4 cups oil (canola)
Some ground white pepper
Some vinegar (optional)

Place half of the dill in the bottom of a round bowl
Add sugar and salt and rub it into the dill with a wooden spoon
Add mustard - mix well
Add the oil by dripping it into the mustard mix while CONSTANTLY stirring.
If you stop stirring, the sauce will not coagulate - it will separate.
You will end up with a nice thick, shiny sauce.
Add the rest of the dill and pepper to taste (1-2 turns), a splash of balsamic maybe

IF the sauce separates - add a few drops of lemon juice and stir again until it's mixed nicely.

My fabulous wine-glasses!

Did I perhaps say I wasn't going to eat cake until the wedding? Well, I obviously couldn't keep that promise with this guy/gal sitting in front of me....It has layers of strawberry mousse, blueberries, white chocolate mousse and strawberries. How can you go wrong?

Digging up new potatoes. Very fashionable outfit, ey? :-)

The happy farmers (it was a rough day at work for me, that's my excuse for looking horrible!)

Yeay - we have hot peppers (Wenk's yellow hot)! I can't wait to taste them!

We had a fabulous midsummer dinner, before I had to pack and go to Chicago on a businesstrip. It was a good trip but it's even better to be home. And there's still cake left!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Morning Glory

This morning, Kane and I went for a walk as usual. There was a slight fog, and it was humid after last nights rain. The air felt "full" and as the sun was coming up, there was a special kind of light. We walked up our long driveway to the street, Kane offleash as usual until we get to the mailbox. He usually bounces on ahead of me, sniffing this and that. All of a sudden he stopped and stared across the street at the neighbors house. A deer leaped across their front-lawn, and we both stopped and looked. It was a beautiful sight.
Even more beautiful was that Kane was loose and he didn't go chasing after the deer. :-) I'm quite sure I would not have enjoyed chasing my dog in the woods throughout the neighborhood at 6 o'clock in the morning.
After our walk, I figured I had seen enough sights that I really should go get my camera and take some shots. I missed the deer, but maybe there was something else....

Hello Gorgeous! I know you are still sleeping, and you will probably open up
while I'm not here, but you are such an amazing color, I had to take a picture.

Another beautiful daylily...

Then I picked some of these for our breakfast cereal. It's the northern highbush variety that produced these berries. They tasted very good! Of course, I shared with Sean.

And there are more berries to come!

That was the glory of my morning. I hope you too have wonderful mornings like this!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Onion Makes An Exit

These are busy times in our garden. Living in the southeast means that there is barely any spring time, instead summer smacks into you from behind and I feel a little bit like I'm playing catch-up all the time!
We spent all day Sunday in the yard and garden. Sean mowed the grass while I weeded the front decorative garden. I then moved on to the veggie garden where it was time for the onions and garlic to get yanked up out of the ground. I need the space for other stuff! :-)
I'm happy to report that our first garlic and onion crop was great. Not fabulous but great. I had four varieties of garlic and they all turned out decent sized. The white multiplier onions did good and so did the french red shallot. The potato onions were a bit on the small side, but I can imagine they pack more of a punch that way.
Now it's time for the tomatoes and peppers to grow so that we can make some salsa! Here are some more pics from the weekend.

White Multiplier Onions

The Garlic.

Parched eggplants and peppers. All the rain we had last week made the top layer rock hard. These kids need some mulch, I know.

I have about 3 or 4 peppers growing already, about thumbsize.

The space-alien tomato cages have landed. We got 29....

I have cherry tomatoes! They are so little, and so cute!

Here, I zoomed in so that you can see them. :-)


No honey, the grass never stops growing....

I leave you with a picture of my chamomille in the herb garden. Add some hot water, and we have a date!

Happy Gardening everyone! I hope you are not as stressed as I am! :-)