Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Bit Of Catch Up

I've been a bad blogger. One post (besides this) for the month of October. I don't know what to tell you. Maybe I'll make up for it next month with NaBloPoMo, or as I'll be referring to it, I-NaBlaPoMo. Really, it is international. Unless they're referring to "Blogger Nation" which would be ridiculous.

I've been doing a lot of cooking this month. Lot's of recipes from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking. Behold, for example, the lurid pile below which I produced this evening:

This is a simple, traditional Japanese potato salad. I thought I'd bought red potatoes at the farm stand but in fact they are pink. Throughout. I think the pink gives my potato salad a certain Hello Kitty-ish air. Serendipity! This is the second batch I've made.

My favorite recipe from the book so far is Eggplant "Dengaku" Style. I also like the Tsukemono (Japanese Pickles) recipe which ends up being like a really tasty salad that will keep for a few days. What's not to love about a salad you make once and eat three or four times?

Speaking of salad, here's tonight's dinner:

Mixed greens, cucumber, raw golden beets, feta cheese, pecans and dried cherries. I don't know if eating a whole raw beet by oneself is allowed. If I have any problems with it I'll let you know.

Earlier today I also tried to make Kabocha Nimono from Let's Cook Japanese Food, by Amy kaneko. I'm not sure the item I cooked was a kabocha, a.k.a. Japanese pumpkin. I've never actually seen one that I know of. I bought a giant chunk of orange-fleshed, green-and-yellow-speckle-skinned pumpkin-like vegetable at the Super 88 market in Allston last week. It might have been kabocha. The dish didn't come out exactly as described but it's fine. It's not especially photogenic so just imagine rectangular orange chunks. That's about what it looks like. I've really got to work on my food styling.

Below is a photo of what happened to the last of the pears:

This is the Brown Sugar Pear Cake from Dorrie Greenspan's Baking, From My Home To Yours. This was another example of how things take longer to cook for me than they do in the book. While the cake looks well browned on the outside it could have cooked longer. I even tested it as directed with a long bamboo skewer poked to exactly half the depth of the pan and it came out clean. It wouldn't have if I'd poked it to a three-quarter depth. Think of that the next time you make a bundt cake. It's a very good cake though. You can really taste the brown sugar and the flavor goes well with the pear flavor.

That's not my kitchen by the way. That's the kitchen at my parents' beach house. Just if you care. And why would you?

Whoa, I've also been gardening my heinus off (that was a "Your Highness" pun - see, I'm clever and not very annoying) I ordered seven peonies and thirty-six lily bulbs this spring when I must have been smoking crack. It took me three days but I got most of them into the ground in locations I think they'll like. Never mind that I had a plague of lily leaf beetles this year. Well, really I do mind a lot. Along the way I learned that even when you have to make a really small hole (like for a bulb) it's much easier to use a full sized shovel rather than a trowel. A shovel can make a perfectly good, deep but thin slit in the ground between plants. It doesn't have to dig a trench.

Later in the week Michaela came by to help me with the garden's master plan, plotting which shrubs to buy and put in next and where they should go. While we were wandering around the jungle that was a vegetable garden about ten years ago (before I lived here) we stumbled on two more peonies. Michaela decided we should dig up, divide and move them. Well she dug them up and I was so glad it wasn't me that I told her so. One was normal sized and easy to split into three new baby peonies. The other was a mass of intertwined sweet potato-like roots bigger than a basketball. She said, "do you have a hatchet?" We need to go buy a hatchet but we do have an axe.

She was giving me all these directions like "Soak the root ball to remove the dirt until you can see where you want to make the divisions" and "when you divide the root ball make sure you wipe the blade with alcohol before each cut" and "don't worry if you lose a bud or two." She could tell I was getting scared about doing it myself. I gave her the axe and asked her to show me.

Then she took the axe and started CHOPPING AT THE THING like it was her ex's (or a certain politician's) HEAD! Now I was really scared. That's not peaceful, cool-headed "dividing," that's a massacre! And what happened to the alcohol? When she was done there were seven more viable baby peonies. She axe murdered that peony into a grand total of TEN MORE PEONIES that I had to find a place for! And then she left. She'd done the hard part after all. I gave her nine lily bulbs to take along. They'll be happier with her anyway. I don't think she has lily leaf beetles. She's my hero.

Somehow or other I found decent places to plant the ten new peonies (plus an armload of rooty things that might someday become peonies) by sunset the next day. With luck I'll have fifteen new peonies next spring (counting two divisions as old plants) Good thing I like peonies. They have beautiful foliage in the fall.

And now I will end with two photos of Fay that Pete took.

1 comment:

michaela said...

Halloween Gardening Tips from Michaela:

When a peony massacre involves multiple heads, or several individuals, one should clean the axe or hatchet with alcohol to prevent the spread of disease from one head to another head.

If massacring only one head, then the alcohol,(preferably rum), is only necessary for personal consumption.

PS: Carving pumpkins with an axe is a much more interesting and challenging process. I recommend saving the alcohol for the END of the procedure in this case.