Monday, October 13, 2008

More pictures

Fall Fairy

This weekend was a glorious fall weekend. My daughter and I decided to do an outdoor photo shoot of her in her ballet costumes. We were aiming for a fall fairy look. I took hundreds of pictures, so it is no surprise that we got some that turned out really well. I would love to paint some pictures of some of these. I think my friend Elena Nazzaro's style would work extremely well--not that I could duplicate it even if I wanted to, but she has done inspiring work in the past with fairies and curly haired girls. My daughter has always been an outrageously delightful model for me. She is game for anything. The actress-in-her knows how to give the director-in-me what I want. She also gives recommendations for certain shots I never thought of but that she would like to try. She's a great kid, and I love documenting her childhood in these fanciful ways.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Forbidden Love--the postscript

I am going to make homemade pumpkin ice cream. Let's see my family wrestle with that dichotomy.

Forbidden love

Have you ever been in love, but your family disapproves quite vociferously? Okay, well I haven't...until now. It's fall. A glorious time to be a foodie. Except for one fact: my family hates winter squash in any form. Now my kids have learned to like a lot of foods over the years. Squash will not be one of them. Why? Because my husband carries on. If I serve eggplant which my kids hate and Mark likes, he will tell them to eat it; it's good. But with squash, he vehemently defends their rights to mutiny at the dinner table. Now, really, I have never been one to care about specific dislikes when cooking for my family. That may sound cruel, but out of the three of them, someone is bound to object. Daughter dislikes barbecue sauce and mashed potatoes, but likes escargot and calamari. Son likes chili and ribs but is only recently learning to like salads. And husband doesn't like: corn (unless it is fresh creamed), winter squash, sweet potatoes, blueberries, cooked carrots or cauliflower or broccoli, peas, sauerkraut (except in a reuben), blue cheese, or lentils. (I am sure this is not the complete list.)
So my solution to all of this has always been to cook a variety of foods. Like the weather in Pennsylvania, if you don't like what you get--wait a day. I try to use ingredients in unique ways, varying my presentation of said disdainful food so that the customer may find one preparation tolerable. That's how we found out that Mark likes fresh creamed corn and reubens.
Back to the romance. I made a recipe last night that was easy and to die for: Spaghetti Squash gratin. I adapted it from Wegman's website. Nuke the squash, spoon it into a dish with some grated asagio cheese, fresh herbs (which I still have), light cream cheese. Bake. Voila. Perfection. Served it will some sausage. We had Kielbasa, but smoked sausage would have been a good choice, too. I don't often post recipes, but I will for this one because I loved it so much. Alas, I am banned from making it ever again, but lucky for me, I got to eat all the leftovers for lunch today. Think of me when you are eating this or better yet--invite me over.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin (aka Romeo)

1 spaghetti squash (2-3 lbs), halved, stem to blossom end, and seeded
1 clove garlic chopped
Several T of fresh chopped herbs. I used oregano, thyme, and parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1 pkg (8 oz) Light cream cheese
1 cup grated Asiago cheese (You could use Parmesan or Romano)

You'll Need: 2-qt shallow casserole dish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place squash, skin side up (one half at a time), on microwave-safe dish; cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH 10-12 min, until tender. Let rest covered 10-15 min, until cool enough to handle; carefully remove plastic wrap to avoid steam.
Run tines of fork lengthwise over cut surface of squash to loosen spaghetti-like strands; scoop out strands. If necessary, drain excess liquid. Set aside.
Combine garlic, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, cream cheese, and 2/3 cup cheese in small bowl. Fold into squash; place in shallow ovenproof casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Bake 20 min or until lightly browned.

Chef Tip(s):May be cooked in individual ramekins.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Going Green

Two things have happened in the last week that have made me launch into some obsessive behavior: the market crash and the threat of frost. I watched the presidential debate last night and listened to Obama and McCain talk about the economy. I think I am one of the Main Street folks they keep talking about--even though my address labels say I am even further off the beaten path. This downturn in the economy has affected our family and those around us--has for years. Several years ago, my husband lost his job. More recently he left a job under the threat of extinction. If I hadn't left my job, I am sure I would have been shown the curb. We've had holes in insurance coverage. My brother-in-law is currently out of a job. The latest Wall St/mortgage crisis is hitting home. I am personally nervous. It's not just that I don't have the green--its that money itself isn't as green as it used to be. Where is the security?

Enter the frost warning. My garden is lush with herbs. Beautiful. Verdant. Thriving now that the days aren't so hot and dry. It is a bounty I don't want to squander. I don't know what the economic future will bring, but I have herbs. NOW! So with my trusty pug, kitchen shears, and a large basket I go to harvest what may be my last harvest. The stuff comes in by the bucket full. But what to do? With apples I can make pie or sauce. Some herbs can dry, but I am not looking for dry herbs. So, I plug in my food processor, empty my freezer of all kinds of nuts, get out my trusty jug of olive oil, and do the only thing I know to do. I make pesto.

Walnut Parsley pesto
Lemon Arugula pesto
Sage-basil pesto
Oregano-Chive pesto
Tarragon Pesto
Mint almond Pesto
(I already made and froze traditional basil pesto in September.)

I didn't have enough containers, so I started freezing batches in ice cube trays and then popping them into freezer bags. You wouldn't believe the shades of green I encountered. Sage basil was olive in color because I added some purple basil to the mix (Think $5 bill). The oregano was the lightest, most yellow. Mint was dark too, more like evergreen. The arugula was perhaps the brightest green because of the fact that I blanched my arugula before using. And after each batch I taste-tested on a cracker with goat cheese. My palate got a little tired, so I really can't pronounce a favorite. I really liked the tarragon, but that was my first.

So, now I've socked some green away for winter. Looking back at the products of my two-day surge with the food processor, I admit the obsessiveness of it all. My freezer is basically green and red (from a similar bout of tomato mania). Who does that? But, if economic conditions persist, I can feed my family with a box of spaghetti or a cup of cornmeal. And, who knows, maybe the garlic in pesto will keep the financial scavengers away.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Haiku with sullen teenager

My son didn't want to go to the country music Fall Fest. We forced him. I have pictures of him reading his book while his sister is dancing. It was a long day. I tried to entertain him in the lull between singers. Save him from his boredom. I sent him a text on his new phone.

Lets have a Haiku contest. Best Haiku wins. Loser buys winner a funnel cake.

He sent a text response.

how about we not
its not a good idea
and I don't want to

I bought him a funnel cake.

Country Poet

This weekend started off at the Lancaster Literary Guild with a poetry reading from Barbara Buckman Strasko, Lancaster's Poet Laureate. Sam Atlee also read some of his shorts stories. I ended the weekend by going to a country music concert with many artists and headlined by JoDee Messina.
Poetry and country music. Makes me want to get dressed tomorrow in a black turtleneck accessorized with a rhinestone belt.