October 6, 2006

Friday, October 6, 2006

Wrapping Up the Garden...

Plus, a Recipe for Black 'n' Blue Dip/Sauce

No frost yet so the garden continues to blossom and bloom. I'm not sure I ever remember our first frost being this late, and while the fall weather is so gorgeous, I am just about ready to be done. The last tomatoes to pick, more potatoes to dig, tons of broccoli to cut, and an unprecedented third crop of corn all need attention.

Both the red and yellow onions did well this year and with the last few green peppers, I'm going to take the tomatoes and make salsa for the freezer. All I do is cut up the green peppers, onions and tomatoes into small pieces, add some garlic, parsley and cilantro, plus a good dash of olive oil. That's it.

Although we have canned salsa, we discovered last year that it froze beautifully, thawing to taste fresh-made. One of our favorite things to do with this salsa is to put it in a small fry pan, lay fish fillets on top and simmer until the fish flakes. Then we serve it in bowls with a thick slice of a French or Italian bread in the bottom. Quick, colorful, nutrition and filling.

Most of the broccoli and corn will go in the freezer and the potatoes will join the first crop in the bins in the root cellar. The glads are all out and stored while the dahlias are still blooming like crazy. I've been trying to clean up the garden a bit at a time, as I have a lot of new plant material coming and a lot of older stuff to move. Of course keeping the garden under perpetual mulch really makes things easier.

Now, on to that recipe I promised you. BUT, before I forget... Although I haven't yet figured out how to put pictures into this blog, Suzanne Almy Brown, webmaster par excellence at www.websitedesignonline.com has put two photos from my time on Mt. Washington on www.FrugalFamilyKitchen.com website and they look great. I hope you'll check out both sites.

Black 'n' Blue Dip/Sauce

This is one of those incredibly versatile recipes, a to-taste one that you can easily make your very own!

2 cups sour cream, yoghurt, or cream cheese, or better yet, some combination thereof
1 can black olives, drained (you can use any size olives)
8 oz bleu/blue cheese
2-3 tsp garlic (or to taste)
2-3 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)

I munch up the olives by hand, crumble the bleu/blue cheese the same way then mix all ingredients together. This is excellent with veggies, chips, crackers, on salad or baked potatoes, or best of all, it's absolutely delicious on pasta.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend! Mary

October 1, 2006

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Back Down to Earth...

With a few nights' deep sleep, life has settled into its normal rhythm after my one-week sojourn on top of Mt. Washington as the volunteer cook at the Mt. Washington Observatory. I've been asked LOTS of questions about the experience. Let me share them - and the answers - in case you too, wondered...

How did you get to do this? Everyone seems to think I must have...well, friends in high places! Not so. All YOU have to do to be eligible for this kind of adventure is become a member of the Mt. Washington Observatory and sign up as a volunteer. There is of course no guarantee that you'll get to cook in the clouds - the volunteer coordinator happened to call with a last-minute opening and it happened to be a week I had free - but there are so many ways you could help the Observatory with its education and research missions.

Did you take all your food up with you? I took nothing, just decided to "go with the flow." I'd never seen the facility, had no idea what the kitchen looked like, or who I'd be feeding,
but the info sent to me indicated a well-stocked pantry, and it WAS! If I go up again, there are some things I'd like to take with me... one of our own chickens for roasting, for example.

Was it hard to feed folks I didn't know? Absolutely not! Everyone was so very appreciative of everything served. Even if it was something they wouldn't normally eat or weren't crazy about, they were wicked good about trying things. AND, I kept telling them they'd better be honest if they didn't like something because otherwise I'd cook that same dish every time I ever go back up there!

Will you share the recipes you cooked? Most are in The Frugal Family Kitchen Book, but one that wasn't, the Black and Blue Dip/Sauce, I'll share in the next blog posting.

Would I do it again? Without hesitation! I'd even go up in the winter and believe me, that's no small commitment! If I do this again, I'll take my knitting, I'll invite Bert up for an overnight (he has NO interest in going longer than that), and I think I'll most definitely do some hiking, especially over to the Lake of the Clouds.

If you have any interest in the Mt. Washington Observatory or weather in general, please visit the Weather Discovery Center on Main Street in North Conway. Operated by the Observatory, the Center offers a wonderful array of information, activities, and outreach programs (their education staff makes classroom visits). AND, if you go to the Conway area for leaf-peeping or holiday shopping, be sure to visit the Center for terrific - and unusual - gift ideas. From weather stations for beginning weather observors to some pretty sophisticated instruments for the more seasoned weather buff, posters, maps, and charts , books for all ages from guide and activity books to memoirs, clothing... and much more!

And now it's back to earth... time to wrap up the garden for the year, put the perennials to bed, and put all the beds under mulch for their long winter's nap.