Monday, September 18, 2006

Summer's End

The weather guy has just said that there is a chance of frost on Tuesday night. I guess that means that summer is over. That also means I have some work to do in the garden. I was really hoping to have at least another weekend to get to it in some sort of controlled fashion. Maybe I'll just throw a couple of sheets over everything and hope for the best.

After the terrible heat we had this summer, my eggplants and peppers are putting on fruit like there's no tomorrow. Silly plants! My tomatoes are all but done and I'm sorry to see that end. It's been a fantastic year for herbs, though. They really liked that high heat and humidity. The basil, parsley and cilantro seeds that I planted in July are all coming up. Looks like I'll have lots of herbs to bring indoors to winter over in pots on my widow sill. Last year was the first time I tried doing that and it was wonderful having fresh herbs to use all winter long. I just went out in the garden and dug up the smallest of the plants, slapped 'em in a pot and put them on my window sill in the sun. I don't know why I waited so long to try this, it's so easy. I hope you try this, too.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

5 Things You Should Try Before You Die

Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups recently tagged me with Melissa's challenge to list the five things you would want to eat before you die. I'll admit that this is a pretty strange challenge. At first I thought she was asking what I would want to try before I die. Foods that I've never had, but always wanted to taste. And I couldn't think of a thing! I'm a simple woman with midwestern taste. Oh, sure, I've had fresh Maine lobster and steamed clams. Steak Tartare and cavier. I've even tried Escargot and absolutely loved it. But sushi will never pass these lips! My six year old grandson loves sushi, but the thought of raw fish makes me gag. I'm definitely not as brave as Eddie from Deep End Dining.

But now that I've actually gone over and read Melissa's challenge I understand that she is asking us in the blogosphere to name five things that we wish everyone in the world could taste because it is something that we've eaten and loved. That's not so bad! I can do that.

So, here are my choices:

1. Jay's Chicken - While the chicken is absolutely scrumptious (juicy and smokey with a wonderful barbeque flavor), its the process that you simply must experience! Five homemade barbeque tanks, 20 men milling around in an unspoken dance while turning 450 halves of chicken by hand and slathering on the "secret" marinade, dousing flames, drinking beer and laughing. All of these men are just ordinary guys - most of them are farmers. But all of them have been cooking this chicken for years. Jay is just the guy who inherited the first tank from whoever it was that started this tradition. They only cook their chicken in the summer, usually for some fundraiser or another. No one is paid (except in beer) and it is consistently wonderful chicken.

And what would go better with Jay's Chicken than pick No. 2:

2. Iowa Sweet Corn - Picked fresh from the field, quickly shucked and dropped into a kettle of boiling water. Slather that puppy with a ton of butter and eat it as hot as you can stand.

Then, of course there is:

3. Sweet Corn and Bologna Boil - Ring bologna and sweetcorn cooked together in that kettle of water. Husband No. 1 and I used to attend a summer party at the local state park where this was the main event. Either bring a ring of bologna or some sweetcorn, throw it in the big pot boiling over an open flame and fish out some that is already cooked. Pop open an ice cold beer - yum! You're in heaven. I cook some sweetcorn this way every summer. The bologna flavors the corn, and the corn returns the favor. I highly suggest this delicacy.

4. Heirloom Tomatoes - I happen to agree with Tanna on this one. Of course, any tomato picked and eaten while standing in the garden is wonderful, but the heirlooms have such a sweet taste. Deeper and more "tomato-y". I don't know the name of the one growing out there right now (it's striped and big), but it has the better flavor. And that's saying a lot! This has been our year for sweet, juicy tomatoes.

And, lastly:

5. Aunt Della's Macaroni and Tomatoes - This was very often the dinner we ate coming back from the garden. She would simply boil up some macaroni and heat up a jar of her home canned tomatoes to pour over it. Home canned is the best. When I get to craving this dish I will sometimes open a can of stewed tomatoes and make it, but it just doesn't taste as good. Sometimes the simplest things really are the best!

So, there you have it. The five things I would wish everyone could taste. Thanks, Tanna, this was fun!