Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beam me up Nana!

I've probably not chronicled here the extremes of my mom's love for Star Trek. But, she is both a free spirit and a devoted Trekkie, even having braved a Las Vegas convention in her 70s. Her checks have images from the original series, she of course has taped every show of every Trek franchise at least once, and her TV is tuned to Spike more often than not.

The fact that her dedication has lasted well into her 80s is no doubt enough to set her apart from most of the rest of both the fan pack and the octogenarian crowd. This week, however, I dare suggest she's solidified her unique position as Most Devoted 87-Year Old Star Trek Fan. Ever.

Pictures are worth 1000 words. In this case, maybe 10,000.

You go girl!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spicy Thai curry for hot summer nights

I recently ventured into the Seattle Cash and Carry store, a restaurant supply warehouse, and must admit to a strange mixture of awe and recoil. On the one hand, much of its wares lift the veil on how most restaurant dishes really come together (don't ask). On the other, a little careful shopping with a keen eye on the ingredient list can reap some excellent finds - always cheap and sometimes just plain better than retail grocery stores can stock.

After eyeballing the fine print on a tub of Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste - 1 tenth (10th!) the cost of supermarket jars of similar paste and, it turns out, vastly fresher - I developed this very simple way to let it shine. No tricks here, just good ingredients and time.

It'll give you a good sweat on hot day - the way tropical climes work through blistering heat.

Enjoy ~

Thai Red Chicken Curry – the full-flavored, slow-food way

This isn’t something you throw together with cellophane wrapped factory produced chicken parts. Start with a whole, organic or at least free-range chicken and build a foundation for a truly rich, nuanced Thai curry. It’s not hard – it just takes patience.

This makes enough for 6-8 servings.


2 tbsp peanut oil, plus 1 tsp
Half of one yellow onion, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2 inch pieces and each piece smashed with the broadside of a knife
1 whole free range or organic chicken
2 C chicken broth or homemade stock
2-3 TBS excellent quality Thai red curry paste
3 cans coconut milk
1 pound crimini mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
1 bunch cilantro
2 tsp coarse sea salt
juice of 2 limes

Rinse the chicken and place it on a cutting board back side up. Press the heel of your hand against the backbone until it cracks. Then, take shears and cut up the back until you have split the whole chicken. Cut the chicken up into 6 basic parts – don’t worry too much about it b/c you’ll be taking the meat off the bone later.

In a deep dutch oven, heat the 2 tbs peanut oil and then sauté the onion and lemongrass until the onion starts to become translucent. Push it into a bank on one side of the pan and place the chicken pieces in the pan. Pour the broth into the pan. In a 2nd small pot, pour a tsp of peanut oil in and heat it gently, then add the paste. Once soft, pour the cans of the coconut milk in and warm and mix until the paste has dissolved into the milk. When the solution is relatively uniform, pour it into the chicken pot.

Cook until the chicken is still moist but mostly cooked through, about 40 minutes – turn chicken once or twice in the process. Using tongs, take chicken pieces out and place on a large plate to cool.

While chicken is cooling, throw mushrooms, cilantro, and salt into broth and simmer. The chicken will take 15 – 20 minutes to cool; cook the broth and its additions on lowest setting while the chicken cools.

Pull chicken off bone and tear into bite-sized pieces. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the broth and divide soup into bowls. Pass quartered lime pieces at the table.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First greenhouse work day

There's something about a greenhouse....


Not sure, but it sure smells good in there - like Life - and seeing all our happy plants in their own digs, away from the weeds and grass and livestock and general overall chaos that is swirling just outside acts as a tonic on the farmer's soul somehow.

Here's how the morning went: I spent about 2 hours organizing the space, with a few trial and errors before coming up with a sys
tem for all the plants I've been nervously but optimistically babying for some weeks now in the hopes that a true greenhouse may at some point materialize.

Then my wonderful boys came out and we gave as many tomatoes as we could their final potting up into tubs that will take them through the season, courtesy of pals Judith and Terry who had such tubs to spare and share.

Then, it was back to getting everybody where they needed to be. And there they are.

A thing of beauty.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Just in time for the heat wave!

But who cares???

If I don't burst into tears writing this post, it will be a miracle. Just four short months after purchasing the greenhouse, it is up.

Last night, pals arrived with work gloves in hand and appetites on hold as the day's heat was just ebbing. We got right to it and less than an hour later - voila. A bona fide, honest-to-goodness, real, live greenhouse. And shadecloth! It now being July and all.

Satisfied, if not more than a litt
le damp and sticky, we turned our attention to those growing appetites. Bruschetta with our budding crop of basil got slathered onto olive oiled slices of baguette and quickly consumed while I mixed together just-picked fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil to brush onto a couple of NW salmon fillets and toss with creamy, just-dug baby yukon golds.

Out of the oven and gone lickety split inbetween kids making chocolate ice cream and grown-ups talking politics.

Thank you one and all for taking us into the next phase of this little enterprise and sticking around so we could enjoy your company.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Birthday in paradise

A belated thank you to Mark and Dylan all my bestest pals who spent an atypically gorgeous early June Saturday relaxing at one of my favorite places in all the world - Dockton Park. Dockton is an under-used jewel that on a fine summer day has something for any and everyone - play structure and swings for the little ones, beach, docks to walk out on and admire boats from, picnicking in the shade and sun-soaking on the lawn, even showers for rinsing off the sea salt after a kayak or some excellent hunts for teeny crabs.

We spent the day in lazy conversation and, of course, elbow deep in delicious, wondrous summer fare while the kids played and kayaked. Behold the world's most beautiful salad, courtesy of ex-pro chef Christy.

Thanks one and all for making it such a special day ~