Friday, July 20, 2012

I Hope Mother Nature Read The Books...

Heirloom Tomato
With much gratitude to the Rock Star for his daily watering, much of my garden is surviving the drought. I made it past the hail, and the rabbits and birds have left me some tasty delights. I have several varieties of tomatoes, including red cherry, heirloom Cherokee Purple, Early Girl and Roma. I’m hoping this will cover, salads, canning and sauces, sandwiches and eating right off the vine.
Dill Head - Seeds Anyone?
My herbs are doing beautifully. Apparently, neither the birds nor the baby rabbits like them.  I have dill, basil – lots of basil, although some of it has bolted – oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (don’t go there… it will give you an earworm).

Butternut Squash
I’ve adopted a combination of square foot gardening and the easy bag plan I found in Barbara Pleasant’s book. The bags in the center were planted with green beans and peas that were supposed to grow up the fencing and then I would add garden netting and teepees. Unfortunately, the birds were able to munch them faster than I could plant new seeds and what is left in the center now is summer squash, butternut squash and watermelon.  I only put a few seeds in each bag and skipped bags in between each crop so they will have room to spread.

Cucumber Blossom
Oh, and there is some grass and weeds in a space where I needed to put down weed barrier and mulch.  That's why you're not getting a full garden view photo just yet...I am totally flying by the seat of my pants. It all seems to make sense. I sure hope Mother Nature read the books…

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fresh From The Garden Recipe

Fresh Herbs From the Garden
The garden is starting to pay off! I have a lovely recipe for the basil, parsley and oregano that the rabbits have deemed icky (they don't seem to like herbs - lucky for me). 
Chicken With Zucchini

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cutlets or strips
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup fine breadcrumbs or whole wheat flour
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
1 T fresh minced oregano
Olive oil
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 sprig fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
4 zucchini cut lengthwise into paper  thin strips
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

Salt and pepper

On a plate, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan and oregano. Place the egg in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken into the egg and then into the bread crumb mixture to coat completely. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned on one side, flip, and cook until chicken is firm and lightly browned on the other side. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in another large skillet or sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, approximately 1 minute. Do NOT brown. Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer gently 15 to 20 minutes. Add the zucchini and, if needed, a small amount of water so the vegetables simmer and do not stick. Cook until zucchini is just softened and heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, quickly stir the ricotta into the vegetable mixture, place ¼ of mixture on each of 4 plates, top with chicken and sprinkle with parmesan.

I served this with fresh from my garden lovely cherry tomatoes in a balsamic dressing made by Rock Star - YUM! And soon I will have my own zucchini too!!

It would be terrific if you would share your zucchini recipes - I have a feeling I'll have quite a few....

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Renovation Angels Smiled Upon Me

Vanity Tray Before

I found this lovely early 1900s Victorian vanity tray at the Wentzville flea market. It is small, about 6 inches, and very sweet, but extremely dingy, and it came with one piece of clear glass. I washed and polished it and added just a tiny bit of gilt - not too much, I just wanted to restore a little of the original glamour. I don't feel too gilt-y about that...

Cleaned Vanity Tray Before
After researching similar pieces I discovered they originally came with beautiful handcrafted lace between two pieces of glass. Some I found had been replaced with mirror, but I really loved the lace. I spent long hours looking for just the right piece of lace online, but with no luck. I put my little tray in storage until I could decide whether to add a mirror. 
Vintage Vanity Tray with Mirror

And then the Angels smiled upon me... One of my many walks into town (uphill both ways) while in Grafton, Illinois lead me to the Grafton flea market where I found a fabulous piece of vintage Tenerife lace exactly the right size for my vanity tray. Since both pieces were of early 1900s vintage, I figured it was the perfect marriage.

Tenerife Lace with Cutwork Lace Center

Cutwork Lace Center
Years ago I took a stained glass class. I looked in the memory banks for how to cut a circle from glass (not easy as glass tends to break in straight lines). After one major boo boo and many shards later, I managed a second circle to sandwich the lace between.

Cut Glass Boo Boo

I’m very pleased with my refurbished vanity tray. Even though the lace is not exactly what one would have found in such a tray, it is a beautifully hand crafted and delicate vintage piece. I think this tray is a fabulous way to display it. What do you think?

Vanity Tray Refurbish With Tenerife and Cutwork Lace
I do think refinishing to exact original is wonderful, but when it is not possible to do so, I think its better to create a beautiful useful piece than to let orphaned items languish in boxes, don't you agree?

Sharing with Potpourri Friday