Tuesday, August 22, 2017

THE BEE




How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From each and every flower

Poet and Hymn Writer



Monday, August 21, 2017

MONDAY RECIPE POST - SWEET AND SPICY BEEF WITH JASMINE RICE AND CRISPY SHALLOT


One of the three meals delivered this week included the recipe below.  Though we enjoyed the others this was our favorite.  You can check out Blue Apron here.  The actual recipe was on this page.

Sweet and Spicy Beef with Jasmine Rice and Crispy Shallot

Cooking time: 35 to 45 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories per meal: 790

10 ozs. Ground Beef
1/2 cup Jasmine Rice
4 ozs. Sweet Peppers
2 cloves Garlic
2 Scallions
1 Lime
1 Summer Squash
1 bunch Cilantro and Mint
2 tablespoons Rice Flour
2 teaspoons Golden Mountain Sauce
1 Bird's Eye Chile Pepper
1 Shallot
1 tablespoon of Honey

Cooke the rice:

Remove the honey from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature.

In a small saucepan combine the rice, a big pinch of salt and 1 cup of water.  Heat to boiling on high.  Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low.  Cook 12 to 14 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.  Turn off the heat and fluff rice with a fork

Prepare the ingredients:

While the rice cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce.

Peel and thinly slice the shallot; place in a medium bowl.

Large dice the squash.

Cut off and discard the sweet pepper stems; halve lengthwise, then remove and discard the ribs and seds.  Thinly slice crosswise.

Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice, separating the white bottoms and green tops.

Peel and roughly chop the garlic.

Quarter the lime.

Pick the cilantro and mint leaves off the stems; discard the stems.

Cut off and discard the stem ends of the chile pepper; thinly slice into rounds. Thoroughly wash your hands immediately after handling the chile pepper.

Coat and fry the shallot:

Add the flour to the bowl of shallot; season with salt and pepper.  Toss to thoroughly coat.

In a large pan (nonstick if you have one), heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high until hot.  Once the oil is hot enough that a piece of shallot sizzles immediately when added to the pan, add the coated shallot in a single layer (tapping off any excess flour before adding).  Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned and crispy.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; immediately season with salt and pepper.  Rinse and wipe out the pan.

Cook the vegetables:

In the same pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.  Add the squash and sweet peppers.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned.  Turn off the heat; stir in the green tops of the scallions.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to a bowl; set aside in a warm place.  Wip out the pan.

Cook the beef and make the sauce:

In the same pan heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.  Add the ground beef; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned.

Add the garlic, white bottoms of the scallions, honey, Golden Mountain sauce, the juice of 2 lime wedges, 2 tablespoons of water and as much of the chile pepper as you like, depending on how spicy you want the dish to be.

Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thorooughly combined and the beef is cooked through.  Turn off the heat.

Plate your dish:

Divide the cooked rice between 2 dishes.  Top with the cooked beef and sauce, and cooked vegetables.  Garnish with the fried shallot, cilantro and mint (tearing the mint leaves just before adding), and remaining lime wedges.

Enjoy!




We both enjoyed this dish and look forward to putting our own spin on it as we will definitely be making it again.

Our own spin being that the only change we decided would be not adding the mint, just the cilantro.  However, we would much prefer Thai Basil to go with this dish.  I'm sure that parsley would be a good substitute too.

Our package came with three of those small Bird's Eye Peppers.  We added all of them and far from it being hot and spicy, it wasn't over the top.  I only detected a little heat here and there, which I tolerated easily.  I am not sure what we would substitute for the Bird's Eye Peppers as I have never seen them by that name in our local store, not even the Asian supermarket where we buy quite a lot of our supplies.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

A BIRTHDAY, A PHOTO AND A QUOTE - 2 OF 3



It is my son's birthday today.  This is for him.
Happy Birthday My Darling Boy-Now A Man, but always our child.  That's the way life is, as parents we watched you grow into a wonderfully confident, outgoing adult, full of kindess and strength of character, but you will always be 'our sweet child'.  We are so proud of you.   


This is a photo of him with my niece who now lives in Germany.  At the time (1986) she and her family were living in Norway and we were lucky enough to visit them.  I remember taking this photo vividly, following them as we all walked down to the water's edge.  I have shared it before during my blogging years, but it is a favorite so I hope you will indulge me as I share it again.

Oh my goodness, how time flies!



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

MOUNT VERNON''S UPPER GARDEN - PART 2


I am sharing the last of the photos I took at the Upper Garden, at least until I get there another time.  No more narrative, just the photos.





































































Monday, August 14, 2017

MOUNT VERNON''S UPPER GARDEN - PART 1


As you may remember, if you have popped in on a regular basis, we visited Mount Vernon with my distant cousin Bill from New Zealand (story here if you missed how that came about) back in July.  After touring the home of George Washington, Gregg and Bill went to the museum and I went to the garden...


which is beyond the fence.


The building you see below is the Greenhouse.  Unfortunately it was closed that day, but I had a lovely time elsewhere.  At this site you can listen to the director of horticulture tell you some of its history.


There are all kinds of interesting facts about this place here.








These pretty flowers had other visitors besides me.  For the most part I had the place to myself.  Here again it was a very hot day and you know that old Noel Coward line about "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun"?  I suppose that could apply to me as far as flowers and opportunity are concerned.  



I knew I wouldn't be back here for a while and wanted to make the most of it.  I paid attention to how I felt and did a relatively quick tour before joining Gregg and Bill near the museum.  The air-conditioned building was very welcome.




Black-eyed Susans


I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the flowers, the coneflowers were abundant.


The orange flower below is a Toad Lily or Blackberry Lily (interesting site here - it highlights several pretty flowers)


I will have more flowers to share from the Upper Garden in a future post.

MONDAY RECIPE POST - SALMON AND FREEKAH SALAD WITH SWEET PEPPERS, DATES AND OLIVES




Salmon and Freekeh Salad with Sweet Peppers, Dates and Olives

An ongoing series of Blue Apron Recipes.  This one can be found here.

Cooking time: 50 to 60 minutes
Serves: 2
Calorie count per serving: 810

2 skin-on Salmon Filets
3/4 cup Cracked Freekeh
4 ozs. Sweet Peppers
2 cloves Garlic
4 ozs. fresh Spinach
1 Lemon
1 bunch of Oregano
1 bunch of Parsley
2 tablespoons of Roasted Almonds
1 oz. Castelvetrano Olives
1 oz. dried Medjool Dates
1 tablespoon of Salmon Spice Blend (Sumac and Sesame Seeds)

Cook the freekeh:

Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high.  Once boiling add the freekeh and cook, uncovered, 23 to 25 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot.  Set aside in a warm place.

Prepare the ingredients:

While the freekeh cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce.

Finely chop the parsley leaves and steams. Transfer to a bowl.

Pick the oregano leaves off the steams; discard the stems and finely chop the leaves.  Transfer to the bowl of parsley.

Quarter and deseed the lemon.

Peel and finely chop the garlic (or use a garlic press).

Cut off and discard the pepper stems; halve lengthwise, then remove and discard the ribs and seeds.  Cut the peppers crosswise into 1/4 inch thick pieces.

Using the flat side of your knife, smash the olives; remove and discard the pits, then roughly chop.

Pit and roughly chop the dates.

Make the sesame salsa verde:

While the freekeh continues to cook, to the bowl of parsley and oregano, add the spice blend, the juice of 2 lemon wedges, up to half the garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the vegetables:

While the freekeh continues to cook, in a medium pan (nonstick if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.

Add the peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and softened.

Add the spinach and remaining garlic; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat and stir in the juice of 1 lemon wedge.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to the pot of cooked freekeh.

Wipe out the pan.

Cook the salmon:

Pat the salmon filets dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides.

In the same pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot.

Add the seasoned filets, skinless side down.  Cook 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, or until lightly browned.  Flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked to your desired degree of doneness.  Turn off the heat.

Finish the freekeh and plate your dish:

While the salmon cooks, to the pot of cooked freekeh and vegetables, add the olives, dates, almonds, the juice of the remaining lemon wedge, and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!



There was a mixed reaction to this dish.  Gregg doesn't really like salmon but I was impressed he at least tried it. He says he finds it interesting because he likes every other type of fish.  I have him to thank for encouraging me to broaden my taste in seafood. This salmon was plainly cooked with only salt and pepper to season.  I like salmon any which way so no problem, but I think next time we will be getting another type of fish to cook along with the filet of salmon for me.  

The freekah was new to both of us.  I enjoyed it, especially as it was mixed with many interesting ingredients, and I found it quite tasty.  

We both added a few dashes of Sciracha to the Freekah, which gave it a little extra zip. I was careful how much I added as I am not much of a hot sauce person.  We both enjoyed the added chopped olives and dates.  Gregg also added Teryaki Sauce.   

It wasn't called for but we chopped up the almonds to disperse it better throughout.

The salsa verde, I liked it more and Gregg thought it was okay, but he didn't like the addition of the oregano.  We could leave that out next time.

It's important for us to note how much we enjoy each meal.  The previous one he liked a lot and I didn't, though for the life of me I can't remember what it was now.  

I think we have to be careful on the cooking time of the salmon as I felt the four minutes made it a tad overdone.  

Gregg decided to forego the salmon.  After trying a small piece it was wrapped up and refrigerated and I ate it for lunch the next day.  

I guess you could say one thumb's up and one thumb's down on this dish.  Most of the time our liking for certain foods is very similar, but there are also areas where our tastes differ, as with this dish.  

I was surprised to see how high the calorie count was in one servings, 850 calories, but will factor that in and we can go carefully the rest of the day. 

I am not familiar with Sumac (part of the spice blend for the Salsa Verde) and looked it up.  If you go to this link you can find that information.  It says a good substitute for this spice is lemon zest combined with a little salt.




I will make this again but would put a different fish on the shopping list.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A FLOWER AND A QUOTE





"When bright flowers bloom, parchment crumbles,
my words fade, the pen has dropped."
~Morpheus~


Saturday, August 12, 2017

MOUNT VERNON INN RESTAURANT


Last week on a very rainy day, we decided to pop over to the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant for lunch.  I also wanted to look around the gift shop.  A little early for Christmas shopping yes, but I picked up a couple of gifts anyway.  There were so many pretty things in there and I loved browsing around.  It is a great shop, two shops actually across the hall from each other.  


We took Cousin Bill there a few weeks ago, looked around George Washington's home first and then went for a bite to eat at the restaurant.  (If you missed that post you can click on the red lettering at the beginning of this paragraph.  Scroll down and you will see us having a meal in the restaurant.)  


As it poured down outside and felt more like a fall day than summer, Gregg said this would be a good day to go and have a bowl of their peanut and chesnut soup, a good old colonial specialty and one that the restaurant always offers.  


The only thing I took photos of our meal was their homemade skillet cornbread, which comes with a delicious piping of vanilla bean honey butter on the top.  I also enjoyed a mug of coffee.


I forgot to take photos of that soup and the rest of our meal, which was a French dip sandwich which Gregg and I shared.   Another specialty they have is bread pudding.  Whenever we go anywhere we hardly ever seem to feel like a dessert afterwards.  This time, however, curiosity got the better of me. I had heard good things about their bread pudding and decided to take a piece home.  It was very welcome that evening, as delicous as I had heard.  I found their recipe on line and if you like bread pudding, you can look here.  Next time we have friends over it will be on the menu.


There is a very nice room next to the dining area, where you can wait for a table if needed.  Fortuantely we didn't have to. There was no one to disturb so I had fun taking photos.






I tried different angles but unfortunately I couldn't get a photo of George without reflections of the lights in the room.


They cast a warm glow that was very nice.


On the way to Mount Vernon we passed George Washington's Grist Mill and I noticed this lovely big barn nearby.  I asked Gregg if he would mind pulling into the parking lot so that I could take yet more photos.  I didn't get out as it was still raining, and took these from the front passenger window.


The barn is located in 
It is a dairy barn and you can read about it here.  I read the following, and more, at this link.

"Though the dairy barn at Grist Mill Park was built in the 1920's by Minnesota Sentator Clapp, the land is part of the Union Farm owned by George Washington.  The farm was part of an original land grant in 1657 and passed through a few members of the Washington family, until George Washington acquired it in 1784.  The farm passed through multiple owners after George Washington's relatives sold it, and eventually 78 undeveloped acres were acquired by the Fairfax County Park Authority in 1978."


Hopefully we will be able to get to the Grist Mill next time.