Sunday, July 27, 2008

Genuine Saturday

The day started at 10am. Any Saturday where I actually untangle myself from the cozy blankets and greet the day before noon is almost rare, to say the least. Josh left for a gallery meeting downtown around 9am and I woke up completely on my own at 9:45. I padded down the stairs, poured myself as black a cup of coffee I could find, and sat down with my partially glazed eyes to browse through email. A friend of mine sent a mass invitation to pick blueberries and then head to the lake in the afternoon. I thought the idea was glorious. Thus, I surmised my strategy for the day. The goal was to meet Josh downtown before he started heading home after his meeting. First, we needed to head to market and pick up ingredients for both pickling and a couple days worth of food. Second, we would head to the blueberry farm about 15 miles west and pick these clusters of berries until our mouths were stained blue. And third, we would find our way to the most beautiful lake in Michigan, a retreat with no motor boats allowed. So I made my piles of needed materials and supplies for blueberry picking, farmer's market, and the lake. After some strategic backpack packing, I pedaled away on my bicycle, reaching downtown sweaty faced and alive before it was even noon.

We were able to pick up more pickling cucumbers, swiss chard, peaches, eggs, scallions, new potatoes, shallots, dill, and cherries. We packed these in coolers and, as planned, headed to the blueberry farm. We picked blueberries until our stomaches screamed of fullness and we forfeited our battle with the mosquitos. You can see from the pictures that this was very serious business. Then we wound our way through a few little curious Michigan towns, eventually finding the much needed respite of the lake. The water was unusually choppy, the small beach a bit full of people, but it was oh so refreshing.

We made it home and in bed for a nap at 6:45pm. I guess the "early" morning had me slightly worn out. We didn't rise from our evening nap until 9:15. At that point, we had to shift into high gear in order to finish the list of tasks for the day. We wanted to harvest swiss chard from our garden to make a Chard Gratin, make a homemade pesto with basil from the garden, eat dinner, and make these pickles that I've been obsessed with fermenting. And we did it. All of it.

The chard recipe is from Alice Waters cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, but I was made aware of it on the great food blog The Wednesday Chef. She has the recipe outlined on her blog, so if you want to try it you'll find it there.

The dish was simple to make and a perfect use of many ingredients that needed to be used in our kitchen. We were able to use bread that was a couple days old and dry, milk that was set to expire, and chard from the garden that was patchworked from bugs feasting on it's leaves. This dish will jive with any Sunday brunch or early afternoon meal. I can't wait to heat it up again for our Sunday lunch.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


My hiatus from blogging was a result of feeling lost in time.

And then I became inspired by the cucumber plant, lounging on our porch, hastily growing by the day. It's squash like personality had me wondering if it was possibly related to the squash. Low and behold, they are in the same family: Cucurbitaceae. We don't have summer squash this year unfortunately, and actually lack the playground of veggies I was hoping for this summer. But we do have lots of herbs and this fancy pants cucumber. I've listed in my squished brain a few goals that I hope to complete by the beginning of September. I'll share more later, but at the top of the list is making pickles. Dill ones, actually. So Saturday I will be off to market to search out fresh dill and maybe a few more cucumbers. I didn't realize that I might need more than one plant to actually have a significant portion of salty, crunchy, savory pickles.

There are a few books that I have on hand to guide me on this pickle making adventure. The most promising of them is Wild Fermentation, The Taste of Country Cooking, and Preserving Summer's Bounty. I'm so excited to try my hand at this antique art of fermentation! Keep tuned...

And a few other plants...

Goblin flower, echinacea, and sneezeweed.

Joe Pye Weed