This is an especially beautiful rainbow salad that I made for us last week. I had to include it! The little orange & yellow cherry tomatoes are from our garden. Fun!
Dinner Party #1: Italian Night!
Last week our wonderful friends Fabrizio & Pasquale came over. They are both Italian astronomers who work with my dad and spend some portion of each year over here. Fabrizio and I get together pretty often when he's around, so that I can practice speaking Italian (which I speak reasonably well... but not nearly as well as I once did). We came up with a plan for them to come over and make pasta and then watch an Italian DVD together. It was a great night.
This picture does not do justice to the incredible yumminess of this pasta. It was made with olive oil, a small amount of onion, a LOT of cherry tomatoes from the garden, a can of Muir Glen tomato sauce, and a big pile of fresh basil from the garden. It was not what Fabrizio had initially envisioned - but it was very very good. Something about the cherry tomatoes made the sauce SO creamy. It was amazing. You could have sworn that it was full of cream.
It was so fun being in the kitchen with them - all speaking in Italian and joking about the pasta and its evolution. Would it be good or not??? Since things were evolving away from expectations, this was the big question. Italians are so delightfully specific about their pasta - and in the end it was delicious & we gobbled it all up. Fabrizio needn't have worried!
For dessert, I made this ****incredible**** melon sorbet. You know, there are a lot of vegan blogs out there these days - and it's always fun when you learn about a new one. One of my new favorites is the Urban Housewife. It's not 100% vegan, but she's fun to read and has some great ideas - including this one. I followed her recipe, but made a double batch and we had some incredible sorbet. I used a nice flavorful melon from the farmers market... sorry I don't remember what variety it was. We were all crazy about this yumminess. I can't wait to try it with all sorts of fruits.
Dinner Party #2: Mexi-feast!
Our super fun cousins were in town from North Carolina, and so we had a big family dinner party. So fun. They made a bunch of enchiladas - accomodating everyone's needs (some vegan, some with cheese, none with salt, some without spinach for my grandparents... so sweet). I was too busy eating, and forgot to document all the eats, but I did capture a pretty photo of the fresh Pico de Gallo salsa that I made. oooooh, I love homemade salsa.
We had our patio redone this summer, and yesterday we got some really beautiful patio furniture. We got it at a neat place here in Santa Cruz, called Greenspace. They have all eco-friendly design/interior/home building supplies. The people there are super friendly and very helpful. We got a beautiful table & 4 chairs and a little side table - all made out of sustainably grown and harvested hardwoods. It's really well made and was SO much less expensive than everything else we looked at. Good for the earth AND the pocketbook!
So, we had a fun late afternoon bbq to celebrate. Lately, we are into small parties. As Musty put it, "small enough that everyone can be a part of the same conversation." It's nice because you are actually relaxed, and you get to visit with everyone - instead of running around refilling bowls of baby carrots or whatever. It's also fun to carefully pick small groups of friends that you think will enjoy each other's company.
Bell peppers & eggplants from the farmers market - ready for the grill
Today's party was just wonderful- great warm weather, great company and super delicious food. One small oddity - our backyard (actually the whole house) is currently COVERED in little caterpillars. It's a long story, but the warm weather has lead to a serious bumper crop of Oak Moths. Now that they have *COMPLETELY* decimated the two giant oak trees in our neighbors' yard, they are crawling across our patio, and our driveway, and our clothing - in search of more oak trees to eat. They are kind of cute, but we all had to be careful about not sitting on them, and were constantly removing them from each other's clothing. Ha! Like little grooming monkeys.
Here are the burger fixin's that I prepared. All from the farmers market - except for the beautiful and scrumptious golden tomato, which was from our very own front yard. Yeah!
I am a Half-Bun Person. I only use half of the bun, and then I use the burger as the top bun. Otherwise I get full so quickly. Why would I want to fill up on buns, when I could fill up on corn, potato salad, summer squash with cumin salad, and grilled veggies?? Oh yeah - it was a great dinner!
For dessert? Of course I had to make another batch of Urban Housewife's summery melon sorbet! This time it was EVEN BETTER. I used some sort of special melon - on the outside it looked like a cantaloupe, but inside was a beautiful light green & the flavor was like a very sweet honeydew. It was a great, refreshing treat.
They don't necessarily go great together- but I've also got a tree full of ripe apples, and there was 1 batch of pie crust in the freezer left over from when I made my blackberry pie a couple of weeks ago. I didn't have enough for a covered pie - so I decided on a galette. I picked about 8-10 apples, washed them, peeled them, and then cut out all the wormy bits - which is no small task. We've got great apples, but the bugs like them too. The galette turned out absolutely amazing!
This recipe is basically from the Joy of Cooking
1 batch of pie crust
8-10 apples, peeled, sliced 1/4 - 1/2 inch wedges
2 T Earth Balance margarine
3/4 cup sugar (I used Rapadura -yum!)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll out the crust into a big circle. It does not have to be perfect. Carefully transfer it to a large cooking tray lined with parchment paper. Set aside.
Heat the Earth Balance in a large skillet, until it's sizzling. Add the apples & stir it all up. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the cinnamon, lemon juice, and sugar, stir around and cook until the sugar is dissolved.
Carefully spoon it into the center of the rolled out crust, leaving about 3 inches around the edge. Fold the edges in and let them overlap. If you have more juices in the skillet, spoon some over the apples.
Cook until the crust is golden. Sorry, I didn't look how long I cooked it for - I just kept checking. Maybe 20-30 minutes?