Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gardening: Dreaded Spring Task - Tackling the Patio Furniture

This past weekend I tackled one of my most dreaded spring tasks - oiling the wood patio furniture. Before starting the project I was debating if pretty wood was really worth all of the effort (as I do every year before spending half a day brushing and rubbing away). I also wondered why I really need a table, 6 chairs, a bench, and other side items (potting bench, end tables, etc) for just lil' ol' me. I could have saved myself a lot of effort by just having one chair and table! :) The good news is I started early on Saturday and finished up around lunch time. So I still had time to enjoy the weather and spare some of my day off besides being able to enjoy patio furniture that looks like new again.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gardening: Starting from Seed Update

So I'm sure you're dying to know what's going on with all of those seeds I planted...At the one-week mark (Saturday), I had some germination for a lot of the items.

This tray is full of various hollyhocks...most have sprouted.


The main seeds up on this tray are Jupiter's Beard. Some of the catmint has sprouted as well but I'm still waiting on the ornamental grass. I have another full tray of giant plume grass (covered in the background) that has yet to germinate...if it doesn't happen this week, I'll be pretty bummed.
The far left two rows contain some silver pampas grass babies, followed by two rows of status, and four rows of goldmoss sedum. The delphinium to the far right hasn't germinated yet...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gardening: Weekly Growing Update

It's that time again...my weekly garden growing update. Here is what's popping up &/or blooming in my garden right now.

The lillies are up a few more inches...My lovely lupines survived the winter (and have entertwined with Yucca that I need to transplant yet again).


And the peonies are starting to get nice and tall (they're my personal favorite...I've planted them in multiple spots around my property).

My herb bed is looking kind of messy since it's been overtaken by pussywillow pollen pods...I hate it when those things fall down and clutter up things.



My varigated ground cover has started to bloom (I forget what it's called...if you know, drop me a note).


And I have lots of random tulips (I think the squirrels planted some of these).






Monday, April 27, 2009

It's the small things...

Nature: And with the rain came the ducks

Even though the weather on Sunday morning was beautiful, the afternoon brought us some scattered thundershowers here in Detroit. Jonathan has a drainage ditch next to his property and with a good rain it becomes a nice little stream. After the rains stopped, we had a mallard pair show up to take advantage of the prime swimming. Someone in the neighborhood must be feeding them...I walked outside and expected them to fly away but they walked right up on the patio towards me! I got some great closeups :) (Click on the photo to get even better feather detail.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Today I Love Mother Nature.


Yep, still loving this card generator ...I think it will become a regular thing for me on this blog.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Food: Simple Spring Dinner - Porterhouse, Caprese Salad, Grilled Asparagus

This past weekend I made a quick and easy dinner (yes, I know it's a week later...I just didn't get around to posting it!). And since I took photos to show off the pretty plating, now some of you can see the Lenox plates I teased Jonathan about when we first started dating. Being the "Captain Obvious" that I am, I said to him "Did you know your plates have flowers on them?"


Here are my "basic" instructions.

Porterhouse Steaks - Pre-heat grill to medium heat. Rub each side of the steak with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Grill direct for 5-6 minutes/side for medium (1" thick steak).

Simple Caprese Salad - Wash and slice some on-the-vine tomatoes (I used yellow ones this time around). Since we're going to create a tomato stack, you may need to leave off the rounded slice from bottom to make the tomato sit flat on the plate. Create your stack by alternating layers of fresh mozzarella slices, basil leaves, and tomato slices. Drizzle with a simple dressing consisting of 2 Tb white balsalmic vinegar, 4 Tb evoo and 1 Tb olive tapanade (preferably kalamata). (BTW...I had caprese served this way when I was working in Indianapolis last year. The one main difference is the chef at Agio took a kitchen torch to the skin of the tomato. It was fabulous. I'll try it sometime and let you know if I can perfect his technique...need to buy the torch first though.)

Grilled Asparagus - Wash asparagus and break off the woody bottom parts. Toss the tips with olive oil, salt, pepper. Grill for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, turning once while cooking. (You want the asparagus to still be crisp - not mushy!)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Food: Quick Weeknight Meal - Antipasto-style Pasta

OK...so this is a really bad, fuzzy photo from my iPhone. And it doesn't really represent the food that well because these were leftovers I had for lunch the other day (not the pretty, fresh presentation from the evening I first made it). But I wanted to share this yummy recipe I made for Jonathan and I. The recipe came courteousy of my April 2009 Food and Wine and is compliments of TLC's "Take Home Chef" Curtis Stone. He has a new book out - you should check it out.

Curtis Stone, Food & Wine, Rigatoni with Spicy Italian Salami, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and CapersRigatoni with Spicy Italian Salami, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Capers

Total Time: 30 Minutes
  • 1 package of cherry tomatoes (my modification, Curtis said "20," I wanted a little more)
  • 4 t EVOO
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 lb spicy sopressata, halved and thinly sliced (This will be in the fancy cheese area of the grocery store. I had to settle for regular sopressata since I couldn't find spicy at Bush's)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4 since I like garlic)
  • 1/4 c dry white wine (give or take a little more if you want some liquid at the bottom of your pasta bowl)
  • 1/4 c pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/4 drained capers
  • 1/4 c chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lb rigatoni (I used whole wheat Roman rigatoni - it was yummy even before adding any toppings to it)
Preheat oven to 375. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (make sure the water is nice and salty, I've discovered this is the real trick to good pasta).
In a small baking dish, toss the tomatoes with 2 t of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 10 minutes (or longer) until their skins begin to split.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 t of oil. Add the sopressata and cook over moderately high heat for 2 minutes (If you couldn't find spicy sopressata, add some red pepper flakes to the oil before cooking the salami). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sopressata to paper towels to drain.

Add the garlic to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the roasted tomatoes and lightly smash them with the back of a spoon so they burst. Add the wine to the skillet and simmer over moderate heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sopressata, olives, capers, and parsley.

Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni in the boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 c of the pasta cooking water.

Add the rigatoni and cooking water to the sauce and toss over moderate heat until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Season with salt and pepper and serve in shallow bowls (I served the pasta with fresh, crusty bread slices and some cubes of toasted bread cheese on the side).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gardening: Starting from Seed

This year I decided to try growing ornamental grass from seed for the first time. Unfortunately I haven't had a lot of luck starting plants from seed in the past - probably since I get a little too anxious when it comes time to put them outside during the day and bring them in at night. But I took a leap of faith that this year that I will get it right and all the little babies will survive and grow into lovely plants! This past weekend I planted three, 72-cell seed starting containers. Although I did plant a few flower seeds, the trays primarily contain ornamental grass with the goal to develop plugs for a yard privacy barrier. Here's what my project looks like right now...all of the seeds are nested in moist little peat pots. Germinate little seeds, germinate!





Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gardening: Weekly Growing Update

It appears spring is under way here in metro-Detroit - finally!!! Here are some things that are popping up in my garden this week - can't wait until it's full of color once again.

Rhubarb and Bearded Irises
Can't wait to see those gorgeous, purple Allium blooms
Furry poppy leaves

Stonecrop sedum
And my hyacinths are in full bloom - they smell wonderful!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Blog

I've decided to start a new blog (yes...another one). Maybe I have blog ADD. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Motown Maiden's Recipe Index

BREADS
Bananas:
Simply Delicious Deli's Banana Muffins
Pancakes: Oatmeal Pancakes

MAIN COURSES
Pastas/Grains
Egg Noodles: Tuna Noodle Casserole

 
Carrots: Carrot Cake
Chocolate: Homemade Smores
Graham Crackers: Homemade Graham Crackers
Marshmallows: Homemade Marshmallows

COOKING TECHNIQUES
Rice: Perfect Rice
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