Things of late . . . summer heat, and a couple recipes . . .

Oh world, it has been hot the last few days. We have had heavy clouds that melted the
 heat with humidity . . . very rare for here. Yesterday one thermometer read 107 degrees 
fahrenheit. We don’t have an air conditioner or swamp cooler in our house, so we too 
have melted together with the true summer weather. Iced-chai certainly tastes of heaven at such times . . . 
A woman recently passed her old record player on to us . . .
It has been fun pulling out our old records that we haven’t heard in ages . . . And as cliché as blogs can go, I have to post this picture of my son 
listening to Winnie the Pooh on vinyl . . .Made a second batch of pickles . . .  the first gallon jar is consumed in entirety . . . 
The gloriousness of bright ripe fruits . . .And vegetables . . . Made a sweet salsa, and even though it is so obvious, it is all about the tomatoes. 
What are those things they sell EVERYWHERE  all year? 
It almost makes me forget what a tomato really is.Sweet Summer Salsa
Saute gently for just a minute:
1 red onion diced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 jalapeno minced very finely 
Pour into a bowl then add:
about a cups worth of the best, sweetest tomatoes you can find diced
1 handful fresh cilantro chopped
1 squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper to taste
And made a strawberry nectarine tart . . .

Mostly Raw Strawberry Nectarine Tart
This is my best guess at what I did. I didn’t measure as
I went along, but I eyed the steps and tasted as I went.
Combine in a bowl:
1 cup raw walnuts minced
1/3 cup sunflower-seed butter*
1 tablespoon honey
1 squeeze lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
 1 – 1+1/2 cups almond meal
Add more almond meal if dough is too moist. Dough should resemble 
an uncooked pie dough or rolled cookie dough. 
Press onto wax paper in desired shape about 1/3 inch thick. 
Cover in thinly sliced strawberries and nectarines.
Press fruit gently down to secure. 
Refrigerate until ready to eat.
*The sunflower butter I used was toasted and contained 
additional ingredients. 

                                                              Best Wishes on these hot, hot summer days ~ Marica

Kids in the kitchen . . .

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy watching the kids in the kitchen . . . or in this case the outside-table I insisted they work at . . . The adding and tasting, the questioning and agreeing. It makes a mess, and I cringe a bit, shake it off and remind them they will have to clean up after themselves. 
Each taste and decision is a stepping stone toward their confidence with cooking. They counted the spoonfuls of sugar and measurements of water. They squeezed each grapefruit and took note after they added it. 
When I finally tried the finished product I was amazed, it was by far the best grapefruit juice I had ever tasted. The balance of juice, water and sugar was perfect. 
 And then, as they probably watch me do, they carefully wrote down the recipe . . . 
Last night my eight-year-old really, really wanted to make sushi . . .

She was there for every step of the process, and patiently and impatiently waited as the rice cooled enough for handling . . . 
They carefully rolled their own rolls and were thoroughly satisfied with their work. 
Needless to say, so was I. 
Kids and food go hand in hand . . .

                                                                            Gotta love it!! ~ Marica

The Pickle Recipe . . .

I was sent an email by a very lovely woman in my town asking if I could post the pickle recipe. I didn’t initially because it isn’t original to me. . . the problem is I don’t remember where I found it . . . but I’ve added and subtracted just a bit, and hope with all good intention, nobody will feel I posted this without their permission. 
Fresh Refrigerator Pickles
In a very clean 1 gallon jar place a washed strand of fresh dill weed
If you don’t have fresh use a tablespoon of dried.
Add roughly 4 lb. pickling cucumbers washed (they are all over at the farmers market right now)
4 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup salt
1 + 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon black pepper corns
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole allspice
a few cloves
6-8 cups water or until jar is full.
optional: pepper flakes or a couple fresh hot peppers,
fresh strand tarragon. 
Cover with wax paper and fasten with string or a rubber band.
Let sit out for two days, out of direct sunlight, then refrigerate for up to two months. 
Mine usually last a few days, if, before they become a delectable memory. 
                                           Happy Last Weeks of Summer ~ Marica

This Weekend . . .

Did endless planting . . .
 My new happiest helper was as excited as I was to add to the tea garden . . . 
 A little dusty miller to fill out the edges . . .
 We were both excited to find we have loads of worms . . .
 Took a quick photo to send to the faraway great-grandmothers . . . 
Went to the farmers market and made myself this incredible breakfast . . . 
 Made a batch of pickles . . . 
Last year I made them for the first time and am now officially hooked . . . 
 Ate the best ever grapes . . .
 And amazing tomatoes for lunch . . . 
                                   Hope everyone had a good weekend ~ Marica

Tables tables tables and the yard is being worked . . .

Well the title is very self explanatory. We have been working nonstop over the last weeks on pulling together our outdoor space. We were expecting a lot of people over for an event Wednesday night, so the last few days have been racing the the clock and ignoring sanity. 
 This table was a collaborative effort on both Justin and my part. It measures ten feet in length and roughly three and a half feet in width. I battled the electric drill to put in the bolts until I had to actually give up. I may be strong enough for some things, but I guess my hands are just lacking enough to keep me from manipulating a quarter-inch-thick, five-inch-long, twisty piece of metal into a  solid hunk of douglas fir. I can’t tell you the feeling of defeat. But long last, the table is finished, and sits stately, awaiting benches. 
 I also built two picnic tables . . .
 These measure six-feet-long and about three-and-a-half-feet-wide. They are low enough to work comfortably for kids, and adults fit just fine. 
 We laid mulch, and planted a scattering of greenery. Behind are the garden boxes built a while back, but still not filled. Only one boasts soil and an array of herbs.
 The tea garden flourishes and thickens . . . 
I adore watching each individual plant . . .
 And at the back end of the tea garden, a volunteer yellow summer squash has built an empire. 
I am starting to spot its first fruits, and will be tasting them soon. 
                                           Best Wishes ~ Marica

My Dad’s Birthday Gift . . .

Sometimes it is hard to know just what a person would like for their birthday. I have made my dad way more hats than he has heads . . . or probably has need for . . . although he may end up with another one come Christmas, it’s hard to tell. But definitely, as he has an August birthday, I couldn’t make him another head warmer. So I took my thoughts into the kitchen and prepared a birthday treat in there.
 I mixed unsweetened chocolate rounds with semi sweet chocolate, 
 dried cherries and cranberries, chia seeds and almonds to make a chocolate bark . . .
 I cooked down peaches, ginger, tiny hot peppers and dried whole allspice into a spicy chutney . . . 
Sliced and simmered apples into apple butter . . . although it was not quite as thick and dark . . . 
 Picked a million mulberries for mulberry jam . . . 
Added some more fresh berries . . . 
Put it all together in a basket . . . and managed to not nibble the whole way to his birthday . . .
“But my little one stepped right in the berry basket after dinner, 
before the berries could make the safe escape home.”
I guess I’ll lust have to pick some more berries . . .
                        ~ Marica

Tying in July’s ends . . .

Well July ended, August has begun.
 I thought I would put together the last bits of July into one post . . .
A clear day at the beach . . . Thoroughly enjoyed by everyone . . .
 We held another day of sewing camp . . .
This time the boys participated as much as the girls . . .
We spent a lot of time in the kitchen . . .
Fresh oregano from our new oregano plant . . .
 I spent an afternoon finally making the hanging pots I have been thinking about . . .
 Certainly far from perfect, but they do the job . . .
 Our Wistaria vine decided another bout of blooming was in order. 
Never argue with a blooming plant . . . they know what they are doing . . .
Thank goodness for another whole month of summer . . . 
                                                                 ~ Marica

In the kitchen as of late . . .

We have been in the kitchen quite a bit lately. These are a few of the success stories . . .
Gluten and dairy free raised crepes . . .
Raised Gluten and Dairy Free Crepes
3 eggs
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup gluten-free flour*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Mix and cook as with traditional pancakes.
*I happened to use a gluten-free flour mix I had sitting around. 
When I get exact measurements as to how much of each individual 
type of flour, I’ll post it.
Polenta with cream and brown sugar . . . 
The Simplest and Best Morning Polenta:

In a medium sauce pan mix over high heat, stirring constantly until thick:
1 cup corn grits 
3 cups water
Dash salt

Serve with milk and brown sugar.
Lentil Patties . . .
These are a made of a mix match of leftovers that have one common denominator . . .
They all can be part of a veggie patty:
Lentil Patties
1 cup cooked polenta
2 cups cooked black lentils
1/4 cup cooked wild rice
2/3 cup garbanzo flour (can be bought at health-food stores)
1 cup oats (not pre-cooked)
1/2 onion chopped
2 eggs
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
A dash of each: dill, cumin, cayenne, nutmeg, salt, black pepper

Form into patties. Cook on an oiled pan over medium heat, 
flip when golden brown so other side can cook.
                  Happy Cooking ~ Marica

Sunflower Life . . .

Well, our first sunflowers to dry . . .
I love the fast burst of hello and goodbye, that only the sunflower has the power to wield. 
The thousand seeds that each flower offers in its place . . .
The bird feast and promise of next spring  . . .
A cycle so quick, please don’t blink . . .
Or you might miss the sunflowers . . . .

P.S. The winners of the hundredth post giveaway are: 
The Hungry Crafter
Rennee G
Teacup Adventures