When you’re cooking with food as alive as this — these gorgeous and semigorgeous fruits and leaves and flesh — you’re in no danger of mistaking it for a commodity, or a fuel, or a collection of chemical nutrients. No, in the eye of the cook or the gardener… this food reveals itself for what it is: no mere thing but a web of relationships among a great many living beings, some of them human, some not, but each of them dependent on each other, and all of them ultimately rooted in soil and nourished by sunlight.
~ Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
‘Tis a gorgeous day here in the Bogs. The sky has been mostly clear and a lovely shade of blue. The sun has been warming and brightening. It seems unusually quiet without the bellowing of the blustery winds. All is calm.
This is my newest food addiction. Huevos Rancheros. Eggs and beans and tomatoes and chiles. Did you notice the potatoes in there too? These are not your typical (or traditional) Huevos Rancheros. I had to put my own twist on them. Necessity was the mother of invention in this case.
Sometime last year I blogged about being in a cooking rut, and made the decision to randomly pick a recipe from the many cookbooks on my kitchen shelf. The idea behind this is we would try something new at least once a week. I’ve continued that project in some form or another, getting recipes from various places (books, online, magazines), but haven’t blogged about it much since I started my outdoor commitment.
M and I do our best to eat locally grown foods. We grow some, we buy a lot from the farm just up the road, and while the harvest is at its peak, I preserve the food through canning and freezing so that we can get through the winter months on mostly locally grown vegetables and fruit.
But sometimes we just gotta have something that was shipped in from elsewhere. Rapini is one of those somethings. Also known as broccoli rabe, rapini is my favorite green, leafy vegetable. Italian and Asian cooks have been using rapini for a long time. It’s a descendant of wild mustard and has loose, broccoli-like clusters of florets and large, dark blue-green leaves. This lovely veggie is related to cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. Although the word broccoli is in one of its many names, it is not a form of broccoli.
Rapini can be quite bitter in taste. One of the ways to tame the bitterness is to blanch it first. Then pair it with red chile flakes which, I’m told, brings out the boldness while overpowering the bitterness. The simplest way to serve it is to boil it first in a big pot of water for about 5 minutes, then sauté in olive oil with garlic and red chile flakes. You can eat this as a side dish or toss the sautéed mixture with a good pasta. Squeeze a little lemon juice over it all and you have a marvelous dish.
Fresh-looking, lovely rapini is now showing up in the produce section of a few stores in my area. It’s a winter vegetable so that’s when I look for it. It always shows up first in the Italian market. Not long after that, I find it where we buy a lot of our produce, a local market that carries, when they can, locally grown fruits and veggies. (The rapini/broccoli rabe was not locally grown. It’s an Andy Boy product, shipped to us from California. You can find a few recipes for broccoli rabe on their website.)
We tend to eat a lot of rapini while it’s available. We had it for dinner last night with pasta. Hence, my babbling on and on about it. I ♥ rapini.
The February thaw continues. It was 52 degrees (F) when I stepped outside today. I stayed out much longer than planned, soaking up the delicious sunshine. Gotta get that vitamin D while I can.
Winter may not be finished with us yet. In fact, I’m pretty sure Winter has quite a few more things to say before Spring pushes it aside. But the sun has some say-so, too. One of the signs of spring to me is the way the sunlight hits the tops of the trees on the pond at sunrise. Of course I have to be up at sunrise to see it, and my latest challenge has helped me to do that. Yoga this morning, by the way, was good. Very good. Day 6 completed.
That link up there under the photo will take you to today’s music. I’ve linked to it sometime in the past so I apologize for the repeat. It’s a song I always think of when the clouds take on that fluffy, cotton-ball look. I first heard the song on a CD we bought in an Oxfam shop somewhere in England, but I can’t find the CD. It has something to do with Manchester baggy pants music… the CD’s might be in the car, my mind seems to think.
The clouds have moved in and out today. It’s clear as a bell right now. The house seems filled with sunshine, so filled it might burst with all the light. Or maybe that’s me, and I will be bursting soon. It’s a joyful thing, a warm-up with sunshine in February. One would have to be the world’s biggest grump not to appreciate it.
The pond is thawing. It looks so pretty I wanted to walk upon it. It might have been possible but since I wasn’t sure how thick the ice actually got this winter, I didn’t chance it. Besides, there is no one around to rescue me if I fall in. I stayed along the edges, on firm earth, and admired the play of light and water. I also enjoyed the musical sounds of the ice thawing. It’s a bubbling sound, difficult to describe. I would have made a video but it seems the small plane pilots are enjoying the day as much as I am and every time I’d attempt a video a plane would fly by. A helicopter joined in at one point and that’s when I gave up. You would not be able to hear the lovely bubbling sounds with all that other racket going on.
I took a lot of photos of the reflections and the ice, but it’s one of those days when almost nothing came out well. Or so it appears to me right now. I think that’s because I was so immersed in the gift of the warmth, the melting, and the sunshine that a photo just can’t duplicate that feeling. I’ll look at the photos again when the Winter returns.
I showed you life under the snow yesterday. There is death out there as well. I’ve seen several dead field mice and moles (or are they voles?) as the snow has melted. The dove was probably a victim of one of the two red-tailed hawks that have made Breezy Acres part of their territory. The dove was likely part of the dule I’ve been following since I began my outdoor adventures.
Well. On that sad note, I’m going to get this posted. I’m heading back out to watch the sunset. I don’t think it will be quite as spectacular as it was the other day, but I’m sure it will be beautiful.
And, for dinner tonight (in case you want to know), we’ll be GRILLING. Outside. On the grill. Black bean burgers and some grilled veggies. Does that sound heavenly or what?
M and I teamed up today to make Four Grain-and-Vegetable Burritos for an early dinner. It was an early and late birthday celebration dinner. Early for M (his birthday is tomorrow) and late for me (mine was last month).
We’ve made these burritos in the past. They are a little labor intensive, making it easier and faster if we team up to put it all together. It’s more fun that way, too.
Remember that resolve I made to sharpen my knives occasionally? I’m thinking of taking it back. After years of using dull knives, I’m finding the sharpened variety to be dangerous. I managed to slice into my thumb while cutting the top off of a leek. Ouch!
It was worth the bloodshed. The burritos were fabulous. Delicious. Really, really yummy. And filling. Very filling. You should give them a try.
Today’s Outdoor Adventures
It warmed up today, into the 30’s. But we had 25 mph winds to go with the warm-up and that made it seem as cold as when it was in the 20’s. There was some thawing of the snow on top of the pond and the ice in the creek.
I did not ski today. I intended to. But M went out early and said it was pretty brutal. The wind created big drifts in some places. Bare spots in other areas. We were supposed to get another 3 inches or so of snow today but the prediction turned out to be wrong. I think it snowed heavily for about five minutes this morning and that was it.
That’s about it from the Bogs for today. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.
Oh. Right. One more thing. I redecorated ye olde blog. Whaddya’ think?
Thank you to everyone who stopped by to see my post on Haiti. It wasn’t much but I wanted to do something. I appreciate your visits and for those who commented, your comments. I hope all the thoughts, prayers, and good energy work some magic.
Today, Scott at Views Infinitum posted a new photography assignment. Food Photography! I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about this one. Food! Photography! Two great things rolled into one assignment.
I love to cook. Love it. Almost as much as I love photography. Not as much as I love M, though, so he has no worries where these other loves are concerned. Cooking is fun. Cooking is creative. (Baking, on the other hand, not so much. You gotta follow the rules in baking and I’m not that great at following the rules.)
My food photography needs work. A year or two ago I spent a month focusing on food photography. I was doing okay by the end, but I’d like to do better than okay. I have been cooking up some great stuff lately. I want to be able to share that with you in a way that makes you drool over the deliciousness and beauty of the food. (I’m pretty sure nobody is drooling over the two food photos above. Unless you are really hungry. Then you might be drooling.)
I know that great lighting and a tripod are essential to food photography. Since I don’t cook dinner when there is a goodly amount of natural light in my kitchen, I have to work on getting my manual settings right along with the lighting I use. The pistachios, for instance, were sitting near the window this morning where they were nicely lit by the sun. The butternut squash and apple mixture, on the other hand, were forced to pose under the kitchen lights. This was one instance where tungsten finally worked for me. While the food isn’t plated in an appealing way, at least the colors are right for a change. The butternut squash looks orange. The skin on the Granny Smith apples looks green. And the skin on the Pink Lady apples looks red. Good. That’s how it should be.
Neither of the photos posted here today are the photo I want to submit for the assignment. This post is about practice. A starting point. I’m hoping to show some improvement the next time I post a food photograph.
Today’s Outdoor Adventure
M and I went skiing this afternoon. Since it was late in the day, we glided around the property rather than visit any of the nearby trails. It’s 20 degrees, windy, and still snowing. The interesting thing was the way we couldn’t see our skis. The snow is powdery. The skis sink right in the snow and we swished along with the skis underneath the powder.
I stayed out for about an hour. My fingers are improving but still sensitive to the cold. I did take a few photos before I locked into my skis. I don’t like any of them so your snow for today is a video I took back in the woods on Saturday during one of the snow squalls. Because I was in the woods, it doesn’t look nearly as blizzard-like as out in the open.
See you tomorrow with new snow adventures!