Summer salads

It’s so summer. I could almost say the hottest, driest summer I can remember. It’s been roughly 6 weeks that have reminded me of  growing up in Florida where virtually everyday the sun rises and stays out shining hot. Except here it’s about 70 degrees instead of 90. I’ll take it.

We earned it here in the PNW. I didn’t get the garden in till the third week of May because it was so wet. The four leggers and 2 leggers were slopping around in mud pretty much till the end of May.

Our four goat mama’s  cranked out three sets of triplets and one set of twins. We had a full house with 11 kids and 4 moms. And so we are building a new BARN. Ollie is so supportive of this venture- it also gives his farming roots a chance to grow and thrive…  The boat and/or sports car has been bumped to the next decade:)

We (well they) will be moving in by September and we’ll be ready to bring on the winter.

wendyellenthomas.com

The garden, though late, is in full swing. We are chowing down on green salads daily and actually got tomatoes early due to my $179 hoop house. We added support with rebar stakes and it’s holding out great. Plenty of basil and tomatillos this year!

wendyellenthomas.comThe first little ones….

We are eating lots of these kinds of salads…

Broccoli & red cabbage-

  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • ½ shredded or finely cut fennel
  • 2 scallions chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 T cider vinegar

A little salt and pepper and a dash of honey or maple syrup if you want it a little sweeter but the fennel also gives it a little sense of sweet,

Preserved lemon and herbed quinoa salad- No real recipe for this one.

It’s just chopped up preserved lemon (I’ve been making a lot of this), a handful of chopped parsley, a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh mint and cilantro and toasted pine nuts with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a little  honey apple cider vinegar ( I love this stuff).

And here’s one of my favorite green salads with steak, broccoli salad, white kimchi, spiralized zucchini, a little of our house feta,  avocado, last of our currants and a lime vinaigrette. A little fresh mint on this one as well.  Boy if we could grow citrus and avocado We’d have it all!

On the farm…

Big brown eyed Else

The gang hanging on a late morning
Juan in a box
Mr. Brown posing
Chickens getting their fill of whey

Dinah helping the electrician-

See that bit of green leaf? I’m holding it. I take a bunch of greens, shake them and run and the group chases after me. Fun times!Happy Summer Days!

wendy

Time for lamb (and a little fish on the side)

Although I am completely consumed with planting vegetables in the garden, watching berries develop by the day, and still do the occasional juicing, I’m also working on keeping up with the meat in the freezer.

So before you get the onslaught of garden posts (haha- lest you think 1 or 2 posts/month is an onslaught!) I’m going to throw out a few of our dinners as of late. These are all real time. No props or primping or going out of my way to edit much. Just some solid dinners to inspire you cause let’s face it- my blogging calendar sucks. I could have stretched these photos into months but ummmm… that’s not happening.

rump roast

When you can buy meat in bulk locally, it is a chunk of change up front but still more economical with far superior quality. Last year we were fortunate, as I’ve mentioned, to purchase from Coffelt Farm located about 15 miles from us, a 1/4 of a cow along with a 1/2 of a pig, 1 lamb and a dozen chickens. We also purchased a second lamb from our neighbors. This has kept us fluid in proteins for the past year. We will be getting ready to purchase more starting the end of May. We have also finished one 10# case of salmon steaks, one 10# case of salmon filets and one 10# halibut filets.

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Roasted Hakkaido (pumpkin) and feta salad w/ Maple vinaigrette

pumpkin and feta salad

It’s a rainy Monday that is doing a rather fine job pretending to be Sunday. There is no school today, no need to go to town, therefore no need to dress. I’ve enjoyed reading what feels like 101 blogs. I’m eating a satisfying ham sandwich slathered with mayo and mustard on white bread. It’s like giving into a craving…on all accounts. Really it’s the first day since getting back a week ago to Orcas Island, that I’ve not had a full day agenda. We all need these days. It almost feels like the spanse of time between Christmas and New Year’s. Which outside of the years being responsible for  a cafe and/or retail store is like living a few days in a warm cozy cocoon, visiting with friends and family, enjoying hot drinks, reading books and being together. Now that I think of it, this is what I look forward to most at Christmas.

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Fava bean & tomato salad

Back in Hamburg with a shining sun, a crowded Elbe and fresh memories of a full summer, we are reeling through seven weeks of adventures on Orcas, in Seattle, Atlanta and Charleston, as we stroll along the river…also a beautiful place to be. I will miss my new favorite spots for photos – the kitchen window sill and the front porch step. I’ll miss the deer strolling through the orchards and past our kitchen window. The ferry rides too. Most of all I’ll miss our friends, community and dear ole dad. The fact is though, no matter how our lives weave in and out of that island, we are always welcomed back with open arms. I’m eternally grateful.

Now it’s back to school time. Back to routine. That too has its place and I think we are ready for it. I do wonder what it’s like after the kids are gone. Maybe there isn’t such a demarcation of seasons. Honestly, I can’t remember. I was practically a kid when I started having them and will be firm into midlife when my daily parenting is complete.  Any thoughts out there?

So before summer is officially over, whether your life will change dramatically come the first day of school, or not, see if you can get yourself some fava beans. These guys take a little time and effort, but it’s so worth it. I started with the idea of succotash..

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Classic Summer Pesto

Basil is on. On and in everything these days. Eggs, toasts, salads, pork, fish, chicken, dips. It is also THE base for classic pesto…like that’s any news. But this is a reminder to make it cause it’s so good and easy. Grown best under cover in the San Juan Islands, with a little protection from the wind and chill, basil is making itself known here on Orcas Island. Once again, generous friends sharing their riches have opened their garden gates….

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Donna Hay Photo Challenge #9 Goat Cheese, lemon and pea Pasta

***UPDATE***  I’m pulling out the pasta pea bit from my last post so it’s not smushed in between the cabin and the salmon and the …..And you may still get another one later today for the berry tart bake off! Where did June go??? Ok… just pretend like you’re surprised 🙂

Yes, I did make MORE pasta and had a lovely but challenging afternoon taking photos of it. It was like a haircut you keep having a go at and never feel you get quite right… except with less long term effect.

Here is the link to the Donna Hay photo challenge at Jungle Frog Cooking.

And here is the original picture-

The image comes from the summer issue of Donna Hay’s issue 55 (febr 2011). The photo is taken by William Meppem and styling by David Morgan.

And this is my go at it 🙂

And this is the one I couldn’t decide on…

And here’s the rest of it you’ve already seen….

Here’s the recipe but head over to Junglefrog if you want to Print. You should go over there anyway because it’s a great site.

Ingredients

  • 400g penne
  • 420g frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon rind (finely grated)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 240g goat’s cheese (crumbled)
  • 50g rocket (arugula, chopped)
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper

Boil up you noodles of choice… regular semolina or one of the many gluten free varieties. The recipe called for Penne but I like the twists… And get yourself some peas! I love using pea shoots for the green and Donna Hay used Arugula. I also added cut up snow peas giving it a little crunch.

I used fresh shelling peas, snap peas, and pea shoots all from local gardens. I used to love growing pea shoots for salad. You can even do this in a pot of the porch.

A little olive oil, fresh garlic, lemon juice and zest, fresh goat cheese and did I mention PEAS!

It’s a simple dish that can be made ahead of time and served at room temp or warmed up a bit…

Thanks for your patience in my need to make this happen on the LAST DAY of JUNE!
Tschüß,

Goat Cheese, Lemon and Pea Pasta, Grilled Salmon and a peak at Frog Song Farm…

I’d like to introduce you to Frog Song Farm, our summer digs, with a couple of photos I snapped last night. This humble octagonal structure was built by a man child at the age of 24, so the story goes. And it miraculously still stands roughly 30 years later. My first introduction was a description of Frog Song Farm posted on a small blue lined 3×5 index card in the spring of 1993 at the Seattle Tilth office in Good Shepherd’s park. “15 Acre Organic Farm, cabin, mature fruit trees” it read.  I was just finishing my degree at Bastyr College. After my last class, we took a six week journey traveling up the inside passage with a VW bus on a boat, then drove back down through Alaska and the Yukon. It was the moment of our return that I found myself busting to get out of the city. Three weeks later I sat on the lawn outside of a then intact octagonal structure surrounded by a small picket fence smothered with trailing roses. Ripe fruits of mid August swooned me. Laying in the grass, cocked on one elbow twirling grass blades between my fingers, I, also ripe at 25, negotiated with the owner as to how I could make this work.

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Seared Scallops and Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta

If you enjoyed the Goat Cheese Salad with candied pistachios half as much as I did, it would put a smile on my face. Don’t forget it can make a nice light summer dinner as well.

Next course, seared scallops mingle with a light citrus sauce and a creamy polenta gets jazzed up with fresh mild goat cheese. These scallops are happily dusted with a gorgeous Welsh Oak Smoked Sea Salt from Halen Môn. This is a salt you will start using and never ever want to stop. I swear, I’m about to order a 1/2 kilo.

Disclaimer: I’m so not getting any benefits from promoting this product. Halen Môn was however, a generous sponsor at the previously mentioned  (many times), Plate to Page workshop. And it is with pleasure, that I pass on my recommendation. 

Hell, I carried this salt at Chez Chloe (my kitchen/specialty food store) on Orcas Island for four years! I was more than happy getting it wholesale by the case!

{Print Recipe} for Seared Scallops, Citrus Sauce and Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta

Citrus Sauce:
1T minced shallot
1/4 cup white wine (I used riesling and it was lovely)
1/2 cup orange juice
6 T cold butter chopped in small cubes
1/4 tsp white balsamic vinegar
season to taste with salt and white pepper

The use of goat cheese in this manner, came the first time for me, when I had run out of parmesan and used it in my white sauce for pasta. And loved it.

Then it went into my gravy for traditional Southern biscuits and (non-traditional) gravy.

Why not with polenta? It gives it a pleasant, mildly tangy umph. I wonder if someone who is a little freaked by goat products (Resa are you reading this) would notice?

And if you are a goat product lover then it’s a no brainer.

Creamy Polenta:
Serves 2 with generous leftovers- 
1 cup polenta
4 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1 bouillon cube
4oz fresh goat cheese
1/2 tsp salt
2 T butter

Scallops are quickly seared before serving. I used 5 scallops per person (which was myself and O) and cooked them in two batches as they tend to water up which leaves you steaming scallops instead of searing. I heat about 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter on medium high for each batch and quickly cook the little mollusks on each side for only 1 and 1/2 – 2 minutes. You don’t want to be chewing little rubber disks draped in citrus butter.

Lastly,  may I suggest with the polenta leftovers, you try heating them up and serving with a fried egg, salmon lox and creme fraiche. You will like this if you like southern grits. I know Shelly… don’t judge me. I love grits. I love Flo from Alice…. all you youngsters (and folks who didn’t grow up in the USA in the 80’s) can google that!

Tschüß,

Valentines… bath,duck and kumquats

Valentines… bath,duck and kumquats

Ok not the rubber kind and it was the car that got the bath. Happy Valentine’s day honey. Right? What do we get for our loving husbands? Mine isn’t into power tools but how about washing and vacuuming the car, I thought. It was my first car wash in Germany. I was returning from dropping Chloe off at school.. which on a side note is so totally American. These kids here are trained young for church, getting themselves around, and crossing streets only when the green guy flashes. We see 5 year olds out there rain, sun, snow walking to school. They’ve got backpacks as big as their little bodies and until they leave home at 18, they are independent. It’s great. But you have to start straight away. Like with church. My choir did a couple songs for the kids service today and these kids start so young going to church. It is just something you do on Sundays. You start them before they realize they have choices.  It’s not like a “hmm… should we go to church today?” It’s just what you do. By the time they hit puberty it’s part of a structure that just is. I’m not religious per se so it’s not about going to church… but the principal of training, ya know?

You can read further about my car wash experience down below. It was pretty funny. But now here are a couple ideas for a lovely Valentine’s Day meal or weekend dinner.

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