Friday, June 28, 2013

Afternoon Pick Me Up - It's Friday!

And not just any Friday. As this posts I will be doing last minute packing. Colorado beer will have to wait for me because for the next five weeks it will be Mojitos, fresh seafood, and the beach. 

Have a great weekend. See you on the flip side in my next post!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Notes From The Country - Summer Days

Summer is in full swing. June has been very agreeable so far. Although we're a bit parched due to lack of rain, the weather has lent itself to grilling and gardening and generally enjoying being outside. We've been doing a bit more grilling of late, and, while hamburgers and hot dogs have their traditional easy going place, we've been branching out a bit.

 Grilled pizza. Yes, a little more work because you make the pizza dough from scratch. But it's so worth it.  Assemble all the ingredients - individual pizza dough rounds, sauce (we used the traditional tomato based in this case), and toppings. We used fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato, and grilled mushrooms, zucchini, and chicken - which we grilled first.

The technique we used was to grill each side of the oiled pizza dough, then spread on the sauce, arrange toppings and let sit off to the side on the grill with the top down to let the cheese melt a little, sauce to heat up, and toppings to settle.

Very enjoyable.

 Especially with a nice bottle of wine

I also love grilling fruits and vegetables. This past Father's Day I think we set a record for the four of us. My husband and I enjoyed aged ribeye and filet steaks. Our oldest vegetarian daughter had marinated, grilled tofu, and our other daughter went the traditional hot dog route. Other than these, we cooked corn, portabella mushrooms, belgian endive, sweet peppers, peaches, nectarines and pineapple. Many just need some olive oil and salt. I like grilling the corn in the husk after de-silking them and spreading a touch of butter and fresh Rosemary and wrapping them up again. I also like to experiment with flavored oils and salts and herbs - all these add a subtle flavor that's fun to get creative with.

What I love is that nothing takes that long to cook on the grill. And it all seems to come out tasting delicious and fresh and outdoorsy. 

It has been getting rather hot in the afternoons....

And a spot of shade is always welcome

As for the roses, they are all in full bloom now. My favorites have made their appearance. This is La Reine de Victoria - an heirloom Bourbon rose. Smells luscious. 

Louise Odier - another Bourbon. Roses like these make me wish I was a perfumer.

Madame Hardy - a heady scented damask rose

And, purported to be the oldest rose in cultivation, a gallica rose, the Apothecary's Rose aka Red Rose of Lancaster. This rose hearkens back to the 15th century in England where it became the emblem or badge for the House of Lancaster. There was that whole War of the Roses thing - wink - between the House of Lancaster and the House of York which were both parts of the Royal House of Plantagenet -the one that produced Henry V among others. (Have you seen Kenneth Branagh's version of Henry V? One of my favorites. You might want to have cliff notes handy though. But I digress.) This red rose was the badge for Lancaster, a white rose represented York. Henry the VII otherwise known as Henry Tudor defeated Richard III thus ending the war. 

I had taken this photo at Haddon Hall
which was painted on the ceiling of the dining room. (I thought it might make an interesting stencil) Turns out this is a Tudor Rose. You see, when the War of the Roses ended, Henry Tudor combined the two roses - red and white as a symbol of unification. You can see the white rose within the red. I just didn't realize that this little piece of history was associated with the Apothecary's Rose. Now when I point out my rose shrub I have a more interesting story to tell.
Now what does this have to do with grilling?
Naturally you can't have a table full of deliciously grilled food without a centerpiece for the table.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Afternoon Pick Me Up - Summer Solstice

Happy Summer - officially. Happy Friday. I call this picture endless possibilities. 

I think this song is perfect for a Friday evening Summer Solstice. And this version and singer - outstanding

In The Air Tonight

Have a great summer weekend.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Animals A to Z - June Update

These were the girls when they were about a week old. Here's their story

 They had their first day of free range freedom a few days ago. Their scratching, grass and bug eating skills are in good shape, and like good little chickens they came home to roost at dusk.

You know about him right?

He had a run in with a snake last week. Twice. I rushed him to the vet then the emergency vet hospital. They took blood tests every two hours for awhile to see if he had venom in him. I guess it changes the shape of the blood cells. After a very stressful few hours, they concluded they were dry bites. Stressful for me - I suppose him too. They kept him overnight on antibiotics, pain meds and ice packs. As of today he looks much better than this and is desperately trying to get back outside. I wish he was content to be a house cat.

These  were the happy fuzzy guys on a hot day

 Engaging in one of their favorite summer day activities...who doesn't like a pool?

 Until the next day where I was given 2 hours notice by my vet that the shearers were a-comin. I, of course missed out this year because I was in tears holding an ice pack on my sweet baby kitten on the way to the vet hospital
p.s.You can read up on what we missed from last year here:

 But I checked in first thing the next morning..."How could you let them do this to us??!!! Where were you???!!!"  "Trust me," I said. "You will feel infinitely better in the dry, oppressive heat of August now!"

Then there's this sad sack. He's had an ear infection that just won't seem to go away, and now his back legs aren't working. He slips and slides and can't seem to control them. The vet seems to think it's more his spine and his age and being a corgi and that it's not going to get better. He's on more rounds of antibiotics, steroids, ear ointment - a diet and "bed rest" which means he's confined to one room with a carpet for a month. He is not a happy camper. Taking him to our old corgi vet to get a second opinion.

When it rains it pours.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Notes From The Country - Progress

 The snowstorms of a month ago are but a distant memory. The gardens have gotten over it and moved on.
 Here's a song to listen to since this is a country post and it contains roses. 

The columbines are in full bloom. (Our state flower)

Red ones too. I prefer the the blue.

Arrays of iris are blooming as well

Is it possible for a flower to be angry? Well grumpy at the very least - I mean look at it's little face.

Pinks: aka perennial Dianthus

And the peonies seemed to explode into bloom overnight

And are delightfully ambrosial

Many of the roses are beginning to bloom as well. I love old fashioned heirloom roses, primarily because of their fragrance, but I also love the look of an old fashioned rose. Either single petaled or packed full of layered petals, they are unique.

Such as this old Alba rose. The others have not bloomed yet. But they are dreamy. And smell heavenly. And are varying degrees of pink. And, unlike many modern roses, most of mine only bloom once a season. In June. So for a few glorious weeks the air is redolent of rose perfume. Then they vanish. They do produce rosehips, which are a bonus, but definitely fleeting.

This one that borders the potager does actually bloom all season - for the most part. It is a very large, hardy shrub rose called William Baffin and hails from Canada, eh.

This is my hedgerow. Hedgerows have very ancient beginnings, are basically living hedges or barriers made up of densely packed shrubs, and are prolific in England which is where I got the idea for mine. My little hedgerow actually serves as another smaller windbreak next to our Upright Juniper windbreak and borders the "path" down to the gate where beyond are the alpacas...and ghosts of goats and horses....

My hedgerow (I love that word) is made up of lilacs, an upright cranberry shrub, and old garden roses.

I love this one. Pretty in pink.

This is a single petaled rosa glauca with blue-green leaves.

As all the flowers, trees, and shrubs come into bloom, the birds become abundant as well. 

I love doves. For their symbolism and coos. This is Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred. Don't question me.
They are regulars here is what I'm saying.

Always robins, bluejays, black birds, crows, finches...nothing as pretty as a cardinal but I live in Colorado. We have plenty of hawks too.

and house sparrows. They have the most beautiful song in the spring during mating season - the males of course.

As for the vegetable garden, there is progress it just doesn't look like it. Tomato plants and seeds are in the ground. We'll see who wins this season. Veges or weeds.

Hmmm. Not much help here.

Speaking of roses. As I was out watering this morning (because it is another unseasonably warm 90 degree day), I cut several.

Ok. More than several. More like a quart or two. And like any sane gardener/cook would do, I made rose petal vinegar....

and this concoction. It started out as the beginning of rose petal liquor, because I had enough rose petals and happened to have some 190 proof Everclear sitting in the bottom of the cupboard...doesn't everyone? As I was browsing, I found some interesting articles on bitters. These recipes sounded more interesting to me because they involved roots, herbs, spices as well as natural flavorings. Anyway, I just started throwing things in - dandelion roots, ginger, citrus peels, lavender, other herbs, mace, cardamon, and, of course, the roses. There are a couple more steps in the process, so check back in a few weeks. I'll either have an interesting cocktail to share, or not. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sweet Dreams

I try to pick up tips from nature. For example, the sun sets everyday, yet it gives its all every time. Sweet Dreams. Tomorrow is a brand new day. 

Afternoon Pick Me Up

Sometimes you've just gotta let loose and dance!