Friday, May 7, 2010

Garden Update

For the last two weeks we have been planting the garden with lots of success and a couple of failures. The tomatoes and peppers are thriving, growing daily and enjoying the warm weather and recent rain. The butter peas and scalloped squash are up and growing. Purple hull crowder peas are slowly peeking through the soil. The failures include the La France green beans and zucchini and yellow squash. They were planted early and it looks like they will need to planted again. The cucumbers are questionable. We were unable to find seeds so we bought a few plants. I'm not sure how they are going to do. We have always had more success when planting from seed.
Everyday the garden changes. Kenny is working on the irrigation and then we will begin mulching.
Tending to the garden is a lot like tending to your children. You work hard to provide the perfect environment so they will grow and flourish.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chicken Salad

Every good Southern cook has a favorite recipe for chicken salad. For years, my

chicken salad of choice was seasonsed with curry. When deciding on a menu for Bunco, I decided to create a menu that could be made ahead and served with little effort. After my technique class on chicken at Williams-Sonoma, I had lots of chicken and

Chicken Salad

2 chickens, cut up
Olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup pecan pieces, roasted
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup lowfat sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups grapes, halved

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken pieces on baking sheets. Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour, or until done. When cool remove the skin and chicken from the bones. Cut into chunks.

Mix together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Add the nuts, vegetables, fruit and tarragon to the chicken. Add mayonnaise and sour cream mixture, adding just enough to moisten the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Serve on croissant rolls with lettuce. Yield: 10 - 12 servings.

Guacamole with a Twist

In a search for an appetizer for Bunco, this one caught my eye. I already had many of the ingredients on hand and it was such an interesting twist on the traditional guacamole that I had to try it. One thing I really liked was the fact that it used oregano and parsley in place of cilantro. I know I should give credit for the source, but I don't remember where I found it! I did make a few changes to the original recipe, substituting Vidalia onions for the red onion and adding fresh lime juice. It was a hit and will be one of my "go to" recipes in the future.
Guacamole with Feta
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 avocadoes, diced
1/2 cup Vidalia onions, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Juice of one lime
4 ounces feta cheese
Combine all ingredients and serve with taco chips.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tomatoes in the Ground!

On April 21st, our first tomatoes were planted in the garden. Thanks to Marshall, we have lots of heirloom varieties. Each plant received a dose of Kenny's Recipe for Healthy Tomato Plants and a drink of water. Now is the hard part, waiting for the plants to grow and produce.

Smoked Salmon with Tarragon Herb Sauce

One of our favorite things to eat is Houston's Smoked Salmon. Even though it is considered an appetizer, Kenny and I often order it for our entree. We have tried to duplicate the recipe at home. I brined the salmon overnight and will do that again, adding more brown sugar to the solution. As for the Tarragon Herb Sauce, it was spot on! The combination of herbs and anchovies adds lots of flavor to the mayonnaise and is a perfect accompaniment to the salmon. The measurements in the recipe are not exact, but I'll work on perfecting the measurements and posting those later.

Smoked Salmon

4 cups water
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 3-pound salmon fillet

Combine the water, sugar and salt in a 2-gallon bag. Add the salmon, seal tightly and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Let the salmon sit at room temperature for 2 hours before smoking. Smoke at 225 degrees F. for 1 1/2 hour and the internal temperture is 145 degrees F.

Tarragon Herb Sauce

2 cups mayonnaise
4 ounces anchovies (can use anchovy paste)
3 - 4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chives
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until the herbs are chopped fine. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring is Here!

After a cold, wet, dreary winter, spring has arrived! And with spring comes new beginnings for our Canada geese. This year we have two sets of babies, born about one week apart. The geese have been with us for years, nesting in the same place and providing us with hours of fun watching the babies grow.
This picture was taken within hours of their hatching!