The Cat Diaries

Cupcake using a clothespin for a pillow and a Bounty paper napkin as a mattress

DSCF0001.JPG

Why Today is Good

Newly Planted

Tomatoes, Day 2

It is day two for my tomato garden. After surrendering last year to the urgings of friends and farmers not to plant – that the tomatoes would be attacked by insects, rot, be stolen, shrivel, contract “black bottom” (whatever that is) or “die on the vine”, I said, “What the heck,” and planted them anyway. So what if they get “black bottom”? Nobody is going to die. Hopefully.

As for today, I gaze at my 12 little plants. Better Boy. Big Boy. Bigger, Better Beefy…something. All beautiful. All healthy.

Nothing good comes without struggle. I expect Stinkbugs, and I expect Starlings. Weeds will happen. Drought will occur. And my tomatoes will triumph.

Come August, I’ll be preparing BLT’s.  They will taste a thousand times better while looking at my garden through the kitchen window.

(In the South, every “old-timer,” when speaking of tomatoes, says, “I just sprinkle a little salt on them, and eat ’em just like an apple.”
Most claim to carry a shaker of salt in their pocket during summer months!)

Super-Easy and Elegant Dessert

The secret ingredient

2-Minute (or less!) Dessert

Sometimes simplicity is the key. You can’t go wrong with understatement…as long as everything is absolutely perfect.

For a can’t-be-beat, never-fail dessert – one that can be whipped up (literally) in minutes, and allows variations according to tastes and seasons – this is one to remember!

All you need is some plain Greek yogurt (full-fat for the richest flavor), homemade, whipped heavy cream with an ample shot of natural vanilla extract, fresh fruit of your choice, and pound cake, shortbread cookies, or macaroons.

Mix equal parts of the whipped cream and yogurt until fluffy, assemble in a chilled parfait or dessert glass – layering or topping with cake or cookies and fresh seasonal fruit. Raspberries, strawberries, peaches…whatever you like and what ever is in season, and preferably local. Sprinkle generously with Confectioner’s sugar.

Serve with coffee or espresso. Amaretto optional!

“The best things in life aren’t necessarily free,
sometimes they’re just easy.”

My Kitchen Apothecary

The daily grind

Too many gadgets. From pepper mills, garlic presses, spice smashers, etc…why bother?

The mortar and pestle is the solution to all!

Keep an array in various sizes.

From crushing coriander to guacking guacamole – the “molcajete” can’t be beat!

“Crush, grind, pulverize!”

Tomatoes, Bacon, and Spring

The real thing

It’s Spring!

until late July...

Tomorrow is the 1st of March, and while it is not officially the start of Spring – it is a step in the right direction.  I discovered a hatched robin’s egg in my yard last week, the onions in my pantry are sprouting faster than I can use them, and my prized “pet” African Violet is going wild. Something is definitely in the air!

Aside from the bitter temperatures, snow, and ice, the hardest part of  Winter is being deprived of home-grown tomatoes! Even now that it is Spring 🙂 , it’s still a good five months before a decent BLT. What’s a person to do? Well, this is truly one of those problems that  money can’t solve, since only God can make a home-grown tomato, but sometimes we are forced to – of all terrible things – substitute,  when actually there is no substitution.

After years of seeking the next best thing , it’s come down to this – if home-grown is a no-go , you’re better off with tiny tomatoes. Cherry. Grape. Cherry Berry, Sweet Pea… Those little guys pack a powerful punch!

After trying all the “full size” varieties out of season – Holland on the stem (watery and bland), plum or Roma ( mealy), Hydroponic (expensive and no taste whatsoever), imported, exported, red, yellow, varigated…all proved horrible in one way or another. Please, for once I have to admit, less really is more. Bring on a miniature tomato – the smaller the better!

While slicing those itty-bitty tomatoes isn’t easy, their intense flavor and pleasing  texture might carry you through until summer without ruining your hamburger or BLT. Which brings another brilliant idea to mind…

Next time when pan-frying bacon, be sure to place a foil covered brick on top of strips. It will stop all that nasty curling and prevent uneven cooking. Flip when needed and brick (a verb) the other side. It will cook to perfection, flat, crispy and perfect for sandwiches, as a side dish, or by itself!

Brick your bacon!

Tips Not to be Missed!

  • Kitchen shears are a must for every kitchen! When preparing meat, keep a pair handy to snip off any unwanted (and fattening!) fat and skin. Every tablespoon of visible fat trimmed away amounts to 100 less calories and helps keep cholesterol under control!
“Cut”-lery at its best!
Onion etiquette
  • Red onions tend to complement ” heartier” dishes –  those served with red wines, while white and yellow onions combine better with lighter fare; usually accompanied by white wines or Champagnes.
  • Visit you local natural food store, or check around to find where spices can be purchased loosely – by the ounce instead of the pre-prepared bottles in your grocery store. They are loaded with fresh flavor and unbelievably cheaper – plus, you are able to buy just the amount you need. The more control in the kitchen, the better!
  • Don’t throw away the juice or jars from your favorite pickles after eating the last one! Simply slice some English cucumbers extra-thin, drop them into the jar and in a day or two – more pickles!  (Try “pickling” other vegetables, too!)
  • Fresh spinach is a refreshing change from lettuce on sandwiches. It adds a unique, nutty flavor and different texture…makes things just a little more interesting.  Not to mention that extra boost of iron!                                     “Snip, snip, snip the fat!”   

Five Kitchen Tricks

Two kitchen essentials!

Problem solved!

Tops saved from discarded bottles. Invaluable!

 

 

An accident waiting to happen!
  1. Maybe it’s my age, or perhaps it’s a new aggressive type of child-proofing or “terrorist proofing”, but each time I try to open a bottle in my kitchen, it’s becoming more of a struggle.
    Keeping a pair of adjustable pliers among your utensils will definitely make life easier!
  2. When “dredging in flour” is required for baking or deep-frying, self-rising flour tends to make a far “crispier” crust.
  3. While pouring bottled dressing the other evening, half the bottle spilled out onto my salad!  Save “squirtter” tops from other containers to snap or screw onto open top bottles so you can control the amount you choose to pour. They are “gold” in my kitchen – and if one doesn’t fit – the next one will! (See photo)
  4. To thicken potato soup, potato cakes – or anything potato, keep instant mashed potatoes on hand. They do have a purpose (although not as mashed potatoes :-))!
  5. Virgin olive oil, or simply olive oil,  stands up better to high temperatures than extra-virgin when frying. Save the delicious (and expensive) extra-virgin for dressings and sauces.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: