Sunday, July 24, 2011

Watermelon Coconut Mojito

As I was cutting up a beautiful watermelon for lunch today, it came to me... why is watermelon juice not on the market? The melon is all juice, inexpensive, and oh so tasty. So I decided to make some. Then my dear husband suggested some mint, of course! Then I had a genius mixologist moment... Watermelon Coconut Mojitos!!!

I had some coconut run on hand, mint in the garden, and more watermelon than I needed. Now I don't believe this is technically a Mojito because it doesn't have any lime but I'm going with it because of the muddled mint.

This experiment turned into a super refreshing sip of summer. I couldn't be more pleased!

Here's the recipe for one cocktail. I made a pitcher after I got the portions just right because who wants to go through all this effort for one drink, right?!?!

4 oz. Coconut Rum (I used Cruzan but any brand will do)
4 oz. Watermelon Juice
4 oz. Pelligrino
2 sprigs Mint leaves
1/2 c. ice

To make the juice:

Dice up 1/2 a watermelon and put into blender. I had to do two batches. Use a wooden spoon to smash down the watermelon and get the juices started. Blend to a liquid (not hard at all!)

Then, again working in batches, pour through a wire mesh sieve using a wooden spoon to get all the juices through. This will remove any pulp and make a nice juice. No sugar needed!

Proof that you don't need a beautiful modern kitchen to make great food (and drinks)!

To make the cocktail:

Wash mint leaves and place at the bottom of the glass. Pour in rum. Use a wooden spoon to muddle the leaves and release all the minty goodness.

Add in ice, watermelon juice, & Pellegrino

Cheers to summertime!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garden Trellis Tutorial

So I have this pile of sticks on the back of our property beside the compost bin from months of old man winter beating on our old trees. Over the winter, we do our best to use the pile for kindling in the fireplace. But come spring, the pile always seems to get bigger.

I was trying to think of ideas of what to do with this pile and then I thought of my Aunt Jean. She made beautiful lattice work for her two front windows out of sticks from her woods. Why couldn't I do that but use it as a trellis for the garden? I'm always tying up perennials with twine as the summer progresses and they get out of control.

Now, mind you, I did not go to the extreme effort that she did to make them perfect, they're for the garden! But I'm quite pleased with the result.

I also must apologize for the horrible backdrop I used for these pictures (old sheet/drop cloth). I promise I'll do better next time and invest in a nice clean white sheet but I just couldn't wait to get this project finished.

So here are your steps...

Gather a pile of sticks that are relatively straight, and I use that term loosely because you end up tying them together and they sort of straighten out in that process.

Look at the space in which you are going to put your trellis and get a feel for the width. Measure if you like, I didn't.

Lay out your boarder sticks leaving about 6" - 8" at the bottom for the posts to go into the ground. I tried to select sticks that had a sharp edge for the bottom to make it easier to go in the ground. It also helped that we've had a TON of rain this spring!!!

Tie all of the corners with wire. Use an "X" pattern so you go around all sides of the sticks. I used spool wire but really any you may have on hand will do. Try to stay away from a really heavy gauge though, it's harder to get thick wire tight.

Then lay out one row in a diagonal pattern. Again, tie off with wire at the top and bottom of each stick.

Next, lay out another diagonal row going in the opposite direction. Again, tie at the top and bottom of each stick. Also tie a few spots through out the middle to reinforce the trellis.

Finally, use your pruners to clip off the ends of the sticks that hang over the outer edge and position in your garden.

Glow in the Dark Mason Jars

OK, I know I just posted but then I went to my new favorite web site CraftGawker and found this super easy craft.

Right now my older son is totally captivated by fireflies (and crafting). I will be picking up some paint this week to make this craft for sure!

Go to Curbly for "directions"

Grilled Yellow Squash & Creamy Herb Dressing

This past week my mother-in-law had back surgery. It went well and she is home from the hospital. She's getting around quite well but of course has restrictions during her recovery. This weekend we took her dinner and visited for a while. I may have gone above and beyond but really enjoyed the excuse to spend the afternoon in the kitchen.

This was our menu...

Bright's Fried Chicken **full disclaimer** NOT Homemade!
They bring this to us as a treat from time to time and we thought we would return the favor. This is from a little diner in Ephrata and it's delicious!!!

Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil Salad

Grilled Yellow Squash with Creamy Herb Dressing

Roasted Potato Hash with green peppers & onion

Peach Crumble Pie

I thought I would share what I put together for the squash since we are in that time of year when every gardener has squash coming out there ears!!!

Grilled Yellow Squash with Creamy Herb Dressing

2 medium Yellow Squash - sliced lengthwise
olive oil
garlic salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. chopped herbs - I used oregano, thyme, & parsley
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. milk

Season squash with oil, garlic salt, & pepper.
Grill squash at 400 for 5 minutes on each side or just until nice grill marks appear. Be careful not to over cook the squash. It can happen fast!

Meanwhile, combine herbs, sour cream, & milk into small container. Mix well.

Remove squash from grill.

And Enjoy!

Super easy and very tasty!!!

And here are some pictures of the pie. I don't typically make pie but I love it. I just hate the work of the crust. This recipe was pretty easy though. The crust was made in the food processor which was quick and easy. I also added some nuts to the topping which I thought added a nice flavor.

You can find the recipe in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food - July/August 2011



Monday, July 11, 2011

Another Freezing Tip - Zucchini

OK, I think this might be a theme over the next few months... saving summer for winter

Thanks to my sister-in-law, I get the occasional abundance of zucchini and yellow squash throughout the summer months. Though I love to grill, saute, stuff, steam, and roast it... I've got to save some for later too!

Recently I've had the feeling that I need to stash away all of summers goodness for those winter months when produce is expensive and stale. I know it's only July but I think it's never too late to start. I hate doing a ton of work at the end of the season, even though that's when prices are at their best. I would much rather relax on the patio and savor those last few moments of the season.

So this weekend I shredded up two large zucchini and froze them in 1 cup portions, perfect for making zucchini bread or zucchini cakes later.

Here's my process...

Using the shredding blade attachment, I shred up all of the zucchini.

Then I use a 1 cup measuring cup and scoop up the zucchini. Pack the measuring cup tightly and press out as much liquid as you can. Then invert the measuring cup onto a piece of Glad Press-n-Seal.

Press the plastic tightly around the zucchini and freeze.

When you defrost, press out more liquid to ensure you don't have too much liquid in what you are making with your bounty :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Freeze Summers Berry Bounty

Living in Lancaster County, I have the benefit of an abundance of roadside stands and farmers markets all within a 10 minute drive. Some are as elaborate as an open air barn with tables and wagons and a cash register. Others are small handmade stands at the end of the lane that leads to the farm, usually maned by a group of young children. I have even picked up some great strawberries and watermelons out of a radio flyer wagon at the end of a driveway equipped with a plastic lidded container to leave your money!

This time of year I like to buy up as much produce as I can afford, cook what I can, and freeze plenty for winter. I know it sounds old fashioned, but there's nothing like opening a bag of summer corn for Christmas dinner!

Tonight I stashed away a gallon size freezer bag of blueberries. It cost me $8.00 for 2 quarts. I'll use these berries for smoothies or mix with my granola and yogurt for breakfast. When I was a kid I used to love an after school snack of frozen blueberries topped with milk. The milk would freeze and sort of coat the blueberries. Yummy!!!

So... to successfully freeze berries of any kind, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Keep the berries to a single layer, leaving some space between the berries. Freeze for about an hour or two. Honestly, I often forget about them and they are in there longer. It won't hurt :)

Then pour them into a freezer bag and stash away for another day!

I would love to hear what you do with frozen berries. It's always good to learn tips from friends!