The Roses Are Gone

We missed most of the full blooming roses this year.  But, we were able to enjoy the buds and some of the full flowers.  The fragrance was nothing short of heavenly in the back yard.

The alpine strawberries have been sprouting nicely.  But, something is eating the tender little sprouts.  Originally, we saw a few dozen sprouts.  Now, we’re down to just a tiny handful.  We’re hoping some will make it through the summer.  If they don’t make it, I think I’ll plant another rosemary in the far corner.  And, we’ll let the blackberries slowly fill in the rest of the space.  We also found a tiny patch of wild strawberries growing along the fence line.  The handful of berries that we’ve seen are very very tiny.  If the Alpine strawberries make it, they should actually be slightly bigger than the wild berries.

After dinner this weekend, we’ll each be sipping one of these (in lieu of dessert).

Current Favorite Late Night Cocktail:

The Revolver
makes 2

4 ounces bourbon (or rye)
1 generous ounce of Tia Maria
two splash of orange bitters
two pieces of orange zest, no pith

Combine bourbon, Tia Maria and orange bitters in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to combine.  Divide between two chilled rocks glasses.

Cheers!

At the corner of the wall, you can see a dark green blueberry bush and some of the blackberries sprouting over the planter boxes.  This location works well.  The shade of the trees keeps the blackberries from taking over.  We just nip anything that hangs over the wall.

The First Raspberries

Rasberry blossoms…

…and the first tiny fruit are sprouting.

Will we get a taste?  Or, will the squirrels demolish our little baby fruit?  We have no idea.  But, we’re thrilled to see so many blossoms turn into budding fruit.  To toast my new sprouts…

Raspberry Collins
makes 2

4 ounces your favorite gin, light and floral
1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
little splash of raspberry syrup or simple syrup, or to taste
club soda, to fill
raspberries, to garnish

Fill two tall glasses with ice.  Divide gin and lemon juice between the glasses.  Add a little splash of syrup, or to your taste.  Fill with club soda.  Garnish with raspberries.

Cheers!

The white princess peach was growing beautifully.  There were buds everywhere.  Then, suddenly, little brown stubs were all that remained one morning.  We think a patch of cold weather destroyed the fruit.  We see less than a dozen peaches remaining on the tree.  Still, we’re just happy this tree is sprouting up tall and filling in nicely.  (The Dwarf Elberta is miraculously still alive.  But, it’s struggling.)

And, that same patch of cold weather seems to have stunted all of the fig trees.  Their leaves are filling in very slowly this year.

A Day At The Beach

Quiet Beach Days Are The Best

Cool, cloud free…

And, then, there’s the water.

…Just look at that water.

Too soon, we have to head back to reality.  There’s unpacking to do.  And, about a dozen loads of wash to handle.  Needless to say, there’s no food in the fridge.   So, what to do?  Well, we have milk.  I can work with that.  Add a banana and a handful of roasted almonds (if you’re really hungry).

This is a quick and dirty version of this fun favorite.

Cereal Milk For Those Days When You Have No Cereal
makes 2 glasses

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon super fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 heaping cups of milk (or as you like it)

In a large measuring cup, combing sugars and cinnamon.   Stir well to coat sugar in cinnamon.  Then, add milk.  Divide between two glasses.  Drink immediately.  If you drink it up quick, the turbinado sugar will still be floating.  This adds a fun cereal-y crunch.  (This tastes exactly like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal milk.  I see an adult beverage in this recipe’s future, too.)

Cheers!

We didn’t want to leave.  So, we wandered and lingered a bit before calling it a day.

It was a gorgeous day.

Adobong Manok Sa Tomato — Chicken Adobo With Tomato

So tender…

…tender, tangy and oh so tasty.  But, the rich taste of the chicken shines through it all.

This is one of those dishes that we devoured until it was gone.  And, requests for a repeat performance were  immediately requested.  I’ll be adding diced red potatoes next time.  And, I’ll probably tinker a bit with the amount of vinegar.  But, this dish is incredibly delicious as is.  Period.

… like tomorrow.

Adobong Manok Sa Tomato
(Or, Chicken Adobo with Tomato)

makes 4-6 servings

1 large onion, diced
1 Tablespoon flour
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup palm vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, or to taste
8 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
salt, to taste

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

Dice onion.  Place in dutch oven with butter.  Sauté until just barely golden.  Add flour.  Stir and cook briefly.  Then, add everything except for the chicken.  Bring to a boil while preheating the oven to 375 degrees F.  Add chicken.  Cook with dutch oven lid on until the chicken is cooked through, but still tender (about 55-75 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces).

Serve with buttered rice (or boiled potatoes).

Dried Orange Peel

An Orange A Day

We love to buy Cuties and Halos by the box.  We’d rather eat one of these cute little oranges than drink a glass of juice any day.  They’re a perfect quick snack, too.  So, I thought I’d experiment with the peels. It turns out that they dry beautifully.

Make sure that they are well washed before drying them.  Then, space them neatly on a baking sheet.  Let them sit on a sunny window sill for a day or two.  (They added a lovely fresh orange scent to the kitchen on those days, too.)  Then, store in a large glass jar (lid off) until they’re completely dried.  the orange color remains bright and vivid for quite a long time.  Once they turn brown, toss them into the compost.  With a nearly endless supply, just dry more when you need or want to… even if you just want to add the scent to your kitchen.

Snacks

Snacks are every bit as important as a real meal.  You could even say they’re more important.  How often do your snacks turn into that days lunch?  The best of intentions get swept to the wayside when there are things to do.  So, what do you eat for your snack/possible meal when your day goes sideways?  Whatever it might be that you choose as your go to, it should have (at the very least) a small portion of protein.  A well-rounded snack should have one part fruit or veggie, one part carb, and one part protein.  But, if you’re going to all that effort, you could make it a meal.

My Favorite Small Snacks

Bite-sized tomatoes
Mini peppers
A slice of extra sharp cheddar

Green apple slices
Bleu cheese
drizzle of honey
handful of grapes

Melon Slices
Proscuitto

Empire apple slices
drizzle of honey
almond butter

Green apple slices
smoked cheddar cubes

One small handful of smoked almonds
5 Frozen grapes

One small container of blueberry yogurt
(For a cold treat, freeze it.)

Wicked Treat

Strawberries Dipped In Nutella

Cinnamon Granola Bar
Add a schemer of Nutella

Croissant
(Toast in 425 degree oven for about 5 min.)
Add a light brush of Nutella

Pretzel Sticks
Dipped in Nutella
Rolled in chopped hazelnuts or almonds
(Freeze)

Meal Substitute “Snacks”

One banana
A handful of smoked almonds

One slice of provolone
Roll it around a slice of smoked ham or salami

Wheat Thins
Topped with white cheddar and green apple slices

One Banana
A glass of milk
One cookie

Banana slices
Top with a tiny dot of peanut butter
Dip in crushed peanuts
(Freeze for a frozen treat)

Chicken breast Cut into slices
Brush with grainy mustard
Wrap in Swiss cheese

Granola Bar
Add a schmear of peanut or almond butter

Cherry Blossoms

I’m in love with these cherry blossoms.

Cherry Blossom
makes 2

3 ounces brandy
3 ounces tart cherry juice
tiny splash simple syrup, if desired
cherries, to garnish

In a cocktail mixing glass, combine ice, brandy and cherry juice.  Taste.  Add very tiny splash of simple syrup if it pleases you.  Taste again.  Then, strain and divide between two chilled martini glasses.  Garnish each glass with a cherry or two.

Cheers!

It was a gorgeous day.

(Even if that stubborn little duck refused to pose for our picture….)

Strawberry Peach Sangria

The last of the blossoms have fallen and the leaves are filling in beautifully.  Don’t those vibrantly bright green leaves call to you and demand attention even with pollen in the air?

Get out there and enjoy!

There’s one thing to remember when you make your pitcher of sangria.  Buy your favorite wine.  Period.  End of story.

Strawberry & Peach Sangria
makes 1  pitcher

1 bottle of your favorite white wine, chilled
1 pint of strawberries, well-washed and sliced or quartered
1 12 oz. bottle Stewart’s peach soda, chilled
1 cup Grand Marnier

Chill your favorite pitcher in the fridge.  Add wine, strawberries, peach soda and Grand Marnier.  Stir gently.  Pour into chilled glasses.  Serve immediately with strawberries and a slice of orange (if you like).

Cheers!

Hanging Out At The Lake With A Beer

One Gorgeous Day

Sometimes, you just want a cold beer to sip as you sit and linger.  Other times, you want to remember that day that you had a beer on the lake’s edge on the first truly gorgeous day of the year.  This beer cocktail brings fresh, happy memories to life.  And, we want more.

…more memories and more cocktails.

Orange Brew
makes 2

2 American pale lager
(Dream Machine, Magic Hat)
2 ounces Grand Marnier
2 ounces orange juice
orange twists or wheels, to garnish

In two tall glasses, pour one ounce of Grand Marnier and orange juice in each.  Then, top with pale lager.  Garnish with orange twist or orange wheel.

We had a lovely day at Lake Keowee from start to finish.

Aperol Mist

A misty day on Lake Lanier…

In the distance, the mist is like a watercolor fantasy.  Up close, the land is vivid and alive.

Have you ever read The Mist by Stephen King?  The 2007 movie version is more than a little bit creepy, too.  But, the book will really get to you.  It’s dark, moody and ripe with vivid imagery.  Read it on a misty day.  We’ve been having a few of those lately.

Aperol Mist
makes 2

2 ounces lemon juice
2 ounces Aperol
2 American pale lager
(Dream Machine, Magic Hat)
lemon weges, to garnish

In two chilled tall glasses, add one ounce of lemon juice and one ounce of Aperol to each glass.  Top with beer.  Is there beer left in your bottle?  Drink it!  Then, go chill with a friend as you sip your cocktails.

Cheers!

(Cocktail recipe from Bon Appetit, July 2014)

This was a beautifully surreal day.