I apparently got my numbers mixed up and technically next week would be the true anniversary, but I already committed to this being our 9 year anniversary. And last year the anniversary diary was on 7/27 so it seems apropos. I'm just gonna go with it;)
Wow, we have been gathering around the virtual table for 8 years and are embarking on our 9th! I'm so happy to have joined in the discussion all those years ago and eventually taking on more of a leadership/organizer role. When the politics and infighting get really crazy around here WFD is my center. I can always come here on Saturday nights and ignore whatever slings and arrows are abounding on the "Wreck List" and just enjoy good camaraderie and tasty recipes. Thank you to all of you who work so hard to contribute to our group both with diaries and comments!! Give yourselves a round of applause and Cheers!
To celebrate our anniversary tonight I'd like to share recipes and pics of summer's bounty. I once again have a good amount of containers of various herbs and a few vegetables growing on my patio so I will share some found recipes that I will be trying, and pics of my plants as well as beautiful pics from the Lavender Festival that I went to a couple of weeks ago. Follow me below the fold for more!
This year I have a yellow stripe tomato, globe eggplant, and red bell pepper growing in containers. So far I have harvested 4 peppers and while I'm seeing lots of flowers on both the tomato and eggplant, they have yet to show any fruit. Ah, well, gardening is a learning experience so we'll see if I screwed up or not.
And of course I have basil:
Next to the basil is an old picnic basket that belonged to my grandmother. The lid broke off long ago and the bottom finally warped and I popped it out. I decided to keep it around and use it as a planter by lining it with an old shower curtain and then filling it with dirt and flowers:
And yes, that's my kitten Skittles in the midst of trying to catch a bee;)
Ok, I am sure by now you are wanting some recipes!
Thyme Roasted Radishes with Champagne Honey Vinaigrette
from Food For My Family
3 cups radishes (about 2½ pounds or two large bunches), rinsed and halved
2 small leeks or 1 medium leek, sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh minced parsley
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon sea salt (extra to finish, if desired)
1 clove minced garlic
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the halved radishes, sliced leeks, thyme, and parsley in a large bowl.
In a small cup or bowl, combine the champagne vinegar, olive oil, honey, sea salt, and the garlic. Whisk to combine.
Pour the dressing over the radishes, and toss to coat. Pour the radish mixture onto a sheet pan in a single layer.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the outsides are starting to wrinkle slightly and the leeks have started to brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm, finishing with a sprinkle of sea salt if desired.
You can make these with any type of radishes, adjusting how you slice them to accommodate for different sizing.
Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Marinated Garbanzo Beans, Feta, and HerbsAnd a more ambitious recipe:
from Kalyn's Kitchen
(Makes 4-6 servings, depending on what else, if anything, you serve with it. Recipe inspired by The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook, with lots of adaptations.)
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and drained well
1 1/2 cups diced cucumbers with skin on
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (drained in colander if the tomatoes are extra juicy)
2 T balsamic vinegar (I like Fini Balsamic Vinegar)
3 T good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano (or use basil or parsley)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled Feta (or goat cheese)
Put garbanzo beans in colander and rinse very well until no more foam appears. Remove any chickpea skins that come off when you're rinsing the beans. Let beans drain at least 15 minutes. (I sometimes pat them dry with a paper towel if I'm in a hurry and they seem quite wet.) Mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a whisk. Place beans in small ziploc bag, pour dressing over and marinate beans in refrigerator 4-6 hours or longer.
When you're ready to prepare the salad, remove beans from refrigerator and drain them in a colander, reserving the dressing. Taste dressing for seasoning, and if you don't have at least 3 T dressing, add a bit more balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Dice tomatoes and if they're extra juicy, put in colander to drain while you prepare other ingredients. Cut cucumbers into fourths lengthwise, and then into pieces about 1/2 inch wide. (If cucumbers seem wet, pat dry with paper towel.) Wash oregano, spin dry or dry with paper towel, and coarsely chop using a chef's knife.
Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, garbanzo beans and oregano and toss with reserved salad dressing. Season salad with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Divide salad among individual serving plates, and top with crumbled Feta or Goat cheese just before serving.
Vegetarian Maqluba (Rice Layered With Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Cauliflower)Ok, now for some pure eye candy from the Lavender Festival. I had many cups of variations of lavender lemonade, some lavender Madeleines, lavender chocolates, and got to smell a wonderful blend of one farmer's own version of Herbes de Provence that was drool-inducing. It's not for sale, yet!
from Serious Eats
1 2/3 cups basmati rice, rinsed until water runs clear
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
About 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium cauliflower, divided into medium florets
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 cups vegetable stock
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and halved
Plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
Hot sauce such as sambal oelek, for serving (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving (optional)
Adjust oven racks to middle positions and preheat oven to 400°F. Cover rice with water, stir in 1 teaspoon of salt, and let soak.
Stir together turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and cloves in a small bowl. In a large bowl, toss eggplant slices with 3 tablespoons oil, 1/3 of the spice mixture, and salt and pepper to taste. Lay eggplant out on two rimmed baking sheets and roast, turning slices once, until eggplant is browned and tender, about 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/3 of the spice mixture, and salt and pepper to taste. Lay cauliflower out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once, until cauliflower is browned and tender, about 20 minutes.
Assemble the maqluba: line the bottom of a Dutch oven with a circle of parchment paper, then brush paper and sides of pot with melted butter. Assemble tomato slices in a circle, covering bottom of pot and overlapping the slices as you go. Follow with the eggplant. Arrange cauliflower over eggplant. Drain rice thoroughly, then spread over cauliflower. Stir remaining spice mixture and 1 teaspoon salt into vegetable stock, and pour over rice. Scatter garlic pieces over top.
Place pot over high heat and bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove pot from heat, remove lid, drape a clean tea towel over top of pot, and quickly replace lid, letting dish set for 10 minutes. Quickly invert rice dish onto a large round platter; do not remove pot for 2-3 minutes. Remove pot and circle of parchment and serve maqluba with plain yogurt, hot sauce and chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.
This was our first stop: Luna Blue Farms. They are a new farm this year and are still in progress. The lavender is in a large oval and they eventually plan to add roses and a gazebo in the center to host weddings & other celebrations.
Next up was one I was really looking forward to: Goodwin Creek Gardens. They are a full nursery and have a gorgeous display garden of all kinds of plants. The previous year when we went they accommodated our request to picnic there by moving a picnic table to a shady spot in front of their house away from the public area and were just so nice about it I will always remember them for it. This year I actually had some money to spend so I bought a couple of plants: a Blue Boy rosemary and a Golden Sage. This is their Bee Balm in full bloom in the display garden.
Applegate Valley Lavender Farm was up next and I didn't actually take any pics myself but my friend/co-worker took this one of me in the midst of the lavender fields. They have a very quirky rustic sense of decor and have old couches, clawfoot bathtubs and whatnot to pose with as well. By this time I was beet red and totally drenched in sweat from the heat so it's not the greatest pic, but I love the way my umbrella (or should I say "parasol") matched my dress! (It was totally a coincidence, I swear!)
And then we went to another new farm that was by far the most breathtaking. The English Lavender Farm. It is run by a couple from England that moved here and brought true English lavender stock with them to start their enterprise. It is on a steep hillside that provided some incredible vistas! But I don't envy them having to work those hillsides in the hot sun!
I'm going big with these because they were such incredible views!