More from the garden…

  
My mother used to say that hydrangeas love the snow and after this winter they should be positively swooning in love…and finally after years of planting them around our complex, the hydrangeas are having a bumper year! 

  
I cut an armful this afternoon and mixed in some vases with the incredibly fragrant pink and white lilies that literally burst all at once this week!

  

“Ooooohhhhh, it’s heavy!”

 That’s what I said when I asked the Hubs on Friday night, ” what came in the mail ?” and his response was …” Your gourmet box!”

  

Try the World is a new subscription service that let’s you discover and taste “curated” foodstuffs from around the globe. I’d been hearing about Try the World for a few months on the food blogs and figured I’d give it a try. It’s like a wine club in that you can select how many boxes you want to receive each year.    

 
   
Packaged beautifully ! And secure from bumps and drops.

   
   
Here’s why the box was so heavy! 

  
 
Contents included all retail sizes of 

1. yummy, flaky sea salt

2. zingy, grainy mustard, small batch

3. fragrant and golden lavender honey

4. fresh and handmade apricot jam

  
  
And sample sizes of sea salt caramels, butter wafers and tea bags. The Hubs made me a cup of tea with a sample and I got to drink it from my new mug that my new work friend brought me from Paris! A happy and timely coincidence! 

  

Koo-koo for cucamelon!

I saw a Pinterest post for these little melons last spring or the spring before that, not sure…

    
They advertised them as little tiny cucumbers…which from the photo you can see that they are. The article I think also said that the melons have a watermelon type skin and might even taste a bit like watermelons. I found the seedling plants at Russell’s in May and planted them out front with my tomatoes. Like cucumbers they are climbers and they are small, but they didn’t  thrive. I did get a few grape sized melons and over the weekend, the Hubs and I cut a couple up to try.

  
  
They taste like cucumbers! With a little watermelon thrown in for good measure! Here’s a link for an entry on Wikipedia. They are also known as Mexican sour gherkins…who knew?

The skin is not as thick as I thought, and there are seeds, but they are like cucumber seeds, not bitter. I think they would be great in a salad, cut in half and wish I had more of them! I have a few more, but wish they were more like tomatoes in how many each plant yields!

Smoke gets in your eyes..and your chicken

  
We tried smoking with wood chips for the first time over the weekend!

   
   
I got the chips at the grocery store and soaked a couple of handfuls for about an hour. Then you pour off the water and put the pan on high heat on the grill.

Get it good and hot so the chips start to char and smoke. You want two zones on the grill, wood zone and meat zone. As soon as the chips are making “significant” smoke, you can put the chicken on the grill on the meat side. Temperature on this side should be low so the grill with lid down is hot, but not the grill itself. Leave chicken on grill till cooked through, 165 degrees. Move the chicken or meat from hot to cool part of grill to keep cooking.

  
Meanwhile back at the chopping block, I took some garden tomatoes from our little truck farm and chopped them up with a small onion and a small apple and plopped them in the saucepan on medium heat. I added a splash of apple cider vinegar, golden raisins, orange peel, cardamom, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and ground ginger. Finally a tablespoon of brown sugar..

  
Just let it reduce down and get all soft and reduce the broth. Before you know it…tomato chutney. A little zingy, but perfect on the smokey grilled chicken breast.

   
 

Making it up as I go along….

Had a bunch of vegetables hanging out and getting too soft, so I had to take decisive action…

First, the zucchini!

  
There were two zucchini, so one I sliced on mandoline and tossed in sauté pan with the cherry tomatoes that were about to go around the bend. Added olive oil, natch, and garlic, basil, salt and pepper.

  
Then I cut the second zucchini down the middle, added a tablespoon of ricotta to each half then added the topping from the pan. I used the grill as an oven and popped the whole thing in there for about 20 minutes.

Then I had eggplants….getting dangerously soft….

  
Those too got sliced thin and put into the recently vacated sauté pan with olive oil and cooked till tender and caramelized, about 8 minutes. 

  
Once the slices cool, I tossed them with feta cheese, red onion, and banana peppers. I dressed the whole thing with olive oil, red wine vinegar, a squeeze of lemon, red pepper flakes and black pepper. This made a great side for some perfectly grilled loin lamb chops we had the other nite,

Then there the radishes….getting wrinkly sitting in cold water in the fridge..

Like 18th century aristocrats to the guillotine, these radishes lined up for the mandoline….

  
In a side bowl I mixed a tablespoon of mayo with a tablespoon of Greek non fat plain yogurt, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Crispy and crunchy side salad or mix with shredded iceberg or butter lettuce.

New Favorites

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New items found at fine stores everywhere during last couple of weeks. Have to say the Hubs and I are loving the spicy new hummus flavors and because of our HWW lifestyle ( healthy, wealthy and wise) they are great protein with little carbs! I allow myself one treat a day, and the Skinny Cow Salted Caramel and Pretzel bars are just the thing for sitting on the patio late at nite! TJ’s mushroom ravioli are great for a quick dinner with a salad!