31 July 2012

June...or July...Recap and Goals!

Let's play a game!  Who has two thumbs and let June transition into July without so much as a nod at her June goals?  THIS GIRL!
So, I guess I've got to revert back to the June goals...
  • Bottle wine, maybe start a new batch.  Consider it bottled!  And I've picked enough blueberries that blueberry wine is definitely in my future.
  • Keep you updated on my garden!  Hmmmm...if I post a couple pictures of it here now, does that count?  I know I mentioned some home-grown ingredients in this post and this post, so that's got to count for something.  Oh, and of course all the stir fries.
  • Get back on track with Paleo by making...chipotle meatballs with guacamole.  Okay guys.  I made them, I swear I did.  I just never blogged about it.  So I'll put it on the list for this month!
  • Swedish Cloudberry Parfait - kicked its butt, took some pretty pictures, served it up to some of my favorite people.  Handled.
  • Summery things!  That seems a little vague.  Is that really even a goal?  Okay, so I went sailing SO many times, I went camping, I lit fireworks, I gardened, and I even enjoyed some urban foraging.  If that's not summery, I don't know what is.
  • Reformat my laptop. Well, I did warn you that it wasn't going to happen, right?  However, things are a little more dire now, as it seems my seven-year-old laptop is headed...bucket-ward.
  • Kahlua!  Check it out!  I even gave you a bonus recipe - chocolate syrup!  Now we just need to have a White Russian party so everyone can try it.
Okay, here's some garden photos so you have proof that my garden is real and GROWING:
See?  I'd love to write a post on how the experiment of gardening is going.  Maybe I should put that on August (wait...August?  Already?  But August heralds the end of summer!  This can't possibly be right) goals.
  • Write a post about how the garden experiment is turning out.
  • Write a post on the chipotle meatballs that I made in JUNE.
  • Dance the night away at my cousin's wedding!
  • Pick anything and everything in season.  Crossing my fingers on the blackberry crop!
  • Host an outdoor cookout at the apartment (fondue?).  I'm 98% certain I can find a reason to turn this into a celebration. Maybe a birthday for a friend, or a "welcome home" to another friend.
  • Paleo cauliflower pizza crust.  As it turns out, pizza is the one breaded item I can't live without, so finding a pizza replacement is necessary.
 Whoosh!  That's the sound summer is making as it flies by.  No time to sit and have some tea, because summer has places to go (namely, south.  Summer in Northern Michigan lasts all of 3 weeks.  That's an exaggeration, but just barely).

Oh, and a little shout-out to the fam, who totally made wine-bottling a breeze!
For anyone interested in wine-making, most recipes are for 5-gallon batches, which makes about ~25 bottles of wine.  Depending on the fruit you use, that will come out to less than a dollar a bottle (assuming you already have all the equipment).  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'd be glad to pass on some knowledge :)

27 July 2012

Tenderloin Topped with Bacon, Onion and Mushroom

I went ALL OUT for this camping trip!  I hardly ever eat red meat, but I splurged and got a couple tenderloin steaks - for an outrageous price, but that's what splurging is all about, right?
But I'm getting ahead of myself!  My absolute favorite part of the day is in the morning, when I can sit and enjoy my coffee.  I hardly ever get to be lazy in the morning, so mornings at camp are great!
And while sipping on delicious french-pressed coffee, there was a omelette-scramble being cooked over the fire in a cast iron pot that has been with us since our boat days.
Speaking of that cast iron guy...perfect camp-ware!  After a day full of wedding shower and rain and beach time, food sounded GREAT.  So to make the steak topping, I started out with a panful of bacon, onions and mushrooms - a quarter cup to a half cup each.
When the bacon was well-cooked, I put it on a plate with a lid to keep it warm, and in the meantime, I saved the bacon grease to fry up some green beans (home-grown - you better believe it!).
Oh, and let's not forget that tenderloin!  So perfectly grilled, so delightfully tender, so tasty!
Plate up those beans and steak, and top the steak with the BOM (bacon, onion, mushroom)!
Serve it up with a phenomenal Black Raspberry Gin Fizz.
Oh, and can we just admire these plates?  Kyle picked them up at the Salvation Army for a dollar each - but they are these crazy, artsy, a-symmetrical plates!  The bottoms are pale yellow.  It's a little hard to see how cool they are in these photos, sorry!  I told Kyle we needed some picturesque camping plates, and I was picturing something made of hard plastic.  These far exceeded my expectations!  I almost wish we had a whole set of these dishes :)
And after dinner, a quick hop out to the lakeshore for the "sunset" - the clouds obscured the best colors, but any sunset is a beautiful sunset.
And then the next day we headed out to Torch Lake!  Third most beautiful lake in the US, and for good reason!
I will be returning to this lake, and next time, I would like to rent a cabin and/or a pontoon boat!  Highly recommended!

24 July 2012

Basil Burgers Stuffed with Feta and Serranos

Camp food!  It is one of the best parts of camping.  True story, I spent an obscene amount of time on food during this camping trip, and I loved every second of it.  Especially tasty were these basil burgers (home-grown basil!) stuffed with spicy serranos and some creamy feta to mellow it out.
I prepped these burgers before we left so that all we'd have to do is throw them on the grill.  For one thing, I wanted to keep my hands off raw food as much as possible, and for another thing, I wanted to keep raw meat off our clean dishes because camp dishes...aren't cleaned quite as well as home dishes.
I mixed about half a cup of feta with one serrano pepper.  Serranos are great because the heat permeates the whole pepper, not just the seeds and pith.  Then I mixed up a quarter cup of chopped basil into one pound of burger and divided the burger into eight pieces.
I took each piece of burger and flattened it out as far as I could.  Then I took about a quarter cup of the feta mixture and put it in the middle of a patty.
I took a second patty and put it on top of the first, then patted the two sides together to form a stuffed burger!
So, fast forward twenty four hours.  Side dish for these burgers?  Grilled mango and summer squash (from the garden!).
We brought a grate from an old grill along to cook food over the fire.  It worked perfectly!  And raw burger never touched a single dish besides the tongs.
Grill marks.  Just the appearance of them seems to make food so much tastier :)
Serve everything up!  I love that the squash and mango are the same color and just make the dish look so pretty.
I'm keeping this one Paleo!  I know that breads and buns are great food delivery systems whilst camping, but home-grown kale works just as well, adds some fun crunch, and *doesn't* make you feel like you just ate half a house.
Mmmmm...there was major basil flavor on the first bite, and when I got to the feta, it was absolutely creamy and delicious.  There was surprisingly little heat from the serranos - they had a nice crunch but almost no bite!  I don't know if it was because they'd been encased in feta for a day, or maybe it just wasn't a potent pepper.  But they were perfectly grilled and 100% amazing.

After we had these amazing burgers, we stopped at Short's Brewpub.  Fantastic beer!  Highly recommended if you ever make it to Michigan!  Huma Lupa Licious is for sure a favorite, and I heard the Soft Parade is a beer that tastes like wine (didn't try it though).
Kyle and I shared a flight so we could figure out which one we wanted a glass of.
 I ended up getting a glass of the ControversiALE, and Kyle got the organic '09 Golden Ale.
Saturday started out with some great weather, but we watched the rain clouds roll in off of Lake Michigan.
It was beautiful to watch, but when it hit - IT HIT HARD!
Confession:  having no confidence in the tent, I opted to retreat to the truck.  I would later eat my words when it stormed ALL NIGHT and the tent held up like a champ.
Despite the rain, I still managed to spend some time on the beach later that day and even finish a book!  Okay, stay tuned for more camp stories - and some fantastic steak!

20 July 2012

A Comedienne in a Berry Patch

So the other day, I was in a berry patch, ya know?  Have you ever been in a berry patch, picking for hours and hours, and you finally look down, and you all you have is a handful of berries?  What's up with that?
It's like, is there a bear following behind me and picking all the berries out of my bucket when I'm not looking?  How did I manage to find the ONE vegetarian bear in this town?  A normal bear would have just eaten me and completely solved the problem.  Oh, wait...
But seriously, folks, I was so excited to find some juicy black raspberries (and a few red ones) in the middle of the city limits.  You know how you start picking, and then just a few feet further, there's The Branch, the big one, the branch that will FILL your basket...  Yeah.  There's always that branch.  But once you get to it, you realize that if you can just navigate a few feet further, there is AN EVEN BETTER BRANCH!  And you MUST partake of its berries.  And thusly, the siren song of the patch calls you, until finally you've been sucked in so far that you start to search for a familiar sight, but the next person you run into says something along the lines of "G'day mate!"
And then there's my picking partner, Mr. Eagle Scout.  You know what the Boy Scouts say, right?  Always "Be Prepared?"  You'd think that all their outdoorsy adventures would prepare them for the possibility of having to forage for food.  Well, apparently, those Boys seem to think that they're too prepared to ever have to ever scavenge.  According to Kyle, he was taught that there was one berry that was good for eating, and an identical berry that would cause you to vomit up a lung.  Who's prepared now?
Ouch.  Tough crowd today, I guess.  I can see Wendy the Waitress is going to have to make a few more rounds with the beers.
Or better yet, this Black Raspberry Gin Fizz!
Recipe from the oh-so-lovely smitten kitchen - with its original wording, because I especially loved the "share with someone you like" that Deb threw in at the end :)

Black Raspberry Gin Fizz

For 2 tall drinks

1/4 cup fresh black raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (4 liquid ounces or just shy of 3 shots) gin
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from two juicy limes)
Club soda
2 thin lime wedges [for garnish - which I totally forgot, because it's hard to be that fancy when you're camping]

Purée raspberries and sugar in a blender until as liquefied as possible. Strain purée through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into two tall or collins-style glasses; discard seeds in sieve. Divide gin and lime juice between glasses and stir to combine. Add ice to glasses then top each with soda and wedge of lime. (Might need another quick stir to combine.) Share with someone you like.
Alright, folks, you've been a great audience.  You've been...berry, berry kind.  Ba-dum tssh

Don't worry, I'll keep my day job...

17 July 2012

Summer Stir Fry

This is my favorite savory summer dish.  That first spring salad is awesome, but there's nothing like a whatever-is-in-season stir fry mix.
Especially since I just got a new grill and had to try it out!  Hand-assembled by yours truly.

Kyle put together all the veggies to marinate.  Bag full of veggies, mushrooms, sausage, and a persimmon (purchased on a whim).
Marinade recipe:

1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 tsp fajita seasoning
Dash of cayenne
Dash of cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 c. olive oil
Water to cover
Place it all in a stir fry grill pan and put it on the grill!
There was nothing raw in this stir fry, so I really just needed to cook the veggies a little and heat everything through.  It was pretty windy so everything was on there for about half an hour.  Check out the porch grill!  It's almost smaller than the propane tank.
Yum!  Enjoy over rice, or keep it Paleo and enjoy by itself.  This is Kyle's plate, because I gave him all my carrots!
Summer...it's so great, I wish it would last all year!  Here are a few other stir fries I've been eating lately.
This one uses some leftover cabbage.
Tuna steaks and bamboo shoots add some zing
Summer squash and zucchini are definitely staples!