It looks like we will have quite the fruit harvest this year from our garden!
Here we have a tomato baby…
Multiple plum babies…
And an abundance of apple babies…
Now we just have to try to protect all our babies from bugs and pests!
Today I made soup for dinner. It was “Fennel and Tomato Soup”, and was one I was looking forward to. I like tomato soup and really like fennel, so I figured the combination would be a hit, and I wasn’t disappointed. Plus, it was really simple to make, although I did manage to have a blow out near the end. To start, I just took a bunch of fennel, a potato, and an onion, all chopped up, and cooked them down for awhile, then I added tomatoes and cooked it some more.
Once the tomatoes had cooked a bit, I added broth and let it simmer for about an hour. During that time Julie grabbed some of her paprika cheddar biscuits out of the freezer and got those ready.
Once that was all cooked, I transferred the entire pot to the food processor to blend it. This is predictably where the blow out occurred. I didn’t realize that the food processor isn’t meant to be filled more than 60% or so or it starts to leak, so I ended up spilling some of the mixture out onto the counter and floor, all while the phone was ringing (shout out to Jim!). It wasn’t that bad, and I managed to puree everything in two batches. The end result was some pretty stinking good tomato soup.
Yesterday was a good food day. Julie and I made root beer floats in the afternoon, and then we went out to eat with our friends Dan and Bethany Volz. They have been watching our cats while we are away this summer and we took them out to Christian’s, one of our favorite restaurants. We noticed on the menu that they had “veal sweetbreads” as the appetizer of the day, and we had a discussion about what part of the calf that actually is. I was guessing it was an organ, like a liver, and Julie thought it was brains. Turns out they are thymus glands, either in the throat or around the heart. They came served in a creamy sauce, with peas and tomatoes
They had a really nice texture, with a mild veal flavor, not overpowering at all. The texture was softer than chicken, but still kind of firm, and it went with the sauce and vegetables really well. The fresh peas were definitely a hit with Julie who is not normally a pea eater (her view: “They squish like little brains”). We also had an order of gnocchi, just in case the sweetbreads didn’t turn out 🙂
For dinner, Julie had the grouper special, which was grouper on a cauliflower and potato puree, covered in garlic mushrooms with a caramelized onion sauce. She really liked it, to the point where she ate the entire thing and regretted it (a definite Gasper family tradition). I tried a piece (just the fish, no mushrooms), and it was really good.
I had the mahi mahi special, which was a filet of mahi mahi over pasta in an orange butter sauce, covered in 3 giant asparagus. It also came with 3 sea scallops, which was a big part of my decision making process 🙂 It was really good. I like “fruity” flavors, so the orange butter was definitely right up my alley. It wasn’t too overpowering, but you could definitely taste the orange, and the fish and scallops were done perfectly. The asparagus were huge and were perfectly cooked, nice and firm.
It was a typical, wildly successful trip to Christian’s, and we had good company, getting to hear about Bethany’s upcoming trip with the youth group to Iowa, among other things.
Yesterday was a big day of moving things around in the house. We had two rooms that had kind of become dumping grounds for various random stuff and we decided to flip some stuff around to make better use of space. Pictured above is one bedroom that we had used as a reading room. It had just kind of become cluttered with “stuff” that didn’t really belong anywhere. Also, Trav’s old bedroom in the basement was just space that we never used, but it’s nice and naturally cool during the summer.
I decided that I needed to convert the basement bedroom into a “man cave”, filled with my Xbox, Wii, Wii related accessories, and the TV. Julie was hesitant at first. She gave me the stipulation that if we converted the upstairs room into the extra bedroom that it’s door had to fully close. The door was from a different part of the house and had been painted a number of times, so it didn’t ever really close. After a lot of time spent readjusting the latch plate and shaving paint off the sticking areas, the door now closes easily, so we went to work. The first thing we did was empty the upstairs room so we could clean the floors and windows and then we moved the bed and matress up from the basement. Getting the mattress up the basement steps and around the corner was not an easy task. We got everything in place and Storm immediately staked her claim to the bed. Julie threw a sheet on the bed to make sure the cat hair didn’t get all over the comforter. I don’t think Storm has moved from this spot in almost 24 hours.
After that was complete, we started moving everything from the second floor down the deck stairs and then down into the basement. There were three big things to move – the TV, the loveseat, and the TV stand. The TV was purchased before flat panels were affordable, and it is not fun to move around. It weighs about 175 pounds, so we grabbed the dolly from our building downtown to get it moved. The table and loveseat were a lot easier. I wired everything up, got the Xbox online and was able to play Call of Duty with Trav last night in my new “man cave”, after I got back from setting up my dad’s new Father’s Day Xbox. I just have to figure out where the Icee machine will go….
Several weeks ago I ran across this photo while browsing, and immediately printed it out to make. Well, time passed, but it was always in the back of my mind. I had been thinking about making them this weekend, when all of a sudden, amazing miss Bakerella had this post! Now it looks like I’m copying her brilliance. Which, really, is alright with me, but isn’t the case (this time). I used yellow cupcakes to make the “buns,” and chocolate fudge cupcakes to make the “burger.” Then yummy vanilla buttercream frosting tinted with food coloring for the “ketchup,” “mustard,” and “lettuce.” Plus (real) sesame seeds for the tops. They were definitely a hit with Justin’s dad for Father’s Day, and with the King family tonight for dinner (helped fuel us up before visiting their backyard waterpark – aka – the hose).
To celebrate our first in-season strawberries, I made sweet shortcakes. I actually have a recipe in my files somewhere, but I felt like trying something new. I went with this recipe on Allrecipes.com. It came together quickly and easily. Grating frozen butter is a great time saver, as opposed to cutting or crumbling butter in and trying to get it to the right consistency. The key is to move FAST with any biscuit dough. The faster you get it into the oven, with the least amount of handling, the better. If the dough warms up too much, and it starts sticking to your hands or to the work surface, place the cut biscuits into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before baking for a tender finished product. This recipe does result in a really tasty shortcake. Not quite as sweet as I would have liked though. If I decide to make this recipe again, I would probably add another 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar to the dough. Hmm… and maybe a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon, just to give them a little extra umph!
As is the case with many grandparents, Gigi and Gramps accumulated a heavily used set of toys to have on hand for when various kids dropped by. As we sorted through boxes and cabinets and dressers and closets this past weekend cleaning out their condo, someone came across this uncommonly captivating game:
Have you played with one of these in your childhood (or yesterday)?
I remember playing this “Waterful Ring Toss” game many many times at my own grandparents house as a kid. You squeeze the white button on the bottom, and a jet of water inside forces the rings to float about, with the purpose being to get all the rings onto pegs.
Yeah, I rocked it.
And yeah, it leaked water down the front of my shirt while it got rocked.
Just like when I was a kid.