Zucchini Soup

We saw our first zucchini of the season at a farmer’s market this past Saturday. If you are like the Pickle Queen and myself,  you are always looking for a new way to use this plentiful garden veggie. If you haven’t thought about making a soup out of zucchini, try this recipe.

2 c zucchini, sliced thin
1/2 c onion, sliced thin
1 tsp lemon juice
1 c heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
2 c chicken broth

Cook zucchini and onion in butter until soft. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

Keep your fork

One For You, One For Me

No matter where you drive around here you’ll see at least two cemeteries on your way to your destination. Some may be out in the middle of a field, others next to the road, while some are nestled into a wooded area. The main cemetery in Luray is quite large, but there are at least two others, that I can think of, that contain around 20 or so graves. We actually pass a single grave marker in the corner of a pasture after we cross the bridge on the way into town. But I digress. Here’s a story told around here about one of those cemeteries nestled into the woods.

One fall, two local boys were walking through the woods on the Eastern slope of the Massanutten looking for walnuts. Along the way, they had filled their buckets, shirts, pockets and whatever else they could with the walnuts they had found. When they could hold no more nuts, they decided to head for home by taking a country road. When they came to a cemetery, the boys decided that it was a good spot to stop and rest and divide the nuts between themselves.

The two boys sat in the shade of a large tree and dumped out all of their nuts into a large pile. In the process, two of the nuts rolled away and landed near the road. The boys then proceeded to divide out the nuts. “One for you. One for me. One for you. One for me.”

As they were doing this, another boy was passing by and happened to hear them. The boy looked into cemetery but could not see the two boys counting the nuts as they were hidden by the large tree. He hesitated a moment and then back to town. “Dad! Dad!” he yelled as he ran into his house. “The cemetery. Come quick!”

“What’s wrong?” his father asked.

“Can’t explain now,” he panted, “let’s just go, you’ll see!” The boy and his father ran up the cemetery road and stopped when they reached the cemetery. They stood alongside the road quietly listening for a few moments. Then the father asked his son what was wrong.

“Do you hear that?” the boy whispered. Both listened intently until they heard the boys. “One for you. One for me. One for you. One for me. One for you…”

The boy then exclaimed, “The devil and the Lord are dividing the souls!”

The father was skeptical, but stood silently until a few minutes later when the boys had completed dividing out the nuts and one boy said to the other, “Now, as soon as we get those two nuts down by the road, we’ll have them all.”

Keep your fork

 

Cold-Smoking

Both hot and cold smoking traditionally has been limited to proteins. Recently, innovative chefs, bartenders and regular Joes have been experimenting with smoking techniques in various ways. A bartender in Portland  hot-smokes ice, then re-freezes it to use in his cocktails. A chef cold-smokes yogurt to use with a salad to give it a smoky taste. The possibilities are endless. Here are some random, rambling thoughts on cold-smoking, with some hot-smoking thoughts thrown in.

  • Cold-smoking ingredients impact a smoky flavor to food that doesn’t need to be cooked (e.g. butter, cheeses, salt, nuts) or that you plan on cooking later.
  • Hot-smoking ingredients imparts a smoky flavor to foods while cooking them (e.g. meats,fish).
  • The four things you need for cold-smoking include: A way of producing smoke; A method of cooling the smoke before it gets to the smoke chamber; A smoke chamber to hold the food/ingredient being smoked; Methods to regulate the amount of heat and smoke.
  • The internal temperature of the smoke chamber for cold-smoking should be below 85 degrees.
  • For hot-smoking, the internal temperature of the smoke chamber should be between 120 to 180 degrees depending on what’s being smoked.
  • If the internal temperature of the smoke chamber is greater than 180 degrees, you are cooking rather than smoking.
  • The conditions for cold-smoking are also ideal for bacterial growth. Therefore, cold-smoking is usually done in the colder months or in colder regions of the world.
  • Since cold-smoking does not fully preserve the food being smoked, the finished product should be kept in the refrigerator until it is used.
  • In addition to cold and hot smoking, meats can also be cured through brining, salting, wind drying or combinations of these methods.
  • Since cold-smoking doesn’t cure meats, salting or brining before cold-smoking is suggested.
  • Various types of equipment is available for purchase, or you can make your own. Being fancy is NOT necessary!

Here are a couple of pictures of my cold-smoker.

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Southern Broiled Trout

Southerners have various ways of fixing most dishes. Here is a good recipe for broiled trout with a southern twist to it.

4 large fresh speckled trout
Salt and pepper
1/2 c melted butter
1/3 c lemon juice
5 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 c grated onion
1/2 tsp paprika
5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Few grains cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper the fish and place on foil. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the fish. Broil in 450 degree oven until done.

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Wrong Thing To Say

In less than a week, the Pickle Queen and I will celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. If anyone asks how long I’ve been married I say, “I’ve been happily married 4 years. There was 1970, 1986, 2001 and 2013,” and let it go at that. You can tell who’s listening to you and who is just being polite.

In one of those unhappy years, I went out drinking every night. And every night, the PQ would yell at me. One day one of PQ’s friends suggested that she try a different tack. “Welcome him home with a kiss and some loving words,” her friend suggested, “maybe he’ll change his ways.”

That night, I stumbled back home as usual. But instead of berating me, the PQ helped me into an easy chair, put my feet up onto a footstool, removed my shoes and gently massaged my neck.

“It’s late,” she whispered, “I think we should go upstairs to bed now, don’t you?”

“Might as well,” I replied, “I’ll get in trouble if I go home.”

Wrong thing to say!

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Mixes and Blends of Grasses

I get a kick out of watching people trying to pick out grass seed in a farm supply store. It’s almost as much fun as watching people picking out a watermelon. The one thing the two have in common is that the average person doesn’t have the slightest idea of which one to choose. Hopefully, this brief explanation will shed a little light on the subject.

Most lawns contain cool-season grasses which are sold as mixtures or blends. A mixture contains a combination of two or more different species, while a blend contains two or more varieties of the same species. Which grass seed to choose depends upon the conditions it will be used for. Below are some typical mixtures for various conditions. Looking at the seed tags with a little knowledge should make your selection job easier.

  • For a general purpose lawn that has full sunlight look for: Kentucky bluegrass and red fescue, or Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.
  • For a general purpose lawn that is mostly shaded look for: fine fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, or Kentucky bluegrass, red fescue and perennial ryegrass.
  • If you have a cool, moist climate select: fine fescue and ‘Exeter’ colonial bentgrass.
  • If you want a wear-tolerant turf either in sun or light shade select: Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue.
  • If you want a turf grass for heavily used areas choose: Kentucky bluegrass and turf-type tall fescue.
  • If you have a moist, shady location choose: rough bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue and perennial ryegrass.
  • If you need a grass seed for a fast established lawn select: Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.
  • If you have a warm, dry climate select: Buffalograss and blue gramagrass.
  • If you have a cool, dry climate select: wheatgrass and turf-type fescue.

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Peanut Butter Bread

Remember how good peanut butter sandwiches used to taste, or still do in some of our cases. Have you ever wondered if anyone has come up with a way of having that goodness without the mess of smearing the peanut butter between two slices of bread, or on one slice if it’s an open-faced sandwich? Well, wonder no more. Here’s a recipe for peanut butter bread.

2 c flour
4 tsp baking-powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
1 c milk
2/3 c peanut butter

After sifting the flour, measure and sift with the baking-powder and salt. Add the peanut butter and sugar, working the peanut butter into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers. Add the milk and mix lightly but thoroughly. Pour into a well-greased (or use cooking spray) baking pan. Bake at 420 degrees F. about 30 to 35 minutes.

Keep your fork