Ten years ago, in 2003, we had a huge peach tree. I’d have to say it was too huge!
Somehow, it had grown completely out of control and sadly, this was what happened to it. It was so top-heavy and so full of heavy ripe peaches, that most of the branches broke from the weight.
I did what any resourceful woman would do – I had an impromptu “Pick Your Own Peaches” Dinner Party. To attend, you had to pick as many peaches as humanly possible and take them home with you! You were rewarded with dinner and profuse amounts of gratitude.
The tree was never quite the same. We had another couple of years of good harvest, but it was an ugly tree after all those branches broke off in such an inhuman way.
Then, in December of 2007, we took our back yard down to the dirt, literally. We took out and filled in the old plaster diving pool. We tore down the south and west sides of our block wall fence and the entire narrow covered patio, plus the dated columns that held it up.
And we said goodbye to the peach tree – and just about every other living thing in the back yard. The peach tree used to stand where that orange trash dumpster sits, in the photo above. And that’s my gorgeous Tanqueray in the center of the photo. How I miss my sweet boy!
All that was left were the citrus trees … the branches of the lemon tree are seen on the right, while the orange and grapefruit trees are out of view along that same side of the yard. Plus the orchid tree, which is on the far left of the photo, but can be seen more clearly in the photo above this, directly behind Tanqueray. Also saved was the large fig tree, which is out of view, but is on the back side of that orange dumpster. The two queen palms were later transplanted, but in the end, didn’t survive. The tall eucalyptus trees in the background, used to be on the side of our front yard, but we pushed out the fence and they now line the western edge of the back yard.
After living in a pile of dirt, dust, and far too often, mud, that wet winter – we were hugely rewarded in May 2008 with a beautiful backyard oasis.
I will soon be showing you more photos of the yard, because we are about to embark on phase two of the backyard remodel. Anyhow, a new tiny peach tree replaced the previous monster. It’s hard to make out, because it’s so small and barely in the picture, but if you look closely, you’ll see it on the far left center edge of the photo. That spot of green against the white of the house, that’s it!
Here is what it looks like now. It’s a dwarf peach tree, so it is still small today. This photo was taken exactly one month ago. It may be little but I generally get a nice size basket or two of fruit from it each year. More than enough for just Dave and I.
Along with plenty of peaches to make the dessert in yesterday’s post and enough “just eating” peaches, I was able to make a main course peach dish with what I harvested this year.
June 15, 2013 4 Comments
I was using up cooked wheat berries that I had left in my freezer from THIS recipe. You could use cooked quinoa, Israeli (pearl) couscous, farro, bulgur, or barley for this delicious and refreshing summer salad.
May 28, 2013 2 Comments
This is the final recipe from my Red, White & Blue holiday cooking class at Les Gourmettes. The summer provides three excellent chances to get together to celebrate our country; Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Invite friends over and enjoy!
Image via Country Living
The ingredient list for this chicken dish is lengthy, but please don’t let that scare you off. The marinade keeps the chicken juicy and is put together the night before.
The grill only needs to be manned for a few minutes, since the chicken is only “marked” on it… it is cooked through in the oven. This is a serious plus in Phoenix! The hottest 4th of July on record happened in 1989 when it reached 118°F. Manning a grill in that heat – no thank you! But if you live in a more moderate climate and you’d prefer to use the grill to cook the chicken through, that works too.
The BBQ sauce is sweet and tangy and is equally delicious used with shrimp, beef, or pork. It is an absolute delight.
I doubled the recipe for class, so you’ll notice I had to use two zip-lock bags to marinate in – the single recipe needs only one.
Image via Country Living
Patriot Picnic Menu
May 19, 2013 1 Comment
On the last day of Les Gourmettes classes last week, Barb sent me home with a big box of spinach and a package of feta. Both would have gone bad in her refrigerator – since she would be eating out all weekend.
The following pasta recipe is what I created with it.
Waste not, want not.
It’s magical to watch a huge pile of fresh spinach wilt down …
and down … to a little handful of cooked spinach …
… in only a couple minutes.
April 29, 2013 No Comments
I’m not sure if the official temperature yesterday was 100 degrees in The Valley The Sun, but my car thermostat said it was.
No matter, if it wasn’t – it will be either today or tomorrow – and It Is Too Soon to be hitting triple digits! I’m not ready for the heat.
For that reason and more, today I shall give you a recipe for a cool and refreshing chicken and bean salad that you don’t have to heat up your kitchen for. An added bonus … it is Easy-Breezy!
I call for canned white beans for the recipe, If you are the observant type, you may notice that is not what I used. The only reason is because I had more beans left from the batch I cooked up for this THIS recipe.
April 28, 2013 2 Comments
Galette is a French term that refers to a variety of flat round cakes, usually made with a flaky pastry dough.
Galettes can be sweet or savory. Although it is most common for galettes to be filled with fruits or chocolate and served for dessert, savory galettes are a satisfying meal on their own.
When making this galette, it is important to have the filling ingredients chilled or at room temperature. A hot filling will melt the butter in the dough before it hits the oven, preventing the crust from becoming flaky and crispy.
One of the filling ingredients in this galette is an onion jam. I link you to that recipe in the list of ingredients.
I made a simpler version for this galette by eliminating the vinegar and raisins in that original onion jam recipe and instead adding a couple teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves. Either version will work wonderfully here.
Joanne Weir made a Mushroom and Blue Cheese Galette in cooking class at Les Gourmettes last week. It was fabulous! I was the lucky recipient of an extra round of dough for the crust. It is an outstanding dough. It is flaky and crispy and delicious. The recipe below is for Joanne’s dough and my filling.
April 22, 2013 3 Comments
These chicken thighs may be “skinny” but they are juicy and packed with flavor. The thanks goes to a slow cooker and a few sugar free Walden Farms products.
Of course, if you don’t have the sugar free stuff; regular ketchup, barbecue sauce, and syrup or honey may be used instead, although your thighs will be “fatter” than these “skinny” ones.
I buy the boneless skinless chicken thighs at Costco. They come in a 6-pack, each pack contains five thighs. I used three packs, 15 thighs, for this recipe and put the remaining three packs in the freezer.
March 25, 2013 2 Comments
I had planned to tell you about my weekend but I haven’t had time to get the photos put together. Instead, how about another recipe for our new “skinny” category today?
Skinny Greek Salad
Roasted Grape Tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Pam non-stick cooking spray
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Oil-Free Greek Dressing
Juice from roasting tomatoes (from above)
Zest from 1 small lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons thinly sliced and chopped red onion
1 head Romaine lettuce; torn into bite-size pieces, washed and spun dry
March 18, 2013 No Comments
Today, I have more of a tip for you than a recipe. It all came about because of a mispurchase that I made at Costco some time ago.
Mispurchase ~ spell-check does not like that, but I think it is a perfectly reasonable word.
Anyhow, I accidentally bought a huge package of chicken legs instead of chicken thighs, and the legs have been sitting in my freezer for much too long.
Connor is still home this week, so I decided that he would absolutely love to have chicken legs for dinner and for a few lunches before he goes back to school on Monday.
I also had way too many bottles of various sauces taking up room in my refrigerator. I used a mix of these two.
So what does all this have to do with a new tip for a crock-pot/slow cooker?
Being as lazy as can be, I didn’t want to brown the legs before sticking them in the slow cooker and I didn’t want to have to pull the skin off of all 15 of them. But I also didn’t want all that fat from the skin to be floating around in there. So… I came up with for brilliant idea of wadding up some foil and placing it in the bottom. Worked like a charm!
The fat all went down below the foil and the legs turned out crispy and cooked through and through.
January 11, 2013 2 Comments
These “pillows” aren’t what anyone would consider gourmet, but they are still pretty darn great!
I saw a recipe similar to this on Pinterest the other day. I didn’t pin it, but when I went grocery shopping later in the day, it popped into my mind.
So I bought what I thought were the right ingredients and just winged it.
January 10, 2013 3 Comments