Monday, August 29, 2011

That Time of Year

I have been a blogging slacker of late. My primary excuse is that my life is a little hellish right now.  It turns out that being a single mom most of the week with two kids at home all day and no naps anymore is really fracking hard. So hard that the thought of being on the computer after all the bedtime rigamarole is just really unappealing. My secondary excuse is that we were on vacation.(I intend to post photos this week for sure.) My final excuse is that it's canning time.

Last year I wrote about my deeply entrenched and completely insane tomato anxiety issue. I would like to say that this has abated over the year, but the fact that we actually used all of the tomatoes I canned and froze last year has only exacerbated the problem. On Friday I actually drove to Shady Maple Farm Market in Lancaster to buy five big boxes (about 1/2 bushel each) of plum tomatoes. (Huge Huge thanks to Marissa at Food in Jars for the lead on this really cool market.) And over the past two days, I have peeled, seeded, chopped and preserved all of those suckers. You know you have issues when it is 9:30 on Sunday night and you and your husband are not even half way done making salsa.

We did most of the heavy lifting yesterday, but I had one more recipe to make today. It is the most delicious tomato jam. I found the recipe last year on Food in Jars. Even if you aren't really into canning. Even if you don't have a bizarre need to freeze dozens of bags of tomato sauce. That is, even if you are a normal person, you should make this jam. All you need is 5 lbs of tomatoes, sugar, a little ginger and a few spices. It is so easy and delicious - makes a great holiday gift for a host, teacher, friend etc. Not for nothing, it also makes your kitchen smell fabulous.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Freshest Fish

One of the best things about visiting Cape Cod last weekend was having access to amazing fresh fish. My amazing friend and host, Ellie, is also an amazing cook, so I was happy to let her prepare fish dinners both nights.

The first night we had Striper, aka Striped Bass, that had been pulled out of the ocean within 24 hours of purchase. Ellie placed the fillet in a tin foil packet, doused it with some white wine, salt, pepper, lemon and thyme and basil from the deck garden and let it steam on the grill. Oh my goodness! It was some of the best fish I have ever had.

Let me note, that my bar for Striper is pretty high as my father in law catches quite a bit of it in Avalon, NJ. But something about being on vacation, seeing the pier where the fish come in, having a dear friend do the cooking, made this fish dinner particularly wonderful.

Oh yeah, we also got lobster rolls for lunch. Unbelievably delicious.

Thank you, Ellie, for being a gracious and generous hostess last weekend. And thanks, too, for the over 20 years of enduring friendship. You are the best.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cape Cod Adventure

Last weekend I took the kids on a trip up north to see my grandmother in Boston and then visit with my friend Ellie and her lovely children on Cape Cod. While there were a few rough patches - with four kids, two moms, no dads and a lot of activity, that's to be expected - overall it was a wonderful adventure. I love that our children are developing a friendship that seems to transcend time and distance apart. The more they play, the more El and I get to actually talk to each other.

Though I am clearly biased, I think they were the cutest kids on the Cape, too. A few picture to support this claim...

Jamie - Hamming it up at our last dinner.

Luke - looking so much like his dad, it's scary.

The kids graciously agreed to sit for a picture...if I got them ice cream as payment. Sharks!

I love this portrait of Catharine - totally captures her impish charm.

I tried to get Ellie her Christmas card shot, but the kids wouldn't sit any closer together.

Ellie tried to get a picture of me with both kids - tickling was necessary to produce smiles.