• 21Jun

    Even though this is a gardening blog, I might talk recipes every now and then, because I like finding new things to do with all of the things I grow. Especially eggplant – I grow so much of it and always on the lookout for a new recipe.

    I’m not a good cook, I don’t especially like to cook, and I’m often very overwhelmed by it. I have a handful of recipes that I can cook well; most are things like fried chicken and gravy because where I’m from pretty much everyone knows how to make that. (Except my first husband actually taught me. To be fair, most of my cooking skills come from his mother, who was very kind and patient.)

    But sometimes I have fun trying. I’m constantly on the quest to make the perfect lamb curry. I’ve made some good ones, but never as good as my favorite Indian restaurant.

    To me, there are two flavors you can’t overdo: garlic and curry. I put curry on a lot of things.

    But I never thought of putting it on a burger. I actually think burgers are very hard to make. Mine never hold together very well, and they’re always ugly. So I’d picked up some preformed sirloin burgers at the store – we don’t eat regular ground beef.

    For hubby, it’s because he prefers the taste of ground sirloin. Until I met him, I really had no idea there was a difference…that’s how tragic my skillz are. (Of course until he met me, he didn’t know the glory of a home-grown tomato, so I guess that evens it out.) The other reason is because I’m very paranoid about e coli and other things in food. (Due to some very bad experiences with food poisoning. Not pretty.)

    Back to the burgers. I’ve kind of gotten spoiled on what may be one of the better burgers. I was watching a show with Gordon Ramsay, and he whipped up a bowl of beef and claimed he was making the best burger in the world. I went online and found people discussing it (the recipe was supposedly top secret), and it really just goes like this:

    your ground beef, a lot of finely chopped red onion, three egg yolks (!), some bread crumbs, salt and pepper, dijon mustard and a large squirt of ketchup

    Mix it up and make burgers. Really, really good. I’m sure it’s the onion and dijon mustard.

    Having gotten used to that good taste, I was thinking these sirloin prefab burgers were going to be drab, so I decided to spice mine up. You can never go wrong with Worcestershire sauce, so I put that on the meat (which was starting to cook in the skillet). Then I added:

    paprika, garlic powder, some Italian seasoning, and yes…curry powder.

    FANTASTIC! I’ll call it the Juli curry burger, and it was the best burger ever. Hubby had to have his plain, because he doesn’t appreciate the curry. That’s his loss.

    I really believe curry makes everything taste better.

    I should also confess that years ago, I thought I invented the tuna melt. I just made it up, and it was fab, and months later I found out it was a real sandwich. So this burger probably already exists.

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  • 19Aug

    Wow, the tomatoes are a success! I think I’m going to clean out a cabinet in the kitchen and fill it with home-canned goods. Next weekend, hopefully after some good rain and maybe a splash of yummy compost tea, I’ll have the final crop of cukes and do pickles. Bread and butter and then pickle stickles, which are pickles my mom and aunt used to make when we were kids. They’re lime green and I only just found out that’s due to food coloring!

    Tony thinks I’m positively crazy, but he’s never had bread and butter pickles or pickle stickles. Of course this is the New York guy who made fun of my tomatoes and in fact called me the tomato nazi (which is funny, but I really don’t like anyone using the word nazi in jest, because I strongly feel it devalues the memory of Holocaust victims and survivors). He just did not believe there was a difference between a tomato from the grocery and a home-grown tomato. Hello? This from an Italian whose grandmother spent all day making sauce (or gravy as they call it, but to me, gravy is made from fried bits, oil and flour and is mainlined where I’m from). Maybe his grandma, being from Brooklyn, never knew a fresh tomato. I’m afraid to ask.

    But I finally got him to admit that real tomatoes are nothing like store tomatoes, which I call the horrible red wax balls. I don’t even eat tomatoes unless they’re homegrown. There’s gotta be a better word than nazi. He just came up with it: I am a tomato/peach/strawberry SNOB.

    That’s crazy, but it’s true. I won’t eat those three fruits unless they’re homegrown. If they’re from California or Peru, they’re bred to hold up during shipping, they’re picked before they’re ripe and they all taste like wax.

    I’m sure he would never eat a can of Chef Boy Ardee ravioli unless it was part of survival training, so we all have our own snobbish ways when it comes to the foods of our own cultures.

    My jars have popped, which means my canning tonight was a success!

  • 19Aug

    I haven’t canned since my first marriage and that was during what my mom calls my “earth mother phase.”

    I am SO not a domestic type person. I don’t clean well, I’m horribly unorganized and I really don’t like to cook. I *can* cook a few things and I can follow a recipe, so I do it sometimes. I like it better when DH cooks, because he’s Italian and makes really good stuff. I like to make him scream with “When I was growing up, Italian food meant a can of Chef Boy Ardee!”

    But I LOVE to can. I have no idea why; there’s just something about seed to plant to garden to fruit to Ball jar to shelf that makes me feel self sufficient. And since I grew up on home-canned foods, there’s no better taste than home-canned tomatoes, pickles and peaches. I’m not doing peaches because I no longer live near orchards that are owned by distant relatives (who let you run around and pick up overripe peaches to use for pickled peaches and jams).

    I only did three quarts and a pint (cold pack, easy stuff, just peel and core the tomatoes, add some salt and lemon juice, pack the sterilized jars and process in a water bath), but tomorrow plan to do more. Obviously the tomatoes are doing well this year, despite the squirrel who chomped several.

    Those Black Krims looked kind of icky in the jar. Those are delicious tomatoes, but there’s definitely an ick factor when you see them. When ripe, they look kind of rotten due to the black. And they go soft QUICKLY.

    Because of my good fortune in growing grape tomatoes from seed this year (first time ever I’ve been able to grow tomatoes from seed, but I hadn’t tried since I got my basement grow-light setup), I’m going to try several bizarre tomatoes next year. Totally Tomatoes (totallytomatoes.com) has so many kinds, plus lots of peppers. I also love peppers (sweet ones only…I’m a Midwesterner, we don’t do hot).

    This is just fabulous.