Ramp Salad and Rhubarb Crunch

This week at the first of the season local Farmer’s Markets–
Ramps

Ramps are related to leeks and here in the Midwest they’re the very first thing that pops out of the ground and are usually sold at Farmer’s Markets from late April to very early May (about three weeks) and then gone. It’s hard to define what a ramp tastes like. They taste both sweet and strong- maybe slightly like a sweet earthy garlic. A popular way to enjoy them is in a salad. We spent Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Madison WI and brought two bunches of ramps home with us. I made a ramp salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing– the recipe is here .  It was fabulous, you will love it. Give it a try. Next week, perhaps two weeks from now, rhubarb will be available for sale.  I’ve included a favorite family recipe for rhubarb crunch.

Ingredients
3 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup & 2 pats of butter
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl combine rhubarb, granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour. Stir well and spread evenly into baking dish. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, oats, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir well then cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over rhubarb layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

I’m joining Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life for her 373rd Inspire Me Tuesday!  Until next time be well!

Lemon Shaker Tart

Shaker Lemon Tart

This weekend my husband and I are looking forward to celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary. Wow, you know sometimes when I say that it seems like just yesterday, and then other times when I remember everything we’ve been through together I think ” No, 21 years is about right.” We’ve actually been with each other 22 years come this July, so ya a long time. We know each other very well, and I think as compatible couples go we are right up there with the best.  We want to celebrate this special day with friends that feel like family but I don’t want to do any cooking. So we’ve hired a local catering company- Upstairs Downstairs Catering -to do it for us. One of the desserts they’re  serving is a beautifully simple and delicious lemon tart. We’ve had this tart at another party they catered that we attended. The recipe for it is here. We’re ordering box lunches from their business menus, and although it is a bit pricey we feel it is so worth it.

When asked what I wanted for an anniversary gift I paused about 2 minutes and said -” All three season’s of A Chef’s Life“. It’s a series I found on PBS that features a couple who relocate to South Carolina and start up a farm to table restaurant. Every episode features a new ingredient and how it fits into southern cuisine.

Another show I found quite interesting is called Steak Revolution and it’s on Netflix right now. The narrator’s of this documentary (two chef’s) take tours through different countries in search of the most mouth-watering steak. I liked this documentary because it featured sustainable farms and ranches, responsible breeding and gourmet cuisine. They were able to locate the best steak in the world. You’ll just have to watch it to see where it’s at. 🙂

And last but never least this week I began watching Cooked, a documentary featuring Michael Pollan, adapted from his book (one of my favorites) of the same name. This documentary features different cuisines and the elements of fire, water, earth and wind in cooking. One of the main points of the documentary is how little time Americans are spending in the kitchen cooking.  More and more Americans are letting restaurants feed them their daily meals.

My husband and I eat in a restaurant on average once a month so it is hard for me to relate to the statement above. About 60% of our diet is homemade food that I create from locally grown organic fruits/vegetables, and grains. The other 35%-meat, produce, and dairy is produced for us by local farmers. A mere 5% of our diet comes from eating at restaurants that are not farm to table and/or locally grown organic and the occasional snack food (i.e. candy bar, chips, popcorn).

This week my husband and seven of his fellow co-workers were honored for perfect attendance. In my husband’s case he was honored for 16 years of perfect attendance. There are three things that I feel strongly are responsible for this admirable and fascinating feat – 1) My husband has a strong work ethic 2) he is in excellent health- so he doesn’t need to call in sick 3) His commitment to eating better food and living a better life(cutting down on processed food and sugar) is paying off (see #2).

 

Lavender

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I’m growing lavender! This statement makes me so happy. Literally, I grin from ear to ear mainly because I’ve spent so much money buying other people’s lavender. I’ve accomplished growing quite a lot of lavender, from seed, in containers on my deck. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s very rewarding.

The lavender I planted is called Munstead lavender- a perennial herb. I learned all about growing lavender for cooking from Renee. Her website is here and is filled with a lot of important information about growing culinary lavender. Here is another wonderful website that explains the differences between culinary and ornamental lavenders.

The first thing I made with a few of my flowers was lavender ice cream.

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Can I tell you that eating lavender ice cream really relaxes you and it’s best eaten shortly before bed.
Summer is sure flying by for me. I sat looking at my lists for things to accomplish this summer, on Monday, and quickly checked off the following things-finished 80% of Christmas shopping by July 31st-check, lost the 30# that’s been hanging on forever- check, vacation-check, remodeling with friends- check, camping in a cabin- check, biking- check (WI and MN), Ikea and MOA-check twice, Lake Harriet picnic-check (besides our bike trip and occasional trips to Ikea we hadn’t been in MN for so long) graduate from university-check, preserve peaches, raspberries and strawberries and so much more- check, edit two chapters of my book-check, submit at least three writing assignments-check, research relocate-check, keep up both blogs weekly-check. Oh and yes- clean clean clean. I did spring cleaning and I currently fall cleaning. So I truly needed something as relaxing and soothing as lavender ice cream at the end of my busy days.

Lemon Cheesecake bars

My husband and I have spent the last two Saturdays walking at the Necedah Wildlife Refuge. He took this beautiful picture this past Saturday.

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It’s so peaceful here and for avid birdwatchers like us a virtual paradise. I have a lot more time on the weekends to walk, birdwatch, even bake now that I am no longer buried in homework.  Of course besides picture taking, chatting with my husband, and birdwatching, walks are good for planning what we’ll have for dessert with Sunday’s dinner. My husband is a lover of all things cheesecake and I love all things fruit. So, once home I perused Pinterest and discovered this yummy recipe again.  I believe I have made this one before, it’s so easy and so good. I followed the recipe to the letter but omitted the optional food coloring because we don’t do food colorings in this house.

lemon cheesecake

Friday we leave for our week-long stay in Door County so I will not be posting until I get back. That said I do have a couple of drafts I may schedule to publish before I go.  Until next time– enjoy June!

I love lemons!

lemons

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In our household lemons are used almost every day. Fresh squeezed lemonade year round is one of my favorite beverages. With Valentines Day coming up, I’m thinking of making a lemon meringue pie. Yellow has really been my color lately.  With my camera out of commission for a week or so, until I can look at it and see what’s wrong, I’ve been taking photos with my phone and joining Instagram. Between Pinterest and Instagram, I’ve sure gotten a case of photo taking envy. I wonder if I’ll ever take such awesome photos. I am truly hoping it’s just a lighting thing that causes my photos to be so lacking.  Anyways, back to lemons-ah.

lemon scrub
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I found this delicious lemon scrub here, a great holiday 2015 gift idea.

A recipe for Lemon Meringue pie here

And a household cleaning spray here, I use this every day. It works!

Thinking ahead to Easter I’m thinking of making lemon meringues in a jar. How cool is that?

lemon pie in jar

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Homemade Hazelnut Spread

Hazelnut spread

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It’s time for chocolate isn’t it? What with taxes and the Superbowl, snowstorms and such. I subscribe to Bon Appetit and they recently had a scrumptious recipe for Better than Nutella Hazelnut Spread. My husband loves chocolate and his favorite sandwich is one that’s made with hazelnut spread. I love making it homemade instead of buying it. Try this recipe I think you’ll love it too.

February is one of my favorite months. I’m big on romance, I love Valentines day. In fact our home has been decorated for the big day since the second week of January. Our wedding anniversary is also in February, this year it’s our 20th.  We’ve decided to book a romantic getaway to San Diego for the month of June. A bit of ocean, sun and warmth to celebrate 20 years of marital bliss. I’d like to go now but unfortunately this is the busiest season for an accountant. I’m also studying for the CPA exam I’ll be taking in May, so a vacation after that will be very appreciated.

Until next time, enjoy February!