It's Almost A Memory Now: Summer 2014

Just this and that, from here and there, Summer stored on a hard drive.

A still life: Cocktails with Weekend Guests

Smoking IS permitted in the gardens of Cafe Drake HRV.

above two photos: Cooking with Arabella (pics courtesy of Jen Ruske)

Above three photos also from the lens of J. Ruske.

Summer 2014 was made memorable several times with visits from Jen and Ben.

Hot off the Grill!

Best friends share the kitchen sofa.

Backyard BBQ Leftovers for Lunch: Potato Salad; Grilled Calamari, Onions, Poblano Peppers and Shrimp and Grilled Bread with Camembert.

The homegrown Yellow Pear Tomatoes and Orange Grape Tomatoes have been impeccably sweet and juicy this summer.

This spring we pulled up the patch of Black-Eyed Susan bullying the driveway, only to find a few eluding our hoe. So be it. They brighten and highlight the yellow kitchen walls don't you think?

So many flowers. So many vases. So relatively little time to savor their beauty.

The table is set for dinner on a late afternoon in late summer . . .

Summer lunches should be all about the ease of leftovers: Rice, Eggplant Curry, Long Beans fried with Tomatoes and Onions and Moong Dal.

Said it before, we'll say it again - Chinese takeout is drastically improved with fresh garden herbs and homemade hot chili oil. Soon the rau ram and mitsuba seen above will fall to autumn's chill but you can always have a bottle of toasted chili oil handy: Take 10 whole dried red chilies and drop them in a mini food processor/Magic Bullet/ spice or coffee grinder. Add in about 1/2 a tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorns (available at most supermarkets) and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Process until the dried chilies are in very small flakes. Heat 1 cup of canola or peanut oil in a skillet or saucepan over medium-heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add in the dried chili mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the chilies have darkened and begin to smell toasted. Remove from heat, cool completely and store in a clean, tightly sealed jar. The oil will stay fresh and flavorful far longer if stored in a dark, cool location i.e. inside a kitchen cabinet away from direct sunlight.

Asian long beans are aptly named. Our high-yield plants have produced pounds of the tender, sweet vegetable this summer.

There are so many ways to prepare long beans. The can be substituted for regular string beans in any re cipe and will always provide superior taste and texture. Nothing's easier than the Chinese standard method of simply stir-frying in oil, over the highest heat possible, for a few minutes and finishing with a splash of soy sauce or oyster sauce, salt, white pepper and red chili flakes. Above, Cafe Drake HRV used our garden-fresh long beans for a basic but scrumptious South Indian curry with coconut, black mustard seeds and green chilies.

Another 2014 great garden success story involves assorted Asian greens. We planted tat soi, bok choy, red amaranth, mizuna and red mustard greens seeds and 6 weeks later had a patch of thriving, nutritious greens suitable for braising or stir-frying. The younger and most tender leaves are also excellent in tossed salads. Here's a starter recipe for you. Embellish as you desire but it's sublime just as is! Rinse very very well 1 lb. of any sort of Asian leafy green and chop into large pieces. Discard any overly tough or thick stalks with the exception of greens in the bok choy family; these you'll want to slice thinly and cook with the leaves. Now heat 2 T. of vegetable oil in your largest skillet over high heat. Add 2-4 cloves sliced garlic and 4 whole dried red chilies. Stir quickly and toss in 2-3 T. minced ginger. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Quickly add in the rinsed and chopped greens and 1/2 large onion (thinly sliced). Stir-fry over high heat until the greens are tender enough to your liking. Add water if things start sticking but that's unlikely. Remove from heat when done and season simply with plenty of salt and black pepper. Drizzle 1-2 T. of sesame oil over veggies, toss well and serve hot or at room temperature.


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