Monday, July 23, 2012

La Provence, Oregon

A weekend cherry-picking jaunt to the hood river valley happened to also be just when the lavender fields were in full bloom. Despite not having traveled anywhere close to Provence, have delved into it enough to imagine and dream about it to be much like some vistas on this trip. It was amazing how well the lavender fields and wildflower gardens had established since our last visit with a visiting friend back in 2005. BigC helped cut a big bunch of lavender to take home while LilC marauded the flowers, bees and hummingbirds all set to the song "Hallelujah".

From here, on we went to stock up on some cherries at what has now become an annual ritual - with a picnic under the trees while picking. The owner even remembered us and indulged us in a bucket of water to wash the cherries.
Did a quick pit-stop to pick up dinner at Nicholas. Having had the same lamb and chicken shwarma the previous night at Gyro-house, the brother's find...must say the Gyro-house flavor wind by a mile and more.
in the garden - fragrant yellow roses and Russian sage, red crocosmia and stunning artichoke

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Baubles and Babbles

Earlier in the month, a customary trip to First Thursday ended up with moi being the owner of some exquisite silver jewelry. BigC spotted this girl painting some scarves and watched her in awe. Bought one for keeepsake and stories are being told of the cool painting methods. At home, i dug up an older set from an Indian friend that had been in the bag where i'd left them years ago - lots of nostalgia...just like the glass trinkets from another friend's cruise through Greece.
This appears to be the year of meeting old friends out-of-the-blue...P from the India office, D from PU college. Met over more dosa (leftover from serving up some NorthIndian friends) and caught up on all those years. Maybe its just us getting so old that we finally converge. Amid all this, BigC had the first sleepover at friends' without us getting a call in the middle of the night. Together with the dreaded movie at the cinema-hall, they have almost been a rite of passage this summer.

in the garden - containers overflowing with Mandevilla, last year's sweet Alyssum and variegated Geranium finding many a friends' home

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Feeding the tribe

Lazy summer days still do not mean you can get away from eating. One's got to cook and the joy multiplies when shared. Also, its less of a burden when one is not cooking dinners all week - more cuisines to taste. The magical July-4th did bring the sun and warmth with it. Out came the grills and could not believe 75 degress could be sweltering! Did a take on Susanne Goin's Arugula Pomegrante salad by switching out persimmons with mangoes while the friend grilled some stuffed jalapeno poppers and quesadillas loaded with cotija cheese and grilled veggies. A game of Taboo that brought out some creative stories  had to be followed by a game of Uno to indulge BigC since the words were beyond her.
Dosa nite with some friends was followed by badminton in the backyard until the light ran out (just like when we were kids). A diving catch had saved the big mixed berry cake made from blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries. The gooseberries definitely upped the oomphf factor.

Brunch with friends featured idlis and pumpkin waffles.
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
3 tbsp brown sugar
2+1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
4 eggs separated
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl with buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold them gently into the waffle batter, until just combined.

in the garden - fragrant Lilium Regale and white/purple phlox with stinky yet perky Shasta daisies

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Soiree

Father's day request, ever popular upside down cherry cake. I cut back on the brown sugar that cherries cook in due to the sweetness of the Bings frozen at their peak last year. After the cherries softened up, i drained off the juices and made a sauce that i used over the cake once baked. 1 cup of sugar for the batter could also be reduced to 3/4cup.                                Came upon aqua-fresca as we were looking to make juice at home for BigC's birthday a few years ago. Its only as good as the fruit that goes into making it and this time around, the water-melon was as red as can be and just as sweet. Undiluted strained juice with just a spoon of sugar per glass and lime to taste (8 cups fruit juice+8tsp of sugar+ juice of 2 limes) left an empty pitcher in no time. Methi Pulao with methi from garden, chapathi with sagoo, cabbage and beans, vethakolumbu and rasam finished the menu.
Everyone appears to be cooking from Yotam Ottolenghi. This soiree hosted by a friend featured a 3-course menu with dishes pulled from his cookbook: Roasted vegetable tart with spinach and mango salad; Saffron tagliatelle in spiced butter; Riccotta fritters. While we cooked and ate the evening away, the riccotta fritters were the highlight given how unencouraging the batter looked when we started out to fry them. But the donuty goodness, more like a beignet, was to die for.
Every spring, when its time to think about the annuals, the whole goal is to have enough for all the festivals towards the end of the summer. I had been contemplating getting waterlily flowers online when S put together a water-bowl complete with lily and water hyacinths. The algae i had so longingly admired at the nursery also have made it into the bowl (i did not pay or steal). The frog-spawn that the gardener had educated us about are now little tadpoles.
in the garden - Lily bowl