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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Menus and Gardening

Because I tend to work 70-80 hours a week, weeknight dinners are from a box if I don't plan carefully.  That means making out a menu every weekend and getting the shopping done so we've got all the ingredients.  And, it means prepping whatever I can while I cook Sunday's meal.  During the winter, I make out the menu on Sundays.  But, during the summer, the menu is completed Friday evening or Saturday morning so we can shop the farmers markets.  I've typically got a stack of recipes to try on the desk.  Or, I've got a new cookbook to peruse and list recipes to try.  Since we eat lunch at the office almost every day, I can either take in leftovers or try something new there too. 

Now, you all know I love to collect cookbooks.  That's my weakness.  I have far more than any sane person should have.  But, they're so much fun to read.  And, I learn a lot about cooking - techniques, combinations of ingredients...  Today, I'm looking forward to spending some time sitting on the floor in front of the barbecue shelf looking for a perfect rub for lamb ribs. 

Every once in a while, I'll buy a cookbook that's a total winner.  I make pretty much the whole week's meals from that cookbook.  That's what happened a couple of weeks ago and this is the cookbook's week.  It's called Heartland and is by Judith Fertig.  She's written a couple of other cookbooks but I've never heard of her.  Based on this cookbook, I may hunt down the others.  Of course, I've got Thomas Keller's cookbooks on my list to buy too.  Just bought Around My French Table.  It's wonderful.  But, Heartland has some recipes that are just fascinating to me.  Smoked goat cheese.  Yes, smoked on the grill.  Rosy rhubarb syrup.  For use in all kinds of dishes.  The fact that I have four rhubarb plants and want to use rhubarb helps.  Other than tonight's lamb ribs and the chicken wrapped in grape leaves, I've planned the rest of the week around Heartland.  Here's what's on our menu in no particular order with meals, drinks and breakfasts:

Smoked lamb ribs, fingerling potato salad, slaw

Baked eggs in a prosciutto basket with asiago

Heartland scramble with smoked trout and cheese

Gimlets made with rosy rhubarb syrup

Chicken stuffed with feta, kalamatas and sundried tomatoes, Greek rub, wrapped with grape leaves and grilled; warm salad with grilled eggplant and mushrooms

Homemade pasta with pancetta, black pepper and pecorino served over greens (screaming for a poached egg on top if you ask me); beet queen salad with beets, peaches, smoked goat cheese and orange tarragon vinaigrette

Caramelized cabbage rolls, new potato and bitter greens salad

Morel dusted ribeyes, sides depend on what comes out of our garden - there may be ripe strawberries for a salad or pea shoots, or chard...

Lamb chops with asparagus and rosemary aioli

Baguette with smoked goat cheese, sliced radishes and sliced cucumber

Smoke roasted pork shoulder wtih Sooey Sauce, 4 cheese mac and cheese, salad

Can't wait to start cooking!  In fact, because the smoke roasted pork shoulder takes 12-15 hours I'll be getting up really early on Memorial Day to start in...

Now, to a tour of the yard.  This is probably my favorite time of year in the yard.  The peonies, siberian iris, iris and roses are in full bloom.  The colors are stunning.  Oh, and I can't forget the wisteria.  It's amazing.

Connie likes to keep the honeysuckle flowers off the wild ginger

these hosta love it here!

first strawberries of the season

peas blooming

check out the gorgeous wisteria - and the cute guy too :-)

we're going to have a bumper crop of golden raspberries

Annie's helping - she loves hiding in these hosta and waiting for unsuspecting squirrels. 

lot's of coral bells - aka heuchera

goofiness in the garden!

see why this is my favorite time of year?

the herb garden is really taking shape.  the sage is very happy

and the red-veined sorrel is awesome

these guys were about 8" tall when I got them back in 1994.  they were transplanted from my old house...

and last but not least, a couple more peonies.


Lizzy said...

WOW! Gorgeous blooms! So envious of your wisteria...and love seeing you and Connie in action :) Have a great weekend...I hope you're taking all 3 days deserve it! xo

The Mom Chef said...

That last picture with the red peony; what an amazing color. Did you really say that you have 4 rhubarb plants? I am SO jealous!

Cassie @ Bake Your Day said...

Beautiful pictures! I admire your gardening skills...I hope that's something that I will eventually grow to enjoy!