Friday, October 2, 2009

Family Time in Flartopia

A good week here. Flartopia has lived up to its name.

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous. After living most of my life up north, learning to dread the onset of fall, I've now learned to love it. It's possible to set foot outside without sweating, panting and sneezing from bad air. Soon, the trees will put on their annual fashion show, and I'll bring home brightly colored leaves as a gift for Miss Chef, left under the light I leave on for her at night.

Not being in school helps, too. I mean, I am in school, but it's year-round, so there's no pulling-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps recharging for la rentrée. School's been out the last two weeks (we're on a weird schedule), and I'm currently gearing up for the official fall quarter. In spite of a very difficult and disappointing summer quarter, I'm still getting excited about a fresh start.

As I mentioned last time, my parents came up from GA last weekend for a visit, and I took off Monday and Tuesday, so we had four days to do as we wished. I tried not to overplan our time, and I think I did ok.

Mom went with me one afternoon for a short turn around the pond, and very graciously held Rosie as I picked more persimmons. It wasn't until I was already in the tree that she said "Now I think I'm nervous." It reminded me of my horseback riding lessons as a teen: every time I went over a jump, I could hear her gasp on the sidelines.

I'm sorry to announce that there won't be a collection of Miss Chef creations to show you. She didn't get to do nearly as much cooking as she'd hoped. She still had to work, after all. But she did set me up. Her big dish was a lamb shoulder roast, which she decided to the Crock Pot!

She left everything in the fridge with instructions for me to start Friday night. We let it cook 'til late Saturday morning. We didn't actually eat it until Tuesday (we were trying to wait 'til Miss Chef could eat it with us!), but we sure finished off that bottle of wine PDQ!

Saturday morning Miss Chef and I dragged Dad to BOTH farmers' markets, where he quickly realized that we don't go for the food so much as for the socializing. The Matthews market (the truly local one) was surprisingly dead; we're in between summer and fall crops, so only die-hards like us show up to buy late tomatoes and early sweet potatoes. Dad did manage to buy a $7 bar of soap, which, if you knew him, would shock you to your very core.

Sunday morning, I did the "cooking," and served up breakfast for everyone:

Hey, Mom loved it, so no complaints. I was going to make eggs, but the carb loading seemed to satisfy everyone! (The pastries are from a local bakery, and there's our own strawberry jam there behind the cream cheese.)
Sunday we had Chef Adam and Mike, the new pantry cook, along with loved ones, over for a cookout. It was a bit too hectic to get pictures of everything, though I did capture Miss Chef's cheese plate.

She is so dang good at arranging stuff to make it look amazing. On the far left and right are goat's milk cheeses she helped make at Bosky Acres. Don't you just love those little French waiter servers!?

For the cookout, we grilled chicken leg quarters over our fire pit. Miss Chef had started the fire before anyone got there, but Chef Adam had to be The Man and build it up bigger and hotter (which meant, too big and too hot). When Miss Chef and I teased him and Mike about the primeval urge to "make fire," they began an impromptu Man Dance around the fire pit. It was amazing that they both knew the steps...I thought it was a joke, but now I'm beginning to wonder...hmmm.

Anyway, the food was great. I harvested all but one of the remaining brussels sprout plants, and Miss Chef shredded them in the cuisinart, browned some butter, then tossed in the sprouts with some sliced almonds. Her goal was to prove to Mike that brussels sprouts can be good, and she succeeded! See, I told you, she's good!

Mom made her usual potato salad, which even Chef Adam liked. I thought it was cool that she wasn't in the least bit intimidated by cooking for three professionals. I guess after living as long as she has, you figure you've got to know a thing or two, right?

Monday morning I did actually cook, using some challah from the farmers' market to make French toast (or as I like to call it, "fransh" toast).

That morning we went to artspace studio, a paint-your-own-pottery sort of place that also offers mosaic making and something called glass fusing, which looks really cool. I thought my mom might find it fun, since she used to do some stained glass projects (stepping stones, window inserts, etc.).

The experience did not go as planned, but I'll just say Mom, Miss Chef and I all painted pottery, and all eventually made it home. It won't be ready to pick up until next week, so you'll have to wait with me and see how our projects turned out! If I've got my stuff together, I'll remember to bring my camera to take "before" shots of the raw pottery.

So that was my fall break / mini vacation. It's always nice to break the routine, and makes work so much easier when you get back to it. Oh, and speaking of work, good news: we're finally caught up! After over two months of crazy overtime, I get to go back to a five-day, forty-hour work week. (I'll still be working 15 hours or so at the teaching job, but that'll be so much more manageable now that I have my Saturdays back!) Now it's going to be doldrums time, until next spring.

But that should mean I have lots more time to share the Flartopian News with you all!


  1. We sell eggs at a Sunday Farmers Market, and yes we don't have many vendors left.

    Sounds like y'all had a nice visit.

    Pass some of "Mom's" potato salad over here.

  2. I just had a very tasty and filling dinner out with my husband... yet reading all about your food adventures is making me drool!!!

  3. That's a great looking cheese plate :-)
    Have a fun weekend.

  4. I'm with Joanna... oh the cheese plate!

    But I'm also interested in how you saved the lamb shoulder. Did you refrigerate it in the crock? Then reheat it in the crockpot too? I'm sure the extra time just helped the flavors marry longer making for a more intense flavor. Was there a gravy or sauce? What went into the recipe? I'd love to try to recreate the recipe if you can get Ms Chef to share her recipe?

  5. Recipe? Miss Chef doesn't do recipes. But I'll tell you as much as I know!

    There was a sauce, from the liquid it was "crocked" in: beef stock, tomato paste, red wine. The other ingredients were carrots, celery (onion?), thyme and parsley. Miss Chef seasoned the meat (salt & pepper, I'd guess) and seared it before she left it for me to finish in the crock pot.

    As I recall, to store it MC just pulled the meat out, strained the other stuff out of the sauce (and tossed that), then stored the meat & sauce separately. To finish the sauce, I reduced it in a saucepan, and added "a little" butter (i.e. about a stick!). Then I tossed in the cold, cut up lamb to reheat.

  6. Mmmm! I bet that lamb shoulder was so delicious after cooking (or is that crocking) for overnight and then letting it sit for a couple days so all the flavors could meld together. Mmm!

    I love coming over here. Everything you do involves food it seems. And I love to see and read about all the yummy things you are harvesting, cooking or shopping for.

    Looks like life in Flartopia is fine indeed!


    word verification: winess

  7. It sounds like you have a very nice visit with your family. That cheese plate looks amazing. Our dairy goat is pretty much dried off now and we do miss the goat milk.

  8. Oooh! Sounds like a great time! I could've helped with that bottle of red wine! Perhaps unsurprisingly, I don't eat I couldn't help with that! I wanted to send a big thank you (very delayed) for the dried strawberries, which were incredibly good and I was deeply disturbed when I finished the baggie in about 10 minutes time. I think I need those by the pound. I looooove the book. I'm eyeing the pear ginger marmalade recipe. I'm going to have fun with canning, especially in a couple of years when school's finished and I have more time! That persimmon looks divine. Jam, maybe?


Thanks for dropping by--please share your thoughts!

"Every time we get comment mail, Rosie wags her tail!" (Seriously, you should see that puffy thing go.)