Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Segments: Flowers and Food

There's a little story behind this starts out with my mom, who, during a visit in September, bravely waded into the grassy clump this bed had turned into, and cleared it out. Amazingly, the grass didn't grow back in immediately, leaving us with an actual piece of landscaping that looked good.

But then, something very unusual happened a couple of weekends ago. Something that hasn't happened in at least five years. It was Halloween, a Saturday. Shortly after noon, Miss Chef and I were madly carving our jack o'lanterns before she had to leave for work at one o'clock--she managed a 20-minute carving, then headed to the shower.

Then the phone rang, and everything changed.

It was Chef Adam, saying that, between trick-or-treating families and predicted rain, things were going to be super slow that night, and was Miss Chef interested in having the night off?


I was literally jumping for joy after she hung up the phone; I've been having to face the trick-or-treaters alone for years. Finally, Miss Chef could be there with me! Not only that, but this meant that, for the first time in... yeeeeaars, Miss Chef and I had a whole... weekend... off.... together. Not just two days, cobbled together with holidays or vacation time, but an honest-to-God, Saturday and Sunday, just-like-everyone-else weekend.

I can't remember all of what we did, but it would probably sound pretty taking down decorations, cooking dinner, watching a dvd... together, for once. The point was, we didn't have to cram it all into a morning and a day. We didn't have to choose between using our together time for rest or for chores; we could do both!

All of which is going a very long way to say: look! I finally planted pansies this year! Thanks, Mom!


You know, I've come to realize that a lot of the truth in our blogs exists in what we don't write about. Like, say, have you read anything here recently about the farmers' market? Nope! For several months, that was because I had to work Saturdays. But for the last six weeks or so, it's only been because it's so dark in the mornings, and I didn't want to drag myself out of bed.

Well, this morning I was actually and fully awake before 7:00, and the sun was finally up before I when Miss Chef said, "Do you want to go to the market?" I said, "Yes."

Of course, the market is hardly the bustling mini-city it was during the summer. Only about 2/3 of the vendors are still there; the other empty stalls have a sad, abandoned look to them. And the ones that are open no longer overflow with vast quantities and varieties. Since we have realized that this is mostly a social visit, though, it doesn't bother us. We still got some tender arugula, pork sausage and some baked goods for breakfast.

Our shopping was cut back a little, however, when we stopped by the cooking demonstration. This week, it was Chef Bonaparte from the Art Institute where Miss Chef graduated. I described him a bit in my "Meeting Chefs" post back in March; suffice it to say that Miss Chef and I both think the world of him. So, when he was looking like he needed some help, Miss Chef was more than happy to step in! Which left me wandering the market alone for an hour or two...but I'd kind of suggested it, so had to keep my whining to a minimum.

(The attentive crowd...testament to Chef Bonaparte's teaching talent!)

Of course, it's hard for me to stay lonely at the market. Chef Adam showed up, wearing jeans for the first time since I've known him. Didn't stop him from lending a hand here and there, though! I also chatted with Michele from Bosky Acres for a while; she and Miss Chef helped organize a cheese-making workshop this past week that turned out to be underwhelming.

And I stopped to talk to Mindy of Tega Hills greenhouses. They didn't have the fennel Miss Chef had been hoping for, but I found out that Mindy's a language geek, too! She thought I was super cool for having an MA in French! It was a nice reminder that farmers are interested in more than dirt and fertilizer.


And speaking of local farmers, there was another exciting phone call this past week. Carl of Carlea Farms left a message saying that he has a turkey for us! That's a picture from their website of last year's, erm, crop of heritage bronze turkeys; aren't they gorgeous?

We had been too late to reserve a turkey this spring (in May, we were too late!), but Miss Chef put us on the waiting list, and it paid off! I don't know what would make somebody change their mind about a turkey they'd been waiting on for 6 months, but who cares now? I'm just delighted to know that my Thanksgiving dinner is still alive within 50 miles of my table, and will be until November 23rd. How much fresher can you get, without wielding the axe yourself?


The pecan harvest is dwindling; the recent spate of winds from Ida's remnants probably blasted the rest to the ground. But I'm still delighted at the full bowl I've harvested. And I have to tell you, I'm nuts about these nuts! I don't know if I've never really paid attention to them before, or because these are so crazy fresh, but these pecans taste aMAzing.

Unfortunately, they're not a papershell variety, so I've been unable to get entire halves out, or I'd have Miss Chef cooking up a batch of candied pecans! She made some a few weeks ago, and I went through them like, well, candy. So I bought her a package of pecan halves from the grocery store, and as soon as she gets a spare moment, she'll candy them for me. And maybe, if I'm alert enough, I'll be able to tell you how she did it!

In the meantime, I'm happy enough gobbling up the bits and pieces I pull out of my own gleaned pecans. Glad we already have another gobbler to stuff & serve!

Continue reading below for my short report on our Renaissance Festival visit last weekend!


  1. I do love me some pecans. Have you met my friend Ellen Abbot in Houston? She's been harvesting pecans for weeks now. I can't remember if you two trade blog comments or not, if not, I think you two would like each other a LOT.

    Love you dear Flartus!

  2. Don't think I've ever had really fresh pecans and I know I've never eaten a recently butchered turkey. I can't imagine what it must be like to live and get to eat chef-prepared food, I'm limited to watching the FoodNetwork. In fact, in Boone, I am unaware that we even have a eating establishment that actually cooks fresh food. Just all prepared packaged crap. Although on opposite schedules, I'd still love me some of the chef's scraps.

  3. lol! We didn't carve our pumpkins until 2 days after Halloween...after the candy coma wore off a little. :)

    Mmmm! Candied pecans! yummo! I bought a bag of pecans at the store the other day and they are 'ok'. Not great. I wonder how fresh they are...probably not too much.
    I was counting on some snow today or tomorrow, of which I love to crack and eat nuts while the snow falls, but so far only a few snow flakes have fallen. And I would have missed them had I not looked out at the exact moment they were falling. hah!

    Sounds like fun times at the market. How neat to have real chefs giving cooking demonstrations! Our markets are barren this time of the year. They will close down by Thanksgiving and not reopen until Spring.


  4. I am so so so thrilled that you and Miss Chef got a weekend together!! That is fantastic! You must feel allrefreshed and relaxed and connected and such!

    Our market is only open in the summer so we've been marketless for about 2 months now. I could drive downtown to the big city market... but the driving seems to cancel out the good, you know? Maybe someday we'll make a day of it, though.

    I love tha tyou have your MA in French... does that mean I'm interested in more than dirt and fertilizer, too? :)

  5. Wow - a whole weekend together! I know that was a real treat. And you've made up your missing blog time! I know you'll always be back, so I keep checking every day. And pansies are my favorite flowers! I love those little faces.

    Nancy in Iowa

  6. I am so glad you two got a great weekend off together. Sounds like you made the most of it. I would gladly trade out walnut trees for pecan trees! I know, walnuts are great for baking but ugh, they are such a pain to dehull and get out of the shells and the ones that don't get picked up are hard to walk on; besides I just like pecans better!

  7. *out was supposed to be our. I just can't seem to type this morning!

  8. A whole weekend together!!!!! WOO-HOO! Sounds like you had a grand time.

    Do you guys get a lot of trick or treaters in your neighborhood? It's not fun passing out goodies alone, I'm glad you had company.

    The cooking demo sounds fabulous! That's my kind of thing!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting today. I really appreciate it.


  9. Sounds like a great weekend. And those pecans are awesome. My in laws have a tree in their yard and our little MiniMac (he is 2) was so excited to go with Grandma and pick pecans. Too cute.


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.)