Fleur-de-FiredUp

lots-of-firewood

Oven, grill & Wille

What I learned as a Thanksgiving sous chef…

Cooking with fire is no big deal. The Indians did it. The Pilgrims did it. Heck, what Girl Scout hasn’t made S’mores over a campfire? And, yes, barbecue grills use fire…but I’ve always left that to the men in my life (sorry, Gloria).

My Chef-phew Wille has baked pizzas in his Nonno’s pizza oven and wanted to pull a “Jamie O” (that’s Jamie Oliver, the Brit celeb-chef-restaurateur) by cooking our Thanksgiving turkey in a wood-fed, outdoor oven. In November. In State College, PA.

I suggested Wille arrive on Wednesday to make sure he had enough wood. I knew that Richard had cut and stacked a lot of wood for the Secret Garden campfire before he left for Belgium, but I didn’t know if any of it would fit in the pizza oven, or if it would be dry enough.

Well, he arrived at Nonna’s house after dark on Wednesday and we couldn’t find a functioning flashlight, even with a drawer full of D batteries. Not one to worry, Wille brined the 16-pound heritage turkey he bought from a Virginia pig farmer. He cut the wings, thighs and drumsticks off the bird and placed them in one pot; the body in a second pot. All of the turkey pieces were submerged in a brine mixture: Sea salt, water, Harner (Wille’s uncle’s orchard) apple cider, molasses, chili peppers, and “aromatics” which included thyme, shallots, garlic, fennel seeds, coriander, and lavender (more about that later.)

roasting-turkey-neckpumpkinacorn-squash

Turkey & pumpkin roasting

“Aromatics” is the foodie term for herbs, spices, and anything within easy reach of the kitchen stove or the herb garden.

I went to bed. The last thing I said that night: “If you need more room in the basement refrigerator, just put some of my seeds on the ironing board.” (I store my leftover and collected seeds in the downstairs Frigidaire.)

Thursday, 9 a.m.: I pushed the wheelbarrow and led Wille to the firewood stacks. We gathered a load and returned to the oven. The rain started. I found a plastic garbage bag to over the wheelbarrow and gave Chef-phew Wille some elbow room (and a pack of waterproof matches).

Don’t assume. Be clear. Later that morning, I asked Wille what he put in the brine. He gave me the rundown and said, “Your rosemary looks and smells a lot like lavender.”

“Well, they are similar.”

A few minutes later, I saw him out in my herb garden, picking off bits of the lavender plants. “That is lavender, Wille. The rosemary is in a strawberry pot, inside.”

jacobs-cattle

Jacob’s Cattle Beans

Outdoor roasting and grilling isn’t just for turkeys. Wille pushed the fire to the back of the oven, and in went the body of the turkey, along with an Amish neck pumpkin, a Rebersburg acorn squash, and a foil-wrapped package of my Picasso shallots, still in their skins, drizzled with olive oil.

Next, Wille asked for white wine and olive oil, and another large pan. He took the thighs, wings and drumsticks out of the brine mixture and quickly browned each piece in the olive oil and wine over the grill. Then he returned each piece to the brine pot, put the lid on, and braised it in the kitchen oven on low heat for several hours.

Nothing is out of bounds for the determined chef. The night before, when Wille put the brining pots in the basement refrigerator, he found a mason jar of white and maroon mottled Jacob’s Cattle Gasless Beans…and the wheels started turning.

Thanksgiving morning, “Hey, do you mind if I cook up those beautiful dry beans of yours?”

I didn’t tell him this, but I had forgotten about them. “Sure, but save me a handful to plant.”

The beans were soaked and boiled and cooked. Aromatics added. He grabbed a packet of pancetta that I dole out by the tablespoon and dumped the entire thing into a frying pan.

turnips-rosemary-honey-glaze

Turnips & Rosemary Honey Glaze

Improvisation knows no bounds. My mother, who had a gourmet kitchen shop for almost 30 years, has dozens of pots, pans, and cooking gadgets. One of the family treasures looks like a frying pan with a long handle—except that there are quarter-size holes punched into the bottom—perfect for roasting chestnuts. We had no chestnuts, but Wille grabbed it anyway, repurposing it. He tossed in a shredded Chinese cabbage and quick-cooked the slivers of cabbage over the grill, giving them a smoky flavor.

There are never enough pans when there is a chef in the kitchen. And that’s the primary reason for a sous chef—someone has to wash and dry all of the pans and utensils.

Simplicity is sweet. Wille sliced our Plowshare turnips, sautéed them in olive oil, with generous clippings of the real rosemary. To finish off the dish, he drizzled my Spring Mills floral honey over top creating Turnips with a Rosemary Honey Glaze.

And those Picasso shallots roasting in the pizza oven? After they cooled a bit, it was my job to squeeze them out of their skins so they could be stirred into the heirloom bean and pancetta dish, which turned out to be one of my favorites. Laurie Lynch

It Takes a Village: Wille’s mom Larissa brought family favorites: bowls of broccoli and corn. His brother Andre brought wine and two pumpkin pies, brother Nick brought a crockpot of mashed potatoes, and brother Leon brought beer and made several trips to the woodpile to feed the hungry fire. I made kale salad, cranberry chutney, an apple pie, and washed a lot of pots and pans.

Fleur-de-Plowshare

micah

Micah

In this season of Thanksgiving, Bethany and Micah are on my list.

Last September, our Master Gardener group took a tour of their Plowshare Produce in McAlevys Fort.

What we saw were rows and rows of some of the most beautiful vegetables I have ever seen stretching over three acres. Micah showed us their hoop houses and fields. Nearby, sheep grazed on the rest of the farm. Bethany talked about how they met in Washington, D.C., she working as a farm and food advocate, he working in a soup kitchen. They spent two years in a farm apprenticeship and then decided to come back to her family’s 60-Acre farm in Huntingdon County to raise a family and farm the land.

They’ve had the CSA for eight years and the pleasure of being able to raise their two sons there while earning a living. A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm sells seasonal shares, you pay upfront, they use the money to buy seeds and other supplies, and each week, or two, shareholders get a portion of the harvest.

Bethany showed us a sample of a share basket. As she was talking, toddler Daniel couldn’t resist. He grasped a Hakurei turnip in his tiny hand and took several bites. Then, he switched course and started on a red bell pepper. What an advertisement! Bethany smiled and didn’t skip a beat as she talked about the email newsletter they write, the seeding charts that enable them to grow a rotation of 50 types of vegetables, and their successes and failures in the field.

A few days later, I emailed Bethany and asked to be included on her email newsletter list, even though I wasn’t a member of the CSA. No problem, she said. So for several weeks I read about the boys splashing in Stone Creek, the steam that runs through their farm, looking for crayfish. She wrote about the abundance of the fields, bursting with goodness. Of Micah working into the evening light, growing weary from harvesting 50 bushels of frost-sweetened carrots. I got swept up in the poetry of the farm and rural living, and got a chuckle when she talked about the valley’s hard frost…”good riddance, galinsoga.” (Bethany and I share distain for the annual weed that torments vegetable gardens.)

The newsletter also shares how-to storage and prep tips for under utilized vegetables such as rutabaga and parsnip, and gives operating instructions for vegetables you have never tried, such as Watermelon Radishes. Bethany suggests peeling their skin, cutting them into thin round slices and then cutting the slices in half to see why they’re called watermelon radishes—they are bright magenta on the inside and pale green on the outside. And, she features several recipes. One I’m saving for next August is called Farmer Mike’s Zucchini Crabcakes.

Then, I got the issue featuring their Winter Share program. Every two weeks, from mid-November through January, they deliver their CSA produce to several locations, including a Mennonite church about two miles from our home. I’ve always avoided CSAs because I still grow so much in my garden throughout the season…but a winter share would be perfect for us when all I have in the ground are shallots and garlic buried under a blanket of leaves snoozing until spring, and a few pots of herbs.

plowshare-spread

Plowshare Swag

Ta-da-ta-da, our first Plowshare Produce cornucopia! I couldn’t resist taking a photograph of our Plowshare Food Pyramid—well, more of a swag, the rounded sides of turnips and beets and watermelon radishes don’t make for easy stacking…

Besides the wholesome goodness that filled two refrigerator vegetable bins and a cool storage area in the garage, we’re set for Thanksgiving. My chef-phew Wille is coming up from Washington, D.C., with a heritage turkey he plans to roast in Nonno’s outdoor pizza oven, and I just can’t wait to see what he does with our Plowshare. Happy Thanksgiving! Laurie Lynch

A Recipe for Now:

Beet Salad with Caramelized Onions and Feta

(from Mama’s Minutia)

4 cups boiled or roasted beets, cubed

2 large onions

3 oz. feta cheese

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

5 tbsp. olive oil

While the beets are cooking, cut onions into thin slices, then quarter the stack of slices. Heat some olive oil and add onions, sprinkle with salt, and stir on medium high heat until they start to blacken. Turn the heat to low and continue to cook for 30 minutes until the onions are caramelized. Mix dressing ingredients from vinegar to oil, toss the beets with the dressing and sprinkle with the onions, feta and pine nuts.

harvest

Can you spot Chippy in the upper right? Look for a shiny black eye.

Stocking Up: My mother and I had a wonderful treat this week. A chipmunk was helping himself to the orange berries from an espaliered Pyracantha shrub above our deck. (He’s braver than I. There’s a reason Pyracantha’s common name is “firethorn” as I found out one year pruning it and ending up with a painful rash on my arms.) Anyway, this little guy was comical as he climbed the branches and stuffed his cheek pouches with berries. Sometimes he disappeared, probably stashing his harvest in his little den. Then he’d return for more and gobble them down right in front of our picture window.

chippyWritten on Slate: “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.” Erma Bombeck

Fleur-de-MartinSong

Several years ago I was telling Cousin Ruthie about a book Richard bought me, and how much I enjoyed it.

The real treasure, she said, is having a son who knows what his mother loves to read.

How true.

Before Richard returned to Belgium in July, he gave me George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice five-pack: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons.

I had heard of the Game of Thrones series on HBO, but had not watched it. From bits and pieces I’d read about the shows, the whole thing sounded too violent, too weird, like too many dungeons and dragons for me.

But here I was, with my little library, and an empty nest shared with my 87-year-old mother. I started the first book and I told Richard I was enjoying it, but thought I’d alternate each volume with a “normal” book.

“Oh no,” he said, “I think you should read them one right after the other.”

Well, one-third of the way through A Game of Thrones, I was hooked. There was no going back to “normal”.

During the Olympics, I heard a journalist refer to a fencing match as sword fighting and I thought to myself, she must be a Game of Thrones groupie too. In September, I began wondering if the coyote/fox a neighbor spotted was really a direwolf. And soon, I started hungering for a glass of wine and a little snack to accompany my bedside reading.

What do I love so much about the books? The characters. The suspense. George R.R. Martin’s writing. And, perhaps the biggest surprise of all, I am drawn in (to the books as well as the refrigerator) with his descriptions of food.

The food connection carries throughout all five books, but it wasn’t until I was devouring A Dance with Dragons that I started making notes.

Page 79: “They nibbled on spiced sausage that morning, washed down with a dark smokeberry brown. Jellied eels and Dornish reds filled their afternoon. Come evening there were sliced hams, boiled eggs, and roasted larks stuffed with garlic and onions, with pale ales and Myrish fire wines to help in their digestion.“

Well, anything stuffed with garlic and onions makes my mouth water, and a Myrish fire wine sounds perfect for sipping with the fowl in front of a stone hearth.

Page 542: “The Lord of White Harbor had furnished the food and drink. Black stout and yellow beer and wines red and gold and purple, brought up from the warm south on flat-bottomed ships and aged in his deep cellars. The wedding guests gorged on cod cakes and winter squash, hills of neeps and great round wheels of cheese, on smoking slabs of mutton and beef ribs charred almost black, and lastly on three great wedding pies as wide across as wagon wheels, their flaky crusts stuffed to bursting with carrots, onions, turnips, parsnips, mushrooms and chunks of seasoned pork swimming in a savory brown gravy.”

Neeps, it turns out, is a Scottish term for turnips…I never knew that. It’s more than coincidence that I started gathering turnips in my market bag along with sweet potatoes and carrots for roasting. And just imagine “pies as wide across as wagon wheels”—what a visual—even though they wouldn’t fit in my oven!winter-is-coming-newletter

Page 553: “The feast continued late into the night, presided over by the grinning skull on its pillar of black marble. Seven courses were served, in honor of the seven gods and the seven brothers of the Kingsguard. The soup was made with eggs and lemons, the long green peppers stuffed with cheese and onions. There were lamprey pies, capons glazed with honey, a whiskerfish from the bottom of the Greenblood that was so big it took four serving men to carry it to table. After that came a savory snake stew, chunks of seven different sorts of snake slow simmered with dragon peppers and blood oranges and a dash of venom to give it a good bite. The stew was fiery hot, Hotah knew, though he tasted none of it. Sherbet followed, to cool the tongue. For the sweet, each guest was served a skull of spun sugar. When the crust was broken, they found sweet custard inside with bits of plum and cherry.”

Wouldn’t that be the perfect Halloween spread? No feasting for me. I’m in withdrawal. Book No. 6 isn’t due out until 2017, and Winter is Coming. Happy reading. Happy eating. Laurie Lynch

Written on Blackwood Vale Slate: “Past a certain point, all the dates grow hazy and confused, and the clarity of history becomes the fog of legend.” George R.R. Martin

 

Fleur-de-SandyTales

sandyOur dog Sandy is guilty. Guilty of robbing the ‘hood.

Just after midnight, I can hear his tail banging against my mother’s bed. His long, caramel-colored body starts doing a snake dance. It doesn’t matter if there is a full moon, a quarter moon, or no moon; he is raring to go.

Simply put, Sandy steals from the rich of bone and bauble, and gives to…himself. And us. He always shares his finds. As far as I know, he doesn’t bury them. He drops them with a clunk at the front door or smuggles them into the house, clenched in his jaws.

The stash of bones gathers in a corner beneath the stairs, or under the radiator, with the dust bunnies. We have a running joke that we never have to buy Sandy bones because, under the cover of darkness, he collects them from the neighbors’ dogs.

After one nighttime raid, about a year ago, I heard Sandy’s gentle scratch at the screen door. In he came. But what was that on the mat? A purple bottle of liqueur?

I brought the mysterious object inside, leaving it on the terrazzo floor. It looked like an upside-down purple mushroom, with the heft of a bowling ball. It was clearly no bottle of booze.

I went back to bed. My head on the pillow, the demons awoke. “Maybe it is an IED. What does IED stand for anyway? Improvised Explosive Device. It’s too big for a grenade. It could be an IED. I got up, walked down the hall, picked up the damn thing and put it outside again.

Daylight brings such clarity.

Turns out Sandy found a BusyBuddy, at least that’s what was imprinted on the surface. I typed b-u-s-y-b-u-d-d-y into my computer and found it is some kind of plastic dog toy. The owner hides treats inside to amuse the nose of the dog, even though the pooch can never reach the nugget without human help.4-pt

That weekend, Sandy’s puppy cousin Tulla came for a visit. Tulla took one look at the abandoned BusyBuddy and started knocking it around the wood floor. The BusyBuddy crashed into table legs and crushed bare toes as it was batted between Tulla’s paws. Long story short, the BusyBuddy went home with Tulla (named after an Irish whiskey named Tullamore Dew) to Connecticut.

I’ve known that Sandy is worth his weight in gold, trademark of the first name of his breed: Golden. It has taken a while, but it finally occurs to me that his thieving ways are also the result of nature, and his second name: Retriever. Laurie Lynch

pumpkin-displayFast forward to this week: Around midnight I heard Sandy’s familiar rumbling. I let him outside and took a snooze on the living room couch. There was a whine at the door. Sandy. With a gift. Just in time for Halloween. A deer skull, teeth intact, below a crown of antlers—a four-point rack. Another mystery to solve.

Fast forward to yesterday: I snapped a few photos and took my laptop to Café Lemont to bask in the sun, have lunch, and write this piece. I got home around 3 p.m. The skull and antlers were gone.

Fleur-de-Massage

We pass fields of bleached cornstalks, swales of goldenrod, and horse-drawn buggies. The afternoon’s soft September light peeks through barn boards. Display cloths are adorned with fleur-de-lis. Pecks of produce. Bins of bread. Jars of honey. A handful of pullet eggs.

A trickle of nostalgia seeps into my heart.

the-barn

Fine Barn Dining

No, this is not Maxatawny Township. It is Central Pennsylvania—The Barn at The Hummingbird Room. The formal address is 4188 Penns Valley Road, Spring Mills, but as you travel east on Route 45, about 20 minutes from State College, you pass a sign that says Village of Penn Hall. Then you’ll see a stately brick home with turquoise shutters on the right. Just past that, you turn at the tall, globed lamppost into a gravel parking lot. The barn is tucked behind the house.

Eric and Claudia Sarnow bought the place 21 years ago. He was a trained chef who had worked for three years at two five-star restaurants in the Loire Valley of France and six years at Le Be Fin in Philadelphia. After their son Evan was born, the Sarnows decided to move to the country. The couple brought a taste of French cuisine to Central Pennsylvania with The Hummingbird Room. But after a dozen years, running a restaurant full-time wore thin. It was time to change course. Eric spent the next nine years as a chef on private yacht, cruising and cooking on the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, with Claudia and Evan joining him at foreign ports.

Two years ago, the family returned to their home and opened The Hummingbird Room for weddings, celebrations, and cooking classes. “Miss Ruby” sends out email invitations for Supper Club dinners in the elegant dining rooms of the 1847 mansion: Christmas in Paris, Miss Ruby’s New Year’s Eve Speakeasy, a seven-course Cupid’s Dart Dinner. Although these events were intriguing, they have been too pricey and over-the-top for my current lifestyle.

hummingbird-room

The Hummingbird Room

Last fall, we did go to their holiday open house for gourmet gifts like strawberry-basil syrup, caramel chipotle sauce, and smoked salmon mousse to fill holiday baskets and tables. This month, an email suggesting a drive in the country and a visit to The Barn at The Hummingbird Room for Gourmet-To-Go (Or Stay) Weekends made not one, but two, Sundays very special.

There were French baguettes and olive bread loaves to carry home, tastes of thin slices of wild Pacific Salmon that Eric smokes over apple wood at the farm, and an array of desserts such as Plum Torte and Lavender Shortbreads to sample.

bread-apples-caramel

Gourmet-To-Go

The mouthwatering menu included Charred Penns Valley Sweet Corn Salad, Chesapeake Crab Cakes, Mojo Marinated Grilled Cuban Pork, Garden Tomato Basil Salad and Massaged Kale Salad.

I had heard about Massaged Kale Salad but had never tasted it. “Massaged Kale” is just what it says, kneading bits of kale, stripped from the stem, in a bowl with a splash of olive oil, sprinkle of sea salt, and a teaspoon of lemon juice for about three minutes. This process breaks down the rough leaves of the kale and makes it easier to digest. It also turns the kale a vibrant green and gives it a softer, chewy texture.

Claudia’s version had a light, lemony dressing with Craisins, chopped, dried apricots and sunflower seeds. In my version, a few days later, I substituted quartered fresh figs for the apricots. For the dressing, I used the juice of one lemon (minus the teaspoon used for massaging), 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of The Barn at The Hummingbird Room’s honey. Salad heaven! Laurie Lynch

Written on Slate: “September showed up right on schedule and lasted a whole month.” Jenny Wingfield

 

 

Fleur-de-BugAppetit

The poster caught my attention: The words Bug Appetit with a drawing of a giant grasshopper.

I was looking forward to a Penn State version of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels) tackling the United Nations’ proposal that we Westerners start thinking of insects as protein-packed food. Last school year, the VUB cafeteria offered worm burgers to adventurous students.

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization 2013 book Edible Insects: future prospects for food and feed security reports that 2 billion people eat insects regularly, cooked or raw, and they are packed with protein, fiber, good fats, and minerals. Of the 1,900 edible insect species, hundreds are part of the diet in many countries; it’s only in Western nations where the “ick” factor bars them from the dinner table.

ant-lollipops

Ant Lollipops

But what I found at Bug Appetit was a watered-down, candy-coated attempt of making eating insects “cute” with a Pestaurant that offered chocolate-covered insects, sugar-dipped crickets, and ant-crystalized lollipops.

All was not lost. My mother loved the cockroach races. We stood there for a good 15 minutes, watching the youngsters as they opened the lids on the cockroach containers, dumping the critters down a chute and into the PVC racetracks. Off they went! And who could resist the Monarch Tent where you walk with the butterflies as they flitter and flutter past your eyelashes.

iron-gall-ink

Writing with oak gall ink

For me, the magic of the PSU Department of Entomology’s Great Insect Fair event was the gall table.  I’ve known that wasps or other insects feed or lay eggs on the leaves, stems, or twigs of plants, causing deformities. The plant cells respond to the chemicals from the insects by going crazy, enlarging and surrounding the egg or larva with some strange looking galls. Sometimes, galls look like raised warts (of assorted colors) on a leaf. On a rose cane, galls look like tumors. On oaks, galls can look like tan Ping-Pong balls or “oak apples” on twigs and branches. These oak galls are rich in tannic acid.

What amazed me was learning that from the 4th Century through the Renaissance and up until the middle of the 20th century, oak galls, created by wasps on oak trees, were THE source of ink for the written word. The Magna Carta and well as our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution were all written using iron gall ink. It was so easy to make, and it was permanent and water-resistant. As recently as 1945, the U.S. imported 550,000 pounds of oak galls from Turkey to make ink. But also around that time, chemically produced inks (and ballpoint pens) were invented, and the use of oak gall ink fell by the wayside.

Iron Gall Ink Recipe

6 oz. powdered oak gall

6 oz. ferric chloride

4 oz. gum Arabic

6 pints water

Mix ingredients and use a quill pen to write your own Magna Carta. Laurie Lynch

Written In Iron Gall Ink: “I’m obsessed with insects, particularly insect flight. I think the evolution of insect flight is perhaps one of the most important events in the history of life. Without insects, there’d be no flowering plants. Without flowering plants, there would be no clever, fruit-eating primates giving TED Talks.” –Michael Dickinson

Fleur-de-CarePkg

Last year this time, after dehydrating 30 bulbs of garlic (roughly 200 cloves) and processing the batch into a quart of garlic powder, I questioned whether I would do it again.

  1. I didn’t know if I would use that much garlic powder.
  2. Although I love the fragrance of the stinking rose, the dehydrating process overwhelmed the air quality of the house for a long weekend.

Well, this is August 2016. I did it again, and then some.

  1. Richard arrived in February to an almost-full quart of garlic powder. By the time he left in early July, there was only dust on the bottom of the jar. He used the garlic powder in omelets, sprinkled it on meat and stir-fry, and scooped it into soups and sauces.
  2. I got a call from one of the fellows who suggested making garlic powder in the first place. He had a garlic question, and, as garlic growers often find, one question led to a long, garlicky conversation.   When we touched on the dehydration process, I mentioned that it stank up the house. “Oh, my wife would never let me do it in the house. I just set up my work station in the garage.”

Thank goodness for wives with limits.

For this year’s garlic powder process, I started with 60 bulbs (342 cloves). The grueling part of the job is peeling the papery skins off each of those 342 cloves. But after that was done, the drying and processing seemed to take less time than last year. What a difference it made moving the dehydrator into the garage. The aroma of drying garlic took the edge off the stale gasoline-motor oil odor, and there is nothing like an open garage door for ventilation. Nineteen hours later I was sifting garlic powder into jars.

Some moms send care packages of chocolate chip cookies. Some send brownies. I’ll be mailing my kids containers of homemade garlic powder. Laurie Lynch

Ahoy Skype: Daughter Marina and I have this uncanny tendency to cook or crave certain foods simultaneously even though we live on different continents. Part of it is seasonal, such as baking pumpkin pies when pumpkins ripen in the garden or making pesto pasta when the first basil plants billow with fragrant green leaves. But other times, it might be as simple as, “I made the best Caesar salad last night,” with the other replying, “So did I!”

On Sunday, we were Skyping when Marina held up a large yellow zucchini, “Dinner.”

“Oh, you can make zucchini boats! I just made them for the first time this week. They are so easy and fun. I don’t know why I never made them when you kids were growing up. I guess I was so busy selling the small ones that I never let them get big.”

So, we chatted as Marina prepared her yellow boats. First, I explained, slice the large zucchini in half, lengthwise. Then, scoop out the flesh, leaving about a half inch of flesh as the shell. Cut up the flesh, and add chopped onions or garlic, fresh or canned beans, diced peppers, corn from the cob, cherry tomatoes, whatever you have.   Saute with ground turkey, beef, or sausage, or go meat-less. Stir in grated cheese. Fill each boat with the mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. We said our good-byes between the chopping and sautéing, but I’m sure dinner was delicious.

Written in Cross-Stitch: “Gardeners get to stay in their beds all day.” (A gift from a BFF.)