Wednesday BBQ’s

For the past three Wednesdays in a row, Bee and I have been grilling for dinner.  This, of course, now means Wednesday = BBQ Night.  We’ve been preparing a lot of food, which is great for leftovers.  Last night’s menu was jalapeno cornbread, coleslaw, salad with homemade basil dressing, grilled corn, grilled purple peppers, baked beans stewed on the grill, and BBQ tofu. Oh, and of course s’mores.  It’s fun.  We sit outside with a beer, putz around in the yard, and eat until we’re stuffed.  I didn’t take photos last night, but here is last week’s BBQ:

Perhaps most significantly, we finally did cut and eat the lettuce we had grown in the yard, as well as a couple little yellow cherry tomatoes:

3772332802_e9b9d2a6ccThat alone wasn’t quite enough, so I added a spinach mix,  carrots, and some nuts and cheese.

3771530011_ac52963c4eI made my go-to ginger soy dressing and it was wonderful.

I should note that we are not the only ones interested in eating from our garden.  This one cracked me up, as devistated as I was to lose the tomato:

3771532197_d7ec9e04c2I call it Nightmare Before BBQ.

OK, so what else did we have?

3772346770_a5841d6566We had Bee’s great little grilling setup.

3771536785_32c0543be8And Bee.  And grill.

3771534229_9356a86304And our very last summer lily, reaching toward the sunset.

Oh!  And we had more food!

3772344378_a68587a8abGrilled corn, from the farmers market.

3772351984_3836aaae40Grilled new potatoes, also from the farmers market.

Beans, which I didn’t take a photo of because I was stuffing my face, and of course grilled tofu slathered with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce:

3771544199_f331f777a9I kid you not, it tasted like chicken.  Better.

And of course, no BBQ is complete without roasting marshmallows over the coals and making s’mores:

3772355436_866909ba88Next week we’re going to try grilled polenta, to shake things up a bit.

Cheers to Wednesday night BBQ!

-Me

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Summer Plans

When we moved down here, we felt sure that we’d be back up to Chicago at least once this summer, and vowed (to ourselves) a long weekend in Michigan.

Now, with classes starting in less than a month, neither seems likely.  And that’s a bummer because we have all the time in the world.  Other than my trip to San Francisco for a conference in a couple weeks, the calendar is, and has been, wide open, which makes it a bit more frustrating.

The problem is that with Bee applying for several good jobs, a call could come at any time for an interview.  So there goes even a short-term trip, especially during the week. We sort of need to stick around should Bee get any calls on the applications he has out, many of which are for jobs that are still posted, so ostensibly are not yet filled.  Add to that the difficulty of planning anything out into the future, given the hope that Bee will then be working. It’s a waiting game.

Bee’s non-jobness also makes us more conscious of our spending.  So the cost to travel and the inevitable food and stuff  puts an extra burden on what could otherwise be an easy trip to Chicago or MI.

Plus there is the desire to see all our parents on this hypothetical trip to MI, so factor in their schedules this summer, and it turns out the perfect weekend to visit everyone was two weeks ago.  Oops.  From here until school something is going on every weekend, either here or there.  And once school starts, it gets harder.  That 4.5 hour drive seems tough when there’s not a long weekend to invite it.

We do know we’ll be in Chicago the weekend of September 25.  One of my favorite bands is playing a show that Friday night and then we’ll probably make our rounds to see Chicago pals that weekend.  And MI is lovely in the fall, so if we can swing that, we will.

But for now, we’re sorta stuck…. waiting….  And all I wanna do is catch a Cubs game, hang out in Edgewater and Rogers Park, take a dip in my parents’ pool, visit Ballard Park, be in Grandma Shirley’s yard, work on the car at John’s, go to Founders, go to the cabin, etc.

Perhaps this is just a kick in my own pants to appreciate what we have, which is a great yard with all sorts of fun stuff growing, time to get more done around the house, time to explore our new city a bit more, and a quiet rest before what is sure to be an active fall.

But still….

-Me

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Hazy Walk-Through

I took this video today, when we finally hung the red shelves above the couch.  (Long, boring story about the dozens of things that delayed that but many kudos to Bee for figuring it all out.)

It’s hazy and odd, not quite what I hoped it would look like.  But for folks who have never been here, and for folks who haven’t seen it this extra degree of done, here is a look.

Still lots to do, but this is some of our house today.

-Me

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Bittman on Dressing

I mentioned homemade salad dressings a while back, and I have been meaning to do a follow-up post for a while.  Well, today Bittman made it easy for me.  Check this out!

I’ve made a variation of all three dressings before, and will certainly be making one this week (today?) when we eat the lettuce in our yard.

I hated salad for years, but I wonder if the store-produced dressings were partly what were keeping me away.  Homemade dressings are so tasty, and they’re cheaper, to boot!

-Me

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Scenes From the Yard

Since friends and family can only rarely make it down to the house, let me take you on a little tour of the yard this week.

3Bee has done a lot of landscaping, and other than a sick tree in front which has brought us an early November, things are looking good.

4We have done a lot of weeding, and Bee really cleaned it up with chunk bark, flowers, pepeprs, etc.

5He also planted corn, beans, and squash, which sprung up really quickly!  This small planting bed is in that front area.

1We have a variety of lilies all over the yard, including these along the front of the house.  It is my new hobby to pull the shoots after the flower has died, only yanking the ones that come with a gentile tug. I get a few more each day.

2Also along the front of the house is a gorgeous hibiscus that my chair brought us as a housewarming gift.  Every day there seems to be a new flower on there!

6This is back in the front bed near the street.  What is it?  Does anyone know?

7Bee also really cleaned up the front porch area.  He planted everything that’s in there, and on the porch you can see the mint that Sandie gave us.

8We also have some corn along the side of the house…

9…and beans.  Actually both (plus squash) are planted in various places all over the yard.  It will be fun to harvest in the fall!

10Also along the side of our house is that gorgeous sage plant, to which we have done almost nothing.  Yum.

11Bee also recently transferred some later seeds from the starter tray into bigger pots.  We think / hope we inched in just under the clock to allow these to be edible before winter.

12We’ve had to make more room for growing, plus the alley needed cleaning up.  So Bee did that just a few days ago.  This was mid-way through the project.  It looks even better now.

13The Hive has a new sign, many thanks to Karen…

14…and all sorts of Bees like it.  (Mes too.)

15Our lettuce seems ready.  It is hard to pull after so much effort (these were born in our apartment in Chicago) –but that’s what we grow it for, right?  This week.  We will eat it this week.

18We also have about 6 full-size tomatoes, and some smaller ones on their way.

19Some peppers are ready, too, with some jalapenos not far behind and, we hope, also some Thai chilis.

16We also have this great old bird feeder hung on our freshly painted trellis.  Since this photo Bee has done another coat of paint and replaced and painted the top beams.

17Both the feeder and our seed storage container came from Grandma Shirley.  So cute!

We are still busy at work both inside and out.  Come visit!

-Me

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New Orleans

I’m making it in just under a month (by a day) of posting some photos of New Orleans from when we arrived there. I brought two cameras so sorting photos has taken longer than I expected, especially as I keep starting other projects. That being said I’m going to post a few semi-organized sets, and I’m going to start of with one of the oldest walled cemeteries in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in the French Quarter, which dates back to the 1700’s. Because New Orleans is below sea-level, 90% of their graves are above ground (although it also seems based in Spanish and French tradition which was assimilated into New Orleans tradition), making them unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

cemetery 1

cemetery 2These first two photos are of as you enter. The top photo shows the oldest graves, often called ovens due to their appearance.

cemetery 3

cemetery 4

cemetery 5

cemetery 6Like many other parts of New Orleans this cemetery is a mix of their colonial past, the present, and rebuilding after disasters. This cemetery was originally filled with many who died in widespread disease. Although the cemetery was flooded during Katrina it suffered little damage.

cemetery 6

cemetery 7

cemetery 8

cemetery 10

cemetery 11

It was also interesting to see the current grieving taking place along side 200 year old graves. Even as a tourist I definitely had the feeling of this being an active cemetery beyond just tours or those with cameras.

cemetery 12

cemetery 13

St. Louis cemetery is divided into several sections including plots donated to many famous jazz musicians whose families couldn’t afford burial costs (not pictured) and Homer Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson (top photo). The bottom photo is of the Protestant section, which was sparse and much less grandiose due to tradition and politics of the time.

cemetery 14

-Bee

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Grilled Jalapeno Poppers

So, the food I can’t get enough of this summer is jalapenos.  In coleslaw, on grilled sandwiches, in guac and salsa… you name it, and if it contains jalapenos I probably want it.

Several months back Williams Sonoma began advertising a jalapeno roaster for the grill rack, but it is $20 and there was just somthing that felt wrong about spending such money on something so specific.  Then, at Meijer last week, I came across a $5 version that was super cute.  I don’t have a photo but it is shaped like a jalapeno and holds about 20 peppers.  We snapped it up.

The very next day we were invited to a last-minute barbeque at my chair’s house, so I knew the time had arrived to try them.  Here’s how it went.

1.  Hollow out the jalapenos, after cutting off the tops.

jala1I found a small serated knife worked best, but really it’s just about patience and agility.  Two things I rarely have, I know.  But for this, it was worth the commitment.

2.  Reserve the tops.

jala2If nothing else, they make cute little hats while they’re roasting on the grill.

3.  I couldn’t find any use for the innards, so I sadly tossed them into the compost.  But you do get a lot of guts, and the seeds and such should calm anyone who worries they they’re too spicy (although they did have a nice kick).

jala34.  Mix cream cheese, cheddar (I used an applewood cheddar), bread crumbs, salt, and pepper to taste in a large bowl.

jala4Many recipes call for bacon, but this tasted like bacon to me already!  I credit the applewood cheddar, which has a smoked flavor.

5.  Stuff and save for the grill!

jala5I have photos of neither the grilling process nor the end result.  Both times Bee tended the grill and I was too focused on enjoying them to even consider a photo.  Perhaps that’s the best testament to their taste I can provide.  They were GOOD!  A wise investment, that roaster.  Money well spent.

-Me

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