Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fall pumpkin festival...

One late afternoon we decided to see the pumpkin carvings done by the students over next town. It was a cold afternoon but it was a perfect day for it! Needless to say some weekends at our neck woods are packed with things to catch up! This was that kind of a weekend but we all had a great time!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Eggplant + Pasta = Heaven

Our local grocery store is flooded with eggplants and of course I stumble upon this recipe from a blog which I frequently visits. I thought I should give this a try mainly it was the season, We love egg plant, and wanted to add a twist to our regular mundane pasta dishes. The results were amazing.

At the end we had more reasons to love this dish and a bonus no meat in this dish at all. 

I loved the subtle mint flavor and the kick from red peppers. Cheese makes it so much better. I took this for lunch at work and works great with a small salad. My oldest had this for dinner and he liked it very much. We will be making this few times this year. At least before the end of the egg plant season. 

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, whole
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Watch how to make this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red

pepper flakes. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden, about 35 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish. Place in the oven on the rack below the vegetables. Roast until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid.

Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor. Add the torn mint leaves and extra-virgin olive oil. Puree the vegetables.

Transfer the pureed vegetables to the bowl with the pasta and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding the pasta cooking liquid 1/2 cup at a time until the pasta is saucy. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Day of School to ALL...

Yes, we survived the very first week of school. I am very excited to teach this year and to go to campus in the night. Children survived the first week only two days but it was adjusting to the new schedules and meeting friends. Speaking of friends I was glad to make new friends as well. Lot to learn with record keeping which I hate and love at the same time. What I heard so far is once you get it down it seems to help plan the lesson plan can’t wait to get use to it. 

Nicolette is happy to find new friends and some of her old friends in first grade. She will be joining the before and after care for few days this year and she is very excited about it. 

Niegel is a senior in high school and I am happy for him working on his SAT and the meets. I know he is going to like his classes this school year!

I am simply getting use to all the new schedules and planning. One last thing I love my classes as well this year. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Canning freshness straight out from the garden…

Yes, I don't know what better way to explain this new interest or rather a process of mine. I have been navigating the internet how to pickle beans (I mean green beans) and I found a way which I like very much. No idea how it all going to turn out but sounds like a great plan to lock away the freshness of backyard vegetables. 

Perhaps for some Bloody Mary’s in future and I feel it is not that fancy without pickles as a garnish. Moreover you need few pickles after drinking few of those. I also found out that I cannot find okra pickles from MA because that is not a northern thing. I had to buy a bottle while I was in VA. 

One thing I like about this particular recipe is it really adds heat to pickles with few black peppers and red chillies. I can’t wait to try some with my salad. 

A bit late post about 4th of July...

This is our first official Hydrangea bush and they were tiny when I first planted them. I love these mainly for two reasons one for the neat flowers the other during Fall the foilage turned into this beautiful deep maroon like red. I truly love a four season garden and I am still working on this tiny stamp size garden. It is always a working progress…

While we were in VA, Niegel decided to run a 5K ( we did planned this before hand) and It was fun. He did great but most of all he enjoyed it very much because he consider this as his home town.

As always Nicolette managed to find a dog to pet while her brother finishes the race. It was a great joy to watch her.

We were able to carve some time to sneak into the National Gallery of Art. We all took turns in enjoying various parts of the museum. Mostly the early paintings…

After a long stroll we were hungry and it was almost time to have dinner we all unanimously decided to dine at China Town, DC. 

Found a spot see the fire works and not too far from the capital; yes it was smokey but had a great time.

We had plenty to cover from taking care of the house, to running a 5K, visiting the museums, having dinner at China Town, and finally finding a spot to watch the fireworks. It was a great week!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Our first gathering for 2015

For 2015, gathering was much better term mainly because we received few vegetables from our friends as well. Largely few neighbors who is growing in their backyards. Some went to ladies who is always get anxious if I am at the compost bin(chickens)

We love our wax and green beans from our yard because they are so tender and yummy. I am working on canning few for winter so I can have some at school lunch. I have heard from few friends they are so crisp. Hard part is not picking them when they are in abundance. Tomatoes are all steak this year and I hope I might get a bumber crop this year. 

It is a delightful experience to go to our tiny backyard and pick few eggs from the coopand at the same time pick few vegetables for a meal. Tender turnips adds so much flavor to a salad. I traded few eggs for handful of summer squashes this year. Beets were doing much better this year and we had it twice so far and there is few more to pull. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Butterfly Bush

Some plants stay with you no matter where you move. Our first butterfly bush is dead and gone in VA I have no idea what happened but I planted total of three bushes at our MA house why? because I love them so much. 

This spring I was able to cut down one bush to my heart content but I had to stop because there was a finch family residing in one of the bird houses and I did not want to bother muma bird and she was bit feisty. I fled the scene and decided to head inside. we have not seen much of the butterflies this season yet but when we do I love recording them. Little Nicolette loves observing them and keeps a great track how many visits per day. Her data accumulation is very interesting and hilarious too. 

The other day I was able to capture this image of this flower which was porking out from the bush. Purple adds a cooler tone to the garden during warmer months. Butterfly bushes come in various colors including white but it is well known for its sweet nectar which attracts butterflies. 

Visiting the idea why I stick with the butterfly bush is very clear because it attracks butterflies and humming birds.   

Monday, July 20, 2015

My love for hydrangeas....

I still recall the day I saw this plant when I was in sixth or seventh grade. It was at one of my mother’s friends house. They had a bush and their neighbor had a bush as well and it had these beautiful huge clusters of flowers together and they were pinkish violet.
And my next encounter was at a garden show which I must have begged my mother to take when I was young teenager. I can recall to this day that she had no interest in gardening and if she did someone helped her to make our garden. During this time I showed an interest in house plants and other colorful foliage. Mainly the lovely begonias which had beautiful 
foilage. They were stunning and had different textures as well. 

This heavy influenced came mainly from a classmate. Her mother was a phenomenal gardener. I always loved and admired her garden and the energy she had to take care of her garden cannot put into words. I knew she was a teacher and mother of three who was very much interest in gardening. She gave me the first seedlings, I was very thankful to her and to this day cherish that single moment.
I was determined to change our garden to somewhat of a jumble. My mother had a lot of patience with me, she did helped me in getting pots, fertilizer, and at the end I am sure she did enjoyed our little garden coming to life as well. Her friends offered me cuttings and plants when possible. I was a young gardner back then. 

I first plated our first Hydrangea bush in Virginia. They were very young plants back then. I saw them when I visited them this year I mainly choose them for its foliage because they turned bright copper like hue in fall perfect to add color to a cookie cutter stamp size garden. I added more during this visit as well they were a pink and blue bush, I can't wait to see them next year. 
Then I planted some in MA and waited and waited they bloomed last year but this year they add so much depth to our yard. I simply could not resist the urge to photograph them day after day. 

Will I add more this fall may be if time allows how about next spring I want to say heck yeah !