Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A Couple Of Solo Walks

Last week, Johnny was having a little issue with his knee, so he took a couple of days off doing our Morning Walk.
I decided I'd just head out on my own, and I really enjoyed listening to my podcasts and enjoying the scenery.

I stayed on the dirt roads, as I did not want to run into any critters by myself. I did see a jackrabbit one morning, which was pretty darn cool. Mostly, I just cruised along at my own pace.

Here are some things I saw over the couple of lonely mornings out there.

Some gorgeously textured succulents against this corrugated metal wall...

Lovely views of the farmlands and hills in our neck-o-the-woods...


A field of rape (pronounced "rah-pay") being grown for seed, which will then be ground for oil...

A fantastic spiderweb in the morning dew...

More views of the fields below "The Nut", where we live...

I am so gobsmacked by the various wild grasses here...the textures and colors just blow my mind...

I love the grasses and wild red poppies together!

And who doesn't love a perfect dandelion after it's flowered?
I believe it's a perfect end to my solo walks.

More to come! Please stay tuned.

Spring Risotto. Mmmmmm!

I have been very slow on the blog posts....sorry. I hope to catch up!

A week or so ago, I made a very delicious risotto featuring peas, leeks and asparagus. It's one of my favorite combos.
I had already shelled a bunch of peas, and set the pods in the freezer to make a nice broth. I added the leek and asparagus trimmings, and it turned out great.

Waiting to become broth!

Just add water and simmer for an hour or so...

Strain, and voila! Best broth in the world!


The farmer's markets are full of these goodies right now.

Prep the veg, and you are ready to go.

I like to sauté my leeks first in a bit of olive oil, then add the peas and asparagus and cook them until almost done. This is one recipe that I don't add garlic to. I want these subtle flavors to shine. This is also why I make the broth...it just adds more of these wonderful flavors.

On this evening, because the asparagus was a big bunch, I decided to roast some, too... just a little evoo, salt, and that's it.

While the veggies cook, I warm up the broth. Always add the broth warm, if possible.

Once the veg are done, I put them aside in a bowl to add at the very end.

This is the rice I use for risotto when we're here.
I like it better than arborio.

I toss the rice into some heated olive oil, and stir it for a few minutes, then I start adding the warm broth a ladle at a time, continuing to stir.
Oh, I almost forgot...I splash in a little white wine just about now, to deglaze the pan and add a bit more flavor.

Adding broth and stirring!

More of the same, for about 18-20 minutes, waiting as the rice absorbs each ladle of broth,  until you bite into a bit of rice and it's still got some texture. You don't want it to get too soft. It will turn mushy fast!

At this point, I add in the veggies to warm them through, and finish off the rice.

It's not a bad idea to toss in a little butter at this point, if you want.

Dish it up with a side of roasted asparagus, a sprinkle of parmesan, and you will be this close to heaven, my friends.

Not a bad supper!

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Cooking At The Nut, So Far...

Well....I have been do a bit of "home cooking" here at The Nut, but not as much as Johnny would like, so I had best put on my apron and get it together!

Here's a few things I have whipped together, with more to come, no doubt.

But first, here is a photo of the studio turned dining room, because we really wanted to have our housemates and pals here for a sit down meal before Johnny started painting, and the studio becomes his domain:

Just enough space for 6.
Then the IKEA table turns back into a workspace.

I didn't take any pictures from that very lovely evening...but it was a good meal and a very good time.

I did roast up some beautiful 'Romanesco" (kind of like cauliflower), and paired it with spaghetti. The sauce was a red pepper and sundried tomato pesto. Very yum.

One night, I came up with a kooky combo. 
I had bought some long stemmed purple artichokes, and I didn't want to waste any of the stems. I sliced them in rounds, then parboiled them with red onions and fennel, all cut about the same size:

Then, I layered them in a shallow casserole dish with fontina cheese, then topped it with breadcrumbs and parmesan...

I baked it until it got a browned top, and that was it. Next time, way more fontina, I think. I wanted it more cheesy. It was a tasty combination, though, and a great use of the veggies.

As always, I love to roast the small and sweet tomatoes we find here. They come from the sunny south lands and are so good. 
I use evoo, salt and a little pepper and herbs...thyme, sage and oregano here. Also some red onion bits and garlic...

While they roasted, I steamed the afore mentioned purple artichokes, now without their stems. This was on another day. A rainy day. Good for staying home and playing in the kitchen.

Italians would never steam artichokes. This is a California thang.
I always put a couple of cloves of garlic and some bay leaves in the water.
Another big "no-no" to Italians!

I save the now soft and buttery garlic cloves.
They are great to mash into mayonnaise.
Oops. Another "no-no"!

I have recently learned of the heath benefits of "Artichoke Water". I gotta say, it is pretty darn tasty after those chokes are done. We sipped it at room temp. I'm not kidding...look it up!

A bowl of artichoke water. Mmmmmm.

Ok, roasting is done, artichokes, done.


We enjoyed these two together, along with some buratta cheese. It was an excellent dinner.

A couple of nice lunches from a week or two ago....Avocado toast with crunchies and a little pecorino cheese...

Johnny opted out on the bread, and went with added tomatoes.
I loved my toast! and...cilantro from the terrace!

Another day we had roasted peppers and onions on arugula with another shared buratta. The buratta was on sale, so I bought a couple of them.

Nice together.

I bought some shelling peas...which I don't know what I'm using them for yet...But I think it will be risotto.

What will you be???

I also made a pot of vegetable broth from all the bits of veggies I save in the freezer...you know, the pieces that would normally go in the compost. I wash and save it all. Great for broth.

What will YOU be?

More food adventures to come! Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Windows and Shrines

Last week while it was sunny and warm, we took a drive to a nearby spot so Johnny could paint. I always have a book ready, but it was just so nice out, I walked up to visit a couple of my favorite ruins nearby. I never get tired of seeing them, and each year they are a little more....ruined.

On a blue day, seeing the sky through the open ceiling is spectacular. That color contrast and the texture of the bricks and stone really work for me.

There was a roof there at some point in time...

These old gals just become another place for weeds and fig trees to root. It's pretty great.

Often, the brambles won't let me get near. I'm ok with that.

I guess they will disappear at some point, becoming a pile of debris under brambles. In the meantime, I'll keep visiting and taking photos.

I've dubbed these "Ladies Of The Fields", and have several posts written about many of them. These old abandoned buildings are all over the countryside. I assume it's cost prohibitive to take them down. 
Some are used to house farm equipment, but so many are just....there. Empty except for birds and other critters.


On another day last week, we took an extra long morning walk, which took us by several shrines. Again, I've probably taken photos of most of these in the past, but they are so lovely. I like to share.

That detail on the side is nice.

"Can I offer you a plate of eyes?"

Someday, I want our bedroom ceiling painted this blue, with golden stars.

My favorite one that day...

Hope you enjoyed this post.