Leeks, Birthdays, and the Back to School Blues


I am obviously unable to multi task, as I have not blogged in more than a week. I returned to work last Wednesday and it has been an uphill battle, I am here to tell you. I can't decide which has been more oppressive, the heat outside or the heat in my office (98 when I returned last week. In my office). The early wake up times again, the transitioning from a life of leisurely coffee mornings in the garden and yard and hours of lingering over recipes and menus back to forms, binders, cleaning, organizing and well, NOT leisurely anything has been like an ice water bath and most certainly a shock to the system. I am coping though and will triumph over these going back to school blues.


The garden is just huge right now. From a glance its hard to decide if it is supposed to look that way or if some poor fool suffering from a heat stroke just forgot they had things growing there. The squash and zucchini plants are almost 5 feet tall. Yes, 5 feet tall. The tomato plants have outgrown their stakes and have almost doubled over on themselves again and I am quite sure they are more than 7 feet tall if we actually stretch them to their full height. We REALLY need to rethink our stakes for next year. There is a wonderful, comprehensive nursery just north of town called Starview where I bought pretty much everything in the yard and most of the garden. Comprehensive to me means green houses for everything; a shade house, perrenial, annual, tropic, veggies, herbs, trees, shrubs, etc. It is acres and acres of plants in green houses and I love that I can get it all there. They have this build-as-it-grows tomato stake system that is pretty cool, but good grief they are not cheap! I know dowell rods work just as well. It's just been about finding them tall enough and we were not at all prepared for the staking. Who knew they would end up being 9 feet tall? We will do better next year (my garden mantra this summer). The heat is forcing those lovely Best Boys to split before they get nearly big enough, but the taste has still been sublime. We are starting to get some bell peppers and our jalepenos and banana peppers are doing pretty well and consistent for the last couple of weeks. Our leeks are getting closer and I am most excited about those right now. I LOVE leeks and it makes me happy to think about cooking with the few that we have planted. I also need to make a batch of pesto. My basil plant is starting to droop from the weight of the stalks it is so tall.


This coming weekend we celebrate my momma's birthday and we are cooking at my sis' house. The menu is shaping up and aside from the lack of dessert ideas I have right now (not enough coffee), it looks to be tasty. The wine menu has not been firmed up yet, but I can guarantee the Poema Sparkling will be there and probably the Wente Chardonney will make an appearance before the evening is finished. My sis and I will need to peruse the aisles at The Wine Rack before making any final decisions.


Birthday Menu


Crostini with gorgonzola, hazelnuts, and honey drizzle


Tomato and Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Glaze


Pan Seared Corvina with lump crab and a lemon and white wine sauce, Grilled Asparagus with fresh thyme, and Risotto with leeks, shiitake mushrooms, and truffle oil.


Something fabulous and chocolate that will hold some birthday candles


Last year we tented my sis' backyard to host dinner outside but we nearly puddled from the heat, even with multiple fans running. I am not going to even attempt it this year. AC is my friend. My very, very, good friend. These dinners are always fun to think about because my momma is as much of a foodie as I am. She would not call herself a foodie, just someone who "loves really good food". I love to be able to tailor a menu according to the specific tastes of my guest of honor. She is a fish eating vegetarian that likes her fish cooked with super simple, clean flavors, so I get to plan for beautiful fish courses instead of red meat. I don't cook fish often because it is so cost prohibitive in this part of the country (often more expensive than the very best cuts of meat). I still have a wholesale account from my catering days at our local seafood wholesaler and they have gorgeous fish in any amount I need. But it certainly is not as convenient as deciding at the docks what looks good that day. I guess that is the trade off for living in the best bourbon producing land in the world; our fish has to be flown in. I think I'll take that trade.


I am sure at some point in the future (hopefully the very near future) this heat is going to break and I can spend a few hours in the garden getting it ready for more fall goodies. Until then, there will be dinners and wine indoors to take my mind off of the fact that I am back to reality again. Cheers!

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