Indian Summer

It has been madness here on Payne Street this past week, hence the week and a half absence from blogging.  Well the schedule and the fact that it feels like I am writing the same blog over and over again.  Veggies, heat, food, repeat, blah, blah, blah. 

Steven has a solo show opening in Alabama this week and I have been teaching some CPR classes after school, thus bringing us home way too late for dinner (if at all), much less time to work in the garden.  About all I have to show for this past week is another harvest, to which my contribution was picking it.  Every bit of the above came out of the black gold dirt last Tuesday.  It made me happy to just arrange it on the platter.  It's the little things you know.  The peppers are gorgeous and prolific right now.  I have one more small yield of tomatoes coming for sure and I think that was the end of the squash.  I will be shocked if it produces any more.  My mint is going to have another big yield, too.   I need to bring most of the herbs in soon for drying and storing over the winter.   

It is still too hot to put lettuce in.  I was hoping to plant this past weekend, but 91 degrees this afternoon and hotter all week will just turn it to burnt dust.  If I wait any longer it will be November before it is ready.  The heat has been a thorn in my side this summer for many reasons.  The number one being my water bill that is about to break me, being double what it is in the winter.  We have had a few wonderful cooler days and several lovely nights, but it is not enough to count yet.  The pumpkins are not happy, I will tell you that.  I am watering and watering to keep them from burning up.  The garlic is all good and the leeks are getting bigger and will be ready (and finished) in the next week.  I guess this is the Indian Summer season.  I cleaned out most of my pots in the yard last week.  They were sad and done.  The composter is overflowing with yard stuff.  I need it to just go ahead and be fall now.  I am so ready to plant mums and put out pumpkins, but it is still too hot.  I'm way over the heat.  Football is just not the same in 90 degree temps either. 

We had the first bid come back for the patio and I nearly choked.  I, apparently, need to be in the concrete business.  Yikes.  We will see what our other bids look like.  I have a feeling this is going to be a smaller patio than originally planned.  But it will be built, damn it!  If it is 15 sqaure feet, it will be built!  If I have to work an additional two jobs, it will be built!     


Last weekend I was feeling the fall vibe with a rare cool evening and decided to make some French Onion Soup.  I had been to Creation Gardens and they had some beautiful shallots and local apples in and soup with bread, apples, and cheese for dinner was just what the doctor had ordered.  French Onion soup is always a favorite of mine.  This one I added shallots to and it added a great depth of flavor to the soup.  I think shallots would be one of my desert island ingredients.  It is always just right in whatever I am cooking and adds a layer into the flavor profile that I respond to.  One of those "gosh that's good but I can't quite put my finger on what it is" ingredients.  Anyway I was glad to luxuriate in the smells of onions, shallots, and wine simmering away in the kitchen and it turned out great.  The apples were Mutzu and they are one of my favorite apples.  I had it a couple of years ago for the first time and it is always a home run whether I am baking with them or just eating them whole.    

French Onion Soup

2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 pound shallots, thinly sliced
4 Tbs butter
6 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
2 Tbs flour
1 1/2 cups white wine
2 cups water
5 cups beef stock
Sliced crusty bread
3 cups shredded Gruyere

Melt butter and saute onions and shallots, salt, pepper, and thyme sprigs, stirring occasionally, until they start to caramelize and turn amber, about 25 minutes.  Add flour and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Then add wine to deglaze pan, stirring up all the browned bits from the onions and flour.  Cook on medium high for 2 minutes and then add water and stock.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove thyme sprigs and ladle into oven proof bowls.  Top with crusty bread and a hand full of Gruyere and place under broiler until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown on the edges.  We had it with a Villa Mt. Eden Chardonnay and it was great. 

 I am ready for some real fall weather and, more importantly, fall food.  After we return from Steven's opening, it is another full week with an opening of a show of some out of town friends here at Mount Saint Francis and St. James Art Festival and Harvest Homecoming.  Oh I can't wait.  Now if the weather will just cooperate.        


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