Wednesday, July 22, 2020


Hello friends!  Just dropping in to share some pretty garden pics, and some of my cute little granddaughters.  They were up for the 4th of July, and sometimes I'm a little slow on getting my act together, editing photos and such.

First, I have this glorious bloom.  This climbing rose has been temperamental for the last few years.  But it's a tough little gal.  I think our lawn people have weed-whacked it down to the ground several times.  I finally started tying it up the arbor and since then, I'm getting flowers.  I did a little checking on the species (more on that later), and it turns out it's not a climber at all.  Just a rose bush.  So I think I'll move it when the time is correct.  And I'll probably get that wrong.  🙄

I love the nursery/farm market at the lake.  I didn't have time to plant as much as I had bought over the 4th, so I brought it back to Chicago, where I have a lot of backyard and garden projects going on.  I love this trailing annual that you can see in this photo.  It's called Blue Mustard, despite its color.  And it's edible, supposedly tasting like mushrooms.  I'll pass.  

Our 4th of July holiday was an absolutely fun and carefree bunch of days.  The Husband's birthday is on July 2, so we always have a festive time celebrating that.  I was able to purchase a small cake at the Farm Market I mentioned.  My eldest granddaughter, Elsie and I snuck into the mudroom to put the candles on and light them.  Elsie carried the cake out to the Great room as we all sang.  I don't think The Husband even knew it was for him!  His eyes just glaze over when he looks at our grandchildren.

He did a smash up job getting the beach and toys ready for company.  Again, it was just two of my kids and their families.  Son Kevin is a single parent now and Emily takes full control of the caring and feeding of four little girls.  I'm there for the fun and games!🥳.  It makes me smile when I hear the door slam and they come in calling, "Grandma!"  They know to find me in the kitchen, always cooking and chopping and washing dishes.  Sounds like a chore but you know, sometimes I like getting out of the heat and sun, and I'm in my element in my "lab".  So---good times all around.  I know it sounds like the distant past, but please share how your holiday went. my American friends.  

I wanted to share some pottery pieces I recently purchased from an Instagram friend and her Etsy shop.  This handmade plate had me at Hello, and the mug is totally me and my love of birds.  Every morning at the lake I awake to the cooing of the mourning doves on a power line outside the balcony doors.  Love this.  I wouldn't dream of pouring a drop of anything in it.  You can visit Cindy at Fat Cow Studio.  Such great pottery pieces and her life and times on the ranch are so worth reading to get a smile. 

I was in the process of decluttering and taking photos at the same time.  Emily was here, and I'm happy to announce she is back to designing first and foremost after working as a legal assistant with The Husband for three years.  She's working on a webpage and I'll share that with you when it's completed. She styled some of my sad areas at the lakehouse one evening.  I was upstairs reading when everyone else had gone to bed.  I could hear her rattling and banging around below me.  She's amazing, she sorted through things I never realized were just taking up space. She tucked a lot of good odds and ends away so I could pull them out if and when I wanted to.  All in all, everything was more streamlined and pleasing to the eye.  She did a bang up job on my Hoosier cabinet, which had become a catchall for everything under the sun.  God, I love her!  And that's another piece from Fat Cow Studio there, a long platter with a leaf etched in before the glaze.  I can't wait to do a meat and cheese selection on it for guests.  And we have some special guests coming---more on that further down.

This is another prized piece.  This cabinet or whatever you want to call it, was found at the shop of a gal who fixes up, stains and/or paints old furniture.  She's just a town over and I swear her shop just beckons me every time I pass it.  The weight of this is unbelievable and it's solid.  What it was made for and when...I don't know.  I definitely got my money's worth.  It fits so perfectly in front of the windows of the Great room without blocking the view of the lake.  And that's Monster Jade, over thirty years old.  It's been spawning baby Jade's that I pot for my daughters and friends.  Sometimes the stems just fall off with age.  Sometimes I have to hold my breath and prune.  Overall, I think it likes me.  

I love this pic.  My oldest and youngest grandgirls.  Elsie is like a little mama at just five years old.  That was a huge help for Emily.  Little Lucy is sitting in the very same highchair that we had for Abby when we bought the house on the lake 30 years ago.  And we bought it already used at a church sale.  Abby was six months old, just like Lucy.  It's had a few coats of paint. ;-D

Patsy is Elsie's little sister, my fourth grand, and she's 3 years old now.  This is an older picture, she was in the water 99% of her time here.  Just like her daddy, my son Kevin, she's a little fish.  She definitely won her fins this summer!

Emily made the most delicious pasta salad that took us far and beyond the regular old regular summer pasta salad.  She couldn't remember where she found the recipe so we just put it together on paper to share.

Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pesto

1 lb. rigatoni pasta  (or whatever you prefer)
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c basil pesto (available in most grocery stores)
1 T dried Italian herbs
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c red cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 c yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4  c. sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 1/2 c fresh or buffalo mozzarella cheese, roughly chopped
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
S & P to taste

Boil pasta according to box directions.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the olive oil with the pesto, herbs, and garlic.  Drain the pasta and toss with the olive oil mixture.  Gently mix in the sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.  Stir in the parmesan cheese and season with S & P to taste.  Serves 8-12 as a side dish. 

This.  Is.  A.  Keeper!

I wish I could say we ate more fish.  My husband loves salmon but I'm a little so-so about it.  I prefer sweet whitefish like cod and tilapia.  When you factor in that I've never found a creative bone in my body when it comes to preparing and cooking fish, it just doesn't happen much around here.  I did however, come upon a sale at my grocer on cod and tuna.  So I really had to put my thinking cap on and do this fish right.

So you have a little over a pound of cod.  Let's bring out the flavor (butter), and add to the flavor (a veggie, in this case spinach). To give it that extra kick, some herbs and spices, and the final touch to make it all come together, it can be anything from a sprinkle of cheese to toasted breadcrumbs to a splash of cream.  I used the juice of a lemon.

These flavors are those we find in Mediterranean cooking and it's one of my passions.  Very fresh, vibrant, and heart healthy. I hope you enjoy making this dish as much as I did putting it together.

 Mediterranean Baked Cod

1.5 lbs fresh cod fillets, cut into 4-6 pieces

5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
5 T fresh lemon juice
5 T olive oil
2 T melted butter
1/3 c flour
1 t ground coriander
3/4 t sweet paprika
3/4 t ground cumin
1+ T salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, and melted butter in a shallow bowl.  In another shallow bowl mix together the flour, spices, salt and pepper.

Pat all sides of the cod pieces dry (very important).  Dip the pieces (both sides) in the olive oil/butter mixture first followed by the flour mix.  Set aside on a plate.

Heat 2 T olive oil in a cast iron or heavy oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  Add the fish and sear on both sides until you have a golden color but not cooked through.  Off the heat and spoon the spinach over and between the cod pieces.   To the remaining lemon mixture, add the chopped garlic and swirl to mix.  Pour this over the entire dish.  

Bake the fish in the same skillet for about 10 minutes or until it flakes easily.  Finish with a good squeeze of lemon and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.  Serves 4 
Asian Style Oven Roasted Veggies

I don't really have a recipe as such for this dish.  I was in the mood for a stir fry, a great way to use up the veggies in my fridge and have a meatless dinner.  But instead of doing them in a wok or what have you on the stove, I roasted the vegetables in the oven until they had a nice crisp and blistering.  Then I gently tossed them with an Asian sauce I make a lot.  It's just a mix of olive oil, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, honey, soy sauce, minced garlic, and whatever spices you might want to add (please email me if you want quantities).  Add this while the veggies are just out of the oven and hot.  I also highly recommend white rice of the longer cooking variety.  It is moist and clumps together so flaky or hard pieces at all.  I add a touch of olive oil and some chopped green onion.  Chinese food minus the take-out trouble. :)

So I mentioned I had a few things to add at the end of my post.  I won't spend a lot of time, I've already droned on long enough.

First I want to share an app I use on my iPhone.  It's called Picture This. It's free. This app can identify flowers, weeds, bushes, trees...all growing things that you might not be able to identify or forgot the name of, or want to know more about.  You take a photo of said plant (or weed--love this), and your phone will show a photo of the real deal with everything you want to know about it.  Also, it will tell you how to care for the plant, or how to eradicate the weed.  It's fascinating.  I use it at the Farm Market to identify and get the facts on plants and flowers rather than look at that flimsy stick. I've been known to walk around my yard snapping pictures of trees, bushes and weeds, like Inspector  Closeau.  And it keeps your photos in a library to refer back to.  If you do use the app, let me know how you like it.  

And second, we are getting together with my longtime blogger friend, Cindy, and her husband Dan.  Doesn't sound huge but if you've followed me since the Stone Age, you'll know that I met Cindy in our blogging days 11 years ago.  I wrote to her, "Hey, you live in Wisconsin, just above Illinois.  Let's  get together."  Little did I know that she lived in Western Wisconsin, 4 hours from Chicago.  This has been a yearly tradition since...we meet up in every place or town we come up with that is between our homes. How do you maintain a long distance friendship when you have no history, see each other once a year, and have 2-3 days to catch up?  It's incredible but it works.  So this year we are getting together here at the lake.  With the pandemic, it's perfect, and they are staying 5 days.  But oh, I don't envy their drive; from Wisconsin, through Illinois, then Indiana, and finally Michigan. I'm so ready to see them tomorrow.  I'll take lots of photos!

I hope all of you are happy and healthy.  Keep up the good work of avoiding crowds, wearing your mask, washing your hands, and keeping hand sanitizer in your glove compartment of your car (but out of the heat and sun on your dash), your purse, your pocket, anywhere you can grab it and apply.  Sometimes I hit it several times in the grocery store just worrying about what I touch.  But it's pretty clear, just stay far back from others.  

Love and Lysol,