AN EARLY MORNING SURPRISE

Recently I responded to a request by a fellow blogger to help choose the picture that would be used on the front of their seed packets, so I did. Evidently the vote was almost unanimous for one of the pictures so they entered the names of all of us who commented on their preference and put them into a jar for a drawing. Guess who’s name was picked. You got it, MINE. Wow, was I surprised. I am now the winner of two seed packages of Heirloom Peppers and one seed package of Heirloom Tomatoes. Can’t wait until next spring when I can get them started.

If you’re like me and love Heirloom seeds, gardening tips & recipes, check out Seeds by Faith. I think you’ll like what you see. You might even want to subscribe so you don’t miss any posts.

SUMMER’S HARVEST

It all started this morning when I harvested more eggplant and squash. What to do with it? Last week I made Annie\’s Grilled Vegetable Lasagna again so I knew that was out. Then I remembered that I had a couple of yellow bell peppers that a friend had given me. So now I have eggplant, squash and peppers that need to be used in some way. What could I cook that would be a little different?

Then the idea popped into my head. A simmered dish using some nice free range chicken legs that I had just gotten on sale, diced eggplant and squash, sliced peppers, chopped onion, garlic and tomato, all flavored with some nice Madras Curry powder and fresh thyme.

The process; salt and pepper the chicken and brown in a little olive oil on all sides. Remove the chicken, add the eggplant and squash and lightly brown. Add the onion, peppers and garlic and cook until the vegetables just begin to soften. Add the tomato, about 1 tablespoon of Madras Curry powder (more if you really like the curry flavor to dominate) and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Add the chicken legs, pushing them down into the vegetables and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. The meat on the legs should be easy to pierce with a fork and should come off the bone easily. When the meat was almost done I added about ¼ cup dried currants and continued simmering the mixture for about another 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the vegetables, let cool a little, then remove the meat and chop into pieces. This dish, like all simmered dishes, will be more flavorful if you let it sit in the refrigerator, after cooking, for a day or so before you serve it.

I did eat a portion served over steamed brown rice today right after cooking it and it was tasty, but I know when I reheat it for dinner on Tuesday it will taste even better.

If you have a harvest you are wondering what to do with give this simple idea a try. You can use just about any combination of summer vegetables. I recommend using a dark meat cut of chicken or turkey if you do add meat since those cuts have more flavor and will add to the rustic taste of this stew. If you use white meat cook it separately, chop it and add it after the vegetables are cooked, otherwise the meat will tend to be dry. If you don’t want to use meat add some cubed tofu. If you don’t have your own summer harvest to deal with, pick up some fresh veggies at your Farmers’ Market. You’re sure to find a good selection there and you’ll be helping the farmers with their summer harvest.

Bon appetite!

PEACH AND BERRY COBBLER

Every year, for the past sixteen years, I spend a week in a cabin in the Sierras. I call it my little heaven on earth. And, everyone who has come to stay with me during that week thinks so too. There is no cell phone reception, no TV, no internet. There is, however, the sounds of birds and chipmunks, of the wind singing through the pines, water lapping the lazy shoreline, and breathtaking views from the deck of the cabin.

About 10 years ago I started making this cobbler during the first weekend, when the cabin is packed with friends and family. Every year it is a little different depending on what kind of peaches or nectarines and berries I can find. And every year I make this large pan and it is gone in a little over a day (Did I mention that it is incredible for breakfast with a little yogurt on top?).

I hope that this weekend finds you with your family and/or friends and that you take time to enjoy the wonderful gifts that our lives bring us.

Peach and Berry Cobbler

4 ½ lbs peaches, fresh from the Farmers’ Market of course, peeled, pitted, and sliced (about 7) – sometimes I use nectarines and peaches

3 cups fresh berries such as blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries, blueberries Many markets still have lots of fresh berries or if your lucky maybe you can pick your own.

1 cup sugar

¼ cup instant tapioca

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces

Your favorite recipe for pie crust for 9″ pie

Preheat oven to 425°. Butter baking dish –I use a large aluminum roasting pan for this

Toss peaches, berries, sugar, tapioca, and lemon juice in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Transfer fruit mixture to prepared dish. Dot with butter.

Roll out pie crust. Spread thin layer of butter on crust; sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar, cut with cookie cutter into shapes, and place on top of cobbler. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and fruit bubbles. Serve cobbler warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.