5/26/12

Domestic Diva

It's been a hodge podge of a day for me.  This morning I was up at 4:30 a.m., which seems to be my auto-rise time these days.  That's okay.  I usually end up taking a nap mid-morning when my eyes start to ache from lack of sleep.

This morning I went to the farmer's market with Erik.  Mae was feeling a little under the weather, so I had Erik all to myself this morning.  It was delightful to spend the time together.  I don't get to see my kids nearly often enough now that they're all grown up and doing grown up things.

We spent some time admiring the clematis that are blooming in our area right now.  These at the farmer's market were beautiful double blooms that I've not seen before.  If I could have identified a spot for one of these off the top of my head, I would have brought one home.  Gorgeous!




And Hallelujah!  The Oregon berries are here!  I only knocked down four people grabbing mine up.  I've worried that I would completely miss berry season while I'm in Ireland.  (That's utterly unlikely, but I need something to worry about at all times or I'm not myself at all.)


These are macerating in the refrigerator right now and they'll soon be in our tummies in the form of strawberry shortcake.  I was thinking of serving it for dinner. Hm. Is there anything better than those little shortcakes made with good old Bisquick still warm from the oven?  (Of course, I'm always asking, "is there anything better than" whenever I'm talking about food.  I like food.  Especially food with sugar.)
  


Erik had his eye on the fresh pressed cider.  He chose a gallon of the apple raspberry.  His reasoning was that you can hardly mess up a good thing by adding raspberries to it.  I would have to agree with that.  I raised him up smart, don't you know.

Mae requested we bring her favorite sandwich made with smoked salmon on a bagel.  They put a goat cheese and dill spread (I think) and some tomato and cucumber.  It always looks quite tasty.  (That might not be the way they make it at all, but it sounds good, doesn't it?)  Clearly, something caught his attention.


He ordered one for himself too.


Oh, and lucky me!  Erik had a couple of the new Indigo Rose tomato plants, and he gave one to me.   Isn't this a pretty tomato?  


This is an image I found on the internet.  My plant is just a little seedling right now. These were bred at our own Oregon State University and they contain a very high level of antioxidants.  They're bred with anthocyanins, the same antioxidant that gives blueberries their blueish-purple hue.  Anthocyanins have been shown to help with cognitive function and to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.  (I don't know about you, but I need all the help I can get where cognitive function is concerned.) 

So with our farmer's market trek out of the way, I went home and took a nap.    

Mike has been rebuilding his utility trailer, which had rusted nearly to oblivion until he had it cleaned up and painted recently.  He's giving it all new decking and siding, and he's feeling pretty smart about his utility trailer.  Men.  Utility trailers.  You know what I'm implying, don't you?

So with him busy at that, I decided I was actually going to make the chive blossom vinegar I've been talking about for weeks.  I read about it on a blog I like called Food in Jars.  This was so simple.  I have chive blossoms in abundance in my culinary herb garden, and so I decided to give it a go.

First you pick the chive blossoms.  Be careful because mine are swarming with bees.  The bees seem intoxicated by them, and so they are often just sitting on the blossoms, barely moving.  They aren't aggressive, but just watch that you don't pick one that a bee has already laid claim to.


After picking off the stems, I set about washing them.  Now I often cringe when reading someone's blog and they start ordering me around.  For this, however, I'm breaking my personal rule about that by telling you that if you don't have a salad spinner you are depriving yourself of one of the best gadgets ever to take up space in a kitchen.  Honestly!  I could not live without my salad spinner.  In fact, I was on death's door until it was invented.  Once I landed one of these babies for my own kitchen, I perked right up.


What I love about the salad spinner is that it allows you to get fresh produce really, really clean.  Food safety being what it is these days with nasty bugs like e-coli running around, I take clean produce very seriously.  In the case of my chive blossoms, e-coli most likely isn't a problem.  Nevertheless, little spiders and other sorts of crawly things take up residence in all the little petals of these blossoms.  With a salad spinner, you can place the basket in the bowl of the spinner and then fill the bowl with water.


Once you've done that, you can use your hand to agitate your chive blossoms, or lettuce, or whatever it is your trying to clean and all the dirt, bugs, and other flotsam just floats to the surface.


Then you lift the basket out of the water, leaving the dirty water behind.  You can then dump out the water, and repeat this process as many times as you like until you're satisfied that your produce is really clean.


This is especially useful if you grow garden lettuce, which comes out of my garden with all sorts of things I'd prefer not to eat.  Little worms and slugs, for instance.  Gack.  Those little buggers don't have a chance when they face The Spinner.

So once your produce is clean and you're done agitating it in water, you just spin it dry, quick as a wink.


And look at all the water left behind after spinning it.  I'm telling you, this product is worth its weight in gold.  

It's also a good way to store your fresh lettuce.  It stays fresh longer without getting slimy.  There's a small version of the salad spinner too, and I use that one to wash, dry, and store my fresh herbs.


So with the chive blossoms relieved of all their inhabitants, I was ready to make the vinegar.  You just put the blossoms in a jar,


fill the jar with distilled vinegar so that all the blossoms are immersed in the vinegar,


and close up the jar.  Then put it in a cool dark place for two weeks.


Can you believe that in two weeks I'll be just coming back from Ireland?  It's good that I'm leaving.  I have a hard time waiting for things like this to do what they need to do to become the food they were meant to be.  

When I get back, I'll strain out all the solids and then store the vinegar in some sort of container.  My understanding is that the vinegar will have a nice mild onion flavor and scent, and the blossoms will have tinted the vinegar slightly purple.  I'll use it to make vinaigrettes for salads this summer.  Salads made from lettuce I've grown myself.  Cool.  By the way, I used distilled vinegar because it was what I had on hand, but you can also use white wine vinegar.

Edited to add that you can read the exciting conclusion of the Chive Blossom Vinegar right here!

So I can't end this post without telling you that Sue and I walked the northernmost part of the Fanno Creek Trail yesterday . . . a part of the trail we hadn't walked before.  I only learned about it when I posted a few weeks ago and provided a link to the trail.  I was shocked to discover that we'd only been walking a small portion of a much longer trail for years.  Now we're both wanting to explore some of the other parts of the trail this summer.

One of the things we saw yesterday was this gorgeous blooming tree.  Sue thought this was a dogwood. 


As I've said before, it's a dangerous world out there.  I'm so glad I'm not one of these funny-looking people because they seem to be slipping and sliding, falling off of, into, over, and under things all the time.  


Sue and I were also very grateful to our local parks department for this, um, what do you think this is?  Clearly there is no view of anything, but the benches they've set up here for us to admire the view are very enticing.  Also, they've provided these nice placards that say absolutely nothing save for a lot of graffiti that's been scratched into them.


No worries.  Sue and I decided they were there to warn us of the giant snapping rabbits that roam the area.


And now, if you walk this section of the trail some time, you'll be safe from giant snapping rabbits too.

You're welcome.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

sunny said...

What a nice day! The clematis are beautiful, and I'll have to tell Hubby about the vinegar. He never met a vinegar he didn't like. Hope you enjoy th erest of your weekend.

gpc said...

I thinned my chive because they were invading my other herbs, and ruined so many of the flowers - I hope there are enough left to try the vinegar! That tomato plant is absolutely gorgeous!

Dana Gaffney said...

What a great post. The clematis is gorgeous, I thought the first picture was made of frosting, gorgeous. Do the purple tomatoes stay purple? Do they have a slight berry taste? I'm fascinated with them and hope they expand out into the rest of the states.

KatieQ said...

We have chives out at our summer house. The weather is crummy here this weekend so we stayed home. Next weekend, we'll head out East and I will be making chive vinegar. Several of the cooking blogs I follow have sent instructions this week so I have been dying to try it.
The tree is a Kousa dogwood. When I worked at the nature center, I would pick a few of the fruits on my way home every night in the fall. The skin is a little tough and there are 3 or 4 seeds inside, but the fruit is creamy and sweet.
Thank you for the lovely post. The clematis are beautiful.

Diane Wild said...

I'm going right out and pick the blossoms off of the chives. And, I have a spinner, don't you know. Perfect. Thanks for the chive recipe and the warnings about the rabbits. We might have a few around here, too.

Samantha said...

You had me at Oregon Strawberry shortcake! The one thing my Dad ever made was bisquick shortcake when the first strawberries were in. I grew up in Lebanon OR where they have the Strawberry Festival, you know, home of the biggest shortcake and all that!

Dad always got real whipping cream and made it to go on top. I'm not in Oregon anymore but next weekend I'll be making Dad's Bisquick shortcake as I do every year for the first weekend in June. :D

I am always on the lookout for those rabbits too. Scary buggars! ;)

Mrs.Pickles said...

what a great idea for the chives. I am going to have to try that as mine are just starting to blossom!

Sarah said...

I have that second/purple clematis (they are HUGE this year) and now I'll keep my eyes open for the first one too. I'm always willing to find/make room for new clematis, no matter how much I need to work at it :)

cq4fun said...

I really love the look of that tomato and look forward to finding out how it tastes when you can harvest some to try!

quiltzyx said...

That tomato looks like a plum!
I wonder, will the chive blossoms stay pretty in the vinegar or do they wilt? They do look wonderful in the jar. :D

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I had to teach my MIL how to use a salad spinner this past weekend. I have 2 of them one large and one small. My son's love to 'spin' for me, even tho they don't eat lettuce.