Cooking and Cleaning

Our friends Deb and Tom visited overnight last night, and it was such an enjoyable visit. Deb and Tom and I were in the band together in high school. Mike and I didn't start dating until after high school, and while we all went to the same school in our small town in southern California (small then, anyway), he wasn't a part of our crowd. Nevertheless, there is a connection between Deb and Mike because their brothers were the best of friends.

They arrived late yesterday afternoon, and we had dinner together and gabbed well into the evening. Then off to bed, breakfast this morning, and they were off again to catch their flight at PDX. It was a perfect visit. Even Smitty got into the act. And Smitty, gentleman that he is took a good dust bath before their arrival. A cat's gotta look his best, you know.

In this picture he's bathing in a mole hill, but he was quite taken with the nice soft dirt in the freshly-tilled vegetable garden. We haven't planted a garden the past two years, and so Smitty hasn't yet had a chance to help us with the planting. I'm sure that will bring a whole new turn to the soil when we try it next spring.

He's already shown us his ready willingness to help when we change the sheets on the bed. 

Here, this looks like a job for a cat.

Um, I think you should know that you have lumps in the bed right here! Just sayin...

Well, will you look at that! It's me, Smitty!

Ok-kayyy. I think that's about all the help I can stand for one change of sheets.

Also the past couple of days I've been experimenting with appetizers. This one for Roasted Butternut Squash Bruschetta with Walnuts and Sage was especially good.

This past spring, I dug up the huge old sage plants (two of them) in my culinary herb bed, and replanted one plant that was a more reasonable size. That's not to say that it won't get too big eventually, but for now it's a good size. And that meant I had lots of tender little baby sage leaves for this appetizer. It was really good and so pure in its ingredients. 

I picked up a butternut squash at the farmer's market last weekend. All you do is peel that sucker, dice it up into 3/4 inch dice, roast it with some olive oil and salt, and then I used a potato masher to mash it together with the minced fresh sage leaves. Then you top it with chopped toasted walnuts (although I already had chopped toasted pecans on hand, so I used those). Then you drizzle it with a few drops of olive oil and honey, and top it with pecorino romano cheese and baby sage leaves. Yummy.

I wasn't able to find pecorino romano cheese when I went to the grocery store, and so I just used romano. Romano cheese is a kind of stinky cheese. In the future I think I'll stick with Parmesan. But this was very good, and I'll make it again. There are some leftovers too that will make a nice little afternoon snack.

Also at the farmer's market this past weekend, I picked up some Braeburn apples to make an apple crisp for Deb and Tom. They were so nice in the crisp. I'm always trying to figure out the best combination of apples, and the Braeburns were perfect by themselves.

And I really love the topping for this crisp. I'm using a recipe that was created by the pastry chef Michelle Vernier, formerly of Portland's own Wildwood restaurant. The restaurant has closed, but the recipe for the crisp was published in the Oregonian newspaper a few years ago, and I snapped it up. It makes a really delicious crisp, and it's very easy to do. We gave it a few seconds in the microwave, and then served it up with vanilla ice cream. Yum. Diet food, no? It's apples! And oatmeal! And ice cream! At my age, that calcium is very important. (Need more diet excuses advice? I'm open for questions.)

So I was up very early this morning. I awakened at 4:30, and try as I might, I could not go back to sleep. I had too much on my mind thinking about getting Deb and Tom out the door to catch their flight, and so I finally got up at 5:30. After they left, I lay down on the couch and slept until late in the morning...much longer than I intended to, but I figure I must have needed the sleep.

The next two days are blissfully void of calendar items. The house is all cleaned up. Don't you love having house guests? If it weren't for house guests, we'd live like pigs all the time. Anyway...that just means, I don't have a thing to do for the next couple of days but sew. And that is what I'm just about to do.

Our weather is still beautiful, but we're expecting a pineapple express this weekend, thanks to Typhoon Phanfone. Brace yourselves. There's going to be a lot of rain.

12 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Oh, yummo food - diet or not I don't care as it looks scrumptious! What a great helper Smitty.

quiltzyx said...

I don't think I've ever eaten a sage leaf, but I would give that bruchetta a try (after I knocked off the nuts, of course)! And apple crisp, my mouth is watering....
What a good, good helper Smitty is! Took care of all those sheet lumps, didn't he?
Glad you had a good visit with your friends...and a good nap later too. :^)

Hang on to your hat this weekend!

barbara woods said...

are you going to post the recioe for the crisp?

Dasha said...

I think Tibby would challenge Smitty for the title of "Best Helper". LOL You haven't mentioned that mice get under those darned sheets, which need to be pounced upon with all claws at the ready. The sheets are in peril of being shredded.

Junebug613 said...

Oliver is equally helpful with changing the sheets. Whatever would we do without our furry helpers? Mmmm that apple crisp looks scrumptious! My house is too small for guests, and your philosophy makes sense, because we are a couple of clutterbugs. LOL

Kirsty said...

Your post today made me laugh out loud when I read about Smitty helping with the bed making. Zorro has an unerring ability to sense when the bed is about to be made and he promptly tries to help, in a similar manner to Smitty. Sometimes, he is so helpful that the bed does not get made at all... He seems inordinately pleased about that. Mission accomplished! Do you think, maybe, the powers that be put our furry friends through bed not-making training before they gift them to us?

Kirsty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michele said...

Oh those helper pictures reminds me of my fur baby and how she used to love helping me change the sheets too. Eventually I had to start closing the door to the room with her on the other side so that I could get it done.

Dana Gaffney said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the visit it sounds perfect. I'm turning the mattress today and the door will be closed no matter how loud the knocking gets.

Diane Wild said...

You're right about having guests now and then. It's always a good reason to relocate the spiders in the corners of the guest room. LOL. Hope the typhoon peters out before it gets here. It might mean snow for me. Grrrr.

Barb H said...

I've never heard of the Pineapple Express but it sounds as though you're in for a very wet few days. Good time to be quilting--or making/eating apple crisp. Yum!

Kate said...

Sounds like you had a great visit with your high school buds.

Now you can stitch quilt free since the house is all clean. Stay warm and dry this weekend. If it makes you feel any better, we'll be wet this weekend too.