Grilled Squash with Basil Puree

Grilled Squash with Basil Puree

I often feel compelled to buy summer squash even though none of us are huge fans of it. It looks so cute! So versatile! But then I get home and have to scheme to get anyone to eat it.

Truth be told, I still love the deep-fried squash I grew up with in South Carolina. Ilios Noche, a local restaurant, serves a fantastic updated Greek version of fried squash—with tzatziki!

But I may be onto something here with the basil puree. It definitely gave the squash a nice punch. And it was way easier than making pesto. Don’t get me wrong, I love pesto, but I hardly ever make it.

The basil puree from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is super simple, basically basil in the food processor with olive oil, lemon juice, a tiny bit of garlic, plus salt and pepper. I can see it with roasted veggies, potatoes, chicken, pasta…lots of possibilities. So glad we planted basil seeds. I had no idea it was so easy to grow from scratch, and now we have an overabundance.

What are your summer squash (and garden veggie) go-to dishes? I’ve also found that soaking the slices in Italian dressing before grilling is pretty yummy.

Growing Salad

Lettuce Seedlings

Wow, what a week last week! All the destruction and loss of life in Boston and Texas, then Boston (where many loved ones live) on lockdown all Friday. I don’t know about you, but I’m still kind of reeling from it. My heart goes out to all those affected by these tragedies.

On top of that I’ve got the reverse culture shock that seems to visit me after every big national conversation. It’s often jarring to hear what people say when they’re frightened and trying to make sense of it all.

So it was welcome therapy to dig in the garden with the kids yesterday. We planted annual flowers, not pictured here, but we are so enjoying watching our vegetable garden.

Lettuce Sprouts

I let the kids pick their favorite vegetables. Our five-year-old chose “salad,” which is what he calls lettuce or spinach. The way he uses the word is very German. Our eight-year-old chose carrots, and they’re coming up very nicely.

I started peppers and tomatoes indoors. They used to look like this:

Seedlings

and this:

Pepper Seedlings

But then I set them out for too long in the sun and fried nearly all of them. Ugh. I was so proud of them.

There are still a few that appear to be living, so I’m trying to nurse them back to health.

Meanwhile, I’ve been sewing a lot (very therapeutic), and I’m barreling ahead with some rewrites in my novel. I’ve been getting some ideas from the book Structuring Your Novel by Robert C. Meredith and John D. Fitzgerald. And my protagonist is facing some reverse culture shock of her own, so at least I can use mine.

What about you? Growing anything in the garden this year?

Have a great Monday!

Tortilla Soup

Once again, a recipe from 101cookbooks. I think this was the first recipe I made of hers, and it’s a favorite. Now that we have access to corn tortillas again (through mex-al.de), I can make it as much as I want.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that I add chicken to this vegetarian soup (usually braised breast meat) and use chicken broth rather than the vegetable broth the recipe calls for.

I highly recommend adding some of the suggested fixin’s (goat cheese, lime, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado)—the lime especially.

The most popular part of this recipe is definitely the tortilla strips. That blurry motion you see in the photo is due to little hands grabbing strips while I photographed them.

It’s really handy to have a stick blender for soups. How did I get by without one before? The converter I have to use for the stick blender is shared with my sewing machine, way down our long hallway, so there’s lots of running back and forth for two of my favorite activities (sewing and soup-making).

If you like 101 cookbooks, you might want to know that she has a new book coming out and has offered, in advance of publication, a downloadable mini-sampler book on her website. Cool!

I’m currently reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and sort of missing my garden back in North Carolina. Not that I was a very successful vegetable grower. I guess I’ll have to try some tomatoes on the balkon and of course visit our many nearby farmer’s markets.

In the whole food vein, loved this post by Holly Ramer of stitch/craft—about her family covering the South Beach Food and Wine Festival. There’s a picture of her young son interviewing Jamie Oliver. Holly’s got some other great stuff on her blog, including quite a few tutorials. I especially like the gifts she makes, in particular children’s book-related gifts like those here.

Three Days in Hamburg

 

 
 
 
 

 

“I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg”—John Lennon

Unfortunately we were a few decades late to catch the young Beatles, but on our recent trip to Hamburg we had a big time.

We were lucky to find a great place to stay via bedandbreakfast.de. Because of the average size of hotel rooms here (think bed with walls built around it) I was keen on finding something a little bigger for the four of us, and here a bed and breakfast seems a good way to do that. “Bed and breakfast” means something a little different here than in the states, though. It was more like a studio apartment (with shared bathroom) in someone’s house. It was really nice, however, super clean, tastefully decorated, and our hosts made an excellent breakfast, were great with the kids and with helping us find our way. The price was also a very good value.

Highlights: ferry ride on the Elbe River, hot chocolate overlooking the harbor, a peep at St. Michaeliskirche, fish at a Portuguese restaurant, a visit to the fabulous Planten un Blomen garden, ice cream and dinner with friends, and to top it all off, a morning at Minatur Wonderland: the biggest model railway in the world.