Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Easy 7-Layer Salad

It seems as though there's quite a selection of 7-layer Salad recipes out there and I'm sure every family must have their own version.  This one came from my friend Maggie's mom, or at least that's how I remember it, when I first started making it at every Thanksgiving more than twenty years ago.  It's an easy, do-ahead and take-along salad that's one of our family's favorite, even among those who don't love salads or vegetables, you know who you are ;)
Easy, do-ahead, take-along 7-layer Salad

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homemade Pork Rind - "Kiep Moo"

My share of pork from Walpole Valley Farms included several sheets of pork skin with an inch of fat on them. I knew right away that I would make Kiep Moo with it.  Kiep Moo is the Lao version of pork rind.  Green Papaya Salad and Kiep Moo is my favorite Lao food combination.  Rich, crunchy pork skin is the perfect foil for the spicy, salty, sweet and sour Tum Maak Houng, the Lao name for Green Papaya Salad. 
Kiep Moo (Homemade Pork Rind)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October Snow

"Live Free or Die" is the motto of our state. Or is it "Live Freeze and Die" as some might mock. But, come on, snow in October is unusual, even for New Hampshire.  I was skeptical when the Nor'easter was first predicted until the day before when it began to look like we really would need to button up for the winter. What if this same snow stuck around till spring?  Fortunately this was not the case and, even as I write this, it is a sunny 50 F degrees and the snow has all but melted.  But the day before the snow came, I frantically dug up, potted, picked and protected as many of my garden plants as possible.
I dug up this clump of Calendula to bring into the greenhouse.  They'll add color to an otherwise gray winter.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Roasted Salmon with Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime

Colors on my morning walk.

Every fall as the leaves turn and the landscape is ablaze with orange, red and yellow I bring in my two potted kaffir lime trees and dig up the clumps of lemongrass that I grow as an annual. Both are tropical herbs not meant to withstand the New England north winds. The lime trees will spend the winter in a sunny window giving us fresh leaves for winter soups and stews
Kaffir Lime

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvesting Grapes in New Hampshire

Each October my Wayback friends (yes, we go way back) and I get together and volunteer for the grape harvest at Barnett Hill Vineyard in Walpole, NH. I'm just in awe of what it takes to run a vineyard...planting, trellising, pruning, tying, harvesting etc, not to mention the winemaking parts about crushing, tasting, bottling, aging and selling.

So about five years ago, when the call came seeking volunteers to help pick grapes, we didn't need much convincing and it has become our annual fall ritual.
Nylon netting over the grapes protect them from birds and wild turkeys.
Netting is removed just before we start picking.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What's Growing in the Garden: 9/23/2011

The days maybe getting shorter and nights cooler but don't give up on the garden yet...
Heirloom Rattlesnake Pole Bean reaches for the sky and pumps
out beans all summer long.  Great as snap beans or dry beans.
Save some seeds for planting next summer and you won't need to
buy seeds again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just Peachy

Puffy clouds, bright blue sky and crisp, clean air means fall is approaching our corner of southwestern New Hampshire.  This is the time of year when the gatherer in me takes over and I can't stop!  I'm in my squirrel mode picking, gathering, foraging, freezing, drying, canning, fermenting, cooking and eating.  Phew, it's no wonder I fall asleep with the sun.

It's been a banner year for peaches at Alyson's Orchard, and a few weeks ago I came home with half a bushel of "seconds".
Who can resist these tree ripened beauties?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lao Food: Padek

Padek ready for fermentation
Padek is a very strong, pungent fermented fish sauce unique to Laos and parts of Thailand.  It is indispensable in Lao cooking.  My mother says you cannot make good Lao food without good padek and that the best padek is one you make yourself. For years I've rejected the notion that I had to make my own padek and stubbornly forged ahead with my own version of Lao food, full of short cuts using store bought padek and other sauces. Alas, my cooking is never as good as hers. My mother lives and makes padek in the south of France and when I go for a visit, I find myself looking forward to her Lao cooking as much as French wine and cheese.