hello!

The housewarming happened: 2×2 gallon containers of beverages (white sangria & watermelon margaritas) made it fun.
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One of the best parts about having a new house is coming home and eating meals with my main man at our dining table.
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Our first real meal (with chairs) was buckwheat pancakes topped with maple butter & homemade apricot preserves. The meal wouldn’t have been possible without our pals- maple butter from Danielle’s Montreal Trip, apricots for the jam from Annie’s back yard, and Cava for mimosas from Brendan & Rosie.

I went to the farmer’s market and bought this stuff
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I made a healthy dinner of patty pan squash & quinoa fritatta with crimson carrot, fennel, & italian onion salad.
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Dessert, sour cherry juleps
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followed by a few rounds of card games.

And the view from our front room
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city apricot jam

I am getting my camera back this weekend from Indianapolis, but I’m so excited, I’m going to post without pictures.

My friend Annie lives in Pilsen in Chicago. She has a fantastic backyard, which happens to include a real, live, fruiting APRICOT tree!

So, on Tuesday Gerard and I went to go pick about 10lbs of apricots. I’ve made apricot cobbler, 12 jars of apricot jam, and am using the rest to infuse some tequila…. and there’s still a ton of fruit on the tree! It’s so exciting to pick fruit from a tree in the middle of a huge city like Chicago. I know a lot of people in warmer areas often have this experience, but as a stalwart Midwesterner, it’s one I’ve never had. I’d suggest making friends with people who have fruit trees.

Making the jam has been an easier process than I originally thought it would be and I can’t wait to have it with crackers and goat cheese.

I found this recipe to be the simplest, and from what I’ve tasted, also the best apricot jam I’ve ever tasted!!!

I’ll post pictures of my babies when I get my camera back.

Also, when you’re canning, the jars make a really funny “ping” sound. Gotta get your kicks somehow.

Summer Vegetable Shrimp Curry

Although this summer has been mild and rainier than usual, there is still a typical Midwestern abundance of fresh and delicious produce. Last night, I invited my younger brother over for dinner. Don will say he has an uninformed palate, but he is really fun to eat with. He tries everything, finishes it, and usually seems to enjoy it. I’m leaving town for a few days, so I’m trying to use up any perishable things in my fridge. We were in the mood for seafood, so I came up with Summer Vegetable Shrimp Curry. This recipe has several parts, which I’ll divide up.

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Veggie/Shrimp Mix
1 cup green beans
1 large zucchini, chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small onion chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
3 tablespoons butter
15 large shrimp, shelled and deveined (keep refrigerated until you are ready to cook them)

Curry Sauce
1 15oz can coconut milk (use the sweeter kind)
1/4 cup (or to taste) Madras Curry Powder
1 teaspoon salt

Prepare 2 cups of rice, the way that you like to. I tend to use brown rice. Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice, so if you decide to make brown rice, start it when you are beginning everything else, and the timing should work out perfectly.

Directions
1. Start rice.
2. Combine curry sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, it should reduce while you are cooking everything else. It is super simple to make, but sometimes boils over. Watching the heat will prevent this.
3. Now is a good time to set the table, since the veggies will cook quickly. Open a bottle of wine, or if you are Don, have a glass of Sol.
4. Melt butter in a large pan.
5. Add onions first and cook until they are translucent. Add garlic and once it is aromatic, add the rest of the vegetables. Saute for about 10 minutes, more or less depending on how cooked you like your vegetables to be.
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6. Add the shrimp to the sauteed vegetable mix. It should not take very long for the shrimp to cook. I prefer to use raw shrimp because the texture is less tough than with precooked shrimp.
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7. Once the shrimp is cooked, you can serve dinner!
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I served the veggies and shrimp over a bed of brown rice and covered the whole thing in a little curry sauce. Gerard made a strawberry spinach and avocado salad partially inspired by my friend Gemma.

I don’t normally show sweet things, but this weekend I’m making some strawberry and lavender cupcakes for a friend’s baby shower. We’ll see how that goes.

Also, if you happen to be allergic to shellfish, you could easily substitute steak, chicken, or tofu. And, as always feel free to hold the onions!

Greek Veggie Burgers

Hi Friends. Sorry I’ve been MIA. As previously mentioned, I’m starting to post again. So, drumroll… Here we go.

This morning, my friend Jodie gave me part of her bumper crop of tarragon (along with rosemary and some chives)… Thanks Jodie, Have fun in CA!

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I was particularly excited to receive such a wonderful surprise, since I had already decided to make veggie burgers for lunch, and needed some fresh herbs. The restaurant where I am a server has a fantastic house-made veggie burger. I’m a dedicated carnivore, and sometimes I still crave it. The basis of the burger is quinoa, which I’ve talked about on this blog before. I’m always looking for new ways to do old things, so when I had some left over quinoa yesterday, I knew what I’d be making today. Also, I’ve recently become obsessed with all things that fall into the category of Greek/Middle Eastern Food. Now, I know that’s a HUGE category, and I’m not strictly following recipes, but the things I’ve been making lately are definitely influenced by a Grecian sensibility- olive oil, feta, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers; what’s not to like? As the weather gets warmer, refreshing food becomes a top priority and the Greeks seem to have figured it out pretty well.

Ingredients
1 & 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I used red, but brown will work too)
1 can garbanzo beans
3/4 cup cracked buckwheat (you can use Bulgar wheat too, I’m just trying to stay gluten free)
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh oregano to taste ( I used 1/4 cup)
Fresh tarragon to taste ( I used 1/4 cup)

Supplies
Food processor (an immersion or regular blender would work too)
Sheet tray
Parchment Paper (BEST STUFF EVER!!!)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut parchment paper to size and place on top of sheet tray.
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until mixture is combined. It should be thick but pliable and definitely not dripping wet.
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3. Once the mixture is to your desired texture, stop pulsing it and remove it from the bowl.
4. Form into patties place on parchmented (? is that a word) sheet tray and cook for 25 minutes, opening oven to flip the burgers half-way through the cooking time.
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5. Remove patties from the oven and serve on a bun if you like. I served mine on a bed of spinach with chopped cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette. Iced green tea with lemon and ginger as well as Greek yogurt w/ honey helped to round out the meal.
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*This will make much more than one serving. It freezes very well, just make sure you form it into individual patties before you freeze it.

**Also, it’s good to be back.

***Also, ginger, lemon, green tea is good.
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