summer salad pie

summer salad pie

In May, I had my first surgery. It was minor, but it was not. I suppose it wouldn’t really be surgery if it was merely something minor, but really, it was quite minor. I spent many long moments post-laparoscopy melodramatically contemplating my mortality. That kind of thinking got me nowhere except dullsville, waist-deep in chocolate bars and pop tarts.

I feel better now. I’m still on the mend somewhat, but I’m alright. Summer has been beautiful up here. Warm and sunny and everything you hope for in the one season where you don’t need to wear a winter hat (or bonnet, as the locals would say). This past weekend, I cooked and baked for the first time in godknowshowlong. It was nice. I made a minty grasshopper pie. We cooked up a buttload of foraged mushrooms. We had vino and alfredo-y pasta, my fave. And I made this,….. this thing.

summer salad pie

This here is a gelatin salad nimbly resting in a cheese pie shell, topped unceremoniously with a tuna salad heavy to celery. The gelatin itself is of the lemon persuasion – mixed with tomato sauce – and is chockablock with onions, olives, and more celery.

And that’s really all you need to know, because any more would probably be incriminating.

If 1960s style cuisine gets you pumped, this is for you. Put on your best apron, don your pearls, set your hair in rollers, and get ready to finely dine on deep dish gelatin and tuna.

summer salad pie

Summer Salad Pie
Recipe adapted slightly from Betty Crocker’s Dinner in a Dish Cook Book © 1965

“Pretty as can be”: serves 6-8

Cheese Pie Shell

1 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. + 1 tbsp shortening
1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 tbsp ice water

Heat oven to 475 F. Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening thoroughly. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle water gradually over mixture, 1 tbsp at a time, tossing lightly with a fork after each addition (if dough appears dry, a few drops water may be added). Gather dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to 1″ larger than a 9″ pie pan. Ease into pan; flute edges of dough and prick with fork all over. Bake 8-10 minutes; cool.

Gelatin Salad

1 pkg. (3 oz) lemon gelatin
1 1/4 c. boiling water
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
Few drops each
Worcestershire sauce
and Tabasco
Dash pepper
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1/4 c. chopped onion

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in tomato sauce, vinegar, and seasonings. Chill until slightly thickened. Fold in celery, olives, and onion. Pour into cooler Cheese Pie Shell. Chill thoroughly.

Tuna Salad

1 can (5 – 6.5 oz) tuna, drained
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tsp minced onion or scallions
1 c. diced celery
Salt
Paprika
Mayonnaise

Lightly mix tuna, lemon juice, onion, and celery. Season with salt and paprika to taste. Chill. Just before serving, drain and mix in just enough mayonnaise to thoroughly coat salad. Spoon on top of chilled gelatin salad. Serve.

If I’ve done one thing this summer, it’s read more than my share of dated romance novels. They’re all quite aggravating, and it’s hard to accept that they’re so blantantly anti-woman and yet all penned by women. Did these ladies have no self respect? This particular diatribe doesn’t sound much like me, I must have changed during my post-surgical convalescence. To make up for my unexpected feminist thoughts, I continue to blast through these books.

romancey

We traveled down to Windham, NY, which is on the edge of the Catskills, to watch a world cup downhill mountain bike race. It was one of the most wildly exciting octane-fueled weekends I’ve ever experienced. I was starstruck and could not stop grinning like a crazy person for three days straight. It was a blast, and I hope we can make it to some of the other sanctioned races someday, which take place all over the globe (Norway? Austria? France?!).

There were other events at Windham, including cross country races and a pump track showcase showdown. Bikes are nothing but fun. It’s been a slow summer in the sense that I’ve been limited to spectating, but I was reunited with my mountain bike for the first time in over three months last weekend, and I was nearly as overjoyed by that as I was at the chance to stand next to my favorite downhill shredder, who happened to be shirtless, while at Windham.

windham

pump track

A few weeks ago, I had nine active logging jobs. Things have cooled down a bit since then, because that was over the top and ridiculous. Speaking of over the top, the wood is piling up, just like the pulpwood you see here. This might be the tallest stack I’ve seen yet.

pulp

Lastly, my multiple gardens are in full force. Lilies and plenty of other good stuff in the flower beds, with datura about to bloom next week. Scallions + kale + black radishes, along with greens, peas, tomatoes, carrots and beans in my veg garden. It’s been a top shelf summer.

veglily and skull

olive oil + candied meyer lemon madeleines

olive oil + candied meyer lemon madeleines

Have the Meyer lemons disappeared from your local grocery store? Maybe I still have access to them because they’re considered too culinarily exotic where I live, and so no one buys them. Or maybe they’re still abundantly for sale across the country, and I just know nothing. Regardless, I’m thankful for the continued opportunity to enjoy these darling gems.

I decided to candy Meyer lemon slices, which resulted in the decadent syrup you see draped suggestively across these madeleines. The syrup – oh, how lovely it is. Sweet, tart, floral, citrus, herby; all come together under this bold orange-yellow banner of deliciousness. The chopped-up candied slices were incorporated into a basic madeleine batter, along with enough olive oil to provide a punchy kick of flavor. If a bold and flavorful dessert (or snack… or breakfast) is what you’re looking for, these are your cakelets.

mother-of-millions

Next question. Have you ever had a mother-of-millions houseplant? No? Bear with me. Yes? Party on.

In your home, has it multiplied at a phenomenal rate, to the point that you worry it might take over the room in which it lives? Has the plant’s behavior come to annoy you so much that just the mention of its name sends a shiver down your spine? Do you wish you could do more to warn others about the dangers of letting this beast into your house? If you answered yes to one or more of the above, I bet that you and my mum would get along well; you have a common enemy. Hi Mum!

I on the other hand love my weird little mother-of-millions. She’s actually at most only been an approximate mother-of-two-to-three-dozen, and I think she’s cute. I was given a little slip of this plant back in high school (where has the time gone?) maybe nine years ago, and I have nursed it along through alternating stages of growth and decay. Until two months ago, though, I had never seen it try to flower.

I read somewhere that if you let your plant flower, it may die. But I mean, is it really possible to kill this plant? My mum would shake her head and respond vehemently in the negative. I’m not sure, but I’ve been waiting patiently now for many weeks, watching the flower buds grow larger and droopier. Finally, over the weekend, I noticed that the flowers had opened. Aren’t they sweet? There’s something so impermanent and special about a houseplant flowering that I couldn’t help but memorialize it here.

candied meyer lemons

Final question. How fast can you eat these? Probably not as fast as me. Three at a time, dawg. Three at a time.

Olive Oil + Candied Meyer Lemon Madeleines {recipe by myself}

Makes 24

++Ingredients:++

1/2 c. unsalted butter + 1 tbsp for madeleine tins
3/4 c. flour + plus more for dusting tins
2 tbsp reserved candied Meyer lemon syrup, plus more for glazing
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. almonds
3/4 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 candied Meyer lemons (follow this recipe to candy your lemons – 2 Meyers to one regular lemon), chopped up into fine pieces

++Directions:++

Melt 1 tbsp of butter and brush into two regular-sized madeleine tins. Cool one minute, then sprinkle flour into each mold. Tap in each direction to evenly coat, then tap out extra. Set aside.

Melt butter in small bowl or saucepan with candied Meyer lemon syrup. Mix in sugar. Set aside, let cool.

In a food processor, grind almonds (note: I don’t blanche my almonds – I like them as is. If, however, you’d prefer blanched almonds, do that ahead of time). Add flour and baking powder, and process until mixed.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and salt for three to five minutes until well-frothed. Whisk in half of flour mixture. Add the butter/lemon syrup mixture. Switch to a spatula, and fold in candied Meyer lemon pieces. Fold in the remaining flour.

Transfer batter into a pastry bag, making sure that the tip is large enough to allow almond chunks to pass through. Pipe batter into tins, making sure not to overfill: 2/3 to 3/4 full should be plenty. Alternatively, spoon batter into molds (my method of choice).

Chill tins in the fridge for two hours, or preferably in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake tins for 10 – 16 minutes, depending on how cold (frozen) they got. Rotate tins once. My nonstick tin takes less time to bake than my tin tin: watch your madeleines bake carefully! When the edges turn golden brown, and the center bumps appear cooked (the change is noticeable if you watch them bake), remove pan from the oven. Check to make sure they are cooked through. Quickly invert onto a cooling rack, or pry out with a spoon or knife.

Dip madeleines in reserved candied Meyer lemon syrup, and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

olive oil + candied meyer lemon madeleines

blood orange + meyer lemon sorbet

There is something so special about the taste of Meyer lemons… they are so herby and fresh and incredible. And there is something equally special about blood oranges; their color reminiscent of a brilliant gem, they easily light up any dish with a peppy burst.

When I think about winter citrus, I often find myself wishing for a strong hit of it…. while also wishing for said hit to be sweet. Helloooo, sorbet.

The nearest grocery store carrying these wintry delicacies is a two hour drive away from my weekday forest dwelling, but thankfully, it’s also in the town where I still technically reside. I thought about this treat all of last week, and couldn’t wait to pick up the citrus and get sorbeting. And lo! It was delicious.

blood orange + meyer lemon sorbet

I don’t have any of this sorbet with me here in the woods, but I am already looking forward to having some on Friday afternoon. Zingy and sweet and unexpectedly deep in flavor, this citrus ice reminds me not a little bit of rosemary, hence the leggy garnish courtesy of my still-alive herb planter from last summer.

Speaking of the woods, I would really love to do so. I would love to tell you all about my job, and why it means so much to me, and why I think it is one of the most important professions in the world (I am, of course, a bit biased). But before I do that, I’m kind of curious to know your initial impressions of what it is, exactly, that I do.

If you know me in real life, you may or may not know. But if I only know you online, I would very much love to hear a) what the words ‘forestry’ or ‘forest management’ mean to you, and b) your impression of what it is that I do as a ‘forester.’ Your input will help, so thank you. And thank you, all of you, for your support of my last post. I was humbled and appreciative to know of all the good vibes coming my way from your various parts of the globe.

Hey, one cool thing that my job entails? Finding old rusty abandoned trucks. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come for my shiny Chevy.

old chevy old chevy DSC03984old chevy

Blood Orange + Meyer Lemon Sorbet {recipe by myself}

Makes 4 to 4.5 c. of sorbet

++Ingredients++

1 c. water
1 c. sugar
4 blood oranges
7 Meyer lemons

++Directions:++

In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until mixture is fully dissolved. Remove from heat.

With a citrus reamer, juice blood oranges and lemons. Pour through a strainer into the water-sugar simple syrup. Mix until combined.

Pour into a freezer safe container, and cover well. Chill in a cold freezer until solid, stirring up on occasion to homogenize. Enjoy.

DSC04050

Join me soon for some snapshots of my enchanted woodland abode.

Meanwhile, happy winter citrusing to those of you in the Northern Hemisphere!