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

blueberry chili

I did it again. I put blueberries in a dish where blueberries don’t typically dare to go. And it worked. Thank you, sweet magical blueberries that ameliorate everything you come into contact with.

What we have here is Blueberry Chili. I started with a simple mixture of onions, garlic, and ground beef, and let it infuse in my favorite of flavoring agents: (maple-flavored) bacon fat.

While many chili recipes call for canned tomatoes, I say pish posh to that. Why not use the real deal, when it is late summer and ripe tomatoes are bursting on the vine in backyards nationwide? So for me, ripe tomatoes it is. Some brown sugar, salt, and seasonings were added into the mix, and – oh, yes – a heaping cup of blueberries.

I let my chili cook rather long to bring out an extra oomph-y sweetness from the semi-caramelized brown sugar. However, decreased cooking time would result in a soupier chili, which many people seem to enjoy. As with all recipes, you be the judge.

Blueberry Chili {original recipe}

Note: I served this over pasta. Serves 2-3;  you could easily serve 4 by adding in a few cups of rehydrated beans, or an extra pound of ground beef.

++Ingredients:++

2-3 tbsp bacon fat
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
1 c. blueberries
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt (more, if additional flavor is needed)
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp chili powder (less if you’re using something rather potent)
1 tsp cumin
2 c. rehydrated beans (optional; I did not use beans)

++Directions:++

In a large pot, heat bacon fat over low medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook for two minutes before adding in ground beef. Break up beef into pieces, and stir frequently until nearly cooked. Add chopped tomatoes, blueberries, and all remaining ingredients. Cook on low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for up to an hour.

Serve over pasta, if desired.

Aside from eating more blueberries than may be healthy for me, I’ve been a very busy bee lately.

For one, I’ve been trying to teach myself shroom ID on all the fungi I come across while foraging. When it comes to the little guys, it’s difficult.

For two, I’ve been out foraging frequently because chanterelles have been making an appearance in the woods – and on our plates! I adore the fruity apricot scent of chanterelles; that’s the one aspect, to me, where they surpass morels.

For three, I’ve almost reached a point with New Venture where I’ll be ready to unveil my great plans to the world. Almost. Please be patient, and stay tuned for the great reveal, coming soon. Eeee!