Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve, Gateway to January

Happy New Year's Eve and tomorrow, a NEW YEAR, 2012. 

Founded on pagan traditions, January stems from Janus, the Roman deity with two faces who had the powers to look back (past) and to the future. The first day of January is in celebration of him.

He was the god of doorways and gates, endings and new beginnings, guarding the threshold, and was associated with powers of prophecy, an augur and mediator. At times he is connected to the sun and moon.

Janus was the ruler of Latium, and under his rule was responsible for the Golden Age that brought money, laws and agriculture to the area. It was a time of great peace and abundance.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From translation of Ovid Fast. 1.17 1-188 from Taylor's article:
"It was Roman tradition at the New Year to give the god honey, cakes, incense and wine to buy favorable signs and a guarantee of good luck. Gold brought better results than baser coins. 

"Then I asked," Why, Janus, when I placate other gods, do I bring incense and wine to you first?" 

"So that you may gain entry to whatsoever gods you wish," he replied, "through me, who guard the threshold." 

"But why are glad words spoken on your Kalends? And why do we give and receive best wishes?" 

Then the god, leaning on the staff in his right hand, said, "Omens are wont to reside in beginnings. You train your anxious ears on the first call, and the augur interprets the first bird he sees. The temples and ears of gods are open, no tongue intones wasted prayers, and words have weight." Janus had finished. 

I was not silent for long, but tagged his final words with words of my own. "What do your dates and wrinkled figs mean, or the gift of honey in a snow-white jar?" 

"The omen is the reason," said he - "so that the sweetness replicates events, and so that the year should be sweet, following the course of its beginnings."
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

May we not dwell on the past, rather receive the lessons, 
plan for tomorrow, but live in the present. May your New Year be bright 
and filled with great insight, well-being and new beginnings. ~ Diana

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dave's Garden Calendar for 2012

It just arrived, and I am so excited and honored that one of my photos was selected for October.

Dave's Garden: Each year, Dave's Garden members anticipate the annual Photography Contest and this time, it was no different. Our 11th installment of this long-running feature drew thousands of entries from around the world. The membership voted on their favorites and the winners are featured in our 2012 Dave's Garden calendar. Each member receives a year's subscription to DG and a copy of the calendar. The entry with the most votes overall, is featured on the cover. This year, that honor goes to member 'YAMATO', Susumu Kishihara.

The photos are all excellent! Go to Dave's Garden to see the images for each month. You can also purchase your own copy at Zazzle.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

When I admire the wonders of a sunset
or the beauty of the moon,
my soul expands in the worship of the creator.
~Mohandas Gandhi

As the sun sets in the quiet of the evening
it offers time of reflection and blessings for a new day.
We wish you peace, joy and well-being
this Christmas season and the New Year. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, 
Seasons Greetings to all

PS: Please don't forget to listen to my son's great song on ITUNES
a very inexpensive gift.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fine Art Winner!

Thank you all for your kind and generous comments and for participating_ you make it all worthwhile. I'm not sure who receives the most satisfaction from this, you (the winner) or me. Overwhelmingly people prefer The Train Station and it warms my heart to share this with you. What is it that draws people to trains and train stations? adventure, family history, romance, intrigue... ?

About The Train Station: I have always been attracted to buildings with character, those rooted in America and that could chronicle many tales. Abandoned two-story farm homes, old weathered barns, covered bridges, and this station I frequented, all fill me with wonderment and have been the subject matter for many of my drawings and paintings. I love the simplicity of line in this rendering, the solitude, and of course its historic value, and this was an attempt at preserving my memories of it on canvas.

This painting was begun in an attempt to enter a competition for a bicentennial calendar, but as the weeks progressed and the more I became absorbed, I forgot about the deadline. Additionally I failed to put the name of the town on the sign, and that proved fortuitous, as many people who have viewed the complete work since have commented, "I've seen that train station", but of course they may not have seen this particular one but rather one of similar design in a geographic part of the country.

My husband had the honor of pulling the names from my hat, and we thought we should select more than one. How exciting to say Congratulations to the winners!

Sherri, Little House in Paradise
Robin, The Gardener of Eden
Joey, The Village Voice
Larry of Big Dude's Ramblings
Pat Tillett Patricktillett.
Thank you all for participating! I have mailing information for Robin, Joey and Larry. Sherri and Pat, please contact me with your address? I will mail them out right after Christmas.

Thank you all again.

PS: Please don't forget to listen to George's song on ITUNES. It's only $1.29 to download... a great inexpensive present.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gift For You _ 5 Years

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband!

Time does fly when you're having fun. This week marks 5 years since I entered the cyberworld with my first blog post and with discussions that followed on many things, a potpourri of economic and market issues, genealogy, travel, garden... and from that I found my voice as Voice In The Garden evolved. Thus, in the spirit of the holidays I'd like to do something fun and put a smile on someone's face.

Many years ago I had a Limited Edition made from two of my original paintings, The Train Station and The Eliot. They are signed and numbered fine art prints. Two years ago I gave away The Train Station in celebration of three years, and today I would like to offer either one or the other.

Art is a very personal thing and therefore not everyone is interested in a particular theme or style of painting. However, should you have an interest in participating in the drawing, simply leave a comment telling me which one you would prefer should you be the winner.

The Train Station

Image size......................... 20 5/8" by 17"
Paper size ......................... 25" x 22"

Unmatted and unframed
on museum quality acid free paper

Based on original oil 34" x 28"

The Eliot

Image size.............................. 18" by 24"
Paper size .............................. 22" x 29"

Unmatted and unframed
on museum quality acid free paper

Based on original oil 30" x 40"

Leave a comment by Monday, December 19 and a winner will be chosen at random. I will mail it right after Christmas.

This is a gift from me to you and my way of saying thank you for being such a wonderful community of thoughtful people and bringing an added dimension to my life.

PS: Don't forget, son George has 2 songs currently available to listen and download: georgejohnson, and his Debut soon-to-be-released album, here, which can be listened to in case you want to order. Some great music!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Son's New Music Release and Debut Album

Today I am mixing it up a bit from my normal postings in order to introduce you to one of our sons. Many of you who are on Facebook are aware of the wonderful news about George and his music.

He has just released 2 songs, Santa's Wearin' Blue This Year and The Reign. You can listen to both here. Just click, listen and you can download each for just .99 cents. And be sure to tell your friends. (^_^) wink, and a big smile from a proud mom.

Santa's Wearin' Blue This Year mp3 by George Johnson featuring The Jordanaires. Written by John Colgin and George Johnson.

The Reign mp3 by George Johnson featuring The Jordanaires & The Memphis Horns by georgejohnson

Santa's Wearin' Blue This Year Youtube video

George's debut album will soon be released. You can preview it _ Listen to all of the songs for FREE at, and sign up for the mailing list to receive updates on the release. I hope you love the music as much as we do... he has some great sounds, and we have had wonderful feedback from talented musicians who speak highly of George's talent.

You can also find George at any of the following:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Heirloom Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

This past week I made a Squash Puree from one of the heirlooms we had harvested, Marina di Chioggia, and posted the recipe here . I froze all but 3 cups in order to make ravioli. Two days ago I made the pasta dough (refrigerated), one batch with durum semolina and a second with regular unbleached flour. My intention was to only make the former, but due to its coarseness, I opted to do the other batch, just in case. After all, the food processor was already out and surely with this amount of squash more dough would be required. So I made the first batch of ravioli using the dough with unbleached flour.

Today I decided to make the second batch of ravioli using the durum semolina dough. A thought and then discussion with my husband was wouldn't it be nice to have a pasta attachment for our mixer, and so we began calling/searching to see who might have one locally. None to be found, and that is a good thing because once we saw the cost, my rolling pin was adequate. Besides, I suddenly realized I had a pasta roller, and he was just in the next room. Note: What fun we had making ravioli today.

I found the following recipe from Scala's Bistro in San Francisco, CA, for Butternut Squash Ravioli, but made modifications this evening and may make further ones the next time. For us the zest from one orange was overwhelming even though I used 3 cups of puree. We wanted to enjoy more of the squash.

Marina di Chioggia Squash Ravioli from Diana's kitchen

Ravioli Filling:

3 cups of Marina di Chioggia Squash puree
2 cup Ricotta Cheese
2 teaspoons orange zest
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Nutmeg, freshly grated and to taste

Mix all the above ingredients and set aside. Note: This amount of filling required doubling the pasta dough recipe below. The total yielded 8 dozen ravioli.

Fresh Pasta Dough
(makes 4 dozen ravioli)

3 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs
2 TB water
1 TB extra virgin olive oil

Combine the flour and salt in your food processor and pulse several times to combine. Whisk the eggs, water and oil together, and while pulsing the machine, pour in the liquid in a steady stream. Continue to run until the dough pulls away from the side. Remove, roll into a ball and knead for a few minutes. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water and continue to knead, or if too wet, add a touch more flour. Cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper and set aside and allow it to rest for about an hour. (In our case I refrigerated overnight and then allowed it to warm back to room temperature to make the ravioli.)

Egg Wash

1 egg, slightly beaten
few drops of water

Sage Brown Butter Sauce

10 fresh sage leaves, sliced thinly
3 TB butter

Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

Making the dough and rolling it out was rather straight forward, and having recently purchased an inexpensive mold (under $20) proved beneficial. We have always made ravioli the old fashioned way: cut each one out by hand using a small water or juice glass dipped in a bit of flour_ then crimped by hand. Oh, the wonders of technology.

Divide the ball of dough into fourths. Take one-fourth and roll out into a large rectangular sheet, one that is double the size of the mold and with some overlap. Spray the metal part of the mold with olive oil. Cut the sheet in half and place it loosely onto the mold. Insert the plastic mold to make the indentations. Brush the egg wash atop the dough. With a teaspoon, fill the pockets with the squash filling. Place the other half of the sheet on top, press down to allow any air pockets to escape. With your rolling pin, press against the entire mold so as to seal the edges.

Pull away any excess dough, turn the mold upside down and gently release each ravioli and transfer each to a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Note: since I freeze most of them, pop the cookie sheet into the freezer. When the ravioli are frozen, place them in your freezer bags and label for later use.

Sage Butter: In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and add the thin strips of sage. Cook over medium heat until the butter begins to brown.

Ravioli: Cook the ravioli in batches in boiling salted water for 4-6 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the ravioli. (ours were rolled out fairly thin)

Remove from the water, drain and place them in the sage butter and saute until slightly browned. Remove to a platter, and pour any remaining sage butter sauce over the ravioli. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and enjoy.

Note: We used the durum semolina dough to make the ravioli tonight, and it rolled out beautifully. It is a much courser dough, but those strong arms next to me had no difficulty.

We pulled a few of the first batch from the freezer that were made with the unbleached flour in order to do a taste test, unbleached vs durum semolina. Hands down, we preferred the latter. In our estimation, there is a marked difference in flavor.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grilled Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stack with Balsamic Reduction

Pictured below are the various eggplant we grew this year and about which I wrote here: Long Purple, Ichiban, the Italian_ Melanzana 'Violetta lunga', and this lovely heirloom Solanum melongena 'Rosa Bianco'.

Rosa Bianco
came on so slowly that we feared we would have very few, and that we did, but enough so that we thoroughly enjoyed them. Once they began to produce later in the season, this variety made for the best grilled eggplant. This past week we picked the last of them from the hoop house.

Solanum melongena 'Rosa Bianco'

Fortunately we still have some tomatoes that were picked several weeks ago and have been ripening in the pantry (each individually wrapped with a piece of newspaper). We now have what is a simple-to-prepare and favorite dish.

Grilled Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stack with Balsamic from Diana's kitchen

Heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced (3/4 of an inch)
Rosa Bianco Eggplant, unpeeled and thickly sliced
1 egg, slightly beaten
Panko or bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh mozzarella, sliced
fresh basil, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic reduction (see below)

Heat oven to 450F.

Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle each with kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper; set aside on a platter. Dip each slice of eggplant into the egg, then into the panko; sprinkle with salt and pepper and transfer to frying pan with just a little bit of olive oil, and saute until golden brown, several minutes on each side. Remove and transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a fork, check following the first 5 minutes; these were best when the slices maintained just a bit of firmness.

Assemble: grilled eggplant, slice of mozzarella, basil strips, a tomato, basil, mozzarella, and top with another grilled eggplant. Drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Note: Several of the long eggplants were tried on separate occasions, but our favorite was this one. I can still taste it... like a big thick portobello mushroom.

Balsamic Reduction

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Place the vinegar in a non-reactive saucepan. Heat on medium-high until it begins to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the vinegar becomes a syrupy consistency. Set aside to cool.

It will become slightly thicker when cool; if it is too thick, I add a touch more balsamic; if it is too thin, put it back on the stove for further reduction. 1/2 cup of vinegar should yield slightly over 1/4 cup. I keep it stored at room temperature.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Marina di Chioggia Squash Puree and Gnocchi

It has been an exciting year watching the beautiful heirloom squash grow. Our intention was to have these age for several months, but after having to take one of the three Cucurbita maxima Galeux d'Eysines (top left) to the mulch pile, Marina di Chioggia (top right) was not going to face the same destination. Fruit flies circling had my attention and as a portion of the stem was beginning to soften, it was time.

The deep dark green of the newly harvested squash quickly began to fade over the last month toward a softer blue-gray tone. Interesting turban-shaped bottom, don't you think?

The outer shell is quite hard, so a very sharp knife is needed. Carefully cut the squash into sections, remove the seeds (set aside... see below) and scrape away the filament. Line cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper, and place the squash cut side up.

Heirloom Squash Puree
from Diana's kitchen

extra virgin olive oil
8.5 pounds roasted Marina di Chioggia squash
4 TB softened butter
1 TB raw unfiltered honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 TB heavy cream

Brush the flesh with extra virgin olive oil. Roast the squash 45 to 90 minutes at 375°F (190.6°C) or until the squash is fork tender. It depends upon the size and variety as to the length of cooking. Roasting this one took all of 90 minutes. This 24 pounder filled the entire oven.

Once the roasting is complete, allow to cool slightly, then scoop the flesh out and into a large bowl. Add all the ingredients, combine and puree in food processor in increments. The 24 pound Marina di Chioggia yielded slightly over one-third or 8.5 pounds of puree. I must say that we could eat it just like this. The flavor is so fresh and gently sweet, almost seductive.

What will I do with the puree? Squash ravioli is at the top of my list, followed by a bit more soup per dear husband's request, will freeze some and perhaps I will try my hand at some gnocchi.

Note: All the seeds were soaked in water for about 15 minutes, washed and dried. Half are still drying for next season's garden and for anyone who would like to try their hand at them. Robin, Thomas... ?

The other half was roasted in the oven: toss with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, garlic salt, sprinkle of cumin and bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes on a cookie sheet.

Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter Sauce  from Diana’s kitchen

1 egg
1 cup Galeux d'Eysines (Butternut or any other favorite) squash puree
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
zest from 1 small lemon
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cups semolina flour, plus more for dusting

2-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
10-12 sage leaves, thinly sliced

Transfer the puree to a fine sieve, set over a bowl and let drain for about an hour.

Slightly beat the egg in a large bowl; add the puree, ricotta, salt, white pepper, nutmeg, lemon zest and cheese. (Be careful to not get the white of the lemon, only the outer zest.) Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the semolina and stir until a soft dough forms. Do not overwork the dough.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Lightly dust a work surface with semolina and roll each piece of dough into a 1-inch-thick dowel. Cut the dowels into 1 inch pieces. You can press the gnocchi lightly against the tines of a fork to make a ridged pattern or role them upward on a grater for small indentations.

Freezing: line a baking sheet with waxed paper and arrange the gnocchi in a single layer. Once they are frozen, remove each one and place them in freezer bags for cooking at another time.

Refrigerate those you will be cooking for several hours. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Sage Brown Butter Sauce

In a large skillet, melt the butter, add the sage and cook over moderate heat until the sage becomes crisp and the butter begins to brown.

Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until they float to the surface_ about 4 minutes. Drain the gnocchi in a colander and immediately transfer them to the skillet with the sage butter until lightly browned. 

Full Beaver Moon

The fog rolled in and moved about
we prep for winter, no doubt.

10 November Full Beaver Moon

If you have an opportunity, visit SkyWatch for skies from around the world.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Green Tomato Salsa

Yesterday we awoke to our first frost of the year, and due to that forecast, all the green tomatoes were picked the prior day.

Last year I posted the following recipe for Green Tomato Salsa, but yesterday made a slight modification while making the salsa. Since we only planted Hot Hungarian Wax peppers this year, 8 of those were substituted for the 4 jalapeño and I increased the cilantro a bit.

Canned Green Tomato Salsa from Diana's kitchen

3 TB Extra Virgin olive oil
11 lbs green tomatoes, chopped
3 extra large sweet onions, chopped
3 sweet red peppers, chopped
3 sweet green peppers, chopped
8 Hot Hungarian wax peppers, seeds removed, finely chopped (+/- according to personal taste)
8 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 TB sea salt
1/2 TB black pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 tsp Cumin
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 TB raw honey

Add olive oil to an extra large kettle and heat on medium. Add tomatoes, onions, peppers and stir. Add and combine the remainder of the ingredients. Mix well, heat slowly to simmer, and cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Stir frequently and be careful so as not to burn the mixture.

Ladle the hot simmering salsa into hot sterilized pint jars (or quarts), and fill to within 1/2 inch from top. Wipe jar rims with a clean cloth. Place sterilized flat lid on the jar and adjust the ring. Place in a boiling water bath; water should cover the lids by about an inch. Bring the water back to boiling and process for 15-20 minutes.

When complete, carefully remove each jar from canner with a jar lifter and place onto a thick towel or mat and in a draft free area. Gently lay a hand towel over the top of the jars, and allow them to cool to room temperature. Do not touch the lids, but allow them to seal over a period of hours (overnight). In the morning check seals, label, date and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Makes 14 pints. PS: if any happen to not seal, put it in the refrigerator, buy some chips and enjoy!

Important Note: If you are just starting out, first read about the basics of home canning. Here is a place to begin, a simple overview, and from the Culinary Arts College, a list of 50 websites for learning self-canning. One of the first things I learned to can as a youngster was how to process tomatoes, a good place to start because of the high acidity. Tools were few, and an inexpensive water bath canner was used.

By the way, we love the salsa, as do our family and friends who have received it as a gift. They say it's the best they have eaten. (wink) I'm not sure it's the best, but that comment will get them more. Don't forget, if you like it with even more heat, simply add a little cayenne and that will kick it up a notch.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Roasted Heirloom Squash and Apple Soup

Yesterday we picked most of the apples and pears from our trees, and last evening we delighted in the first of our winter squash soups. Made from one of the heirloom Butternut squash, it was filled with creamy sweetness like only a squash directly from our garden to the table can be. It had all the elements we enjoy: a little sweetness (squash) with some salty (cashew) and a bit of spice.

Roasted Heirloom Squash and Apple Soup from Diana's kitchen

1 squash (3-4 lb butternut), seeded, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 medium tart apples, peeled, quartered, core removed, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons good olive oil or organic coconut oil
4-6 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 Tablespoon raw unfiltered honey
pinch or more cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 cup cream or half and half
salted cashews

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Into a large Dutch Oven, combine the chopped squash, apples, onion, curry powder, turmeric, coriander, ginger, salt and pepper and combine. Add olive oil or coconut oil to the melted butter, pour it over the squash mixture and fold to coat. Roast for 40-45 minutes or until the squash and apples are tender. Stir once or twice during the roasting.

Remove from the oven and add 4 cups of chicken stock (or just enough to barely cover the squash). Add the honey, cayenne pepper, nutmeg. Stir, and heat the contents to a simmer and until the squash and apples are tender.

Remove the pot from the burner, and puree the contents with an immersion blender. It will be slightly sweet and thick. Add the cream and combine. If you prefer less thickness, add additional chicken stock. Serve immediately and with a few cashews on top.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cucurbita maxima 'Galeux D' eysines', 'Marina di Chioggia' and Sautéed Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Cucurbita maxima (koo-KER-bih-ta MAKS-ih-muh)

The plant family Cucurbitaceae (koo-ker-bih-TAY-see-ee) consists of gourds, zucchini, watermelon, pumpkins, some cucumbers, squash... and are mostly monoecious, a separate male and female flower on the one plant. This year we added two most unusual heirloom varieties of squash to the garden, and I simply love the looks of both.

Cucurbita maxima 'Brodé D'Galeux Eysines'

Like a large wheel of cheese, I am captivated by this most unusual salmon-colored wart-covered squash. A work of art, this French heirloom originates from Eysines, a village in Gironde, Bordeaux. The name translates to embroidered with pebbles from Eysines and is often shortened to Galeux d'Eysines.

There is not enough room in our regular vegetable garden because the vines are ginormous, so we prepared a spot on a slight slope near our hoop house and ran the vines back and forth rather than allow the tentacles to sprawl into the hinterland. Most of the small fruits would suddenly disappear, eaten by something, so we netted the plant and several survived.

The younger squash are smooth and pale in color, and as they age, the high sugar content causes the skin to crack and the peanut-like growth develops as protection. A heavy feeder and with a long growing season (95 to 110 days), it needs room to grow in full sun and with fertile, evenly moist and well-draining soil. Plant your seedling once any danger of frost has passed and harvest when the skin is firm and orange and prior to the first frost date in the fall.

On average they weigh 10-20 pounds at maturity, but pictured above is one at 31 pounds. Once harvested, store in a cool location for upwards of 6 months, and supposedly they improve with age.

A smooth silky nutty flavor, these are used in roasting, baking, soups, and gratins. The stout seeds are also said to be sweet and delicious: coat with olive oil, sprinkle with a seasoned salt of choice and toast them in the oven.

I am as anxious to try these squash as I was to grow them, and am not sure how long I will wait, but at some point, soups on and I'll let you know when.

Cucurbita maxima 'Marina di Chioggia'

This large heirloom squash traces its roots to the coastal town of Chioggia, Italy, on the Adriatic coast near Venice. Marina di Chioggia translates to Chioggia Sea Pumpkin. Its dark green and bumpy, turban-shaped form averages 7-20 pounds and with leaves that span 10-14 inches. The rich sweet flesh is deep yellow-orange and delicious in pies, soups and sauces or baked. In Italy it is prized for gnocchi and for roasting, and personally, I am looking forward to making some ravioli.

Have you ever stuffed the blossoms? (see below)

Sautéed Stuffed Squash Blossoms from Diana's kitchen

12 squash and/or zucchini blossoms
Ricotta cheese, 1/4 to 1/3 cup
shredded Mozzarella cheese, 1/4 to 1/3 cup
fresh basil, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup Panko or bread crumbs
extra virgin olive oil

homemade marinara sauce, optional

Collect your blossoms in the early morning and leave some of the stem for ease of preparation. Inspect for any bees or bugs inside the flower, carefully handling the delicate blossom. If you prefer, gently remove any stamen inside.

In a bowl combine the ricotta and mozzarella cheese, basil, a little salt and pepper to season. Gently open a few petals of the flower and with a teaspoon, stuff it with the ricotta mixture, enough to fill the cup and still fold the petals around; twist the top of the petals together to seal.

Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Place the panko or bread crumbs in another shallow bowl.

Dip each stuffed blossom into the egg, then into the crumbs, and fry a couple minutes on each side in olive oil until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain any excess, sprinkle with a touch of salt, and serve with a side of marinara sauce (or not). Delicious!

Note: The measurements above are approximate and dependent upon how many blossoms you intend to stuff.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vince Gill Concert and Meet and Greet

A wonderful array of music, from country to Grand Ole Opry to just plain fantastic jammin' and with eight outstanding backup artists; add a few good stories, a great wit, one personable fella, full of vitality, one who connects and interacts with his audience with his charm and smiling eyes, and you have Vince Gill.

I must admit that country music has not been at the top of my list of listening music, but this gentleman may change my mind, (wink) for he is a class act: a man who clearly loves his music, a voice so pure and beautiful, a world-class guitarist, and one who has surrounded himself with amazing musicians.

The concert was a half hour late in starting, but only due to some difficulty he had with his connecting Chicago flight. Once he arrived on stage, it was one song after another and that continued for two hours! Should you have the opportunity, he is a must see.

Occasionally my son George sees Vince, so when I called to say we had purchased tickets to his concert at Lincoln City, OR, he said, I'll try and arrange a 'meet and greet' with him for you. And so it happened.

Following a dynamic concert and considering how tired he must have been, a gracious Vince Gill came out to meet and greet the small group. We told him of some muffins I had made for him and the guys for their morning coffee, and that we had given them to Bennie (his guitar tech) earlier in the afternoon. We thanked him for taking the time to see us.

If you haven't heard Vince Gill sing, here is one you might enjoy.

I Still Believe In You

Note: although there were no restrictions concerning cameras, I chose to not use any flash for the photos.