Box 761: Upper NY State edition

The last time I wrote, we were leaving the gentle environs of Canajoharie NY. Dear reader, we were pretty happy about that (please, no offence to any Canajoharians reading this). Then, of course, we drove through a torrential rain to Rochester. An okay hotel that had illusions of grandeur, and with the exception of a few minor points, pretty good nonetheless  (note to Housekeeping: my sheets had blood stains on them. Ew).

We had thought to explore Rochester and spend some quality time in the Flower City, but true to form we lost interest in sightseeing, in the greater interest of getting back on the road. It was a dull day out, and Rochester looked kind of like it was tired.  We ended up driving along the scenic route beside Lake Ontario, but found that it wasn’t particularly scenic…. the Lake view was obscured by trees for most of it. It was largely deserted though, which was great — our very own private highway!  Our destination, we decided, was Niagara Falls. We both knew that the US side of the Falls wasn’t as good as the Canadian, but figured we’d at least drive through the US side, so we could compare.

we wanted to lick the plate

On the way, we stopped for bathroom break.. I feel guilty when we stop and just use the restroom, without at least buying a bottle of water or something. The place we stopped smelled divine — garlic, tomato, fresh dough, oh! it was lovely. Mr. 761 thinks it’s the best pizza he’s had ever. I stuck to basic pepperoni (which they did correctly, with the pepperoni on top of the cheese, so it got crispy). Mr. 761 had steak and mushroom pizza: dough brushed with garlic and olive oil so it was moist and flavorful, shaved steak, crispy/succulent mushrooms, some onion, and just enough cheese. He was very happy. This paragon of pizza making is in Youngstown NY. Looks like a bit of a dump, but they make magic with their pizza.

Talk about dying towns! Niagara Falls NY was not a pretty sight, my friends. It was sad. Full of shuffling people, bench-sitters, and road construction. Every street in the freaking city seemed to be

Whirlpool Street, everywhere!

named “Whirlpool Street”… it just didn’t make sense. They had detour signs that went nowhere, dead ends, and one street that, after dutifully following the detour signs, turned into a parking lot for an apartment building. I tell ya, we’re lucky we got out of there! AND, we never saw the falls. It was a bit surreal, and very cranky-making.

So, we finally found the bridge to the promised land Canada, were waved through customs, and figured we’d do Niagara Falls right — park, wander about, maybe go to the wax museum (tradition, of course).  We didn’t manage the wax museum, because the crowds were horrendous, the prices were overly-high, and it was just, well, kind of sad. Nobody looked happy! It was like, I dunno, the Sad Amusement Park, with Falls. It started to get depressing pretty fast.

We did see this holiday-maker, though. Anyone care to explain the get-up? I saw her up close, and guess her age…. 20? 30? nope. Circa 60, if a day. Fascinating!

Wow. That's all I can say

There’s loads more to write (quilt show with Mr. 761!!), but that’s all for now. We want to go out and enjoy our holidays. Will write more later. Apologies, too, if the photos are a bit wonky — having trouble compressing them.

1000 Kms, more or less

Lake Winnipesaukee, Meredith NH

Dateline, Meredith NH.

Our initial plan was to leave early Sunday morning. We spent much of Saturday waiting. We aren’t good at waiting, and it finally dawned on us that we were allowed to leave whenever we wanted to. A flurry of activity, and we were out of the house and starting down the driveway by 4:15 pm.

In keeping with our intention to drive the blue highways through New England, we took the “scenic route” to Truro, and then set Saint John in our sights as our destination for the evening. It was a pretty drive, gorgeous day with storybook fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky. As the sun went down, and we got a bit crankier, we drove into the outskirts of Saint John. Lots of construction, exits that were blocked, loads of traffic…. arrgh!! On top of it all we felt slightly poisoned by the bag of chips and kettle corn we were eating (and the weird fizzling Skittles we ate… kind of like soap, but oddly entertaining). Crankiness ensued.

I guess it started going downhill when we couldn’t decide if we wanted to find a hotel in the downtown or on the west side (to ease our leave-taking the next day). By the time we realized that downtown was probably a good idea, we realized that the exits were blocked by construction and we were then pushed along through a toll that Mr. 761 resented mightily, and into a fairly unsavoury part of the city. Mr. 761 could wax on for days about ineffective signage etc., but I think it comes down to poor research (as in, well, none) on our part. If we’d done some advance planning, we wouldn’t have spent the night in the Country Inn and Suites (“sounds quite swanky, until you realize the country they had in mind was Belarus” said Mr. 761). It was, well, serviceable. One of the tv’s was a bit temperamental (had to warm up), the room had a slight odor, and there was no shampoo, but it was okay. For a late dinner we went to the non existent hotel restaurant Sobey’s down the road and bought a weird collection of food that struck our fancy. We then ate it in the room, with plastic knives and forks we cadged from friendly Steph, the night clerk (who was, oddly, still there at 10 am this morning when we left).

Really, I kind of liked it. No pictures because in my haste to leave Berwick I left my SD card in my laptop, which I didn’t take (Mr. 761 brought his). Dang, I hate when I do that.

Today we (okay, I) slept late till about 8:30. We considered eating the continental breakfast at the Country Inn but it was not appetizing, nor was there enough room for us to even be able to reach the mini-box of cereal on the shelf. I drank an apple juice and we left, waving at the large people in their nighties, smoking on their “patio” behind the hotel.

Beautiful day, happy people. We’ve driven through Maine at a fair clip, but it didn’t feel rushed. We were going to stop in Bangor, but it looked closed today so we continued on to Lewiston/Auburn (sort of a twin city). Mr. 761 had an excellent Best Bitter and an even more excellent “Blueberry Courage” Beer from a little brew pub. Home-made shepherd’s pie and flaky and wonderful fish and chips filled us up.

I found a store and bought an SD card and a better map, and we were off again. We decided

Lake Winnipesaukee from our window

to stop in daylight today, and chose Meredith NH. I’m very glad we did — it’s a gorgeous little place. The hotel we chose, really the first we saw, is called The Inn at Bay Point – one of 4 in a loose complex around Lake Winnipesaukee — a lake which is not only beautiful, but fun to say. The Inn has what we’ve decided is “upscale tourist kitsch”, which is perfect.

Lamps shaped like boats, and comfy sitting areas on the porches and a nice quirky inn keeper. We’re considering a walk around town, but can’t decide. Considering the restaurant

downstairs, but may instead choose room service. Mr. 761 went out and got himself some beer for the room and brought me back the best ginger beer I’ve ever had: Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer.

We haven’t stopped for any antiques or yard sales (saw only a few, the whole way here). Well, we tried to stop at an antique store in Maine, but he took down the Open sign as we drove into the parking lot. Sigh. I’m sure we’ll see more tomorrow.

Am very happy for text messaging today — daughter sent a picture of a dress she got to go to a dance, and it was so nice to be able to see it. It made me a bit sad that I hadn’t been there to help, but even if I were at home at Box 761 I wouldn’t have been able to…. she’s away at work all summer. It didn’t bother me until today, when she sent me that picture, and I wonder now if the fully empty nest next year will be as great as I thought. Something to come to grips with this year, I guess.  I miss you, kid. Have a good time at the dance!

Tomorrow’s route is more blue highways, from here to Rochester NY.

Round, luscious, and almost ready…

Tomatoes. Oh they’re lovely.

A Million little juicy Bells

I planted one single little teensy weensy “Million Bells” and now have a whole lot of them getting ready to be picked.

Alas, I will be on a much-anticipated road trip with Mr. 761 when they ripen completely…. argh.

We all know I’m not a gardener. Not at all. However, I like that time in the spring (pre earwig and other buggies, pre-0vergrown weeds) when I can dream about it all. It was at that time that I planted this little guy up against my picket fence, amongst the sweet peas and lavender. Oh how I wish these bells would have tinkled before I had to go away for 10 days!

What are the odds that there’ll be some left when I get home? And I mean edible ones… not the ones that will have rotted on the vine while I was away, gaily rummage sale-ing my way through parts of New England and upstate New York. When I am happily visiting with my mother-in-law in Ontario, will these tomatoes be taking their sweet time to ripen sweetly, so I can have them when I get home?

Nature, alas, waits for no woman. I will therefore, charge a friend with eating as many off the vine as they can, while I’m gone. I want to know that someone will enjoy them. I’m just not planning effectively! Last time I went down to GA to visit my folks, all of my roses bloomed at once, and were distinctly not fresh when I got back.

I’m not sure how much posting I’ll be doing while away, but I’ll be taking photos and making notes so I’ll have stories to tell when I get back.

IF there are tomatoes left when I get back, I have some great recipes for them and will share. If there are no tomatoes, I’ll just sulk, I think.

Raspberry/Cranberry Tart

This morning Mr. 761 and I were discussing tonight’s dinner.

It's a fairly sedate "dance" but it goes like this.... (photo lifted off interweb from this site.)

We do this sometimes — food is a big part of planning our days….  We settled on Dancing Chicken (stuffed with limes, cooked on the barbecue, standing up/impaled on a clever contraption that makes it look like it’s, well, dancing). With this, Mr. 761 requested cranberry sauce. You  may recall that recently I cleaned out my pantry of things with glucose/fructose/corn syrup etc. His fave cranberry sauce was one of those things that got the boot.

I suggested that I make cranberry sauce for him – much healthier and tastier. I had some frozen cranberries but went to the store looking for fresh ones (do they have a season? I’m sure they do. I don’t know what it is, obviously, because there were none in the store). I gave in and bought canned stuff, but the search for cranberries made me think about dessert…..

Tart and Sweet and Fresh

I made Raspberry/Cranberry Tart for dessert tonight, and it was much oohed and ahhed over, I have to admit. It was delicious – tart and sweet and just the right thing after our delicious dinner.

Food photography is harder than it looks, so I hope that you can see just how luscious this tart was… shiny and studded with berries; glistening with different red and pinks… oh, it was pretty!

Here’s how you make it:

Graham Cracker Crust

Take about 9 or 10 graham crackers and crush into crumbs (I used a food processor but a rolling pin works too). You’ll want about 1 and 1/4 cups of crumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, and 3 tablespoons of canola oil or melted butter. Tamp this down into your tart pan and bake at 350°F for about 8 minutes.


Raspberry/Cranberry Filling

Take about a cup of raspberries and a 1/2 cup of cranberries, mash with a fork or an immersion blender. Once pureed, add enough water to make two cups of liquid.

Put 1 cup of sugar into a pan with 2 tbsp of corn starch, add the pureed mixture to it. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let boil for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.

Add 1 pkg gelatin, 1 tablespoon of butter, juice of half a lemon and some lemon zest. Stir until the gelatin dissolves completely.

Let fruit mixture cool somewhat — until it’s sort of spoonable.

Just try not having seconds of this!

Take about a third of the mixture and spoon onto graham cracker crust. Add another cup and a half or so of fruit, then cover with the remainder of the gelatin mixture. Cool.

Serve with sweet whipped cream (a bit of vanilla, some sugar, and some lemon zest).

Lots has been happening at Box 761, and I’ll write more another day. Tonight it’s a bit cool and rainy, and I have a strong urge to grab a good book and cuddle with my dogs. Next blog will discuss my love affair with my new built-in bookshelves (thanks for the tools, Dennis!), the stinky dog who came to call at 4 a.m. the other day, the oppressively lingering odor of skunk and how to remove it…. We may even discuss the continuing next-to-nakedness of next-door neighbor, the speaker phone function on his blasted cordless phone, and some more places that My Husband Hates.

Noise and Pylons, Call of Duty and Springrolls

This has been a fairly busy week. Mr. 761 is home, and quite diverting company. The sound track to the week has been the construction going on right outside the house. The

That used to be my driveway

town is replacing sewer mains or something, and it’s a big job.  The road is blocked off with pylons, and I’ve striven to be nice to the Pylon Guys. When this all started, the Pylon Guys were pretty eager and perky on the job. As time passes, they become less so. When it rains, they don’t even bother with the middle pylon — they mostly just sit in their trucks and smoke. Sometimes they put the middle pylon in and jump to get it so you can drive by. Other times they wait until you stop and then they lumber over, to make sure you have a purpose to go past the pylons. Living here counts.

So, Mr. 761 and I had Erica in the car and… well, I’ll let his facebook entry tell the story:

Mark Hey, guy at the end my street who’s job it is to move the traffic cone at the “local traffic only” sign during the sewer construction: could you pick up the pace a bit? Yes, your lawn chair in the shade looks mighty comfy but when you see me driving towards you (for the 3rd time that day), you can assume I want to get …to my god damn house and get up off your ass before I come to a complete stop.

[…] I just figure if you’re going to be a cone mover, you should try to be the best damn cone mover you can.

Perhaps Mr. 761 takes these things too personally?

Aside from the Cone Guy’s lack of professional pride, the other issue is the noise.  At first, they were at the far end of my road, and it was kind of lovely — only local traffic coming through during the day, so no loud trucks etc. Then it got closer. They blocked my driveway (without telling me before hand by the way — Mr. 761 drove across our lawn to get out), they dug a giant hole, they filled the hole. Then the next day they unfilled the hole, did more work, and moved down the road a bit. It’s all very complicated and I’m sure they know what they’re doing but the only really quiet time is when they’re all having lunch (seems to start at precisely 12:05 every day).

So, the din is considerable. And dust, oh lots of dust. As I said, though, the noise abates at 12:05. Or does it? What I get once the infernal groaning, creaking, back-up-beeping and digging stops is this weird background noise. What is it?

Xbox.  Call of Duty. That’s what.

Mr. 761 is now the proud owner of very expensive but very much appreciated wireless

Ah, the sweet sound of silence!

headphones that allow him to kill people and be killed in peace. My peace. I love him, I’m very happy he’s home. But if I hear that annoying game one more time I’m going to… um, well, I don’t know what I’ll do.  But I won’t be happy.

I don't get it. Really I don't (note the blood splatter on the top right hand corner of the screen). Blech.

There’s a whole crazy process to Call of Duty (COD) in our house. There are rules if there are two players (no screen watching!), and it takes at least 4 hours at a sitting. I find the whole thing repellant — the blood splattering, the cheers when they “kill” someone…. the hyper-reality of the look of the thing. Mr. 761 plays it laying down, for some reason.  There is a total focus when they are playing the game, which can go on for hours — many hours — at a time. It appears that by sitting in a room together and playing this (on separate parts of the screen), staring forward, my husband and daughter are having some sort of quality time.

I don’t get it.

Spring Rolls

Today I made my take on Vietnamese style spring rolls for lunch.  I was at the store looking for curry paste, and my daughter saw the rice paper that you need for the rolls on the shelf. I’ve never seen them like that, and fell in love with the packaging. This happens a lot, especially with asian food products for some reason.

They’re in the “foreign food” section of my local Superstore, and aren’t expensive. There are a lot of them in the package (enough to make 60 rolls). They’re low calorie, gluten free, and don’t require cooking.

I love food that’s wrapped in something, and was bored with pita, and tortillas, etc. so this is a great alternative. It’s dead easy to do — drop one paper in warm water for 4 minutes or so, take it out, wrap your filling in it, and cover with damp towel until all completed.

Ours were made with left over slaw from the night before (kholrabi/cabbage/onion/red pepper/radish with sesame seeds and almonds… see previous post from 24 July 2010), some pre-cooked shrimp, bean sprouts and some cilantro.

Loaded, but not rolled yet. It's on a red tea towel, hence the funny color.


If you can roll a tortilla, you can do this. Try to use fillings that have contrast, because you can see through the paper once it’s wrapped.

Vermicelli would be good, and I kicked myself once I realized I had a bunch of tabouli salad that I could have put in there too.

These were generously filled, and we each had only 2 or 3 and were full. You want generous ones, because otherwise the all important food-to-wrap ratio would be off.

We dipped these in peanut sauce that Erica created. It will be impossible to replicate that sauce (in a pinch you can mix hoisin sauce with peanut butter, and add a pinch of crushed peppers).

I loved these. They were bright and refreshing, but filling. They’re pretty, like little  jewels wrapped in Isadora Duncan’s white scarf.

They are the opposite of Call of Duty.

Saturday Feasting at Box 761!

Oh, where do I start? (if you want to skip the proselytizing, just scroll down to the recipes…)

A while ago I quit smoking. After a month or so of being a non-smoker, I realized that not only was I putting on a few pounds, but had been for several years now. Okay, I admit it — I’m kind of um, overweight. This is not how I see myself and it kind of freaked me out. It’s easier to ignore when you’re smoking and eating and collecting stress weight that you can hide under sweaters. Less so when you’re feeling remarkably un-stressed, it’s the middle of summer, and you quit the nasty habit.

So, that’s the background. I’m freaked by the weight, I admit, but I don’t want to do silly fad diets like eat only grapefruits for weeks, etc. I don’t want to take pills, diet supplements, drink shakes or go to a group. I’m not a Group type. What’s left to me, then, is rational eating, upping my exercise, and impulse control.

Rational Eating

This is turning out to be easier than I thought, really. Luckily I live in one of the most fertile areas of Nova Scotia and am surrounded by good quality organic produce that was grown within 50 km of my house, pretty much. The Berwick Farmers’ Market and the Wolfville Farmers’ Market have pretty much all you need. There are a host of local farms, cheese-makers, bakeries, etc in the area. I’m not going to give an exhaustive list, because I really haven’t been to them all yet. However, if you want a good list of links (and some wonderful recipes), go to Jenny Osburn’s Kitchen Witch blog. Her blog is also listed as one of my faves on my blogroll. I love her restaurant, and I love her blog. I lurk it all the time and haven’t sent a comment. I think I should, and will do so later today.

sugar on a teaspoon

Oh Sugar. I love you.

But local produce doesn’t make for rational eating. It certainly makes it more accessible, which is good for me. My main problem, as I see it, is SUGAR. I love sugar, and sometimes even crave it. No, really – this week I craved it, more than I want cigarettes! Oh sugar, you are a harsh mistress.

So yes, I did it — I cut it out. If I can quit smoking, I can quit sugar. Right?

I went through my pantry and started looking at labels. I threw stuff out with impunity. Well, actually anything that wasn’t opened yet, I donated to the food bank. There are issues with that, but it didn’t feel right to throw it out, it really didn’t. Stuff that was opened, I threw out. I threw out stuff with lots of chemicals, and things with “ose” at the end of ingredients (sucrose, fructose, dextrose…). I threw out stuff with too many ingredients that I didn’t know (usually it was a preservative, if I looked it up). I decided to keep things that had only a few ingredients, ingredients that were, well, really food.

I didn’t want to get confused and worry about “rules” and points and this and that. I just wanted to make sure that what I eat is recognizable as food to me; that it doesn’t go through a lot of processing. This may be a bit harder in the winter, but I’ll figure that out when we get there. Right now I live in a fruit and vegetable heaven, and have an organic meat market 10 minutes away.

It’s not only sugar, it’s all that other crap. For almost a week I was strict — no sugar at all. Nothing. It was very hard. Because it was very hard, I started to eat fruit, and had a ginger beer the other day that rocked my world. I get it now — moderation. I haven’t kicked my sugar craving, but I’ve knocked it down a few pegs and I figure that a little more time of giving my body healthy food that’s really good too will lessen that craving all by itself. One day I’ll look for that black pit of sugar need only to find that it was starved out of existence. Whatever made me want cigarettes is probably closely related to whatever is driving my need for sugar… now that I see that, I’m much more aware.

Recipes The first one has no sugar at all. The second one does have some, but only a wee bit. Today I made a Summer Slaw and a Raspberry Clafoutis (custardy pie with fruit)

Slaw is easy and summery and crunchy goodness. They’re versatile and easily spiced and all around terrific. I’m not a natural vegetable lover and I never really liked slaw until I realized that not all slaw had to have Miracle Whip or Mayo (neither of which I care for). Until a few years ago I thought I hated the stuff! As with all things dear to my control-freaky type A heart, I learned that if I make it, I tend to like it (is that weird?). Anyway, here’s the recipe:

    crunchy, pretty, good for you.

  • kohlrabi
  • red cabbage
  • radish
  • fennel (keep some of the wispy greens)

Cut ’em all up in pretty much equal amounts. Cutting radishes into little juliennes isn’t fun, so I used fewer radishes than the other stuff. It’s really up to you. I also have fewer radishes because I kept eating them while preparing the dish. Oh well.

I dry roasted some almond slivers and sesame seeds until golden and then tossed those in with the kholrabi mixture.

You can’t have a slaw without some sauce. I drizzled the pile of veg with some extra virgin olive oil (very sparingly, just enough to make it a bit glossy once I tossed it using my fingers). Then a splash of apple cider vinegar, a squirt of lime juice and garnished on top with some chopped up cilantro and fennel tops, and you’re done.

Raspberry Clafoutis (custard)

This has sugar in it, but such a sparing amount it’s hardly worth mentioning.

Soooo creamy and rasberry-y!

  • 1/4 cup sweet butter (unsalted)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar (I measured 1/3 cup granulated, and then whizzed it in my coffee grinder; I think this makes the custard smoother)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • vanilla bean
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon
  • about 2 cups raspberries

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Get a pie plate (or two tart pans) and melt the butter in it, then remove.

In a blender, combine the milk, eggs, sugar, flour salt, zest and vanilla. Add the slightly cooled melted butter from you pie plate (just leave enough residue that you can smoosh around and use to grease the pan).

Distribute those lovely raspberries evenly in the pie plate (be generous, though if you want it to be elegant you should make sure none overlap or are jumbled).  Pour the batter over the top. If you want, sprinkle the top with more sugar (I did, and used maybe a tablespoon?).

Bake until slightly puffed and just set in the middle, usually about 20 to 25 minutes Today mine took almost 30 minutes — so just poke it and see, and if the top is getting too brown, cover with foil for the last 10 minutes or so. You don’t want it to be firm, then it will be overdone.

Clafoutis, raspberry whipped cream, and Fireking. Ahhh summer.

Good served warm or cold, doesn’t matter, as long as you serve it.  I paired mine  here with unsweetened whipped cream (with some vanilla bean beaten in) that I then folded pureed raspberries into… I had extra). Ice cream might be nice too. I think I prefer it alone, with a raspberry coulis. Nice and tart.

Garlic Sandwiches (I could eat 761 of ’em)

So good. Surprisingly gentle - some sweet, some tangy, some garlicky, some crunchy. Note Fireking plate

Oh, ye of little faith. You don’t think this can be good? One bite, and you are changed.

This is my husband’s recipe, but I’ve kind of tweaked it a bit, and had to add some things (on my request he sent me an email with the recipe, but he forgot to mention just when in the process you put in the star ingredient…).  Here it is, and enjoy:

Mince at least 1 clove of garlic (I used 2 per person). Make sure it’s very well minced; you don’t want big pieces because it is essentially raw when you eat it. I minced mine after sprinkling with a bit of pink salt (fancy! The salt serves a purpose here – it soaks up the lovely juices, and makes it all a bit easier to cut/smash/mince)

Drizzle a bit of olive oil over a piece of pita bread — I used very little, and spread it around with my hand.

Cut the crust off 1 piece of white bread (sigh — I know it’s not good for me but who can resist sometimes? Besides, it’s that soft-don’t-have-to-chew quality of white bread that we’re looking for here).  Slice the bread into strips, and discard the crusts (I fed them to the dog).

Put 2-3 strips of the bread on the pita, just a little off-center to facilitate rolling (more on that later)

Squeeze some lemon juice over the bread strips(not enough to make it soggy though — just a good squeeze or two). Then sprinkle a bit of vinegar onto the bread strips (I used white vinegar because that’s what Mr. 761 always uses, but I might try balsamic next time).

Spread the minced garlic over the strips, and crack some black pepper over it.   Roll the pita up as tightly as possible (without cracking it) and secure with skewers or toothpicks  if necessary (I used a skewer, it allowed me to make a nice tight roll).

Bake in 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes (mine took about 8). Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. You them to get just heated through, and crispy on the outside.

I ate mine up — could barely wait long enough to take the photo. You could also cut it in smaller rounds and serve as an hors-doeuvre. You could do a lot of things with this to change it (add chopped spinach maybe?) but my preference would be to keep it simple and pure, just as it is.

No, really. You’ll like it!

It occurs to me that you could use garlic scapes in this as well….  a tad less potent.

Garlic Scapes, I love you 761 ways….

How pretty are these things?

That little beauty to the left of the page is something called a “garlic scape”. I had managed to live 45 years on this planet without ever hearing about scapes. One day a few weeks ago, a facebook friend wrote rhapsodically about it being time for them, so I looked them up. Then I mentioned them to a friend of mine who always seems to know about these things, and she delivered a bag of them to me the very next day.

What I’ve discovered is that a scape is merely the stalk of the garlic that has been harvested before it gets stalky and firm. This apparently helps the bulb to develop, and gives us scapes — the less pungent forgotten sibling  of what we know of as garlic.

What other vegetables haven’t I heard of? I find this mildly concerning — that at my advanced age I discovered something new. I’m a bit humbled by it, but notice that many people have responded to my newly knowing comments about scapes with “…um, what?” Makes me feel better, somewhat.

Today I sat for a while, pondering the scapes. I put them in a vase to keep them orderly, and considered just keeping them that way — so pretty and funky and curly.

Then I made Pesto. I’ve never made scape pesto before, but looked around and found some recipes online, and then just ignored the recipes and made my own. Turned out nicely, too.  Here’s how you do it:

Lovely! I have learned, though, that eating a teaspoon of it right from the jar is not recommended...

2/3 cups roasted pine nuts and about 2 cups of roughly chopped garlic scapes (flower bits off).

Whiz in food processor, then drizzle about a 1/2 cup of olive oil in, add some salt and pepper. Throw it in a bowl and add about 1 cup of parmesan, put in a generous tbsp of roughly smooshed cumin seed.
Air tight container, lasts up to a week refrigerated.

Pasta, tossed with the garlic scape pesto:

photo of sunlight glimmering off the gorgeous green pesto tossed in pasta


It’s kind of a funny thing, making that pesto. I  made about 2 cups of it — that’s a lot of pesto. Usually, I have a few other people in the house with me to share. Right now, though,  Mr. Box 761 is in Kandahar working, my youngest daughter is working/staying at the Cadet camp (for 7 weeks!) and my oldest daughter is taking summer courses at university.

I’m alone with my pesto.

In a week, though, Mr. Box 761 will be here for a month of leave. Certainly there’ll be some left for him to try while he’s home. This is a man who wooed me with (amongst other things) garlic sandwiches… (don’t knock ’em — they were delicious).

Recently I’ve been watching a lot of ridiculous television and last night I watched several episodes of a show called “Millionaire Matchmaker”. Quickly, it’s a show about a yenta in Los Angeles who sets up millionaires (usually men) with women who want to date them. The matchmaker is quite a character, and it was her brassy boorishness that drew me to the show — she’s really oddly charming, and so completely invested in her character. Fascinating to watch. These shows seem to go on in marathons, so last night I watched three shows in a row. By the end of it I could have wept — the cavalcade of hard young women, eager “cougars”, lonely narcissistic “millionaires”…. oh, the humanity.

I’m so glad I met my husband the old-fashioned way: drunk, in a bar.