Peppers Becoming Peppers

IMG_0469 - Version 2Our peppers are ripening slowly but surely, coming into their own fully-peppered selves.

But meanwhile, a complaint. NYC’s scent gets a particularly bum rap for a city that contains upwards of eight million peeps. But come mid-July even I can’t contest that a haze smelling distinctly of diapers, feet, and way-past-its-sell-by-date milk looms in a fog around our fair town, making almost cartoony wafting shapes above piles of trash.

And thus! Evan and I will be merely in and out of the city for the next few weeks, avoiding the Oscar the Grouch smell and seizing the opportunity to take some time off before Evan starts his PhD (whoot!  Go bunny!) and I start my Master’s in Food Studies, Nutrition and Public Health (for real, I’ll be legit).

So over the next few weeks we’ll be helping out on my sister-in-law’s farm in Vermont, visiting both sets of our folks in Northwest CT, and even going to a wedding in Curaçao! As such we will be dropping into the city every few days, instead of every-every day. Hopefully our little window bounty will survive the lack of attention – although as things are looking a leetle shabby as is, perhaps not.

But! We do have some fine looking peppers turning appropriate pepper-shades coming along, and some very exciting eggplants, which neither of us are sure when to cave and pick. Suggestions?

IMG_0473 IMG_0472 - Version 2 IMG_0470(Oh, and it’s a metaphor. We’re the peppers. Obviously we’re the peppers, pay attention.)

 

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Verily, A New Couscous

IMG_0356Employing all aspects of my husband’s nerdiness, my dad recently purchased a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope for him.

Written in Shakespearean voice, but telling the epic tale of two siblings almost getting it on the rebellions’ fight against a totalitarian Empire – this is a play seriously worth reading. Complete with soliloquies by the formerly mute R2D2, triumphant monShakespeare's Star Warsologues by our here-to-rescue-you hero Luke, and nods to Shakespeare’s actual archetypal dramatic works, it is a clever and quirky laugh a minute.

So what could we possibly do but invite people over for a reading?

This was a fantastic affair.  Hilarious, ridiculous, and totally embarrassing. It also made a big mess for a weekday and involved a lot more prep and clean-up than expected, so for the last two acts (yes, this was a two-part event) we met in the park and made it a potluck.

Amongst this fantastic crew of readers are several vegans, and people who come over often enough to have exhausted my classics. So I did a variation on an Israeli couscous theme I make in the wintertime, usually with pomegranate and spinach. Inspiration courtesy of a post by Martha.

Israeli Couscous with Mint and Lemon

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Israeli couscous
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped finely
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons very thinly sliced lemon zest (2 to 3 strips)
  • 1/2 cup salted pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

IMG_0331Pistachios
Seriously uncomplicated directions to this guy. Cook the Israeli couscous as you would pasta (although I prefer it on the al dente side, closer to four minutes). Add the other ingredients. Combine, put it in some tupperware, head to the park.

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IMG_0349This is a game we’ll play again, definitely with other works… though it has been pointed out to me that George Lucas did not stop at Episode IV. So no doubt more potlucks, vegan/vegetarian food, loved ones and the park to come.

A Jedi craves not these things. (But I do.)

Lavender-Honey Ice Cream

Lavender-Honey Ice CreamKnowing that my parents and my husband’s parents occasionally read this blog, I have been thoroughly warned against telling this story. But I’m a rebel, and I think they all will live. So I’m going to tell a story about Harry Potter, and then link it to lavender. Ready?

When Evan and I had just started dating he informed me that he had never read any of the Harry Potter books, nor seen any of the movies. Clearly this needed to be rectified – and stat. So in the downtime of our first summer together – which meant when we weren’t holding hands under the table or gazing longingly or fluttering our eyelasshes across crowded rooms (cue eye roll here) – we were reading all the Harry Potter novels. Soup to nuts. And then watching all the movies.

It was an incredibly immersive experience. So much so that I had begun dreaming about Harry and the gang on a nightly basis, wacky adventures ensuing while I rolled around like Voldemort had discovered we were connected via a scar. No good for the sleeping.

One night I dreamed that Dumbledore had blessed me and Evan with Harry and Hermione’s powers. I had been handed my wand and was learning proper wand motion. “You’re doing it wrong,” I could hear Hermione explain, “You’re supposed to point and flick.” Point and flick. Point and flick.

I awoke from this vivid scene with a jolt, clutching Evan’s penis while exercising proper wand flicks, wondering why it wasn’t shooting sparks.

Ouch. Sorry bunny. IMG_0224 Thus: we planted some lavender next to our bed to make for better sleeping.

Yes, the wonders of lavender are spread as far as the Hogwarts’ eye can see. From sleep aid to magical cures to, mmm, lavenderful treats. Like Lavender-Honey Ice Cream. This is not a dessert for the dairy-impaired, or the vegan conscious. But it is absolutely a heavenly flavor – creamy and soothing, thickly sweet with a tangy aftertaste. We got this recipe from The Arrows Cookbook (we crossed their Blueberry Ice Cream recipe with their Lavender-Honey one) and added slices of lemon peel.

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fresh or 2 tablespoons dried lavender
  • zest of 1 small lemon, removed in strips using a peeler
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup honey

1. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water. Have ready a smaller bowl that fits inside the ice bath, and a fine sieve. 2. Stir together the milk, cream, sugar, lemon peel and lavender leaves in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Take the saucepan off the heat, cover, and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes.IMG_0258IMG_0219 3. Whisk together the egg yolks and honey in a large bowl. Slowly pour the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, gently whisky to combine. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirringly constantly with a wooden spoon, over medium heat until the mixture reaches a temperature of 180 degrees F or it thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Immediately strain the mixture through the fine sieve into the smaller bowl, pressing on the lavender (and lemon peel) to extract the flavor, and place the bowl in the ice bath. Stir occasionally until completely chilled.IMG_0233 4. Freeze the mixture in the stand mixer with the ice cream attachment you were lucky enough to get as a weddingcommitment ceremonybeing alive gift (or the ice cream machine one might otherwise own). Serve at once or freeze for later.IMG_0241 Enjoy on a steamy July night near the solstice, when bedtime is minutes away and there’s no chance of a noseless Death Eater forcing you to maul your partner.IMG_0351