Tag Archives: gardening

Cooking with Reesa – Summer Herb Pasta and Fried Squash

This is an “in theory” meal.  In theory, all the fresh ingredients could have come from my garden.  Once my tomatoes are ripe, they will.  Until then, in theory, this meal came entirely from my garden!  The parts you can grow in a garden, anyway. Except the garlic and mushrooms.

There were pictures to go with this.  Step by step, even.  Unfortunately, I’m about as much of a photographer as I am a correspondent or mime, and they all looked like something from the Gallery of Regrettable Food.  It tasted pretty awesome, though, and that’s what counts. I did manage to mostly salvage a shot of the finished product.

For pasta sauce:

2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs/1 tsp. rosemary, minced
1/4 cup – LOTS, basil, finely chopped
1 10 oz. package mushrooms, sliced
1 medium to large red pepper, diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Notes: I used fresh herbs out of my garden.  If you’re using dried herbs, you’ll need to adjust the quantities according to the ratio given on the jars. (Because I’m lazy, and I’m not going to look it up right now.)

In large skillet, combine 1 Tbs butter with 1 Tbs olive oil, heating until butter is melted.  Add the minced garlic and brown over low to medium heat, stirring as needed to keep the garlic from burning.  Once the garlic has browned, add the rest of the herbs, cooking them down for a minute or two before adding the second Tbs. of butter, tomatoes, bell pepper, and mushrooms.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I used about half a tsp. of salt, and 1/2 tsp. of fresh ground pepper.

Cook the herbs and veggies down for a couple minutes, until it starts to thicken.  Add the water, stirring it in, then set the pan on low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the consistency you prefer.

Meanwhile, cook some pasta.  I used spaghetti noodles, because (see above) I’m lazy, and they were what I had.  I think it would have been better with a chunkier pasta, maybe a penne or something.  Drain the pasta, the combine it with the sauce, tossing lightly to mix together.

For the fried squash:

3 Tbs. olive oil (you may need more for frying, depending on how quickly it burns off)
3 yellow summer squash, crookneck or straight, cut into rounds approx. 1/8 of an inch thick
2 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. parmesan cheese from the can at the back of your fridge
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt – finer is better, since this is for the dredge
1/4 to 1/2 tsp pepper, finer grind is better

Slice the squash into rounds and put it in a large plastic baggie that seals.  Add about 1 Tbs. of the olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Shake the bag like it’s personally offended you, until all the squash rounds have some oil on them.  In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. of olive oil over medium heat.

Using a fork, mix together the flour, parmesan cheese, and the rest of the salt and pepper in a shallow dish.  Using the same fork, because who wants to do more dishes, spear a round of the squash and dredge it through the flour and cheese until it’s lightly coated.  Place it in the skillet, repeating this step until you have a single layer of squash pieces covering the bottom of the skillet.  By the time you’re done filling the skillet, it will be about time to start flipping the pieces over.  You want them to be brown and crispy, not black and burned, so watch for that fine line, about 2 minutes or so into the cooking.  Unless you have a skillet the size of a small alien craft, you will likely need to do this in 2-3 batches.  If you’re so inclined, you can put the cooked pieces on a plate with some paper towels or brown paper sacking on it to drain them, but there shouldn’t be a great deal of excess oil involved.  You may need to add a splash more oil to the pan between batches, just to keep things from sticking.

Before and After

When it’s a category on Wheel of Fortune, I’m all over the Before and After.  So why is it that I never remember to take before and after pictures until I’ve already reached the “after” part of the equation?

Never fear!  My mad Photoshop skillz (they really deserve the z) can fix the problem!

The Project: Backyard Mayhem

Last year for Christmas, I gave my friend and housemate, Stanley, the gift of landscaping.  No, it’s not what you’re thinking.  Actual landscaping.

Our back yard, over the years, has gone from relatively spacious and clean, to a gradually diminishing ivy nursery.  We’d lost at least 10 to 15 feet of yard to the creeping green menace, including the only spot on the entire property that gets enough direct sunlight to grow a vegetable garden.  It was time to declare war, and so, armed with only our wits, our checkbooks, and the wiles of the 3 guys who actually did most of the work, we struck a blow for freedom from the English (creeper vines.  Hi, Brits!  We <3 you!)

It wasn’t enough to just gain the ground back, though.  We had to stake our claim!  So after our reserve troops had been sent home, Stanley built me some lovely raised gardening beds, and then we both set to work filling them with the tiny mountain of topsoil that had been left behind for us.

We filled.  And we filled.  I’m pretty sure that Stanley thought I was going to have a heart attack, and I was relegated to “raker” rather than “shoveler”.  When we were done, I had learned two very important things:

1) I give awesome Christmas presents, when they get me something I want.
2) I would never make it on Supernatural, because those dudes seem to dig up a grave or two a week, and after moving approximately the same amount of dirt, I felt like I could cheerfully be put in the ground myself.

And now, courtesy of my lax grasp on sequencing, before and after pictures of my yard and new garden: