Sunday, January 08, 2006

Spring cleaning (in January)... and a recipe

I don't know if it's just me, but every year after Christmas, I get this urge to clean out all the dark and dusty corners, get rid of the things that have been piling up for the last several months, and open the windows and let the sweet fresh air in.

It's probably a good thing I live in Texas, then... can't see that working out too well in Maine. :)

So I have been purging my house this week -- clearing countertops, wiping down hard-to-reach surfaces, washing pillows and comforters... sweetening the house. And the difference is marvelous -- there's nothing better than sinking into fresh sheets at the end of the day. Speaking of fresh sheets, I've been picking up some tips from the Professional Association of International Innkeepers' forum... I'll compile them and post them shortly!

Oh, and I've also been watering my garden -- it's all planted now, with broccoli, sweetpeas, larkspur, poppies, garlic, onions, carrots, turnips, arugula...and lots and lots of lettuce for salads.

Speaking of veggies, when I was down at the community garden yesterday, I found a little pile of what looked like dried up green onions (scallions) on the picnic table; someone had just thinned out their garlic! So I stuck them all into my garden, like little, feeble soldiers, and soon, if I keep them watered and they survive, I will be awash in one of my favorite things -- green garlic! (Which is young garlic that looks just like a scallion -- it hasn't had a chance to bulb yet.) Umm... to plant your own, just get an organic bulb of garlic, look up planting times in your area, pick a sunny spot in the garden, and plant the cloves point-up!

And my favorite -- and fast -- winter/spring dinner recipe?

Pasta with Goat Cheese and Green Garlic

A big batch of pasta (I wing this -- enough for four people)
One bunch of arugula, washed well, bottoms of stems removed
Zest and juice of one lemon
One stalk of green garlic, chopped fine
1/3-1/2 cup good quality chevre (I like the local stuff, but in a pinch, Laura Chenel, which I can get at Sam's, is yummy)
Extra Virgin Olive oil to taste
Salt to taste

While pasta is boiling, prepare arugula, lemon and green garlic. Drain cooked pasta; while it is still very hot, add arugula, lemon juice and zest, garlic, and chevre. Mix well; if it seems a little dry, add olive oil and/or more chevre. Season to taste with salt. (I sometimes add more lemon or a touch of granulated garlic to up the flavor, too.) And that's it!

NOTE: If you don't have access to green garlic, you can substitute garlic powder/granulated garlic, or use garlic salt in place of the salt.

While we're talking goat cheese, here's one of my favorite snacks/lunches -- I was introduced to it by a good friend, Lindsey Daltro-Schram, when we lived in Munich.

Take a slice of good bread -- I like crusty ciabatta or a good hunk of peasant bread -- smear with chevre or crumble good sheep/goat feta on it -- then drizzle with olive oil and top with tomato. Dust it with a sprinkle of garlic salt and dig in.

I used to use a few leaves of fresh basil on top of this, but over the last few years, I haven't bothered as much... now, if I have it, for a change I sometimes substitute arugula for the tomato.

Speaking of snacks, I'm hungry...time to hit the kitchen!


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