What’s there to do on a rainy weekend at the farm? Two things: cook and pull weeds. It’s the perfect time for cleaning overgrown walkways and flower beds while the ground is still damp. The fun stuff—like horseback riding or walking in the woods—is better when it’s drier underfoot.
This past weekend while the more agile tended the yard, I was indoors cooking up a storm. Some of the dishes were old favorites and others new recipes I’d come across on the Internet. Tomato Caprese is one of the golden oldies, that I look forward to each summer. I use the longest and narrowest plate I have to arrange ripe tomato slices with fresh rounds of Mozzarella. I add basil that I snip from a plant just a few feet outside my kitchen door.
But when I went for the basil this past weekend, I found the Japanese beetles were already enjoying the plant. The annoying little rascals used to nibble on rose bushes but, apparently, they’ve expanded their diet to include herbal delicacies as well.
For my next bit of kitchen nostalgia, I turned to an old recipe from the 70s: Squash Casserole. The recipe was penciled on a stained recipe card, listing a few ingredients I seldom use anymore in cooking, like cream of chicken soup and sour cream. I’ve not made the casserole in years, but I convinced myself that one recipe divided by ten guests made for only an inconsequential taste.
I had some lovely ears of bi-colored corn, that I turned into Ina Garten’s Fresh Corn Salad, a simple, make-ahead dish, that includes purple onions and a tangy vinaigrette dressing. The main dish was Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes and Basil—though I used an assortment of chicken pieces.
A Birthday Celebration!
It being Robin’s birthday a cake was in order. My cake-baking friend is a whizz at making just the right dessert for any occasion. She came up with this fresh, lemony cake from Cooking Light, that is a bit denser than box mixes, more like the cakes you find in Europe. It was terrific! Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt loaf is similar except for her use of yogurt rather than buttermilk.
The three candles atop Robin’s cake have absolutely no meaning. It just happened to be the number of candles we had left in the kitchen drawer.
Any weekend that ends with a weeded flower bed and a luscious cake is well spent.