Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fresh Sage - A Delicious Twist

OK.  There is a good reason I named this blog 'The Healthy NUT.'  I am just a little crazy and this post may prove it.   I have had almost no desire to cook much lately, relying on easy summery recipes that require a minimum of time in the kitchen.  We eat lots of salads and fresh veggies, chicken and fish.

Recently a friend e-mailed me asking for some recipe ideas for a bumper crop of sage.   I suddenly had a burning desire to make something I could garnish with fried sage. Usually I make  vegetarian cassoulet or bean soup in the fall and  both recipes are enhanced by the frizzled sage on top.    But who wants to make a meal like that in August.

Today while in the market, I spotted a butternut squash  -already peeled and cubed.  A recipe was forming in my (crazy) brain.  I added a package of crumbled gorgonzola to the basket and I knew what we were having for dinner.
Perhaps it was the 13 inches of rain that fell on us in 24 hours that gave me a yen for comfort food, but this is what I cooked up tonight.

Quinoa Risotto With Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Leaves and Gorgonzola

Olive Oil
4 cloves ofGarlic
1 Onion
A handful of fresh sage
1 cup tricolor quinoa
2&1/2 cups of water or broth
2 cups of cubed winter squash 
1 cup of gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Coat the squash with olive oil and bake in 400 oven for about 30 minutes.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil  and fry the sage leaves quickly.  Remove from the heat when they are crispy and drain on a paper towel. 

In the same pan, heat more oil (a tablespoon) cook the onion for 3-4 minutes add garlic and  quinoa.  cook for 3-4 minutes until quinoa starts to jump around in the pan. Slowly add water or broth, 1/4 cup at a time and stir as you would risotto.  Keep stirring and adding the water. This will take about 25-30 minutes for the quinoa to cook.  

Add salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off the heat and fold in the gorgonzola and the roasted squash.  Garnish with the sage. 

I served this with a straight- from- the- garden -yellow- tomato- and -basil - salad and a simple dressing. Drizzle with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Anyone who has read my recipes before knows that I like a recipe that can be changed up with whatever is on hand.  I can envision this working with asparagus and goat cheese or sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  

Today's Take-away 

               Sage - It's not just for Thanksgiving anymore!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Midsummer's Daydream

Rik Emmett Midsummer's Daydream - music for garden dreaming.

   The days have been warm and sunny, the nights cool and breezy.  The summer has been good to us.  Perfect weather for getting outside in the garden to work, then dawdle, then work a bit more.


 I was wandering around early one morning when I realized that, in summer, my garden is all about attracting the birds and the bees and the butterflies.

African Blue Basil

The bees love my basil and I've planted several varieties for them to enjoy since I keep picking the flowers off the sweet basil so there will be an abundance of it for pesto making in late August.

The purple coneflowers in the back round pull in the American Goldfinches. All summer they stop by to check on the progress of the seed pods.  Then in the fall they keep coming to eat until they have exhausted the supply of seeds.

My 'Carefree Rose' holds court in the center of the herb garden, and is finally acclimated to the move.  And ready for a close-up this morning!

Just as he was purported to do in life, Francis stands so still that the birds often land on his head to rest.  He is almost hidden in the lobelia, but the doves and the cardinals know where he is.

The sunny garden has been handed over to the hummingbirds and butterflies.  There is sage, monarda, honeysuckle, lantana, butterfly bush and trumpet vine along with the lobelia to lure them into my world.

Bee Balm or Monarda

Trumpet Vine

 And of course, what hummingbird garden is complete without this aggressive climber - a trumpet vine.


Last year we discovered this plant, an annual called the 'cigar plant' or cuphea while we were hunting for herbs at the Peconic River Herb Farm.  The hummingbirds were crazy for it at the farm.  So, of course, we HAD to get some this year.  I'm delighted to report that we've had a male hummingbird visiting us at least twice a day for the past two weeks and he visits every nectar plant in the garden before moving on!

Coleus - center stage in the shade

I have fallen in love with coleus For the shadier garden spots.  It is an easy-going annual that can add a real pop of color in mid-summer when the shade plants are mostly green.  The best part of coleus is this.  I can take cuttings at the end of summer, root it, grow it in the sunroom all winter, then move it outside to live in the ground all summer.
Two varieties of Coleus - there are so many to choose from
 I am also spending a bit of time each day harvesting and drying herbs and flowers for use all winter.  Iam collecting chamomile, calendula and St. John's Wort flowers to make a lovely skin cream once I have enough flowers.  More on that another time.  And I pull weeds for an hour or two every now and then.
But mostly what I do is stop to smell the roses, write in my garden journal and
indulge in midsummer daydreaming!

My treehouse
Finally, when the mosquitoes arrive, it is time to retreat to my own private treehouse.  I was trying to get a bug's eye view of the sky with the bee balm in the picture, when I suddenly noticed my sunroom in the back round.  Nice view looking in or out!

I hope you find a garden for daydreaming..... today and everyday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



Weeding at six forty-five
A.M. and already
I am perspiring.
Little rivers tickle down my back and face, mixing with the citronella I
bathed in,  before venturing into mosquito territory.  There is a sparrow
in the cherry tree, serenading  early risers.  I sweat and remind
myself that  all this bending will keep me young, allegedly. I spot
a dragonfly
on the bee balm
right next to my leg.
Breath skips out
of me.  Now
he flies,
as a
on a
ever it
is a

Published 7/14 -  Bards Annual 2014 - a Poetry Anthology 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Published - Bards Annual 2014 - A Poetry Anthology


think how your body moved down the avenue of fourteen
hips swaying into tomorrow and the next day

how you curl your tongue around the idea of chocolate
consumed by it even as your body consumes it

how your eyes connect with other eyes,
locking you into that inevitable, unforgettable dance

and feel how your body shudders and utters delight
when you share its secrets

how Beethoven ravaged, savaged your heart
invading, vibrating a joyous ode across tiny ear drums

how your skin felt like silk when you dove into the ocean,
and the salt-flecked water blessed, caressed and ate you

how your body worked to roll out another and another body,
sweating and pushing, pushing and sweating you bore them out

then swooned at the scent of brand new-born
pouring into every open door your body owns

how you are stunned when you rise from a daydream
and your eyes run across the sky, immense, intense with clouds

how you glow when a little boy stops playing
to touch your cheek lightly, politely planting a kiss

 how a river of pleasure runs through your nose when a rose
shrugs off its holy fragrance

and oh,
feel how your heart pumped as you jumped on your bike
willing your eight year old legs to ride forever

how you soared, when you stopped on the road to Yosemite, awed
and had to lie on the hood of the car to keep from falling into the stars

and how your heart sings in time with the birds
when spring arrives to banish, vanish winter

your body convulses and pulses with laughter,
tears flowing, you fall down on the floor

when you think what an impossible joy-ride it has given you
ever since you climbed aboard at your naked, gasping birth.


Published July 2014 -  Bards Annual  2014 - A Poetry Anthology

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