Sunday, July 29, 2012

This and that...

Well, it's 105 in the shade.  I can hear my vegetable garden panting.  I continue to water twice a day when the garden is shaded and can catch its breath.  I know I talk about it like it is alive...because it is!  Don't mean to anthropomorphise (bet you didn't think I could throw big words around, did you?) but the little darlings seem to need some additional respect these days out in this unbearable heat.  Honestly, it is almost impossible to be outside.  That said...look at these beauties that were growing quietly next to the fence.  Thank goodness, my boyfriend was out there yesterday to pluck them because I obviously didn't see them.  Yes, I am literate but also blind as a bat.I am hopeful that the three tomato plants I put in a few weeks ago will fare better than their many cousins across the garden divide.  The butternut squash is still looking good and here's hoping that I will get a few more bell peppers and Poblanos before they give up.
I don't know if you can tell how tall and leggy they are but but they are very tall and leggy! And, seem to have a lot of blossoms coming on so we'll hope for the best, once more.  And, I will continue to water, water, water, until the city tells me to stop.  At this point, I feel as boring as the temperature so let's move on.  I didn't expect to be busy at the kitchen this summer because well, it's summer and in Tulsa, that means that people are not around.  They are staying in (smart), or on vacation (smarter) or summering at their second home in Colorado or Maine or somewhere much cooler than Tulsa (what?!).  Since I don't have the luxury of a summer home, I am typically in town and working so that maybe someday I will have the luxury of a summer home (I better hurry, though, I'm not getting any younger!).  Happy to say that classes have been quite full and loads of fun.  The last one that was a particular blast was the Ricotta Making Class.  This really is one of those projects where you just can't believe how easy it is and why you have never tried it before!  You don't need special ingredients, equipment or anything!  Just milk, salt and some sort of acid (vinegar, buttermilk or lemon juice but lemon juice is my gives it just that hint of lemon) to make the milk turn into cheese.  Also, everyone has their own method for making ricotta but here is the recipe I like best.  Now, go forth and make ricotta!

Homemade Ricotta
Makes about 2 cups
½ gallon whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Line a large strainer or colander with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.
Slowly bring the milk, cream and salt to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.  Add lemon juice.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly until mixture curdles 5 minutes or less.
Pour into lined strainer and let drain for at least an hour.  Discard liquid, chill ricotta covered.  It will keep for 2 days.

News from the kitchen...September will feature a new type of class.  We will be trying out "Date Night at Urban Kitchen".  Recently, I have been fielding calls from folks looking for something different to do on a date and cooking seems to be "it"!  So, we're responding to the request with a special class for couples.  We will feature foods to cook together (romantically, of course) so Date Night will be more "meal-based" versus "topic-based".  We're excited to offer this class so hope you will grab your significant other and come cook with us!

Last but not least, I am going to be working on moving all of my blogging to Wordpress.  Blogger was a good way for me to start this adventure but the more I look at (and admire) other food-focused blogs, it seems that they use Wordpress so watch this space and I'll let you know when it's time to go...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pssst...I'm back!

Hey Everyone!  Sorry for the length between posts!
Frankly, I got distracted by this crazy ABC Cooking Show audition and also somewhat bored with what's going on in my garden.  I will catch you up on both, no worries!
First, the audition...this new show is very hush hush but we found out that it will be called "The Taste" and will be similar in format to "The Voice".  After what I believed to be a good audition, I have not yet received a call back (frowny face) but!  You learn something with every experience and here is what I learned from this one...even though the produced begins the interview with whatever kind of question, you must never stray from your mission which is:  it always comes back to the food.  I didn't follow my own advice and just ended up having a goofy gabfest with the producer but didn't talk much about my food.  So notice taken...will not make that mistake again and believe me, there will be another "again"! 
But I digress...on to the garden and more photos!
It is definitely summer in Oklahoma now.  Over 100 degree days, day after day after day.  I'm looking forward to little bit of weather but it doesn't look like it's going to happen soon.  I have taken to watering my poor babies twice a day now, early in the morning and then late in the evening when it's just 90 degrees.

The 'maters have not fared as well as I had hoped but they are still trying.  Between the birds, squirrels and plain ol' heat, I don't have the crop I thought would be there.  The yellow and red cherry tomatoes keep going and they are wonderful so I appreciate them so much.  The bird block I put up has helped keep the birds out but I'll be damned if I didn't see a squirrel running across the top of the fence with a big tomato in his mouth and then stop to take a bite while I was right there!  I chased him with a rake (a la Mr. McGregor) but it didn't scare him in the least!  I'm hoping that the rest of the crop will be high enough that he (and the bunnies) can reach them.
The killer cucumber looks beautiful but no fruit...if it ever comes on, I'm going to be pickling.
The Italian parsley and the basil are happy as are the butternut squash and peppers. 

So, we have to hope for a break in the heat!  Should be coming before long...I know I'm humoring myself, sad isn't it.
In the meantime, I'll be indoors at the kitchen.  We have lots of great classes coming up in August so don't forget that you can beat the heat at Urban Kitchen.  Keep watching the website (and this blog) for some exciting new promotions that will start in September.