Announcing Lover #3

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  A bit too hot for me.  High 90.  Sunny

STEPS:  10,424
CLASSES:  2 water aerobics

We are on the butterfly migration route and are lucky to be able to watch millions of butterflies fly through our neighborhood.  The National Butterfly Center is about a mile from us, and I pass it on my normal walking route.  This morning, there were a bunch of serious butterfly-watchers walking on the outside of our community.  They tend to look like this, dressed like they are going on a safari…

I think this photo shows a Queen and a Monarch, both very beautiful, and frequently-seen types around here….

Speaking of butterflies, since Mission is a butterfly “hub”, the city has placed these butterfly statues all around the City.  This is the one in front of the library where I went today.

A kind neighbor who knows I like to grow basil gave me one of her cuttings, and I planted it in a Mexican flower pot.  I hope it grows!

George is having good luck with his sugar snap peas.  He is going to try to train them to grow up our back fence. 

Yesterday, I told you about my love life – Lover #1 – my husband George (of course!).  Lover #2 (virtual of course) is Jacques Pepin, the French chef.  Two of his recipes that I made tonight are described below.  Lover #3…… (another virtual one)……drum roll……..Rick Steves, the travel writer and star of European travel shows. 

I just LOVE Rick, and his obvious love of Europe..  One reason I like him so much is that we are about the same age, and share a passion for traveling.  Rick started back-packing in Europe the day after he graduated from high school.   This is what he looked like then….

And, this is what he looks like now. 

He writes that during his first summer backpacking (in 1973) in Europe, his budget was $3/day.  Mine, in 1972 was $1/day plus a pre-paid Eurorail pass.  I lived and studied in Spain for a year, hitchhiking every weekend around the country.  Following my junior year abroad, I backpacked around all of Europe with my brother and his friend.  It was a fabulous summer.

Big hair must have been “in” during those days.  Rick certainly had a lot of hair, and so did I….

Now, my hair is more like Rick’s!

DINNER:  Two more Jacques/Karmen recipes:

1)  SILKY TOMATO SOUP WITH SPINACH COULIS

This is a refreshing summer soup.  Thankfully, we can still get good tomatoes here.  It is a bit like gazpacho.  It is great on its own, but is sublime with the spinach coulis.  Besides drizzling it on top of the soup, the coulis would be yummy as a salad dressing, or great as a drizzle over poached fish or over pasta.

Tomato soup:

3 # ripe tomatoes diced in small cubes
1 sweet onion, diced in 1″ chunks
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 jalapeno pepper, seed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (we used more as we like spicy)
3/4 tsp salt
2 T good olive oil
1/4 tsp Tabasco

Put all the ingredients in a blender and puree.  Push through a fine sieve.  (Note – I skipped this step as I don’t have a sieve.  Since we live in a tiny house or RV, I don’t have a lot of kitchen gadgets that I would rarely use).  Put in a bottle or jar and refrigerate until cool. 

Spinach coulis:

3 cups loosely packed spinah leaves
1/4 cup oil – half olive oil, half canola
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water

Microwave spinach until wilted, about 1 minute.  Place in blender along with other ingredients.  Pulse until smooth.  Put in a jar and refrigerate until cool.

To serve, ladle about 1.5 cup soup per person.  Gardish each bowl with 1-2 T of the spinach coulis.  This would be colorful for Christmas!  Serves 4

————————-
PASTA, HAM, AND VEGETABLE GRATIN

This is super easy and can be made ahead of time. 

1.5 cup pasta shells or penne
1.5 cup diced ham
3/4 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup peas
1.5 cup diced zucchini – about one medium-sized one
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
3/4 grated Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese

For the white sauce:

2 T unsalted butter
2 T all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 T freshly grated Parmesan

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and add the pasta.  Boil uncovered about 12 minutes.  Drain and cool. 

Put the pasta in a large bowl and stir in the ham, corn, peas, zucchini, salt, pepper, and cheese. 

For the white sauce – Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the flour and mix it with a whisk.  Add the milk and bring to a boill.  Stir and keep heating until thickened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

Heat the broiler.   Combine the white sauce with the pasta mixture and place in a shallow baking dish.  Sprinkle Parmesan on top.  Broil about 6-8 minutes until bubbly hot.  You can keep the gratin in the warm oven for about 10-15 minutes, but try to not leave it there longer, as it will become gooey.  4 servings

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