Monday, June 24

Birthday Dinner Adventures

Since my kids were small we've allowed them to choose their birthday dinners.  Of course this usually included French fries, chicken nuggets, or pizza.  As they became older they threw in a few surprises, switching out purchased pizza for my homemade pizza, or Italian beef sandwiches that I make in the crock pot. 

My oldest turned 20 this summer and he asked for Jerk chicken and Caribbean rice. He'd eaten similar dishes at a small restaurant near the college he attends, and thought that would be a cool birthday meal.  I agreed and the week before searched out recipes.  I cheated on the Jerk chicken and bought seasoning at the store, rubbed it on boneless chicken breasts that my husband grilled. While looking for a rice dish, I came up with many recipes, and it wasn't easy to figure out what was authentic.  I went with a simple recipe with ingredients I could find at the grocery store.

The rice recipe isn't really Caribbean, but rather Latin, and one website said it was Cuban, but originated in Spain. This is a shortcut version, using the canned beans. No matter where it's from it was delicious. I also sliced a mango and served it with the chicken and rice.

Rice and Black Beans

1 15-ounce can black beans (undrained)
1/4 cup Recaito
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups hot cooked white rice

Combine all ingredients, except the white rice, in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, and allow to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or so.

Notes:  I was out of cumin and didn't realize it, so I left it out.  Yes, that probably made a huge difference but I loved the taste of the beans, and so did everyone else. 

I found GOYA Recaito, which is basically what they are calling a "Cilantro cooking base" for rice, beans, soups, chili and stews.  I'm going to try it in other dishes.

I used white extra long grain rice, and cooked it according to the directions. When the beans were heated I mixed them into the rice.


Friday, June 21

First Day of Summer

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. ~John Lubbock
 The first day of summer in Michigan brought rose blooms. What's even more amazing is that it's almost the end of June and the Japanese Beetles are not invading my garden as they usually do this time of year.

This is my Rugosa Rose ( Rosa rugosa species) that I grew from a bare root about four yeas ago. I started out with three, but I managed to kill two over the course of the next year or so. My green thumb didn't apply to these roses, even though they are known for being tough and hard to kill.

 This was a major fail on my part, and I was determined to nurture the last one. I moved it to a part of our landscape that would allow the rose to grow as big as its little heart desires. Rugosa roses are known for growing rapidly, and in some situations they are considered invasive. I've wanted to grow this variety for the rose hips, which are plentiful and large. 

Every year the Japanese Beetles attack with a vengeance, and the bloom above is the first one I've had that isn't partially chewed.  One year, over half the plant, which wasn't very large, died off. I carefully cut out all of the dead section, and the next year it seemed fine, but was a little sparse from the pruning.  This year seems to be the summer it's going to take off and do some major growing.


This bloom is from a large climbing rose that was here when we bought our house eight years ago.  It wasn't attached to a trellis or any type of structure, and was in pretty bad shape that summer.  I cut it to the ground, and the next year it came back. I don't know what type of rose it is, but I do know it's  very susceptible to mildew.  The Japanese beetles also seem to devour it each year. It's full of blooms now, and the munching seems to be minimum.

I have two more roses that haven't bloomed yet, a pink miniature rose and another rose I planted a few years ago.  I lost the tag along the way, and I only remember getting it on clearance for just over two dollars. Since I was new to growing rose, I wanted to start with inexpensive plants.  It's been trial and error, and surprising at times.  The miniature rose was a gift, and I didn't expect it to do well once I planted it outside.  It turned out to be extremely hardy and blooms from June until the first heavy frost in the fall.

The first day of summer was humid and hot, but with roses in bloom it was still a lovely day.


Wednesday, June 5

Early June Blooms and Buds

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.~Gertrude Jekyll


The Last of the Roses in Autumn

The milkweed pods are breaking,   And the bits of silken down   Float off upon the autumn breeze   Across the meadows brown. ~C...