01 December 2010

December? Already?

It's been quite awhile since either of us have posted anything.  So, I figure it's time for an update.

Willis has made some winter cloches for the beds, my little ginkgo tree has shed all of it's leaves, and we've still yet to build a fence.  We've decided, however, to move the current landscaping from the backyard to the front yard come spring time.  This way the dogs can roam all over and we don't have to worry about them trampling through the fava bean patch or peeing on the strawberries.  We'll keep the beds and plant another tree or two, but other than that the backyard will be all for the dogs.

This giant squash is from our fall garden.  Willis made some delicious muffins with it for our family Thanksgiving feast.  We also provided a green bean casserole (my favorite recipe listed below), some stuffing, and celebration roast.

In the past few months, we've had plenty of leeks and scallions from the garden as well as some greens to cook up.

And, we've welcomed a pizza stone into our lives, thanks to Taleia!  The dough is currently rising, and I'll be giving it a test run tonight.

Outdoor Adventures:
Willis has continued to go mushrooming and has had luck with a patch of chanterelles in Forest Park, not too far from our house.  Good to know for next year.  He and Taleia also spent a day at the cost hoping to try their luck at some clamming.

Fresh Green Bean Casserole

Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes | Bake Time: 15 minutes
For the Topping:
4 slices white bread, each slices torn into quarters
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups canned fried onions (about 6 ounces)
For the Beans and Sauce:
2 tablespoons salt
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, and halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, stems removed, wiped clean and broken into ½-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups broth
1½ cups heavy cream

1. For the Topping: Pulse bread, butter, salt and pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with onions; set aside.

2. For the Beans and Sauce: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees F. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add 2 tablespoons salt and beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

3. Add butter to now-empty pot and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3½ cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in an even layer in 3-quart (or 9×13-inch) baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes.