To Spray or Not to Spray, That is the Question


Maybe I'm like the Danish prince, haunted by dead plants past so that I want my current crop to do well. For the most part, I'd say I'm pretty organic. In the back yard, I weed pretty much all by hand.  The front lawn, however, can hide massive amounts of intruders that, left on their own, would pretty much take over from the grass.



Some lawn weeds...like mallow, oxalys, or this as yet unidentified weed above...can be pulled with a fork and some elbow grease.

The dandelion, on the other hand, can quickly get out of hand. 

In this year of drought, many of my neighbors have completely ignored their lawns. I've let mine go, too, but still tried to keep it in a kind of 'mothballs' situation, waiting for the rain to return.  



With all the lawns in our area ignored, dandelion seeds have spread like crazy and when the green came back, so did hundreds of these little lawn killers.

In years past, I could dig in with a trowel and at least keep my head above water. This year, I stopped counting a one hundred.

OK, I hate to do it, but the only way I'm going to have a chance with this lawn is a judicious application of weed killer.



Fortunately, the biology of a dandelion means I can just apply a few drops to the center of the plant, which is basically a funnel, where the poison will settle into the interior of the plant and not disturb the grass around it.

Yes, I know you can pick them and eat the leaves but I also need some control of what I grow and these are beyond that point.  Hopefully, I can get a handle on this huge, new crop and go back to hand weeding for the future.

Darryl
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

GREAT GADGETS: Westbend Mini Chopper


I love a gadget that makes my life easier in the kitchen and this is my current favorite.

Just maybe half a cup capacity, my wife bought this for a dollar at a local yard sale.

Dump in an onion, zucchini, cilantro, chili...whatever you fancy.


Push the button...


...and a few seconds later, you have a bowl of chopped up goodness to go into your dish.

It appears this is no longer made but you can find similar food processors on Amazon for around $12.

Darryl
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

This Week's Menu: Lasagna and Sunday Sauce


Well, I guess it's time for the sauce this blog was named for, it's a Sunday Sauce recipe here on the Sunday Sauce blog.  We'll be using it as an ingredient in what has turned out to be the best lasagna I've ever made...and I've made a few.

So get your grocery list ready, have a bottle of wine handy, and spend a few hours making this delicious sauce for an outstanding lasagna.

Recipes at the links below.


DINNER: Lasagna with sausage and spinach cream sauce


SAUCE: Sunday Sauce

Darryl
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

DINNER: Lasagna


We're making a lasagna for dinner this week. The lasagna itself is not a lot of work but the sauce is so be sure to do this ahead of time (recipes via the links in the recipe below).

Lasagna is basically just layers of whatever flavors and stuffings you like, stacked up between flat ribbons of pasta and baked.

As certain cartoon cats can attest, it's delicious!


INGREDIENTS
1 box lasagna pasta (we're using a diabetic friendly whole wheat version)
1/2 pound shredded ozzarella
1/2 grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon olive oil
24 oz. Sunday Sauce 
16 oz. spinach cream sauce
1 pound Italian sausage
1/cup ricotta cheese

In a sauce pan, cook the Italian sausage until cooked through and browned. Pour in the tomato sauce (Sunday Sauce) and mix thoroughly. Let boil for a couple of minutes.



In a square or rectangular baking pan, put in the olive oil. With a paper towel, wipe all interior surfaces with the oil so it is well coated.  Put in two lasagna noodles, side by side.

(NOTE: We're using a whole wheat version that does not need cooking ahead of time but many lasagna noodles do need to be boiled in water until al dente first)



Spoon in just enough of the tomato Sunday Sauce to cover the pasta completely. Put a handful of mozzarella over the sauce. 



Put two more noodle on top of that. Press down and try to make level and flat.  Sprinkle a layer of Parmesan, then a layer of the spinach cream sauce.



Two more pastas, and another layer of the tomato sauce with a layer of ricotta. Two more pastas and another layer of the Parmesan and spinach cream sauce.  Two more pastas, the rest of the mozzarella.



Cover and tent (with an air space between the top of the lasagna and foil) with foil.  



Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes.

Darryl
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday Sauce


No, not the name of the blog but an actual Sunday sauce. It's a basic ingredient for many Italian dishes and is named because it takes an entire Sunday afternoon to cook before it's integrated into a satisfying Sunday dinner.

I'm not saying I'm an expert in Italian cooking, far from it, but I've been experimenting with these sauces for awhile and found that even a novice like me can make a sauce from scratch that's better than anything you can buy in a bottle.

You can too.

This is just one of many variations of a Sunday sauce you can make. Once you get rolling with it, you'll find your own way to put your own personal stamp on it.


INGREDIENTS
1/2 white onion, chopped.
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 sherry
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon shredded parmesan
1 can (28oz.) peeled San Marzano tomatoes


In a medium sauce pan (I'm using a 4-quart pan for up to 6 people), heat up the oil on high heat and put in the onions and cook until translucent. Add the sherry and stir up to deglaze the pan.

Empty in the tomatoes. Rinse the sides of the can to clean it for disposal and dump that water in the pan, too. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.


Lower the heat to a low simmer and add the parmesan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for around 3-4 hours. When reduced to a fairly thick consistency, almost a paste, you're done.

Be sure to taste at various points along the way and add ingredients to improve taste if it needs it.


The sauce can be used in a myriad of dishes, especially pasta, and can also be put in jars and frozen for future use.

Darryl
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

SAUCE: Spinach Cream Sauce


Need a creamy sauce to help an entree? Here's a quick, creamy sauce for you. I use it in pasta dishes.


INGREDIENTS
1/2 pound spinach (frozen or fresh)
1 cup half and half
4 oz. heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup all purpose flour


In a medium sauce pan, preheat the oil on medium. Put in the spinach and cook until well reduced by cooking.  


Add the half and half, salt, pepper, and garlic. Bring to a boil for 2 or 3 minutes.

Lower heat and slowly stir in flour.  Simmer for five minutes and turn off heat.


After two minutes, add heavy cream and stir in.

Darryl
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Hanging by a Thread


I love this dendrobium. It has beautiful flowers, is very prolific, and grows very well under our eaves.



It's so prolific that it's grown way to big for the pot it's in. Time  for a repot.



I've separated it into two plants and will plant it into two pots (follow along with our epiphytic orchid repotting instructions here).



It's an epiphyte (meaning it grows on the side of trees in nature) so I'm planting it in bark chips.  A hammer helps to make sure the new potting mix is very tight on the roots.



Time to water in.



All done, now I have a fresh, hanging basket of orchids. I'll give the other pot away.

Darryl 
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Cara Cara!


Just a quick post to cover the last of our crop of Cara Cara navel oranges. That big one in the middle is my blue ribbon fruit, it's as big as a grapefruit.



Now that the tree is bare, I'll prune those branches back off of the sidewalk.

Darryl
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

This Week's Menu: Grilled New York Steak with Garlicky Asparagus and Mushrooms


Garlic spices everything up this week, from our New York steaks to the asparagus and mushroom side dish.

Recipes below...


DINNER: Grilled New York Steak


SUPER SIDE: Garlicky Asparagus and Mushrooms

Darryl

DINNER: Grilled New York Steak


My wife called this a Fred Flintstone dinner. I think that's a compliment.

We really cooking with gas today...no, really.  I haven't used my gas grill for at least two years so I take off the tarp and clean the cobwebs off for today's meal.


I want to use the gas grill mainly because it also has a side burner I can use for the sauce.

That sauce will be a sherry/garlic reduction.


The main thing with a meal like this is to get great ingredients. In this case, it's USDA Prime New York steaks that I found for $9.99 per pound at Costco.


INGREDIENTS
2 - 1 pound New York steaks (Prime, if you can, but at least Choice)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup sherry
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


About 3-4 hours before cooking, put the steaks in a sealable bowl. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Splash the top surface with Worcestershire sauce, seal the bowl and put in the refrigerator.


In a skillet big enough to easily accommodate your steaks, heat up the olive oil on med/high heat.  Sear the steaks on each side for two minutes. You can also see why this is a good meal to cook outside with all the spatter.


Move the meat to the grill, about 300 degrees, and cook on each side for 6-8 minutes.


Back over in the skillet, put the garlic in the oil with the meat drippings. Stir in with the sherry. Use a spatula so you can scrape the meat bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. 


Turn the heat down to low/medium and continue cooking as long as he meat does. Put the sauce in a bowl or cup and set aside.

When the meat is done, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.


Serve with some of the reduction sauce ladled on.

Darryl
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved







SUPER SIDES: Garlicky Asparagus and Mushrooms


Another very easy and tasty side dish using our standard method of grilling vegetables on the barbecue.

I was inspired to do this mixup by a stand at one of our local farmer's markets that fried mushrooms in garlic. They're delicious and the aroma just draws you in. Deep fried mushrooms are not the healthiest thing, though.

This dish is and it's just as tasty.


INGREDIENTS

4 or 5 spears of asparagus
1/2 cup sliced, fresh mushrooms
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Slice up asparagus into 1" pieces. Place asparagus, mushrooms, salt, and pepper into a plastic bag. Hold the top closed and shake up vigorously. Add the garlic and shake again. Add the olive oil and shake again.


Place the resulting mixture on a sheet of foil paper. Close up, grill on the barbecue for 20 minutes.

Darryl
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

THE LEGACY OF LEFTOVERS: Fried Steak Tacos

Last week, I made some really good Mexican style rib eye steaks on the barbecue. They were delicious but I made more than we can eat. Thi...