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We had a really good gardening year despite the heatwave that gave some people a lot of trouble. Tomatoes, eggplant, cukes, beets, beans, rhubarb, herbs – all great. Not as much success with onions as last year, and the fennel bulbs failed to materialize. Most of it is finished due to the cold nights, though the hot peppers and carrots are still going strong. I may try overwintering the carrots and some onions I planted late. Here are a few pics:

2 cherry tomato plants from Lowe’s and a Yellow Pear heirloom plant produced easily over a thousand pieces of fruit.

Our heirlooms and fresh mozzarella – a combo we enjoyed at least 3 days a week all summer.

Brandywines, Black Krim and Black Beauty eggplant – all heirlooms so I’ll be planting those seeds in the spring.

Frankentomato – a Brandywine that split and healed a dozen times.

A tenant in our tomatoes for a few weeks this summer.

Another inhabitant. Found a couple of these guys on the tomatoes and parsley.

My wife insisted on planting a store-bought redskin potato in a coffee can in February against my advice. The vine was 2 feet long by the time i got it in the ground. We ended up with maybe 20 medium to small potatoes in a few months. Glad she didn’t listen to me.

The final big haul last week. The bell peppers had only just started turning red but the plant was dying from the cold. I pickled the green tomatoes. We’ll see how they turned out in a few weeks.

 

We finally got back to The River Grille – it’s probably been since last summer at least. For a while it was easily the best restaurant in downtown Easton. I think we just felt more comfortable in more intimate spots like Ocean and Sette Luna. The River Grille’s cavernous main dining room can get frustratingly noisy and the patio furniture in the semi-open-air front section was really uncomfortable on our previous visit.

We were again seated in the front section (probably because we hadn’t made a reservation) but thankfully they’d replaced the metal tables and chairs with comfy high-end chairs and a built-in bench along the long wall. The menu felt familiar but there were a fair number of new offerings. I’d had a great ribeye here maybe 2 years ago and was psyched to see it still on the menu. It had been really tender, not too fatty and perfectly seasoned. My wife started with the tomatoes and mozzarella and i had the granola salad. There was maybe too much mozzarella relative to the tomatoes, but i snagged the extra so i’m not really complaining. I had the granola salad – mixed greens with pineapple, granola and raisins. A great way to add some crunch and flavor without piling on the dressing. I’m gonna try it at home.

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My wife had 2 appetizers for her dinner – the tomato bisque and mussels. She was in heaven. The bisque was amazingly smooth and rich. My ribeye was as perfect as I remembered. If i have one criticism, it’s that the side dishes could have been more inventive. The portions were all really generous and it was getting late so we skipped dessert this time. Everything was really great and I don’t see us waiting as long between visits anymore.

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We discovered Klein Farms in Forks Township a few months back. We’d seen an ad in The Irregular newspaper (i think) so it was in the back of my mind that we needed to check it out. One day we were getting ready to head out to a dinner party and we figured we’d pick up some of their raw milk cheese on the way for everyone to try.

I’ve read a bit about the benefits of properly produced raw milk and there are some compelling arguments. The cheeses certainly tasted differently than expected. Klein Farms has a wide range of flavored cheddars and spreads, and my concern was that they were using the flavors (fruit, herbs, etc) to mask inferior cheese. I grabbed a plain gouda and a cranberry cheddar – nothing too gimmicky. I found the gouda’s flavor dramatically different from the European goudas we normally get (usually smoked), and the texture was much more elastic and less dense – almost like a mozzarella without the stringy protein structure. The cheddar was good, though a bit sharp for my tastes. I think we both prefer the more earthy flavors – smoked gouda, bries and blue cheeses. Humboldt Fog is one of our new faves but it can be tough to find. And Wegman’s has a Gorgonzola Dolce that will knock your socks off.

My main interest now is possibly using their raw milk to produce my own cheeses. We buy a fair amount of fresh mozzarella when the tomatoes come in. Cubed and tossed with cherry tomatoes, lemon basil, olive oil and sea salt – it makes a great meal on some toasted semolina bread.

I found some easy mozzarella kits here, though the site is…well…cheesy. This guy has kits for brie and blue cheese, and the idea of aging my own cheese in the cellar is really intriguing. A nice complementary hobby to my winemaking for sure. Maybe i’ll start it in late fall when it gets too cold to make wine? I need a bit more research before i add yet another complication to my life.

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  • the red and black
    For many Junes, this was my favorite cocktail. Yes, I realize that I sound particularly like a weird food writer person and not a person who lives among other people because most normal, sane people do not have a favorite cocktail for each month of the year, even if you agree with me — you do, right? –that a Perfect Manhattan is the ideal way to warm up on t […]

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