Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spring has kept me busy

Spring/ Summer is finally here in Northwest Iowa and I have been reveling in its glory. The winter was long, but it becomes a faded memory once everything becomes coming to life again around here, and that is more than a metaphor for these parts. Some days it feels like you can watch everything around you regain color and vigor and it seems as if things are growing literally right before your eyes. It is a truly amazing time of the year. Below are a few picture of some of the tulips from around town during the annual Tulip Festival.

Since last year was my first Summer in Iowa, I did not know the protocol for planting your average home garden, but I was determined to find out. I was quickly indoctrinated to the fact that the Iowa green thumb seems to be a coveted secret amongst the local horticulturalists, because no one wanted to give me any information (however I saw that they all had their seedlings started and an obvious plan in mind). So last year my garden was pretty much a wash, but this year I payed real close attention to what everyone was doing. And as you can see by my garlic chives below, that my garden is looking none to shabby.

Chives, green onions, garlic, red onions, tomatoes (diff. varieties), eggplants, peppers, lettuce, basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, thyme, rosemary, hops, and lavender- and possibly a few others.

Roux even got in on helping to plant the indoor herbs.

With our crop and what our friends and family have grown we should be eating pretty well this summer. I have already and will be cooking so much with the abundance of farm fresh produce that we will be receiving over the next few months. Some of you may have heard last year about my neighbor that grows zucchini that are bigger than baseball bats and brings them over by the bucket full. Well it seems that all of the produce around here are on some kind of steroids, even the organic stuff, but it is beautiful and delicious Below are the asparagus spears (as long and as thick as drum sticks) that Christian's brother grew on his farm this year, which are also currently being served at the Blue Mountain restaurant along with all of the other fresh produce.

I have been trying a lot of new recipes, but mainly I just like putting asparagus on the grill with olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar and then when they come off the heat douse them with some shaved parm reg. Delicioso.

There are many great facets to life in Northwest Iowa when everything thaws out, and one is that it feels like you are part of one big co-op. My neighbor is growing zucchini, my friend has chickens who regularly lay eggs, my soon to be brother in law has rhubarb, apples, asparagus, and so much more, and our two best friends raise hogs and cattle (I literally have half of a cow in my freezer). I definitely love food and I really ate great in New Orleans, but it is nice to now have that real farm to table connection and relationship with my food. Look out for some rhubarb recipes to come, I am entering a local Rhubarb cooking competition. Oh yeah... Thai Rhubarb glazed chicken wings?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NativeOrleanian.com one of the best pictographic depictions of the heart of New Orleans from a Friend

Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews - always vivacious and amazing

Before we left New Orleans a friend of ours was really taking off with his local photography career and as a going away present he gave us a print of his which happened to be one of the first things that I hung up in our house in Iowa. Our friend, Jerry Moran, just has a way of evoking that spirit of New Orleans when it is so good that it feels as if you are coasting on a wave of music, color, and culture mixed with the spice of something cooking that take you right on through the good and bad. His pictures just blanket me in nostalgia. Recently I went to Jerry's website, nativeorleanian.com and was so pleasantly surprised at how it has been redone. He now has so many pictures available and they are presented in such a beautiful way that really feels like him. On the website Jerry describes himself and his work as:

"my first love is and always has been the culture and heritage of New Orleans. I have been an enthusiast and supporter of the New Orleans music scene since the early 80’s and have not missed a single day of Jazz Fest in over 25 years. My life has always been enriched by the culture of my home in too many ways to list. I have often thought if everyone could get just a little of what I experience when engaged by the rhythms, culture and architecture of this city, the world would be a better place. It’s that cathartic experience some of us have when engaged by our music where you lose an awareness of reality and become immersed in the moment. It doesn’t matter if it’s jazz, blues, gospel, funk, or a combination of them all (and there are more as you well know), one always winds up in that same beautiful place. While using photography as a vehicle, my passion and mission is to capture the essence of those moments and emotions as experienced only through the eyes of a Native Orleanian."

- Mardi Gras Indians are a walking exhibition of Art that your can see almost anytime in New Orleans-

I could not have said it better. I encourage anyone who enjoys New Orleans for its unique beauty and culture to visit this website and see it through the eyes of Jerry Moran. I do everyday with this picture below, and the few others that friends have sent me.