Greetings family and friends,
It has been awhile since my last post and a lot of things have happened since we last visited. So grab yourself a cup of coffee, hot tea or your favorite beverage, whatever that might be. I am making mine Chai Tea in honor of my African friend Patrick. Of course you will also need a dessert plate with some cookies or another favorite treat, kick back, relax and let’s chat.
On April 10th my cousin’s grandson and I went to the Louisville Palace Theater in Kentucky to see Celtic Woman in concert. This was the second time I have seen these ladies in concert and what a treat it is to hear them. Chloe Agnew’s rendition of Ave Maria was not only mesmerizing but I think I still had chill bumps three days later. Amazing how hearing it live compares to listening to it on CD. Now when I listen to my CD it takes me back to that evening. Now I am looking forward to the 17th of May when my youngest brother and I get to see Riverdance perform. Can you see a developing pattern here that I evidently like all things Celtic!
Actually due to my upbringing I have a desire to learn about all cultures and their local cuisine. That is why I enjoy making my own homemade pastas and sauces. I agree that it is a lot of work but oh the end result is certainly worth all the effort. Once you get the hang of making your own pasta it becomes easier and easier. A good Italian chef can make homemade pasta in the time it takes to boil the water, open up a box of dried pasta and get it cooked to al dente. I recently found a new sauce that I am hooked on using with the Farfale (Bowtie) pasta. It is a creamy roasted red pepper sauce and is wonderful over the pasta and served with slices of grilled chicken or medallions of roasted turkey tenderloin. I must admit with this recipe I use a shortcut instead of making my own béchamel sauce. I use a jar of Alfredo with garlic sauce as my base for this sauce. But it is the addition of the pureed Roasted Red peppers, white wine, hot sauce and basil that give this sauce an amazing flavor.
Yesterday I was discussing recipes with my Ugandan friend Patrick and we were talking about planting yams. He said in Uganda that the yams are planted in swampy areas where water wants to stand. Remember Yams are native to Uganda so I would be willing to bet that Patrick knows what he is talking about. Patrick lives near Kampala Uganda and he is teaching me how to cook Ugandan foods and is sharing with me recipes and the Eboo names for the ingredients. Eboo is the language that is native to that area of Africa. He is starting me out simple on what is called Atapa bread that is very similar to Polenta or mush. Some areas call it Ugali bread but it is made with Millet or Cassava flour in Patrick’s village and has the name Atapa because of the type flour used. Once Patrick is able to teach me something I will make sure to share with all of you.
One of the things I am enjoying right now is all of my flowers and their wonderful blooms. I have bush lupines with these gorgeous purple spikes of flowers standing about 3 feet tall near my front door. Resting at their feet is an array of multi-colored dianthus, miniature roses in red, pink and yellow and Russian sage. Their backdrop is the soft pink blooms of my Queen Elizabeth climbing roses. I planted this garden last spring and I hope to add another garden like this one along the other side of my front porch and the front of my house. When I plant I always remove the sod, dig down and use plastic edging to outline my beds and include a good base of soil from my local garden supply store. After I have my planting bed prepared I cover the soil with a weed cloth to help prevent extra weeding. Then I lay out my plants in the design I want on top of the weed cloth. Once I have my design I start cutting into the cloth in a star shape so I can peel it back around the base of the plant. I dig down into the soil and carefully add each plant. Make sure you always add water to the hole while planting. Also you can mix in any plant food to give your plants at kick start at this point. Once you have all of your plants in place using a garden hose give them all a good drink. I like to use some of the garden granules that help to prevent weeds and I sprinkle this on top of the garden cloth. Let this dry out some and using a covering of mulch or stones to cover up the weed cloth. The mulch or stone will help to keep the moisture in during those dry spells of summer. Now you get to add the accessories such as a well placed garden gnome, bird bath or colorful bird house on a post. This is your canvas so paint your picture the way you want it to look. Remember this is an investment in your home and how it welcomes others inside. But don’t forget the garden bench so you and your guests can sit back and enjoy your garden.
With all of this warm weather I have had some unwanted guests. I was fighting with ants that wanted to crawl along the edge of my front porch and find their way inside my house. I tried several things to get rid of them but to my dismay they continued to show up. I mentioned this problem to my sister-in-law Nancy and she told me to mix boric acid powder with some honey, molasses or some other type of syrup to make a sticky paste. Put this into a shallow lid or something that makes it easy for the ants to crawl into. Watch to see where the ants are coming from because they will use the same trail over and over. Place this lid of boric acid and syrup mix right about in the middle of their trail where they will have to crawl through. The syrup will attract them to the mixture and they will take this back to their ant hill and it will kill them out. At first you will see many of the ants visiting this mixture. After about three days my ants were totally gone and I haven’t seen any traces of them since. You can find Boric Acid powder in many local stores. I purchased a large container at my local Dollar General Store and my mother purchased hers at Dollar Tree.
This month I took a couple of days off from work to get a few things done. One of the things that I enjoyed most during my time at home was spending quality time with my Golden Retriever Rusty. We went for long walks and in the open field next door we played fetch, chased one another in circles and finally when exhaustion hit fell onto the grass and lay on our backs watching the clouds. Remember you are never too old to play because somewhere down deep inside of you resides a child just begging to get out. Besides when you are playing like this you’re moving and burning calories which is a benefit to us as adults. This is a great way to burn off some of the calories from the following recipe. So enjoy a good meal, some play, and spending time with your best friends be they two or four legged doesn’t really matter as long as it brings you joy.
Farfale’ (Bowtie) Pasta with Creamy Roasted Red Peppers sauce (serves 6)
1 box (16 oz) of Farfale’ ( bowtie) pasta, cooked and drained
1 jar of Alfredo and Garlic Sauce
¼ cup dry white wine (Remember to always use a wine you would drink. If it isn’t fit to drink then it isn’t fit to cook with either.)
1 (7 oz) jar of Roasted Red Peppers, drained
Hot pepper sauce to taste- optional (brands such as Texas Pete, Louisiana, or Tabasco)
3 Tblsp. Of finely chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)
1. Cook pasta according to directions on the outside of the box.
2. While pasta is cooking make the sauce.
3. Puree the drained Roasted Red Peppers in a blender or food processor.
4. In a 2-quart saucepan combine the pureed peppers, Alfredo sauce, white wine and hot pepper sauce (if you are using hot pepper sauce). I usually add the hot pepper sauce once my sauce has warmed up. This way I can do a taste test to make it to my liking.
5. Blend thoroughly to combine and place over medium heat.
6. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. To serve, drain the pasta and toss with the hot sauce, sprinkle with the fresh basil (if using).
Note: I like to grill chicken breast ahead of time and slice them into strips and serve on the top of this pasta. Sometimes when I can find Turkey Tenderloin at my local supermarket I will season and roast the turkey. Then I slice it into medallions or coins and place them on top of the pasta. You can take a shortcut and purchase the already prepared chicken strips located in the cold cuts section of your supermarket. Be sure to heat this chicken first otherwise it will be to cold and you will ruin the flavor of this special dish. You can also add a sprinkle of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to the top of the pasta for extra flavor. Serve this with a tossed salad and garlic bread for a great meal.
My tea cup is empty and all I have left on my cookie plate is the crumbs. With that said it appears it is time for our chat to end. I have enjoyed our visit and wish you and your family the best until we once again take a moment out of our busy day to visit.