Monday, September 26, 2022

Fall Harvest Time!





Happy Fall! It is my favorite time of the year!  

It has been an excellent year for my little patio container garden and fall means it is time to harvest all that remains as our first frost will be soon on its way. I have gathered many juicy plum tomatoes and Hatch style and Calabrian style Red Chili Peppers throughout September. The photo above shows a small portion of them.






I started the vegetables as seeds in March in little flower pots that I placed by a sunny window.  Every seed was collected from vegetables that we had eaten that I dried and saved.  I had more plants than I had room to plant on my patio, so I also gave some to my son and some to neighbors.





I planted the tomatoes and peppers outside when the danger of frost was over--here in Colorado that was early June. At that time I also planted seeds for zucchini, basil, and dill in various outdoor containers and took out the perennial herbs that I overwinter in pots in my garage. The perennial herbs I grow are two types of thyme, rosemary, spearmint, oregano, sage, and lemon balm, as well as a fig tree. The perennials go dormant in fall/winter but "wake up" and grow again in summer. 

 I love watching everything grow!  





I also plant many flowers in my garden, and all are also from seeds that I saved in the fall.  As you can see from the photo collage above the local deer also admire all the annual flowers---smile.  My daughter and oldest granddaughter gave me the pretty plaque for my garden that is in the upper right corner of the photo collage above.





As you can see in the photos above, we often see deer right outside our windows!  I saw a doe with twin fawns come by from time to time and I believe they may have been the fawns that were born in my backyard in spring-- click here to see that post. They are getting big!






When my sunflowers began to wilt and dry up I cut off some of the heads and left them for the birds to eat. The squirrels and bunnies also had a very good time eating the seeds.





I also started the seed harvesting process all over again as well as drying or freezing herbs for use all winter, in the top, left photo, are marigold flowers that I deadheaded. I dry them and save them to plant next spring. Next to them are drying dill seeds. At the bottom left is basil that I wash, dry, and puree in my food processor and freeze in ice cube trays.  I use the cubes to flavor tomato sauce and sauces and soups all winter long. on the right is spearmint leaves which I dry and save for mint tea.




What have I been doing with all this summer produce?  Cooking!  In addition to the previous zucchini recipes, I posted--click here- I have also been making ricotta zucchini blossom fritters from a recipe that I found on this blog, and also making many zucchini walnut loaf cakes.





I enjoyed using ripe garden tomatoes all summer long in salads and soups and other recipes and I've made batches of tomato sauce to freeze.





I made stir fries, and taco casseroles, and other recipes that called for peppers with the Hatch style and Calabrian style peppers I grew, and also some were roasted, steamed, and then frozen for further use.




My Colorado Green Pork Chili recipe is so good and we look forward to having it every fall.





The deer rut is happening in our area and the bucks are all very actively searching for a female doe.  It is another sign of fall in Colorado!  As you can see in the photo above, we must drive carefully as they have "right of way" on our local roads.



Autumn colors are beginning to bloom all around Colorado!  I think it is the best time of the year--do you also love fall the best of all?




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Sunday, September 18, 2022

Historic Littleton Colorado Tour



 

It seems the end of summer became very busy for us! Our oldest granddaughter stayed with us a few days as her parents were traveling for work and we had school routine and homework duty to oversee which made us feel nostalgic.  Friends visited from their home in Virginia and we spent a nice time with them, and a community group we volunteer for had a fun potluck get-together for all its members. One of the volunteers told us that we should go on the last tour offered this summer of Historic Littleton, as she knew we enjoy learning local history.  

The tour is run during the summer months by Historic LittletonOn the centennial of Littleton, Colorado, in 1990 the Historic Littleton organization was formed to provide low-cost loans to property owners and businesses on Main Street.  This nonprofit Second Century Fund helps restore and preserve Littleton’s historic buildings for the next 100 years. The organization’s board consisted of local businesspeople who believed that Downtown Littleton gave the City its unique identity and character and was an asset for the entire community.



Part of Historic Littleton's mission is to educate the public about historic preservation through programs and tours.  We met the well-attended free tour in front of the. historic Littleton Municipal Courthouse--see above.  It was late afternoon on a very hot day, but all in attendance were eager to learn more from the two tour guide volunteers.

The city of Littleton's history dates back to the 1859 Pike's Peak Gold Rush, which brought not only gold seekers but merchants and farmers to the community. Richard Sullivan Little was an engineer from New Hampshire who made his way out West to work on irrigation systems. Little soon decided to settle in the area at present-day Littleton and brought his wife Angeline out from the East in 1862. The Littles, along with many neighbors, built the Rough and Ready Flour Mill in 1867, which provided a solid economic base in the community. By 1890, the community had grown to 245 people and the residents voted to incorporate the Town of Littleton.  The 13-square-mile city is now home to more than 44,000 people. Littleton has top-ranked schools, higher education, and more than 2,000 diverse businesses.  Littleton grew significantly throughout the 1950s and 1960s due to its proximity to the then Martin Marrieta facilities, which produced the Titan rocket and other aerospace products, and is now Lockheed Martin Corporation. You can read more about Littleton's history at this link.




As we followed the tour guide she told us about both the railroad system and also the irrigation canals that were of importance to the early days of agriculture in Littleton.  As Littleton grew major engineering feats moved the railroad tracks below street level into a tunnel to free up traffic and the flow of the South Platte River was moved! Littleton now also has two light rail stations that offer easy access to Downtown Denver.






We continued walking towards Littleton's Main Street which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  





Littleton has an active trail system and more than 59 parks and open spaces. In 1961 Littleton, Colorado, and Bega, Australia, joined as sister cities with the motto "Firm and Lasting Friendship." You can read about how they became sister cities on this link.

The former Rio Grande Park just west of the railroad right-of-way on Main Street has been renamed Bega Park, redeveloped, and landscaped. Its centerpiece is a James Mann fountain which shows a map of the United States, the Pacific Ocean, and Australia, with the two sister cities marked by bronze stars. 






We then walked down Littleton's charming Main Street as the guide told us the history of many of the buildings.  It is very mainstream Americana of assorted stores and businesses on both sides of the wide tree-lined street,  Most of the buildings date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.  You can see photos of some of the historic buildings as they first appeared on this link.  I liked that there were placards at each intersection showing where businesses were located as well as maps of the downtown.





Many of the Main Street Buildings have undergone renovations and changes. The Town Hall building in the upper left of the collage above is now the Town Hall Arts Center and Theater.  The building in the two upper right photos is one of the earliest buildings in Littleton -- the J. D. Hill General Store. It was built in 1872 and was Littleton's first general store and post office, with Hill serving as postmaster. Today the building is used for retail stores and offices. On July 30, 2022, the 150th anniversary of the J.D. Hill General Store building was celebrated by the community.
In the lower left of the collage is the Franzen House which is significant as a representative of the Victorian Queen Anne style houses built in Littleton during the late 19th century. The style is reflected in the house’s steeply pitched roof, porch with spindle supports, and walls clad with wood lap siding and shingles. The red brick Ned Kelly's Irish Pub was once a grocery store owned by the Franzens at that time. I always chuckle over the name when we drive over nearby Jackass Hill and I enjoyed learning its long history and seeing the Jackass Brewery named after it in the lower right. 





The Historic Littleton tour lasted one and a half hours and by the time it was ending I saw this magnificent, breathtaking sunset at the end of Main Street! We enjoyed learning more about Littleton and saw many stores, restaurants, and other establishments that we hope to return to for longer visits and shopping in the future.  We thanked the tour guide and gave a donation towards Historic Littleton's cause. 



Now hungry, my husband and I went to dinner at a favorite Littleton restaurant, Angelo's TavernaAlthough I live in a landlocked state I still crave east coast seafood, so we indulged in oysters on the half shell and I had a "Frutti di Mare" mixed seafood entree while my husband had a chicken parmesan stuffed with Proscuitto. 
Because of covid precautions, we have not been eating out frequently for the past two years, so this was a very special treat for us! Neither of us has had covid --knock wood--and we feel very fortunate, and hope with all our vaccinations and boosters our luck will hold out.

I have written many blog posts--21 in all before this one-- about places we have visited in Littleton, Colorado, since moving here which you can read under the label "Littleton."  It is a wonderful town!


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Monday, September 5, 2022

Palisade Peach Recipes



 

Peaches! 

Peaches are one of the wonderful fresh stonefruits of summer. When fully ripe they are juicy, sweet, and very versatile to add to many different recipes.






Did you know that the western slope of Colorado has the ideal climate to grow peaches?  Palisade, Colorado, has long sunny days and cool summer nights, which helps delicious fruity sugars develop and allows the peaches to grow extra large and sweet.  

The western slope of Colorado not only produces fabulous peaches but also many other vegetables, and it is also the location of many vineyards that produce wine.





In 1882 a man named John Harlow, along with his wife, planted some of the area’s earliest peach trees. He spearheaded a canal project to divert water from the Colorado River and irrigate the Palisade region.  By the beginning of the 20th century, more than twenty-five thousand pounds of peaches were being shipped from Palisade to regions across the country each year! Most of the Palisade peaches come into full ripe season between August and the end of September.




Fortunately for us, our daughter had a business trip to Palisade and came back with a box of 22 pounds of freshly-picked peaches for my husband and me.  They were large and ripe and so delicious! We left them on the counter for a few days to allow the sugars to fully develop and then we refrigerated them.  Besides eating them plain I knew I wanted to make many treats with them




Peach and Mixed Fruit Crostata

This recipe was developed by one of my favorite Italian cookbook authors, Domenica Marchetti of Domenica Cooks. Domenica also has a wonderful weekly newsletter called Buona Domenica. All of her recipes are authentic Italian cuisine and very delicious! 

 I followed Domenica's recipe except I also added some jarred jam to the peaches to add volume to my crostata. You can see the Cherry, Rasberry, and Blood Orange jam I used in the photo below--Costco sells it in a double jar in our area.   I used a double-depth pie tart pan to accommodate the extra filling.  You can do the same or stay with the original recipe to use in a regular tart pan, which I'll post below.





Domenica’s Pasta Frolla (Tender Crostata Pastry)


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Grated zest of 1 lemon or 1 small orange—or a little of both (about 1 tablespoon)

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons total) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg and egg yolk and process until the dough begins to clump together.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and gather it together into a ball. Form the dough into two disks, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap each disk tightly in reusable or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled (overnight is fine). Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before rolling it out


Domenica’s Peach Crostata



1-1/2 pounds ripe peaches, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch slices or 1 pound frozen sliced peaches (about 3-1/2 cups)

1 firmly packed cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 batch of Pasta Frolla, chilled and ready to roll out

Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

1. Make the filling: Put the peaches, brown sugar, and lemon juice in a medium heavy-duty saucepan. Cook over low heat to dissolve the sugar, for about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and bring it to a boil. Cook, stirring often until the peaches are tender, and the liquid is thickened and syrupy about 10 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg, and simmer until thickened to a jam consistency, 5 to 10 minutes more. You should be able to drag a path through the bottom of the saucepan with a silicone spatula. Scrape the peaches into a heatproof bowl and let cool completely. (The preserves can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)

2. Make and assemble the crostata: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Have ready a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.

3. Lightly dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the larger disk of pasta frolla into an 11-inch circle, lifting and turning the dough as you roll to prevent sticking and create an even round. Gently wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over the tart pan. Gently press the dough into the pan without stretching it. Use the palm of your hand or the rolling pin to trim off the excess. Refrigerate while you roll out the second piece of dough.

4. Roll the smaller piece into a 10-inch circle and use a fluted or smooth pastry wheel or a knife to cut it into strips from 1/2 inch to 1-inch wide. (For a more traditional effect, roll the strips into ropes; otherwise, leave them flat.) Remove the crostata base from the refrigerator. Spoon the cooled peach filling into the base and spread it out into an even layer. If the filling is syrupy, use a slotted spoon to separate the peaches and syrup, and reserve the leftover syrup for another use (it’s delicious spooned over yogurt or vanilla ice cream). Position the strips of pastry on top of the peaches in a crisscross lattice pattern. You can weave the strips if you like, but the dough is fragile and tends to tear so it’s not necessary (nor is it traditional). Press the edges of the strips into the edge of the tart shell to secure and trim off the excess.

5. Set the crostata on a baking sheet (I use an old pizza pan), and bake until the crust is golden-brown, 30 to 35 minutes and the filling is bubbling. Transfer from the baking sheet to a rack to cool completely. Remove the ring and use a large, wide-angled spatula to transfer the crostata from the metal tart base to a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.




The Pasta Friolla Crust is extra light and fragrant and the Peach Crostata filling is jammy and fruity and not overly sweet, with its hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.  This is really a special treat!




  Honey Peach and Blueberry Tart.

This is a very simple and easy tart to make when you have a lot of fruit.

For the crust:

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling:

2 cups  unsweetened blueberries

2 cups unsweetened sliced peaches

1/2 cup Honey 
 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. 
In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar, and cinnamon; stir in butter just until blended. Press into a 9-in. fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Layer sliced peaches and blueberries as desired on top of the cooled tart crust  Brush the top of the fruit with the honey.

Return the tart to the 350 oven and cook for around 30 minutes until the fruit is soft and the tart crust is golden.

Cool before serving. Nice served with ice cream or whip cream





We enjoyed this fruity tart for breakfast!





Buttermilk Peach Bread


I made two loves of Sue's wonderful Buttermilk Peach Bread from a recipe on her blog  The View from Great Island.   I froze one loaf for the future and the other we enjoyed at breakfast.  It is a simple and delicious recipe that bakes up into a dense pound-like cake filled with peaches.  It is perfect any time of the day!  You can see Sue's recipe at this link.  




 
    Summer Peach and Tomato Salad


I made two of these salads as dinner one hot summer evening.  On a bed of arugula I placed a large fresh sliced tomato from our garden along with a large sliced peach, two slices of thin cut Proscuitto cut into pieces, three ripe figs each cut in half, a few pickled jalapeno slices, and a half of a round of fresh burrata cheese, and drizzled it all with a Balsamic vinegar syrup.  It was the perfect savory combination of sweet, salty, creamy, and spicy.  It was so good with a side of crusty bread and a glass of wine.




We really enjoyed our delicious local  
Palisade Peaches!





What local produce have you enjoyed this summer?

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Monday, August 29, 2022

The Fleeting Days of Summer

 

"Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed." ~ Mary Oliver

 

This is the last weekend in August--how can that be? Fall arrives early in Colorado. I can see the sun's slant of light becoming lower on the horizon and the air has a chill at night. It won't be long until the aspens turn golden yellow and we have our first whisper of snow on the mountains.




"Happiness grows at our own fireside and is not to be picked in strangers' gardens." 
~ Douglas Jerrold


Summer is passing quickly but there is still much of its beauty to behold and enjoy.




"But once in a while, the odd thing happens, once in a while the dream comes true." ~ W H Auden

My husband and I took a walk around  The Hudson Gardens and Event Center in Littleton, Colorado recently.  Hudson Gardens is a nonprofit organization encompassing thirty acres of garden exhibits, trails, open spaces, and event venues and it provides free admission from sunrise–sunset every day of the year for self-directed exploration. I've blogged about it more extensively in the past--click here--to read that post.




"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." 
~ Edith Wharton


The garden has amazing water lily ponds full of the most delicate and beautiful flowers...




"Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell."
~ Louisa May Alcott


...as well as many other flowers, shrubs, trees, and art sculptures to enjoy.

 
"


"The words 'far far away' always had a strange charm" ~ Alfred Tennyson


There are many benches along the trails where one can sit and appreciate the garden's serenity.




"A loving heart is the truest wisdom." Charles Dickens


The resident geese and ducks looked very content in the shade and waters of the garden. 





"In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." 
~ Kahlil Gibran


Hudson Gardens is a treasure to visit in all seasons and the perfect place to take a walk in nature.  We are fortunate to have it in our area!  




Another treasure I was happy to visit in August was the author Susan Branch at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in the Aspen Grove branch in Littleton, Colorado. 



Susan was doing a cross-country road trip with her husband, Joe, to promote her wonderful new book called "Distilled Genius: A Collection of Life-Changing Quotations." 

 I have been a fan of Susan's handwritten and painted books since her first book "Heart of the Home" and have been following her blog for years, so I was very excited to hear she would be stopping by close to me! 




There was a large crowd of fans to greet her--a few who traveled from as far away as Wyoming and Iowa! She gave a lovely talk about how she collected quotations all her life and what they meant to her. She said quotations were:
"Practical expressions of wisdom from courageous thinkers and teachers ahead of their time, nurturing and life-affirming, hilarious, heroic, and human ~ they taught me how to be brave, showed me where to find my dreams, and encouraged me to try and make them a reality.


All of the quotations in this blog post came from her book.  It is another treasure I will always cherish. Thank you, Susan!


"The sweetest flower that glows,
 I give you as we part. 
For you, it is a rose
For me, it is my heart.
~ Frederick Peterson

See you all in September!


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