Archive for June, 2010

Photo Friday: Stand Out

My contribution to this week’s Photo Friday photography challenge, with the topic Stand Out, is another photo from our trip to Ireland in 2003.

This is part of the cemetery around Corcomroe Abbey in County Clare. It was a misty, overcast day, as it tends to be in Ireland. Of course, the benefit is the brilliantly green grass. We had a great time there and would love to go back.

Photo Friday: Stand Out

Photo Friday: Heavy

I got these photos ready for the Photo Friday challenge last week, and then completely forgot to post them. So the Heavy theme is over now, but I’m posting them anyway, because I think they’re so perfect for it 🙂

A few years ago, Dan and I spent a weekend in Jim Thorpe, Penn. We took our bikes and kayaks, and the plan was to go kayaking the first day and bike down a railroad bed converted to a bike trail the second day.

We had car trouble on the DelMarVa Peninsula, so weren’t able to kayak, but we did the bike trip, and had a great time.

Jim Thorpe is a beautifully restored Victorian-era town with gorgeous Painted Ladies and fabulous views of the mountains. It’s an old coal-mining town that is now a tourist attraction for the history as well as the outdoor activities available. And they have amazingly delicious pierogies stuffed with mashed potatoes served with caramelized onions. Yum.

Overview of Jim Thorpe, PA

As we were wandering around downtown, we came across this giant lump of coal, aka anthracite. According to the plaque in front of it, it weighs 15,100 pounds and consists of 99 percent carbon.

Really heavy lump of coal
Really heavy lump of coal

Plaque in front of lump of anthracite
Plaque describing heavy lump of anthracite

Urban Farming: First Harvests of 2010

We have quite a bit going in the garden right now – several kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet and hot peppers, tomatillos, onions, garlic, cantaloupe (an experiment) and lots of herbs.

These are a few pix of food we harvested earlier in the spring – we now have a couple pounds of shelled and blanched peas in the freezer, along with at least five pounds of blanched green beans. And of course, all that salad!

Our first peas!
Our first peas!

A couple pounds of beans
A couple pounds of beans

Bell pepper fell off – it was about 3 inches long, just enough for Dan’s salad
First bell pepper

GYO: Shrimp Bun – Vietnamese-style Rice Noodle Salad

Grow Your Own Food Blogging EventSome friends introduced me to Vietnamese cooking a few years ago, at the restaurant Great Saigon on Virginia Beach Blvd. in Janaf Mall. One of my favorite meals to get there is bun, or meat served over salad and rice noodles with a hot, sweet, salty and sour sauce or dressing.

I decided to try making it at home by combining a recipe I found at with one from the cookbook The Best International Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. It’s a bit more work than I want to do on a weeknight, but next time, I’ll mix up the dressing ahead of time and maybe skip the shallots.

This is my contribution to the food blogging event Grow Your Own, originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, which celebrates raising and cooking our own fresh food. The lemongrass, mint and chiles in this recipe came from my garden. We had a huge crop of hot chiles last year, and I still have some in the freezer.

Here’s a tip: To preserve whole hot chiles, place them on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer. Freeze until fully frozen, then remove to a zipper-lock bag and keep in the freezer. When ready to use, remove the number of chiles needed from the bag and let thaw on a plate on the counter. This will take about 10 minutes, depending on the size of the chile. Trust me, they maintain their hotness 🙂

Shrimp Bun – Korean-style Rice Noodle Salad

Ingredients – serves 4

2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. canola or peanut oil
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. peeled and deveined large or extra-large shrimp
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and crushed with the side of a knife

1/3 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup warm water
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 fresh hot chiles, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 cup canola or peanut oil
1/2 shallot, julienned
salt to taste

2 carrots, or 6 baby carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 cucumber, peeled and julienned (cut into matchstick shapes)
4 oz. dried rice noodles
2 cups lettuce, any kind, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
1/4 cup fresh mint, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup chopped peanuts


SHRIMP: Combine shrimp with marinade ingredients; seal in a zipper-lock bag, place in a leak-proof container, and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning occasionally.

DRESSING: Whisk dressing ingredients in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

SHALLOTS: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Strain shallots through a sieve into a small bowl; reserve oil. Place fried shallots on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain, and set aside.

SALAD: Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes, then drain. Combine the noodles with the shallot oil, 1/4 of the lettuce, and 1/2 of the bean sprouts, carrots and cucumber, tossing well.

Pre-heat grill or grill pan. Remove shrimp from bag and discard marinade. Grill shrimp 2-1/2 minutes per side, till completely opaque. Place 1/4 of the noodle mixture in each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 of the shrimp and 2 tbsp. of the dressing. Pile 1/4 of each of the remaining ingredients around the rim of the bowls and top with 1/4 of the fried shallots. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve.

Grow Your Own: Vietnamese Shrimp-Noodle Salad (Bun)

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June 2010
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