Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pinto Bean and Rice Burgers

Burgers, corn on the cob and beer. A quintessential summer supper on the porch. As some of you know, I don't eat meat (except for fish). So when I have a hankering for a burger, I like to make my own veggie burgers. Here's an easy, delicious recipe for pinto bean and rice burgers -- I add a touch of cayenne pepper to boost the flavor. This recipe makes eight burgers, so if you're not feeding a crowd, you can freeze the uncooked patties for future use. Just thaw in the fridge (or microwave) and cook as described in step 2.

Pinto Bean and Rice Burgers

1) In a large bowl, mash two 15.5 oz. cans of pinto beans (rinsed and drained) until a coarse paste forms. I like to leave a few whole beans in the mixture. Add 1-3/4 cups of cooked brown rice, 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs, 1 bunch scallions that have been thinly sliced (light green and some dark green parts included), 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 2 large eggs, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Using your hands, gently fold ingredients to combine, and form into eight patties.

2) In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of canola oil over medium-high heat. Add half the patties and cook until browned and cooked through, about 3 or 4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining patties, adding more oil as needed. Serve on whole wheat buns with lettuce, tomato or your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Adapted from Everyday Food

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Historic Church

Sixteen-and-a-half years ago, my husband and I were married in this historic church, built in the late 1700's. On Father's Day morning, after an early breakfast out, we headed to the park where the church is to enjoy the morning air and reminisce. I also wanted to take some shots of the buildings and community gardens to share with you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pink and Purple Hydrangea

I love hydrangea in all colors, but my favorite are these pinks and purples. When I spied these at the farmer's market (6 stems for $6), I knew the colors would go perfectly with the throw I knitted. And indeed, the colors are a beautiful match. I love how the green tile of the fireplace complements the flowers and their leaves. In front of the fireplace is an antique grate, which has a lovely patina and texture.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Visit to the Gardens

It was shortly before 6 pm one evening, and the light seemed right for photography. I jumped in the car and headed to a lovely garden that's not far from our house and is open to the public. On the way, the sky began to darken and the wind picked up. It looked as though we were in for a storm, but it didn't rain until later that evening.

The garden has a fountain, several gazebos and benches, a greenhouse, a vegetable and herb garden, various flowers and a spectacular rose garden. Most of the rose bushes have yet to bloom. I'll make a return visit and check on their progress.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spinach, Orange and Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

This spinach, orange and roasted beet salad with goat cheese made the perfect light, healthy supper with a glass of pinot gris. I roasted two beets, using one to make two salads and reserving the other.

To roast beets: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Trim off the leafy tops about 1 inch from roots. Scrub the beets well and wrap each one tightly in foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until beets are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven, open foil packets to let cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove skins by rubbing beets with paper towels. They will come right off. Slice one beet into small wedges.

To segment orange: slice off the stem and blossom ends and cut away peel, following the curve of the orange. Cut along membranes to release the segments. Set aside.

To make the dressing: using your hands, squeeze all juice from the orange membranes into a bowl. Add 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Add coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Whisk well.

I used spinach as a base for the salads, added the orange segments and sliced beets, and crumbled a small amount of goat cheese over the top, then drizzled the dressing over the top. If you like the peppery bite of arugula, you can use it instead of spinach.

This might be my new favorite salad. I hope you enjoy it!

Adapted from Everyday Food 
roasted beet, unpeeled
roasted beet, peeled

Monday, June 11, 2012

White Dahlias

The white dahlia plant in our flower garden is happy. She is producing lots of pretty flowers. I cut this little bunch and tucked them into a tiny bud vase. What a lovely mini bouquet this makes!

Another mini bouquet brightens up the bathroom. These little flowers make me smile.

Friday, June 8, 2012

From the Farmer's Market

A trip to the farmer's market last weekend yielded these lovely black raspberries, beets and sugar snap peas. We also purchased a loaf of pain au levain (delicious topped with lemon curd), a beautiful bunch of rainbow Swiss chard, blueberries, a dozen free-range chicken eggs and two herb plants: rosemary and Italian parsley. 

It was an unusually cool morning for the first week of June. I had to wear jeans and a light jacket -- it felt like fall! I love visiting the farmer's market early on a Saturday morning. It's one of my favorite things to do.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Beach Scenes

We spent a relaxing week at our favorite beach the week before Memorial Day. The weather was perfect ... fortunately we left before Tropical Storm Beryl arrived.

There is nothing like completely unwinding at the beach. No work, no pressure, no technology! Just days of doing whatever we fancy and enjoying the outdoors. A morning bike ride. A mid-day nap. A stack of favorite magazines to read on the porch.

My favorite time of day is early morning. By 7:00, I'm out on the beach with our dog, Phoebe, for a morning stroll. The air is cool and breezy. The sun is still coming up. We're almost the only ones on the beach. It's a peaceful time of day.

Sunset is another magical time of day. The sun goes down over the sound and we get a beautiful display of color to enjoy with our evening glass of wine.

Like last year, we had many wonderful wildlife sightings this year. We saw... 
  • a spectacular male Painted Bunting that landed in the pine tree beside the screened porch. We saw one last year at this beach also. Go here to see this beautiful bird.
  • an alligator in one of the island's interior ponds. I'd been waiting a long time to see one of these guys.
  • a red-tailed hawk that caught a rodent and ate it in the tree next to the house
  • plenty of egrets, herons, skimmers and other beautiful shore birds
  • a baby horseshoe crab
  • a few 3- to 4-foot-long sharks; one swam right next to our canoe, another was in very shallow water chasing a fish.
  • and then there were the dolphin -- always the best part of the trip!
Here's Phoebe, ready for adventure. One day, during a canoe trip in the calm waters of the sound, a group of six dolphin treated us to a spectacular show about 20 feet from our boat, between us and the shore. They were thrashing, jumping, rolling and nudging one another -- it was thrilling. People on the beach were pointing and saying, "Look at the dolphin near that canoe!" Their playful activity lasted several minutes. After a while, two dolphin decided to come check us out. They surfaced about 6 to 8 feet from us, and one actually swam under the canoe! Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera to capture any of it!
Beach trips are always a time of discovery. These skeleton-looking objects, as I learned, are whelk egg cases. There were lots of them on the beach. And inside each capsule ...

... are these tiny little shells.

According to Wikipedia, each capsule can have up to 99 eggs, and most strings have 40 to 160 capsules. Below is a different variety of shell egg case.

A beautiful, shady bike path with a canopy of trees decorated in Spanish moss.

A community of bird houses along the bicycle path

If you're interested, you can see photos of last year's beach trip here and here.
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