Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pic Today 8/31/10


Fennel, or sweet anise, is a delicate vegetable
with white celery-like stems that are
totally sweet and savory, raw or cooked.
(On top are fragrant emerald fronds that look like dill,
but the white bottom "bulb" is the delicacy end.)

A simple salad of oranges, red onion and lemon
vinaigrette has more zing with crunchy chopped raw fennel.

And here's a great Braised Fennel recipe worth a try:

ø 1 fennel bulb (tops and base removed)
ø 1 yellow or red bell pepper
ø 2 tablespoons olive oil
ø 1/4-cup white wine
ø 1/4-cup water
ø 1 clove garlic, peeled & crushed

Cut fennel and bell pepper into 1/4-inch slices.
Heat oil in saucepan and saute fennel 5 minutes
until golden brown. Add bell pepper and garlic
for another 2 minutes. Add wine and water, and cover.
Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until fennel
is fork tender. Remove cover and reduce liquid
for last few minutes.

Absolutely delicious!
(Now you're a fennel lover.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pic Today 8/30/10


Day Two of LOU FEST
in Forest Park
drew bigger crowds, sunny weather
and some national acclaimed artists,
but an old-time string band
from Durham, North Carolina
stole the show!

had Day Two festival goers pleasantly stunned
with their blue grass and traditional music,
they describe as Genuine Negro Jig.
The band enjoyed several non-stop standing ovations.

Jeff Tweedy performed a solo set (yawn-yawn),
and Zooey Deschanel followed in She & Him
(on over-produced "prom band", some said),
but the Chocolate Drops owned the day!

Here's hoping there's a 2nd Annual LOU FEST next year.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pic Today 8/29/10


Two day LOU FEST
brings 18 "indie" bands
to St. Louis.

Big names in indie rock music
are drawing crowds to Forest Park this weekend,
with perfect weather, two stages and a Nosh Pit
featuring 14 outstanding local eateries.

Saturday's line up included:
Lucero, Airborne Toxic Event,
Built To Spill, and the amazing
Broken Social Scene from Toronto, Canada.

Sunday features performances from
Jeff Tweedy (ex-Wilco), Alejandro Escovedo
She & Him (with Zooey Deschanel), and
the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
Emerging artists and local bands
round out both days of music.

Tickets are available for Sunday's line up
which starts at 12:00 noon.
For more information, go to

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pic Today 8/28/10


The final weeks of summer produce
turn into a fall harvest
at local farmers markets.
(Erkers ships its final peaches this week.)

A new bounty of local fruits & vegetables
is now arriving:

ø Local apples
ø Patty pan squash
ø Just picked concord grapes
ø Locally farmed cucumbers
ø New crop pears

The days are growing shorter,
the nights cooler.

Check out the new flavors and colors
at your favorite outdoor market!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pic Today 8/27/10


This cute little car is the
Nissan CUBE,
the shape of cars to come
(from Japan, anyway.)

When you see a CUBE on the road
there's no mistaking it . . .
especially from the rear.
Decidedly targeting a youth market,
it has an asymmetrical rear window,
oval shaped driver and front passenger windows,
a shag carpet dashboard & bungee cords on the doors.

The CUBE has earned two awards of note:
2010 Automobile Design of the Year Award,
and 2010 AAA Top Vehicle for Dog Owners.

The New York Times has described the CUBE as
"fun and deeply strange in an authentically
Japanese way -- undiluted Tokyo chic."
(Not sure if that's positive or negative. Ha.)

Definitely not your grandma's wheels!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pic Today 8/26/10


Missouri is blessed with lots of
spring-fed free flowing streams, and with
clean, cold springs comes wild watercress.
It's easy to identify, and even easier to harvest,
if you can locate the source of the spring.
(Cause that's where you'll find wild watercress.)

It grows in clumps and floats on the surface.
Be gentle and snip the wild sprigs (not the roots),
so the watercress will continue to flourish.

It is much more delicious than "store bought"
commercial watercress, not as much zip to the bite
as arugula and mizuna, and a great addition to
salads and soups. Watercress is in the mustard family,
and high in Vitamins A & C, phosphorus, iron and calcium.

Want a great sandwich recipe?
Chop 1/2 cup of wild watercress, with 2 tbsp. parsley,
salt, pepper, with 1/2 cup softened butter and
1/2 cup softened cream cheese. Spread on firm
white bread; add cucumber slices and refrigerate.
Refrigerate, cut into triangles and serve.

Great taste of summer. Yum!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pic Today 8/25/10


At Laumeier Sculpture Park
(Rott Road 1/2 mile west of Lindbergh)

There are over 100 major sculpture installations
worth discovering at Laumeier,
so bring your hiking boots and camera.
This 75-acre County Park is open every day
and FREE to the public.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pic Today 8/24/10


In northern latitudes, it's the NORTH side
of trees and rocks where moss grows.
This makes sense because mosses grow best
in areas of dampness and low light.

And with all our rainfall this year
you'll find a rich variety of moss and lichens
on the shady sides (that's north) of trees.
And it's not uncommon for some mosses
to completely cover moist rocks and ledges.

It's interesting to note
there are more than 12,000 species of moss
in the wild, in a wide variety of greens & yellows.

(There's no excuse now for getting lost
in the forest. The trees will point you due north!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pic Today 8/23/10


Yes, they packed a huge IMAX format camera
on last year's space shuttle mission
to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.
(Be still my heart!)

And you can see these huge IMAX images
of the Hubble mission at the Science Center
through the rest of the year.
(Show times at www.slsc.org)

Repairs have been made to this remarkable
telescope, which will have us seeing the far expanses
of our universe for many years to come.
You haven't seen stars until you see this film!

See the stuff where stars are born, including
galaxies and solar systems a billion light years away.

(And yes, I took these pics off the IMAX screen.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pic Today 8/22/10


Unlike the lower stretches of river,
the upper Meramec river beds are mostly
rock and gravel -- crystal clean water, too.

These 3 specimens show the effect of erosion
and water on older rocks (limestone, jasper & granite.)
Note the quartz crystals formed in tiny geodes.

It's fun searching for minerals walking along
the river (Indian points and arrowheads, too.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pic Today 8/21/10


Gutenberg had it right
when he invented letterpress printing
in the 15th century.
It is artisanal craftsmanship at its finest.

There's been some refinements over the years,
but it still remains the highest quality relief printing,
hand fed paper, one sheet at a time,
printing each color, one at a time.
The old presses (like this one, over a century old)
are pedal powered, by the operator.

Amy Thompson, Paper Boat Studios, continues
the tradition for hand bound books and
upscale invitations and business cards,
as she hand prints this blogger's new
wedding photography business cards.

There's an unmistakable quality to Amy's
printing and binding work. Her new studio
has just moved to 2308-1/2 Cherokee Street.
(Storefront opening, September 1.)

Visit www.paperboatstudios.com

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pic Today 8/20/10


These strange, wart-covered pods
are among the most bitter of all fruits,
and yet the tropical bitter melon is a popular
ingredient in the cuisines of China, India, Japan,
Pakistan, Indonesia, Colombia and the Philippines.

Now available fresh in Asian and specialty markets
in St. Louis (including Whole Foods Market),
bitter melon is a flavor "counterpoint" in many
recipes for its bitter, tart taste.
It is typically used in stir-fries, soups & tea.
Many recipes use bitter melon slices with
egg plant, okra, beans, hot peppers and sweet coconut.

In Colombia, bitter melon (cerasse) is used to
treat malaria. In the Philippines, it is used to
counteract type-II diabetes . . . throughout Asia,
to treat HIV infection and prevent breast cancer.
Medicinal benefits are just now being discovered.

Hundreds of recipes and medicinal benefits
for bitter melon can be found on the internet.
Add a few slices to your next stir fry,
and surprise your guests!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pic Today 8/19/10


Aloe Mall, downtown St. Louis.
(across from Union Station)

This famous bronze fountain and mall
were envisioned by Edith Aloe,
who admired the work of famed sculptor
Carl Milles, Swedish born pupil of Rodin.

She commissioned Milles to build the fountain
in memory of her husband, Louis Aloe,
long time president of the Board of Aldermen
whose vision established the Gateway Mall.
(Aloe died in 1929.)

Her idea was put on hold because of the Depression,
but the city signed a contract with Milles in 1936,
who completed the bronzes at his studio
at the Cranbrook Academy of Art (Michigan) in 1940.

The two central figures symbolize the union of the
Mississippi and Missouri rivers, with 17 lesser
"water spirit" figures suggesting the many
tributaries and streams feeding
the Mississippi Valley.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pic Today 8/18/10


Great grilling ideas
from my friend, John:

1. Salsiccia. Use skewers and
twine to form salsiccia links into
one large pinwheel. It's so much
easier to grill and turn.
(Don't let the fire get too hot.)
Fresh lemon juice squeezed on
just before serving.

2. Spedini. This flavorful Italian
round steak specialty is a bit more
complicated, stuffed with cheese,
herbs, breadcrumbs, and placed
on skewers; grilled to perfection.
Visit DiGregorio's Market
(Daggett Avenue "on The Hill");
they'll prepare and slice the beef
and give you recipe ideas!

Thanks, John, for teaching us these
delicious grilling ideas.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pic Today 8/17/10


This blogger celebrated his birthday
(August 16)
with 2 gourmet experiences,
dining al fresco
(in the most perfect weather.)

Lunch at Cafe Provencal,
with my daughter Maggie,
and grand daughter Metta:
(a Croque Madame -
hot ham and gruyere cheese
on toasted French bread,
topped with a fried egg and Bechamel sauce.)

And a selfish treat at sunset,
at Kaldi's Kirkwood:
(just-baked blackberry pie.)

Happy Birthday to ME.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pic Today 8/16/10

(continued from 8/15/10)

7:00 am Wash and dry 250 lbs. ripe tomatoes

8:00 am Slice and core tomatoes, squeeze/drain liquid

9:00 am Transfer to pots, cook and stir on low gas flame.

10:00 am Add chopped white onions, continue cooking.

11:00 am Remove from heat; transfer mixture to electric
SpremiPomodoro (Italian tomato squeezer) to
remove skins, seeds, onions; transfer back to pots.

12:00 pm Cook, stir, reduce until sauce thickens (4-5 hours).

4:00 pm Mince and saute 1/2 lb. garlic cloves; add salt & pepper,
add to tomato sauce pots; continue stirring.

4:30 pm Sterilize and prepare canning jars; add 1 cleaned basil
leaf to each jar.

5:00 pm Remove thickened sauce from heat; carefully ladle sauce
into jars; place sterile lids on jars; allow to cool.

6:00 pm Enjoy Italian feast with friends.

Fresh made tomato sauce
prepared by my Sicilian friend, John.

Buon Appetito!