Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oh Blessed Summer!

At long, long last, summer has finally come to the Pacific Northwest.  While the rest of the country has been baking and sweltering under a rather destructive heatwave, we have been ridiculously cool, cloudy and wet.  But now, now we have summer.  We will actually be in the 80s for several days in a row, and that hasn't happened since last year!  We normally would have even had some 90 degree days by now, but I don't need it that hot. 

A juvenile Anna's comes in to eat the
early Lucifer Crocosmia blooms.

This is the kind of weather that makes you remember exactly why it is you live here and put with all of the rain!  Because right now, the weather is perfect; the sky is blue, blue, blue; the grass and shrubs and plants are green as can be; flowers are blooming everywhere and little hummers are regular visitors in my gardens.

This flower garden is off the back patio. 
I can see it from the kitchen window too.
It has taken several years to get it to look this way.
This hardy geranium grows like a weed!
It even grows right up into the hibiscus.

Lady Euphoria, my fairy maiden.
She peeks out from behind plants
and now has Scottish Bluebells growing
beside her.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lucifer Crocosmia in my patio garden

A Lucifer Crocosmia bud has just popped out of the leaves.

A more mature flower bracht with one bud about to open at the base.

An immature female Anna's hummer guards her supply of Crocosmia, which is in my patio garden, just outside of the kitchen window.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Gutsy Easy Pasta Maindish Salad for Summer #2

OK folks, my motto for hot weather is 'summer is for salads'.  And I don't mean tossed green salads either!  I mean a salad that eats like a meal.

Once again, I started with one of those Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad mixes; this time I used Bacon and Ranch.  I also cooked the pasta just 10 minutes instead of the 12 minutes they suggest.  Al dente pasta is much healthier, and mushy pasta in a salad just doesn't appeal to me in any kind of appetizing way!

Now comes the good part, all the added stuff:  chopped bell peppers, grated carrots, chopped black olives, grated Tillamook cheddar (I live near Tillamook), chunked up chicken breast and some extra bacon. 

For the chicken, I like to use the frozen Foster Farms Chicken Breast Grilled Strips. You can thaw just what you need in the microwave, and if you have a Costco nearby, they sell large packages much cheaper than the small packages that grocery stores sell. In fact, I use this chicken in a lot of different dishes. It's really good quality and so convenient to use.  For the bacon, I also take the easy route and use the already cooked real bacon bits.  In the summer I hate to heat up the kitchen any more than I have to.

I made the dressing in the box according to the directions, but then I added some extra ranch dressing (I use lite, but not fat-free), and a little milk to make it creamier.  Just wing it here!

So there you have it.  QED!  :)