Thursday, July 17, 2008

Manland at My House

My brother Chris has created the ultimate “Manland” on his deck in Nashville, where he and his buddies hang out. I’ve discovered that Manland is both a specific place and a state of mind – and it is definitely capable of travel. In fact Chris has planned three different Manland events at my house. I was out of town the first time he did this, but I hear the hubby, Chris and his buddy Sean had a great time and a great feast.

I was allowed to attend the second Manland event, even though I am a woman because, well, I live here. Plus I made the guys some yummy beach plum martinis with my beach plum brandy stash.

Last weekend Chris came for a visit and it was right back to Manland for me. The traveling Manland show has a few essential ingredients. First you have to have a cool place to hang out. I actually went out and bought new deck furniture for this event. (Actually I needed deck furniture anyways since a freak wind storm smashed my glass table and my umbrella was shot, but this was a good excuse to get on that project.) Here's Chris and Sean breaking in the new furniture:

Next you need good tunes – in this case provided by Chris who is a Senior Director of Regional Promotion at Lyric Street Records. He has about 6,500 songs on his iPod, so we had that one covered. Another essential ingredient is a cooler full of beer. Again, Chris was right on top of that.

Finally you have to have some “big boy steaks” for dinner. Steve stopped by Hilltop Steakhouse Butcher Shop in Weymouth and got us some huge filets, which he rubbed with a mixture of Montreal Seasoning, brown sugar and chili powder before searing them on the grill and finishing them in the oven. He also made some garlic mashed potatoes that were yummy.

I was in charge of the less manly side dishes. Luckily I spent the morning thinning my rows of beets in the garden so I had a whole baggie of baby beet greens. My first food from my garden! I sautéed them topped them with the last of the beets I bought at the farmer’s market in Vermont. The beets were a combination of golden and red and white striped and they were delicious. Then I made a big tossed salad with the last of my farmer’s market veggies.

In other garden news, the mystery plant that sprouted from the compost is thriving, and in fact threatening to take over the back yard (and the front).

My Mom thought it might be a zucchini, but I was holding out for pumpkins. We had dozens of blossoms, but they all fell off, leaving me in despair that the seeds were in fact genetically altered and not capable of bearing fruit. We talked about eating the blossoms, because then the space wouldn’t have been wasted.

Then Steve went online and looked up recipes for zucchini blossoms and discovered that the first blossoms were male and always fell off and the second round would be female blossoms. Just in case those boys flowers didn’t know what to do, I tried helping by pollinating them by hand.

And what do you know! Two distinctly round fruits have appeared!

The Recipe:

Roasted Beets Served with Beet Greens

8 – 10 beets, greens removed, and reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Scrub beets, pat dry and arrange in glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and then rub to thoroughly coat each beet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil at bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender.

About ten minutes before beets are done roasting, put a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and heat on medium high. Wash beet greens and pat dry. Put greens in pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté, turning frequently with tongs until cooked.

To serve put greens on the plate. Using a paper towel so you don’t burn your hands, peel beets and slice them. Arrange on top of greens.

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