Saturday, September 13, 2014

Why Going to Seed is Not Always a Bad Thing at all

I've never understood the hysteria about not letting plants go to seed.  Aside from seed savers, who love it, there's a great emphasis on keeping plants picked, pruned, and generally nagged, so to avoid the dreaded going to seed.  But if you take your harvest and let the rest of your herbs go to seed, you get some lovely sights.

Here's the buds on a ruby lettuce, ready to open and show me what color the flower is.  

And the oregano makes an interesting flower.  

And the peppermint.  

And then this little flower suddenly appeared this week among the blanketflower, and if any blogista can identify her, I'd be pleased.   It's a delicate pink which washed out to white in the pic.

Art Happens in the Kitchen, Too! 6WS

I was talking with friends over a cup of tea recently, one of them an artist I've collaborated with in art (rare experience to be able to do that, artists being such hellbent individualists) and in music, the other a friend in music, and the subject of cooking came up.

They both read my blogs, and noticed there's been a lot of attention to food and cooking recently.  They are not very interested in cooking, beyond what they have to do for family and self, it's more of a duty than a pleasure, I think, not an interest in itself, and it made me think about this a bit.

Years ago, when I was married to a picky husband who didn't grasp how much planning and sheer dogwork it takes to put meals on the table daily, I didn't like cooking all that much.  He always loved my curries, but I didn't want to cook Indian every single day, with all those little side dishes, and clarifying the butter and all that, and my other forays were not very well received.

Later in life, when we were together again, never separated for the last ten years of his life, he lost much physical ability, and his mental powers declined, so that food became more interesting to him, and he a much more appreciative audience for my home cooking, to the point of bragging about it to his medical attendants. 

And his years of living single in the meantime, learning the chain of activity needed to get his own food on the table, and teaching himself to cook, were a revelation to him.  

He developed specialties which he loved to feed to me -- we were lifelong friends, married or not, living totally separate lives or not -- and he began to grasp not only the interest of cooking for himself, but the sheer level of planning and searching and shopping and hauling and wiping and chopping and putting away work it takes just to get food into the kitchen in the first place. So all this worked in my favor in the end.

Back together I cooked from scratch all the time partly because of one of his disorders which made it dangerous for him to take on any additives in food of the sort which give it a long shelf life.  So I needed to know what was in the food we ate daily. I'd done this all the time we were married, too, which added to my annoyance when he didn't appreciate every single tiny bite I gave him!

And I developed a great interest in it, in his later years, baking bread from scratch, making really good soup, creating all kinds of new veggie ideas, interesting Italian foods, and finally came to understand the pleasure of working with food.  

There were challenges, too, since he had limited use of his hands, couldn't use a knife at all, and I figured out how to serve food that was grownup, didn't look like babyfood, but was easy to navigate with a fork.  And his sense of taste was very damaged by his medications, so texture was a big deal.  As was appearance.  And the sound of hot croutons hissing as they hit the soup right in the bowl at the table was a great appetizer.  Chefs have known this always -- hence that tableside hissing and crackling and the flaming Christmas pudding and cherries jubilee and hissing meat and all those sound effects.

Since art flourishes on limitations and boundaries, these were in fact a help rather than a pest.

One of the few activities Handsome Partner and I could do together in his last years was to watch cooking shows on PBS and choose recipes I could try in the next few days.  We really enjoyed that, and treasured the sharing across his total disability and my exhaustion, good to find a bond there.

Another artist had said to me years ago when I wasn't interested in her endless and knowledgeable food talk, oh, you're missing out on an artform!  and now I see that the smells and textures of food, quite aside from the pleasure of serving it and eating it, are really a value in my life. 

I don't expect everyone to go along, any more than everyone has to make art, though I do think everyone's entitled to make art of all kinds.  But it's a nice revelation to me to see how life changes are reflected in what goes on in my kitchen.

And good to see that Six Word Saturday has triggered some new thoughts, too, such as the header for this post!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Staff of Life Before and After

Following on the Great Oat Flour Experiment, here's a loaf I baked using oat flour, whole wheat and all purpose, with sunflower seeds on top.  Before

and after


I wish I could transmit the smell of this bread to you!  As you see, I scored it and it will be easy to cut into four loaves once it's cool enough to approach.

I got a large carton of old fashioned oats, and ground it to flour, so I now have a big supply of oat flour for things like bread and pancakes and whatever else it works with.  In the fridge along with the whole wheat, the white whole wheat and the all purpose. And the vital or essential wheat gluten or whatever they call it.  Ed note:  Dragged myself out to the fridge to check, it's vital wheat gluten.

Bite Club! new at the libe

I just found out about this cookbook book club, say that fast, at the libe where I go to my regular bookclub.  That's been a nice experience, so why not combine another monthly bookclub with interesting cooking experiments, I thought.

Next week is the first meeting, so I'm studying my Alice Waters. The idea is that each month there's a selection of authors to pick from, try out a recipe, then compare notes and experience at the book club meeting.  This might help me with the farmshare, too.

However, you'll note that I set up a couple of Poptarts to sustain me while I study Alice.  She probably wouldn't approve, so I won't tell her.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bringing in the Sheaves. And More Sheaves. And Yet More Sheaves..

This is the time of year when the farmshare is at its height, and physically lifting the share becomes a planning operation. 

Yesterday's looks like this:

raw material for redskin potato salad, corn chowder, spaghetti sauce, shredded zucchini for bread, broccoli for steaming, bell peppers for stuffing and stirfry, and eggplant gift for neighbors. 

My farmshare will take me right through to next March without buying any vegetables other than carrots and celery, which won't grow around here. But between here and there is a lot of activity in the kitchen.  Good thing I sharpened my chef's knife this week.

Update on the oat flour: it makes great pancakes, too.  Oat flour and walnut pancakes this morning for breakfast, with a nice drizzle of honey.  Makes it worth getting up in the morning.

Monday, September 8, 2014

DIY, aka sometimes postponing works

So I found this morning that sometimes it pays not to know what to do right away.  When I do know, it's a matter of warp speed action. But when I don't, it pays not to.

So yesterday I finally thought why not just try this?  I had wondered for years if I could grind old fashioned oats in my coffee grinder and get oat flour.  Reasoning that it's like a small mill grinding grain for flour, so why not.  And I finally did it.  And it does make flour.  Why didn't I do this before.  Now I can have oat flour easily.

So I used it in a Martha recipe for apple oatmeal crumble, which actually, get this, wanted oat flour! perfect timing.  This is a mag from the lot I got via freecycle recently.  Not a fan of eating apples raw, but Granny Smiths in cooked form are good.  And this recipe didn't ask for a lot of sugar, and none of that ghastly syrupy stuff a lot of recipes think you should use.  So here's the result, and very nice it is.

It's breakfast food, I claim, since it's oatmeal and apples...and the dish is a freecycle.

Then among the suggestions for upcycling my cabinet doors, the one for a plant stand, using casters, reminded me with a clang that somewhere for years and years I've had a set of self stick casters waiting for a job to do.

Work of a moment to remove the old hinges and handle, stick on the casters (touchingly caring instructions remind you they're unidirectional, and to put them all on facing the same direction!) and here's the result. 

 Looks a bit like a big roller skate, or a low tech Mars vehicle, but it works a treat! see it in action here

and here.  The big ficus tree can now be rolled about easily, yay.

Thanks so much for the idea, Irene.  And I still have another door for a tray or a frame or something.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

DIY strikes again

There's just no knowing when an idea will strike. And with me, to think it is to do it.  Which is how I found myself, chanting my usual mantra: Ready!  FIRE! Aim! all dressed up for a meeting, up a ladder removing the doors from a useless cabinet, high up, above the refrigerator, I ask you, and empty for years now except for the odd adventurous spider. 

The picture below is of a similar cabinet, above the stove, but that has uses.  I omitted to remember pix before I tore the doors off the other one...

So here's the situation: I had suddenly thought, ah, what if I take off those doors, I bet I can do that without much trouble, and then put some lovely American and other art pottery in there to just see and enjoy instead of looking at two closed doors with nothing behind them, that have been annoying me for years?  

The idea of open kitchen cabinets, always appealing in the mags,  is only good if you have presentable dishes in sets and well, that's the impossible dream.  Taking the doors off my other cabinets would look like an explosion in an international mug factory. But this one I could do.

Pausing only to find the step stool, and locate a screwdriver, then start again on finding I needed a Phillips' head and the first one was a straight slot, I climbed up, very awkward to reach over the fridge but I did get the screws out of the cabinet and as hoped the entire door, hinge and all, came off with no sign it had ever been there.

Wiped it down, including the top of the fridge, which urgently needed someone taller than I to observe that it needed wiping, and at this point needed to leave for my meeting.

Home again, meeting successfully concluded, and I installed a few favorite pieces up there, safe from marauding cats, easy to see and enjoy all the time. 

 Herendt hound from Hungary, Boehm spaniel from NJ, German porcelain birds from I guess Germany, Trenton Delft bowl, lovely antique piece that, and two great Rookwood Pottery vases.  And a pedestal from Rookwood, designed after the manner of, but not by, Shirayamadani. All lovely to see and much better than the previous view.  And what I left on the shelves whence I took them in the living room. are all glass pieces, much happier together than mixed with ceramics.

And as usual, cost:  $.0.00.  I didn't charge for finding tools, unscrewing the doors, putting away all the doings afterwards.

However, I would like blogistas to consider what might be a good use for these doors?  

They're in my outside storage area right now awaiting an inspiration. Note that I've preserved the screws, on the grounds that You Never Know.  Never in my history have I actually used screws that I've saved like this, but, You Never Know.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Six Word Saturday: My Darker Self Often Chimes In

Eagle eyed blogistas will have noted a new button appearing on this blog.  Six Word Saturday.  This is a cool notion, which I found via Mittens' blog, and which I thought would be a fun way to punctuate the week in blogging.

At least that was the idea.  The night after I figured it out and finally got it to appear on my splash page, I woke up about eight times with great six word concepts to use.  Forgot all of them as I fell asleep again.  Not a restful idea, since it seemed to punctuate the night instead of the week.  

But I love the concept, all the same and will attempt to have fun with it, as Mittens advised.  "You came here to have fun, now get on with it, and have fun."  Actually she's a lot nicer than that would suggest.  And she never said that.  That was my darker self chiming in.

Maybe that's today's six words:  My Darker Self Often Chimes In. So true.  See, it's working already.  Darker Self gave me food for thought.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dieffenbachia, living on the edge, thrills and spills

Way too hot yesterday,  nineties and high humidity.  So I went out this a.m. on the patio to water the remaining outdoor houseplants, and found that the flowering dieffenbachia had been knocked flat.  Completely on her side, probably the work of a squirrel.  They're as bad as cats for leaping and leaving turmoil behind them.  Didn't have the heart to take a pic of her in distress, not knowing if she was broken or what.

Righted the poor thing, she's had a life of adventure, what with dumpster dumping, then major surgery, and this summer starting her family, flowers, that is.  

And found that the upcoming flower has bust out anyway.  And there's another flower in the offing, too.

I disturbed an insect on her when I righted her, which means the job of fertilizing is happening just as if her fall hadn't taken place. This plant is unsinkable.

And here's a clump of transplanted lambs' ears, from next door, result of working with neighbor on his strip out front, in front of the new small Russian sage, matching the big one out front. 

And there's a little bird bath, too, hiding some of the pachy roots I was too hot to tackle, but will do in the next cool day or two.

Some houseplants are now in place in their staging areas, taking their bow all day long, so I thought you might like to see how it's working out.  Here they are in the main bedroom.  

Two views, one long one so you can see the Boston fern in place, and the noren, you remember the mystery Japanese textile, covering the doorway behind there.  And the window treatment, posh expression, showing the thrift store hand embroidered valance, actually two table napkins, I believe.

My neighbor has already booked a spot in the staging for one of his plants until he can return it in the winter to another person, the owner's mother or something, it's always complicated with plants. So there will be a spathiphyllum joining this group.

Then there's the staging in the Nook, the other bedroom, and I found a half width plank to add to it.  

You see bottom right the snake plant transplants, rescued from squirrels, who dug them up more than once, and now putting down tiny hair roots, so I'm hopeful about them.

The unruly foil curtains are a wonderful thing, I got them from a catalog, which act like one of those blankets you carry in the car for terrible weather in case you get stuck.  They retain cool inside in summer, heat inside in winter.  And the difference is startling. When you put your hand behind them in boiling hot weather, there's a huge temp. difference from inside them.  Not pretty, but very fuel saving.

And there's the other Boston fern, presiding.  And a view into my walk in closet complete with all my clothes and my stitching stores.

And the ficus and dieffenbachia will join me in the living room when I get up the energy to move them.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Freecycling, a.k.a. comedy tonight!

Today's lunch, and tomorrow's, is yet another Mystery Veggie Bake Thing.  

The dish is from a freecycle, and the veggies are chopped red and green bell peppers and green beans, mixture of two eggs, some chunks of sharp cheddar and excellent deli ham, with black pepper, kosher salt, drop of milk, poured over. Big chunk of basil pesto laid on top, not spread about, then a big twig of curry leaves lying on top of the lot.  385 degrees F. for about 25 minutes. Then remove the curry leaves, they having already flavored the food, spread around the pesto right before serving.  Very nice food. The ham was expensive, but bits of it have appeared in several meals, adding a nice sharp flavor.

On the subject of freecycling, I received this box of about 50 magazines today via freecycle

This will provide me with a bit of reading material to go along with a cup of tea for quite a while.  Then as I read each one I'll recycle.  Except for the ones I keep to teach paper beads with, which I'm scheduled to do for my embroiderers' guild this fall.

Freecycling is a comedy of errors at times, with more than its share of flakes, charmers, generous people, greedy people, a whole spectrum of human nature connected only by their interest in keeping items out of the landfill and into better homes.

Such as the gentleman, I use the term advisedly, who, when he received a lot of good items from me and found out they were part of   a friend's estate, offered the family the use of his time and his truck to get stuff moved anywhere they wanted.  He explained he's free at weekends, and can be called on to haul for the family, because he knows what it's like to do this work.

And the man who collects useful items and drives them to poor parishes in the city to distribute to people working fulltime who are still struggling.  Rarely takes anything for himself.

And then there's the lady, not the correct term here, who arranged to pick up a box of items, came in my absence and picked out the two or three best items, left the rest for me to deal with again...yes, she's on the 'don't even ask me' list now! likewise people who don't show and don't explain.

And the lady who asked for something that had already been spoken for, and emailed several times telling me how hard her life is and how this would have "brightened my day".  Wouldn't hear it when I said over and over, sorry, it's promised already.  Got back yet again to say well, you're very unfair!

And the occasional person who fails to realize that telling the taker to pick up their items "on my porch" that they need to know exactly which porch, nay,even which town.  Otherwise are they expecting a house to house search?

And the people who, when you post Pending Pick Up, meaning spoken for in Freecycle parlance, promptly email requesting the item.

Then there are lovely people who are so grateful when I rescue fine handwork and rehome it for them, or put old items into use again.

The other great fun about freecycling, aside from moving on old items to happy people and receiving items I will get a lot of pleasure from, is discovering streets and neighborhoods I've never been in.  I did that this morning, and did a detour coming home just to join up several places I was familiar with to see how they related to each other. So there's that!

Now I have to make a little cup of tea before my neighbor hauls me out to help him with his garden planting and planning, and read a mag or two..


Saturday, August 30, 2014

House Adequate, Upstairs one Floor

As promised, I did finally haul myself upstairs, many times, in fact, since the houseplants at camp on the patio are starting to come in. Cool nights coming in fast, so I need to start cleaning them up, knocking off the wildlife, cleaning dead leaves off and wiping the pots.  And all that. 

Much stair climbing carrying heavy stuff ensues.  The big Boston ferns are hung from the two ceilings upstairs, phew, that was the hardest bit, heavy and overhead, trying to see through the foliage to aim the plant hook over the ceiling hook.

 The  visiting snake plant is off home with its mom today, to north Jersey, with a promise  to let her come back to camp next summer. She looks wonderful after the season outdoors in shade,  new little snakelets around the foot of the established leaves.  And the cuttings I took from her are starting to root, so next summer she will have friends to play with.  Yes, I take it personally.

Anyway, in the course of bringing in plants and noting how they've all grown, so they can't fit back where they were in May, I had to figure out some inventive and cheap ways of staging them.  And, as I was thinking about whether I had a plank which I could sling across two little tables which were also coming indoors, I took a look in my outdoor storage area.  

And found the leftover "planks" three lengths, from the new floors upstairs.  As I was saying, oh yes, you'll do fine, my neighbor suddenly showed up and said, I caught you talking to that wood, don't deny it!  I also can't deny I've started a lot of thoughts with "and" but if Hemingway could do it, I can. And he couldn't raise houseplants for toffee, neener.

The planks not only work perfectly for the purpose, strong enough to hold plants up, light enough for me to swing them about, but they match the floor!  like this, seen from above:

The bedroom has the real staging, two levels, the big time.  Using two little wire table things I was given, and two tall stools I've had for years and years, no idea where they came from.  

In the Nook, family name for the spare room, old family joke from childhood, is a single shelf on two low tables, originally found in the dumpster,  brought in from the patio. 

Results: nice looking very pleasing staging areas which keeps plants in light and off windowsills, and off the floor, and won't drive my cleaners mad. No tools involved. Total expenditure today: $0.  

All the plants were either from slips or offshoots, one, the pony palm was a gift, the others all by propagation chez moi.  This is just the advance party of plants, more to come when I get my strength back.

Now if this doesn't gladden the heart of a frugal DIYer, I don't know what will!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Field and Fen Forages at the Farm for Food

Another invented dish today:  

cubed red sweet peppers, chopped green beans, cubed firm tofu, sharp cheddar, chunk of basil pesto, two eggs beaten with Italian seasoning and kosher salt.  Buttered dish, all poured in gently, topped with several curry leaves.  Baked at 375 for 25 minutes.

Very good lunch.  Originally designed to be two meals, but I ended up enjoying all of it.  Life's short.  Speaking of which, note the upcycled flower vases and other things pressed into service to hold utensils.  Much more appealing than the old plastic dishwasher insert they are replacing.

Stitching on my butterfly this morning.  Playing music this afternoon.  Cooking in between. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Martha doesn't live here any more.

I've been reading House Beautiful again.  I love reading decorating HD magazines, and seeing dear little tables at a mere $1200, just to fill in that little corner on a's like reading recipe books you marvel at but would never be pestered to make.

Anyway, I figured, if Apartment Therapy can do it, and House Beautiful can do it, anyone can do it, so I had a little tour of House Adequate, which is where I live, but if I say it myself there are areas of flair and even panache. Downstairs only, too lazy to climb up and continue.  That's for another issue of House Adequate.

I followed the old maxim of using a lot, yards and yards, of cheap fabric when you have a massive window to cover.  The patio door is 92 inches wide, super extra large because it's the only downstairs window on that side of the house.  

Light does get through the passthrough from the kitchen window, and the living room is light enough.  But that window is out of my budgetary reach.  Even curtain rods are hundreds of dollars at that size, being custom made, anything over 84 wide is custom.  

Enter the handy eight foot pvc pipe, less than three dollars, slung on three big hooks anchored in the wall, using mollies.  The curtains are cheapish cotton tab tops, two pairs, one swaggy thing, and another pair of long tabtops in some transparent material forget what.  Total cost about $50.  And I think it looks pretty elegant. The other thing you can do for a curtain rod on a small budget and an elegant frame of mind is to use a long bamboo cane from the garden store, strong as anything, unbreakable, and long enough for a lot of windows, if you like a rustic touch.

Then there are the Arrangements of Art ideas, which I've been doing for years, long before House Beautiful caught on and all the posh Martha Stewart people.

And the funny object idea, here a child's chair rescued from the dumpster, brushed up and put below a fiberart work of mine.  It's decorative, but you'd be amazed at how many grownups pull it out to sit on it!

And whoever said you don't have art in the kitchen?  I do, why not. Oh, and remember my fussing about being shorter these days, and the counters too high to mix on comfortably, and what would be a good solution.  See that wooden top in the picture?

After wondering and measuring and faffing about whether to introduce a table or an island, neither in my budget, I realized, as I was reorganizing the kitchen ready to start painting, that the storage shelves are sturdy and the right height for me. 

Two cutting boards side by side on the top of one, and now I have my right height mixing counter and very well it works, too.  Happy to hit on this solution using only what I already had in the house.

Dear blogistas, especially people on a limited budget, what cool ideas do you have to share?  please do, always on the lookout for good ones.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Food rules

Deliberately ambiguous title this morning.  Read one way, it's about how food rules my current world.  Read another it's about the rules I need to observe in order to stay in charge of the food and not be ruled by it!  This is not about consuming food.  This is about the logistics of liking to cook and save and freeze vs. the reality of a smallish freezer at the top of my fridge.

So I made a giant loaf of bread yesterday, whole wheat and oatmeal with sunflower seeds inside and poppyseeds on top.  This is a variation I made of the whole wheat recipe in the Healthy Bread book.  I also quit using loaf pans, and put the entire lot into one great big casserole with a non stick lining, which creates a fabulous crust. 

I bake at the usual 450 F. for about an hour and a quarter, had to lengthen the baking from the loaf pan time, but now I've got it down.  The crumb of this loaf is lovely, too, nice texture, firm, but good.  Excellent for spreading tomato lemon jam on..

Then found that when I quartered it into useable sizes, the segments  that I freeze wouldn't go into the freezer, dangit.  Those containers full of herbs I picked for pesto were taking up too much space.

Deep sigh, removed them from the freezer, put the bread in their place and set to work, forced by necessity and the rules of food to get on with pesto making.  And after all that whining and tergiversation, it only took about an hour to create flattened packages of pesto for the freezer, now in there lying on a plexi sheet to keep flat while they freeze.

Rosemary, sage, basil, English thyme, lemon thyme, peppermint, spearmint, oregano, I think that's the lot, all done.  Instead of my usual olive oil, walnuts, herb, grated parmesan, I used all the above, but subbed grated asiago for the parmesan as an experiment, so we'll see how that works out.  And I made a container of pesto water at the end, to rinse out the blender without wasting any pesto.

I also finished one bottle of oil in the course of this, just came to the end of it.  Then left it capped and upended while I got on with the newly opened one.  After a few minutes, uncapped it and as I expected, at least another ounce of oil in there still, poured that into the new bottle, waste not want not, good olive oil is expensive.

The food rule seems to be like so many other parts of life: just do it. Don't put up the ingredients and waste a lot of mental effort remembering and planning and resolving to do it.  My whole winter's pesto is now up and done.  And the bread and the pesto all fit nicely in the freezer.

Next to make soup from all the little containers of potato water and pesto water and green bean water and other bits saved up, along with all the veggies waiting their soup life.  I'm thinking of putting soup into freezer bags and squashing it flat, too, why not.  Space saving. 

Every year at this time I wonder if I should have another freezer, and the urge passes if I lie down for a while..or until I get another space saving idea like this one.  So that the cook, not the food, rules!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Look, a hitch hiker!

The weather seems to be cooling off rapidly, so I've begun to bring in houseplants bit by bit.  The spider plant had a readymade place on top of a high bookcase, so she came in first.

And after fiddling about with a plate in place for the planter, and taking off the hangers it had used to hang from the cherry tree, and navigating a little chair to reach the top of the bookcase,  I got the spider plant, with a lot of new children, set up in place.

It wasn't till then that I realized we had brought in a little traveler. Dear little guy, hanging on firmly to the wall now.  

I'm torn between letting him stay and deal with insects in the house for me, and detaching him from the wall to set him outside where he soon needs to be.

He seems to be in tune with the current artwork -- I'd just got through molding paper over tiles with little amphibians like him on them. To learn more, go here 

Perhaps he thought I needed a few pointers.

Dieffenbachia Delight Part the Second

So I wandered out this morning with my cup of coffee, to see how Mrs. D. was getting on, and, screams of amazement and joy, she has a second flower in progress!  see there at the right of the first, which is now developing, its male and female parts hard at work, see, the base now looks different from yesterday, and an unfurling third leaf behind there, which might even be a third one....


I must say, she's slow to get there, this is over two years' since she had the surgery that made two plants and a dead bit out of the twisted and unhappy plant my neighbor brought me in from the dumpster, Houseplant Rescue to work, but when she does, she's cookin'. 

This is the plant from the original root.  The other one, from further up the stem originally, equally large, doesn't show signs of flower. 

It may be that only the parent root, not the side shoots, can do this, like the wisteria.  You can grow a wisteria up the entire side of the house, tearing the roof tiles off and choking the chimney and never get a flower unless it's the main root you planted.  Not that I plan to plant wisteria any time soon, hate the damn things, vandals of the plant world...

Yes, I know I get a bit carried away, but oh well.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why it's good to just sit there sometimes or wander about

Last week I got finally around to thinning the pachysandra on the patio, found to my amazement a couple of lovely box planters, buried, the thinning long overdue, now planted with petunia and some shrub, and sitting on the fence.  A lot of tangential activity to that simple need to thin the pachy.

Then yesterday and the two days before, the big reward came -- first sightings in years of a hummingbird busily attending to the petunias.  Flying backwards as they miraculously do, hovering at a terrific rate, just there for a few seconds.  But I was out loafing and reading at the time and that's how I caught sight of her.  Three days in a row.  No pix, no time!

Then today, in the midst of turning out the kitchen, thinning out pots and pans for freecycling, washing the shelfy things that have been there years, amazing how much they needed doing, heavy labor,  I found cachepots and thought I should check if they needed occupants. 

Anyway, I took a break and wandered outside in case I needed to bring any houseplants to occupy them yet, fall seeming to be rushing in, and there, after three years of tlc, the dieffenbachia has thrown a flower!  

I didn't even realize they could. Noticed yesterday what I thought was a new leaf, but here it is opened up, and it's  a lovely surprise of a flower.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

More food, I'm in a frenzy...

The farmshare this time of year becomes a pressing priority to those of us froogle folk who can't bear to waste food.  So the jam, and the tomato sauce, and the veggie quiches, and all that happen. As well as a frenzy of chopping and slicing and prepping for the freezer.  I did give away a bunch of eggplant to happy neighbors, too.

Today I made some sort of dish, can you help me name it, blogistas? 

anyway, I used a glass lasagna pan, rubbed with butter -- I save butter wrappers in the freezer from the rare times I buy it, use them to butter pans, then toss, works lovely.  

And put in a couple of handfuls of zucchini sticks, cut like big french fries, four ears of corn, cut off the cob, four eggs beaten with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, a big swoosh of Italian seasoning stuff, turmeric, handful of grated cheddar cheese.  

Poured this over the vegetables, sprinkle of red pepper on top.  Baked at 350 for 30 minutes.  This, yet another kitchen experiment, worked fine, as you see my lunch serving.  The veggies were still bitey, not too soft, nice flavor, very fresh.

This was my second course,the first being a tomato cubed and salted and that was all it needed for a wonderful first course. Simply nothing better than a tomato fresh from the vine.  I never eat them in winter -- that's when I use my spaghetti sauce from the freezer.  Anyway, the tomato was gone before I thought of a pic, oh well.

Nonfood things will return to this blog, promise.  Oh yes, gardening exploits, hm, yes, been doing those, too. But you don't need to hear about my allergy issues, that's been a feature, too, but too boring.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Dollivers Get in a Jam

Tomato and lemon jam, to be exact.  Call Me Michelle and Bette Davis stood on their diva rights and refused to join the kitchen squad.

But Blondie Firstborn, NameMe and Dreads, kitted up in their kitchen whites, set to to make this year's tomato and lemon jam.
The recipe, which I've changed many times since I first used it, an Amish one which doesn't mind tweaking, is for six half pints of jam, but I make three whole pints, why not.


Then with the able assistance of Dollivers, stationed at various point, we sterilized all my  Mason jars, three, that is, 

zested the lemon using my handy zester, out on its maiden voyage, and very good it is, then sliced the remaining lemon. The recipe says to just slice, but I find the outer skin goes tough in the jam, so this will be better.

Then simmered the tomatoes in the huge pot I use about once a year, add in a packet of liquid pectin, and the lemon, zest, slices, everything, 

and boil it a bit before adding in the sugar and getting it to an unboildownable boil.

At this point I remember each year why it's important to have a huge pot, doesn't bear thinking what would happen if it didn't have room to boil out of all control like this.

And we have three lovely jars of jam, setting up nicely.  And three Dollivers proudly showing their kitchen expertise before leaving me to deal with a mountain of dishes.. they complaining also about being tired, though.

The cook's privilege is to eat the last little bit out of the pan, and wow was it good. Very tangy, more interesting than fruit jams, great for breakfast.  But now I have to make hot biscuits to go with.