Misc. Monday

moon

Wooooo dog, this post has it all. It’s been months since I’ve done a general, non-postcard update. So here it is, the fruits of the summer.

tomatillos

Our veggie garden did great this year. I made two batches of salsa verde (tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeno).

tomatos

In addition to tomatoes for eating, I made a batch of sauce and cooked down two batches of tomato paste (boil and peel tomatoes, puree, cook down, put in pan in 350 degree oven and bake until paste).

cabbage

And I made a batch of sauerkraut. We got a fair amount of radishes. Three heads of cabbage. Lots of tomatoes. A few carrots. Good lettuce and arugula. Next year we’re planting more green beans and more peppers. This year we also got a compost barrel (and inside bucket) and we’re composting our kitchen waste. Right now I also have a batch of hard cider cooking. It’s exciting!

crochetblanket

I’ve been crocheting up a storm. I made a mint lap blanket for a friend. Then I made this lap blanket with a ruffled edge. LOVE the ruffled edge. The yarn is Simply Soft Paints Yarn in Rose Garden.

crochetscarf

I loved the yarn so much (and overbought), so I made a scarf and sent it to a friend who needed a scarf. Now I’m working on another scarf for another friend.

I’ve been reading, too. Just finished Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (very good) and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (excellent). Here’s how I turned out with the Summer Reads 2015:

 

What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas

The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell

American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The Wishing Thread: A Novel by Lisa Van Allen

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

All but two done, but I made up with two others. Not bad.

I’m getting ready to start sewing again. I have to make my Halloween costume for Howl-O-Ween at the shelter. And I have a new pattern to make a dress. Just need to pick up the fabric and I’m ready to go.

How about you? Can you believe summer is over and we’re well into autumn already?

Spring Projects

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 0 No tags Permalink

Spring Projects – Fermentation and Crochet

crocus
It is finally starting to feel more like spring in Michigan (at least until next week when the temperature drops again). The robins are back in full force. The crocuses came and went. The bleeding hearts are up about two inches, and there are a few blooms out on the forsythia outside my office window. The wild violets are perfuming the air, and Maxy has been taking regular walk-abouts on his leash. I’ve been working on my list of new plants for the garden and putting together my list of summer reads.

sauer

As you may remember, I read the Sandor Katz book The Art of Fermentation as part of the Summer Reads 2013. And I previously made and bottled my own kombucha. Recently I got it in my mind to make and ferment our own sauerkraut.

sauer2

It is incredibly easy to start. Cut up cabbage. Put it in a bowl and salt it. Massage the salt into it for ten minutes. It will get weird, wet and frothy.

sauer3

Put the liquid and the cabbage into a stoneware pot. Tamp it down. Put weights on it. Add more brine if there’s not enough to cover everything. Put the lid on the pot and wait. I’ve been checking it every day to see if the liquid is okay or if it needs skimming. So far, so good. I expect it to be ready in three weeks or so. Hopefully it will turn out fabulous!

babyhat

It seems everyone is having a baby now. I just finished this hat to send to Alaska. It’s crocheted on a G size hook using Bernat Baby Softee in cream, single and double crochet rows as the desire struck. It’s not really a pattern, but I think it turned out cute. And this blanket, again a G hook with Bernat Baby Softee, single crochet with a weave pattern and a scalloped edge, is for Baby Silvio:

babyblanket

The final project is a purple blanket for a friend out at Southern Exposure. I hope to get it done in time for the Martini Madness event May 14. I haven’t been reading or playing accordion as I’ve been working on these projects. After the final blanket, I plan on taking a little break from crochet and catching up on reading. We’re just over a month away from planting season, and that will take up a lot of my time once it starts. We’ve got big plans for the garden this year!

What spring projects are you working on?

Misc. Monday

Monday, September 9, 2013 0 No tags Permalink

Today was such a Monday. Instead of anything thoughtful to say, I’m posting a bunch of pictures from the last week.

So. We made it through last week with the big event at Southern Exposure. In fact, we beat our goal and blew last year’s totals out of the water.

Southern Exposure Herb Farm

This summer Mom grew peperoncinis. And I pickled them. We’ll see how they turn out. Next time, I will pack the jars. I mean, I thought I had packed the jars. But you need to really, really pack them.

pepperoncinis

Here is Maxy, looking especially handsome in his walking jacket.

Maxy Cat

I’ve been shooting photos of the L. Coville barn on C Drive for years. Here, as it was in October 2007:

coville

And here, September 2013:

L Coville Barn

On Friday, Mom and I went up to Lansing to clean up the cemeteries. First, we went to Elderly Instruments. They put a strap peg in the neck of my guitar for no charge (I purchased the guitar from them a year ago). They did it right while we waited/shopped. I love Elderly. You should go!

Roma Bakery

Then we went to the Roma Bakery to get lunch to go.

mom

The food is amazing.

Roma Bakery

The weather was much better for the clean up this year, compared to the planting in the spring. Mt. Hope:

Mt Hope Cemetery

And Evergreen:

Evergreen Cemetery

Sunday I had a funeral visitation to go to in the evening. When I got home, we took Maxy on a walk and heard this immense pounding noise in the maple. After putting Maxy indoors and fetching the binoculars and camera, we found that we had a pileated woodpecker in the yard!

pileated woodpecker

That’s all the news that’s fit to print. I’m working on my attitude.

Kombucha

Friday, July 26, 2013 0 No tags Permalink

Some people say that kombucha (pronunciation help here) will change your life. As you know, I’ve been reading The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. I’m interested in fermentation. I sometimes buy kombucha at Apple Valley. To be able to make your own kombucha, for the price of a few teabags and a cup of sugar…that’s intriguing.

Kombucha is a probiotic tea. Here’s more info on it, from KB, if you are interested. I was able to put this all together in the morning before work (and before coffee).

So, after doing some research, I decided to take the plunge. I got a mother/starter from Kombucha Brooklyn. Although the instructions say to clean everything in your brewing area and utensils with warm, soapy water…well, you know I’m a germaphobe. So I did that. Then wiped it all down with vinegar. Then washed it again.

Start by boiling 1/4 gallon of water.

kombucha

Add your tea and steep for 20 minutes.

kombucha

Add one cup of sugar and stir until dissolved (the culture feeds on the sugar as the fermentation occurs. The longer you let it ferment, the more sour and less sweet it becomes as more of the sugar is consumed).

kombucha

Add a half gallon of cold water, then pour it all into a gallon jar.

kombucha

Check the temperature. Don’t add your SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) if it’s hotter than 90 degrees!

kombucha

If you’ve ever gotten bottle kombucha, you may notice floaters (do you strain it before you drink it? I almost puked when some of it got in my mouth the other day). The SCOBY kind of reminds me of those photos of breast implants that are removed and have gone all funky. Dump the SCOBY and starter juice in the container.

kombucha

Put a clean cloth over the top of the container and secure with a rubber band.

kombucha

Don’t forget to mark down when you started your brew. You should have a new mother SCOBY form within about a week. I’m kind of grossed out by the SCOBY to be honest, so for the modesty of my fermentation and my own sensibilities, I covered it.

kombucha

You can let your kombucha ferment up to 28 days, depending on how tart you like it and the temperatures inside your house. A new SCOBY forms on top of the jar. After you have two SCOBYs, you can separate a layer and give the the SCOBY daughter to a friend. Like Amish friendship bread, you keep the process going and keep getting new SCOBYs.

If this all works out for me, and you’re interested, let me know. I’ll share the SCOBY love. If it really works out well, I’ll be leaving SCOBYs on doorsteps, ringing the bell and running away.

Next item to ferment: mead, or honey wine. Stay tuned.

Crafty Weekend

Monday, June 18, 2012 0 No tags Permalink

This weekend I made popsicles: roasted peaches and cream, strawberry moscato, cherry vanilla and kiwi lemonade. The cherry tasted like cough syrup. The roasted peach was fantastic.

I also made up bags of cappuccino bath soak:

Fine oat powder, whole milk powder, dendritic salt, baking soda, roasted coffee oil, cocoa and vanilla bean.

This was pretty much a sample run in the bags. The pulled out white is supposed to look like the foam if it’s put into a proper container.

Vanilla Extract

Monday, February 13, 2012 0 No tags Permalink

Last night I made up three jars of vanilla extract. I came up with an idea of what to add with them for sort of a cool gift, so I am going to work on that tonight maybe. I think the products smells so lovely, that maybe you would want to make a cocktail out of it instead of using it for baking. You could also pour it over vanilla bean ice cream (especially homemade!).

Boiled the jars. Most recipes say you don’t need to, but I freak with worry about germs and bacteria.

This recipe called for light rum with the beans.

Slice the beans in half, and stuff them in the jars. I put nine beans per jar.

Pour in the rum, seal the jars and that’s it. You’re supposed to shake them daily for the first week, then once a week or more after that. It’s supposed to sit and steep for six months before you use it. Then, you can either strain it or just remove the beans and leave the seeds.

Lemon Extract

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 0 No tags Permalink

Valentine’s Project #2 – Home-made Lemon Extract

I made a delightful lemon and olive oil single layer cake a few weeks back. It is sweet without being too sweet, and is perfect for a cup of tea or even breakfast. The recipe called for lemon zest and lemon juice. That got me thinking about a book I just finished by Jennifer Reese called Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch.

One of the recipes was for a home-made lemon extract. I thought that you could replace the zest and juice with the same amount of the home-made lemon extract and have a more-lemon-y taste.

First, I got everything I needed. I found some food-safe jars, organic lemons and 100 proof vodka.

I boiled the jars; I am super-freaked about issues with food safety.

I scrubbed the lemons to get rid of any remaining dirt. Since you’re using the zest, it’s important that you use organic lemons. They aren’t as pretty and they are much, much smaller, but they aren’t covered with pesticides.

After I zested all the lemons, I squeezed out juice to add to the mixture.

Taking the jars out of the boiling water with tongs, I then put juice and zest in each jar and covered immediately with the vodka.

You are supposed to keep the jars in a dark, cool place (but not in the fridge), and shake them each day for ten days. Then, you’re going to want to use them pretty quickly – within a couple of weeks. It’s an excellent excuse to make that lemon and olive oil cake!