Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Long time, no see.

Hello there! I am still here and I've stopped in to show you what important things have been happening at my house.

Fanny has been holding down the fort from her banana box.

Tchazo has been our posted sentry by the back door.

Jack has been incessantly licking the pillow until he passes out from exhaustion.

I hope autumn has been treating you well.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September State of the Garden Report

Just like August, September has been full of cooking and preserving. It took a while to get through all of the tomatoes my dad gave me and then he brought me more! For this batch, I roasted some, I made Carrot Tomato soup for eating and freezing and I dried the cherry, pear and roma tomatoes. So basically, more of the same!

I like to toss the dried tomatoes with a bit of fancy sea salt. They are delicious by themselves, on pizza, in pasta and a billion other ways. We will have no trouble eating these up by next year.

I've also started to pull some of up some of our root crops. Check out this warty carrot!

Our apple harvest was terrible. They are the sorriest, ugliest apples I have ever seen. There were not very many apples left on the tree to begin with. A few of them had started to rot on the tree. A bunch more of them had ants living inside of them. All of them looked like they were full of cellulite. Yuck.

I also dug up our onion bed. If you have been reading, you might remember that we planted over 300 onion bulbs. And then we watered the garden enough that the slightly recessed onion bed lost all of its tops. So, these small onions were all that we got from the onion bed. A lot of them are not much bigger than the sets we planted!

I also harvested the peas that I had let "go to seed" on the plants. I shelled them, let them dry out some more and they are now in the freezer waiting to be planted next year. Something about saving my own seed made me feel very resourceful and grown-up.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pet Sitting

My sister went on a trip this weekend. I was part of a team of people that took care of her menagerie. We were responsible for feeding, watering, exercising and cleaning up after:




and Atreyu.

At last check, all were alive, healthy and happy, so Jessy will be satisfied when she gets home.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


After a pretty dramatic start to the weekend during which Paul fell down the stairs and ended up in urgent care getting his foot stitched up, I had to change my plans. Neither Paul nor I had been to the Minnesota State Fair since high school. Around here the state fair is a BIG DEAL. This year over 1.7 million people attended the fair during the fair's 12 day run. We had planned to go together this weekend to see if the fair lives up to its hype. After Paul got 5 stitches on the ball of his foot, he wasn't feeling up to walking around for hours. So, while he spent the weekend with his foot elevated with a bottle of ibuprofen by his side, I found a fair-loving friend to go to the fair with me.

Despite having already gone to the fair twice this year, Jill changed her plans and accompanied me to the fair on Sunday. It was great having a knowledgeable fair-goer to help me navigate the crowded fairgrounds.

We saw the animals. We were in the Miracle of Birth barn when a little piglet was born. The little wrinkly-faced piglet was drawing quite a crowd, so we focused on the other little ones in the building, like these lambs and their mamas.

We saw the seed art. Jill is a ribbon winner seed artist, so I got some insider info from her. (Note she is not the Jill whose work is in the photo - this one was just my favorite seed art that was being shown this year. Jill won a ribbon when she entered a few years ago. She will be making a comeback soon, right Jill?)

We saw the knitting. I am sad to say that the state fair does a poor job of exhibiting the knitted goods. It was sort of torturous to have it all smashed together behind glass. There were no labels identifying who the knitters were and a bunch of the items were folded up and slung over drying racks! Boo! I know that some of my fellow knitters from Borealis were ribbon winners so I was hoping to see their stuff on display.

I very much enjoyed our quick walk through the midway. I love the aesthetic of the rides but you couldn't pay me to go on them. Some of the rides made me nauseous just looking at them.

We did go on two rides, although neither of them were in the Midway. Our rides were sans carnies and techno music. We rode on the giant slide. Note Jill's hands in the air! We also rode Ye Old Mill, which is the oldest ride at the fairgrounds.

The thing that most people love about the fair is the food, most of which is served on a stick. I knew about the reputation of state fair food in advance, but I was still shocked at how greasy, salty and fatty almost all of it was. I managed to eat a few tasty things without giving myself a tummy-ache.

All in all, I enjoyed myself enough that I am willing to go back with Paul next year.

P.S. Perhaps you will be happy to know that I spared you from having to see the photo of Paul's stitched up foot. If you feel cheated, let me know and I will share it with you ;)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Busy Fall Kitchen

We are currently in a very food-centric stage of our growing season. We have been getting great yields from our garden and taking on some of the yield from my dad's garden as well. In order to not let it go to waste, we are making efforts to cook as much as possible, to try new recipes that incorporate specific produce and to preserve as much as we can. We have been cooking and baking and pickling and canning and freezing and drying!

I have baked many, many loaves of zucchini bread. I've made a few varieties to keep myself from getting bored with it. I started with a few loaves of the chocolate zucchini bread, which is actually much more like chocolate cake and is completely divine. I've also been making variations on the family recipe, including orange/walnut/raisin, lime/almond/cranberry and lemon/walnut/cranberry. I also froze some shredded zucchini to see if I can thaw it and bake with it later. Has anyone had success with freezing zucchini? I'd like to hear about your experience with it. I've read and heard a lot of conflicting opinions.

For immediate consumption, I made this zucchini and sundried tomato risotto. We are trying to be inventive about ways to use our zucchini. Luckily there are a lot of recipes out there since an abundance of zucchini is common amongst gardeners. We've recently come into so much of it that I've been giving it to friends, family, coworkers and strangers. I put a box of them out in front of my house with a "FREE" sign on it. It made me happy when they disappeared within a few hours.

Next up on the list of abundance is cauliflower. The thing about cauliflower is that you only get one head from each plant. And, if you plant them all at the same time, they come ready all at the same time. This is hard to avoid when you buy the plants in sets of 4. We've tried to stretch them out a little by picking some when they are younger and some when they are older, but you basically need to eat 4 heads of cauliflower in the span of a few weeks. Vegetarian Times must be on to this because their September 2010 issue includes a section called 1 Food 5 Ways: Cauliflower. We made the Cauliflower Gratin with Tomatoes, Capers and Feta. It was delicious and made for excellent leftovers.

My dad stopped over yesterday and dropped off approximately 5 flats of tomatoes. We got a mix of roma, bloody butcher and mariglobe tomatoes, all of which are heirloom varieties. Although, his bloody butchers dwarf pictures I have seen of the variety online, so I suspect his seed saving and tracking process may have resulted in tomatoes and names that are a bit mixed up.

The flats he gave us must easily total 100 pounds. We were grateful to receive them because we have been keeping pace with our tomatoes plants and haven't had many extras to preserve. He was grateful to give them to us because he had already canned gallons of tomatoes and salsa and was feeling pretty overwhelmed with his crop.

At this moment, we are roasting a few trays of bloody butchers, dehydrating a mix of roma and mariglobe and prepping to make Summer Minestrone Soup (Moosewood recipe) to pressure can and Tomato-Carrot Soup to freeze. A busy kitchen have we!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Flies

More shawls! This one is a summery one. Summer Flies, actually. I knit this one in Berroco's Pure Pima yarn.

The different stitch patterns were fun to knit yet left me really craving charted instructions. It has been a while since I have relied on solely written directions for lace work and I had not realized how much of a chart knitter I have become!

I added a few repeats and an extra band of an improvised stitch pattern before increasing for the ruffled edge. I made the modifications both to give it a little bit more length and to use the entirety of the 2 skeins I had bought for the project.

The "flies" part of the pattern name comes from the little butterflies stitched in, I am guessing.

The ruffled edge was finished off with a picot bind-off. Picot takes a long time but it is totally worth it. I really like how it makes the edge look finished yet still allows it to flutter and move.

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