Thursday, June 30, 2011

Garden Update, Etc.

From this ....

 To this ....
 Yeah.  May I point out again that the only fertilizer ever used in our garden was our own, home grown compost.  
And the mystery plant turned out to be ...
Pat yourself on the back if you guessed calendula!  This is blooming like crazy right now.  Plenty for extracts and essential oil.
Favorite Picture of The Week:
He he he.  This is a sign that hangs on Mooch's door.  She got mad at me when I took away one of her toys because she hadn't cleaned up her room, and she stomped off and slammed her door, then came out a  minute later and grabbed a pen.  I walked down to see she had drawn a picture of me, put an "x" through it, and wrote underneath "I love Daddy"  She came out in tears saying, "I wrote something mean about you Mommy, but I didn't mean it!  I love you too!"
Least Favorite Thing of The Week:
 This stupid douchebag cat.
 Meet Nunzio.  (Yes, Nunzio.  We have an obnoxious Italian last name, I couldn't resist making him sound like a gangster kitty)
 Nunzio is obsessed with the Mister.  He sleeps on his pillow, he meows at the door when the Mister isn't home.  If he could figure out how to crawl inside the Mister he would happily spend the rest of his life spooning his kidneys.
 The Mister is on midnights (BOOOO) right now.  Stupid cat is beside himself with kitty agony.  Stupid cat has woken me up the last three nights walking around and doing this screech-y howl in protest.  Stupid cat would make excellent hawk food.
Song I Can't Stop Singing:
Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons (I'm obsessed)

Sigh.  Dreaminess.
I Can't Stop Eating:
My homemade nut butter! <-, ok the words "nut butter" will pretty much always make me giggle.
Bonzai Aphrodite has instructions here, and you can customize it however you want.  Almond butter was at our Co-op for FUCKING FIFTEEN DOLLARS A JAR, so I decided to make it myself.  Picked up raw unsalted almonds, a huge bag of them for $5.  Added some raw sunflower seeds that I had leftover from making granola, and blended it up.  BA recommends not adding any additional oil, but you have to blend this for a really, really long time, and I had an antsy 2 year old at my feet, so I added a little sweet almond oil to get it to the creamy stage a bit faster.  I have a jar at work to top apples and bananas with, and a jar at home.  Yummo!
What I Made This Week:
OK, I only have the starter pictures.  Crap.  And I *still* have not posted pics of the cloth napkin epic failure.  Will do both tomorrow, I swear.
Anyway, I wanted a bird bath, but I didn't want a plastic one because, well - eww.  And the stone ones started at $100.  No.  
Hmm, I have that leftover all-weather adhesive.  And pots at Home Despot are only $8 each, and the woman at the counter forgot to charge me the $3.99 for the saucer.  

You get to see the finished product tomorrow!
Rant Of The Week:
Other than that smelly boss had me book a whole trip for him yesterday, only to cancel it today - I'm good!

(Courtesy Natalie Dee)
Things I Have To Accomplish This Week:
* Start digging rain garden
* Finish repairing torn screen (trim needs to be nailed back in place)
* Move new desk into place, transfer everything from old desk

Yes, we are re-doing our downstairs.  Zac had a, ahem - "stomach issue" all over the downstairs last year.  We cleaned and steam cleaned and everything else, but when the humidity is bad I still think I can smell it.  We're getting it professionally cleaned, and if that doesn't do it we have to re-carpet.  I also am thinking of stripping the hutch that's down there and refinishing it - you know, in all my spare time.  I want to make it a more comfortable, live-able space for us all.

Finished pics of crafts, both successes and failures, tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hello Lambs.

Remember licking the bowl?  Before you had to worry about calories?  This is the minions doing just that, finishing up the cream cheese frosting for the zucchini cupcakes we made the Mister for Father's Day.

 I tried to pull the bowl away and they both started furiously scooping out as much as they could with both hands, which honestly made me proud and reinforced that they are definitely my children.
 I've been quiet lately.  Kind of off and frazzled and not feeling like there's enough of me to go around - so I'm taking vacation the week of the Fourth of July.  And my plans are - nothing.  Nothing!  OK, maybe we will got to the beach, and I have requested that my mom take the girls one day so I can knock out the 8,000 unfinished projects in our house.  But the rest of the time I plan to hang out in our yard and nap. 

 I've also been dealing with some issues in my extended family.  To keep it brief - a family member with a history of mental health issues is spiraling out of control.  The worst part is this person has children.  And they are about to lose their children, and their home (already lost is a drivers license, car, and job).   It is just so heartbreaking to see someone you have admired and looked up to become someone you don't know - someone you don't trust.  It's taking a toll on me.

 The running around craziness, coupled with family stress, has made me realize I need to slow down.  The girls and I were playing on the floor last night and I caught myself twice dazing off - making mental lists of what needed to be done, thinking about other people problems, etc.  I need to remember how to be present and appreciate.  My life does not need to be a shining example to everyone else - my life needs to be lived and appreciated.  The Mister accuses me of always over-scheduling myself, and he's right.  

 I'm finishing up a few projects at work this week so I can leave on Friday with nothing hanging over my head, and for the next week I'm going to practice being present.

 In other news, the garden - ummm.  It is GIGANTIC.  I knew the soil we filled in with (1/2 aged compost, 1/2 top grade organic garden soil) was good - but I had no idea it was THAT good.  If I don't pick squash for a day, the next day we have foot long zucchinis and yellow squash everywhere.  The radish are huge, the beets are huge, the peas spit out a basket full every other day.  
Yesterday I noticed the squash leaves were so big they were blocking the sun from other plants, so I hacked some back.  And in the process discovered 7 huge cucumbers on my cucumber plant, along with 3 more squash.  The Mister said I looked slightly hysterical when I came in.  It is kind of like my garden keeps having illegitimate children in the night.  

 I am off to finish a project or two and get some yard time in with the minions.  Peace!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Food Porn

Karen from The Art of Doing Stuff posted a recipe for no-bake cookies, or "ies" a while back and I had been itching to try them.  Since I have the sweet tooth from hell, I like to keep healthier dessert alternatives around so I don't go crazy, and these are perfect.  And do you really want to turn on your oven in the summer?  These kind of taste like eating raw cookie dough, one of my favorite pastimes :-)

The recipe and Karen's post are here, I will only include the photos of our raw cookie adventure!

 It looks like poo, I know.  And is that ... a pinch taken out?  What the ....

Culprit.  She shows no remorse.

 Yummy!  So easy, so good.  
Words to the wise: OK, this may be obvious to everyone else but me, but dates have pits.  Big pits.  You have to remove them before you add them to the food processor so you don't, you know, almost blow out the motor :-/
My own lil' University has a farmers market every summer, and I went to my first one last week.  Scored a gigantic bag of produce for $6.20!  Including a baguette that I'm not ashamed to say I ate a third of before it made it home.  I also got some beautiful mushrooms from their mushroom bar, and last night made this with it:

 Mmmm mmm mmm.  I made up a whole wheat pastry crust and rolled it out on a cookie sheet, then caramelized some onions in my skillet, and added thinly sliced yellow squash from the garden and the mushrooms.  Into this went some rosemary and thyme from the garden, and I cooked everything down a bit and then spread it over the crust, and topped it with a 3 cheese blend (Parmesan, mozzarella, and provolone).  I folded the edges in a bit and baked it at 350 for about 1/2 an hour.  So good.  And the girls thought it was pizza :-) 
On the side was our new favorite, radish sauteed with greens

This is what I pulled up yesterday

Meet Radzilla.

Maybe this doesn't show scale enough - sucker was the size of a potato.
What's everyone doing for the Solstice today?  I think we are going to bake some bread, Mooch and her Daddy have a movie date so I get some solo Butterbean snuggle time.
Blessed Litha!

Friday, June 17, 2011

How To Make ... Fried Zucchini Blossoms

So you picked up some zucchinis from the farmer's market (or picked some from your garden - very resourceful, you!), and if you were really, really lucky some still had a blossom attached to the end.  And maybe you picked them off and tossed them in your compost bin and didn't think anything of it.
Oh, if you only knew what you just threw away!
A few years ago I read Marlena di Blasi's book A Thousand Days In Venice, and it pretty much rocked my socks.  She describes a festival celebrating the lowly zucchini blossom, and tasting fried ones for the first time ever.  Of course I had to try it too (SN:  The same thing happened when I read La Cucina.  I started making timballo and now it is a family staple - but I digress)
You'll love this for so many reasons - it utilizes a completely forgotten about product of your garden, it's quick and easy, and they are so good you can never quite make enough.  The last picture, of the plate of them?  Yeah.  devoured by yours truly in about a minute.
So to start, you get a big ol' heap of blossoms.  Try to take both female (the ones growing on the squash) and male (the ones growing on stalks, if some ignorant ass bunny hasn't made off with them yet)

Here's the thing : you can't really wash them.  If you do they get really soggy and don't work.  I shake mine and brush them with paper towels to get off any dirt or buggies.  Take comfort in the fact whatever is on there isn't nearly as bad for you as the can of soda you consume without thinking twice.

Mix up the batter.  There is some kind of ratio here that I have forgotten.  I put two big spoonfuls of flour in a bowl, then pour on club soda until it's the consistency of thick cream.  

 Whisk it up!

Line up your ingredients like so, and heat vegetable oil in a big skillet over medium heat.  You want enough oil that they won't stick, so don't be shy.  They are worth it.

When your oil is hot, dip the blossoms in batter, and then shake off nearly all of it.  These need just the slightest coating.  Again, soggy blossoms = no.

Into ze pan!

I find it's easiest to flip these with a pair of tongs.

  While doing this, scald your finger with a flying drop of oil, then realize you own a perfectly good splatter screen

When the blossoms are all nice and golden-y brown, drain them on a double-thickness of towels, and sprinkle liberally with salt.

Wolf them all down and get yelled at by your 5 year old because you didn't save her any.
There are all kinds of delicious variations you can make here - last year we stuffed them with blue cheese and fresh jalapenos from the garden, and very nearly died of ecstasy.  They would also be yummy with white bean dip inside ... but truly, they are amazing just like this.
Peace, love, and produce! :-)


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Wizard of O's

So my husband says to me as I walk out the door this morning - "I like that dress.  You look like Dorothy, if Dorothy was more slutty."
Ummmm ....

 Thanks?  I guess? (And yes, I took these in the bathroom.  DEAL)

And also?  What in the G-D HELL kind of Wizard of Oz have you been watching?!?!??

Paging Mr. Fudd

I see you, you little fucker.  You think it's funny to hang out in my garden, eating cabbages and such, and then when I catch you you just freeze and hope that I mistake you for a bunny statue?
 Don't you turn your cotton tail on me.  Look what you did to my zucchini blossoms!
I get that you need to eat too, but there is clover all over our damn lawn.  Yes my garden has delicious vegetables, but until you help me weed and water this bitch, they are MINE!!
 You know what I hear is delicious too?  Rabbit stew.  Mmmm mmmm mmm ... freshly killed bunnies.
 You're an asshole, bunny. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garden Progress and NEW Mystery Plant!

It was a dinner of accomplishment at our house last night - we picked an entire basket of radishes out of the garden,

 with some dill as well - and had sauteed radish and radish greens, wheat berry risotto, and grilled salmon with fresh dill and capers.  I wasn't quite sure what to do with the radishes and greens, so after scrubbing them I thinly sliced the radishes, then cut up the greens.  I heated olive oil in my biggest skillet, added the radishes and cooked them until they softened, then added the greens and 2 crushed cloves of garlic.  When the greens started to wilt I added a little white balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.  They were AMAZING.  My new favorite veggie preparation, and the Mister raved about them too.

I still haven't photographed my cloth napkin failure (the shame is too great), but if anyone has any suggestions for a favorite cloth dye that is not too chemical laden, I'd appreciate any advice.
Remember Mystery Plant?

 Well now it's doing this -

Hmmm.  I still have no clue.  And now we have another mystery plant

 This is why compost bins are the coolest things ever.  Not only do you grow your own fertilizer, help the planet, and keep worms happy - you also have these happy accidents.  If I'm right, and I HOPE I am, this is one of the sugar pumpkins we got from the farmer's market last year.  The sugar pumpkins of PUMPKIN DONUT MUFFIN fame, which deserves to be capitalized, trust me.
We have huge leaves that look like they are of the squash variety, so I was assuming it was a zucchini until I spotted this 

little curly tendrils that only vining squash produce.  It could also be butternut squash, and I would be equally pleased.

Sadly, my mustard green planter was an epic fail, i don't know if this was powdery mildew or some kind of pest that got to them

I would be more upset if the rest of the garden wasn't behaving so beautifully

This is a bullhorn pepper.  I had to google it :-)  Supposedly it gets to 8-10 inches long before it is ripe!

Mmmmm, lettuce.  My lettuce is SO good!  Check out my lunch today:
Lettuce, nasturtium, and radish.  Added to this was celery and carrot, and an herb vinaigrette. Mmmmm.

Something likes my cabbage.  
I had way too little time this morning playing in the garden (bees buzzing around my lavender, lady beetles checking out the 'maters), and now I'll be stuck at work.
Have a fun day, all!
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