Garden Excitement

28 May 12

Carl and I have been busy in the garden. It’s been lots of fun. I’ve planted: lots of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, melons, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, lettuce (which is bolting), rhubarb, amaranth, and, naturally, borage. My herbs are safely in their herb boxes, and Carl built me a box just for basil. Our artichokes from last year are coming back! And our strawberries are doing great. And our raspberries are coming in. I’ve taken some pictures of some plants in the yard, in our flowerbed, and my lavender bed. My lavender is blooming, and it’s awesome.

GF communion bread

15 April 12

Another thing: I’m working on a recipe for gluten-free communion bread, preferably unleavened. I’ll post a recipe if I find one I like, but I would love suggestions!

another long absence

15 April 12

I’m sure you’ve all been dying to know what I’ve been doing for the last six months, so here’s the update. I left my job and started my own firm, so that’s cool. I’m doing estate planning, though right now, I’m doing pretty much anything. In February, I started a bunch of seeds, and this year, I decided to do better than last year, where all my seedlings either died or ended up really leggy. I got a grow light and some heating pads, and we set up a table in the basement as my grow station. I know what it sounds like, but I promise it’s legit. I’ve planted 5 types of lettuce, spinach (which didn’t germinate, oddly), 5 types of carrots, kohlrabi, arugula, lots of different pepper, dill, parsley, cilantro, basil (a bunch of different kinds), mustard, chives, eggplant (including an African variety – yum), lots of tomatoes, thyme, little strawberries, cucumber, a few different squashes, and other things. I’m SO excited. Some of them have made it into the garden, but a lot of things are still waiting downstairs. I’ve been surprised at how much water they need, but considering the light and the heating pads, I guess I shouldn’t be. Outside, everything seems to be doing really well. Our grapes and (female) kiwi came back (we got a new male kiwi yesterday), the agastache is really happy, we’ve had asparagus, coming up, the raspberries and blueberries are turning into something recognizable, my herb boxes are doing well, and the strawberry patch is blooming. We built another raised bed and planted a bunch of flowers in it. I think Carl is going to build me a basil box to add on to the raised bed. That will be exciting.

I’ve been baking quite a bit as well. I made eggplant parmesan a few weeks ago, which was delicious. And I still make my sourdough bread about once every other week. I’ve progressed to adding rosemary and olive oil or cheese to it. I want to try adding lemon thyme to it as well. I think I’m going to make a double chocolate crumb cake this week, so I’ll keep you all updated.

I have the best husband ever, the dogs are great, and I have independence in my career. Things are going well!

a productive weekend

30 October 11

So I accomplished quite a bit this weekend. Figured out how to sew with Ultrex (a Gore-tex type material), got the guest room ready for a friend (quite a feat, I assure you, as it is also my sewing room), and did a fair amount of cooking. So here it is, in order of increasing good-ness:

salsa: I had a lot of tomatillos and cherry tomatoes from the garden, so I decided to make salsa. I put in about a half-dozen tomatillos, four handfuls of cherry tomatoes, a shallot, two cloves of garlic, a jalapeno, and some lime juice. It is definitely spicy, a little watery (I probably just processed it too long though), but it is okay. I think it will be really good with chicken or fish, so we’ll try that tomorrow night. Mmm.

dog treats: My husband made me breakfast on Saturday, and we had some leftover bacon. I made dog treats with bacon, peanut butter, shredded carrot, honey, and a mixture of oat flour and brown rice flour. I had to make my own oat flour using GF rolled oats (seriously, make sure the oats are GF), which I put in the blender until they turned to powder. The dogs seem to love them. I found the recipe at http://tidymom.net/2011/homemade-dog-treats/. I followed the recipe exactly, and it turned out well.

bread: Sad news – my sourdough starter died. Good news – I got to make beer bread instead. I used this recipe, though I cut out the dill. I used Green beer, partly because we had it around the house and my husband won’t drink it, but also because it is a nice dark beer (even if it doesn’t taste great). It made the bread really delicious. My husband said he liked it even better than the sourdough. Because it isn’t a yeast bread, though, it didn’t rise, and so it was just a really really flat loaf. However, like I said, delicious. If you know the beer is there, you can taste it, but it just tastes good. The texture was really light and the beer makes nice holes in the bread the way yeast does in yeast bread.

and the best thing this weekend:

chocolate chip cookies: I didn’t even try the recipe I have in a book, because my experimentation worked out so well. I adapted an old Toll House recipe that my grandmother had altered years and years ago. I wanted to try millet flour, and I’m glad I did. I think it added a flavor that just tasted substantial, if that makes sense. One thing I have done in the past that I wish I had done here is add some cinnamon. But anyway, here is my GF chocolate chip cookie recipe:

  • 3/4 c millet flour
  • 1/4 c tapioca flour (tapioca starch)
  • 1/2 c white rice flour
  • 4 T potato flour (not potato starch)
  • 2 t xantham gum
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t hot water
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 pkg chocolate chips
  • 2 c oatmeal
  • 1 c shortening
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t cinnamon (optional)

Sift flours with soda and salt (and cinnamon). Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Add hot water and vanilla. Add sifted dry ingredients. Mix well. Add chocolate chips and oatmeal and mix only until blended. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes (my grandma said 8, I think it’s closer to 10, just keep an eye on them).

So there’s my follow-up from yesterday. Now it’s time for another busy week – week 2 of my new job!

What I’m doing today

29 October 11

I apologize for the long hiatus. It’s been a few weeks of out-of-town weekends and very busy weeks. Today, I’m going to make another two loaves of sourdough bread, experiment with GF chocolate chip cookies using a recipe I found and attempting to alter a recipe I love, and then I’ll make bacon treats (also GF) for the dogs. I will make a full report on how everything turns out.

I also get to plant amaryllis bulbs today. And I’ll try to get to planting some lily bulbs and replanting daffodil bulbs that came up last weekend.

We dug up all our sweet potatoes – some are 8 inches across! My husband is going to build them a bin in our basement so that we can have our very own semblance of a root cellar. 🙂

Bread. Mmm.

11 October 11

I made banana muffins and banana bread over the weekend using two different recipes. The muffins used brown rice flour and pecans, and the bread used teff flour and cream cheese. I had never cooked with teff flour before. Apparently it comes in different colors – ivory, brown, and red – but our grocery store only had brown. Thus, the bread was a little darker than you normally expect. My husband thought both were good, though he preferred the muffins slightly. I thought the bread was quite rich, probably due more to the cream cheese than the flour. I think the verdict is just that banana bread is easy to make taste good, no matter what recipe you use. In the past, I have used a mixture of white rice flour, tapioca flour, and cornstarch, and that always turned out well. Brown rice flour has a little more nutrition in it than white rice flour, so I think I will use the brown rice mixture from here on out. Might try mixing in some teff or millet flour next time though.

And then tonight, I made sourdough bread. I end up making two loaves about every other week. Carl says he likes it better than the store-bought bread. The starter has settled down now, so it is consistent from loaf to loaf. I’ve had the starter since July, so it’s nice and sourdough-y. It uses a mixture of garbanzo bean/fava bean flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch, and sorghum flour. And it is delicious. I use Bette Hageman’s recipe – can I reproduce it here? That is something a lawyer should probably know…

The pictures aren’t uploading. Just imagine two delicious-looking loaves of bread and a single muffin. Mmm.

Disjointed matters

10 October 11

I’m sure I will have many posts on disjointed matters, but here is the first in my recent posts.

First, the sweet potato chips were a huge hit with the dogs. I think I may make more tomorrow for them.

Second, I’m rather frustrated with my orchestra right now. I really miss playing in my college orchestra where people practiced and the conductor encouraged players to be better. One derisive comment the conductor made at practice tonight really made me think seriously about not going back. But I can’t leave the orchestra without a bass player…

Third, I’m struggling with sewing ultrex, which is a goretex type material. My stitches are really close together no matter what stitch length I set them at, and the feed dogs push the fabric through faster than the needle, so it puckers. I fiddled with the tension and thought I had it figured out, but no. I’ve ripped out about seven inches of very close stitches, and I have another two to go, so if anyone has any suggestions, please share them. I definitely learned my lesson about practicing on scraps instead of the actual project.

And fourth, I will be starting a new job in two weeks at another firm here in Kansas City. I will be doing e-discovery and data privacy consulting, as far as I understand it, but everyone knows you don’t really know what your job entails until a month into it. I am so grateful for the experience I’ve gained at my current firm, but it is time to go somewhere else, and I am excited about this next chapter in my career.

That’s it for now. Mulling over a few other things that I might post, but we’ll just have to see.

Still harvesting!

8 October 11

This year has been really hard for our garden. We lost pretty much all our squash, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelons, cantaloupes, and cauliflower, and our tomatoes and peppers did not produce as much as they did last year. And our corn failed, and our broccoli never got off the ground… literally. It was a depressing summer garden-wise. However, this fall is apparently turning out great! Beans are coming in (I pulled one to see if they’re ready for harvesting), tomatillos are ripening, carrots are getting big, tomatoes are still happening, I found some red peppers today, and… we have HUGE sweet potatoes coming in. It’s quite exciting. I’m baking one right now, and I cut another one up to make chips. So here is a picture of my pride of the day – yay!

20111008-180010.jpg

Bulb planting time

2 October 11

Last weekend, we planted a lot of bulbs on the side of our house. We are hoping to have bearded irises bloom in the spring and saffron in the fall. We are going to harvest our own saffron threads once they are ready. So excited. Daffodils also bloom over in that bed, and we will plant some allium bulbs and some other summer-blooming flowers so that we have blooms basically from March through October or November. Awesome, right? Once we get everything in the ground, I will post what exactly is in there and when it should (hopefully) bloom. We may need to supplement the late summer time period. I don’t think we have any bulbs coming for then. Any suggestions?

Sewing class

1 October 11

I’m currently taking a sewing class at JoAnn Fabrics. I thought that since I’ve been teaching myself and learning as I go (and as I make mistakes), it would be good to take a class to fill in the blanks. It’s been great. We are making a skirt. I will finish it tomorrow – it seems the hem on mine is going to be fairly tricky. I will post a picture when it’s done. The education coordinator at JoAnn has also agreed to do a serger class. A family member and a friend are interested, so I think we will all do it together. The instructor has been awesome, and I’ve learned quite a bit. I would recommend trying out their classes, if you are interested.