Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Imagine you had a sister, and you liked to talk to your sister about quilts, because you really love quilts, and she makes quilts, and you're pretty sure that as much as you love quilts you're lacking whatever gene it is that would enable you to make one yourself, but you love to look at them and dream about them and talk about them and she understands.

Ok, so you've got this sister, and you email her a picture of a quilt you like, and she emails back saying that it'd be a great quilt for a beginner, so simple!

Flash forward. You've pieced the top. Yay! Your sister comes over so you can lay the quilt out together. She eats her words.

Then she goes home. And you're slightly terrified but simultaneously thrilled with the potential prettiness.

(As I look at the picture I immediately see some squares that can't stay where they are. That's ok. I'm going to make a couple of squares out of the fabric we chose for the borders, binding, and back,

so I'll be swapping out a few.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Just for Danette, here's yesterday's soup:

Sweet Potato, Corn, and Jalapeno Bisque

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cups vegetable stock
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 can (15 oz) corn, drained
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 Tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch ground cinnamon

In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in the oil.
Add the sweet potatoes and stock.
Bring to a boil.
Simmer til potatoes are soft. (10-15 minutes)
Puree til smooth.
Add remaining ingredients.

I think next time I'll puree most of the potato mixture, but not all. A few chunks of potato and onion seem like a good idea. It was very good as is, though. The cayenne and jalapeno give it lots of flavor, but it wasn't too spicy for Rowan, who's not a fan of spiciness.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here's a recipe that will put your homemade vanilla to good use.

Vanilla Muffins

4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (I may do a little bit more next time)
8 Tablespoons butter, melted

Mix dry.
Combine and whisk wet.
Add wet to dry.
I sprinkled the tops with maple sugar - not necessary but quite good.
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen muffins, or 10 giant-Jon-sized muffins.
365 photos in 365 days. Done.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shortly after my 17th birthday I met Jon.

Shortly less than 17 years ago I met Dagny.

Time flies when you're having fun.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When's the last time you blew bubbles in your cup?

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
(aka The Best Hummus Jon's Ever Had)

2 large cloves garlic
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2-3/4 cup roasted red peppers (If you're using peppers in a jar, 1 of the bigger jars, drained, will do)

The recipe I found was all about the food processor, but here's how you do it by hand:

Mush the chickpeas with a fork til smooth.
Mince garlic and peppers and add to chickpeas.
Add tahini and lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I haven't actually tasted these yet, but Jon (who may come to regret telling me he wanted giant muffins when he sees how many different kinds I want to try making) says they're good.

Jam Muffins

1/4 cup jam
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla (You're all making your own now, right? Seriously - try it.)

Heat oven to 400.
Grease muffin tins.
Whisk the jam til smooth and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients.
Add wet to dry and stir until batter is just blended.

Fill muffin cups halfway.
Make a shallow well in the center of each with a spoon.
Fill with a rounded teaspoon of jam.
Cover with remaining batter.

Bake 12 minutes.

If you'd like, dust the tops with confectioners' sugar.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I've wondered what the subdivisions that are sprouting up on the farmland down the street will look like in the future. Will they take on personality? Or will they remain (not so) little boxes made of ticky tacky that all look just the same?

Roasted Carrot Soup

16 Carrots, peeled, cut into chunks (about 1 1/2 inch)
1 Yellow Onion, quartered
1 Sweet Potato, cut into chunks (about 1 1/2 inch)
6 Cloves Garlic, whole
5 Cups Stock
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Coarse Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Arrange the carrots, onions, sweet potato and garlic in a baking tray. Mix in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast the carrot mixture for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven. Peel the skin from the garlic. (I just peeled it before roasting.)

Put into a large saucepan. Add the stock, ground ginger, and nutmeg. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, and then puree.

Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This week Dagny requested my mom’s chicken casserole. Jon’s usually in charge of making this one. He makes two batches, one following the recipe and one changed a bit for the tastes of the vegetarian-no-canned-mushrooms crowd. With chicken or without, I still call it chicken casserole. Old habits die hard.

GrammaDonna’s (no)Chicken Casserole:

5 lbs chicken breast

1 lb longhorn (sharp cheddar) cheese

1 box pasta shells

1 lb box frozen sweet baby peas

2 small jars pimento

2 small cans mushrooms

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups stock (Mom used chicken, we use vegetable)


Boil the shells and the chicken in separate pots. Add the cheese to the shells while they are hot. Add the other ingredients, then put the mixture into an oven safe dish. Cover with melted butter and breadcrumbs.

Bake @ 350 until golden and bubbly (about 45 minutes).

We usually eat it all up pretty quickly, but it does freeze well.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A new recipe from Amy:

Honey Baked Lentils

1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ginger
1 clove garlic (I doubled, as always)
1 small onion

Bake in a covered dish at 350 until tender. (1:15-1:30) You could also substitute barley or rice for some of the lentils, and add whatever winter vegetables you have.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Current 'Make' list:

Brown Sugar Muffins
No Knead Bread
No Knead Caramel Rolls (In the oven right now. You awake Dagny?)
English Muffin Bread
Wheat Bread
French Bread
Peanut Butter Bars
Chocolate Stuff
French Toast
Rice Pudding
Cider Jelly
Honey Baked Lentils
Roasted Carrot Soup
Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup
Lasagna Rollups
Chicken/No Chicken Casserole
Six Cheese Gnocchi with Spinach
SOB Lasagna
Peach Salsa
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I had a couple requests for the recipe for the bean stew I made on vacation. The original recipe came from Lisa Heyman, and I did alter it a bit. If anyone wants the original recipe, let me know.

Bean Stew

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 whole heads of garlic, peeled and minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 jalapenos, seeds removed unless you like it extra spicy, minced
4 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp lemon juice
6 Tbsp honey
2 tsp chili powder
3 Tbsp cumin
Cayenne to taste
Cilantro, chopped pretty small (I do about two hands full, chopped.)
4 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 big can crushed tomatoes
1/2 small can tomato paste

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a big pot.
Add peppers and spices.
Add remaining ingredients.
Simmer 20 minutes.
Serve with rice.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

'Joy of Homecoming on the Horizon', by Dagny and Andrew.

(Ok, named by me. Art's open to interpretation, right?)

Jon’ll have to remind me where he got this recipe. I think it was Mindy’s family? It makes 4 loaves, which is a bit too much to fit in our mixer, so Jon cuts it in half. It’s great for sandwiches, but my favorite way to eat it is toasted and shmeared with peach honey butter.

Foolproof Wheat Bread

2 TBS yeast

½ cup warm water

5 cups hot water

1 TBS salt

2/3 cup oil

2/3 cup honey or molasses

12 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Combine hot water and 7 cups of flour and blend in mixer with dough hook.

Add salt, oil, and honey, and continue to mix. (Rue note: Measure the oil first and the honey will slide right out.)

Add 1 cup flour and yeast mixture.

Mix thoroughly, then add 3-4 more cups flour and mix until dough cleans the sides of the mixer.

Knead (mix) at least 10 minutes.

Transfer dough into a large greased bowl, spin to coat with oil, cover with towel, and let rise 45 minutes.

Oil hand, punch down, and shape into 4 loaves.

Place in well-oiled bread pans.

Cover with cloth and let rise again, 35-45 minutes.

Bake at 350 40-45 minutes.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I mentioned to Amy the other day (has everyone visited Amy's shop? It fits right in with what I'm thinking about here - buy as little as possible, but when you do buy look for quality things that will last and that are made with care) that our KitchenAid stand mixer was a great investment. We've had it about 10 years and use it regularly. Heck, we like it so much it got its own cabinet when we re-did the kitchen. I remember that when we bought it it was $200, and I was so unsure about spending all that money. (Looks like it's more like $300 now.)

Just as an aside, I never saw a stand mixer until I was an adult. I still remember the first time I saw Jon's mom pull hers out of the closet. I did a lot of baking as a kid, and finding an invention that would cream butter for me was amazing.

I was thinking about what other things we've bought that were not so easy on our budget at the time, but have worked out to be completely worth the initial ouch. Some that come to mind right away:

Calphalon cookie sheets (used ONLY for cookies - cheapo $1-$2 cookie sheets are fine for everything else). We've had these 10 years as well, and they look pretty much like new.

Good pots/pans (Actually, if anyone has any recommendations for pans that will last the rest of my life, other than cast iron, I'd like to hear them. They need to be able to go in the oven. They don't need to be dishwasher safe.)

Silk long john's

Wool sweaters

Wood furniture

Glass containers

Handmade items

For the past couple of years I've been considering the idea of a food processor. I go back and forth on whether it will really save me so much time/effort that it's worth the cost and space in the kitchen. On the one hand, I've lived just fine without ever using one. On the other hand, there are things that look so much easier to do with one (chop nuts for example). If you have one, what's your opinion? Should I stick with my knives? Is there a brand you use that you'd recommend? Is it worth getting a bigger one? I think I'd almost need to be talked into it, really. I can see my kids growing up and using my mezzaluna. I can see a food processor ending up broken and in the trash. But if I'm wrong, I'd like to hear about it.

Oh, and check these out. They have a lifetime guarantee for breakage. We go through a LOT of straws, so I'm thinking these might be a good investment.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our room is on Modish!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A note for hungry readers: I've gone through some old posts to add labels to them. I think I've tagged all the recipes, so if you're interested in those they should be easier to find now.

So far I'm the only one eating this at my house. Jon is feeling anti-chickpea. Dagny has apparently developed a major dislike for cloves. Rowan generally avoids spicy. Not sure what Andrew's excuse is.

I think it's really good, so I'm ok with not sharing.

Spicy Chickpea Ragout

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

8-10 whole canned tomatoes (reserve the liquid)

3 teaspoons ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Heat oil in a large skillet.

Add onions, garlic, and ginger.

Cook 3-5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, breaking them into pieces with spatula.

Add ½ cup reserved tomato juice with remaining spices.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Add chickpeas.

Cook 10 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Zucchini and Summer Squash Casserole

1/2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
3 summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
3 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups crushed butter crackers
3/4-1 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a 9 x 13" baking pan with Pam or butter.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
Add the onions.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook about 1 minute.
Add the squash and zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the thyme and remove from heat.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to the baking dish, reserving the cooking liquid.
Combine the egg and cream in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in cooking liquid.
Pour over vegetables.
Bake until sets, about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with crackers and parmesan, then bake til golden brown, 10-15 minutes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Here's one of the recipes from our 'make' list this week. We had never tried it before. It gave me horrid garlic breath, but it was really good. The teenagers (Am I supposed to stop calling them that now that some of them are in their twenties? Let's just think of it as an honorary title.) liked it too.

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1-2 Tablespoon Tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

Dash crushed red pepper

1-2 teaspoons olive oil

Dash ground red pepper

Chop garlic and jalapeno. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. The original recipe suggested using a food processor. I use a mezzaluna. (Mine's pretty similar to this one. If you have neither, just chop the garlic and pepper, mix up the rest, and smash with the back of a fork til smooth.)

Sprinkle with another dash of ground red pepper to distract from the fact that it doesn't look all that appetizing. Weird color.

Serve with chips or toasted pitas, followed by tic tacs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ok, tell me about planning, buying, and eating:

How does food/grocery shopping work at your house?

How often do you go grocery shopping?
Who does the grocery shopping?
How many people are you feeding?
Do you all eat meals together?
Is there a certain time you eat meals?

Where do you eat?
Do you plan weekly menus?
Do you eat out often?
What is the most important food for your family not to run out of?
Fresh baked cookies or store-bought?

I'll go first:

I have a general list of groceries I made years ago printed out. I go over that, and anything I know we need goes on my grocery list. Anything I'm not sure of goes on a '?' list. I ask everyone if there are any particular recipes they want ingredients for, then I get out my recipes and flip through for inspiration. Again, anything I know we need goes on the grocery list, anything I'm not sure of goes on '?'. As I go through the recipes I also make a list of the ones chosen, which we call our 'make' list, so anyone who feels like cooking or is hungry can check it and see what we have the ingredients for.

Ok - so we're at three lists: the grocery list, the '?' list, and the 'make' list. Jon takes the '?' list and goes through the pantry/fridge/freezer. We add whatever we don't have to the grocery list. Finally I ask everyone if there's anything in particular they want and if they think of anything not on the grocery list, I add it.

Most of the time, Jon does the grocery shopping.

We do one large shopping trip towards the beginning of the month and a medium-sized trip about halfway through the month, with smaller trips for things we forgot or decided we wanted in between if necessary. We have a number of farms nearby where we can get milk, fruits, and vegetables as needed.

We're generally feeding 5 people, but there's a very steady stream of visitors in and out of our kitchen. The fridge-full you saw in my other post will be feeding an extra four people this week.

We're all usually hungry at different times, and want different things. We do sometimes all eat together, but it's not a regular thing for us.

We eat all over the house, depending on what we're up to and whether we need a big flat surface (aka table).

We do plan what food we think we'll want to eat before we go shopping, but we don't plan what we'll eat on what day. We tend to look at cooking as something fun to do, so it's done whenever someone's in the mood, not necessarily at 'meal' times. We cook, tell everyone there's hot food, then store what's left to be heated up when it's wanted. I do pay attention to what we have available for different meals and the different tastes I know the kids have when I get the urge to cook, so that I'm not making a bunch of food no one will want to eat soon. And any of us is willing to cook if someone else is hungry for something in particular.

We very rarely eat out. A few times a year, mostly if we're on vacation.

It is very important not to run out of ice cream. You don't want to see most of us (I'm not naming any names) if we run out of ice cream.

We like packaged cookies just fine, but we usually have fresh cookies, with some extra cookie dough in the fridge.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A comment Kelly Lovejoy made while she was visiting has me thinking about refrigerators. So here's a blog challenge for whoever wants to take it: What does your refrigerator look like on an average day? Is it crammed and messy? Neat and organized? What's in it right now?

Here's what ours looked like Thursday. Jon went grocery shopping the night before, so this is pretty typical.

(Not everything is what it seems. We re-use containers - particularly jars - over and over again.)

(Petunia is diligent in her efforts to make sure no food escapes from the fridge unnoticed.)

Here's what's in our fridge right now (items marked with * are made by us):

Orange Juice
Grape Juice
Pineapple Juice
Iced Tea (I kinda wish Kelly Lovejoy would move here just so she could make us iced tea all the time. I do have her recipe. Not sure Jon would want to live without his Arizona, though.)
Sour Cream
Heavy Cream
(We currently get our milk from a farm but are hoping to be able to start getting it from a different one that's trying to get approval to sell raw milk - either way I'm planning to experiment with making butter and yogurt soon.)
*Peach Habanero Marinade
*Blueberry Honey Butter
*Strawberry Honey Butter
*BBQ Sauce
*Rose Petal Jelly
*Habanero Peach Preserves
*Maple, Strawberry, and Blueberry Syrup
*Strawberry and Blueberry Preserves
*Hot Sauce version 3.0
Various condiments and dressings
Blueberries (We've planted 18 bushes, but they're not producing much of anything yet.)
Strawberries (We'll be planting a LOT of strawberries next year.)
Herbs and Veggies including (off the top of my head...) broccoli, sweet and hot peppers, greens, garlic, cilantro, carrots, ginger, zucchini, summer squash (I paid a lot of attention this summer to what veggies and herbs we eat most, so I can better plan next year's garden.)
Alfredo Sauce
Salsa (Last week I made fresh salsa and, while it wasn't as spicy as I expected, it was really good.)
Bread (You've got a good shot at fresh bread in our house, but that's on the counter.)
Pizza Dough (I'm on the lookout for the perfect pizza dough. Got a favorite recipe?)
Eggs (I've always been interested in having chickens for 'eggs and atmosphere' as someone said to me yesterday, but I don't think I'd deal well with the inevitable losses. I'm happy to be able to get our eggs from Chloe's chickens, who seem to have everything chickens could possibly want.)
*Peanut Butter Bars
Vegan Marshmallows
*Smashed Chickpea Salad
*Toasted Ravioli
*Fried Rice
*Rice Pudding
*Sundried Tomato Pesto
*Mac and Cheese
Deli meat
Sliced , Chunk, Shredded, Ricotta, and Cream Cheese (Yes, that's a lot of cheese. Jon and Rowan are going to be learning to make cheese in November.)
Veggie Stock (I don't know why I don't make my own veggie stock when it's so simple.)
Applesauce (I make a mean applesauce, but this jar's not homemade.)
*Cookie Dough
Hot Fudge and Butterscotch
Hershey Syrup
Whipped Cream (We love homemade, but sometimes you just need a tub of Cool Whip.)
Frosting (Again, we like homemade, but sometimes you just need a tub of frosting.)

Leave a link in the comments if you do this on your blog.

Next blog challenge: planning, buying, and eating food.
Getting ready for the craft show at Soule.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

This peach tree was old when we moved to our house 9 years ago. Every year we're pleasantly surprised to see it load up with peaches.

After we bought the house, but before we'd come to know every nook and cranny, I said the only thing I'd add would be fruit trees. Winter ended, blooms started appearing, and suddenly I could see we had a pear, a peach, a crab apple, and two cherry trees. None were in the greatest shape. They hadn't been tended and had all lived long lives already. But, man, the peaches from that tree are unbelievable. Not grocery store pretty, sometimes munched on by worms, but so good. My favorite thing to do is to get the one from the very top of the tree, the one that feels hot to my hand. When I eat that peach, I taste sunshine.

It's because of this tree that I learned to can. One peach tree grows a LOT of peaches. In the next couple of weeks we'll be picking and I'll be listening for jars to pop. Oh, and making peach upside down cakes, some to eat and some to freeze. There's nothing like eating sunshine when it's cold outside.

We've added quite a few trees in the past nine years - peaches, apples, mulberries, pears, plums, and almonds - gotten our blueberry patch established, and next year we'll be adding strawberries. But I doubt anything will ever taste better than the first peach I ate off this old tree.
Today we made a dent in this project:

and in this one:

My bed is going to feel very good tonight.

Friday, September 04, 2009

A really long time ago this picture was on my blog. Remember?

Here's what the table looks like now:

(Well, actually it's a bit messier than that now, but that's what it looked like this morning.)

While we were working on the craft room (I seem to have settled into that name...) I came across another table at the architectural salvage store we like to go to. I didn't get any before pictures of it, but it was in a bit better shape than the first one. My mom and I refinished it too, and here' s how it came out:

This table has a little plaque on it that says it was property of Brown University. One of my favorite things about it is the graffiti in the drawers. (Is that weird?)

I wonder what 'Rotten ole Tom Brady', class of '51, is up to these days.
Ok, I've got another one for you. Can anyone tell me what this is?

It's not a bush, more like a small gangling tree, and we have tons of them.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I recently had a conversation with my mom about my experience with school. We were talking about a book Rowan and I had read, in which the main character rode the bus to school on the first day of 8th grade, got off the bus, turned around, and went home. She just couldn't take one more minute of school. The word she used to describe how she felt there was "stupified".

I was horribly, mind-numbingly, stupifyingly bored from the third grade on. By fifth grade (during which year I was often sent to the hallway with an algebra book in what I believe was a well-meaning effort by my teacher to deal with my boredom) I was beginning to feel an overwhelming sense of doom whenever I entered the school building. By high school I was regularly skipping classes, intercepting mail, and changing the grades on my report card. I spent days at the town library, snuck home and hung out in the yard if I knew no one was there, went to friends' houses, went to the beach if I could get a ride. I walked to school, and some days I made it all the way there before the sinking feeling became too much to bear and I turned around not even knowing where I'd end up for the day. If I had missed one more day of high school I would not have graduated. My parents had no idea.

If I was a 'gifted' child no one ever told me, but this paper, titled To produce or not to produce? Understanding boredom and the honor in underachievement (On Gifted Students in School) pretty much sums up how I felt for 10 years of my life. I would have been thrilled in high school to have someone acknowledge the idea that there was honor in my 'underachievement'. Choosing not to produce, to disengage, certainly felt to me like the only way to keep my integrity intact, even at the price of lying to my parents.

Here's a poem I wrote on one of the days I spent at Needham Public Library when I was 15 or 16. Not great literature, by any means, but I can't tell you how clearly I remember this feeling.

Boredom lurks and then it pounces
As I sit, my mind a blank
So I draw a crazy picture
Of a ship that sailed, and sank.
Heading nowhere on a journey
To a place that's far away
Looking back at old, lost friendships
When I left, they chose to stay
In a place that's cold and lonely
While I head for sun and sand
On my ship that's made of daydreams
Sailing to a distant land.

This is not why my kids don't go to school. They don't go to school because they don't want to, for reasons of their own. But I am grateful there is nothing stupifying about their lives.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Recently Rowan and I read The Homeschool Liberation League. One of the interests of the main character is eating food that grows wild. I've been interested myself lately in learning more about what's edible. There's an amazing amount of food growing around us that we think of as weeds or ornamentation.

I always knew roses were edible, but I really didn't know what to do with them. This weekend I tried out a recipe for rose petal jelly. I've made lots of preserves, but this was my first jelly. It's a simple one to start with.

I used petals from the Rose of Sharon we inherited from whoever landscaped our pool area.

3-1/4 cup rose petals or any edible flower petals (be sure they have not been sprayed with anything you wouldn't want to eat)

2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup white grape juice

1 package powdered fruit pectin

3 cups sugar

1/4 cup rose petals

Remove bitter white nail of all the rose petals. Rinse petals and pat dry. Bring the 3-1/4 cups rose petals, water, and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil; reduce heat.

Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for several hours to overnight.

Strain syrup, discarding flowers.

Combine syrup, grape juice, and pectin in a saucepan; mix well. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 3 cups sugar; mix well. Bring to a full rolling boil that will not stir down. Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat.

Place remaining 1/4 cup rose petals into 4 hot sterilized 1/2 pint jars (or 2 pint jars, if you're me). Ladle jelly into jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace; seal with 2-piece lids. Drape jars with a towel. Cool to room temperature and store in a cool place.

Yields 2 pints.

All of the color comes from the petals. The color leaches out of them very quickly when you first start to cook them. In the morning the syrup is a beautiful purple (the picture doesn't do it justice), which lightens up to pink as you add the other ingredients. Most importantly - yum.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The other night Dagny and I were super hungry, so we tried this recipe for quick quesadillas. Next time I think I'd use pepper jack cheese, cuz why not. They disappeared very quickly. I'll probably mix up some of the filling to keep in the fridge. Much nicer than microwaving a frozen something.

2 zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 scallions, thinly sliced
15 oz can black beans
8 oz monteray jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Olive oil spray

Drain and rinse beans.
Combine beans, spices, cheese, and scallions.
Put grated zucchini in a collander. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and squeeze out excess water.
Add to other ingredients.

Spray one side of each tortilla with olive oil spray. Place oil side down on baking sheet. Spread with filling, then top with another tortilla. Spray top of tortilla with olive oil.
Broil 1-2 minutes (until golden).
Flip and broil other side 1-2 minutes.

We had huge tortillas and found we had better luck spreading the filling over 1/2 a tortilla then folding it closed. Much easier to flip.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Start with one not-so-pretty bridesmaid's dress. I'm talking puffy sleeves, lace modesty panel, acres of fabric. Add a pair of scissors, a sewing machine, and a Dagny who sees treasure where others see trash.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Reedy's Ratatouille

1 eggplant, peeled and cubed (or skipped completely if you're cooking for Dagny)

2 zucchini, sliced (peel if you like)

1 red pepper, sliced

1 orange pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

¼ cup oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and cook over medium heat for as little as 15 minutes, or up to an hour. Serve over pasta. Yummy with a bit of farmer's cheese.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In the past couple of years I've become a lot better acquainted with loss. Family members and friends-who-became-family-members, leaving spaces behind that can't be filled.

One of those gaping spaces belongs to my friend Lisa Heyman, who died in February 2008. Months before, our families had visited Plimoth Plantation, and Lisa and I had spent some happy time in the gift shop picking out a crochet hook for me and some yarn and knitting needles for her. The last few times I visited with her she was using those purchases to make a very long scarf for her husband, Larry.

A few weeks ago Larry, Roxy, and Fire came to our house, and brought along the almost-completed scarf so that I can finish it.

As I began to work on it, weaving in the loose ends, I found myself thinking about the loose ends that are inevitable in any life. In some ways, we don't get to choose what things will be left undone. But by carefully choosing and living our priorities, as Lisa did, we can be sure to leave the important ends tied up.

The craft room is coming together, evolving as we begin to use it. We still have some molding to hang and paint, and a bit of organizing to do, but already there's been lots of creating.

I didn't get pictures of everything, but here are some bits and pieces. Dagny and Andrew were working while I took pictures, and they were hot and sweaty and not feeling photogenic. There's also still a pile of paint and tools on the floor, not looking very pretty. I'll get some pictures of the rest another day, including the two tables my mom and I refinished.

The illustrations my mom gave us are perfect. We love them.

We ended up using seven out of the twelve, all along one wall. We don't have enough wall space for the rest, so we'll probably rotate them depending on the season.

This is my favorite.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I've been identifying some weeds that are growing in the spot where we throw our tree trimmings/pulled weeds/etc. Since cleaning up long-neglected sections of our property is a never-ending project around here, it's quite a big pile. An unbelievable variety of things grows around and over it each year. We like the wild blackberries best, but so do the birds and the bunnies and the chipmunks and the squirrels and whoever else is living over there.

Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum), with its egg shape, spikes, and purple flowers, was easy to find with google. I'm having a harder time with this one, which I don't remember seeing in previous years.

Can anyone tell me what it is?
Been wishing you had some pretty pottery? Check out Brenna's etsy shop.

Dagny got this mug last week. On top of being so nice to look at, it's got that just right for wrapping your hand around feeling.

You can tell when a thing's been made by someone who's doing something they love, you know?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My favorite grilled veggie sandwich:

Get (or make) two nice loaves of rustic bread.

Slice relatively thickly:
1 eggplant
2 zucchini
2 summer squash
1 big vadalia onion
4-5 big tomatoes

Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill.

Slice open loaves, layer veggies, and top with crumbled farmer's cheese. Cut into sandwich sized pieces. Eat up, or wrap in tinfoil and stick them in an insulated bag for a picnic lunch.

Monday, July 06, 2009

My old partner in crime, Lisa, was in town yesterday and I got to visit with her for the first time in 12 years. She's all kinds of good, but for the purposes of this post what you need to know is that she makes me laugh.

You can see more Peadoodles on her blog and in her zazzle shop. (Where 20% of her profits go to the United Nations World Food Progam. Told you she was all kinds of good.)