Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Still Life...

As I mentioned in the last post, I am not a quilter.  Well, I am not an artist or a photographer either.  I hope this photo shows up well.  I went out to the garden to see what I could find to put in a stir-fry for our supper and came back with the front of my shirt piled with these items... a couple green tomatoes, one small paste tomato (which I promptly ate), flat-leaved parsley, a little broccoli and some fresh basil.

As it was sitting there on the cutting board, it just looked so beautiful and I realized, aha!  That must be how "still life" paintings were born.  Someone(s) just happened to have such a lovely scene on their table and decided it would make a nice painting.

Just some early Autumn musings...

I am not a quilter...

Our youngest son recently got married.  I started a "crazy" quilt for them in June and Finally Got It Finished! I don't have any way to hang it up to show the whole thing at once, so I just draped it over our bed.

The top is pieced out of bits and odds and ends that I had collected from other projects through the years plus a few small pieces I had purchased in a bundle from quite a while ago.  I was able to make the bias binding out of just one yard of fabric, using this tutorial.

There are 64 blocks, all sewn onto 10.5 inch squares of muslin fabric.  After making each block, I used decorative stitching to secure between each little piece. It makes it more sturdy and also makes it prettier!  The final dimensions are 80 inches by 80 inches.

The batting is a cotton batting that I bought, by-the-yard at a fabric store.

The backing is a piece of bleached muslin that is wide enough (well over 100 inches) to cover the back in one piece.  That was nice.

After it was all put together, I used a little thing on my machine that makes a small heart, to tack the layers together.

I will be mailing it to them next week.  I hope they will be pleased.  It certainly was fun to make.  When I began, since I am NOT a quilter, I somehow thought that making a crazy quilt would be easier and faster than making a quilt from a pattern.  Note to self:  You were wrong.  :)

This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday #115 ~! and... Fantabulous Friday #32 
AND WIP Wednesday! Also... Homemade Monday #6

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Charming Origami Books :)

 If you will go to THIS SITE, you will find a very clear and easy to follow tutorial on how to make these nice little origami books.  All you need is paper and scissors!  Each book has 10 double-sided pages.  I made two different sizes.  I think I'm in love.  :)

Here is the "big" book I made from 8.5 inch squares of paper...


 and here is the little book that used 6 inch squares of paper:

Go make one!!!

Easy Granola

This nice Granola is cooked in a crock pot instead of the oven!

Easy Granola

5 cups Old-Fashioned rolled oats
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or more, if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a crock pot, mix together the oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon and salt. 

Gently heat together the oil, honey and vanilla until combined.  Stir that into the dry mix in the crock pot.

Set the crock pot on "high" and put on the lid, using a wooden spoon to keep the lid partially open.  Use this spoon to stir the contents occasionally. After the first 2 hours, stir quite often and be sure to get everything down on the bottom and in the "corners" stirred up well so it won't burn.

Cook for 3 hours.

Spread on a tray or the counter to cool.

Store in an airtight container.  If you want to keep it longer than a week, refrigerate it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My daughter's Etsy shop!

Except for one brief stint trying to sell kefir grains from this blog, I've made it a policy NOT to sell things.  I don't want this blog to be commercial (hence, no advertising).  However, my daughter has opened her Etsy shop, and I'd like to help get her some more exposure.  So, here goes!

The picture is of her daughter (my granddaughter) with one of her creations.  Please go and check out all her pretty things!

She can knit, tat, sew, and crochet and is more than willing to take custom orders.  She can make just about anything you can think of. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sweet Potato Harvest ~ 2012

 Yesterday we dug the sweet potatoes.  There was a chance of frost last night and I've read that if your sweet potato vines get frosted, it will harm the tubers.  The drought has hurt our harvest badly.  We would have had at least 4 times this much in a normal year.  Nevertheless, I'm grateful for what we did get!

Here is what I had for dinner last night.  It was SO delicious!

Friday, September 21, 2012

40 # of onions

 A few weeks ago, I dug all of our onions and used the greenhouse benches as a place to dry them.  It worked out very well. The weather this year was very hard on the onions.  After a couple of days drying, I braided them all with some baling twine and hung them in the house.  They weighed in at 40#... but probably about 1/3 of them promptly spoiled because of how hot the summer had been.  The rest I've been using up as quickly as possible so they don't go to waste.  Maybe next year will be better!
 Anyway, I wanted to show you.  I think they are magnificent!  :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Planting the Winter Crops 2012

I took this scary picture with my cell phone when I went out to work in the Hoop House this morning.  That's what it looks like after a summer of almost total neglect.  The Swiss Chard was still going strong.  After the springtime planting and transplanting, I only watered it a few times, and not at all for weeks on end, but it never gave up.

So... first I had to clean up the mess!  During the summer months, it's simply too hot for me to work in there, and not much can grow, so I leave it for fall.  I plant in September.  Today was the day.  It was cooler and cloudy outside, so it's a perfect day for this annual project.

I cleaned out the planting bed and dispatched the enthusiastic weeds that volunteer on the floor.  I control weeds with newspapers, magazines and cardboard.  Not pretty, but free and it works for the most part. I discovered a tomato plant that had been left growing in there from when I was growing transplants.  The poor thing had never been watered since spring, but it survived and has several green tomatoes on it. I tied it up with twine and we'll see what happens!

 After cleaning everything up, I watered and leveled the beds.  When we first established these beds, we filled them with "Mel's Mix" that you can read about in THIS BOOK.  It is a mixture of equal parts of compost... (5 different kinds), peat moss and vermiculite.  Each year I've topped it up with more compost, but this year I used some well-rotted horse manure that my daughter gave me several months ago.

Then it was time to plant.  Here I have started planting little onion sets that I saved in the refrigerator from what I purchased in the spring this year:
I used plastic flatware for row markers, with the names of the seeds written with a Sharpie.  You can see them all down the side of the planting bed here:

 I planted the onion sets, mache (corn salad), Lacinto Kale, curly kale, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, two kinds of radishes, Italian dandelions, turnips, leaf lettuce and spicy greens.  Everything is planted in little rows except the dandelions and mache.  I broadcast them and used the palm of my hand to rub them down into the moist soil.

Here are a few more pictures so you can see my humble winter gardening place...

I've brought the planter of "hens and chickens" in to protect it through the winter:
Here are my "shelves" where I keep a variety of hand tools, twine, etc.:
I've got a flat all ready to start some wheat grass as soon as I get the wheat berries sprouted:
Various pots and the wire wickets leaning up against one of the side benches:
I store a few long tools under the other bench and you can see the bundle of floating row cover that will be used to go over wire wickets when the weather gets really cold.  That adds another layer of protection from wild swings in temperature which can be lethal to the crops.
And here's my little wind chime.  It's so pleasant to hear...
It's done for now.  I will go out every other day or so and water again, and keep that up until the weather gets quite cold.  Then I will close the door and the window and it will be all safe until spring.  If things go as usual, we will have lovely green things to eat all winter.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!  Incidentally, the same things can be grown in simple cold frames.  You certainly don't have to have a hoop house for this.

This post is linked to Traditional Tuesday.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The easiest bread I've ever made ~ chapter 2 ~ sourdough rye

I'm about to run out of that other loaf that I blogged about a few days ago, so last night before I went to bed, I started another batch and changed the recipe. 

Here is the new version:

Sourdough Crockpot Rye Bread

In a glass bowl, combine:

1/4 cup active sourdough starter
1.5 cups warm water
1.25 cups whole wheat flour
1.25 cups whole rye flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon Caraway seed

Stir together well and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rest at room temperature for 12 hours.

Butter a 2.5 quart Crockpot.

Pour a Tablespoon of Extra-virgin olive oil onto your bread board or counter and smear it around with your hand to make a place to dump out the dough.

Scoop the dough out of the bowl.  It will be very soft and sticky.  Gather it up and place it in the Crockpot.

Put on the lid and set the temperature to "high" and cook for 2 hours.

Remove to a cooking rack.  Allow to cool quite a bit before attempting to cut your loaf.

Cool completely before storing it on the counter or in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.  It will keep for a few days on the counter, and much longer in the fridge.

This bread makes heavenly toast.  Serve with real butter or cream cheese, or make into sandwiches.  If you like a moist, dense, flavorful sourdough bread, you will love this!

Here are some pictures so you can see what went on...

Here is the dough after 12 hours of fermenting:
 The Crockpot, the butter and the dough waiting...
 The Crockpot has been buttered:
 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil on bread board:
 The oil has been smeared around...
and the dough scooped out of the bowl onto the bread board:
 I used my dough scraper for this, but you can use any obliging spatula as well...
 and just sort of pile it up on itself:
 Pick it up with your oily hands and place it in the buttered Crockpot:
 Put on the lid and bake on "high" for 2 hours.  Here is what it looks like then:
 I had to run a knife around the outside of the loaf to loosen it and then put it on a cooling rack:
 Here it is, after cooling, sliced.

I love rye bread with Caraway.  If you don't like Caraway, then just leave those out!

This won't last long. ;)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The easiest bread I ever made...

Now, this was very interesting...  I ran across this recipe  a day or two ago, and so I thought I'd give it a try.  Look at that loaf.  You'll see some sort of weird "white stuff" on top of it and also a tiny piece of paper napkin.  Next time, I won't use white flour for working it up before baking, and I think I'll use a cotton wash cloth to absorb extra liquid.

 Crockpot Sourdough Bread (my way)

I used a 2-quart Crockpot.  The woman who wrote the recipe I worked from said she has used other sizes as well.  It just made sense to me to use the smaller one so I could get a loaf with more height to it.

In a glass bowl combine:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup active sourdough starter
1 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 cups warm water.

Mix that all together well, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter in your kitchen for 12 hours.

 Butter the inside of the Crockpot.

Stir the dough and you might need to add a handful or two of flour at this point, or maybe not.  You be the judge.  It will be soft and sticky. Turn it onto a surface sprinkled well with whole wheat flour.  (In my case, I think next time I'll add another 1/2 cup flour to the original mixture.)

Knead it, only a little bit, gathering it into a nice round loaf.  Place it, seam sides down,  in the buttered Crockpot. Place a clean cotton cloth on top of the loaf (this is optional, but it will absorb some of the moisture.)

Put the lid on the pot and turn it to "high."  Let it bake for 2 hours.  She said 2.5 hours and check it after 2.  Mine was done after 2.  I know that because I checked the inside with a thermometer.  It needs to be at least 180 degrees F.

The top was quite moist.  In fact, the whole thing is lovely, moist and soft except the outer crust around the sides. That part has the perfect chewiness to it.  It tastes nicely sour, and was fabulous with some real butter.

Generally, sourdough bread keeps considerably longer than traditional yeasted breads.  So, I'll see how it goes, but this really is nice and would be something you could start the day before to serve with a savory soup.  I bet it will toast up nicely too. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Make Your Own "Crushed Red Pepper"

I had several nice Jalepeno peppers that I needed to use up.  Most of them had matured and turned red.  I decided to just slice and dehydrate them and then chop them up in the little electric coffee grinder spice grinder.  Here they are dried.  I think they are kind of pretty!

 Just a quick moment or two in the spice grinder and it was done!

I gingerly tasted a little pinch.  Nicely hot, but not overwhelming!  I'm glad I tried this.  It was a good call.

This gives me a charming little item to experiment with in my cooking. Actually, I think this would be a good thing to do with ANY peppers you might have on hand.  I can envision a whole array of lovely spices made this way.  :D

This post is linked to "Traditional Tuesday." 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

And so it goes...

This morning I spent some time in the garden.  I picked tomatoes, peppers, herbs and dug a few potatoes.  If you have been following my blog, you'll know that earlier in the year the garden was absolutely pristine!  See what it looks like now?  To me, it's still lovely.  I know about all the bounty that we've had, I also know there are lots of potatoes, sweet potatoes, flour corn, winter squash and shell-out beans waiting for us still, but now the weeds have done their usual thing.  May I call this "green manure?";)

Here is what I brought in this morning:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...