Friday, May 30, 2008
This picture, of my prettiest hummingbird feeder with its newly upgraded flower drinking holes, is my proof that I can do some crafty things without totally fucking them up.
Because, let me tell you that The Thing I Have Been Knitting is not looking so hot and it's making me sad to think that I may just not be cut out for the knitting thing anymore. I think my fingers/brain forgot how to do the knitting or forgot how to measure or can't read English or have finally started to revolt against All Things Math because I'm *thisclose* to being done with my sweater and it is just not right.
The damn neckline is huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge.
Like, maybe this could be a cowl-neck sweater, kind of huge. Like, maybe I'll wear it off both shoulders with a hot pink tank top underneath and my hair in a side ponytail because it's suddenly 1982, kind of huge.
Mind you, the rest of the sweater is mostly fine. I mean, the sleeves, once they're hemmed, could be a little bit longer and the body could also be a little bit longer, but if the neckline were right, I'd love the whole thing and probably be wearing it right now. BUT NO - the neckline is so wide and huge that it won't stay up on my shoulders and when I tried it on I became very sad.
My one million dollar yarn was not looking nearly so beautiful as it hung limply from my shoulders or scrunched in as a makeshift cowl. Not attractive. Not at all indicative of the amount of time I spent carefully stitching away. Not representative of the fancy Addi turbo needles I bought special for the sleeves. Just not at all good or right.
Thankfully, there is the invention called Ravelry that gave me hope that with some careful frogging I *might* be able to fix the neckline to the point where it'd fit. Because apparently this Giant Neckline Through Which One Could Drive a Truck is a common problem with this pattern and has since developed something of a knitting fixer-upper following. I love very much that there are 767 (actual number) other knitters out there who have either finished or are in the process of working through this pattern and have pictures and stories to tell me about what a bitch this neckline is.
"Be careful!", they say.
"Knit extra neckline decrease rows!", they say.
But do I listen?
Well, yes, actually I do. Because I'm not in the business of ignoring people when their instructions could save me a lot of time and aggravation and precious silk yarn. But somehow it's still not working out, so now I'm going to have to go back to that neckline and make some adjustments. But I don't think I can do any adjusting until all the other finishing bits are done since I'll get too despondent looking at loose ends and gaping armpit holes while I'm trying to adjust the neckline that I'll probably throw the whole thing on the ground and throw the aforementioned shit fit right on it.
So0o0o, I'm thinking that if I get through my two sewing projects this weekend and make the strawberry pie from all the berries in our farmshare and then get the dog to the beach and run my 9 miles and make a new chard recipe PLUS FAVA HUMMUS - I *may* finish the rest of the sweater and see what I can do about going back and frogging that neckline into something that looks halfway decent.
If not, I may the route of Ms. Nell at Chicken Knits and reknit that yarn into a Wicked.
On the bright side though, I was able to shine up my favorite old, previously discarded as useless, hummingbird feeder with some handy dandy lemon juice (yeah, I just said handy dandy) and then bring it into the world of Useful Bird Feeders by carefully painting the copper flowers with red and yellow acrylic paint and a coat of clear nail polish.
The hummingbirds have been ALL OVER this feeder ever since.
And since it's a lot prettier than it's cheap but popular predecessor, the very KUH-lassy plastic $4.99 Home Depot model which only held a cup of food and was covered in bird shits, this one act of craftiness alone leaves me with a glimmer of hope that I'm not a totally useless crafter. I can make some things, as long as my tools are Cover Girl clear polish and paint in a tube.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Every week I open the farmshare bag with fear because I know that there's more chard in there.
More chard to add to the chard that's already taking up a lot of space in the crisper that's full from the chard coming in from the garden.
I might start having nightmares about chard. Scary red, yellow and green dreams where I am sauteing and boiling and ribbon slicing to no avail because the pile of chard keeps getting bigger and scarier and OH MY HELL!
If you really do know what I'm talking about because you have a life threatening overabundance in your house, too, or just because you keep seeing these big impressive piles of chard at the farmer's markets - I thought I'd share my new favorite way to get rid of a big ass pile of chard like that *snaps fingers* in a way that is also tasty, fast and a good way to make use of new non-stick pans that were SUPER STICK up until a week ago.
I think I covered all my bases on this one.
Beware though, it does involve some frozen items I've only found at Trader Joe's, but if you're inventive or at all resourceful, I'm sure you can recreate this Chard Killer in your kitchen without too much hassle. And don't judge me for using frozen food because sometimes we can't just be making gnocchi from scratch what with full time jobs and dogs that need walks and just life in general. Ok.
1 T extra virgins
1 package of Trader Giotto's Gorgonzola Gnocchi from Trader Joe's
1 heaping pile (I used 6 gigantor leaves) of chard, sliced into ribbons - chopped stalks set aside
Pepperoncino fino or cayenne pepper powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in your KICK ASS NEW NON-STICK SKILLET or whatever and, once the oil is fragrant, throw in your chopped chard stalks so they can soften up before the rest of the mess goes in the pan. Let these saute for a good five minutes or so before tossing in the whole bag of frozen gnocchi. Stir this around until the cheese melts and the gnocchi is tender - about 5 more minutes.
Pile your heap of ribboned chard on top of the gnocchi in the pan. Stir this all around with the gnocchi until the chard reduces impressively in size. Add pepperoncino, pepper and salt to taste.
Super technical recipe, I know, but I will tell you that it was good enough to get two raised eyebrows from Bubba (which is a good sign in our house no matter what it means elsewhere) who normally doesn't like a lot of messing around with his treasured gorgonzola gnocchi letmetellyouwhat.
And since it left a big gaping hole in my crisper where the Chard Farm used to be, I called this a winner and went on about my worrying of WHAT THE F am I going to do with next week's chard since I can't be eating gorgonzola gnocchi all the time if I'm going to wear a bikini in a few short months in front of people who aren't my mom and are therefore not required to tell me that I'm thin and perfect and beautiful and a giant ass is very attractive and "in".
Tell me what you do with your chard so that I can stop stressing over the stuff I'm picking up tonight, ok?
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The weather around here has been a finicky son of a bitch lately.
Like, one minute it's 105 degrees and I think I'm going to die and then the next minute it's fucking raining and I'm out turning the sprinklers off and walking the dog with an umbrella.
Is it April? Is it August? Who the hell can tell.
But, the good news is that these plants of mine are making the best of the crazy ass weather. When it's hot, they grow REAL fast and do things that make me go, "OOH! BUBBA! Look what the garden did!" and when it's raining and chilly, they suck up the moisture and don't get that crispy-around-the-edges look that comes with the heat.
It's very efficient out there and I enjoy that. Plus, nothing else has died and I like that even more.
SO, for a crop update - we've got some future pickles out there, people.
And because my third round of cucumber seeding finally took (Hi! I'm here in this wild kingdom! Can you see me?), I think we might also have some future FUTURE pickles in the event that this poor little plant can grow despite the encroaching everything going on around it.
I like to think that this dude feels protected and cozy rather than claustrophobic and frightened by the very enthusiastic nasturtium and borage going HOG ASS WILD around it. I decided to give it some breathing room by turning the protective overhead cage on its side to push back the other cucumber plant and Super Nasturtium so that this guy didn't get lost in the shrub I call my third vegetable bed.
Plus, he was asking for it by doing this:
So, if he wants out - he's out.
And not to be outdone, the other vegetable monsters are doing things like:
Plus, the bees are busy like they tend to be and this means good things for all those big blossoms opening up all over the garden.
And if the minutia of these posts hasn't already melted your brain, feel free to hop on over to Flickr to mouse over the photos of these vegetable beds to see exactly what goes where and who is overgrowing whom.
Maybe place some bets. I'll take the squash for $100.
Tomato bed, Squash bed, Cucumber Bed, Other Bed
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Um, neighbors who don't let a tree fall on your truck, that's who.
So, once upon a time last week, there was this fun situation while Bubba was gone called, "Our Street Tree is About to Drop a Limb on Whoever is Parked in the Street When the Wind Blows".
It was precarious, to say the least.
See, our sad but lovely shade-providing street tree saw a few tumultuous early years before we were there to supervise and/or over water it. Apparently when it was planted as a vulnerable sapling, the former residents of our quaint home had a child or hairless monkey who liked to swing from its bendy and not-so-developed young branches with such frequency that it eventually grew one of its main branches more horizontally than vertically to accommodate this monkey child's swinging needs.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when our big 'ol street tree had a big 'ol limb hanging mostly horizontally out over the street at the exact moment that a brain-damaged meathead in charge of maneuvering a very tall four-panel truck down our street chose to look down at his CD player or pick something out of his pubes and all of a sudden WHAM!
There goes half the tree limb.
When I came home from work, the limb had been placed ever-so-gently on our sidewalk as though to say, "Hello, friend. Here is that tree limb you ordered. Enjoy!"
Then, a week later after Bubba was out of the country and I was on my way home from work, the tree met with another large but unidentified vehicle likely driven by another absent-minded hammerhead trying to assemble a ship-in-a-bottle or something equally distracting and ridiculous.
(I just refuse to believe that someone could be so idiotic as to be paying full attention to their driving AND still hit our beloved tree, so I'm choosing to imagine that these incidents were fraught with neglect, recklessness and sub-human intelligence.)
Anyhoo, after the last instance of vehicular limb destruction, our tree was left with something of a dangling and crooked arm. Something I didn't immediately notice because I was distracted by the dinner I was planning in my head and the freaking out the dog was doing at the front door since I was late taking her for her walk.
Thankfully one of our very nice neighbors came over to tell me that:
A. I should move the truck because a tree is about to fall on it and,
B. He is going to get his saw and ladder so could I please move the truck now.
He is a man of few, albeit meaningful, words.
I will admit, my first thought was "But what about my dinner I'm SO HUNGRY?", but then I realized that he was probably also not eating his dinner while sawing down my broken tree limb, so I should probably just get the keys and be glad I wasn't going to have to climb up on our ladder with the Sawszall and a death wish before or after my master planned meal.
We assembled in the street, my very nice neighbor and I, and I watched him hacksaw away at this gigantor limb while perched on his ladder, while I did little more than hold the ladder and try not to get in the way.
Just as I was starting to calculate the time it would take for me to then hack up the limb into acceptable Santa Clara County Yard Waste Removal sized pieces, two more neighbors emerged from their houses carrying tree trimming shears and push brooms and before I knew it, this previously aggravating and poorly-timed situation turned into another reason to love our neighborhood.
Much like the relocating of giant piles of dirt and bark mulch, this was not glamorous work, but for some reason, these very nice and also busy people with full time jobs and dinner on the table decided to come help Oh Woe Is Me in her time of tree falling need by gathering their tools and taming The Tree Limb Named Destruction.
It was very heart-warming and also effective since, in the time it took for the three (four, if you count useless Me) of us to cut down, saw and sweep into a pile this giant branch, two police cars and a fire engine showed up to help another house with a tree limb issue.
It was a windy week.
Anyway, I think it was that moment that brought home the magnitude of the situation for me. Specifically, I have rad neighbors that are aware of and seem to care about our comings and goings to the point where they'll go the extra mile to help a sister out when her strapping husband is traveling and, thus, away from his trusty Sawzall.
Despite the fact that we're not the cookie-cutter couple with the two kids and the regularly scheduled Sunday church going and the rules about drinking before 5pm, they'd still rather not watch a tree fall on our truck.
Well, not all the neighbors are like this, but the ones that count anyway.
Anyway, the neighborliness inspired a bit of baking, and since Thimbleanna just posted a recipe for the most perfect looking oatmeal cookies, I set out to make them for our neighbors who didn't let a tree fall on our truck.
For the ones who just sat idly by and made snarky comments about, "Hey that's a nice tree limb on the sidewalk. I bet that'll be a bitch to cut up for the yard waste people.", well, they might get paper bags on their doorstep but it will probably be heavy with something other than oatmeal cookies and it may be on fire.
But for the good ones, they got perfect oatmeal cookies and Bubba thanked them for saving his truck/wife. And then they didn't didn't even say a word about our 2pm cocktail hour.
Those are some good neighbors.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Like, they were all sad because the man in their lives wouldn't take them out to dinner or they had no man and didn't get to go out to dinner at all and it was making them feel like less of a woman and does my ass look fat in this muumuu, etc.
Anyway, amidst all the DUH advice she would give them, like, paint your toenails and shave your legs even if you're the only one who's going to see it (perhaps this is why they were not getting man love? Just a thought.) she would also tell them not to forgo doing things just because a man wasn't taking them out to do them. Which, at that drunken time, seemed to me like a lot more DUH advice thankyouverymuch because I was very independent minded and also stubborn like a damn mule so just the suggestion that I might need a man to escort me to my favorite eating establishment (unless I was broke, in which case it was an accepted necessity) was, like, blasphemous.
Then Dr. Human Penis appeared on the show forever and I stopped watching and thus began my lifelong condition known as Throw Up In My Mouth Whenever Oprah is Mentioned.
If you love Oprah and want to leave me a comment about what a despicable whore I am, feel free, but know that I won't read it because it will make me throw up in my mouth.
Last week I received a pair of tickets to see the first showing of the new Indiana Jones movie which I was very excited about because I remember when Harrison Ford was REALLY FUCKING HOT and thought I could reminisce about the good old days of hotness by squinting at the screen while he ran around with his hat on chasing spiders or whatever it is those movies are about.
But Bubba is out of town (still, yes.) and all my friends have children or other stupid grown up responsibilities that keep them in lock down during the free-wielding and job-ignoring hour of 4pm, so I was suddenly facing the very real possibility of OMG I might have to go see this movie by myself.
I've never done that. Gone to the movies alone.
I mean, I never pined about Oh, boo, I really want to see XYZ but woe is my sad sack no man will take me, because I don't usually care too much about movies and am happy to wait for Netflix to bring them to my lovely flat screen, but this time, I was sort of getting sad sack-ish.
Until it was the day of and I had been telling people (including Bubba) for, like, four days that, "Oh yeah I'm just going to go by myself and it's not a big deal." even though I was totally *not* going to go because, what, am I going to go alone? Come on, already. Don't be ridiculous.
It seemed like the right thing to say, and frankly the right thing to DO, since I had already started fantasizing about Mr. Ford and his hat and that bullwhip that he always has strapped to his belt and all, but I when it came to actually getting into my car and driving, unaccompanied, to the movie theater, parking the car, walking up to the ticket tearer chick with my one ticket and no one behind me to whom I could say, "Go on, love, I'll meet you at the concessions where I'll be buying the world's largest popcorn." - well, I just couldn't see it.
Until I just went ahead and shut up that stupid bitch in my mind who kept telling me that someone was going to think I was a loser weirdo going to a movie all by my stupid loser self and walked right up to the ticket tearer chick and she was a dude and he was like, "Enjoy the show it's #11 on your right." and no one was laughing.
I didn't even hear one of the five bazillion people in the ticket line (who HAHA had to wait and buy tickets - who's the loser now?!) snicker even quietly under their breaths about the loser girl going to the movies by herself.
Now, maybe I missed it because of the loud screaming by children whose parents do not believe in babysitters or strangling, but I'm pretty sure no one even looked at me weird. Frankly, I think Bubba and I get weirder looks when we're together than I got when I was alone, but that might have to do with the intense game of grabass in which we like to engage.
So I went in. I went up to the concessions and got myself a popcorn, and even though it wasn't the biggest one they had and even though I didn't have anyone to tell about the popcorn I was getting, it was still really fucking good. Which may or may not have had something to do with the amount of Pour Your Own butter I put on it (thank you AMC theaters for this feature - you have enriched my life). I can't say for sure what made it great, but I can say that not having to share makes any concerns about being seen alone in a movie theater go right out the window because when they hand me that little bag (I did indeed get a small because of that other bitch in my mind who won't shut up about the fat ass thing) I know I'm going to get to eat as much or as little of it as I want and no one will say two peeps.
In fact, the whole situation from getting in the car to getting back into the car afterward was pretty enjoyable and scandal-free. In fact, I had a few singles sitting around me, all carefully spaced out with a seat between us, we made Row #5 look like the Place To Be If You're a Self-Righteous Movie Watcher until Thickness and his band of Cheeto Munchers came sidling up behind our row going, "Hey, are those seats taken and can you just all scootch down so that we can all sit together and make a lot of disgusting eating noises while alternately scratching our asses on the armrests?"
Ok, so I made that last part up, but they were, in fact, gross and eating Cheetos and they smelled like old dog's breath. Whatever, I scootched down to the far end of the row away from them and their orange fingers and butts and enjoyed my popcorn while watching a not totally un-hot Harrison Ford chase a misshapen glass head around a jungle while he wore his hat almost the whole time and used his bullwhip at least three times in the first scene.
Thank you for that, Harrison.
Anyway, at the end of the day I decided that I am a very good movie date.
I usually get good parking spots, I'm totally up for movie snacks, I remember to put my cell phone on vibrate, I don't make conversation with the amazing crackheads that sit close by and when the movie's over, I'm all for taking the exit at the front of the theater that goes out to parking lot instead of mooing through the cattle drive out past the restrooms with everyone else since I don't have to pee every five minutes.
And so, even though I was tearing off of work to go see a movie rated in the PGs, I felt like a grown-up. Like I'd done a grown-up thing that grown-up people would do in the event that a movie was happening and they had tickets and no one to go with them to sit and chew popcorn side by side in a dark room.
Plus, my toes are always painted and my legs are ALWAYS shaved and I play a mean game of grabass, so I might just be a good and grown-up movie date in general. I suppose that is always a possibility.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
There's a careful balance in our house that I never EVER want to upset.
Specifically, I do the cooking and Bubba does the dishes.
It is very rad because that means I get to master plan meals like a mini-psycho Iron Chef (without the cow eyeballs like they do on TV) and make them without having to take any time or mess saving measures to avoid having to do ONE MORE DISH OH MY GAWD I CAN'T MANAGE IT.
This is important because it means that I won't leave out a crucial ingredient like, say, the pork in Ultracrunchy Baked Pork Chops, just because it's going to mean I have to clean another bowl or pan or cutting board or whatever.
I'm very lazy and we know this.
I mean, I'm very enthusiastic at the outset of a recipe. I put together my careful little shopping list and go hunt down all the ingredients from where ever they may hide (even if that means I have to buy poppy seeds in bulk at the fruit stand three hours from my house on a trip to my mom's so that I can have them on hand for bread WHATEVER) and then I regroup in my kitchen, put on my apron, spread them all out before me and then dive in like a witch at her cauldron all sure of myself that I'm about to create something fabulous and incredible that will knock the socks right off of my beloved YAY!
But once that fabulousness is all plated and then eaten with glee, the thought of doing dishes is enough for me to start checking my steak knife for sharpness.
When Bubba gets up from the table and clears our dishes and walks to the sink with the determination and focus of a Marine - To Do The Dishes - it is really quite swoon-worthy. I love it a lot.
AND SO - it is important that we don't upset the man as he's making his way through these dishes. We want him content, satiated and well-stocked with supplies with which he can achieve the utmost cleanliness of dishes.
So when I hear groaning and scrubbing and scritching and swearing and then also see the handle of my favorite and most well loved skillet flicking around with annoyed rage, I have to investigate.
Even worse is when I slap the skillet down on the stove-top as I'm preparing my witch's brew of fabulous dinnerosity and hear Bubba ask me in his most Don't Hate Me When I Suggest This But Please voice to maybe use more oil in the pan because it's impossible to get the burnt-on ugliness off after I sear the ever loving crap out of the chicken on there.
But wait? That, my love, is a non-stick pan. Everything should just wash right off. No scrubbing required.
It seemed, after four years of almost daily use, that my beloved 10" Calphalon NON-STICK skillet had somehow become SUPER-STICK. As in, every fucking thing was sticking to it and was not coming off. As in, Bubba was having to use a gallon of soap and scorching hot water and all manner of elbow, knee and toe grease to get it even marginally clean. And it was making him mad.
What if he won't do dishes anymore? What if I have to start doing them? WHAT IF I DIE DOING DISHES?
Idea: Send that shit back and tell them it's broken.
Assumption: They won't give a rat's behind and will keep my skillet and send me a Xerox of their asses.
Reality: One week after shipping it to them with a note detailing my inappropriate devotion and love for this pan, a brand spanking new one shows up on my doorstep, no questions asked. And frankly, no details supplied. Just a new pan.
Which is fine by me.
So, Bubba is coming home soon from his worldly travels and I have a lot of cooking in store. Cooking that will involve my brandie new supah slippery very easy to clean 10" Calphalon Contemporary Non Stick skillet and no cow eyeballs whatsoever.
But maybe some pork.
Calphalon people - I like you guys and won't talk shit about you here like I do other people that piss me off. Good job!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Seriously, even if this sweater looks like a pile of horse shit when I'm done, I doubt I'll care because then I'll have officially knit a sweater which is, I think, the hallmark of actually being a knitter.
Not that I haven't been knitting for about eight years now (minus the giant hiatus I just came back from thanks to The Great Wool is Gross on My Skin Realization of 2008) and not like I haven't made a lot of things, but to me, an official Knitter is someone who has the demonstrated ability to make a sweater.
Because what is the annoying first thing anyone asks you when they find out that you knit?
"Did you KNIT that sweater you're wearing?!!"
And if you're not wearing a sweater at the time they will ask you in that same excited about-to-pee-the-floor-with-astonishment voice,
"Can you knit ME a sweater??"
Now, I don't want to knit anyone a sweater because I'm a bitch who's selfish with her time BUT I would like to be able to at least say that I could knit them a sweater if I wanted to which I don't sorry I don't have that kind of free time or whatever.
Yeah, so it's not always fuzzy nice playtime at Finny's house.
I'm almost done with my #1 sweater and I'm pretty excited about it. Mostly because it doesn't look like a total pile of horse shit right now (don't let the photo deceive you - it looks much more promising in person and while drinking) and I still really love the yarn I chose and for which I nearly had to mortgage my house.
I still kinda wish that it were a solid army green rather than this variegated business, but I realize that when I go to buy yarn I have a hard time just picking a normal solid color because it seems boring and I get all distracted by the pretty colors and LOOK HOW FUN THIS ONE IS and I have no real control over my buying habits at that point, so now that I know this about myself, I'll be more aware of my tendencies and will aim to go back and buy a nice solid color yarn for my next sweater.
OH YEAH I SAID IT, PEOPLE: my next sweater.
Which, based on how this one turns out in the end, may be another Hourglass Sweater knitted in a worsted cotton of, perhaps, navy blue. Solid navy blue.
And if I get all big balls it might even have a button placket on one shoulder that I can leave unbuttoned like my TV crush at present so I can pretend I live in his clothes because I'm a weirdo like that.
As a side note, this is a habit in which I indulge while Bubba is out of town, too, so if the sweater is ever knit, Bubba will only be able to go out of town during cold months when it will make sense for me to wear both his clothes and this sweater at the same time.
Otherwise, I might look like a crazy or something.
Anyway, I'll be back with final photos when this sweater is all the way done.
I hope it does not look like shit when I put it on and take a picture otherwise you might just be seeing a photo of it wadded up on the floor looking a lot like someone pitched a tantrum right on it.
Monday, May 19, 2008
I will just go ahead and tell you that this has been the scariest thing in the farm share so far and I will admit to either composting my weekly share or giving it to one of the other two households splitting the weekly bounty.
I wasn't ready for a new vegetable! What are these mysterious green beasts hiding in a big fuzzy bean sleeping bag? I didn't get it and I was afraid.
I am actively ashamed now, so no need to violently berate me like you are planning on doing so you can just stop writing your "But fava beans are so good and you are such a loser!" comments because I will ignore them.
Sure, it's immature, but that's what we do around here. We act immature and compost scary vegetables until someone smart tells us what to do.
Thankfully there are nice and smart people like Taylor Design and Jen who came forward with some good suggestions (and cooking methods, thank you) for fava beans so that I could stop publicly shaming myself by composting perfectly good beans.
I didn't make the hummus recipe, but that's because I went the low maintenance route with this first batch to make sure that the flavor of these beans didn't taste like a horses ass or bring to mind sauteed human organs, which I'm glad to say they did not.
No, in fact, they have a nice full bean-y flavor that kind of reminds me of a cross between edemame and a chickpea maybe? I don't know. I'm not good with these comparisons. Anyway though, they're good and I can see how a fava bean hummus would be nice shmeared on some toasted sourdough which we have thanks to the bread share that we get with our farm share.
Perhaps I have convinced you to try these or at least stop throwing them out of your farm share and so I will also tell you how I made them so that if you get adventurous (or feel guilty like moi) you can make them at home and feel adventurous and worldly in your eating.
And the best part is that this recipe (if you can call it that, there's not much to it) doubles as a shmear if you own and want to use a food processor. Just thought I'd put that out there because that's my plan. Next time I make this recipe I'm throwing it in the food processor and making up some fava bean hummus for my sourdough.
fava bean pods - shelled to 4 cups or so of beans
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp good olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Boil the fava beans (shelled but still in their skin) in salted water for about 3 minutes until the skin lightens and you can see it start to split on a few beans.
Drain the beans and rinse with cold water. This will help when you go to squeeze the bean out of the skin because if you try to do this without rinsing, the boiling hot beans will scorch the ever loving crap out of your hands. I mean, I'm assuming it will. Ahem.
Pop the beans from their skin by pinching one end and letting the shiny green bean slip out of the skin. Like so:
Once you have all your beans skinned/shelled/whatever - toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic.
Allow the whole deal to mellow for 30 minutes or so at room temp so that the beans can soak up all the flavors and then toss with pasta, pour over mixed greens or just eat them straight from the bowl while you stand in your kitchen watching the dog flip the hell out over a squirrel running the fence line in the backyard.
Or, you know, whatever.
If you're, like, SO over salads and pasta for the time being - I think that throwing this mess in the food processor (maybe add a bit more oil OR MAYBE SOME TAHINI OMG) until the consistency is right would result in a kick ass hummus dip. Remember, this is just a theory right now since I haven't tried it out yet, so if it tastes like a horses ass - I warned you - UNTESTED RECIPE TERRITORY.
Go be a trailblazer with this idea and let me know if it comes out. Or, if you are a smart and nice person who knows of a good fava bean hummus recipe and wants to share it in the comments, well, that would be very smart and nice of you and I'll probably try it.
Speaking of which - Taylor - you were right, I DO love the fava bean - so no treaty necessary. However, I am not one to shun any goodness from Seville, so if you have extra orange marmalade laying around that you want to swap up for something good I've got here, lemme know: finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Yes, it's true. The cucumbers are on the plant that I bought at the nursery which was well past its "I'm going to get chewed to death by a ravenous garden asshole" stage, and a lot closer to putting out fruit than the wee lad I planted from seed three times and is just starting to think about putting out, say, a vine or something, BUT STILL, having baby cucumbers sproinging loose all over this more mature plant is pretty exciting and I'm looking at my pickling book a lot more seriously lately and with a lot fewer doubts in my mind as to whether I'll actually crack the spine on it this season or not.
Thanks to the surprise, and frankly shocking, random heat wave we're having, the garden is doing all kinds of fantastic things. Like, say, growing for instance.
Which brings me to the thing that was so awesome that I almost forgot about the cucumbers altogether: Tomatoes.
Specifically - we have our first tomato.
I know! Just try not to pee your pants with excitement!
Because this means that The Big Garden Moment of the Year about which I am thinking whenever I do any old thing that has to do with our yard, dirt, plants, house, food and life is nearly upon us.
Like I can almost feel the heat on my back as I crouch down next to the cages, reach my hands into the plant and go ahead and harvest a dozen pounds of tomatoes right there in my yard to make The Best Tomato Sauce Ever. Yep. or tomato sandwiches or canned tomatoes for winter or lusty Mellowed Tomatoes for Pasta or OH MY GOD SAVORY TOMATO PESTO PIE OH MY GOD I'M THINKING ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW AND IT'S AWESOME or whatever.
It's a very emotional time for me, folks, as you can probably tell and it was about the best thing I could have seen yesterday as the dog and I made our very slow and treacherous walk out to the garden in the surprise heat.
Suddenly, I didn't care at all that it was hot. I was like, meh, whatever, I'm wearing my favorite summertime shorts, my dirty flip flops and a wife beater that doesn't match. My hair is sticking to my back and I sorta stink from the surprise sweating and I'm drinking my cocktail from a dirty glass because I'm too lazy to wash it by hand and the dishwasher's full and I just don't care because LOOK AT THAT WILL YOU it's the first tomato of the season. WOW.
It really rights the world for me to see the first tomato pop loose from the plants.
So, YAY! rejoice! And also, the other plants are doing some cool stuff, too, and I'd feel like a mean mommy if I played favorites all the time, so look at what the other kids are doing:
The chard is showing new growth which is great because it would appear that I can only handle chard in 2-20 pound increments.
I randomly planted some Kentucky Blue Lake green beans and they all germinated. So, we have beans now, too.
I planted the beans when I thought the snap peas were done for. Well, they're not. They're here and really good! Hopefully Bubba will be home soon to eat them all until he does something unfortunate in his pants.
Um. The midget melon has balls. Midget ones. I find this humorous because I am a child.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
This year by this time (read: today) I have been unofficially training for my second ever half marathon oh my gawd by trying to kill myself with nine+ mile runs having not even signed up for the race because I'm such a fucking wuss.
What if I don't have another one in me? Remember how I thought I'd made a terrible mistake when I was dying at mile 10? What if turning 30 cripples my running abilities and I make a big horrible messy shame of myself in front of all those people and Bubba and the dog?
Well, I don't know what then, but we'll have a fun time finding out because I finally sacked up and registered for the race.
Thankfully the folks at Elite Racing know how little it takes to motivate my finger into clicking and finally just decided to speak my language. Which is to say that they stopped sending me gentle reminders to Hurry! Sign up today for the San Jose Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon in October 2008! and everything and finally sent out the Hurry! Save $15 on registration for the San Jose Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon in October 2008 today with this code! email.
Um, people, save me the hemming and embarrassing hawing next year and just send out the fucking code in January so that I can not beat myself up for five months going maybe I will run it, maybe I won't run it, maybe I'll take up lawn bowling, maybe I'll just pretend I don't own running shoes. OK? K.
Because running my very technical training schedule when I'm not officially training for any race is just stupid. I mean, why am I spending hour(s) away from my comfy bed and husband by running early on Saturday mornings when there's no official reason for me to do so? It's hard for me to understand and I'm ME - so imagine how hard this is to explain to the nice man who hooks my underpants with this forefinger when I start to roll out of bed at 7am on Saturdays?
It is, apparently, quite hard for that man to understand. And for the record, that man is Bubba and he makes a very sad face when I tell him that I'm going running and please stop pulling on that string because it's doing mean things to my lady parts.
It's heartbreaking really.
So - this is why it's necessary for me to either sign up for the race or begin sleeping in with reckless abandon because the way I'm living right now is sort of inexplicable and causing strife in the household.
And so I signed up for the race. Finally. Which means this Saturday I will have a real reason to be out trying to kill myself with a nine mile run and wouldn't you know it, Bubba is out of the country so won't even be there to appreciate my real reason when he's trying to drag me back into bed by my whale tail.
Oh well. I'm official baby!
Monday, May 12, 2008
I was totally going to make fava bean hummus and roasted fennel just like you guys said, but the beets won out.
See, Bubba hates beets a lot. Says the same thing all other beet-haters say which is that they taste like dirt or some such nonsense while making a face.
Me, I love beets.
When I see beet salad on a menu it takes a lot of restraint to not squeal like a weirdo who just sat on a tack. And that's IF the menu item doesn't include goat cheese or the words "roasted" or "golden". Because if that's the case, all bets are off and I shriek like a ninny. Which I just realized is pretty weird because they're just beets and not, like, chocolate cupcakes laced with crack cocaine or anything, so I guess my tastes are evolving as I age or else I'm not addicted to smack.
You can make the call on that one.
Anyway, since Bubba was out of town and not in my kitchen to make the face when I pulled the beets out of the fridge, I decided it was time to make that recipe I've been fantasizing about and also time to drink the rest of the wine because it was going to go bad if I didn't get to it soon. And with only one of us in the house to drink it, I really needed to show some dedication already.
So last night my wine and I wandered into the kitchen to spend some QT with the beets. See, the roasting of beets (squeeeeeeeeeee!) takes some time, like an hour or something ridiculous, so while they were roasting, I got to go out to the garden and harvest up my first Just Picked From My Backyard salad, slice up the herby goat cheese and supah tart orange and put down glass of wine #1.
As you can imagine, it was about the best evening ever except for the fact that Bubba wasn't there to hang out with me and make gnarly (but funny, I admit it) comments about me picking things in my backyard and how you can really taste the goat and all that. Thankfully I had a bottle of wine to amuse me. After a while IT can make funny jokes, too, which, incidentally, are funnier the closer to the bottom of the bottle you get.
Once the timer went off (finally! gawd!) and the beets were roasty, it only took a few minutes to peel them, stack the stacks and have myself a fine meal. Of course, the stack keeled over before I could photograph it with the Just Picked From My Backyard salad, so instead you'll have to imagine this stack sitting really cute on the plate next to a salad made from the lettuce in the photo above, some CSA radishes, mustard greens and extra virgins.
And if you want to see how I destroyed another perfectly good recipe, my adaptations are below:
Adapted from Modern Beet's Beet Towers with Farmer's Cheese and Oranges
1 small orange of whatever variety (I found mine on a neighbor's tree)
~ 2-4 T. herby goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400. Wrap beets in a foil packet and roast for about 1 hour, or until beets are tender and can be easily pierced with a knife. Carefully open foil packets and allow to cool (this can be done up to a day in advance).
When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins and trim top of beet so that it is a flat surface. Place the beets on their sides and slice into 1/3 inch or so slices, keeping the slices in order.
Cut the bottom and top off the orange, then peel using a serrated knife to cut away the peel and all of the white pith. Cut the orange into thin slices — count the number of beet slices that you have, then cut that many orange slices, minus two.
Place the bottom slice of one beet on a plate or small cutting board. Take about 1-1.5 t. goat cheese and spread it evenly over beet slice. Top with orange slice. Sprinkle the layer with a small amount of pepper. Place the next beet slice on top of the orange, and repeat layering process — beet, cheese, orange, pepper — until you’ve used the whole beet. Repeat as many times as you need to in order to stack all your beets.
I think I'll get to that fennel tonight. And if there's more fava beans in the share this week, hummus will be here soon enough. You'll be glad to know, however, that I have taken care of The Wine Situation, so no need to worry about it, ahem, going bad in my house.
I think I speak for all of us when I say, PHEW.
Friday, May 09, 2008
I will admit that some of my motivation for crop updating today was to get that hideous cake photo off the top of the blog, but also, I'm very excited by the small but sturdy progress my lone cucumber seedling is making.
Important thing #1: He's still alive
Important thing #2: He is not at all chewed
Important thing #3: He is putting out new leaves
Also, who knew he was a He? These things just happen.
Now, once we get beyond the "Hey, the cucumber is still alive!" part of the update, that pretty much does it for the cucumbers. With just two new leaves and no death to report, that sums it up.
BUT, we do have some good action going on in the rest of the garden AND I did harvest my first Ronde de Italia squash yesterday WOO!
Now, when I bought this squash plant I *really* wanted an eightball squash, but because I'm a tard and passed on it during my first stroll through the nursery, it was obviously gone when I went back for it.
Ugh. All these years of fighting off my impulse shopping urges has finally come back to bite me. I knew it! I'm going back to impulse shopping right away. It's the safe thing to do.
Anyhoo, I settled for this Ronde de Italia variety since the fruits are small (1-4" across when ripe) and won't grow into speedbumps if we dare to leave town for a few days. Also, its tag promises some variety of compact shrubbing, so I also won't have to worry about elephant-sized leaves covering my house in an eery green shade.
I picked the #1 squash last night and plan to saute it up with some of the farmshare goods that came in the box yesterday and you know while I was out in the garden, I picked a handful of my own strawberries to make friends with the ones that came in the box. Now they are BFF in the fridge together waiting for me to chomp them down as a family.
I'm pretty excited to try out the great recipe ideas y'all left in the comments from the other day. Since Bubba is going to India for a few weeks, I'll have plenty of time to fuck up some recipes without having to explain to anyone why the house smells weird or what's this brown thing in my salad or whatever. Then, when he gets back, I can just be whipping up awesome roasted fennel and fava bean hummus like a crazy pro and won't he be impressed. Or potentially disgusted depending on how much he likes fennel and fava beans.
Our neighbors who are awesome gave me a surprise gift on Sunday: HUGE AWESOME TOMATO CAGES!
Yes, I was just out in the front, cutting back my bulbs all haphazard like dressed in my best I'm a Garden Psycho get-up, when they strolled over to see if I might be able to "please take these cages off their hands because OH they'll never ever use them."
These beasts are WAY better than my shrimpy and mostly broken down cages from years of yore (seen already buried in the photo above) and these have big openings from which I can easily harvest many huge tomatoes (*hoping*). Which will be nice since last year my harvesting of tomatoes included bringing wire cutters from the garage to cut openings into the too-small gauge fencing I used. Whoopsy!
I just hope that these enormo cages inspire the tomatoes to grow fast because right now it looks pretty silly having these monoliths towering over teeny plants. Three sets of flowers and counting! And one tomato looks suspiciously fat, which is good news. So maybe I won't look like an optimistic moron for much longer.
And, for no other reason that I took photos of these guys looking really sexy this morning:
See, that was worth it.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
I will tell you that if you eat too much of it (read: more than a bite) you will be pukey looking, too.
But that's not because it's not a delicious taste sensation, it's because this cake is a sin and your body will punish you for eating it.
See, last week I was innocently scrolling my CRAFT: Magazine posts in the good 'ol reader when I came across one post titled, "Fluffernutter Loaf".
Um, yes way.
A genius named Jenny at LJCFYI invented this banana bread turned Crime Against Humanity by adding peanut butter chips and marshmallows to her usual recipe. Thus creating a baked banana version of the childhood favorite (Bubba assured me that his childhood included these anyway): The Fluffernutter.
I apparently did not lead the same childhood of broad and delicious horizons as my beloved, so was unaware of the inherent dangers of The Fluffernutter. All I knew was that this exotic dish was widely considered to be among the ultimates in WT indulgences (amongst the fried Twinkies, pigs in a blanket and fried bologna) and it was high time I got in on the No Nutritional Value For the Sake of No Nutritional Value bandwagon.
Sadly, because of my unfortunate Fluff-free upbringing, I wasn't ready to face such Fluffernuttiness and was, consequently, at risk for an overdose. This is definitely one of those foods (is it even a food?) that is best enjoyed in small doses while under supervision of those more experienced and wiser in the ways of Fluff and candy peanut butter.
I should have known. Especially given my propensity for overindulging and my demonstrated lack of self-control.
Anyway, I went ahead with the recipe after making a few clutch moves with the recipe that garnered this delicacy its new name: Shame Cake.
See, I decided to make this after my race on Saturday while we were out running errands, but since we weren't going to the grocery store, I had to gather my ingredients while Bubba picked up his prescription, from that bastion of gourmet groceries: Walgreens.
And you know they didn't have peanut butter chips. Hell, they didn't even have chocolate chips. But they did have Peanut Butter M&Ms and off-brand mini marshmallows, so I figured, meh - how specific does it have to be? It is a fucking Fluffernutter Loaf after all, it's not like I'm making fugu or something.
And off I went, all stocked up with horrifying ingredients and ready to create a good old fashioned abomination right in my own kitchen.
And create I did. An hour and a half later (given prep time and the requisite sampling of Peanut Butter M&Ms for safety purposes) thus sprung the devil's spawn of baked goods, Finny's Shame Cake.
It looked like a blistered old behind coming out of the oven but it smelled heavenly. Like only a cake (it's not even a "bread" anymore at this point) filled with chocolate, peanut butter, bananas and marshmallows can. My teeth and belly started to ache just catching a whiff of it cooling on the stove.
Bubba's aching places didn't seem to have the same reaction though, and he was ready to dive in with a fork almost immediately. In fact, last night as I made an ill-advised trek to the fridge for a post-dinner snack, I noticed that the Shame Cake had been whittled down to little more than a Shame Slice.
A little panic set in, I won't lie.
Wait! Maybe I should give it another try (the first bite out of the oven confirmed my suspicions of gnarliness and I promptly shunned it). What if it's really good and I didn't give it a fair shake and Bubba will eat the rest and then what will my life be like without experiencing this rare flavor explosion because, obviously, I'm never making this horror again?!
And so I ate the Shame Slice and then sat quietly on the couch with my pukey stomach for the remainder of Deadliest Catch vowing to never eat peanut butter, marshmallows, any food made from a recipe on CRAFT: Magazine's blog, sugar, bananas, bread or food again. Ever. I'll live on the nutrients I can extract from the ambient air and that's it. This stomach will never have to suffer the indignities of food again. Take that, Food!
Admittedly, this was a slight overreaction.
So, I'm back on the food bandwagon today, even rolling the dice on wheat toast this morning for breakfast, and have regained the strength to share with you what was probably the most amusing recipe I've made in a long time. And without yakking on my laptop, which is a bonus.
If, for some reason, you want to create Shame for yourself and don't feel like just streaking your neighborhood, my adaptations are below. Bake/eat at your own risk:
Finny's Shame Cake
2 1/2 overripe bananas + 1 1/2 semi-overripe banana
1/3 cup melted butter
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cupish Peanut Butter M&Ms
1 cupish mini marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Smash together bananas and butter in a large bowl with a spoon. Mix egg,vanilla and sugar into bananas. Mix in baking soda and salt. Mix in flour. Mix in peanut butter M&Ms and marshmallows. Butter and flour 2 4x8 in loaf pans. Pour mixture into loaf pans and bake for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean.Let cool and then freeze one (to be thrown at ill-behaved trick-or-treaters) and let someone with a cast-iron stomach eat the other.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
We pick it up on Thursdays and it's this great big box of organic/sustainable/local produce happiness that gets me all high on What WILL I Make From All This?? excitement.
At first I was worried that I would get the big box and be like, "um, what the HELL am I going to do with this?" (points to giant shrub of kale), but I'm starting to get the hang of it.
Last week we got a lot of stuff, including some kale of course, and also:
Red leaf lettuce
Mustard greens mix
Some of the box was a no-brainer.
Like, for instance, the strawberries, which I have just been slicing up into a tupperware with the ones from my garden (they hang out together like old organic friends! It's so cute!), radishes which go into salads with the red leaf, mustard greens onions and green garlic, broccoli that gets perfectly steamed (because I am the master broccoli steamer, hello) and red beets which I hoard and roast and eat all in one greedy sitting.
But there's always the veggie curve ball, and this week was no different: chard.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love chard. I grow chard. But what do you do when you have two weeks worth of chard because it got buried under two weeks of kale that you just got around to making?
I mean, that is a lot of chard! Like 2 lbs worth!
Well, you get out your Garden Fresh Vegetable book and cook a new thing, that's what.
Adapted from "Penne with Chard and Sausage", Garden Fresh Vegetable Cookbook, Andrea Chesman
I also added extra chard, my own canned tomatoes (OMG SO GOOD), dried basil, mint, pepperoncino fino and used whole wheat spaghetti instead of penne.
My bastardization of this recipe is as follows:
2 tbsp extra virgins
1 lb HOT but yet still frozen pork sausage rolled in the pan until thawed and crumbled
2 lbs rainbow chard, sliced into ribbons
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jar of homecanned tomatoes
1 cup of chicken broth
3 tbsp dried basil (which I know is more powerful than fresh, but it was good)
1 tbsp dried mint (see above)
1 tbsp pepperoncino fino (thank you Shelley!)
1 handful of whole wheat spaghetti
Heat oil in the pan over medium heat and slam the sausage down in there and roll it around, scraping free the thawed sausage until it's all crumbled up and looking normal in the pan. Hey, you know you do this, why are you looking at me like that?
Add the chard and garlic until the chard wilts and the garlic smells good - about 3 mins. Add the tomatoes, broth, basil, mint and pepperoncino. Let it simmer.
Cook the pasta in seasalty water and drain it. Toss it in the pan with the chard and sausage. Serve it up in a bowl with some parm on top and a great glass of cabernet sav on the side. Await rave reviews.
So, yeah. It was just that easy to put away 2 pounds of rainbow chard and now I'm feeling all brave with the farm share. Like, I *might* even try to make the fava beans in this week's share into something edible that we'll like. Although, I won't lie, I hope it doesn't involve the shameful process of scraping thawed meat of a frozen ground pork log.
Wow. There's something to think about.
Anyway, I have some stuff coming in the share this week that I'm unsure of, so let me know if you have any great ideas for:
Fennel, small heads, bunched
Monday, May 05, 2008
Yarn: Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple Silk, Moss
Needles: US 6 circular 6" and 32", Tapestry needle
Pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts, Joelle Hoverson
I mean, I have gone to the bucket in the closet with the intent of finding some yarn and a pattern with which to knit something recently, but I've closed the door and backed away quietly every time I've tried this is over, oh, the last six months or so.
I haven't had it in me.
I think it's because I finally came to the realization that my skin hates wool.
Which sucks because I have a lot of it and it wasn't free and I have really *known* for a while now that my skin hates wool but I've been in an impressive state of denial where I think that I only don't like wool because I try to wear it when it's too warm out or something and if I wore it under the right conditions (what would those be? I don't know.) things might be OK.
It's a lot like bikini shopping where I think that I'm wicked skinny and will look good in a Brazilian bottom but then I put it on and have to rethink things. Things like how it's possible to lose an entire swimsuit bottom in my ass without blinking an eye.
Anyhoo...I have come to terms with the wool thing. I can't wear it. I mean, I can barely knit with the stuff much less put it on my bare skin and cavort around all cozy and happy like those fuckers on the catalog covers who look so cheerful in their obviously scritch-scratchy sweaters that don't have any effect on them because their skin isn't so sensitive.
Oh to have macho skin.
I suppose I could stop knitting altogether, but then I'd have to rename the blog and explain the tower of yarn in the closet - two things I'm not prepared to do - so instead I decided to consult with experts. Specifically, the first seemingly knowledgeable people I came across working in a yarn shop. And those were the ladies working at Knit/Purl in Portland.
I went to them with a very specific request. Please find me some yarn that is NOT WOOL but can still be made into the Hourglass Sweater in Last Minute Knitted Gifts which I've been coveting for a really long time. Like maybe years.
I was so desperate that when they produced some very lovely and NOT WOOL yarn I immediately shrieked EUREKA! (in my head only) and set them to the task of winding it and wrapping it up without even looking at the price tag which turned out to be impressively large.
And that is all I'm going to say about that because I've also decided that once this sweater is finished I am going to wear it forever until the day I die to justify the cost, OK. Thankfully Kelli was there to remind me that, "Oh Finny, you'll wear this sweater forever! It's OK.", because I almost started swallowing my tongue when I caught sight of the price tag whoa.
The good news in all this is that I have actually been knitting again woo!
It's warm out and I'm knitting and it's all contradictory but who cares because I'm making something I might actually wear someday. Well, that is if I stop fucking up the pattern by DOUBLING the cast-on stitches and then knitting merrily all Sunday only to realize that, hey, isn't this sweater looking awfully large and OH YEAH of course it's large, it's TWICE the size you're supposed to be knitting, stupid ass.
I'm now almost through the first skein (I'm wondering if I really needed all 7 skeins or whatever) which is good because I've reknit it at least three times already and I don't think it can take much more of my manhandling.
Surprisingly, I'm even ahead of the photo in this post. I've finished that sleeve and have started on the body which is out of order because I like to shun pattern directions like an idiot so that I can retrace my steps later.
I'll keep you posted on this, my first non-wool thingee that I plan to wear. A lot and for the rest of my life. Hopefully.
Sometimes it's just easier to shop for bikinis.