Monday, June 23, 2008

And strawberry ice cream, too. [RECIPE]

We're going to be such fatties at our house, what with all the pie and ice cream eating, but that's hardly stopping us.

I like to think that using FF or 1% milk will keep us from busting our buttons, but who knows what happens when you are mixing that with cups of sugar. And we all know I'm not doing the math, so if my pants start getting all snug around the waistline I guess I'll have to reconsider the Only Pie and Ice Cream diet we've been on lately.

It's just, what are we going to do with all these strawberries if we're not putting them into pie and ice cream? I mean, WHENEVER ELSE do you have so many strawberries at your disposal that you can do crazy ass shit like pour two whole pints into a whirling ice cream maker and not be thinking HOLY CRAP I just poured two whole pints of strawberries in there?

See, it's a rare occasion, which means that it's OK that we're eating pie and ice cream all the time because there's, like, no other time in our whole lives when the strawberries will be abundant quite like this. Certainly not next summer or next week or anything. No.

So, you see, the story with the strawberry ice cream goes like this:

Once upon a time we signed up for the Great and Powerful Farm Share. And then every week since we've gotten 1-3 pints of strawberries. Plus a truckload of other produce which we then have to race and eat before the next week's truckload arrives.

Thus enters the pies and ice cream and shakes and Hey, I'll just eat these from the tupperware with my fork while I sit my ass in the garden and what not. Because WHOA we do not want to let strawberries go bad.


That would be a crime. A punishable and shameful crime for which I would never forgive myself. I just imagine myself sitting around all shivering and sad on a winter's day in my ugly gray sweater, thinking longingly about some strawberries knowing full well that I was so wasteful as to cast old ones aside during the summer months when they were plenty and available.

FOR SHAME I would say. And then I'd watch some football because that is what I do in the winter months when I'm not skiing. Then I'd probably make some Smoky Bacon Chili, because that is what I make when its cold out. But there wouldn't be any strawberries and for that, I would be sad.

So for now, we avoid wasting the delicious and abundant berries by putting them in pie, shakes, cereal, random open mouths, ice cream and in the future, jam.

Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted from recipe
My changes in bold

1 qt. fresh strawberries, cored and stems removed (same as two pints I learned. Well, I'll be.)
1/2 qt. buttermilk
1/2 qt. 1%milk
2 c. sugar
Juice from one lemon

In a good sized bowl, puree your strawberries using an immersion blender until there are still some good sized chunks left. (UGH. I hate that word. Chunks. Filthy.) In that same bowl pour in your milks, sugar and lemon juice.

Now pour the whole mess into your spinning AND TOTALLY FROZEN ice cream maker bowl through the hole in the lid. 25 minutes later, remove it to the freezer after the obligatory taste-testing.

In a few hours have a strawberry ice cream feast and be somewhat less guilt-ridden knowing you used 1% milk at some point in there and it's *probably* not going straight to your ass. I made Black Cherry Chip ice cream [RECIPE]

And it was really good. And still IS very good since we somehow have some left in the freezer which I assume will be eaten tonight after a very large salad and some beets.

Thankfully when Bubba went on his death-defying cherry picking excursion in our neighbor's yard (I was busy picking the low hanging fruit, as always - lazy!), he/we managed to pick more than the four required cups for the pie recipe and had *just enough* left over for me to try my hand at cherry ice cream.

And, since I'm a genius (obviously. Why do you laugh?), I managed to reserve only the big black SWEET AS HELL cherries for the ice cream, so when I tossed them in the mix with some 1% milk (oh come on, I'm not using half and half - that's crazy talk), sugar, vanilla and lemon juice, I knew the combo was going to be extraordinary.

Well, I knew it would be once I added the chocolate chips anyway. And I just have one big tupperware thingee that I pour all my chips into, so there's a nice variety of sizes in there which I like in my baking because it makes it a little weird. And we like weird around here.

I will tell you that, if you have one of them shmancy ice cream makers (perhaps from a bridal registry because I think that's the only time people buy these things. Ahem. Like us.), this ice cream blends up like a dream. I defy you to find a better Black Cherry Chip ice cream at the supermarket. WILL NOT HAPPEN.

Just for the record though, the photos are not good. It was hot and we wanted to eat it and this was the only shot I could get off before Bubba ker-snatched the ice cream from view. And also before mine started melting.

You don't really mind though, do you?

Black Cherry Chip Ice Cream
Recipe of my own devising. I promise it's not gross.

2-ish cups of pitted black cherries, halved
1 quart 1% milk
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup of mini and regular semi and milk chocolate chips

First, make sure the freezer bowl for your ice cream maker is frozen solid. Like, freeze it overnight in your freezer otherwise it'll just thaw and you'll have to do all manner of swapping around in and out of the freezer to get your ice cream to *take*. Go on, make your ice cream tomorrow if you haven't frozen it yet. Just pre-mix the ice cream according to the following directions and then pour the mess into your frozen bowl tomorrow at this time. K?

In a bowl (preferably with a nice spout), mix cherries, lemon juice and sugar. Then add the milk and stir thoroughly. Then add your vanilla and mix. Finally add your chocolate chips.

When you've got your freezer bowl spinning with the lid on, pour this mess through the hole on top and let it spin for about half an hour. It should look like soft serve at this point, which means it's the perfect moment to taste test. I promise, this is an official rule. Once you and your beloved are done taste-testing, toss it into the freezer to let it fully set-up.

Come back in a few hours and have yourself a cherry chip feast. This is especially good if you have some little chocolate chip cookies to throw on there. Because if you're using 1% instead of half and half or whatever full fat nonsense, you can have the cookies on top and they barely count.


All food in pie form - Cherries [RECIPE]

I do believe I have said this before, but I have some awesome neighbors.

Also some shitty neighbors, but that's only one house out of a whole block (as far as I've researched anyway), which isn't bad. For future reference though, just remember that I have one house of shitty neighbors and we'll just never speak of them again. We'll just assume that when I say Awesome Neighbors that we're not talking about their stupid asses. Yay!

Anyway, one of my awesome neighbors has an awesome cherry tree. One of those ones with a bunch of grafts of different types of cherries, so when it fruits you get tiny sour perfect looking bright red cherries and gigantor almost black super sweet cherries and then some variety in between.

In a word, it is miraculous. I love this tree very much. Even more, I love the ladder she puts by the tree and the open invitation she extends to Bubba and I (and other neighbors, too. I'll admit we're not the *only* special ones) to just come pick as many as we want PLEASE HELP ME whenever we feel like it.

Tell me that's not just plain rad.

A few weekends ago we decided to traipse over there with our sacks and pick us up some cherries. Unfortunately we'd waited a little too long and the biggest boon was to be had at the tippy top of the tree. Thankfully, Bubba's arms are long and his resolve is strong, so swinging from the ladder while picking cherries behind his head wasn't a problem. At least not one that required a frantic call for an ambulance.

Although I did have 9-1- dialed on my cell phone just in case, per our usual emergency response strategy.

After the Extreme Cherry Picking Expedition, I headed back across the street with my two sacks of cherries and a loaner pitter (See - she is awesome. She loaned me her pitter, too. Rad.) with a clear vision of the pie I was about to hatch. And this time I was going to make a crust from scratch since the Fresh Strawberry Pie which we loved so much, was sorta not as good as it could have been due to its store-bought crustiness. Boo.

And really, if I'm going to all the trouble to pit a truckload (there were so many geez man) of cherries, I'm putting them in a really good crust.

So, that's what I did.

I made up the crust from scratch, which took all of 10 minutes (given that five of those minutes included the strain of cutting in the butter by hand with a pastry cutter BUT WHATEVER I'm a slave to my pies) and then pitted cherries which took a lot longer but was totally worth it.

Oh the mess I made. It was a glorious, if not slightly alarming, time in my kitchen after which everything needed to be washed including me. And my fingers were stained purple for all of last week. Pretty!

And in a moment of unknown sisterly bonding, my sister was making the same exact pie at the same exact time from the same exact recipe two states away which she told me about the next day and HOW WEIRD ARE WE ANYWAY?

Fresh Cherry Pie
Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking's Cherry Pie recipe
My changes in bold
2 pie crusts (I recommend Joy's recipe for Flaky Pastry Dough)
4 C fresh sour and sweet cherries
2 2/3 tsp cornstarch
1 1/3 C sugar 1 drop almond extract or none at all
2T butter

First, make your crust and while it's cooling in the fridge, pit your cherries. Once you've cleaned up the wreckage from the cherry pitting, you can mix your pie filling.

But first, preheat your oven to 450.

In a good sized bowl, combine cherries, sugar and cornstarch. Let this sit for a few minutes for some reason (Joy of Cooking says so?). Once it's sat for a whatever amount of time you can manage (15 mins should be good - go have a cocktail and come back) add the almond extract (if you're using it) and mix well. You should probably taste it at this point because YUM.

Go retrieve your pie crusts from the fridge and carefully lay one on the bottom of your pie pan. Now pour the whole mess of cherry filling into that pie crust. Cover your pie with the second crust in whatever way suits you.

I am very lazy and just toss the crust on top and slice in some vents. My sister, on the other hand, was clearly gifted with the patience in the family, and is able to summon the energy at this point to make up a lattice top crust which is very fancy.

If you are equally fancy or not burnt out from pitting cherries, feel free to do the same. Or get WICKED crazy like this chick and make flowers and twisty ties and what not to go on top. But, if you're in my house making cherry pie and you start messing with these kinds of shenanigans, expect to be hassled by Bubba because you're TAKING TOO LONG WHEN WILL THE PIE BE READY I DON'T CARE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.

Oh, my favorite and most useful baking tip/warning: For godsake, put a foil covered rimmed baking sheet under your pie in the oven. Please.

I like to set up the racks in the oven so that they're stacked as close together as possible in the middle of the oven so that I can slide the baking sheet RIGHT under the pie without having to actually put the pie on the sheet and risk a soggy crust.

Just whatever you do, DO NOT, bake your pie without some kind of protective thing going underneath unless you really like to clean burnt pie crap off your oven innards, because inevitably the delicious cherry filling will just come a-bubblin' out and over the side and onto the bottom of your oven like sweet molten PAIN IN THE ASS TO CLEAN OFF goo.

See this? Imagine if there hand not been a baking sheet there to catch the goo. I would be cleaning my oven still at this moment. LAME.


Bake your pie with whatever crust for 10 mins at 450 then reduce to 350 for 40 mins longer or until golden brown and the filling is doing the aforementioned a-bubblin'.

Then remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack or your stove top or whatever way you cool things normally. And, when you do have a slice (or half the pie - BUBBA), I imagine it'd be quite good with some vanilla ice cream all a la mode or whatever on the side. Sadly, we didn't have any ice cream.

But, we did have just enough cherries left over for me to try my hand at Black Cherry Chip ice cream...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Adopt a Crop update: Pickles + Fluffy

Oh yeah, you read that right - PICKLES.

Ok, technically, I haven't tried them yet since pickles don't really go with Fiber One and soy milk, but I think I'll try them this weekend and then I can report back on whether this first round tastes like a horses ass or worse.

The floaties here are the powdered mustard. Looks nasty, but they say this is what it's supposed to look like. Specifically, when the bright green cucumbers "turn light brown in color". Which they have. But still.

That looks kinda nasty.

I used Gram's Crock Pickles recipe from the Pickling cookbook I picked (oh my god forgive me I couldn't resist) up in Portland because it didn't call for sterilizing jars or any ingredients I didn't have on hand. Well, technically speaking anyway.

It called for cider vinegar, which I sorta had (I used apple cider vinegar) and quart sized jars, which I sorta had (if you put two pint jars together they make a quart) - but otherwise - totally the same recipe!

Ok, except for the fact that I used 6 cucumbers instead of 3 pounds and left out the sugar (won't the "apple" in apple cider vinegar be enough?) - but I did use all the powdered mustard it called for so who the hell knows what we'll end up with.

Meaning I could be quite ill come Monday. But we'll see!

Anyway, crop update:

The adopted crop is doing quite well. I had enough cucumbers to try my hand at fucking up a pickle recipe on Tuesday (see above) and then enough yesterday to repick the same batch for a future pickling session this weekend when I anticipate I will more closely attend to the details of a different recipe in the book. Yay!

And this big giant super producer of a cucumber plant now has a name: Fluffy.

Yes, thank you Decca for this suggestion. I am taking this in the most lewd and naughty way possible because that is what entertains me. Can't figure out why "Fluffy" is porny? Well, then you're a better and more wholesome person than I. So you know, I'm laughing right now.

Also, this weekend I'll be rescuing Wee Man from the advancing everythings because look at this poor guy:

He's still making wee cucumbers though, which is good. Because at the rate I'm going it may take me all summer to get all the ingredients into my house at the same time so that we can properly follow recipes and have cucumbers that don't taste like a butt.

I predict, anyway. I mean, WHO KNOWS, they could be good, but judging by the color and floaty business in those jars and the fact that I used apple cider vinegar it's more likely that these pickles will be N.A.S.T.Y., but I guess we'll see. Stay tuned for barfing!

One last thing, would it be cheating to use a "Pickling Spices" packet? I may have to resort to that.

Other crop updates:

The tomatoes are getting full. Like, we have a new cluster popping out every day and we're now placing bets on which tomato will ripen first, kinda full.

I, personally, vote for this guy on the right here since he was the one looking yellowish orangeish last time and is still the most un-green of the lot. I predicted we'd have ripening tomatoes in about two to three weeks.

Bubba says, "Two or three weeks? That's bullshit. COME ON ALREADY."

Sometimes it's so clear why we're married.

The volunteer pumpkin, for which I ripped out the encroaching squash, is doing very well. He's sorta hiding what I imagine is some alarming growth by doing his growing beneath and around the basil hedge I'm cultivating.

It is possible that one day I'll go to snip some basil and LO there will be a pumpkin there. Anyway, that's what I'm hoping. What I'm also hoping is that my hand-picking of the nasty squash bugs and their grody little babies is successful at some point so that I can stop interrupting my otherwise gleeful garden time with bug smashing.

It's not that pleasant.

The midget cantaloupe is also being protected from the squash bugs with my twice daily smash-fests. Apparently a few coupling squash porn stars managed to make it through the killing of the plant, and decided to move over to the melon WHICH I DO NOT APPRECIATE. So, I've been out there a-smashin' a few times a day since then.

It takes a lot of time to be this evil while also being gentle with the beeooteeful melon you see here. With any luck he'll grow to full size (single serving size that is - about half the size of a regular cantaloupe) and we'll see more melons.

I would like that a lot. Especially given the amount of murder I've had to commit to keep these plants alive.

Here's a gentlemen with whom you may not yet be acquainted. This is my bell pepper. He is growing very fucking slowly to the point where the ugly marigolds that have grown from seed are starting to smother him. In fact, I had to bribe them to stay out of this shot so that I can macro focus on this little bud for your viewing pleasure.

I have high hopes, but I fear they are misguided.

You will recognize this as the aforementioned scary ass chard forest. It gets denser and more intimidating by the day. Which is why I crown myself Super Chard Killer and bastardizer of a million miscellaneous chard recipes. I fear that if I do not cook the chard I will be swallowed whole by the chard.

This is my big beet. I can say that with some certainty because I only have two beets that made it through the precarious seed stage to actually producing something beet-like and this is the bigger one. Thus the name, Big Beet. I would have eaten him and his Small Beet buddy last night for dinner if it weren't 100 degrees outside which made it ridiculous to even think about firing up the oven.

Soon though, and for the rest of our lives, Big Beet.

This week, what with the heat and all, the beans decided to start climbing. That's really all I have to say about the beans, except that I got all excited to see them growing and decided to throw a few more seeds along the fence.

Because I don't know when to stop.

These are the radishes I pulled this week. Some are perfect, some are retarded. Some are real small. They all went into the same big salad last night and were lost in the load of farm share spinach.

Again, feel free to remark upon my flea-beetle free radish greens. WOO! One bug I haven't inadvertently invited into my garden! Random success!

And I'm spent.

That's all I got for now. Although I do have a few more recipes hanging out that involve strawberries, homegrown cherries and buttermilk. Not all together though. That'd be too much.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Something else to do with the squash I killed [RECIPE]

So, the secret's out - I yanked the squash like the cold heartless garden bitch I am because OH it was getting in the way of a volunteer tomato plant and potential pumpkin and we can't have that at all.

Also the squash plant attracts squash beetles and they are BAD so, bye bye stupid squash and hello tomato and pumpkin.

Yes, the pumpkin is also a squash and could also attract beetles but I like pumpkins better due to their jack-o-laternability so I'm willing to risk it. Plus I didn't know what to do with all that squash anyway so there you go.

Speaking of what the hell do I do with all this squash, I found something else to do with it aside from stuff it or saute it or bury it in every sauce and pasta dish to hit our table.

I baked it.

And not like baked a stuffed squash or something, but actually used it to bake biscuits which I didn't know I could do and now I'm a little sad that the squash is almost gone because apparently it is a very versatile vegetable if you can get past the beetles and the growing over everything else that it does.

Once again, I have my Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook and its gifter, Shelley, to thank for solving my What the hell do I do with all this problem.

Best part is that this recipe called for julienneing (there's a word for you) the squash and HEY Y'ALL I recently bought a mandolin after many years of fantasizing, so I was all set to julienne my ASS OFF.

And I did. For about a minute. Because that's all it took to take the squash from this:

to this:

Wow. SOLD. Look at the little matchsticks! They're perfect! I could do this all day! What other squash recipes call for julienneing? I'll make them now!

Wait, I'm making biscuits. Right.

So, the magical recipe also known as Zucchini Cheddar Breakfast Biscuits transforms a giant squash into 2 cups of perfect matchsticks that get turned into 1 cup (after draining and squishing) of binding goop perfect for biscuit makin's.

But, waitaminute, are these biscuits going to taste like goopy squash? Because I really can't think of anything more repulsive.

As it turns out, no. They're pretty good! And I bet they'd be even better if I put in the bacon it called for, which I will next time because we all know everything's better with bacon.

Wouldn't you like to make these biscuits with all of the squash moving into your guest room? I bet you might.

Zucchini Cheddar Biscuits (No piggy)
Adapted from Andrea Chessman's recipe in Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook
My changes in bold

2 cups of julienned summer squash
1 tsp salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fresh ground mixed peppercorns
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup buttermilk

Toss the squash and salt into a colander and let it hang out for half hour. At that point you can squeeze the water out of it and end up with a nice 1 cup wad of squash goop.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and pepper into a bowl and cut in the butter until you've got a coarse crumb texture going on. Then mix in the cheese and squash with a fork and then add the buttermilk. Stir it around with your fork until it forms a nice stiff dough.

Flour your counter or a board and turn the dough out onto it for a brief kneading session where some of it will get stuck to your fingers, but that's OK. Just flour your hands more and stop whining. Roll the dough out and use a random glass from the cupboard to cut biscuits into the dough. I found our highball glasses worked nicely, but if you want to get all technical you could use a 3 inch round cutter like a prissy pain in the ass.

Put your biscuits on a baking sheet and toss in the oven for about 15 minutes. Don't burn them or they'll taste like ass.

Not that I know because mine came out perfect. For once in my sad biscuit-burning life.

Hey, do you also want to know what I just learned because I'm so behind the times? I know what "mock apple" really is - it's SQUASH, people.

Yeah, I turned the page in the cookbook to find a hundred mock apple recipes (OK, like three) where the apple is squash. That is so not right. And if you already knew that mock meant squash, well, I'm very proud of you for your big brains, but I didn't know that and now I'm feeling a little taken advantage of. Just another story my mom made up for us so that we'd just behave already.

Just like the car won't start until you have your seatbelts on and don't eat ketchup it's made of worms, I now have hunnie, mock apple is the same as apple just eat it to haunt my childhood memories.

What's next? Hammy didn't really go live on a farm with other hamsters after I saw my dad clubbing him with a shoe?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Calling all chard killers [RECIPE]

That chard is a dangerous vegetable.

Dangerous because it doesn't have the PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE ONSLAUGHT warnings that come with zucchini.

But it should.

Because while I've been able to keep up with the squash production (well, before I ripped the fucker clean out of the ground anyway - whoopsy! spoiler!), I have in no way been able to keep up with the chard growing in the garden and coming weekly in the farm share.

And it totally scares me, y'all, I will not tell a lie.

SO, I've been taking any and all chard recipe suggestions into my kitchen in an effort to stay at all ahead of the MAD GROWTH happening in the garden.

It's a furiously busy time in my kitchen, I don't think I need to tell you.

Anyhoo - I recently tried this recipe from my favorite farmgirl, Susan, which was great in many ways. Not the least of which being the way that it reduces the chard by 6-8 big leaves every time I make it.

Also great is the way it incorporates a nice protein source like tuna into our diets, which is excellent given the Giant Salad For Dinner menu I've been repeating in an effort to stay ahead of the advancing vegetables.

Also ALSO great is the way it doesn't involve my oven being turned on in the heat of summer.

So, if any of these ways appeal to you and you're dying to wrestle free of some chard, try it out and don't forget to have a pickle with it, because hello, one can hardly eat tuna without a pickle. And some wheat toast. And a cocktail.

Ok, not everyone has a cocktail with their tuna, but we like to think cocktails go with all foods eaten after high noon and I'll thank you not to try to convince me otherwise.

And while I did manage to make it pretty soon after seeing Susan's recipe, my good friend and fellow Chard Killer, Jeph, posted first and so, therefore, wins the I'm The Craziest Chard Badass award.

For now anyway...

Finny's version of Susan's Swiss Chard Tuna Salad
Adapted from Susan's Swiss Chard Tuna Salad recipe
My changes in bold
(Serves 2)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (and if you use Miracle Whip, I'll kill you myself. Filthy.)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives (about 10 olives)
1 6-ounce can water packed tuna, drained
3/4 cups chopped Swiss chard stems
6 chopped Swiss chard leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped dill
1 cup (or more) chopped scallions (green onions), white and green parts (about 10 small)
1 cup chopped green garlic stems
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine mayonnaise, dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar in a medium bowl and mix well. Stir in olives, tuna, chopped Swiss chard stems and leaves, dill, green garlic and scallions. Add salt and pepper to taste and more mayonnaise and/or vinegar if desired. Serve with wheat toast and a dill pickle spear (do not EVEN think about serving with disgusting sweet pickles. ew). Enjoy outside on the patio with a fresh cocktail. I suggest a Bombay Sapphire and tonic with a twist OR Maker's on the rocks.

Then sit back and enjoy the momentary lull while the chard regrows all its leaves before your very eyes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It lives outside my brain now

I've been rocking a really hot canvas tote bag draped over the passenger headrest as a trash bag for a long time now.

And every single day I come out of work to find my car in the sea of Priuses I'm always annoyed that it's the ugly ass tote bag strap that tips me off that this black Prius is my black Prius.

Unless I'm parked with the car's ass facing the building, in which case it's the "I'd rather be watching SportsCenter" license plate frame that tips me off, and then I'm pleased. No one else has one of those around here and, frankly, I'm not sure how many people working here have actually heard of SportsCenter, but whatever. I love it there and seeing the logo makes me happy because I'm nothing if not brainwashed by flashy TV logos and sarcastic sportscasters.

But most of the time it's the tote bag strap that I see and it makes me sad. Like, certainly I can do better than THAT, kind of sad. And because of this sadness, I have been hatching a plan for a new trash bag made from scraps (because it is a trash bag after all - can't be spending all this money on fabric for a bag that will hold old wads of gum and grape stems) that will, at once, hold my car trash and also probably have a pocket for other car necessities like dog treats, poo bags (not full ones ew) and flosser heads. Or whatever normal people carry in their car.

Kleenex? I see that floating in the back window of a lot of cars. Maybe I'll buy some Kleenex and put it in the pocket. WHO KNOWS? I COULD TRY TO BE NORMAL.

Anyway, this thing has lived in my brain for a really long time and on Sunday, when I realized I didn't have enough fabric to make my new sun hat but I'd already set up the machine and everything, I decided the Not Ugly Car Trash Bag needed to be brought to life. If only so that I could have that section of my brain back for crucial mulling of things like what I might wear tomorrow or if I use Barge on the embroidered Prius emblem would it restick to the floor mats.

These are important things that need careful mulling, people, and with my regained brain power, I might actually solve these mysteries in our lifetimes wow.

But for the trash bag - it is very awesome, as I imagined it would be, and I haven't even used the extra pocket yet. So, I have not yet begun to fully realize it's true awesomeness, but I know that moment is coming soon.

I designed this simple creature in my own brain, so there isn't a pattern to which I can direct your hot steaming eyeballs, but if you like, I can provide a short-ish tutorial in the event that you too are sick of the ugly trash sack taunting you from your passenger seat OR (horrors) you don't have a dedicated car trash bag and are just, say, throwing cigarette boxes and dry cleaner receipts on the floor of your car like an animal.

Or whatever.

Short-ish tutorial for Not Ugly Car Trash Bag

1/2 yard of main fabric (lightweight or decor weight cotton is fine)
1/4 yard of contrasting fabric (same goes here for fabric)
1 1" quick release clip

Cut from main fabric:
1 18"x 4.25" strap
1 8" x 4.25" strap
1 10.25" x 9.25" front pocket
2 16" x 9.25" main pocket

Cut from contrasting fabric:
3 13.5" x 2.5" binding

To sew:

Make the straps

Step 1. Press the straps
Fold fabric wrong sides together lengthwise. Press. Then open up and fold long sides toward the center crease you just made. Press. On each short end, with long sides folded toward the center, fold corners of your short end down toward the center crease and then fold the new point you just made toward the center crease. This will create a point like seen below. Then fold wrong sides together lengthwise again and press.

In short, act like you're wrapping the end of a gift box.

Do this for both straps.

Step 2. Sew the straps
With both straps folded and pressed from Step 1, sew a 1/4" seam on all sides to secure and finish the straps.

Step 3. Attach the buckle
With the female end of the buckle, pull your short strap up through the top of the strap opening, pull through the bottom opening and fold back onto the strap so that the two sides lay together easily without any binding by the buckle.

You could pin it here and then sew, but I can't be bothered to pin things, so I just get it comfy and then sew a box with an X (which I'm sure has a fancy professional name that I haven't spent the time to learn) like you see below.

If you want to get real fancy and show me up, you could even center your box and follow your original strap sewing lines. That'd be something. Something I chose not to do due to my intense laziness.

Now that you have your short strap attached to the female end of the buckle, go ahead and pull your long strap through the strap openings on the male end of the buckle. You can now gawk and stare at your fabulously executed future fully adjustable buckle strap like I did and contemplate your greatness.

Go ahead, I won't judge you. It is awesome.

Make the binding

Step 4. Press the binding
Take all three strips of contrasting material and fold wrong sides together lengthwise just like you did when you were making the straps before.

As in: fold fabric wrong sides together lengthwise, press, unfold and fold long sides toward center crease, press.

Like so:

Then open up your newly pressed binding and lay right sides together with your front pocket fabric, top of the pocket lined up with the long side of your binding.

Step 5. Sew the binding
Sew along the top of the binding just above the first crease from the top. This way when you fold that first crease up and then use the center crease of your binding to fold over the top of the pocket, you'll end up with a nice straight even line like this:

Once you've folded the binding over the top of the pocket, make sure your last crease is folded under against the wrong side of the pocket and sew one final seam along the long ends of the binding, which will magically catch both sides of the binding because of your extensive pressing and creasing like this:

This is also a good time to remark on your own greatness

Repeat these steps to attach the binding for the front and back of the main fabric. Please do not do what I did which was to say, meh, I don't need binding along the top, only to decide after sewing the front and back together that, Yes indeedy! I do want binding along the top, so that I could go off and spend an hour trying to get binding to crease and wrap neatly around the top of the finished bag.


Please save yourself the time and aggravation by just sewing the binding on to the front and back pieces separately first. I promise you'll want the binding on there since it looks so cute and you'll be sad if you do it the way I did.

Just saying.

Step 6. Make the bag
Place the front main panel right side up, front pocket panel right side up on top of that and the back main panel wrong side up on top of that. Like this:

Sew around the bag with 1/4" seam starting on the right side, sewing the bottom and then the left side.

Truthfully, it doesn't really matter which side you start with , but what I'm trying to say is, don't sew the top, because obviously it wouldn't be much of a bag if you sew the top shut is all I'm saying.

You knew what I meant though.

Turn your bag right side out.

Step 7. Attach the straps

Using the side seam of your bag as a guide, center the short end of your short strap so that you have enough of the strap below the binding to sew the box without going over onto the binding and enough of the strap on either side of your bag's side seam to sew a centered box.

Pin your strap in place and sew a box to attach your strap to the bag per Step 3. If you want to get fancy and center things, be my guest. I make no such promises even though I like to think I'm fancy.

Repeat this step with the long strap on the other side seam of the bag making sure to connect the buckle before attaching the second strap to make sure that it connects without twisting.

And you're done.

I immediately ran out to the car to make sure it fit. Which I realize is something I should have considered in the first place and perhaps taken measurements before all the cutting and sewing began, but I am crazy like that and don't have a good excuse. Good thing was, it totally fit, adjusted nicely with the buckle to hang just so from the back of the passenger seat, and is now awaiting the filling of its front pocket with something useful like maybe some Windex wipes or a snack.

Wait, do I want food so close to the trash? I don't know. I'll have to think about what goes in there. A nail file?! Yes. A nail file for sure.

Meanwhile the trash bag part already has a water bottle to recycle and some other horseshit that was languishing in the cup holder.

Perhaps now that the awesomeness of the Not Ugly Car Trash Bag has been revealed, Bubba will want one for his truck so that his loving wife doesn't have to wade through Red boxes and Coke cans in order to get into the passenger seat.

I mean, I don't know, but maybe.

UPDATE: If you make a Not Ugly Car Trash Bag (even if it turns out ugly or you drive something other than a car - it doesn't have to be exact!), add your photos to the Flickr Pool.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Adopt a Crop update: We are learning and finding things.

I'm sticking to the only rule I've managed to follow so far with Adopt a Crop, which is that we talk about the Adopted Crop first.

Otherwise I realize that this has taken on a somewhat haphazard style, as is my tendency with garden-type things. You like this!

Wee Man, as he's become known to me as I've negotiated my forest of a garden, is doing really well. Even though he's totally getting his turfed moved in on by the nasturtium and borage, he's putting out blooms AND tiny cucumbers anyway. He is small but mighty.

I don't have a name for the big cucumber (planted as a seedling thank you), but I probably should because he's already responsible for some good salads and will likely be the first one to make pickles. Well, I'll make the pickles. But you know that. Anyway, he needs a name. Anyone? Ideas? These do not need to be Family Safe suggestions. Be naughty with me!

Not only do these plants not have names, they also were not put in the garden by my own two hands (at least not this year), so they don't have permanent homes. What we have here is the great and fun garden surprise known as Volunteers. Specifically, a volunteer Better Boy tomato which is already producing tomatoes even without my careful mother henning and a volunteer pumpkin of some variety that is putting out about a leaf a day.

Wee! I found things!

And because I love tomatoes and pumpkins more than I love the Ronde di Italia squash that is expanding with the obvious intention of moving into our guest room, I have made the executive decision to pull the squash (oh yes, I'm that frivolous - I will pull a live producing plant, people - CRAZY) so that I can stake the tomato and give the pumpkin and currently MIA midget cantaloupe some room to breathe.

Do you see what I mean here? This is downright alarming. The basil is totally nervous in this picture here. Like the squash is the StayPuff Marshmallow Man towering over the skyscrapers except without the demonic possession and all (or is it?).

Either way, as the Big Boss Man of my garden, I'm harvesting all the remaining squash and then pulling it (carefully) from the garden so the other guys stand a chance.

Like my friend the midget cantaloupe here. He is trying so hard, making the tiny fruits, meanwhile the squash with its million bugs that I have to handpick off due to the organic no-nuke situation, is crawling over his head and making life uncomfortable for everyone. Especially me, since it looks like I might also be allergic to its spiny leaves because every time I come back inside from a bug killing session my arms are all covered in red bumps thanks to the spiny leaves.

NO MORE. This weekend it dies. And then the cantaloupe, mystery pumpkin and New Tomato Yay! can live.

I am so the boss of my garden.

Speaking of tomatoes (was I speaking of tomatoes? I don't remember), doesn't the one on the right here almost look like it might be turning yellowish orange-ish? I think so. It makes me happy to think so, so I'd warn against disagreeing with me here. Tomatoes soon!

Another phenom we have moving through the garden with an ambitious pace is the nasturtium. I will admit that it's my fault for planting so much knowing full well that it would reseed from last year and that I'd probably end up with a city block of it if I wasn't careful.

Which I was not.

But thankfully mom was out last weekend and helped me understand a thing that is probably obvious and well-known to everyone but me: nasturtiums make great cut flowers.

You laugh, but I didn't know this. I thought they'd just shrivel and make a gooey mess, but no. They are actually quite nice when you yank them free from the garden while trying to make room for the cucumber, chuck them sorta sadly into the compost heap and then watch your mom scamper over and rescue them so you can put them in a squat vase on the dining room table.


Much like the strawberries that are perennials (oh, so I shouldn't pull them out of the garden at the end of the season with the tomatoes?) and the parsley that's a biennial (oh, so I'm not a genius gardener for having parsley that overwinters?), I now know that nasturtiums are more than just a cucumber beetle fighter and good in salad. Thank you mom, for that. There you go always making me less stupid! Thank you!

They are my new summertime centerpiece.
Wee! I learned a thing!

And in the name of being thorough and also sharing more of the photos I've taken while my neighbors roll their eyes:

We're coming into another round of strawberries.

The beans are climbing up the pea polls. Porny.

The lettuce is trying to bolt but I won't let it.

We have radishes and no flea beetles. Miracle? No - soapy water.

And my big TWO beets are doing fine. Except for the little one there that got trampled by the dog. Whoopsy! I am not doing well with the beet care-giving, I'll admit. Perhaps I harvest them soon and give up until next year when I can better focus my attentions on keeping the dog from chasing her ball into the garden. Or I can work on my throwing techniques since I think I might still throw like a girl. Which is to say that while I may throw it overhand, it still goes every which way and that usually means right into the garden so I have to go chasing after the dog screaming NO NO NO Not in the beds and then she jumps on the beet and I have to not cry or scold the dog.
Anyway, two beets are alive and that is the beet update.

Next time I will share another Chard Killer recipe which was good, easy and used up a lot of the pretty chard that didn't get any air time during this crop update because, well, it just didn't.