Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm not even *that* tan.

Yeah, thanks for that, people who told me wow you're not even that tan! when I got back from vacation.

I mean, yes, I take the sunscreen pretty seriously and did have something of a girly hissy when my legs raised a pinkish hue after a morning of paddling despite my SPF 45 (Neutrogena - you are no match for the Pacific), but I don't really want to come home from a Hawaiian vacay to be told that it doesn't look like I've left my living room in a week.

Makes a girl feel a touch sad, you know?

Not that I am sad, mind you, because I didn't sit in my living room all week. Unless you consider this patio my living room, and based on the amount of time I spent sitting there with a stack of books and a bottomless G&T, I suppose it could be.

Anyway, Maui was grand, as you might imagine, and I won't bore you with the expected vacation recounting minutia beyond the following:


Swimming in the sea



Killing coconuts



Riding inanimate objects during moments of questionable sobriety


Hangover at the airport


There you have it.

Though I will expand briefly on that last point if only to show you one of the awesome birthday gifts bestowed upon me by my beloved:

What? You can't determine from this photo the birthday gift to which I refer?

Well, it's not the obviously awesome potting bench repurposed from our discarded kitchen cabinets, because that was a birthday present a few years ago.

And it's not the also awesome gardening organizer hanging over the potting bench because that was a gift from Donk for a previous holiday. (Thanks, Donk! I love it!)

And you know it's not the breaker box because, you know, that makes no sense.

HINT: It's the chest freezer.


Yes. And I'll admit that this was a pre-agreed upon item so don't get all oh my god Bubba is so busted right now for giving a gift only acceptable in the '50s because I was and am all about this thing.

This thing that will let me store every last tomato that comes off the plants that went HOG FUCKING WILD while we were out of town. And the split-half of beef we have coming from the local ranch. And the gallons (yes. gallons.) of blackberries I haul home from my parents' every time we go up there. And holiday baked goods. And and and...

Well, I've wanted a chest freezer for some time. Ever since Bubba quietly mentioned that it might be a possibility and then definitely after I visited my sister and saw hers and just knew I needed one, too.

We're like that in our family - all derivative in the ways of household appliances.

And also it's more fun to pack bags of tomatoes into a freezer during the sweaty hot months of August and September than it is to stand over, say, a giant boiling pot of water for an entire day while watching the boob sweat expand to cover my entire body.

Not that I'll stop canning - oh no, I still have plans for a pressure canner for all those peppers - but now I can bring my stress level down a notch and maybe fend of the end of season Psycho Wife Shitstorm that occurs when I realize I have exactly 1 free hour on the weekend during which I need to can many tens of pounds of tomatoes.

It is not pretty, is what I'm saying, and I'm sure our lives would be better off without it. Poor Bubba, he hides.

So - Yay for the chest freezer! And also for the other fabulous gift Bubba gave me which I'm sure I'll bitch about right here for you all to see as soon as I can figure out how to get it working.

And by it I mean this Garmin GPS watch.

I plan to take it out for a test drive during tomorrow's run, so you know, tomorrow's Craft: along post might be interrupted with my cries for help and/or my farewells as I transport myself into a parallel universe by touching the bezel in an unapproved manner.

All told though - great birthday, awesome vacation, no sunburn.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Craft: along 2009 : August

Hey Donk,

I didn't want you to think that I ran off to Hawaii and forgot all about our Craft: along project this month because I didn't.

I totally made the Ginger Spa Cookies that don't really taste all that gingery but are still very good and, now, mostly gone from the recently very full cookie jar.

This was about as spa-y as it got, y'all.

I believe there was behavior such as this to blame for the jar's current status. Which is to say, empty.

Which is fine since we leave soon for vacation and I can't have cookies going stale in the house while we live in swim suits for a week and eat ourselves insane with pineapple and fresh caught fish and coconuts from the tree out front.

I can't have it I tell you! The thought of staling cookies haunts me from afar!

Ok, not really, but you know I don't like waste.

And that is why I went out to the garden last night and harvested my fingers to the bone so that I could abandon the dog at my mom's house with a bag full of produce and so that I could surreptitiously drop a bag of produce next to the Reformer in my Pilates class for my instructor and be all WHOOPSY what do you mean you didn't need 5 lbs of tomatoes?

I found those cucumbers hiding under the beans. Sneaky bastards.

I'm very sly and clever, don't you know.

The scary thing was, this didn't even make a dent in the garden.
Melissa - please come pick vegetables.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that the cookies have been baked, eaten and requested for a rematch. This time with more ginger.

I'm also happy to say that I will peace out for a week now and then come back and do Craft: Along September which may include some different kinds of crafting (plus sewing DON'T FREAK OUT) since I am feeling the need for adventure - in the crafting sense. We'll see. Perhaps kayaking during cocktail hour will quench my need for adventure...


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Pickle CHiPs Winner + CORN [RECIPE]

I started to get all "AHiPs" on this post and then decided against it because even I can't keep up with my failed CHiPs analogy anymore.

It's too much, people, these stories I weave.

So, I'll put it to you this way, Ms Dig still gets her pickles, because I love her and I believe all pregnant women should have access to pickles and now, Holly does, too because Dig is very nice and also has a healthy guilty conscience and since she'd just finished winning four of the last four contests she'd entered, she was ready to give up her pickles to someone else. Because of her guilt.

Which I found to be sweet and indicative of her lovely character. And I can't take pickles away from lovely characters? What would that say about me, then?


And I can't have y'all thinking mean things about me just all the time, now can I? No.

So - I ran the random thingy chooser again and this time it picked Holly of Life in the Shoe for a visit from the pickle chips who I've stopped addressing as Erik because it started to all get a little weird for my tastes.

Sorry, I just can't maintain these charades for so long. It cramps my brain.

BUT YAY FOR HOLLY! You win pickles, too! Just shoot me an email to finnyknits AT gmail DOT com with your mailing address and I'll ship you off your pickles to sunny AZ so that you can replenish your sodium levels after your triathlon training with some nice dilly pickle chips.

Also - I recommend fries. But that's because I'm SUCH a professional runner. Ahem. Yeah, not really.

And since I'm kinda sick of talking about pickles, chips, Erik Estrada and highway patrolmen - I'm going to stop now.

Instead - I'm going to talk about corn.

People, the corn is R.E.A.D.Y. In the, We Need To Eat it All ASAP, kind of ready.

Which is scary given we're going on vacation next week (Hey - FYI: no Finny next week - she'll be drinking cocktails at 2pm in Hawaii - yay, you're free!) and I can't trust our neighbors to actually come over and pick vegetables on their own without my semi-forceful coercing.

They're too nice and polite, these neighbors. I should train them in my rude and pushy ways.

Anyway, in an effort to de-ear as many stalks of corn as possible before we skip town for the islands, I invited some of these very polite neighbors over for Corn Feast 2009, in which we indulged in grilled corn on the cob, corn salad with tomatoes, grilled lamb chops and some other things that didn't involve corn but do go well with corn.

Sometimes you have to make compromises so that your meals make sense, I say.

I was not willing to compromise two corn dishes out of the meal, so instead we introduced lamb, which made it all make sense.

Anyway, even though I love grilled corn on the cob, the real highlight for me (aside from the lamb chops, which, YUM) was the corn salad which was originally inspired by a recipe in RealSimple, but was bastardized thusly to suit my tastes and the shit in my fridge that was pushing its way free from the crisper.

My crisper is less pushy now.

This is what my life has come to, y'all - being bullied by the crisper. It's ugly.

But this is pretty! For corn, anyway.
The Corn Salad You Must Make Right Now
Recipe adapted from Corn Salad With Feta and Walnuts, RealSimple
My changes in BOLD

Ingredients + supplies
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
5 cups fresh corn kernels (from 5 ears), raw
1/2 Padron pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled fresh Feta
2 fresh tomatoes, picked right from the garden and chopped
Disposable rubber gloves or other hand protecting device

To make
*Indicates optional step

*Heat convection oven to 400 and burn the crap out of half a cup of walnut pieces. Discard.

Start over with another 1/2 cup of walnut pieces, this time ratcheting the temp down to 300 and standing nearby in the event of a flare-up.

Cut your corn off the cobs using Kris's method, and really, the only proper method for separating corn kernels from their cobs. Really, now.

Bubba taught me to shuck and Kris taught me to cut. It's a world of learning out there, folks.

I think this is self-explanatory.

Put on your rubber gloves and deal with chopping the pepper. Really. This is important. Because if you go chopping away on a hot pepper and then, because you're you, go to scratch your left eye or casually tap the end of your nose during a moment of introspection, without having worn gloves during the pepper chopping process, you'll spend the rest of the evening alternating ice packs, crunching Advil and basically hating your life as a swollen, throbbing, jalapeno-touching monster.

I'm just saying, those gloves are worth it. And then, just because you can, take those gloves off after handling the peppers, THROW THEM THE FUCK AWAY, and then wash your hands. Just to be careful.

Now, put all of that vegetable goodness into a big bowl, stir it up and let it sit around for at least half an hour before you serve it to anyone. The mingling is what makes it extra delicious. I promise you.

I don't know why I always take the Pre-Stir photos, but I do love them.

Plus, it'll give you time to grill some more ears (thus sharing/getting rid of more corn - you decide how you want to look at it), grill the lamb chops (HOLY GOOD) and steam those potatoes for potato salad which we'll talk about at another time but I'll tell you is an excellent excuse to introduce a new vinegar (champagne) to your regimen. But we'll talk about that another time.

Anyway, once everything is all mingly, the other corn and the lamb chops have grilled and the potato salad tossed, head out to the backyard with your third cocktail and proceed to get shitfaced drunk with your neighbors while you eat a shameful amount of corn and then some homemade strawberry shortcake brought by said neighbors.

And since no one has to drive anywhere, this entire scenario is totally acceptable.

Here's to Corn Feast 2009.

The unblurriness of this photo is a miracle. So you know.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Erik Pickle CHiPs Estrada goes to Montana

Apparently Pickle CHiPs is about to become Pickle MHiPs.


Pfft! Keep up!

It means that the winner of this year's Adopt a Crop prize of Lemon Cucumber Pickle Chips lives in Montana.

And which fabulously lovely blogger might that be?

Well, you can just look here, read through to the end of this post OR play along with some Super Fun Blogger Trivia.

You decide. Just SEE if you can guess who it is before clicking through the links. I double dare you or something.

Commencing Super Fun Blogger Trivia...
  1. She has a chicken named Paige
  2. She has a daughter called Bug
  3. She is a she (hey! not a real clue!)
  4. She has a dog named Alice
  5. She has presided over wedding ceremonies
  6. She was my #2 Blogger Blind Date
  7. She really knows what to do with Brussel's Sprouts
  8. She harvested 4+ gallons of peas this year
  9. She is currently With Bun
  10. She wears tops as skirts
...concluding Super Fun Blogger Trivia.

So - do you know who it is? Huh huh huh?

Well, this isn't the end of the post, but I'll stop teasing now - the winner of the desirable and glamorous jar of Lemon Cucumber Pickle Chips is the pleasingly sassy Dig This Chick.

So, dig, since I already have your address (STALKER ALERT!), I'll just send these guys off to you. But, first, you shoot me an email to let me know you still want them, kay? If not, maybe one of these 30 other fuckers does.

No. I did not just call you all fuckers. Where do you guys get this shit?


This will close off the spring/summer edition of Adopt a Crop, since the cukes are done and the pickle chips awarded.

Remember though, I told you that you could start thinking about what your winter crop might be. So, maybe start doing that, and remember to include things like onions, garlic, potatoes and fava beans.


That's it, now. Don't let me catch you leafing through seed catalogs else I'll smack your ass. With my foot.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Running update: The village idiot goes 10 miles this weekend.

I've been all talk of vegetables, food and the garden lately and I'm here to rectify that. At least as far as running is concerned.

Because, despite all this pie celebrating and radish demolishing and tomato canning and artichoke cookery - I have been running.


I mean, I did my last shortish-long run last weekend, to the tune of a smooth nine miles and I've located the Camelbak for this Saturday's re-entry into double-digit territory.

Thankfully, it appears the most recent heatwave (dudes, we've been in the 90s) has subsided, and it should be a cool upper 50s for my pre-dawn long run this weekend.

And, yes, now I consider my long runs to actually be Long and not Shortish Long as I've been calling them. Because, to me, they're not long until they require the wearing of the Camelbak and the refueling with Luna Moons at the 60 minute mark. And, for whatever reason, I hold off on these two features until I hit 10 miles.


Well, who the fuck knows.

I mean, really, it'd be great to have some water to sip on during any amount of mileage. I'd have really loved it even during the last few shortish long runs because, when you think about it, nine miles is just 10 minutes shorter than 10 miles (Hi. I'm slow. Still.) and a gal gets thirsty out there after an hour of dodging traffic and MUTHEREFFERS WHO SPRINKLE THE STREETS AND SIDEWALKS whatever.

But no. I save the refreshments for 10+ mile officially long Long runs because I like to create random restrictions and rules in my life. It's what I do to entertain myself when I'm out there singing along to bad words and trying not to get flattened by distracted parents manning enormous mini vans.

Sidenote: Parents - if you must play DVDs in the headrests of your car for your ill-behaved children, please don't try to watch the video with them. K? Thankssomuch!


I guess the deal with the Camelbak and moons is that it just makes the run seem so much more serious. And it's hard to be all nonchalant and This is going to be enjoyable when you're filling up your serious Camelbak with water before dawn on a Saturday morning. And I like to feel easy going and nonchalant when I go out for a run of any distance because then it seems like I'm about to do something fun rather than something OH MY GOD IT MIGHT KILL ME.

Because, I'll be honest, some of these runs after 10 miles seem a little, how you say, stifling.

Like I'm out on some epic journey from which I will only return after much torture and sweating have been endured.

And that's no way to get out of bed on a Saturday - with something so Lawrence of Arabia hanging out there.

Perhaps that's what kept me from my regularly scheduled and rarely missed speedworkish run of yesterday morning.

I woke up, felt immediately not great and then decided that I'd earned a morning off from running. I mean, I *could* have hopped up and gone about my life as normal, but I didn't. I called up a semi-recent event in which I learned an important lesson about listening to one's keener instincts and decided that if my body and mind weren't syncing this morning, that I wasn't going to push it.

And I didn't. Instead, I went out the garden in my underpants and picked tomatoes.

Because, as you know, my life makes a shitload of sense and I spend a lot of it entertaining our neighbors and convincing them to keep their blinds drawn.

Perhaps my body/mind/soul felt more like being the village idiot than the neighborhood runner. Which is fine. I can do both. I'm versatile like that.

But tomorrow, I'll go out and do my speedworkish run and think about the comment I read recently, somewhere I've now forgotten, that said something to the tune of, "If you don't train to run fast, you won't run fast."

This comment is one of those that as soon as I heard it, I knew it was going to rattle around in my pea brain until I took it seriously. And here I am, something like a week or so later, with it starting to rattle. And with this rattling comes the sincere understanding that I'm not training to run fast even though I'm doing these speedworkish runs.

Because I know, if I want to run faster, and I *think* I do, I need to train to run faster. I just have to come to grips with how that running faster business will impact my life and how much math is realistically involved.

Good thing I'm going on vacation in a few weeks and can promptly forget about it! Yay for vacation cocktail hour at 2pm! Yay for taking a break from training five weeks before a half marathon!

See - told you my life made a shitload of sense.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What the F I do with a ton of radishes.

Only part of the ton.

If you're like me (and, hey, in my self-absorbed world, everyone is like me), your culinary skills can only imagine so much with a giant pile of radishes.

To me, radishes = salad or taco topping. Done. That is all one does with radishes.

And then one becomes a member of a farm share and fills one's crisper with radishes every week to the point where they're even edging out the prolific beets and carrots and it all starts to get a little cozy and root vegetable-y in there.

Every week I stare at the new pile of radishes and think, "Dude. Something must be done about all these fucking radishes.", and then I add them to the crisper bag with the old hundred radishes and go on with my life in which I eat every other vegetable known to man except radishes until the next week's share arrives and, alas, I'm faced again with a dose of radishes until the pile becomes insurmountable and something drastic must be done. Or else. Dun dun duuuuuuuuun.

Yes, I have vegetable drama.

Well, last week was the height of Radish Insurmountability because the bag in which I had been storing my weekly radish ration became full. I could no longer twist the top and put it back in the crisper to forget for another week of life.


Because, really, what the F do you do with a ton of radishes?

Well, if you're me, you do nothing and hope they'll magically disappear from your crisper. OR you wait until the cleaning lady comes again and you sneak a bunch into the bag of tomatoes you're also passing off. Or you start accepting invitations only to parties where someone will let you bring a salad so that you can slice all your radishes into a giant salad of nothing but radishes, not even caring if they never invite you back because HAHA! you'll be free of the radishes.

But you certainly don't do anything useful to resolve the issue because that would be too sensible and grown-up.

Let it be known that I employ the "Ignore it and it will go away." rule to most issues that arise in my daily life. It's very mature and effective, I assure you.

Thankfully, fate and Farmgirl stepped in to solve this problem for me in that I subscribe to Farmgirl's feed via email and, on Sunday, her feed email contained a recipe for "...What to do with radishes..."

It's like that chick reads my mind.

The recipe was for a dip. A refreshing radish spread dip that's good and has feta in it and you can eat it with this, that and the next thing except I didn't care because the recipe said it used 2 cups of radishes and that alone sounded amazing.

WOW! With 2 cups of room in my radish bag, imagine how great my life would be! I could put other things in the crisper like lettuce or my bra! I could hide presents for Bubba in there or crawl in there and make a fort from the carrots! It would be miraculous!

I will make this amazing and delicious sounding dip. Even if the other ingredients are dog doo and old hair.

My guests are so lucky.

And since we were having the All Pie for Pie Season dinner celebration that night and I'd yet to devise an appropriate pie -themed appetizer (feel free to suggest some), I decided that this radish and dog doo dip would serve as such, even though I had no plans to make it in pie form. Or from doody. Maybe next year!

Well, the excitement only continued when I actually read through the ingredients and, after finding that it did not actually involve dog doo, old hair or anything remotely disgusting, I was overjoyed to see that it did call for a good amount of scallions, parsley and lemon juice and could be served all crudite-style with all manner of vegs.

Hey! We have those! And their bags are getting awful full, too! YAY! I won't have to pretend my carrots or cucumbers are going to disappear from the crisper now! Won't this be a magical week free of fruitless pretending!

Also, this recipe calls for "whizzing", which means I can use My Beloved while dispatching a crisperful of vegs. DREAMY! Also dreamy is that "whizzing" didn't involve the relieving of anyone's bladder in my dip.

Pee-free is how I prefer my foods. For the record.

It wasn't that kind of party.

I continued to find dreamy details in this recipe as I worked through it. Like, I was able to dump a good amount of vegs, including a ton of radishes, right into the Cuisinart with very little prep. Like, I just cut off the root and stem ends of the radishes and threw them in there with whole stalks of scallions (sans roots) and a bunch of parsley leaves and hit "On".

Radish magic.


Then I squooze a brick of cream cheese into the thing, added the feta, salt, lemon juice and pepper and hit "On".

Dip magic.


And when it was all plated with a ton of carrot sticks, squash wedges and cucumber slices? Well, it made me so happy I ate a ton.

Appetizer magic.

And then I started to rethink my low-grade animosity toward the boring Radish. Why don't I ever do anything with these radishes? It's not like they taste bad. They taste fine. And, hey, didn't one of my TV boyfriends say something about the French eating radishes with cold butter and salt? I think I would like that. If it were a sandwich. On a baguette. I think I will eat that right now. Here I go...

And that is what the F I did with a ton of radishes. I made a dip, which is nearly gone, and had 3 radish sandwiches over the course of 2 days.

And wouldn't you know that my avoidance of the crisper has subsided and I'm now able to open that drawer (which, in and of itself is an accomplishment) without having to avert my eyes from the bulging radish bag in shame.

The fact that I'm now in the habit of dragging radishes through the butter as though it's a dip is not important because we're eating the fucking radishes and that is the point.

Monday, August 10, 2009

'Tis the season to eat pie.

You remember Pie Season, don't you? Because I know none of you were thinking I was suddenly all super amped about any other kind of season, especially not the bad word season that starts with an "H".

Ew, no.

This Pie Season, I will say, is now fully underway. Seeing as I've now made a strawberry pie, blackberry pie and TAH FUCKING DAH the ever-famous Tomato Pesto Pie (with sausage because meat is a bonus.)

I made this yesterday and it's already gone.

Sadly, no cherry pie this year since I ran afoul of the law (in this case, Bubba is the law) and instead made a cobbler and ice cream which, while still good, weren't Pie Season Good, and so will not be repeated with future cherry harvests.

Sorry! I don't make the rules around here with regard to cherries, folks! I can't be held responsible for Bubba's soul-bending desire for cherry pie! I simply cannot!

But this isn't a post about how Bubba will someday leave me and move into the backyard to live full time with the cherry tree.

This is a post about our first ever celebratory Pie Season dinner of All Pie.

See, we've celebrated Pie Season in years past, as is obvious given the fact that we've named a season after Pie and are always banging on about it, but we've never had an official meal in its honor. And my understanding of holidays, which I'll admit is a little limited, is that there is a mandatory and representative meal in which observers partake while usually wearing occasion-appropriate attire, singing ridiculous songs, drinking to horizontality and perhaps blowing some stuff up.

OK, so you probably only blow things up on 4th of July, but I have seen a few Christmas tree fires and know of at least one occasion in which an Easter egg doubled as a stink bomb. So, there you go. Also, let's never speak these "H"word related terms again. Phew.

With these parameters in place, Pie Season is really only hitting on a few understood holiday requirements, but does in my view, fill the Holiday bill fairly squarely.

We do have the representative meal of All Pie. We do wear occasion-appropriate clothes (something you're not worried about ruining). We do drink to horizontality (Mary Elke anyone?).

We do not, however, blow shit up or sing songs. That's too much. And would remove us from our Pie Season duty of eating pie.

In their places, though, we have other responsibilities like picking the fruits for the pies. In this case, tomatoes and blackberries. And since I've already said so much as to incur gardener wraths about tomato harvests, let's talk about my weekend in which I pretended to be a farmer in my country girl blackberry pickin' outfit.

Why shouldn't an old Chevy's sombrero be part of my pickin' outfit?

Firstly, we made the trip up to my folks' who live in the beautiful county of Sonoma and wherein lies The Hedge that could eat a thousand tractors.

One tractor fatality of many.

As always, my mom made us lunch first and we bided our time until we had to don our weather inappropriate garb so that we could defend ourselves from The Hedge. Because The Hedge has tried to snatch me from my mom's grasp before and I will not have that happening again.

Also, I learned a powerful lesson about why flip-flops and shorts are a bad idea for picking berries and that lesson is still stinging on the palms of my hands from when I slippedfellcrashed into The Hedge and could only keep my face from plunging in after the rest of my body by grabbing the blackberry canes with my bare hands.

Yes. Ouch. If only I could listen when my mom tells me to do things like put on proper shoes and pants when going out to pick small squooshy berries off huge prickly bushes.


Anyway, I'm now on my second year of remembering proper berry pickin' clothes and, of that, I'm proud.

Gloves are not required because stained fingers are cool. Says me.

Of course, because it's always Supah Hot for these prickly long-sleeved adventures, I always sweat myself insane and then pseudo-collapse afterward, but it's worth it for the berries, the QT with the folks and For the Pie.

Do it for the pie, I say!

And so does Bubba.

Bubba does not play by the Long Sleeves Only rule. He's such a rebel.

This year we sweat an appropriate amount, although it was not nearly as hot as year's passed, and, with the help of Bubba and my dad, my mom and I got to slack off early and YAY with more berries than usual.

Fun times! Less work! No passing out in the prickers!

Also, let me mention my dad's new addition to the blackberry harvesting strategy: the blackberry cart.

I'll assume that "from the premises" means "my parents' house".

Now, it doesn't roll on the gravel and dirt driveway so hot, and we can't wheel it from one end of the hedge so well, but it does keep our precious harvest safe and sound during pickin's so that I don't have to retrace our pickin' steps to retrieve all of our full berry baskets.

Once my mom and I get going - we don't stop for nuthin'.

Why am I dropping all my Gs today? Sorry. I'll stop that.

Anyway, my dad is funny, apparently something of a thief and now we have this cart to hold our bounty while we work.

And what a bounty it was. All 11 pints of berries picked in about 30 minutes. Which is great considering how I wasn't going to make it another 10 minutes in my long sleeves and pants and proper shoes and socks (YECK.) in the 90 degree weather.

Thankfully, the bounty proved itself delicious. Also, sticky, messy and requiring of aluminum foil reinforcements during the baking process.

I choose to find this beautiful rather than aggravating and messy. Just go with it.

Elke identifies the prey.

And it was also totally appropriate for our first ever celebratory Pie Season meal of All Pie which included the unmentionable Tomato Pesto Pie.

I won't tell you how many tomatoes are in that pie, but it's a lot. For pie anyway.

Next year I'll just have to decide on a good Pie Appetizer for our All Pie Meal. You feel free to think up some ideas for me and I'll go pat my new Cuisinart on the back for blasting through two pie crusts and a very good dip recipe without even breaking a sweat.

Or whatever happens to food processors when they're overworked.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Weigh-in. For the vegetables, obviously.

This is what 22 lbs of red looks like.

Anyone still interested in the garden? Cucumbers? A shit ton of tomatoes? How about the fact that I've harvested more than half my body weight in vegetables from four raised beds so far this year?

Yeah, that'll get you lookin'. Maybe one day I'll get all bold and do a Guess My Weight challenge.

And also, maybe one day I'll put a tomato on my head and let Bubba take shots at it with a pellet gun.


Women don't share their weights in my world. It's not right. Unless you still weigh 118 pounds like you did your senior year in high school. Then you tell everyone and also go topless with a yellow thong bikini bottom in West Palm Beach.

But nevermind all that, let's talk about the garden.

Sorry, that was the shittiest segue ever.


The cucumbers have taken a new approach this year - they're on the pole.

Not in a sexy way, like someone's tucking dollar bills into their Gstring or anything, but they've reached the limits of their caged existence and have taken up with the beans to climb the tepee.

Does this pole make my ass look fat?

Which, theoretically, is fine, except the tepee is starting to list semi-dramatically due to the unevenly dispersed weight of the newcomer cucumbers, so, well, I guess I'll have to deal with that eventually.

I'm not going to make the Leaning Tower joke here because it's just too cliche.

For now though, I just admire their ambition. And their fearless exposure of bulbous portions.

Also on the pole in a non-sexy but still surprising way is the second wave of green beans. I will tell you that this surprised me because I was not aware that these were indeterminate plants. I mean, they're not *really* indeterminate, but they're acting like they are. I guess this would really be considered a "continual harvest", but still, I thought we were done, here.

Nope. More beans on the way.

You can't tell us what to do.

Know what IS indeterminate in my garden though? You can guess. It's the tomatoes. And the fact that they're indeterminate is downright scary.

Because this is just one harvest.
And had my basket been the size of a truck bed, I *might* have been able to pick all the ripe ones.

After I picked 22 lbs for canning a week ago and then another 15 to bring into work today and then and then and then...well, the plants are totally unphased.

If you look at the plants, you'd never guess this even happened.

In fact, I think they're mocking me.

Neh neh nehnehneh. PICK ME.

The artichokes are also mocking me. Apparently they saw me come into the house with a box of artichokes last weekend and got all "Look at me! Look at me!" and decided to put out some new thistles for me.

Thanks. I haven't had enough garlic butter so far this week. I'm sure I really need this temptation right before I'm about to bare my midriff in Hawaii. This could get grody.

You just sit there and think about what you did.

Then there's the corn. It's a sight. And it's downright delicious. We've only picked four ears so far, but that's because we're trying to be patient in picking them until they're perfectly ripe rather than just cracking them off when the mood strikes us. *HINT TO BUBBA*

They're working hard out there, though, and I'm satisfied with my decision to put in corn this year. I was afraid it'd be an awful heartbreaking disaster of the vegetable kind, but it's turned out well enough to be put in the running for a spot in next year's garden. MAYBE. WE'LL SEE.

Don't get too comfy out there, corn.

The cilantro has gone to seed and we now have some coriander out there masquerading as a legitimate plant. I hope this doesn't make it think that I'm forgiving it for bolting so muthereffin fast though because I don't just forgive that easily.

Let it be known that I hold grudges against plants because I'm just that petty.

You'll have to do better than that, suckah.

And just so I don't end this on a totally ridiculous note, the naturtium are bouncing back from their recent, um, hair cut, and giving me blossoms to bring inside again. Which I like. Because that dirty old water with brown basil leaves floating in the vase on my kitchen counter isn't super lovely.

Thanks guys. Appreciate it.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Please. Do it for the artichokes. [RECIPE]


If I ever hear of someone trying to pawn off a "2 minute artichoke" again, I'm going to lose it. Like, I will throw punches and become unfit to be around, kind of lose it. It's not right.

Because, friends, artichokes are delicious green beauties when they are made properly, and that proper-making requires more than two stupid inadequate minutes. And a nice dip. And a good-sized area for fast discards. And absorbent napkins.

And all this artichoke opinion-having came back to me as Bubba and I relived our annual trip to Monterey, CA during our weekend of anniversary celebrating.

We love it there - in Monterey. Because of the beach and the relaxing and the seafood and the wine and, of course, the artichokes.

These are fried artichoke hearts. I dare you to produce a better appetizer.

Never is a trip to Monterey complete (or, really, ever even considered) without a trip out to one of the farms to get a box of freshly picked enormo artichokes.

Yes. That's what I said - a box. We buy a box. A Wet-Loc box that holds 15+ artichokes, depending on whether you buy the enormo ones, which we do.

You could get those little ones, but why?

The big ones are just so, well, BIG.

And then we come home from our lovely little anniversary getaway and gorge ourselves on nightly artichoke feasts. It's poor behavior, but what better way to say, "I really do love you no matter how gross you are.", than to scrape artichoke leaves with your front teeth while butter sauce runs down your arms?

Ah, love. It's a messy and complicated thing.

And I want everyone to have similarly delicious and graceful experiences with their loved ones. But since I've recently come to find that not all people grew up with parents as artichoke-loving as my own and, thus, either don't know how to make an artichoke or *GASP* have never had one - I want to share with you how to make a proper artichoke with the boiling method.

And don't let me hear of you doing otherwise or I will spank your ass. With my foot.

How to make a proper artichoke, already.
Recipe by me. Finny.
Although I'm sure it's vaguely common knowledge.
For some people.

1 artichoke per person, trimmed/stems cut/halved
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 lemon, halved

For the sauce
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/3 c butter, melted
1/4 c mayo
1-2 T garlic salt
Fresh chopped parsley
Fresh ground pepper

To make
Procure your artichokes by whatever means necessary. If it means taking a weekend trip out of town to buy them fresh from the farm, so be it.

Start a big pot of water to boil - include in said pot: a good amount of kosher salt (I'm sure I use something in the 3+ T category), your halved lemon and your garlic cloves. Cover.

While your water is working on boiling, trim your artichokes. This is where the Art in Artichokes comes from:

1. Trim the stem to about 1/2 inch below the base of the choke. If you want to wear an outfit to match your dinner, go right ahead. I won't, um, judge you or anything.

2. Using a strong serrated knife, cut off the top of the choke at the fattest point on the thing.

3. Admire the thorns. They are massive. Handle carefully.

4. Then take your (sadly - dull) kitchen shears and snip all remaining thorns off the leaves. You don't want to stab yourself in the lip with one of these. It's, um, painful I'VE HEARD.

5. Set your choke flat side down against the cutting board and cut in half across the stem.

6. Throw all your chokes in the boiling water. Cover. Turn heat to medium, or just make sure to keep at a rolling boil.

7. Start the sauce. With your chokes boiling away, gather all your sauce ingredients and get this thing going. It only takes a minute and helps to justify having herbs in a vase on your counter rather than proper flowers like a normal person.

8. Melt your butter in a heat proof bowl like this one that Bubba's had since before our time together. You could call that time, "B.F.", but I don't think he does.

9. Using your smiley face egg whisk, scoop out a solid whiskfull of mayo because you don't want to dirty a spoon for no effin good reason. Also, using this whisk makes you feel ridiculous and that's good. Add it to the butter and whisk to your heart's content.

10. Get out one of those lemon hairnets that you have because you were feeling spendy at the cooking store and shove your half a lemon in there. Squeeze away, right into the bowl.

11. Then, because you still feel retarded for having purchased hairnets for your lemons, photograph the proof that they're a useful kitchen device and post it to the internet.

12. After whisking in your seed and pulp-free lemon juice (so worth it!), chop up some parsley with your proprietary chopping block and knife that you HAD TO HAVE even though you have 60 fucking cutting boards and *censored* knives and put it to some use. Because, really, it does a fine job chopping parsley.

13. Whisk your parsley into the sauce, with some nice fresh ground black pepper and the garlic salt.

14. Allow your smiley egg whisk to enjoy his job well done. Briefly.

15. Chill your dip next to a solitary Diet Coke and your tub Tub while you go back to check on the artichokes.

16. Here's where things get important: You must allow these fuckers to boil until you can super easily pluck off a leaf from the middle of the leaves. Don't go settling for a leaf you can drag off the bottom there, because those cook through faster and, if you do this, you'll be punished by way of tough middle leaves.

And you do not want this! I swear it to you!

Another good indicator that the chokes are done is the smell. Much like baked goods and broccoli, I've found, you know you're done because the kitchen will have a noticeable Waft to it that will smell pleasantly like artichokes. Not that bread smells like artichokes when it's ready, but you know what I mean. Don't get smart.

17. Then, because you're feeling grateful and fancy and flush in the way of artichokes, invite your neighbors over for an artichoke feast to thank them for watching the furry ones while you were off drinking wine in a jacuzzi and misbehaving on the beach with Bubba.

Like hanging out with 9 year olds, we are.

Don't forget the super chilled white wine of some variety you like, your chilled garlic butter dip from the fridge (it'll be a solid mass now, all the better for scooping with your hot artichoke leaf), some generous-sized cloth napkins and your district's newsletter spread out on the table to catch the discards.

Candlelight is optional. I suppose.

Then store the rest of your chokes on a newspaper-lined shelf in the fridge for week long artichoke gorging.

Cheers. And don't make any fucked up artichokes, now. Hear me?