Saturday, June 27, 2009


My yes, I do believe that is a PR.

With hills.

Granted, it's only 11 seconds faster than my last half, but with the hills, I'll take it.

And I'll be having my race fries now.

More later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Seriously. Really. Totally done with the sweater.

Seamless Hybrid Sweater
Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in Navy (854)
Needles: Addi Turbos 6 & 7 (12" & 24"), Yarn needle, Wool needle

In just a shade under three months, I've managed to actually really finish Bubba's sweater and WOW it doesn't look like horse shit.

I mean, WOW. WOW, people!

And, really, thank gawd.

Because if after the ordering and returning and reordering of yarn, needles and books, all the math and figuring and feeling retarded, the ripping and reworking and inventing of careful labeling systems, the knitting, reknitting and reknitting yet again of the collar, this thing didn't look awesome and fit awesome and machine wash/dry awesome - someone would have to die.

Like, I would have so much rage and disappointment and sadness and woe that I'd either have to throw myself into traffic or give up knitting altogether.

THAT is how serious this was.

But serious is so boring and scary, so let's instead enjoy the not boring, serious or scariness of TEE DAH! the finished Seamless Hybrid Sweater for Bubba.

We don't really do serious around here anyway.

When asked to model the cuffs, he struck a pose common to his early teenage years. Kidding.

This is when he noticed that Jada had been helping me knit his sweater, too. Thanks, puppy!

I had to view the collar and shoulder panels from every angle because, let's face it, there's not much else to see.

Who has two fingers and an awesome sweater they'll wear everyday in the winter time? Bubba does.

Perhaps we're all just a little relieved that it's done.

So, now, obviously, I'll be knitting myself a sweater. A top down raglan one. Likely from this same book and likely in some sort of non-wool, machine wash/dry yarn. Taupe maybe. Or cream.

Don't worry, I'll tell you alllllllllll about it. Later.

For now though, I'm off to Seattle to try to kill myself running hills. Wish me luck! Or just, at least, cross your fingers that I make it across the finish line without bringing shame upon myself in a very public and grotesque way.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

That new hobby I was talking about.

I know the exact moment when the germ of this new hobby of mine was planted in my pea brain.

I was shuttling into the city on BART about a decade ago, listening to some piece on NPR about an area in the south somewhere where they were recruiting people to become beekeepers.

"Learn how to keep bees! Help raise pollinators for local crops! Wear a hazmat looking outfit and freak out your neighbors!", they'd cried.

OK, so nothing about the hazmat suit specifically, but that did come to mind at the time, mostly because we had neighbors whose trash sort of required the wearing of a hazmat suit and I think I fantasized about the efficiency of having one on hand.

But the story was interesting and they had some colorful folks sharing their stories of interacting with bees in a keeping scenario and it was cool to hear about how local farmers would call them out to their fields with their boxes of bees to help pollinate their crops.

Neato. And, hey! I'm not even afraid of bees - so, no scary factor.

At the time though, that's about as far as my brain went with this faraway story of bees in boxes and people in hats with veils. And then it sat, this story, in the back of my mind gathering strength until a few months ago when I saw a post on the Love Apple Farm blog for a beekeeping class.

I am not even lying when I say that I signed up as soon as I read the post. In fact, I may not have even read the whole post. I think I just saw, "Class: Natural Bee-keeping" and scrolled down until I found a place to sign up. I thought I might have been the first to sign up, but I heard Cynthia say something to the effect of "Oh! You were our first sign up!" when checking in this First Signer Upper as I was wondering their gardens last weekend, so boo.

Thankfully I had these poppies to ogle, so I wasn't that sad.

She did, however, remember my name, but that could have been for any number of reasons that I assume had nothing to do with a thorough background check.


Let it never be said that I'm anything other than a self-involved child, obsessed with seeking the approval and recognition of those around me, OK.

So yeah, I took a beekeeping class. With the intention of keeping bees sometime in the near future. Of course, I come to find out in this class that starting a hive is something you do in the spring rather than in the dead heat of summer, but that's OK, I'll just have to do a shitload of research and ordering and perhaps helping of local beekeepers before I start a hive of my own and also stocking our house with EpiPens because you know that Bubba is allergic to bees.

Bless this man, he has always supported this idea of mine. To be a beekeeper. Granted, I've never said anything about doing it on any grand scale or making it my livelihood or tearing down his garage to set up rows of hives, but even from my way back days of sharing our "What if" jobs, he always said it was cool! you should do it.

He wasn't as wild about my desire to raise goats to rent out to people with grassy fire-loving fields, but that's because he hates goats more than he hates dying of anaphylactic shock, so nothing against me or my bizarre "What if" jobs, specifically, since he would have had the same reaction to me wanting to raise turkeys - another creature he hates at least as much as goats.

Maybe I should tell him I want a potbellied pig.

I have not entertained the idea of chickens, although I hear that's becoming a popular hobby as well. But I visited the chickens at Love Apple Farms - even bought some of their fabulous eggs - but I'm not having that brand of stinky in my yard and plus Jada would probably do in my flock before I got Egg 1. Plus, I am not really an egg person and Bubba would kill the Rooster the second he crowed before 6am, so meh.


Those little white dots are bees going back to the hive. Like you couldn't have figured that out.

And the class was very well done, even to the point where I got to stand on the approach path to the hives and let the bees just land all over me while our instructor moved frames around in the hives with her bare hands.

Plus, I got to roam all around Love Apple Farms, which is glorious and interesting in its own right, and which made the event even more supah perfect. I basically dorked out on a lot of levels and took pictures of a lot of vegetables without anyone thinking (out loud anyway) what a freak I was because they were doing it, too.

Ah, the joy of being around people who are dorky in the same way that you are dorky - it's liberating really. Like not having to suck it in at a wedding because you decided to wear a maxi dress instead of that tight strapless thing so YAY you can eat dinner and then not look like you swallowed a watermelon.

This photo has nothing to do with looking like a whale at a wedding, but isn't it nice just the same?

So, now you know my "I'm taking up yet another new hobby" news and I can go back to weaving in the ends of Bubba's sweater.

Because it's done.

But we'll talk about that tomorrow or something.

Monday, June 22, 2009

You can eat my childhood, too. [RECIPES]

I'll save my fun "I'm taking up yet another new hobby" news for later because it's apparently vital that I share my mom's challah recipe NOW.

Not that I blame you for wanting this recipe, I've talked it up enough and, well, it's quite good.

I will say, however, that while my great grandbubbie did use a version of this recipe, she omitted what I consider to be The Crucial Turmeric, and so I associate my personal childhood of Fridays making challah with my mom with this recipe rather than hers because, well, I ate more of this particular blend.

It's a good blend.

I will also say that while these are both excellent blends of challah, it is not a Secret Home Recipe that came over from The Old Country sewn into my great great grandma's housecoat or anything. No, like many family recipes to which I find myself irretrievably attached, this recipe came from a send-away cookbook.

Like, when back in the day there wasn't any Internets, and you would send a request away to, say, Fleischmann's for their "Everything You Need To Know About Yeast Baking" booklet and then, 6-8 weeks later, you'd get a little package in the mail which included all those things you needed to know to use their yeast forever and ever.

And, if you were lucky, this little package would also include some glorious-looking baked items photographed in the most barftastic of stagings which would involve plastic flower arrangements, blinding flashbulb blow outs and heinous oilcloth place mats.

But you've seen this kind of thing before, so I don't need to go into too much detail. The photos in the Fleischmann's cookbook are about the same, which is to say that they are AWESOMELY FUNNY and I've already asked my mom to leave me this cookbook in her will. Complete with the deteriorating rubber band that is holding the book forever open to the challah recipe.

Thankfully, and unlike the Weight Watchers cards, the food itself in this cookbook is nothing short of amazing. I begged my mom to make no fewer than three of the items and then openly swooned at things like Moravian Orange Cake, Cinnamon Swirl Bread and then something with a Russian name that I couldn't pronounce but looked exactly like heaven would if it were made of fluffy bread.

I can see why my family has a lifelong devotion to Fleischmann's yeast. Clearly, these people know exactly what the fuck they're talking about when it comes to baking things. Delicious, fluffy, Imusthaveitnow kind of things.

Speaking of which, here's my mom's challah recipe, which originally came from Fleischmann's "Everything You Need to Know about Yeast Baking" booklet and to which I made one small change.

I dare you to not love this.
Mom's Challah
From Fleischmann's "Everything You Need to Know About Yeast Baking"
My changes in BOLD

My mom's changes in italics

Makes 2 loaves

4 1/2 - 5 1/2 cups white flour
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1 package of yeast (I think you know what kind they want you to use, but I won't tell.)
1/3 cup softened unsalted butter
1 t ground turmeric (or saffron, if you have it)
1 cup very warm tap water
4 eggs at room temp
1 t cold water
1/4 t poppy seeds (use sesame seeds and die)

To make
In a your mixer or a large bowl thoroughly mix 1 1/4 cups flour, sugar, salt and undissolved active dry yeast. Add your butter.

Dissolve the turmeric in very warm tap water. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Add 3 of your eggs, 1 egg white (save the yolk for use later on) and 1/2 cup of flour. Beat at high speed until smooth and scrape if you need to.

Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl (around 2 3/4 cups). I find that using your dough hook is good here, if you've got one.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding a little flour as you go if it starts to get sticky. Do this for about 10 minutes. All the while marveling at the glorious yellow hue.


Place this HOT looking dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise in a warm place (like inside your oven without turning it on) for an hour or so.

Punch dough down, turn it out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Divide each of those halves into three pieces and roll each of those (six pieces now) into snakes. If you call them ropes, that's fine, but know that it's not as fun as calling them snakes and that is what you need to make it Authentic Just Like Finny's Childhood.

So you know.

Once you have all your snakes, pinch three together at the top and braid them together. Sealing again at the bottom by pinching the dough.

Do this for the other three snakes, too, and then place the loaves onto a lightly sprayed baking sheet.

Beat the leftie-over yolk with the cold water and brush onto the tops of the loaves before sprinkling liberally with poppy seeds. Don't cheap out on the poppy seeds because you know it'll keep you from having the authentic experience you desire.

Let this rise in the oven again for another hour or until it doubles in size.

Bake the loaves side by side like little best friends at 375 for about 20-25 minutes or until they're a delicious looking shiny brown on top and make a hollow sound when you GENTLY DAMN IT knock on them.

Let cool on wire racks and then proceed to eat an entire loaf in 3 days, which maybe includes building a Sin Sandwich from two slices of challah, some very thinly sliced prosciutto (damn you delicious treyf) and asiago cheese which becomes severely naughty when paired with the Extra Naughty salt-cured ham.

Also, because I was mean and teased you with a story about how I baked challah and then didn't give you the recipe, I'm throwing in a Squash Killer recipe that, incidentally, goes ruuuully well with a nice big hump of challah. And is an alternative for those of you who aren't the worst Jews in the Whole Wide World like yours truly, and perhaps don't want to offend everyone with your Kosher-ignoring ways.

You may not be struck down at your dining room table for eating this. *MAY*, I said.
Carrot Zucchini Bisque
From Lean and Delicious Cookbook (out of print)
Adapted by the Live Earth Farm recipe database
My changes in BOLD

1 c water
6 large carrots - peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups of whole milk
2 T flour
1 t fresh ground pepper
1/4 t Vietnamese cinnamon
3 cubes of chicken bouillon
2 T extra virgins

To make
Add carrots and water to medium sized saucepan, cover and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and cook for another five minutes.

Remove pan from heat and drain liquid.

Puree vegetables in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer back to your pot and add milk. Place over medium heat, uncovered, and stir constantly with a wire whisk, slowly incorporating the flour. Then add the black pepper, cinnamon and olive oil. Add bouillon and stir until dissolved. Heat and stir for about five more minutes and serve, garnished with extra virgins, some parsley, freshly roasted green beans from your garden and a big hump of challah, if you have it lying around.

I recommend eating this on your new patio while looking at the beans on the tepee which you'll eat in just a few days' time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Craft: along June - What I should have been doing when it was not hot

Dear Donk,

The weather this month has me all backward and my brain is having a really hard time reconciling what it wants to be doing with what it should be doing.

See, it was unseasonably cool the first few weeks of June, and so you'd think this would have been the perfect time for doing things like finishing long overdue sweaters and baking things like this month's Craft: along project - carrot cake cookies.

But no.

I dillied. I dallied. I spent full days fucking around in the yard (which, granted, is a great thing to do when it's not blazing hot, but still). I rode my bike around town to the library and such. I went to lunch with friends. The dog and I went to the beach.

You know - I did things that you do when it's HOT out, not when it's cool out.

What I should have been doing was finishing this sweater while I could still stand being within arm's reach of wool and baking things in my oven while I could still stand to be in my house with the oven on.

But I think this is where my Bizarro World Psyche steps in and makes my life silly.

It says stupid shit like, "Oh, it may be nice and breezy cool outside, but you want to go sit in the air conditioned library and dork out on beekeeping books."

And when you try to drag your knitting outside to work on it, you realize that you've just run out of yarn and DAMMITALLTOHELL will have to go to the Innernets to order it because SADNESS all your LYSs are out of business due to the suckass economy.


It begins to feel like my brain has a master plan for me and, when I try to defy it, it lays the smack down on me so hard that I sit back in my chair and go, "Fine, stupid brain, I give up. Let's go sit in the air conditioning even though it's only 68 degrees. FINE."

The best part is that when it warms up again, like say TODAY, I get all revved up to bake a million things and work in the yard and ride my bike to Pilates and and a hundred things that you should avoid when it's hot out...

But thankfully, I've come to terms with this backward way of my brain's, so I just let it happen. And then I sweat a lot and bake some things I've been thinking about for a long time.

The first thing being the carrot cake cookies from this month's Craft: along.

Usually I have some sort of anecdote that goes along with my crafting type projects, but this was pretty cut and dry. Follow the recipe and enjoy. I did however learn two things which I will share with you now.

  1. I saved myself some aggravation and used canned cream cheese frosting and found it to be excellent and way easier to deal with than making cream cheese frosting from scratch. And for those of you who are all super excited to make your own frosting, don't be deterred, I'm known for this kind of behavior.

  2. I learned how to use the shredder/chopper blade for my food processor which is excellent given that I intend to make pickle chips using this contraption and whoopsy had not ever used this attachment so had relegated it to the Mystery Tool pile in the back of my cabinet. Thanks to my sister, who reminded me that this thing came with a special slicing blade, I can now shred carrots in THE BLINK OF A GODDAMN EYE and, I imagine, slice cucumbers into chips with similar swiftness.

    The other thing about this attachment is the warning label. Scared the shit out of me. RAZOR SHARP! DO NOT TOUCH!

    This took 3 seconds. Wow. I'M DRUNK WITH POWER! Nope, wait, that's gin. Moving on...

    Unfortunately, with this new-found skill came the realization that I will need to come up with something drastic in the recipe department if I want to ever get to the bottom of our carrot stash. This recipe used only 3/4 cups (or the big 1 heaping cup I shred without measuring FUN!) of carrots which came out to about 3 good sized carrots.

    That only left, like 50 or so in the bag.

    Oh to be able to see to the bottom of this bag...

So, the other thing I've been wanting to bake for a really long time but waited until it was 80+ degrees out to start was challah. My mom's challah.

For Hanukkah, the blessed woman gave me a loaf of her homemade bread AND AND AND her recipe, all printed out nicely so it'd fit into my recipe binder.

Do you love this woman yet? I know I do.

Anyway, today the stars (and heat - yay.) finally aligned so that I had all the ingredients under one roof and the time and Brain Go-Ahead to make it.

And then I realized why my mom's challah is the best challah in all the land and also why it's that pleasing shade of yellow unduplicated in the rest of Challahdom.

Also, don't let me catch you using something other than poppy seeds on your challah. I will hit you.

And it's not what I thought.

If you'll recall, I went on a brief rant about how most challah you'll find out there is a big fat fraud because it's not yellow enough. My theory was that it didn't have enough eggs in it so someone back in the Challah Department was cheaping out when they were putting the eggs into the big corporate Kitchenaid and now we were all suffering the consequences of substandard white and bland challah.

Notice this has a nice yellow hue. Even from the outside.

No. I will not have it. I will only accept the genuine article and that is my mom's challah in all its yellow eggy glory!

It's almost like it's winking at you.

Except that the lovely desirable shade of yellow in my mom's challah comes not from eggs (even though there are plenty of eggs in there! This Kitchenaid doesn't cheap out!), but instead from turmeric.


So, you know, sorry people whom I previously offended with my accusations of egg-cheapness. It's not the eggs you're missing, it's the turmeric. I still won't eat your bread and call it challah, but I'll stop calling you really mean names in public. Also, start adding turmeric dissolved in 1 cup of warm water to your challah dough as its mixing - makes all the difference.

So, now I have carrot cake cookies and proper challah and my house is its own oven, so feel free to swing by and put your cookies out to bake on my living room floor.

Excuse me while I go turn on a fan or something.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Adopt a Crop update: Heat's coming so YIKES

It's supposed to start warming up this week, which around here means it'll creep into the 80s for the first time since, OH APRIL, which makes no sense since it shouldn't be anything other than raining and cool in April because heat is for, you know JUNE, but whatever.

I guess I don't get to vote when it comes to the seasonal temps around here. And, let's be honest, I did really appreciate not having to to train in extreme heat and almost die, so there's that.

The plants, however, don't really get going until the daily temps jump into the 80s and 90s, and that scares me because they kinda already look like they've gotten going. And then what happens when it turns 80 degrees? They haven't left themselves a lot of room to "get going" when they're already at the top of their tepees and cages and have begun spilling over the sides of their beds onto the ground and such.

You think they'd leave themselves a little room to move, but no, they decided to take advantage of the cool weather, too. Not that I can blame them. It's hard to work in the heat. Perhaps they'll want an ice tea with a curly straw once it gets too warm?

Hard to say.

And have I told you that I'm suspicious of my tomato plants? I am. I'm suspicious that they're not what their tag purported them to be which was, specifically, Better Boys. But I've never seen Better Boys that look like this:

Which is to say, someone anus-like.

I also forgot to say anything really about the Surprise Cilantro! that I decided on a whim to grow for no reason other than Bubba looked sad when I told him I hadn't planted any because it bolts too fucking fast and what is the use?

Well, Surprise! I planted it! And it's bolting already! Yay!

Seriously. It bolted in five whole minutes. Jerk.

Oh, and speaking of tomatoes (just skip back two paragraphs, that's right) the two loser tomato plants that were all too good to grow or whathaveyou have decided to get into the game and do some work. I sort of suspect that these ones actually ARE Better Boys because they don't have blossoms the size of a softball and haven't begun to produce wrinkly fruits. Thankfully, however, they are doing something and have begun to put on weight, which is great when you're a tomato plant.

We're bulking up.

And since I added a new, healthier looking, Better Boy to this bed (he's already overgrown the little super loser that's now hiding in his shadow), I'm feeling better about the pseudo-success of this bed and am glad I won't have to label it a complete Crop Failure.

The basil, though, Epic Fail. Look how yellow and spindly. Suck.

Thankfully the big tomato bed has basil that won't quit, and so after harvesting nearly a pound of it (true story, check the tracker), I still have plenty to harvest for salads and pizza and whatever the hell suits me. Good times.

It's hiding there under the tomato and next to the Nasturtium That Will Not Quit.

And then there's the beans. Oh the beans. I just talked at length about the beans, so I won't bore you too much with more Bean Talk except to show you an example of said leaning.

Do you see how this could become an issue?

My mom was here last night for dinner, before which I put her to work harvesting beans from the heavy side of the tepee so that we didn't risk it toppling over with heavy fat beans in the coming heat. I'm still not writing off the potential need for additional reinforcement, but we're at least at a wait and see status for now.

What I'm also waiting to see is how tall this corn really is on 4th of July, because knee-high is long gone.

It's sort of hard to properly capture just how tall this shit is now, but I think you can clearly see that my knee is hitting it below its midway point, so by 4th of July it could very well be shoulder height. Which it actually might be already depending on where I stand (inside the box or out). Maybe it WILL be high as an elephant's eye by 4th of July?

How high is an elephant's eye, exactly?

Oh, and I assume SOMEONE must be interested in the status of the adopted cucumbers so let me just tell you that the status is somewhere in the range of Large and Sprawling.

Given the World Dominating Nasturtium obscuring the true sprawling nature of the cucumber in these photos, it's a little hard to see exactly how sprawl-tastic the cucumbers have become, but I will say that in future years, I will definitely cage all my cucumber plants because, whoa.

Mostly this is cucumbers in here.

Even the one IN a cage is hard to contain, but the one without a cage is going EVERY. FUCKING. WHERE.

Like, out of the beds, under the beans, UP the beans, out the other side of the bed, into my living's Yikes time in the cuke bed.

That on the ground there? That's cucumbers looking for something to overtake.

The best part is that there is nary an evil and disgusting squash beetle (knock on wood) to be found, so I'm not having to perch out near the beds with the needle-nosed pliers just yet. Which is nice since I haven't been able to conjure up any new explanations for that particular brand of Crazy Garden Lady behavior for the benefit of my neighbors.

And because it wouldn't be a summer garden in my yard without one, we have a foreign crop invading from across neighborly lines.

Hi. We surrender. Please accept us in your home.

I really like these foreign neighborly plants because I don't have to water them or really do anything other than eat their final fruits since my neighbors water them on their side of the fence and then, because they're some of the nicest people alive, they also come over to our yard and carefully protect the plants with some remnant caging to keep certain dogs from trampling them whilst they chase shitstarting squirrels.

Or something like that.

And, even nicer, they also send over some nasturtium from their yard (which I'm pretty sure originally grew over from my yard - sorry!) to keep the foreign plant company as it waves its tiny vegetable flag of surrender.

It all adds some nice atmosphere to my summer garden sitting spot so that I don't get lonely or scared behind the ever-expanding corn and such.

Soon this will be mostly shaded and I'll be able to hide back here from I don't know what.

And so I'm able to leave you on a firm This Girl is Crazy note, I reseeded the lettuce bed beneath the beans because I guess I forgot how scary the lettuce was a few weeks ago, so YAY we'll have a nice summer mesclun soon according to these little sprouts.

I'll soon wonder why I did this.

And, yeah, no wool update yet. But it's getting too hot to care.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where is Finny?

Hot dog, garlic fries and Coors Light for lunch - name the spot.

This is how sabbatical is done, y'all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Instead of wool, you get beans

I had intended to be finished with Bubba's sweater by now and be all ready to show it off you to with its seamless seams and fancy ass hems and all, except that I foiled my own plans again and managed to run out of yarn halfway through the hem of the sweater.

Now the thing is all rolling hems and collar and cuffs I can't be showing that to y'all because, ew.

To me, nothing says Amateur Hour like rolled hems, cuffs and collar. Even though I've made items for myself with such hems, cuffs and collars - that's OK. That's what I was going for. The whole Matrix look and all.

But with Bubba's sweater, I'm not so much going for the look of "Civilization has evaporated and this is all they had left on the Nebuchadnezzar" as I am the look of "Hey I might have bought this sweater in a store that sells clothes to people."

This is really one time that I want a garment to be worn in public and not receive the, "Hey did your wife make that?" comment.

SO - until such a time comes, when I can present this sweater to you with appropriate cuffs, collar and hem - you get beans.

Which, even in Bubba's opinion, is OK. Because what are we going to do with wool sweaters in June, anyway? Beans are way more useful.

See, our tepee is quite active. It's also beginning to list slightly in one direction where the tippy top beans have gotten more dense on one side than the other, so I may begin panicking or propping the tepee up soon, depending on how dramatic the list becomes.

Right now, the list is happening more on a Big Ben level than a Tower of Pisa level, but with sun in the forecast, things could change pretty quickly. Especially if all the beans on the heavy side all grow at once in the sunny days to come.


It's good for the Garden Tracker, though, because green beans aren't cheap when you get them organic and local and all, so big yields mean we hit zero barrier on the budget sooner. And now I'll stop using bizarre semi-Sci-Fi references so we all can know what I'm talking about.

Basically, it also means we get to eat beans sooner. And more often. And just the way we like them. Which is to say, roasted simply with extra virgins and some sea salt.

And here we have the #1 batch of roasted green beans alongside homemade falafel.

I've heard a rumor that my wool is being shipped to me today, so perhaps I will be able to show you something un-rolly in a few weeks' time. If not, I'm sure there will be more beans.

And maybe cucumbers? I TEASE!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Running update: Tapering and making logistical plans as though I'm invading a foreign country

Hello, Rock 'N Roll Seattle, could you please add a few more obstacles to the race start so that I can do more work BEFORE I RUN 13.1 MILES?

Really, people, this race now embraces every reason why I've previously shunned all non-local races.

The logistics for getting my body from my sister's house in Seattle to the race start in Tukwila on race day will take no less than the following:
  • Getting up in the fours
  • Walking in my running clothes in the dark of night through city streets
  • Taking a city bus
  • Taking a shuttle
  • Navigating neighborhoods in which I have never been
  • Making use of the Gear Bag Drop Zone so I don't have to carry/wear my pre-run hoodie
And that's all AFTER I fly across two states just to get to the right town.

People, I put less effort into planning my wedding day than I'll have to put into getting myself to the starting line of this race. And to compare logistics to my previous half-marathons, logistics for getting my body to the race start in San Jose has included no less than the following:
  • Get up in the sevens for an 8am race start
  • Park 1/4 mile from my corral
  • Leave all my non-essentials with Bubba and/or the dog (she carries her backpack to races)
  • See you in a few hours!
So, just so you know, I'm not going to spend my Taper stressing out about OH MY GOD HOW WILL I RUN ALL THOSE HILLS because I'll be too stressed trying to figure out OH MY GOD HOW WILL I GET TO THE RACE.

And that, to me, seems retarded.

I kinda wonder if by the time I actually get to the race and am standing in my corral whether I'll even have the mental stability to put one foot in front of the other to run 13.1 miles back to Seattle.

It's possible that I won't. It's possible that I will have to call my sister and beg her to drive to Tukwila to pick up my bewildered ass. It's possible that I will cry or scream in the face of strangers. It's also possible that my allergies are making me dramatic and the thought of running 13.1 miles anywhere right now sounds positively impossible.

I guess I'm just not trying to think about the honest answer to the question that ran through my head during my final long training run and that was, "What sense does it make to fly, bus, shuttle and walk across two states just so that you can run 13.1 miles?"

Because running is, like SO fun and everything that, by all means, we should create intricate travel plans just so we can go take part in this Super Fun activity in another town. Uh huh.

Right now, I'm settling for the answer, "Friend and family visits also happen in Seattle, so it's not like you're just going to run. Because that would be silly."

And I'm right, that would be silly. If by "silly" I mean "insane". Which I do.

So, if you're running this race and, say, live in Seattle and have some nuggets of inspiration or suggestions about how I might torture myself less just getting to the fucking race start, please, say something.

Otherwise, you can all assume I'm working through my Taper while calculating bus routes and waking hours with a look of sincere concern on my face.

Hey, at least I'm not worrying about the hills now. As much.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Delicious Runt [RECIPE]

The timing was perfect...

I had two week's worth of strawberries from the farm share stowed away in the fridge and freezer.

I had managed to unearth the canner from beneath a year's worth of dust and filth muck (name that movie) in the garage intact and it magically held all of my canning tools.

I'm still stewing in my sinful sabbatical, so had some free time.

Everything was perfectly ready for me to make and can some strawberry jam, but, somehow it didn't feel quite right.

OH MAYBE because it wasn't 100 degrees in my kitchen when I started the canner at 9am?

Yeah, I'll just put this out there - canning in June is WAY more fun than canning in, say, September, when our kitchen hits a rolling boil before the double digit hours and the activity of canning tomatoes, pickles, blackberries or otherwise become an exercise in constant hydration and endurance.

I believe I've told you about the Legend of Boob Sweat and how this is an inevitable consequence of canning in our No A/C And Barely a Fan household.

Not that the heat stops me. OH NO. Although I will admit that it has permanently impaired my reasoning skills as I explained (with somewhat slurred speech - thanks Cocktail Hour!) to Bubba and my neighbors last night that I "don't so much mind the heat when I'm canning. It's part of the experience."

What am I, some kind of asshole?

Probably, but I'm definitely loosening my screws as the years tick by. "Don't mind the heat"?? Why'd I leave Phoenix, then? Because I hate palm trees?

Sometimes I'm retarded.


The point is that today is a breezy 70-something degrees and when I started the canner at 9am, it was overcast outside and I was wearing a sweatshirt.

Sure, it felt wrong in some ways, but SO right in others. Like when I smelled those strawberries gloop-glopping in the pot, for instance. That's a smell I have a hard time resisting. It's suh nice. And while I may always associate canning with the boob-sweaty heat of summer, it's a nice change of pace to appreciate the steam on my face rather than think suicidal thoughts when it rises to my chin.

Like, "Yay! Free facial!" rather than, "I'm going to use this jar lifter to strangle myself."

And, true to form, my Ball Blue Blah Bley canning book had a great little strawberry jam recipe waiting to walk me through my virgin attempt at strawberry jam.

If only all first attempts were so sweet and delightful. Draw whatever conclusions you like from that statement.

I'm sweet and delightful. But not 6 cups of sugar sweet because, Ew.
Strawberry Jam
Ball Blue Book of Preserving
My changes in


2 1/2 - 3 lbs fresh strawberries, topped and hulled
2 cups of sugar (they call for 6 (SIX!!) cups, which I find to be wayyyy too much. You make the call.)

To make
*Situate all your shit so that it's lined up all anal-retentively on your counter.

Prepare jars and lids for canning. (ie. Boil them for about 10 minutes and let them dry)

Begin water boiling in your canner.

The thawed strawberries had a delicious juiciness. Just so you know.

In a big saucepan crush your strawberries with your potato masher until they're mostly just juice and pulp.

Can you see the juiciness? There wasn't even any sugar involved yet here. Glorious.

Add in the sugar and stir it in with the strawberries.

Bring to a quick boil, stirring constantly to keep it from sticking to the sides.

I like any recipe that calls for constant stirring. It keeps me from eating out of the pan.

Once the mixture has thickened, spoon into warm clean jars and attach two-piece lids (lids + rings).

Situate your canning rack so that it's hanging from the top of your canner and arrange your jars around the perimeter. Using hot pads on your hands (which I probably don't need to tell YOU, but believe me, I have to tell ME every time I do this) grab the rack handles and lower your rack into the boiling water.

I just recently learned to appreciate the ability of the rack to hang this way. It's purty convenient.

Process for 15 minutes and then remove the jars to a towel to seal.


Listen eagerly for the whimsical POPping of each jar's lid. Like music to my loser ears.


Then store these jars of beauty and wonder where you will appreciate them most. I put them in the back of the cupboard which seems like a weird place to put them in order to appreciate them, but when the holidays roll around and I need to put my gifts together, I appreciate knowing that my cupboard is stocked with many flavors of gift givingness. But let's not talk about the (barf) holidays because BARF.

And if you're wondering why I'd go to all this trouble to make deliciousness and then not eat any myself, allow me to introduce you to The Runt.

See, no matter how closely I follow a canning recipe (and let's face it, I barely follow any recipe that closely), I never end up with exactly the number of jars of whatever that they list on the recipe itself. For instance, this strawberry jam recipe listed 4 pints, or in my case, 8 half pints. Except that I used far less sugar and ended up with 6.5 half pints.

And that always ALWAYS happens. I never end up with a round number of jars.

Which is fine, because then it means we can eat The Runt.

The Runt doesn't get processed, it just goes into the fridge so that we can eat it at our leisure over the next week or five minutes.

In the case of blackberry jam, it doesn't usually even make it to the fridge. Whoops.

So, don't go thinking I do this canning of jam thing just for the good and enjoyment of my friends and family because my selfishness is served by The Runt.

Also, this way, I can know whether the thing I'm giving away tastes like a horse's ass or not.

I'm such a giver.

The Delicious Runt

And, in case any of you were worried about the final tally of POPped lids - we're all set. 6 perfectly sealed jars of strawberry jam and one nearly empty Runt.

*Optional step