Sunday, March 27, 2016

Quinoa is Up

This Easter day in Ohio we were lucky enough to have beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the upper 70's. Which is pretty outstanding considering snow is not unheard of on Easter, in this neck of the woods.
 We had an average, pretty much okay Easter breakfast. A formality really. Not one of my better days at the stove top. My true mission for the day was to take a cake to my Mom. I baked her a cake which has been her all time favorite Breakfast Bundt Cake since I was a child. We rolled out the door around noon.
Before heading out I strolled back to the garden and found the quinoa had made an appearance just in time for Easter. It made my day actually.

The tiny little red plants have sprung from the tiny little seeds. I hope with my fingers crossed that the plants thrive. As suspected the row is somewhat chaotic. Certainly the thunderstorm on the evening I planted the seeds must have washed them out of their place somewhat. I don't care. Quinoa is growing in my yard. Isn't this fantastic? Further research is needed on the tolerance of cold though. I fear with this ever changing Ohio weather that these tiny little plants could be in for the ride of their life.

Nothing says Happy Easter quite like a daffodil. They make me smile. When I think of the many dynamics that I have had with the human beings in my life, one thing remains honest and true. Plant life.

 I think I've drawn this conclusion before. The real joy of gardening is harvesting or reaping what we have sown. Faith systems often draw a parallel between our human relationships and their outcomes in terms of reaping what we sow, as in if we foster and put forth effort into those relationships then we will surely reap a bountiful harvest. I'm here to tell you people this is not always true. Sometimes we can pour our hearts and souls into those we love and the harvest is meager and disappointing. This Easter my day was filled with the ones I love. My husband, my children, my mother. Surrounded by goodness and love. This has not always been the case.

 In those times, plant life has been the rewards for my nurturing.

I'm thankful the quinoa showed up today. It's a constant reminder of how healthy and rewarding gardening can be in our lives. Right in my yard. There's food growing. Hand sown. Hand grown. It's a pleasing sense of accomplishment.

Happy Easter if you celebrate. Happy March 27th if you don't.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Quinoa

My quinoa seeds arrived from Baker Heirloom Seeds, along with a few other interesting items. The package describes the crop as both edible and ornamental. I'm growing quinoa for the edible side of things. The garden will surely take on a new appearance with what promises to be a beautiful plant as it grows. Double benefit.

 We had a pretty steady rainfall after I planted the tiny seeds. I'm hoping it wasn't enough to wash the seeds away. If the plants come up in a somewhat crooked row then I'm blaming the rain.



The seeds are small. Not as small as carrot seeds, still I planted
slowly to ensure that the seeds stayed in a somewhat tidy row.



On a personal note, one thing which gives this crop a whimsical playful notion is learning that quinoa is related to beets. I'm a huge fan of the television show The Office. Fans of the show know all too well about the antics of Dwight K. Schrute. The proud owner of Schrute's Beet Farm. Of course this fantastic show is no longer in production but, I watch it on Netflix. I never grow tired of the cast of characters. One liners from the show stick with me still to this day. So yeah, there's that tid bit of information. Fact!






The seeds from Bakers are non GMO which makes them near and dear to my heart. I'm not an expert on the subject. I just like plain, ordinary and simple things.

Growing quinoa is completely new to me. I hope you will share the adventure with me and read along as I post updates through out the summer. I equally hope if you are an expert on growing this crop that you will feel free to leave me a comment below and share helpful hints and tips. It's not my hope to grow enough quinoa to stock my pantry for the winter. If the crop is plentiful enough to prepare one nice dish for dinner then I will claim victory and call this new adventure a success.




Sunday, February 28, 2016

Heirloom Seeds

I'm excited and watching the mailbox. Seeds are on the way to my door from a pretty cool seed company. The Baker Creek Heirloom Rare Seed Company has fascinating choices. Sadly, quite a few items have already sold out. I would have dearly loved to have planted the black tomatoes. Maybe next time around. I did however manage to snag the chickpeas, lentils and cumin seed.

Every seed we've ordered is new to our garden. I have never grown any of these items before. It's sure to be an adventure.

The garden has become as mundane as the kitchen. This past year we neglected our garden in a tragic way. We still harvested a decent amount of food but, it wasn't pretty. Weeds over took and I dare say I felt embarrassed every time I stood over the tiny plot and looked at the overgrown mess. Oh well ,this year we will do better. Boredom with the same old crops. Aside from onions and of course potatoes, this years garden will be as never before.

Just as I am venturing into cooking Indian cuisine, we are also planting companion foods in our garden. I hope I can find a good rocky soil around my house for the lentils to thrive.

I'm tapping my foot and patiently waiting for the package of seeds and spring to arrive!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

All on a Saturday Night

A solid estimate of over 20,000 meals have been prepared in my kitchen during my adult lifetime. Yes, I did the math. This number accounts for vacations, take out nights, and the rare occasion of someone else cooking. All in all though, it's fair to say I'm on the search for something, anything new, and exciting.
PISTACHIO CARDAMOM CUPCAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE
I'm dabbling in Indian cuisine. As a result my spice cupboard has taken on a new light. Cardamom is an exciting flavor which has been under utilized for years in my cooking repertoire. Indian cooking has brought cardamom front and center in the old cupboard.
 Last night I experienced a cross over from savory to sweet as I found myself grinding pistachio nuts with plain all purpose flour to create a beautiful pistachio flour. Mixed with freshly ground green cardamom pods, lemon zest, and the usual suspects of cupcake making, a flavor explosion took place. All on this Saturday night.
Rewarding. Now I'm thinking in terms of smaller numbers. Number 1. A homemade cupcake baked with a new exciting flavor.
A brilliant combination of flavors.

How pretentious of people to take a recipe, alter it in some insignificant way, then claim it as their own. My usual approach is to prepare the recipe as written and give the original version a fair shake. Only then will I tweak the basic idea to my own liking afterwards. In this case however, I simply did not want to use my old bottle of ground cardamom and instead used freshly ground green cardamom pods. Unsure, though fairly certain, my guess was the freshly ground pods would be more pungent than a bottled version so I erred on the side of conservative judgement and decreased the cardamom to one teaspoon rather than two. Of course, if you are making this recipe, use your own judgement. Aside from probably over filling my teaspoon slightly when adding the vanilla, I prepared this recipe exactly as written on King Arthur Flour's website. Credit goes where credit is due. Thank you King Arthur Flour for helping me over the slump of 20,000 and leading me into the single digits of new and exciting. All on a Saturday Night.

"Rain dogs howl for the century,
A million dollars a steak."     Gavin Rossdale




Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tahini Paste

Tahini Paste

1 package (16 oz) brown sesame seeds
3/4 cup of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the entire bag of seeds on a dry cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring often to make sure they don't burn. Cool the seeds for at least 20 minutes. Once again this is where a food processor would come in handy. Blend up those toasted seeds and slowly drizzle in the olive oil creating a wonderful nutty butter. Makes about 2 cups. Refrigerate and this will keep for about a week.

Super easy to make. I've found that my homemade hummus is all the more rewarding with the addition of homemade tahini. Give this a try!

Just in case you missed it, here's where you can check out my adventures of growing sesame seeds in my backyard. This little crop was one of the most rewarding things I've ever planted.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Geekmosphere

What's new in the world of 3D printing? Some amazing stuff. If we consider just the one aspect of regenerative medicine, this alone falls into the category of amazing. Personally I'm astounded by the notion of taking cells from an injured person and using those cells to grow new cell material which can then be manipulated by a 3D printer into becoming a permanent solution to heal their wounds. It's not science fiction. Growing organ and tissue replacements in the laboratory in conjunction with machine made human parts has a chance of becoming a reality for those in need. Of course, as with everything in our world, obtaining funding for the research is a challenge.

Mister and I had a neat glimpse into this world on a much smaller scale this past weekend. In Canton, Ohio at The Cultural Center of the Arts we attended a unique show of sorts. Lauded as a show for the geeks, freaks and weirdos of the universe, Oddmall came to Canton and sat up camp. Yes, we spent our Valentine's weekend among the finest group of reasonably pleasant, down right nice nerdy folks whom all gathered to sell their wares of peculiar oddities. Ohio is wonderful at embracing their farmers, Amish, and those of us who walk to the sound of our own inner dialogue.

One nice fellow had his 3D printer on display to which he was selling the products created by the machine. Not human tissue. Although that would have fascinated me.

Department 100 patiently explained the technology over and over again to the curious onlookers as they watched the machine in action. His enthusiasm was almost contagious. I've been aware of 3D printing and would honestly tell you that aside from knowing it existed, I never gave it much thought. New things make me curious. In a Baby Huey sort of way sometimes.You can read more about Department 100 here and take a look at the products available for purchase online.

If you've read much of this blog, then you know, I never claim to be anything more than just an average human being. I'm not about to attempt to educate you on this fascinating subject. That's up to you to further expose yourself to the nuts and bolts of how it all works. The point of sharing this information with you is simply to peek your curiosity on the subject.

Ohioans are proud people. I purchased a cool OHIO 3D printed object from Department 100 to place in Mister's office. It's a nifty little chachki which serves as a reminder for me of the exciting future in medicine and how healing is addressed.

Cancer is big business and no one seems to be able to find a cure despite a kazillion dollars being donated each year to research. Is it really possible the hope lies within 3D printing of new human parts? What cancer destroys, a machine regenerates. This sounds reasonable.

Department 100 inadvertently and without knowledge made me think of greater and bigger things. Although the planters, cookie cutters, and key fobs were most excellent.What really excites this Ohioan is the progress that will be made in our human evolution with this type of technology.


I hope I've given you things to consider. Consider embracing your inner geek and learn more about the fascinating world of science. Or science fiction. Or the arts. Or buying stuff from people and not buying junk from big commercial fat cat retailers.



Saturday, December 5, 2015

Glow Cloud

Sorry guys for being like the glow cloud descending on Night Vale just randomly dropping animals from the sky. My post  from yesterday must have been an opening of the flood gates. Shit gets to me sometimes. Put on a happy face and scroll through some offerings of cheerful visions will ya?

Giant Dahlias. Not quite Dinner plate size but darn close.


Strawberry Rhubarb Bars.... Make These
CRUST
 2 cups of flour
2/3 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup of butter


Filling
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups of strawberries
2 cups of rhubarb
2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Crumb Topping  
 1 cup of flour
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup butter`
2 tablespoons of whipping cream, not whipped
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
 Prepare the topping first and set aside. Just stir together the sugar and flour and work the butter in until you have a nice crumbly mixture.

Make the crust by stirring together the flour and sugar and cut in the butter to make a coarse crumb. I used my hands and then press the dough into your 9x13 baking dish. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and during that time prepare your filling.

Give the four eggs a gentle stirring to break up the yolks and then mix in the eggs, sugar, flour and salt. This should not be lumpy. If your crust is ready to come out of the oven then gently fold in the fruit. Don't add the fruit and have the filling sitting around for 10 minutes waiting for the oven timer to ding and tell you the crust is ready. Stir the fruit in right as the crust is ready. Pour the filling over the hot partially baked crust.
 Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling and return the pan to the oven to bake for an additional 50- 55 minutes or until the edges are beginning to get color and the filling is set and not jiggly.
Cool completely.

I've yet to try this with other fruits but I think peaches, pineapples, plums, all would work really well. My rhubarb and strawberries had been frozen previously and this didn't seem to make a difference.

I found this recipe on the Mennonite Girls Can Cook website and just tweaked it by using strawberries instead of all rhubarb. Basically I used the fruits that I had on hand.

I shared a plate full of these with the hard working accountants in the tax office next door and they seemed to really enjoy them. Put the coffee on because these are rich and sweet and need a good warm swill of something to turn the volume up to 11. 

Now back to a few photos.

A few weeks ago I planted these in wire baskets outside and in one vintage planter indoors. They are such tiny little bulbs. I hope they survive the Ohio winter and reward me with something brilliant blooms in spring 2016. Both varieties are new to me. Kinda interesting looking though, don't ya think?

Another type of Dahlia I grew this year. Smaller bloom but sensational color.



  And look there will you? Glass on glass mosaics are time consuming. The one in the above photo required many hours of standing at the glass grinder to smooth out each edge until the pieces fit together beautifully. Time well spent. Such a great use for odds and ends of my glass. The goal is to crank out about 10 of these in January and make some loot. Alas, January is cold and dreary and the glass is silent and cheery.
Snickerdoodles. No way to get past the joy of a Snickerdoodle.
Butterfly and
Me. Of course, I've gone and cut off my hair. Although I'm feeling a little Claire Underwood in my veins lately and could go considerably shorter before it's all said and done.

So. see there. you have it. I haven't gone off the deep end and waxed poetic into some frenzy of self loathing and aggressive manner. A girl needs to cry and whine every now and then.



Friday, December 4, 2015

Robo Wall

With nothing but the sound of the little white dog snoring and the heater purring along as if billowing out warm conversation, I sit stumped. In the dark. This odd blue glow in the room from the laptop only adds to the overly stillness of the world at this moment.

For months I've wandered away from the vast land of the internet and submerged myself in the video gaming world to ease my way into slumber. Not writing nor reading. Not surfing nor shopping. Just not internet-ting.

From time to time there has been this attempt to force my writing voice to the forefront and hammer out some meaningless dribble just to entertain any possible person passing by. Just as quickly I shake it off and move along. Have I missed the bloggers and the blogging. Somewhat.

With my world a buzz with children getting married, moving, moving far far away, changes in careers, and the ever challenging heartache of a parent with Alzheimer's, my robotic self sealing person has chosen to remain silent.

Crisis situations or at a minimum, pitiful circumstances, breeds mouths spewing sheets of nonsense on a regular basis. You might know a blow hole or two in your own life. Should I ever be unfortunate enough to decline in my mental capacity. Well, I'd just like to take a few people out at the knees. Although the clacking of my keyboard has not been silent for eighteen months. There has been an icy hush flowing through my veins as I sit back and watch the spewing mouths orchestrate elaborate schemes which ultimately lead in a circle back to the beginning.

 Alzheimer's is rapidly plucking away at the mind of a person who once loved me and cared for me. That's pitiful. Nonsense takes shape and has names. Those names are of people who would for their own twisted drama isolate away the tiny bit of what remains of someones mind as the disease continues to ravage. I sat and waited.

Have you ever noticed the mouth of a liar? It moves quickly and without ever pausing, catching it's breath as if pressing the space bar. Like a wildfire. Oxygen charged blazing red hot quick moving fire. A wise woman once remarked, "Everything will be okay when it's over, if not, then it's not over"

As she no doubt sits alone in the dark miles away from me. Do the liars hear the silence of her heart? Or the echos of the silence speaking in my heart. The noise of their mouths no doubt drowns out the broken whispers. Noise for their own need to have uproar and chaos about in their lives. Simple minds which have no understanding of the echo.

All the while I've cooked. Baked. Grew the vegetables and flowers. Moved about in my world as always. Not sharing or daring to care enough to share. Coming from a place where little dogs snore and echoes are heard.

Wearing my Kevlar and watching the red hot fire move quickly. Burning the ditch lines to prevent anything from growing. Not weeds nor flowers. Miles down the road now, left behind.

Is a mother and daughter.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Are we done yet?

I stepped outside into the night air to see this fine mist of rain falling. Lit only by the glow of the security light, for just one second the rain looked to have a snowlike quality. I felt happy for just that second.
 Stop swearing at me, I like the snow.

Maybe it's not the snow nearly as much as the calm of it all.
Here we are in July already and the summer is really whizzing by (in my best goat voice).

All winter long Ohioans moan and groan about the snow and cold. Oh, the high hopes of what summer will bring. Everything will be perfect once the snow melts and the temperature rises about 65 degrees. Such pressure. Aside from gardening, which technically could be done during the winter and all year long, summer is not that big of a deal to this chick.This summer, my garden has been pitiful.

Weeds have overtaken and I'm okay with that.I did manage to harvest some chamomile flowers. For tea making this winter. They look like ordinary daisy flowers but this is chamomile. I probably have tons more out there in the sunshine waiting for me to pluck them. It could happen.

Two things have stuck with me as of late. First is this image.

How do you balance the battles of mind and heart? Intuition is a mysterious combination of the two if you ask me. I have spent a good deal of the summer surrounded by adults who I have little or no respect for. Not by choice of course, necessity as part of being a parent. A huge percentage of parents whom have children enrolled in sports are assholes. One doesn't have to be a psychologist to learn where all of these bullies in school are learning their dirty tricks. Just attend a local soccer game and you will see exactly where these little darlings get their skills. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Thus my battle of mind and heart. My brother (RIP) use to always say "kill 'em with kindness or baffle 'em with bullshit" Some people I just cannot muster up an ounce of kindness for these days. SO I'm fine tuning my bullshitting skills. Gawd, I'm too old to be learning new tricks.

Look pretty flowers....now read my whining words for a few minutes....

And look an adorable sleeping doggy. Yes, this little pup has my back. She's intuitive also. That's probably why all dogs go to heaven.
And look, fancy little baskets that I crocheted. A catch all basket, yes indeed.

The second thing that has stuck with me as of late. A quote I read on a church bulletin board.
"One person with courage makes a majority"
 Trust me, I was shocked to read something that profound on a church board too. Usually the words are one of fear, and punishment but this particular quote was timely and applicable in my life.

The whole brain and heart thing. Sometimes my brain tells me to shut my mouth and play it cool. But other times my heart just grabs hold and I can't hold back speaking my opinion as a matter of heart. I will never back down when I see children being ridiculed or belittled all for the sake of a sport. Come on...really. It's not like these kids have a matter of life or death hanging in the balance and it's okay to scream at them to perform perform perform. It's a sport!

 So, as you can see this lovely summer... when everything is suppose to be perfect... now that nice weather has arrived... I found myself sitting at softball fields surrounded by thoughtless reckless people.

For the most part I was the minority. If anyone agreed with me and my stand against the debauchery, no one had my back. Not even my Mister. Which disappoints me the most. However, I feel like my brief moment of courage to stand up and stand my ground made me the majority.

And look, we caught fish. Happy little fishes. Which were caught and released.
The poofy white clouds of summer surely must mean everything is okay and the world is filled with sunshine and lollipops.

Forget it, I know better. But at least when the snow is falling Ohioans are too busy complaining about the snow and no one has time to be snarky to another. When the snow is falling, I can hide inside with my cookbooks and crochet. I'm not anti-social. I just need people around me who are somewhat kind, refined and civilized.

I hope your summer is going well. Personally I'm ready for my jeans, a hoodie, and the smell of autumn leaves.

Let's bake snickerdoodles and fuhgetaboutit!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

The days

I'm a proud single tasker. I don't "hurry up" and I'm fine with coasting through most of life.

This validates my single task lifestyle! Plus, there's other good stuff to be found here too.

Throw Back Thursday.

Remember the clank of the glass milk bottles in the metal crates as they were rolled down the hallway for milk break time in school. Peel back that foil lid on top of the bottle and serve that ice cold chocolate milk up with some iced animal crackers, yeah those were the days.