Monday, September 27, 2010

radishes and carrots hit the dirt

There comes a time when you've researched a subject so much it hurts, and if you don't just go ahead and try doing the darn thing you've been reading about, you'd be a fool. Hence, I, for the first time, planted my very own veggies from seed. I'm not going to lie, I got a little anxious out there on my front step...questions soaring through my brain: did I use the right size pot? enough soil? the right kind? the right seeds? blah blah blah, around and around we go. Which is why it's easier to sit around in your air conditioned living room drinking iced tea and reading about all of those projects that cool people do.

But I did it. Wahoo! And (probably thanks to the heat wave we're having right now) I got as close to instant gratification as I could get - little radish seedlings sprouting left and right within the first day. I literally went outside every few hours today (now 3 days since planting) to check on them and am just stunned by how fast they are popping up.

baby radish, stretching it's little leaves

hope these varieties are yummy

my setup. carrots and radishes hanging on the fence


Since it's pictured, I'll go ahead and just talk about it: the urban homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen is my latest favorite read. It is jam packed with ideas on how to become an "urban homesteader" - i.e. do things for yourself like grow your own food and then preserve it, recycle rainwater, compost, raise chickens (and other small livestock), and even how to make bread with just flour, water, and salt - old school styles. Check it out, and check out their blog, Homegrown Evolution

Back to the produce: I'll keep you posted! 


Friday, September 24, 2010

Our County Fair Date.

J and I vowed not to miss the LA County Fair this year, so we scheduled our fair date so far in advance we could hardly sleep the night before from excitement. Yes, we are a couple of little kids when it comes to events like the fair.

And the fair did not disappoint! We were awed by the handicrafts: quilting, home brewing, baking, and oh, the art! Photography, sketches, incredible pictures made with pressed flowers. Plenty of inspiration to go and get creative.

J got all nostalgic in the vendor section (his family used to sell their hand-blown glass at the fair), remembering (and then eating!) his favorite tri-tip sandwiches - two of them - and delicious chocolate fudge.

Being the great husband-to-be that he is, J sat with me through an hour-long organic small-scale gardening class, no hints of boredom on his face. We even discussed building a worm-composting bin after the talk, while ogling kookaburra and wallaby in the Australian Outback area.

We contemplated going down the giant slide, shrugged it off due to the slight embarrassment we (I?) felt about acting child-like in public (even at the fair! shame on me!) and then decided having children is a must so we can have society's permission to engage in such naive fun.

And now comes the part of the fair I was most excited about...the animals!! Pigs, goats, sheep, cows, chickens, ducks, rabbits bees oh my!! There was a beautiful vegetable garden that the bees, whose working hive was on display within Plexiglas, were out pollinating.

We finished off our day with some beer tasting, shopping (yes, we got suckered in on a couple of products), and a romantic ride on the Ferris Wheel.  An excellent fair adventure.

  old woman holding a baby wallaby in it's "pouch"

goats are my favorite farm animal ever.

 after traipsing around, we relaxed with some award-winning beer

yes, that is a deep fried snickers bar and some chocolate covered bacon. yes, the bacon was surprisingly good. yes, this went against everything I've learned about good quality eating in the past year.  but whatever. you only live once. 

 ferris wheels are for lovers. 

Happy fair-going! 


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

So-Long, Summer.

I just heard the first ice cream truck to pass through my neighborhood all summer, which is ironic because it is Sept. 7, Labor Day has passed, the kids are back in school, and today was overcast.

Yes friends, summer is waning away, making room for the next of seasons.

As an aside, this makes me very happy for a few reasons:
1. The more time passes, the sooner I will be getting married.
2. Cooler weather makes cooking much more fun
3. I got to wash my car today with the knowledge that it will stay clean as the tree I park my car under is done producing the mystery fruit that the parrots (yes, parrots) love to eat. The evidence of which ends up all over my car and thus I have resigned myself to letting my car look like *cuss it* all summer. But now it is clean...muwahaha.

But really, this blog entry is about how I made vegetable broth and put it in mason jars to be frozen.

Today, I made vegetable broth and put it in mason jars to be frozen. It was a wonderful thing to do since I get so tired of buying salt-water-with-a-hint-of-vegetable-essence whenever I need broth for cooking. And I get tired of throwing out veggies that are too old to do much with but not quite bad enough to throw out. Enter broth-making.

It was really quite don't even need to cut the veggies up, just pop them in the pot. Unless they are to big. Then you can cut them.

how pretty. 

Here's what I used: 
Leftover green beans, some squash, 3 carrots that had lost their crunch, 4 stalks celery, 1 red onion, 3 garlic cloves, some kale, a bay leaf, some fresh rosemary, and a sprinkling of whole peppercorns. The sources I used said you can even use vegetable peelings. One woman said she keeps a bag in her freezer for makeable-into-broth-items. I bet you can guess what she does when it gets full.

Then I filled the pot with water. Enough to just cover the veg. Then I let it simmer for about an hour and a half. Then I let it cool. Then I strained it over a big bowl and ladled it into jars, leaving room for expansion.

so much delish potential

I let the jars cool a little longer and popped them into the freezer. It made 2 1/2 jar's worth, which is about 7 1/2 cups. A lot cheaper than the store bought stuff, and it tasted pretty good!

Happy September, folks. 


P. S. 

As a tribute to summer, I will include this photo of what I'll call the Summer Fruit Cobbler I made many times this year. The recipe is in Simply In Season (under Fruit Platz), or you could just make some shortcake, cover it with assorted fruit, and sprinkle that with some brown sugar and cinnamon, and bake. That's the rough version. 

until next year, old friend.