Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The glass pans earn their keep

Late July, height of the farmshare season, needing ingenuity to make meals of veggies as well as prep and freeze them, to keep up with the supply.  Roasting is a great way to do this, particularly since I've been using balsamic vinegar to sort of sprinkle over.

And the salt potatoes I learned from Deborah Madison's book on farmmarkets, redskins boiled with a ton of seasalt, took their place in this dish. I had Handsome Son come to dinner the other night, and help me eat the zucchini quiche with a big side of roasted potatoes, squash, onions and corn, and the rest of the frozen lima beans from an Ottolenghi recipe.  

The corn went in the dish raw, but I steamed the others, and boiled the potatoes in the saltwater.  Tossed the veggies in a mixture of olive oil, seasonings, black cherry balsamic vinegar.  Roasted them at 475F for about 45 minutes.

Dessert was a peach crumble, fresh farm peaches, done the way Rose Levy Beranbaum does them in her Bible of pies and cakes, this month's Bite Club selection being desserts. 

And HS pronounced the potatoes great, were there any more, the squash okay, the quiche hm, is there any  ketchup.  But the peach crumble vanished in short order.

The different way Beranbaum does the fruit is to macerate them for a while in sugar, drain off the juices to make a reduction, while mixing the drained fruit with a mix of spices and cornstarch, mainly ginger and cinnamon.  Then the reduced liquid goes back on the fruit and into the pie dish.  I didn't want to make the fancy pastry shapes for the top, so I used Martha's old standby oat crumble, and very good it was.  Not too juicy, but very flavory.

This week there were, among other exciting things, peaches and peppers and corn,  berries in the farmshare -- farmer explained apologetically that they ran out of cherry tomatoes the previous day, and had to sub with berries.  NO problem here with that!

So here's a berry and Granny Smith apple crumble, as per Beranbaum, using ginger and cinnamon, and the crumble part as per Martha, using oatmeal and ground oats.  

This is the kind of thing that's making me lean toward investing in a second little freezer for the kitchen, so I can have this sort of thing in the winter.

Since we are in a heatwave, with those heat index things zooming past 100F there are those who might question the sanity of a person who bakes on such a day, but I had to use the fresh fruit, and well, I was just needing activity indoors.

I finished the window sail for my neighbor, who came over last night to see, and was mad with joy, big hugs and thanks and it went down well.  His house is in an uproar, with wiring and tiling and workmen all over, so he asked me to hold onto the sail for the moment until the dust settles, literally.  I'll post a pic when it's installed.

And the dyeing is moving on, with black walnut dye on what was linen pants and will be a linen skirt with pockets, but that adventure's in Art the Beautiful,  here

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Squirrel v. Boud, Boud v. Zucchini 6WS

Another chapter in my long running, mostly failing, saga, with my clever little opponents, the squirrels.  When I was doing all the dyeing back there in Art the Beautiful, I mentioned black walnut dye.  And how we have black walnut trees out back, and how I've made totally indelible ink and dye from them, beautiful brown.

The squirrels also love the black walnuts, and can open and eat them.  This puts them ahead of humans, whose best best for cracking black walnuts is as follows: go to a neighbor's driveway, scatter down your black walnuts in their shells, put a big board or door over them, drive back and forth in your car over the board. Result:  opened and pulverized nuts, permanent stain on neighbor's driveway, suggest they refinish it all to match.  Don't try this at home, folks, you'll ruin your own driveway.

The squirrels just casually pick  up black walnuts and bite holes in them.

Alas, they also digest them, as I just found out.  Came home the other day, sank gratefully into the lounge chair on the patio, reading and dozing, long day, and when I went to bed found that I had some brown oily stains on the sitting-down area of my best linen pants.  Oh.  Ran over in my mind where I had sat all day, been in a number of places, but none of them had oilstains.  Next morning I went out and checked the lounge chair and found a little patch of brown oily stuff, gah. Wiped it up, easy to do off plastic, not so much off linen.

And still not knowing what it was, applied every stain lifter known to man or Boud to remove the stain.  The pants are now lovely and clean and the stain is forever.  

That's when I recognized what it was.  Some dear little squirrel after a nice meal of black walnuts, probably eaten on top of my fence, favorite squirrel picnic spot,  had, um, deposited the results on my chair...

Sooooo, unless I can figure out a way to rescue the pants -- no the stains are not in a place I want to decorate with embroidery (!)-- perhaps I have to dye them with black walnut.  

Anyway, short of that it's squirrels 1 Boud 0.  Again.

But on the good side, since the zucchini are coming in like maniacs now we're in late July, I found another way of using some:  a quiche.  This is a straight swipe from Diane's crustless spinach quiche, except I used shredded zucchini instead, and it worked a treat.  

Seen here in the cast iron pan in which I'd sauted the onions and garlic, stirred in the zucchini, then added in the seasoned eggs and grated cheese, all on top of the stove, and then transferred the pan to the hot oven. And sprinkled over some leftover crumbs from a batch of hot biscuits.  After it cooled, I sliced and moved the pie to a pie plate, since I can't be putting the pan in the refrigerator until the pie's finished.

So on the Side of Good, it's Zucchini 0, Boud 1. 

It all comes out even in the end.  Like the joke about the judge who reflects, well, some times I give a poor guy twenty years and really should have made it less, then sometimes I give a guy one year and it should have been more.  But it all averages out!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More cheapo home improvements, the kind you won't find in the glossy mags

Since glossy mags are all about advertising and selling lovely products, usually wildly expensive ones, they don't cover much if anything in the way of the sort of totally cheap, very satisfying diy I do everywhere I live.  Partly it's because I've always had a limited income, but mainly because it's so fun to do a thing you invented and have it work.  
Over in Art the Beautiful you'll see a kitchen cabinet door in its new life (ages ago in here I entertained suggestions for how to use two little doors I removed from the kitchen, and dogonart swept the pool with the rolling plant stand idea, which I still have and use. That left me with one door).  See here:  Tablet weaving technicalia

Anyway, this post is not about doors, and you may wonder why I'm banging on about them, then, but it's because I'm making a point in my confused and undirected way.  Which is that you don't have to spend a ton if you can think around it. And it's more fun.

Soooooo, finally to the point: my attic fan, which is set in the roof, was an aftermarket thing, when the HOA years ago replaced all our roofs completely, meaning down to the rafters, all open.  

And the board had a very good idea, a contract to let anyone buy an installed attic fan at a group price, easy to install while the roof was open, no need to pierce anything and compromise the tightness of the roof.  So we jumped at it and have been pleased we did.  Once the roofs were on, nobody else could do it, can't punch a hole in your communally owned roof, you know.

However, the contractors never claimed to be Einstein, nor to realize that it would be more useful to have a register in the ceiling below the fan to allow house air to blow out there, too, not just keep the interior of the roof cooled.  And they put in place a mansized panel, see below:

 18 x 22, nice to get through the opening and work, and they did put a molding, but there is no sign of any ventilation as you see.  

Soooooo, when I got the fan motor replaced by kind friend yesterday, I figured out a way of handling this situation, since without benefit of fan open to the house, the third floor is unusable in July.  I used to just lift out the panel and leave it open, but after I found a dead squirrel, and had fiber glass shreds falling on me, I rethought that notion, not wanting to invite s or fb into my studio.  

Research and conferring with my friends at Smith's Hardware in Princeton Shopping Center, they deserve the plug, showed that there is nothing manufactured on the market in the way of metal registers big enough for this opening.

So I came up with a picture frame I found in the studio among my frame debris, about the right size.  Bought some aluminum screening  from Smiths, cut it to fit, stapled it on, duct taped all the jaggy edges on the back, exactly like stretching a canvas, and installed it yesterday in place of the solid panel.  Installed sounds very posh for climbed up, slid it in and climbed down again.  The solid panel will go in again at the end of summer, because it's insulated and is good in the winter for that purpose. 

Bloated with pride over this triumph.  Cost of total venture: $8 for roll of screening which can be shared around. If I want to hide the fairly visible fan up there, I can add a layer of screening (Smith suggestion when I explained my plan).  Easy to do if I decide to.

But it's a workplace, not a living room, and I don't mind an industrial effect.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Bee on Daisy. Then a thunderstorm 6WS

Bee sitting for a long time on this daisy flower. 

 Too cool and damp for him to get liftoff, I think.  But a great chance for me to get a pic. Shortly after this, it went pitch dark and we had a large and noisy thunderstorm, which saved me from watering plants today. Again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Locavoriana, hot meal in midsummer

About this time of year I get so tired of cool food, and summer dishes and all that magaziney deal, and I long for a hot dinner. So today, since the temps are moderate and the humidity likewise, I did a lovely veggie and sausage bake, celebrating the farmshare and the local farmers' market.

Chicken sausage flavored with tarragon and other spices, from the Griggstown Farm people at the local farm market, expensive and totally worth it.  You can really skin these sausage, made by them, and make them into meatballs or patties or whatever you like.  Or, as here, into little chunks put into the baking dish with your veggies to flavor everything.

Zucchini from the farm, mad hot onion tops from the farm,cilantro bought locally, mushrooms remaining from Kennet Square splurge at the farmers' market, and frozen for such a use as today.  Big sprigs of sage from my patio laid on top to be removed at the end.  Hot red peppers from local store, not sure where they grew, but not far, I think.

And when I served this seriously hot and spicy dish, some mashed potatoes were the calming principle of the plate.  

Three dinners from this one cooking.

For my Bite Club, I tried a few dishes from Deborah Madison, the cookbook current pick, including a fig and ginger jam and they'll be lucky if there's any left to share by then.  And salted boiled potatoes: redskins boiled with a TON of salt, then drained, and they are wonderful with no further ado.  Also yellow squash sauteed with a handful of herbs, not a recipe, really, more of a procedure.  None of these is very picturesque, hence no pix.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rose Golden brings on her firstborn!

Taken in pouring rain, juggling an umbrella and a tablet, here's rather washed out pic of Rose Golden's first rose!  much yellower than you see here, but the contrast with the wet fence, beautiful in rl, is hard for the camera to take, despite all my adjustments.  

We are so proud!  In fact we will entertain name suggestions for this little rose!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Help identify this moth, dear blogistas

I found this moth, well, half a moth, on the sidewalk during my evening walk, and brought it home to identify.  I'm assuming it's a moth because it has a furry area near the head, or where the head was before it fell afoul of a bird or something.

I wonder, is this a clouded underwing?  if you know, please chime in.  I made two pix, one of what was probably the upper wing, 

one of the underside, 

this being much more colorful, and likely to be the underwing, which keeps the colors concealed unless in danger.  As far as I can tell, without being able to stretch out the wings without damage, it's probably about 2. or 2.5 inches across when in action.

Anyway, here's the result of my nature walk, and I would appreciate expert insight on this.  I have a couple of other moths and butterflies found similarly and identified, resting in the appropriate pages of my moth book, and this one will too, once I establish what is the right page!   We have so many species of deciduous and evergreen trees around here that you might find practically anything.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Lunch in July, perfect!

Lunch today was roasted vegetables, zucchini and onions from the farm, plus carrots, with sprigs of rosemary and a couple of sprigs of dill, plus a pinch of spice mixture from Ottolenghi.  Seen here before going into the oven, 350 F for about an hour.

The dill is a foster plant, staying with me while her parents are away, and having a good time with my herbs, flourishing in fact.

Dessert zucchini bread, zucchini from friend's garden, made with sliced almonds and chopped walnuts, wholewheat and oat flour, top is plain yogurt, raspberries from the farm and a large pinch of brown sugar.

This afternoon I'm invited to two art openings, one further away, one near.  Guess which I might be found at..and I'll do pix if I make it there, because it's an exciting show of felted art which I've seen and liked.  Great fun for a summer event.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

From wwweaving to the ww web 6WS

I suddenly thought it would be good to learn to make videos and upload them, and to see if the equipment I have could do it, so I spent part of very late last night, in the throes of an allergic eye attack, and needing some distraction, finding my old digi camera and remembering it had a movie function.  

Also testing to see how to use the camera on my laptop.  This only makes a talking-head kind of thing, not interesting to the viewer unless you're selling something. 

Your humble writer cracking up at her own image on the computer cam.  Picture taken with tablet seen there, sent to email, uploaded to thumbdrive, downloaded to here.  Quite a hike. The artwork in the background was exhibited a couple of years ago, and now occupies this guest room.

In order to save the talking head thing I did, very dull stuff, I had to do all kinds of obstacle jumping, which I did in case I ever want to save anything.  Haven't managed to save anything, but I have the function set up.  I think.
Maybe if I want to hold items up to show them to the camera, needing both hands free, that camera would be useful.  But for the moment the digi camera was the choice.

And I made two tiny videos panning around the bedroom (I used to work in tv, not as a producer, but related to them, so moving a camera isn't such a mystery), and with sound.  Also got my toes in the frame by accident, and recorded a burbling sound,talking to myself,  such snappy dialog as oh, I wonder if this will work, oops got my toes. And so on.

And this morning to my astonishment, was able to upload them. It takes a long time to upload video, but it got there. And I could open and watch them and admire my toes.

 But there they stick until I figure out how to get them to transfer to my blog, which my system doesn't want to do, even with QuickTime enabled. In fact the photo software crashed, but never mind, I'm much further on than I was last night, when I was musing with Handsome Son about the need to at least try out video.

I'd like to have a bit of moompitcha about my garden, that kind of thing, the Preserve, the Island.  Anyway, maybe that will come to pass. And maybe I'll just have a lovely personal collection on my computer that won't agree to go anywhere!

Considering the great age of the camera and the operator, I'm very impressed about how far I came.  Particularly since yesterday morning I had the cook's own job just getting my computer to work at all, many crashes, many reuploads and reinstalls later it seems to be back in good operation.  After the struggles with the weaving, I had a titanic struggle getting the blogpost posted.

I think I'll do a bit of cardweaving, just to come back to tactile work.  And to earth!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Gasman Cometh and Duncan watcheth

I've been having a little drama with the power company over a misreading of my meter, to wit, in May the reader entered it on my account with 100 therms too many, which is so far beyond my monthly usage as to be impossible, and I reread the meter, submitted my reading and they agreed to accept it.  Then they sent an assessed reading for June, nearer my usage but still 100 therms too many.

Then they sent a letter saying the meter was not registering correctly (!) and they would replace it.  I expect someone had finally looked at my billing history and found that about ten therms total is more like my monthly usage.  Fine by me, since the replacement is the kind you can scan, no hoping the meter reader man would read it correctly then battling when he doesn't. Same mistake same month last year.  Translation: our meter reader is a glackity guy who is not registering correctly.

So a very nice man arrived, hours ahead of schedule, luckily I was home anyway, and in no time at all removed the old ugly meter, replaced it with a fetching modern one with a dial you can see by digits, scannable, and read the old one for me, confirming that I had my numbers right.  And checked to be sure all the appliances were back in working order. Yay.  And then painted the whole thing to match the surrounds.

Of course Duncan watched the whole thing closely to make sure he did a good job.  I expect he'll inspect the next bill, too, to see what they did for me there.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth All! From the Dolliflowers 6WS

The Dollivers greet you on a rainy cool Fourth of July, and wish you a great day, whether or not you celebrate, from their new reviewing stand in the flower boxes.  

 View from the cheap seats behind the Ds

Their view, from the royal boxes.

Elton declined to bring his piano out in the rain, so we had to hum along America the Beautiful, Oh You Beautiful Doll, and April Showers, a bit out of season, but the weather doesn't think so.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Little Friend Shows up in the Garden Again

I love praying mantises, and often find one or more on my plants, devouring bugs for me at this time of year. This year it's quite a small guy, but none the less welcome.  See him there, giving us his better profile?

I find that the plural of mantis is mantises, how disappointing. I was hoping to find a more exotic one, such as mantok, or mantim, or maybe mantids.  Other languages have more interesting plurals.

When Handsome Son was a little guy, we sent away for a nest or chrysalis or something of praying mantises, and we had them hatching all over the vegetable garden, lovely.  Often we'd see a couple of babies hanging onto the back door screen, where they were quite able to withstand even high winds.  For years after, their offspring attended to bugs in the garden, very obligingly.

I love all the insects I ever met, because their architecture is so stunning.  Some really good artist made them..even the Asian stinkbugs have a wonderful sculptural shape.  

I realize that it's not everyone who gets excited about things like this.  Such as the friend who looked at me pityingly the other day when I pointed out a lovely miniature colony of fungi on the crossbar of my garden gate. 

You do realize, he said that this means it's rotting, no?  He's a contractor in real life, so fungi and that sort of thing on wood are not the same attractive items as they are to me, as I look at them through a magnifier!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fireworks tonight, meanwhile flowers today

Fireworks tonight, weather permitting, but flowers today anyway