...it's what's for lunch!
This is what I've been waiting for all these months
and it's only going to get better from here on out. I can't tell you how much I've looked forward to just heading to the backyard when my stomach growls, or as a refreshing alternative to our pathetic "I dunno, whaddayou want for dinner?" back-and-forth.
The earliest crops, planted back in March, are just starting to be ready for munching. Lettuces, onions, chives, peppery greens: this is what spring is supposed to taste like:
My little sprouts (this is a new adventure for me!) probably could have grown another day or two but after nibbling on a pinch this morning I couldn't resist tossing a few on top. Crunchy and tasty - I'm super excited about sprouting all the bags of different seeds I just bought.
It'll be a few months before I'll have tomatoes growing here, but the season of cardboard tomatoes is over and yummy organic heirlooms are starting to show up from warmer places.
A little Tofurkey on top (yeah I realize I may have lost a few of you on that one) and it's a super quick and easy lunch in the middle of a busy day. Yum!
Ok, time to get back to work. What goodies are you starting to enjoy, now that it's spring?
Ever since getting our SodaStream (several months ago) I've been threatening to start experimenting with simple syrups, infusions, and tinctures using goodies like herbs from my garden. Threatening, but not actually getting around to it until a couple weeks ago. My first experiment was (not exactly from my garden, but) a recipe for ginger syrup I had saved to Pinterest a while back, and it was awesome. This particular recipe is more gingery than sugary and it packs a little heat, which I personally love. Super simple (why haven't I done this before?) the house smelled heavenly, and it tasted soooooo good.
I need to hurry and pick up some more ginger and get experimenting - I'm thinking I'd like to try a honey-based ginger syrup. Then, decide what's next: I've been on a lavender-flavored-everything kick lately (I know, late to the trendy-food-party, whatever) but then a friend put the thyme or basil syrup bug in my ear yesterday - hmmm. What do you think?
It's been such an amazing summer around here this year. I have been away (and in traffic!) more often than usual the last couple months, so time spent here at home and in my studio is just that much sweeter. Meals straight from the garden, afternoons spent drawing at my backyard table with Molly by my side, busy days spent in the studio with Ted above and Molly below. Unusually long stretches of sunshine, the smell of rain on the sidewalk in between. Busy, but soaking it in . . . every sweet breath of it.
I realize I just got finished telling you how I eat so many raspberries standing in the garden that there are never enough to bring inside to do anything with. That is usually the case, but this year I seem to have just a few more than usual. I credit all those cute fat little bees I've been seeing out there. Thanks, bees.
The other night after completely gorging myself standing in the raspberry bed, I realized I had only made a small dent in the day's so-ripe-you-gotta-get-em-today-or-it's-too-late ones. I rolled my overstuffed belly into the house for a bowl and carefully picked a suprising (to me) amount more. It was getting late, it was still warm, and mostly I was feeling sort of lazy - but I really wanted to do something with them.
I briefly considered baking or cooking something, but then remembered having seen a lot of really yummy looking berry frozen yogurt recipes on Pinterest, and I thought I'd even seen some non-dairy ones using coconut cream (I've been on a major coconut binge lately, I just can't get enough). But for all those pretty little images in my head of beautifully-photographed 2- or 3-ingredient frozen fruity goodness just thrown into a cute vintage bread pan and frozen, I didn't seem to actually have pinned any of them.
So I improvised. My usual kitchen theory is that if the stuff you put together is all fresh and delicious enough on its own, rarely is the end result going to totally suck. I'm not saying you can't ruin perfectly lovely ingredients (oh, and I have) it's just my excuse for being a lazy cook and fortunately for those I cook for, it usually works out alright.
So, here's what I did, in case you'd like to try it yourself:
I threw 1-1/2 to 2 cups freshly-picked, cleaned raspberries into the Cuisinart
added 1 can coconut cream (the can has already gone off to recycling so I can't tell you what the measurement is, but it's the "standard" can-goods size can from Trader Joe's)
and about 1-1/2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
I whirred that together and then started adding honey a little at a time, to taste. I wanted this to be tart-sweet, not overwhelmingly sweet-sweet. It may have been about 1/4 cup, but really this isn't rocket science - it's just making something taste good to you. I could have probably added a lot more berries, but I didn't. Next time I might try a more berry-heavy version, just to see which one we like best.
Don't ask me why I didn't get out the ice-cream maker for this. Ok, you can ask, and I'll even give you an honest answer: it's been so long since we've made ice-cream that I'm a little frightened at how deeply the inside-part of our ice-cream maker is buried in the basement chest freezer, and I was too lazy to go digging for it. This was just another example of how Past-Beth is sort of rude and thoughtless to Future-Beth, because it was probably just as much work cutting the rock hard, frozen finished product into slices and processing it a second time in the Cuisinart for that fluffy ice-creamy texture (and of course washing all its parts a second time) as it would have been to dig through the stuff in the deep-freeze for the ice-cream maker thingy in the first place.
Although, it's probably good to have learned that post-freeze processing does result in a nicely-textured goody, as if it had been made in a real ice-cream maker.
Tart-sweet, smooth, creamy, frosty, and raspberry-y. A hint of coconut goodness but not overwhelmingly coconutty. And actually pretty healthy. What's not to love?
Hope you're enjoying the yumminess of summer wherever you are!
As the year comes to an end I'm looking back at some highlights, or I suppose they're more just odds and ends, of my winter this far - under the cozy category:
A few firsts, and successful ones at that:
I used this recipe found through Tastespotting then added some of my new favorite thing: Trader Joe's flavored-sea-salt-in-a-grinder, yum - and the darker section is a super-smoky Yakima Applewood Smoked Salt. Pretty much addictive, and dangerous because although many were wrapped up and given away, there is still a good sized chunk in the fridge...
This winter I made my very first lemon meringue pie. So happy to have found this amazing recipe. The meringue is extra-marshmallowy as the sugar is cooked into a syrup before it's added to the egg whites. And her lemon curd has a higher lemon-juice-to-water ratio and a few more egg yolks than others I found, resulting in tangy-sweet heaven.
I have a favorite set of bedding that Husband Guy got for us in Montana years ago: flannel with cute bear silhouettes. But the problem with cute bedding sets like that is there are only 2 pillowcases, and the Logans love our pillows. Lots and lots of them. So there are also a few umatching ones thrown into the mix, which I pretend doesn't bug me. For a while I've been wanting to make some sort-of-almost-a-little-bit-matchy ones with some of my At The Lake flannel, and have hoarded the last few pieces of it for that purpose.
I'd made basic pillowcases before, but found this great pattern on Pinterest and learned to make the perfect, no-seams-showing pillowcase using the "burrito method" - and learned French Seams in the process.
At The Lake doesn't actually "match" my bear bedding as much as I had imagined it would, and the new pillowcases were much longer than the original ones, so the old ones got a matching border - and so did the top sheet.
I don't know about you but before implementing this genius idea, every bit of my floss was a tangled tornado of torture. Now it's a pleasure to use.
And to wrap up random winter highlights, this has nothing to do with anything, I suppose, but it made me cozy on the inside, and it was another first:
I finally stopped at the taco truck outside of the Home Depot in North Seattle. Oh em geeeeee, the fish tacos were to die for. Fresh, crispy, spicy . . . absolutely perfect. My brother and nephew enjoyed big gooey meaty tortas that were pretty amazing, also. You local folks really ought to try it out, if you haven't. It's even a cold-wet-winter-friendly place to stop for a bite; there are tables under-cover with a couple big cozy propane heaters keeping it quite nice.
I want to go back right now, soooooooo goooooood...
Wishing you all lots of random coziness and other good things in 2013!
Oops, I wrote this last week and forgot to post it. A little scattered these days, I guess . . . here it is, in the better-late-than-never category!
A couple weeks ago, I finally gave in and picked the last of the tomatoes left on the vine.
I trawled around the Interwebs for new and interesting green-tomato recipes to try, and since I had also just harvested the last of the hot peppers, decided on a roasted green tomato salsa that would use both. I looked at this one and this one which both look awesome, then just sort of made up my own, because that's how I roll.
I'm thinking a simple, fresh summery pasta - the last bit of real tomato flavor before next year's ripen in August or September . . . winter suddenly just got very real.
PS: (a week after writing this post and forgetting it!) the fresh-tomato pasta was dreamy. Sigh . . . until next year.
PPS: don't forget to hop over to the next post and leave a comment to enter the drawing for one of 2 book panels from One Crazy Christmas Eve, I'll draw names this weekend!
I know I keep saying it, but I've got to tell you again: I have had way too much fun reading all your comments on this one.
I would go on, but I think you have been waiting long enough for this. I didn't mean for it to get so late in the day to announce this, but here I am - finally.
Fluff, fluff, stir, stir...
And wouldn't you know it, TypePad is having some sort of hiccup this evening and it won't let me access anyone's info when I click on your names, so Sandy D I hope you are reading this because I can't try to send you a message! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and I'll get your bundle of fabric on its way to you!
And don't forget, you have until Nov. 25 to enter the big contest over at the Henry Glass Blog. The winner of that one gets a big fabric bundle + special gifts from each of us designers!
Thanks again everyone who entered this, for all the kind comments about my stocking (!) and sharing your own memories . . . really this was so fun. So fun, in fact, that I am going to be doing something like this every week through the rest of the holiday season, so do check back for more giveaways and fun! Thanks!
Wishing you all warm good-smelling kitchens full of people you love, happy gatherings, and lots to be thankful for. I have so many things to be thankful for, and one of those things is you! I can't tell you how much fun it's been reading all your comments this past week!
Thanks for visiting, have a lovely holiday and do check back here on Friday when I'll announce the winner of the fat quarter bundle!
...of the Henry Glass Very Merry Holiday Party, that is.
I hope you've had fun so far, visiting my good friend Shelly Comiskey and the talented Wilma Sanchez yesterday - and if you missed them the first 2 days, you should go back and visit the amazing Linda Lum DeBono, Little Quilts, Dawn Heese, and Jill Finley. These talented ladies have all got some supercool special treats for you and it's definitely worth dropping in!
As for me, ohmygosh, I've got so much to share with you here today! This is sort of like three blog posts in one, so I recommend you settle in with a lovely beverage and let's get started:
1. Favorite Holiday Decoration and Tradition
If you're a regular here at the Artstuff blog, you may know a little something about my family. How we tend to never throw anything away, ever. How we love holidays and getting together. How my grandparents collected and created just about every funky thing you could imagine, and some you probably couldn't.
I wish, oh how I wish, that I could hear my Granddad's high-pitched giggle if he ever heard the word "upcycling" and it was explained to him how trendy the concept is. Granddad was the original upcycler. One example: all the years he worked for the power company he would scavenge old motors from scrapped utility meters to mechanize his own Christmas decorations. Every inch of their big house, where we would gather every Christmas, was decorated, and beneath the Christmas music, laughter, talking over one another, and jingling bells was always the buzzy hum of hundreds of tiny motors.
to what, looking back, I realize were simply areas between the beams in unfinished sections of walls (Granddad designed and built their 4-story, 18-room house and it was a "work in progress" for the entire 50-some years he lived in it).
I can't say there was one particular favorite decoration out of the whole mess. It's the overwhelming kitschy mechanized excess that I loved so much; my Granddad's over-the-top style was a running theme through everything he created.
My grandparents both passed long ago, and that big crazy old house is gone. Christmas day is still spent with a big, loud bunch of family, laughing and talking over each other. The decorations are spread between grandkids' and great grandkids' homes, a good portion of them residing here now with us, although no one really knows how to keep those salvaged little motors running like Granddad could.
2. Favorite Family Recipe
Every family has them: those deep dark secrets, those terrifying controversies.
Mine is no different.
Yes, I said it. Jello salad. Specifically, a sweet-savory molded red salad filled with vegetables and canned seafood. The dreaded Shrimp Aspic. The name itself strikes fear in the hearts of cousins, nieces, nephews, and close family friends. True, deep-seated fear.
For generations this dish has horrified unsuspecting guests, scared away possible suitors, and torn at the very fabric of an otherwise close and agreeable bunch of folks. The words "Shrimp Aspic" are uttered in hushed, fearful tones, staring with hollow, darting eyes. They run, but they can't hide. It reappears every time we get together. There on the buffet among savory goodies much more appetizing to the modern palate. Goodies that don't jiggle creepily when they're touched. Goodies that you don't have to ask "what in the world is that?"
The Shrimp Aspic eaters of the family are a stealthy bunch. Laughing along at Shrimp Aspic jokes, comforting those who are frightened by the jiggling terror on the buffet. Then quietly taking second, even third helpings, and filling old cottage-cheese containers to take home to eat later.
You may notice there is written evidence of even more family controversy here: "Shirl adds black olives and hard-boiled eggs, I don't!"
To be fair, my Aunt Shirl's own signature Jello salad, also still making regular appearances on family get-together buffet tables, goes by many names: Ambrosia, That Pistachio Salad, or most often, simply Green Fluff. It is, undoubtedly, Shrimp Aspic's most deadly nemesis. Those who fear Jello can often be subdued by marshmallows and whipped cream. It's a scientific fact.
3. Free Project Download:
For my project I wanted to make something using my One Crazy Christmas Eve fabrics.
Now you probably already know, I do not claim to know how to sew. I did, however, make my husband's and my stockings several years ago. For those I laid out some pieces of velvet and cut them freehand into stockingy shapes, hand-stitched them together, then stitched random trims and tassels onto them. You throw enough trims and tassels on any lumpy, odd-shaped sewing project and you're golden. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
They're ridiculously lumpy, though, because they are both lined with super heavy velvet from an old coat of my grandmother's that we found (already disaseembled, pieces folded neatly and ready for projects) in her sewing cabinet. Reaching for goodies on Christmas morning has never been softy-er.
Click the picture of the patterns for your downloadable PDF. This pattern shape will end up making a cute stocking, whether you know how to sew or not - as the following tutorial proves. And I do use the word "tutorial" loosely here.
First, I'm so excited about my new fabric-and-large-paper-cutting area. I know, it's nothing fancy; technically it's just the laundry area with a cutting mat on it - but the new front-loading washer and dryer add so much new surface area to our tiny house that I'm beside-myself-giddy about it. I bought the new cutting mat to fit, and last week I spent a few days doing nothing but putting up pegboard panels and shelves and organizing the space.
Again, giddy. Seriously.
So. The stocking. First, I taped together and cut out the pattern pieces. You'll see mine are empty (no writing) because remember, I'm inventing this as I go along; I wanted to make sure the sizes and shapes worked before finalizing the pattern-page design.
Then I trimmed the pattern down to the red outlines, and cut the lining. The lining is a smidge smaller so it will fit nicely inside the body, and the toe doesn't go all the way out to the point - I'll show you why in a minute.
Then the cuff. I designed the cuff pattern as one long piece to wrap around because I thought it would make a more rounded, nice opening. I really wanted to use one of the stripes for this but realized that because of the curve of the piece, if I wanted the stripes to all be at a uniform angle, I would have to piece lots of small sections, and you will see more and more as we go along why that wouldn't have been a good idea for me. You, however, might want to give that a try, I'm sure it would be very cute!
For my first step, I made the only part of this that I was confident in both my plan and my ability. The loopy hook.
I thought that reinforcing it with something stronger inserted inside would be smart. Here I used a piece of heavy hemp ribbon folded in half lengthwise.
With the fabric facing inside, I sewed around the main body, then cut notches in the curved parts; the idea is that it lays down more neatly when turned back around right-side-out. I am not sure if my notches did this.
I ironed down the top edge to run an extra little seam along there, so no raw edges show. You will see I went a little no-raw-edge crazy with this project which ultimately left me with a pretty lumpy finished product. You may want to skip this step, or go about it in a more logical and sensible fashion, as you were taught in Home-Ec or something.
I never had Home-Ec; we were allowed a total of 2 electives per semester and Art and Band filled my schedule. I may not be able to sew well, but if the need arises, I can play piccolo while marching in-time. Oh, and the time-spent-in-art-classes thing has worked out alright, too.
20+ years ago my puppies destroyed some throw pillows. I safety-pinned them together to keep the stuffing mostly-inside, threw them in the washing machine to remove any residual puppy-chewing-goo, and I have been using the stuffing ever since in random projects.
You won't need to turn your lining back out again like the other pieces, because you want it to face inside. Sort of like the top sheet on your bed.
I turned mine for a few minutes though, so I could add my little signature.
I know, it's sort of dorky, but I like to add a little piece of the selvedge as a "tag" when I make stuff with my own fabric.
Next, assembling the cuff. Now, this is where I got scared, because my brain has trouble wrapping itself around 3-dimensional engineering-type projects. You know, how stuff fits together. I pulled out my notes to make sure I was doing it as I had planned.
And to heed my own warning. You may or may not remember my swim-trunks adventure, and how after sewing the lining together, they went from practical swim-trunks to "unlined-lounging boxers".
At least I understand my limitations.
For the cuff, first I sewed the end seams of each piece together. I turned one inside out, and laid them together with the fronts facing each other, seams and points lined up. Then I sewed the bottom seams (the pointy part!).
I thought that it might be clever to sew the pom-poms on while I had the pieces open at the top, before I attached them to each other.
This way the extra thread could just live untrimmed on the inside part.
As clever as I thought this was, it did make some of the assembly and final ironing more difficult than it had to be. It's probably smarter to wait until you are finished with the rest before deciding on and adding your pom-poms, jingle bells, or I thought even cute buttons might be a neato addition to the points.
And again with my inability to wrap my brain around 3-dimensional assembly. I thought it would be very neat and tidy to insert the ends of the hangy hook (which is stitched together a crazy amount there inside this thing, in case I ever want to put something very heavy into this stocking) inside some hem or other, and the cuff seemed like the logical choice, since it would be the outermost piece.
I imagined that this piece would be wrapped around over the top of the stocking, thus this weird extra tucking-under and sewing-down thing that's going on here. Don't do this.
This could have worked if my upside-down and backwards assembly that I had worked out in my head was not the wrong flavor of upside down and backwards. I am still not sure what the right flavor of upside down and backwards is, and I'd kind of rather not hurt my brain thinking of that now.
After sewing together and ripping out the seams on more than one version, I decided to loosely tack my new attempts at engineering how this thing goes together rather than pinning, so I'd have a better idea what it would look like before actually sewing it. Oh, and, this version was upside down, too. Don't do this, either.
But the one pictured below worked. I turned the stocking inside out, and sewed the cuff on like so
then when the whole thing is turned back around, that whole seam-on-the-underneath-side concept actually works. Although my obsession with tucking seams under at every edge helped create a really bulky, lumpy end product. Well, that, or my sloppy sewing. You decide. Either way, I am guessing you will figure out a more sensible way for your own stocking to be assembled. I mean really, what are a few raw edges on the underside of a cuff, anyway?
The spoils of the day:
about a mile of thread ripped from wrong seams, and one broken sewing machine needle. That hangy loop ended up being folded over itself way too many times in order to face the right direction after being so dramatically and severely attached to that cuff in such a weird way. Like sewing through a stack of hot-press illustration board.
It's a stocking with stockings on it: a stocking stocking. What could be more stockingy?
You made it through the rest of this epic post, you deserve a prize. So I'm having a name-drawing for a fat quarter bundle of all 21 coordinates from One Crazy Christmas Eve! You saw the fat-quarters all stacked neatly on the corner of my cutting area - this is what they were waiting for.
To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite Jello dish. Are you afraid of Jello? That's alright, just say so; that will enter you in the drawing just the same, and I promise the Shrimp Aspic Monster will not visit you in the night and steal your appetite. Really.
You have until Thanksgiving to enter (yes, that's the next time I will be seeing Shrimp Aspic myself) and I will announce a winner on Black Friday.
Now be sure to swing by the Henry Glass blog every day this week to enter the BIG contest there, for a big fabric bundle PLUS small gifts from every one of the designers participating in the blog hop! Wow! All you have to do is match us to our childhood holiday pictures. Ok, you don't have to guess correctly to win. But I think you'll have fun trying!
Have fun at the rest of this party! Today hop on over to my Day 4 partners, Leanne Anderson and Margot Languedoc for their super fun goodies, and tomorrow make sure to go visit Kari Ramsey and Heather Mulder Peterson! And check here (or just take a peek at my last post, right below this one!) for links to the rest of your fabulous party hostesses, cheers!
And finally - if you're looking for One Crazy Christmas Eve - you can still find it out there if you look, although it was last year's pattern so it may be a little few and far between. But I do have some yardage available in my Etsy shop, while it lasts!