Tuesday, June 30, 2009

it should only take days and days to finish

I've got the walls painted in the former office/Pinga's future bedroom. And I was weak, and decided to tear up the floor. I was going to leave it, I really was! The tarpaper removal in the kitchen was so frustrating that I said NEVER AGAIN. But here I am, having learned nothing from my mistakes. At least it's coming up a little easier in this room. It's going to be beautiful when we're finished.
I don't have any before pictures, but anyone who's been to our house can tell you how truly horrifying the office was. It's where we stuff our clutter (shame hiding) whenever we have company, but then we always negate the good impression we've falsified by showing our guests all the shame we've hidden.

Monday, June 29, 2009

lousy detail work

If a bowler's hell is an eternity of 7-10 splits, then my hell is an eternity of cutting in.

no full valve

Have eaten about three pounds of cherries since yesterday afternoon. Am expecting severe gastrointestinal distress soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

my love won't wait

Whenever I hear that "It's Now Or Never" Elvis song I always sing end up singing "Give me Cornettoooooo . . . from Waaaaall's Ice Cream!" It's John's fault, because he learned those lyrics on his mission in England. England has such great groceries.

Anyway, the lyrics aptly describe me. John is methodical and studious, carefully reads assembly instructions, and does exhaustive research before making any decision, while I, on the other hand, plow heedlessly ahead with no regard for consequences. That's how it came to pass that John came home from work one day a few years ago to find the carpet stripped from our dining room and half of our living room. And how he came home last week to find the fruit room's entire contents vomited out into the family room and the demolished shelves outside in the back of his truck. And it's how he is going to come home today to find that the office's guts have been moved onto the dining room table, and, if I'm lucky and work really hard, no carpet on the office floor.

He's going to be soooo excited! He LOVES to come home to find me in the middle of a huge remodeling project. But in my defense, I can't get any more filth out of the garage because I already filled the big garbage can with garage filth this morning, and anyway, a bunch of the stuff we don't want in the office has to go on the new shelves we're buying for the garage, so I'm just combining tasks. It will work out better in the end, I'm sure. Not that I stopped to consider that before I started pulling everything out. Because I won't wait.

Also I know that the inability to eat meals is the motivation we need to get the office cleaned.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

do I taste cardamom? I think I do

Can you imagine life before the spice trade? Or worse, before salt? I tasted my germade this morning and discovered I had forgotten the optional pinch of salt. Bleck.

There is a fairy tale I love about a father who has three daughters. One day I guess he decides to do some Old Testament-style parenting and asks each of his daughters how much they love him. The first says she loves him as much as her own life. The second says she loves him as much as the whole world. The third says she loves him as fresh meat loves salt. The father feels terribly insulted by this and throws the third daughter out into the street, as you would. The daughter makes her way to a neighboring kingdom and becomes a servant in the palace. Events take place, the king notices the new servant girl's beauty and instead of forcing himself upon her and leaving her destitute and with child, like history would tell you would be the case, falls in love with her and makes her his bride. She invites her father to the wedding feast (after giving the servants very specific instructions as to its preparation); he attends and doesn't recognize her (which makes me wonder why he was so hung up on the meat/salt thing if he doesn't even know what she looks like). They begin the feast, which is terrible. The father comes to realize that the entire meal has been prepared without salt--I'm imagining, given the lack of refrigeration of those times, that the blandness was accompanied by rampant putrefaction and spoilage. He begins to sob in despair. The new queen asks him what has caused him such grief, and he tells her that he once had a daughter who said she loved him as fresh meat loves salt, and he turned her out because he thought she didn't love him, and now he can see that she loved him best of all. Then the queen, instead of jumping up and crying out "In your FACE, Space Coyote!", reveals her identity as his daughter and they are joyfully reconciled. Happily ever after, yada yada yada.

I don't have a wall of spices or anything, and I'll tell you right now that I have no idea what fenugreek tastes like. But we've all seen spices elevate a meal from pedestrian to ethereal. What cumin and paprika do to black beans is witchcraft. I'm including herbs in this--thyme is another valiant soldier in my kitchen--the chicken and dumplings I made last night are enough to make me weak in the knees. And what would a pork shoulder be without rosemary? I don't know, but I bet I wouldn't shove it into my gaping maw by the fistful. I just feel lucky, is all. Moon Pie! What a time to be alive.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

stupid vampires and their stupid love lives

Joss Whedon, you are killing me with this! I lay the blame for my emotional immaturity and resultant embarrassment on your shoulders.

I guess I over-identify with the Buffy/Angel love story because it's so similar to my own. John is so broody, and I'm so stabby . . . it's a forbidden love, all right.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

this is what we get for cleaning the garage

Tonight I was reading stories to the kids and a mouse ran across the room. We ran out and got Skiver, but he was all doi and has no idea what he's supposed to be doing. He's sort of into birds lately--I think he likes the dimensional challenge. We're always finding wings and other bird bits strewn around the patio.

We'll keep him in the house for a few days and see if he can do his freaking JOB, and we'll set the glue traps around. We cleaned out the garage with its attendant mouse nests on Saturday, so we probably scared all the vermin into the house. Lousy mice. I'll be darned if I'm going to stand for you pooping all over my newly organized fruit room.

Friday, June 19, 2009

beet greens are really delicious for some reason

There's been a break in the rain for long enough that I could finish weeding the onions. They're about the size of the invading grass blades, so that makes it difficult. I'm not expecting a lot from them.
My potatoes are going gangbusters, and they've started blossoming, so the magic is happening right now!

What I know about the beans is that they're very evenly spaced. And they had better taste good, because I'm always out there pulling out the bindweed. I have taken better care of them than my children.

The eggplants are not nearly as crazy as I thought they'd be by now. Is it that they're heirlooms? Is it the rain? The low temperatures? The soil? Maybe they don't like goat poop. Maybe they like cigarettes.

I was getting a little worried about worms in the cauliflower, because it seems like the sort of thing that would get worms, but I found my diatomaceous earth when we emptied the fruit room. Now I can sprinkle the cauliflower with it and kill all the wicked beasties.

This is the salad I made last night with spinach, balsamic viniagrette, roasted beets, goat cheese and candied pecans. It was the worst thing I've ever eaten. I'm sorry, Tipsy, I really did try. I made myself eat the whole bowl despite my gagging. John laughed at how melodramatic I was being--AS IF! It tasted like shame and pawn shop jewelry. It's the same thing as sweet potatoes. I tried for years to make myself like them--sweet, savory, baked, roasted--and failed. Then Lynette Morris made a sweet potato casserole for a church function and forced me to try it. The first time I tasted it I thought it was meh, but I kept trying it and now I crave it fortnightly. And I was thinking, beets are not so different from sweet potatoes in texture, and they have that same too-sweet-to-be-a-vegetable-too-savory-to-be-a-fruit thing going on, so maybe . . . just maybe . . . I could make a beet casserole with eggs and candied nuts and brown sugar.

John says it sounds sick, which he's not wrong about. But I figure, we're sort of starting out at sick, so anything I try will be either an improvement or chicken food.

This one time when I was little I got a fancy straw in the shape of a treble clef out of the drawer and started drinking my milk through it, and then all of a sudden the earwig that had sneakily camped out in the bend was in my mouth. Now THAT was sick.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

this old house: fruit room redo

I've mentioned how we live in an old house, yes? It's a beautiful little Craftsman with huge windows and lath and plaster walls--very solidly built. I think we're the second family to live in it. But when it was built people had a different idea of how rooms were used, and our basement is sort of an inconvenient warren of low-ceiling rooms. That's okay with me, since I grew up in an inconvenient warren of a basement--once my dad ran afoul of the corner of a furnace duct, and with blood running down his face, got his sledgehammer and beat anything approximating a point out of that corner. Good times.

When we moved in there were some rickety wooden shelves in the fruit room that had railings twist-tied to the front to keep jars from falling off during earthquakes. They were short, narrow, dirty and irritating. One of the things we decided to do with our tax return is to stimulate the economy by tearing out those shelves, putting in nice, new metal shelves from Costco, and filling them with a decent year's supply of food. We have quite a bit of food, but I don't think our diet would be very balanced if the rapture came today. And there's only so many times you can feed your kids raisin bran ketchup stew before they start whining. And boy, if you think I can't tolerate whining now, just you wait until I'm wearing the same clothes every day, cooking in #10 cans over a fire, and bartering my teeth for food. Because I have really nice teeth. I'm not kidding--they're one of my best features. And my canine teeth are super sharp.

Anyway, yesterday the boys and I with some hindrance from Pinga emptied the fruit room shelves and took a wrecking bar to them. It was pretty sweet. The boys were like pigs in slop and did a great job taking the shelves apart. I made the mistake of painting the walls, which I don't think is going to be much help in making it look like a fruit room instead of a torture chamber. There's a hook attached to the ceiling, which I'm not sure about. Anyway, today we'll assemble the new shelves and begin culling the herd--either eating or donating the stuff that's about to go off, and seeing where there are gaps in our food pyramid. PARTY!

Another thing that happened yesterday was we took Catwoman to the chop. Sad. I cried a little when we dropped her off, which shows that even I am too detached from my food processes. But my sorrow was somewhat alleviated by the humor of our truck being full of shelves, and no other way to transport Catwoman to the meat packer except an old car of ours. So John lined the seats with cardboard, loaded her in, and off we went. Once when we were visiting my parents--before we moved here--we saw a man driving around with a goat in the back seat of his car and were aghast at the lack of self-awareness it would take to do something so trashy. This is a great trajectory we're on.
Farewell, Catwoman. You were a worthy foe.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

you have no idea how grossed out you're going to be

Hey, so . . . it turns out I've gone kookoopants. Lemme 'splain:

One year at Young Women's Camp we were in an area where we had to dig our own latrine. A little nasty, but since I'd been camping many a time and had slung my hindquarters over many a fallen log, I was cool with it. (Gross aside: I could never do that squat thing--my balance is sketchy and the pee always just ran down my legs.) And don't be hatin' because we were taking more than pictures and leaving more than footprints. It was the primitive times and we didn't know better! Anyway, this year with the latrines, there was a girl in our tent who said she refused to use the latrine, and explained to us, "I'll just have my mom give me an enema when I get home." (emphasis mine)

HOLY CRAP, not to be punny or anything, but HOLY CRAP.

This family of latrine-eschewing enema-givers was way into homeopathic medicine, and so this is the conclusion I drew: people who use natural remedies are people who say prayers over the phone and refuse to void their bowels for a week. Couple this with the knowledge that they homeschooled, and their kids were ultramegaweird, and you can see the toxic picture that was painted for me. The crazinesses were inextricable from one another.

And now, I find myself culturing kefir in my cupboard to promote healthy intestinal flora. Dripping garlic oil in my children's ears to fight infections. Drinking raw milk and making my own cheese with it. Making peanut butter, of all the stupid things. And now, brewing kombucha in a jar, because I think there's a chance it might help my husband detoxify his liver and cure my sister-in-law's cancer. WHO IS THIS PERSON I HAVE BECOME?

I'm reading a book called Nourishing Traditions, and am actually finding information of merit. It's sort of a hybrid cookbook/manifesto/call to arms about the bill of goods we've been sold about how we should be feeding ourselves. It is earnest and terribly preachy, and some of it I flatly disagree with. But it has interesting details about fruits and vegetables, and recipes for traditional methods of preserving them that, rather than sapping them of their nutrients, make them even better for you and easier to digest, as well as add beneficial flora to the gut. Healthy guts! Woo!

As you know if you've met me, I have become one of those weirdos who believes that you can medicate with your diet--even in somewhat extreme cases. I talk about beneficial flora to anyone who will sit still. I am hideous. And before long I guess we'll be performing our own enemas. Although withholding stools because you don't like the venue seems to be in stark contrast to the natural medicine school of thought. But what do I know? I just work here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

the plight of the dairyman

Pinga with one of J's Jersey heifers at last year's county fair.

We have a neighbor we'll call J who owns a dairy farm. J took over from his father a few years ago, and gradually started converting the herd from Holsteins over to Jerseys. He thinks they're beautiful cows (because they are), but the reason he switched is for the higher butterfat in Jersey milk, and because Jerseys convert feed to milk more efficiently.

Last night John was over talking to J, and he was telling John how business is so bad right now that dairy farmers are losing $800 a day per 1000 cows. Everyone in the area is locked in a game of Dairy Farmer Survivor to see who goes out of business first. As dairies go under, the farmers will sell or slaughter their cows and possibly lose their farms. Eventually so many dairies will have disappeared that the supply/demand pendulum will swing back, and anybody who's left will be able to start making money again. So everybody wants to be the last man standing, and they're losing money hand over fist to get there.

Here's a piece about this same subject over on Food Woolf that you might want to read.

J is a little better situated than some because he's got a small dairy. He's not paying for a bunch of dairy equipment, and if things got really terrible he could fire all of his employees and do everything himself for a while. He doesn't sell raw milk, or I would buy from him. Not that I don't love Johnny's Dairy, because I do. J's just a little closer to home, and I like spending my dollars locally when possible before I widen my net.

If it's an option for you, buy from a local dairy, or buy a local dairy's products at your grocery store. Here's a link to a list on of milk suppliers throughout the country, as well as a few places outside the US. In our area Winder Dairy and Rosehill Dairy do delivery, and from what I can ascertain they get your milk from whatever dairy is nearest you. It's more expensive than the grocery store--we pay $4 a gallon for our raw milk from Johnny's--but I'm always holding forth about how people don't understand the true cost of food, and it's an opportunity for me to live by my preaching.

cowherd's pie

Here is the cowherd's pie (because it's made with beef, and cowherd's pie sounds more fun than cottage pie, which sounds lame) we ate for dinner yesterday. It looks way appetizing, doesn't it? With the brown goop everywhere? I changed horses midstream and decided to do a Rosti top instead of pommes Anna, since I yet lack a mandoline and have no jeweler's loupe to assist me in hand-slicing the potatoes.

Wow. Can you imagine the squeals of delight that met me as I plopped this on their plates?

Shepherd's pie is not a conventionally beautiful dish, but it is tremendously delicious and satisfying. The Hulk was our one holdout, obviously--he liked the top and hated the inside. And Superman, once he tried it, exclaimed, "I LOVE shepherd's pie! I wish I could eat it all the time!" That's a pretty big deal, since I vomited (like, literally vomited) on my plate the only time my mom tried to make ME eat shepherd's pie. Or was that meat loaf? Anyway, the principle is the same. They both look scary enough to put any kid off his feed.

Cowherd's Pie (you can make Shepherd's Pie by using ground lamb or goat instead of beef)
Rosti top:
2 pounds (give or take) Yukon Golds or similar potatoes

Grate the potatoes while the oil and butter are heating in a frying pan on medium high. I use about 1 T of oil and 2 T of butter. Plop the potatoes into the pan, generously salt and pepper them and let them cook until they get a nice sear on one side. Use a large plate to reverse the potato cake by holding the plate on the pan, flipping the pan onto the plate, then sliding the potato cake back into the pan, once you've added some more oil and butter. Season and sear the potatoes on the other side. I put the lid on for a while here to make sure the cake cooks through. While the potatoes are cooking you can start on the filling.

1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or you can use 4 small heads of green garlic if you have some sitting around)
1 bunch of fresh thyme
2 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 lbs. ground meat
1/4 C flour
1 can diced tomatoes
Worcestershire sauce
1 C beef broth

Preheat the oven to 400*. Saute the onion, garlic, thyme, carrots and celery in a little oil in an enameled Dutch oven until they are softened but not brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the meat and brown it. Sift the flour over the meat mixture and stir it around. Then add the tomatoes, about 2 T each of the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce (give or take, you know I didn't measure it) and the broth. Simmer for a minute or two to reduce the sauce. Once the filling is done, slide the potato cake onto the filling, cover the pan, and bake for about 25 minutes. Serve hot with a side of flaccid, overcooked vegetables. It's the English way.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

thankfully no misplaced apostrophes yet

A warning: do not assume, as I did, that Whole Foods' exorbitant prices are an indicator of correct labeling. Because it turns out that the nummy cheese I bought there is spelled Bucherondin, without an e. You will rest easier now, and I feel better for having alerted you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

and I don't need a single book to teach me how to read

Too late! I decided to do jam, because once I said "jam" I started thinking about All8's sour cherry jam and spiced peach jam (especially the sour cherry . . . drool) that she was nice enough to send me, and how I'm going to have to wait another month before I can make a batch of my own, and how that isn't right. So, since I can't be with the one I love, I'll love the one I'm with and dance with the one that brung me and so on. And it's not like I'm slumming, exactly. Rhubarb is one of my very favorite petioles! I do feel sad that now I have nothing to make a pie with, but maybe I can sneak to the store tonight and buy some more. I like my rhubarb straight up in a pie--none of that strawberry gumming up the works.

Will you guys think I'm a giant fibber if I end up making shepherd's pie tomorrow? I know I promised goat or chicken, but have you ever seen how much ground beef comes from a side of beef? Well, it's a lot, like Andre the Giant a lot. I've been meaning to revamp the customary shepherd's pie recipe, since I'm not really about mashed potatoes. John had a potato dish served to him the other night that from what he describes was probably pommes Anna. So I've been thinking that a shepherd's pie with a top layer of pommes Anna would probably be a lot more worthwhile. My English ancestors are far enough back that I don't feel as much loyalty to tradition as I probably should, and I guess I'm spitting on their graves, but heigh-ho. I have learned from the careful tutelage of my children that one needn't respect the beliefs and property of others, and much enjoyment can be derived from simply destroying everything in one's path.

when I was down you just stood there grinning

Here's my plunder from this morning. And by "plunder" I mean "produce I acquired in a totally aboveboard and law-abiding fashion." John and I were in Montpelier last night, and there were signs all over town advertising the "Clover Creek Farmer's Market." I assumed that it was a typo, and surely there would be more than one farmer there, but they were pretty serious. There was a lady selling potted geraniums and a guy selling parsley, rhubarb and green garlic. I bought him out of rhubarb and got the last clump of garlic. In their defense, it's Montpelier, it's cold all the time, the growing season barely started, and it's been raining for weeks. I'm going to use the garlic in our dinner tomorrow (roast chicken or braised goat shoulder--I haven't decided which), and I'm trying to settle on what to do with the rhubarb. Pie? Crisp? Fool? Ice cream? Ice cream sauce? Jam?

Friday, June 12, 2009

the stars at night are big and bright (clap clap clap clap) and they control your future

This one time I was at the county fair and a lady carny asked me when my birthday was, and we got all embroiled in a conversation about whether or not I was a Cancer or a Leo, and I was like, "Look lady, I just want to go look at White Mountain the Giant Steer, so step off." Like a twelve-year-old girl wouldn't know her own astrological sign, I'm SO SURE.

I planted all my stuff according to the Farmer's Almanac astrological planting guide a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I didn't water or weed anything, so I can't tell you if it worked. I think I might try it again, because I feel there might be something to it--I think I have Pagan leanings. To me the Earth is a living thing, and it makes sense that there would be better and worse times to plant crops, depending on the Earth's rhythms. At least that's what the tea leaves told me, but I'm going to have to cross-check it with the chicken feet.

I've toyed with the idea of making my own mayonnaise. What do you think? I know there are people out there who roll their own, and it does sound like the sort of stupid control freak thing I'd do.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

gosh, I can't imagine why she would leave

Does anyone else think that in the song "Mother" John Lennon sounds like he's having a prolonged, painful bowel movement?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

everybody out of the pool!

All right, that's it. I've had all I can take of these horrid beasties in my office. They're going OUTSIDE, even if it has turned into Seattle out there. I'll give them a heat lamp and call it good.

language sanitation for my children

Uttered just now in my kitchen when I knocked a bowl of stroganoff onto the floor:

nuclear politics

Captain America is learning about the intricacies of the Cold War through the nuanced lyrics of "Russians." I know he's a pedestrian scold and everything, but for some reason Sting doesn't annoy the living crap out of me the way Bono does.

The cheesemonger at Whole Foods yesterday said that this was very similar to Humboldt Fog, but without the pretty layer of vegetable ash in the center. I agree. I think a lot of these edible rind soft goat cheeses are a fair amount alike--at least to my uncivilized palate. Bucherondin is creamy, mild, and not at all gamy. A very approachable and cooperative goat cheese.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

june 9, 2009

John thinks my last post is a little too R-rated, so I'll get something new on here to push it out of the way.

Our weather this year has been incredible. Here it is June, and we haven't had to put up the swamp cooler yet. That's amazing. Normally we get a week of perfect spring temperatures before we're into the dead of summer with astonishing heat in the high nineties and even into the hundreds. But it's a dry heat! You know, like in Hell, with the brimstone and the pitchforks and the forked tails and the only thing on TV is Lawrence Welk.

Yesterday was a good cooking day. I made stroganoff with homemade noodles and Dutch oven bread, then we had company over for dessert and ate gingerbread pudding cake and homemade vanilla ice cream. I definitely have my mojo back, and I'm sorry about the swell-headedness, but there are so many things that I do halfway, and so few that I do really well that it's pretty freaky to lose my ability to read and follow basic instructions, with a flair for limited improvisation.

I've heard that it's really difficult to raise potatoes in our town--that they do all right the first year, but thereafter the nematodes are so bad that you lose them all. What some neighbors of ours do (and what I'm going to try next year) is put the seed potato at the bottom of a five gallon bucket (I assume with drainage holes drilled), and as the potato sprouts, they keep mounding dirt over it until the sprout reaches the top of the bucket, then let the plant grow. Then the whole bucket fills up with potatoes, and no nematodes. I'm not sure about the particulars--I'll have to ask them. I think that is the coolest idea.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I sure hope not: adventures in english IV

People, if you're emotionally distraught about something, the gerund you're looking to use is BAWLING, not BALLING.

If you're "balling" about something, you're probably not sad.

every time it rains, it rains more water to ruin our hay

Do you want to hear something awesome? (For "awesome" read "aneurism-inducing".) This is what our hay looks like--the same hay that looked so beautiful last week. I'm not sure how to quantify the most recent dumping, whether it counts as three separate gully-washers, or as one catastrophic weather event spread out over three days.

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts. It's great for our garden, which has exploded, and it's the only thing keeping our wretched lawn alive, since our sprinklers are broken again and we can't get Checketts Landscaping to return our calls. BOO.

Yum. You can see that our goats would be all over this like stink on a monkey.

Speaking of monkeys, I made that monkey bread I told you about, and it's so much easier than the standard variety. Never again will I do that stupid dip-and-roll technique. And like I said, you can make your own biscuits, roll them out, and cut them into small squares with a pizza cutter in less than the time it takes to open one of the exploding cans, peel apart all the biscuits, lay them out, cut them into quarters . . . bleh! Screw that noise. I'd much rather control my ingredients.

All it needs is a shot of ranch dressing and it would be fine. What really burns me is that it was supposed to get baled on Saturday afternoon, but the man who was supposed to do it just . . . didn't get to it, somehow. The guy who's running it for us this year was heap peeved and is buying his own equipment to make sure it never happens again.

But my garden is very, very happy. So is the bindweed, of course, but we're dealing with that. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to pull out a big, gnarly root of bindweed and throw it in the garbage. Also I've never grown cauliflower before, and it's on steroids or something.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

my path to decent homemade Indian food

Back when I was a skinny little girl I graduated from college and got a sweet tech writing job in Provo, helping to design educational activities that taught poor kids that honey is a viscous, and such. I went out on a few dates with a guy from my student ward named Hyrum . . . something. He was a nice boy, and the thing I'm most thankful to him for is taking me to the Bombay House for my very first taste of Indian cuisine. I fell instantly in love, not with Hyrum, but with the food.

Can I interrupt this story for a minute to tell you that John is right now using gaffer tape to patch the holes in his jeans? And they're really big holes, so the pants are mostly tape. Some people would just get a different pair of chore pants, but not him. I've told you about the "socks" he wears that are really just stirrups. It's a real problem.

So anyway, I fell in love with chicken curry and lamb tikka masala, garlic naan, basmati rice, and mango lassi. I have still never tried kurma, because of my whole sweet/savory issue, but recently I found lamb saagwala and pledged my troth. If I went to a food show, Indian food would be the best food of all the food. Okay, not really. Because I could not live without big, bloody steaks.

I think "All This Time" is a beautiful sad song. I'm just saying.

But have you had the experience that Indian food is sort of hard to make at home? Every recipe I tried for curry either tasted Japanese or made my mouth sad that it wasn't at the Bombay House. I've found some passable recipes, but still nothing that tastes exactly like I want it to. And you can imagine how well that sits with me, the do-it-myself food obsessive. But then! Behold, the power of the internet! I found a chicken tikka masala recipe over on the Pioneer Woman's site, and decided that we must eat it for dinner right now. So I made it, we invited Daniel and Sarah, and we did eat of the chicken tikka masala until we were stuffed to the gills. And it is incredible. I can say this, because I just followed the recipe, so it doesn't count as being a vain braggart. The tiny bit of leftovers are in the fridge right now calling to me and telling me how lucky they are to have found someone who's both pretty AND smart, but they would love me even if I looked like the Elephant Man. See how you need to eat this food?

Here's the recipe. Go. GO! I left out the serranos and did only a tiny bit of cayenne, because: wuss. Oh! And I used thighs, not breasts--sorry, Sarah. I forgot that part.

And here is the best recipe I've found so far for chicken curry. It's still not right, but it'll do for now.

Chicken Curry (from Nourishing Traditions--I know, smurfy)
cooked chicken meat, cut into bite-sized chunks (I used about 6 boneless, skinless thighs)
3 T butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 T turmeric
1 T ground fenugreek seeds
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne pepper (next time I will use way less)
1/2 t ground cloves (I did 1/4 t)
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cardamom
2-3 C chicken stock
juice from 1-2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1 C piima cream or creme fraiche
1 can coconut milk (this is what I used)
7 oz. creamed coconut

Saute onions in butter until soft. Add spices and saute for a few minutes while stirring. Add chicken stock and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Stir in garlic and cream/coconut milk. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes to reduce the sauce. Stir in chicken and season to taste.

Friday, June 5, 2009

product may stay: mrs. meyer's clean day

You know how I'm a big fan of not pooping where I eat, right? Like, however you feel about the human species' culpability regarding MASSIVE GLOBAL RUINATION OH THE HORROR, it behooves all of us to take care of the space we're in, because dead zones in the ocean and people's eyeballs turning pink from food coloring are gross things.

For that reason, I try to buy cleaning products that are biodegradable and plant-derived. I've tried a few things from the Mrs. Meyer's line; the shower cleaner, laundry soap, dish soap and hand soap. I've liked all of them, and they all smell wonderful. They clean as well as anything else I've used, and they don't create six-eyed fish. (At least I assume--I think every biology class has at least one preserved cyclopean fetal lamb whose mother ate False Hellebore. Plant-derived doesn't always mean safe, hemlock.)

I am hesitant to tell you this next part, because I'm selfish. I buy my Mrs. Meyer's stuff at Ross or TJ Maxx, because it's half price. Now you'll all probably run out and buy it all before I can get there, but I guess you'll have to decide whether that's ethical or not. I just think it would be a pity to exchange your water polluting for sneakery.

Product may stay.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I wanna put on my-my-my-my-my boogie shoes

However it may seem from these photos, I do not have Parkinson's. I've just been working outside all day and my hands are tres wiggety.

Here are some of the irises at that crazy place--six acres, three of them planted in irises in almost every color you can imagine.
Do you see what I mean? Craziness. And those aren't even the wildest ones there. I was so overcome by the sheer volume that I didn't get enough pictures.

The people who run the joint--the Kaspareks--are super friendly. They have 1000 varieties of irises, 250 of which are developed by Brad Kasparek. He has won a number of awards for them--the Millenium Falcon being one. How the garden works is you wander around their property and pick out the varieties you want. Then you order them, and they dig them up when they're done blooming and give them to you the first week of August so you can plant them in time to get blooms possibly as soon as the next year. (Sorry about all the pronouns just then. I assume that you are all advanced enough in your ESL studies that you got the gist.) I plan to go back every year and buy some more, and thus beat my ditchbanks into submission.

june 4, 2009

The other day we heard "If U Seek Amy," and we realized that Britney Spears is Bart Simpson's voice twin. Lucky!

I had no idea until today, but just down the road from us is an incredible bearded iris garden. I was telling my mom the other day that I can understand how people get crazy in the weave chair with the bearded irises, because they are so beautiful and hardy, and there is just amazing diversity. I'm going back there tonight with my mom to pick out my starts, and I'll see if I can take some pictures. Of course my boys won't let me NOT get the Millenium Falcon. I am just astounded by this place--I'll post more later after I've gotten back.

I broke my trowel this morning weeding the melons. Stupid rocks. But the garden lives! And we transplanted the ninebark, knock on wood. It was good and dark outside by the time we got it in the ground, and today it's all sad and limp and will probably die.

my indentured servants are here!

Finally! FINALLY. After nine years of parenting, I have a child who can contribute to the general welfare of the household. Captain America made eggs for himself and his brothers this morning, with an added degree of difficulty because he was cooking outside on the grill. Now he's outside mowing the lawn. A ninety year old lawn, mind you, full of bumps and holes. In his irrigating boots.

Shhh! Can you hear the angels singing?

On the theft front, the idiot who stole our info also bought a bunch of froufy makeup (and paid for a month of LifeLock . . . oh, the irony . . .) and had it all shipped to OUR HOUSE. Duh. And remember how I besmirched the tarnished character of her soul? Well, she also bought colon cleansing tablets, so I guess she cares about the inner vessel after all! That's a relief.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

leaving me lonely still

You know how people like to talk about their animals and it's usually equal parts boring and creepy? It will do your heart good to go over to Tomato Nation and read this. Because it's a joy, and I cried while reading it to John. My favorite part is the biting. And the throwing up.

take good care of my baby

I'm thinking about cheese, because I sort of always am (like the aged Gouda I bought yesterday . . . excuse me for a minute . . . ), and from those awesome people over at The Kitchn is a list of cheeses with reviews. It gives me nefarious ideas for how to spend the rest of our tax return.

how I got my groove back

I fixed my bread and made some delicious buttermilk biscuits. Now if I can make a batch of my wheat bread without bombing, I'll consider myself healed, and I won't have to go visit Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show to have the demons cast out.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

theft, rain, wood

So, some total waste of flesh person stole our debit card info and racked up a bunch of charges on Saturday morning. If you're interested, he or she is into, among other things, liquid diet drinks and teeth whitening. It's great to know that the thieves of today are still concerned about maintaining their outward appearance while the Dorian Graying of their souls proceeds apace.

I hate people.

We had a rainstorm last night, so our newly-raked hay could get all nice and wet again. A couple of weeks ago, a few hours before the last storm, our neighbor Keevin said, "Well, I'd better go get my hay cut so it will rain on my oats and corn." He knows. He knows that farming is a game of Russian roulette with the elements. He knows that you often have to pit your crops against each other in a cage fight, and hope that both of them come out somewhat recognizable. So although our hay is going to be ruined again, I'm thankful that my garden got a nice soaking, and that weeding is going to be so much easier today.

I think we're going to get a wood burning stove for next winter. AH! Earth murderer! But you can't beat it for rapture-proof radiant heat, which is something we're in the market for. And then I can pass on to my children the lessons I learned from woodcutting as a child, namely, that it sucks, and that coarse-ground Grey Poupon is much preferable to Dijon-style.