Sunday, August 24, 2008

What to do with 60 lbs. of tomatoes

This post was initially titled: what to do with 40 lbs. of tomatoes....then I got another 20 lbs. To see all the pictures click here. (Disclaimer: these pictures are only of the original 40 lbs. the additional 20 are becoming sauce as we speak.)

Quart jars contain raw tomatoes for future soups, stews and sauces. The pint jars contain the sauce.

Some of the tomatoes were fire roasted for the production of yummy home made salsa:

Other tomatoes were dried, partially in the Sun Oven (which I've recently learned that Ed Begley Jr. also uses) with the door open and partially in the car on a hot and sunny day. (This was inspired by Ruth Richel on Diary of a Foodie on PBS.)

The tomatoes are then ground in a coffee grinder used for spice grinding purposes and a fine powder is produced. This powder can supposedly be stored on the shelf, but I have chosen to keep it in the freezer for additions to pastas and dishes in the future.

The moral of the story: 60 lbs. of tomatoes is really not that much.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

At The Wheel (this time potters, not spinners)

This summer I've been taking a community ed. class in pottery. I've always loved pottery (another in a long list of things my mother influenced) and the community ed. center is only two blocks away from the house so it is very convenient. Hubs has been taking a wood working class there as well and has been creating up a storm (it's in his blood however, his great-great grandfather was a famous New York furniture maker!) So without further adieu, here are some of my first pieces:

Slab bowl, very organic in nature (large enough to hold about 8 good sized peaches!)

Twice Dipped Bowl (first thrown piece on the wheel, had instructor help)

The Coco Vessel

Detail on the coco vessel

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

there is a lot of catching up to do

Some how (no one can guess I am sure) the blogging has, lets say, gotten away from me. I could come up with all sorts of excuses, but really when it boils down to it, laziness is probably the answer.

Much has happened. Some fantastic things, some horrid things. I'll get the horrid over first. About a month ago we lost our dear kitty Apollo. He was the quite possibly the most fantastic, fabulous cat ever and I can only thank God (seriously) that he came into my life. Hubs, Penny and I miss him dearly and are still trying to cope with his loss. He deserves a post all onto himself but I don't think I have it in me.

This horrible thing came on the heals of a wonderful spring. Many good things have happened in our lives and some of them I really cannot speak about yet. But the big hint is that we will be moving in early 2009 and it is to the one place we most wanted to move. (More to come on this front.)

In other news, the crafty goodness is going well:

I SOLD YARN!!!! YARN THAT I MADE!!!! I am still in disbelief over this fact. I made Cub Scout from a batt of Romney wool that I washed, dyed and carded. But it was...well....a little too Cub Scout-y for me. It was, however, very nicely spun and it sold within 5 minutes!!!!!! Thus I am shocked! (Well not really) that the other two handspuns I've listed on Etsy haven't sold. Oh well, their listing is up at the end of the month and I will simply keep them if they haven't sold. Especially the Regal Rhenium...I have kept one skein of it and I absolutely love it! Here is the Etsy site for all of you (where you can see the sold yarn, plus what's currently for sale, I'll also post it in the links): Mad Scientist Creations!

I'm up to my eyeballs in other unfinished projects. I've several sweaters, socks, scarves, skirts, etc. on the needles. I need to finish these things soon!

In addition I am taking a pottery class from the Community Ed program. I am really enjoying it and mainly using the manual kick wheel! I love that I can do this w/o any electricity coming into the equation. In addition, it's a pretty good work out.

Speaking of a good workout and in effort to save money/the planet, Hubs and I have purchased new bikes for the express purpose of riding into work. It's about a 7-8 mile round trip and we're going strong, riding in most days.

Our garden experiments have been going well too. Thus far we've harvested spinach, lettuce, beats, green and pole beans. Currently we have sunflower seeds, cucumbers, corn, peppers, (hopefully squash) and my favorite, tomatoes, coming in!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Goats are grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!

Since I went to yarn school this past September I've been really interested in goats. Well, to be honest, my interest started before then. I love goats cheese of several varieties (I am a little Greek girl after all.) But at yarn school I met some lovely pygora goats (a pygmy/angora cross) from Laura's Pygoras and learned that my friend Sarah (who was one of the instructors at yarn school) also has these cute little guys. Marissa and I are also doing a fiber CSA through Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm and I can't wait to see the mohair we're going to get for our spinning projects.

So I've decided that the next place Hubs and I move to has to have a little land because we are GETTING GOATS! I would like a small dairy herd and a fiber herd. But as most of you know, my loyal readers, I am not exactly well versed in the farming arts. Currently I am reading this, but that doesn't give me hands on training....So I asked my friend Kris (who works at my University) if I could spend some time on her dairy goat farm. She was very enthusiastic. Last Saturday was my first day on the farm. I learned a lot and had the opportunity to be there as two little doelings came into the world. I can't wait to go back.

The Girls Laying in the Hay

Miracle the Mama and Her Two Kids

Miranda and Mike Take a Snooze

Fidget (Mama) Welcomes Gidget and DellaMae into the World

DellaMae Is Up on All Fours

Chiffon and Rayon Say "Welcome" to Fidget's Girls

Briana the Guard Dog in Training Loves a Pet or Two

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pasta! Patsa!

Making fresh pasta is one of my favorite dinners because it is so simple but so delicious! I went through several recipes before finding one that I feel really makes the best, most elastic, most authentic dough. Believe it or not, I did not find this recipe in a cookbook but on the back of a package of semolina flour (which is a must, Must, MUST!!!)

In your mixer attach a dough hook.
Combine 1 1/2 cup semolina flour and a generous pinch of kosher salt.
Make a well (I just let the hook stir a few times) and add to the well 2 large eggs, 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 1/2 tbsp. water.
Turn the mixer on stir and let it do it's job! This should be relatively quick before you have a nice dough all pulled together.
The dough should look like the picture. If it is too dry add a tsp. of water. If it is too wet add a bit more semolina.
Let the dough hook kneed the dough a bit more.

remove the dough and cut into 1/4s. Wrap each in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.


My recipe says to leave it 20 min in the fridge. But in my experience it is much better to leave it at least 5+ hours. I've even left it a few days. This seems to make the dough more elastic and a better finished product.

Roll out the dough with a pasta machine. I like to roll my dough out until the penultimate setting (no. 5 on my machine) Keep the dough in sheets or use the slicing attachment
Crucial step: allow the rolled out dough or cut pasta (or formed pasta if your making something like ravioli or bow-ties, etc) to dry for 30 minutes. I use a handy-dandy pasta drier.

Boil your pasta in salted H2O. It should cook in under 4 min. Best when al dente.
Here are some bow-ties in pesto.

Here is some tagliatelle in a marinara.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The great outdoors

The weather this weekend was so wonderful! We spent a lot of time outside and did some things to get ready for our garden this summer. I cleared away some vines and plants that were growing along the fence where we are going to plant. We are going to use the Square Foot gardening method and thus some plants will be growing up the fence.

This is the composting area. The left side is dedicated to yard waste and the right side is from our bokashi system! I can't say enough good things about the bokashi method of composting. It uses bacteria to ferment waste products. After a two week period in an air tight bucket it goes into the "ground" (now our compost zone, previously we put it in pots and covered it with dirt) for an additional two weeks and presto-chango you have wonderful compost to use in the garden.

When I was a little girl, I tried to make a solar oven (with a overturned metal pot and clay pot) to make my mom a birthday cake. This was not a bad idea as we lived in California and the sun was very strong, but California also has many ants which were soon drowning in my flour, egg and of all things maple syrup batter. Recently Hubs has purchased a "Sun Oven!" So we decided to test it out. This thing became very hot very fast (within a 1/2 hour) and reached temps as high as 325 F! I was quite impressed as this was a sunny but cool winter day. I can only wait for summer when it's much hotter and the sun is much stronger. Our potatoes were not entirely cooked after 2 hours, but they were cooked.

After my last post I decided I had to finish the yarns. Some are here on Hub's head. He's really too cute isn't he?

Also I received some Jacob's Wool from Hub's (and I guess now my) friend Michelle. I hope that I can repay her generosity soon! (And visit her farmlette.) (Oh and p.s., I cast on for the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts this weekend too! More on that to come.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Spinning for a sweater

Knitting has taken a bit of a haitus this week. Instead I have been spinning quite a bit in the hopes of making enough yarn for a sweater for Hubs. I am making it out of paradise fiber's Columbia/Dorset blend. That I've dyed. I am calling the colorway Lithium Lichen. (I've taken to a periodic table theme for my hand dyed yarns) I think I am going to make him a bottom up raglan, with some cable detailing....we'll see. It's not spun as evenly as I'd like it to be but hopefully it will even up a bit in the finishing. This is my greatest challenge in life...the finishing. I will spin up the yarns, ply them, take them of the bobbins, but I just can't seem to finish anything. I'm the same with laundry. I'll wash, dry, and fold and leave it in the basket for 2 months.

Unfortunately in the picture above you really can't see the variety in the colors....thus here are some singles: