Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yarn and Rhubarb

It was a rather blah looking, too hot, too humid day so I scraped my plans for a second day of hiking with the wee one and we cooked and relaxed instead. This gave me some time to put in some serious mileage on several long outstanding needlecraft projects, ironically they were all winter or cold-weather projects.

First, I got as far as I am going to until it gets cooler on a pair of fleece pants and matching jumper dress for K. The elastic is in the the waistband but I'll hold of on sewing it until the fall so that I can size it properly; no need to sew it in now and then rip it out and fix it later if she grew over the summer. The dress is also on hold needing only bias tape in the armholes and potentially a button up the back to get it over her big head, again if she keeps growing. Next, I got one step away from finished sewing new liners for some of my lined baskets...with X-mas prints on the accent band. Yeah, I know, but now I'm ahead of the game for next year. These are to replace the current fall liners that they came with. If I start now I should be able to finish spring themed ones in time for 2010. I'm also trying to pickup cross stitching again, but I only have the yarns that came with my little how to book so I'm pretty limited in what I can make right now. I'm hoping to add some detail to K's cloths and also lettering on the basket liners.

Then I got in a few more rows of my crochet sampler stitch scarf in a variegated 'fiesta jewel' Red Heart yarn, that is turning out to be much better than I anticipated. I think that I might actually want to keep this one for me instead of donating it to the K dress up bin. That's pretty good considering that I only taught myself crochet a few weeks ago and this is my first crochet project. Last, but not least, I finally knit over the one third mark on Mom's X-mas scarf. I turned on Batman Begins and just dug in while K was napping and got another 6 inches which pushed me up over 1/3 of my intended final length. This is a nice washable wool in a deep heather blue with creamy white stripes at the tip. If I can figure out how, I'm also still considering adding pockets on the end but that depends on if I can get this done before next X-mas.

This evening K was a great helper in the kitchen. She rolled out her own pizza dough and picked the orange cheese while I formed the rest and topped them with feta, zucchini and pizza sauce with sweet peppers and onions. She washed strawberries while I cut the rhubarb. She mixed dry ingredients for muffins while I mixed them for cobbler biscuits. She dumped flour on the floor and all over her front while I chopped the strawberries and mixed them with the rhubarb and sugar. She cleaned up while I melted butter and poured the wet stuff for the muffins. She stirred the wet stuff while I mixed and kneaded the biscuit dough. She put muffin papers in the tin while I mixed up rhubarb into the batter and she held the tray as I spooned it in. She generously piled the tops with the cinnamon sugar and I put them in the oven. As I cut the biscuits and assembled the strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, she washed up and took her pizza to the table. She refused to eat said pizza but was nice about it and asked for a muffin instead. We both enjoyed the muffins, though she ate mostly just the tops, and are looking forward to cobbler with ice cream for dessert.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Market Haul-Memorial Weekend

Not wanting to fight the crowds on the first day of strawberry picking we decided against heading out to our usual Farmers Market in Leesburg and instead made a round-about loop past the Smart Market Inc.'s Oakton location off of Hunter Mill Rd on our way to lunch al la picnic in Ellanor C. Lawrence historical park. The Oakton market is smaller, meaning less vendor competition, but it's also easier to get the good stuff and it starts and ends an hour later which is nice for those of us who are too unorganized to get an early start out the door on a Saturday Morning. My purchases were also affected said un-organization as I realized as we were pulling in that I had removed all of my insulated bags (the cooler-like bags that you can add ice to keep food cold) to make room for boxes in my trunk earlier in the week and had failed to return them. I was also only carrying one small ice pack to keep our lunch box cold and this would not be enough to support any meat, dairy or delicate greens. Darn.

I ended up with a loaf of some hearty bread and a cheddar beer bread round, 5 large stalks of rhubarb (never cooked it before), a few green and yellow zucchini, 2 large bundles of asparagus (get it while its good), and a basket of large but clearly early strawberries. I have ambitions of cooking up strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, rhubarb muffins, asparagus fritatas and a breakfast of local eggs/bacon/mushrooms/bread from past markets finds tomorrow morning but we'll just have to see. I did manage to saute the zucchinis with some local garlic and a dash of sea salt for my favorite no-brains required fresh side dish. It goes with most anything but in this case it was non-local hamburgers doctored with some diced local shallots and a healthy dose of Worcestershire all smothered in BBQ sauce. K, of course, smelled the squash and turned up her nose but did agree that the hamburger was good before deciding that she didn't actually want to eat any of it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm a Winner!

A special thanks to farm mom over at Children in the Corn and her enthusiastic children for pulling my name out of the hat for her 2 year blogiversary give away. I will soon be the proud owner of Joel Salatin's Holy Cows and Hog Heaven. I have been and admirer of his Polyface farm and activism for a few years and can't wait to begin reading my first adult book of the season.

One Local Summer

Speaking of local food, Farm to Philly is once again hosting the One Local Summer Challenge. Registration is open until May 30th and it goes like this: cook up one meal each of 13 weeks during the challenge using locally grown ingredients (exceptions: oil, salt and pepper, and spices). Post about your meal on the blog. Regional Coordinators will compile the weeks meals and they roundup will be posted on Farm to Philly.
I plan on participating once again this year, except that I hope to actually be able to keep up on my posting. Last year I kinda blog faded, even though I was eating more local food than ever. This year I hope to be featuring some of my own home-grown meals or at least foods as well if all goes well in the garden.

First Bite from the Farm

Now that I'm growing my own bounty on my very own porch and have had the pleasure of harvesting my own greens for simple salads for almost a month now, the first bite from the farm carries a little less pizazz than it used to but it is still a hallmark occasion for us. Over mothers day weekend (its been a while I know) we made our first trip of the year out to our CSA farm, Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA, to tour the fields by hayride, play on the new playground equipment, enjoy the new chairs in the kids playground and pick up our first bonus vegi. It just so happened that they were over run with asparagus and were worried about it going to waste with the poor weather driving down turnout and the fact that now they are not starting the shares until June, well after the asparagus is gone. As a half share member we got a "large" handful to take home. This unexpected "freebie" (no additional cost to the share we have already purchased) had us very excited as we got to the farmers market too late to buy any and I was disappointed to wait another week to get my favorite spring seasonal food. Well I was excited any way...asparagus spears are just a little to alien for K right now. She was happy to wash them and use them as drumsticks but stopped just short of putting them in her mouth. I however thoroughly enjoyed them steamed and added to a local omelet topped with feta, sauteed with local butter and a dash of salt as a simple side, microwave steamed for lunch at the office, and served cold on my porch-grown salad.

Friday, May 15, 2009

No Suitable Title

I've stopped blogging for a while, mostly because I was too tired/busy/lazy to come up with anything witty or worthwhile to say but also because I felt that in the pursuit of balance in my life I was actually becoming very polarized. I guess that when two primary facets of you life exist at odds with one another it is natural that you feel compelled to do one or the other. The easy fix for that is to put lots of time into both but as I've fount that is just exhausting.

Some things that have happened recently:
I've learned to do basic crochet. I can even crochet and walk a the same time though I found out the hard way that by keeping your arms out in front it increases the sun exposure to the tops of your arms and may lead to unexpected burns or tans (depending on skin color).
I have stuffed about as many containers and plants on to my patio as that small space and apartment regs allow and its starting to really get green out there. I am harvesting my own mixed greens salad every few days and with this next bit of warm I should have it near every day soon.
I don't start getting my csa share until next month but mothers day weekend we headed out to the farm for some play time and got a freebie handful (as much as you could fit) of fresh asparagus which has been going into local egg omelets and is also great just sauteed on its own with a little salt.
I'm going to try to do One Local Summer again this year but this time actually write up my participation. Hopefully I'll do better and making it till the end than I did with the Dark Days but we'll see. I'll post more about it later.
I'm playing a much larger role at work and have a fair amount of self direction that I didn't have before. I'm also trying to be much more deliberate and proactive in my new found freedom so that I can prepare to make the transition to management when the cards lay out right.
I got out the camping gear and saved money to make the purchases that I needed to round out my gear so that K and I can take our first camping trip. Now I just need the $$ pay for the gas, camp site fees and food. It will be interesting to see if I can keep up with K in the "wild". Luckily, on one of our trips to REI to look at new tents she showed and interest in playing inside the tent and no aptitude for being able to open the zippers on her own, so there is hope.

That all I can think of right now and I should be in bed so I better sign off. Buenos Noches.