Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Emergency Meal Preparedness

Wow, 2 blog posts in as many days!  The idea for this post came up last night and is entirely due to The Husband.  Let me explain.  Last night, around 9:30 pm, The Husband informed me that he had a change in work schedule and would be leaving in the morning for an overnight trip.  There weren’t supposed to be any overnights this week, so this was something of a surprise.  After a few moments of , “Really?  Do you have to?” my next comment was, “Wait!  I don’t have any suppers cooked ahead for you to take along!”  The Husband’s response was that he just guessed he’d have to eat out.  Right!  I could practically see a neon sign screaming “TACO BELL” in his head.  Now, I’m not saying that I’ll always be able to cook meals ahead for his overnights, but I wasn’t going to let it happen this soon!  So I started scrounging around in the kitchen for something healthier than Taco Bell for him to take with him, which really shouldn’t be that difficult if there is anything at all in one’s pantry or fridge.  Luckily, I had cooked off a whole chicken in the crock pot on Sunday and hadn’t used it yet.  The chicken was an organic, cage-free, hormone-free, antibiotic-free chicken, so that definitely is healthier than anything on the menu at Taco Bell.  A nice single serving of chicken went into a sealed container ready for his cooler.  Then, for a vegetable, I remembered that I had a sweet potato down in the storage bin and that was quickly grabbed and placed beside the cooler.  The sweet potato was really good sized, so I figured that and the chicken should be all that he needed for supper.  Now for the two lunches.  I had made up the Quinoa Taboulleh for our lunches on Monday and there were easily two servings of that left, so there were his lunches.  A quick look around the kitchen turned up a couple of apples should he still be hungry after the salad or need a snack.  Finally, I couldn’t possibly send him off without some kind of extra treat.  I remembered that I had bought the supplies for rice crispy bars weeks ago but had never gotten around to making them.  I quickly grabbed the brown rice crispy cereal, natural style peanut butter, and honey and got to work.  Now I know that rice crispy bars don’t sound healthy, but it depends how you make them.  The recipe I use for rice crispy bars comes from the So Easy cookbook by Ellie Krieger and are marshmallow-free.  They taste just as good (if not better!) than regular rice crispy bars.  The honey sweetens them and the natural peanut butter even gives them a tiny bit of protein.  The brown rice cereal is better for you than the regular rice crispies.  The recipe also calls for dried cherries, but lacking these I threw in some raisins instead.  I quickly pressed the brown rice crispy/peanut butter/honey mix in the pan and – voila! – I was done.  The Husband had a supper and two lunches plus possible snacks for his overnight road trip!  It might not be the most exciting supper of his life, but at least it’s healthy and filling and there is even a rice crispy bar for dessert! 


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A Return to Posting

Yes, I do believe we’re settled in enough now that I can return to posting on occasion.  You’ve probably already noticed that the banner across the top has changed.  I wanted a new banner since we’re living in a new place.  I had originally intended to place a picture of Texas bluebonnets up there, but I haven’t been here long enough to see the bluebonnets.  Yes, there are plenty of pictures of bluebonnets on the internet, even some free ones, but I’d like to put one of my own photos up there.  So, I guess we’ll just have to wait until spring for that picture of bluebonnets.  In the meantime, I thought I’d use a picture of a couple of skeins from my stash.  I think the contrast of colors is nice, don’t you?

So, yes, we’re settling into our new home here in Texas.  The first couple of weeks were definitely on the warm side, but we have cooled down nicely in the last week or so.  The evenings are down right chilly!  (I will be able to wear my sweaters!)  Most of the boxes have either been broken down and put away or have been put in their permanent places.  We’ve done a lot of sorting since we moved into our new home.  We’ve discovered that we don’t need to hang onto as many things these days.  Several boxes of books have either been sold or donated to the local library.  Several boxes have also gone to Good Will.  Lots and lots of papers have been either shredded, trashed, or recycled.  It feels good to have gotten rid of unnecessary things and to have some room to breathe.  Of course, the craft room is as full as ever!  =)

In The Kitchen

Now that the house is basically put together, I’ve been back in the kitchen and cooking and baking again.  There for a while there were waaaay too many meals out or made from processed foods.  Blech.  So, I’ve already made a couple of loaves of Ezekiel bread, a batch of cookies (peanut butter cookies), and a German Chocolate cake for The Husband’s birthday.  There’s been plenty of cooking too.  Last week I cooked all of our meals, including those meals that The Husband took with him on his 2-night, 3-day, road trip (lunches and suppers)!  I wasn’t sure how much he’d appreciate that, but when he came home he said it had been nice not having to look for a restaurant and to be able to eat whenever he liked.  What he didn’t like was that some items got a bit soggy in the ice chest – especially the wheat wraps for a Waldorf Chicken Wraps (from So Easy by Ellie Krieger) and the romaine lettuce for the same wraps and a salad.  So we still have a few details to work out for him to pack his meals.  He also had with him some Curried Chicken Salad on a bed of lettuce from the same cookbook and Quinoa with Sundried Tomatoes from The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno.  Quinoa is my new favorite grain.  It apparently has the most protein out of all the grains – and it tastes great too!  =)  I had originally thought it didn’t taste good, but it turns out that you’re supposed to rinse it in warm water for a minute or so to rinse off a bitter coating that the grains naturally have.  Here’s a picture of The Husband’s and my lunch today.   It is Quinoa Tabbouleh from The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook.  Tabbouleh is usually made with bulgur, but the quinoa tastes just as good.  I think tabbouleh traditionally has more parsley in it than what I added.  The recipe doesn’t say how much parsley to add, so I just guessed and used most of one bunch of parsley from the grocery store.  It tastes great with the one bunch, plenty of parlsey flavor but not too overwhelming.  The dressing is lime juice, lemon juice, and soy sauce.  There are amounts listed in the cookbook, but I just kind of eyeballed it.  There are chunks of tomato and cucumber in the salad as well as edamame for some additional protein.  I’d definitely make this salad again.  It can be eaten either chilled or at room temperature, which is nice for The Husband while he’s on the road.


In The Garden

Okay, there isn’t actually a garden at my current home.  We decided to live in a complex for now while we look for a house to move to later and the complex doesn’t have garden plots for each home.  I asked for permission to create a small garden space and the landlord was incredibly kind and said yes.  So, this past weekend we went to a greenhouse and bought several small plants appropriate for fall planting here in Texas.  We also went to a typical big box hardware store and bought supplies to make a very small raised bed and the cutest little cold frame kit I’ve ever seen!  Oh, and of course we bought dirt as well.  The original plan had been to make sure that all the plants and materials were all organic, but, well, I wanted a garden immediately (that first freeze is coming fairly soon and I needed those plants established!) and the plants at the greenhouse looked healthy and I’m pretty sure the dirt, compost, and manure said they were organic.  There certainly weren’t any chemicals added to the dirt (like fertilizer).  And I’m not intending to spray my plants with anything.  So, I think we did good enough on this one, at least for now.  After much hauling of heavy material, moving things around, an hour of putting together the cold frame, and getting dirty up to the elbows, we have:  a raised and cold-framed garden!  It’s not the best picture, but you get the idea.  The frame around the raised bed is made of 8 cement blocks.  The cold frame is made of heavy-duty plastic and plexiglass.  We pushed up some dirt around the base to seal off where the frame meets the cement blocks and last night we could see moisture collecting in the frame, so it is apparently sufficiently sealed.  What, you may be asking, is planted in there?  Well, we have herbs including thyme, oregano, and two different kinds of parsley.  We also have some vegetables including Swiss chard, broccoli, and cauliflower.  The Swiss chard and broccoli should produce several times, but the cauliflower will only produce one time.  Once the cauliflower is done, I will probably plant a couple of lettuces in spring and then maybe a tomato plant once it gets warm enough to take the cold frame off.  We also got some catnip and rosemary plants and they are planted in pots and placed up front near the front door where they’ll get lots of sun and some heat bouncing off the driveway and brick wall of the garage.  Now all I have to do is sit back, watch the weather for frost and freeze warnings, water, watch my plants grow and wait for the first harvests!

Swiss chard in my garden

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Last Wednesday was the spinning guild meeting.  We were told to bring 1 ounce of fiber in a brown paper bag for a challenge project.  I dutifully packed up some fiber I had dyed and headed to the meeting.  We all exchanged fiber (via a passing game) and I got 1 ounce of alpaca, white.  We were then issued the challenge to spin the fiber and make something from it, to be creative.  Yikes!  The very word sends a little shiver of anxiety up my spine.  I’ve never seen myself as being adequately creative.  I know, sad, right?  So I’ve decided to take this challenge seriously and really try to stretch myself, maybe prove to myself that I’m more creative than I give myself credit for.  I’ve also decided to keep a journal for this particular project to both help the project along and as a reminder of what I did.  Since I want the finished object to be a surprise, I’m going to wait until I’ve made the object and given it back to the person who gave me the fiber in the first place and then I’ll blog about it here.  I might even make a special page for my creativity challenge.  =)

In The Kitchen

I’m back to cooking from cookbooks again.  My sister turned me on to the cookbooks by Ellie Krieger (So Easy and The Food You Crave) and my sister-in-law told me about a cookbook by Tosca Reno called The Eat-Clean Diet.  So I’ve come up with a few menus and snack ideas from these three books.  I’ve actually already made two recipes from the So Easy cookbook, the Spicy Egg and Avocado Wraps and the Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats.  The wraps were a nice healthy lunch for The Husband and myself (mine being minus the avocado since The Husband stole all those for Himself!).  The wraps include lettuce, tomato, avocado, hard-boiled egg and cucumber plus other ingredients.  The Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats were an excellent sweet ending to lunch.  They’re like the rice crispy treats we made as kids, minus the processed sugar/marshmallows and with the addition of peanut butter and dried fruit (or chocolate chips or just about anything else one can think of).  I made mine with dried cherries.  Seriously yummy!  I did have to put them in the fridge a bit longer than suggested to firm them up and I made my typical mistake when making rice crispy treats – I didn’t press them down hard enough.  Shoot.  Oh well, I just pressed them down again after they had chilled enough so they weren’t quite as sticky.  I would give this recipe a double thumbs up.  More recipe auditions to come.

In the Craft Room

I’m still working on the Evenstar Shawl.  It’s coming along really well.  We’ve received the second-to-last clue and closing in on finishing this thing.  I’d put in a picture, but it really does look like a pile of snarled yarn at this point (well, maybe not that bad).  Believe me, when I’m done and it’s been blocked, I’ll probably be posting pictures everywhere!

Another project I’m working on is learning to darn socks.  I asked my sister to send me her hand-knitted socks that had holes in them so I could learn how to fix them and she kindly obliged.  I was all ready to go until I saw that thread, not just yarn, was involved.  Hm.  What you have to do with the thread really isn’t that hard, it just means I have to go find it in the craft room.  Hrmph.  That might require some excavation and several days of wandering in the jungle of yarn and fiber.  Never fear, I’ve a flashlight around here somewhere.

On The Bookshelf

I’m currently reading a book by Warren Fahy, “Fragment.”  So far, it seems to be one of those novels that means to scare you with what nature can, does, and could come up with.  Think along the lines of “Jurassic Park.”  Hm.  Not my favorite type of novel since I’m generally not in favor of making nature seem like our enemy.  I’m going to stick with it though.  I’m hoping that there’s some redemption at the end of the novel and that the apparently scary aspects of nature and evolution are being misinterpreted.  I’m crossing my fingers here.

Also on the bookshelf, are “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte and “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde.  I’m still reading both books, but they’re a bit on the back burner as “Fragment” is a library book and needs to be read first.  I love “Villette” but have been frustrated with the huge amount of French in it.  The French is not interpreted in footnotes and I’m one of the few who didn’t study French in school.  So, I’ve taken to using an interpretation program on my computer.  This does not make “Villette” a particularly portable read.  I pretty much have to read it while sitting at the computer.  It may take a while to finish it.  I’ve just started “Dorian Gray” for a book group, so I don’t really have too much to say about it so far.

More updates later.  I’m hoping to have more updates on the garden in the next week.  It has finally warmed up and is sunny, so there should be more opportunities to plant.  I’ve planted three blueberry bushes in the backyard, but I’ll save that for later.  Oh, and I’ll also have to post pictures of Bailey, the poodle, and her new haircut!

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Changes in the Kitchen

You know how sometimes you have a brilliant idea that later turns out to be not such a good idea?  Well, it turns out that cooking from one cookbook for weeks on end is probably not a good idea, things get a bit, well, stale.  In the last week, I tried three more recipes from said cookbook, and none of the three were winners.  In fact, the two I cooked tonight will probably be thrown away.  Sigh.  What a waste.  Also, The Husband has been grumbling a bit for the last couple of weeks around mealtime.  The comments were muttered and not entirely coherent, but I got the feeling they had to do with the type of food showing up at mealtimes.

The Husband:  Mumble, grumble, mumble.

Me:  “Is there a problem?”

The Husband:  “No.”

Me:  “Don’t you like my cooking?”

The Husband:  “There is absolutely nothing wrong with your cooking.  I love your cooking.  Your cooking is great!  There’s never been anything wrong with your cooking, etc.”

(Hm, that last comment seemed a bit over-zealous, but I decided to let it go.)

Me:  “Well, then, do you dislike the dishes I’ve been cooking lately?”

The Husband:  Mumble, mumble, mumble.

So, I was pretty sure that things were heading south in terms of all the healthy and veggie-centric dishes I’d been cooking lately.  Just to test that theory, last week, about mid-week, I asked if we could maybe eat out the next day.  The Husband responded that that would be great.  To further test my theory, that weekend I suggested that maybe I just wouldn’t cook the next week and we could eat out most of the week.  Oddly enough, The Husband again agreed, even though he knows it costs three times as much to eat at restaurants versus eating at home.  Then, today, when I tried out two more recipes from the book and realized that they were not going to pass muster, I came to the same conclusion my husband had come to a couple of weeks ago:  This cooking from the one cookbook was not working out.  When The Husband came home tonight we talked about the “culinary adventure” and decided that it was time for me to let it go.  This is not to say that I won’t be cooking from that cookbook anymore, because I will.  This is also not to say that I don’t agree with eating locally, eating what is in season, and eating a diet that has a lot of healthy vegetables in it.  I think these are all great ideas.  What I will be doing is pulling out some of the old standby recipes that we’ve made for years and love.  I’ll also be pulling out some different cookbooks and trying new recipes from them.  I’ll go back to playing with my food and cooking recipes as if they are suggestions, not rules.  I’ll throw a few things together in a pan and call it a meal.  And I’ll probably slip in some junk food now and then.  =)  What’s that saying Mom always says?  Oh yes, “Everything in moderation!”

(What’s that I hear?  I do believe that’s The Husband ordering pizza!)

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In the Kitchen

This past week I’ve spent a bit more time in the kitchen and 4 more recipes from Simply in Season got cooked.  It seems like I’m averaging about 2 meals a week that feature recipes from Simply in Season.  I could probably cook more often, but I think we’d end up wasting some food.  The recipes are generally written to serve 6 and, since there’s only 2 of us, there are plenty of leftovers.  By this evening, I’ll have added 2 more recipes, Turkey Barley Soup (currently bubbling away in the crock pot) and Southwestern Potatoes (gotta use up more of those potatoes!).  So, recipes last week included:

Apple Rice Stuffing:  I made this to go along side a roasted whole chicken.  The rice is cooked with apple juice and then added to onion, celery, apples, walnuts, a bit of brown sugar, and some herbs to taste and cooked in a pan.  Then you have the choice of either cooking it in the chicken or separately in a casserole dish.  I chose to cook it separately since I was roasting the chicken in the crock pot.  This was a pretty tasty stuffing, sweet from the apples and brown sugar, but savory from the herbs, and the walnuts added a nice crunch.

Wild Rice Vegetable Bake and Pork Apricot Skillet:  The Wild Rice Vegetable Bake was okay.  It included wild rice and barley plus lots of vegetables.   The rice was pre-cooked a bit and the barley probably could have stood with some pre-cooking as well.  The vegetables included parsnips, winter squash (I used acorn squash), and sweet potatoes.  I’m not a huge fan of parsnips and, if I was rushed for time, I’d probably leave out the squash since it’s a bit harder to handle and harder to peel.  I did enjoy the flavor of the squash though.  So, overall, I’d say this recipe was just okay.  The Pork Apricot Skillet, on the other hand, was pretty good.  It’s a really simple recipe with just pork, onion, and dried apricots.  The flavors go well together and I love apricots!  I’ll be making this one again.

And, finally, I also made some more granola, the Mostly Oats Granola.  This is a typical granola but had a few ingredients that I’ve never put in granola before, including raw sunflower seeds and vanilla.  It’s not a very sweet granola (no added brown sugar and not as much honey as other recipes) but it has a touch of sweetness and the sunflower seeds add a new flavor.  Impression:  It’s an okay granola, but I have other recipes I like better.

I’m hoping that I’ll have time this afternoon to also make a dessert.  I have some peach slices thawing in the refrigerator from last summer and there’s a Whole Wheat Peach Kuchen recipe that looks pretty yummy.

In the Craft Room

I’ve been spinning a lot lately.  Now that the Ravelympics are over, I can get back to spinning up my fiber club installments from Crown Mountain Farms.  I’ve finished up February’s Finn fiber in Shiva/Shakti and will begin spinning up March’s installment next.   March’s fiber is Shetland Top in the colorway Bannockburn, gorgeous greens and yellows, very spring-like.  The Shiva/Shakti yarn is a 3-ply fingering weight that I’m planning to knit up into socks.  I think I’ll spin the Bannockburn into a 2-ply fingering weight and, if I get enough yardage, maybe make shawlette.  It’s kind of bright, but a shawlette in spring greens might be just the thing to wear on a coolish spring day.

Other spinning as been for the fleece study.  So far, I’ve spun up the Polwarth, the Shetland, and I have singles for the Finn that need to be plied.  The fleece study group is meeting on Wednesday and I’m hoping I’ll get maybe one more sample carded and spun up by then.  Pictures of those samples later.

In knitting news, I’m working on a new sweater!  I’ve joined a knit-a-long for one of the podcasts I listen to (Knitmore Girls) and will be knitting the Mondo Cable Pulli by Bonne Marie Burns of Chic KnitsI’m knitting it out of Malabrigo in the Marron Oscuro colorway.  The photo was taken outside on my porch (we have sun today!) and, at least on my screen, appears to be true to its color.

Other projects on the needles include a pair of socks (of course) and the Evenstar Mystery Shawl.  I’m still working on clue number 2 of the shawl and the third clue was released this weekend.  Guess I’d better hurry up on that.  It is lace though, so it requires total quiet and a lot of concentration.  That’s going to be harder and harder to come by as the weather gets more spring-like.

In the Dye Pot

The dyeing for the spinning guild’s dye exchange is finally done!  The fiber that I dyed up last week ended up felting horribly, so I had to buy another pound of fiber and dye it this weekend.  I was super cautious this time about not agitating the fiber and didn’t add as much dye to the dye pot so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time rinsing.  The newly dyed fiber came out beautifully!  What a relief!  Here’s a picture of the fiber I dyed with the Earthues Logwood Purple extract.  A picture of the fiber I dyed this weekend will have to wait as it is still down in the basement drying.  All that’s left to do for the dye exchange is to divide the fiber into 1-ounce bundles and wrap the labels around them.  Then, on Wednesday evening, I’ll hand out all the fiber I’ve dyed up and come home with 2 pounds of new fiber dyed by other guild members.  I can’t wait to see all the colors they came up with!

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In The Kitchen

Yay!  Three more recipes accomplished in my attempt to cook my way through Simply in Season!  They were all done yesterday, March 7, 2010.  Now, usually I avoid cooking on Sundays since it is Sunday and the last day of the weekend, which is when I spend time with The Husband.  However, I just wasn’t in the mood to eat restaurant food, we had finished up all of last week’s leftovers, and we had just spent around $180 on groceries (which The Husband was not particularly pleased about), so venturing into the kitchen to make a nice healthy supper seemed liked a good idea.

The first recipe I made was Potato Soup.  I decided on this recipe for two reasons:  1)  how hard could soup be?  and 2) an accidental over-abundance of potatoes.  I don’t know how I ended up with 2 bags of potatoes, but I did, and these were from the last time we bought groceries!  Note to self:  Do not buy groceries until you have checked to make sure that you don’t already have what’s on the grocery list!  I used up one bag of potatoes on the Potato Soup, so there’s one bag of potatoes gone.  Luckily, these were thin-skinned potatoes, so I didn’t have much peeling to do (I decided to peel 2-3 of the potatoes that had started turning a bit green).  However, there was a lot of potato dicing!  The soup also included a bit of celery (I used up the leftover celery from last week) and carrots.  The broth was frozen leftover homemade chicken broth from a chicken I cooked a couple of months ago.  It was then enhanced with 2 cups of milk and some flour to make a cream broth.  The Husband tends to like having meat with his meals, so I also added some cooked ham that we had bought at Whole Foods.  Add some salt and pepper and you’ve got a very yummy potato soup! 

Beside the soup, you can see the results of the second recipe, Peanut Apple Salad.  Now, this recipe took a wee bit of trust.  =)  The apples, celery, raisins, peanuts and coconut were all fine additions, it was the dressing that had me tempted to ignore the instructions in the recipe.  The dressing was made from peanut butter, sugar, milk, and mayo!  I was fine right until the addition of mayo.  However, when I started this little adventure I had decided to follow the recipes and then, if I didn’t like the results, I could change it the next time I made the recipe.  So, in went the mayo.  I must say, the dressing was good!  You couldn’t even really taste the mayo in there.  It was about the consistency and flavor of a peanut dipping sauce you might get at a Thai restaurant.  Yum!

The last recipe I made from Simply in Season yesterday was the Chunky Crunchy Granola from the All Seasons section of the cookbook.  This granola has some milk and flour added to the usual ingredients of granola (plus brown sugar) to make it chunky.  It also has cinnamon and ground ginger added!  It smelled and tasted like the oatmeal crumb topping you might put on a cobbler.  For the fruit and nuts, I added raisins, dried apricots, and slivered almonds, but you could add anything you have on hand.

I have one more addition to my kitchen experiments this week:  Yogurt!  Now, I listen to Meghan’s StitchIt Podcast (see links) and this week Meghan’s Favorite Thing was homemade yogurt.  I swear, that girl has a talent for convincing people to try new things!  She is so enthusiastic and describes things in such a way that you’re convinced you have to go try whatever it is immediately.  =)  So, I now own a yogurt maker!  LOL!  After quite a bit of research, we went to our local kitchen store and bought a Waring Pro yogurt machine and I made yogurt Saturday overnight.  This first picture is what it looked like while it was incubating.  The jars you see beside it are the jars that came with the yogurt maker.  They’re made of plastic and I wasn’t 100% sure about using them in the yogurt maker (because of leaching), so I used some glass jelly jars I had instead.  I think next time I’ll just make it in a large bowl and then scoop the yogurt into the plastic jars for storage.  Anyway, here is the finished yogurt Sunday morning.  I had some for a snack on Sunday afternoon with honey drizzled over it and had it again for breakfast today with the granola.  The flavor is wonderful!  The consistency is a bit thinner than I was aiming for, but still perfectly fine.  It’s made with organic 2% milk and organic yogurt, so I can eat it and feel really good about getting all the benefits of eating yogurt.

In The Dye Pot

I’ve also been dyeing this week.  The spinning guild dye exchange is coming up this month and so it’s time to dye up 2 pounds of fiber using natural dye materials.  I decided to go with Earthues dye extracts in Madder and Logwood Purple.  The pictures are of the wool in the dye pot.  I’ll have pictures of the dried wool later.  The process wasn’t too bad.  The only trouble I had was getting the water temperature up to 200 degrees without making the water boil.  I figured it was our elevation and emails from the spinning guild forum confirmed that others were having the same problem and were just getting it as hot as they could without letting the water boil.  After I had mordanted and dyed the wool, the next part was giving it a quick wash and rinse.  Sounds easy, right?  Not so.  The rinsing took forever!  I don’t think I got the water to run entirely clear with the purple wool and I ended up enlisting The Husband’s help for the red wool.  The red wool probably took at least an hour to rinse clear.  I’m not sure if this is just the nature of the dye product or if I somehow grossly over-estimated the amount of dye I would need for the amount of wool I had.  I followed the directions from the Earthues instruction book, but who knows.

Next on the agenda for the dye exchange, making up labels for each 1-ounce sample explaining what type of wool, what type of dye, what dye method, etc.  I might also need to do some carding of the wool since the wool fibers got really disorganized with all that rinsing.

Out To The Garden

Just a brief note about garden plans.  I had The Husband go through the seed packages we bought so we could plan when to start planting.  It sounds like the Daikon radishes should go out this week some time.  There are a few others that can be planted indoors as well.  Time to find planting containers (old take-out containers, flower pots, egg cartons, etc.) and decide what planting medium I want to use to plant the seeds in.  I’ll probably just end up grabbing a bag of soil from a local store.  The more difficult question will be where to put the seeds so the cats will stay out of them!  =)

And, finally, I thought I’d share what my garden looked like this past Friday morning. It’s that raised square area towards the middle.  (Ignore the recycling container that was left out on the patio after it was scoured out.)  The square is one of the raised beds.  There is another one off to the right a bit.  This year we’ll be using those two beds plus creating a garden down on the lower level of our yard as well.  Here’s another picture out towards the front yard.  Doesn’t look much like gardening weather, does it.  Luckily, today it is sunny and nearly 50 degrees.  You just never know out here in The Valley.  Of course, I just checked our forecast and it looks like we’re due for more snow tomorrow night.  Spring gardening plans will have to wait a little bit longer.

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As you can see, I’ve updated my recipe ticker to reflect the 4 recipes I’ve made.  But more about that in the In The Kitchen section.  The Olympics and Ravelympics are over.  I’m both relieved to have the deadline met and behind me, but my knitting is feeling a bit aimless these days.  I’ve already knit a pair of slippers since Closing Ceremonies and I have a shawl I could work on, but without the entertainment of the games and the pressure of a deadline, well, it just isn’t the same.  I did have a good time making the slippers though.  =)  They are the Bunny Hop Slippers from Craft Magazine.  Mine aren’t pink bunnies though, as you can see.  I couldn’t find a pink chunky yarn that I really liked.  The colors just weren’t right.  So, I bought some green Plymouth Galway Chunky and then dyed up some fiber in some coordinating (I hoped) green dyes and decided to go for it.  Where is the green dyed fiber?  Why, inside!  They’re called thrums and you knit them in as you knit the slipper.  They add for extra cushion and extra warmth.  I’ve tried them on several times and they are definitely cushy and they immediately began warming up my cold toes.  I haven’t actually worn them around the house.  They’re still too new.  =)  These slippers knit up super fast and probably cost $13 to make with $12 being the cost of the yarn.  The buttons were cheap buttons from JoAnn’s and the thrums were cheap wool bought from The Sheep Shed Studio.   So, the project was fun and cost effective!

In The Kitchen

I’ve been cooking in the kitchen again.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of two of the recipes I made.  The first recipe was called Hutspot.  It is a dish from Holland and seems like it is a basic “boiled dinner.”  The recipe says you can either use boneless beef chuck or venison round steak for the meat and I chose to use beef.  If my brother was somewhere nearby, I might have chosen to use venison since he hunts and does a fabulous job preparing deer.  I simmered the beef for about 2 hours in 2 cups of water.  Then added potatoes, carrots, and onion.  When everything is fully cooked, you remove the meat and mash the vegetables with milk and butter.  It was a warm, filling meal, but not as flavorful as we’re used to eating.  With this dinner, I also made Au Gratin Cabbage.  This was a perfect way to use up leftover cabbage from the borscht.  Again, it wasn’t the most flavorful dish, but it did use up the cabbage and some carrots (add some milk, egg, and cheese).  The milk and egg mixture seemed to settle to the bottom, but the cheese stayed on top and was a nice addition to the dish.

So, that was last week.  This week, I made Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos and Apple Carrot Salad.  The burritos involved dicing up 3 cups worth of sweet potatoes and some onion.  After that, it was super easy.  You add black beans and then wrap the mixture up in tortillas and bake for 20-25 minutes.   Spices included cumin and cinnamon, so there is the flavor we were missing last week!  The Apple Carrot Salad is made up of shredded apples and carrots (of course) and mixed in a dressing of honey, lemon and orange juice.  You also add some shredded mint and raisins.  Again, a more flavorful dish than last week.  The fruit salad definitely balances out the more heavy burritos and is a wonderful salad for a rather dreary day.  The lemon and orange juice tastes like pure sunshine!

Out to the Garden

The worms are doing well.  We had a bit of difficulty figuring out how much moisture they needed.  I think the bedding gets dryer here faster than we were expecting.  We added some water to their bedding last night and they are definitely more active today!  I went down to the Worm Bin after making supper this evening to add the carrot and apple scraps (more moisture) and there was plenty of movement in the bedding.

Books, Books, Books

I quickly wanted to mention a website I joined late last year.  Goodreads is a place to keep track of the books you’ve read, books in your library, books you’d like to read as well as a place to meet people with similar reading tastes and to join reading groups to discuss books you’ve read or are reading.  I’m currently reading “Persuasion” by Jane Austen (with CraftLit) and am still reading “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” by Anne Bronte for a reading group I’m participating in.  You can participate in discussions and the social aspect of Goodreads as much or as little as you’d like.  Go take a look.

In the Dye Pot

Nothing is in the dye pot yet, but I need to get started on my fiber for my dye exchange which is coming up this month.  I’ve already got my fiber and my dyes, just need to get started.  Hopefully I’ll have an update for that in my next post!

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