Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quickie (for Wende)

I was trying to think of the Jewish hip hop artist Wende was looking for but got distracted. By Hasidic reggae. I hate reggae, as a rule, but Matisyahu is kind of an exception. Don't ask me why.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Full Cooking Post... (plus bomb-ass peach chutney recipe)

This chutney recipe is from an antique cookbook of Matt's mom's. She makes it in mass quantities - when I helped her a couple of months ago we had to triple the recipe. I made just over one batch - I had some extra peaches so I tossed them in with a little bit extra of everything else. Sketchy, but chutney is forgiving.

6 lbs. peaches
2 lbs. raisins (we like to mix regular and golden raisins)
3/4 lb. preserved ginger
3 1/2 lbs. sugar
1 oz. salt
1 t. allspice
3 pints vinegar (a British pint being 20 ounces)

Cut a cross in the bottom of each peach and scald them in boiling water for maybe 3-4 minutes, they start to cook on the outside a tiny bit. Let them cool so you don't burn yourself and peel them. This is easier if your peaches are ripe, then you can just use a knife, for the less ripe ones I had to use a vegetable peeler and then you're giving up good fruit. Pit and chop the peeled peaches. This will take what seems like forever (but took me about an hour by the clock).

Chop the ginger into chunks. Mix the vinegar, salt, sugar and allspice. Bring to a boil and add the peaches. Simmer for 10 minutes before adding ginger and raisins. It barely fit in my biggest stockpot, FYI. Cook until it thickens up, letting it bubble a little bit but stirring periodically so nothing sticks to the bottom and burns. I ended up simmering for a couple hours until everything looked nice and thick and when I taste-tested it the vinegar and ginger flavors had mellowed out and married together nicely.

When you decide everything is cooked down enough (I was generous and gave it about three hours) pour it into jars. Fill the jars very full and stick the lid on while it's hot. As it cools it will seal. Matt's mom swears by this and has been making this stuff successfully for a very long time. And mine all sealed so I am going to believe her on this one. Apparently chutney is much more forgiving than jams and jellies (because it has about half a gallon of vinegar in it) so it is highly unlikely to spoil on you if you get it to seal.
This recipe is very open to adjustment, I want to try it with apricots next summer (if I can get someone else to help me peel them) or even with apples in the fall. I also have an apple butter recipe that makes ridiculously good apple butter but I am kind of scared of the pressure canning stuff - this had no hot water baths or anything and it was a really good starter project. So I hope you enjoyed my little photo essay/tutorial ;)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

In The Interim...

We have a new system in this house. We try and always go out on Friday nights. That way when you wake up on Saturday morning it feels like Sunday. And then when Sunday rolls around it's like a three-day weekend! Or something like that.

My point is, we went out last night and Matt has a gig tonight. Which leaves me to make plans or not. So I went to the Farmer's Market and bought $30 worth of fruit. Then I went and bought a pile of jars. And now I am catching up on the bit of Return of the King that Matt watched after I fell asleep while my pot of peach chutney simmers on the stovetop.

It's my Christmas plan - the last couple of years I've been buying fewer Christmas presents and making more. And where can you go buy peach chutney? It's fantastic with any kind of roasted meat - chicken, pork, or probably beef (I don't eat much beef so I'm not actually sure on that one). It looks like it's going to add up to less than $5 a jar in the end(partly because I didn't have enough jars and had to buy some new ones instead of hitting all the thrift stores and amassing them one by one. That's for next year). So I thought I could pair them with little jars of some kind of spice rub or something. I've got all these herbs in my backyard, I'm thinking I'll start drying some of them and see what I decide to use.

And Return of the Kind still stacks up pretty well, I'm kind of over the Arwen storyline but I always love seeing Eowyn get to kick some ass in the end. By the time this stuff cooks down I might be done with this movie. Good thing this is the extended edition...

Full recipe with details and all the cooking blog-style photo action tomorrow, I promise!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It Begins Again...

Fall is in the air, that means gardening projects are coming to an end. However, that leaves room in my schedule for.. you guessed it! House Projects! The last couple of nights I have had plans that failed to materialize, so other than taking a bubble bath and watching a hefty chunk of the Lord of the Rings movies, I managed to do a full clean-out of both the bedroom and my office. This included vacuuming and dusting everything, removing all books from bookshelves and deciding whether they should stay or go, much laundry up to and including washing all the curtains and bedding and much other fun stuff. So now I just need to do the rest of the house...

Here's a partial list, just for starters.

1. I finally got the new fixture to replace this lovely hanging lamp
with this one

Boring, yes, I know. Perhaps you need a close-up of the OTHER fixture. Well sorry, you ain't getting it. Because yuck. Nasty un-cleanable 70's brass and frosted glass with a million tiny candle bulbs. No thank you.

So I am waiting for my favorite electrician to call (SUPER RIDICULOUSLY nice guy, did a giant pain in the ass electrical box replacement for us a couple of years ago and was super helpful and laid back about the whole thing, big points in my book). And this is INCREDIBLY EXCITING LET ME TELL YOU. This will change the whole house, I swear.

2. Shades for the lamps Pop made me. My dad, for starters, is an awesome woodworker. So my Christmas request this year was a pair of little end tables to go on either side of the couch. So of course he decided that end tables need lamps. And gave me an early present. However, he knows as well as I do that shopping for shades is miserable. So they are currently nude. I found a store in town that will actually make me shades to order (not silk or anything fancy so the prices will hopefully not be unreasonable - she knows I need a pair) and I am waiting for a call from her with a quote.

Quick question - anyone have lampshade experience here? I am choosing between paper and linen and have no idea how either will hold up. They will be plain, cream-colored drum shades in whatever material I choose so which would you recommend for durability, cleanability etc? Paper or linen?

Once I choose it's like a month or two until they show up so that's less exciting. But the ball is starting to roll on that little project...

3. Paint the living room. We've come down to the short straws here, I have now painted every other room in the house. And it shows. We've got the nice leafy green entryway, the clean white kitchen and hallway, my chartreuse office, the navy blue guest bath and my jewel box blue master bedroom with a nice tan bathroom (used to be blue, that finally went away a couple of months ago and it is much better now). I have been putting off the living room because a. it is full of guitars and amps, b. it has more heavy furniture than anywhere else in the house and c. it is the most visible part of the house and already has that art and that rug. Both of which a. predate me, b. are non-negotiable and c. were bought by a color-blind guy.

I am keeping the wall behind Matt's technicolor art plain white, just so they don't fight. This wall connects to the wall in the top picture (note the red Strat - that is the connecting point) so I think it makes sense to have it all white.

I would like the wall with the windows (left side in above picture) to be a light sort of grayish tan just to anchor it a bit. And then echo that on the opposite wall (right side over top picture) because that seems to be a high-traffic area and the white wall is not aging well there.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? I don't want to get the whole place too much darker, I am just hoping to tie the space together a little bit - sort of on the side of the neutral furniture vs. the very bright art/rug.

Also I am on the hunt for new pillow covers (or possibly just fabric for the DIY'er in me) to tie the rug in to everything a little bit better. SO I guess that'd be #4 on the list. Any tips/opinions on my plan? Anyone? I have been putting off the living room for SO long that now I want to get it over with and do it right. And never have to deal with it again (Ha!).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How Do I Love Thee, Fall? Let Me Count The Ways

From here.
1. Evenings are cool but days are still warm. This means productivity is still high in daytime hours but evenings are more indoor-oriented. Not that I still don't have a pile of garden projects, but they will get shifted to weekends instead of after work during the week. And I'm ok with that now. By February I will be gagging for my garden time but right now I am on the edge of burned out. And I still need to plant a fruit tree. Maybe.

2. It's soup weather! Make this ridiculously tasty soup and enjoy that cool evening. I like to sub in chicken thighs (we're not big beef people) and add carrots.

3. Sweaters. Need I say more? I swear the sweater is the most comfortable/flattering garment ever invented. Also, I might finally get to wear my adorable sweater dress that I bought on super sale when it was a million degrees out.

4. Fall color. Good for practicing on with the new camera. I grew up somewhere where the fall color was pretty minimal other than the liquidambar outside my house, and that was more exciting because it dropped little spiky balls that you could throw at people. Nevada does fall color thoroughly, and it does it well.

From here.

5. Also weather for baking. Matt gets cranky when I make banana bread in July. By October, he is more amenable. And, I have started making banana nut muffins instead because it's easier to put nuts in only half a batch of muffins than in half a loaf of bread.

6. Thanksgiving is officially at my place again this year. I LOVE Thanksgiving. And this year there will be no "have it on Friday and then EVERYONE will come" going on. It will be Thursday, and family-only. So there. Also, I delegate all side dishes and only make the pies I want to make. My awesome brandy pumpkin pie and what we call the "footprint" apple pie with a crumble crust (so good that when my tiny niece stepped in it one year in the car on the way to the party we said, "Yay for Saran Wrap" and ate it anyways, little Croc-shaped footprint or no). No links for those because they're actually on recipe cards (how old school of me!) but I will post recipes on request...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On Being A Locavore. And A Nerd. And David Bowie Rocks.

So we are having minestrone for dinner. I may take to calling it Backyard Minestrone now. I am ON MY GAME.

Chicken stock? Homemade.
Zucchini? Home-grown.
Herbs? Sage, rosemary and possibly oregano. All from le potager (what I would start calling my backyard if it wasn't really just a couple of raised beds and a planter of herbage).
Tomatoes? You guessed it. Two kinds.
Green beans? Two kinds, I had to pick them apart because I think the Romanos lend themselves better to soup while the Blue Lakes I want to eat raw. Right now.

White beans? Whoops, these are from a can. Organic though, because I'm a fucking hippie.

Onion? Carrots? Squash? From the co-op because I'm lazy. Still organic though. Hippie. Maybe in next summer's garden. This summer's garden, while not up to my overall expectations, is beyond awesome.

Lessons for next year? More raised beds for the zucchini and more greens. More space for the tomatoes and much burlier tomato cages. Fewer beans per teepee (they get crowded). Overall? I'm already looking forward to next May so I can put these lessons into practice. Does this count as preachy when I'm just having so much fun?

And just for fun, from one of my favorite movies. The neighbors' peach tree leans over into our yard now and this year it is mature enough to have gorgeous fruit all over it. But, it has earwigs. I picked a peach and it had a split in it and I looked inside and there were earwigs in the pit and it gave me the SCREAMING HEEBIE JEEBIES. And then all I could think of was this. I can't find anything with the bit right after the song - after this scene she sees the peach is full of bugs and she freaks out.

Also, THIS.

H/T Michael Moschen for the hands. That guy is a genius. Terrible music though.

Off to volunteer at the co-op now. Fucking hippie.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


This is what flickr gives you if you type in "cranky".

So I started a new band, right? My trombone player and I wanted to play new stuff with new people, so we're gonna. And I'm insanely excited, right? Well our new french horn player knows the french horn player in our original band and now she (old fh player) is in a huff because we didn't ask her first to be in our new band. Because I'm only allowed to play with the same people in this town? I knew I should have started a tuba quartet.

And I don't want to piss her off because I LIKE HER and I still want to be in one group with her, just not two. She's already in other groups without me, so why can't I have my own group without her, dammit?! I am trying SO HARD to be tactful, as bone player's response is, "want me just to tell her it's none of her beeswax?" which is true, but not helpful. Grr.

I just want to tell her don't piss in my cheerios, dammit.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Maybe Back In Action Was A Bit Optimistic

Back really to running around trying to catch up on stuff from being gone.

Total distraction by a sample sale email for one of my favorite outerwear designers
before I remembered that 50% off is still WAY out of my price range. So looky at the pretty coat! Sigh.

Dinner party tonight, the menu plan is steamed white fish (whatever looks good) with daal (love you Trader Joe!) roasted cauliflower, green beans from the yard and naan (Joe has me covered on the ethnic food + lots of vowels). I'll have to check out his chutney selection while I'm in the neighborhood too.

And RIP Mary Travers:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back in Action

So after a weekend with family visiting to celebrate one birthday, another weekend visiting family in the Bay Area, and a trek to northern Utah to celebrate a sisterly wedding, I'm back. Matt has decided we need to take a class or something together to ensure we actually SEE each other now. I told him to come to yoga. Because he can't join my new band.

Yes I started a new band in between running around. And this weekend I am STAYING HOME so I can copy out music for us. I have a lot of friends who compose so they are very frowny about copying music but it is darn hard to keep track of music for five people and have none of it go missing. So thus, everyone gets copies of their parts and the originals live in a nice file in my office. So when somebody loses a trombone part I can just go copy off a fresh one for them. Not that the trombone player ever does that. Well, yet.

(brother-in-law, sister, nephew with Doggie, me, Matt, dad and mom cut off, featuring the B. Republic outlet dress and Etsy necklace in action. In retrospect something in the Spanx neighborhood might have been ok as the dress is a bit clingy in the midsection (the bride wore double Spanx as her dress was clingy and {cue ominous music} cream-colored satin).
This is sisters in age order plus the lone cousin (blue skirt, also in age order).

Anyways, to skip most of the recapping, the wedding was adorable, cloudy but no rain which was nice as there was a full-on thunderstorm late that night. Ceremony was under the trees in a park and reception was in a tiny Italian restaurant. Rain would have sucked as we were out on the restaurant patio since we couldn't all fit inside. It was a long trip and much heavy travel food was eaten. So when we got home we immediately went and got Pho. Pho is comfort food. It makes everything better. Also we had no groceries.

That was basically it for the whole weekend (colored t-shirts plus nice white cardigan and big earrings is plenty nice for northern Utah). There was sisterly spa time which all my sisters loved and decided we should do yearly until I pointed out that my dad would probably only front the cash for this one time (none of the rest of us thought this up before we got married, so no excuses). Matt and I snuck in a visit to the Temple in downtown SLC just to get a little cultcha. It's a little creepy. Possibly more thoughts on that later. Also more about the band. Because it is WAY BETTER than my old band. I just went and bought a bunch of new music for us. So here's a clip to end on.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thank You For Your Purchase. You May Also Like:

Really, iTunes? Bolton Swings Sinatra? After buying this:

I don't see it.

In Lieu

The Neighbors. (click to embiggen, there's like a billion of these little guys)

After having family in town this past weekend, I am going to see my grandmother for Labor Day weekend (instead of the 20's wedding, long story but Pasadena is on fire so I am not hugely sorry about that) and then off to Utah for my sister's wedding the following weekend. So I will be in and out. Hope everyone is enjoying the last days of summer... I am already craving corduroy and wool now that the nights are starting to cool off. What's your favorite season? Other than the lack of excitement in the garden, I would have to say fall for the cool nights and turning leaves.