Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Well, heck, I was just settling in with some hand drawn house plans, a great cup of French Press coffee, and some fresh fruit... and now I have to hustle? That's not what Sunday mornings are all about!
So when I looked out our front window, this is the view I saw:
These Chinooks were scooping water from my father-in-law's pond to dump on our neighbor's home. Then they left and Blackhawks took their place and continued scooping and dumping. It was very noisy and exciting on our street!
And more animal news... many of the chickens/guineas/swans, etc. that we turned loose have stayed around their home, and with much effort, we stopped the fires from finishing off the place. I have gone there twice daily to refill food and water. We managed to catch quite a few chicken and relocate them to our large pen until the owners can come back to their house. We will help them catch the rest of the birds as best we can and get them in their repective pens.
I keep having to chase their guinea hens home. They are quite comical!
We have adopted this little sweet kitten who's owner has not come home for days and his house is all burned up. He and his brother are safe and sound at our house. We have named them Ashley and Agent Smolder.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
...let's eat the whole thing up!
I could eat tabbouleh with every meal and not get tired of it. I make it about once a month and I learned very quickly that the recipe I was using from Bon Appetit magazine wasn't nearly large enough. I doubled it. That still wasn't enough. So the last handful of times I've made this, I have quadrupled the recipe and that's just about right, if you eat it as much and as fast as we do.
Rather than using bulgur wheat, which is traditional in the popular Lebanese dish, this recipe calls for quinoa, a grain with roughly two to three times the protein as bulgur, and a good balance of amino acids. Commercially available quinoa has already been rinsed thoroughly enough to remove the bitter-tasting saponin residue that grows on the seeds, something which helps keep the birds away. I think it would be fun to try to grow quinoa, but I imagine it wouldn't like our central Texas heat. It's typically grown in South America, in the high altitude of the Andes, in countries like Bolivia and Peru.
I've already doubled the recipe for you, but if you plan to serve this at a picnic or gathering, you'll want to double it again. To make it easier on you, I've already done the math. Note*-The numbers in parentheses are the quadruple amounts. (You're welcome!)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (1/2 cup-see note* above)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1/2 cup)
1 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced (4 cloves)
2 cups water (4 cups)
1 cup quinoa (2 cups)
1 cup finely chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded (2 cups)
1 cup chopped seeded tomato (2 cups)
Optional additions: grated carrot, diced celery, bell pepper, jicama, etc. I usually keep these to a minimum, but I do like the addition of colorful orange flecks of carrot or yellow bell pepper, though they are NOT traditional in tabbouleh.
Instructions: Bring water to a boil in heavy medium saucepan. Add quinoa, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 13 minutes. When done, remove from pan, tossing in a large bowl. Fluff with fork periodically while cooling completely. (This part is important. Allow enough time for the cooling step, because if you mix everything up while the quinoa is hot, it'll make the vegetable lose their crunch and mess up the texture.) While the quinoa is cooling, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and mint together in a separate large bowl.
Next, chop the cucumber, tomato, and any other optional vegetables you want, and add them to the olive oil mixture. Last, add in the quinoa and add salt and pepper to taste, mixing well. Serve either chilled or at room temperature.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
In a nut shell, I've been pecking away at the shed we started building last fall. (I'll show you some other time.) We had been putting up with the inconvenience of not having a door all this time, using a piece of siding board to cover the opening, propped up with chairs and a ladder. Sheesh! It also needs insulation, interior wall board, wiring... you know, lights, outlets, the works. So that's happening simultaneously with the start of the 2011 garden. That's the other major push right now. Also there are little pieces of art beginning to evolve (the TAC 5x5 show in at the beginning of May, and I'm unsure of what to enter, so I'm making several), and I was knitting a few scarves back when it was a tad cooler, though that seems so long ago. And, do you remember the garden gate I started ages ago? I am a few steps farther along with that... so it looks like there are a lot of reports looming on the horizon. For now though, how about some garden news?
Last year, I let the garden go, and basically turned it over to the fire ants. It was insane.. and I sure paid the price for that move at the beginning of this season. This is what the garden space looked like only a couple of months ago...
You can't tell it from this photo, but much of it was over knee deep. There was no way this was going to get tilled, being primarily 'devil' grass. It sends off the nastiest runners, and it's above-ground stems are almost impervious to the rototiller blades. After much consideration, we decided the only thing we could do was burn it all off. We waited for a calm day and lit a match to the whole 5750 square feet of it, which worked perfectly. We were lucky to have a short window of opportunity without a burn ban in effect. So where we once had a dried brush field... Poof!
...and after burning, and tilling, and a bunch of 'hands-and-knees' work, pulling devil roots!...
Even these photos are older, as now there are beds starting to evolve, some looking rather lush.
After a few more days of 'shed work', I'll get back in the garden and capture more photos of real things growing!
See you soon!
Friday, February 11, 2011
Be sure to rinse the beans or the drab colored juice will make the whole dish an unappetizing color. It will still taste good, but... just rinse them please!
Add the parsley, salt and pepper and incorporate everything well. Plate the portions, topping with salsa and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Now I'm feeling a little bit like a groundhog on a sunny day, because I have about six more weeks of work left on this bedroom and bathroom overhaul. That's partly because I work very slowly, and always seem to have other interruptions.
I decided to paint the pocket door, rather than stain it. Well, I'll admit that I tried staining it first, and did a lousy job, using water-based stain. I think it must be impossible to put down a coat of that kind of quick-drying stain on the whole door in the small amount of time you have before you have to wipe off the excess. So mine dried before I could tend to it and became very streaky. Also, working in smaller sections didn't pan out too well either, as each 'line' where I left off was noticeable. So I quickly decided I could be alright with having a 'Spalding Gray' painted door on the bedroom side and 'Montpelier Ashlar Grey' on the bathroom side. The trim is getting stained though, as I am confident I can work that small of an area in time. So the lesson I've learned is that I will have to go ahead and purchase oil-based stains for larger projects in the future and deal with the turpentine for clean-up. OOOORRRRR, use disposable foam brushes and rags, and throw them all away when I'm done.
Here are the latest (limited) views of the new wall:
I just happened to have the green mold/moisture resistant sheetrock on hands, so that's what I used. This is a shared wall between a bathroom and bedroom, so it's more important to have it on the bathroom side. But we intend to have a water feature in the bedroom eventually too. Obviously, I haven't done the taping and mudding yet. I've never done this before, so I'm in for another learning experience tomorrow.
Last week, I also learned how to do very basic electrical wiring. I installed 4 new outlets (one of them GFCI) and a double switch (single pole) to operate two of those outlets. Notice the outlet up high by the ceiling. That's to feed power to the crown moulding/rope lighting effect we want to install around the ceiling someday. The other part of the switch powers an outlet down towards the floor that will be used by the water feature (that I still have to make!) But while the wall was open, that was the time to plan for these things and get the juice in place!
This is the door panel I built to hide the shower controls from the other side of the wall. Of course, it needs sanding and painting still. We'll probably never have to access it, but nevertheless, I wanted it to look better than the old panel that was crudely screwed onto the wall I removed. This has a fun little magnetic latch that opens when you push it once, and then closes when you push it again.
So, it seems like very little progress for the amount of time that has passed. But the important thing is that I am doing something everyday. It's a lot of fun to learn new things and watch something like this evolve.