Thursday, December 31, 2009

Where some of the Christmas money went...

We're getting smarter this spring. It will be fun to have a class Q and I can do together. I've always bemoaned the fact that OSU's Master Gardener and Master Preserver series happen in the middle of the week in the middle of the day.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Yard Work

This morning I got most of the leaves from the driveway moved to the proper mulching places, pulled out all the plant remains that froze early this month, created the new rhubarb bed, transplanted and divided the rhubarb, and put down more weed-suppression cardboard between the house and the strawberries. It started raining then.
I hope the rhubarb makes it after it's rough treatment. It looked so easy in the tutorials but seemed less obvious in real life. Ah well, I have it on good authority that it's pretty tough to kill rhubarb, so we'll see.
I also dug a few of the parsnips. I'm anxious to fry them up.


The last few days before we left for Colorado were full of finishing.

I made three double batches of granola and gave out bagsful with all of the Christmas gifts. My recipe is adapted from the one from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook. Each single batch has...
3 c. rolled oats
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. coconut
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. honey
I use the bottom of a roasting pan at 325F and stir every ten minutes or so for 25-30 minutes. I add a bit of lemon zest on top for the last 5-1o minutes. The granola turns a beautiful golden brown when it's done.

A tradition started last year when I made peanut butter cups for Q's stocking candy. We really really like this recipe. (Q got my traditional stocking candy too - dark chocolate orange, a Toblerone, and assorted English chocolate.)

Four of the gifts were tea towels (mother-in-law, sister-in-law x 2, aunt). Each person got one green and one brown - there were two each of the leaves and squirrels.

We had four days in Colorado that involved lots of food and lots of sweets. We played Catch Phrase, Pictionary and Scrabble and built puzzles. It was very fun.
Christmas Day at my brother and sister-in-law's house

Boxing Day at my parents house

I had to show off my mom's cunning seed saving arrangement. As the label featuring my maiden name shows, these paint jars were once mine, a very long time ago. She keeps a list of what kind of seed is contained under each color of lid. Yay reuse!

Monday was a running about/coming back from Portland day. We got cute cookie cutters (including a hedgehog) and glasses I couldn't resist at Ikea.
We also went to OMSI, where we have a membership. We went to see Samson, the T. Rex skeleton but had forgotten there was also an exhibit about the science of fear (Scream!) in place. It was a really good time.
I used some Christmas money at Portland Nursery to get a rotary cultivator and at Territorial Seed Company for wires and row cover for the front garden bed. We still need to arrange covers for two of the raised beds that are being used for tomatoes. I've got the entire garden plan laid out now. I'll have to post it soon.

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Harvest and Preserving Totals

Out with the old year and in with the new. The old lists for 2009 now reside here. 2010 will go up when we start the harvest. :)

Just over 200 lb. harvested.
Banana Pink Jumbo Squash 10 lb.
Basil leaves 2 lb.
Beets 5 oz.
Blueberries 1/2 c.
Broccoli 2 lb.
Cabbage 9 lb. 2 oz.
Carrots 4 lb.
Cauliflower 1 lb. 2 oz.
Corn 16 ears
Cucumber 2 lb. 12 oz.
Edamame (in pods) 1 lb. 5 oz.
Eggplant (12) 6 lb. 10 oz.
Italian Prunes 45 lb.
Lettuce a lot!
Parsnips 3 lbs.
Peas 11 1/3 c.
Pumpkins (9) 29 lb.
Radishes 6 lb. 8 oz.
Rhubarb 4 lb. 8 1/2 oz.
Rutabagas 7 lb.
Strawberries 8 lb. 4 oz.
Tomatoes, Beefmaster 2 lb. 8 oz.
Tomatoes, Cherry 2 lb. 13 oz.
Tomatoes, Purple Cherokee 10 lb. 3 oz.
Tomatoes, Roma 25 lb. 8 oz.
Turnips 19 lb.
Yellow Squash 10 oz.

Apple Slices, frozen 24 c.
Blackberries, frozen 2 gal.
Blueberries, frozen 2 gal. ($1/lb.)
Cabbage Burger Filling, 7 qt.
Corn on the Cob, frozen 54 half ears
Hard Apple Cider 25 bottles (22 oz.)
Marinara, 8 qt. ($3/qt.)
Peaches, 20 qt. ($2/qt.)
Pesto, 13 meals (9+ cups)($4/pt.)
Pickles, 13 qt.
Plums, canned, 6 qt.
Pumpkin, frozen 4 1/2 c.
Strawberries, frozen whole 7 gal.
Stock - chicken, turkey, and beef - lots.
Tomato Paste, frozen 18 oz.
Tomato Sauce, canned and frozen, 9 qt.
Tomatoes Diced, canned and frozen, 14 qt.
Turnips, diced, frozen 1 1/2 gal.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Teapot!

Arrgh...I was saving the teapot for last in the birthday post and ended up leaving it out. Q got me a tea pot. It's in the left of the big birthday photo. It's dark blue, holds 40 oz. (although it doesn't look nearly that big), and has it's own strainer. A nice deep strainer so I can make a little tea or a lot. I've been drinking a lot of tea...

Birthday and End of School

On Monday afternoon I decided to follow through on an old idea I had had to make my students hats for Christmas. I had two already so there were only 7 to do in 84 hours. I don't know why I'm crazy. Anyway, I did manage to get all but one done and they were huge hits. The kids thought it was really cool and the 8th graders were apparently way jealous. I wrote a couple of limericks (we just studied them) to explain why ends weren't tucked and the last hat wasn't done and poor S had to wait until the weekend when I dropped off his finished hat.
Q took a picture of me in it before it went to its home. I think I like it best of all and Q thinks the wave chart I created for it looks like sound waves. He thinks I should make some for my shop. We'll see. I'm having so much trouble getting all my Christmas gifts done and have several custom orders in the works for various people (including a sock monkey!) that the idea of adding new product seems absurd.

Here are the slippers I'm making for my dad, currently felting in the washing machine. They've been a bit of a time sink due to yarn amount issues. (I had to entirely reknit the first one when I ran out of the correct dye lot.) I really hope that they felt down well. Doesn't the red make them look like archetypal clown shoes. I had to put my own slippers next to them to give scale.

Now, on to the birthday! My 31st was simply lovely. We went and saw Zombieland (hilarious movie), ate at Marche (red wine braised lamb shank), and had Sweet Life for dessert (yellow cake/walnut/espresso/cream deliciousness). It was also the best loot I've had in quite a few years - lots of variety and oh so thoughtful. :)
The flowers are from Q's folks. the books and puzzles were Q's perfect thrift store finds; the leaf shirt was from Q too. Mom got me the Bobbsey Twin books as an early birthday present this summer and the clothes and picture frame are also from Mom and Dad.
Mom knew I've been looking for small silver frames to put the old pictures I have in for display in the guest room. As you can see, the picture from her second birthday fits perfectly.

Anyway, we fly out on Thursday and I have 4 sets of tea towels to make as well as a few other surprises before we leave! EEEKKK! Luckily, I've always felt sleep was overrated. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

(Fairly) Quick Beef Stew

Q made fun of me for not writing down what I did last time to make the beef stew he liked so much. I call it "fairly" quick beef stew because it still takes about an hour to make, assuming the beef is thawed, but that's still pretty quick, since beef stew often requires all-day or at least a couple of hours to slow cook. We recreated another one of my off-the-cuff stews tonight, so here it is...

Cut 2 lb. beef (we used steaks, since there isn't a lot of simmer time I've been skeptical about actually using stew beef, but that will be the next experiment) into about 1x1x2 chunks. Dry it on towels.
Heat vegetable oil in a pan until hot then add 1 clove minced garlic. After about 15 seconds, add the beef. Cook until the beef is brown on all sides.
Add root vegetables (tonight was 3 carrots and three potatoes, I used 2 rutabagas and a turnip with the carrots last time).
Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of flour over the mixture and stir to coat. A nice, sticky floury mess should start sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Pour in about 3/4 c red wine and use this liquid to deglaze the pan. Add 1 1/2 c beef stock, 1 t rosemary leaves, 1 bay leaf, and about 1 T salt.
Simmer the stew for about half an hour. Determine whether to use the lid by how thick the sauce is. Add more flour if the sauce doesn't seem to be thickening up.

It doesn't end up with a lot of liquid and what it has is really thick so we eat it with bread and butter to sop up the gravy. Yay! Now I've recorded it and Q can't make fun of me for that anymore!

Friday, December 11, 2009


It dipped above freezing for the first time in about a week today. It's been really weird weather for Oregon - dry, sunny, and frigid. We had a low in the single digits this week, which just doesn't happen. Although it's now a comparatively balmy 31 degrees the first rain moved in this afternoon, which has apparently made the roads a bit icy.

Q and I chose to hunker down at home for the evening. I turned on the fireplace and was practicing with my guitar. My students are going to prepare a version of One Day by Matisyahu (minus the beatboxing) this spring. They've been asking to do a "modern" song and I finally found one that would sound good acoustically with our limited resources and have appropriate content. One student will play guitar, another piano, another some kind of percussion and everybody will sing. It should be great. It did mean that I spent a couple of hours finding tab online and creating a piano part from the Youtube video the other night though. I've spent the last few days learning words and getting the chord progression firmly fixed in my head. I'm very excited.

I also found the chords for Loreena McKennitt's Highwayman with a note that the author had arranged it using Travis fingerpicking technique. Awesome internet - I searched for it, got a Youtube tutorial on the style and am on my way to adding a new fingerpicking song to my repertoire. I would love to get the new song down enough to play/sing it for my students since it's such great classic poetry, they're love music and stories so much, and we've been studying metaphor, simile, etc. in our writing main lesson block.

I don't know if House of the Rising Sun counts as fingerpicking but everything else I've been doing is strumming with the occasional mix-up of rhythm or a simple bass addition. I can only imagine how people who have learned how to play guitar properly will cringe at me if I ever get good enough to play in front of someone besides the cats, Q, and my students (who know I'm teaching myself and am not very good but think it's cool I'm trying).

I've been having trouble posting lately because when I'm not working on orders (nothing new or exciting) I've been making Christmas gifts, which can't get posted until after the 25th. I'll have to have post-Christmas show and tell post!

Yay, it's the weekend!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Great Link

Today's post at Cold Antler Farm is lovely. Sometimes a bit over the top folksy for my taste but I do feel a kindred spirit there.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

First Real Frost

It is cold here! After a mild frost in mid-October we've stayed well above freezing, until last night. Our first hard frost that left the steps icy and the car windows needing to be scraped. There might even be some light snow next week. Lows are in the mid-twenties for the next few days, possibly into the teens next week.