25 June 2009

And meet the Cat!

We indeed did get a cat, and we named him Orson after Orson Welles (particularly for his role in Citizen Kane, that mustache!). He works really well in our household and we like him a lot. He talks a lot too.

Clara with Orson.

Also, after much desperation regarding the state of one of our fruit trees there has been much rejoicing about the land because we have ladybug larvae! They've been eating all of the aphids and things are starting to look up. Most have started their transformation in ladybugs.

In spite of the initial worries about our fruit tree (I really don't know what it is, its a stone fruit but beyond that I'm at a loss) the rest of our garden is doing really well.

Recently with the lack of school and the encroaching boredom of summertime (I can't find a job and am trying to fill my time) I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen making things that I wouldn't necessarily think to make.

#1 Pies and tarts. We have raspberries and boysenberries in our backyard that I've been freezing (and soon will be turning into jams!) and turning into pies and tarts.

#2 Cheddar biscuits and hummus. We had a lot of dried garbanzo (chickpeas) beans so I made hummus and our cheddar was molding so I made biscuits with cheddar in them.

#3 Rack of lamb! We get a large portion of our groceries for free from a church that gives out free groceries on sunday afternoons. You get a bag of food and then there are copious amounts of two-day-old bread and mushy bananas (and other produce) that you can pick up as well. This last sunday in our bag we got a rack of lamb *and* chicken breakfast sausage. This is not a normal occurrence, not to mention that if you wanted buy the lamb it goes for about $13/rack or thereabouts. Needless to say we were surprised and excited. None of us had had lamb before, though I think I actually have but it was when I was 8 or so so I can't remember a thing about it.

We had mashed potato and bean salad with it as well.

#4 Pickled beets! I really did pickle them myself. I found the recipe online and gave it a whirl. I also put A LOT of books on hold at the library about canning, pickling and preserving. I got a great jam, jelly and preserves (The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves) book out by Linda Ziedrich that's really good and well explained.

#5 Granola/muesli bars! They're really easy to make and easy to change and experiment with. My friend Marie (not my roommate) taught me how to make these when we went camping together. All you need is peanut butter, honey and granola/muesli, dried fruit, chocolate or whatever else you want to put in. I added:

peanut butter
dried coconut
cacao nibs
mixed fruit muesli
curry powder

Yes, I made chocolate curry muesli bars. :0)

And today I'm going to go pick up some sugar and lemon juice to make jam with our abundance of raspberries and boysenberries!

17 June 2009

Meet the Chickens!

They're so big now and they look like real chickens! The other day Clara and I hung out with the chickens together and it was really nice. Its fun to have them hang out and act reasonably alert. Just for the record, chickens are not the brightest animals in the world but nevertheless, they are enjoyable companions.

My chicken, she's a Black Australorp.

Joe's chicken, she's a Buff Orpington.

Clara's chicken, she's a Delaware White, a rare breed.

Marie's chicken, she's Salmon Faverolles, she has feathered feet and five toes!

Kevin's chicken is a Gold Laced Wyandotte, lovingly called Dottie.

And this is where they live. Finally Joel's Habitat skills have come in handy! :0)

And the garden is coming along fast and big. We put some organic fertilizer (ground linseed, kelp meal, bone meal and blood meal mixed) which seems to have actually helped. I'm not generally one to think fertilizers work but this one actually seems to. Apparently gardening west of the Cascades is a whole different game than the East Coast, obviously, it just never occurred to me (I know, how could I be so blind? Truth is, I'm surprisingly oblivious to obvious things -- details though, that's where I'm at). Joel got a book from Powell's recently, aptly titled, Gardening West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon. I like it and its been helpful with all of our garden troubleshooting. He has the recipe for the aforementioned fertilizer mix. The one thing I like about the fertilizer is that its not full of all kinds of creepy shit you're afraid to breathe in. It just smells good and real, ergo, I trust it. And now, without further ado, the garden:

And the result of living with a household of five (and most of us eat lots of vegetables). Our very large compost pile.

We also happen to have black and raspberry bushes in the backyard: pie time! Today there were enough raspberries to make a good pie. We also had some strawberries, black berries and blue berries that I cut up and froze from the Food Church (they give away free groceries every week and the produce is often pretty bad but totally salvageable!).

And those promptly turned into this:

Which was enjoyed by Clara and Joel.

I also made Vietnamese spring rolls. They had tofu, basil, spinach, rice vermicelli and enokitake mushrooms in them.

Lastly, I made my friends' wedding invitation illustrations and I really liked the way they turned out. By the way, if you or anyone you know needs wedding invitations let me know (I really need a job! I'm shamelessly selling myself here.)