17 July 2009

Summertime and the Livin's Easy

Things have been good at the Rodney house this week. It has been a little wacky but in general really great. On tuesday Marie let us know that she would be moving to Idaho to be close to her boyfriend. So we've been looking for a replacement roommate (though I don't know if anyone could replace the Marie-shaped-hole she'll leave in our house/hearts!). We've had three people over so far and one girl has been pretty good and the others didn't seem quite like a great fit. Sunday or monday we'll be having someone else over to check it out.

Our garden has been growing really well, the ears on our corn may be big enough to eat in a week or two! The tomatoes are a little behind where they should be but they're still doing really well. Our potatoes are also coming along nicely. Joel and I picked one plant two days ago and there were four medium-sized potatoes and a couple of babies. They still have a while to go I think though I'm not positive about when they need to be picked. Our bush beans are doing fantastically! Our squash is getting ready for the first harvest but they're still not quite there yet.

Our chickens are also doing really well, they're getting bigger and bigger. Clara's chicken is starting to cluck and not just peep and its pretty cute. And as you can see, its been really hot recently.

Joel has been doing a lot of work in the garage and getting it set up for being a small woodshop.

Recently we've been experimenting with fermentation (Wild Fermentation by Sandor Elix Katz). We first started by making a raspberry wine and then this last sunday we started a plum & cherry wine. Neither one will be ready for about a year from now! We also started making a citrus (mostly lemon) vinegar but that will only be a few more weeks, not months, thankfully. This is the raspberry wine.

Also with our surplus of raspberries I made peppermint and raspberry sorbet. Its a really delicious, fresh, palate cleansing sorbet, yum!

Two days ago a friend of mine, Lindsay, stopped by Portland on her way up from Salem to Seattle and gave us some delicious pesto! (Thanks Lindsay!) So we made a pesto based pizza with shiitake mushrooms and kielbasa. It was really yummy!

About three days ago Orson caught a rat! And by "caught" I mean he *only* caught the rat, he didn't bother to kill it before he brought it inside! It turned into quite an adventure because he let it go in the basement and didn't pursue it too much beyond that. It took Joel (the poker/clubber), Marie (the trapper) and me (the eyes) to catch the rat again. Marie caught it once under a big plastic planter and then we put him into the utility sink (high sided) and he promptly jumped out of it! that freaked me out a little cause I was standing on the bath tub edge watching everything and I was afraid he'd jump on me (yuck!).

Joel caught him the second time between a grate and the wall but didn't have the heart to squish him (but then again, it would take a really detached person to do that I think).

So Marie swooped in with her magical rat-catching-planter and trapped him under it. This time we decided to take him outside since the sink didn't work out so well last time. We took Orson out with him in hopes that he would actually *kill* the rat this time.

No such luck.

But the whole point of getting Orson in the first place was because he was supposed to kill the mice and rats, so this was a nice little trial run. Let's hope he kills the animals before bringing them inside next time...

Yesterday our friend Kelley came over for a barbeque and...s'mores! For my birthday Joel's parents sent me a book (Jam It, PIckle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon -- thanks Linda!) that had a recipe for marshmallows so Joel made some and we made s'mores with them. Joel coated them with cocoa powder too! Kevin fashioned some cooking sticks from a recent tree trimming.

What ensued were many unattractive photos and a lot of inappropriate jokes, but a good time was had by all.

And then the evening ended with arm-farting. We're definitely really grown up and respectable. We are the face of America's next generation of Thinkers!

09 July 2009

Canning Adventures

As of late I have been trying my hand at home canning and it has turned out quite well. I've been reading Linda Ziedrich's The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves and making delicious experiments. I'm a little nervous about canning mainly because the media hypes about about e. Coli and other things from improper canning. But once I'm over that fear (and realise how irrational it is) I'm good to go. I first started by canning/pickling some beets that I got from the farmers market and hadn't gotten around to using them. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of those. However I do have photos of my Rhubarb & Rose Petal Preserves. This came out of the aforementioned book.

Two sundays ago we and our housemates went out for breakfast and walked there. We decided to take the alleys on our way there and we discovered some raspberries hanging over someone's fence -- free! So later that day Joel and I decided to take our bikes out and go on a scavenger hunt for more free berries. Well we found them! We got about two quarts of raspberries and a quart of tart cherries. Here is our bounty!

And the cherries turned into this amazing free cherry pie.

The raspberries turned into jam! Or rather I turned it into jam. Its a bit runny (not long enough cooking time). Joel and I purchased a 16 quart pot with a left over JC Penny wedding gift card and I promptly put it on the stove and started boiling water. Then for my birthday (yesterday!) my parents sent a 21.5 qt pot specifically for canning and some canning utensils -- we'll be ready for the tomatoes! And many days of canning and sweating.

We also got a couple bags of cubed butternut squash from the food church and who knows what to do with cubed butternut squash except for winter dishes? So I turned the squash into jam/butter.

Orson has adjusted to life well here. And is shameless about it. Actually this particular day I had been canning and it was in fact the hottest day this year to date.

And in the meantime when not canning and doing kitchen experiments I made a wonderful summer dress that I am shamelessly proud of.

I was going to wear this fancy summer dress yesterday for my birthday but it ended up being cold. We were intending to go to the Pied Cow for hookah and appetizers but as it turned out not to be so conducive for that sort of celebration. So we ended up going to Phò Green Papaya a Vietnamese restaurant down the street from us. Everyone ended up getting phò, the national dish of Vietnam, which is a broth and noodle soup. It was a lot of fun and really calm, as I like my birthdays to be and I had lots of friends around.

Then today I finally picked beans, peas and basil. We have Tendergreen bush beans and Dragon Langerie (not to be confused with "lingerie" even though it may be a misprint) both are heirlooms and have been cross pollinated. The Tendergreen are starting to get little purple streaks on them --thank you bees. :0)

I think next summer I'm going to forego the beets and just plant rows and rows of bush beans so I can pickle them and eat them as salad beans and sautèed. And mostly because I know I'll eat them all the time. Legumes are definitely my favourite vegetables.

Today we got our seed order from Territorial Seeds in the mail and we'll hopefully be planting those in the near future. I need to learn how to do succession planting better, or at least, get into the routine of it. I succession-planted the beans in two successions but I think there needs to be even more plantings to really get the most bang for your buck (and not let any go to waste) when done that way. Its just hard when you don't have A LOT of space. I'm really excited for all the vegetables we got -- they're all really beautiful (purple broccoli, orange cauliflower, pointed cabbage, purple and orange carrots, etc,) and I'm really looking forward to planting them and harvesting them in winter and spring when I feel the most dismal. "Will this rain never stop? Will we ever see green vegetables again?" It should be good to have that reassurance.