Thursday, April 28, 2011

Butter, and lots of it!

Have I ever mentioned how much my husband loves (loves, loves, loves) butter? I often joke that he doesn't like bread at all, it's just a vehicle for eating butter. He totally agrees with this.

We like to buy real, unsalted butter, preferrably Pastureland - but that is incredibly expensive! So we've been getting Hope butter, but that's still pretty outrageously priced (Oh, if only we had goats!).

A friend of ours recently started a Community Supported Bakery and he can get some food in bulk, including butter! So Jeremy ordered up this huge "chunk" of butter. I think it's like 25 pounds or 40 pounds, or something crazy like that.

Can't store something like that in the fridge or freezer so Jeremy cut it all up into smaller pieces.

So now we've got plenty of butter...for the next couple weeks. =)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

mmm, mmm...mostly

After I saw Jane's post the other day about pop overs, I had to make some! I made a batch yesterday, half in this funny cast iron pan I have and half in small muffin tins. I was amazed that they rose! I mean, there's no baking soda/powder! But I guess eggs are a kind of leavening or something. (Hey, I know baking is a science, I just don't know anything about the science!)

The ones in the muffin pans popped up and were very fluffy and tasty. The ones in the cast iron pan didn't really rise much and they were totally flat on the top. And they tasted weird. Like old cast iron pan or something. I'm not sure what happened there.

So I decided to give the rest of those to the chickens (I know they won't complain!) and I baked another batch this afternoon which turned out lovely and tasty - using just my regular large-size muffin pan.

In other food success news, I've also just made my once-yearly coconut cream pie for my friend Joseph. I make this every year for his birthday - from a real coconut that we hack to pieces on the kitchen floor! I didn't make the crust from scratch, but hey: beggars can't be choosers!

It looks beautiful and tastes fantastic - I just wish it didn't fall to pieces and slump in when cut.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

First Oyster

We had some warm days recently (hard to believe now that we're back to 30s and 40s and they're calling for snow tomorrow!) and warm days means the mushrooms start growing.

Jeremy has been out setting up shade cloth and checking on everything. He has found a couple tiny little freeze-dried shiitake, obviously from last season that decided to grow at some point.

But today he came home with this beauty, the first oyster mushroom of the season:

I didn't get a shot of the top of it, but this is what the top of an oyster looks like (courtesy of a nice specimen from last year):

We're looking forward to warmer weather and lots of mushrooms!

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's alive!

The yard, that is. Almost all the snow has melted (except a few chilly spots) and I've been noticing green things poking their winter-weary heads up above ground. Actually, it looks like they've been doing that for awhile; it's more that they're finally getting up above the layers of mucky, compacted, dead leaves from last year.

I've spotted garlic (ALL of it came up!), peonies, tulips, columbine, wild violets, irises, phlox, rhubarb, and sedum so far. There is more to uncover. I also took a tour around our berry bushes (currant, blueberries, lingonberries, etc). Some of them made it and are starting to bud out. Others haven't started to bud and I'm hoping they'll show some signs of life soon. Still others are quite obviously dead. Bummer. I know of two or three gonners for sure right now. I'm not sure if the cranberries made it, or how long we'll have to wait to know for sure. The strawberries look fine and I'm sure they've started growing somewhere under their protective covering of straw and leaves.

I've been dreaming of the projects for this year for months now. Actually, trying not to dream too much because it would drive me crazy. Having just reached the 60 degree mark this week and a possible 70 tomorrow - all bets are off. I will be outside all day tomorrow and I'm thrilled!

So, here's a beginning list of things I hope to work on this spring & summer:

- build a retaining wall on the south side front lawn. (Dirt has been drooling out under the fence for years and now there are something like two raspberries, a rose, and a tree sapling growing on the sidewalk in the pool of dirt that has collected. This needs to stop.)

- dig up one of the laundry line poles from the north side of the yard and move it to the south side. And then use it. For hanging laundry.

- move our back fence all the way back to the alley as far as it will go and expand the chicken run.

- finish constructing the terrace.

- dig up the boulevard strip in front of our house, build a short raised bed, and plant stuff.

- I have visions of helping a bunch of people on our block also dig up their boulevard grass and plant flowers, etc.

- Plant something in the one garden bed Jeremy is leaving me, after he takes over most of the yard for mushrooms. I think we'll have room for a tomato plant and some lettuce or something.

- I want to plant a cucumber on our south fence so that it grows up the fence and then we have to use little slings to support the growing cucumbers (maybe not necessary if they aren't that heavy.)

- After seeing the pumpkin in this post, I kind of want to grow a giant pumpkin. I'm not sure where to do it though...

- I want to take out the ratty old dogwood in front of the house (it's in bad shape from bad pruning) and put in a fruit tree or two and espalier them. Did I even say that right? I have a lot to learn about this subject.

- and of course keep working 30 hours a week and sewing like a mad-woman to keep up with Farmers Market on Saturdays and various craft fairs and art shows!

We did recently make two decisions that will hopefully make things slightly less crazy. One, we're not going to get new chicks this year. It just seemed like too much work on top of already too much work. And our current girls are laying fine still, so we'll give them another year.
And two, we're not going to go crazy on starting plants from seed in the basement under the grow lights. In fact, we just lent out all those grow lights the other day to another farmer, so we can't change our minds! We're going to try a combo of buying seedlings and direct-seeding in the ground when it gets warm enough. I've heard that this method verses starting indoors weeks in advance doesn't make much of a difference. So we'll test it out!

I'm glad we've finally caught up with the rest of you (who have reportedly been enjoying spring for weeks, if not months!).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Zombie chickens

Let me explain.

I make these chicken tea cozies. People love them! Well, at least they love looking at them; not buying them. Whatevs. They started out with me trying to jazz up some really boring tea cozies I'd made. Every so often I'll dig out a couple of these boring cozies and make all the parts to turn the cozy into the "excited chicken!" cozy: comb, beak, wings, and eyes.

That's been my afternoon project today (in preparation for an art show I'll be at later this month!). I like to line up the chickens and pin on all the different parts and then sew them all on at once. I just had the eyes left to do. They're made of felt so they stick to the face of the chicken - which I do just to make sure I don't cut out too many.

And I keep one finished cozy on hand to compare placement, size, etc. So I'm cutting out these eyes and slapping them on, then I look up and realize, "This looks like a band of zombie chickens about to do some harm to that poor finished chicken!"

And, of course, I had to blog about it. =)