Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eat, Shed, Daub


I hate the nose daubs that Mingus leaves on the window. When I return home, there is always a new message for me to wipe away. I'm hoping that someday, it will spell something cool and I can exploit Mingus just like Wilber, Zuckerman's Famous Pig! So far, no such luck. If he's writing something, it's not in English or Spanish, the only two languages I have a hope of comprehending.

Maybe it's Sanskrit! It would be awesome if Mingus is channeling an ancient language, trying to preach his message to the whole wide world, but lacking opposable thumbs, pens, and paper, he resorts to writing with nose daubs. Then, the evil woman comes home and erases his latest solution for world peace or the cure for cancer.

His book would be titled, "Eat, Shed Daub: One Misunderstood Dog's Message to the World." It would be a bestseller, I'm sure.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Taste of the Wild


That's the name of the cats' food o' the month. (No, that is not a cat standing next to the bag. Vespa thought that the food smelled dandy and she was willing to be a taste tester for it. Sadly for her, I did not take her up on her offer.)

The picture on the bag, however, almost made me not buy it. I had to be convinced that it was a quality food by the store owner's testimonial that it was good stuff and that she feeds it to her own cats. I read the ingredients myself, and decided that it was worthy of at least a try. This graphic, however, is over the top ridiculous.


I mean, come on! My cats are domestic cats who wear hats. They enjoy sofas, beds, and being served. If they were out in the wilderness, they'd be food! I have no false ideas about my cats being mighty hunters, free spirits, or rugged, outdoor creatures.

My #1 camera is out of batteries, so I switched back to my #2. It's funny what I found on the memory card. This is a picture of the boy and I in a most romantic setting. We look a little wacky on the junk.

I also found numerous pictures of me looking a little, um, compromised. These pictures do nothing for my fear that as the main photographer in the household, after I'm long gone people will only have funny/odd/bad pictures of me to remember me by because the boy usually only takes pictures when he deems the opportunity funny/odd/bad. Feh!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's a....LOAF!

Bertha, a mere four days old, gave birth to her first loaf with a little help from me. There are still some kinks we need to work out, but I think our first attempt is a good one.

10 hours before the big event, I fed Bertha an extra healthy dose of flour and water. She's still a gassy gal, but that's a good thing for a levain!

Here's her firstborn, Frank, during his second rising.

And here is Frank fresh out of the oven!



And just like most first children, there will probably be way more photographs of him than our successive loaves. Oh, well. Sorry to be morbid, but loaves don't live long enough around here to have any long term emotional scarring. Yes, folks, I eat Bertha's children. And so does the boy. And so does Mingus (the biggest carboholic around). We're sick, sick people (and one sick dog).

The slight tang that makes pain au levain so charming was faint in Frank. As Bertha matures, her children will be tastier.

I was impressed by Frank's structure: lots of holes and a nice crumb. He was chewy, too.


Since even a loaf of bread is a lot for us to eat, the boy transformed Frank into French toast the next morning. We still have some leftover Frank, which I'll turn to crumbs once he's stale.

Once I get all the kinks worked out, I'll post a tutorial for those of you interested in making pain au levain. So many recipes call for making 2 loaves at a time, and feeding the starter huge amounts of flour to meet the 2 loaves goal. However, it's just the boy and I here, and although I can freeze one loaf, it is so much better to eat and enjoy bread on the same day it is made.

Another treat we enjoyed recently was pimientos de padron, fried in olive oil and liberally sprinkled with course sea salt. I had to stifle a squeal when I saw these at the market! The boy and I lived on these in the bars in Spain, and it was so much fun to be able to surprise him with a plate of them.


Oh, yeah, I've been knitting, too. I'll post more details about this scarf on my Ravelry page, but for now, here is my creative interpretation (*cough, cough*) of the Lace Ribbon Scarf from Knitty. The yarn is Handmaiden Sea Silk in the Oceans colorway, and OMG! It is the nicest yarn I've knit with so far. I loved it.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Meet Bertha

She's my spanking new sourdough starter. Here is her 2 day old picture.

You must excuse her because, um, she's a little gassy. Tomorrow, she'll be mature enough to raise her very own loaf of bread. Sniff, they grow up so fast!

I've been kick started into making my own bread again, partially because I am unwilling to pay over $5 a loaf for the breads I love, and although I do adore Italian rustic loaves that I can whip up in less than a day, my heart belongs to French levains. Levains have so much more flavor, so I decided to get back into sourdough mode. Please, don't ask what happened to my previous starter, Martha. We don't speak of her anymore.

Last night, I was craving bread but Bertha was not ready. Pitas to the rescue! What else to eat with babaganoush? (Sorry, guys!) It was my first time making pita bread, and it was relatively quick and easy compared to most yeasted breads. As you can see, though, I need practice on rolling things into round shapes.

I also need to pay attention more and not go running for the camera when one of my pitas successfully puffs. Doing so results in boob shaped pitas. I presented this one to the boy.


They were so, so good. I'll be making them again! I also want to try making Indian flatbreads because the instant gratification is bliss.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

International Cat Hat: United Kingdom

The Tilden Park Scarf is an easy ruffled and ruched infinity scarf that adds a feminine touch to any outfit.


Cheerio! Since Greaseball is in charge of guarding the Queen at Buckingham Palace, nothing I could do would make him crack a smile, not even the promise of catnip sticky pudding.

Don't forget to check out my other free patterns listed on the sidebar!


Materials
• 45 yards of Jo-Ann Sensations Whisper in black

Note: worsted weight black yarn doubled with black eyelash yarn may be used instead, but you will need to cast on more stitches since the yarn will not be as stretchy.
• 1 US size 7 16 inch circular needles OR needle size needed to achieve gauge.
1 US size 7 circular needles, any length, OR needle size needed to achieve gauge
(US size 7 DPNs may also be used instead of 2 circular needles)
• 4 stitch marker
s
• Row counter
• Tapestry needle

Special Skills Needed
• Knitting in the round using two circular needles

Gauge
• 4.5 stitches = 1 inch on US size 7 needles in stockinette stitch

Finished Measurements
Finished hat circumference is 10 inches

Abbreviations
[ ] repeat instructions between brackets
co cast on
k knit
k2tog knit two stitches together

pm place marker
ssk slip one stitch knitwise, slip next stitch knitwise, then knit stitches together
sts stitch(es)

Directions
Loosely CO 44 sts on one circular needle (needle A). Slip half of the stitches to the other circular needle (needle B). Join to knit in the round, placing a marker at that point so you know where the round begins.

Knit 11 sts, pm, knit 11 sts, pm, knit 11 sts, pm, knit to end.
Knit all sts until the hat measures 4 inches.

Decreasing Rounds: ssk after every marker. k next round.

Repeat Decreasing Rounds until 8 sts remain. Cut yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail.

Finishing
Weave in all ends. Place the hat on your cat, and send me a picture!

Thanks to LadyPatsFan for the great hat idea!


http://spindlesandspices.blogspot.com


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Oooh yeah! All right! We're jammin!

I wanna jam it with you! We're jammin, oh! And I hope you like jammin too...

If you've ever gone to a place with a beach that has even the tiniest hint of commercialism, you cannot escape Bob Marley. I've heard "Jammin" in Thailand, Spain, and Mexico, and people from all over the world knew the lyrics. If you go to a place without a beach, but with men wielding acoustic guitars, then you've probably also got to hear "No Woman, No Cry" (one of my least favorite songs). I would love to be greeted by a woman strumming an acoustic guitar singing "No Lazy Man, No Cry"! I'd empty out my wallet for her! Anyway, I digress...

We're jammin! Or, more specifically, I'm blackberry jammin! Over the weekend, we visited the family. The boy and I have been eyeing the blackberries at a super secret spot for awhile now, and we had a feeling that they would be ripe. We were right! So, we loaded up the boat with four berry pickers (otherwise known as myself, the boy, his dad, and his brother), two dogs (the berry challengers), and off we went!

We picked berries for an hour.Contrary to popular belief, berry picking isn't very peaceful because there is a lot of swearing involved. Or perhaps it was the company I was with and our inexperience at finessing the berries from their thorny bushes. We were far from the idyllic scene of people with their pretty, wicker baskets picking berries and enjoying nature. We were more like the Berry Pirates. Arrrrrgh! However, if we really did have eyepatches, I think our depth perception would be lost and we'd get stuck by more thorns.

Vespa and Mingus both decided, at different times, that berry bushes meant dry land, and they were tired of being sailors , so each of them took a little dunk in the lake. Vespa thought she was being smart, too, by jumping on a log, which promptly sank as she put her dainty little paws on them. And again, I'm kicking myself for forgetting the camera!

What does seven pounds of blackberries that are turned into jam look like? I know that is the question burning inside of you all right now. Allow me to show you.

Adding some heat to make berry pulp.


I prefer to run seedy berries through a food mill. I hate chewing my jam. However, nothing went to waste because all the berry seeds were fed to my worms. (I don't think I've introduced you all to my worms yet.)

After running the berries through the mill, I was left with 9 cups of berry pulp. I added 3 cups of sugar, half the sugar that the recipe called for, so it took me longer than usual to achieve the gel point. Next time, I'll add more unripe blackberries for added pectin.

Ta da! Blackberry jam! The seven pounds of berries amounted to 8 jars of jam, or 4 pints. I wish you could taste it - it is delicious! We're already planning to do another berry run this month.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ball

Balls are for puppies. I'm much too mature to play with a stupid ball.


Oh, but the siren call of the ball is so tempting.


So. Tempting. So, so tempting.



I CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE! MUST! PLAY! WITH! BALL!


BALL!


BALL!


BALL!


Who, me? I don't play with balls! Balls are for puppies.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Colorful Plate

When I go to my little produce market, my "to buy" list is lacking in specifics. Sure, I'll list certain types of oils or dairy product needed for a recipe, but besides that, I let what catches my eye dictate what leaps into my basket. Lately, I've been grabbing anything that looks like it came out of a Crayola box.

Roasted cauliflower has become an almost weekly offering at casa de wildtomato. Luckily, cauliflower is locally grown year round in these parts, so these nutty, creamy, and a little bit crispy treats can be devoured without a second thought. How do you roast cauliflower? Before you start, turn on your oven to 400 degrees F. Then, cut the cauliflower heads into similarly sized floweretes, toss them in a single layer onto a cast iron skillet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt. The whole sheebang goes into the oven for at least 30 minutes. I'll open the oven door and give the skillet a good shake a few times during the process, too, to ensure that lots of cauliflower bits get crispy. It is done when you can pierce it with a fork and it is tender. I vary my cooking time a lot because you can leave it in the oven until it is just on the cusp of tender or buttery smooth. It just depends what mood I'm in or if I forget to set the timer.


Huckleberry potatoes have been a huge treat this season. Armed with my favorite cookbook, I made a huckleberry potato gratin with emmentaler cheese to accompany the roasted cauliflower.



My colorful food experiment flopped with this dish: pain au chou. Translation? Cabbage loaf. It sounds better in French, oui? The recipe, also in my favorite cook book, was fine. It was my loose interpretation that did us in. The dish was bland and I did not have enough of the custardy filling for the amount of cabbage I had on hand. I was able to salvage it by adding some chevre to the mix. Still, it wasn't one of my proudest moments.


I had to make another blueberry coffee cake to feel better. This time, I used a round form factor.


Meanwhile, Vespa and Mingus have been bugging me to make them some canned squirrel. They said that they would be very good dogs if only I would give them a little taste of this delicacy. Yes, really! Squirrel is mentioned in my canning book, so that is how I know it is authentic.


In other news, Fifty-Fifty is getting some rest before her next modeling gig. Expect a new International Cat Hat soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I will never be bored

When I was a child, I was constantly bored. In fact, I bugged my parents about it so much that I was forbidden to mention the "B word." If I slipped up and started to utter, "Mom, I'm bor-", my mother would dole out one awful chore after another that could be done around the house to stop my boredom. Yeah, lots of fun that was.

I do not get people who wistfully yearn for their younger years, because being an adult is absolutely fabulous. I can't even remember the last time I complained to anyone about being bored! Even if I'm stuck at home, I can pick up my camera, or I can knit, or cook something, or go for a hike, or poke a dog. When I pointed this out to one of the parental units that my annoying childhood whining would have been prevented by an allowance, more pets, and the freedom to buy whatever materials I wanted and do whatever I wanted, I got no sympathy.

So, these pictures are what I did recently to prevent boredom.

I bugged the cats and took blurry pictures of them while making clucking noises in an effort to get both of them to look at the camera.


The boy planted more seeds and we harvested our second salad of the summer (SSS). I spent a long time on the deck trying to figure out what he planted since he didn't label anything. It's okay because I like surprises.


My hoya carnosa's blooms fell off, and I decorated my handspun with them.


I spent a lot of time staring and taking pictures of our carniverous plant. I think the boy fed it some Korean bbq, or at least that what he claims when asked why this plant is suddenly thriving.


I knit a chemo cap for my MIL. Sadly, the last of her hair fell out yesterday and she doesn't recognise herself anymore. I'll be knitting many more caps, as will some of my friends (thanks again, you are all wonderful). F*ck breast cancer.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Different Type of Fetch

Hm, she said we were going to play fetch! So why are these on my head?


A professional (dog) model never lets knitted goods phase her!


Finally, my ears are warm. Now, take these off!

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