Thursday, September 30, 2010

Late summer at the BBG

There was actually less tornado damage than I was expecting, other than these guys:

But there were all manner of odd and spiky plants towering and lurching and flailing all over the garden.
This thing, for example, was wider than my wingspan.

I never knew that thistles blew out like this at the end of the season. Amazing.

Fine, universe. FINE.

Today's horoscope:

Do you have big plans for the future? If yes, it's time to start laying the framework so you can make those plans come to fruition with a minimum of frustration. This might include some organizational type stuff, like getting your files up to date, or some big picture work, as you brainstorm what you want your life to look like. If you don't have big plans for the future, now's the time to start thinking about some, ASAP!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Minimalist-ish dal

I saw this post on stonesoup the other day and was immediately drawn to it. I'd had a couple of weeks of not really eating as well as I should be for optimal feeling good-ness (and, to be frank, pants-fitting-well-ness), and have been trying to get back on track (good breakfast, fruit/vegetables for snacks, bringing a home-cooked, healthful lunch to work every day). This very simple lentil dish seemed like just the ticket, especially since I already had everything I needed at home.

With such a non-fancy dish, I decided to take the opportunity to try out this fancy rice mix I'd gotten at Trader Joe's. It's completely awesome. The black barley and daikon seeds pop when you chew them and it's really tasty.
I was a little less pleased with the lentils. They were kind of both harsh and flat tasting. I don't know if it's because I used (homemade) vegetable stock instead of water or if I so rarely eat lentils that have so few other ingredients involved that I don't even know what they taste like plain, but a big spoonful of yogurt and some chopped tomato added after I took the picture helped a lot. I had it for dinner last night and lunch today and there's definitely enough for lunch tomorrow, maybe even one more serving over the weekend. Even with the fancy rice, I'd be amazed if this went over $1/serving. With plain rice, I'm sure it would be under a quarter.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tomatoes and dates

Faced with a tomato-heavy CSA share a few days before I went out of town, I figured it was time to give these slow-roasted tomatoes a try. I halved the cherry and plum tomatoes, keeping the grape tomatoes to eat out of hand and the big ones to use for other stuff, drizzled them with oil and popped them in a 300* degree oven for two hours.
They came out concentrated and sweet, still juicy and a little chewy. The little ones that I didn't eat straight out of the pan were tossed into a batch of Annie's mac and cheese, but the bigger ones are still in my fridge. I'm going to make a batch of this minimalist dal tonight with some red lentils; the tomatoes may be good chopped up and thrown in with that.

Also of note: I came across fresh dates recently and since I'd never had them, picked up a small branch's worth to try. They're ready when brown and wrinkly and kind of gross-looking.
Eating them gave me the completely weird experience of bringing back a vivid childhood memory of something I'd never actually tasted: in one of the Chronicles of Narnia, someone plants a piece of toffee in the wildly fertile soil of a new world and a tree grows on the spot that bears a kind of toffee fruit that's juicy and sticky and soft. Ripe fresh dates taste exactly the way wee Stephanie imagined that toffee fruit tasting, i.e., awesome.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Screw this summer crap.

Fall is the air! My interest in life and the world around me is returning!

I can get excited about cooking without deeply resenting the fact that I'd have to turn on the stove or oven and I can get excited about eating rich, delicious food without getting cranky that it's too hot to go work it off and I can get excited about reading about food now that the focus is shifting away from stupid grilling and back to normal kitchen-cooking. I don't have a grill, don't know anyone who has a grill, and am afraid of my broiler. Plus, I don't really like big pieces of meat. I only really like meat when it's cured or cooked slowly and in some sort of soup or stew or saucy concoction that one eats over grains.

Things I'm dreaming about eating (looking over this list, maybe I need more protein?):
Mushroom bourguinon
Roasted squash and sweet potatoes
Brussels sprouts with caramelized tofu
Chicken soup
From-scratch macaroni and cheese
Lamb and prune meatballs with Moroccan tomato sauce
Regular meatballs with regular tomato sauce
Big batches of curry
Figs wrapped in bacon
Shepherd's pie
Short rib soup with leeks and barley
Butternut squash and hazelnut lasagne
Mulled cider, with or without a tot of something

Food goals for the fall:
-finally making decent gnocchi
-recreating my mom's potato soup with kielbasa and serving it to friends with dark, sour bread, a pickle plate, and baked apples for dessert
-something I haven't made before, maybe palak paneer?

I have been knitting all summer, but it's a lot more satisfying to do it when it's cool enough to wear something warm. Or even just cool enough that I don't want to rip my very skin off every single minute. I managed to finish the back and fronts of the Twenty Ten cardigan. It just needs the collar finished and a couple of sleeves.
And I started a new sweater last weekend. I went up to the Berkshires for a friend's wedding (Hi Zoe! You looked ridiculously beautiful!) and knew I'd have hours of being in a car (Hi Martha! Thanks again!) and on a bus (Hi Deb! Great to have company on the ride! Start your blog already!) and possibly hanging around a hotel where I could be knitting but wouldn't really be able to work on anything that took focus on a pattern or the project itself. I didn't have anything underway that fit the bill, so I started a simple stockinette pullover. It has hemmed edges and lots of waist shaping and is knit in some gorgeous cashmere/silk that I rescued from another sweater last year. It's zipping along satisfyingly quickly, so I should be able to wear it this fall.
The sweater that I ripped out was double-stranded and so warm that I could only wear it on the few Arctic-cold days we get each winter. I'm not 100% sure I love the black and pink tweed, but I'll see how I feel when it's done. I can always overdye it in navy or burgandy later. I wouldn't normally dye whole garments, but don't think unevenness would really matter in this case.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What I Did This Summer

This. I did this, over and over:

(from here, the place where awesome is born)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I do still knit.


One completed Just Enough Ruffles, in Malabrigo ... something. I want to say the color is called Pearl Ten? I love this pattern. It goes quickly and produces a scarf that frames the face in interesting, flattering ways. I'll do a modeled shot sometime when it isn't 97 degrees out. (WOE.) This was my first time knitting with Malabrigo and I completely get its rock-star status (knockout color range and super-soft), but I wouldn't want to knit anything larger than a scarf with it. Softly spun single-ply yarn = not long for this world. I require that my garments wear better than that. That said, I should have enough of the second ball left for a hat, which will be nice.

I got up to the armholes on the Twenty Ten Cardigan and divided for the fronts and back. So far, so good. I want to have it done to wear this fall, so I'm trying to crank it out. I'm knitting it exactly as written, except for frankensteining the sizing a bit: the lower part is the third size, but I'm doing extra decreases on the top and following directions for the second size for a closer fit through the upper back and shoulders, which will be a lot more flattering for me. If I'd been thinking ahead I would have done more side decreases on the body, but I didn't.

And a sneak peek at a secret project I should be in a position to reveal in a month or so: