things i want to talk about

1.) My hair looked great when I got up this morning. Not different than usual, but it was looking good. I get my hair cut every four weeks. When you keep it short, you have to keep it short, so that means frequent visits to your hairdresser/stylist. It’s my one vanity thing. I don’t get manicures or massages or eyebrow waxes. The guy that cuts my hair doesn’t even wash it anymore. I just plunk down in the chair, he cleans it up, and off I go! About two haircuts ago, I decided I wanted to try something different. Let’s grown it out on the sides instead of cutting my ears out. We tried that for about two months, but it never really settled in. I called it the “Jim Trafficant” (if you don’t know who that is, go look him up). The hair on the sides when straight down, while the hair on top got tall and poofy. It did not work. When I got it cut in January, we went back to my old standby: shorty all around, long on top. It works, so I think we’ll just stick with that for now.

2.) This is the year I keep up with my bookkeeping. I probably say that EVERY YEAR, but this time I mean it. Even though the data entry isn’t that time consuming — especially after I figured out that doing a single receipt per day with the item totals rather than an individual receipt for each transaction — putting it off buries me with unnecessary stress. I can’t remember why I sold a thing in February 2015 when I’m inputting receipts in January 2016. If I keep up with it, things will be fresh in my mind and maybe everything will make more sense. Today is the day I start on my new journey. The first of the month will be DATA ENTRY DAY.

3.) Sewing things! Last year around this time I decided that I would claim sewing as my hobby. Spinning, dyeing, and knitting has gone the way of job, so I needed something that was just for me. I spent the year collecting patterns and modern fabrics, making something now a then, primarily dresses. Around Christmas I picked up a few new sewing pattern books by Japanese designers. I love how simple the clothes are – no zippers, no knits. Just straight forward linen with a button here and there. I’ve made a few dresses so far, mostly “shapeless bag dresses”, as I call them. On Friday I made my first piece that was NOT a shapeless bag dress. It was a boatneck top. The entire time I was working on it, I was convinced it would be too small. I had the pieces on the dressform and it just didn’t seem like it would work. But, as I tend to do with most things, I didn’t let that stop me. When it was all done I put it on. It went on! And it fit! Really well! A surprising success.

4.) Saturday I went shopping with my husband to look at food processors. When we got married six years ago, I got one then at the suggestion of my mother. It wasn’t anything too fancy since I had no idea that I even “needed” it. But now that I’ve been using it regularly, I could say more confidently what I did want. In preparation, I had watched some videos on YouTube and read reviews. In my mind I had settled on a Cuisinart, but when I saw it in person and struggled fruitlessly to remove the bowl from the base and the lid from the bowl, we both decided to consider another option.

cashew butterThat’s when we ran into the Breville Sous Chef. Sleek! Easy to use! A lot more money than the Cuisinart! But I could see this thing sitting on my kitchen counter getting used a lot. So we went over to Bed Bath & Beyond (20% off coupon) to see if they had it. Yes, but just one! “You better keep your hand on that,” husband says. I didn’t think there was going to be any kind of battle over it and they probably had another in the back, but I kept my hand on it just in case. We decided pretty quickly to get it. In addition to the coupon, I also had one of those Visa gift cards floating around in my purse from two Christmases ago, so we used that too. Gift card + coupon = paying half the sticker price. Weee!

Unfortunately I couldn’t use it right away when we got home. Dinner from the night before was still lingering in the kitchen, so after cleaning up, I tested out the new appliance with a batch of hummus. Whoa! It was nice. And all the things I didn’t like about my old processor had suddenly disappeared. Sigh of relief. I also made cashew butter and cracker dough and sliced cheese and sausage. It was very satisfying. The slicing blade has 24 different thickness options!!!! WHAT?! My old processor had ONE. I want to go use it right now.

sprouting journey continues

This morning, while I was rinsing my sprouts, Rich said, “Good morning, Sprout.” Apparently it’s my new nickname.

My order from Sproutpeople came over the weekend and I couldn’t wait to get started using the new equipment. I ordered a mesh lid for my wide mouth mason jar, the SproutMaster 5×6 sprouter, and the “Beanginner” kit which included a hemp bag and a sampling of different beans. Saturday night I started some alfalfa seeds soaking and placed them in a tray on Sunday morning. On Monday I added mung beans and a seed mix consisting of clover, fenugreek, and radish. Every morning I give them a rinse and again before bed. It really is fun to watch them grow! The hardest part is deciding when and how to eat them.

Alfalfa, mung, clover/fenugreek/radish mix.

April 23, 2013
Clockwise from left: Alfalfa, mung beans, clover/fenugreek/radish mix

The sprouts have grown.April 25, 2013
Sprouting has occurred!

crazy sprout lady*

Not sure where it all began. I think it goes back to my desire to graze. And my obsession with watching and poking at things. And my desperate need to grow something edible. And the fact that Jimmy Johns stopped putting sprouts on their sandwiches. And my desire to try new things that are actually old things. And my love of collecting kitchen gadgets.

Last November, after reading through several 70s era health cookbooks from my mom’s extensive collection, I decided to give sprouting a try. Every book suggested beginning with mung beans. I wasn’t so sure about that as my only experience with mung beans had been a scene from The Office.

Michael Scott: “Okay. Ryan, you told Toby that Creed has a distinct old man smell?”
Creed: “I know exactly what he’s talking about. I sprout mung beans on a damp paper towel in my desk drawer. Very nutritious, but they smell like death.”

Even though I was somewhat hesitant, I decided to give it a go anyway. The first batch went smoothly. With nothing but a mason jar, a bit of cheese cloth, and a rubber band — and regular rinsing and draining — I had a nice batch of bean sprouts several days later. It was fun! I got to watch something grow! No dirt required! But I didn’t know what to do with them, so we just ate them raw and put some on a salad. Oh, and they didn’t smell bad at all.

sproutsSprouting mung beans. November 4, 2012

Skip over several months in the winter while the passage of time flew by in hyper speed and I forgot how fun sprouting could be… It’s April! Two weeks ago I found my enthusiasm renewed and I started another batch of mung beans. Misreading the instructions that said to distribute 2 tablespoons soaked beans among several jars, I put 3 tablespoons each (two didn’t seem like enough) in two jars. FYI, as they started to grow, I had to bring in a third jar. I ended up with a good amount of bean sprouts and I didn’t want to just leave them to rot, so I made a fancy stir-fry. The bulk of it was carrots and green beans, and I did the sprouts separately in just a bit of soy sauce. Overall it was awesome! I was so proud of myself.

Fresh mung bean sprouts lightly stir fried.Stir-fried mung bean sprouts. April 7, 2013

This success gave me just enough encouragement to move on to something a bit more challenging: alfalfa sprouts. I had bought some seeds when I first got the beans, but wanted to wait until I was a little more experienced. Apparently I determined I was ready. I used the same jar/cheese cloth method, although I noticed there were seeds that didn’t sprout. It seemed like it took a while for them to start growing, but once they did, it went pretty quick. They filled the jar! And then we happily ate them on cheeseburgers.

The beginnings of alfalfa sprouts.April 11, 2013

Alfalfa sprouts: a continuing storyApril 14, 2013

The end of the road for these sprouts.April 15, 2013

After getting a feel for it and wanting more, I went hunting online for equipment, books, resources and found plenty. One really great website I came across is Sprout People. They have great product reviews, tons of things to sprout, and informative videos. I watched many of them before I embarked on the alfalfa. I ordered a few items and now eagerly await their arrival. More on that in the future.

* as determined by Ana Brito ^.~

a cookie recipe

In November I made a batch of these cookies for Indie Knit & Spin. Even though I wasn’t sure if I had made them correctly, they turned out great. Since I had several shoppers inquire about them, I am going to share the recipe.  It came from a wonderful cookbook that I found last fall called Wholesome Kitchen. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Quinoa Choc Chip Cookies
from Wholesome Kitchen by Ross Dobson

You will need:

½ cup rolled oats
¾ cup quinoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup demerara sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup premium semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1-2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the oats and quinoa in a food processor and process until finely chopped and the mixture
resembles ground almonds. Transfer to a bowl and add the flour, baking powder, and baking
soda. Mix to combine.

Put the butter and both sugars in a separate mixing bowl and beat for 4-5 minutes, until thick and pale. Stir in the dry ingredients to make a thick dough, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Put tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once coot, store in an airtight container and, eat within 2-3 days.

Makes about 24 cookies

picture time

The camera cable has been located! And guess who found it? The husband. I guess it goes both ways because I am always finding things for him in 2 seconds that he’s been trying to find for hours. That’s why you get married, folks.

Too bad they weren’t really worth the wait. In fact, they are pretty awful. Don’t think too hard about it.

——–

I decided I wanted to try sprouting seeds and beans, so I started with mung beans, as they seem to be the easiest. My only experience with mung beans is from The Office when Creed was sprouting them in his desk and they “smelled like death”. They didn’t seem to have any unpleasant odor. It was fun and easy, although I wasn’t sure what to do with them in the end.

sprouts

A rainbow of llama roving drying in the basement. It’s going to be a challenge getting this stuff braided. It’s so slick and wispy! As I was dyeing it, the colors refused to stay put. Every time I ended up with a semi-solid.

dyeing

Romney roving with Cotswold and Teeswater locks. The Romney came upstairs for braiding, but the locks had to linger in the living room while they dried. With outside temperatures hanging around 40 degrees, I’ll just have to wait.

dyeing

Falkland top braided and ready for labeling. I was trying so hard to focus on blues and greens this time, but I feel like the colors turned out a little wimpy. Blue isn’t fun to play with.

dyeing

sunday confessions 06/17

Another week behind us and the summer is flying by…

It was an “all play and no work” kind of week. Started with kitties and shopping with my mom on Monday. Then Wednesday I went to a flea market  and lunch with a wonderful friend of mine who let me talk the whole time. And on Friday I spent the entire day in a garden listening to stories told by two hilarious women. Honestly, I don’t remember what I did on Tuesday and Thursday. It may have been work related.

I didn’t bother doing a “friday’s question” post this week. Blame it on the garden. and the sorbet. and the sunshine. Did anyone even notice?

Rich and I have decided I manage one good home-cooked meal a month. What is required to accomplish this: food ready at a reasonable time (5 pm, not 8 pm); the kitchen is not a complete disaster; I do not hate the food or him or everything; the food is edible (and not just spaghetti). Somehow I managed it twice this month! Things are looking up!

I made blackberry shortcake for dessert this week and it gave me so much personal satisfaction. Don’t tell the feminists. Also, I hand-stitched the collar on Rich’s new tunic and it was awesome. Please don’t tell the feminists.

stuffed peppers
Multi-colored stuffed peppers for dinner on Wednesday.
blackberry shortcake
And blackberry shortcake for dessert.

sunday confessions

We’re already back to Sunday again and my second attempt at this thing. Here’s a pre-confession confession: after last week, I created a word document and wrote up a huge list of confessions. Is it cheating if you come up with them ahead of time? I’m using them anyway. Some of these are spur of the moment and some are from my list…

I hate the smell of cooked eggs. I can handle them in food, but a pan of scrambled eggs grosses me out. And yet I still cook them for my husband’s breakfast.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch around 9:30 fully dressed. Then at 10:30 I went upstairs, put on my pajamas, and came back downstairs only to fall asleep again until 2 am. At that point Rich and I went to bed and I fell asleep immediately.

Every time I come home I expect to find my house burned down. Which is creepy and dumb because I have never had any issues with fires. Except for the two times I set myself on fire. The first time it was my sleeve over the stove; the second time we were camping and it was my apron.

I am super lazy and unmotivated. Especially now that I work from home. I should have known better being that I couldn’t handle independent study when I was in school.

Once I tried to put on my pants with the left leg first and I couldn’t do it. I just fell over on the floor and got really confused.

there’s always a story

I like to tell stories.  Or perhaps I am compelled to tell stories.  Even the smallest thing turns into a lengthy rambling.  That includes dinner.  Each night I attempt to cook dinner, it gets “exciting”.  Usually it has to do with not having the correct ingredients.  For some people this might be a great opportunity to experiment. But for me, a rules and recipe follower, this causes anxiety.  And then I feel compelled to explain the entire ordeal to those eating the food, just in case it turns out icky.

Tonight the plan went something like this: grilled chicken; sauteed zucchini/yellow squash; and Deceptively Delicious couscous.  The grilled chicken was not grilled, but it was very tasty thanks to Rich who cooked it.  I tend to overdo it when it comes to cooking chicken.  The zucchini and squash recipe also included shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, and fresh basil.  I thought, “I’ve got all that!”  But of course I did not.  No mozzarella and my Parm was shredded, so I just put in lots of the cheese I had and it was so delicious!  I thought next time I might try a pureed squash soup with the cheese and basil.  Not sure how that would work but it sounds interesting.  The final side dish, couscous, had ingredient problems too.  I was supposed to put yellow squash and carrot purees in, but I was out of both.  Instead I put in cauliflower and spinach.  It was so yummy.  Green couscous!  Overall the meal turned out great.  Rich and I shared it with my dad, so that made it even better.  I’m realizing that just because I don’t follow the recipe exactly, it is not a failure.  In fact, I may find something new and tasty.

couscous and squash
All that remains of dinner
dinner dishes
The aftermath...

 

kitchen magic

The most exciting development at the Brown House has occurred in the kitchen.  Our lovely new gas range is finally functional!  Now I can dye larger quantities of fiber and bake, saute, boil, and whatever else one might do to food when using a stove.

inside the oven

Tuesday I spent the entire day running around the kitchen making things.  I picked up a copy of Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld after a work friend showed it to me.  Basically, Seinfeld decided she did not want to battle with her kids to eat their veggies, so she just purees them and sneaks them into the food.  I figured that her recipes looked appetizing and they have boosted nutritional value, so why not?

I started with a spaghetti and meatballs recipe that included butternut squash and carrots.  Before pureeing the squash, I had to roast it – in the OVEN!  Something I hadn’t done before.

butternut squash

The color of the squash was really remarkable.  It went into the turkey meatballs.  I had never made meatballs before or worked with ground turkey.  The texture came out a little weird, but I don’t know which ingredient(s) had the most effect on it.

squash puree

The carrot required more effort.  But it was such a stunning bright color.

carrot puree