...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Frolicking in the South Shore

This weekend is the South Shore Frolics, a big festival "down by the lake" in Bay View.  My parents have fond memories of attending the frolics to "watch the submarine races," which I embarrassingly just realized a couple of years ago were not what they sound like.  When I said to Ben "I wonder why they don't have the submarine races anymore," his narrowed eyes and crooked smile were enough to say "your parents were doing something else."  Whoops, how naive I can be.  Anyway, because of the Frolics, our Saturday farmers' market was suspended for the weekend so we thought we'd check out a different neighborhood market.  We hopped on our bikes with Vera in the trailer and headed to the central city to see what was happening at the Fondy Farmers' Market where Fond du Lac Ave. intersects with North Ave. at approximately 21st St.  They were having a health fair along with the displays of gorgeous vegetables.  It was great to see some new faces--and familiar ones as well.  As we were riding to the market I realized again just how awesome it is to bike from place to place instead of hopping in my car all the time.  A fellow Transition Milwaukee friend pointed out recently that when she bikes she's much more aware of the streets she's covering and feels more a part of the neighborhood.  This is absolutely true.  Though one must be more attentive while biking, since it's still the minority mode of transport, I feel it is truly possible to see things differently--notice buildings, people, other scenery, and  of course every bump in the rode--on a bicycle.  

After a day of biking, we were tired and capped off the evening with homemade tacos--an idea Ben got while roaming the market.  I must say I think it's very cute when he makes a dinner suggestion.  Soft shell corn tacos are his favorite since he lived in Chicago's Noble Square neighborhood and had many a late night meal at La Pasadita where it's rumored that many well-known chefs head after closing time.  We were able to use all local ingredients except the tortillas and spices.  Mmmm, no one can eat just three!

La Pasadita Tacos
Keep in mind that this is simply our version of these infamous tacos--or Ben's recollection at best.  You can imagine that one only finds himself at this joint after imbibing a bit so some of the details are foggy.  At any rate, this is how we make them and they're go-od.  

Corn tortillas
Ground beef (though Ben's says one thing's for sure, L.P. uses fajita meat)
White onions, diced fine
Shredded cheese (a la carte at L.P.)
Cilantro, chopped
Sour cream (this may not have been part of the original plate)
Hot Sauce

Brown the meat and season to taste.  I use ground cumin, chili powder, ground coriander, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Add the onions and saute slightly (Ben claims these may or may not have been raw...your choice.)  Transfer meat to a bowl.  Use the same pan to slightly warm the tortillas, in batches, immediately before serving.  Set up an assembly station and let everyone make their own taco.  Enjoy!

I took several pictures of the vegetable garden today.  It's changed so much recently!  My Rattlesnake beans are really taking over the trellis.  I love how the vines sort of just reach up to the sky at the top. The tomatoes are going crazy as are the carrots.  The kohlrabi are really sizing up, the potted okra is taking off, and my leeks are finally starting to look like something.  Looks like we'll also have lots of hot peppers this year for drying.

The green beans continue to produce; they really live up to their variety name--Provider.  I have harvested three pounds already this week just from my small plot.  I'm trying to keep better track of my garden yields this year.  I haven't weighed every bit of lettuce and mesclun mix, but I'm working to seriously get weights on the bulkier items.  I use my Gramma's old spring scale, the only item I admittedly coveted from her estate.  It's a relic with some interesting information on top about all the things you can weigh.  Check out the label!

There have been a few household projects dangling over my head lately.  This weekend I've slowly chipped away at a couple items on my rainy day list.  One of those was making some cafe curtains for the dining room window where the morning sun really blinds Vera as she eats breakfast.  I haven't spent much time making window dressings for this place since we moved in over four years ago.  It came with some wonderful roman shades upstairs and we have blinds in the living room.  I guess I threw together a quick no-sew swag for the kitchen, but nothing really time consuming.  This project wasn't much different (as you might agree.) I deliberated over what type of curtains I wanted for the longest time.  Last week I found in my fabric stash some floor length tab-top curtains from either Ben's or my old bachelor/bachelorette pad (when I saw that we had the exact same taste in curtains and learned that he'd stepped foot in Pier 1 to pick his out, I knew it was destiny.)  I measured, hemmed, and hung them tonight.  Not a major change, but I think it adds a nice warmth to the dining room.  They'll be drawn in the AM, but I can enjoy how they frame the window and built-in by night.


  1. Roman blinds will not block out the light unlike curtains at either side of the window. Clutter makes a room a lot smaller looking. Thank You ;).

  2. Looking good! I can't believe I haven't found your blog before now :)