...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.


Spring Through the Senses

I was awakened in the middle of the night by my sense of smell.  I don't think this has ever happened in the wee hours, though I recall plenty of pleasant-scented awakenings at my Gramma's house as she'd cook breakfast (with wafts of frying bacon) early on a Sunday morning.  Last night it was mustelid.  We've known there's a skunk, or perhaps many, creeping around our block since we smelled the awful scent a couple of months ago behind our garage.  When I was rudely rustled from my slumber last night I peeked out the window to see if I could catch a glimpse of an angry skunk skittering across the street.  No such luck (or maybe it was luck that I didn't.)  So, we add skunk to the amazing list of fauna inhabiting our neck of the city.  Despite the odors, I'm okay with these critters--foxes, raccoons, and skunks--creeping around because the rabbit population has seriously declined since I've noticed the larger predators.  My garden is happier as a result.

Photo courtesy of craftlog.org

From what I can tell, it seems like it may be a good fruit year here on the urban homestead.  After a couple of fair seasons with golden raspberries, blackberries, currants (that the chipmunks got), and a few apples, last year we had nothing but the handful of tart cherries from our tree's first year of production.  I've learned a few more lessons in caring for my fruit bushes and trees since then and am hoping the yields are increased as a result.  We also introduced a mason bee hive this year, compliments of my folks, who new I wasn't able to get the honeybee hive installed yet.  Though mason bees don't provide a sweet, delicious sugar substitute, they are incredible pollinators.  It will be interesting to see how we weigh in come fall with this addition to the garden.
Sweet Cherries

Wild Grapes

Not only am I enjoying spring through my nose (ah, the lilies-of-the-valley are smelling so sweet right now!), my eyes and hands (I love my morning garden walk to see what's changed and grown overnight), my ears (was hanging laundry this morning and heard a cardinal singing on an overhead wire), but also, as usual, with my taste buds.  We attended a family picnic yesterday afternoon via the Holistic Moms Network so I had a chance to whip up some new dishes.  I'm getting to the point with my pantry where I need to use last season's batches before I make new.  I brought the requisite jar of dilly beans to the picnic, but also incorporated some of my homemade apple butter into some baked goods.

Almond Jam Thumbprint Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy/Egg-Free)
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Adapted from a recipe printed in the June/July 2011 issue of Readymade magazine.  This was the first recipe I adapted from wheat-based to gluten-free and felt that the results were excellent.

2 1/2 c. almond flour
1 1/2 c. oat flour
1 c. sorghum flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. fine sea salt
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. apple juice
1/4 c. grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
2 t. almond extract
3/4 c. apple butter (or preserves of your choice)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two or three baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mat.  Stir dry ingredients in a large bowl to blend.  In stand mixer, mix syrup, honey, juice, oil, and extract until combined.  Gradually add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Scoop onto baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart.  Use end of a wooden spoon to make indentation about 1/2-inch in diameter that goes to bottom of cookie, but not through it.  Pipe preserves (with pastry bag or small plastic bag with a corner cut off) into indentations, mounding just above top of cookie.  The jam will melt down during baking.  Bake cookies until they puff and turn golden brown, about 20-25 min.  Transfer to cooling racks and let cool.  Will keep for two days in airtight container at room temp.

I also used up the last of my jerusalem artichokes making a slaw for the picnic.  My sister-in-law sent me this recipe that she'd clipped out of a magazine; she knew I was excited about sunchokes, how sweet!  I've had this recipe tucked away in my "To Make Soon" folder and decided to finally adapt it to suit my diet.

Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke) Slaw
Makes about 4 c.

The radish leaves, which I had on hand from thinning my radish rows recently, could be substituted with chopped flat-leaf parsley.

3 T. coconut milk
1 T. avocado mayo
1 T. tahini
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. nutritional yeast
1 t. capers or "Midwest Capers," chopped
2 t. white wine/sherry vinegar
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 lb. Jerusalem artichokes, thoroughly washed
2 large carrots, peeled
2 stalks celery, with leaves
1/2 c. radish leaves (optional), chopped very fine
1/4 c. fresh chives, snipped

Whisk together coconut milk, avocado mayo, tahini, Dijon, nutritional yeast, capers, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  With shredder attachment of food processor or handheld grater, shred Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, and celery (or dice celery very fine).  Add vegetables to "dressing" right away to prevent sunchokes from browning.  Gently stir salad and add seasoning, to taste.

I'm still working on sewing the "party dress" I mentioned last week.  On Saturday I attempted to install the zipper.  I've sewn and replaced many zippers in the past, but still it remains a daunting step in garment assembly.  I think the problem is that I always attempt to sew by the pattern directions, but doing it my own way is really much easier.  I gave Ms. Butterick's advice a shot only to realize that the zipper was not satisfactorily placed.  This would be the point in past projects where I decide to just leave it as is and move on, but I'm really really trying to do better than government work (a joke in Ben's family..."good enough for government work.")  I started ripping the zipper out, got frustrated and had to walk away.  I approached the project again last night with fresh eyes and a different seat in the house and successfully tore out all my stitches--basting and all.  I made a second installation attempt this morning with better results, but I still need to tweak a few things.  Slowing myself down and really doing work I can be proud of are a constant challenge.  Not that I'm  unhappy with clothing I've sewn for myself in the past, but I know it could be better.  This is either another flaw in my perfectionist character, my mom's Yoda voice in my head (recalling how she made me finish every seem for every garment for 4-H Fair entries), or it's a serious effort for me to be in the moment and go slowly.  We'll see where that takes me this summer.  Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment