Thursday, September 29, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn 2011

Happy Autumn and Fall Equinox, my friends!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Creative Mind

When I was building my house, I knew I wanted a Solatube.  Once I saw how much light one gave in a friend's home on a dreary gray day, I was convinced it was a marvelous thing.  There's one installed in the kitchen, at my stove.  Thanks to a comment made on Heather's blog, I saw this video of a man who is doing his own version of this, in the developing world.  The creativity of the human mind is a wonderful thing!  Have a great day, friends!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Green Beans with Gorgonzola & Grinding Grains

I was surprised to find a bird nest, in the rose bush along the path from the driveway to the house.  Another sweet surprise.  I've had a grain grinder for a number of years.  It's a hand grinder, and let me tell you, grinding enough grain to bake bread is a workout.  J has been pondering for some time how to electrify it.  He tinkered and tweaked over the weekend, and we now have an electric-powered grinder.  Hooray!  I'll be baking bread, and some whole wheat chocolate chip cookies today to celebrate.

Our green beans are just about finished, but I harvested just enough from Mark and Meredith's garden to make this new recipe, which J & I both agree is a keeper.  I found it at What's Cooking America.

Grilled Green Beans with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

6 cups lightly salted boiling water
1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
1 tbs olive oil, divided
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1 tbs firmly-packed brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp chopped fresh basil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil.  Add the beans and partially cook for 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Drain the beans in a colander and immediately immerse them in an ice water bath to stop from cooking; drain and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 tsp of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, gorgonzola, brown sugar, garlic, green onion, thyme and basil.  Cook just until the ingredients start to combine, approximately 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Toss the green beans in the remaining 1 1/2 tsp of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Lightly grill the beans on the grill approximately 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from grill and toss in the warm vinaigrette.  Serve immediately.  Makes 6 servings.

As is often the case, I didn't follow the recipe to the letter.  I used blue cheese in place of gorgonzola, 1/2 of one of our smallish homegrown yellow onions in place of green onion, and organic sugar in place of brown.  I couldn't see firing up the grill for 1 to 2 minutes, so cooked them in the wok.  Still perfectly delicious!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Using Recycled Jars to Can the Harvest

Harvest season is still in full swing, here on the homestead.  Today, I picked green beans, lima beans & crowder peas, okra, tromboncino squash, tomatoes and likely the last cucumber.  I canned fig jam for the first time, this afternoon.  I added three of our figs, but they're mostly some my Mom shared with me, as she's overflowing with figs this year.  Another first is that I canned them with recycled jam jars, the type with rubber on the inside of the lids, and a "button" in the middle that goes down when sealed.  I only canned two jars, but both sealed with a reassuring ping, once out of the canner.  I never knew I could do this, until I read Rhonda's post on this.   Apparently it is more commonplace to use these jars in Australia.  I'm aware this is frowned upon by the food safety folks in the U.S., and don't intend to can other foods in these.  But I did want to experiment with jam.  So far, I'm pleased with the results.  Does anyone else use these?

I did finish the jewelry cinch bag for Wendy last week.  I had one snag, but all in all, I'm pleased with how it turned out.  I think these would make a nice gift for someone that travels.  I've begun gathering ideas for holiday gifts, and these will be added to my possibilities list.  We watched a delightful movie this week-- Miss Potter, the story of children's author Beatrix Potter.   I usually don't care for Renee Zellweger, and still loved it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Green Bean Goodness

Today was a beautiful day.  A good portion of it was spent outdoors, shelling crowder peas and lima beans, and doing a bit of embroidery.  I'm loving having the windows open so much of the time.  One recent night, I awoke to hear the cries of two coyotes, and the call of a barred owl- "who cooks for you".  I am grateful to live in such a place.

I was on a mission this year to find one or more recipes that made me glad to eat green beans.  Here is the first one.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Roasted Green Beans with Onions and Walnuts

1 lb green beans, stem ends snapped off
1/2 medium yellow or red onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
2 medium thin-sliced garlic cloves
1/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts

1.  Place rack in middle position; preheat oven to 450 degreesF.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spread the beans and onions on the baking sheet.  Drizzle the beans with olive oil and use your hands to coat the beans evenly. Sprinkle beans with 1/2 tsp salt, toss to coat, and distribute in an even layer.  Roast for 10 minutes.
2.  While roasting the beans, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, thyme, and garlic slices in a small bowl.
3. After the beans and onions have roasted for 10 minutes, remove from oven.  Drizzle the vinegar honey mixture over the beans and onions.  Use tongs to coat evenly.  Put back in the oven and continue to roast until onions and beans are dark golden brown in spots and beans have started to shrivel, about 12 to 15 minutes longer.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with toasted chopped walnuts and serve.  This recipe came from Simply Recipes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wildflowers and Planet Earth Applique

On Friday, I drove J to the airport to visit his daughter.  I've watched movies he didn't care to see, did a long meditation, and a bit of stitchery.  It also meant I could do whatever I wished with my birth day.  Early, there were cards savored over a cup of tea, on the porch.  And a walk with the dogs, while I gathered grasses for the chickens and cut wild flowers for a bouquet.  I had intended to add some garden flowers, possibly some hyssop, zinnias, sunflowers, or purple butterfly bush, but I was so pleased with the wild bouquet, I left it as is.  I should tell you the birds have spread beautyberry across this land, as well as mulberry, so these were from a bird-planted bush.  Then there were baked pancakes, shared with the pups.  A bit later, I'll be heading to a family dinner at my Mom's.

Above is my latest embroidery project, and my first attempt at applique.  While it's far from exact, I believe it's recognizable.  After picking up my fabric from Wendy the other day,  I decided I'd like to work on the jewelry cinch bag today.  It just felt right to do something for someone else this birthday.  But, after looking at the instructions yesterday, I realized I needed batting, an eyelet kit and a rotary cutter.  I expect I could do without the rotaty cutter, but I was informed just last week that I would need one for another project I've got in mind.  So, the best laid plans...  They're closed Sundays, but I expect to be at Hobby Lobby tomorrow gathering what I need, and hope to be showing you the results before long.  I wish you a happy, relaxing Labor Day!

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Crafty Good Cause

I spoke recently of some new shops that were carrying my work.  I dropped off some new garden lanterns at French Connections yesterday.  This is one of those extraordinary shops that you can get lost in.  They've transformed a wonderful old house into their shop, and it's full to the brim of gorgeous work from France and Africa, as well as some local artists.  I meander from room to room just smitten with all the treasures there.  Then there's the porch overflowing with lovely things, and a changing parade of metal art on the lawn.  If you look close, you'll notice pigs, chickens, snakes or whatever Joseph has dreamed up lately, among them.

I'd noticed on their website a mention of a benefit they were involved in, to raise funds for the Autism Society of NC.  Somehow, probably due to the mention of fat quarters, I'd gotten the idea that it involved quilting.  After talking with Wendy, I learned it only involved sewing, which she assured me was easy, so I came home with 2 fat quarters in shades of purple, cream, blue and pink.  The fabrics there are incredible, from both Africa and France.  It was quite hard to decide on just two. There are directions to make the jewelry cinch bag on their website.  And they are giving the fat quarters for this project free, if you'll come by the shop.  Should you be interested, click on their link above for more information.  If you can, get to Pittsboro, check out this gorgeous shop and join in a good cause.