Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book review: The Maze Runner Trilogy

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner

In this first book of the trilogy, we meet Thomas as he wakes up with no specific memories of his past, on the way to what we learn is The Glade.  Thomas and some other boys are apparently being kept here, surrounded by an impenetrable maze filled with deadly monster-machines.  None of them have any memories.  Suddenly, the first girl ever arrives in The Glade, and triggers catastrophic events.

Seemingly the love-child of The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies, this book is fast-paced and interesting, if not very deep.  It's mostly the desire to solve the multiple mysteries that keeps one reading.  Unfortunately, if that is your main motivation (as it was mine), you'll have to finish the series to really answer everything.

 The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2)
by James Dashner

A direct sequel to #1, picking up pretty much exactly where we left off.  Thomas and the gang have escaped the Maze, but find themselves thrust into yet another life-threatening experiment where many will die.  Thomas might even be one of them.

Somewhat satisfying in that as Thomas slowly gains back some memories, we can start to piece together what has happened.  Since we, the readers, are not faced with death (and near-constant exhaustion, as Thomas does), we have more leisure to go back and fit his sketchy memories together.  We won't have all the information, though, until book 3.

The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3)
by James Dashner

In the final installment, Thomas and his friends try to figure out how to deal with the organization that has stolen their memories, made them distrust everything and everyone, and killed their friends.

Questions are answered, mysteries solved, and the human race goes on.  Hooray!

Final verdict: a fun, quick read.  Much more cheerful ending than Hunger Games.  Gotta read the whole series to be happy, but don't really have to reread ever, in my opinion.

[This is post #95.  When do you think I will get to 100?  If you're right, you might win!]

Thursday, December 1, 2011

African Violets

This is a photo of my African Violets back in June of this year:

And these are pictures of them now:

My question: why are the flowers so very white, with hardly any "violet" left on them at all?

[This is post #94.  When do you think I will get to 100?  If you're right, you might win!]


My good friend N got me a flying lesson for my birthday, back in September.  We couldn't get it scheduled until this past Sunday due to weather and conflicts, but we finally did it, and it was AMAZINGLY AWESOME.  N took some great photos, to which I will now subject you.

It was pretty cold outside on the ground.  Nice and warm in the plane, though.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Today, I used some Thanksgiving leftovers to make a casserole.

Leftover cooked white-meat turkey
Leftover roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon & walnuts
Sliced mushrooms
1/2 an onion, diced
Egg noodles
Olive oil
Heavy cream
Flour and turkey gravy seasoning

Heat the oil in a pan, and stir in the chopped onions.  Cook until translucent, then add the flour/gravy mixture.  Brown for a couple minutes, then add the heavy cream and some hot water.  Heat through, then add more flour or more water until you have the consistency of cream of mushroom soup.  Alternatively, use a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Add in the chopped turkey and heat through.  Add salt and/or pepper to taste.

At the same time, cook the egg noodles according to the package directions.  Heat some butter in a separate pan, add the mushrooms, and cook until browned.  Then add in the Brussels sprouts and heat through.

When everything is heated, mix it together in a casserole dish.  Sprinkle crushed cracker bits, dried cranberries, and Parmesan cheese on top.  Put it in a 350 degree oven until the top is slightly browned, about 10-15 minutes.

Sorry for the poor picture quality; one of these days I will get a real camera.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I just purchased 25 pounds of local beef from Rising Moon Farm.  I was a little worried that it wouldn't all fit in my freezer along with the three chickens I have left and all my frozen soups and stocks.  But it all fit perfectly.

That's 12 pounds of ground beef, a couple roasts, short ribs, and several different cuts of steak, all on the bottom shelf with my three chickens.  Everything up top is pre-cooked.

[This is post #91, by the way.  Leave a comment with the day and time you predict I will post my 100th post, and you will win a TBD prize!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Next Year's Garden (and a CONTEST!)

Last week I ordered some seeds from Seed Savers Exchange at 50% off.  From left to right, starting in the top row, I have beans (dry), beans (snap), beets, blue corn, pickling cucumbers, purple basil, Greek oregano, leeks, lettuce, peas, peppers, pumpkins, and tomatoes.  So I'm very excited to grow things next spring.

Also, this is my 90th post on this blog!  I am holding another contest: whoever most correctly predicts when I will post my 100th post will win a chance to guest post here at WWWW.  Or I will guest post on your blog.  Or I'll write you a limerick.  Basically, the prize is negotiable.  Start guessing the day and time I will post the 100th entry on this blog!  I don't even know myself (I don't have it planned out or anything), so we'll all be surprised.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book review: Coop

Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting
by Michael Perry

What a fun book!  Perry has a great way of making his writing funny by using much more complicated vocabulary and sentence structure than is warranted by the situation.  He is also very skilled at bringing out the emotional complexities of starting a small farm: in his relationships with his family, his neighbors, his livestock, and in his ambivalent attitude about "work" that pays the bills versus "work" that feeds the family.

A quote for Susan:

"I wrote the word reverence into our vows in honor of the way my father has always treated my mother.  Dad taught me that reverence wasn't fawning, nor was it always delivered in hushed tones.  I saw it in the goofy way he doffed his fur-lined Boris Yeltsin hat when he opened the van door for her on Sunday mornings; the way he quietly abstained when we kids teased her for not getting our jokes; the way he never failed to leave the dinner table without thanking her.  And there was the reverence between them: lest we be deceived, on many occasions-- together and separately-- Mom and Dad made sure we understood that their marriage had rough patches and disagreements, but that they had long ago promised to work it out quietly behind closed doors.  It didn't hurt that they sometimes made sure to let us catch them kissing.  Nothing off-putting, just a hug and peck in the kitchen or in the sheep barn during lambing.  In this I believe they were extending their reverence to the children-- letting us know that when we went to sleep it was in a house headed by parents joined at hip and heart."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday Pizza

I made pizza yesterday.

First, I mixed up and kneaded the dough.  Then, while it was rising in the microwave (it was off, of course), I went for a walk/jog.  After I returned and took a shower, it was time to punch it down, preheat the oven and pizza stone, and start making the toppings.  Here's how it went down:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Abby, the Cat

This is Abby.

She does not technically belong to me, but to the owner of the house I live in, who has been away on vacation for the past month.  Thus, I have been her primary source of food, water, love, and non-autonomous grooming.

She likes to walk on me, knead me, and lie on my chest.

This sometimes makes it hard to breathe, as she is (and I say this with the love of Christ) something of a fat cat.

She also likes to bring me presents.  Last night, I woke up to the sound of crunching.  At first I thought, "Oh, that's Abby eating her crunchy food."  Then I thought, "Wait, I didn't give her crunchy food tonight..."  And then I realized that she was eating a mouse.

I figured I probably didn't want to witness that process, so I stayed in bed and tried to go back to sleep.  No dice.  After the crunching stopped, and Abby apparently left the room, I finally had to turn on the light, get out of bed (very carefully, so as not to step on the corpse), put on my glasses, and remove the head and tail and other remains of her midnight snack into the garbage.  (Be glad that I did not have the presence of mind to take a photo.)  Then I went downstairs to get the Resolve carpet cleaner (to clean up the blood).  Sprayed that on the carpet, waited the requisite five minutes, then blotted and wiped it clean.  I washed my hands, then firmly shut the door (to keep any further snacks out of my room) and went back to bed.

The Death of Jack

Halloween is over.  Time to get rid of Jack.

Here lies Jack, atop the compost.

Sock update

I didn't forget about my sock project; I was inundated with other projects that for various reasons (schoolwork, paid work) took precedence over crafts and hobbies.  But never fear; I have gotten back on the sock-horse.  Wow, that sounds strange.

Anyway, remember that lovely green alpaca yarn I bought?  It is finally de-skeined (Is that even a word?  What do people really call the process of turning a skein of yarn into a ball?) and I have begun turning it into a sock.  It's slow going, because the yarn is so thin and the needles so small, but it's going.

I've found I like to knit in the morning, after feeding the cat but before changing out of my PJs.  Who am I kidding, I'm still in my PJs right now, and it's almost 1:30.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A New Way to Run

While browsing my blog feed yesterday, I came across this article from Root Simple, which linked me to this NY Times article about barefoot running.  (I just typed "barefood" by accident.  That should tell you something about me.)

I should explain that I have always been overweight, and have always hated running.  In gym class, I could never complete the required number of laps at a run.  At best, I could run half of each lap.  I couldn't understand how my classmates were possibly running so fast, and for so long.  I figured it must be that I was fat, and not built for running.  That has been my line every time the subject comes up: "I don't run.  I'm not built for running."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Return of Jack

He's waaaaay scarier now that he's decomposing.
And getting chewed on.
Kinda like that guy from THE MUMMY, which was on TV the other night.

Ideas for libraries?

We had a guest speaker last night at my Library Science class.  She talked with great enthusiasm about all the wonderful ways that libraries could and should be using technology and social media.  The talk started with her request (more like a demand, actually) that we all give our "elevator speech"; a very brief self-introduction that would "sell" our skills and potential assets.  Also, apparently "Google is now your resume."  If you're not visible on the Internet, you are unhireable.  Then she went on to talk about all the wonderful iPhone apps she uses, how Starbucks, hackerspace, and TED talks are stealing business from libraries.  Her mantra for the evening seemed to be "Why isn't the library doing that?"

While I agree that libraries should use technology and online trends (like social networking) to bring in more patrons and help them do/learn/find what they need, I resent and reject the idea that everyone must be connected in these ways.  If people want to be on Twitter, or have a blog, or create or use apps, that's fine, and the library should support that.  But it should not expect or require patrons or staff to do so.

After class, I was giving my friend E a ride home.  We talked about how this culture of technology and social media and "selling" yourself is not what we want.  We are intelligent, informed women, and we would be perfectly happy to be married, stay at home, cook, garden, and care for children.  Being a housewife does not preclude us from being smart, or from being valuable assets to any organization.  Just because we choose not to hang our names all over the internet, just because we choose not to be tethered to a smart phone or an iPad or any other device, does not mean we are not qualified to work with or for those who do so choose.*

Our culture is trying to tell us that we must be connected, we must be visible, we must be extroverted.  I reject these values.  I was particularly angered by the "elevator speech" idea, although I did manage to come up with something to say.  What I wanted to say, though, was this: "Hi, I'm Laura C., and I am not the type to initiate conversation in an elevator.  Thank you."

This isn't all about me, either.  While E and I choose not to identify with the tech culture, there are others who are excluded from it based on economic and linguistic barriers.  It's fine to include apps and social media in a library's repertoire of services, but the minute those high-class projects start taking funding and staff hours away from more basic services that benefit under-served patrons, it's a BIG PROBLEM.  Who needs our help more, the Abercrombie-wearing teenager whining about how the library should have an app for that, or the single mom trying to learn English so she can get a job?  Seriously.  Let's get our priorities straight here.

*Yes, I appreciate the irony inherent in my using a blog to discuss this issue.  Thanks.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hiya, Jack

Sorry I have no process photos; it's very difficult to take pictures while your hands are covered in pumpkin goo.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sock yarn!

More fun at Northfield Yarn.

A lovely kelly green alpaca yarn.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Knitting Update: SOCK!

I have knit a sock.

Granted, it is only about three inches long.

But I am still calling it a success.  I think it will actually be easier when I make it full size and using fo' real sock yarn.  Thanks to the folks at Northfield Yarn for their advice on buying double-pointed needles.  I'll probably be in again soon to buy yarn.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Too Many Apples

Maybe someday I will write a children's book with that title.  I could see that happening.

I already have 10 jars of applesauce, four jars of apple butter, and three pies worth of pie-filling in the freezer.  Yet I still have what I think is a quarter-bushel of apples to use in some way.  So I bought a food dehydrator.  Yes, I know you can make one fairly easily and cheaply, even one that uses solar energy.  I did not do this.  Instead, I spent $35 at FleetFarm for a very basic model.

Then I borrowed sab023's hand crank apple corer/slicer to make nice uniform slices.

Then I layered the slices into the dehydrator.  This is only the bottom of five layers:

After filling the entire dehydrator, I still had about three-quarters of the original quarter-bushel left.  Guess I'll be running the dehydrator again tomorrow.  For now, I'm letting it go overnight.  I'll post again in the morning, and let you know how it worked out.

EDIT (10/11/11): Here's how they look this morning:

That's after about 10.5 hours in the dehydrator.  Next time, I'll probably try for more like 8 hours; these came out more like apple chips.  While they are delicious, I'd like to have the more leathery dried apples as well.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Knitting Update

I have finished my practice swatch, in which I remembered how to
1. Cast on,
2. Knit, and
3. Purl,

and in which I discovered how to
4. Rib,
5. Use two colors of yarn to make a pattern, and
6. Decrease in a somewhat orderly fashion.

Next step: buy some double-pointed needles, and attempt a miniature sock.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Craft Project #1: Knitting

I have learned to knit at least 4 times.  I seem to have trouble retaining the knowledge.  However, I've been inspired by Catherine Friend's book Sheepish, as well as her recent visit to the Northfield Public Library, to knit a sock.  Perhaps eventually I'll even knit two socks that match.  But for now, my goal for this project is:

Knit one adult full-size sock.

To that end, I have pulled out my knitting supplies, and started a little swatch to remind me how to do these things.  It took me awhile (and an online video) to remember how to cast-on, but once I got that part it all sort of came back.  You might be able to see, in the photo below, how I'm even starting to get "fancy" by trying some ribbing.  Now that I understand the concept of knit vs. purl, a simple rib is not that difficult.

See the ribs?
There's also a new yarn store in Northfield, so once I feel confident that I remember the basics, I might head in there to pick up another set of circular needles (apparently you need two pairs to knit a sock?) and chat with the experts there.  I'd also like to pick up some real wool yarn-- I checked last night, and apparently all the yarn I have is synthetic.  Sheepish claims that wool socks don't absorb odor like other fibers, a claim I'd like to test.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book review: The Compassionate Carnivore

The Compassionate Carnivore: Or, how to keep animals happy, save old Macdonald's farm, reduce your hoofprint, and still eat meat
by Catherine Friend

This book is an excellent mix of factual information, amusing anecdotes about the author's experience farming sheep and steers, and consumer recommendations or suggestions on how to find the meat products we want.

Friend makes the case first for why we should care about how the animals that become our meat are treated, killed, and processed; then guides readers through four basic steps to being more compassionate carnivores:

1. Pay attention.  Know where and how your meat is produced; don't allow yourself to be fed, like a baby bird.
2. Waste less meat.  Really scary statistics on how much meat Americans eat, and how much we throw away.
3. Replace factory meat with "happy meat".  How to find sources for happy meat, what makes a livestock operation "humane," why we should care.
4. Choose meatless meals over factory meat.  Mostly for use at restaurants: if you can't be sure it's happy meat (and most isn't), go veggie.

I also appreciate what she says about the most effective way to create change, both in our individual lives and in the larger national food system.  "Change that doesn't last isn't change; it's a fad." (pg. 256)  Friend advocates for small, sustainable changes in the way we approach meat consumption.  She also points out that in order to change the way the system works, we must stay at the table; vegetarians, while they may vocally advocate for humane treatment of animals, have no skin in the game.  They don't spend their capital on any kind of meat.  If everyone who opposed inhumane treatment of animals did that, then farmers who treat their animals humanely would have no market, and would go out of business, leaving only the inhumane operations.

I have now read two of Friend's books (this one and Hit by a Farm); I look forward to reading her most recent publication, Sheepish.  Her style is conversational, at times raucously funny or dryly witty, yet always manages to treat her subject with compassion.

Grade: A+.  Recommended to anyone who tried to read Michael Pollan but got too bogged down in all the facts and figures and seriousness.

Green Tomato Pie

There were green tomatoes and tomatillos in my CSA box this week, and there are green tomatoes on the plants outside.  I decided to try and use some of them in green tomato pie.  Just to clarify: this is a sweet, not savory, pie.  It's basically apple pie, with green tomatoes instead of apples.  All the spices are the same.

I started by slicing the tomatoes and tomatillos, then cooking them a bit in water.  Lots of recipes for GTP online note that the filling is often very loose and wet-- not ideal for pie.  If I'd had some tapioca pearls, I would've use that, but since I didn't, I decided to try cooking the tomatoes first, then draining them before mixing with spices etc.
Then I mixed in cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger, allspice, and a little vanilla extract.  You know me, I don't measure stuff; I just added enough until it tasted and smelled right.  The filling was still kinda watery, so instead of dumping the whole pot into the crust, I used a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes, then poured just a little of the spiced juice in with them.

(Note: I also made my own pie crust, which if you recall I'm not that good at.  Let's not go into that.)

Then you put the top crust on, and put it in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes or so.  It might take longer than that, I dunno.  Leave it in until it's done.

Let it cool a bit, then cut a slice for yourself.  Okay, okay, you guys can have some too.

Kind of ugly, isn't it?
It's not the most attractive pie in the world, but it's pretty tasty.  I will say that the seeds and skins from the tomatoes are a little weird in pie.  It might be better (albeit more work) to remove the skins at least before putting it in the pie.

Verdict: not bad, but probably won't make it again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Creamy herb chicken

I can't find a recipe for what I want to make, so I'm inventing one.  Here's my proposed recipe; planning to make it tonight, so I'll get back to you on how it went.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
half and half
fresh thyme
fresh rosemary

Melt butter in a skillet.  Cook onions slowly, over med low heat, until caramelized.  Add flour and cook over medium low heat until browned.  (This is called a rue.)  Add in thyme and rosemary, cook for two minutes while stirring.  Slowly add half and half until it reaches desired consistency.  (Add shredded cheese?)  Remove to bowl; set aside.

Cook chicken in oil/butter on stove until nicely browned and nearly cooked through.  Pour sauce over it, and finish cooking.  Serve with mashed root vegetables and something green.

EDIT (9/17/11)
Wow, this was SO GOOD!  Changes from the original: I didn't actually caramelize the onions, just cooked 'em slow till they were translucent.  I added the H&H before I added the thyme and rosemary, and was a little worried at first about how goopey the flour made it.  But after the H&H heats up, the rue sort of dissolves into it, and it comes out creamy.  Make sure to cook it for a few minutes after adding the herbs, otherwise they end up kind of... stem-y.  I did end up adding parmesan cheese, and garlic salt.

I recommend pounding the chicken breasts flat with a mallet before you cook them, to ensure even cooking.  I knew I should really do that, but I thought I didn't have time, so we had to nuke our plates when it turned out the chicken wasn't totally done. 

To serve this whole thing, I plated the chicken and put a glop of sauce on each piece, then sprinkled with chopped chives.  Chives are also good on the root veggies, and I didn't end up cooking the spinach I bought (my guests weren't wild about the idea of cooked spinach.  Oh well.)

The best part?  Leftover sauce, good for using on pork or chicken, or perhaps adding to soup, although that might be a little too rich.

Thursday Thirteen

For more information on the Thursday Thirteen go here.

1. Chiropractic care.
2. Being able to bend over and tie my shoes without feeling dizzy.
3. Cats, specifically, Abby.
4. Birthdays, birthday cake, and snickerdoodles.
5. The freedom to question and politely disagree with professors.
6. Books, blogs, and the ability to edit.
7. A kitchen to cook in, food to cook, and wonderful people to help me eat it.
8. The Oxford English Dictionary, and the many and various words contained therein.
9. Ice packs.
10. The blessings of work, even part-time work.
11. Vegetables.
12. Cool fall weather.
13. Sweatshirts.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chiropractic care

On the recommendation of a friend, I have started going to a chiropractor in town here.  I had a headache from last Monday through yesterday; went to see Dr. C on Friday and again today.  No headaches today!  But Dr. C "adjusted" me again, so now my lower back is kinda sore.  Hooray for ice packs!  More adjustments three times a week for a month.  Hoping to get my spine sorted out.

Anyone else have experience with going to a chiropractor?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday Thirteen

Susan over at Wednesday Grace has suggesting bringing back the "Tuesday Ten", except now as "Thursday Thirteen".  I think it's a good idea, so I'm joining in, at least for this week.

Thank you, Lord, for
1. a beautiful place to live
2. the generosity of friends in offering #1 and in helping me get there
3. libraries, and the helpful, friendly people who work in them
4. patience, and the ability to recognize the need for it
5. meaningful work
6. the good fortune of loved ones near and far
7. our capacity for big dreams, even when they seem out of reach
8. good food, and people to feed it to
9. the incredible diversity of life on this planet
10. John McCutcheon, and how You speak to me through the songs I get stuck in my head
11. books, both for information and for pleasure
12. the gift of ingenuity You've given our species, to create technology that allows me to see and talk to Susan and her son from over six hundred miles away
13. Your amazing, forgiving, gracious love, and our calling to spread it around.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mexican food day

Today I cooked in my new kitchen for the first time.  I was craving something spicy.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My own beans!

For a few weeks here, I've had green beans growing on the plants.  I didn't want to pick them yet, though, because I often get green beans in my CSA (community-supported agriculture) box, and I didn't want to be inundated with beans.  So I'm letting my own dry on the vine (the seed packet says you can do this), and today, my first pod was ready.  I opened it up, and inside were three perfect "painted pony" beans, and one that's a little abnormal.
More to come soon, I hope!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review: Joshua

Joshua: A Parable for Today
by Joseph F. Girzone

I have read a fair amount of Christian fiction.  Much of it has interesting and important stories to tell, whether they are rooted in the facts of scripture or not.  But this book misses the mark.  While it shares an important message of freedom in religion through loving faith, the style is clunky, the prose awkward.  Characters speak in pedantic, pompous paragraphs (enjoy the alliteration, Mom), and Joshua himself repeats his message over and over in much the same words each time.  The few actions described carry much more weight than the many verbose soliloquies delivered by the various characters.  Joshua's carvings, healings, and acts of mercy and kindness toward the people in the town are much more powerful than the theological arguments he delivers to ministers of escalating importance.

Overall, an interesting idea that was executed poorly.  Would not read again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


S and I made fridge pickles today.  We may have overestimated how many we would get.

Lots and lots of cucumbers.  This is not even all the slices we ended up with.
This is 14 jars waiting to be cleaned.  We added six more after filling these when we still had cucumbers left over. 
The filled jars, waiting for the hot vinegar brine.
My share of the finished product.  S took home just as many filled jars; 20 pints in all.
Now, as you may know, fridge pickles are not processed in the boiling water bath.  We just made a hot vinegar/spices mix and ladled it over the cucumbers in the jars, then let the heat seal them.  We will keep them in the fridge so that even if the seal is not entirely perfect, the pickles will still be good for at least a year.  Anyone want some?


I have heard complaints that I haven't been blogging.  Sorry about that, kids.  No excuses, I just haven't really felt like it.  But today I made pesto using my own home-grown basil.  It's pretty simple:

3/4 cup of basil leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons pine nuts (thanks Susan!)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Start with everything except the oil in your blender or food processor (more on that later).  Grind 'em up, then start drizzling in the oil until everything's the right consistency.

Mmm, goopy green stuff.
Now, the trouble for me started when I discovered that my blender (which I got free from the pawn shop when I bought my bicycle) leaks.  Not a lot, but there's a small crack near the blade assembly, probably due to someone (possibly me) over-tightening the screw-on base.  This is not a big deal, except that it requires cleaning afterward and I lost some oil along the way.  Since I'm moving soon anyway, I think I'll give this one to goodwill and get myself a spanking-new blender or food processor.

Here's my question for you, dear readers: which should I get?  Black & Decker makes both a blender and a food processor.  The blender has something like 12 speeds and a pulse function, and is tall and skinny, as blenders often are.  The food processor has a pulse/off button and an on button, and is more bowl-like in shape with one of those special multi-use blades.  Both run $29.99 at Target.  I'm tempted to go for the FP, because I think the larger bowl would be easier to clean than the tall blender jar.  What's your experience with such things?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Strawberry Jam

Seven pints of strawberries, from Lorence's Berry Farm near Northfield.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guest post from SB!

Note: SB won the farmer's market contest, so she gets to guest post today.  I'm hoping to sponsor more guest posts in the future, so if you want one, let me know!  -- LMC

So just because it's more fun then providing a promo for my blog ( that I rarely update ... I decided to guest blog on LMC's Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Wanderings! Normally I blog about things I believe in as well as my adventures traveling but I'm going to take LMC's lead on this one.

Sunday night after church LR and LC came to my house for dinner. I had put a meatloaf (beef and pork) in the oven before I left for church. LR wanted asparagus and mashed potatoes so that would need to be prepared when we got home. The asparagus was prepared on the grill with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The potatoes were prepared with garlic (obviously and unfortunately not enough).

So the asparagus was delicious but there was about 1 serving left (probably because LH :( is "vacationing" and not with us). I asked LC, "What can I do with left over asparagus?"

LC replied "Make soup!"

"and I would do that how?"

"throw it in the blender and blend it with a bit of cream."

So I didn't have cream but I had half and half. When I got home from work I warmed the asparagus just a bit, threw all but 3 pieces in the blender and added what was left of the half and half. I transferred it to a bowl and stuck it in the microwave to warm it up a bit, then placed the 3 asparagus tops as garnish before I enjoyed it with left over meatloaf and some semi-mashed potatoes.

It was all delicious and one way to use left over asparagus that I would never have thought of before. I probably would have just thrown that serving of asparagus down the disposal. (Sorry LMC no compost!) If LMC lets me maybe I'll share another guest post in the future sometime and share my family recipe for a Vegan Chocolate cake! that is my Grandma's recipe from before Vegan was the thing!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Pie and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love to eat it, I love to help other people make it, but when it comes to making it myself, I hate it.  Not all of it, actually, but just making the crust.  I can never seem to get the right balance between wet-enough-to-clump-together and too-wet-so-it-sticks-to-everything.  Then there's the rolling; mine never come out round or close to round and I never know how thin or thick to make them.

Despite these challenges, I decided to make pie yesterday.  And since it's in season, I decided to make Strawberry Rhubarb pie.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Let's play a game...

It's called "guess what Laura bought at the farmer's market!"

This morning I purchased five items at the St. Paul Farmer's Market.  The first person to guess all five (or if no one gets all five, whoever gets the most) wins a chance to promo their blog here on W4.  Submit your entries in the comments, one comment per person.  Contest ends Sunday at 8pm; results will be posted Monday morning.

If no one's close by Saturday evening, I might post some clues.  Stay tuned, and good luck!

Friday, June 17, 2011


News flash: radishes are not nearly as gross if you cook them.

Easter Egg radishes from my farm share.  We already composted the tops, because we didn't like them.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happenings around the house

Yesterday I planted some new things in my garden.  The spinach had pretty much run its course, so I pulled out about half of it and planted beans.  I have no idea if they will grow well with the limited sunlight I get here, but we'll see.  They're from Seed Savers Exchange, a bi-color variety called "Painted Pony".  I also may have gotten a little carried away, and planted tomato seeds and cucumber seeds, also from SSE, in varieties called "Isis Candy Cherry" and "Bushy", respectively.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My favorite way to eat asparagus

Complete recipe here.

red potatoes (skins on)
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
ground pepper

and just for this time, I added some chopped parsnips, because I had bought them at the farmer's market and didn't know how else to use them up.

Adventures with Rhubarb

Confession time: before tonight, I had never cooked rhubarb before.  I had never knowingly eaten it.  Before last weekend, I had never bought it.  But it was at the farmer's market, so I decided to try it.  It's one of those early spring vegetables (wait, it is a veggie, right?) that some people rave about.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Food with Friends

There are no pictures of dinner tonight, but it was wonderful.  After church, LH, LR, and SB came over to my house for dinner.  First we made Greek salad:

Lettuce (Farmer's Market)
Green onion (FM)
Spinach (my balcony)
Feta cheese
Greek dressing (LH made it without a recipe!  Way to go!)

Then it was time for the main course.  Pork tenderloin, asparagus (FM), and garlic-Parmesan mashed potatoes.  SO.  GOOD.  The tenderloin came out of the oven perfectly-- moist, but thoroughly cooked, thanks to LH's skills with a meat thermometer.  We hadn't even put any fancy spices or sauce on it-- just salt and pepper.  The asparagus we cooked in a pan with some oil, then sprinkled salt and lemon juice over it.  I have to say I did a good job cooking it for the right amount of time; it was neither too crunchy nor too mushy.  The potatoes were easy, although the garlic was kind of old and so didn't cook or mash exactly right.  Oh well.  DELICIOUS.

Then for dessert we had Choco-tacos and What-the-FUDGE? bars (made by Klondike, in case you're wondering).  I know, dessert sounds kind of lame after that amazing meal, but it's what I had, and they were quite tasty.

Then, the best part (IMO) of the evening occurred.  LR did ALL of my dishes.  Not just the ones we'd used tonight.  Oh no.  She did all the ones that have been piling up in my sink making me crazy.  She wins the gold star, blue ribbon, best-in-show prize of all time!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dinner tonight

Tonight I used my George Foreman grill (from Goodwill) for the second time.  I grilled some chicken breasts I had, and then tried to figure out what to do with them.  Eventually I settled on salad, since I had half a bag of spring mix left that I didn't want to go bad.  Then I also decided to use up some of a white onion I had left in the fridge, so I sliced it and put in on the grill after the chicken was done.  Tas-tee!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Salvation Belongs to our God

When people talk about being Saved (and you know there's a capital letter there), I always get a little itchy.  Not because I'm uncomfortable with talking about it, but because often it seems the people who talk about it that way insist that there be a life-changing, spirit-altering Moment of Being Saved.  That's not how it's been for me.  Here's my best answer to the when-were-you-saved question.  It is not meant to be inflammatory, or rude, or critical.  It's just my experience and my interpretation.

I was saved when Jesus died on the cross.  Salvation is something that God does; my actions can have no effect whatsoever on whether I am saved or not.  However, my understanding of this amazing act of grace has been growing since I was a child.  I hope it will continue to grow throughout my lifetime, by thought, prayer, and revelation.
The only thing I can really DO with salvation is accept it, and that is not something to be done once and then remembered forever.  Instead, it is a daily (sometimes an hourly) task of admitting my sinfulness, my inability to fix the situation, and putting my life in God's hands.  If that's what you mean by being Saved, then I try to do it every day.

If you have had a life-changing, spirit-altering Moment of Being Saved, that's awesome.  But please don't assume that it is or should be that way for everyone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Garden of Eden...

it ain't.  But I'll have spinach, herbs, and flowers this summer.

Monday, May 9, 2011

From head to heart

This weekend, I:
went to the farmer's market for the first time this season
attended and sang in a funeral
visited a baby boy
watched the sun set over a lake
and finally, cried.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thinnings for breakfast

The spinach has developed secondary leaves!

Can you see them?  They're more roundish than the original sprouts.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spinach is growing!

The spinach is doing quite well!  During the few late-season snows we've had, I've been putting the lid that came with the tub on, and that seems to have helped the soil stay consistently moist, not too soggy nor too dry, nor too cold.  The short amount of sunlight is, I think, causing the sprouts to grow slower than they might otherwise, but I think they'll make it anyway.  I hope.