30 September 2010

blog subscriptions: a housekeeping update

Quick note to any readers using Bloglines subscription service:  You probably have heard that Bloglines is shutting down on October 1.  So switch over your RSS feeds to Google Reader (or another subscription service) if you don't want to miss out on blog updates!  Here is a great tutorial for making the switch.  If you don't know what Bloglines is, don't worry because it doesn't affect you :)

PS-  If you read a lot of blogs, though, seriously consider adding them to Google Reader.  You just type in the URLs of your favorite blogs and Google Reader will show you every time the blog is updated so you only have to check one page instead of each blog individually.  Voila, so easy.  Or even easier, just click the "Follow" button over in the sidebar and boom! instant updates in one location.

PPS-  Or if you are on Facebook, become a fan of the blog (click here) and you'll get automatic updates via your News Feed.

28 September 2010

rainy day shawl

Autumn has settled in and that means the crochet hooks are out in full force.  Knitting needles too, but more about that later.  I'm working on a shawl and can't think of anything nicer to do on this rainy day but plop on the couch and play with yarn.  Not in the cards, but a nice thought nonetheless.

What fall projects are you working on, yarnwise or otherwise?  And yes, curling up on the couch and listening to the rain counts as a project.  I think.

27 September 2010

farmers market soup & five-minute ciabatta

I'm gearing up for our fall/winter season return to Sunday Soups.  Wherein, we make soups on Sunday.  We've had an on-again off-again Sunday Soup tradition in our household for awhile (you can check it out in this flickr set) but this year I'll be featuring those Sunday Soups right here every week.  Because there is nothing better than a warm bowl of comfort to start the week.  Other than a warm bowl of comfort, followed by dessert.  There is nothing better than THAT.

I didn't make this on a Sunday; I started it before work one morning the week before last and finished it once I was home for the night.  I had just set aside the soup and poured my coffee, minutes away from heading out the door, when I decided that it would be best served with homemade bread.  And I remembered this recipe I found through Katie Mae's Food Blog for a quick ciabatta. I prepped the dough and covered it to rise while I was at work.  All day long, I thought about how absolutely awesome it was to be heading home to homemade soup and bread.  Is it too dramatic to say that the thought alone could likely sustain me though the toughest of days?  I really think it could.

Farmers Market Vegetable Soup
(Once again adapted from The Kitchn)

Ingredients:
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 medum carrots, diced
  • 2-3 medium leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini or summer squash, diced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups vegetable broth, plus water to cover (I used Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon with water)
  • 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups corn
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 15-oz can of cannellini beans
  • salt and pepper
Directions: 
  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large dutch-oven or stock pot. Cook the onions with a pinch of salt until they are translucent. Add the carrots, leeks, and zucchini and cook until they have softened. Stir in the garlic, sage, and bay leaf and cook for another few minutes.
  2. Pour in the broth, adding extra water to cover as needed to cover, and bring to a rapid simmer. Add the green beans and cook 4-5 more minutes. Stir in the corn, rice, and beans. Simmer until all the ingredients are warmed through and season to taste with salt and pepper.
This made so much!  Serves at least 6-8 people, but I didn't really measure the water I used so it's possible that I increased the quantity.

Five-Minute Ciabatta
(So very simple and so very good.  Recipe taken directly from Kitchen Hack.)

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups flour
Directions:
  1. Mix yeast and warm water together in a large bowl.  Add the flour and salt.  Stir.
  2. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 8-12 hours (while you sleep, while you're at work, etc.)
  3. Grease and flour a cookie sheet and pour dough onto it, shaping into a loaf.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden, at 400 degrees.  Cool for 10 minutes and slice into it.

24 September 2010

fall style inspiration

I am in love with L.L. Bean's Signature Series fall collection.  Classic & simple.  Pricey for me, but I'm sure the quality rocks, being from the Bean and all.
(Click images to enlarge.)

A few other fall style images via A Cup of Jo, Alexa Chung for Madewell, Green Wedding Shoes and Ellen Page's neckerchiefs in the movie Inception.

Add in a cape, vintage Pyrex and corduroys and it's quite the pretty season.

I wanted to include a picture of the clogs I want, but I haven't found one that are just right.  They will be tan (or maybe navy) and will have a stacked wooden heel, not too tall but not too short.  I will consider ones with grommets or buckles on a case by case basis.  So let me know if you find those :)

22 September 2010

a survival manual for young people living in town (+ earth snacks recipe)

Homesteading in the City:  
A Survival Manual for Young People Living In Town or Off Campus
Nancy Seligmann 
copyright 1975
From the Back Cover:
"You have to be a real pioneer to settle down in the big city or set up an apartment off campus these days- the life is rugged, the environment is often hostile and sometimes it's hard to know where your next meal is coming from.

Here is a down-to-earth guide to living cheaply, naturally, and happily in the city- an absolutely indispensable survival manual for those who are setting up an apartment for the first time, living and working or studying on their own."

From the Table of Contents:
Part One.  Leaving the Old Nest and Feathering the New.
Part Two.  Food for Life, or How to Avoid Scurvy and Slow Starvation
Part Three. Bountiful Recipes for the Poor and Hungry
Part Four.  Country Living in the City

What I love about this book is that it was written as a basic survival guide for young people just starting out on their own.  She provides simple recipes using inexpensive and convenient ingredients for dishes like frambled eggs and meatloaf and gives plenty of shortcuts for the young chef.

But there are also sections on canning, preserving, bean sprouting and other homestead-y activities that aren't usually included in most of today's young adult "survival guides". Oh, and it has a section on terrarium-making.  Awesome.

A Recipe for Earth Snacks
"Earth Snacks taste great- you can eat them like popcorn or candy, but you won't get as fat and your teeth won't fall out as fast."

Ingredients:
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • wheat germ
  • unroasted peanuts
  • toasted soy beans
  • light or dark raisins
  • dried figs
  • dried pineapple
  • raw cashews
  • sea salt, kosher salt or regular salt
Directions:
Pour some wheat germ in a bowl, cut up the pineapple, figs, or other fruit and coat them with the wheat germ to prevent the fruit from sticking together. Add the raisins, also coating them with the wheat germ.  Add all other ingredients and salt the mixture according to taste.  Store in jars, or plastic bags.

I haven't actually made this, so enjoy at your own risk :)
(Photos via The New York Times and Martha Stewart.)

21 September 2010

how to learn and enjoy traditional american skills

Back to Basics:  How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills
The Readers Digest Association
copyright 1981
as promised...
From the introduction:
"Back to Basics is a book about the simple life.  It is about old-fashioned ways of doing things, and old-fashioned craftsmanship, and old-fashioned food, and old-fashioned fun.

Practical, useful information is provided on just about every skill and handicraft under the sun.  You will learn how to make your own cheese, raise your own chickens, harvest your own honey, generate your own electricity, and brew your own applejack." You also have access to information on "Creating a Homestead Out of Sundried Mud", starting a garden, preserving food and shearing sheep.

From the Table of Contents:
Part One.  Land:  Buying It- Building on It
Part Two.  Energy From Wood, Water, Wind, and Sun
Part Three.  Rasing Your Own Vegetables, Fruit, And Livestock
Part Four.  Enjoying Your Harvest The Year Round
Part Five.  Skills and Crafts for House and Homestead
Part Six.  Recreation at Home And in the Wild

Beekeeping:  One Small Hive Can Keep You in Honey All Year Round.
Honey!  And bees!

Cheese:  The Most Varied Of the Milk By-products
Cheesemaking is one of the last frontiers in our household, a forbidden fruit that I've been encouraged to ignore.  But c'mon, making cheese?  MAKING YOUR OWN CHEESE!?  I must do it.  What say ye, readers?  To make or not to make cheese?

Home Brew:  Fine Flavor At Modest Expense

And homemade wine!

Homemade Bread:  First Master the Basics And the Rest Is Easy. 
Which reminds me, I tried out a super easy bread recipe last week that I must share with you.  Five minutes of prep, that's all.

And lest you think that this is a total snoozefest, let me introduce you to some of the real gems of Back to Basics.

Coonskin for Heads, Cowhide for Feet. 
That's what I always say.

Making Your Own Moccasins.
I happen to have a stash of leather scraps and I can't say I'm not totally tempted to make my own moccasins.  Very tempted.

For Well-Dressed Hikers Fashions Never Change.  
That girl does look amazingly cool, doesn't she? 

And finally, a list of topics from the section on recreation:  Spinning, Weaving, Braided Rugs, Patchwork Quilting, Tanning and Leatherwork, Woodworking, Scrimshaw, Metalworking, Flower Drying and Pressed Flowers, Gourd Craft, Soapmaking, Candlemaking, Basketry, Crafting a Mountain Dulcimer.

Sounds a little bit cooler than what you did last weekend, eh?  Are these projects wonderfully tempting to anyone else?  If after work today I could go home and make a batch of cheese, check on on the homemade brew and then start work on a mountain dulcimer... well, my spirits would be in very good shape.

20 September 2010

back to basics & homesteading in the city

My mom lends me these really great books from the 70s that are, clearly, too cool for school.  I'm sure some of them have updated editions, but I prefer these originals.  Aren't you clamoring to get a glimpse inside of these treasures? 
 
Well stop back in tomorrow for a round-up of "How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills" and "Foods for Life:  How to Avoid Scurvy and Slow Starvation".  Which, judging by the covers, will involve moccasins and maple syrup refinery and possibly even chicken slaughter.  Intriguing, yes?  I'll see you tomorrow.

17 September 2010

this week on tumblr

A few recent favorites from my tumblr...

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My fantasy marching band did horrible today. I’m replacing the entire flute section for next week. "

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(we like it wild: late summer gradation via Design*Sponge)

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  (Local Harvest Festival via flip over the 518)

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"Corn syrup would like you to now address it as 'corn sugar.' Miss Corn Sugar if you’re nasty."
 (Pour some corn sugar on me via Salon.com)

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(I Had No Idea That Drive-In Theaters Were Still Around via The Sartorialist)
Sartorialist, I grew up going to the Jericho Theater!

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“In the name of both art and science, New York photographer Sally Davies decided to buy a hamburger happy meal from McDonald’s, set it out on a  table, and take a picture of it every day until it disintegrated. That  was 137 days ago and the end is nowhere near: The fries look as fresh as  the day they came out of the fryer, and the burger — minus a little  patty shrinkage — is virtually unchanged.

A Happy Meal manages to stay unspoiled because it is fatty, salty and practically empty of nutrients — which, really, are all good reasons to avoid it anyway.”


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(grass doe via {frolic!})

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I direct you towards my tumblr page for more finds and inspiration from around the web.

16 September 2010

tempeh deli salad

This week has been a very long work week for The Dude (going to start switching up the nicknames from now on).  He's been leaving while I'm still in bed, or at least still puttering around in my PJs, and coming home right when I'm about to get back in bed.  So we tried to at least stock up on meals-to-go and snacks to bring on 15 hour days.  I found this recipe on The Kitchn, which is the food section spin-off of Apartment Therapy.  I'm really hooked on this blog; just about every day I bookmark a recipe or tip or how-to.  This one was supposed to be vegan, but I used regular mayo in the dressing.  And then I put it in a whole-wheat wrap with baby spinach and feta.

Tempeh Deli Salad
Adapted from The Kitchn

For the dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons mayo
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
For the salad:
  • 16 ounces tempeh, chopped into small cubes
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed under cold water
  • 2 small carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Directions:
  1. The original recipe didn't call for cooking the tempeh, but I steamed it in water (enough to cover) with a dash of soy sauce for about 10 minutes.  I've learned that boiling it helps get rid of the bitter taste tempeh sometimes has.
  2. Then whisk together all dressing ingredients until combined. 
  3. Place chickpeas, tempeh, carrot, and sunflower seeds into a medium-sized bowl, and toss with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in fresh basil.
  4. As I tossed the salad together a lot of the tempeh crumbled, which turned out to make it even more delicious, so I may just crumble the it up completely next time before adding it in.
It makes 4 servings, but we got at least one wrap, one spinach salad and 3 side dishes out of it.  Plus a few extra nibbles.

15 September 2010

ginger, anyone?

"Upon her return from the grocery store, she finally realized she was losing it."

Three jars of ground ginger.  A spice I seldom use but apparently purchase with some regularity.  In the spice aisle, I would have sworn to you that not only did I not currently have any ginger, but that I quite possibly had never bought ground ginger in my entire life.

Aren't I too young for this?

14 September 2010

cucumber martini

This past Friday the two of us went over to my Nan & Grampy's house for a little dinner party.   They look like they know how to have a good time, no?


And even though I didn't take any pictures of the wonderful spread that they and my uncle cooked up for us, I assure you it was most delicious and I helped myself to seconds.  I also got to try a new-to-me cocktail:  the cucumber martini.  I've learned from experience that not everyone in this world takes kindly to cucumber water, so imagine my delight when I found that there are some people in this world that skip the water and put cucumber in their gin!


Take a little Hendrick's Gin (warning, this link plays music), shake it up with ice until it's cold and add a slice of cucumber.  I imagine one could also add a slice to a G&T as well if you'd like a little bubbly.  This gin has hints of rose petals and cucumber-- even my unsophisticated palette could pick up on it :)

I did some research this weekend, and also came across this recipe for a Cucumber-Rosemary Gin and Tonic.  And while we're on the topic, here's a recipe for a fresh whiskey sour, sans the icky processed syrup normally used.

What's your favorite classy cocktail?  A special drink and dessert (even something as simple as homemade sun tea and chocolate chip cookies) are, to my mind, a necessity for dinner parties. 

(Top photo = my grandparents are awesome.  Bottom photo via The Kitchn).

13 September 2010

Cyclists Wanted for 4th Annual Tour de Habitat


4th Annual Tour de Habitat
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Albany Pump Station 
(19 Quackenbush Square, Albany)


The Tour de Habitat gives riders a choice of pedaling a 100, 50, 25 or family-friendly 10 mile route to benefit Capital District Habitat for Humanity. All rides start and finish at the Albany Pump Station, with a post-ride reception featuring food and beer!  You can sign up right over at capitaldistricthabitat.org and create your own online fundraising site too.  Then get out that old two-wheeler, fill up the tires & do it.  Riders of all experience levels welcome. 

Let your favorite cyclists know.  Blog about it, email this post to your friends, follow Capital District Habitat on Facebook and Twitter.  Spread the word.

PS- Read past posts about Habitat here.

10 September 2010

pics from oregon

Here are the pics from Portland.  And another weekend is already here!  It's sure feeling like a new season is upon us... crisp breeze, shorter days and a hint of that Autumn feeling in the air.  I'm totally okay with it.  Enjoy your Sort of Summer/Almost Fall weekend.

In case you missed it, here are the rest of my Portland posts:

09 September 2010

eat, hike & repeat

Finished up my too-short visit to Portland with a run along the Willamette River, a scrumptious burrito from Santa Fe Taqueria and a mini-hike through Forest Park, which is this insane 5,100 acre park with a 30-mile trail and more than 112 bird and 62 mammal species.  It's the largest, forested natural area within city limits in the U.S. and it's awesome.  I made chocolate cookies at night and nursed a certain left knee of mine that apparently couldn't handle the hike-run-hike triple header.  Wuss.
 Forest Park:  More forest than park.
 
I also got to spend a bit of the day wandering around the city solo while the doc saw patients and did other doctor things.  We circled all the places I wanted to check out on a map with big fat marker and I was on my way.  Among other places, I visited Canoe, Knit Purl, The Button Emporium & Ribbonry, Powell's (again), and Voodoo Doughnuts.
 
"Hi, can I have a mixed half-dozen of your most popular doughnuts?" 
"One of our most popular has bacon on it, do you want that one?"
"Oh.  Um, no skip the bacon I guess."

On my last night, I convinced Al to take me to Grant Park in NE Portland.  Why, you ask, did I want to go to a park on a dark, rainy evening?  Let's see, maybe because there is a RAMONA QUIMBY SCULTPURE GARDEN!  You know I couldn't resist.  I noticed this little cultural gem during a last-minute flip through a visitors guide and determined that it was my destiny to visit these somewhat creepy bronze statues.  You can read more about the park here.

Me & my home girl Ramona Q.

Before heading to the airport for my midnight flight back east, we ate dinner at The Screen Door and ran into these two guys.  No joke.  They were sitting right behind us.  (For those of you not in the know, they are Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen from Saturday Night Live.) 
 (Photo via fan pop)

I read somewhere that the three B's of Portland are Bikes, Books & Beer.  And well, that's just perfect, isn't it?

06 September 2010

live from pdx

Made it to Portland! So far we've gone to the farmers' market and picked up some fresh veggies, bread, flowers and a marionberry empanada and pear-sweetened huckleberry pie; visited the Saturday Market (the nation's largest open-air arts market, runs every weekend March through Christmas Eve); checked out the Art on the Pearl festival; got overwhelmed at Powell's City of Books (4 floors, 1 city block, 77,000 square feet); had beers at the Deschutes Brewery & Public House and Bridgeport Brewing Company; rode the streetcar and the aerial tram; checked out the doc's hospital; ate guacamole out on the eco-terrace; hiked in the Columbia River Gorge; indulged in dinner at the swanky Aquariva, and; fell asleep at 9pm.
 On the tram.

 At Powell's.

 Sampler at the Bridgeport Brewery.

 Dog Mountain, the More Difficult route.

Columbia River Gorge.

Sherpa.

 Cheese doodles at the summit.  Of course.

More to come.  Just found something on the map that I'm too excited to check out.  Way too excited.

03 September 2010

portland-bound

I've wanted to visit Portland, Oregon for a very long time because it seems like the magical sort of place where gigantic indie bookstores and vibrant city markets meet bike-friendly roadways and the best craft and fabric shops around.  And all the cool bloggers and artists live in Portland.  There are mountains.  It's at the top of every possible list of Awesome Places to Live For Various Reasons.  I've also heard rumors that some movie theaters there serve pizza and beer.  In the movie theater.  If the movie theaters also serve cheesecake, so help me God, I'm not coming back home.

And, as you may remember, I now have an even more compelling reason to visit Portland because a certain M.D. lives there!  I have to check in to make sure they are letting him sleep at least 30 minutes for every 30 hour shift he works and that he isn't subsisting on granola bars and coffee.  I also need to rectify a very urgent situation involving an eco-terrace (yeah,it's really just a patio) and a lack of appreciation for its intended use:  boozing and container gardening.

So I'm off to Portland for an extended Labor Day Weekend.  I intend to take care of the eco-terrace situation immediately upon arrival.

But what else should I do in Portland?  I've scoured my favorite PDX-based blogs and websites so I have a handful of ideas, but I need more!  What are your favorite restaurants, bars, shops, sights, etc.?  Or if you haven't been there and are interested in a vicarious trip to a certain destination, let me know those places too.

(Photo of the Portland Aerial Tram, via Travel Portland.  This the doc's daily commute.  I KNOW.)

UPDATE:  So Hurricane Earl.  Tough cookie, that one.  Travelers have been advised to avoid Newark airport as there is a strong chance it will be a cesspool of delays and cancellations.  Earl should be rolling through there later today.  I'll give you one guess as to who has a connecting flight in Newawk later today.  Cross your fingers, gang.  If I had an iPhone, I'd live-blog my woes but luckily for you, I don't :)  Leave me your Portland suggestions anyway, for good luck.

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